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Chad Moyer | KTIC Radio

Chad Moyer

Welcome to the KTIC Agriculture Information blog!!! Check back here for the latest in ag news and information, from local events to international happenings and government reports that affect your operation. Please email with suggestions! -Chad Moyer, Farm Director, KTIC Radio
Monday September 28 Ag News


For the week ending September 27, 2020, there were 6.6 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 20% very short, 40% short, 39% adequate, and 1% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 23% very short, 35% short, 41% adequate, and 1% surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn condition rated 6% very poor, 11% poor, 20% fair, 44% good, and 19% excellent. Corn mature was 80%, well ahead of 48% last year, and ahead of 65% for the five-year average. Harvested was 14%, ahead of 7% last year, and near 10% average.

Soybean condition rated 6% very poor, 11% poor, 22% fair, 45% good, and 16% excellent. Soybeans dropping leaves was 92%, well ahead of 69% last year, and ahead of 80% average. Harvested was 29%, well ahead of 4% last year, and ahead of 13% average.

Winter wheat planted was 60%, behind 65% last year and 66% average. Emerged was 15%, near 16% last year, and behind 27% average.

Sorghum condition rated 5% very poor, 8% poor, 29% fair, 35% good, and 23% excellent. Sorghum coloring was 98%, near 97% both last year and average. Mature was 71%, well ahead of 33% last year, and ahead of 56% average. Harvested was 7%, ahead of 1% last year, but near 9% average.

Dry edible beans dropping leaves was 91%, near 92% last year. Harvested was 75%, ahead of 61% last year.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 13% very poor, 21% poor, 25% fair, 39% good, and 2% excellent.


Harvest showed rapid progress as Iowa farmers made the most of 6.4 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending September 27, 2020, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Field activities also included drilling cover crops, applying fertilizer and manure, and fall tillage.

Topsoil moisture condition rated 15% very short, 31% short, 53% adequate and 1% surplus. Subsoil moisture condition rated 21% very short, 34% short, 44% adequate and 1% surplus.

Corn was 97% in or beyond dent stage, over 2 weeks ahead of the previous year and 3 days ahead of the 5-year average. Only 18% of the crop has yet to reach maturity, 3 weeks ahead of last year and 9 days ahead of average. Corn harvest for grain reached 12% statewide, almost 3 weeks ahead of last year and 9 days ahead of average. This is the highest percent of corn harvested for grain completed by September 27 since 2012 when 48% of the crop had been harvested. Corn condition rated 42% good to excellent.

Soybeans coloring or beyond advanced to 96%, which is 2 weeks ahead of last year and 1 week ahead of average. Eighty-four percent of the soybean crop was dropping leaves or beyond, 16 days ahead of last year and 8 days ahead of average. Soybean harvest was 30% complete, 19 days ahead of last year and 12 days ahead of average. This was the largest proportion of soybeans harvested by September 27 since 2012 when 41% had been harvested. Farmers in northwest and west central Iowa continue to lead the way with almost half of their soybean acreage harvested. Soybean condition rated 47% good to excellent.

Pasture condition rated 20% good to excellent, an increase of 3 percentage points from the previous week. Livestock felt the effect of changing temperatures. Low levels of water in ponds and creeks have made providing water for cows on pasture a challenge for some producers.

USDA: Corn 15% Harvested, Soybeans 20% Harvested


The U.S. corn harvest was slightly behind the five-year average pace while soybean harvest moved further ahead of normal last week, according to the USDA NASS weekly Crop Progress report released on Monday.  NASS estimated that, as of Sunday, Sept. 27, 15% of U.S. corn had been harvested, 1 percentage point behind the average pace of 16%. Corn reaching maturity remained 10 percentage points ahead of normal at 75% as of Sunday compared to the five-year average of 65%. NASS estimated that 61% of the corn crop was in good-to-excellent condition as of Sunday, unchanged from the previous week.

While corn harvest continued to run slightly slower than normal, soybean harvest pulled further ahead of the average pace. NASS estimated that 20% of soybeans were harvested as of Sunday, up 14 percentage points from the previous week and 5 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 15%. Soybean development also remained ahead of normal with 74% of the crop dropping leaves, 5 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 69%.   The condition of soybeans was estimated at 64% good to excellent, up 1 percentage point from 63% the previous week.

Winter wheat planting continued to run slightly ahead of the normal pace, at 35% complete as of Sunday compared to the average of 33%. Ten percent of winter wheat had emerged, 2 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 8%.


Retirement Open House for Larry Howard POSTPONED

The decision has been made that with the rising numbers of COVID cases in Cuming County, Larry’s Retirement Open is being postponed at this time.  The event was scheduled for this Saturday afternoon, October 3rd at the Nielsen Community Center in West Point.  Staff at Cuming County Extension office will try to host the event in the spring.

Practicing Fire Safety at Harvest

John Wilson - NE Extension Educator Emeritus

Each year volunteer fire departments across the state are called to respond to combine or field fires started during harvest operations. The following guides can help ensure a smoother and safer harvest season without fire emergencies.

Combine Maintenance
Preventative maintenance is key to preventing many of the fires that occur on farm equipment.
-    Keep all bearings and gears well lubricated to prevent heat buildup and keep lubricants at proper levels.
-    Repair any leaks in the fuel system and any damaged electrical wiring.
-    Repair or replace damaged or worn out exhaust systems. In addition to a good exhaust system, install a spark arrester to catch burning particles. They are easy to install and require little maintenance.

Before and during harvest operations check for a buildup of combustible crop residue around the engine and exhaust system; concealed drive belts and pulleys that can overheat due to friction when there is an accumulation of crop residue around them; and worn or frayed electrical wiring that can cause sparks and ignite grain dust, crop residues, or fuel vapors.

Refueling Safety
Too often during harvest, safe fueling practices are ignored to save time. The few seconds saved are insignificant when compared to the loss of expensive farm equipment or weeks or even months spent in a hospital burn ward. Follow these safety practices:
-    Never refuel equipment with the engine running. Always shut the engine off.
-    Allow hot engines to cool 15 minutes before refueling.
-    Extinguish all smoking materials before refueling.
-    If fuel spills on an engine, wipe away any excess and allow the fumes to dissipate before starting the engine.

Plan to Avoid Emergencies
Being prepared to respond to a fire if one should occur can save critical minutes.
-    Start harvesting a field on the downwind side. If a fire does occur, the flames will be pushed toward the harvested portion of the field.
-    Always carry a cell phone or alternative for communicating with others in case of an emergency.
-    Know the location of the field in relationship to letters or numbers on county roads. This seems obvious, but in the excitement of the moment, it’s easy to not be able to recall this information. More than once volunteer firefighters have been paged for a field fire “northeast of town” and then had to look for the smoke.
-    Always carry two fire extinguishers on the combine, one in the cab and one that you can access from the ground. Also, carry a fire extinguisher in your grain hauling equipment.
-    If a field or equipment fire does occur, call 911 before trying to extinguish it yourself.
-    Have a tractor hooked to a disk near the field you are harvesting, but located where it wouldn't be affected if a field fire should occur.
-    If using a fire extinguisher, stay between the fire and your path to safety.
-    When using a fire extinguisher, remember to PASS, which stands for Pull, Aim, Squeeze, and Sweep.
       + Pull the safety pin on the extinguisher.
       + Aim it at the base of the fire.
       + Squeeze the handle.
       + Sweep the extinguisher back and forth while releasing the contents.

Following these safety tips may seem like common sense, but with the long hours and rush to get harvest done, sometimes these are forgotten.  For more information on fire safety at harvest, contact your equipment dealer, your local fire department, or your local Nebraska Extension office.

Ag Sack Lunch Program For State’s Fourth-graders Kicks Off 11th Year.

The popular Ag Sack Lunch Program, designed to increase agricultural awareness among Nebraska fourth-graders and their families, has returned for its 11th school year in 2020-2021.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, changes have been made to the program this fall. Many classes will not be making the trip to Lincoln to tour the State Capitol Building as part of their fourth-grade curriculum. For that reason, the Ag Sack Lunch program this fall is providing schools with the option of receiving virtual presentations via Zoom this fall. These virtual presentations will focus on about the importance of agriculture to Nebraska’s economy.

“Last spring our program was abruptly ended due to the pandemic,” says Karen Brokaw, Ag Lunch Program coordinator. “This fall we are providing schools the option of receiving their presentations via Zoom if they are opting out of the Lincoln trip. We don’t want the pandemic to prevent us from visiting with fourth-grade students about the importance of agriculture in Nebraska. The presentations are still lively and fun with our Ag Ambassadors providing the students with important ag-related information.” To date, she says, “registrations for the fall semester have been for the virtual presentation, but spring registrations are primarily for the traditional Lincoln visits.”

“The Zoom presentations have gone really well,” says Ag Ambassador Abby Durheim, a UNL agricultural education major from Sunbury, Ohio. “The kids seem to really enjoy it, and they ask a ton of questions at the end.”

Registrations are still being accepted for both fall and spring presentations for both virtual or in-person State Capitol visits, according to Brokaw. “It is important teachers make their reservations as soon as possible to ensure availability,” she said. Reservations can be made online at .

“Over the last 10 years, the Ag Sack Lunch Program has been successful in helping our fourth-graders understand where their food comes from and how Nebraska’s farm production methods help protect the environment while ensuring food safety and promoting animal health,” says Kelly Brunkhorst, Nebraska Corn Board executive director. “Participating teachers continue to tell us how their students learn so much from the presentations.”

Since the first Ag Sack Lunch program during the 2010-2011 school year, over 46,000 students have participated in the event. The program provided 5,250 lunches to students during the 2019-2020 school year.

The program is sponsored by the Nebraska Corn Board, the Nebraska Soybean Board, the Nebraska Pork Producers Association, Nebraska Beef Council, Midwest Dairy and Nebraska Poultry Industries.  

USDA Designates Six Nebraska Counties as Primary Natural Disaster Areas

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue designated six Nebraska counties as primary natural disaster areas. Producers in Colfax, Cuming, Dawes, Dodge, Stanton and Thurston counties who suffered losses caused by recent drought may be eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loans.

This natural disaster designation allows FSA to extend much-needed emergency credit to producers recovering from natural disasters. Emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs including the replacement of essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation or the refinance of certain debts.

Producers in the contiguous counties listed below are also eligible to apply for emergency loans:
    Nebraska: Box Butte, Burt, Butler, Dakota, Dixon, Douglas, Madison, Pierce, Platte, Saunders, Sheridan, Sioux, Washington and Wayne
    Iowa: Monona and Woodbury
    South Dakota: Fall River and Oglala Lakota

The deadline to apply for these emergency loans is May 11, 2021.

FSA will review the loans based on the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.

FSA has a variety of additional programs to help farmers recover from the impacts of this disaster. FSA programs that do not require a disaster declaration include: Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program; Emergency Conservation Program; Livestock Forage Disaster Program; Livestock Indemnity Program; Operating and Farm Ownership Loans; and the Tree Assistance Program.

Farmers may contact their local USDA service center for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at

Market Your Crop Residue Using the Crop Residue Exchange

Daren Redfearn - NE Extension Forage Crop Residue Specialist

The Crop Residue Exchange ( came online in August 2017 and was designed to increase the convenience and accessibility of grazing crop residues. This online exchange assists corn and other crop producers to market crop residue to cattle producers. This interactive, online tool helps farmers and cattle producers connect and develop mutually beneficial agreements to use crop residue and forage cover crops for grazing.

Getting Started with the Crop Residue Exchange
After establishing a log-in account, farmers can list cropland available for grazing by drawing out the plot of land available using an interactive map and entering basic information about the type of residue, fencing situation, water availability, and dates available. The land available for grazing is described as “Residue Type” (corn, wheat, sorghum, other). Pricing can be listed as a “cost per acre” or a “cost per head per day”. Farmers can also provide their preferred contact information. Livestock producers can search the Crop Residue Exchange database for grazing available within a radius for the location of interest, but must be logged in to view the contact information attached to each listing.

Crop producers who have previously listed crop residue available for grazing are encouraged to log in and update their listings on the Crop Residue Exchange for the 2020-2021 fall and winter grazing season. Livestock producers can save their searches and receive an email notification when a crop producer lists something matching their criteria. In the past, there has been more searching for crop residue than available crop residue listings. When a crop producer creates a new listing, odds are good that livestock producers will receive an email letting them know.

The Crop Residue Exchange has expanded the geographical reach to include large portions of the states that surround Nebraska. Crop producers in much of Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, and South Dakota can now list fields they have available for grazing. This makes it easier to use and link cattle producers with available grazing resources.


Megan Taylor, NE Extension Educator, Platte County

Testing forages gives you answers when it comes to utilization, but what test is right for your operation?
The two primary components that any forage test needs to supply are a measure of energy and protein content.  Energy is usually measured in Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN) and protein is labeled as is, or crude protein (CP).  Because moisture content of samples can vary widely, the focus of the results should be on the dry matter basis.  Most lab analysis will provide these measures in a basic forage analysis package.
In certain circumstances, producers may test for key minerals or nitrates.  A mineral package may not be required for every sample submitted, but can be crucial.  In cases where minerals are oversupplied, a custom mineral supplement may omit the unneeded mineral, saving cost.  Both over and undersupplied key minerals can cause a host of production and reproductive issues that knowing about, we can plan ahead to address.  Stressed plants, especially annual crops, have the potential to accumulate high levels of nitrate, so running an additional nitrate test on these species is crucial.
Finally, what type of test needs to be completed? In some labs, wet chemistry tests are the only option.  These are the traditional method for determining nutrient levels and are arguably the most accurate option available, especially for mineral analysis. However, may labs have begun offering near-infrared spectrometry (NIRS). These tests use a laser to “read” the sample and compare it to a databank of known similar samples built upon regression calibration that can approximate wet chemistry tests quickly and cheaply. NIRS works best with single species samples and is more accurate with popular forages.
Ultimately, which test you choose depends on number of samples, cost, species, and ability of labs to test samples. NIRS would work well if you were testing many samples, needed quick results, and a pure stand of a popular forage, like alfalfa. Wet chemistry would work well if you had fewer samples, were testing for minerals, and were working with a more novel forage.

State Senator Joni Albrecht Receives Nebraska Farm Bureau-PAC Endorsement

Nebraska State Senator Joni Albrecht has received the endorsement of the Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Political Action Committee (NEFB-PAC) in her bid for re-election to serve the citizens of Legislative District 17. The NEFB-PAC endorsement is based on candidate’s positions on agriculture and rural issues and recommendations from district evaluation committees.

“Joni has first-hand experience with how farm and ranch families are impacted by state policies and regulations. It is critical to have people like Joni elected to the Legislature who know agriculture and the important economic role it plays in rural communities and our state’s broader economy,” said Mark McHargue of Central City, chairman of NEFB-PAC and first vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau.

According to McHargue, Albrecht has been a strong advocate for Farm Bureau priorities such as lowering property taxes, working to expand broadband and e-connectivity, and growing opportunities for economic development in rural areas.

“We’re pleased to support Joni as she seeks re-election. We look forward to continuing to work with her for the betterment of Nebraska,” said McHargue.

State Senator Bruce Bostelman Receives Nebraska Farm Bureau-PAC Endorsement

Nebraska State Senator Bruce Bostelman has received the endorsement of the Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Political Action Committee (NEFB-PAC) in his bid for re-election to serve the citizens of Legislative District 23. The NEFB-PAC endorsement is based on candidate’s positions on agriculture and rural issues and recommendations from district evaluation committees.

“Sen. Bostelman has been an advocate for reducing the property tax burden on Nebraskans from the first moment he stepped foot in the legislative chamber. Property tax relief and tax reform is of the highest priority to our members. We greatly appreciate his work and commitment in this area,” said Mark McHargue of Central City, chairman of NEFB-PAC and first vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau.

According to McHargue, Bostelman has provided a strong rural voice in the body, at a time when fewer and fewer Nebraskans have a direct connection to the day-to-day issues that face Nebraska’s farm and ranch families.

“Bruce brings real-life agriculture experience to the State Capitol. The importance of that cannot be understated. We are pleased to count Sen. Bostelman among those receiving the NEFB-PAC endorsement,” said McHargue.

Former State Senator Mike Flood Receives NEFB-PAC Endorsement

Mike Flood, a former State Senator and a candidate to represent District 19 in the Nebraska Legislature, has received the endorsement of the Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Political Action Committee (NEFB-PAC). The NEFB-PAC endorsements are based on candidate’s positions on agriculture and rural issues and recommendations from district evaluation committees.

“Having former experience as a state senator and serving as the Speaker of the Legislature during his previous term make him a great candidate to represent the people of District 19. Mike is a businessman and understands the important role agriculture plays in the state’s economy,” said Mark McHargue of Central City, chairman of NEFB-PAC and first vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau.

According to McHargue, Flood’s proven leadership as a former Speaker of the Legislature and his continued support of obtaining tax relief make him well qualified to serve in the Legislature.

“Mike shares our member’s belief that reforms are needed in Nebraska’s tax system and we are pleased to share our support for Mike as he seeks to represent District 19 in the Nebraska Legislature,” said McHargue.

According to McHargue, Flood has been a strong advocate for Farm Bureau priorities such as lowering property taxes, working to expand broadband and e-connectivity, as well as growing opportunities for economic development in rural areas.

“We’re pleased to support Mike as he seeks election in District 19. We encourage Nebraska Farm Bureau members to support Mike and we look forward to working with him for the betterment of Nebraska,” said McHargue.

National Organic Standards Board New Members Announced for 2021

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the appointment of five new members to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). “It’s always hard to say goodbye to outgoing members who have given so much of their time as volunteers. We appreciate their great service and contributions to the organic community,” said Deputy Administrator Jennifer Tucker, who heads the USDA National Organic Program. “And, it’s always exciting to welcome new members. They always bring so much passion and fresh energy to the table.”

The NOSB is made up of 15 volunteer members representing the organic community. New members announced today will serve five-year terms beginning in January 2021.

Amy Bruch
is a sixth-generation farmer and president of Cyclone Farms, an organic family farm in York, Nebraska. She has nearly 20 years of experience in agriculture, including agricultural business management, regulatory compliance, operational improvements, and transitioning farms to new crops and to organic production. Career highlights include interning at the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, working as a systems engineer at General Mills, and consulting internationally. Bruch holds a BS in Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering from Iowa State University. She has a background and expertise in certification, compliance, crops, and National List materials. Bruch will serve in a Farmer seat.

Logan Petrey is a fourth-generation farmer from South Georgia. She is the southeast organic ranch manager of 2,000 acres for Grimmway Farms locations in Georgia and Florida and has grown over thirty different organic crops. Prior to Grimmway, she worked as an agronomist and organic farm manager with Generation Farms; and as a field technician for Robinson Fresh where she worked with farms along the East Coast and Midwest. She serves on the Board of Directors for Florida Organic Growers and is a member of the United Fresh Working Group. She has a B.A. in Biology from Valdosta State University and a Master of Plant Protection and Pest Management from the University of Georgia. Petrey will serve in a Farmer seat.

Dr. Carolyn Dimitri is an applied economist and is currently a member of the faculty at New York University. She has extensive experience with the USDA, working for more than a decade at the Economic Research Service where she authored numerous reports on many aspects of the organic sector, including consumer expectations and attitudes about organic food. She currently serves as an Executive Board member for the Organic Farming Research Foundation, as a scientific advisor to the Organic Center, and is knowledgeable about many of the most pressing issues related to the organic standards and National List materials. Dimitri will serve in a Public/Consumer Interest Seat.

Brian Caldwell has been involved in organic agriculture for more than 40 years as an educator, researcher, and farmer. In 1983, he served as a founding member of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) and has remained active in the organization serving as staff from 2002-2005, an educator at winter conferences, and a member. He spent many years working for Cornell University, first as the vegetable and fruit specialist for Cornell Cooperative Extension, and then as a field manager and researcher for the Cornell Organic Cropping Systems project. Mr. Caldwell has operated an organic farm in West Danby, NY since 1978 and has a deep understanding of organic standards. As an educator, farmer, and longstanding NOFA-NY member, he understands consumer perspectives well. Caldwell will serve in a Public/Consumer Interest Seat.

Kyla Smith is the Certification Director for Pennsylvania Certified Organic (PCO), a USDA-accredited certifying agent. In this position, she assures that PCO and its mission, programs and services are consistently presented with transparency and integrity to relevant stakeholders in adherence with PCO’s strategic plan, as well as oversees the certification, inspection and material teams. During her 17-year tenure with PCO, she has also worked as an organic inspector, materials specialist, and reviewer; and held leadership positions for six years as the chair and vice chair of the Accredited Certifiers Association Board of Directors. She has extensive knowledge of the USDA organic regulations and the work of the NOSB. She holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Arts in Transformative Leadership and Social Change from the Maryland University of Integrative Health. Smith will serve in the USDA-accredited certifier seat.
About the NOSB

The NOSB is a Federal Advisory Board established under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990. The Board operates in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act to assist in developing standards for substances used in organic production and to advise the Secretary on aspects of the National Organic Program. Learn more about NOP and the Board on our website at

Organic Outlook: U.S. Organic Industry Growth Looks Strong for the Year Ahead

As the number of certified organic farm in the U.S. continues to grow, so too has organic consumer demand. The gap between these two will be critical over the year to come.
September 28, 2020 (SILVER SPRING, MD) – More land and operations have converted to USDA certified organic production over 2020, expanding the footprint of organics within U.S. agriculture according to the newly released Mercaris Commodity Outlook for 2020/21.
Mercaris, the nation’s leading market data service and online trading platform for organic, non-GMO and certified agricultural commodities, today released its annual outlook.

“The role of organic in U.S. agriculture continues to expand, bolstered by growing consumer preferences and challenging markets for conventionally grown commodities,” said Ryan Koory, Director of Economics for Mercaris. “And 2020 appears to be a clear reflection of this, as many crops are projected to see harvested acres reach record levels this year.”

In total, Mercaris estimates U.S. harvested organic field crop area will exceed 3.4 million acres over the 2020/21 MY, up 4% y/y. In addition to more harvested acres, the 2020/21 yield outlook for many key U.S. organic crops is expected to rebound following 2019/20’s dismal planting and harvest weather conditions.

With larger U.S. organic commodity supplies on the horizon, growth in organic livestock production and feed demand will be critical over 2020/21. Following the rapid global spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, supply chains, trade partners, and U.S. households found themselves in an unpredictable new world. Despite this, U.S. organic consumer demand appears to have held up over 2019/20, with both organic broiler and turkey meat production achieving y/y growth.

“The expansion in organic turkey production this year has been nothing short of phenomenal. We estimate the daily rate of organic turkey slaughter jumped 147% over the past year. From 5,600 head per day over August 2019, to 13,800 head per day over August 2020. Maintaining Augusts’ slaughter rate alone is enough to significantly expand total organic turkey slaughter over 2020/21” said Koory.

Furthermore, Mercaris anticipates that U.S. consumer markets for organic protein will continue to expand in the 2020/21 MY, however this outlook is largely dependent on the strength of the U.S. economy and consumer demand over the year to come.
Additional findings from Mercaris Commodity Outlook include:
     Mercaris estimates the number of certified organic operations in the U.S. will reach 19,888 over 2020/21, a 4% increase y/y.
    Organic corn livestock feed use is projected to increase 6% y/y over the 2020/21 MY as organic poultry production continues to boost demand for U.S. organic grain feed.
    U.S. organic soybean crush is projected to increase 13% y/y over 2020/21 as organic soybean meal imports plateau, and livestock feed demand continues to expand.
    U.S. non-GMO soybean planted area expanded 19% y/y over 2020.
    U.S. non-GMO corn planted area increased 8% y/y over 2020.

Bayer’s XtendFlex Soybeans Gain Final Key Regulatory Approval

Bayer announced today that the European Commission has authorized XtendFlex soybean technology for food, feed, import and processing in the European Union. This milestone represents the final key authorization for XtendFlex soybeans. With this approval in hand, Bayer can now look forward to a full launch in the United States and Canada in 2021 and expects to be in a strong position to supply 20 million U.S. soy acres when the selling season arrives.

“XtendFlex soybeans will be Bayer’s second major product launch in soybeans in the last 5 years,” said Lisa Safarian, President of Crop Science North America. “The upcoming launch in 2021 highlights the strength of the Bayer soybean pipeline, as well as the investment that Bayer continues to make in our soybean portfolio and the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System. XtendFlex soybeans are the latest example of Bayer developing innovative products to help farmers meet challenges on their farm.”

XtendFlex soybeans, Bayer’s newest soybean technology, are built upon the high-yielding Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybean technology that growers have grown to trust with the additional tolerance to glufosinate herbicides. XtendFlex soybeans provide growers with additional flexibility to manage tough-to-control and resistant weeds.  

“We’ve seen great demand for XtendFlex soybeans from our customers,” said Lisa Streck, Bayer soybean launch lead. “Based on that demand, we’ve developed a supply plan to meet the market demand in 2021, across all maturities, Bayer brands and licensees. We expect the launch of XtendFlex to match the launch scale of Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, which were planted on 20 million acres in their first year of commercial availability. This technology offers outstanding yield potential and weed control flexibility that will benefit soybean farmers across the U.S.”

Friday September 25 Cattle on Feed + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.28 million cattle on feed on September 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 6% from last year. Placements during August totaled 505,000 head, up 13% from 2019. Fed cattle marketings for the month of August totaled 435,000 head, down 5% from last year. Other disappearance during August totaled 10,000 head, down 5,000 head from last year.


Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 610,000 head on September 1, 2020, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was down 2% from August, and down 3% from September 1, 2019. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head had 485,000 head on feed, down 3% from last month but up 1% from last year. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in all Iowa feedlots totaled 1,095,000 head, down 2% from last month and down 1% from last year.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during August totaled 75,000 head, up 19% from July and up 6% from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head placed 42,000 head, up 20% from July but down 18% from last year. Placements for all feedlots in Iowa totaled 117,000 head, up 19% from July but down 4% from last year.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during August totaled 83,000 head, up 19% from July and up 20% from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head marketed 54,000 head, down 7% from July and down 30% from last year. Marketings for all feedlots in Iowa were 137,000 head, up 7% from July but down 6% from last year. Other disappearance from all feedlots in Iowa totaled 5,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Up 4 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 11.4 million head on September 1, 2020. The inventory was 4 percent above September 1, 2019. This is the highest September 1 inventory since the series began in 1996.

By State  (1,000 hd)  Sept 1 '20   -  % of Sept 1 '19

Colorado .......:               1,040          112                 
Iowa .............:                  610           97                  
Kansas ..........:                2,470          106               
Nebraska ......:                2,280          106               
Texas ............:                2,850          104               

Placements in feedlots during August totaled 2.06 million head, 9 percent above 2019. Net placements were 2.00 million head. During August, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 405,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 335,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 470,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 522,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 230,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 95,000 head.

By State -              (1,000 hd  -  % Aug '19)

Colorado .......:            180           106             
Iowa .............:              75           106             
Kansas ..........:             540           123             
Nebraska ......:             505           113             
Texas ............:             440           101             

Marketings of fed cattle during August totaled 1.89 million head, 3 percent below 2019.  Other disappearance totaled 55,000 head during August, 10 percent below 2019.

By State -              (1,000 hd  -  % Aug '19)

Colorado .......:              155            76              
Iowa .............:                83           120             
Kansas ..........:               470           109              
Nebraska ......:               435            95              
Texas ............:               430            96              

LENRD board officially declares a district-wide drought

At their September meeting, the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) Board of Directors voted to officially declare a drought across the district, which is comprised of all or parts of 15 counties in northeast Nebraska.  The LENRD board will continue to meet and discuss potential plans to respond if conditions worsen to a D4 drought.  Their Drought Mitigation Plan is used to protect the health and welfare of the public as directed by the LENRD’s Groundwater Management Plan.

In other business, the board voted to establish the average cost of Deep Soil Sampling for Fiscal Year 2021 as $55.99 per sample and to limit the number of cost-shareable samples to 1 sample per every 25 acres.

The board approved a contract with Derek and Austin Becker of Norfolk to complete Flow Meter Preventative Maintenance Services in the LENRD’s portion of Knox, Cedar, Dixon, Wayne, and Thurston Counties.

The board also certified 129 parcels of irrigated acres at the certification hearing held during the board meeting.

The LENRD board & staff meet each month to develop and implement management plans to protect our natural resources for the future.  The next LENRD board meeting will be Thursday, October 22nd at 7:30 p.m.  Watch for further updates and stay connected with the LENRD by subscribing to their monthly emails.

Power line safety important for farmers heading into fall harvest

While many Nebraskans are dusting off their fall clothes in preparation for the cool autumn weather, farmers are headed to their fields to begin the annual harvest. Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) wants to remind large equipment operators to keep safety front of mind and “Look up and Look Out” for power lines as they head back to the fields.

NPPD Vice-President of Energy Delivery Art Wiese says coming close to, or hitting, power lines becomes a significant hazard during the harvest season. “It’s easy for an equipment operator to accidentally get a piece of equipment too close to a powerline or even make contact if they are not aware of their surroundings,” noted Wiese. “If large equipment gets too close to a power line, electricity can arc from the line to the equipment, potentially causing major damage and severe injury to the operator.”

NPPD encourages equipment operators to keep their machines 20 feet away from power lines to avoid the possibility of any electricity arcing from the line to the equipment.

If a power line falls onto a vehicle or piece of equipment, anyone inside the vehicle should remain there until help can arrive and deenergize the power line. When a powerline is touching a vehicle or lying on the ground, it can electrify both the vehicle and the ground in the surrounding area. If a fire forces you to exit the vehicle then do so by jumping away from the vehicle, landing on two feet and shuffling as far away from the area as possible.

“If a power line is touching a vehicle, anyone inside the vehicle should avoid touching both the ground and the vehicle at the same time. If someone were to do this, it could result in serious or fatal injuries,” NPPD Transmission and Distribution Construction and Maintenance Manager Scott Walz said. “Taking the precautionary effort to look up and look out for powerlines can promote a safe work environment, and our hope is that everyone working this harvest season can do so in a safe manner.”

- Each day review all farm activities and work practices that will take place around power lines and remind all workers to take precautions

- Know the location of power lines and when setting up the farm equipment, be at least 20 feet away from them. Contact your local public power provider if you feel this distance cannot be achieved.

- Use caution when raising augers or the bed of a grain truck or wagon. It can be difficult to estimate distance, and sometimes a power line is closer than it looks. For large equipment, use a spotter to make certain the equipment stays a safe distance from the line.

- Always adjust portable augers or elevators to their lowest possible level – under 14 feet – before transporting them. Variables like wind, uneven ground or shifting weight can cause unexpected results.

NPPD recommends that farmers review the following safety precautions before entering the fields to begin harvest operations, or for more details and video footage follow this link:   


A webinar scheduled for noon on Thursday will present the findings of a new University of Nebraska-Lincoln study on the impact of the Nebraska agricultural production complex, to be released on the same day.

Agriculture is a pillar of the Nebraska economy, with the state’s total net farm income accounting for a little over 5% of total personal income, on average. This ranks Nebraska third-highest of the 50 states — and highest for any state with a population over 1 million.

This study is a joint collaborative effort of the Department of Agricultural Economics and the Bureau of Business Research within the Department of Economics and is funded internally by the university’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. It draws on substantial expertise in key issues affecting agriculture such as irrigation, natural resources, the agricultural equipment industry and community economic development.

The webinar will be led by Dr. Brad Lubben, associate professor and extension policy specialist in the Department of Agricultural Economics, and Dr. Eric Thompson, Karl H. Nelson Assoicate Professor of Economics and director of the Bureau of Business Research. It is being presented by the extension Farm and Ranch Management team in the Department of Agricultural Economics as part of its weekly webinar series.

Registration for the webinar is free and can be completed at

Nebraska Farm Bureau Reminds Us It’s Harvest Time Safety First

As we move into the fall of 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic still upon us, it is a year we won’t soon forget. Students may or may not be back in the classroom and we all may be either working from home or may be back at the office. But farmers and ranchers are working to move cattle and to start on harvest.

As the uncertainty of 2020 lingers through the year, this is a time when we especially need to slow down and pay more attention on farms, ranches, and on roads and highways.

Here are a few tips to remember as we see, large slow-moving machines on our roads coming in and out of fields across the state.

    Farmers: Get plenty of rest and slow down to avoid accidents on the farm. Don’t hurry through equipment repairs, take your time with backing up large pieces of machinery, keep your hands away and don’t wear loose clothing around moving auger parts.

    Drivers: Drive without distractions. We hear it all the time: Don’t text or check your smartphone while driving. But distracted driving continues to be a leading cause of vehicular accident and during harvest time it could be especially dangerous as there may be more slow-moving vehicles on our roads and highways.

    Farmers: If you’re driving farm equipment on public roads, it’s especially important that you’re clearly marked so motorists can see you in time to slow down — considering you’re probably driving less than 25 MPH. Make sure your lights are working and that all reflecting tape and slow-moving vehicle (SMV) emblems are properly placed. Remember to wipe down some of these safety features if your equipment is dusty to ensure they can be seen. Also use flashers on public roads.

    Drivers: If you are following behind a slow-moving vehicle, please play it safe and wait to safely pass and remember slow moving vehicles usually go from one field or pasture to another and turning may take extra time, so be patient. Most farmers will do their best to create space so you can pass, but awareness of where you’re driving and patience on everybody’s part is the best way to keep the roads safe during harvest season.

In the fall, harvest time can be one of the busiest and most dangerous seasons of the year for the agriculture industry. Remember, we share our roads and highways and in 2020 if we work together, we can keep everyone safe.


Brad Schick, NE Extension Educator
Cover crops can provide great fall and early winter forage for grazing before killing frosts stop growth. After the cover crop winter freezes, turns brown, and does not look “good” is it still good quality?
Oats and brassicas planted in late summer and early fall will change in quality from October through January, but it might be less than we would expect. With an oat and brassica mix the plants will likely die in the late fall after several hard-freezing temperature events. Growing oats will have 60 to 75% Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN) and have 12 to 20% Crude Protein (CP). Turnips and other brassicas will have a 70 to 80% TDN and 14 to 22% CP. This makes great grazing for any class of livestock.
A study at UNL looked at forage quality of stockpiled oats and brassicas progressing from fall growth into the winter. The mix was planted early September and late August in southern Nebraska. After the forage had died it was sampled again, in mid-January. The oats still had 15% CP and between 61 and 71% TDN. The entire brassica plants were 72% TDN and 14-24% CP and the leaves alone were 25% CP.
At this point in the year, planting a fall forage crop may not produce much due to the low number of growing degree days left. However, the point to consider is if there is some growth potential,  stockpiling or deferring grazing will maximize production without sacrificing very much quality.
To review: Oats and brassicas maintain forage quality well into the winter. This allows to defer grazing to have more quantity and still high quality.

Free Farm and Ag Law Clinics Set for October

Free legal and financial clinics are being offered for farmers and ranchers across the state in October 2020. The clinics are one-on-one meetings with an agricultural law attorney and an agricultural financial counselor. These are not group sessions, and they are confidential.

The attorney and financial advisor specialize in legal and financial issues related to farming and ranching, including financial and business planning, transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, debt structure and cash flow, agricultural disaster programs, and other relevant matters. Here is an opportunity to obtain an independent, outside perspective on issues that may be affecting your farm or ranch.

COVID-19: For the time being the clinics are being conducted as conference calls or as Zoom meetings.  It is therefore possible to attend a clinic from any location in the state. In-person clinics are expected to resume in the near future, at which time locations will be announced.

Clinic Sites and Dates

    Wednesday, October 14th
    Thursday, October 21st

To sign up for a free clinic or to get more information, call the Nebraska Farm Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.  Funding for this work is provided by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, and Legal Aid of Nebraska.

Chief Ethanol Now Producing USP Grade Ethanol

Chief Ethanol Fuels, Inc. (Chief Ethanol) is currently producing USP Grade Ethanol from its ethanol plant in Hastings, Nebraska. Chief Ethanol has modified its current process operations to produce higher grades of ethanol for use as the active ingredient in hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 health emergency as allowed by the US Food and Drug Administration. Chief Ethanol is able to provide long-term supply of higher grades of ethanol into industrial alcohol markets. This includes Specially Denatured Alcohol that passes FCC and USP purity testing.

“We ambitiously set out to provide the higher purity needed to help with the COVID-19 hand sanitizer shortage. We were able to utilize the plant’s unique design and operational flexibility to quickly pivot to meet the increased demand for high purity ethanol,” said Duane Kristensen, Vice President of Operations for Chief Ethanol. The plant is capable of providing close to 10 million gallons per year of higher purity ethanol with plans for increased production. The plant has two 250,000 gallon dedicated storage tanks to help meet customer needs immediately.

“The transformation of one of the nation’s first ethanol plants to a modern industrial and fuel alcohol biorefinery, along with the superior location with access to BNSF and UP rails, provides a bright and promising future for our stakeholders,” added Kristensen. "We hope to continue to promote long term relationships with our existing and new industrial alcohol customers that will provide longevity in the supply chains of consumer products.”   

Nebraska Corn Growers Association Welcomes EPA Decision on Atrazine

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) welcomed an announcement on Friday from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on an interim decision regarding the reregistration of atrazine. After over 60 years of use and 7,000 research studies EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler declared atrazine, along with propazine and simazine, safe for continued use in controlling resistant weeds. This interim decision is a major milestone for Nebraska’s corn farmers.

“The announcement is a key step forward for Nebraska’s corn farmers during a time of economic uncertainty,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association. “Without this decision, costs of replacement weed control products would add between an additional $29 to nearly $60 an acre for producers. Something our industry just can’t afford.”

Friday’s announcement concludes the registration review process where EPA is required to periodically re-evaluate existing pesticides. During this process, NeCGA’s grassroots efforts submitted thousands of comments from Nebraska corn farmers in support of the product. The next step for the triazines is a draft biological evaluation required under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which is expected to be published in October.

“This is not the last time that the EPA will review atrazine. On behalf of our members, NeCGA will keep a watchful eye going forward, ensuring that agriculture has a voice in the process and that the agencies involved utilize high-quality, scientific studies,” said Brunkhorst. “The EPA stated again today that they will use the best available research when making determinations. Something we have long advocated for.”

Nebraska Corn Welcomes Next Generation Fuels Act

The Nebraska Corn Board and the Nebraska Corn Growers Association today said legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives will boost long term corn demand for clean, affordable ethanol. The Next Generation Fuels Act recognizes the high octane, low carbon benefits of corn ethanol.

“The benefits of higher blends of ethanol are numerous and we have the potential to make our fuels even better,” said Dan Nerud, president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association. “Ethanol is a natural octane booster. Low carbon, high octane ethanol blends result in additional fuel efficiency and they greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Next Generation Fuels Act establishes a new 98 Research Octane Number (RON) standard for gasoline and requires sources of additional octane result in at least 30% fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than unblended gasoline. This will ensure the progress already made to lower emissions through cleaner renewable fuels continues. Through advanced engine design features that take advantage of this new fuel, automakers will be able to increase engine performance and significantly improve vehicle fuel efficiency.

A new 98 RON would support mid-level blends like E25 (a 25% ethanol blend) and E30 (a 30% ethanol blend) which would generate new corn grind.

Due to its high-octane rating and other properties, ethanol is an efficient octane source. It is also the most cost-effective octane source, providing the greatest efficiency gains at the least cost to drivers while displacing the most harmful components of gasoline.
“The Next Generation Fuels Act is a step in the right direction in supporting our state’s corn farmers, but also providing clean-burning, high efficiency fuels for the American people,” said David Bruntz, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and farmer from Friend. “Ethanol greatly benefits consumers, our environment and our state. It’s time we remove regulatory barriers to enable the benefits of higher ethanol blends.”

Iowa Corn Growers Association Welcomes Next Generation Fuels Act

The Iowa Corn Growers Association® (ICGA) welcomes legislation introduced yesterday in the U.S. House of Representatives that will boost long-term corn demand for clean, affordable ethanol. The Next Generation Fuels Act recognizes the high octane, low carbon benefits of corn ethanol.

“The introduction of the Next Generation Fuels Act is welcome news not only for corn farmers but also for consumers,” said ICGA President Carl Jardon. “Ethanol blends in the range of E25 allow drivers to travel further with fewer fill-ups and fewer harmful emissions due to providing an efficient and cost-effective higher octane level. ICGA is looking forward to working with elected officials to see the Next Generation Fuels Act through.”

The Next Generation Fuels Act establishes a new 98 Research Octane Number (RON) standard for gasoline and requires that sources of additional octane result in at least 30 percent fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than unblended gasoline. This will ensure the progress already made to lower emissions through cleaner renewable fuels continues. Through advanced engine design features that take advantage of this new fuel, automakers will be able to increase engine performance and significantly improve vehicle fuel efficiency. A new 98 RON would support mid-level blends like E25 and E30 which would generate new corn grind.

The Next Generation Fuels Act is sponsored by Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Illinois). ICGA looks forward to working with our representatives in Washington to continue to build support for policies that take greater advantage of ethanol’s benefits.

Iowa's Best Burger Named At The Twisted Tail

The Twisted Tail in BeeBeeTown is well known for its ribs, which won first prize in the 2013 Iowa State Fair Farm Bureau Cookoff. And now, the restaurant can add “Iowa’s Best Burger” to its list of awards.

The western Iowa restaurant has been owned by Ed and Ruth Spencer since 2011, and is managed by two of their three children, Luke and Hannah. In addition to the restaurant, the family also farms and runs a real estate and auction business.

Throughout the past few months, the family has worked together to ensure that their patrons have been able to continue enjoying the Twisted Tail’s delicious meals. “You will often see the grandchildren helping bus tables on Friday and Saturday nights,” says Hannah (Spencer) Johnsen.

During the COVID shutdown the restaurant operated on a takeout only basis from March 18th to May 13th, however, they are now open again for dine in and takeout. All tables are at least six feet apart, and the former reception and party rooms now hold tables to allow for more social distancing between customers.

Ed’s love for history and antiques and their auction business  has contributed to the decor and atmosphere of the restaurant. Antiques, memorabilia and reminders of BeeBeeTown’s history are scattered throughout the restaurant and bar areas.

Made out of 80% lean ground chuck, the winning burger patty is simply seasoned, allowing the true flavor of the meat to shine. The Certified Angus Beef is all locally sourced.

Eleven different burgers are featured on the menu, all using the same 8 oz. (half pound) patty. In addition to the burgers, the Steak Philly, Prime Rib French Dip, and Filet are all fan favorites.
The Best Burger Contest

This is the 11th year for the annual Best Burger contest sponsored by the Iowa Beef Industry Council, through the Iowa State Beef Checkoff Program, and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. The Twisted Tail Steakhouse & Saloon joins a great group of past best burger winners from around the state. Along with last year’s winner, Wood Iron Grille of Oskaloosa, previous winners include: 2018 - Café Beaudelaire; 2017- The Smokin’ Hereford BBQ of Storm Lake; 2016 - The Chuckwagon Restaurant in Adair; 2015 - The Cider House of Fairfield; 2014 - Brick City Grill in Ames; 2013 - 61 Chop House Grille in Mediapolis; 2012 - Coon Bowl III in Coon Rapids; 2011 - Rusty Duck in Dexter; and 2010 - Sac County Cattle Company of Sac City.

The designation as Iowa’s Best Burger comes after a two-phase competition. The first phase took place entirely based on votes from the public. For a month starting back in February, burger lovers went online and voted for their favorite Iowa burger, submitting nearly 7,000 votes representing around 630 restaurants. At the end of March, the ten restaurants with the most votes were declared the “Top 10.”

From there, three anonymous judges visit each of the restaurants, focusing on the burger patties and scoring them based on taste, doneness and presentation.

The final judging occurred in August and September, and the winner was revealed on September 21.

If you go:
Address: 2849 335th St, BeeBeeTown (Logan), Iowa 51546
BeeBeeTown is located 9 miles from Missouri Valley, 9 miles from Logan, 10 miles from Neola and 16 miles from Council Bluffs. Use exit #8 on I-880.
Hours:  Wednesday - Sunday: 11 am - 9 pm
Reservations are encouraged for evening dining.

Wild Weather Year the Topic of September 30 Webinar

Iowa Learning Farms will host a webinar on Wednesday, Sept. 30 at noon about Iowa’s weather in 2020.

“With 95-99% of Iowa experiencing abnormal dryness or drought and 57 counties affected by the derecho, most Iowans have been impacted by this year’s wild weather,” said Justin Glisan, the state climatologist of Iowa.

During this webinar, Glisan will discuss initial drought formation and expansion across western Iowa, as well as the short and long-term impacts of the drought on the growing season and crop production. Additionally, he will discuss the severe derecho that moved through Iowa on Aug. 10, producing widespread damage in rural and urban areas, including the extreme drought region in west-central Iowa.

As state climatologist, Glisan’s responsibilities include quality control of Iowa weather observations, weekly recommendations to the U.S. Drought Monitor, and weekly and monthly climate summaries for state stakeholders. Glisan also advises the Iowa secretary of agriculture on climatological matters that impact the agricultural sector, such as how trends in precipitation and temperature are changing.

Iowa’s weather and climate observations, which date back to 1872, help tell the story of Iowa agriculture and how resilient and innovative the state’s farmers are and have been.

To participate in the live webinar, shortly before noon on Sept. 30, click this URL, or type this web address into your internet browser:

Or, go to and enter meeting ID: 364 284 172. Or, join from a dial-in phone line by dialing: +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 876 9923; meeting ID: 364 284 172.

The webinar will also be recorded and archived on the ILF website, so that it can be watched at any time. Archived webinars are available online.

A Certified Crop Adviser board-approved continuing education unit has been applied for, for those who are able to participate in the live webinar. Information about how to apply to receive the unit (if approved) will be provided at the end of the live webinar.

Dairy Market Report - September 2020

U.S. milk production is one of several key components of the dairy situation and outlook whose behavior in this unusual year has produced decidedly unique patterns of milk and dairy product prices in 2020. When combined with unusual market behavior among key dairy components, producers are experiencing a roller-coaster ride requiring a strong stomach, and great patience, as markets eventually return to normal.

Still, the economic outlook is much brighter than in the darkest days of the spring, and some of the most visible emblems of recent turmoil – namely negative Producer Price Differentials (PPDs) in milk checks – should soon fade.

Milk production growth in the nation has zigzagged this year from +1.3% in January, to +2.8% in March, to -0.5% in May and back to +2.0% in July. Other actors in dairy’s strange drama have been sales of dairy products at retail, which have been stronger than usual; use of dairy products in food service and institutions, which have been weaker than usual but fluctuating; government purchases of dairy products for food assistance use, which have been much larger than usual; and finally, government direct payments to dairy farmers, which have no recent historical precedent.

All this has led to wild fluctuations in average U.S. milk-price results as reported by USDA: $18.00/cwt. in March, $13.60 in May, and $20.50 in July. June and July also saw record high negative PPDs in federal orders, due to the interaction of the resulting unusual fluctuation of dairy product prices.

U.S. dairy exports have been a particular bright spot this year. The country exported more than 17 percent of its total milk solids production during May, June and July, only the second time that exports have exceeded this benchmark for three consecutive months (February through May 2018 holds that record). The United States exported close to three-quarters of total commercial use of dry skim milk during the 12 months through July, a significantly higher percentage of this key product’s commercial use exported than any previous consecutive 12-month period.

Read the full report here:  

USDA Reminds Farmers of September 30 Deadline to Update Safety-Net Program Crop Yields

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds farm owners of the September 30 deadline to update Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program yields for covered commodities on the farm. This is a one-time opportunity for producers to update yields, which are used to calculate 2020 through 2023 payments.

“Don’t miss this one-time opportunity to update yields for the Price Loss Coverage program,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “Please contact your FSA county office to schedule an appointment.”

Updating yields requires the signature of one owner on a farm and not all owners. If a yield update is not made, no action is required to maintain the existing base crop yield on file with FSA.

For program payments, updated yields will apply beginning with the 2020 crop year which, should payments trigger, will be paid in October 2021. Additionally, recently published updates to the payment limitation and eligibility provisions for Farm Bill programs do not impact payments from ARC and PLC for the 2019 crop year or the 2020 crop year.

The updated yield will be equal to 90% of the average yield per planted acre in crop years 2013-2017. That excludes any year where the applicable covered commodity was not planted and is subject to the ratio obtained by dividing the 2008-2012 average national yield by the 2013-2017 average national yield for the covered commodity.

FSA published a final rule in August 2020 that made updates to payments limitations and payment eligibility for programs, many of which were directed by the 2018 Farm Bill. For ARC and PLC, these updates will not take effect until 2021 crop payments that will be made in October 2022.

NGFA, U.S. agriculture groups urge Trump to remain in the WTO  

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and 61 other U.S. agriculture stakeholders have urged the Trump administration to remain in the World Trade Organization (WTO), and for Congress to vote against any resolution that would end U.S. membership in the international trade body.

In a letter sent this week to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the groups emphasized support for efforts to reform WTO rules, noting that “improvement is needed” to hold WTO members accountable and improve the organizations’ governance, including the selection of a new director-general.

“Continued U.S. membership and active participation will help ensure that necessary reforms are undertaken…,” the letter states. “As long as exports are important to U.S. agriculture, WTO membership will be essential, as well.”

U.S. agriculture is heavily dependent on exports, the letter stated, with more than 20 percent of total U.S. agricultural production destined for foreign markets. The WTO grants U.S. agricultural exporters most-favored nation (MFN) treatment in 163 countries, representing more than 80 percent of the global economy. The trade body also provides rules to guard against arbitrary use of technical regulations to block imports, the groups noted.

Philippines Detects New ASF Outbreaks

The Philippines' Department of Agriculture said on Thursday it had detected new African swine fever outbreaks in six provinces, raising the possibility that the domestic pork shortfall anticipated by year-end will be bigger than initially expected.

A fresh wave of hog infections has hit the world's 10th-largest pork consumer and seventh-biggest pork importer, where more than 300,000 pigs have been culled since last year, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said.

According to Reuters, new outbreaks have been detected in the provinces of Albay, Quirino, Laguna, Quezon, Batangas and Cavite on the main island of Luzon.

Dar did not detail the extent of new infections, but said a government-funded restocking programme and additional importation of pork and pork-based products from disease-free countries, which he did not identify, could help address domestic supply tightness.

The agriculture department has initially projected a domestic pork shortfall of 121,000 tonnes by year-end.

Philippine pork production is now expected to drop by 20% this year, according to an estimate from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, double its initial projection, because of the disease.

The impact on domestic demand, however, should be partly offset by limited operations of food services due to coronavirus restrictions, it said in a Sept. 21 advisory.

The number of pigs culled since last year accounts for about 3% of the country's total, but USDA has warned local supply problems may persist in 2021, citing industry sources.

Thursday September 24 Ag News


Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on September 1, 2020, was 3.80 million head, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. This was unchanged from September 1, 2019, but down 1% from June 1, 2020.

Breeding hog inventory, at 430,000 head, was down 4% from September 1, 2019, and down 2% from last quarter. Market hog inventory, at 3.37 million head, was up 1% from last year, but down 1% from last quarter.

The June - August 2020 Nebraska pig crop, at 2.11 million head, was down 7% from 2019. Sows farrowed during the period totaled 180,000 head, down 7% from last year. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.70 for the June - August period, compared to 11.65 last year.

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 185,000 sows during the September - November 2020 quarter, down 5% from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago. Intended farrowings for December 2020 - February 2021 are 180,000 sows, down 5% from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago.


On September 1, 2020, there were 25.1 million hogs and pigs on Iowa farms, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Hogs and Pigs report. Inventory is up 100,000 head from the previous year.

The June-August 2020 quarterly pig crop was 5.99 million head, up 3% from the previous quarter but 4% below last year. A total of 530,000 sows farrowed during this quarter. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.30 for the quarter.

As of September 1, producers planned to farrow 520,000 sows and gilts in the September-November quarter and 520,000 head during the December 2020-February 2021 quarter.

United States Hog Inventory Up 1 Percent

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on September 1, 2020 was 79.1 million head. This was up 1 percent fromSeptember 1, 2019, but down 1 percent from June 1, 2020.   

Breeding inventory, at 6.33 million head, was down 2 percent from last year, but up slightly from the previous quarter.

Market hog inventory, at 72.8 million head, was up 1 percent from last year, but down 1 percent from last quarter.

The June-August 2020 pig crop, at 35.1 million head, was down 3 percent from 2019. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 3.18 million head, down 3 percent from 2019. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 50 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.04 for the June-August period, compared to 11.11 last year.

United States hog producers intend to have 3.12 million sows farrow during the September-November 2020 quarter, down 5 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period one year earlier, and down 3 percent from the same period two years earlier. Intended farrowings for December 2020-February 2021, at 3.11 million sows, are down 1 percent from the same period one year earlier, but up slightly from the same period two years earlier.

The total number of hogs under contract owned by operations with over 5,000 head, but raised by contractees, accounted for 47 percent of the total United States hog inventory, down 1 percent from the previous year.

Record High Pork Production in August

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.69 billion pounds in August, up 1 percent from the 4.65 billion pounds produced in August 2019.

Beef production, at 2.33 billion pounds, was 2 percent below the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.80 million head, down 4 percent from August 2019. The average live weight was up 27 pounds from the previous year, at 1,365 pounds.

Veal production totaled 5.0 million pounds, 17 percent below August a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 34,200 head, down 33 percent from August 2019. The average live weight was up 47 pounds from last year, at 253 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.34 billion pounds, up 4 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 11.1 million head, up 2 percent from August 2019. The average live weight was up 3 pounds from the previous year, at 282 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 10.8 million pounds, was down 15 percent from August 2019. Sheep slaughter totaled 174,800 head, 14 percent below last year. The average live weight was 123 pounds, down 3 pounds from August a year ago.

By State: Aug '20    -   million lbs  -  % Aug '19

Nebraska ...........:          681.7             92       
Iowa ..................:          768.3            106       
Kansas ...............:          529.3            114       

January to August 2020 commercial red meat production was 36.3 billion pounds, up 1 percent from 2019. Accumulated beef production was down 1 percent from last year, veal was down 10 percent, pork was up 3 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 8 percent.

Fuel Retailers and Consumers Fuel Up for Cancer Research

Throughout October, drivers can help Fuel the Cure for breast cancer by filling up with higher blends of ethanol at participating locations. More than 35 Nebraska gas stations will donate 3 cents for every gallon of higher ethanol blends – E15 to flex fuel E85 – sold between Oct. 1­‑31 to support cancer research at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha.

Why support this important cause?

Jenn Klein was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 32. Her cancer cells were growing and dividing very rapidly - at a rate of about 80%. Lifesaving treatment was needed right away. She completed 20 weeks of chemotherapy, received multiple blood and platelets transfusions, underwent a four-hour procedure that included a port removal, sentinel node biopsy, double mastectomy, and immediate one-step reconstruction, and endured 33 sessions of radiation. By the end of 2015, Jenn was finally cancer free. If it wasn't for a chemotherapy treatment that was discovered by a funded researcher, Jenn might not be alive today to share her story.
Chemicals in gasoline, like benzene, are known to cause cancer. Higher blends of biofuels, like locally-produced ethanol, replace a portion of this toxicity and help reduce cancer-causing emissions. Since 2018, Nebraska’s Fuel the Cure campaigns have raised more than $13,000 for cancer research.
“Cancer touches the lives of nearly everyone in some way,” said Ashley Christensen, director of development at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. “We appreciate that Nebraska fuel retailers are joining forces to empower drivers to support cancer research at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, which provides lifesaving care to people throughout our state. Through generous contributions, such as the Fuel the Cure campaign, we are able to fund researchers working on new treatments each and every day.”
For a complete list of participating fuel retailers, please visit Drivers will be able to identify which retailers are supporting this important cause by looking for pink signage at the pump, on the windows and at the counter.
E15 (15% ethanol and 85% gasoline), also called Unleaded88, is approved for use in all passenger vehicles 2001 and newer. Ethanol blends higher than 15% are approved for use in flex fuel vehicles. One in seven Nebraskans drive a flex fuel vehicle, which can run on any blend of ethanol up to E85 (85% ethanol and 15% gasoline). Drivers can check their owners’ manuals to see if they’re driving flex fuel vehicles. The vehicles may also have a flex fuel badge on the trunk or tailgate — or a yellow gas cap.
“This October, I encourage everyone to visit a Fuel the Cure participating retailer,” said David Bruntz, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and farmer from Friend. “Through this program, we’re not only saving consumers money, cleaning up the environment and supporting our state’s corn farmers, but we’re also helping in the fight against cancer one gallon at a time.”
The Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Ethanol Board, along with Renewable Fuels Nebraska, sponsor Fuel the Cure in conjunction with retail stations.

Nebraska Extension to Host BeefWatch Webinar Series

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension will host the 2020 BeefWatch Webinar Series. The webinars will take place weekly beginning on Tuesday, October 6.
The BeefWatch Webinar series is designed to highlight management strategies in grazing, nutrition, reproduction, and economics to increase cow/calf and stocker production efficiency and profitability. Each session will feature industry experts and plenty of opportunity to interact to get your questions answered.
Each webinar will begin at 8:00 PM Central Time. Dates are October 6, 13, 20, and 27.
Topics and speakers are as follows:

October 6, Range Condition Monitoring
    Dr. Mitchell Stephenson, Panhandle Research Extension Center
    Do you know how your management is affecting your grass productivity? Mitch will discuss rangeland monitoring data collection, variability in plant communities, and the influence of grazing management on vegetation characteristics.  

October 13, Nutritional Management of Growing Calves
    Dr. Mary Drewnoski, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
    Understanding protein needs: when it comes to growing cattle not all protein sources are created equal. Mary will help you understand why and how to use this information to make the right choice to meet your calves needs.

October 20, Heifer Selection and Development
    Dr. Travis Mulliniks, West Central Research and Extension Center
    Nutritional management of heifers prior to the breeding season. Travis will cover nutritional strategies and potential pitfalls in heifer nutritional management and how to decide which strategy is best for your operation.  

October 27, BeefWatch Talk - Chat with the Experts
    This session is all about getting your questions answered! The presenters of webinars for the month will be joined by authors from this month's BeefWatch Newsletter to discuss any ideas or questions that you have related to forage, cow/calf, or stocker production. Register here

There is no cost to participate in this webinar series.  More information and registration at  

Dr. Kacie McCarthy, Beef Cow-Calf Specialist, 402-472-6074,
Dr. Mary Drewnoski, Beef Systems Specialist, 402-472-6289,

Get the Facts: US & China Trade Agreement

How technology based products are playing a part

The Nebraska Cattlemen, Minnesota State Cattlemen and Kentucky Cattlemen are presenting the next Producer Education webinar on Tuesday, October 6, at 7:00 pm CDT.   

Get the Facts on the US China Trade agreement and how technology based products are playing a part in the trade agreement.

Learn why it is important to show a sense of unity to protect the technology we are using in the United States.
    Full implementation of Phase 1 of the U.S.-China Trade Agreement” will provide more opportunities for U.S. livestock producers to export to China;
    China’s current policies represent significant lost income for U.S. livestock producers; and
    Your help in reaching out to Congress and the Administration will help maximize the potential of the China market for U.S. livestock producers.

Eric Steiner works for Elanco Animal Health as Senior Director of Government Affairs, leading legislative and regulatory advocacy at the federal level. Eric will provide an update on the U.S.-China Trade Agreement, including specifics and implementation status for Phase 1 of the agreement for livestock.

Register at

USDA Announces United Sorghum Checkoff Program Board Appointments

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the appointment of five members to serve on the United Sorghum Checkoff Program Board. All five appointees will serve three-year terms starting December 2020 and ending December 2023.

According to the USDA press release, the sorghum farmers appointed to the board are:
    Klint G. Stewart, Columbus, Nebraska, At-Large Member
    Ethan J. Miller, Columbia, Missouri, At-Large Member
    James Jay Haase, Eads, Colorado, At-Large Member
    Shayne C. Suppes, Scott City, Kansas, Kansas Member

The 13-member United Sorghum Checkoff Program Board is composed of nine sorghum farmers who represent the three states with the largest sorghum production – Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma – and four at-large national representatives. More information about the board is available on the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) United Sorghum Checkoff Program webpage and on the board’s website,

M&M Feeders, Lexington, NE wins CAB honors

Miranda Reiman, CAB

Cattlemen and women continue to do good work, regardless of what is going on in the world around them. So even though we’re not together in-person at our brand’s annual conference, we celebrated our 2020 production award winners virtually this morning. Please join us in congratulating these five families who are leaders in the field of high-quality beef production:
    Feedlot Commitment to Excellence Award – M&M Feeders, Huyser family, Lexington, NE
    Seedstock Commitment to Excellence Award – Dalebanks Angus, Perrier family, Eureka, KS
    Commercial Commitment to Excellence Award – Morgan Ranches, Rutan family, South Mountain, ID
    Ambassador Award – Langford Cattle Co., Bodey and Kathy Langford, Lockhart TX
    Sustainability Award – Beef Northwest & Wilson Cattle Co., Wilson family, North Powder, OR

Huysers: Honesty is the best policy

For brothers Mel and Marvin Huyser that’s not just an old saying. It’s a code they live by, the way they run their cattle feeding business and how they lead their families.

"Honesty is the best business advertisement you can have," says Mel Huyser. "We have always stuck to our guns on that. It has always paid off."

Customers come from word-of-mouth or longtime connections. In turn, the feedyard gets more high-quality cattle and helps create more of them.

"It’s about treating people right, treating people with integrity," says Mel’s son Daron, who joined the family business in 2005. "We want to take care of the customer cattle the same way we would take care of our own—and even better—because their trust is in us to take care of their cattle."

For building beneficial relationships and their drive to produce the best, M&M Feeders earned the 2020 Feedyard Commitment to Excellence Award from the Certified Angus Beef brand.

The best hard choice

    In the early 1990s, the Idaho family saw inputs and markets moving toward the middle of the U.S., so one branch decided to do the same. Mel and Connie relocated to Elm Creek, Neb., in 1992, while Marvin and Reeta stayed put.
     “We could see the cattle industry was changing,” Mel says. “The packers were out here and the corn was out here and it was a good move for us.”    
    It took patience and prayer, and a big dose of faith.
    “We’ve been blessed that we’ve been given this area, and this facility, and blessed with my kids because they love the business.”
    Daron went off to college to study animal science, Marvin managed commodity trading from Idaho and Mel ran the feedyard. They wanted to expand, but the right opportunity was just out of reach—until 2015.
    “It was like getting that winning lottery ticket,” Daron says. “You have the opportunity to do what you want to do, to come back, be large enough to establish and carry a family, take care of customers. I thought, ‘Let's jump in with both feet and go.’”
    They purchased the yard at Lexington, where Daron now manages operations with his dad. Nearby Daron and wife Hayley raise their three boys. His sister, Jamie, tackles the daily tasks at Elm Creek.
    “It’s somebody in the family feeding the cattle, taking care of the cattle day to day,” Daron says. “We don't have to sit and look off a computer and tell you exactly whose cattle they are. We have relationships; we talk with the people weekly.”
    In almost no time, they had the 6,500-head second location full of customer cattle and their own.

Raising the feeding kind  

    A friend at the local café nudged Daron to apply for the Young Farmers and Ranchers loan that kick-started the herd. But he credits their genetic supplier, Connealy Angus, Whitman, Neb., with getting them set for success.
“They helped us see the value of genetics,” Daron says. “We could see the improvement starting with the calves carried all the way through onto the carcass traits and the different premiums that we could get.”
They’ve improved calf vigor, disposition and mothering ability, too.
The Huysers artificially inseminate the entire herd, calve early and hit the April market with 14-month-old finished cattle. Most go right up the road to Tyson, where they’ll often bring $5 to $10 above the market and reach 60% CAB acceptance, not counting another 10% to 15% Prime. Trying to hit that earlier market, they sell “a little green,” Daron says, noting 10% yield grade 4s.
“Certified Angus Beef has been a way that we can add more value to our carcass,” he says, while also securing demand by meeting consumers’ needs.
Having “skin in the game” helps them share what’s worked in their herd, along with the carcass and performance data. It’s helped them narrow their purchasing orders, too, transitioning from unknown genetics to those with more reliability.
“We’ve seen the value of buying cattle off of one ranch or off of a bigger group of cattle from people who are really invested and improving their genetics,” he says. Verifications programs like AngusLink show which cattlemen are probably already doing all the little things that add up.
Knowing the cattle’s history gives them confidence, but with capital invested at each turn, it still takes more than a little faith.
“We prayed that if it was God’s will, that the doors would open, and they did open,” Marvin says. “And the biggest thing was when they did open, to have the faith to walk through the door and keep going.”        
CAB recognized its 2020 honorees at the brand’s virtual annual conference on September 23 and 24.    

TFI Releases Fertilizer Industry Economic Impact Study: Contributes $130 Billion to US Economy

The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) today released the Fertilizer Industry Economic Impact Study, highlighting the importance and economic contributions of the U.S. fertilizer industry to the national, state and local economies. The study found that the fertilizer industry contributed over $130 billion and nearly 500,000 jobs to the U.S. economy in 2019.
“The fertilizer industry doesn’t just help grow the food on your dinner table, we also help grow the U.S. economy,” said TFI President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch.
Deemed an essential industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, fertilizer manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and distributors have a sustained positive impact on communities all across the nation.
“We often highlight that fertilizer is responsible for over half of the world’s food production, meaning without our industry we’d only have half as much food for the planet’s growing population,” Rosenbusch continued. “The data in the study shows that we’re not only feeding the world, we’re also feeding our national, state and local economies through direct and indirect employment and wages, the value of the crops and farm products produced with our plant nutrients, and the transportation and logistical network that moves plant nutrients to the farmers to be there exactly when they need them. The movement of fertilizer alone benefits our economy to the tune of nearly $9 billion annually.”
The publication of the study, conducted for TFI by John Dunham and Associates, is the culmination of months of compiling data including the direction contribution, supplier contribution and downstream positive impacts of the entire fertilizer industry value chain – from manufacturers to wholesalers, retailers and goods and service providers.
To learn more about the impact the fertilizer industry has on the U.S. economy please visit:

Bring Back Whole Milk in Schools or Children’s Health Will Suffer

According to a study published this month in “The Journal of Dairy Science,” researchers have found that children’s repetitive exposure to foods early is a key driver of preference later in life.  The study recognized that a “primary indicator of lifetime milk consumption is a habit developed during childhood.” Since 2008, regulations have restricted higher fat content milk varieties from school lunch programs.  School lunch programs also saw fewer student participants. This culminated in a 14.2% decrease in all milk sold in U.S. schools from 1.835 million kilograms in 2008 to 1.573 million kilograms in 2017.

This same study also states that “adequate consumption of milk and dairy products, especially during childhood, has beneficial health outcomes for growth, development, and reduced risk of osteoporosis, hypertension, obesity and cancer” over a lifetime. School lunch programs make dairy accessible to children, despite whatever socioeconomic limitations they may experience outside of school, but science shows after many years of decreasing school children’s access to higher fat dairy content products, we also decreased their appeal of the milk product. This process prevents the likelihood of children to incorporate dairy as part of a daily healthy diet during school and beyond.  We need to stop denying the dairy industry’s best-tasting milk products from lunch trays across the county  

Not only does schooling educate the minds of the future generations, but it also instills healthy dietary habits through repetitive exposure to balanced diets.  Denying children the tasty and nutrient-packed benefits of full-fat dairy products is doing them a disservice — and is furthermore not scientifically supported.

 It is time the USDA and FDA fix this issue and allow whole milk back in schools.

New Report Examines Cattle Market Issues & Solutions

A new report unveiled today by the American Farm Bureau Federation provides an in-depth examination of the causes and price implications resulting from extreme market volatility in the cattle industry. It also sets the stage to explore policy solutions.  

The Cattle Market Working Group, comprised of 10 state farm Bureau presidents, spent more than two months investigating factors that led to market disruptions following the Holcomb packing plant fire and the COVID-19 pandemic. They invited input and consultation from government and university experts, among others.

The report is designed to equip state and county Farm Bureau organizations with deep insight and policy considerations as Farm Bureau leaders debate policy recommendations for 2021.

“Our cattle producers suffered a one-two punch with the fallout from the Holcomb fire and the COVID-19 pandemic,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “The prices families were paying at the grocery store went up, but the prices paid to farmers dropped through the floor. That’s not fair to consumers or producers. We must work toward a more stable, resilient food supply chain that can better endure unforeseen challenges so we can keep America’s pantry stocked while ensuring farmers are paid a fair price for their products.”

Key topics of the report include:

Mandatory Minimum Negotiated Trade
    The working group discussed “triggered”-style mandatory minimum pricing that is set on a region-by-region basis.
    Various and fluctuating levels would be determined regionally, including input from state Farm Bureau members.

Risk Management and Education
    The working group is interested in AFBF working with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to better address concerns from smaller producers.
    Existing risk management tools, such as Livestock Risk Protection crop insurance, could be adjusted to be more affordable for smaller producers.

Small Capacity Meat Packing
    The working group discussed policy solutions that would allow smaller packing facilities to play a larger role in the food supply chain.
    Create incentives for smaller packing plants to become federally inspected.

    Farm Bureau supports strengthening the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s ability to enforce market rules.

Read the Cattle Market Working Group report here....

NBB Welcomes Commonsense Deadline for RFS Exemption Petitions

The National Biodiesel Board today thanked House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) for including the Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity provision (Title VI, Subtitle D) in the Expanding Access to Sustainable Energy Act of 2019 (HR 4447), which the House passed today. The provision would set a June 1 deadline for annual small refinery exemption petitions, thereby ensuring they are accounted for in the RFS calculations. Further, it would require public disclosure of the volumes of biofuels potentially impacted by the petition along with the name of the petitioner.

Kurt Kovarik, NBB's VP of Federal Affairs, states, "This is a commonsense step to ensure that RFS biomass-based diesel volumes are fully met and to prevent a recurrence of the demand destruction for biodiesel that we've seen over the past several years. Biodiesel and renewable diesel producers have a right to know how many gallons of their product may be lost from RFS volumes when major refiners like Exxon ask for special treatment."

Growth Energy Applauds House Passage of RFS Integrity Act in Clean Energy Package

Growth Energy applauded the inclusion of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Integrity Act in clean energy legislation (H.R. 4447) that passed the U.S. House today. The RFS Integrity Act, authored by Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture Collin Peterson (D-MN), along with Reps. Dusty Johnson (SD-At Large), Dave Loebsack (IA-04), Rodney Davis (IL-13), and Roger Marshall (KS-01), would bring much-needed transparency to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) secretive small refinery exemption (SRE) process and ensure refiners meet biofuel blending requirements.  

“After years of EPA mismanagement, this legislation would finally give farmers and biofuel producers a long-overdue peek at EPA’s secretive and destructive process,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “EPA’s lack of transparency on refinery exemptions sends mixed signals to the market and leaves billions of gallons of demand at the mercy of regulatory whim. This long-overdue fix would begin to close the book on abuse and put rural America on a stable footing while we rebuild the agricultural supply chain. We’re grateful to Chairman Peterson and his co-sponsors for their efforts to get this critical legislation through the House of Representatives and on to the Senate.”

Currently, refiners have no clear deadline from EPA for submitting a request for an SRE. The bipartisan Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act explicitly sets the deadline for refineries to submit an application for an SRE by June 1st in the year prior to the year in which the biofuel targets go into effect. Additionally, the legislation increases transparency into the SRE application process, allowing the public greater insight into who is receiving these waivers and why.

Next Generation Fuels Act Paves Way for Future of Renewable Fuels

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) today welcomed the introduction of The Next Generation Fuels Act, legislation to transition to a higher octane fuel in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet the future needs of more advanced vehicles. Corn growers support a low carbon octane standard as a means toward boosting long term corn demand for clean, affordable ethanol.

The Next Generation Fuels Act, introduced by Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., recognizes the high octane, low carbon benefits of corn ethanol.

Establishing a new 98 Research Octane Number (RON) standard for gasoline and requiring that sources of additional octane result in at least 30 percent fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than unblended gasoline, will ensure the progress already made to lower emissions through cleaner renewable fuels continues. Through advanced engine design features that take advantage of this new fuel, automakers will be able to increase engine performance and significantly improve vehicle fuel efficiency.

“Ethanol is uniquely positioned to not only provide consumers with low-cost options at the pump but also pave the way to future engines that increase efficiency and reduce emissions,” said NCGA President Kevin Ross. “The Renewable Fuel Standard was a game-changer for corn farmers, and the Next Generation Fuels Act builds on that success in advancing our commitment to providing the lowest cost, most efficient, and environmentally friendly fuel available.”

Due to its high octane rating and other properties, ethanol is an efficient octane source. It is also the most cost-effective octane source, providing the greatest efficiency gains at the least cost to drivers while displacing the most harmful components of gasoline. A new 98 RON would support mid-level blends like E25 and E30, which would generate new corn grind.

“Corn farmers have a vested interest in the future of transportation fuels, which is why NCGA began laying the groundwork for this policy several years ago. It’s a real accomplishment for corn growers to see our vision reflected in the Next Generation Fuels Act,” said NCGA Chairman Lynn Chrisp.

Low carbon, high octane fuel such as a 98 RON supports vehicle efficiency gains of at least five percent and reduces GHG emissions from the transportation sector. Blending more low carbon ethanol further decreases GHG emissions and improves air quality by replacing hydrocarbon aromatics.

“Congresswoman Bustos has been a real champion for agriculture and the benefits of low carbon ethanol. NCGA is thankful for her leadership to advance renewable fuels by introducing this legislation, and we look forward to working with her to build support for policies that take greater advantage of ethanol’s benefits,” Ross said.

More information on the benefits of high octane fuels and NCGA’s support for a low carbon octane standard can be found at

Growth Energy Applauds Bustos Push for High-Octane, Low-Carbon Fuels

Growth Energy praised the introduction of legislation by  U.S. Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) that would unleash higher-octane, lower-carbon fuels that offer motorists better mileage and fewer emissions. The Next Generation Fuels Act of 2020 requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create a new 98 Research Octane Number (RON) standard, limit reliance on toxic aromatic hydrocarbons, and update fuel and infrastructure regulations to expand the availability of mid-level ethanol blends.
“There has never been a more urgent need to adopt higher octane, low-carbon ethanol blends in America’s fuel supply, as they are key to achieving clean, healthy air,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “We applaud Congresswoman Bustos for charting a path forward that will unleash clean, affordable ethanol to drive decarbonization in our nation’s transportation fleet and save consumers money at the fuel pump.”

Progress on the next generation of innovative engine and fuel technologies has long been a core mission for Growth Energy, which was the first to call on EPA and the state of California to use E30 for vehicle certification and consumer use back in 2012. Both Skor and Growth Energy Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Chris Bliley have testified on the topic to leaders in Congress and the EPA.
“With a 113 octane, ethanol is the single most affordable and abundant fuel available to power the higher-compression ratio engines of the future. The sooner we can get those engines on the road and those fuels at the pump, the sooner motorists can enjoy a cleaner, less-costly commute,” added Skor.

RFA Applauds Introduction of Next Generation Fuels Act by Rep. Bustos

The Renewable Fuels Association today hailed the introduction of the Next Generation Fuels Act of 2020 by Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), calling the legislation “the beginning of an exciting new era in transportation fuels policy.” By establishing a high-octane, low-carbon fuel requirement, the bill would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enable greater engine efficiency, and encourage competition and lower pump prices. In addition, the legislation addresses existing regulatory impediments that have slowed the commercialization of high-octane, low-carbon fuels and the vehicles that consume them.

“The Next Generation Fuels Act of 2020 provides a bold and innovative approach to reducing carbon emissions, improving engine efficiency and performance, protecting human health, and removing the arcane regulatory roadblocks that have hindered the expansion of cleaner, greener liquid fuels,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “By establishing the roadmap for an orderly transition to high-octane, low-carbon fuels, this landmark legislation begins an exciting new era in transportation fuels policy. As the world’s top supplier of clean, affordable, low-carbon octane, the U.S. ethanol industry proudly and enthusiastically supports this legislation. We thank Rep. Bustos for her thoughtful leadership and determined efforts to craft and introduce this bill, and we look forward to working together to make this bold vision a reality.”

Specifically, the Bustos bill would establish a certification test fuel with a research octane number (RON) of 98, along with a requirement that the source of the octane boost reduces lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by an average of at least 30% compared to a 2018 gasoline baseline. The legislation also includes a restriction on the aromatics content of gasoline, ensures parity in the regulation of gasoline volatility (Reid vapor pressure), corrects the “R-factor” used in fuel economy testing, provides for an E30 fuel waiver, replaces EPA’s flawed MOVES model, and restores meaningful credit toward compliance with fuel economy (CAFE) and emissions standards for the production of flex fuel vehicles (FFVs).

RFA first began advocating for the creation of a national high-octane low carbon fuel standard in late 2018. As Cooper outlined the industry’s policy priorities at the February 2019 National Ethanol Conference, he stated, “RFA’s vision for the future includes not only strengthening the RFS, but also pursuing a high-octane fuel standard,” including a requirement for 98 RON fuel, limitations on aromatics content, numerous regulatory fixes, and other measures that would “assure air quality improvements, carbon emissions reduction, and consumer savings for decades to come.” This theme was also a centerpiece of Cooper’s 2020 remarks: “We are actively engaged in discussions with lawmakers, legislative counsel, and regulators around a Low Carbon Octane Standard. We are doing the legal work and the economic analysis. And we are working to broaden the coalition of supporters for high-octane low carbon fuels.”

“Even with increased sales of electric vehicles, it is broadly understood and accepted that our light-duty transportation fleet will continue to rely heavily on liquid fuels and internal combustion engines for decades to come,” Cooper said. “As such, we should be pursuing policy solutions that compel improvements in the environmental performance and efficiency of those liquid fuels and internal combustion engines. That’s exactly what Congresswoman Bustos’s bill does.”

Next Generation Fuels Act of 2020 Includes Key Priorities, But Carbon Accounting Approach Undermines Many ACE Members

Today, as the 116th session of Congress nears completion, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-Ill. 17th) introduced the “Next Generation Fuels Act of 2020,” legislation intended to remove regulatory barriers to higher blends of ethanol and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in fuel. The bill would support high octane fuel, limit aromatics in gasoline, ensure all blends above 10 percent ethanol receive the same RVP treatment as E10, and require future vehicles and retail fuel stations to be compatible with E30, among other things. The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) was one of many organizations that worked on the legislation with the congresswoman’s office.

“We appreciate Congresswoman Bustos has introduced legislation designed to remove barriers to higher blends of ethanol and which acknowledges future policy needs to be considered in the framework of GHG emissions,” said Brian Jennings, ACE CEO. “While this legislation contains many of our top priorities, its approach to carbon accounting is flawed and undermines the investment many ACE members have made to reduce their carbon intensity.”

The legislation includes a new clean octane standard which limits aromatic compounds in gasoline and requires octane to be produced from clean sources, defined as fuel with average lifecycle GHG emissions at least 30 percent less than gasoline. The bill’s definition of industry “average” to determine the lifecycle GHG emissions of ethanol, also known as carbon intensity (CI), shortchanges many producers as Jennings explains below:

“Under this legislation, ethanol from a coal-fired ADM facility, whose fuel is similar to the CI of gasoline, would get the same access to the new octane market as the most efficient farmer-owned ethanol facility, whose carbon footprint is at least 50 percent cleaner than gasoline. In other words, the bill as currently drafted would perversely reward ADM for doing nothing to reduce the CI of the fuel produced in its coal-fired facilities and penalize many ACE-member companies that have invested millions of dollars to install technology to reduce the CI of their fuel. We do not believe there is a good rationale for a carbon policy which treats ethanol with a CI that is hardly indistinguishable from gasoline the same as ethanol from a facility that is 50 percent cleaner than gasoline.

“ACE prefers a low carbon fuel policy which assigns each fuel producer an individual carbon intensity score and measures lifecycle GHG emissions to provide credit for farming practices that reduce emissions from fertilizer use and sequester carbon in the soil. Policy with these two components would reward farmers for climate-smart practices and ethanol facilities for making investments to reduce GHG emissions.

“We appreciate Congresswoman Bustos’ leadership on our priority issues, and when the 117th session of Congress convenes, we will work with her and others to expand market access for higher ethanol blends in a way that rewards farmers and individual ethanol facilities while helping address climate change.”

EPA Releases Chlorpyrifos Draft Risk Assessment for Registration Review

ASA Newsletter

On Tuesday, EPA published new draft human health and environmental risk assessments, as well as other documents, for the use of chlorpyrifos. Publication of these documents comes as part of a broader registration review EPA is performing on the chemical, which EPA must conduct on pesticides every 15 years to determine if the product and its labeled uses continue to be safe in light of any new science. EPA is expediting its registration review of chlorpyrifos as part of a commitment the Agency made during a 2014 lawsuit brought against EPA for rejecting a petition to revoke all food safety and other exposure tolerances for chlorpyrifos.

The human health risk assessment (HHRA) has particularly been an issue for chlorpyrifos, as this is the third HHRA EPA has conducted on the chemical since 2014. The challenge stems from available evidence to determine safe levels of potential residues to ensure there is reasonable certainty no harm will occur. The new, very conservative tolerance levels detailed in this draft HHRA would, according to EPA, reasonably ensure any exposures are safe and will not cause harm.

The risk assessments themselves do not change the label for chlorpyrifos, but EPA is expected to publish a proposed interim decision (PID) for a new chlorpyrifos registration next month, which could propose changes to uses, protections, or tolerances for the product. EPA will open a 60 day comment period on the PID, risk assessments, and other documents once the PID is published.

Soybean producers currently use chlorpyrifos in rotation with other chemistries to control aphids, spider mites and other insect pests. Chlorpyrifos is particularly of value for growers who have encountered pest populations that have developed resistance to other available chemistries.

Meat Institute Joins Food and Ag Groups in Calling for Continued US Membership in WTO

The North American Meat Institute (Meat Institute) today joined a coalition of 62 leading U.S. agriculture stakeholders in calling for continued U.S. membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“U.S. membership in the WTO is essential to preserving the rules-based trading system that has paved the way for the significant growth observed in U.S. meat and poultry trade over the last few decades, with 2019 exports exceeding $19.4 billion,” said Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts. “To remain competitive globally, the U.S. meat and poultry industry depends on strong, enforceable trade agreements that embrace science-based, international standards set forth by the WTO, and other standard-setting organizations. Since its inception, the WTO has helped resolve complex global trade disputes to the benefit of the entire food value chain and American consumers.”

The group sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and leaders of the Senate Finance, House Ways & Means, and Senate and House Agriculture Committees. The letter seeks WTO reforms to enhance American agriculture’s access to foreign markets and to maintain transparency and accountability critical to future export growth that will support American jobs. The letter also identifies characteristics desired in the next WTO Director General, as the current search to replace outgoing Director General Roberto Azevedo enters its crucial final stages.

Throughout the WTO’s first two decades, overall trade in goods has nearly quadrupled while WTO members’ import tariffs have declined by an average of 15 percent. More than half of world trade is now tariff-free. The WTO affords U.S. agriculture producers and exporters most-favored nation treatment in 163 countries, representing more than 80 percent of the global economy. Continued U.S. membership and active participation in the WTO will help ensure that necessary reforms are undertaken, and that the WTO will continue to play an important and effective role in the economic development of the United States and our trading partners.

Signatories of the letter include American Farm Bureau, American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Milk Producers Federation, Corn Refiners Association, United Fresh Produce Association, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, and other industry groups.

IGC Cuts Corn Production Forecast By 6 MMT

The global corn harvest will be smaller than expected next year, the International Grains Council said Thursday, as it lowered its forecast for the global grain harvest.

The intergovernmental body lowered its predictions for the 2020-21 corn harvest by 6 million metric tons to 1.16 billion tons. The reduced figure was due to smaller-than-expected harvests in the U.S., China, and the EU, which outweighed an upward revision to forecast for Argentina and Brazil.

Reflecting the revision to corn forecasts, the IGC lowered its total grain production forecasts for next year by 3 million tons to 2.227 billion tons.

The IGC left its forecast for wheat and soybean harvest unchanged.

Despite the downward revision, the IGC still expects next year's corn harvest to be the largest ever. It predicts wheat harvest will also be at a record level of 763 million tons.

The IGC also lowered its forecast for corn consumption next year by 2 million tons to 1.176 billion tons due to reduced industrial use in the U.S. Corn is used to make the biofuel ethanol, demand for which has slumped during the coronavirus pandemic.

Germany Confirms Nine More ASF Cases in Wild Boar

Another nine cases of African swine fever (ASF) have been confirmed in wild boars in the eastern German state of Brandenburg, Germany's federal agriculture ministry said on Wednesday.

The new discoveries bring the total number of confirmed cases to 29 since the first on Sept. 10, all in wild animals, and all in the Brandenburg area. No farm animals were involved.

Germany's Friedrich-Loeffler scientific institute has confirmed the latest animals had ASF, the ministry said. The Brandenburg regional government has decided to build a fixed fence to prevent wild boar crossing into Germany from Poland, German federal agriculture minister Julia Kloeckner said, a decision that the federal government had welcomed.

China and a series of other buyers banned imports of German pork this month after the first case was confirmed. Last year China was the main non-EU export market for German pork.

The disease is not dangerous to humans but is fatal to pigs, and a massive outbreak currently ongoing in China, the world's biggest pork producer, has led to hundreds of millions of animals being culled.

Germany had feared a spread of the disease after wild boar in Poland were confirmed only about 10 kilometres from Germany in past months. Several hundred kilometres of temporary cattle fences had been set up along Germany's border with Poland.

A permanent border fence could make a contribution to preventing the further spread of ASF but there would still be unfenced areas along roads and towns, Kloeckner said.


Bayer Crop Science is proud to announce the launch of the second year for the Bayer PLUS Rewards grower program – a comprehensive portfolio of high-performance seed and crop protection products. The program is designed to provide growers with more flexibility and rewards on eligible purchases all season long.

Within the Bayer PLUS portal, growers can access all their eligible purchases at once and see how they have earned rewards with increased transparency. Enrollment is evergreen, so growers will not need to enroll again into the 2021 program. In addition, the 2021 program has remained consistent with only subtle changes made to maximize the program value for growers.

Josh VanDeWalle, Bayer PLUS Lead adds, “The continuation of the Bayer PLUS Rewards program is an exciting opportunity. Growers have access to additional tools, products and ways to earn more rewards. The 2021 program year will help growers tackle the toughest challenges with more choice, flexibility and simplicity.”

Bayer retail partners are critical to the success of this program. In 2021, we will continue to improve the tools and communication to retail partners around the Bayer PLUS program both in the retail portal and in email communications. This will help build on an important alliance to bring growers more profitable solutions.

“Bayer PLUS Rewards helps retailers provide flexible choices from our broad portfolio of high-performance products. Establishing a strong partnership between Bayer’s sales force, our retailers and customers creates trust and drives positive business results,” says Chris Turner, U.S. Country Division Head.

By visting growers can access the Bayer PLUS Rewards Calculator, which allows them to maximize rewards with this season’s purchases to invest in their operation. The calculator helps to make key input decisions throughout the season, as growers work through their crop protection purchases with their local retail partner.

Wednesday September 23 Ag News

 Report Details Impacts of COVID-19 on Agriculture Economy

Today, the Platte Institute and the Nebraska Farm Bureau released a joint policy brief examining the economic disruptions from COVID-19 on Nebraska’s agriculture sector. The brief details the challenges the industry faced prior to and during the one-two punch brought on by the pandemic, as well as the ongoing uncertainties agriculture faces in its wake.

Authored by Platte Institute Policy Director Sarah Curry and Nebraska Farm Bureau Senior Economist Jay Rempe, the brief examines the complications for the agriculture economy caused by the pandemic but also the importance of Nebraska’s agriculture, business, education, and elected leaders working strategically to assure Nebraska’s agriculture sector is on the proper path for growth in a post-COVID-19 world.

The report, Disruptions from COVID-19 on Nebraska’s Agriculture, is available at and at

“Nebraska’s crop and livestock producers have been on a roller coaster ride over the past decade regarding farm income. The agriculture economy was already on the downside and weakened when COVID-19 hit,” said Curry.

The report details the first COVD-19 blow in mid-March with the shutdown of the hospitality, restaurant, and institutional food service sector and the stay-at-home orders. Almost overnight, demand for food in these sectors, which accounted for 54 percent of the food consumed pre-COVID-19, went missing. Supply chains were ill-equipped to deal with the shutdown leaving agriculture producers with diminished markets. The stay-at-home orders furthered the difficulties as less travel meant less fuel consumed leading to the idling and slowdown of ethanol production.

“The immediate impact was that corn producers lost a key ethanol market and livestock producers lost a key feed source in ethanol by-products. The chaos in supply chains, the destruction of demand, and general uncertainty caused commodity prices to spiral downward,” said Rempe.

The second punch came in April, with the disruptions of meat processing facilities due to employee health concerns. Between complete shutdowns, reduced operations, and slower speeds, the processing facilities were operating between 60-70 percent of capacity at one point. Livestock prices plunged. Analysis released in June by Nebraska Farm Bureau suggested Nebraska’s agriculture economy could face nearly $3.7 billion in losses in 2020 due to COVID-19 if economic conditions did not improve.

“Agriculture was among the hardest hit sectors of our economy and as a result was among the sectors eligible for federal assistance. The report takes a closer look at the programs and engagement of agriculture in the federal assistance programs through the passage of the CARES Act,” said Curry. “To understand the magnitude of COVID-19’s impact, estimates suggest as much as 35-50 percent of the state’s net farm income this year could come from federal assistance due to COVID-19.”

The report also explores the scope and role of regulations on agriculture’s ability to respond to the pandemic.

“Agriculture is one of the most heavily regulated industries, with more than 20,000 restrictions imposed on agriculture at the federal level and additional regulations at the state level. There were some positive and proactive regulatory changes to help reduce the regulatory burden during the pandemic. The flexibility and waiver of some of those regulations provides a perfect case study for the possibility of future permanent regulatory reforms,” said Curry.

“There’s a great deal of uncertainty surrounding Nebraska’s agriculture sector and what the future holds. A large variable will be the duration and magnitude of the effects of COVID-19 on the economy. Will economic growth affect world trade that is so critical to Nebraska? Will China abide by purchase agreements signed earlier this year? Will markets regain their strength to offset a future drop in federal assistance? Right now, there are a lot more questions than answers,” said Rempe.

With those uncertainties, the report points to opportunities for Nebraska to be the epicenter of global food production, including advantages in natural resources, infrastructure, educational systems, and people.

“Nebraska leaders should think strategically on how we can marshal these advantages in a post-COVID-19 world. That means a more thorough examination of our policies regarding regulations, infrastructure, tax policy, innovation, and others to assure Nebraska is on the proper path for growth,” said Rempe.


Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Steve Wellman has been selected to serve as the 2021-2022 President of the Midwest Association of State Departments of Agriculture (MASDA). Wellman accepted this position during the Association’s annual meeting held virtually earlier in September.

Wellman will work with other state agricultural leaders in the Midwest to promote, support and advance ag producers, agribusinesses and the industry as a whole. MASDA is comprised of the Departments of Agriculture from 13 Midwestern states. In addition to Nebraska, MASDA includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

“MASDA is where state ag leaders come together to represent agriculture in the Midwest,” said Wellman. “Each of our states has unique ag specialties and challenges, but we also share common goals, like creating new markets for our ag products and building on existing ones. This group addresses those challenges and goals and gives a unified voice to ag producers and agribusinesses in the Midwest.”

Wellman became NDA’s 27th director in December 2017, after being appointed by Governor Pete Ricketts. Wellman brings a broad range of experience to the position having farmed in Nebraska for 35 years and also serving on various agricultural organizations and advisory committees at the federal, state and local level.

Wellman will host the annual MASDA meeting in Nebraska in June.

MASDA is the Midwest Regional Association of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), a nonpartisan, nonprofit association that represents the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries and directors in the United States.

Governor Signs Proclamation for Cooperative Month

A proclamation recognizing October as Cooperative Month was signed by Governor Pete Ricketts on September 10.

Cooperative Month has been celebrated nationwide and in Nebraska for many years to call attention to the economic benefits which come from cooperative businesses.

The proclamation signed by the Governor recognizes Nebraska’s farmer owned cooperatives and rural electric and telephone cooperatives and the important role that cooperatives play in the lives of many Nebraskans.

In 2019 agricultural cooperatives served the needs of approximately 64,000 Nebraskans in 404 rural communities across the state and directly employ over 5,300 people statewide. Last year, Nebraska’s agricultural cooperatives re-invested nearly $157 million in facilities and equipment to serve farmers and ranchers while also returning over $50.7 million in cash patronage and cash equity redemption payments to their farmer and rancher owners. In addition, Nebraska’s farmer owned cooperatives contributed $1.8 million to local fire departments, local school and youth organizations, local and statewide FFA and 4-H chapters and provided numerous scholarships to help rural Nebraska students continue their educations.

Rocky Weber, President & General Counsel of the Nebraska Cooperative Council, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary as the state’s only trade association devoted exclusively to advancing, protecting and promoting the cooperative business model, stated: “The Governor’s proclamation of October 2020 as Cooperative Month in Nebraska is a welcome acknowledgment of how important Nebraska’s cooperative system is to the economic fabric of all Nebraska, rural and urban. While grocery, value-added and financial services cooperatives are well known in urban areas of the state, the rural expansion of electrical and telephone utilities was made possible by rural residents forming cooperatives to build and own the services which they continue to maintain today. Farmer ownership of Nebraska’s farmer owned agricultural cooperatives have allowed generations of Nebraska farmers and ranchers to compete in both the national and global marketplace by pooling their business and their resources. The cooperative principles of member economic participation through democratic control, farmer governance and a focus on their members’ mutual benefits through local return of profits, local investment in facilities and equipment, and the support of rural communities are the cultural foundation of Nebraska’s cooperative system.  Even in the most challenging of times, Nebraska’s farmer owned agricultural and utility cooperatives remain steadfast in serving the needs of their owner/patrons and the communities they serve.”

Nebraska Beef Council October conference call meeting

The Nebraska Beef Council Board of Directors will have a conference call at the NBC office in Kearney, NE, located at 1319 Central Ave. on Monday October 5, 2020 beginning at 12:00 p.m. CDT. The NBC Board of Directors will finalize the 2019-2020 fiscal year. For more information, please contact Pam Esslinger at  


Lincoln Public Schools and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources are joining together to launch the LPS-UNL Early College and Career STEM Program at Lincoln Northeast High School. LPS and the university celebrated the launch of the program during an event at Lincoln Northeast on Tuesday.

Through hands-on, immersive experiences and early college pathways, the program will prepare Northeast students in the areas of food, energy, water and societal systems, which are collectively known as FEWS2. Pathways are designed for students who wish to pursue a two- or four-year college degree, as well as students who plan to enter the workforce after graduating high school.

LPS and CASNR will also work with ag- and natural resources-based businesses, commodity groups and other partners to build internships and other experiences to enhance the program.

“This is an exciting new opportunity for our students and aligns our goals of empowering our students to find academic success through authentic learning opportunities, rigorous standards and individualized learning,” LPS Superintendent Steve Joel said. “We have had many successful partnerships with the university, and this is just another example of the great collaboration between our two institutions that will benefit our students and community.”

The program is designed to provide pathways for learners at Northeast High School that are interested in FEWS2. Examples include:

> Students who plan to enter the workforce after high school graduation can earn non-credit competencies in certain areas that will give them an edge as they look for employment.

> Students will be able to earn college credit for classes that will transfer to Nebraska and other post-secondary institutions.

> Students who earn a certain number of credits can earn a certificate of college credit, which they can use to seek work after high school or can put toward a four-year degree.

Most importantly, students will be able to explore careers in agriculture and natural resources.

A summer enrichment program built around FEWS2 concepts will take place in summer 2021. Beginning in fall 2021, FEWS2 concepts will be integrated into Lincoln Northeast’s ninth- and 10th-grade math and science curriculums. In fall 2022, 11th- and 12th-graders will begin to enroll in early college credit classes and explore non-credit pathways. On- and off-ramps are built into the program for students who decide it’s not for them, enroll later in their high school career or drop out of the program and rejoin.

“As a first-generation college student who pursued an education and career in agriculture and life sciences, I know I would have benefited greatly from a program like this,” said Nebraska Chancellor Ronnie Green. “I am personally so excited for the Lincoln Northeast students whose career options are going to expand because of this partnership between the university and LPS.”

The program is designed to be affordable and accessible to students and their families. Non-credit experiences will be available to students for free. Student who opt to take classes for college credit will receive reduced tuition.

Lincoln Public Schools and CASNR have a long history of collaborating to create enriching, hands-on programming related to agriculture, life sciences and natural resources.

Nearly 20 years ago, LPS, CASNR and the Lincoln Children’s Zoo joined together to launch the Our Zoo to You program, in which animals from the zoo lived in LPS elementary classrooms for six weeks and were incorporated into reading, writing, science and math curriculum. Other successful programs, including Bug Bash and the Summer Soybean Institute, followed.

Tiffany Heng-Moss, dean of agricultural sciences and natural resources, said all of these programs challenged LPS students to use design thinking and scientific inquiry and have prepared them to meet the challenges of a changing world. The Early STEM program is no different.

We built this program to meet students where they are at and help prepare them for future careers in the growing areas of food, energy, water and societal systems,” Heng-Moss said. “In Nebraska, one in four jobs is related to agriculture and natural resources, and a prepared workforce with highly developed problem-solving and critical-thinking skills will be essential to Nebraska’s future success. I am so proud of this partnership and the opportunities it will bring for students and for Nebraska. CASNR is excited to partner with LPS and the agriculture and natural resources industries, commodities and other stakeholders in Nebraska and work together to prepare the next generation of change-makers.”

For more information, visit

Pennsylvania farmer to lead OCM

The Lincoln, NE-based Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) is pleased to announce that it has hired Pennsylvania farmer Mike Eby as its new executive director.

Eby is a seventh-generation farmer whose family has been on their land for 206 years.  In 1999, Eby purchased his father’s purebred Holstein herd and milked cows with his wife and four children for 17 years.  After selling the dairy cows, Mike and his family transitioned to a red Angus cow/calf operation and also grows corn, beans and wheat.

Eby will continue his role as the chairman of the National Dairy Producers Organization (NDPO), a farmer member nonprofit that works to ensure dairy marketing cooperatives operate for the mutual benefit of producer-members.

Eby has initiated antitrust litigation with fellow dairy farmers against Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), the U.S.’s largest dairy cooperative, alleging that DFA, Dean Foods, and Dairy Marketing Services engaged in anti-competitive milk marketing practices for 12 years that harmed the farmer-members of the cooperative. The suit is pending in U.S. District Court in Vermont and has brought forth an amicus brief from the U.S. Department of Justice, which argued in favor of the dairy farmers.

“As OCM’s executive director, I am looking forward to working with like-minded organizations to restore competition within the agriculture marketplace,” Eby said.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 9/18/2020

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending September 18, ethanol production slowed, shifting 2.2% lower, or 21,000 barrels per day (b/d), to 906,000 b/d—equivalent to 38.05 million gallons daily and the smallest output since June. The four-week average ethanol production rate declined 0.6% to 924,000 b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 14.16 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks expanded by 1.0% to 20.0 million barrels, which was 11.1% below year-ago volumes. Inventories increased across all regions except the Midwest (PADD 2) and Rocky Mountains (PADD 4).

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, ticked up 0.4% to 8.52 million b/d (130.53 bg annualized). Gasoline demand remained 8.9% lower than a year ago.

Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol slipped 0.7% to 839,000 b/d, equivalent to 12.86 bg annualized. This was 10.3% below the year-earlier level as a result of the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Imports of ethanol arriving into the West Coast were 11,000 b/d, or 3.23 million gallons for the week. This marks the seventh time in nine weeks that imports were reported. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of July 2020.)

Equipment Companies Continue March Toward Increasing Biodiesel in Heating Industry

The home heating industry continues its march toward a low carbon liquid future this week as momentum in the technical space drives ahead. Key advancements in research and development continue to bring all parts of the industry into a unified direction -- increased Bioheat® use industry wide.

Leading up to this week's 2020 Heating & Energizing America Trade Show (HEAT Show), industry leaders from all segments were abuzz on the latest activity. One such announcement came this week from R.W. Beckett Corp., one of the industry’s leading heating oil burner manufacturers, unveiling a new B20-certified-burner.

“We are extremely happy to see equipment companies stepping up to the table to support higher biodiesel blends in home heating oil after the years of research conducted to make that move possible,” said Scott Fenwick, Technical Director for the National Biodiesel Board. "Last year's Providence Resolution has served as a catalyst and we are pleased to see all segments of the industry continuing to pull toward those extremely important carbon reduction goals."

During the 2019 HEAT Show, the heating oil industry launched an initiative, dubbed ‘The Providence Resolution’, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from heating oil 15 percent by 2023, 40 percent by 2030, and become net-zero by 2050. These emissions reduction goals approximately equate to biodiesel blends of B20 by 2023, B50 by 2030, and B100 industry-wide by 2050. These goals will put low carbon liquid home heating fuels ahead of costly, wholesale system changes being discussed to reduce emissions in the sector, with the added benefit of making immediate emissions reductions available.

“Given the compounding impacts of the effect of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere over time, doing B20 today and moving to B50 and net zero carbon B100 in the future provides significantly more GHG reductions than waiting for future wind and solar—without the capital costs of heat pumps, solar panels, wind turbines and updating the electrical grid,” said Fenwick. "An all of the above strategy is important, but the nearly 5.5 billion homes in the Northeast who currently use heating oil systems can make a significant impact with biodiesel, almost immediately."

The biodiesel and heating oil industries, through a cooperative effort led by NBB and The National Oilheat Research Alliance initiated in 2008, conducted the lab scale, bench scale, and field testing needed to secure industry consensus ASTM fuel quality standards for blends up to B20 in 2015.

“NBB and NORA have since been focused on the data needed to secure industry consensus ASTM quality standards for blends up to B100, as well as updated third party certification procedures for B100,” said Steve Howell of M4 Consulting who Chairs the ASTM Biodiesel Task Force at ASTM International. “These continuing R&D efforts were instrumental in providing a foundation for the Providence Resolution, which in turn helped provide the impetus to the equipment companies to invest in their own future by supporting higher biodiesel blends.”

Conaway Commends Congressional Republican Leadership for Stopping Democrats’ Proposal to Defund Key Agricultural Programs

Rep. K. Michael Conaway, Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee, issued the following statement upon passage of the Continuing Resolution (CR) which funds the U.S. government into December and includes funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help rural America, farmers, ranchers, and dairy producers:

"Last Friday, there was a bipartisan agreement to fund ALL of the U.S. government, including USDA so they could help rural America and our farmers, ranchers, and dairy producers through some very, very difficult times.

"But, then, that deal was rescinded by Democratic leaders in Congress. Under yesterday’s House Democratic plan, rural America, farmers, ranchers, and dairy producers were excluded from help under COVID-19 relief and even from basic Farm Bill support. As the Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee, I strongly opposed this deliberate, unconscionable snubbing of rural America.

“Thanks to President Trump and Republican Leaders in Congress who also strongly opposed this reckless stunt, the Democrats finally modified their funding bill to include the Department of Agriculture.

"Had Congressional Republican leadership not stepped in, USDA would have been forced to shut down critical Farm Bill programs supported by wide, bipartisan margins in both the House and the Senate. This would have hurt millions and helped nobody.

"I’m pleased that cooler heads prevailed and that USDA will now have the funds it needs to help our farmers, ranchers, and dairy producers get back on their feet.”

Fortenberry Statement on House Vote to Fund the Government

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (NE-01) issued the following statement tonight after the U.S. House of Representatives voted to the fund the federal government through December 11.

"Tonight, the House voted overwhelmingly to fund the government through December 11––protecting farmers and providing nutrition assistance to millions of Americans facing food insecurity due to coronavirus, while also keeping U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services whole and working,” Fortenberry said.

“Now the bill moves to the Senate, where it is expected to obtain swift passage,” Fortenberry added.

Lawmakers Show Support for Farmers

The decision by House lawmakers to include a reimbursement of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) in the continuing resolution demonstrates their support for America’s farmers. The measure passed tonight and will now go to the Senate. Funds from the CCC support farm programs ranging from conservation to risk management. The CCC was dangerously close to running out of funds, which would have effectively shut down the farm safety net.

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall says:

“We applaud Chairman Peterson and Ranking Member Conaway for their leadership, and House lawmakers for putting aside their differences to address the hardships being felt by America’s farmers and ranchers. For years, funding the CCC has been a bipartisan commitment. While we were disappointed it recently became a political flashpoint, we are pleased lawmakers on both sides of the aisle recognize that these funds help to sustain conservation programs and stock America’s pantry. I would be remiss if I did not also thank the Farm Bureau members across the country who let their elected leaders know how important the farm safety net is to the future of U.S. agriculture. We are grateful farmers’ voices were heard.”

Ranch Group Appreciates the Introduction of New Legislation to Address Dysfunctional Cattle Markets

Today, Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) introduced the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2020 in response to packer concentration and the lack of competition in U.S. cattle markets, an ultra-thin price discovery market for fed cattle, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) non-disclosure of pricing information in regions with too few fed cattle buyers.

Fischer’s bill follows the introduction of a bipartisan bill introduced in mid-May by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Jon Tester (D-MT), and subsequent introduction of a companion bill in the U.S. House by Representative Cindy Axne (R-IA). The earlier Senate bill (S. 3693) and earlier House bill (H.R. 7501) were efforts to administer triage to the cattle market by restoring robust competition in the ultra-thin fed cattle cash market. The bills would accomplish this by requiring the largest beef packers to purchase at least 50% of their cattle needs from the fed cattle cash market and to slaughter those cattle within 14 days.

The earlier introduced bills, however, were never scheduled for a hearing by the U.S. Senate agriculture committee and have languished for months without any action while the dysfunctional cattle market persisted – a market marked by historically high prices for beef while cattle prices remain seriously depressed.

“We are pleased that Congress is taking the dysfunctional cattle market seriously as evidenced by the bill introduced today by Senator Fischer,” commented R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.

Fischer’s bill differs from the earlier Senate and House bills by proposing that minimum purchase volumes in the fed cattle cash market be established not on a national level by Congress; but rather, on a regional level to be established sometime in the future by the USDA.

In addition, the Fischer bill goes beyond addressing the ultra-thin cash market by borrowing a concept first raised in the 2010 proposed rule that R-CALF USA supported and that would have required packers to submit a sample copy of each unique type of cattle purchasing contract or agreement to the USDA. The Fischer bill adopts this concept through its requirement that packers submit their various contracts to the USDA, which would then maintain a library of those submitted contracts.

The Fischer bill also addresses the USDA’s current non-disclosure of pricing information in states and regions where the USDA believes there are too few buyers. It does this by requiring the USDA to disclose to the public all pricing information that it collects under the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act.

Another provision of the Fischer bill will mandate that packers report the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 days.

“We appreciate and welcome Senator Fischer’s bill and hope that even more bills will be introduced so our industry can choose from among the very best solutions to restore robust competition to our shrinking U.S. cattle industry,” Bullard said adding, “And one of those new bills must include the requirement that all beef sold in the U.S. be labeled with its country of origin.”

Cargill, McDonald's, Others Launch Million Acre Grazing Initiative

Cross-industry collaboration is crucial to meeting the global demand for protein while also addressing the urgency of climate change and nature loss. Responding to this challenge, today the Walmart Foundation, Cargill and McDonald's are investing over $6 million in an initiative led by World Wildlife Fund that aims to make lasting improvements to the grasslands of the Northern Great Plains.

The new program, known as the Ranch Systems and Viability Planning (RSVP) network, will support ranchers across the ecoregion-focusing primarily on Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota-with technical expertise, training and tools to help advance grazing practices that improve the health of the land. By improving management of one million acres over five years and avoiding conversion, this effort will result in increased carbon storage and sequestration, improved water infiltration and better outcomes for biodiversity.

This program supports the Walmart Foundation's focus to bring more sustainable, regenerative practices to the beef industry. The Foundation aims to build connections that can accelerate systems change and form communities of practice with grantees and leaders to share learnings, advance best practices, foster collaboration and scale collective impact. Investing in conservation activities in the Northern Great Plains supports the stewards of those lands and contributes to climate resilience efforts.

This partnership also supports McDonald's ambition to use its scale and many relationships from the farm to the restaurant to help significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and evolve the food system for a resilient and sustainable future. As the first restaurant company in the world to set an approved science-based target on climate action, McDonald's is partnering across the supply chain to employ a diverse set of strategies, which scale-up action across the industry.

The project is also part of Cargill's BeefUp Sustainability initiative, which seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout the company's beef supply chain by 30 percent by 2030, measured on a per pound of beef basis against a 2017 baseline. Earlier this year, Cargill launched two other programs to support this goal, including a grassland restoration effort and an initiative to implement proven soil health practices in cattle feed.

Tuesday September 22 Ag News

Senator Fischer Introduces Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2020

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today introduced the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2020. The legislation would restore transparency and accountability in the cattle market by establishing regional negotiated cash minimums and equipping producers with more market information.

“The past few years have been very difficult for producers, due to tough conditions and big market disruptions such as the Holcomb plant fire and the outbreak of COVID-19. My legislation seeks to bring transparency and accountability to the cattle market.  It will ensure there are a sufficient number of cash transactions to facilitate price discovery, and equip producers with more price information to assist them with their marketing decisions,” said Senator Fischer.

More information:

This summer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture concluded its investigation into potential market manipulation in the cattle industry following a fire at a Tyson Foods plant in Holcomb, Kansas, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Following that investigation, Senator Fischer committed to introducing legislation to resolve ongoing challenges in the cattle market. The Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2020 will:

1.      Establish regional mandatory minimum thresholds of negotiated cash trades to enable price discovery in cattle marketing regions. It requires the Secretary of Agriculture to establish regionally sufficient levels of negotiated cash trade, seek public comment on those levels, then implement.

2.     Require USDA to create and maintain a library of marketing contracts between packers and producers, and require packers to supply this information to USDA.

    Mandate that a packer report the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 days. This requirement already exists for the swine industry.

4.     Make clear that all information should be reported in a manner that ensures confidentiality, and note, “Nothing in this section permits the Secretary, or any officer or employee of the Secretary, to withhold from the public the information [required to be reported under LMR].”

Nebraska Cattlemen Support Cattle Market Transparency and Increasing Price Discovery

Cattle market transparency - specifically, fed cattle market price discovery - has been a headline issue for Nebraska Cattlemen members over the majority of the past decade. The Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2020 employs new ideas to address price discovery concerns while repurposing proven programs to increase cattle market transparency.  
"We sincerely thank Senator Fisher for her work on this important issue to Nebraska Cattlemen members." - Ken Herz, President, Nebraska Cattlemen. "Price discovery and market transparency are complex issues that take complex solutions."
Items in Senator Fischer's bill such as the cattle contract library, 14-day packer purchase commitment outlook, and clarification of USDA-LMR confidentiality guidelines to avoid non-reporting of USDA-LMR collected data on a regional and national basis will aid in increasing cattle market transparency for all producers. Additionally, directing USDA-AMS to establish regionally negotiated cash plus negotiated grid marketing volume minimums thresholds will enhances price discovery goals and commitments for the betterment of all cattle producers.   
The Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2020 fits into ongoing industry efforts to afford all cattle producers the opportunity to share in the beef industry's successful product marketing efforts both domestically and abroad.

NCBA Responds To Cattle Market Transparency Act

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) released the following statement in response the Cattle Market Transparency Act, introduced today by Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.):
“Price discovery is an issue of critical importance to cow/calf producers, stockers, backgrounders, and feeders across the United States, and more negotiated trade is needed throughout the cattle feeding regions to ensure sufficient price discovery. That is why all of NCBA’s 46 state affiliate organizations unanimously adopted a fed cattle price discovery policy at our 2020 Summer Business Meeting. This policy directs NCBA to pursue a voluntary approach to price discovery that includes triggers established by a working group of producer members which, if tripped due to a lack of regionally sufficient negotiated trade, would prompt NCBA to seek legislative or regulatory solutions—such as those outlined in Sen. Fischer’s bill—to achieve robust price discovery.
“Since the adoption of this policy, that producer group has been diligently working to establish these triggers and identify a path to increase negotiated trade across all cattle feeding regions. We anticipate that the subgroup will meet the October 1st deadline set by the policy to establish regional triggers.
“Sen. Fischer’s bill explores many avenues to improve transparency in the cattle markets. The creation of a cattle contracts library and clarification of confidentiality rules will provide crucial data to cattle producers as they seek to make informed marketing decisions. However, our policy dictates that the voluntary framework we are developing be allowed the opportunity to succeed or fail before we can lend our support to regional mandatory minimums for negotiated trade. We welcome a continued dialogue with Sen. Fischer and her colleagues on ways to achieve robust price discovery for all cattle producers.”


Jerry Volesky - NE Extension
Do you know the quality of the hay or silage that you harvested this past season?   It is important to know how much protein and energy your cows will get when you start feeding, or how much supplement to feed.  Find out by following instructions for sampling and testing.
Correct sampling techniques, followed by lab tests of forage quality, are necessary for cattle producers who want to get the most value from their forages and profit from their animals.
Maybe the most important step in sampling hay, and sometimes the most difficult step, is deciding which bales and stacks should be included in each sample.  Ideally, each sample should include only bales that were produced under nearly identical conditions.
Obviously, the place to start grouping is to separate different types of hay, like alfalfa or CRP or corn stalk or meadow hay.  But each cutting of hay probably is different from the other cuttings also, so there is another separation.  And no two fields or meadows are ever exactly the same, especially if they were cut more than two days apart, so that makes another grouping.  And what if part of the field was rained on before it was baled?  The hay made without rain damage probably will be different from hay with rain damage.
After you’ve made all these separations, which could result in quite a few groups of similar bales, then and only then are you ready to sample.  From each group gather a dozen or more cores from different bales or stacks and combine them into one sample.  Be sure to use a good hay probe that can core into at least one foot of the bale.
Finally, send these samples to a certified lab for tests of crude protein, energy content and possibly nitrates, if it was an annual forage and had some of the risk factors associated with nitrates.
Then use this information to feed your cattle as profitably as possible.  

Seeding Rates for Broadcasting Cover Crops Into Late-season Corn and Soybean

Katja Koehler-Cole - UNL Research Assistant Professor in Agronomy and Horticulture

The middle to end of September is a good time to establish cover crops by broadcasting seeds into corn or soybean before harvest. Broadcast interseeding before harvest allows cover crops to capture more sunshine, growing degree days and rainfall than drilling after harvest.

Previous studies have shown that cover crops in eastern Nebraska usually have greater productivity when they are established before harvest than drill-planted after harvest. Cover crops with more biomass will better reduce erosion and run-off. High amounts of cover crop biomass mean more organic matter is returned to the soil.

When it comes to selecting a seeding rate for broadcasting cover crops, there is little research-based information. Broadcast seeds do not have good seed-soil contact which reduces the seeds’ ability to take up water necessary for germination. Thus, stand counts of broadcast cover crops are often lower than those of drilled cover crops. Could increasing the seeding rate overcome low stand counts and improve cover crop productivity?

We tried to answer this question by carrying out field experiments at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead and the South-Central Agricultural Laboratory near Clay Center in 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 in corn and soybean fields under no-till management. Our cover crops were cereal rye, variety Elbon, and hairy vetch, variety not stated. The research plots measured 20 by 30 feet, so we broadcast by hand instead of using equipment.

For rye, seeding rates (pure live seed) were 60 lb/ac, 90 lb/ac, and 120 lb/ac. Hairy vetch seeding rates were 40 lb/ac, 60 lb/ac, and 80 lb/ac. In the fall, we determined cover crop stand counts by counting the number of plants in two 5×1 ft frames in each plot. In the spring, we measured productivity by clipping biomass in two 5×1 ft squares per plot, drying and then weighing biomass.

On average, in rye plots, 13% of broadcast seed emerged, with stand counts of 6 plants/sq ft. In vetch plots, 30% of seed emerged, and there were about 5 plants/sq ft. Rainfall within a week after broadcasting is critical for good establishment and was greater at the eastern site than at the south-central site. As a result, more seeds emerged at the eastern site. Stand counts increased with increasing seeding rates.

Rye produced more biomass than vetch, on average 1,500 lb/ac. Rye biomass increased with the greater seeding rates, but the difference between the medium and high seeding rate was not significant. For vetch, increasing the seeding rate did not improve biomass production which was 400 lb/ac. Vetch should be planted earlier for better productivity. Figure 2 shows biomass production of the cover crops broadcast interseeded into soybean. Rye was more productive than vetch (2,100 lb/ac and 500 lb/ac) but increasing the seeding rates did not change biomass production of either rye or vetch.

Cover crops tended to produce more biomass when established in soybean than in corn, but this was not statistically tested. Rye in corn stubble showed signs of not receiving enough light, as it was lighter in color, had longer stems, and fewer tillers than rye in soybean stubble. Fall tillering is associated with greater spring biomass and may be the reason why cover crops planted into soybean were more productive than those planted into corn. Rye can also compensate for low stand counts by tillering, which explains the lack of response to increased seeding rates. On the other hand, the greater amount of residue and taller stalk remaining in corn fields may preserve more soil moisture and may protect from wind, thus benefitting cover crops in dry and cold sites.

Take-home Message

Despite low emergence, cereal rye was a productive cover crop when established by late-season broadcast interseeding. When broadcast interseeding cereal rye into corn, we found that a seeding rate of 90 lb/ac produced the most biomass in the spring. When broadcast interseeding into soybean, a seeding rate of 60 lb/ac produced the same amount of biomass as higher seeding rates. Vetch biomass production was low and was the same at the seeding rate of 40 lb/ac than at the higher seeding rates. Vetch needs to be established earlier than the mid-to late September seeding dates in our study.

Rethinking Methane

CBB newsletter

In July, Burger King released a commercial claiming that adding lemongrass to beef cattle diets would cut down on "cow farts" and reduce methane emissions by "up to 33 percent." Ag industry experts quickly pushed back on the controversial video. One of those experts was world-renowned air quality specialist Dr. Frank Mitloehner, a professor at the University of California–Davis (UC-DAVIS). His input, along with many others in the ag industry, resulted in Burger King pulling parts of the campaign and issuing an apology to producers. Burger King asked Dr. Mitloehner to partner with them to gain science-based insight and fact-check content moving forward. This is a huge success for the cattle industry.

Dr. Mitloehner is passionate about understanding and mitigating air emissions from livestock operations. His research is working towards understanding how cattle can be part of a climate solution. Dr. Mitloehner, with the Clarity and Leadership for Environmental Awareness and Research (CLEAR) center at UC-Davis, recently released a video explaining how to measure biogenic methane's impact on the environment.

Watch the video here....  

Record Level of Prime Grading

Josh Maples, Extension Economist, Dept of Ag Econ, Mississippi State University

The percentage of steer and heifer carcasses grading prime so far during 2020 has outpaced normal levels. The average percent prime for the first seven months of 2020 was 10.6 percent which is the highest January-July average on record and about two percent higher than during the first seven months of 2019.
Dressed weights have also been higher during 2020. Average steer and heifer dressed weights were 899 and 829 pounds, respectively, during the first 8 months of 2020. For steers, that was a 32-pound increase over the same period in 2019 while it was a 25.5-pound increase for heifers. Cattle dressed weights are usually seasonally lowest during late spring and then peak in late fall. In 2020, the seasonal decline in the spring did not materialize due to the processing disruptions forcing cattle to stay on feed longer.
The percentage of cattle grading prime was steadily increasing before the 2020 disruptions. Percent prime averaged 4.1 percent during 2010 through 2015 and 7.4 percent from 2016 to 2019. On the opposite end of the grading scale, the percentage of cattle grading select has been declining. Percent select averaged 28.3 percent during 2010 to 2015 and 18.5 percent from 2016 to 2019. The average select percent for the first seven months of 2020 was 14 percent which is the lowest seven-month average on record and 3.5 percent lower than during the first seven months of 2019.
In the middle, the percent of cattle grading choice has increased from 67.3 percent during 2010 to 2015, to 74 percent during 2016 to 2019, and averaged 75.2 percent through July in 2020. Putting prime and choice together, 85.8 percent of cattle graded either prime or choice during 2020 through July. There are longer-term trends that are leading to increasing quality grades; but the percentages in 2020 have been exceptionally strong.
While prime percentages increased, the weighted average carcass premiums for grading prime decreased. The USDA-AMS 5-Area weekly premiums and discounts report showed the average carcass premium for prime from April through July 2020 was $8.37 per cwt. This was $3.52 lower than the same period of 2019. For comparison, the average prime premium during April through July for 2015 to 2019 was $14.03.
The larger totals of prime beef in 2020 occurred as demand for prime took a significant hit. A sharp decline in travel and dining at high-end restaurants impacted the demand for prime beef. The demand decline was coupled with the supply increase and the premiums received for prime carcasses declined. These shifts in supply and demand of prime carcasses in 2020 limited the reward for achieving the prime carcass grade.
The USDA-AMS national weekly comprehensive boxed beef cutout report shows the value of prime relative to choice has increased since the low points earlier this year. From April through July 2020, the prime boxed beef cutout value averaged only $10.59 higher than the choice cutout. Since the start of August, the weekly difference has averaged $23.71 including consecutive weekly increases over the past five weeks. This suggests that the difference between choice and prime cutout values may be returning to more normal levels moving forward.


All layers in Nebraska during August 2020 totaled 8.57 million, down from 9.19 million the previous year, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.  Nebraska egg production during August totaled 214 million eggs, down from 235 million in 2019. August egg production per 100 layers was 2,502 eggs, compared to 2,560 eggs in 2019.


Iowa egg production during August 2020 was 1.24 billion eggs, up 1% from last month but down 14% 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 August 2020 was 47.0 million, up 1% from last month but down 18% from last year. Eggs per 100 layers for August were 2,639, up 1% from last month and up 6% from last year.

USDA: August Egg Production Down 2 Percent

United States egg production totaled 9.29 billion during August 2020, down 2 percent from last year. Production included 8.03 billion table eggs, and 1.26 billion hatching eggs, of which 1.17 billion were broiler-type and 85.1 million were egg-type. The average number of layers during August 2020 totaled 380 million, down 3 percent from last year. August egg production per 100 layers was 2,445 eggs, up 1 percent from August 2019.
Total layers in the United States on September 1, 2020 totaled 382 million, down 3 percent from last year. The 382 million layers consisted of 317 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 60.8 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs, and 3.29 million layers producing egg-type hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on September 1, 2020, averaged 77.9 eggs per 100 layers, up slightly from September 1, 2019.

Egg-Type Chicks Hatched Up 8 Percent

Egg-type chicks hatched during August 2020 totaled 50.0 million, up 8 percent from August 2019. Eggs in incubators totaled 47.2 million on September 1, 2020, down 1 percent from a year ago. Domestic placements of egg-type pullet chicks for future hatchery supply flocks by leading breeders totaled 370,000 during August 2020, up 91 percent from August 2019.

Broiler-Type Chicks Hatched Down 2 Percent

Broiler-type chicks hatched during August 2020 totaled 837 million, down 2 percent from August 2019. Eggs in incubators totaled 690 million on September 1, 2020, down 1 percent from a year ago.  Leading breeders placed 8.21 million broiler-type pullet chicks for future domestic hatchery supply flocks during August 2020, up 1 percent from August 2019.

USDA Cold Storage August 2020 Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers on August 31, 2020 were up 3 percent from the previous month but down 13 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were up 5 percent from the previous month but down 2 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were up 2 percent from the previous month but down 23 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were down 28 percent from last month and down 33 percent from last year.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on August 31, 2020 were down 1 percent from the previous month but up 1 percent from August 31, 2019.  Butter stocks were up slightly from last month and up 22 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen poultry supplies on August 31, 2020 were up 1 percent from the previous month but down 2 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were up 1 percent from the previous month but down 1 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 2 percent from last month but down 6 percent from August 31, 2019.

Total frozen fruit stocks on August 31, 2020 were up 10 percent from last month but down 7 percent from a year ago.  Total frozen vegetable stocks were up 19 percent from last month but down 3 percent from a year ago.

Excluding CCC from CR Pulls the Rug Out from Under Farmers, Ag Retailers

Today, Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) President and CEO Daren Coppock released the following statement in response to the continuing resolution (CR) released by U.S. House of Representatives Democrats extending funding for government operations through Dec. 11:

"The CR expressly excludes a provision to ensure 2018 Farm Bill farm and conservation programs will be able to continue uninterrupted beyond Fiscal Year 2020. For decades, USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) has been regularly replenished to fund programs integral to the farm safety net that Congress has worked tirelessly to craft.

"Producers count on programs like Agriculture Risk Coverage, Price Loss Coverage, Dairy Margin Coverage, Marketing Assistance Loans, conservation programs, and many others as they provide food, fuel and fiber for our nation.

"Farmers and those who provide them credit, including retailers, banked on predictable and promised farm programs. Failure to replenish CCC will pull the rug from under those budgets and financing arrangements.

"ARA urges the House to make amendments to the CR to avoid disruptions to the CCC before passage."

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

If you are near a Culver's restaurant on Sept. 24, you may want to stop in for a quick treat. That's because each location will be giving away a single scoop of frozen custard in exchange for a $1 donation to the FFA that day, while supplies last.

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

The restaurant chain had originally scheduled the annual promotion for May 7, but postponed it because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

Last year's Scoops of Thanks promotion raised over $104,000.

Monday September 21 Ag News


For the week ending September 20, 2020, there were 6.7 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 16% very short, 36% short, 47% adequate, and 1% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 21% very short, 35% short, 43% adequate, and 1% surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn condition rated 6% very poor, 9% poor, 21% fair, 44% good, and 20% excellent. Corn dented was 97%, ahead of 88% last year, and near 94% for the five-year average. Mature was 65%, well ahead of 32% last year, and ahead of 47% average. Harvested was 10%, ahead of 2% last year and 4% average.

Soybean condition rated 5% very poor, 8% poor, 21% fair, 49% good, and 17% excellent. Soybeans dropping leaves was 82%, well ahead of 46% last year and 62% average. Harvested was 10%, ahead of 4% average.

Winter wheat planted was 40%, near 42% last year and 43% average. Emerged was 4%, near 7% average.

Sorghum condition rated 4% very poor, 8% poor, 22% fair, 39% good, and 27% excellent. Sorghum coloring was 93%, near 90% last year and 94% average. Mature was 49%, well ahead of 17% last year, and ahead of 36% average. Harvested was 2%, near 3% average.

Dry edible bean condition rated 1% very poor, 2% poor, 9% fair, 70% good, and 18% excellent. Dry edible beans dropping leaves was 85%, ahead of 77% last year. Harvested was 62%, well ahead of 30% last year.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 11% very poor, 22% poor, 27% fair, 38% good, and 2% excellent.


A week without measurable rainfall allowed farmers 6.2 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending September 20, 2020, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Field activities included harvesting corn for silage, fall tillage, moving old crop grain stocks, and harvesting corn for grain and soybeans.

Topsoil moisture condition rated 12% very short, 29% short, 56% adequate and 3% surplus. Subsoil moisture condition rated 21% very short, 32% short, 46% adequate and 1% surplus.

Corn was 94% in or beyond dent stage, over 2 weeks ahead of the previous year and 4 days ahead of the 5-year average. Two-thirds of the crop has reached maturity, 3 weeks ahead of last year and over a week ahead of average. Corn harvest for grain reached 4% statewide, 17 days ahead of last year and 5 days ahead of average. Corn condition rated 42% good to excellent, unchanged from the previous week.

Soybeans coloring or beyond advanced to 90%. That is over 2 weeks ahead of last year and 1 week ahead of average. Two-thirds of the soybean crop was dropping leaves or beyond, also over 2 weeks ahead of last year and 1 week ahead of average. Soybean harvest was 7% complete, 17 days ahead of last year and 6 days ahead of average. Farmers in northwest and west central Iowa led the way with over 10% of their soybeans harvested. Soybean condition rated 48% good to excellent.

Alfalfa hay third cutting was 97% complete, a month ahead of last year and over 2 weeks ahead of the 5-year average.

Pasture condition rated 17% good to excellent. Livestock experienced little stress with cooler temperatures.

USDA - Corn 8% Harvested, Soybeans 6% Harvested

After starting out ahead of normal, the U.S. corn harvest fell slightly behind the five-year average by the end of last week, according to the USDA NASS weekly Crop Progress report released on Monday.

NASS estimated that, as of Sunday, Sept. 20, 8% of U.S. corn had been harvested, 2 percentage points behind the average pace of 10%. This was despite corn development continuing to run ahead of average with 95% of the crop dented, ahead of the average of 90%, and 59% of the crop mature, 10 percentage points ahead of the average of 49%.  NASS estimated that 61% of the corn crop was in good-to-excellent condition as of Sunday, up 1 percentage point from 60% the previous week.

In its first soybean harvest report of the season, NASS estimated that 6% of the crop was harvested as of Sunday, ahead of 2% last year and equal to the five-year average. Like corn, soybean development continued ahead of normal with 59% of the crop dropping leaves, 9 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 50%.  The condition of soybeans remained unchanged at 63% good-to-excellent.

Spring wheat harvest inched toward completion last week, moving ahead 4 percentage points to reach 96% complete as of Sunday, still equal to the five-year average.

Meanwhile, winter wheat planting continued to run slightly ahead of the normal pace, at 20% complete as of Sunday compared to the average of 19%. Three percent of winter wheat had emerged, 1 percentage point ahead of the five-year average of 2%.


Nebraska Farm Bureau Releases Cattle Markets Task Force Report

The Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) has released the findings and policy recommendations of its Cattle Markets Task Force. The task force was charged with examining current Farm Bureau policy, providing policy recommendations, and providing input on what NEFB’s role should be in addressing concerns regarding cattle markets.

“Nebraska’s cattle industry is the largest segment of Nebraska agriculture and it’s critical to the economic well-being of our state. Listening to the concerns of our cattle producers regarding the challenges in the beef industry, we felt it was vital that we put together a group to do a deep dive on the issues surrounding cattle markets and develop a resource to aid our members in developing our organizational policy,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

Over the course of five months, the NEFB Cattle Markets Task Force met online and in person with agriculture economists, cattle organizations, auction barn owners, feedlot managers, restaurant owners, and consultants in order to gain a better understanding of the entire beef supply chain and to develop recommendations for consideration by members as part of Nebraska Farm Bureau’s policy development process.

The group ultimately centered its work around six topics, including fed cattle markets, the Livestock Market Reporting Act, small and medium-sized packing facilities, beef packer market power, risk management and value-added programs, and mandatory country of origin labeling.

“The Nebraska Farm Bureau Cattle Markets Task Force members are to be commended for their work in giving careful and thoughtful consideration to many challenging issues facing the beef industry. We look forward to the delegate discussions on these issues during our annual meeting in December and subsequently the American Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in January where our official organizational policies will be determined,” said Nelson.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Cattle Markets Task Force report summarizing the group’s findings and recommendations is available on the Nebraska Farm Bureau website at  


Megan Taylor, NE Extension Educator, Platte Co.

As October approaches and harvest starts, don’t forget about thistles plaguing your pastures.

Fall, specifically October and early November is a key time to chemically control thistles in pastures. More herbicides can be used and the small size of musk thistle seedlings and new growth of Canada thistle is key to effective chemical control. During the season you may have seen thistles in your pastures, if you scout those areas you will most likely find rosettes of musk thistle forming or new Canada thistle growth. While in the rosette stage thistles are more sensitive to herbicides and can be effectively controlled chemically.

There are many herbicides labeled for thistle control. Always read and follow all label directions. The use of tradenames is for educational purposes only and not an endorsement. When choosing your herbicide for spraying thistles, proper identification of the thistles can help make those decisions. Several products are effective across all thistles, but different herbicides have higher efficacies based on the type. For example, Cimaron MAX® is only 80-84% effective on Canada thistle compared to 90-95% effective on Scotch Thistle, so check an efficacy table and your fields before making herbicide choices.

Efficacy ratings show that ForeFront®, Milestone®, Chaparral®, Grazon P&D®, Stinger®, and Tordon 22K® consistently have an 85-95% control response across various thistles. When using Tordon 22K® or Grazon P&D® use extreme caution around other vegetation, especially trees. Both products will kill woody plants. Other products that have good efficacy are 2,4-D mixed with Banvel® or dicamba, but should be sprayed when temperatures are warmer for the highest efficacy. Also Cimaron MAX®, Distinct®, and Overdrive® all consistently have 80-90% control response across various thistles.

Bottom line: if you had thistles this summer and are relying on chemical control, spraying in the fall has more options for control.

Check Stalk Quality of Corn Going into Harvest

Melissa Bartels - NE Extension Educator

Corn fields are turning quickly. Patches of plants are dying early and/or becoming discolored. In some areas of the state, lodging has been reported. Corn plants prioritize making and filling grain. Consequently, plants will cannibalize their own stalk tissue if necessary in order to have the carbohydrates needed to fill grain.

What does this mean? When plants are stressed and leaf area is reduced by drought, disease, and/or mechanical damage such as that caused by hail or wind, the plant will begin taking resources from within itself. This year, over half of the state is in a drought and some fields have been hit hard by leaf diseases such as southern rust which damages the leaf’s ability to retain water as it causes rips in the leaf surface. The loss of leaf area reduces the plant’s photosynthetic machinery which produces carbohydrates. The plant will then begin to cannibalize carbohydrates from the stalk causing the stalk to weaken. Poor stalk quality can cause stalk lodging and breakage, leading to harvest difficulties. This could cause yield loss and create issues of volunteer corn for next year's crops due to ears lost from lodged corn.

It is critical to scout fields to determine which ones might need to be harvested first or earlier to avoid losses due to lodged corn, especially since conditions for stalk rot diseases have been favorable these past few weeks.

A push or pinch test can be used to determine the incidence of stalk rot/weakness within your own field. This can be done by walking through the field and randomly selecting a minimum of 100 plants, push the plant tops away from you approximately 30 degrees from vertical. Alternatively, you can use a pinch test where you pinch or squeeze the internodes of the lower stalk between your thumb and first finger. If the plants do not snap back to vertical when released or the stalk is crushed when pinched, the stalk may have been compromised by a stalk rot disease. If more than 10% of plants exhibit stalk rot symptoms, it is recommended to harvest affected fields first to reduce the chance of plants lodging prior to harvest. When an infected stalk is split horizontally it will appear discolored and hollow as the pith rots away, leaving the vascular bundles strands loose.

Stalk Rot

Almost every field in Nebraska has stalk rot diseases to some extent. The pathogens causing stalk rot diseases are considered to be opportunistic, meaning they primarily infect injured, stressed, or dead/dying plants. In Nebraska there are several fungi that can cause stalk rot diseases in stressed plants.

The first visible sign of a stalk rot disease is leaves may become discolored, turning brown or gray prior to senescence. When an infected stalk is split horizontally, the decay causes discoloration of the inner pith tissues. The pith or fleshy part of the inside of the stem will pull away from the stalk rind leaving a weakened hollow tube with loose vascular bundle strands.

Anthracnose stalk rot (Colletotrichum graminicola) causes shiny black splotchy lesions visible on the outer stalk in advanced stages of the disease. This pathogen can also cause a top dieback that occurs in nodes above the ear.

Fusarium stalk rot (Fusarium verticillioides) may cause brown streaking on the outside of stalks. It is common to see discoloration inside the stalk varying from white, salmon, to light pink. Crown rot can develop inside the lower stalk below the soil line.

Gibberella stalk rot (Fusarium graminearum) is one of the most common stalk rots in the Corn Belt and can cause dark streaks on the lower internodes of the stalks. Visible black reproductive structures can be scratched off. When the stalk is split this pathogen will cause dark pink to red discoloration inside the stalk.

Charcoal rot (Macrophomina phaseolina) is more common during drought conditions and therefore is more likely to affect corn in pivot corners or dryland fields. Copious amounts of tiny black, round structures are formed inside the stalk, giving it a gray to black appearance, like charcoal dust.

Physoderma brown spot (Physoderma maydis) does not cause a true stalk rot, fungal spores accumulate and infect at nodes. This weakens the nodes causing them to become brittle and snap when pushed. More commonly seen is the yellow to brown lesions on the leaf blades and black lesions on the midrib and leaf sheath. Infection usually occurs earlier in the season V3-V8. Severity of the disease on leaves and stalks are often unrelated. Hybrids vary in their sensitivity to both the leaf disease and node rot.

At this point in the season nothing can be done to stop stalk rot, the affected stalks will continue to degrade and weaken over time. By identifying which fields have the highest percent of stalk rot and adjusting harvesting plans you can work to minimize your losses. For fields with chronic stalk rot issues, it might be useful to visit with your seed company rep about their current hybrid ratings for stalk rot diseases.


Simple maintenance can greatly reduce your risk.

Fire in a combine is the last thing farmers want to encounter during harvest.
While fall fires can’t be totally eliminated, a few precautionary steps can greatly reduce the likelihood that fire will ignite inside in your combine or the field you’re harvesting.
“As a 38-year volunteer firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician, I know an uptick in fire calls occurs every fall,” John Wilson, retired University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Educator, says. “If you didn’t get your combine thoroughly cleaned out after last year’s harvest, make sure you clean it before going to the field this year. One of the main causes of combine fires is accumulated residue that ignites when a combine belt or pulley heats up due to friction with crop residue. It takes time to do a thorough cleaning but having a combine fire in the middle of harvest is about as bad as it gets.”
Depending on how much residue builds up in the combine during harvest, cleaning it periodically through harvest is also advisable.
Thorough maintenance should include adequate lubrication and greasing ALL grease zerks as it’s easy to miss one here and there. Inspecting wiring will help reveal any hazardous damage to wiring insulation that requires repair or replacement.
“Damaged wires can be an ignition source for dust or accumulated residue,” Wilson says. “Also, you don’t often see sparks coming from a combine exhaust. However, installing a spark arrestor on the combine exhaust system is an inexpensive step to prevent that hazard.”
Before it’s time to go to the field, it’s advisable to have two fire extinguishers in the combine. One should be in the cab. The other should be located in an area where it can be accessed from the ground. For extra fire insurance, carry a fire extinguisher in the semi cab or tractor cab used with the grain cart.
Before you need an extinguisher, inspect it to verify it’s been serviced and is ready to use. If your extinguisher needs servicing, it may be just as economical to replace it rather than service it.
Before fire breaks out, it’s also helpful to review the steps for using it to extinguish a flame.
“PASS is the acronym I learned when using an extinguisher,” Wilson says. “To use the extinguisher, pull the safety pin and aim it at the base of the fire. You don’t want to shoot over the top of the fire or in the middle of the flame. Aiming at the middle can cause flames to push outward and add to the flame rather than putting it out.”
After aiming the extinguisher at the base of the flame, squeeze the handle to discharge the contents. As it empties, sweep back and forth along the base of the fire. Pull, Aim, Squeeze and Sweep.
Fires that occur during refueling a combine are not common, but they do happen. Farmers shouldn’t hesitate to turn off the combine engine and give it about 15 minutes to cool before they start refilling it. This practice is easy to sidestep but doing so could result in great loss to equipment, crop and human life.
“Shutting off that engine is one of the key practices for avoiding a combine fire,” Wilson says. “Of course, if you smoke, don’t do it during refueling.”
An often-overlooked harvest precaution is the practice of having a tractor and disc nearby to help manage fire in a field.
“Many farmers may not recognize the value of having a tractor hooked up to a disc in a nearby field or in a grassy waterway in an adjacent field,” Wilson says. “However, if fire breaks out in the field during harvest, having the equipment close by allows for quickly creating a fire line and protecting a standing crop and harvest equipment.”
Wilson suggests that farmers consider start harvesting crop starting on the downwind side of a field. If a fire should occur, the wind will push the fire away from the standing crop.
“If the field is hilly, it’s helpful to start on top of the hill and work down because fire will race uphill much faster than it goes downhill,” Wilson says. “It’s helpful to do everything you can to protect standing crop.”
While virtually every farmer carries a cell phone, some fields may be in areas where reception is poor or not available. Because fire spreads so rapidly in a tinder-dry field, the few seconds required to call for help could make a great difference in the amount of damage or loss to crop and equipment.
“Before you go to the field, be sure you can provide specific location details to the 911 dispatcher if you need to call for help,” Wilson says. “It’s not uncommon to have difficulty to provide an address or specific directions to some fields. When an emergency occurs, the heat of the moment may make it difficult to come up with county road numbers or other important landmarks.”
Regardless of where a field is located, call 911 if fire breaks out. Even if the smell or sight of smoke is coming from a combine, calling for help, which may take time to arrive, is the first important step.
Keeping your distance from a smoking combine or one that’s on fire may be challenging but could save your life.
“If you smell or see smoke, you need to know where it’s coming from,” Wilson says. “If you see flame, you need to be within 15 or 20 feet of the fire to use a fire extinguisher.  That’s why it’s important to get fire trucks on the way. Often, firefighters with protective clothing and a large volume of water can do a much better job of preventing or putting out a combine fire.”
If the operator smells smoke or sees smoke coming from the combine, it’s helpful to take the machine out of the field or to a grassy waterway whenever possible to avoid setting residue or crop on fire. If that means driving the combine a half mile to reach the road, it may not be feasible or safe to do so.
“Always err on the side of caution,” Wilson says. “It’s better to lose equipment than to be injured or lose your life.”
Due to significant drought in 2020, many fields in the region are seriously dry, setting the stage for fires during harvest.
“This year, it’s possible that heat from a catalytic converter on a vehicle could set grass on fire,” Wilson says. “Sparks of any kind right now could result in a major fire. The first step is to do a thorough job of cleaning and maintaining your combine. That will greatly reduce the potential for problems down the road.”

2020 AFAN/WSA Annual Stakeholders Meeting Slated for Monday, Nov. 23

The Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN) and We Support Agriculture (WSA) will hold their joint 2020 annual stakeholders meeting Monday, November 23 at the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel in Lincoln.

The meeting will open at 8:30 a.m. with coffee and conversation time, followed at 9:00 a.m. by the formal meeting. All AFAN and WSA partners and stakeholders are invited. A luncheon will follow and is scheduled for 12:00 p.m.

A panel discussion at 10:30 a.m. will include young producers involved in the areas of the beef, poultry, dairy and pork production.

The AFAN/WSA meeting will include year-end reports by Steve Martin, executive director of AFAN and WSA and Rylee Stoltz, livestock program coordinator with AFAN. The reports will present the year’s accomplishments and provide a look into future opportunities for both organizations.

Also included in the meeting will be the presentation of the Sand County Foundation’s 2020 Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award to Ed and Leta Olson of Craig, Nebraska.

Anyone interested in attending the annual meeting to learn more about AFAN and WSA and the future of animal agriculture in Nebraska must RSVP to Mindy Rix by November 16 by calling (402) 421.4472 or by emailing


The 13th Annual Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference scheduled for November 9-10, 2020, has been postponed due to COVID-19 based restrictions and health risks. The Planning Committee feels the face-to-face interaction and networking between participants and conference exhibitors and sponsors is an important component of the annual conference. “The safety of our participants and the need for our participants to freely visit with each other were the primary considerations,” said Conference Chair John Hansen.

The next annual Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference will be held on November 8-10, 2021, at the Lincoln Cornhusker Marriott.

The Planning Committee is also working to develop virtual outreach opportunities to share information about the issues and progress within the industry. “There are many exciting developments going on in both the wind and solar industries,” Conference Chairman John Hansen said.

The Planning Committee encourages everyone wanting more information on the wide range of issues facing wind and solar energy development to visit the Conference website at The website includes an extensive library of recent presentations from leading state and nationwide industry experts as well as past Conference presentations. Past expert presentations can be found under “Resources” and are organized by year and topic on the website. The Planning Committee urges you to take full advantage of the resources our website has to offer.

Details regarding virtual outreach and the 2021 Conference will be posted on the conference website as they develop. To sign-up for email updates, please visit the Conference website.

The Planning Committee thanks everyone for their past support and looks forward to seeing you next year.

Northeast and Midwest community college partners join forces with NRCS; sign national MOU

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) is partnering with Northeast Community College and eight Midwest community colleges to support hands-on student learning in the field, to develop future conservation-minded farmers and ranchers, and to cultivate more graduates interested in pursuing careers with the federal agency.

On Monday, representatives of the Community College Alliance for Agriculture Advancement (C2A3) and NRCS held a virtual ceremony to celebrate the formal signing of a national memorandum of understanding (MOU) to develop a cooperative framework to enhance and accelerate training and adoption of technologies and best practices for improved agricultural productivity and natural resources stewardship.

“Community colleges educate nearly half of all under-graduate students in this country and yet, our agriculture programs have been an underutilized resource within USDA,” said Dr. Tracy Kruse, C2A3 board chair and associate vice president of development and external affairs at Northeast. “A majority of our students are the producers in fields. They are technicians in our local co-ops and implement dealers; and they are our agronomy and seed sales professionals. Through these efforts, we hope more of them will also become the soil health specialists and conservationists for local NRCS offices.”

All C2A3 member institutions, including Northeast, have college farms and are able to utilize their land resources for the implementation of conservation practices on the ground to help educate and inform students and producers. The goal of the cooperative agreement between the entities is to not only accelerate the adoption of conservation practices through the education of current, two-year agriculture students, but to also disseminate information to the broader community through field days and other college events and partnerships.

In addition, the colleges are utilizing the network to share resources, knowledge and expertise. Collectively, they are working on a grant through USDA’s North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, which seeks to increase awareness, knowledge and skills related to soil health, cover crops and no till agriculture. The development of content such as videos and case studies for the classroom is a critical component to help illustrate concepts of profitability, sustainability and productivity. These assets will be shared across the network for the benefit of all member institutions.

Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson, who chairs the House Agriculture Committee, said during Monday’s event, ideas that come from partnerships like C2A3 and NRCS will assist he and his colleagues in Washington make decisions in a time of limited financial resources as they write the next Farm Bill.

“You’d be surprised how many members of the committee don’t have any real feedback from the rural world in terms of what we’re doing with these programs. And hopefully by doing things like this we can provide more of that to our committee members,” Peterson said. “I think we’re going to have to change things in agriculture going forward with concerns about climate change and water quality and all of these other issues are going to have to be addressed because our urban and suburban colleagues are demanding it. … I just want as much information as I can have as we’re making these decisions and what (C2A3 colleges) are doing is going to help us get them.”     

“Through this partnership, NRCS and the member institutions are also developing local plans to address regional and statewide challenges as well as support student internships and other training opportunities for college faculty, NRCS employees and producers,” said Dr. Leah Barrett, president of Northeast Community College. “This MOU provides the necessary framework to work together on common needs from a national perspective, while also providing the flexibility to address local concerns.”

The C2A3 collaboration was born out of a mutual desire to provide more ongoing education, training and demonstration projects to future farm producers and agricultural service providers with the goal of improving the health, and therefore the long-term productivity, resilience and sustainability of the soil.

Kevin Norton, acting chief of NRCS, said the partnership demonstrates the power of public and private partnerships. He said it brings together the federal government with community colleges that represent the geography, landscape and agriculture where they’re located.

“NRCS recognizes the unique niche that these colleges play across rural landscapes all over the country, particularly those colleges that have actual working farms.”

Over the course of the next five-years, NRCS will develop a conservation plan for each member college that has land and address their resource concerns. After the plans are developed, the agency will assist the colleges in installing conservation practices, in addition to hosting field days, which Norton said demonstrates to all ag producers how conservation works and how it can make a difference on the land.

“Today’s memorandum of understanding establishes a collaborative framework for cooperative activities intended to enhance and accelerate training, the adoption of new technologies that would improve agriculture production and the natural resource stewardship in the geography around your campus and the agriculture producers tied to that,” he said.” “Over the next five-years, we’re going to focus this collaboration with joint pursuits – things that work for both of us around soil health.”

That includes looking into new opportunities related to water quality, such as keeping nutrients that are applied on the field, reducing sediment delivery, and other strategies.

“We’re (also) going to expand opportunities with the state conservationists and college presidents – we’re going to expand with what they are already doing and take a look at new curriculum opportunities where we can work to better build a career for your students if they look to pursue a career within federal service and conservation,” he said. … “We can do more together than we can do individually.”   

In addition to Northeast Community College, C2A3 member institutions include Central Lakes College (Staples, Minn.), Clark State Community College (Springfield, Ohio), Illinois Central College (Peoria, Ill.), Ivy Tech Community College (Lafayette, Ind.), Northcentral Technical College (Wausau, Wis.), Northeast Iowa Community College (Calmar, Iowa), North Dakota State College of Science (Wahpeton, N.D.), and Richland Community College (Decatur, Ill.).

For more information on C2A3, visit the organization’s website at

Digital Agriculture Team launches new "FarmBits" podcast

The digital agriculture revolution is constantly presenting growers with new technology offering improvements in efficiency, sustainability, or profit on the farm, but making sense of new technologies can be challenging. Producers need current and honest information about these technologies in order to best integrate them into resilient strategies. To meet this need, the Nebraska Extension Digital Agriculture group is launching a podcast titled "FarmBits" to discuss the new innovations, the trends, and the value in digital agriculture.

"FarmBits" will explore topics in digital agriculture through interviews with academic experts, farmers, and industry specialists. The podcast will seek to present information about digital agriculture in a way that is accessible to non-experts with a well-rounded perspective that takes the shine off of new technologies. The podcast will be hosted by Samantha Teten and Jackson Stansell, graduate students in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering at UNL and members of the Nebraska Extension Digital Agriculture team.  

"While our research is in the field of precision agriculture, we arefar from experts in the vast majority of digital agriculture topics," said Teten. "Our goal is to learn alongside our listeners through interviews withthe digital ag experts that we will have on the show."

In the first podcast episode, listeners will be introduced to the podcast and oriented to the importance of understanding digital agriculture through an interview with Laura Thompson and Joe Luck. Laura Thompson, co-coordinator of the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network, was the champion behind the "FarmBits"podcast and is a trailblazer in digital agriculture, particularly how it can be applied to on-farm research.  

Dr. Joe Luck is an associate professor in the Biological Systems Engineering Department and the Extension precision agriculture specialist. Luck's research has touched topics ranging from multi-hybrid planting to sprayer optimization. "The future of the agriculture industry is digital agriculture," Thompson stated. "There is a benefit to getting involved and gaining some familiarity with which technologies are going to fit in your operation and how these might benefit you, which ones are going to be the right ones to adopt for your particular setting."  

After the first episode, "FarmBits" will dive into the topic of harvest through episodes discussing yield mapping and harvest logistics, yield data quality and calibration, and managing yield data.

The "FarmBits" podcast will be released weekly each Thursday beginning on October 1st. It can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and many other podcast providers. If you're interested in learning more about digital agriculture and need some entertainment in the cab this fall, you can subscribe to the podcast on any of the major podcast services so that you don't miss any new content that gets released. The "FarmBits" team can be reached on twitter @NEDigitalAg or over e-mail at with any questions or new content suggestions.


ICA: CFAP 2 Payments exclude cows and bulls

On Friday, September 18, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) for eligible farmers.

For beef cattle producers, the CFAP 2 payment will be $55/head on eligible cattle, which does not include bulls and cows. The calculation will be based on the producer’s highest one-day inventory of eligible cattle between April 16 and August 31, 2020.

In order to qualify, the farmer (or legal farm entity) must have had an average adjusted gross income (AGI) of less than $900,000 for tax years 2016-2018, or earn more than 75% of their AGI from farming, ranching or forestry-related activities if it exceeds $900,000. Farmers must also comply with conservation provisions and may not have a controlled substance violation. Additional restrictions apply to foreign-owned farms.

Historically, the cattle industry has not received direct payments because of financial losses, but the extraordinary drop in cattle prices in 2020 has left many farmers and ranchers economically vulnerable. CFAP 2 is a successor to CFAP, announced in April, which provided some assistance, but left many gaps for those affected by Covid-19 related market fluctuations and plant closures.

Many other Iowa commodities are eligible for payments under CFAP 2, including corn, soybeans, hogs, turkeys, broilers, eggs and dairy. Combined payments may not exceed $250,000 per farmer or $750,000 for farm entities that meet certain requirements.

“Many Iowa Cattlemen’s Association members will benefit from CFAP 2,” says Cora Fox, ICA’s Director of Government Relations. “However, the exclusion of breeding stock is disappointing. We understand USDA's rationale in targeting assistance for livestock producers who were more likely to suffer realized damages due to market disruptions. However, we recognize that the cow-calf sector may experience significant impacts related to COVID-19 in the near future and we must be prepared to provide them with support as needed. We will continue to advocate for additional support for our producers.”

Non-alfalfa hay and cover crops are also excluded from the program.

CFAP 2 applications will be accepted by USDA’s Farm Service Agency between September 21 and December 11, 2020.

Sign Up Today for Sept. 23rd Virtual Seminar for Land Professionals

The Iowa Chapter of American Society of Farm Manager and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA) and the REALTORS® Land Institute (RLI) encourage all interested parties to sign up today for the Sept. 23rd virtual seminar from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. CDT.

All parties interested in farmland are invited to join these two membership organizations for a six hour seminar packed with valuable information for land professionals. Topics discussed include Ag Law, Weather Outlook, Drone in Ag, 1031 Exchanges and the Iowa Farm Economy. The RLI Iowa Chapter September Land Trends and Values survey results will also be presented.

All who interested are invited to register today online at  

DOT Extends Hours of Service Waivers for Livestock, Feed

The Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration extended its COVID-19 emergency declaration for Hours of Service waivers for the transportation of livestock and livestock feed through the end of the year.

HOS governs the amount of time commercial truckers can drive their loads and when they are required to rest between drives.

Farm groups praised the decision for ensuring the continuity of the U.S pork and other livestock supply chain as an essential element of the nation's food delivery infrastructure.

NMPF Offers Toolbox to Dairy Farmers as Latest CFAP Round Signup Starts Today

Following USDA’s announcement last week of a new round of disaster assistance to agricultural producers, with signup beginning today, the National Milk Producers Federation has created a resource guide to help farmers understand and apply for the program. The toolbox, part of NMPF’s ongoing service to the dairy community during the coronavirus crisis, includes a breakdown of what the latest Coronavirus Food Assistance Program includes for dairy, as well as a link to relevant application resources.

“Helping dairy farmers understand complex government programs to gain their full benefits is especially important during this challenging time,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “The best way to do that is to be there at the beginning, and we hope farmers will find these resources useful as they consider their options, starting today.”

Highlights of the so-called CFAP 2.0 include:
    A dairy payment amounting to $1.20-per-hundredweight on a farm’s production during the last nine months of 2020. Dairy payments will be based on actual milk production from April 1 to Aug. 31, 2020. Milk production for Sept. 1, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2020, will be estimated by FSA, using daily average production from the April-August base period of known production.
    100% of the payment will be made once a farm’s eligibility is determined, meaning there will be no 20% holdback as with earlier assistance.
    For dairy beef, producers are eligible for cattle inventory payment on bull calves and dairy steers, but not for breeding stock. The payment is $55-per-head on eligible cattle in inventory on a date between April and the end of August selected by the producer.
    Significantly, this round’s payment limitation provision has been expanded to include trusts and estates for both rounds of CFAP payments, meaning those who were disadvantaged by restrictive trust-related payment interpretations in the first round will have their situation resolved for that round as well as in the latest tranche of aid. The application of direct attribution is also modified so payment limits won’t be reduced based on ownership shares, providing more equitable support to dairy farmers of various ownership structures.

A full range of coronavirus-related materials to help guide dairy producers, processors and allied businesses is available at NMPF also has set up a separate webpage dedicated to resources to help dairy farmers struggling through natural disasters. That’s at

Congress Must Leave Farmers and Ranchers Out of Political Fight

The continuing resolution scheduled to be voted on in the House of Representatives this week does not include a replenishment of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). The $30 billion CCC fund is used, in part, to provide assistance to farmers and ranchers in times of economic emergencies.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says:

“We’re disappointed that Congress has not reached an agreement on replenishing the Commodity Credit Corporation. For years, both parties have come together to ensure the CCC provides a safety net for America’s farmers and ranchers. A fully funded CCC is as important as ever as farmers are suffering through a pandemic, trade imbalances and severe weather.

“The impact of the CCC is far reaching. Without immediate CCC replenishment, programs laid out in the farm bill, including conservation and rural development, as well as supplemental funding for nutrition programs, are all at risk. We strongly encourage members of Congress to put their differences aside in order to address the needs of rural America.”

Friday September 18 Ag News

Nance County is Nebraska’s 50th Livestock Friendly County

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts designated Nance County as Nebraska’s newest Livestock Friendly County (LFC).  Nance County is the 50th county in the state to apply for, meet the requirements, and receive the LFC designation.  The Livestock Friendly County program is administered by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA).

“By requesting and receiving Nebraska’s Livestock Friendly County designation, the people of Nance County are encouraging livestock growth, showing their support for Nebraska ag, and expanding local career opportunities in agriculture,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “Congratulations to Nance County on being named Nebraska’s 50th Livestock Friendly County.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent census of agriculture, Nance County had more than $155 million in agriculture receipts for the year 2017.  Livestock sales accounted for $80 million, or 52 percent of the total value, with cattle, calves and hogs as the major livestock in the county.  Crop production accounted for $75 million, or 48 percent of the total value.  Major crops raised in Nance County include corn and soybeans.

“Nance County is home to around 375 farms and many other businesses with direct ties to agriculture,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman.  “With the LFC designation, the people of Nance County are showing everyone that they are open for agri-business.”

More than half of the counties in Nebraska have been designated Livestock Friendly.  The complete list is on NDA’s website at:

The Livestock Friendly County program was created by the Nebraska Legislature in 2003 to recognize counties that support the livestock industry and new livestock developments.  A county wishing to apply for the LFC designation must hold a public hearing, and the county board must pass a resolution to apply for the designation.  Additional information about Nebraska’s LFC program is available on NDA’s website at or by calling 402-471-4876.

Animal Science Department appoints two new student ambassadors

The Animal Science Department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has appointed two new student ambassadors for the 2020-2021 academic year.

After in-depth interviews with department faculty and 2nd year ambassadors, two students were selected out of a pool of eight applicants:
    Kelsey Loseke a junior from Blair, Neb.
    Shaye Koester a junior from Steele, N.D.

The two new ambassadors will serve alongside current second-year ambassadors:
    Kathlyn Hauxwell a junior from McCook, Neb.
    Felicia Knoerzer a junior from Elwood, Neb.

     The ambassadors will interact with prospective animal science students by visiting high schools and attending various university admissions events. In addition to attending and supporting events, each ambassador will also take on the responsibility of planning one recruitment activity per year.  

    The Animal Science Student Ambassador program, started in 1999, selects two animal science majors as ambassadors to promote the animal science program each year. Students receive a $2,000 scholarship ($500 each semester) and serve for two years supporting the department’s recruitment efforts.  

     For more information on the Animal Science Student Ambassador program, visit  Follow the department on Facebook at “UNL Animal Science,” on Twitter at @UNL_AniSci, and Instagram “UNL Animal Science” to stay up to date on upcoming events and current happenings in the department.

Applications Now Available for the 2021 Corn & Soy Ambassador Program

The Corn and Soy Ambassador Program is a year-long program for college students who are interested in learning more about the industry and becoming better advocates for agriculture. Each year up to 10 students are selected to participate in the program.
Throughout the year, students will take part in three seminars,a summer tour and various promotional events for the corn and soybean industries. Following the completion of the program students will be recognized at the annual meetings of the corn and soybean associations, and each will be presented a $500 scholarship to help them with school expenses. Funding for portions of the program is provided by the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Soybean Board. For more information about the program and an application, please click here...  

Nebraska Corn Internships

Over the last several years, Nebraska Corn has provided real-world experiences and opportunities for college interns. These students work directly with Nebraska Corn cooperating organizations including the U.S. Grains Council, the U.S. Meat Export Federation and the National Corn Growers Association.

Each year, the Nebraska Corn Board and the Nebraska Corn Growers Association offer several internship opportunities. Six of the internships are located outside of the state and the other two are located in the offices of the Nebraska Corn Board and the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, both in Lincoln, Nebraska. All eight opportunities are paid internship experiences.

Applications are typically due in late-Oct./early-Nov. of each year.

2020-2021 Internship Opportunities

Communications and Outreach Internship
Host: Nebraska Corn Growers Association
Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
Duration: May 2021 – May 2022
Application Due Date: Friday, November 6, 2020

International Relations Internship
Host: U.S. Grains Council
Location: Washington, D.C.
Duration: Summer 2021
Application Due Date: Friday, November 6, 2020

Communications and Market Development Internship
Host: Nebraska Corn Board
Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
Duration: May 2021- May 2022
Application Due Date: Friday, November 6, 2020

Marketing and Communications Internship
Host: National Corn Growers Association
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Duration: Summer 2021
Application Due Date: Friday, November 6, 2020

Public Policy Internship
Host: National Corn Growers Association
Location: Washington, D.C.
Duration: Summer 2021
Application Due Date: Friday, November 6, 2020

Promotion and International Relations Internship
Host: U.S. Meat Export Federation
Location: Denver, Colorado
Duration: Summer 2021
Application Due Date: Friday, November 6, 2020

International Agricultural Relations Internship
Host: U.S. Grains Council
Location: Panama City, Panama
Duration: Summer 2021
Application Due Date: Friday, November 6, 2020

Join us at one of the virtual internship information sessions in late September and early October to learn more and ask questions! Dates and times for the virtual sessions can be found here...

Platte Institute and Nebraska Farm Bureau to issue new report

The Platte Institute and Nebraska Farm Bureau will co-publish a new report reviewing the economic impact of COVID-19 on Nebraska agriculture and the policy questions the state of the industry raises for government officials. The report will be available next week at and in a forthcoming release.

The report’s authors, Platte Institute Policy Director Sarah Curry and Nebraska Farm Bureau Senior Economist Jay Rempe, will hold a virtual news conference on Zoom to discuss the publication on Wednesday, September 23, 2020 at 10 a.m. Central Time. Registration is required at this link...  

The virtual news conference may be recorded for broadcast and includes Q&A. Members of the media may submit questions by text or can request to be added to the Zoom program as a panelist to ask their questions through audio or video.

For more information, please contact Adam Weinberg at (402) 500-0209 or

Farm Safety and Health Week offers free webinar Sept. 21 on tractor and machinery safety

As part of National Farm Safety and Health Week, farmers and ranchers are invited to participate in a free webinar on tractor and equipment safety on Sept. 21 at noon central time.

“Planting the Seeds of Tractor and Machinery Safety” will cover hazards associated with agricultural tractors and machinery and how to prevent injuries. Attendees also will be provided with teaching and training resources.
The webinar will be presented by Aaron Yoder, PhD, of the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health.

Traditionally, tractors and machinery have been a leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries on and around farms and ranches. In 2019 there were six fatalities in Nebraska related to tractor and equipment operation.

To register for “Planting the Seeds of Tractor and Machinery Safety” go to: The webinar is listed on the right side of the page.

For a list of other free webinars offered during National Farm Safety and Health Week visit

Iowa Corn Growers Association PAC Announces Candidate Endorsements

The Iowa Corn Growers Association® (ICGA) Political Action Committee (PAC) endorsed 68 candidates for the 2020 election cycle. Established with the bipartisan support of Iowa’s corn farmers more than a decade ago, the ICGA PAC is one tool for members to have a voice and an opportunity to be heard on issues that specifically impact Iowa’s corn farmers.

“Having a Political Action Committee is an important and necessary tool in the political process,” said ICGA PAC Chair Mark Mueller, a farmer from Bremer County. “The ICGA PAC endorsements provide our members with another way to keep Iowa Corn policies on the minds of decision-makers at the state and federal level that impact farm businesses. The voluntary ICGA PAC is an essential tool to support political leaders who have demonstrated their support for the Iowa Corn Growers Association’s policy priorities.”

The ICGA PAC is bipartisan, equally represented by both sides of the aisle by ICGA farmer-members appointed by the ICGA President. They objectively evaluate all candidates regardless of their party affiliation, on ICGA policy only. The PAC reviews candidate responses to an ICGA survey and their established voting record on ICGA’s policy priorities, such as conservation and water quality funding, ethanol, farm bill, taxes, trade, transportation, research, value-added agriculture, and livestock.

The success of ICGA's legislative policy development efforts hinges on a bipartisan approach to achieving our policy priorities. ICGA, being pro-agriculture regardless of political party, paves the way to achieving policies in the best interest of Iowa's corn farmers. The priorities of the ICGA policy book serve as the only criteria the PAC uses to make candidate endorsements. The ICGA PAC is recognized and respected for its bipartisan approach to achieving policy objectives of Iowa corn farmers by supporting lawmakers who work to implement ICGA member priorities.

ICGA’s Principles of the PAC ensure that the committee’s purpose is achieved: supporting candidates who have supported ICGA policies, as demonstrated by a voting record and written answers to the ICGA survey questions.  Because of this objective data (voting record and survey), the ICGA PAC’s primary mode is to either support the incumbent, or previous incumbent or stay out of a race.

Funding for endorsements of candidates from the Iowa Corn Growers Association PAC comes only from voluntary PAC donations by ICGA members. Neither ICGA membership dues nor checkoff dollars are ever used for PAC contributions.

Endorsements for the 2020 election cycle include the following:

U.S. Senate
Joni Ernst

U.S. House of Representatives
District 1: Abby Finkenauer
District 3: Cindy Axne and David Young
District 4: Randy Feenstra

Iowa Senate
Nate Boulton, Waylon Brown, Mark Costello, Tom Courtney, Dan Dawson, Jeff Edler, Craig Johnson, Ken Rozenboom, Amy Sinclair, Dan Zumbach

Iowa House of Representatives
Robert P. Bacon, Terry C. Baxter, Michael R. Bergan, Brian Best, Jane Bloomingdale, Jacob Bossman, Wes Breckenridge, Holly Brink, Timi Brown-Powers, Dennis M. Cohoon, Karin Derry, Dave Deyoe, Dean Fisher, Joel Fry, John Forbes, Thomas D. Gerhold, Pat Grassley, Stan Gustafson, Chris Hall, Lee Hein, Dustin D. Hite, Steven Holt, Jon Jacobsen, Tom Jeneary, Megan Jones,  Kenan Judge, Bobby Kaufmann, David Kerr, Jarad Klein, John Landon, Brian K. Lohse, Shannon Lundgren, David E. Maxwell, Andy McKean, Ann Meyer, Brian Meyer, Joe Mitchell, Gary M. Mohr, Norlin G. Mommsen, Anne Osmundson, Scott D. Ourth, Ross C. Paustian, Todd Prichard, Kirsten Running-Marquardt, Sandy Salmon, David Sieck, Mike Sexton, RasTafari I. Smith, Ray Sorensen, Jon Thorup, John Wills, Matt W. Windschitl and Gary Worthan

USDA to Provide Additional Direct Assistance to Farmers and Ranchers Impacted by the Coronavirus

President Donald J. Trump and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced up to an additional $14 billion for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs because of COVID-19. Signup for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2) will begin September 21 and run through December 11, 2020.

“America’s agriculture communities are resilient, but still face many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. President Trump is once again demonstrating his commitment to ensure America’s farmers and ranchers remain in business to produce the food, fuel, and fiber America needs to thrive,” said Secretary Perdue. “We listened to feedback received from farmers, ranchers and agricultural organizations about the impact of the pandemic on our nations’ farms and ranches, and we developed a program to better meet the needs of those impacted.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will use funds being made available from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act and CARES Act to support row crops, livestock, specialty crops, dairy, aquaculture and many additional commodities. USDA has incorporated improvements in CFAP 2 based from stakeholder engagement and public feedback to better meet the needs of impacted farmers and ranchers.

Producers can apply for CFAP 2 at USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices. This program provides financial assistance that gives producers the ability to absorb increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Producers will be compensated for ongoing market disruptions and assisted with the associated marketing costs.

CFAP 2 payments will be made for three categories of commodities – Price Trigger Commodities, Flat-rate Crops and Sales Commodities.

Price Trigger Commodities
Price trigger commodities are major commodities that meet a minimum 5-percent price decline over a specified period of time. Eligible price trigger crops include barley, corn, sorghum, soybeans, sunflowers, upland cotton, and all classes of wheat. Payments will be based on 2020 planted acres of the crop, excluding prevented planting and experimental acres. Payments for price trigger crops will be the greater of: 1) the eligible acres multiplied by a payment rate of $15 per acre; or 2) the eligible acres multiplied by a nationwide crop marketing percentage, multiplied by a crop-specific payment rate, and then by the producer’s weighted 2020 Actual Production History (APH) approved yield. If the APH is not available, 85 percent of the 2019 Agriculture Risk Coverage-County Option (ARC-CO) benchmark yield for that crop will be used.

For broilers and eggs, payments will be based on 75 percent of the producers’ 2019 production.

Dairy (cow’s milk) payments will be based on actual milk production from April 1 to Aug. 31, 2020. The milk production for Sept. 1, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2020, will be estimated by FSA.

Eligible beef cattle, hogs and pigs, and lambs and sheep payments will be based on the maximum owned inventory of eligible livestock, excluding breeding stock, on a date selected by the producer, between Apr. 16, 2020, and Aug. 31, 2020.

Flat-rate Crops
Crops that either do not meet the 5-percent price decline trigger or do not have data available to calculate a price change will have payments calculated based on eligible 2020 acres multiplied by $15 per acre. These crops include alfalfa, extra long staple (ELS) cotton, oats, peanuts, rice, hemp, millet, mustard, safflower, sesame, triticale, rapeseed, and several others.

Sales Commodities
Sales commodities include specialty crops; aquaculture; nursery crops and floriculture; other commodities not included in the price trigger and flat-rate categories, including tobacco; goat milk; mink (including pelts); mohair; wool; and other livestock (excluding breeding stock) not included under the price trigger category that were grown for food, fiber, fur, or feathers. Payment calculations will use a sales-based approach, where producers are paid based on five payment gradations associated with their 2019 sales.

Additional commodities are eligible in CFAP 2 that weren’t eligible in the first iteration of the program. If your agricultural operation has been impacted by the pandemic since April 2020, we encourage you to apply for CFAP 2. A complete list of eligible commodities, payment rates and calculations can be found on

There is a payment limitation of $250,000 per person or entity for all commodities combined. Applicants who are corporations, limited liability companies, limited partnerships may qualify for additional payment limits when members actively provide personal labor or personal management for the farming operation. In addition, this special payment limitation provision has been expanded to include trusts and estates for both CFAP 1 and 2.

Producers will also have to certify they meet the Adjusted Gross Income limitation of $900,000 unless at least 75 percent or more of their income is derived from farming, ranching or forestry-related activities. Producers must also be in compliance with Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation provisions.

Applying for Assistance
Producers can apply for assistance beginning Sept. 21, 2020. Applications will be accepted through Dec. 11, 2020.

Additional information and application forms can be found at Documentation to support the producer’s application and certification may be requested. All other eligibility forms, such as those related to adjusted gross income and payment information, can be downloaded from For existing FSA customers, including those who participated in CFAP 1, many documents are likely already on file. Producers should check with FSA county office to see if any of the forms need to be updated.

Customers seeking one-on-one support with the CFAP 2 application process can call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer assistance. This is a recommended first step before a producer engages with the team at the FSA county office.

All USDA Service Centers are open for business, including some that are open to visitors to conduct business in person by appointment only. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service or any other Service Center agency should call ahead and schedule an appointment. Service Centers that are open for appointments will pre-screen visitors based on health concerns or recent travel, and visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines. Visitors are also required to wear a face covering during their appointment. Our program delivery staff will be in the office, and they will be working with our producers in the office, by phone and using online tools. More information can be found at    

Fischer Statement on Additional COVID Relief for Ag Producers

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement tonight after President Donald Trump announced an additional $13 billion in relief funding for agriculture producers who have suffered continued losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic:

“Throughout this pandemic, ag producers in the Heartland have worked tirelessly to keep food on our tables. But with low commodity prices, the lowest cash receipts in a decade, and supply chain disruptions, times are tough for agriculture. I appreciate President Trump looking out for rural America and providing this relief for our food heroes.”

USDA Announces CFAP 2 Details

Nebraska Cattlemen

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today up to an additional $14 billion for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs due to the coronavirus pandemic. USDA will use funds being made available from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act and Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to support row crops, livestock, specialty crops, dairy and other commodities.
"We are grateful USDA is utilizing its authority provide further relief to cattle producers who have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic through round two of CFAP payments." - Ken Herz, President of Nebraska Cattlemen. "CFAP 2 is simplified, giving cattlemen an additional $55 per head on eligible cattle they had in inventory after April 15th.
CFAP 2 payments will be made for three categories, including price-trigger commodities, flat-rate crops and sales commodities. Price-trigger commodities are major commodities that meet a minimum 5% price decline over a specified period of time, which includes beef cattle.
Eligible Cattle Payments:
The CFAP 2 payment rate for eligible beef cattle is $55 per head. Payments will be based on the maximum owned inventory of eligible livestock, excluding breeding stock, on a date selected by the producer, between Apr. 16, 2020, and Aug. 31, 2020. According to USDA, the payments for livestock are focused on market inventory because there are limited funds available for CFAP 2 and the CCC authority that fully funds the program is meant to assist with costs associated with market disruptions.
All females that have not produced offspring and males who have not started breeding females are eligible for including in inventory. Breeding stock such as cows and bulls are not eligible for CFAP 2. Culled cows are also not eligible for CFAP 2 payments.
Eligibility and Payment Limits:
There is a payment limitation of $250,000 per person or entity for all commodities combined.
    Applicants who are corporations, limited liability companies, limited partnerships may qualify for additional payment limits when members actively provide personal labor or personal management for the farming operation. In addition, this special payment limitation provision has been expanded to include trusts and estates for both CFAP 1 and 2.
    Producers will also have to certify they meet the Adjusted Gross Income limitation of $900,000 unless at least 75 percent or more of their income is derived from farming, ranching or forestry-related activities. Producers must also be in compliance with Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation provisions.

USDA has determined that CFAP 1 and CFAP 2 are separate programs. The first CFAP program was designed to address disruptions that had occurred by April 15, 2020. CFAP 2 payments are intended to address the disruptions that have occurred since then. As a result, CFAP 1 payments will not impact how CFAP 2 payments are calculated, and two separate payment limits will be in effect.
Enrollment and Applying for Assistance:
Producers can apply for assistance beginning Sept. 21, 2020. Applications will be accepted through Dec. 11, 2020.
Additional information and application forms can be found at Documentation to support the application and certification may be requested. All other eligibility forms, such as those related to adjusted gross income and payment information, can be downloaded from For existing FSA customers, including those who participated in CFAP 1, many documents are likely already on file. Producers should check with FSA county office to see if any of the forms need to be updated.

ICGA: USDA Announces Additional Funding Under CFAP

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture under Secretary Perdue and President Trump announced the expansion of funding through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2) of up to 14 billion dollars for farmers and producers who continue to face market demand loss due to COVID-19. Iowa Corn Growers Association® (ICGA) President Carl Jardon made the following statement.

“The Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) has continually contacted Secretary Perdue by personally handing him a letter and speaking directly to him at the beginning of the month urging him and the Administration to provide additional relief for our farmers including CFAP payments,” said ICGA President Carl Jardon. “ICGA thanks the Trump Administration and Secretary Perdue for understanding and providing aid to corn farmers who have experienced the worst year of market demand loss due to COVID-19 on top of extreme weather conditions.”

Corn farmers can begin signing up for the program at their local FSA office beginning September 21, 2020, with the application deadline being December 11, 2020. For additional information and application forms visit

Naig: ‘CFAP 2 Critical to Supporting Agriculture Community Still Battling Economic, Market Challenges Caused by COVID-19’

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig issued the following statement today in response to the announcement that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is implementing a Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) 2. The program makes $14 billion of financial assistance available to farmers and ranchers who continue to experience market challenges and economic hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to create significant market and trade disruptions, and this poses very real challenges for Iowa farmers. The agriculture economy will rebound but it will take time,” said Secretary Naig. “I want to thank President Trump and the USDA for continuing to support our farmers as they battle persistent economic hardships.

I’m very pleased to see Iowa’s turkey producers were included in this round of CFAP funding, as they too have been hit hard by the decreased demand at delis and quick-service restaurants.”

Farmers can begin signing up for the CFAP 2 on Monday, Sept. 21, at their local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. The program will run through Dec. 11, 2020. To learn more about the USDA CFAP 2 program, visit

IFBF on second round of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) aid

Iowa Farm Bureau Federation President Craig Hill

“Many sectors of the economy have struggled through the global pandemic, and agriculture is no exception, with many farm families feeling the hardship and fighting to keep their farms sustainable.  Many farmers were left out of the initial round of CFAP aid, which expired last week, so the recent announcement of a second round of assistance is welcomed news.

While we don’t know when this pandemic will subside, the impacts on agriculture are far reaching, from changing consumer purchasing habits to trade and market disruption and uncertainty.  Farmers saw market prices and demand plummet amidst the supply chain breakdown early on in the pandemic, and although there has been a rebound, the economic hardship is taking its toll on farm families.  This assistance from the USDA will help Iowa farmers to stay afloat and continue to farm and raise the food we all rely on.”

NMPF Statement on Latest Federal Disaster Assistance Efforts

The National Milk Producers Federation thanked President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for providing additional support to dairy through its latest round of disaster assistance to agricultural producers, as well as Congress for providing the funding in the CARES Act in the spring.

“Federal dairy assistance has been critically needed as the nation’s dairy farmers face economic uncertainty and markets that remain anything but normal,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “We look forward to learning more of the plan’s details to better understand how this will help producers who have been dealing with COVID-19 disruptions, challenges compounded in recent days by natural disasters.”

NMPF is activating its grassroots advocacy to assist in its efforts to meet dairy’s needs. More information on how to help can be found at NMPF’s new “Take Action” page. Additional resources to help the dairy community meet the coronavirus challenge can be found at NMPF has also launched a page to assist producers affected by natural disasters,

NCBA On CFAP Round Two: President Trump Works Tirelessly For Our Nation’s Ranchers and Farmers

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association's (NCBA) today released the following statement in response to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) announcement that additional support would be made available to cattle producers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).
“We are pleased to see that USDA is using unspent funds in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program to provide further relief to cattle producers who have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic," said NCBA Vice President Of Government Affairs Ethan Lane. "The initial CFAP payments served as an important stopgap in the immediate wake of the coronavirus. Unfortunately, many in our industry are still reeling from abnormal marketing decisions they were forced to make in the Spring, unprecedented supply chain disruptions, and an overall tumultuous farm economy. We are grateful to President Trump, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, and the individuals in this Administration who are tirelessly working to deliver additional aid to our nation’s ranchers and farmers, and we will continue to work with Congress until adequate relief can be provided to put cattle producers on a firm road to recovery.”
In June, NCBA called on Congress to provide USDA with the resources and guidance necessary to meaningfully improve the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.
“CFAP’s incurred loss payments had the potential to deliver a tremendous amount of relief, but an arbitrary cutoff date left many producers out in the cold. Put simply, April 15th marked the height of this crisis and many producers incurred losses just as severe following Part 1 deadline as the days leading up to it. Further, the Part 2 inventory payment rate failed to deliver assistance equitably when compared with the rate for incurred losses. While USDA’s announcement is an important next step, NCBA is calling on Congress to eliminate CFAP’s remaining disparities and deliver to our nation’s ranchers and farmers the support they so badly need in the next coronavirus package.”

NCGA Welcomes Additional USDA COVID-19 Assistance for Corn Farmers

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) today said additional aid from the Commodity Assistance Food Program (CFAP 2) will assist farmers and their customers recover from the continued financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced $14 billion in a second round of direct support, including additional assistance for corn growers. The aid was authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed into law in March.

“It’s been a tough year for agriculture and there’s still a lot of uncertainty across the corn belt as we head into harvest,” NCGA President Kevin Ross said. “We’re doing all we can to get back on solid ground, but we can’t do it alone, which is why today’s announcement is a positive and welcome step forward.

NCGA analysis projects a $59 per acre average revenue decline for the 2019 corn crop and an $89 per acre average revenue decline for 2020, compared to pre-COVID-19 projections. If realized, the 2020 crop year revenue would be the lowest corn revenues since 2006. Residual impacts from COVID-19 on corn prices are very likely to persist into 2021 and possibly beyond.

Since March, NCGA has taken a series of actions to help corn farmers recover from the financial impacts of the pandemic, including advocating for further Congressional action and the development of a Demand Recovery Plan to shore up the near term and better position corn farmers to take advantage of longer-term opportunities to grow demand.

NAWG Applauds USDA’s Decision to Include All Classes of Wheat Into CFAP

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a second round of coronavirus relief payments which extends eligibility to additional classes of wheat. The new $14 billion package now covers producers of all classes of wheat. These add to the durum and hard red spring (HRS) wheat classes which were covered under the first round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).

“NAWG thanks Secretary Perdue and his staff for taking our feedback these past several months and expresses great appreciation for making producers of all classes of wheat eligible for CFAP payments,” said NAWG President and Cass City, MI, wheat grower Dave Milligan. “This relief comes at a much-needed time when producers are being hit with depressed prices resulting in part from the effects of COVID-19. Futures prices have dropped more than 12% since beginning of 2020 until early August.”

Originally, the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) provided important assistance for only hard red spring and durum wheat farmers, which counted for 30 percent of 2019 production. Now, all of America’s wheat farmers, who qualify, are eligible to receive assistance through CFAP on 2020 production. Throughout the summer NAWG has met with senior USDA officials and sent letters requesting expansion of the program, and earlier this month 21 U.S. Senators and 26 Members of Congress also sent letters requesting this assistance.

“Through NAWG’s efforts and support from Congressional Members of wheat producing states, the organization was able to demonstrate the need for this change and make it happen for its members,” continued Milligan. “NAWG applauds USDA’s work on CFAP and will continue to work with the Agency throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure all wheat farmers in need of support have access to it.”

Additional Aid Will Help Farmers Survive Pandemic

President Trump and USDA Secretary Perdue announced a second round of aid through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Up to $14 billion will be used to help farmers devastated by the economic disaster caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Almost $10 billion from the first CFAP provided much-needed support to livestock, dairy, non-specialty and specialty crop producers throughout the country.

Many farmers were initially left out of CFAP, and although the program was expanded to include more commodities, aid was only made available for losses suffered before April 15, 2020. The deadline for most producers to apply for the first round of CFAP assistance expired on September 11.

“Farmers and ranchers saw demand for their markets disappear during the initial shockwave of the pandemic. Even though concerns over food supplies have now subsided, the economic hardships are still taking their toll on farm families across the country,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “We don’t know when this pandemic will end and we are still feeling the effects of trade imbalances and severe weather. This lifeline will keep farmers and ranchers afloat as they continue to keep America’s pantries stocked.”

Signup for CFAP will run from September 21 through December 11, 2020. For more information, go to

EPA Administrator Wheeler Meets with Farmers and Local Officials on Efforts to Provide Regulatory Certainty

Today, at a roundtable in Niangua, Missouri with U.S. Representatives Vicky Hartzler (MO-04) and Jason Smith (MO-08) and farmers from the Missouri Farm Bureau and Missouri Corn Growers Association, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler highlighted efforts to provide certainty and predictability to the agricultural community. As part of the event, Administrator Wheeler announced the interim decisions for atrazine, propazine and simazine, which finalize measures to protect human health, mitigate potential ecological risks and continue to provide America’s farmers with the valuable tools they have come to rely on to control weeds in crops.

“Today’s decision is another example of the Trump Administration taking action in support of America’s farmers—one of our strongest allies in our mission to protect public health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “The benefits of atrazine in agriculture are high, so these new protections give our nation’s farmers more clarity and certainty concerning proper use.”

“Year after year, our country’s farmers and ranchers continue to work and provide the food, fuel and fiber we rely on every day,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford. “EPA’s science-based process provides the clarity and certainty they need to safely and successfully implement critical pest management strategies while mitigating risk to human health and the environment.”

After a thorough review of the best available science and carefully considering scientific peer review and public comments, EPA has determined that certain mitigation measures are warranted for these three herbicides in order to address potential human health and ecological risk. Specifically, the agency is requiring the following mitigation measures:
    Reducing the maximum application rate for atrazine and simazine when used on residential turf in order to protect children who crawl or play on treated grass;
    Adding a requirement for irrigation immediately after simazine application to residential turf;
    Requiring additional personal protective equipment for workers who apply atrazine and simazine to reduce occupational risks associated with certain uses;
    Finalizing label requirements for all three triazines to include mandatory spray drift control measures, to minimize pesticide drift into non-target areas, including water bodies;
    Finalizing label directions for herbicide resistance to reduce the problem of weeds becoming resistant to atrazine.

Atrazine, propazine and simazine are widely used in the United States to control a variety of grasses and broadleaf weeds. Atrazine is an especially effective, affordable, and well-studied herbicide. Twelve meetings of the FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) were held to discuss various aspects of atrazine, including cancer and non-cancer effects, potential effects on amphibians, the aquatic plant community level of concern, and surface water monitoring methods. As the second most widely used herbicide in the United States, atrazine is used on about 75 million acres of agricultural crop land every year, including more than half of the Nation’s corn crops. Atrazine is also used on residential lawns and golf courses, particularly in the Southeast.

More information on atrazine and today’s interim decisions is available at:


Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a long-awaited interim decision regarding the reregistration of the triazines: atrazine, propazine, and simazine. After years of research and public comments from the agriculture community, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler declared these fundamental crop management tools safe for continued use in controlling resilient weeds. According to the Triazine Network, a coalition of agricultural organizations that advocates for science-based regulatory decisions, this interim decision is a major milestone.

 “Today’s news provides much needed regulatory certainty for farmers during a time when few things are certain,” said Missouri Corn Growers Association CEO Gary Marshall, who chairs the Triazine Network. “We appreciate today’s announcement from EPA Administrator Wheeler. We thank the agency on behalf of the farmers who rely on atrazine to fight problematic weeds and employ conservation tillage methods to reduce soil erosion and improve water and wildlife habitat. “

Atrazine ranks second in widely used herbicides that help farmers control weeds that rob crops of water and nutrients. Utilized for over 60 years, atrazine is the most researched herbicide in history and has a proven safety record. Today’s announcement concludes the registration review process where EPA is required to periodically re-evaluate existing pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The next step for the triazines is a draft biological evaluation required under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which is expected to be published in October.

“This isn’t the last review of atrazine. In fact, the Endangered Species Act review will be key to the future of atrazine as well as other crop protection tools. Moving forward, we remain vigilant in ensuring the agencies involved utilize high-quality, scientific studies,” stated Marshall. “The EPA has said they will utilize the best available research, first in a letter the Triazine Network in 2019 and again today. Our stance has always been sound, credible science must win. We appreciate these commitments, and EPA must hold true to them in the ESA evaluation.”

Approved for use 1958, atrazine has been extensively reviewed by EPA and others over the decades and across administrations. The final ESA assessment is slated to be released in 2021.

NCGA Statement on Atrazine Reregistration Decision

– Kevin Ross, NCGA President

“Earlier today the EPA released its interim decision on the reregistration of atrazine, a product used annually on approximately 60 percent of U.S. corn acres. Atrazine has undergone years of scientific study and we appreciate the EPA recognizing that it is a safe and effective tool for weed control. Atrazine is instrumental in enabling the use of conservation tillage practices, which ultimately protect more soil from water and wind erosion, conserve moisture, reduce runoff, improve wildlife habitat, and limit output of labor, fuel, and machinery.  It is a critical tool in ensuring the long-term sustainability of U.S. agriculture. Today’s announcement, however, does not end the review process for atrazine as it must also undergo an Endangered Species Act review. As a part of that review, EPA must publish a draft biological evaluation of atrazine. NCGA will continue to work with EPA and hold the agency to its promise to use the best available research when drafting and publishing atrazine’s biological evaluation.”

ACE Unveils Awards Video During Virtual 33rd Annual Conference

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) honored a select group of advocates for their contributions to the ethanol industry with an awards video during the 33rd annual ACE conference held virtually in conjunction with the Fuel Ethanol Workshop (FEW) and Expo on the afternoon of September 16.

Bob Scott, who served as the ACE Board President from 1999 to 2009 representing Poet Ethanol Products, was recognized with ACE’s most prestigious honor, the Merle Anderson Award, named after the organization’s founder. ACE CEO Brian Jennings and Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty presented Scott with the award.

“It was a matter of when, not if, Bob Scott was going to receive the Merle Anderson Award,” Jennings said. “Under his tenure, ACE was the driving force behind getting Congress to enact the RFS.”

“Bob Scott was one of the leaders to explain how the RFS could provide flexibility to marketers,” Lamberty added. “I appreciated having him as an adviser as I went out to help fuel marketing companies across the country learn how to get ethanol, sell it, and make more money.”

“For me, it was a labor of love,” Scott said. “When I look back at my time on the ACE board and the enactment of the RFS, it’s one of my favorite times in my life; we challenged ourselves and everyone else. Merle Anderson convinced me that ethanol was the right thing to do and the ACE Board was truly the best board I’ve ever been a part of.”

Jan tenbensel, Nebraska farmer and chair of the Nebraska Ethanol Board, received this year’s Grassroots Award for his unyielding and humble advocacy, notably his work with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to produce thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer for donation to help address the shortage during the health pandemic. ACE Board members Roger Berry, NEB Administrator, and Scott McPheeters of KAAPA Ethanol presented tenBensel with the award.

“Jan truly is the definition of grassroots activism when it comes to ethanol,” Berry said. “Within one week, he helped pull together a production and distribution facility to provide hand sanitizer to the state of Nebraska and beyond.”

“He loves to learn and he’s generous with his time,” McPheeters added. “He’s the type of guy you want on your team.”

ACE presented U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary Stephen Censky with the Paul Dana Marketing Vision Award for his leadership on the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP). Censky said USDA received 121 HBIIP applications from 27 different states and will be awarding grants this month. “ACE has been a leader in working with retailers to expand markets for ethanol so I’m pleased that this great market development work will be greatly expanded thanks to the HBIIP program,” Censky provided in pre-recorded remarks.

USDA Updates Brucellosis and Bovine Tuberculosis Import Regulations

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is updating its import regulations to establish a system for classifying the brucellosis and bovine tuberculosis (TB) status levels for foreign regions. APHIS is also outlining the requirements for animals from each status level to enter the United States. These changes will help protect the U.S. herd against introduction of bovine TB and brucellosis via imported animals, while facilitating safe trade of unaffected animals.

The United States has made great strides in eradicating these two diseases, and cases are becoming increasingly rare. However, in recent years, most new TB cases identified in the United States have been in imported animals. The updated regulations will enhance efforts to keep disease from entering the country by giving us a format to review and classify the status of foreign regions for TB and brucellosis, and allowing us to ensure only healthy animals enter our country.

The new regulations include numerous updates to address issues raised during the public comment period, including clarifying definitions and requirements. In addition, they remove age limits for testing imported animals and expand the bovine TB testing requirements for sexually-intact animals imported for breeding or feeding.

The new regulations are effective 30 days after Federal Register publication. However, APHIS recognizes that there are many regions that enjoy particular status under the current regulations. These regions will continue to be able to trade with the United States under the terms of the status they currently hold until APHIS is able to review and adjust their status using the new approach spelled out in this final rule.

Deputy Secretary Censky to Return to ASA as CEO

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Deputy Secretary Stephen Censky will be departing November 8, 2020. He will be returning to become the CEO of the American Soybean Association (ASA), a position in which he previously served for 21 years. He will begin that role on November 9, 2020.

“There is no doubt that I personally, as well as the whole USDA family will miss Steve’s experience, preparedness, and steady leadership. During his tenure as Deputy Secretary, we accomplished a great deal in a short amount of time even in the face of serious challenges in American agriculture,” said Secretary Perdue. “Steve’s roots are in agriculture and he is one of the best and most professional public servants America has. His wise counsel helped us make USDA the most efficient, effective, customer-focused department in the entire federal government, and I am forever grateful for his invaluable guidance and input. I join the entire USDA family in wishing Steve and his family all the best as he heads back to ASA in November.”

“It has been a true honor to serve my country on behalf of American agriculture. These past few years have seen tremendous developments, and I am humbled to have served a role in implementing a Farm Bill, launching the USDA’s Agriculture Innovation Agenda, supporting America’s farmers against trade retaliation, and now assisting farmers and ranchers and feeding families affected by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Deputy Secretary Censky. “I want to thank Secretary Perdue for trusting in me and giving me the opportunity to conduct the important work that affects the daily lives of so many Americans. It has been tremendously rewarding to also work as Chief Operating Officer of one of the largest Departments in the Federal government to assist Secretary Perdue and our team at USDA in greatly improving customer service, operational effectiveness and efficiency.”

So Nice He’s Doing It Twice: Censky Returning to Soy

After serving as the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture since October 2017, the man who led the American Soybean Association (ASA) for 21 years is returning to the helm of the grower group. Stephen Censky will leave USDA to assume the chief executive officer role at ASA.

Censky will come on board Nov. 9 and resumes his post following the June departure of Ryan Findlay, who is credited with helping the organization restructure internally and establish an independent government affairs office in Washington, D.C.

Of Censky’s time at USDA, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue had this to say: “There is no doubt that I personally, as well as the whole USDA family, will miss Steve’s experience, preparedness, and steady leadership. During his tenure as Deputy Secretary, we accomplished a great deal in a short amount of time even in the face of serious challenges in American agriculture. Steve’s roots are in agriculture and he is one of the best and most professional public servants America has.”

Secretary Perdue continued, “I join the entire USDA family in wishing Steve and his family all the best as he heads back to ASA in November.”

“It has been a true honor to serve my country on behalf of American agriculture. These past few years have seen tremendous developments, and I am humbled to have served a role in implementing a Farm Bill, launching the USDA’s Agriculture Innovation Agenda, supporting America’s farmers against trade retaliation, and now assisting farmers and ranchers and feeding families affected by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Deputy Secretary Censky.

Censky, on his return to ASA, commented, “It is a privilege to return to ASA and represent our nation’s soybean growers. ASA is in many ways home, and I’m excited about working with both new and familiar faces in St. Louis and D.C. and building on the great changes accomplished since I was last there.”

Returning to his roots is nothing new for Censky, who had served at USDA before ASA in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, including as administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service. The Minnesotan, who grew up on a soybean, corn, and diversified livestock farm near Jackson, helped establish soybeans as the leader in American agricultural exports while with ASA. In addition to foreign market expansion during his tenure, use of soy in biodiesel and biobased products grew into significant markets, soybeans became a program crop under the Farm Bill, and ASA’s long-term foreign development arm, the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH), helped build soy demand in emerging markets.

Mexican Meat Processor Pays Fine for Violating Cattle Trading Limits

A Mexican-based meat processor has settled a $60,000 monetary penalty with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and CME for violating speculative limits on a contract.

Sukarne SA de CV was challenged by the CFTC for holding a net-short position on 500 contracts in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) June 2020 live cattle futures contract. The contracts exceeded CFTC's spot-month speculation limit of 300 contracts established by the CFTC.

The CFTC order requires a $35,000 monetary penalty, along with CME sanctions of $25,000 against Sukarne, bringing the total penalty to $60,000.

CME rules limit spot-month contracts on the live cattle markets to 300 contracts, long or short, effective on the business day prior to the last five trading days of the contract month, which in this case was the close of trading on June 23. At the close of business that day, Sukarne still had 500 contracts.

Sukarne came into compliance on June 24 and continued to abide by the spot-month position limits for the remainder of the expiration of the contract. Sukarne eventually trade out of its position on June 29.

Black Farmers' Boycott Against John Deere Will Continue, NBFA President John Boyd Announces

In a highly offensive move, John Deere has set up its own coalition to represent black farmers, in an apparent effort to sidestep the boycott the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) launched this week, association president John Boyd declared, in announcing that the 116,000-member group's boycott of Deere will continue.

After years of discrimination and inequitable treatment by the iconic company, Boyd said the boycott was intended to draw attention to John Deere's unfairness and gain respect and better responsiveness for black farmers.  He charged that the company declines to participate in the NBFA's annual conference or display new equipment and parts as it does at other agricultural industry events. After black farmers purchase from Deere, the company responds slowly if at all to calls for service on its equipment and shuts down its tractors by computer connections if owners try to make repairs themselves.

"Announcement in response to the National Black Farmers Association's Call for a a Boycott Against John Deere, a multi-billion dollar global behemoth, that it will create a Black Farm Group to 'preserve heirs' rights in rural communities, while also expanding additional work needed to improve the livelihoods of Black Farmers' is one of the most offensive and egregious corporate missteps I have ever witnessed," Boyd said.  "This is the equivalent of being rightly criticized on the facts by groups like the ADL and UnidosUS then creating groups to replace them."

Boyd said the company that rakes in "billions of dollars a year is paying more money to consultants to blow up my phone line than it would cost them to provide inclusion and equality to their agriculture equipment customers who are black. Our boycott will continue and grow stronger."

According to Boyd, Deere has demonstrated its apparent ill will against NBFA leadership by maneuvering around the association to form a group called LEAP, an acronym for "Leadership, Education, Advocacy and Production Systems." It includes such disparate and non-farming member groups as the NAACP, to which Deere has donated in the past, and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, whose only connection to the NBFA complaint is that Marc Howze, an administrative officer of Deere is a board member of the Marshall Fund.

Boyd said the Deere company's claim that it has "supported the National Black Farmers Association through participation in the 2019 annual conference," is false. NBFA members and conference attendees saw no such support, he said. Boyd's statement included an e-mail message from Deere representative Andrez Carberry, the company's Head of Global Talent Supply and Diversity and Inclusion, declining to participate or display any equipment at the 2019 - 29th Annual NBFA Conference held November 1-2, 2019 in Prattville, Alabama, dated October 15, 2019. Andrez wrote:  "We could not make it happen for display or personnel."

Update: John Deere reached out to us with the following statement about the National Black Farmers Association and to share this press release announcing a coalition with the National Black Growers Council and the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund to "preserve heirs' rights in rural communities, while also expanding additional work needed to improve the livelihoods of Black farmers":

"The Boycott against John Deere will continue as we ask our NBFA members, African partners and allies to stop buying John Deere tractors, implements, mowers and parts," Boyd said. "We remain open to new relationships with companies who value the work of NBFA members."

Thursday September 17 Ag News

Rural Mainstreet Index Climbs for September: Almost One-Fourth of Bankers Report Rural Economy Recovery
Since falling to a record low in April of this year, the Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) has increased for five straight months, but still remains below growth neutral.

According to the September monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy, September’s reading represented the seventh straight month with a reading in a recessionary economic zone despite the increases over the past few months.       

Overall: The overall index for September increased to 46.9 from August’s 44.7, but still well below growth neutral. The index ranges between 0 and 100 with a reading of 50.0 representing growth neutral.

“Recent improvements in agriculture commodity prices, federal stimuli and Federal Reserve record low interest rates have underpinned the Rural Mainstreet Economy. Bank CEOs estimated that farm income, including government support, was down only 1.5% from this time last year,” said Ernie Goss, PhD, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business.  

Almost one of four bankers, or 23.1%, reported that their local economies were back to pre-coronavirus levels.

Farming and ranching: After moving above growth neutral for only the second time in the past 81 months in August, the farmland price index once again fell below the threshold for September. The September reading sank to 45.0 from August’s 50.0.   

The September farm equipment-sales index slipped to 32.1 from 32.8 in August. This marks the 84th straight month the reading has remained below growth neutral 50.0.  

Below are the state reports:

Nebraska: The Nebraska RMI for September rose to 53.4 from 52.9 in August. The state’s farmland-price index fell to 46.2 from last month’s 51.1. Nebraska’s new-hiring index soared to 82.3 from August’s 58.5. Compared to the same month last year, Nebraska’s Rural Mainstreet economy has lost 4.9% of its nonfarm employment representing 14,000 jobs.   

Iowa: The September RMI for Iowa dipped to 46.5 from August’s 46.8. Iowa’s farmland-price index slumped to 42.8 from 53.2 in August. Iowa’s new-hiring index for September rose to 54.7 from 51.7 in August. Compared to the same month last year, Iowa’s Rural Mainstreet economy has lost 6.8% of its nonfarm employment representing 47,000 jobs.   

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

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

Mid-West States Collaborate on Digital Campaign

Digital advertising has become an effective and efficient way to promote beef to consumers, especially the Millennials and Gen Z. With more and more consumers going online for information, shopping and entertainment, it’s imperative that the Beef Checkoff place positive beef messaging where consumers spend their time – online.

The Nebraska Beef Council partnered with other Mid-west state beef councils to implement a digital advertising campaign on YouTube, one of the world’s largest and most popular online platforms. The campaign spanned nearly 70 days over the summer months and featured video ads highlighting beef as the official sponsor of summer grilling. Other video content included “United We Steak” messages encouraging Americans to unite behind the grill, discover regional recipes and meet local members of the beef community. Here are the results from the campaign:
•    The videos combined for a total of 8,390,496 video views
•    The campaign messages reached people 12,869,322 times
•    The campaign had a 52.36% view rate meaning over five in ten viewers chose to watch at least :30 seconds of the video that they were served.
•    The average cost per view was $0.01, which is below the industry average of $0.05/view allowing the Checkoff dollar to reach more consumers via digital video.
•    The Midwest States Campaign footprint encompassed seven states including Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and North Dakota.

Farmer who is ‘lucky to be alive’ takes time for safety

David Endorf was distracted when he backed up his ATV over the edge of a dry creek. The Nebraska farmer dropped seven feet, hitting his head, shoulder and hip. His leg was pinned beneath the overturned four-wheeler, and he had no way to get it off or get out. In a series of fortunate events, his damaged cellphone still worked, he was able to direct neighbors to his location, and he wasn’t seriously hurt. Endorf was lucky to be alive.

But the incident shook him and made him more aware of farm safety and doing tasks safely. Endorf shared his experience through the Telling the Story Project, in which farmers and families talk about injuries and close calls with prevention messages. Telling the Story Project recounts many of the dangers found on farms and in agriculture settings. National Farm Safety and Health Week, Sept. 20-26, aims to raise awareness and encourage safe practices.

“It has heightened my attitude toward safety, but especially when I get on that four-wheeler,” Endorf said about the near-death experience when he was 64.

In August 2018, he had loaded a 15-gallon sprayer on the back of his Honda Foreman ES 4x4 and went out to spray trees on his property. At about 11:15 a.m., he started looking at his watch to figure out how much time he could spend working before he headed to town for an appreciation luncheon at the local co-op. He had boxed himself into a brushy area and backed up without looking.

The rear wheel dropped off, and he and the machine rolled down the steep bank.

“For a full year after I had that accident, I never put that sprayer on there. To me that was a contributing factor,” Endorf said. The weight of a tank of liquid, even 15 gallons, affects the center of balance and handling on an ATV.

Since then, he has used the sprayer on the four-wheeler, but he focuses on staying present in his task and slowing down.

“If you watch my (Telling the Story Project) video, I mention a couple times, you have to get your mind on what you’re doing. Safety is a mental issue also,” he said. “You have to slow down a little bit, think a little bit more about what you’re doing at the moment.”

Taking a few extra seconds or minutes to slow down can improve safety for “anything and everything,” he said, but especially when it comes to ATVs.

Since he shared his experience, Endorf has been surprised by the stories other people tell him about their accidents. “First, they tell me I’m lucky to be alive,” he said. “Second, (they say,) ‘I had a four-wheeler overturn,’ or ‘It flipped over backwards.’ Others have had accidents on these things, too.”

Raising awareness is an important part of the Telling the Story Project. The stories are meant to be shared, to encourage others to take measures to stay safe. Farmers, media, teachers, Extension, and safety professionals are especially encouraged to link to the stories and repurpose content. Terms of use for republishing and crediting are explained at

“I think about safety a lot, I really do. After my ATV accident, it just raised the level higher and being safe with what I do,” Endorf said. He has two grandchildren in elementary school who visit the farm. “We talk about safety and doing things safely,” he said, even things like buckling the seat belt.

“I’ve changed my attitude toward safety, and I would encourage people to read my story and just take a little extra time for safety with whatever they’re doing,” Endorf said.

For more information on ATV safety, visit Farm Safety Check: ATV...  

Telling the Story Project is made possible through funding from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing Program. Participating regional centers include Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (Nebraska); Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health (Iowa); and Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (Minnesota).

Ochsner estate gift benefits ag education at Northeast Community College

A multi-million-dollar gift from the estate of a Pierce area farmer will benefit agriculture education at Northeast Community College far into the future.

Norman Ochsner, who died in May 2018, bequeathed approximately $2.4 million to Northeast, according to Dr. Tracy Kruse, associate vice president of development and external affairs and executive director of the Northeast Foundation. Several other charities also received gifts from the Ochsner estate.

Ochsner was born in Elgin, IL in 1942, and moved to Nebraska with his parents in 1954. He graduated from Norfolk Senior High School in 1960 and from the University of Nebraska in 1964. Ochsner worked in California for a while before moving back to Norfolk where he was employed as a draftsman at Nucor. He was then needed to help on the family farm and worked with his parents. Ochsner farmed for the remainder of his life.

Over the years, Ochsner was active in several community organizations, including the Norfolk Community Theater, the Norfolk Arts Center and the Norfalcon Radio control airplane club. He was a member of First United Methodist Church for over 60 years.

“Mr. Ochsner wanted to make sure his legacy would support students for many years,” Kruse said. “His will specifies that Northeast hold the gift in two endowments. One endowment will provide scholarships for agriculture students. The other is to be used for construction and maintenance of the College’s new ag facilities being planned as part of the Nexus project.”

Kruse explained that the principal held in an endowment cannot be spent. Only the earnings are available for the stated purpose.

“From a $1.3 million endowment, we would conservatively expect to receive four percent, or $52,000, in earnings each year,” Kruse said. “That means $52,000 a year in new scholarships for ag students and $52,000 a year for the College’s ag facilities into perpetuity.”

Those scholarships will help attract additional ag students to Northeast, which already grants the most two-year degrees in agriculture in Nebraska and the eighth most in the nation.

“Coupled with the new facilities now under construction as part of the Nexus project,” Kruse said, “Northeast will become the ag education destination of choice for hundreds of future farmers, ranchers and agribusiness employees.”

Site work on the new facilities began in April and construction is expected to be completed by Fall 2021. The initial phase of construction includes a new veterinary technology clinic and classrooms, a new farm site with a large animal handling facility and other farm structures for livestock operations, a farm office and storage. The new facilities will be located near the Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex, 2301 E. Benjamin Ave. in Norfolk.

The funding for the agriculture facilities will come from the College’s commitment of $10 million, as well as external fundraising to fill the gap. With a total project cost of $22.3 million, the College has raised enough funds to begin construction; however, fundraising for the Nexus campaign will continue, as more is needed for equipment, technology and furnishings.

In August 2019, the Acklie Charitable Foundation (ACF) announced a $5 million lead gift to the Nexus project. ACF was founded by the late Duane Acklie and Phyllis Acklie, both Madison County natives and graduates of Norfolk Junior College, a predecessor institution of Northeast Community College.

For more information on the Nexus Campaign, contact Kruse, at, or call (402) 844-7056. Online donations may be made through

USDA Designates Three Nebraska Counties as Primary Natural Disaster Areas

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue designated three Nebraska counties as primary natural disaster areas. Producers in Burt, Douglas and Washington counties who suffered losses caused recent drought may be eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loans.

This natural disaster designation allows FSA to extend much-needed emergency credit to producers recovering from natural disasters. Emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs including the replacement of essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation or the refinance of certain debts.

Producers in the contiguous counties listed below are also eligible to apply for emergency loans:
    Nebraska: Cuming, Dodge, Sarpy, Saunders and Thurston
    Iowa: Harrison, Monona and Pottawattamie

The deadline to apply for these emergency loans is May 10, 2021. FSA will review the loans based on the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.

FSA has a variety of additional programs to help farmers recover from the impacts of this disaster. FSA programs that do not require a disaster declaration include: Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program; Emergency Conservation Program; Livestock Forage Disaster Program; Livestock Indemnity Program; Operating and Farm Ownership Loans; and the Tree Assistance Program.

Farmers may contact their local USDA service center for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs.

USDA Designates 10 Iowa Counties as Primary Natural Disaster Areas

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue designated 10 Iowa counties as primary natural disaster areas. Producers in Buena Vista, Hamilton, Harrison, Ida, Madison, Monona, Pocahontas, Polk, Pottawattamie and Story counties who suffered losses caused recent drought may be eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loans.

This natural disaster designation allows FSA to extend much-needed emergency credit to producers recovering from natural disasters. Emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs including the replacement of essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation or the refinance of certain debts.

Producers in the contiguous counties listed below are also eligible to apply for emergency loans:
    Iowa: Adair, Boone, Calhoun, Cass, Cherokee, Clarke, Clay, Crawford, Dallas, Franklin, Guthrie, Hardin, Humboldt, Jasper, Kossuth, Marion, Marshall, Mills, Montgomery, O’Brien, Palo Alto, Sac, Shelby, Union, Warren, Webster, Woodbury and Wright.
    Nebraska: Burt, Douglas, Sarpy, Thurston and Washington

The deadline to apply for these emergency loans is May 10, 2021.

FSA will review the loans based on the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.

FSA has a variety of additional programs to help farmers recover from the impacts of this disaster. FSA programs that do not require a disaster declaration include: Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program; Emergency Conservation Program; Livestock Forage Disaster Program; Livestock Indemnity Program; Operating and Farm Ownership Loans; and the Tree Assistance Program.

Farmers may contact their local USDA service center for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs.

August Milk Production in the United States up 1.8 Percent

Milk production in the United States during August totaled 18.6 billion pounds, up 1.8 percent from August 2019.  Production per cow in the United States averaged 1,987 pounds for August, 27 pounds above August 2019.  The number of milk cows on farms in the United States was 9.36 million head,
42,000 head more than August 2019, but unchanged from July 2020.

Milk production in Iowa during August 2020 totaled 449 million pounds, up 2% from the previous August according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report. The average number of milk cows during August, at 218,000 head, was equal to last month but 1,000 more than last year. Monthly production per cow averaged 2,060 pounds, up 30 pounds from last August.

CommonGround Takes Cooking, Conversations to Kitchens Across the Country

CommonGround hosted a virtual cooking class for consumers, made possible through St. Paul, Minnesota-based Cooks of Crocus Hill. Last week, more than 50 attendees from across the country welcomed CommonGround into their kitchens to learn about preparing great food from professionals and to find out more about their food from the women who grow it.

Two farmers involved in raising or growing of ingredients spotlighted for each of the three courses, shared their story with influential and interested consumers. Through an interactive discussion, attendees found out not just about cooking but also about farming and how to continue dialogue that is honest and open between the farm and their families.

With participants from California bloggers to DC-based leaders in food non-profits, the impacts of the event will continue to spread on social media over the coming weeks. Keep an eye out!

Thank you so much to all of the awesome state staff and volunteers who came together to keep consumer efforts moving in this new and different environment.

Farmers featured during the appetizer course included Jocelyn Schlichting Hicks of Minnesota who discussed biotechnology as a potato grower and Pam Selz-Pralle of Wisconsin who told the story of caring for her cows as a dairy farmer. During the entrée segment, Joan Ruskamp of Nebraska discussed antibiotics and animal health from her perspective as a beef rancher and Maryland farmer, volunteer and Registered Dietitian Jennie Schmidt, who also grows Roma tomatoes, brought information about pesticides to light. The evening wrapped up on a sweet note, with Iowa dairy farmer Lynn Bolin discussing sustainability and Kim Baldwin of Kansas sharing on everything from eggs to food prices during the dessert course.

As always, the farmers featured were supported by fellow volunteers including Sondra Pierce of Colorado, Lauren Biegler of Minnesota and Kyla Hamilton of Texas. Together, these women rounded out the team and showed the program’s grassroots, authentic approach to conversations in action.

Field Crop Production Handbook Offers Valuable Insight for Iowa Growers

Growing successful field crops is a science, one that is learned and improved upon with years of experience. But sometimes it just makes sense to start with the basics.

That’s the approach of a new publication from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach called the Field Crop Production Handbook.

This 144-page handbook provides a general overview of the essential aspects of producing field crops in Iowa. It focuses on the basics of crop establishment, but also on care and harvest, as well as the impacts on soil, water and wildlife.

“The handbook is useful for people who are new to agriculture or may be joining the family farm and want to get reacquainted with some of the basics of crop production,” said Erin Hodgson, professor and extension specialist in entomology at Iowa State University.

Sixteen chapters cover the most common field crops grown in Iowa, including corn and soybean, but also small grains and forages. Each chapter includes a glossary of terms and additional resources, if producers want to learn more.

The printed copy includes glossy pages with pictures and graphics, at a cost of $12 per copy or $6 per copy if purchased in boxed quantities of 37. The publication is also available digitally on the Iowa State University Extension Store and can be downloaded for $6.

“There is a lot of practical information in the handbook to help get people up to speed and refresh their knowledge,” said Mark Licht, assistant professor in agronomy and cropping systems specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach.

The handbook is also useful for high school and college ag programs, where students and teachers may be looking for a basic primer that covers crop production.

Licht said it was an enjoyable project that included input from a diverse group of faculty and staff at Iowa State. The publication is written and organized in a way that is intended to be accessible to those with or without a farming background, and to audiences not traditionally associated with agriculture.

The primary authors were Hodgson and Licht, along with Adam Sisson, extension specialist for the Integrated Pest Management program at Iowa State.

For more information, Hodgson can be reached at 515-294-2847 or Licht can be reached at 515-294-0877 or Sisson is available at

USDA Announces Whole-Farm Revenue Protection Program Improvements

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA) announced modifications to the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) program to decrease paperwork and recordkeeping burdens for direct marketers beginning with the 2021 crop year.

“These changes will allow more direct marketers who previously could not meet reporting requirements a way to participate in the Whole-Farm program and provide better and more affordable coverage to these diversified growers,” RMA Administrator Martin Barbre said.

RMA held several stakeholder meetings with agents, growers and grower groups to solicit feedback on ways to increase the effectiveness of the WFRP program, as required by the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill). Stakeholders recommended RMA decrease the requirements for reporting yield and revenues for each commodity, which is especially difficult for direct marketers who may sell several commodities through a roadside stand.

The newly implemented modifications allow growers to report two or more direct-marketed commodities as a combined single commodity code with a combined expected revenue for all commodities. Additionally, the combined direct-marketed commodities will count as two commodities in calculating the diversification premium discount. Under WFRP, farms with two or more commodities receive a premium rate discount, reflecting the lower risk of revenue loss due to the farm’s diversification. Revenue history will be based on reported revenue from the combined direct-marketed commodities and total acres planted to those commodities. This lessens reporting burdens by alleviating the requirement to report detailed sales or yield records from any specific commodity reported under the direct market commodity code.

For more information on the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection plan, see the website.

NCBA & PLC Hail Legislation To Modernize ESA

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the Public Lands Council (PLC), this week celebrated the introduction of critical legislation that will modernize the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for the first time in close to 30 years.

Introduced by Senator and Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), John Barrasso (R – Wyo), the Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2020 will improve the existing law by strengthening state and local partnerships, incentivizing voluntary conservation efforts undertaken by ranchers and other land owners, and defend the ESA’s delisting process for animals that have successfully recovered and no longer need protection. Through these changes and with targeted increases for specific areas of the ESA, the bill will improve species conservation and address key failures in the Act.

"This legislation is about improving an outdated law so that it meets current needs. It is about helping every American cattle producer that has lost a calf to a federally-protected bear or wolf, and for landowners who face stringent regulation that doesn’t meet the habitat needs on the ground," said NCBA President Marty Smith. "Thank you to Senator Barrasso for taking on the big task of updating a law that is almost three decades old. I am glad to see a bill recognize that the best conservationists are the ranchers and farmers on their operations everyday taking care of the land and feeding the country."
"For too long, ranchers have been forced to deal with an antiquated law that does not recognize the expertise or the conservation done by those who actually live, work, and manage our rangeland," said PLC President Bob Skinner. “Ranchers are the original conservationists, and nowhere is that more true than in the West where millions of acres are managed primarily by ranchers whose daily presence on the landscape allows them to sound the alarm when species need additional help. This bill values the contributions of ranchers and other state experts who will develop stronger recovery plans together. Thank you to Chairman Barrasso for all the work he has done to fix a bill that was in dire need of updated tools."


The Endangered Species Act Amendments of 2020 empowers states to lead recovery planning, implementation planning, recovery teams, and implementation teams if states determine they have the appropriate capacity. The bill also requires negotiation with states prior to releasing an experimental population of a species and to give input from state experts “full and fair consideration” as the federal agencies implement ESA protection measures.
Voluntary conservation measures are key to the success of ESA recovery efforts, and the bill allows federal agencies to consider certain voluntary conservation measures as regulatory mechanisms under the ESA. This means that voluntary conservation measures undertaken by ranchers and landowners will be factored in to ESA determinations and recovery plans. It includes provisions to enhance the federal-state conservation partnership, and to encourage conservation through regulatory certainty, increased transparency, and resource prioritization.

The bill also codifies a prioritization system developed and implemented by the Obama Administration that has generally received broad support across the political spectrum. The prioritization system addresses listing petitions, status reviews, and proposed and final determinations, based on the urgency of a species’ circumstances, conservation efforts, and available data and information in order to determine which species are the most imperiled and should be prioritized higher.
Notably, the bill also reauthorizes the ESA for the first time in almost thirty years. It increases the authorization of appropriations by approximately 15 percent over currently appropriated levels which have largely been adjusted only for inflation, and focuses funding on recovery plan implementation and voluntary conservation efforts by private landowners.

Hindsight for the future - Randy Blach's positive outlook for the industry

Abbie Burnett, CAB

The blessing and curse of perspective is not having it until a moment passes. Looking back on the last 40 years shows us more than we can see here and now.

"I think we really have to have an appreciation for where we've come from," said randy Blach, CattleFax CEO, at this year's virtual Feeding Quality Forum. "It's not been a straight line."

Cattle inventory topped 132 million head in 1975, but it wasn't until 2000 that the fed-cattle harvest reached its record 30.2 million, and that was with a long decline to 10 million fewer beef cows.

In the 1980s, 12% of U.S. farmers and ranchers went out of business, and the "war on fat" in the '90s nearly eradicated a poorly informed cattle industry, Blach said. Between 1998 and 2000, almost 40% of carcasses graded Select.

If you go back to the quality audits at that time period, one out of four steaks was a disappointment," he said. "No wonder consumers were walking away from our product. They didn't like it."

While a new focus on quality emerged in the early 2000s, genetics, growing drought and mistakes of the past kept up pressure to liquidate. From 2000 to 2015, annual fed harvest numbers declined by 7 million head to close some packing plants and limit harvest capacity going forward.

The seeds of that early move to boost quality finally sprouted after the drought, blooming with record-high Choice and Prime grades.

"We've just taken out the long-term downtrend in numbers," Blach said. "I believe the reason we've done that is because we're an industry that is now focused on doing the right thing, producing the highest quality product that we can, and meeting the changing demands of our consumers."

As the U.S. herd decreased, productivity per head greatly increased and finally added premium quality. The market analyst looks for some liquidation due to drought in the near term but overall numbers should only ebb and flow instead of crash and rise. Stabilization has come to the industry.

The retail sector provides a case study, Blach said. From 1980 to 1998, beef demand was cut by more than half, but since then it's risen by 14 points to 61 on 1980's baseline of 100. There's room for more, but much value has already been added.

"That growth from the demand low has been worth anywhere from $225 t about $280 a head," he said.

Demand is well established for today's higher quality beef, but without an increase in the bottleneck of harvest capacity, Blach sees herd numbers flattening.

With the current balance in supply and demand, "we increase harvest capacity or we decrease the number of animals that are moving through the system," he said. "This will be a situation that ebbs and flows and will start to balance back over the course of the next several years."

On the global stage, the U.S. is the top beef and poultry producer, and third in pork, dominating meat trade overall. The reason?

"Because the lion's share is a high-quality fed-beef product so we have more yield per animal," he shared.

In 1990, beef exports were a very small percentage of U.S. production, whereas today it's 19 billion pounds or 18% of total meat exports.

Blach sees that growing to as much as 150 billion pounds of beef exported by 2040, or 50 billion more than this year.

That sunny projection comes with challenging considerations.

"Are we prepared to continue to make the strides, some of the same hard decisions we made 15 to 20 years ago, focused on quality? Are we going to be willing to do that as we move forward where we can increase our global market share and presence? To have a traceable product? Be source-verified?" he asked.

Instead of $350 per head, Blach said beef exports could be worth close to $500 per head by 2030.

"We've seen these premiums stay strong all the way through here because more and more consumers, once they taste the good stuff, they want to stay with it, don't they? So this has been a quality movement," he said. "Now the opportunity is to layer some of those other attributes onto this to move the value equation moving forward as we move forward into this next decade."

Real-time perspective isn’t really a thing, but the progress in the latter half of the last 40 years says a lot about where the beef business is headed.

USGC Analysis Identifies Need For Global Parity For Energy Tariff Rates

A recent U.S. Grains Council (USGC) analysis of World Trade Organization (WTO) tariff rates identified 19 markets in which ethanol is at a price disadvantage due to a lack of parity in energy tariff rates. Parity of tariff levels refers to equalizing the tariff rates between ethanol and other fossil fuel components, including MTBE (methyl tert-butyl ether), BTX (benzene, toluene and xylene) and others.

“At a minimum, countries should treat imports of gasoline and gasoline blending components at an equal tariff level, including ethanol,” said Candice Wilson, USGC manager of ethanol trade policy. “For countries seeking to promote environmentally friendly transportation options, equalizing tariff levels for ethanol is a critical way to support expanded ethanol blending to reach air quality and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction goals.”

The Council’s analysis highlighted the need for parity in priority markets such as India, China, Japan and Indonesia and other targeted markets like the Philippines, Nigeria and the European Union. The Council is working with partners in countries around the world and representatives from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on these parity issues. The collaboration between these groups has already proven successful in markets like Vietnam, where a five-percentage-point reduction on import tariffs for ethanol is expected to create opportunities for increased ethanol trade.

“Unequal tariff rates for ethanol and its alternatives are contradictory for a country’s commitments to cleaner air and a reduced carbon footprint,” Wilson said. “Parity is a tool for both increased ethanol use and achieving a country’s environmental goals.”

Previously, ethanol imports into Vietnam faced tariffs of 17 percent for 100 percent pure ethanol and 20 percent for 99 percent or less pure ethanol. The Council worked with the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA-FAS) in Vietnam to engage the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) and Ministry of Finance (MOF) to reduce these most favored nation (MFN) tariffs, which are the lowest possible tariff a country can assess on another country with most favored nation status.

Vietnam’s prime minister signed Decree 27 on May 25, 2020, which decreased the MFN tariff on certain agricultural imports, including ethanol. While the Council and its partners supported a tariff reduction in line with competing products like aromatics and other petrochemical oxygenates, the tariff was eventually reduced to 15 percent for both 100 percent pure ethanol and 99 percent or less pure ethanol, the maximum reduction applied to any commodity or product during this review period. The new tariff rate went into effect on July 10, 2020.

“Successes like the tariff reduction in Vietnam are part of a continuous effort to support the growth and stability of global ethanol markets,” Wilson said. “The Council will continue to work closely with relevant agencies and industry partners to encourage further reductions of tariff rates for ethanol across the globe.”

Wednesday September 16 Ag News

 Larry Howard FINALLY Gets a Retirement Party

After 35 years as an Extension Educator in Cuming County, Larry Howard has retired. To honor his service and role in our county, please join NE Extension-Cuming County for an open house on October 3, 2020 from 2:00-4:30pm in the Nielsen Center foyer. Please be aware pandemic safety precautions will be in place. If you have any questions, please call the Extension Office at 402-372-6006.

Farmers Union Coop, Frontier Coop Members Approve Unification Vote

Following a three-week voting period, Farmers Union Coop Association members approved the proposed unification with Frontier Cooperative. The unification of the two cooperatives will be effective September 1, 2020.
Under Nebraska law, a majority of members casting ballots from Farmers Union Coop Association needed to vote ‘Yes’ to approve the unification. The results of the vote show that the unification passed with 77% voting Yes.
“We are excited about the possibilities this unification brings to us to grow our business in the future,” says Randy Carlholm, General Manager, Farmers Union Coop Association. “We believe it will bring positive benefits to the cooperative, its members and its employees.”
Farmers Union Coop Association is a farmer-owned cooperative operating four locations in Cedar Bluffs, Wahoo, Bruno and Prague, Nebraska. Since 1888, Farmers Union Coop Association has provided value and services to help its patrons be successful.

Prior to the vote, there was a due diligence period, in which the boards identified specific benefits for both members and employees. The benefits identified include strengthening member service to continue investing in technology, talent, assets and programs; the ability to compete and grow more effectively over a greater combined area, capacity and capability; and the ability to strategically position the companies for the future.
Frontier Cooperative CEO, Jeremy Wilhelm was appreciative of the diligence shown to the unification process.
“The Boards of Directors and leadership teams spent time analyzing this opportunity before presenting it for a vote,” said Wilhelm. “The outcome of the vote shows the commitment to helping both cooperatives be a better organization, and now we will focus on continuing to provide excellent services, technology and products to our members.”
The name of the unified cooperative will be Frontier Cooperative, with the home office remaining in Lincoln, Nebr. The integration phase will take place between now and September 1, which includes onboarding the employees with training in accounting software, transitioning scale interfaces, updating signage, uniforms, etc. Frontier Cooperative will then operate approximately 55 grain, agronomy, energy and feed locations across 14 counties in eastern Nebraska.
The unified cooperative will be led by Wilhelm and a 19-member Board of Directors. The board will consist of 18 current Frontier Cooperative board members and 1 current Farmers Union Coop Association board member. The 19-member board will remain until the board election at the 2021 annual meeting.

100th Shuttle Train Comes To Frontier Coop, Syracuse

Frontier Cooperative saw its 100th shuttle train come through the Syracuse Shuttle Facility the week of August 3rd, marking several milestones since the facility’s first train in April 2017. In that time, nearly 45 million bushels of corn has passed through the Syracuse Frontier facility.
Talks of the project started back in 2015, and almost two years later, the construction was completed in partnership with Union Pacific (UP) and Omaha Public Power District (OPPD).
“It’s been a great partnership, and we’re hoping to gain other partners with future economic development,” says Brook Aken, economic development manager for OPPD.
On Thursday when the 100th train was being loaded, representatives from UP, OPPD, and Syracuse Chamber of Commerce were there to witness and celebrate the milestone.
“Union Pacific and Frontier Cooperative have enjoyed a great relationship for many years. The addition of the Syracuse facility has allowed our business relationship to grow and provides significant value for both entities. One hundred trains is a terrific milestone, and we congratulate Frontier Cooperative on the success of the facility,” says Bruce Kroese, Assistant Vice President - Grain & Grain Products, Union Pacific.
Frontier Coop CEO Jeremy Wilhelm explains how great it is to see something go from concept to implementation that has had such a positive impact on the local community.
“This impact will be here for 40 to 50 years down the road for the next generation(s) to enjoy, says Wilhelm.”
Currently, the Frontier Syracuse facility holds 3 million bushels of grains storage, with an additional 1 million bushels of storage being added this fall, which will increase total storage to 4 million bushels.
Frontier operates four other train loader facilities across the company, but none that are as shiny and new as the Syracuse one. Prior to the Syracuse rail shuttle facility being built, the bushels were trucked and absorbed elsewhere, such as local ethanol plants and processing plants. Adding the Syracuse facility created more options and opened up more opportunities to export to new markets.
According to Frontier Coop CEO Jeremy Wilhelm, the Syracuse facility helps move large grain volumes across the country, but most of the grain that leaves Syracuse is shipped to the West Coast, primarily California, and some to Mexico.
Shuttle trains are typically 110-car units, which hold approximately 440,000 bushels of corn. To break that down even further, that’s about 4,000bu per car, which equals about four semi-loads per car. With the speed and efficiency of the Syracuse rail facility, it takes about four minutes to load one train car. The facility at Syracuse features two 20,000bu/hour legs and two high-capacity dumping pits, which keeps the process flowing smoothly.
Frontier Coop typically has the logistics schedule of the trains about five to seven days in advance. A train can be tracked online to get a good idea of its status, and when it will arrive. The UP requires shippers to load trains in 15 hours or less. That being said, the staff at the Syracuse rail facility, or any of the company’s shuttle loading facilities, must run a pretty tight ship—or in this case—train.
“It doesn’t matter when the train comes in. When it gets here, your time starts,” says Wilhelm.
This particular train arrived around 9pm on Wednesday evening, with crews standing by to start the process. It takes about seven to eight staff members to effectively and efficiently load the train and send it back down the tracks—one to open lids, one to shut lids and place seals, one locomotive operator (who must be certified), one to sample and grade the grain, one to load the grain, and one or two staff members rotating to provide relief among the crew. In addition, the USDA federal grain inspection team works alongside the Frontier staff to grade and inspect the grain, certifying the quality of grain in each train car.
“We can’t load until USDA arrives,” says Wilhelm.
The Syracuse facility will receive a GPS ping when the approaching train is in Nebraska City 20 miles away, letting the staff know it’s almost go-time.
“A train that shows up at 8am on a Tuesday is a pretty perfect scenario, but it doesn’t happen that way very often,” says Wilhelm.
In addition to the rail facility, just down the road in Syracuse is one of Frontier’s two dry fertilizer plants. In 2.5 years of operation, 83,000 tons of fertilizer went through the Syracuse plant.
Overall, Frontier Cooperative is very pleased about the success of the Syracuse facility and the opportunities that it has opened up for the community, company, and the agricultural industry.
“Not only has this facility provided good jobs for the community of Syracuse, it has opened up access to markets that the surrounding area did not have before,” Wilhelm says. “Which also means a more competitive basis for our farmers to enjoy for many years to come.”


Range cattle spend most of their time grazing, ruminating, resting and watering. Using collars fitted with GPS and accelerometers, technology similar to that found in a Fitbit that collects data on movement patterns, University of Nebraska–Lincoln researchers are tracking the movements and behavioral patterns of beef cattle and how they link to efficient beef production systems.

Mitchell Stephenson, a range and forage management specialist at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff, said he and other researchers involved in the project were looking at how specific behaviors exhibited by cattle translated to an animal’s traits.

“When you look at the behaviors, you can link them together,” Stephenson said. “Looking at production efficiency, milk production and behavioral characteristics are really what make this study unique.”

Lead researcher Travis Mulliniks, a range cow production systems specialist at the West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte, said understanding the relationships between cattle traits and behaviors could be used to better understand how milking ability influences cow-calf relationships and ultimately increase producer profitability and efficiency. He and Stephenson are working with Samodha Fernando, a rumen microbiologist in the university’s Department of Animal Science, to use technology to better understand those links between traits and behaviors.

The trio received a three-year, $299,999 USDA Critical Agricultural Research and Extension grant this spring to evaluate the impact of milk production on cow-calf productivity, grazing behavior and profitability at the university’s Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory, a nearly 13,000-acre research facility in Grant, Hooker and Cherry counties.

“This is the only study that I know of, ever, that is using this technology and looking at cattle in this way,” Mulliniks said.

The grant will allow Mulliniks and his team to study the complexities of the cow’s milk production on its calf’s performance and behavior. For example, if a cow produces a lot of milk, the team will analyze whether its calf spends more time milking or grazing and if the grazing preference may be tied into average daily gain.

The team is tracking the movement of 30 cows and calves using a GPS collar and accelerometers. The researchers are able to evaluate the influence of a cow’s milk ability, measured by periodic milking of the cows using a milk machine, on suckling and grazing behaviors of calves. This will then be tied into production characteristics such as weaning weight.

Selby Boerman, a graduate student working on the project, milks each beef cow five times during the lactation period. She records the amount of milk produced over 24 hours and analyzes the fat and protein content, which could play a big role in the production characteristics of cows.

Boerman also monitors the cow-calf pairs and records the time the calves spend nursing. Her visual observations help refine the accelerometer algorithms to nail down the unique signature of each animal to exactly when they are nursing.

Another aspect of the study involves taking fecal samples from the cows and calves, which researchers analyze to see which grasses and forbs the cows and calves consume over the growing season.

“Basically, we can reconstruct their diet, even to the general idea of some percentages of different species in their diet, based on what we see in the fecal matter,” Stephenson said.

The reconstructed diet allows the team to study the crossover in diet between cows and calves and take note of how their diet changes throughout the growing season.

In gathering a tremendous amount of data daily, the team is focused on ways that precision livestock management can add value for a producer.

“Our technology collects the data, and we can see changes in behavior over time,” Stephenson said.

“Getting this data in real time is where the technology is going and will aid producers in making decisions at the individual animal level — this is precision livestock management.”

Mulliniks, too, is focused on the potential benefit of the technology for producers.

“It’s not as simple as range science or animal nutrition; it is very complex,” he said. “That’s why you can’t necessarily tease apart some of these projects and why we look at it as an integrated system.”

Upcoming Cattlemen to Cattlemen Episode on Sustainability and Next Generation DDGs Features Corn Farmers

Beef and Corn: Working Together in a Sustainable System is the topic of the upcoming panel show on the National Cattlemen Beef Association’s series Cattlemen to Cattlemen on RFD-TV. Panelists will discuss sustainability practices on their farms, the benefits of next-generation feed products, how the ethanol industry has impacted corn and beef producers, and more.

“1.25 billion bushels of corn plus the majority of distillers grains goes towards feeding beef cattle,” said NCGA President Kevin Ross. “Adding corn into the cattle diet increases feed efficiency reflected in the rate of daily gain. It also promotes faster growth, reduces days to finish, and produces steaks with a higher marble score.”

One out of four bushels of added corn demand is due to beef and pork, with the beef industry providing $5.7 billion in corn value. DDGs account for nearly 8 percent of total domestic corn usage.

“It’s important for us to collaborate with our animal ag partners because they are such a large customer of corn,” Ross added. “That’s why we’re engaged and sponsoring programs like Cattlemen to Cattlemen and the Cattlemen Education Series, so together, we can help provide the latest industry news to producers.”

NCBA's Cattlemen to Cattlemen is a television show for cattlemen created by cattlemen. The episode featuring corn growers is scheduled for Tuesday, September 22 on RFD-TV at 8:30 p.m. Eastern. The show is hosted by Colorado cattle producer Kevin Ochsner.

Panel participants include Mike Drinnin (Columbus, NE) of Drinnin Feedlots where the episode is filmed; NCGA President and southwestern Iowa farmer Kevin Ross; Kansas farmer who raises both beef and corn Kylee Geffert; Dr. Galen Erickson, a ruminant nutritionist from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Brandon Hunnicutt, NCGA Board Member and farmer from Giltner, NE; Jarad Drinnin, who manages Drinnin Feedlots; and Cassie Aherin, Project Manager of the Eco-System Services Market Consortium.

NEW Cooperative breaks ground on Port of Blencoe

On Wednesday, September 9, 2020, NEW Cooperative held a ground breaking ceremony for the Port of Blencoe along the Missouri River. Due to rainy conditions the ceremony was moved from the site of the new port to the shop at the nearby Blencoe location. The shipping and receiving port will be located 2.5 miles west of the Blencoe exit 105 on Interstate 29.

Once completed next summer, this 38-acre site will be the most northern active port on the Missouri River. The Port of Blencoe is expected to annually accommodate 240,000 tons of soybeans, corn, dried distillers grains (DDGS), dry fertilizers and ag lime and will have the capacity to unload, clean, and reload up to nine barges at a time.

“Through NEW Cooperative, the new port will allow western Iowa farmers direct access to world export and import markets,” Dan Dix, NEW Cooperative general manager said. Iowa farmers need every advantage they can get. Years of low commodity prices, droughts, tariffs, and most recently the derecho have devastated Iowa producers. This project is designed to bring some much-needed help to an industry so vital to us all.”

Special guest speakers at the ground breaking ceremony included; Mike Steenhoek, Executive Director from Soy Transportation Coalition, Debi Durham, Iowa Economic Development Authority, Tammy Bramley, Monona County Board of Supervisors, and Iowa Governor, Kim Reynolds

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said NEW Cooperative is more than just a partner in the field. “With the addition of this port here on the Missouri River, as an innovator in moving grain to international markets, you’ll be instrumental in opening up an untapped world of opportunities for business and industries in this region,” Reynolds said.

Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition, also spoke. Steenhoek said, “In my role with the Soy Transportation Coalition, it is our aspiration to decrease the number of logistical steps between a farmer growing soybeans and an international customer. This an opportunity to decrease the number of those logistical steps will translate into farmers receiving a greater economic value for the soybeans they produce. As a farmer-owned and led company, NEW Cooperative’s investment in a new supply chain option shortens the distance between the farmer and the overseas customer.

The Port of Blencoe has the capacity to attract, develop, and retain business activity that brings a flow of revenue into Monona County that in turn generates income and other jobs through an economic multiplier effect.

Dix said NEW Cooperative’s goal is to load barges late this fall and start upstream deliveries in the spring 2021. Upstream shipments of fertilizers, aggregates, and other commodities will arrive into the site to be stored and marketed through wholesale partners as well as NEW’s customers.

“I believe this Port has the potential to grow into a sizeable engine of economic growth for area industries and their surrounding communities. The over the fence opportunities on this 38 acre site offers are endless.” said Dix.

Farm Futures survey finds large soybean acreage increase in 2021

An August 2020 survey conducted by the Farm Futures team found farmers across the country are eager to plant more soybeans in 2021. Survey respondents reported a slight decline in corn acreage in favor of soybeans for next year’s crop as a recent uptick in soybean demand sparked a rally.

Farm Futures respondents indicated planting 0.3% fewer corn acres in 2021/22 after demand destruction eroded 440 million bushels from the 2019/20 demand pipeline. While 2020/21 corn planting progress was largely underway when the pandemic caused corn demand to evaporate, farmers now have over six months of pandemic experience under their belts.

While ethanol and livestock demand have struggled to break through pandemic plateaus, farmers are predicted to plant 91.8 million acres of corn next spring. Given favorable planting and growing conditions, 2021 could be a chance for farmers to sow record-setting corn yields and volumes as demand continues to recover amid the pandemic.

The recent run-up in soybean prices has made U.S. soy acreage a hot prospect in the commodity markets. Farm Futures respondents projected planting nearly 4.1 million more acres of soybeans in 2021 compared to 2020, totaling 87.9 million acres. If realized, 2021 soybean acreage will be the third highest planted soy acreage on record.

Price ratio favors beans

Market incentives justify this move. The current new crop soybean – corn price ratio strongly favored soy acreage over corn throughout this summer. Chinese soy demand soared higher in late May as the world’s second largest economy began booking orders for new crop soybeans. Since June 1, China has booked 294.8 million bushels of 2020/21 soybeans.

With Brazilian exportable supplies heavily depleted as soybean harvest approaches in the U.S., soybeans may find enough favor in international channels this winter to justify a nearly 5% increase in soybean acreage next year.

Contrary to recent trends in falling wheat acreage, Farm Futures survey respondents indicated a shift from spring wheat acreage to winter wheat in the August 2020 survey. If realized, a higher 2021 winter wheat acreage would reverse seven consecutive years of shrinking winter wheat acres. Excluding durum acres due to a statistically insignificant response rate, other spring and winter wheat acreage is predicted to total 42.7 million acres in 2021, up 0.3% from 2020.

A lower dollar and increased consumer demand for pasta amid the coronavirus pandemic reignited both domestic and international attention to U.S. wheat. As international wheat movement increases in the wake of the pandemic, export demand will be critical to supporting wheat prices and by extension, wheat acreage.

Farm Futures surveyed 1,044 respondents on July 14-27 via an email questionnaire.

American Dairy Consumption Reaches All-Time High

Americans are turning to dairy products at a rate never seen before, according to the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS). New ERS data on annualized per capita consumption of dairy point to cheese, butter and yogurt categories driving substantial growth in per capita consumption of dairy, which reached a record high in 2019.

"Since the USDA began tracking per capita dairy consumption in the 1970s, the trend has continued upward for five straight decades, increasing 21% since 1975," said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association. "While Americans have always turned to dairy products as fresh, nutritious staples in their diets, they also value the versatility of dairy in new, delicious, and more accessible products. Thanks to its continued innovation and ingenuity, the dairy industry is poised to continue to grow and deliver nutritious products for Americans."

In the past decade alone: domestic per capita consumption of cheese is up 19%; per capita butter consumption is up 24%; per capita yogurt consumption is up 7%. Ice cream per capita consumption also rebounded in 2019, increasing by a half-percent over 2018.

Overall, ERS data show American dairy per capita consumption across products consistently increasing each year, with 2019 up 6% over the past five years, 10% over the past 15 years, and 16% over the past 30 years.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 9/11/2020

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending September 11, ethanol production eased 1.6% lower, or 14,000 barrels per day (b/d), to 926,000 b/d—equivalent to 38.89 million gallons daily. Production remained 7.7% below the same week in 2019 as a result of the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The four-week average ethanol production rate was unchanged at 930,000 b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 14.26 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks narrowed by 1.0% to a five-week low of 19.8 million barrels, which was 14.8% below year-ago volumes. Inventories decreased across all regions except the East Coast (PADD 1) and Gulf Coast (PADD 3).

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, took a step in the right direction, up 1.0% to 8.48 million b/d (129.97 bg annualized). Gasoline demand remained 5.2% lower than a year ago.

Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol followed, rising 1.8% to 845,000 b/d, equivalent to 12.95 bg annualized, which was 6.6% below the year-earlier level.

Imports of ethanol arriving into the West Coast were 36,000 b/d, or 10.58 million gallons for the week. This marks the sixth time in eight weeks that imports were reported. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of July 2020.)

ACE Helps Retailers Determine E15 Compatibility by Launching “Flex Check” Tool

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) today launched a tool on its fuel-marketer focused website to provide retailers with a free way to check if their equipment is already E15 compatible. Available 24/7, the “Flex Check” E15 compatibility tool will arm retailers with the confidence and information they need to make a conversion all in one place.

With USDA set to announce Higher Blend Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) grant recipients any day now, ACE’s focus turns to marketers who have fueling equipment already E15 compatible but may not be aware of that fact.

“Adding new E15 and flex fuel locations with programs like HBIIP makes ethanol blended fuel more available and visible, but to move significant gallons, we need widespread conversions on top of new construction,” said Ron Lamberty, Senior Vice President of ACE. “A huge number of retailers have E15 compatible equipment and could sell it tomorrow without a big investment. But they don’t know, because they’ve been told by their petroleum suppliers it’s impossible for most stations to offer E15, and very expensive for others. We just want them to check, because we know a lot of them will be very surprised.”

“It’s encouraging to see the President use twitter to draw attention to the fact states can allow E15 to be sold through E10 pumps,” Lamberty said. “However, we don’t know how many states will make this permissible, and for those that do, we don’t know how long it will take. EPA will also have to change some rules, but in the meantime, station owners can use Flex Check, and may not have to wait.”

The Flex Check compatibility tool uses National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) studies and ACE’s research with equipment companies to give retailers a place to enter the manufacturer or model of tanks, piping, and other equipment they have on site, and find out if they are already E15 compatible.

“Some stations owners will be able to download documentation they need to provide EPA if they decide to sell E15,” Lamberty added, “and if they’re not ready to sell E15, this tool will help them identify parts of their system that need to be replaced, and most retailers will be surprised at how cost effective adding E15 can be.”


Retail Fertilizer Prices Remain Varied

Average retail fertilizer prices continued to be mixed the second week of September 2020, according to retailers surveyed by DTN. Just like last week, five of the eight major fertilizers were lower, while the remaining three nutrients were higher.  Also like last week, no fertilizer was up or down a significant amount, which DTN designates as 5% or more.

The five fertilizers that were slightly lower were potash with an average price of $345 per ton, down $8 from last month; 10-34-0 $459/ton, down $6; anhydrous $434/ton, down $13; UAN28 $216/ton, down $5; and UAN32 $253/ton, down $6.

The three fertilizers that were higher include DAP with an average price of $434/ton, up $8; MAP $445/ton, up $10; and urea $360/ton, up $5.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.39/lb.N, anhydrous $0.26/lb.N, UAN28 $0.39/lb.N and UAN32 $0.39/lb.N.

Retail fertilizer prices continue to be considerably lower in price from a year ago. Anhydrous is 16% lower, UAN28 is 15% less expensive, UAN32 is 13% lower, urea is 12% less expensive, DAP is 11% lower, potash is down 10%, MAP is 8% less expensive and 10-34-0 is 3% lower from last year at this time.

Farmers Union, MANRRS Team Up to Strengthen Diversity and Inclusion in Agriculture

In light of the fact that racial and ethnic minority groups are vastly underrepresented in agricultural professions, National Farmers Union (NFU) and Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) are working together to foster diversity and inclusion in the field.

During an online ceremony, NFU President Rob Larew and MANRRS National President Dr. Antomia Farrell signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) summarizing the ways in which their organizations will collaborate to provide educational and leadership opportunities for young people of all racial and ethnic identities, develop federal policy priorities, and extend each other’s reach within agricultural communities.

“Agriculture is a much more homogenous profession than it should be; even though 40 percent of Americans identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color, just 5 percent of farmers do. This lack of racial and ethnic diversity translates to a lack of new ideas, perspectives, and experiences, which holds back progress and innovation for everyone in farming,” said Larew. “Together with MANRRS, which has been doing the important work of promoting diversity in agricultural spaces for 35 years, we hope to ensure that the next generation of agricultural professionals will be more representative of the American population as a whole.”

The partnership is a natural next step for the two organizations, both of which have long been committed to racial equity. NFU, which has represented racially diverse farmers for more than 80 years, has primarily approached the issue through legislative action; the group was an early supporter of the Civil Rights movement and has backed legal challenges to institutional discrimination against Black farmers. MANRRS, on the other hand, is a national society that offers professional and academic development as well as networking opportunities for ethnic minorities in agricultural sciences and related fields. By leveraging each other’s expertise, NFU and MANRRS hope to strengthen both organizations’ efforts.

“The fact that communities of color are not well represented in agriculture is not because they aren’t interested; it’s often because they don’t have access or exposure starting from an early age. As a result, many young people don’t even know that agricultural professions are an option for them,” Farrell noted. “That’s why MANRRS works to expand academic and professional opportunities for those who might not otherwise have them. In our partnership with National Farmers Union, we look forward to building on that work by offering our members the chance to participate in new educational programs and in grassroots advocacy.”

Brookside Agra Develops Fall Biomass Digester Program to Return 20-30% of Nutrients Back into Soil

Savvy growers want to know how they can get more out of their soil and biomass post-harvest and reduce input costs. The plant and soil experts at Brookside Agra have developed a unique Digester Program that utilizes its natural products H2OExcel and Advanced Bio Pro to return 20-30% of valuable biomass nutrients back into the soil, therefore reducing the amount of nutrients growers would need to apply in the spring.

When using Brookside Agra's Digester Program that contains a biological combined with the components that support beneficial microbes and bacteria in the soil, growers should see a fairly quick response, said Ben Elliott, Soil and Plant Nutrition Specialist with Insight Bio Ag, LLC. The goal is to break down the biomass to make it easier to handle the following spring and return as much of its stored nutrients back into the soil in the forms that are stable and can be utilized for the next crop.

"A unique chemistry that I fully support from my research and use in the fields is a combination of Advanced Bio Pro and H2OExcel from Brookside Agra. Advanced Bio Pro is a proprietary blend of stable, highly active microbial cultures, enhancers and nutrients. H2OExcel works to change the polarity of water and soil to increase biological activity, interact with soil capillarity pressure and defend against dehydration of both the soil and plants by keeping water available deeper within the soil profile," said Elliott. "When using Brookside Agra's Digester Program, I see those nutrient numbers climb into the 20% plus ranges. Of course, the results always depend on the climate and soil conditions. However, I always see this system pay growers back. As you approach the 20-30% range, there is enough value in the nutrients released from the biomass back into the soil that allows for incremental reductions in applied nutrients."

According to Elliott, if he just lets the biomass lay in the fields that he monitors, there is only about 2% of the measured nutrients that can be returned to the soil. Where nitrogen is added, that number only goes up to about 6%. The value of the nutrients released compared to the cost of the nitrogen and the labor generally does not pay anything back.

“If using a biological alone, the process can still be slow and of little effect,” said Elliott. “It is important to remember that biologicals function according to environmental factors like temperature and moisture. If a biological is applied alone, it may only have species that respond to those environmental factors present in the soil when they are applied. The key to a successful digester program is getting as many biologicals in the sprayer as possible and giving them the food they need to multiply rapidly.”

Elliott recommends not conducting any tillage operations in the fall in order to maintain the integrity of the biological ecosystems being constructed during this process.

"I always recommend that standing biomass should always be put in contact with the ground before applying a digester program, but if that is not practical for your operation, it is not absolutely necessary," said Elliott. "Using a digester program also allows the biologicals both already present, and added to the field, to maintain the integrity of the soil structure and improve the ease of water infiltration."

Initiating practices like Brookside Agra's Digester Program and using products like H2OExcel is a great way to actively start adapting soil health methods and working toward a better understanding of soil, inputs and yields, said Elliott.

"Maintaining a proper balance of nutrients throughout the growing cycle will always lead to greater efficiency when breaking down biomass and securing nutrients in proper form in the soil," he said. "This practice will also lead to higher numbers of active soil organic matter, resulting in more efficient use and retention of water in the soil profile, which is absolutely necessary to create a positive return of nutrients from biomass."

For more information about starting a fall Digester Program and Brookside’s customizable Digester ROI Calculator, contact Brookside Agra at 618-628-8300.  

Tuesday September 15 Ag News

 Fremont Corn Expo Canceled for January 2021

The Fremont Corn Expo has been canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the difficulty to provide this program to the quality level it deserves at this time. Due to retirements and the current budget restrictions, there are four vacancies in Extension educator positions in agronomy, including the position in Dodge and Washington counties that leads the Fremont Corn Expo.

University of Nebraska Extension has hosted and organized the annual Fremont Corn Expo since it started in 2004.  It is normally held the first Thursday in January at the Christensen Field Event Center in Fremont. “Planning for a large event that draws 50 agribusiness exhibitors and over 300 local farmers starts in earnest in September each year with signing various contracts and finalizing plans with keynote speakers,” said Nathan Mueller, former Nebraska Extension Cropping Systems Educator for Dodge and Washington Counties, now serving Saline, Jefferson, and Gage counties in southeast Nebraska. “The Expo is free and open to the public throughout the day and creates an environment where social interactions between farmers, exhibitors, speakers, and the local media is essential. Creating that type of social environment while prioritizing the safety of our community during COVID-19 would be difficult,” said Angi Heller, Nebraska Extension Engagement Zone Coordinator for Dodge and surrounding counties.

While we will not have the Corn Expo in January 2021, all are encouraged to leverage resources from past expos including speaker presentations found at University of Nebraska Extension and our partners, including the Fremont Chamber, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, and the Nebraska Corn Board are dedicated to providing an atmosphere for local farmers and agribusinesses that the Fremont Corn Expo creates in future years. Nebraska Extension will be continuing with the 2021 Successful Farmer Series streamed live and recorded on Friday mornings in January including one dedicated to corn production challenges in eastern Nebraska. Upcoming information on this series will be posted at  

Nebraska Agriculture Groups Urge EPA to Act Swiftly, Re-Register Dicamba Products

A wide ranging group of Nebraska agriculture organizations is urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to move swiftly to re-register over-the-top, post-emergence dicamba products. Dicamba is a widely used crop protection product in Nebraska, but future access and use by farmers is dependent on EPA re-labeling dicamba products, as legal action forced the EPA to vacate the label for several dicamba products this past summer.

In a Sept. 10 letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the presidents of the Nebraska Agri-business Association, Nebraska Cooperative Council, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Grain and Feed Association, and the Nebraska Soybean Association urged timely action on re-registration noting that farmers are already beginning to make decisions about purchases of seed and crop protection products for the 2021 planting season. The groups requested EPA issue new, simple, and understandable registrations for the dicamba products so farmers can appropriately plan for the coming year.

In seeking re-registration, the groups noted that dicamba herbicides used on dicamba-tolerant crops are a critical technology for farmers working to produce more food and fuel using fewer natural resources and agricultural inputs. The interests also noted that while other products exist, a diverse selection of crop protection products is vital to combat and prevent herbicide resistance.

The groups also highlighted the fact that farmers, agriculture retailers, and applicators have not only made significant investments in dicamba tolerant crops but have made great strides in the safe and productive use of the product.

Ethanol Board Sees Reconsideration of Gap Waivers as Promising

The U.S. EPA announced on Sept. 14 it will deny a portion of “gap-year” small refinery exemptions (SRE) to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2011-2018. This still leaves 14 pending gap-year SREs and approximately 30 SREs for 2019-2020.
“The industry has faced some of its tightest margins in the past three years, and this concept of permitting gap-year waivers would really hit us while we are down,” said Roger Berry, administrator for the Nebraska Ethanol Board. “This news is welcome because I’m not sure how many hits our ethanol producers and farmers can continue to take, and it puts some certainty back into our markets. We will continue to look for the EPA to uphold the law that is the RFS and to find ways to restore billions of gallons lost.”
For the years of 2016, 2017 and 2018 the EPA approved 85 SREs, removing the demand for over 4 billion gallons of ethanol nationwide. At the height of the economic crisis brought on by COVID-19, greater than 40% of Nebraska’s ethanol plants were offline and producers lost hundreds of millions of dollars due to decreased demand for ethanol and decreased production of distillers grains.
As the EPA considers the remaining SREs, the Nebraska Ethanol Board looks forward to the EPA similarly denying the remaining gap petitions, which will provide even more certainty and a strong market signal to producers and other stakeholders. This signal would go a long way in helping to restore the market demand for ethanol and other renewable fuels.
According to Berry, the ethanol industry in Nebraska has great potential for future growth. Environmental policy is a hot topic among voters right now, and the industry sees ethanol as a solution now for reducing greenhouse gases and improving air quality. According to Growth Energy, a national ethanol trade organization, every new truckload of American ethanol displaces more than 60 barrels of imported oil.
Even with the advent of the electric vehicle, the internal combustion engine will still be in the majority of U.S. fleet vehicles for several decades. A mere 7 percent of the national automobile fleet is replaced each year with new car sales. This doesn’t account for people purchasing used cars. At that rate, if all new cars purchased were electric, it would take more than 14 years to replace all internal combustion engines.
Automobile manufactures continue to develop technologies to increase the efficiency of the internal combustion engine. These new technologies all require a fuel with high octane. Ethanol is the least toxic, cheapest and most abundant, renewable option for octane in the nation’s fuel supply.
“With the proper policies in place today, we will continue to see the Nebraska ethanol industry as an ever-increasing economic powerhouse for the State of Nebraska,” Berry added.    

ACE Elects Board of Directors During Annual Business Meeting

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) announced the re-election of several board members to the organization’s board of directors during its annual business meeting prior to ACE’s 33rd conference, which is being held virtually in combination with the Fuel Ethanol Workshop (FEW) & Expo on September 16 from 1:30 to 5 p.m. Central.

Six incumbents were re-elected to the board of directors for three-year terms:
    Roger Berry, representing Nebraska Ethanol Board
    Trevor Hinz, representing ICM, Inc.
    David Kolsrud, representing Badger State Ethanol
    Jan Lundebrek, representing Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company
    Robert Walsh, representing South Dakota Corn Growers Association
    Chris Wilson, representing Mid-Missouri Energy

“As 2020 brought on a whole new set of challenges, we’re grateful for the guidance of our dedicated volunteers who make up the board of directors and represent the grassroots diversity of our members,” said Brian Jennings, ACE CEO.

In addition, two incumbents, Gary Marshall of the Missouri Corn Growers Association and Greg Krissek of the Kansas Corn Growers Association, completed their service on the ACE board of directors. Marshall, CEO of the Missouri Corn Growers, today announced his retirement effective April 2021. Josh Roe was elected to a three-year term representing Kansas Corn.

“Gary and Greg are exceptional advocates for ethanol and agriculture, and we’ve appreciated their leadership and expertise,” Jennings said. “We particularly wish Gary Marshall the very best in his upcoming retirement.”

Trouble in the Cattle Markets: A Farm Organization's Response

Webinar: Sept. 24, noon CDT

Over the past year, events have rocked the cattle industry and drove to the surface long-standing questions concerning the cattle markets and market structure. These concerns resulted in numerous policy proposals being offered in Washington D.C. In response, the Nebraska Farm Bureau created a Task Force of cattle producers to study current cattle markets and offer policy suggestions and recommendations. Jay Rempe, Senior Economist at Nebraska Farm Bureau, will discuss the recent market events, responses by producers, and the Task Force work and recommendations, and what it learned along the way about Nebraska’s cattle industry relative to the rest of the country.

Farm and Ranch Management Webinar Schedule
Join us on Thursdays at noon Central time. Essential information for essential decisions.
    Sept. 24: Troubles in the Cattle Markets: A Farm Organization's Response. With Jay Rempe, Nebraska Farm Bureau.
    Oct. 1: The Economic Impact of Nebraska Agriculture. With Brad Lubben, Jeffrey Stokes and Eric Thompson, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
    Oct. 8: 2020 Property Tax Changes. With Dave Aiken, Department of Agricultural Economics.
    Oct. 15: Update on Farm Income and Farm Program Payment Projects. With Brad Lubben, Department of Agricultural Economics.
    Oct. 22: Financial State of Ag for Nebraska Producers. With Tina Barrett, director and farm financial consultant, Nebraska Farm Business, Inc.
    Oct. 29: Ballot Initiatives: Election Day 2020. With Dave Aiken, Department of Agricultural Economics.

Register for the free presentations and view archived recordings on our webinar page at

Register NOW for ISU Grain Storage & Corn Quality Issues

One-Hour Free Webinar on September 17
A free webinar titled Grain Storage and Corn Quality will be presented on Thursday, September 17th, at 7 p.m. CST. Steve Johnson, farm and agriculture business management specialist with ISU  Extension and Outreach, and Dr. Charles Hurburgh, Professor in Charge, Iowa Grain Quality Initiative, will both present and answer participant questions.
The webinar is free, but pre-registration is required.

If you miss the live webinar, search for Webinar Replays & Resources, Weather Videos & Newsletter on the new Virutal Ag Marketing Clubs web page...

For additional storm damage information and educational resources, use this ISU Extension and Outreach webpage:  

Apply Manure Responsibly When Soil Conditions are Dry

Iowa Learning Farms, in partnership with the Iowa Nutrient Research Center and Conservation Learning Group, is hosting a free virtual field day focused on best management practices for applying manure in dry soil conditions on Thursday, Sept. 24 at 1 p.m.

Join for a live conversation with Brian Dougherty, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach field agricultural engineer.

Maximizing the nutrient availability and retention of applied manure for the upcoming crops begins with proper handling and application to the land. During dry conditions, it is even more important as those nutrients are especially vulnerable to being flushed from the system during future rain events.

Dougherty led a study at Iowa State University’s Northeast Research and Demonstration Farm near Nashua to examine the effect of manure application timing and cover crops on yields and drainage water quality. During the virtual event, Dougherty will share results from that project and similar projects, as well as provide best management practices for applying manure for the upcoming crop year.

“This field day will give producers some tips on planning ahead for fall manure applications,” said Dougherty. “We will discuss some challenges specific to applying manure in very dry conditions as well as the benefits of using manure and cover crops together as an integrated system for improving utilization of manure nutrients.”

To participate in the live virtual field day at 1 p.m. Sept. 24, click this URL: or visit and click “Join Live Virtual Field Day”.

Or, join from a dial-in phone line by dialing +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 876 9923; Meeting ID: 914 1198 4892.

The field day will be recorded and archived on the ILF website so that it can be watched at any time.

Participants may be eligible for a Certified Crop Adviser board-approved continuing education unit. Information about how to apply to receive the unit (if approved) will be provided at the end of the live field day.  

New Report: Pork Industry Makes Gains in Sustainability

As America’s pig farmers continue to fight back from the negative impact of COVID-19 and the ups and downs of markets and bad weather, a new study released by the National Pork Board, Production Analysis Summary for U.S. Pork Industry: 2017-2019, shows that America’s pig farmers continue to make strides in overall sustainability by being more efficient every day.  

The 15-page report, prepared by Minnesota-based MetaFarms and its subsidiary SMS (Swine Management Services), looked at sow, nursery, finish and wean-to-finish data over a three-year period. The results reconfirmed long-term trends of increasing efficiency, which has the additional benefit of reducing production costs — an especially welcome conclusion in 2020.  

“One of the greatest benefits of this Pork Checkoff-funded study is the benchmarking ability it offers producers who always want to improve their efficiencies,” said Chris Hostetler, animal science director for the Pork Board. “It’s also a great way to show today’s consumers that America’s pig farms are becoming more efficient all the time and that pork is a sustainable choice when it comes to choosing a protein.”   

Brad Eckberg of MetaFarms and Ron Ketchem of SMS, helped analyze much of the data in the study.

“The ability to benchmark allows producers to compare their production numbers to other farms and systems, regardless of what record program they are using, what genetics they have or their farm size,” said Ketchem, a longtime industry number cruncher. He continues to be surprised by the increasing range of production numbers between farms year after year.

“Every year, more variation occurs with new highs and lows being set,” he said. “This shows the impact in genetics and the ability of producers to manage their farms daily.”

When producers are looking at benchmarking and at ways to improve, Ketchem offers these rules of thumb:

    Farrowing rate: A 1% change in farrowing rate equals a 0.34 pig increase or decrease in pigs weaned/mated female/year. Example: A change of 4% in farrowing rate equals an increase or decrease of 1.36 pigs weaned/mated female/year.

    Piglet survival: Based on 15 total pigs born per litter, a change of 1% in piglet survival equals a 0.36 increase or decrease in pigs weaned/mated female/year. Example: A change of 4% piglet survival equals an increase or decrease of 1.44 pigs weaned/mated female/year.

    Female death loss: A 1% change in female death loss equals a 0.25 pig increase or decrease in pigs weaned/mated female/year. Example: A change of 4% in female death loss equals an increase or decrease of one pig weaned/mated female/year.

Key productivity indexes (KPIs) are used throughout the analysis of sow, nursery, finish and wean-to-finish data to draw attention to specific areas of focus within production stages. The retrospective study, the eighth of its kind funded by the Pork Checkoff since 2011, breaks the KPIs into a month-to-month format to show the effects of seasonality on the data. The findings also identify possible improvements in genetics, nutrition, health, management practices, among other areas.

According to Hostetler, the goal of the study’s production analysis is to aid the pork industry in improving profitability, which has to be part of the sustainability equation. “We hope that producers will dig into the specific parts of this study and use it to help improve their own farm businesses,” he said. “If you’re happy with your numbers in one area of production, look at another area and see where more progress can be made. It’s all about getting a little better every day.”


The Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) will invest approximately $39,380,000 into programs for beef promotion, research, consumer information, industry information, foreign marketing and producer communications during fiscal 2021, subject to USDA approval.

At the end of its September 9-10 meeting in Denver, Colorado, the Beef Promotion Operating Committee (BPOC) approved checkoff funding for a total of 13 “Authorization Requests” – or grant proposals brought by nine contractors for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2021. The committee includes 10 producers from the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and 10 producers from the Federation of State Beef Councils.

Nine contractors brought a total of $47,725,121 worth of funding requests to the BPOC this week, nearly $8,345,121 more than the funds available from the CBB budget.  

“Producers drive all the decisions that the BPOC makes during these important meetings,” said CBB and BPOC Chair Jared Brackett. “Cattlemen and women from across the U.S. and importers carefully consider every proposal to determine where we should spend these Checkoff dollars with one primary goal in mind – increasing beef demand to provide producers with the best possible value for their Checkoff investments.

“Once again, our contractors came to these meetings with some incredibly innovative ideas and projects. As always, it’s a real challenge to balance the budget and distribute our limited amount of Checkoff dollars to these contractors in a way that we believe will best drive beef demand. I personally thank all our contractors and committee members for dedicating considerable time and effort to continue moving the beef industry forward."

In the end, the BPOC approved proposals from eight national beef organizations for funding through the FY 21 Cattlemen’s Beef Board budget, as follows:
    American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture - $670,996
    Cattlemen’s Beef Board - $1,689,915
    Foundation for Meat and Poultry Research and Education - $646,144
    Meat Import Council of America / Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative - $497,037
    National Cattlemen’s Beef Association - $26,442,207
    National Institute for Animal Agriculture - $89,466
    North American Meat Institute - $994,068
    United States Meat Export Federation - $8,350,170

Broken out by budget component – as outlined by the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985 – the Fiscal Year 2021 Plan of Work for the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board budget includes:
-    $9.8 million for promotion programs, including continuation of the checkoff’s consumer digital advertising program, as well as veal promotion
-    $8.9 million for research programs, focusing on a variety of critical issues, including pre- and post-harvest beef safety research, product quality research, human nutrition research and scientific affairs, market research, and beef and culinary innovations
-    $7.3 million for consumer information programs, including a Northeast public relations initiative; national consumer public relations, including nutrition-influencer relations and work with primary- and secondary-school curriculum directors nationwide to get accurate information about the beef industry into classrooms of today’s youth
-    $3.3 million for industry information programs, comprising dissemination of accurate information about the beef industry to counter misinformation from anti-beef groups and others, as well as funding for checkoff participation in a fifth annual national industrywide symposium focused on discussion and dissemination of information about antibiotic use
-    $8.4 million for foreign marketing and education in 80 countries in the following regions: ASEAN region, Caribbean, Central America/Dominican Republic, China/Hong Kong, Europe, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Middle East, Russia/Greater Russian Region, South America, Taiwan and new markets
-    $1.7 million for producer communications, which includes investor outreach using national communications and direct communications to producers and importers about checkoff results, as well as development and utilization of a publishing strategy and platform and a state beef council content hub.

The full fiscal 2021 Cattlemen’s Beef Board budget is approximately $43.1 million. Separate from the authorization requests, other expenses funded include $254,000 for program evaluation; $445,000 for program development; $720,000 for USDA oversight, which includes $450,000 for AMS oversight and $190,000 for CBB’s legal and compliance; and $2.1 million for CBB administration. The fiscal 2021 budget represents a decrease of 3.2 percent, or $1.4 million from the $44.5 million fiscal year 2020 budget

All authorization requests and budgets are now sent onto the full Cattlemen’s Beef Board for approval, followed by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service for review, with a start date for the new fiscal year on October 1.

For more information about the Beef Checkoff and its programs, including promotion, research, foreign marketing, industry information, consumer information and safety, contact the Cattlemen’s Beef Board at 303-220-9890 or visit

Provisions of Peterson’s Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act Advance in the House of Representatives

Today the House Committee on Energy and Commerce released the text of legislation containing the provisions of House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson’s Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act. The House is expected to consider H.R. 4447 the week of September 21st.

“In recent years, the Environmental Protection Agency has granted dozens of small refinery exemptions, waiving billions of gallons of biofuel from RFS blending requirements. The Agency granted these harmful waivers with little transparency, concealing details from the public about which refiners are being granted waivers and why. The provisions of my bill will require EPA to pull back the curtain and show the American people how they justify granting these waivers that have greatly impacted profitability for biofuels producers and farmers across the country.”

The provisions included in H.R. 4447, Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act would set an annual deadline for refiners to request exemptions from the Renewable Fuel Standard and require EPA to publicly release the name of refiners requesting a waiver, the number of gallons requested to be waived and the number of gallons of biofuel that will not be blended as a result of the waiver. These provisions mirror the provisions of H.R. 3006, the Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act, with adjustments to address business confidentiality concerns that were raised by members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Congressman Peterson is a co-chair of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus, a bipartisan group of Members of Congress who advocate for homegrown renewable fuel policies that boost farmer incomes and reduce dependence on foreign oil.

RFA Applauds Congressional Efforts to Enhance Transparency of Small Refinery Waiver Process

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce today unveiled the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act, which contains provisions requiring more transparency and accountability in EPA’s process for evaluating small refinery exemption requests under the Renewable Fuel Standard. The provisions are based on the Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act, introduced last year by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson.

“This provision would finally pull back the curtain on EPA’s secretive and obscure small refinery waiver program, and we are pleased to see its inclusion in the House energy package,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “By setting a deadline for waiver petitions and requiring small refineries to publicly disclose their identities, this language brings badly needed transparency and structure to the program. This would prevent companies like ExxonMobil, Chevron, HollyFrontier, and CVR from hiding behind phony claims of confidentiality and stop them from further gaming the system. We thank Reps. Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD) for their work on the original legislation, and we applaud the leadership of the Energy and Commerce Committee for recognizing the importance of bringing clarity and openness to the refinery waiver process.”

Also today, a bipartisan and bicameral group of federal lawmakers led by Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-IA) expressed “disappointment and concern” that the EPA has not been forthcoming with the U.S. Government Accountability Office and has failed to release records pertaining to the small refinery exemption program.

“While we were pleased to see EPA reject a large number of gap-year refinery waiver requests earlier this week, we can’t ignore the fact that fundamental problems remain with the small refinery exemption program,” Cooper said. “The complete lack of transparency surrounding the program still needs to be addressed. We thank Rep. Finkenauer and her colleagues for working together to demand that EPA respond immediately to the GAO’s request for basic information about the small refinery exemption program.”

USDA Announces Increased Subsidies and Other Improvements to the Livestock Risk Protection Insurance Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA) today announced it is increasing premium subsidies and will make other improvements to the Livestock Risk Protection (LRP) plan of insurance for feeder cattle, fed cattle, and swine starting with the 2021 crop year. The increased premium subsidy is retroactive to the beginning of the 2021 crop year and is based on the coverage selected by the livestock producer. RMA will implement the other improvements later this year.

“We encourage livestock producers to contact their insurance agent to take advantage of these improvements,” said RMA Administrator Martin Barbre. “These changes will not only make LRP more affordable for producers, but also will provide them with better coverage.”

Other improvements to be implemented include:
-    Increasing livestock head limits for feeder and fed cattle to 6,000 head per endorsement/12,000 head annually, and swine to 40,0000 head per endorsement/150,000 head annually
-    Modifying the requirement to own insured livestock until the last 60 days of the endorsement
-    Increasing the endorsement lengths for swine up to 52 weeks
-    Creating new feeder cattle and swine types to allow for unborn livestock to be insured

For more information on the LRP program, please see the RMA website

USDA Needs Tools to Help Farmers

The American Farm Bureau Federation and 41 other agriculture organizations are asking Congress to ensure the USDA has the tools necessary to help farmers in times of crisis. The group sent a letter to House and Senate leadership requesting they immediately provide replenishment for the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) through the continuing resolution. Without immediate replenishment, funding for farm bill programs could run out while farmers struggle against low commodity prices, natural disasters and the coronavirus pandemic.

“For decades, CCC has been regularly replenished to fund programs integral to the farm safety net that Congress has worked tirelessly to craft,” the letter states. “Producers count on programs like Agriculture Risk Coverage, Price Loss Coverage, Dairy Margin Coverage, Marketing Assistance Loans, conservation programs, and many others as they provide food, fuel and fiber for our nation. Without immediate CCC reimbursement, payments and programs would be significantly delayed, jeopardizing operations across the country.”

Although much recent attention has been focused on CCC aid to farmers to address the unprecedented crisis caused by the pandemic, it’s important to recognize that the CCC is critical when natural disasters strike, enabling USDA to act quickly to deliver aid. The CCC is also core to our nation’s success advancing conservation efforts, having enrolled more than 140 million acres in USDA conservation programs – more than the land mass of California and New York combined. In reality, the CCC is a stabilizing force across U.S. agriculture.

Organizations that signed the letter include the Agricultural Retailers Association, Amcot, American Agri-Women, American Cotton Producers, American Cotton Shippers Association, American Dairy Coalition, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Pulse Association, American Sheep Industry Association, American Soybean Association, American Sugar Alliance, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, Cotton Growers Warehouse Association, Cotton Warehouse Association of America, Crop Insurance Professionals Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Barley Growers Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council, National Cotton Ginners Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Farmers Union, National Milk Producers Federation, National Sorghum Producers, National Sunflower Association, Panhandle Peanut Growers Association, Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., Produce Marketing Association, Rural & Agriculture Council of America, Society of American Florists, Southeastern Cotton Ginners Association, Southern Cotton Growers, Southwest Council of Agribusiness, U.S. Canola Association, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, United Egg Producers, United States Peanut Federation, US Rice Producers Association, USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council, USA Rice and the Western Peanut Growers Association.

More Than 300 Agriculture and Conservation Organizations Voice Support for Pesticide Law

CropLife America (CLA), joined by more than 300 agriculture and conservation organizations, sent a letter to all members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives affirming their support for pesticide regulations in place today under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The letter is in response to recently introduced legislation (H.R. 7940, S. 4406) that would undermine the science-based standards contained within our nation’s pesticide laws.  

“The legislation, as introduced, would undermine the work of EPA’s career scientists in the evaluation of pesticide safety and oversight of pesticide registration and use,” said Chris Novak, CLA president and CEO. “Within our current regulatory system, only about one in 10,000 discoveries makes the long journey from the lab to the farmer’s field—a process that can take up to 12 years. The evaluation of each pesticide requires the agency’s career scientists to review hundreds of studies to determine whether and/or how a pesticide can be safely used,” Novak continued. “This risk-based approach is necessary to ensure that farmers have new tools to combat the weeds and insects that threaten the safety and productivity of our food supply. The organizations that joined us today support a predictable regulatory process that does provide the public confidence in the pesticide registration process.”

FIFRA has been amended by Congress several times to strengthen the regulatory standard for safety – most recently by the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) that added specific protections for infants and children. Under the provisions of the current law, pesticides that are approved for use are subject to continuous review whenever new scientific data becomes available. Officially, federal regulators must review each pesticide approved for use in the U.S. every 15 years, but the reality is that the pace of scientific development means regulators are making formal assessments much more frequently as more data becomes available.

“The proposed legislation puts science in the backseat and lets politics drive decisions on the safe use of pesticides. Pesticides are a necessary tool to protect our fields, our homes, our health and the sustainability of our food supply. The organizations joining our letter represent millions of stakeholders  who are committed to defending a regulatory system built on the principles of sound science, transparency, and broad stakeholder engagement.”

NCBA’s Redbook Continues to Make Cattle Recordkeeping Easy

Handy Pocket-Sized Tool Available for 2021 on Oct. 5

For more than three decades cattle producers have been able to simplify their recordkeeping with a handy booklet from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Soon the 2021 version of the Redbook will be ready to help cattle producers effectively and efficiently record their daily production efforts, which can help enhance their profitability and reduce their stress levels.

                In addition to an area for recording Beef Quality Assurance practices and proper injection technique information, the 2021 Redbook will have more than 100 pages to record calving activity, herd health, pasture use, cattle inventory, body condition, cattle treatment, AI breeding records and more. It also contains a calendar and notes section.

                “The Redbook is a simple, cost-effective and practical way to keep track of what’s taking place with cattle on farms and ranches,” according to Dan Kniffen, a Pennsylvania beef producer. “In addition to being a proven way of capturing and the documenting continual improvement being made by cattle producers, it provides a daily reminder of the positive steps both already taken and needed going forward.”

                Redbooks can be purchased after Oct. 5, 2020, for $7.00 each, plus shipping and handling. To order, visit Customization of the Redbooks is available (for 100 books or more).        

                For more information on the NCBA Redbooks, contact Grace Webb at, (800) 525-3085.

USB CEO to Speak at Women in Agribusiness

United Soybean Board CEO Polly Ruhland is set to be one of several future-focused keynote speakers at the upcoming Women in Agribusiness Summit taking place virtually September 16-18, 2020.

In a year of tumult across the globe, virtual conferences, webinars and other connection points have provided opportunities for those in agriculture to continue to build businesses, reinforce sustainability and gain invaluable insight into managing through unpredictable times. Trying times like these reveal strengths and weaknesses, according to Ruhland.

“There’s no sugarcoating the first three quarters of 2020,” said Ruhland. “These past few months have been exhausting, confusing, heartbreaking and frightening. But, at the same time, when I look ahead to the future of U.S. Soy, the broader agriculture industry and the society it supports, I also find substantial reasons for optimism.”

Among the positives, she plans to discuss the wider impacts of farmers being recognized as critical infrastructure. In addition, Ruhland will address how consumers have taken interest in food and agriculture during the pandemic, learning about the reliability of our supply chain in providing products to their grocery stores. Opportunities for dialogue about the importance of advancements in agriculture have opened up outside the industry through a renewed interest in how food is grown, transported and delivered to a multitude of end users.

At the center of these opportunities and this event are the women in agribusiness playing key roles in shaping the future.

“Women play an increasingly important role leading the growth and development of U.S. agriculture, and we should continue to be front and center in our efforts to strengthen farmers’ bonds with the general population,” said Ruhland. “I’m incredibly proud to speak with the many women who will attend the WIA Summit who have stepped up to lead our industry to cultivate inclusivity and innovation.”

To learn more about Ruhland’s insights into how U.S. Soy and the agriculture industry can fortify its resiliency, register for the Women in Agribusiness Summit or visit or

Anuvia Plant Nutrients Licenses SymTRX 10S to The Mosaic Company

Today, Anuvia Plant Nutrients announces a commercial agreement with The Mosaic Company to exclusively license its SymTRX™10S product in the USA, which will accelerate the product’s growth and availability. This agreement enables Mosaic to utilize Anuvia’s SymTRX10S technology to introduce a next-generation bio-based phosphate fertilizer with sulfur to the marketplace under the Mosaic brand name Susterra™.

Anuvia will continue to sell its SymTRX™20S product in the USA, along with commercialization of all SymTRX™ products in markets outside the United States.

“Anuvia’s strategic decision to license the SymTRX10S product to The Mosaic Company will greatly accelerate wide distribution of Anuvia’s technology to growers,” said Amy Yoder, CEO, Anuvia Plant Nutrients. “Integrating our products into existing solutions and working with partners that have wide distribution will help farmers profitability meet the demands for sustainable food production.”

The foundation of Anuvia’s suite of products is its Organic MaTRX™. This technology works alone or in conjunction with traditional fertilizer, providing crops with all of the same essential nutrients as traditional fertilizer, while improving soil health. It also reduces nutrient loss and greenhouse gases.

Utilizing Anuvia’s technology will enhance The Mosaic Company’s commitment to building healthy soils, through the launch of Susterra. Some of the key benefits growers can expect from Susterra include:

    Improved nutrient efficiency: Susterra is optimized for the efficient delivery of nutrients — with immediate nitrogen availability for early season growth and slow-release nitrogen for late season needs.
    Boosted and balanced soil microbiomes: Built with up to 15% recycled organic matter, Susterra promotes microbial activity in the soil, supporting a more balanced microbiome that is proven to improve overall soil health.
    Innovative, sustainable fertilizer: Unlike other phosphate fertilizers, Susterra uses bio-based technology to deliver recycled organic matter and nutrients for more sustainable production.
    Easy blending and application: A high-quality, homogeneous, dry-granular product, Susterra provides uniform nutrient distribution, blends easily with other fertilizers and is well-suited for use with existing application equipment.

Learn more about Anuvia’s SymTRX technology by visiting or

Farmers Business Network® Opens Up Free Membership for All Farmers

Farmer’s Business Network, Inc. (FBN®), the leading direct-to-farm ag tech platform and farmer network, today announced that membership to its platform, which helps farmers reduce their cost of production and maximize the value of their crops, is now free for all farmers.*

"From the trade war, to unpredictable weather conditions, to the COVID-19 pandemic, these are challenging times for farmers," said Amol Deshpande, CEO and Co-Founder, Farmers Business Network. “We view this as an investment in our customers. By providing free membership now, all farmers will have access to a select range of products and services that are focused specifically on supporting their independent businesses, both in good times and in bad."

FBN is trusted by nearly 14,000 farmer members around the world, representing 45 million acres - an area roughly the size of the state of Wisconsin. In 2020, the company has seen a 42-percent surge in new members as farmers struggle amid one of the most challenging periods in recent history.

Now, any US, Canadian or Australian farmer can become a member for free and benefit from the company's direct-to-farm commerce, crop marketing, and sustainability platform that redefines transparency, value and convenience in the agriculture industry. Existing members will receive a prorated credit for the value of their paid membership, which can be used in the online FBN Direct Store or towards a Market Advisory Pro Subscription.

Free membership will enable farmers to explore which products and services will be most useful to their operation. Not only will farmers be able to shop online for inputs through FBN Direct and manage marketing contracts and bids through FBN’s Profit Center tool, but also they will be able to take advantage of the advanced agronomic and decision making software available for free to all members, including:
    Price Transparency: Unlocking the prices other farmers pay for common chemical and seed inputs, helping farmers save on average 19% off the median price of chemicals and 10% off seed inputs.
    Seed Finder: Access large scale yield and price information on over 1,400 seed varieties, helping farmers on average increase their yield by 18 bushels per acre when they select the variety recommended by our platform.1
    Free satellite imagery: Enabling farmers to monitor their fields to protect their yield from pest pressure, while saving roughly $2 per acre on satellite imagery fees.
    FBN Community: Connect and learn from a network of close to 14,000 farmers online, in our farmers-only discussion forum.
    Shop for insurance, financing and brokering options.

“Being able to utilize FBN Direct has been a huge savings for my operation,” said Mike Bergen, a farmer based in Nebraska who grows irrigated corn and soybeans as well as dryland corn. "Not only can I price and compare chemicals, but I have the ability to purchase some for substantially less. I’m glad we’re welcoming more members because the bigger the network gets and the more information that's put into it, the more valuable a service it is for everyone."

FBN's agronomic network is a contributory, farmer-driven platform that creates real-world data for growers, from growers. As before, data contribution is strictly optional for members and not required for membership. Access to features such as Seed Finder price and performance analytics, will be reserved for data contributing members.

FBN depends on direct input from farmers to develop the company's offerings to better serve growers’ needs. For example, in response to longstanding complaints about the high cost of seed, FBN started its own seed line, F2F Genetics Network, in August 2018. The company launched FBN Health in 2018 after concerns were raised about the growing costs and challenges of healthcare on the farm. In January 2020, the company rolled out HedgeCommand to help farmers market their grain. And across all FBN product and service offerings, the company’s commitment to data privacy and transparency remains unchanged.

“Our substantial investments in innovation and technology are investments in the future of the family farm,” said Deshpande. “By providing free membership, we are unlocking the value of these investments to more farmers, which helps them withstand headwinds now and positions them for greater profit potential in the future.”

Protect yield potential with a more effective approach to pest control

The 2020 corn harvest is drawing near, and now is the time for growers to assess their pest control experience and make a plan for 2021. The Agrisure® traits portfolio offers high-performing rotational options to show pests something different.

"Common corn pests like corn rootworm, corn earworm and western bean cutworm have historically demonstrated the ability to overcome some control management practices," says Tim O'Brien, Ph.D., Agrisure traits manager for Syngenta. "The innovative Agrisure traits portfolio offers growers different tools to rotate, which proactively protect yield potential, trait durability and long-term field health."

Corn rootworm (CRW) is historically a highly adaptable pest, and long-term management requires the rotation of multiple control strategies to delay the development of insect adaptation. The Agrisure Duracade® trait offers growers a different option that could catch CRW off guard and provides a foundation in multi-year corn rootworm management plans. The Agrisure Duracade trait features a unique mode of action that controls CRW differently than other below-ground traits, binding to a different receptor site in the CRW digestive tract.

For best results, growers designing multi-year corn rootworm management plans may want to consider the use of different control methods including crop rotation, corn rootworm-traited hybrids, soil-applied insecticides, and adult beetle control. By offering both Agrisure Duracade trait stacks and the Agrisure 3122 trait stack, the Agrisure traits portfolio provides corn producers the option to rotate trait stacks with different modes of action for corn rootworm.

The Agrisure Viptera® trait is another valuable tool, controlling more above-ground pests than any other trait in the corn industry. It is the only trait available today that effectively controls western bean cutworm. Hybrids with the Agrisure Viptera trait have less insect-feeding damage as well as higher grain quality potential due to lower incidences of mold and mycotoxin development.

By controlling 16 above- and below-ground insects, the Agrisure Duracade 5222 E-Z Refuge® trait stack combines the Agrisure Duracade and Agrisure Viptera traits to manage more pests than any other competitive trait stack. Many hybrids are also available with Agrisure Artesian® water optimization technology as identified by the 'A' at the end of the trait stack name.

The value of Agrisure traits plays out at harvest: Hybrids with Agrisure Duracade trait offer growers an average 4.1 bu/A yield advantage over products without the trait.1 Hybrids with the Agrisure Viptera trait offer an average 7.3 bu/A yield advantage over products without.2

Agrisure traits hybrids are available through local Golden Harvest® Seed Advisors, NK® retailers and independent seed companies.

Syngenta is assisting growers with long-term pest management strategies through its CRW monitoring program, designed to inform growers in all regions of the most effective integrated approach to their pest and weed control, as well as multi-year whole farm approaches.

To learn more about Agrisure traits as part of an integrated approach to pest management, visit the virtual Syngenta booth at the Farm Progress Virtual Experience from Sept. 15-17. Click here to be instantly transported to the booth and learn more about available solutions.

Monday September 14 Crop Progress + Ag News


For the week ending September 13, 2020, there were 3.3 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 14% very short, 31% short, 49% adequate, and 6% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 20% very short, 33% short, 43% adequate, and 4% surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn condition rated 5% very poor, 12% poor, 22% fair, 42% good, and 19% excellent. Corn dented was 94%, ahead of 79% last year and 87% for the five-year average. Mature was 48%, well ahead of 16% last year and 27% average. Harvested was 4%, near 1% average.

Soybean condition rated 5% very poor, 10% poor, 21% fair, 47% good, and 17% excellent. Soybeans dropping leaves was 61%, well ahead of 18% last year and 36% average. Harvested was 3%, near 1% average.

Winter wheat planted was 9%, behind 15% last year and 17% average.

Sorghum condition rated 4% very poor, 6% poor, 19% fair, 43% good, and 28% excellent. Sorghum coloring was 84%, ahead of 77% last year, but near 87% average. Mature was 26%, well ahead of 5% last year, and ahead of 17% average. Harvested was 1%.

Dry edible bean condition rated 2% very poor, 4% poor, 10% fair, 63% good, and 21% excellent. Dry edible beans dropping leaves was 75%, well ahead of 52% last year. Harvested was 26%, ahead of 8% last year.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 14% very poor, 18% poor, 27% fair, 39% good, and 2% excellent.


Most of Iowa had multiple days of much needed rain, which only left just 1.4 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending September 13, 2020, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Field activities included harvesting corn for silage, moving old crop grain stocks, and preparing equipment and bins for harvest.

Topsoil moisture condition rated 12% very short, 21% short, 59% adequate and 8% surplus. Subsoil moisture condition rated 20% very short, 31% short, 46% adequate and 3% surplus.

Corn was 90% in or beyond dent stage, over 2 weeks ahead of the previous year and 5 days ahead of the 5-year average. Forty-five percent of the crop has reached maturity, almost 3 weeks ahead of last year and 1 week ahead of average. Corn harvest for grain has begun across much of the State with 1% of the crop harvested. Corn condition rated 42% good to excellent, a drop of 1 percentage point from the previous week.

Soybeans coloring or beyond advanced to 79%. That is over 2 weeks ahead of last year and 1 week ahead of average. Soybeans dropping leaves reached 41% this week, 2 weeks ahead of last year and 6 days ahead of average. Soybean harvest began in some areas with 1% of the crop harvested statewide. Soybean condition rated 48% good to excellent.

Alfalfa hay third cutting was 96% complete, over a month ahead of last year and 18 days ahead of the 5-year average.

Pasture condition improved 5 percentage points this week although still just 17% good to excellent. Pastures are greening up as a result of receiving much needed rain. Cattlemen continued supplemental feeding of hay.

USDA - Corn, Soybean Conditions Fall Again; Corn Harvest Underway

U.S. corn and soybean conditions declined again last week as corn harvest got underway, according to the USDA NASS weekly Crop Progress report released on Monday.

NASS estimated that 60% of the nation's corn crop was in good-to-excellent condition as of Sunday, Sept. 13, down another 1 percentage point from 61% the previous week. The crop's current good-to-excellent rating is still tied for the fifth highest in the past 10 years. The portion of the crop rated very poor to poor rose by 1 point to 15%.

NASS estimated that 89% of corn was dented, 7 percentage points ahead of the average. Corn mature was estimated at 41%, 9 percentage points ahead of the five-year average.

In its first corn harvest report of the season, NASS estimated that 5% of the crop had been harvested as of Sunday, slightly ahead of 3% last year at the same time and equal to the five-year average.

The condition of soybeans also slipped slightly again last week. NASS estimated that 63% of the nation's soybean crop was in good-to-excellent condition as of Sept. 13, down 2 percentage points from the previous week. The crop's current good-to-excellent rating is the fourth highest in 10 years.

Soybeans dropping leaves jumped ahead 17 percentage points last week to reach 37% as of Sunday, 6 percentage points ahead of the five-year average.

Spring wheat harvest continued to make steady progress again last week, moving ahead another 10 percentage points to reach 92% complete as of Sunday, now equal to the five-year average.


Preparing Grain Bins and Equipment for Harvest

Amy Timmerman – NE Extension Educator

With harvest approaching, it’s time to prepare grain bins and harvesting equipment to help ensure that grain going into storage will remain in good condition. Don't wait until the middle of harvest to discover that a bin foundation is severely cracked, or find even later that insects from grain that was left in the combine last fall have severely infested a bin of new grain. Proper bin and equipment preparation is a key to preserving stored grain quality.

Cleaning and treating grain bins, as well as the surrounding area, can reduce pest and rodent problems in stored grain.

The key to good grain storage is to put the highest quality grain into the bin, or bring it to the proper moisture condition as quickly as possible. Overall quality of stored grain always deteriorates, it is just a matter of how fast. Having a good marketing plan and selling as much as possible before the grain heats up next spring is the best way to have quality stored grain. It is never as good as the day it is put into the bin. Storing the grain longer than next spring requires much more vigilance in management.

Harvesting Equipment

Remove all traces of old grain from combines, truck beds, grain carts, augers, and any other equipment used for harvesting, transporting, and handling grain. Even small amounts of moldy or insect-infested grain left in equipment can contaminate a bin of new grain.

Adjust combines according to the manufacturer's specifications to minimize grain damage and to maximize removal of fines and other foreign material.

Proper cleaning and bin preparation will help assure that grain going into storage will remain in good condition.

Bins and Other System Components

Check the bin site, and remove any items or debris that would interfere with safe, unobstructed movement around the bin. Remove any spilled grain and mow the site to reduce the chances of insect or rodent infestation. If necessary, re-grade the site so that water readily drains away from bin foundations.

Inspect bins and foundations for structural problems. Uneven settlement of foundations can cause gaps between the foundation and bottom edge of the bin. This can result in grain spills and provide entry points for water, insects, and rodents. If perforated floors are used, a gap between the foundation and bin will allow air that would normally be forced through the grain to escape from the bin. Small gaps can usually be filled with a high quality caulking compound. If deterioration is extensive, the mastic seal may need to be replaced. Be sure all anchor bolts are tight and not damaged.

Inspect the bin roof and sides, inside and out, for leaks, loose or sheared bolts, rust or other corrosion, etc. Check the roof vents and access hatch, and caulk any cracks at the roofline. Be sure the access ladder is complete and securely fastened to the bin. Repair or replace any deteriorated components.

Wiring for fans and other electrical components should be inspected for corrosion and cracked, frayed, or broken insulation. Exposed wiring should be run through waterproof, dust-tight conduit. Avoid kinking the conduit, and make sure all connections are secure.

Check fans, heaters, transitions, and ducts for corrosion and damage. Remove any accumulated dust and dirt that will reduce the operating efficiency. Be sure that all connections are tight.

Ensure Bins Are Clean

Remove any old grain with brooms and vacuum cleaners. Never put new grain on top of old. Also, clean bins not being used for storage this year to keep insects from migrating to other bins.

Apply Insecticides

If you think there is any chance you might hold grain in the bin into May or later, it would be prudent to apply residual insecticides to the empty bin after thoroughly cleaning it. You may also apply certain insecticides onto the grain as it is being augered into the bin. A surface application is often recommended to prevent Indian meal moths from infesting the top surface of the grain.

If the bin has a raised drying floor and was known to be infested with grain storage insects last season, consider hiring a professional pest control operator to fumigate the empty bin prior to filling with new grain.

Twenty-four Nebraska Farmers Union Farmers and Ranchers Join Fight for Stronger Food System at NFU's Fly-In

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, National Farmers Union’s traditional fall Fly-In has been converted into a virtual event. Twenty-four Nebraskans are registered to participate in the briefings from USDA and Congressional leaders and meetings with state Congressional members. More than 400 farmers, ranchers, and rural residents are gathering online this week to participate with the first ever virtual Fly-In.

“Family farmers and ranchers have been struggling for years with sagging commodity prices, non-competitive livestock markets, price depressing chronic overproduction, global trade that focuses on volume only with no regard for fair value for ag producers, and inadequate access to affordable broadband coverage. When the COVID-19 hit, it made an already difficult situation for family farmers and ranchers worse. Climate change-related disasters in recent years have added to the financial challenges of farmers and ranchers, said Nebraska Farmers Union President John Hansen.  “Like always, since 1909, this Fly-In gives Farmers Union members the opportunity to share their experiences with their members of Congress. No one knows more about the issues facing our farmers and ranchers than the farmers and ranchers themselves.”

Family farmers and ranchers from across the country will champion policies that support pandemic recovery, reduces chronic price depressing overproduction, restores competition to agricultural markets, strengthens rural healthcare, improves access to broadband internet, ensures the success of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), helps farmers and ranchers implement climate-smart practices, and expands the market for homegrown biofuels.

The 24 participants from Nebraska include Bill Armbrust-Elkhorn; Lynn Belitz-Fullerton; Ben Gotschall-Raymond; Graham Christensen, Laura Priest & Laura Thomas-Omaha; Mary Alice & Richard Corman-Edgar, Al Davis-Hyannis; Keith Dittrich & Rich Johnson-Tilden; Dan Griffith, Matt Gregory, Camdyn Kavan, John Hansen, & Travis Waldron-Lincoln, Julie Hindmarsh-Fremont; Vern Jantzen-Plymouth; Vic Jensen-Tekamah; Jim Knopik-Belgrade; Bill Ripa-Wilber; Andrew Tonnies-North Bend; Art Tanderup-Neligh, and Paul Theobald-Osmond.

Lincoln Premium Poultry adds value to Nebraska grain and creates economic opportunities

“I want to congratulate LPP on their one-year anniversary and on reaching full plant capacity,” said Steve Martin, executive director of the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska. “AFAN has been a strong supporter of the project from day one and is proud to support their growers through the permitting processes and start-up.  The LPP project adds value to Nebraska grain, creates economic activity and opportunities in rural Nebraska”.

The LPP project will use about 350,000 bushels of corn and 3,000 tons of soybean meal every week.  The soybean meal translates to about 126,000 bushels of soybeans.  The average Nebraska farm is about 1,000 acres of land and given average yields, the LPP demand for grain utilizes ALL the grain from almost four Nebraska farms every week.  Creating new markets and using grain in-state adds value to the grains. It helps farmers, and it creates more economic activity and opportunities in rural Nebraska communities.

The LPP project has had many far-reaching impacts.  Adding a livestock component to a farming operation creates an additional economic layer which allows for the possibility to bring a son, daughter, or spouse back to the farm. It is an opportunity to use manure as an organic fertilizer that improves soil health, improves water holding capacity and reduces overall farm expenses.  All of which makes the farm more sustainable and viable for the long run.

“In helping Costco source its Fremont facility, Lincoln Premium Poultry has created great opportunities for family farmers to grow their operations,” said Governor Pete Ricketts.  “Through its excellent work, LPP is making it possible for the next generation of Nebraskans to return home so they can continue to help grow the food that feeds the world.”

By providing additional economic activity, dollars continue to circulate in rural communities longer, which supports other businesses.  These could be farm related businesses, but the benefits also extend toward other goods and services, such as restaurants, coffee shops, clothing stores or boutiques.

Often the focus is to create opportunities that keep farm kids on the farm. However, the additional economic activity creates opportunities for kids that live in small towns to stay and thrive in those rural communities. Strong rural communities are supported by strong farm economics.

In the case of Fremont, not only are they seeing an increase in tax revenue which indicates economic growth, but the demand for housing is also on the rise.  “The Lincoln Premium Poultry project has created a housing boom in Fremont.  The initial housing study showed that if LPP were to land in Fremont we would need 800 housing units in the city and 1,500 county-wide.  At this time, we have about 2,000 units proposed or approved just in the city.  That represents about $350 million in capital investment.  The side benefits of having LPP in Fremont will be a positive influence in our community for a long time”, said Garry Clark, President and CEO of the Greater Fremont Development Council.

“As an organization, AFAN continues to support the recruitment of food processing companies to Nebraska.  We are firm believers in working collaboratively to find opportunities that benefit Nebraska farmers and ranchers as well as Nebraska as a whole,” said Steve Martin.  “This state has so many resources, I feel that we are just scratching the surface of what we are capable of doing.  I want to thank Costco and the LPP team for showing how great this partnership can be and how beneficial it is to them and to the state of Nebraska.”

Grant supports research at K-State to mitigate COVID-19 in meat and poultry processing facilities

A team of Kansas State University researchers is using a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture — and an additional grant from the state of Kansas — to study how to effectively control the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in the nation's meat and poultry processing facilities.

The study "Translating SARS-CoV-2 Research Into Practical Solutions For The Meat And Poultry Processing Industry" seeks to protect meat plant workers and their surrounding communities from the spread of COVID-19. It involves researchers from K-State's College of Veterinary Medicine and College of Agriculture.

As part of the study, $330,000 from the State of Kansas National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility Transition Fund will be used for research in K-State's Biosecurity Research Institute, or BRI, at Pat Roberts Hall. The BRI is a high-containment research facility.

A key objective of the project will be verifying the effectiveness of many of the approved cleaners and sanitizers for inactivating SARS-CoV-2 during plant processing and sanitation operations.

"Nationally and internationally, many facilities that produce meat and poultry products have been temporarily closed because of COVID-19 outbreaks," said A. Sally Davis, an assistant professor of experimental pathology in the College of Veterinary Medicine and project director of the K-State grant. "This has put a major strain on food production, limiting the amount of meat and poultry on grocery store shelves and disrupting food and feed supply chains across the globe. Research is necessary to understand why SARS-CoV-2 is such a problem in meat and poultry processing environments and how we can mitigate the problem."

Davis said infections with SARS-CoV-2 are primarily thought to occur by exposure to infectious micro-droplets in the air and contaminated surfaces.

"We are investigating the conditions within meat and poultry processing environments, such as low temperatures, relative humidity, increased air movement and workers being in close proximity to one another, to help identify areas and surfaces that are at high risk for contamination and spread of infectious SARS-CoV-2," Davis said.

The team will evaluate potential sources of exposure and determine the amount and the longevity of infectious virus that is present during and after meat processing and packaging activities. The team seeks to identify, develop, validate and deliver practical cleaning and disinfection strategies, plus develop mathematical models to predict and reduce the risk of SARS-CoV-2 exposure in meat and poultry processing facilities.

Joining Davis on the research team are food safety faculty from K-State's Food Science Institute, including Randall Phebus, co-project director and professor of animal sciences and industry, and Jeanette Thurston, director of the Food Science Institute and co-investigator on the project. The project also will rely on input from an industry advisory board.

"Our advisory board will be regularly updated on research progress," Thurston said. "We will communicate with them in real time to make sure we are on the right track with our research and recommendations, and ensure that our findings are rapidly deployed across the processing sector."

The industry advisory board is composed of senior-level directors of food safety and plant operations at Hormel Foods, Smithfield Foods, National Beef Packing Company, Cargill Protein North America, JBS USA, Wayne Farms, Jennie-O Turkey Store, Tyson Fresh Meats and Costco Wholesale.

Collaborating with the K-State team are co-project directors from the University of Georgia poultry science department, Harsha Thippareddi and Manpreet Singh, who will provide extensive poultry experience and industry connections and lead the grant's industry outreach efforts. Valentina Trinetta and Sara Gragg, food safety faculty from the Food Science Institute, are co-project directors. Co-investigator Anke Richter, a public health-focused operation research specialist at the Naval Postgraduate School, will lead the risk assessment driven by mathematical modeling. Co-investigators Yunjeong Kim and Erin Schirtzinger in the K-State College of Veterinary Medicine and the Food Science Institute's Daniel Vega round out the project team.

NPPC Hosts Legislative Action Conference; COVID Relief, Foreign Animal Disease Prevention Among Top Issues

A COVID-relief package that includes much-needed assistance to hog farmers in crisis and foreign animal disease prevention top the list of five critical issues at the National Pork Producers Council’s (NPPC) Legislative Action Conference (LAC) this week. Pork producers from across the country are gathering virtually to address these and other issues with lawmakers. Among LAC speakers will be House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Rep. David Rouzer (R-N.C.), and USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Burke Healey.

“The considerable economic contributions of a highly competitive, innovative U.S. pork production system, as well as the livelihoods of thousands of hog farmers, are at risk without effective solutions to multiple challenges facing our producers,” said NPPC President Howard “AV” Roth, a hog farmer from Wauzeka, Wis. “U.S. pork producers are already suffering considerable losses due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and cannot afford another catastrophic blow should African swine fever (ASF) or other foreign animal diseases enter our country.”

Last week, Germany reported its first case of ASF in a wild boar. The swine-only disease continues to spread in parts of Europe and Asia, and the United States needs to remain vigilant to ensure ASF and other animal and plant diseases don’t enter the country.

NPPC is urging Congress to fully fund foreign animal disease prevention programs. U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection agriculture inspections at U.S. ports of entry are funded by Agricultural Quarantine Inspection (AQI) program user fees. Due to the COVID-related economic downturn and significant reductions in travel, collection of these user fees has dropped precipitously.

“Without a prompt resolution, there will be an estimated $630 million shortfall in AQI funding through the end of fiscal year 2021. It is imperative that this funding shortfall be addressed to protect the U.S. swine herd and all of agriculture from foreign animal and plant diseases,” Roth added.

Additionally, NPPC is advocating for a COVID assistance package that includes the following provisions: 1) compensation for euthanized and donated hogs; 2) additional funding for animal health surveillance and laboratories, which have appropriately assisted and shared resources with their public health partners; 3) modification of the Commodity Credit Corporation charter so a pandemic-driven national emergency qualifies for funding; 4) additional funds for direct payments to producers without restriction and; 5) extension of the Paycheck Protection Program with modifications to make it accessible to more producers.

NPPC’s members are also addressing these priorities with lawmakers during this week’s LAC:
    A U.S.-U.K. free trade agreement that eliminates all tariff and non-tariff barriers;
    Moving regulatory oversight of gene editing in animals from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and
    Timely reauthorization of the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act, set to expire on Sept. 30.

Ranch Group Files New Lawsuit Against USDA’s Operation of Beef Checkoff Program

On Friday, R-CALF USA, through attorneys at Public Justice, filed a new lawsuit over amendments the U.S. Department of Agriculture made to the operation of the federal Beef Checkoff program in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The new lawsuit builds on R-CALF USA’s Montana litigation, which challenged the constitutionality of the use of Checkoff funds by private state beef councils to fund speech that is harmful to independent, domestic producers. That litigation is now on appeal to the Ninth Circuit, where R-CALF USA appeals the Montana District Court’s ruling that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had corrected its 35-year violation of the U.S. Constitution by entering memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with the 15 private state beef councils subject to R-CALF USA’s lawsuit.

In its Ninth Circuit appeal, R-CALF USA argues that the government’s MOUs that purport to convert the 15 private state beef councils’ unconstitutional private speech into government speech not subject to First Amendment protections are, themselves, inadequate to cure the constitutional violations in the federal Beef Checkoff program.

The new lawsuit goes further in its challenge to the MOUs, asserting that the government unlawfully amended the legal and regulatory framework within which the state beef councils have been operating in without first initiating a public rulemaking process that affords the public with notice of its proposed amendments and provides the public with an opportunity to provide comments before the amendments are implemented.

At the heart of the group’s initial lawsuit now under appeal is the question of whether the USDA can compel American ranchers to subsidize the private speech of private state beef councils through the national beef checkoff program. When the federal district court signaled to USDA that its beef checkoff program was likely violating the Constitution, the government quickly began entering MOU’s with the 15 private state beef councils, requiring those councils to obtain preapproval from USDA for virtually every word of their promotional activities before the councils can speak.

The lower federal court then determined that the new MOUs rectified the constitutional violation perpetrated by the USDA for decades while the agency was forcing American ranchers to subsidize the private speech of private state beef councils.

However, R-CALF USA, represented by Public Justice, contends that, in entering into the MOUs, USDA violated legal procedure mandated by the Administrative Procedure Act by failing to allow for public comment. This violation has denied R-CALF USA’s members—and ranchers everywhere—their right to weigh in on a federal program they are forced to fund.

Thus, the new lawsuit filed Friday asks the federal district court in Washington, D.C. to declare unlawful the MOUs that the USDA entered into in its effort to avoid a court order providing R-CALF USA the complete relief it sought in its initial lawsuit now under appeal at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The lawsuit filed by R-CALF USA Friday challenges an illegal practice by USDA meant to paper over an unconstitutional one,” said Kellan Smith, an Associate Attorney with the Public Justice Food Project. “We will prove that USDA entered into these MOU’s illegally by skipping a true public input process, which is essential to government transparency. From there, we will go on to stop the Beef Checkoff program from using independent rancher money to fund speech that props up multinational beef corporations. It’s been a long fight for American ranchers who just want the level playing field they’re entitled to by law, and that fight continues with this new suit.”

R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard said the lawsuit was filed to prevent the USDA from engaging in unlawful government overreach. “As a federal agency, the USDA is authorized only to carry out federal statutes, and if conditions change and the implanting regulations for the statutes need to be changed, then the agency is obligated to involve the people and entities it regulates in a transparent process. This is an example where the USDA, instead, is attempting to run roughshod over those it regulates,” Bullard said.             

NFU Urges FTC, USDA to Strengthen Meat Labeling Standards

For years, beef and pork that was born, raised, and slaughtered in another country but processed in the United States has legally been labeled as a “Product of the U.S.A.,” a claim that misleads consumers and puts American ranchers at a disadvantage.

National Farmers Union (NFU) has long advocated clear and accurate labeling, for the sake of farmers and consumers alike. As part of those efforts, the organization supports a rule proposed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that would strengthen voluntary U.S. origin claims on labels and penalize those who incorrectly label products. In comments submitted today and in a subsequent statement, NFU President Rob Larew urged the FTC to swiftly finalize the rule and “vigorously enforce it.”

“American consumers want to know where their food comes from – and farmers want to tell them. When mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) was the law of the land, it was easy to determine where meat had been born, raised, and processed, to the benefit of both parties. But since it was unjustifiably reversed five years ago and replaced with these deceptive “Product of the USA” labels, it’s become nearly impossible for consumers to determine the origin of the meat they’re eating or for ranchers to differentiate their products.

“By enforcing existing guidance on U.S. origin claims on labels and penalizing those who mislabel consumer goods, the FTC’s proposed rule would help deter misleading claims on imported meat. We urge FTC to finalize and enforce this rule; FSIS should then follow suit by amending its meat labeling standards to reflect FTC’s recommendation that all or virtually all ingredients in a product must be made and sourced in the United States in order to carry a label that indicates it was ‘Made in the U.S.A.’”

Biodiesel: Better, Cleaner, Now is Booming Across Airwaves

The National Biodiesel Board’s latest national advertising campaign hit airwaves in September with biodiesel and renewable diesel education aimed at key decision makers on the benefits of these advanced fuels.  

“The ad campaign strives to increase consumer acceptance and industry growth through education and promotion,” says NBB Director of Communications Kaleb Little. “Biodiesel is better and cleaner than petroleum diesel – with proven environmental, health, and economic benefits – and it is ready to use now. There are a million reasons to use biodiesel, but we have broken it down to the most basic benefits for this effort."

Supported by the United Soybean Board, U.S. Canola Association, and a dozen Qualified State Soybean Boards, this educational campaign allows NBB to reach key decision makers, and audiences who may be less familiar with the biodiesel and renewable diesel industry. Along with national buys, a major component includes targeted advertising in the Washington D.C., mid-Atlantic, and California markets.

Last year, NBB's advertising campaign saw nearly 345,000 engagements and 13.6 million impressions across various platforms. The 2020 campaign features new ad creative that highlights NBB members and Next Generation Scientist for Biodiesel members.

"I'm excited we are able to highlight a handful of our hardworking members and industry stakeholders as part of the effort this year," Little said. "The unique stories of the individuals within our industry are one of the things that make it great. These are some of the most passionate, innovative, hard working individuals, brought together by a common goal -- bringing better, cleaner fuels to American consumers."

NBB members involved in the national campaign include governing board member and Nebraska farmer, Greg Anderson; President of HERO BX, Chris Peterson; President and CEO of the North American Renderers Association, Nancy Foster; CEO of New Leaf Biofuel, Jennifer Case; President of Newport Biodiesel, Blake Banky; and Next Generation Scientist for Biodiesel Co-Chair, Zenith Tandukar.

You can see the videos used throughout the campaign now on the NBB YouTube page.  Also, to discover more about the campaign, please visit

EPA Takes Action to Protect Integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard Program, Support American Farmers

Today, the Trump Administration reaffirmed its commitment to support America’s farmers by moving forward to review and adjudicate petitions for small refinery exemptions under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is denying petitions for small refinery exemptions for past compliance years, the so-called “gap-filling” petitions for the 2011-18 compliance years.

“This decision follows President Trump’s promise to promote domestic biofuel production, support our nation’s farmers, and in turn strengthen our energy independence,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “At the EPA, we are delivering on that promise by following the rule-of-law and ensuring 15 billion gallons are blended into the nation’s fuel supply.”

Time and time again, EPA has demonstrated through action its commitment to our nation’s farmers. As promised, EPA is ensuring a net of 15 billion gallons of conventional biofuel are blended into the nation’s fuel supply. EPA renewable fuel volume mandates have continued to rise in EPA’s annual rulemakings, and, with it, renewable transportation fuel use in the U.S. From 2016 to 2019 domestic ethanol production in increased by 2 percent. Additionally, as promised, EPA eliminated a significant barrier to E15 market access, and E15 is now used in 30 states at over 2,000 stations. As a next step, EPA is moving to update E15 labels to ensure consumers have informed choices at the pump and clarify the ability of existing fuel infrastructure to support expanded E15 use. However, much of the responsibility regarding labels falls to state agencies, EPA encourages they update them as well and stands ready to support them. EPA continues to actively engage with stakeholders to expand the number of approved fuel pathways, adding diversity to the biofuel mix in the United States.


The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set annual RFS volumes of biofuels that must be used for transportation fuel for four categories of biofuels: total, advanced, cellulosic, and biomass-based diesel. EPA implements the RFS program in consultation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Energy, and consistent with the Clean Air Act. EPA’s longstanding interpretation of the Clean Air Act allows for the granting of a petition for exemption from blending requirements under the RFS program for the reason of demonstrated, disproportionate economic hardship.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Thanks the Trump Administration for Siding with Farmers over Refiners in Biofuel Waiver Decision

Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) is pleased that the Trump administration has instructed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to deny dozens of oil refiner requests for retroactive waivers from U.S. biofuel laws. The decision comes as NEFB has consistently opposed EPA’s attempts to circumvent Congress and its intent by granting Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) waivers over the past few years. In July, Nebraska Farm Bureau sent a letter asking the EPA to deny the waivers.

“Today’s announcement by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is welcomed news for Nebraska’s farmers and ethanol producers. The denial of these “gap waivers,” solidly affirms that EPA is committed to following congressional intent, judicial precedent, as well as EPA’s own rules and procedures, when it comes to the RFS,” Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson said.

The Trump administration will also allow states to permit fuel retailers to use their current pumps to sell gasoline with higher blends of ethanol, or E-15, a move that could help lift ethanol sales.

“Today’s announcement also comes on the heels of President Trumps statement that EPA would allow the use of E-10 pumps to distribute E-15. While we wait for the complete details of this decision, we remain optimistic for the future of the ethanol industry, which has suffered significant economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Nelson said.

NEFB remains committed to working with the Trump administration to create a long and healthy future for Nebraska agriculture and biofuels industries.

 Fischer Statement on Trump Administration’s Rejection of “Gap” Year SREs

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement after EPA Administrator Wheeler announced that the Trump Administration will reject 54 “gap” small refinery exemptions:

“President Trump and the administration made the right decision in rejecting these 54 ‘gap’ small refinery exemptions. Farmers and ethanol producers across the Heartland now have more certainty because of this important decision. In a tough year for biofuels producers, it’s encouraging to see this commitment to rural America.”

Smith Applauds President’s Decisive Commitment to Biofuels

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied 54 Small Refinery Exemption (SRE) petitions for past compliance years. Earlier this year, the 10th Circuit Court ruled SREs must be issued continuously under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

“Today’s decision by Administrator Wheeler is a landslide victory for Nebraska agriculture producers and for consumers around the nation. In a year marked by uncertainty, I thank the President for his leadership in providing opportunity for the biofuels industry to meet its full potential. I look forward to working with the administration on sound energy policy which benefits our hard-working farmers and producers.”

Smith, a champion of the biofuels industry and a member of the Biofuels Caucus, has led the charge for pro-ethanol policies. In July, Smith joined Biofuels Caucus colleagues in writing to President Trump asking Trump reject these SREs in accordance with the law.

ICGA Scores a Win as EPA Denies Dozens of Gap-Year Ethanol Waivers

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied a majority of the “gap-year" small refinery exemptions (SRE) from 2011-2018 compliance years under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) President Carl Jardon made the following statement.

“ICGA has repeatedly pushed the Administration to deny these gap-year waivers for months, and we are glad the EPA is supporting President Trump’s commitment to Iowa farmers and has taken steps to uphold the integrity of the RFS by denying the vast majority of the refinery petitions. For the RFS to be upheld entirely, the EPA should apply the Tenth Circuit Court decisions on SREs nationwide and similarly deny the remaining gap-year waivers. When it is upheld, the RFS is one of America’s most successful energy policies, requiring environmentally friendly, renewable biofuels be blended into our nation’s fuel supply. By having the gap-waivers denied and looking to deny future waivers, this helps secure the RFS for the future and allows some certainty for Iowa’s corn farmers in a year that has had little rewards.”

ICGA thanks the corn farmers that contacted their elected officials in efforts to get the waivers denied.  ICGA will continue to work on behalf of corn farmers to ensure the RFS is upheld and to restore certainty in the marketplace for Iowa’s corn farmers.

NCGA: Denial of Gap-Year Waiver Petitions Positive, Pending Current-Year Waivers Yet to be Addressed

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) today welcomed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) denial of 54 of 68 pending past-year (2011-2018) small refinery exemptions (SREs), or waivers, to oil refiners. However, 14 gap-year waivers remain under required review at the Department of Energy (DOE). The EPA also has 31 waivers under consideration for 2019 and 2020 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) compliance years.

“Asking for waivers for nearly ten years ago was a new low by the oil industry to undermine the RFS and rewrite history. Denying these petitions was the obvious answer and farmers are pleased to begin to move past this distraction. We thank our bipartisan supporters in Congress, including Senator Ernst, for their advocacy in upholding the RFS.

“While denial of these past-year waivers is obviously positive news for farmers and biofuel producers, we’re never going to have the certainty we need until the underlying waiver issue is fully resolved.

“Nearly a year ago, the President directed the EPA to follow the letter of the law and keep the RFS whole and, in January, the Tenth Circuit ruled the EPA exceeded its authority in granting waivers. The Administration has yet to apply this decision to current waiver requests while corn farmers suffer suppressed markets and ethanol plants continue to have idled capacity.

“The solution is simple; the EPA needs to uphold the law, adhere to the Tenth Circuit decision, and follow through on the President’s commitment to farmers. Corn growers stand ready to work with the Administration to uphold the RFS and continue to remove barriers to higher ethanol blends.”

Farmers Union Welcomes Rejection of Gap Year Waiver Requests

After significant pushback from American farmers and the biofuels industry, the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that it would reject 68 requests for retroactive small refinery exemptions (SREs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The decision comes nearly nine months after a Tenth Circuit Court decision that struck down three exemptions that were not extensions of previously existing exemptions.

National Farmers Union (NFU), which was one of four petitioners in the Tenth Circuit Court case, has consistently voiced opposition to the abuse of SREs, most recently urging EPA and the Trump administration to reject these so-called “gap year” requests. In a statement, NFU President Rob Larew celebrated the decision and urged the administration to follow up by releasing the overdue Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) for 2021.

“The fact that EPA has decided not to entertain the unreasonable whims of oil corporations is certainly welcome news for the family farmers and rural Americans whose livelihoods depend on a strong biofuels sector. However, this announcement should have been made many months ago, just after the Tenth Circuit Court Decision. By waiting so long to come to this obvious conclusion, EPA bruised an industry that’s already experiencing reduced demand due to deliberate efforts to undermine the Renewable Fuel Standard and the coronavirus pandemic.

“While today’s decision will offer some much-needed security and relief for family farmers, they are still enduring a great deal of uncertainty and financial pressure. EPA should take additional steps to address these concerns, starting with releasing next year’s RVOS.”

Trump’s Denial of “Gap Year” RFS Refinery Exemption Requests is Great News for Biofuels Producers, Farmers, and RFS Integrity

Today the EPA announced it was denying so-called “gap year” RFS refinery exemption requests for compliance years 2011 through 2018. These requests were a transparent attempt by some oil refiners to “end run” a recent decision by the 10th Circuit Court that limited EPA’s ability to grant RFS exemptions once a refinery has completed its transition to full RFS compliance.

In response, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw made the following statement:

“This is outstanding news for biofuels producers, farmers, and RFS integrity. Today’s action by the Trump EPA short circuits a blatant attempt by some oil refiners to skirt the RFS law. With gap year waivers denied, the number of refiners eligible to even apply for – let alone receive – an RFS exemption going forward is reduced to single digits. As long as the Trump EPA applies the recent 10th Circuit Court ruling nationwide, a ruling they have officially accepted by default given their decision not to appeal it to the Supreme Court, the long RFS refinery exemption nightmare should be over.

“By this action, 2019 will be the first compliance year when the RFS was actually enforced at statutory levels, including 15 billion gallons of conventional biofuels like ethanol. We are grateful for President Trump taking this action after hearing from farmers and our elected champions. A special debt of gratitude is owed to Sen. Joni Ernst who publicly pressed this very issue with President Trump during his trip to Iowa on Aug. 18. Assuming the 10th Circuit Court directives for the remaining RFS exemption requests are followed, President Trump is on track to uphold his promise to Iowa voters to protect the RFS.”


One of the key findings of the 10th Circuit Court was that the RFS law clearly created a refinery exemption process designed to allow for a transition to compliance with the RFS. Exemptions are not an on-gain, off-again switch. In other words, after the initial automatic exemption for “small” refiners provided by the RFS law ended, the “small” refinery could request an extension of the exemption based on demonstrating economic harm. But once a refiner no longer had an exemption, they are not eligible to request an extension because there is nothing to extend. They have completed their transition to the RFS.

That is important because the “gap year” requests were an attempt to end run the Court decision, to reestablish a continuous line of exemption extensions, thereby making the refineries eligible to ask for additional exemptions in future years. The petroleum industry itself has said that there are likely only 2-3 truly small refineries that still have a continuous line of exemption extensions.

While more than 30 exemption requests from 2019 and 2020 have still not been adjudicated, under the 10th Circuit Court ruling (that the Trump Administration just chose NOT to appeal) all but 2-3 are ineligible for consideration and should ultimately be denied.

NBB Applauds President's Decision to Reject "Gap" SRE Petitions

The National Biodiesel Board today applauded President Trump's and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler's decision to deny 54 of the 68 pending "gap" small refinery exemption petitions. This much-appreciated action will restore integrity to the Renewable Fuel Standard and provide much-needed certainty for America's biodiesel producers and soybean farmers.

Kurt Kovarik, NBB's VP of Federal Affairs, states, "On behalf of U.S biodiesel producers across the country, we welcome President Trump's and Administrator Wheeler's decision to deny many of the so-called gap-filling exemption petitions. The decision to deny these absurd petitions filed by refiners simply to skirt their obligations under the law is the right call. I am hopeful EPA will continue to apply this standard to the remaining gap exemptions and to future petitions. We look forward to working with the administration to restore growth in the biodiesel and renewable diesel industry and ensure that RFS volumes for biomass-based diesel are met.

"I would especially like to express the industry’s gratitude to Congressional leaders such as Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), as well as to Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and many others who have effectively made the case for a lawful resolution of these gap exemption petitions."

Growth Energy Welcomes EPA Rejection of ‘Gap-Year’ Exemptions

Growth Energy today welcomed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to reject so-called ‘gap-year’ exemptions from the nation’s biofuel laws. In total, the agency had received 68 retroactive exemption requests from petroleum refiners seeking to skirt obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and today’s move denies the majority of pending requests.

“Today’s action lifts a cloud of uncertainty that has been hanging over America’s farmers and biofuel producers since June,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “We’re grateful to farm state champions like Senator Ernst, who has led a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in the House and Senate and governors across the heartland in speaking out against oil-backed efforts to dodge the law, circumvent the courts, and upend markets.

“Growth Energy looks forward to continuing our work with the White House and leaders in Congress to ensure that we restore integrity to our nation’s biofuel targets and that rural communities have the support they need to revitalize growth in the months ahead.”

 ACE Welcomes EPA Denying RFS ‘Gap-Filling Petitions,’ Urges Application of Tenth Circuit Decision Nationwide

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the Agency is denying the retroactive small refinery exemption (SRE) petitions or so-called ‘gap-filling petitions’ for compliance years 2011 through 2018 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) and industry partners have called on EPA to reject the ‘gap-year’ waivers ever since the requests were confirmed. ACE CEO Brian Jennings released the following reaction statement:

“We are pleased EPA is heeding the industry’s calls and President’s directive to reject the gap-year petitions. As EPA notes in the letter they issued today, these refineries did not demonstrate disproportionate economic hardship from compliance with the RFS. Simply put, these retroactive waivers ignored the RFS statute and the Tenth Circuit Court decision, so rejection of the gap-year requests is what the law and court precedent required of EPA.

“The next logical step is for EPA to once and for all nationally apply the precedent set by the Tenth Circuit Court, which likely means denying most of the pending refinery waivers for 2019 and 2020.

“We also expect more details regarding the President’s E15 tweet on Saturday and plans around EPA’s intentions to ‘update E15 labels to ensure consumers have informed choices at the pump and clarify the ability of existing fuel infrastructure to support expanded E15 use.’”

RFA Pleased with EPA’s Official Denial of ‘Gap Year’ Waiver Petitions

The Renewable Fuels Association today welcomed the official denial by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of 54 “gap-year” small refinery exemption petitions and thanked President Trump for taking an active role in helping to restore integrity to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). In announcing its decision, EPA acknowledged that it would be completely inappropriate to grant a waiver to a refinery for a compliance obligation from many years ago, especially when the refinery had already fully complied with the obligation.

EPA also cited the Tenth Circuit Court’s decision from January as an important consideration in rejecting the waiver petitions. Importantly, EPA is applying these petition denials nationally. RFA led the litigation in the Tenth Circuit, while the National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, and American Coalition for Ethanol were co-petitioners. Responding to today’s EPA announcement, RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper offered the following statement:

“We are pleased to see EPA is officially denying 54 so-called ‘gap-year’ small refinery exemption petitions, and we look forward to EPA similarly denying the remaining 14 petitions once they are received from DOE. Rejecting the petitions is simply the right thing to do, and today’s decision marks a big step forward toward fully restoring integrity to the Renewable Fuel Standard. This should serve as the final nail in the coffin of these gap-year petitions, and we are eager to put this dark and sordid chapter in the history of the RFS behind us once and for all.

“The petitions were never anything more than an absurd and bizarre attempt by the refineries to circumvent the Tenth Circuit Court’s decision in the Renewable Fuels Association v. EPA case. We wholeheartedly agree with EPA’s conclusion that ‘these small refineries did not demonstrate then or now that they experienced a disproportionate economic hardship from compliance with the RFS,’ as such a demonstration would be impossible for these refineries to make. EPA is correct that these refineries ‘do not warrant an exemption’ and we are pleased to see Administrator Wheeler acknowledge that Congress did not intend to exempt small refineries ‘that already successfully complied with their RFS obligations.’

“We sincerely thank President Trump for stepping in to prevent the oil industry from running roughshod over the RFS and ensuring that blending requirements are not further eroded by unwarranted exemptions. We also extend our heartfelt gratitude to the many members of Congress who led the fight against these illegitimate waivers. We thank them for their dedication to protecting and defending the RFS against baseless attacks.”

Joint Statement On Brazil Ethanol TRQ Announcement

After expiring on August 31 and a 20 percent tariff was temporarily applied to all U.S. ethanol, Brazil’s tariff rate quota (TRQ) has been extended for a further 90 days starting on Sept. 14. The following is a joint statement from Emily Skor, CEO, Growth Energy; Ryan LeGrand, President and CEO, U.S. Grains Council; Jon Doggett, CEO of the National Corn Growers Association; and Geoff Cooper, President and CEO, Renewable Fuels Association:

“The U.S. Grains Council, Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association and the National Corn Growers Association believe the 90-day extension of the TRQ serves neither Brazil’s consumers nor the Brazilian government’s own decarbonization goals, especially while Brazil’s ethanol producers continue to be afforded virtually tariff-free access to the U.S. market. The extension falls during Brazil’s annual inter-harvest period when U.S. ethanol exports to Brazil are traditionally low, causing greater uncertainty for U.S. exporters looking to make selling decisions now for the traditionally higher Brazilian demand in the winter months. While the Brazilian ethanol market has not been fully reopened to imports, we appreciate the continued support and efforts of the U.S. government as we use this 90-day period to aggressively pursue an open and mutually beneficial ethanol trading relationship with Brazil.

“The U.S. ethanol industry actively sought, through repeated dialogue with local industry and government, to illustrate the negative impacts of tariffs on Brazilian consumers and the Brazilian government’s own decarbonization goals. However, it seems Brazil’s government has left its own consumers to pay the price through higher fuel costs once again. While we would have preferred Brazil abandon its ethanol import tariffs entirely and resume its free trade posture on ethanol, which it held for several years before the TRQ, we view its decision to temporarily extend the TRQ on ethanol at the current level as an opportunity to continue discussions toward that end.

“The U.S. ethanol industry remains focused on expanding the global use of low-carbon ethanol, reducing barriers to trade and elevating its prominence in energy discussions. We remain eager to collaborate and cooperate with other nations that share in the vision of a free and open global ethanol market.”

 ACE Statement on Brazil’s Extension of TRQ on US Ethanol

The U.S. and Brazil announced late Friday they’re reinstating for 90 days starting today, September 14, the tariff rate quota (TRQ) on Brazilian imports of U.S. ethanol, which expired August 31 and allowed nearly 200 million gallons of U.S. ethanol to be imported tariff free. American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings issued the following reaction:

“While an extension is better than the flat 20 percent tariff on all U.S. exports, this merely kicks the can down the road past the election and can be added to the list of piling uncertainties facing our industry. We have been trying to restore demand at home and around the world and in a year like 2020, finding growth opportunities are of the utmost importance.

“Prior to the imposition of the TRQ, Brazil was the largest export destination for U.S. ethanol producers. Our countries maintained a reciprocal policy of applying minimum or zero duties on ethanol imports for nearly a decade and we hope Brazil will put an end to its protectionist trade policies toward our U.S. ethanol industry. The TRQ unnecessarily limits our export potential and we hope further negotiations will ultimately make it easier for producers to pursue free and fair trade for ethanol in the future.”


FTC to Pick Up USDA’s Country of Origin Meat Labeling Slack

Today, Family Farm Action Alliance submitted public comments on the proposed Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rule that sets out standards for product labels using “Made in the U.S.A.” (MUSA) or equivalent claims. The Commission’s proposal would codify their current MUSA Labeling Rule, and enforce a civil penalty to those that make intentionally fraudulent MUSA label claims. This rulemaking is imperative to deter deceptive claims currently made in meat and meat product labeling in an already complex food labeling landscape.

“With the loss of Country of Origin Labeling for beef and pork meat and meat products by the Congress in 2015 and USDA Secretary Perdue’s continued allowance of imported meat products to be re-wrapped and marked as “Product of U.S.A.,” it is time somebody in Washington D.C. stood up for independent farmers and ranchers. We see this FTC proposed rule as an opportunity to do just that, as 15 USC § 45a grants FTC specific authority to establish rules governing ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ label claims. We are simply asking the FTC to utilize fully its congressional grant of authority,” stated Joe Maxwell, President and CEO of Family Farm Action Alliance.

Family Farm Action Alliance supports FTC’s ingredient origin standard’s language of “all or virtually all” contained in the proposed rule for non-meat products. However, we strongly request FTC takes the next step, and require the entirety of any meat or meat product under a MUSA label be 100% U.S. “born, raised, and harvested,” not just “sourced.” As written now, the proposed rule could allow a beef or pork animal born and raised outside of the U.S., and then imported and harvested in the US, in compliance with the “sourced” standard and the MUSA label. Without the language change, it would be no better than USDA’s known meat country of origin loophole, and must be addressed in the upcoming rulemaking.

Family Farm Action Alliance commends the FTC’s efforts to clarify MUSA label claims. We look forward to working toward a rule that supports independent farmers and ranchers – something that is long overdue from USDA’s FSIS.

OCM Submits Comments on FTC “Made in the USA” Rule

Today, the Lincoln, Nebraska-based Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) submitted public comments on a proposed rule that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) would use to strengthen its enforcement program and help businesses understand and comply with Made in the USA (MUSA) labeling law. The proposed rule would set clear standards on what would constitute unqualified MUSA claims, and would authorize the FTC to assess penalties against businesses making unlawful MUSA claims on product labels.

The FTC’s request for comment on the proposed rule invited comments that would identify any inconsistencies in the rule that would conflict with current state or federal country of origin labeling (COOL) requirements.

In its comments, OCM outlined several inconsistencies between the FTC’s criteria and federal COOL law regarding imported meat. One of these inconsistencies is that some types of imported meat such as beef and pork are not included in the definition of products subject to COOL laws, while other types of meat such as lamb, goat, and chicken are required to be labeled. Another inconsistency identified by OCM is that, while processed foods are typically exempt by current COOL law, whole muscle cut meat and ground meat are not processed foods and should be subject to COOL requirements.

“The criteria set forth by the FTC’s proposed ‘Made in the USA’ labeling rule are straightforward, common sense standards that we feel are adequate to address the issues facing producers and consumers alike who deserve truth and transparency in the marketplace,” OCM stated in its comments. “The criteria in the NPRM should be enforced, with penalties for violations sufficient to discourage infractions.  Only with consistent country of origin labeling standards across all sectors will any ‘Made in the USA’ claim be effective in establishing fair trade, producer protection, and consumer confidence,” OCM concluded.

Ranch Group Asks FTC for Assistance to Correct USDA’s Unlawful Beef Labeling Regime

In comments filed today with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), R-CALF USA asks the FTC to provide any assistance possible to correct the substantive conflicts between existing federal law and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) past, present and future meat labeling schemes.

In its comments, the ranch group alleges the USDA has long been violating the Tariff Act of 1930 that requires imported beef to retain its foreign country of origin label all the way to the ultimate consumer, unless the beef or beef product is subjected to substantial transformation. However, the USDA only requires only minimal processing, such as repackaging the product, for the importer to remove the foreign label and replace it with a “Product of USA” label.

The group further alleges the USDA’s meat labeling policy is in direct conflict with the current mandatory country of origin labeling (mCOOL) law that continues to apply to lamb, chicken and other food commodities. The comments state that while USDA’s policy allows foreign lamb to bear a USA label when it too is subjected to only minimal processing, the mCOOL law expressly states that lamb cannot bear a United States designation unless it is from an animal that is exclusively born, raised, and slaughtered in the United States.

The comments informs the FTC that the USDA, which is supposed to work to strengthen America’s family farm and ranch system of agriculture, instead consistently kowtows to a very small group of powerful players within the industry to assist them in deceptively labeling their foreign products in a manner that harms the vast majority of American cattle farmers and ranchers.

The group states the USDA is misleading the public by claiming the North American beef supply chain is highly integrated and that United States beef packers are dependent on importing large numbers of cattle from Canada and Mexico in the agency’s defense of a beef labeling scheme that ignores the country of origin of cattle.

Instead, the group says that imported cattle make up less than 6% of the cattle slaughtered in the United States, indicating that the USDA is catering to only a handful of multinational beef packers and a minority of U.S. cattle backgrounders and stockers and feedlots whose business plans include bypassing American cattle farmers and ranchers to, instead, purchase imported cattle with which to maximize their profit margins at the expense of American ranchers.

R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard said that American ranchers have received no help from Congress or the USDA in correcting the USDA’s deceptive beef labeling regime. “We’re hopeful that the independent Federal Trade Commission can step in and help America’s independent ranchers.”

Hundreds of Farmers and Ranchers Fight for Stronger Food System at NFU's Fly-In

As a global pandemic and extreme weather events batter an already weak agricultural economy, more than 400 farmers, ranchers, and rural residents are gathering online this week to speak directly with their elected representatives and administration officials as part of National Farmers Union’s (NFU) fall legislative fly-in.

“Between low commodity prices, corporate control of the food industry, chronic overproduction, global trade disputes, underfunded infrastructure, and inadequate access to broadband internet, family farmers and rural communities have had a tough go of it for the last several years. Now, the coronavirus pandemic and climate change-related disasters have made many of those problems worse while also creating new ones,” said NFU President Rob Larew. “But Farmers Union members won’t just be highlighting the challenges they’re confronting; they’re also proposing sensible legislative solutions to build a better, more equitable, and more resilient food system for everyone.”

Advocates from across the country will campaign for policies that support pandemic recovery, reduce chronic overproduction, restore competition to agricultural markets, strengthen rural healthcare, improve access to broadband internet, ensure the success of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), help farmers and ranchers implement climate-smart practices, and expand the market for homegrown biofuels. The NFU Fly-In Talking Points can be found here.

Fly-in participants will be building on National Farmers Union’s long history of grassroots advocacy; since 1909, the organization’s members have traveled to Washington, D.C., to speak with their lawmakers about the issues that matter most to them. In a first, this year’s event will be held completely online in order to ensure the health and wellbeing of attendees.

“There’s nothing I look forward to more than seeing Farmers Union members every year at fly-in,” Larew noted. “We will really miss having everyone here in person, but thanks to modern technology, they will still have this crucial opportunity to shape stronger agricultural policy from the ground up.”

The week-long event begins today with a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) briefing featuring Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand. The fly-in will continue tomorrow with a Congressional briefing with Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture Collin Peterson, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Senator Jon Tester, and Representative Frank Lucas. Throughout the rest of the week, participants will join small-group meetings with congressional offices, a panel discussion on USPS, and a virtual social gathering.

Weekend Ag News Roundup Sept 13

 LENRD continues to budget conservatively by using less than ½ of tax levy

The fiscal year 2021 budget for the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) reflects projects and programs that will protect our future while fully leveraging local taxpayer dollars as efficiently as possible.

LENRD General Manger, Mike Sousek, said, “We continue to maximize the use of our local funds by bringing in grants for our projects and saving the taxpayers millions of dollars.  The total operating budget is estimated at $13 million, with only $4.5 million in revenue from the property tax levy.”

Sousek continued, “The citizens of this district receive almost a 75% return on their investment.  We’re working for you, our local taxpayers, to keep the levy low as we’re currently using less than ½ of our taxing authority.”

The operating budget was approved by the LENRD board of directors at their September 10th meeting with a tax request of $4,512,659.  The estimated levy, based on the property tax request, is 2.436 cents per $100 of valuation, which is a slight increase from the fiscal year 2020 levy of 2.370 cents per $100 of valuation.  For example, if a person owns a $300,000 house, the taxes owed to the LENRD would have been $71.10 in 2020 and will be approximately $73.10 in 2021.

Some of the major expenditures for FY 2021 are:  Levee and Flood Protection Projects - $1,903,150 which includes the City of West Point’s Flood Control Levee, the City of Randolph’s Flood Risk Management Project, and the Elkhorn River Jetty Project near Scribner;  Water Resources Programs - $543,025; Project Construction, including flood related repairs - $1,310,250; and Conservation Cost-Share programs, including the Bazile Groundwater Management Area Project and Willow Creek Best Management Practices - $550,000.

The LENRD received Watershed Flood Prevention and Operations (WFPO) funding from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to complete the Maple Creek Watershed Plan to evaluate potential flood prevention, watershed protection, and agricultural water management projects.  Four communities are located within the watershed:  Leigh, Clarkson, Howells, and Nickerson.  The LENRD is also moving ahead with the Battle Creek Watershed Improvement Project Work Plan – Environmental Assessment (Plan-EA) to address flood reduction in Madison County.

The LENRD received a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET) to expand groundwater monitoring in Pierce County.  Maintaining a safe drinking water source is one of the most important priorities of the LENRD.  The Bazile Groundwater Management Area (BGMA) also received a grant from NET for year 2 of their demonstration sites for the groundwater nitrate reduction project.  This project is a vital step forward in stabilizing, and eventually reducing, nitrate levels within the BGMA.

Sousek added, “Through these projects and studies, we’re proud to give the funds back to the local taxpayers.  We’re working very diligently to be responsible with our budget as we continue to meet the challenges of protecting our natural resources for the future.”

The LENRD provides conservation benefits across all or parts of 15-counties in northeast Nebraska, including:  water quality and quantity programs such as groundwater management, flood control, and nitrate management; as well as erosion control, cost-share to landowners who apply for conservation practices, recreation areas and trails, urban recreation and community forestry programs, and many other benefits that protect our natural resources.

Papio-Missouri River NRD Board Approves Proposed 2021 Budget Decrease in Property Tax Levy  

At its September 10th meeting, the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District Board of Directors voted to approve the Fiscal Year 2021 general operating budget that includes a decrease in the Papio NRD property tax levy.

“It is our civic duty to save taxpayer dollars and we are proud the District’s property tax levy will decrease again this year,” said John Winkler, general manager of the Papio NRD. “For 15 out of 16 years, the District has either decreased or kept the tax levy the same,” said Winkler.

The FY21 budget calls for a property tax levy of .036490 per $100 of assessed valuation, which means a homeowner with property valued at $100,000 would pay a total of $36.49 or 3.04 cents a month in property taxes next year to support Papio NRD projects. The budget calls for an estimated $27 million in revenue from the NRD’s property tax levy. The total operating budget is estimated at $75.5 million.  

The Papio-Missouri River NRD’s property tax levy amounts to less than two percent of a homeowner’s total property tax bill who lives within the District’s six-county area. The levy is based on an estimated 7.06% increase in valuations across the district, which includes all of Sarpy, Douglas, Washington and Dakota counties, plus the eastern 60% of Burt and Thurston counties.   

 Northeast Community College accepts $500,000 donation for new ag facilities from TC Energy

Northeast Community College is thrilled to announce that TC Energy and the TC Energy Foundation have donated $500,000 to its Nexus campaign to support the construction of new agriculture facilities at the College. The donation will further enable students to take courses in areas of crop production, livestock, crop science, entomology, forages, chemicals, marketing, sales and a number of other fields to form a strong foundation in the agriculture field.

The donation was presented by Trevor Jones, government and community relations advisor for TC Energy, during groundbreaking ceremonies for the Nexus project held Thursday, Sept. 10.

In his remarks Thursday, Jones said, “Projects like this underscore not only the importance, but the vitality of community colleges in Nebraska and the vital role they play in building a skilled and highly trained workforce needed to ensure a strong future for all Nebraskans, including those who have yet to start kindergarten or have taken an SAT.”

“Northeast Community College and this Nexus project are helping to develop the next generation of workers,” Jones continued, “giving them the skills and the training needed to build strong and sustainable local economies throughout Nebraska and rural America.”

A video of the ceremony as well as other video comments may be found at the website

“TC Energy’s motto is to build stronger, more vibrant communities through their giving,” said Dr. Tracy Kruse, associate vice president of development and external affairs and executive director of the Northeast Foundation. “They have clearly demonstrated their commitment to our local communities, our workforce, and to the success of the entire agriculture industry through their generosity to this project. We couldn’t be more appreciative of their support and partnership.”

Northeast Community College has been ranked as one of the top agricultural two-year colleges in the country and its ag program allows students to explore innovative, hands-on experiential learning opportunities related to crop and livestock as well as improved conservation practices. TC Energy’s donation to Northeast supports the College’s Nexus campaign to move the institution’s farm and feedlot from its current site, which isn’t conducive to low stress animal handling, feedlot drainage or machinery storage and maintenance, to a location near the Chuck M. Pohlman Ag Complex which Northeast opened in 2004.

The campaign’s goal is to help create a sustainable future based on student, business, and community success. The Nexus campaign integrates innovation, applied research, and hands-on experience to grow the rural economy, address food and water security concerns and protect Nebraska’s resources for future generations.

"TC Energy has a long history of supporting educational initiatives, and this partnership allows us to further this commitment while directly supporting communities along our Keystone XL project route,” said Scott Castleman, director, public affairs and communications for Keystone XL. “Partnering with Northeast Community College will not only support the college in offering top-level facilities, but more importantly it will help develop the next generation of Nebraska farmers. One of the many benefits of this partnership is the positive affect among communities across the Keystone and Keystone XL routes, which TC Energy owns and operates.”

Nine out of 10 graduates of Northeast’s ag program stay in Nebraska. The program provides stable employment opportunities for its graduates, primarily in the 20-county service area outside of Norfolk. Fifty percent of jobs in northeast Nebraska are related to agriculture, and the industry is growing. Therefore, these graduates are helping to meet a key workforce demand for the state.

Site work for the Nexus project began in April and construction should be completed by Fall 2021. The initial phase of construction includes a new veterinary technology clinic and classrooms, a new farm site with a large animal handling facility, feedlot and other farm structures for livestock operations, a farm office and storage.

Funding for the agriculture facilities will come from the College’s commitment of $10 million, as well as external fundraising to fill the gap. With a total project cost of $22.3 million, Northeast has raised enough funds to begin construction; however, fundraising for the Nexus campaign will continue, as more is needed for equipment, technology and furnishings.

In August 2019, the Acklie Charitable Foundation (ACF) announced a $5 million lead gift to the Nexus project. ACF was founded by the late Duane Acklie and Phyllis Acklie, both Madison County natives and graduates of Norfolk Junior College, a predecessor institution of Northeast Community College.

For more information on the Nexus Campaign, contact Kruse at, or call (402) 844-7056. Online donations may be made through

2021 NeCGA Washington D.C. Leadership Mission - Applications Now Open

Applications for the 2021 Washington, D.C. Leadership Mission are now open. Each year the Nebraska Corn Growers Association takes a group of new leaders to Washington, D.C. to learn more about grassroots and what the Association does. This mission trip includes visits with each of Nebraska's elected officials, industry partners such as NCGA and U.S. Grains Council, grassroots leadership training and other agribusinesses. This mission trip is at no cost to members of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association. The dates for the 2021 Washington, D.C. Leadership Mission is February 22-26, 2021. If something changes and we are not able to make the mission trip this year, we will send out an announcement. For an application, please click HERE... If you have any questions about the program, please reach out to Morgan Wrich, NeCGA Director of Grower Services.

Nebraska Corn Internships

Nebraska Corn is starting the process of recruiting for our next class of interns! This is a great opportunity for college students to get real-world experiences. These internships work directly with Nebraska Corn cooperating organizations including the U.S. Grains Council, the U.S. Meat Export Federation and the National Corn Growers Association.

Six of the internships are located outside the state and two are located in the offices of the Nebraska Corn Board and the Nebraska Corn Growers Association in Lincoln. All eight opportunities are paid experiences. Applications are due November 6, 2020.

More Information here....  

Corn Field Tour from Gothenburg Water Utilization Learning Center

Agriculture continues to evolve even as the country has slowed down because of the coronavirus. Bayer Crop Science would like to invite you to join a Virtual Field Tour of the Gothenburg Water Utilization Learning Center to learn more about some of the exciting research the company is working on to move corn production forward.
Below is an outline of this one hour and 15 minute event. The focus is to provide an overview of the research the Learning Center is conducting on the challenges of corn production in the Kansas, Colorado, and Nebraska Great Plains region and how the products from Bayer can provide value to farmers in this region.
Virtual Field Tour | Thursday – September 17 from 2:00 to 3:15 p.m. CT
    Overview of the Learning Center
    Maximizing water efficiency
    Corn product testing under variable rate irrigation
    Production problems on the Great Plains
    What types of testing is Bayer doing to address these issues?
    Pest control – from weeds to insects to diseases, learn more about our testing efforts
    Where does short corn fit?
    Discuss what it is and how it could work in this region
    Food grade corn
    What is it, how is the testing done, and how is it used to produce commercial products?
    How can tools like Climate FieldView be impactful?

To register for this event, please contact Brain Olson ( or Rachel Hurley ( by September 8 and they will send you login information for the event.

USDA Assists Rural NE Businesses Create Jobs and Increase Economic Opportunities

Nebraska State Director Karl Elmshaeuser for USDA Rural Development today announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $231,000 to assist rural businesses with job creation that will enhance economic opportunities.

“The grants will help to strengthen small emerging rural businesses through working capital that will assist rural communities and build on economic opportunities,” said Elmshaeuser. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA has been working tirelessly to be a strong partner to rural Nebraska in building stronger and healthier communities, because we know when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

Nebraska’s recipients are:

Center for Rural Affairs - $57,050-Provide training and technical assistance in Lexington, Madison, West Point, and Nebraska City all in Nebraska for small and emerging food businesses to assist Latinos develop or start new business enterprises in their community.  Workshops and trainings will be facilitated in both English and Spanish to ensure access to the information is available to the target audience.  Participants will receive training in completing a business plan and training in basic finance and business operation. Participants who complete the training should have a complete business plan and a roadmap to move forward with their new business enterprise. This project is expected to assist at least six businesses, which will create 25 full-time equivalent jobs.

GROW Nebraska Foundation - $80,425-Assist small and emerging rural businesses to increase marketing their businesses via eCommerce.  Social media training will be provided face-to-face and via webinars in the communities of Alliance, McCook and Sidney in Nebraska.  This project is expected to assist at least three businesses, which will save 13 full-time equivalent jobs.

Hay Springs Area Chamber of Commerce - $93,525-Purchase the former grocery store building on Main Street in Hay Springs, Nebraska. The building will be updated (paint, floors) and then rented to a new and emerging business, creating potential full-time and part-time jobs. Coaching by community members will be provided in the following areas: inventory management, personnel management, advertising, marketing, branding, financial reporting and banking.

The  funding was awarded through the Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) program to assist small and emerging rural businesses with targeted technical assistance, training and training facilities, including commercial kitchens, business incubators, makerspaces and farmers’ markets.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas.

For more information regarding the RBDG program contact Brant Richardson, or 402-437-5568, Deborah Drbal, or 402-437-5558.  Visit

Iowa Program to Help Fuel Retailers Recover from COVID-19-Related Demand Disruptions

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig introduced the Renewable Fuel Retailer Recovery Program today to help gas stations, truck stops and other fuel retailers recover from lost demand caused by COVID-19. Iowa fuel retailers that dispense, or have plans to dispense, ethanol blends of E15 or higher or biodiesel blends of B11 or higher, and biodiesel terminal facilities are eligible to apply for the relief funds. Gov. Reynolds has allocated $7 million of CARES Act money to support the Renewable Fuel Retailer Recovery Program.

As Americans began spending more time at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, fuel demands dropped drastically. As a result, more than 70 ethanol plants across the country idled and 70 more cut production capacity, jeopardizing jobs in rural communities and further reducing commodity prices. As of April 10, national ethanol production had dropped 44 percent compared to the same time in 2019, according to a report by the Renewable Fuels Association.

“Iowa is at the foundation of our global food supply chain and the epicenter of the renewable fuels industry,” said Gov. Reynolds. “COVID-19 and a devastating derecho dealt a major blow to everything from the demand for ethanol to the supply of meat on grocery store shelves. But just as important are the livelihoods of thousands of Iowa farm families, agricultural industries and the communities they support. Today’s investment reflects the critical role Iowa’s ag industry has in our state's overall economic recovery.”

“The renewable fuels industry is critical to Iowa’s economy. It provides jobs in rural communities, additional markets for agricultural products, and gives consumers greater access to affordable, cleaner-burning fuels,” said Secretary Naig. “I know fuel retailers and the renewable fuels industry, like so many others, have a long road to recovery. I’m grateful to Gov. Reynolds for making additional funding available to support ethanol and biodiesel retailers as they work to recover from this pandemic.”

To qualify, applicants must demonstrate a COVID-19-related business interruption or a loss of business income related to COVID-19. Projects considered may include, but are not limited to, expenses incurred for the construction, installation, upgrade and retrofit of equipment associated with the sale of renewable fuels. Replacement equipment must dispense a higher percentage blend of ethanol or biodiesel than the existing equipment, for example, dispense E15 instead of E10.

Retailers may be awarded up to a $30,000 grant per project and may submit applications for more than one project. Application forms can be downloaded at Applications should be submitted electronically to The Department will begin reviewing applications on Monday, Sept. 14, 2020. Additional project applications will be accepted as long as funds remain.

Questions about the program should be directed to Paul Ovrom, the program administrator, at 515-242-6239 or

Iowa leads the nation in renewable fuels production. The state is home to 43 ethanol refineries capable of producing over 4.5 billion gallons annually and 12 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce nearly 400 million gallons annually, according to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.  

Virtual Organic Field Day Video Available Online

A virtual Organic Field Day video from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is available online.  The video was recorded at the Iowa State University Neely-Kinyon Memorial Research and Demonstration Farm and is available for viewing on YouTube.  The field day covers the variety of organic research at the Neely-Kinyon Farm, including organic corn, soybeans, oats, alfalfa, peppers, winter squash and grapes.

“This was a very difficult summer,” said Kathleen Delate, professor and extension organic specialist in the departments of agronomy and horticulture at Iowa State University. “Between COVID-19, drought and the derecho, farmers were put through extraordinary pressures this year.”

The Neely-Kinyon Farm was spared the worst of the derecho winds, which flattened corn fields a mere 30 miles north. Organic farmers who were affected by the derecho’s 100 mph winds reported that, with organic corn’s later planting to avoid pollen from nearby conventional GMO corn, the less mature stage of the organic corn may have helped its survival.

With ears still filling, it’s likely the weight of the organic corn was less than the more mature, conventional corn that was downed by the storm. Affected organic farmers expect to be able to harvest their lodged corn with special combine attachments, such as a crop lifter.

Fortunately, timely rains at the beginning of the season have led to excellent productivity and the hope for optimal corn and soybean yields in the Long-Term Agroecological Research experiment at the farm.

The drought conditions have favored some crops, as excessive rains typically can increase disease and decrease oat yields, but this year, when LTAR oats were harvested on July 31, the oats in the four-year rotation (corn–soybean–oats/alfalfa–alfalfa) averaged 106 bushels per acre. Organic farmer Ron Rosmann of Harlan, Iowa, featured in the field day, produced oat crops that yielded 131 bushels per acre. The Rosmanns have weathered the pandemic with a combination of an on-farm store, wholesale and retail sales.

The organic no-till section of the virtual field day demonstrates the use of winter rye and hairy vetch that were planted as a cover crop in Fall 2019, and rolled/crimped with a Rodale roller at the end of May.

Organic peppers and squash were transplanted into the rolled mulch on June 4. Organic no-till offers many benefits in terms of soil quality, with USDA-ARS-NLAE scientists showing greater stored carbon and beneficial soil microbial populations that assist with nutrient cycling.

Producers may consider donating excess vegetables to food banks this year, as many are experiencing record need due to COVID-19.

Organic research results and other timely information will be presented at the virtual Iowa Organic Conference in November. For more information, contact Kathleen Delate with ISU Extension and Outreach at 515-294-7069, or


Based on September 1 conditions, Nebraska's 2020 corn crop is forecast at 1.78 billion bushels, down slightly from last year's production, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Area harvested for grain, at 9.45 million acres, is down 4% from a year ago. Average yield is forecast at 188 bushels per acre, up 6 bushels from last year.

Soybean production is forecast at 297 million bushels, up 5% from last year. Area for harvest, at 4.95 million acres, is up 2% from 2019. Yield is forecast at 60 bushels per acre, up 1.5 bushels from a year ago.

Sorghum for grain production of 11.2 million bushels is down 8% from a year ago. Area for harvest, at 120,000 acres, is down 8% from 2019. Yield is forecast at 93 bushels per acre, unchanged from last year.

Sugarbeet production is forecast at 1.40 million tons, up 31% from 2019. Area for harvest, at 45,800 acres, is up 9% from last year. Yield is forecast at 30.6 tons per acre, up 5.2 tons from a year ago.

Dry edible pea production is forecast at 680 thousand cwt, up 2% from a year ago. Area for harvest, at 34,000 acres, is up 17% from 2019. Yield is forecast at 2,000 pounds per acre, down 300 pounds from last year.

The forecasts in this report are based on conditions as of September 1. Any potential impacts from the below freezing temperatures that occurred after September 1 will be reflected in future reports.


Iowa corn production is forecast at 2.48 billion bushels according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Crop Production report. Based on conditions as of September 1, yields are expected to average 191 bushels per acre, down 11 bushels per acre from the August 1 forecast, and down 7 bushels per acre from last year. Corn planted acreage is estimated at 14.0 million acres. An estimated 13.0 million of the acres planted will be harvested for grain, down 550,000 acres from the previous forecast.

Soybean production is forecast at 503 million bushels. The yield is forecast at 54.0 bushels per acre, down 4.0 bushels per acre from the August 1 forecast, and 1.0 bushel per acre lower than 2019. Soybean planted acreage is estimated at 9.40 million acres with 9.32 million acres to be harvested.
In response to the derecho experienced on August 10, NASS collected harvested acreage information for corn and soybeans in Iowa. Based on this additional data, NASS lowered corn harvested for grain area by 550,000 acres. Soybean acres were unchanged. Since many producers indicated they were still finalizing decisions regarding some of the impacted acres, NASS will collect harvested acreage for corn and soybeans in Iowa for the October Crop Production report.

The forecasts in this report are based on September 1 conditions and do not reflect weather effects since that time. The next corn and soybean production forecasts, based on conditions as of October 1, will be released on October 9.

USDA: Corn Production Down 2 Percent from August Forecast

Soybean Production Down 3 Percent

Corn production for grain is forecast at 14.9 billion bushels, down 2 percent from the previous forecast but up 9 percent from 2019. Based on conditions as of September 1, yields are expected to average a record high 178.5 bushels per harvested acre, down 3.3 bushels from the previous forecast but up 11.1 bushels from last year. Area harvested for grain is forecast at 83.5 million acres, down 1 percent from the previous forecast, but up 3 percent from the previous year.

Soybean production for beans is forecast at 4.31 billion bushels, down 3 percent from the previous forecast but up 21 percent from last year. Based on conditions as of September 1, yields are expected to average a record high 51.9 bushels per harvested acre, down 1.4 bushels from the previous forecast but up 4.5 bushels from 2019. Area harvested for beans in the United States is forecast at 83.0 million acres, unchanged from the previous forecast but up 11 percent from 2019.

World Ag Supply and Demand Estimate - Sept 11, 2020

COARSE GRAINS: This month’s 2020/21 U.S. corn outlook is for reduced production, lower corn used for ethanol, larger exports, and smaller ending stocks. Corn production is forecast at 14.9 billion bushels, down 378 million from last month on a lower yield forecast and reduction in harvested area. Corn supplies are reduced from last month, as a smaller crop more than offsets greater beginning stocks mostly due to lower estimated exports for 2019/20. Corn used for ethanol for 2020/21 is lowered 100 million bushels based on the continued slow recovery in motor gasoline demand as a result of COVID-19. Exports are raised 100 million bushels reflecting reduced supplies in competitor countries. With supply falling more than use, corn ending stocks are lowered 253 million bushels from last month. The corn price is raised 40 cents to $3.50 per bushel.  

This month’s 2020/21 foreign coarse grain outlook is for larger production, with fractionally higher trade and lower stocks relative to last month. EU corn production is lowered, mostly reflecting a reduction for Romania. Ukraine corn production is down, as acute short-term drought across much of the primary growing areas lowered corn yield prospects after a favorable start to the summer growing season. Corn production is raised for Brazil, as high domestic prices are expected to support an expansion in area. Corn production is also increased for India and Nigeria. Barley production is raised for Russia, the EU, and Australia.

Major global coarse grain trade changes for 2020/21 include barley export increases for Russia and Australia. Corn exports are raised for the United States, Brazil, and Mexico. Corn imports are raised for Venezuela. China’s corn feed and residual use for 2019/20 and 2020/21 is raised from last month, based on observed soybean meal equivalent protein consumption and current corn prices. Foreign corn ending stocks are lower relative to last month, as increases for India and Nigeria are more than offset by a decline for China.

OILSEEDS: U.S. soybean supply and use changes for 2020/21 include lower beginning stocks, production, and ending stocks. Lower beginning stocks reflect increases in exports and crush for 2019/20. Soybean production is projected at 4.3 billion bushels, down 112 million on a lower yield forecast of 51.9 bushels per acre. Yield is down 1.4 bushels per acre from the August forecast. With soybean crush and exports unchanged, ending stocks are projected at 460 million bushels, down 150 million from last month. Other changes this month include higher peanut and lower cottonseed production.

Soybean and product prices are all projected higher for 2020/21. The U.S. season-average soybean price is forecast at $9.25 per bushel, up 90 cents from last month. The soybean meal price is projected at $315 per short ton, up 25 dollars. The soybean oil price forecast is 32.0 cents per pound, up 2 cents.  The 2020/21 foreign oilseed supply and demand forecasts include higher production, exports, and ending stocks. Higher foreign production of soybeans, cottonseed, peanuts, and rapeseed is partly offset by lower sunflowerseed. Soybean production is raised for Brazil, Canada, and India, and lowered for Ukraine. Brazil’s 2020/21 soybean crop is raised 2 million tons to 133 million, mainly on increased area as producers face stronger prices and competitive exchange rates ahead of planting. Brazil’s production for 2013/14 to 2018/19 also reflects revisions by Brazil’s National Supply Company (CONAB). Soybean production forecasts for Canada and India are raised on recent government data and planting progress reports. Ukraine’s soybean production is lowered due to low rainfall throughout August.

Global soybean exports are raised 0.9 million tons to 166.3 million, with higher exports for Brazil and lower exports for Ukraine based on available supplies. Crush is reduced for Argentina in line with the prior year’s reduction. Global ending stocks are reduced 1.8 million tons to 93.6 million as lower U.S. stocks are partly offset by higher foreign stocks, particularly for Argentina and Brazil.

WHEAT: The 2020/21 U.S. wheat supply and demand outlook is unchanged this month but there are offsetting by-class changes for wheat exports. The projected season-average farm price remains at $4.50 per bushel.

The 2020/21 global wheat outlook is for larger supplies, increased consumption, greater exports, and higher stocks. Supplies are raised 3.3 million tons to 1,070.3 million, mostly on higher production in Australia and Canada more than offsetting a smaller crop in Argentina. Australia’s production is raised 2.5 million tons to 28.5 million, mainly based on the ABARES production forecast issued September 7. Canada’s production is increased 2.0 million tons to 36.0 million, primarily on the Statistics Canada forecast issued August 31. This is the second and third-highest wheat production on record for Canada and Australia, respectively. Argentina’s production is lowered 1.0 million tons to 19.5 million on continued dry conditions and possible frost damage. On net, global 2020/21 production is raised 4.5 million tons to a record high 770.5 million.

World consumption is increased 0.8 million tons to 750.9 million, primarily on higher feed and residual usage for Australia and Canada. Projected 2020/21 global trade is raised 1.5 million tons to 189.4 million on higher exports for Australia and Canada. The largest import change this month is for China, where imports are raised 1.0 million tons to 7.0 million on an early strong pace of U.S. sales and shipments to China and increased exportable supplies from Australia and Canada. If realized, these would be the largest China wheat imports since 1995/96. Projected 2020/21 world ending stocks are increased 2.6 million tons to 319.4 million to a new record, with China and India accounting for 51 and 10 percent of the total, respectively.

LIVESTOCK, POULTRY, AND DAIRY: The forecast for 2020 total red meat and poultry production is lowered from last month as lower pork and broiler production more than offsets higher beef and turkey production. Beef production is raised from the previous month on higher second-half cattle slaughter. The pork production forecast is reduced on the current pace of slaughter and lighter carcass weights. Broiler production is reduced on recent hatchery data while turkey production is raised slightly. The 2020 egg production forecast is raised on increased lay rates. For 2021, the total red meat and poultry forecast is reduced from the previous month on lower expected beef, pork, and broiler production. Beef production is reduced from last month on lower expected steer and heifer slaughter and lighter carcass weights. Pork production is reduced on lighter expected carcass weights. The broiler production forecast is reduced on slower expected growth as the industry adjusts to higher feed costs. The turkey production forecast is unchanged.

The 2020 beef import forecast is raised on continued firm import demand for processing grade beef, while the beef export forecast is unchanged. No change is made to the 2021 beef trade forecasts. The 2020 and 2021 pork export forecasts are unchanged as continued demand strength from China offsets weaker demand in other key markets. The 2020 and 2021 broiler, turkey, and egg export forecasts are unchanged from last month.

The cattle price forecast for 2020 is unchanged from last month while the 2021 cattle price forecast is raised on lower production. Hog price forecasts are raised for 2020 on recent price strength but are unchanged for 2021. The 2020 broiler, turkey, and egg price forecasts are raised on recent price strength. For 2021, broiler price forecasts are raised on lower forecast production while no changes are made to the turkey and egg price forecasts.

The milk production forecast for 2020 is raised from last month on higher expected growth in milk per cow. For 2020, the fat basis import forecast is lowered, primarily on recent trade data and the expectation of slower butterfat imports. The fat basis export forecast is raised on stronger global import demand for cheese, butter, and whey products. The skim-solids basis import forecast is unchanged from the previous month, while the export forecast is raised on expectations of robust exports of nonfat dry milk (NDM) and whey products. Cheese, butter, and whey price forecasts are reduced from last month, but the forecast for NDM is unchanged. The Class III price forecast is reduced on lower cheese and whey price forecasts, while the Class IV price forecast is reduced on the lower butter price forecast. The all milk price forecast is lowered to $17.75 per cwt.

For 2021, the milk production forecast is raised on stronger anticipated growth in milk per cow. The fat basis import forecast is reduced from the previous month primarily on lower expected imports of cheese and other dairy products, while the fat basis export forecast is raised on anticipated firm global demand for U.S. butter. The skim-solids basis import forecast is raised slightly, but the export forecast is raised on continued strong international demand for skim milk powder and whey products. Price forecasts for cheese, butter, and whey are lowered while the nonfat dry milk forecast is unchanged. The Class III price forecast is reduced on lower cheese and whey price forecasts. The Class IV price forecast is reduced on the lower butter price forecast. The all milk price forecast is lowered to $17.00 per cwt for 2021.

Thursday September 10 Ag News

 Northeast Community College breaks ground on new agriculture facilities

Northeast Community College faculty, staff, students, volunteers, donors and other guests gathered Thursday for an event that is literally and figuratively groundbreaking for the institution’s agriculture program.

A ceremony marked construction that is presently underway on the Nexus project which consists of a new veterinary technology building and a combination farm operations building and large animal handling facility at the new Acklie Family College Farm. The site is located near Northeast’s Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex at the intersection of Highway 35 and E. Benjamin Ave. in Norfolk.

Dr. Leah Barrett, president, said Northeast embarked on the project five-years ago to ensure the next generation of rural Americans have an opportunity to be educated and trained in 21st-century facilities and on a 500-acre college farm. She described Nexus as more than just new buildings.

“This is an innovative collection of facilities that are, in themselves, tools of the trade that will allow our students to learn through experiences as well as theory,” Barrett said. “They will instill a pride among our students as they prepare to enter the workforce and, for many of them, return to their hometowns and farms to ensure the region has opportunities to be prosperous and grow through either their own operation or by being employed by the myriad of businesses that are vital to the industry.”

Nexus began with a vision and a plan that can trace back to the beginning of the ag program at the College in 1973. Dr. Tracy Kruse, associate vice president of development and external affairs and executive director of the Northeast Foundation, said the program has grown from just three students 47-years ago to over 350 today. She said Northeast has invested in its current facilities that were constructed over 100-years ago, but it has been no match for time and modern technology and machinery.

“Ultimately, the facilities were undersized and inadequate for the large numbers of students and the size of today’s equipment and animals,” Kruse said.

As a result of strategic planning and visioning in 2015, Northeast began to prioritize capital funds for the project and invested in new faculty and programming. Once word was out, many people stepped forward to ask how they could help.

This included the Acklie Charitable Foundation (ACF), which provided a $5 million lead gift to the project. ACF was founded by the late Duane Acklie and Phyllis Acklie, both Madison County natives and graduates of Norfolk Junior College, a predecessor institution of Northeast Community College.

“With the lead gift from ACF, we were off and running. Collectively, we have raised over $10 million to fund this project, in addition to the College’s funds,” Kruse said. “While we are still a few million dollars short of our $22.3 million goal, we didn’t want to let COVID-19 slow us down. The Board of Governors approved the bids, and in April, site work began. Although we have secured enough funds to complete construction of the facilities, additional dollars are still needed for equipment, technology and furnishings inside the facility.”

In addition to several other major gifts over the past year, including a collective pledge of $132,000 from Northeast employees, two other large donations were announced at Thursday’s groundbreaking.

Kruse said the estate of the late Norman Ochsner, of Norfolk, a draftsman at Nucor Steel for many years, allocated a $2.4 million gift to Northeast. Half of the gift has been placed into an endowment for scholarships for agriculture students with the remainder put into an endowment for ag construction and maintenance.

“This will help us attract additional ag students to Northeast and it will provide us funds into perpetuity for ongoing care and maintenance of the facilities,” Kruse said. “What a lasting legacy and tribute to Norm Ochsner! I think he’d be proud of what we are accomplishing in his name!”

Also, a representative from TC Energy and the TC Energy Foundation announced a $500,000 gift to the Nexus Campaign.

“Projects like this underscore not only the importance, but the vitality of community colleges in Nebraska and the vital role they play in building a skilled and highly trained workforce needed to ensure a strong future for all Nebraskans, including those who have yet to start kindergarten or take an ACT,” said Trevor Jones, government and community relations advisor for TC Energy. “Northeast Community College and this Nexus project are helping to develop the next generation of workers giving them the skills and the training needed to build strong and sustainable local economies throughout Nebraska and rural America.”

Furthermore, two fundraisers held in conjunction with the groundbreaking continue. One encourages donors to text “ag” to (402) 383-FARM (3276) to contribute. The other involves the sale of animal silhouettes to be engraved and displayed on a farm-scape plaque in one of the new buildings. Three sizes of horses, chickens, pigs and cattle are available for donations of $50, $100 and $250. These animals may be ordered from students or online at

Jeanne Reigle, of Madison, and Russ Vering, of Scribner, serve as co-chairs of the Nexus Campaign. Both stressed the importance of the investment in new facilities at Northeast and their impact on training the next generation workforce.

“My husband, John, and I have watched Northeast Community College respond to workforce needs over the years and know firsthand the impact of the education and training they provide,” Reigle said. “As owners of a feedlot, we recognize skilled employees can be hard to come by and we want to make sure that as a local educational institution, Northeast continues to invest in technology advancements and develops a technology-savvy workforce.”

Vering said, “I was pleased to not only be a part of my business’s support to the project, but also for Jeanne and I and other volunteers to help secure the support of other commodity organizations throughout the state of Nebraska, from the pork producers, to the cattlemen associations to the corn board. The support of these major statewide organizations indicated just how important this project is to the state and this region specifically, where one out of every two jobs is directly related to agriculture.”

Although Dara Ness, a sophomore veterinary technology student from Kennebec, S.D., won’t take classes in the new facilities after she graduates next spring, she said Thursday, they are one part of obtaining an education from Northeast.

“These past two-years at Northeast have been very impactful on my education as well as my life. It wasn’t the facilities that taught me how to be a good vet tech, it was the teachers,” Ness said. “Having instructors that devote their time and energy to bettering our education is what pushes us to try harder and think critically. As we move forward, the current vet tech building will always be extraordinary given the history behind it - how a once dairy farm was turned into a clinic with the help of devoted teachers…”

Jeff Scherer, a member of the Northeast board of governors from Beemer, said the Nexus project demonstrates the College’s mission of dedicating itself to the success of students and the region it serves.

“I see and hear firsthand the impact of our agriculture graduates in our local communities working as agronomists, vet techs and veterinarians, conservationists, precision ag technicians, sales managers and more. They are working at the local implement dealers, the cooperatives, banks, and are the local seed sales representatives. Our success as an institution is rooted in what we give back to our local communities. That is what this project is all about.”

Wilkins Architecture Design & Planning, of Kearney, led the team that designed the first phase of the Nexus project collaborating with firms such as Olsson Associates, Morrissey Engineering, Flad Architects and Settje Engineering and AgriServices in order to create a working veterinary technology clinic and farm. Kingery Construction, of Lincoln, is providing construction management services. Construction on the new facilities is scheduled to be completed in Fall 2021.

Donations to the Nexus project may still be made online at, by texting “ag” to (402) 383-FARM (3276), or by sending a check to Northeast Community College Foundation, 801 East Benjamin Ave., Norfolk, NE 68701.

The ceremony, as well as video comments from donors, volunteers, staff and students, may be viewed at

Nebraska Cattlemen and Affiliates Support Northeast Nexus Project

The Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation and two Nebraska Cattleman affiliates in northeast Nebraska have thrown their support behind the Nexus project to build new ag facilities at Northeast Community College.

Together, the Cattlemen Foundation, the Boone and Nance County Cattlemen, and the Cuming County Feeders have donated $50,000 to the project, currently under construction near the intersection of East Benjamin Ave. and Hwy. 35.

“We are pleased to be able to support the education of the next generation of farmers and ranchers,” said Scott Knobbe of West Point, past president of the Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation. “Finding trained employees for our operations is always a struggle, and these new facilities at Northeast will help attract more young people to agriculture.”

Pat Meiergard of the Cuming County Feeders said many Cuming County students attend Northeast. “Northeast is close to home for a lot of our students,” he said, “and that lets them continue to help out on their home farms and feedlots. It is also an economical way to get a quality education.”

 “A lot of our young people take dual credit classes at area high schools through Northeast,” said Mark Niewohner of the Boone and Nance County Cattlemen, “getting a jump on their college education.”

“We hire Northeast graduates at our operations,” Niewohner continued, “and having more trained individuals to fill those positions is important to our success.”

Cattle production is a big part of the ag program at Northeast. The College already has a 50 cow-calf herd and feedlot operation. The new facilities will include a feedlot, manure lagoon, and large animal handling facility.

“The support of the beef industry is important to Northeast,” said Dr. Tracy Kruse, associate vice president of development and external affairs and executive director of the Northeast Foundation. “We understand the need to educate the next generation of farmers and ranchers and provide trained employees to support agriculture. Our students will become the citizens of rural communities, shopping at local stores, attending local schools and churches.”

The initial phase of construction on the Nexus project includes a new veterinary technology clinic and classrooms, a new farm site with a large animal handling facility and other farm structures for livestock operations, a farm office and storage. The new facilities will be located near the Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex on E. Benjamin Ave. in Norfolk. Site work began in April and construction should be completed by the Fall of 2021.

The funding for the agriculture facilities will come from the College’s commitment of $10 million, as well as external fundraising to fill the gap. With a total project cost of $22.3 million, the College has raised enough funds to begin construction; however, fundraising for the Nexus campaign will continue, as more is needed for equipment, technology and furnishings.

In August 2019, the Acklie Charitable Foundation (ACF) announced a $5 million lead gift to the Nexus project. ACF was founded by the late Duane Acklie and Phyllis Acklie, both Madison County natives and graduates of Norfolk Junior College, a predecessor institution of Northeast Community College.

For more information on the Nexus Campaign, contact Kruse, at, or call (402) 844-7056. Online donations may be made through Checks may also be mailed to Nexus Campaign, Northeast Community College Foundation, P.O. Box 469, Norfolk, NE 68702-0469.

Larry E. Sitzman Youth in Nebraska Agriculture Scholarship Available

College students enrolled as full-time undergraduate or graduate students at a fully accredited Nebraska college, university or technical college in an agriculture related degree program are encouraged to apply for the Larry E. Sitzman Youth in Nebraska Agriculture Scholarship.

The deadline to apply is November 10. Applications will be reviewed, and selection notifications will be sent by December 1. Students may apply for the scholarship online by visiting

The Larry E. Sitzman Youth in Nebraska Agriculture Scholarship is a $1,000 scholarship that will be awarded to one deserving applicant each year.

The scholarship is named for Larry E. Sitzman, who retired in 2016 as Executive Director of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association. Sitzman learned patriotism, service to our country, and respect for our leaders from his parents. While in high school, he heard John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, in which he said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” This address increased his desire to serve.

Agriculture has always been his passion. Throughout his life he has provided service in various forms and from different positions of leadership. Sitzman is known for sharing his voice defending perspectives and asking challenging questions. He served on many state and national agricultural boards before being named the Director of Agriculture for Nebraska in 1991. Today, Sitzman serves as an active volunteer leader at the Veterans Administration in Lincoln.

Academics, agriculture, military, and other forms of public service have all improved in some measure due to the leadership, service, and voice of Larry E. Sitzman. Upon his retirement, the Nebraska Pork Producers Association established this scholarship in his honor.

Eligibility Requirements:
    Must be currently enrolled as a full-time undergraduate or graduate student at a fully accredited Nebraska college, university or technical college in an agriculture related degree program
    Must have at least one full year of study remaining toward a degree
    Must have plans to work in the agriculture industry upon graduation

Selection will be based on qualities of leadership and participation in collegiate or extracurricular activities related to the agriculture industry.

Remember, the deadline for applications is November 10. Go to to apply online.

Nebraska Farm Bureau-PAC Announces Endorsements in State Legislative Races

The Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Political Action Committee (NEFB-PAC) has announced its slate of endorsements for candidates seeking election to the Nebraska Legislature. The NEFB-PAC endorsements are based on candidate’s positions on agriculture and rural issues and recommendations from district evaluation committees.

“We are pleased to announce our support for a number of candidates seeking both election and re-election to serve in the Nebraska Legislature. Given the important role farmers and ranchers play in helping produce our food and the prominent role agriculture plays in supporting our state’s broader economy, it’s important we elect leaders who have an appreciation for and understanding of both,” said Mark McHargue of Central City, chairman of NEFB-PAC and first vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau.

NEFB-PAC’s slate of endorsed state legislative candidates includes:
    Julie Slama of Peru, seeking election to Dist. 1
    Rick Holdcroft of Bellevue, seeking election to Dist. 3
    Mike McDonnell of Omaha, seeking re-election to Dist. 5
    David Rogers of Fremont, seeking election to Dist. 15
    Joni Albrecht of Thurston, seeking re-election to Dist. 17
    Mike Flood of Norfolk, seeking election to Dist. 19

    Mike Hilgers of Lincoln, seeking re-election to Dist. 21
    Bruce Bostelman of Brainard, seeking re-election to Dist. 23
    Suzanne Geist of Lincoln, seeking re-election to Dist. 25
    Jacob Campbell of Lincoln, seeking election to Dist. 29
    Rich Pahls of Omaha, seeking election to Dist. 31
    John Lowe Sr. of Kearney, seeking re-election to Dist. 37
    Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn, seeking re-election to Dist. 39
    Tom Briese of Albion, seeking re-election to Dist. 41

    Tom Brewer of Gordon, seeking re-election to Dist. 43
    Rita Sanders of Bellevue, seeking election to Dist. 45
    Steve Erdman of Bayard, seeking re-election to Dist. 47
    Andrew LaGrone of Gretna, seeking election to Dist. 49

“We look forward to supporting this slate of candidates in their election efforts, many of which who have already made valuable and positive contributions in the Legislature, and others who we believe possess similar abilities to lead our state moving forward,” said McHargue.

Grand Island Case Plant Supports Nebraska State Fair 1868 Foundation

This past weekend, the Grand Island CNH Industrial manufacturing plant gave the Nebraska State Fair 1868 Foundation $20,000 to assist in furthering the Foundation’s good works.
Lindsey Koepke, executive director of the Nebraska State Fair 1868 Foundation said, “This is so amazing to me since CNH Industrial and Case IH give so much already to our state fair. I mean, they provide tractors for our people movers, they provided combine rides with so many of their employees involved and now a $20,000 financial gift to the 1868 Foundation —it’s a little surreal.
CNH Industrial plant manager Mike Schaefer said, “Our plant has been all in with the Nebraska State Fair since it moved to Grand Island in 2010. Because of our 55-year history in Grand Island and the Fair’s 150 years in the state it seemed like a perfect union to help celebrate agriculture in a big way.”
CNH Industrial’s involvement in the Nebraska State Fair has been shepherded by Andy Marsh of Grand Island. Although no longer involved with the CNH Industrial plant, day to day, he has remained the CNH Industrial/State Fair liaison all of these many years.
Koepke said, “The Nebraska State Fair has just begun to blossom, and as the fundraising arm to the fair, the 1868 Foundation and its’ board of directors are thrilled to receive the CNH Industrial financial gift. We are truly blessed with so many partners, not the least of which is the entire team at Grand Island’s Case IH plant.”
CNH Industrial has been a community partner to Grand Island as one of the community’s largest employers producing the Case IH Axial Flow and New Holland Twin Rotor combines, as well as various hay & forage equipment. It’s a source of pride for Grand Island and central Nebraska.
The Nebraska State Fair 1868 Foundation is a proud charitable 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to raise funds for the future of your Nebraska State Fair.  For more information on the Nebraska State Fair 1868 Foundation, visit

ISU Agronomy Team Debuts New Weather Tool for FACTS

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has debuted a new tool on the Forecast and Assessment of Cropping Systems (FACTS) website that displays weather summaries for every crop reporting district in 12 Midwest states.  

The weather summaries include data from 1984 through today, updated every month and with information on temperature, precipitation, radiation and other weather indicators — like the number of days with extreme weather rain events, or the number of warm nights.

“This new tool provides an easy way for farmers and scientists to benchmark weather at any crop reporting district by month,” said Sotirios Archontoulis, associate professor of agronomy and principal member of the FACTS team at Iowa State University.

The new Weather Tool enables the user to select a crop reporting district from the nearly 1,000 counties across the Midwest. Once a district is selected, the user chooses a weather variable of interest and the month with the year, and the tool displays benchmarking graphs with options to download the data.

“This data can be crucial for decision-making on the ground and in the field,” Archontoulis said. “Weather is the main driver of yield and soil water/nitrogen fluctuations from year-to-year across the landscape, and having a benchmarking system that can be referenced will inform those decisions.”

This tool has aggregated weather data at the crop reporting district level for the first time, using 100 grids within a single crop reporting district instead of the typical one or two. The range of weather indicators available as well as the flexibility in performing benchmark graphs saves everyone time and gives greater detail than what has previously been available.

The weather data is a synthetic gridded product from various sources, called “IEM Reanalysis” system, which was engineered by Daryl Herzmann, Iowa Environmental Mesonet. The resolution of the synthetic gridded weather product is 0.125 x 0.125 degree latitude and longitude (about 15 km2 resolution). The temperature data generally comes from the NWS COOP observers. The precipitation data come from RADAR based estimates provided by NOAA MRMS, Oregon State’s PRISM dataset and NWS COOP reports. The radiation data come from NASA POWER.

The accuracy of the monthly gridded weather data is sufficiently well as illustrated in the figure. The gridded product captures 99% of the observed variability in temperature, 95% of the observed variability in radiation and 86% of the observed variability in precipitation in single point tests across 11 locations in the US Corn Belt.  

This tool is the product of a collaborative work between Archontoulis and Schnable Labs (Department of Agronomy) and funded by the Plant Sciences Institute at Iowa State.
    Sotirios Archontoulis conceptualized the tool, performed weather data QC and determined the weather indicators.
    Cheng-Ting “Eddy” Yeh, systems analysis in the Plant Sciences Institute at Iowa State, developed the web-interface. Pat Schnable, distinguished professor in the Plant Sciences Institute at Iowa State, provided feedback on the concept and development process.
    Daryl Herzmann, Iowa Environment Mesonet, compiled the gridded weather data.
    Isaiah Huber and Makis Danalatos aggregated the weather data to crop reporting district level.
    Mark Licht, assistant professor in agronomy and cropping systems specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach, provided expert feedback on the web-tool.

ACE Conference Panel of Ethanol Producers Get Candid About Adapting to the Unexpected and What’s Next

This year’s American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) 33rd annual conference is taking place online live from 1:30 to 5 p.m. Central on September 16. The final segment will feature a  panel consisting of ACE Board President Duane Kristensen, General Manager and Vice President of Operations for Chief Ethanol Fuels, Inc., ACE Board Vice President Dave Sovereign, Iowa farmer and Chairman of Golden Grain Energy, LLC, and Neil Koehler, Co-Founder, Director and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Pacific Ethanol, Inc., discussing how they’ve adapted their businesses to cope with the uncertain market conditions brought on by the global health pandemic, oil price war, trade wars, and mismanagement of the RFS, as well as optimism for current and future low carbon fuel markets.

With just over 50 days until the election and nearing the one-year anniversary of the White House meeting where six GOP Senators and the President struck a “deal” with how to move forward on ethanol policy, ACE provides a preview where the panelists speak frankly about politics and EPA’s mismanagement of the RFS.

“This administration has been an unmitigated disaster as it relates to our industry, and a lot of promises were made and broken,” Koehler said. “Yes, we got a rulemaking around E15 but when you undermined it with SREs to the tune of 4 billion gallons of lost demand, it’s a pretty hollow accomplishment.”

“It’s been almost a year ago that they had the meeting in the White House with Senator Ernst, Governor Reynolds, Senator Grassley and several others where there were five key issues that were promised by this administration to get done,” Sovereign said. “USDA is the only one that’s got anything done [implementing the Higher Blends Infrastructure Investment Program], the other four were left in the hands of the EPA. President Trump can put the pressure on EPA to get those remaining four done.” (Note: this video was recorded prior to press reports claiming the president has called on EPA to reject dozens of pending “gap year” waivers.)

“Regardless of who is elected president, we have a lot of work in front of us and alliances to form,” Koehler added. “We need to do what we can between now and November to get some progress done on these issues.”

“EPA has not been friendly to our industry under both political parties. No matter who is in the White House or Congress, there’s a lot of work to do,” echoed Kristensen, who moderates the discussion. “No doubt talk is cheap, but this will be a unique election, so be involved.”

You can view the Producer Perspective panel preview here... To watch the full panel discussion and to ask questions of the panelists live, tune in for the virtual session taking place from 4:15 to 5:00 p.m. Central on September 16.

U.S. Department of Labor Cites Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp. For Failing to Protect Employees from Coronavirus

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp. in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for failing to protect employees from exposure to the coronavirus. OSHA proposed a penalty of $13,494, the maximum allowed by law.

Based on a coronavirus-related inspection, OSHA cited the company for one violation of the general duty clause for failing to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards that can cause death or serious harm. At least 1,294 Smithfield workers contracted coronavirus, and four employees died from the virus in the spring of 2020.

“Employers must quickly implement appropriate measures to protect their workers' safety and health,” said OSHA Sioux Falls Area Director Sheila Stanley. “Employers must meet their obligations and take the necessary actions to prevent the spread of coronavirus at their worksite.”

OSHA guidance details proactive measures employers can take to protect workers from the coronavirus, such as social distancing measures and the use of physical barriers, face shields and face coverings when employees are unable to physically distance at least 6 feet from each other. OSHA guidance also advises that employers should provide safety and health information through training, visual aids, and other means to communicate important safety warnings in a language their workers understand.

Smithfield has 15 business days from receipt of the citation and penalty to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Employers with questions on compliance with OSHA standards should contact their local OSHA office for guidance and assistance at 800-321-OSHA (6742). OSHA's coronavirus response webpage offers extensive resources for addressing safety and health hazards during the evolving coronavirus pandemic.

Union Calls Meatpacking Fine a “Slap on the Wrist” After Plant Failed to Protect Workers

Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, which represents 1.3 million workers in meatpacking plants and other essential businesses – including over 7,000 Nebraska workers, condemned the new U.S. Department of Labor fine on Smithfield Foods as completely insufficient in the wake of the company’s failure to protect meatpacking workers at its Sioux Falls, South Dakota which reported nearly 1,300 COVID-19 infections and at least four deaths among its employees. As the union for Smithfield workers at this plant, UFCW called today’s fine by the Trump Administration insulting and a slap on the wrist that will do nothing to help those already infected or prevent future worker deaths.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone​ released the following statement:
“How much is the health, safety, and life of an essential worker worth? Based on the actions of the Trump Administration, clearly not much. This so-called ‘fine’ is a slap on the wrist for Smithfield, and a slap in the face of the thousands of American meatpacking workers who have been putting their lives on the line to help feed America since the beginning of this pandemic.

“OSHA has been asleep at the switch throughout this pandemic and this is just the latest example of the agency failing to do their job and take responsibility for worker safety. If we truly care about protecting workers and our nation’s food supply during this pandemic, the federal government must take action, beginning with an enforceable national safety standard, increased access to PPE and COVID-19 testing, and rigorous proactive inspections.

“Smithfield is a multi-billion-dollar corporation that failed to protect its workers, with multiple deaths and more than a thousand infections on their watch. This response by OSHA confirms that the company will not face any real consequences. The failure by the Trump Administration to hold Smithfield accountable makes clear that this White House cares more about industry profits than protecting America’s essential workers. Our country’s meatpacking workers, and the millions of American they serve, deserve and expect better from those sworn to protect us.”

Meat Institute Issues Statement on OSHA Citation Related to COVID-19

The North American Meat Institute (Meat Institute) today released the following statement from Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts regarding an Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA) citation related to COVID-19.

“While the meat and poultry industry remains vigilant working with many government agencies to stop the spread of COVID-19, OSHA engages in revisionism.

“The meat and poultry industry’s first priority is the safety of the men and women who work in their facilities. Notwithstanding inconsistent and sometimes tardy government advice, (‘don’t wear a mask/wear a mask’/April 26 OSHA guidance specific to the meat and poultry industry) when the pandemic hit in mid-March, meat and poultry processing companies quickly and diligently took steps to protect their workers. Companies had to overcome challenges associated with limited personal protective equipment, they implemented screening systems to keep sick employees out of plants, developed COVID-19 plans with administrative and engineering controls to protect workers which included and but were not limited to the CDC/OSHA guidelines.

“Most importantly, as evidenced in trends in data collected by the Food and Environment Reporting Network and The New York Times, these many programs and controls once in place worked and continue to work. Positive cases of COVID-19 associated with meat and poultry companies are trending down compared with cases nationwide.”

Weekly Ethanol Production for 9/4/2020

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending September 4, ethanol production increased by 2.1%, or 19,000 barrels per day (b/d), to 941,000 b/d—equivalent to 39.52 million gallons daily. Production remained 8.0% below the same week in 2019 as a result of the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The four-week average ethanol production rate ticked up 0.6% to 930,000 b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 14.26 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks drew down by 4.3% to 20.0 million barrels, which was 11.1% below year-ago volumes. Inventories decreased across all regions except the Rocky Mountains (PADD 4).

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, dropped 4.5% to a twelve-week low of 8.39 million b/d (128.62 bg annualized). Gasoline demand remained 14.4% lower than a year ago.

Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol followed to an eight-week low, falling 3.6% to 830,000 b/d, equivalent to 12.72 bg annualized, which was 10.8% below the year-earlier level.

There were zero imports of ethanol recorded after 36,000 b/d hit the books the prior week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of July 2020.)


As part of Hunger Action Month this September and with the increased demand for food assistance due to COVID-19, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) today announced an expanded commitment designed to make a lasting impact in the fight against hunger. Through its DFA Cares Farmers Feeding Families Fund, the nationwide dairy cooperative’s 13,000 family farm-owners are donating much-needed refrigeration to rural and community food banks across the country and pledging to keep them stocked with dairy products for the remainder of the year.

“When we launched the Farmers Feeding Families Fund in April, we started working with rural and community food banks, and quickly realized that a lot of these smaller facilities had very limited cold storage, or in some cases, were completely lacking it,” said Jackie Klippenstein, senior vice president of government, industry and community relations. “Access to refrigeration is one of the largest challenges for food banks to keep fresh foods like dairy on hand. Once we saw this was a need, we felt compelled to step up and help provide long-term infrastructure improvements to ensure food banks have refrigeration, so that they can offer dairy products to the hungry families that they serve.”

Through the creation of the Farmers Feeding Families Fund, which the Cooperative created in late April of this year, DFA and its farm family-owners, along with its dedicated essential workers, have been raising money to help provide support and deliver dairy products to community food banks across the country.

Recently, one of DFA’s key partners, Leprino Foods Company of Denver, Colo., also decided to get involved by making a generous contribution of $100,000 to the Farmers Feeding Families Fund.

“Leprino Foods Company’s global responsibility efforts have consistently focused on addressing the local needs of our communities, with a particular emphasis on nutrition,” said Mike Durkin, president of Leprino Foods Company. “Through this $100,000 donation, we are proud to join with our long-time partner, Dairy Farmers of America, in expanding efforts to reduce food insecurity and addressing the nutritional needs of our neighbors. We are proud to be part of an industry that cares so much about helping individuals and families in need.”

To date, the Farmers Feeding Families Fund has raised more than $650,000 and distributed more than $225,000 to rural and community food banks, where DFA’s farm family-owners live and work, with more to come.

“This fund was born when one of our farmer-owners came to us and, recognizing the increased need at food banks due to COVID-19, wanted to help out,” said Klippenstein. “Now, it’s really taken off with continued support from our farm families, DFA employees and the partnership of companies that we work with like Leprino Foods.”

Since early April, DFA also has been working with industry leaders and milk processors across the country to coordinate drive-by milk giveaways and product donations directly to food banks. A few highlights include:
    Providing more than 250,000 gallons of milk at 60+ drive-by milk giveaways throughout the Northeast
    Donating $10,000 worth of milk to Rhode Island schools through Guida’s Dairy
    Working with Kroger to donate more than 90,000 gallons of milk to food banks and health care workers in Kentucky, Ohio and Georgia
    Partnering with Daisy brand to donate 120,000 pounds of cottage cheese to food banks in Akron and Cleveland over a six-week period
    Donating 250,000 Kemps Giving Cow shelf-stable milks to food banks in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa
    Working with Dairy West to donate 9,775 pounds of cheese curds to Salt Lake City-area food banks
    Providing more than 12,000 gallons of milk to food banks throughout Southern California

“Through these initiatives and others, we’ve donated nearly 15 million servings of dairy, but we know there’s still a huge need, which is why we’re proud to launch this refrigeration program and continue our efforts of getting food from our farms to families who need it,” added Klippenstein.

For more information about DFA’s Farmers Feeding Families Fund or to make a donation, go to

Farmers Choose High Oleic Soybeans for Higher Potential Profits

Fall not only means harvest in agriculture, but also strategizing for the next season. Many farmers are adding high oleic soybeans to their rotation to earn premiums without any added headaches from managing strict growing requirements, learning a new management method or changing labor seasons or equipment.

They’re grown similarly to commodity soybeans, with the primary requirement being keeping them separated from other varieties.

“This is a great opportunity for farmers to add extra value to their land and crop,” said United Soybean Board farmer-leader Belinda Burrier, who grows high oleic soybeans in Maryland. “High oleic soybeans innovate and grow current markets while giving the consumer a product that they want and the farmer the premium that they need.”

These specialty soybeans currently have select availability across the Midwest and Delmarva Peninsula. For the 2021 growing season, the availability of high oleic soybean contract opportunities has widened, with a multitude of delivery locations available and an average premium of more than 50 cents per bushel. A recent study indicated that if high oleic growth continues as projected, a 1,000-acre soybean farmer will net between $34,000 and $50,000 more from soybean farming as a result of higher prices driven by high oleic demand.

High oleic soybeans have already revolutionized the soy industry, from increased food functionality to industrial uses, with new innovations such as motor oil, tires, shoes and asphalt. By providing a product that meets the demand of biobased alternatives, high oleic soybeans are adding long-term value for all U.S. soybean farmers. The 9 billion pounds of annual potential oil demand will require 16 million planted acres of high oleic soybeans by 2027.

In today’s economic and market conditions, a modest boost with these specialty soybeans is just the ticket, according to one Indiana farmer.

“Really, being a high oleic grower helps you and helps all of us,” said Kevin Wilson, a soybean farmer from Indiana and USB farmer-leader. “Every year we plant more acres of these soybeans, we see the demand grow. We’re shoring up our own stable domestic market, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Farmers eager to learn where and how they can access high oleic soybean contracts for their farm can visit the USB website for high oleic soybeans at, or contact their seed representative to ask about high oleic soybeans. Elevator and processor locations throughout the U.S. offer contracts to growers for either on-farm storage or defined amounts of harvest delivery for high oleic soybean varieties.

“For us, these soybeans have the same weed management program, fungicide program and come from the same dealer,” said Burrier. “It’s not any harder, but we get paid more for them. What more can you ask for?”

Brazil Raises 2019-20 Soybean and Corn Production Estimates

Brazilian crop agency Conab raised its estimates for soybean and corn production for the 2019-2020 growing season as good weather boosted productivity.

Brazilian farmers produced a record 124.8 million metric tons of soybeans this season as the country pushed past the U.S. to become the world's biggest producer of the oilseed, the agency said Thursday. In August, the agency forecast a crop of 120.9 million tons for 2019-2020, for which harvesting has finished. Brazil produced 119.7 million tons of soybeans in 2018-2019.

The U.S. had long been the world's biggest soybean producer, except for one previous year when Brazil squeaked past it, but President Donald Trump's trade conflict with China cut demand from the Asian country for American farm products and U.S. farmers reacted by reducing their output of soybeans. The USDA forecasts Brazil will outproduce the U.S. in the 2020-2021 season as well.

The good weather in Brazil's agricultural areas also boosted production of corn. The country grows three crops, one in Brazil's summer, one during its mild winter and another in the north of the country, that grows on the same schedule as in the Northern Hemisphere. Harvesting for the winter crop is almost finished, and the northern crop, which represents less than 2% of total production.

Brazil grew 102.5 million tons of corn in 2019-2020, the agency said, compared with Conab's August forecast 0f 102.1 million tons. In 2018-2019, the country's farmers grew 100 million tons of corn.

Chinese Grain Purchasing In Full Swing As 2020/2021 Marketing Year Officially Starts

September 1 marked the start of a new crop marketing year and China is already on the books as the largest buyer of U.S. corn and sorghum - a trend that could continue through the 2020/2021 marketing year based on supply and demand factors.

“Many people think China’s recent corn purchases are driven by the U.S.-China Phase One agreement and could be easily cancelled due to politics,” said Bryan Lohmar, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) director for China. “But China did not just dial 1-800-BUY-CORN. Importers are expanding their trading capabilities in the United States and partnering with key river freight and port loading facilities. These are signs China will continue to procure grain from the United States well beyond recent purchases.”

China has purchased 8.733 million metric tons (348.8 million bushels) of U.S. corn and 1.365 million tons (53.74 million bushels) of U.S. sorghum for the 2020/2021 marketing year, as of Aug. 27, 2020. These sales add to 2.312 million tons (91.03 million bushels) of U.S. corn and 3.932 million tons (154.83 million bushels) of U.S. sorghum purchased in the prior marketing year, much of which has shipped in the last few months.

The U.S. and China governments signed the Phase One trade deal in mid-January. After the terms took effect one month later, importers were able to obtain exclusions for corn and other agricultural products from retaliatory tariffs imposed on agricultural products in July 2018.

These exclusions made U.S. agricultural products more competitive in the Chinese market. Corn sales to China, however, are still restricted by a 7.2 million-ton (283 million-bushel) tariff rate quota (TRQ). The TRQ allocates 40 percent of corn imports to private end-users (2.88 million tons or 113.38 million bushels). The rest - 4.32 million tons or 170.07 million bushels - is reserved for state-owned enterprises.

“While there are rumors that China’s primary state-owned trading company was given additional import quota above the 7.2 million-ton TRQ for corn this year, it is not entirely clear that is the case,” Lohmar said. “The quota is allocated according to calendar year (January to December) while U.S. sales are reported by marketing year (September to August), causing disconnects about allocation of the TRQ.

“Private TRQ holders this year and past years have filled their quotas, indicating strong demand and price competitiveness for imported feed grains in the China market. We don’t know how much of the 2020/2021 marketing year purchases will be shipped before December, meaning they would be applied to the 2020 TRQ. It is likely, however, that there will be shipments before the end of the year, indicating that additional corn TRQ was allocated this year.”

Despite these restrictions, supply and demand factors within China point to continued purchasing of corn and sorghum. For example, China built up large reserves of domestically grown corn from the 2012 to 2015 crop years to help support prices during that time period. China has sold corn from these reserves each summer since 2016, meaning they currently have less locally grown corn to supply to the domestic market.

“With large portions of the corn temporary reserves sold, it seems there is additional demand for imports,” Lohmar said. “Those imports will likely be corn because global exportable supplies of alternative grains are limited. But we expect U.S. sorghum to also fill these demand needs.”

Further supporting continued purchases are Chinese domestic corn prices, which have rallied much of the year despite robust sales of corn from the reserves over the summer. In northeast China, corn prices rose nearly 30 percent between December and mid-August and more than 20 percent in south China over the same period, opening a wide margin for imported corn. These prices have softened some in recent weeks under pressure from corn from reserve sales moving into the market and large imports on the books, but still well above levels seen last fall.

“China has been a major importer of feed grains over the last several years,” Lohmar said. “Corn imports have been restricted by the TRQ, meaning these imports have been sorghum, barley and other feeds that can be used in lieu of corn. But with dwindling supplies in the temporary reserves and high domestic prices, supply and demand factors indicate more imports of corn and sorghum will likely occur.”

USDA Seeks Input on Ready-to-Go Technologies and Practices for Agriculture Innovation Agenda

To further the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) work on the Agriculture Innovation Agenda (AIA), USDA today announced it is seeking public- and private-sector input on the most innovative technologies and practices that can be readily deployed across U.S. agriculture.

USDA is looking for ready-to-go technologies and practices to achieve its goal of increasing agricultural production by 40% to meet global population needs in 2050 while cutting U.S. agriculture’s environmental footprint in half.

“Across America, we have seen significant advances in agricultural production efficiency and conservation performance during the past two decades,” said Under Secretary Bill Northey, who leads USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation mission area. “We want to keep the momentum. As part of our Agriculture Innovation Agenda, USDA wants to continue helping farmers access new approaches.”

To help identify and accelerate adoption of ready-to-go innovations, USDA is currently accepting public comments and written stakeholder input through its Request for Information (RFI) through November 9, 2020, which is published on the Federal Register.

Input is welcome from the private sector, not for profits, farmers, forest sector, trade associations, commodity boards and others involved in the supply chain or development of widely applicable practices, management approaches or technologies.

A ready-to-go practice, technology or management approach includes those that are fully developed, have been field tested and have completed independent research trials.

Based on stakeholder input from the RFI, USDA will develop a comprehensive U.S. agriculture innovation technology strategy for our customer-facing programs.

USDA has launched a new AIA website where visitors can access information on the latest research and data, innovative conservation technologies offered via USDA programs, and other conservation resources. Visitors can also stay up to date on USDA’s accountability metrics and learn about the experiences of producers who share similar paths to success.

Background on USDA’s Agriculture Innovation Agenda:

The AIA is comprised of four main components. The first component is to develop a U.S. agriculture innovation strategy that aligns and synchronizes public- and private-sector research. The second component is to align the work of our customer-facing agencies and integrate innovative technologies and practices into USDA programs. The third component is to conduct a review of USDA productivity and conservation data. USDA already closely tracks data on yield, but on the environmental side, there’s some catching up to do. Finally, USDA has set benchmarks to improve accountability. These targets will help measure progress toward meeting future food, fiber, fuel, feed and climate demands. Some of the benchmarks include:
    Agricultural Productivity: Increase agricultural production by 40% by 2050 to do our part to meet estimated future demand.
    Forest Management: Build landscape resiliency by investing in active forest management and forest restoration through increased Shared Stewardship Agreements with states.
    Food loss and waste: Advance our work toward the goal of reducing food loss and waste by 50% in the United States by the year 2030.
    Carbon Sequestration and Greenhouse Gas: Enhance carbon sequestration through soil health and forestry, leverage the agricultural sector’s renewable energy benefits for the economy and capitalize on innovative technologies and practices to achieve net reduction of the agricultural sector’s current carbon footprint by 2050 without regulatory overreach.
    Water Quality: Reduce nutrient loss by 30% nationally by 2050.
    Renewable Energy: Increase the production of renewable energy feedstocks and set a goal to increase biofuel production efficiency and competitiveness to achieve market-driven blend rates of 15% of transportation fuels in 2030 and 30% of transportation fuels by 2050.

View the RFI on the Federal Register.  For more information about the Agriculture Innovation Agenda, please visit

Belchim USA’s TOUGH® 5EC Herbicide (Pyridate) Just Approved By EPA, Helping Corn Growers Achieve up to 100% Control of Broadleaf Weeds

Belchim Crop Protection USA (Belchim USA) is pleased to announce that TOUGH® 5EC Herbicide, a fast-acting, selective contact herbicide, is now approved by the EPA for post-emergence broadleaf weed control in corn, mint and chickpeas. With flexible application timing, TOUGH 5EC is most effective when used as part of an Integrated Weed Management Program. TOUGH 5EC is especially successful in controlling pigweeds, such as palmer amaranth, common waterhemp, kochia, common lambsquarters, black nightshade and marestail, including herbicide-resistant strains.

The long-awaited solution to combat herbicide-resistant weeds has come in the form of TOUGH 5EC’s active ingredient, pyridate, a proven chemistry that had been overlooked for years, but was recently brought back to the United States by Belchim USA. “We heard the concerns of growers across the United States, plagued by resistant and tough-to-kill weeds,” says Tom Wood GM for Belchim USA. “TOUGH 5EC helps those growers achieve up to 100% control of broadleaf weeds, increasing the quality and yield of their crops. We’re thrilled to offer a solution that brings peace of mind and revenue back to hardworking growers.”

Pyridate works by blocking a weed’s photosystem II process and triggers the release of toxic forms of oxygen causing rapid cell wall degradation. According to Dennis Long, National Technical Service and Development Manager for Belchim USA, “There are multiple combinations for use of TOUGH 5EC, whether producing a synergistic effect with HPPDs in corn, or as a desperately needed post-emergent solution in mint and chickpeas. Field trials have shown that pyridate’s mode of action increases weed control in herbicide-resistant weed populations by up to 30%, often achieving the 100% goal, and making this a vital tool for growers.”

In corn, growers continue to see increases in crop loss due to “superweeds” like palmer amaranth and common waterhemp that have shown resistance up to 7 herbicide classes - which include commonly-used herbicides like glyphosate and mesotrione. However, field trials at multiple universities have shown promising results when TOUGH 5EC is added to existing tank mix programs. Dr. Prashant Jha, an Associate Professor and Extension Weed Specialist of Iowa State University, indicated that a tank mix of pyridate, mesotrione and glyphosate applied to glyphosate and HPPD-resistant common waterhemp resulted in 95% weed control, just nine days after application. According to Dr. Jha, “With glyphosate, mesotrione, atrazine, plus TOUGH 5EC in the tank mix, we are seeing 95-100% control, so the growers would love to have TOUGH 5EC in their toolbox.”

TOUGH 5EC is also an extremely valuable post-emergent broadleaf herbicide to the mint industry. “To date, mint growers have not had an effective solution for resistant weeds and, in particular, there has been a lack of options for any post-emergence control products,” says Steve Salisbury, Mint Industry Research Council (MIRC) Research and Regulatory Coordinator. “Our growers are excited to have TOUGH 5EC at their disposal. Pyridate provides both effectiveness and crop safety that is urgently needed for the sustainability of the US mint industry.”

Wednesday September 9 Ag News

 Nebraska Beef Council September zoom meeting

The Nebraska Beef Council Board of Directors will have a zoom meeting at the NBC office in Kearney, NE, located at 1319 Central Ave. on Monday September 21st, 2020 beginning at 12:00 p.m. CDT. The NBC Board of Directors will review a draft of the FY 2020-2021 Marketing Plan. For more information, please contact Pam Esslinger at  


Did you know the theme for National Farm Safety and Health Week 2020 is “Every Farmer Counts”?
Did you know the third week of September has been recognized as National Farm Safety and Health Week since Franklin D. Roosevelt started the proclamation in 1944?

National Farm Safety & Health Week is September 20-26, 2020. Fall harvest time can be one of the busiest and most dangerous seasons for those in the ag industry. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Haskell Ag Lab is partnering with Nebraska Extension, Nebraska Public Power, University of Nebraska Medical Center, and the Progressive Agriculture Foundation to provide farm safety programs virtually during this week. These programs are free and open to the public. The schedule and information:

Monday, September 21 – Learn about ATV Safety all day (video link here):

Tuesday, September 22 – Noon - Learn about General Harvest and Farm Safety in a live Zoom by Ellen Duysen with the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Please register at:

Wednesday, September 23 – This is officially Youth Safety Day. Progressive Agriculture Foundation will provide a program with 10-12 safety topics for youth. The same program will be offered twice, from 9-11 AM and again from Noon-2 PM.
Registration Link for 9-11 AM CT event:
Registration Link for Noon-2 pm CT event:

Thursday, September 24 – Noon - Learn how Sleep Deprivation can impact harvest and farm safety in a presentation by Susan Harris, Nebraska Extension Educator. This will be a live Zoom. The Zoom link is: Passcode: 383451

Friday, September 25 – An Electrical Safety video by Nebraska Public Power District will be available.
Please join in any or all of these harvest and farm safety programs to learn or as a good reminder.

Zoom is free and easy to use. Not familiar with Zoom? This Zoom tutorial gives you tips on how to use Zoom for conferences and meetings.

For more information, contact Mary Jarvi at or call 402-584-2261 for more information. To register for any of these programs or for more information visit or our Facebook page at for any updates.

NE Extension & CFRA Host Beekeeping Webinar

Are you curious about honey bees? Do you want to know what it takes to get into beekeeping? Learn about the role and importance of bees in food production, and how they help shape our natural landscapes and support other wildlife during a webinar hosted by Nebraska Extension and the Center for Rural Affairs.  Learn about healthy pollinator communities, the beekeeping industry, and beekeeping as a farm business.

After this class, you will have a better understanding of:
• What it takes to become a beekeeper, including time and labor;
• The role of beekeepers in farming systems;
• How to get started in beekeeping, including costs and resources;
• How to manage bees as a business; and
• Assets available for additional beekeeping training.

Beekeeping offers:
• Flexible hobby and/or business opportunities,
• Community and family engagement,
• Physical and intellectual activity,
• Connections to nature, and
• Further understanding of natural systems.

The webinar will be held on Thursday evening, September 24th, from 6pm to 8pm.  Webinar link will be provided once you register.  To register contact Kristin at, or register with the Butler County Extension office at 402-367-7410 or email  

Ethanol Coalition Welcomes Reports of ‘Gap-Year’ Waiver Petition Denials, Denounces Refiners’ Supreme Court Petition

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), National Farmers Union (NFU) and American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) today welcomed news reports that President Trump has directed the Environmental Protection Agency to reject dozens of so-called “gap year” small refinery exemption petitions intended to circumvent the Tenth Circuit Court’s decision in RFA et al. v. EPA.
Meanwhile, the groups denounced CVR Refining and HollyFrontier Corporation’s last-minute request, filed late on September 4, for the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Tenth Circuit Court’s ruling. The decision in question overturned three improperly granted small refinery exemptions under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
RFA, NCGA, NFU and ACE were the four petitioners in the successful Tenth Circuit Court case, in which a panel of judges unanimously found EPA abused its authority by granting small refinery exemptions to CVR Refining and HollyFrontier that were not extensions of previously existing exemptions. In the wake of the decision, small refineries flooded EPA with 67 petitions for retroactive waivers—some dating back as far as 2011—in an attempt to establish a chain of continuously “extended” exemptions.

The four organizations offered the following statement in response to these developments:
“We are encouraged by reports that President Trump has called upon EPA to reject these absurd gap-year waiver petitions out of hand. If the reports are accurate, it is our hope that EPA swiftly acts upon the President’s directive and closes the door once and for all on the refiners’ brazen attempt to rewrite history.

“At the same time, we are disappointed, but not surprised, by the refiners’ eleventh-hour petition to the Supreme Court to review the Tenth Circuit decision. In April, these same refiners asked the Tenth Circuit to re-hear the case, and the court swiftly and unanimously denied that request, and the Supreme Court should do the same. The decision does not warrant any further review or consideration. It is well-reasoned and based on a plain reading of the Clean Air Act, which clearly intended small refinery exemptions to be temporary and used only as a ‘bridge to compliance’ for certain eligible small refineries. Additionally, there are no conflicting decisions in other federal courts of appeal.
“It is also telling that EPA—the defendant in the original litigation—did not request a re-hearing in the Tenth Circuit, nor did it join the refiners’ Supreme Court appeal on any aspect of the decision. Now, more than ever, our nation’s farmers and ethanol producers are counting on the RFS to provide market stability and certainty during an incredibly difficult and tumultuous time.”

Ethanol industry award winners to be recognized during next week’s virtual FEW

The International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo (FEW) will recognize and celebrate the recipients of its marquee annual awards during the event’s virtual general session next week.

The award winners, announced by Ethanol Producer Magazine last month, are Doug Tiffany (Award of Excellence recipient) and Doug Durante (High-Octane Award recipient). Each will give an acceptance speech during the FEW’s opening session Wednesday, September 16. The 2020 FEW is taking place September 15-17 in conjunction with the American Coalition for Ethanol’s Annual Conference. Both events are happening in a 100% virtual environment. Producer registration has been robust with nearly 400 biofuels producers signed up to participate.

Tiffany is the 18th recipient of the Award of Excellence, which recognizes professionals who have made meaningful contributions to the ethanol industry through research or technical advisory. The production economist has dedicated significant portions of his academic life to techno-economic analyses related to ethanol production. As a research fellow within the University of Minnesota’s Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, Tiffany has worked on an array of ethanol-related projects ranging from biomass power, cogeneration and coproduct innovation to feedstocks, grain shipping patterns and new products. “I’ve been fortunate to have so many wonderful, talented people to collaborate with,” he said, adding that ethanol has been an enjoyable recurring focus of his work. “I’ve been lucky to have worked in so many different areas—biofuels, wind and more—but ethanol plants have been especially fascinating to me because of the technologies they apply and the evolving value-added products they offer.”

Durante said he was genuinely surprised and honored to be named the 17th recipient of the High-Octane Award, which celebrates passionate ethanol champions, educators and advocates. Durante is the founder and executive director of the Clean Fuels Development Coalition. In addition to producing the Ethanol Across America campaign, The Ethanol Fact Book, The Ethanol Minute radio program and more, he has been involved in almost every federal ethanol policy development over the past 40 years, from the trailblazing work of the National Alcohol Fuels Commission in the early ’80s, to the 1990 Clean Air Act and the Renewable Fuel Standards of both 2005 and 2007. “It’s surreal, looking back,” Durante said. “It’s hard to believe how long it’s been, and how far we’ve come.” He added, “There are so many people I’d like to thank.”

Tom Bryan, president of BBI International, the event organizer, congratulated both award recipients and thanked all those who participated in this year’s selection process. “The Award of Excellence and the High-Octane Award are among the most prestigious accolades in ethanol,” he said. “Not only are our award winners nominated by their peers, but ultimately chosen by them. It’s a prestigious group that I’m excited to say Doug Durante and Doug Tiffany are now a part of.”

The market demands more demand

CAB Feeding Quality Forum

Even without a worldwide pandemic, economic shutdowns and disruptions in food processing, Dan Basse would have covered demand drivers at the 15th annual Feeding Quality Forum.

The president of Chicago-based AgResource Company had charts to back up his point: "Going back maybe to the Civil War, it’s those demand drivers that give opportunity to the market." Basse kicked off the on-line forum hosted by the Certified Angus Beef ® brand last month.

Grain markets typically lead market direction. Supply is no problem, with a 2.7% increase in global grain yields in the last decade compared to the previous.

"There’s been $87 billion spent looking for technology for farmers to help produce more—more beef, more pork, more grain," Basse said. "I would really like to get agriculture behind a platform that we think about not only spending on ways to help us farmers produce more, but help consumers consume more, because as the end of the day, that will be the key to terms of our profitability."

This year, however, those demand drivers are even more lackluster than anyone could have predicted at the start of 2020.

More than 3 million small businesses have shut down since COVID-19 came to the U.S. and that could reach 6 to 8 million by the end of the year.

"It’s the heart of the U.S. agricultural and economic outlook," he said. Last year was the first time more Americans—51% of them—spent most of their food dollar outside the home, "so it’s a big change to have that [food service] industry crippled as it is," he said.

Restaurants are operating at about 40% of normal, and it could be a year or more before they’re back to 100%, Basse said, noting the development of a vaccine or a strong therapeutic seems to be the key.

"The food service industry has been very important to the U.S. cattle industry. We’re still believing that it will struggle until we get to next spring," he said. "I wish I could be more bullish in the cattle market."

Trade is not in the domestic beef industry’s favor either, as the U.S. has been importing more food than it’s been exporting the last four months. Beef industry exports are down 15.2%.

"To really get health in the agricultural economy, we need to start the export market kicking off a little more robustly. We need to see high-value goods leaving this country to other nations," Basse said. "Principally beef, meats and some of the DDGs and ethanol products we now produce."

He suggested Live Cattle futures are overvalued, and cattlemen should consider hedging at $112 to $114 during the last quarter of 2020, and at $116 to $118 into the first part of 2021.

"There is some risk in feed prices based on the late-season dryness, Chinese demand and things of that nature, but also based on the broad commodity markets, which are starting to turn around here just a little bit," Basse said. Following the Midwest derecho storm, AgResource predicted yields to slip from record highs, down to around 179 bushels/acre, which is still nearly "on trend."

Yet, he expects the lows to come later this fall.

"Don’t get bullish and chase this market as a feed user today. Step back and allow the market to come to you in October and November," he advised.

Economic wild cards include political outcomes and continued stimulus measures.

"Never before did I think we’d see a U.S. debt level for government at $26.8 trillion and still growing," Basse said. "These debt levels are something that I believe will be a drag on the U.S. in the world economy for many, many years to come."

Growth across the globe has slowed, too, but India and China are still expected to become the No. 1 and 2 largest economies, overtaking the U.S. by 2025 or 2026.

Government support plays a big role in overall farm income, accounting for 40% to 45% of net farm revenue this year.

"That is something I never thought I would see in my career," said the 41-year veteran.

Net farm income is down 47% from 2012, and has been flat for a number of years.

Basse looks each morning for signs of everything from new export demand to product innovations. "We need to see a new demand driver for you to get this all changed around," he said.

Feeding Quality Forum sponsors include Diamond V, Feed-Lot Magazine, Micronutrients, Zoetis and AngusLink. For more information or to watch full presentations, visit

Smithfield Foods to Become Carbon Negative by 2030

Smithfield Foods, Inc. has become the first major protein company to commit to becoming carbon negative in all company-owned operations in the United States by 2030. A leader in sustainability for more than two decades, the company will go beyond carbon neutrality to effectively remove more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits. It will achieve this goal without purchasing carbon credits to offset emissions.

"As the world grapples with environmental challenges impacting our planet, consumers are looking to companies to take deliberate, bold action to address issues such as climate change," said Kenneth M. Sullivan, president and chief executive officer, Smithfield Foods. "The world is at an inflection point. To feed a growing world population, with finite resources available to grow and produce the food we need, we must limit our environmental impact. At Smithfield, we are utilizing our expansive reach to lead efforts to eliminate our carbon footprint in our company-owned operations and remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere."

This announcement builds on Smithfield's ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 25% by 2025 across its entire supply chain, which it announced in 2016. Like today's goal, this previous commitment was the first from a major protein company, establishing a far-reaching GHG reduction goal across its entire supply chain.

The following year, the company launched Smithfield Renewables, a platform to unite its carbon reduction and renewable energy efforts. To become carbon negative in its U.S. company-owned operations, Smithfield will tap the resources and expertise of a wide range of partners to accelerate projects within its Smithfield Renewables program, while continuing to drive progress toward its '25 by 25' goal across its scope 1-3 emissions.

Smithfield and its partners are implementing RNG projects across the majority of company-owned finishing spaces in North Carolina, Utah, Virginia and Missouri, as well as other states.

Trump, Biden Outline Agricultural Priorities

A new look into the priorities for rural America of President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden is revealed in responses to a questionnaire distributed by the American Farm Bureau Federation. AFBF asked the Republican and Democratic candidates to respond with their stances on several topics directly affecting America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities, including trade, labor, regulatory reform and sustainability.

“The views of Farm Bureau members are as diverse as the food that is grown in this country, but we share the same goal of choosing leadership that will help America thrive,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “We are at a crucial time for agriculture as we navigate the challenges of a global pandemic, trade wars and depressed markets. It is important for our members to understand where the presidential candidates stand on issues important to rural America.”

President Trump’s responses focus largely on his first-term accomplishments. He pledges a science-based approach to regulation going forward. He commits to addressing the “rural/urban divide” and emphasizes support for voluntary conservation programs.

Former Vice President Biden’s responses focus heavily on environmental sustainability and improving prosperity in rural communities. He, too, pledges to rely on experts and scientists when it comes to policies and regulation. He commits to “rebuilding the middle class” and working with farmers to achieve net-zero emissions.

The questionnaire includes 12 questions. In addition to the topics listed above, it covers food system resiliency post-pandemic, rural life and health, biotechnology, clean water, the Endangered Species Act, energy, taxes and farm policy programs.

The answers are presented as they were received, unedited, to give members an unfiltered look at each candidate’s platform. AFBF has invited candidates from both parties to respond to election questionnaires for more than 40 years. The survey is available now on

300 Diverse Advocacy Groups Endorse the Farm System Reform Act and Urge Quick Passage in Congress

Today about 300 local, state and national advocacy organizations sent a letter to Congress urging passage of the Farm System Reform Act (S.3221/HR.6718), introduced by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA). As COVID-19 exposes the exploitation and injustice in the food system, the letter recognizes that “this visionary legislation meets the scale of action necessary to transform our farming and food system in a timeline that reflects the urgency of its problems.” The letter was facilitated by the national advocacy organization Food & Water Action, and signed by groups including Family Farm Action, Waterkeeper Alliance, Johns Hopkins Center For A Livable Future and ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).

Among other things, the Farm System Reform Act would halt the establishment of new factory farm operations (otherwise known as concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs) and prohibit the expansion of existing ones. It would also provide a $100 billion voluntary buyout program for contract farmers who wish to transition away from the factory farm system.

“The factory farm agricultural model, which dominates our country’s food system, fuels toxic air and water contamination, drives dangerous and unfair working conditions, wreaks havoc on independent farmers and rural communities, and threatens food safety,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, the organizer of the letter. “The Farm System Reform Act is the bold approach we need to bring dangerous factory farming under control now, and begin the necessary transformation to a safe and equitable future for food consumers and workers alike.”

“Our independent family farmers and ranchers are continuing to be squeezed by large, multinational corporations that, because of their buying power and size, run roughshod over the marketplace. We need to fix the broken system – that means protecting family farmers and ranchers and holding corporate integrators responsible for the harm they are causing,” said Senator Cory Booker. “Large factory farms are harmful to rural communities, public health, and the environment and we must immediately begin to transition to a more sustainable and humane system.”

"The Farm System Reform Act will ensure that huge corporations no longer have a stranglehold on our food supply,” said Representative Ro Khanna. “It's important for our farmers, the economy, the environment, and animal welfare. I'm proud to see the growing coalition of groups organizing to support the bill."

As the letter points out,  “...The U.S. food system is dominated by factory farms that confine tens of thousands of animals in cramped, unsanitary conditions; these conditions place the safety of our food at risk, pollute our air and water, harm the welfare of animals and workers, extract wealth from rural communities, increase the risk of antibiotic resistant bacteria and increase corporate control of our food.”

This legislation will revitalize independent family farm agriculture and rural communities by:
    Placing a moratorium on new and expanding large factory farms
    Phasing out existing large factory farms by 2040
    Holding corporate integrators responsible for harm caused by factory farms
    Providing a $100 billion voluntary buyout program for contract farmers who want to transition away from factory farms
    Strengthening the Packers & Stockyards Act to protect family farmers and ranchers
    Restoring mandatory Country of Origin Labeling for meat, and including dairy products
    Prohibiting USDA from labeling foreign imported meat products as “Product of USA”

"The Farm System Reform Act will rein in multinational agribusiness control over livestock production,” said Jake Davis, Senior Policy Advisor for Family Farm Action. “The factory farm model is designed to bolster these corporations' bottom line while extracting wealth from family farmers and rural communities, and that has to stop. We are proud to join such a broad coalition of supporters calling for change in our broken food system."   

“Nearly 10 billion animals are raised on U.S. factory farms every year, crowded together in intensive, cruel confinement and unable to carry out even the most basic natural behaviors. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the cruelty of industrial animal agriculture, fueling an urgent need to build a more humane and resilient food system that values animals, people, and our planet,” said Daisy Freund, vice president of Farm Animal Welfare for the ASPCA. “The Farm System Reform Act offers a roadmap for moving away from destructive, confinement-based animal agriculture toward higher-welfare farming practices and sustainable crop production. We are grateful to Senator Booker and Representative Khanna for their leadership on this legislation, and we are proud to support this bold vision for a more compassionate food system, free of factory farming.”

“The provisions of this bill, including the $100 billion voluntary buyout program for contract farmers who want to transition away from industrial animal agriculture, would protect watersheds around the country,” said Waterkeeper Alliance Executive Director Marc Yaggi. “That’s one of the reasons more than 50 Waterkeeper groups in the U.S. endorsed this bill. It will provide real — and necessary — improvements to waterways that have been impacted by pathogens, excess nutrients, and harmful algal blooms for far too long."   

The sign-on letter calls for passage of the Farm System Reform Act and a ban on factory farms in order to benefit independent farms, rural communities, food safety, our air and water, and the welfare of animals. It is signed by over 250 organizations including those mentioned above and  Family Farm Defenders, Food Chain Workers Alliance, HEAL (Health, Environment, Agriculture, Labor) Food Alliance, Contract Poultry Growers Association of the Virginias, Friends of Family Farmers, Pennsylvania Farmers Union, Indiana Farmers Union, and Women, Food and Agriculture Network (WFAN).

 National Black Farmers' Association President John Boyd Calls for Boycott of John Deere

John Deere, the world's leading manufacturer of farm equipment, takes pride in its corporate values of "integrity, quality, commitment, innovation." But the nearly 200-year-old American industrial giant apparently cares little for equality and inclusiveness.

Year after year the National Black Farmers' Association (NBFA) has invited the Deere company to display its equipment at the NBFA's annual conference. Repeatedly John Deere executives have curtly declined the invitation.

"John Deere has shown throughout its history that it has little respect for black farmers. The company seems to view our invitations as a nuisance," said NBFA president John Boyd. "I have reached out to Mr. John May, President of John Deere, numerous times to discuss the issues raised by the NBFA. Mr. May's response is 'I decline your invitation,'" which is unacceptable.

With 116,000 members in 42 states, the NBFA represents a substantial customer base for John Deere. Many farmers would relish the opportunity to see firsthand the new and emerging farm technology that is developed to enhance their performance and productivity. But the company continues to participate at predominantly white farm shows and events while snubbing the black farmers' events. Deere has never displayed any of its equipment--not even a lawn mower. John Deere denies black farmers the respect and dignity they deserve, reflecting the level of disdain that is still widely prevalent in agricultural industries.

Since the racial unrest spurred by the merciless killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police on Memorial Day and the shooting of Jason Blake in Wisconsin last month, many sectors of American society have recently taken actions to address the shameful racial disparities in treatment and opportunities that plague people of color. Needed change seems to be rising, especially in this year of the nation's racial reckoning, when protests have roiled cities and towns. But not at John Deere.

The National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) members deserve the very same treatment as the Farm Bureau, whose members enjoy discounts on John Deere purchases. "Service call inquiries to John Deere equipment from black farmers is much slower than their white counterparts," said Boyd. "We buy tractors and John Deere parts as well. We deserve to be treated with dignity and respect not as a nuisance."

"We announce a boycott of John Deere. We are asking all NBFA members to stop buying John Deere tractors, implements, mowers and parts," Boyd said. "We are now open to new relationships with companies who value the work of NBFA members."

New Holland Launches Connected Solutions for Farm Progress Virtual Experience

New Holland knows beef. In the 1950s, the brand promoted its “Eat More Beef,” message throughout North America and has been dedicated to supporting beef producers by providing industry-leading hay and forage solutions ever since.

“North American beef producers are among the most efficient and productive in the world. New Holland matches the effectiveness of the cattlemen and women with robust equipment solutions,” said Brett Davis, Vice President for New Holland Agriculture North America. “New Holland equipment provides the best hay and forage equipment for the best-tasting beef products.”

New Holland affirms its commitment to the North American beef industry through longstanding partnerships with United States National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association in Canada. Both organizations provide cattle producers with the most up-to-date resources to maximize production and advocate on the industry and members’ behalf to federal governments. New Holland supports these efforts and offers retail incentives to members of each organization, so they may improve their operation’s efficiency and improve hay and feed quality.

“NCBA and its members truly appreciate the partnership we have with New Holland. Advocating for the beef industry in the United States and abroad is an enormous task and we couldn’t do it effectively without great long-term partners like New Holland,” said NCBA President Marty Smith, a Florida cattle producer. “Cattle producers across the United States rely on us to protect their operations and ensure the sustainability of their operations for the next generation; New Holland understands the importance of NCBA’s mission, and we appreciate all that they do for cattle producers.”

CCA invests in the next generation of cattle producers and industry leaders by providing professional and personal growth opportunities. New Holland’s sponsorship is earmarked for CCA’s two youth programs: The Cattlemen’s Young Leaders Mentorship Program and the Young Cattlemen’s Council.

“We are proud to have New Holland as a strong supporter of the next generation of leaders for our industry through the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders Mentorship Program and the Young Cattlemen’s Council,” said Bob Lowe, President of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. “We look forward to seeing the results of this continued partnership in equipping our up and coming young leaders with the skills they need further the Canadian beef industry.”

Similarly, Matt Hagan, who owns and operates a 1,100-head angus cattle ranch in Virginia, as well as a 60-acre CBD hemp farm with his wife Rachel, brings the unique perspective of the operator to New Holland’s efforts to support the North American beef industry.

“I’m a first-generation farmer, so having the support of my New Holland dealer has helped me grow my cattle operation more than I imagined,” said Matt Hagan. “As we’re diversifying the farm, it’s also given me an opportunity to share what I’ve learned with my fans and customers.”

The Hagan Cattle Company is committed to providing the highest-quality beef to its customers across the United States. To keep their farm and ranch running smoothly, the Hagans rely on New Holland tractors and haytools. Thanks to Matt’s success in his career as a funny car driver, he has amassed over 30,000 followers on Instagram, where he regularly updates his fan base with activity on the ranch and advocates for the beef industry.

Hagan is a member of the Don Schumacher Race Team and will display the New Holland logo on his car through the 2021 season.

Tuesday September 8 Ag News


For the week ending September 6, 2020, there were 6.8 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 34% very short, 39% short, 26% adequate, and 1% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 30% very short, 37% short, 32% adequate, and 1% surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn condition rated 6% very poor, 10% poor, 22% fair, 41% good, and 21% excellent. Corn dented was 84%, ahead of 65% last year and 75% for the five-year average. Mature was 27%, well ahead of 7% last year, and ahead of 12% average. Harvested was 1%.

Soybean condition rated 5% very poor, 10% poor, 22% fair, 45% good, and 18% excellent. Soybeans dropping leaves was 37%, well ahead of 5% last year and 17% average. Harvested was 1%.

Winter wheat planted was 2%, near 3% last year and 4% average.

Sorghum condition rated 5% very poor, 9% poor, 29% fair, 31% good, and 26% excellent. Sorghum coloring was 78%, well ahead of 50% last year, and ahead of 73% average. Mature was 12%, ahead of 1% last year, and near 8% average.

Dry edible bean condition rated 1% very poor, 1% poor, 14% fair, 66% good, and 18% excellent. Dry edible beans setting pods was 95%. Dropping leaves was 45%, well ahead of 25% last year. Harvested was 25%.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 23% very poor, 26% poor, 26% fair, 22% good, and 3% excellent.


In spite of some locally heavy rain, Iowa farmers had 6.4 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending September 6, 2020, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Although drought conditions continue to be a concern for most of the State, some areas of northeast and east central Iowa received over an inch of rain during the week. Field activities included harvesting hay, chopping corn silage and harvesting seed corn. There were reports of high moisture corn and a few soybean fields harvested.

Topsoil moisture condition rated 38% very short, 42% short, 20% adequate and 0% surplus. Subsoil moisture condition rated 38% very short, 41% short, 21% adequate and 0% surplus. The State’s topsoil and subsoil moisture conditions continue to be over three-quarters short to very short.

Corn was 84% in or beyond dent stage, 18 days ahead of the previous year and 1 week ahead of the 5-year average. Over one-quarter of the crop was mature, almost 3 weeks ahead of last year and just over 1 week ahead of average. Corn condition rated 43% good to excellent, a drop of 2 percentage points from the previous week.

Soybeans coloring or beyond advanced to 58%. That is 2 weeks ahead of last year and 1 week ahead of average. Soybeans dropping leaves reached 19% this week, two weeks ahead of last year and 1 week ahead of average. This is the highest percentage dropping leaves by September 6 since 2005. Soybean condition fell again this week with the crop now rated 47% good to excellent, the lowest level so far this season.

Alfalfa hay third cutting was 93% complete, over a month ahead of last year and 2 weeks ahead of the 5-year average.

Pasture condition fell 4 percentage points this week to just 12% good to excellent. Over half of Iowa’s pastures are in poor to very poor condition. Cattlemen continue supplemental feeding of hay due to deteriorating pasture conditions.

USDA Weekly Crop Progress Report:  Corn, Soybean Conditions Continue to Fall

U.S. corn and soybean ratings fell again last week, according to the USDA NASS weekly Crop Progress report released on Tuesday.

NASS estimated that 61% of the nation's corn crop was in good-to-excellent condition as of Sunday, Sept. 6, down 1 percentage point from 62% the previous week. The crop's current good-to-excellent rating is still tied for the fifth highest in the past 10 years.

The report claimed 97% of corn was in the dough stage as of Sunday, 3 percentage points ahead of the five-year average. Seventy-nine percent of the crop was dented, 8 percentage points ahead of the average. Corn mature was estimated at 25%, 6 percentage points ahead of the five-year average.

Like corn, soybean conditions also declined again last week. NASS estimated that 65% of the nation's soybean crop was in good-to-excellent condition as of Sept. 6, also down 1 percentage point from the previous week. The crop's current good-to-excellent rating is the fourth highest in 10 years. Soybeans dropping leaves was estimated at 20%, 4 percentage points ahead of five-year average.

Spring wheat harvest continued to make steady progress last week, moving ahead another 13 percentage points to reach 82% complete as of Sunday, now bringing it within 5 percentage points of the five-year average.

AFAN celebrates Lincoln Premium Poultry’s one-year anniversary

The Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN) is celebrating Lincoln Premium Poultry’s first year of success in their Fremont, Nebraska plant! LPP has shown resilience and grit through first year hiccups and a worldwide pandemic. On August 31st everything paid off as they finally reached their goal of operating at full capacity.  “In the past year, our team members have worked through a year-long ramp up, kinks being worked out in equipment, a steep learning curve, and a global pandemic! They have continued to show up and get the job done each and every day.  They are an inspiring group and we couldn’t be more proud of them.” Said Jessica Kolterman, Director of Administration at LPP.

Lincoln Premium Poultry continues to share their success with the community of Fremont, Nebraska. Despite whatever challenges arise in the community, LPP is always willing to step up and help. Mayor Scott Getzschman praises LPP for their partnership in the community. “As we approach the first anniversary of Lincoln Premium Poultry/ Costco, Fremont continues to be blessed to have such a wonderful partner. Their team has worked extremely hard to ensure they are meeting and exceeding all the guidance that was discussed during the planning process for this project, they are active in community activities, and they are very Philanthropic when it comes to giving.   We look forward to our continued partnership and their success for many years to come.”

But the success of Lincoln Premium Poultry does not begin and end in the town of Fremont. Springbank Poultry in Allen, near Wakefield in northeast Nebraska is a prime example. Hannah Borg, whose family added a poultry operation, says it has given her the opportunity, as the sixth generation, to return to the family farm for her career. “My parents decided to expand and diversify our crop/ cattle farm operation by building barns for Lincoln Premium Poultry,” she said. "Starting any new business is hard but starting a new business with no existing knowledge is even harder. My mom and I had never stepped foot into a chicken barn before the day we got our first batch of chickens so every aspect of raising chickens was brand new to us. Everything that we do on a daily basis had to be learned. It took us awhile but now we are confident in our abilities to be successful pullet growers. We are proud to be a part of growing chickens for Costco.”

“At AFAN we are constantly working to add value to Nebraska agriculture through projects like Lincoln Premium Poultry. However, these projects become much more rewarding when we can bring generations back to family farms such as the Borg operation,” says Steve Martin, executive director of AFAN. AFAN was an integral part of recruiting this project to the state, helping site barns, attending zoning hearings in support of growers and seeing it to completion. AFAN provides free one-on-one service to anyone interested in expanding or adding livestock to current operations.

Steve Martin commented “We are so excited to celebrate with LPP as they commemorate their first year of business and the exciting news that they were able to reach one hundred percent of internal operations this last week.” Lincoln Premium Poultry will be able to provide Costco with approximately 2 million chickens each week! LPP, in conjunction with their community in Nebraska, are truly doing their part in feeding a small portion of our growing world.

CASNR graduates second-largest class in history

One in four jobs is connected to the agricultural and natural resources industry in Nebraska. Agriculture is not only important to the state of Nebraska, but also to the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The agricultural and food sectors hold more than 21 million jobs, and that number continues to rise annually.  

CASNR serves as a hub for preparing students to lead the talented workforce of their generation by attracting change-makers and future leaders to earn their education in Nebraska. The college recently graduated its second-largest class in history, with only two fewer graduates than the largest class.

“The college is committed to ensuring a talented workforce for the state of Nebraska and that starts by helping our students discover their unique strengths and talents,” said CASNR Dean Tiffany Heng-Moss.  

“To guide them on this exploration, we foster an inclusive environment that empowers students to co-create their learning experiences in a manner that will prepare them for a career that aligns with their passion.”

To learn more about the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, visit  

2020 Fall District Meetings Schedules and Invitations

It is time for the NeFU Fall District Meetings.

Thanks, or no thanks to COVID-19, Farmers Union at the national and state level has transitioned all summer and fall in-person meetings to virtual events. Our summer NFU committee and board meetings were held by Zoom or conference call, as are our fall NFU committee and board meetings this week.  Next week, our annual Fall Fly-In will also be held virtually.

In an abundance of caution for the health and safety of our members, our NeFU Fall District Meetings will all be held by conference call.

As of now, the plan is to make our December 4-5 State Convention a Zoom event.  As you do your county meetings, and elect Delegates and Alternates, you will need to keep that in mind.

If you cannot make your District meeting, feel free to visit a neighboring District meeting. All meeting materials will be emailed out to members on our list serve. If you want to attend and want the materials, you can also call the state office at 402-476-8815. Or, the meeting materials will be available on our website at:

The conference call information for all District meetings is: (425) 436-6383. The Access code is 261790#.

District 4                     7:00 pm           Tuesday, September 15
District 6                    7:00 pm          Thursday, September 17
District 7                    7:00 pm          Monday, September 21
District 2                    7:00 pm          Tuesday, September 22
Districts 1 & 3            7:00 pm          Wednesday, September 23
District 5                    7:00 pm          Thursday, September 24

·         District’s 1 and 5 need to nominate candidates to serve on the NeFU Board of Directors. It is a 3 year term. Al Davis is the current District 1 Director and Ben Gotschall is the current District 5 Director.

·         All Districts need to nominate one or two candidates to run for NFU Convention delegates from Nebraska. The top three vote getters will be delegates and the next three vote getters will be alternates ranked by the order of votes they received.

·         President, Vice President, and Secretary District officers are elected at the Fall District meeting.

If you have questions or need information, call NE Farmers Union at (402) 476-8815.  

Online seminar to cover value of metaphylaxis in high health risk cattle

An upcoming virtual seminar from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will focus on the economic payoffs to matching cattle, season and type of antibiotics used for metaphylaxis on high risk cattle.

The seminar will be presented on Sept. 15, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., by Elliott Dennis, assistant professor of livestock marketing and risk management in the Department of Agricultural Economics.

Dennis will present research and analysis to assist producers and veterinarians in creating health management protocols that effectively target Bovine Respiratory Disease in high health risk cattle.

The seminar is free to attend, but registration is required at

Don’t risk abortions this winter: Double check your cow herd vitamin A supplementation plans

Mary Drewnoski, Nebraska Extension Beef Systems Specialist
Pasture mature and brown early due to drought?
If so, then don’t forget to make sure you are supplementing enough Vitamin A. Green grass has a lot of vitamin A. In fact, cows typically build up stores over the spring and summer, and those stores along with a little bit of extra supplementation, usually get them through the winter. The most common times that vitamin A deficiency start to pop up is in the winter after a summer drought. This is because brown grass and many stored forages are a poor source of vitamin A. In drought years, cows may have 8 plus months without enough dietary vitamin A to meet their needs, which can result in depleted body stores. Depleted stores can result in vitamin A deficiency symptoms, such as abortion/still births, poor breed up, diarrhea in calves and overall increases in calf sickness. Remember, for many spring calving cow/calf herds, calving occurs right at or before green grass is available, and thus at the time when cows have the lowest vitamin A status.  

How much vitamin A do you need to provide to cows?
The typical vitamin A requirement is suggested to be 42,000 IU/day for a 1300 lb non-lactating cow, and when lactating, her requirement increases to 59,000 IU/d. Therefore, if you are using a 4 oz free choice mineral, it would need to contain 168,000 IU/lb for a dry cow and 234,000 IU/lb for a lactating cow. If you are planning to use a 2 oz a day mineral, then the concentrations would have to be double those listed above. These concentrations in the mineral mix assume cows are eating the targeted amount of mineral. So, if you dilute your mineral with additional salt, don’t count the extra salt in to your intake targets.   You want to be sure the cows are eating the 4 or 2 oz of actual mineral mix per day.   Many free choice minerals are not formulated to fully supply the cow’s needs because they are made for cattle grazing green pasture. Remember green grass is a great source. In fact, it can provide over 10 times the suggested requirement, but in drought years this is likely not the case. If you use a vitamin fortified protein cube, pellet or feed mix, take the cow’s requirement and divide it by the number of pounds you are going to feed. For example, when fed at ½ lb/d the supplement would need to contain 84,000 IU/lb to meet a dry cow’s needs (42,000 IU/d ÷ 0.5 lb/d = concentration needed IU/lb).

Stored forages as vitamin A sources?
A big challenge with hay and silage is that the vitamin A content can be quite variable. It is worth noting that fresh green hay harvested before the plant has matured, can meet 80 to 90% of a dry cow’s vitamin A requirement. However, levels in hay can vary a lot depending on maturity at harvest, drying time, as well as storage time and method. The less mature and less exposure to the sun and moisture the better. Well managed corn silage, can also be a good source of vitamin A, containing about twice as much vitamin A as green hay.   However, like hay it can vary considerably. Some hays and silage, along with dormant range, and corn residue are practically devoid of vitamin A. Bottom-line, if the forage is brown or tan in color, don’t count on it to supply vitamin A. The amount of vitamin A in a drought year hay is another reason why there is an increased risk of vitamin A deficiency. The hay harvested during drought is often lower in vitamin A as plants can be dead or dormant at harvest. 

Why should you change from your normal winter vitamin A supplement plan after a drought?
If you look at what you provided last winter, it may be less than the suggestion above, and you may have gotten along just fine. The key is that the cows likely had good stores of vitamin A going into winter, due to their time spent grazing green pasture, and thus could use those stores along with what was in the diet to meet their needs. This year, cow liver stores going into winter in areas affected by drought, may not be as good, and may not be sufficient to meet the cow’s needs.   So, take a look at your supplement to see if it will meet your cow’s needs without depending on her to use body stores.  

USDA Designates 13 Iowa Counties as Primary Natural Disaster Areas

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue designated 13 Iowa counites as primary natural disaster areas. Producers in Adair, Audubon, Boone, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Crawford, Dallas, Greene, Guthrie, Sac, Shelby and Webster counties who suffered losses due to recent drought may be eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) emergency loans.

This natural disaster designation allows FSA to extend much-needed emergency credit to producers recovering from natural disasters. Emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs including the replacement of essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation or the refinance of certain debts.

Producers in the contiguous Iowa counties of Adams, Buena Vista, Cherokee, Hamilton, Harrison, Humboldt, Ida, Madison, Monona, Montgomery, Pocahontas, Polk, Pottawattamie, Story, Union, Warren, Woodbury and Wright are also eligible to apply for emergency loans.

The deadline to apply for these emergency loans is April 26, 2021.

FSA will review the loans based on the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.

FSA has a variety of additional programs to help farmers recover from the impacts of this disaster. FSA programs that do not require a disaster declaration include: Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program; Emergency Conservation Program; Livestock Forage Disaster Program; Livestock Indemnity Program; Operating and Farm Ownership Loans; and the Tree Assistance Program.

Farmers may contact their local USDA service center for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at

Farm Advocates & Plant Operators Press President Trump to Defend Biofuels

In a letter today, 93 farm organizations, biofuel stakeholders, and plant managers from across the country called on President Trump to “stand up against an urgent threat facing rural communities” and reject oil industry exemptions from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“Our communities are still working to rebuild America’s agricultural supply chain in the wake of COVID-19,” wrote the farm and biofuel supporters. “Recent storms that swept the Midwest, impacting millions of acres, only add greater urgency of the situation. The last thing we can afford is more needless uncertainty fueled by an endless battle with Washington bureaucrats.”

“We’ve seen too many plants shut down, too many jobs lost, and too many farmers deprived of vital markets,” they added.

The letter was offered in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ongoing consideration of nearly 100 refinery exemptions, including 67 retroactive ‘gap-year’ petitions designed to circumvent a court decision restoring integrity to the nation’s biofuel targets.

“America’s farmers and biofuel workers need to see the White House finally put an end to EPA’s demand destruction,” says Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “These so-called ‘gap-year’ exemptions represent a clear attempt to sidestep the law at the expense of rural communities. Every day the EPA does not act, the agency is injecting more uncertainty into the market and threatening the rural recovery.”

CFAP Sign Up Deadline is Friday

Farmers have until this Friday, September 11, to sign up for USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).

CFAP provides much-needed assistance to begin to help farmers and their customers recover from the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The $16 billion program is intended to support farmers and ranchers, maintain the integrity of the food supply chain, and ensure Americans continue to receive and have access to food. As of August 31, the program has provided $9.44 billion in direct payments to farmers, including corn farmers.

Corn farmers have been significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. NCGA analysis projects an $89 per acre average revenue decline for 2020, compared to pre-COVID-19 projections.

Farmers who have yet to sign up can visit to apply or can call the Farm Service Agency office at their local USDA Service Center.

Details regarding the second round of CFAP could be announced by USDA later this week.

USDA Reminds Farmers of September 30 Deadline to Update Safety-Net Program Crop Yields

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds farm owners that they have a one-time opportunity to update Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program yields for covered commodities on the farm. The deadline is September 30, 2020, to update yields, which are used to calculate the PLC payments for 2020 through 2023. Additionally, producers who elected Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) should also consider updating their yields.

“The last time farmers could update yields for these important safety-net programs was in 2014,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “It is the farm owner’s choice whether to update or keep existing yields. So, if you rent, you’ll need to communicate with your landlord who will be the one to sign off on the yield updates.”

Updating yields requires the signature of one owner on a farm and not all owners. If a yield update is not made, no action is required to maintain the existing base crop yield on file with FSA.

For program payments, updated yields will apply beginning with the 2020 crop year which, should payments trigger, will be paid out in October of 2021.

Determining Yield Updates

The updated yield will be equal to 90% of the average yield per planted acre in crop years 2013-2017. That excludes any year where the applicable covered commodity was not planted and is subject to the ratio obtained by dividing the 2008-2012 average national yield by the 2013-2017 average national yield for the covered commodity.

If the reported yield in any year is less than 75 percent of the 2013-2017 average county yield, the yield will be substituted with 75 percent of the county average yield.

More information

PLC yields may be updated on a covered commodity-by-covered commodity basis by submitting FSA form CCC-867 to include a farm owner’s signature.  For more information, reference resources, and decision tools, visit

American Dairy Coalition Applauds Congressman Mike Gallagher for His Efforts to Fix the 2020-25 Dietary Guidelines

The American Dairy Coalition appreciates the efforts of Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI) for spearheading a bipartisan effort in the state of Wisconsin, asking the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services to remove the current caps on saturated fat and allow schoolchildren and others the opportunity to drink whole milk and other full-fat dairy products while attending school each day. The current proposed 2020-25 Draft Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) are once again not allowing full-fat dairy products into schools. Under Rep. Gallagher’s leadership, a bipartisan group of Wisconsin legislators including Congressmen Glen Grothman (R-WI), Tom Tiffany (R-WI), Ron Kind (D-WI) asked USDA and HHS to address concerns that the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) failed to consider a massive body of recent peer-reviewed research showing that longstanding caps on saturated fats are no longer supported by science.
Laurie Fischer, Founder and CEO of the American Dairy Coalition states, “We must not implement the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans until the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Health and Human Services certify that the information in this report is based on the most up-to-date scientific research and unbiased review protocols, as recommended by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM). This entire process has been flawed for many years. The DGA should include the most current scientific studies on nutrition, including the most recent publications and reviews on weight loss, carbohydrate restriction, and saturated fat intake to determine the dietary needs of all Americans. Utilizing flexibility in the choice of full-fat dairy foods, such as a glass of whole milk for schoolchildren, is a necessary part of a balanced, healthy diet for all Americans. We should not wait another 5 years to address this broken process."
The American Dairy Coalition and the producers that they represent across the nation appreciate Congressman Gallagher and the fellow signees of his letter for understanding how important this issues is to farmers. They pride themselves in providing quality, delicious nutrition for children across the nation, but the current caps prevent their most nutritious and best-tasting product from reaching children in schools. Denying kids full-fat dairy based on outdated science is irresponsible.
As JJ Pagel, a Wisconsin Dairy Farmer states, "We are grateful for our Congressman, especially my very own Rep. Gallagher, for taking the lead on this important issue. I'm proud to be a dairy farmer in the heart of America's Dairyland, producing wholesome, safe, affordable milk each and every day. But the ban on whole milk and whole fat dairy foods needs to end. It's time that we are able to offer our best-tasting, most nutritious product as a choice- especially for our kids in schools. We need to get this right."
The American Dairy Coalition urges the USDA and HHS to heed the requests on Representative Gallagher and his fellow Congressmen. Our nation’s children deserve the access to choose high-quality, nutritious, and great-tasting whole milk in schools. We cannot wait another 5 years to get this right.

Farmers Union to Host Family Farmers for Virtual Fly-In

As a global pandemic and extreme weather events batter an already weak agricultural economy, hundreds of farmers, ranchers, and rural residents will gather online next week to speak directly with their elected representatives and administration officials as part of National Farmers Union’s (NFU) virtual legislative fly-in.

Advocates from across the country will campaign for policies that support pandemic recovery, reduce chronic overproduction, restore competition to agricultural markets, strengthen rural healthcare, improve access to broadband internet, ensure the success of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), help farmers and ranchers implement climate-smart practices, and expand the market for homegrown biofuels.

NFU will kick off the virtual fly-in on Monday, September 14, with a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) briefing, during which participants will hear from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and and Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand.

The event will continue the following day with a Congressional briefing featuring Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture Collin Peterson, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Senator Jon Tester, and Representative Frank Lucas. Throughout the week, participants will also join small-group meetings with congressional offices, a panel discussion on USPS, and a virtual social gathering.

USDA Seeks Nominations for the Task Force on Agricultural Air Quality Research

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the invitation for nominations of qualified candidates to be considered for a two-year term on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Task Force on Agricultural Air Quality Research. The Task Force advises the Secretary on air quality and its relationship to agriculture based on sound scientific findings and review of research on agricultural air quality supported by federal agencies.

“The Task Force is another example of USDA’s continued commitment to developing science-based solutions and conservation measures that not only reduce the agriculture industry’s environmental impact but, in many ways, enhance our natural resources through improved agricultural practices,” Secretary Perdue said. “Bringing together a variety of perspectives and scientific insights to this Task Force will help reach solutions to resolve air quality challenges.”


Earlier this year, Secretary Perdue announced the Agriculture Innovation Agenda, a department-wide initiative to align resources, programs, and research to position American agriculture to better meet future global demands. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will stimulate innovation so that American agriculture can achieve the goal of increasing production by 40 percent while cutting the environmental footprint of U.S. agriculture in half by 2050. Read more about the Agriculture Innovation Agenda.

Created by the 1996 Farm Bill, the Task Force on Agricultural Air Quality Research promotes USDA research efforts and identifies cost-effective ways the agriculture industry can improve air quality. The Task Force has historically consisted of agricultural producers, agricultural industry representatives, researchers and scientists and members of the health and regulatory committees. The Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), will chair the Task Force.

USDA is committed to ensuring that the Task Force is composed of a wide diversity of people who have interest and expertise in air quality issues related to agriculture. Equal opportunity practices, in line with the USDA policies, will be followed in all appointments to the Committee.

Applying for Membership:

The Federal Register notice announcing the request for nominations to the Task Force contains information about how to nominate an interested person for membership. Interested candidates may nominate themselves. Nominations should be typed and include the following:
    A brief summary (two pages or less) explaining the nominee’s qualifications to serve on the Task Force
    A resume providing the nominee’s background, experience and educational qualifications
    A completed background disclosure form (Form AD-755) (PDF, 2.1 MB) signed by the nominee
    Any recent publications by the nominee relative to agricultural air quality (if appropriate)
    Letters of endorsement (optional)

Nominations can be submitted to Greg Zwicke, the Designated Federal Officer for the Task Force, by either:
    Mail or Hand Delivery: Mr. Greg Zwicke, Designated Federal Officer, Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA-NRCS, West National Technology Support Center, 2150 Centre Avenue, Building A, Suite 314B, Fort Collins, CO 80526

For more information, visit the Task Force homepage...  

Farmers gain more flexibility and confidence in their weed management systems with Enlist E3® soybeans

With the vacated registrations of three dicamba herbicides this summer, including XtendiMax®, Engenia® and FeXapan®, farmers are looking for additional soybean weed management options. Those options start with seed. Golden Harvest offers farmers the broadest choice of soybean herbicide tolerance trait platforms, including a strong supply of Enlist E3® soybeans for 2021 planting.

For the past two years, Enlist E3 soybeans have been a critical part of the Golden Harvest soybean portfolio by providing farmers with more flexibility and confidence in their weed management programs. Enlist E3 soybeans contain the most advanced trait technology available in soybeans, delivering outstanding weed control with reduced application restrictions and application risks. By offering tolerance to 2,4-D choline, glyphosate and glufosinate, Enlist E3 soybeans provide a complete system to manage tough weeds.

"As we go into next season, we know farmers are concerned about the availability of non-dicamba herbicide options," said Stephanie Porter, Golden Harvest soybean product manager. "Having a strong supply of Enlist E3 soybeans for 2021 allows us to provide farmers with more choices and the flexibility to employ multiple herbicide sites of action for effective weed control."

Enlist E3 soybeans provide excellent yield potential and agronomics, while offering superior application flexibility and tank mix options to manage resistant weeds. Looking ahead to 2021, farmers can be assured Golden Harvest is well positioned with its supply and knowledge of Enlist E3 soybeans to select the best varieties to meet their needs.

"Seed choice is among the most important decision farmers make each year," said Porter. "Golden Harvest is committed to doing whatever it takes to help farmers choose which trait options will best fit their unique farm logistics and field needs. With more choices available, we can help them better navigate these regulatory changes."

For 2021, Golden Harvest expanded its product portfolio with the release of 22 new soybean varieties. In addition to Enlist E3, it offers farmers access to Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans and LibertyLink® GT27™.  

The 22 new varieties for 2021 range in relative maturity from 0.05 to 5.1 and provide advanced trait technology for maximum soybean yield potential.
    14 varieties include the Enlist E3 trait technology with three modes of action.
        3 offer Sulfonyl-Urea Tolerant Soybeans (STS®) herbicide tolerance and may increase tolerance to ALS-inhibitors, allowing higher application rates on select herbicides.
    6 varieties include Roundup Ready 2 Xtend trait technology.
    2 varieties include LibertyLink GT27 trait technology.

In addition to seed selection, it is equally important farmers consider their weed management strategy and start the season clean.

"We recommend farmers implement an integrated approach to weed management that includes starting strong by using a preemergent herbicide, such as BroadAxe® XC or Boundary® 6.5 EC, and then following up with an early post-emergent herbicide application, such as Sequence® plus Enlist One®," said Bobby Bachman, herbicide product marketing lead for Syngenta. "This approach allows the crop the ability to maximize yield potential, while also utilizing the trait technology to fight back against tough to manage weeds."

New Test Detects Canola Engineered With Gene-Editing Technology

A coalition of civil society groups in Europe has announced the development of a new test for detecting genetically engineered (GE) canola developed with a gene-editing technique, demonstrating that crops developed with newer forms of genetic engineering can in fact be detected in the food supply, and require labeling under U.S. law.

“Gene-edited foods must be labeled as GMOs under the U.S. National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Act,” said Bill Freese, Science Policy Analyst at Center for Food Safety. “The approach used to develop this new test can be applied to develop detection methods for most, if not all, gene-edited crops, demonstrating that there is no longer any excuse for food companies to evade the law by claiming gene-edited ingredients are undetectable,” he added.   

The test method was published in the peer-reviewed journal, Foods, and has been validated by the Austrian Environmental Protection Agency, the Umweltsbundesamt.

The GE gene-edited canola was developed by the biotechnology company Cibus to withstand direct application of certain herbicides, and is grown on a limited basis in the U.S. and Canada.

Friday September 4 Ag News

Trump Administration Invests $776,960 in Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy for Rural Nebraska

The Trump Administration today announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $776,960 to save and create energy in rural Nebraska.

“The investments announced today will help many rural businesses and agricultural producers to save on energy costs which will allow them to reinvest into their farm or business, helping the rural economy,” said Nebraska State Director Karl Elmshaeuser for USDA Rural Development. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA has been working tirelessly to be a strong partner to rural Nebraska in building stronger and healthier communities, because we know when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

Among Nebraska’s recipients are:
JEFFREY TIMMERMAN-West Point-$18,969-Energy efficiency improvement: purchase and installation of a new, more efficient grain dryer. Realizing $6,373.36 per year in savings, save 151,294 kWh of electricity per year (50.91%), enough electricity to power 13 homes.

DEAN KOEHLER-Pierce-$36,818-Energy efficiency improvement:  purchase and install a more efficient mixed-flow grain dryer.  Realizing $13,028 per year in savings, save 627,128 kWh of electricity per year (83%), enough electricity to power 57 homes.

B SON FARM, LLC-St. Edward-$31,744-Energy efficiency improvement:  purchase and installation of a new, more efficient grain dryer. Realizing $2,618 per year in savings, save 59,292 kWh of electricity per year (70.09%), enough electricity to power five homes.

TIMOTHY FOLTZ-Humphrey-$15,025-Energy efficiency improvement:  purchase and installation of a new, more efficient grain dryer. Realizing $7,855 per year in savings, save 244,763 kWh of electricity per year (41.78%), enough electricity to power 22 homes.

DARYL HERCHENBACH-Lindsay-$19,337-Energy efficiency improvement:  purchase and installation of a new, more efficient grain dryer. Realizing $9,760.25 per year in
savings, save 232,607 kWh of electricity per year (74.25%), enough electricity to power 21 homes.

MATTHEW JARECKI-Lindsay-$20,000-Energy efficiency improvement:  purchase and installation of an electric motor.  Realizing $11,747 per year in savings, save 298,835 kWh of electricity per year (35%), enough electricity to power 27 homes.

REBELLION FABRICATION LLC-Wahoo-$37,755-Energy efficiency improvements:
purchase and installation of LED high bay fixtures, LED flat panels, exterior wall packs with LED lights, HVAC units, tube bender, and saw.  Realizing $9,100 per year in savings, save 108,778 kWh of electricity per year (58%), enough electricity to power 10 homes.

AUTOMATIC EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURING CO.-Pender-$15,041-Energy efficiency improvement:  purchase and installation of LED lighting. Realizing $39,273 per year in savings, save 405,832 kWh of electricity per year (71.4%), enough electricity to power 37 homes.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit

Sunderland Foundation supports Northeast’s Nexus project

A foundation known for supporting construction projects in a 23-state area has contributed $450,000 to build new agricultural facilities at Northeast Community College.

The Sunderland Foundation was established in 1945 by Lester T. Sunderland, who served as president of the Ash Grove Cement Company for 33 years. The foundation’s focus on funding brick and mortar projects reflects the heritage of the cement company. The foundation funds construction and renovation projects in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest, which comprise the commercial markets and communities traditionally served by Ash Grove.

“Since its inception, the foundation has focused on supporting projects in higher education, health care, youth-serving organizations, and civic and cultural areas of interest,” said President and Chief Operating Officer Randy Vance. “By supporting these types of construction and special interest projects, the Sunderland Foundation fosters a stronger, safer and more vibrant future for the communities we serve.”

Dr. Tracy Kruse, associate vice president of development and external affairs and executive director of the Northeast Foundation, is appreciative of current and past support from the Sunderland Foundation and explains that the Nexus project is an excellent way to invest in rural communities and support an industry that is key to economic growth throughout the region.

“The Sunderland Foundation has been a good partner with Northeast in the past,” Kruse said, “supporting the campaign for the J. Paul and Eleanor McIntosh College of Nursing and the original Chuck M. Pohlman Ag Complex in Norfolk, and the College Center in South Sioux City. We are pleased they understand the importance of agriculture and are supporting ag education at this level.”

“The students who will attend classes and labs in these new buildings will be the future residents of our small communities,” Kruse said. “They will be the future farmers, ranchers and agribusiness employees who will ensure that agriculture remains strong for generations.”

The initial phase of construction in the Nexus project includes a new veterinary technology clinic and classrooms, a new farm site with a large animal handling facility and other farm structures for livestock operations, a farm office and storage. The new facilities will be located near the Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex, 2301 E. Benjamin Ave. Site work began in April and construction should be completed by Fall 2021. Groundbreaking ceremonies will be held at 10 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 10.

Funding for the agriculture facilities will come from the College’s commitment of $10 million, as well as external fundraising to fill the gap. With a total project cost of $22.3 million, the College has raised enough funds to begin construction; however, fundraising for the Nexus campaign will continue, as more is needed for equipment, technology and furnishings.

In August 2019, the Acklie Charitable Foundation (ACF) announced a $5 million lead gift to the Nexus project. ACF was founded by the late Duane Acklie and Phyllis Acklie, both Madison County natives and graduates of Norfolk Junior College, a predecessor institution of Northeast Community College.

 Agronomy and Horticulture seminar series begins Sept. 11

The fall Agronomy and Horticulture seminar series beings Sept. 11 with “Physiological and molecular perspective on seed development under higher temperatures” presented by Nebraska’s Puneet Paul and “Organic Carbon Materials for Nutrient Retention in Nebraska Soils” by Nebraska’s Jennifer Cooper.

Paul, postdoctoral research associate of agronomy and horticulture will present on climate change, especially the rising temperatures and how it threatens crop productivity.

Cooper, postdoctoral research associate of agronomy and horticulture, will talk about proposed mechanisms for retention of nutrients on organic carbon surfaces with the aid of iron using advanced nanoscopy techniques.

All seminars will be presented via Zoom beginning at 3:30 p.m.

Dates and topics for the series are as follows:
    Sept. 18: ”Genetic and Environmental Regulation of Meiotic Recombination,”
    Gregory Copenhaver, professor and associate chair, Department of Biology,
    University of North Caroline at Chapel Hill.

    Sept. 25: “Who's Learning From Who? Integrating Farmer Perspectives into
    Research and the Classroom,” Randa Jabbour, associate professor, Department
    of Plant Sciences, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY.

    Oct. 2: “A Machine Learning-Based Framework to Prioritize Genes with
    Phenotypic Impact,” James Schnable, associate professor, Charles O. Gardner
    Professor of Maize Quantitative Genetics, Department of Agronomy and
    Horticulture, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

    Oct. 9: “Sites and Sounds of microRNA160 in soybean roots and nodules
    revealed by quantitative imaging,” Senthil Subramanian, associate
    professor, Graduate Coordinator, South Dakota State University.

    Oct. 16: “Strategies for Sustainable Agriculture: Challenges and
    Opportunities,” Kusum Naithani, assistant professor, Landscape Ecology,
    University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

    Oct. 23: “Using Economic Experiments to Study Human Behavior under Farmland
    Conservation Programs,” Simanti Banerjee, associate professor, Agricultural
    Economics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

    Oct 30: “A paradigm shift in the mode of action of glufosinate,” Hudson
    Takano, Herbicide Mode of Action Scientist, Corteva Agriscience, Indiana.

    Nov. 6: “Controlled Environment and Urban Agriculture: Horticulture for the
    21st Century,” Ellen Paparozzi, Plantologist and Professor of Horticulture,
    Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

    Nov. 13: “(Some of) The Economics of Agricultural Innovation,” Julian
    Alston, Distinguished Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource
    Economics and Director of the Robert Mondavi Institute Center for Wine
    Economics, University of California, Davis.

    Nov. 20: “Soil and Nutrient Management in Nebraska Panhandle,” Bijesh
    Maharjan, assistant professor and Extension Specialist, Agronomy and
    Horticulture, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

    Dec 4: “Genetic gain, genetic diversity, and genomic selection, can plant
    breeders have it all?,” Jessica Rutowski, assistant professor of Small
    Grains Breeding, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

    Dec 11: "Recent advances in understanding synthetic auxin herbicide
    resistance in weeds," Todd Gaines, associate professor of Molecular Weed
    Science, Department of Agricultural Biology, Colorado State University.


Husker Harvest Days: Nebraska Extension exhibits to cultivate new opportunities for producers

Husker Harvest Days along with Nebraska Extension invites Nebraskans to participate in the Farm Progress Virtual Experience Sept. 15-17, where usual best of show exhibitors will merge into a powerhouse virtual experience.  

“Creating a virtual farm show that has value to farmers and out exhibitors is important to all of us,” said Matt Jungmann, National Events Director for Farm Progress. “An important focus for the virtual event is that the field demonstration are captured on the show sites. Where the machine would have run if the show had gone on.”

“Knowledge that Helps Cultivate Opportunities,” is the theme of Nebraska Extension’s program this year and will highlight topics in the areas of:  
    Reproduction and nutrition strategies in cattle, presented by UNL Beef Systems  
    Soil health management practices, presented by the Cover Crop/Soil Health Team  
    Water management decisions, presented by the Irrigation and Water Utilization Team  
    Utilizing agriculture technologies on farms to improve productivity, profitability, and sustainability, presented by the Precision Agriculture Team
    Pest management and pesticide application practices, presented by the Pest Management Team
    Farm financials education and analysis for successful operations, presented by the Department of Agricultural Economics  
     Environmental impacts, presented by Community Environment  
    Mental health for agricultural producers, presented by Rural Wellness
    Developing agricultural leadership, presented by the Nebraska LEAD Program
    Youth programs in college and career success, presented by the Career & College Readiness Team
    Choosing University of Nebraska agriculture education programs, presented by the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture

“It is the hope of the Nebraska Extension, CASNR, and NCTA Husker Harvest Days teams that the information being provided will help participants increase their knowledge to help cultivate opportunities and to develop strong solutions to the diverse issues that are facing rural Nebraskans,” Ronald Seymour, Nebraska Extension Educator.

To learn more about topics being presented by Nebraska Extension at Husker Harvest Days this year, visit   

USDA and Nebraska Sign Shared Stewardship Agreement to Improve Forests and Grasslands

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue joined Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts today to sign a Shared Stewardship Agreement between USDA’s Forest Service and the State of Nebraska. The Shared Stewardship Agreement establishes a framework for federal and state agencies to promote active forest management, improve collaboration, and respond to ecological challenges and natural resource concerns in Nebraska.

“This agreement strengthens the already strong partnership between the Forest Service and the State of Nebraska,” said Secretary Perdue. “Through Shared Stewardship, Nebraska and the Forest Service will work together to identify landscape-scale priorities and build capacity to improve forest conditions.”

“The Trump Administration has empowered states by shifting decision-making from Washington, D.C. back to statehouses across America,” said Governor Ricketts. “Thanks to Secretary Perdue and the USDA for putting Nebraska’s priorities first in conservation and for partnering with us to wisely steward our forests.”

Under the agreement, the State of Nebraska and USDA will work together on forest and grassland restoration across all land ownerships, with a focus on protecting at-risk communities and watersheds from wildfire. The agreement identifies shared principles and priorities to include joint planning, pooling resources and continued investment in existing partnerships and programs that support collaborative work.

Smith Participates in Western Nebraska Ag Tour with Governor Ricketts and Amb. Gregg Doud

Governor Pete Ricketts, Ambassador Gregg Doud, Chief Agriculture Negotiator, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) participated in a tour of agriculture locations in Western Nebraska today, highlighting the importance of agriculture and trade to Nebraska.

The locations visited and events attended were: a roundtable discussion with the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission, a facility tour of New Alliance Bean Co., Western Sugar, and a Dry Bean Harvest Demo.

“I join Governor Ricketts in welcoming Ambassador Doud back to Nebraska. Agriculture is the number one trade constituency in the United States because of men and women across the country like the producers we met with today. Ambassador Doud has been hard at work alongside President Trump and Ambassador Lighthizer, and I appreciate him taking the opportunity to discuss firsthand his work opening markets for Nebraska products around the world.”

Ambassador Doud also recently joined as a special guest for Smith’s 2020 Virtual Agriculture Summit where they discussed trade policy and the future of American agriculture.

Naig Honors Century and Heritage Farm Families in Southwest Iowa

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig and Iowa Farm Bureau Federation President Craig Hill honored families from Cass, Guthrie, Harrison, Pottawattamie and Ringgold counties with Century and Heritage Farm awards today. To achieve Century or Heritage Farm status, each family must maintain ownership of the land for 100 years or 150 years, respectively.

“The Century and Heritage Farm Program recognizes the strength and resiliency of Iowa farm families, and the sacrifices each generation has made to retain the ownership of the land for 100 or 150 years,” said Secretary Naig. “These families all deserve to be recognized and celebrated for reaching this milestone and being a part of Iowa’s rich agricultural legacy.”

“Agriculture and our farm families have long been critical to the vitality of rural communities across the state and the backbone of Iowa’s economy,” said Craig Hill, Iowa Farm Bureau President. “It’s a tremendous honor to co-sponsor the Century and Heritage Farm programs recognizing the multi-generational farm families that have persevered countless challenges over 100 or 150 years and kept their farms in the family.”

The Century Farm families recognized today include:
    Chester & Joyce Lammert Trust and Marilyn (Lammert) Cody from Harrison County

    Mark & Bonnie Sieh from Pottawattamie County

The Heritage Farm families recognized today include:
    Dale and Vickie Retallic from Cass County
    Dean and Mary Ann Heckman from Guthrie County
    Alan & Lois Ibbotson from Ringgold County

There were 238 families who received the Century Farm award, recognizing 100 years of ownership, and 103 families who received the Heritage Farm award, recognizing 150 years of ownership, this year. Families who received the award in 2020 could choose to participate in a small regional event or the 2021 Iowa State Fair.

Performance Livestock Analytics, now part of Zoetis, Hosts U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to Demonstrate the Importance of Digital and Data Analytics for Livestock Producers

Performance Livestock Analytics, a part of Zoetis, Thursday welcomed U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, Governor Kim Reynolds of Iowa, and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig for a site visit in Ames, Iowa. Leaders from Performance Livestock Analytics and Zoetis participated in an outdoor event to discuss and demonstrate the value of digital innovation and data analytics to improve the health of animals and sustainability of livestock operations. The visit was part of a tour hosted by the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship.

Dane Kuper, co-founder of Performance Livestock Analytics and global Performance Beef strategy and platform lead at Zoetis, and Dustin Balsley, co-founder of Performance Livestock Analytics and global Performance Beef product lead at Zoetis, demonstrated how Performance Beef combines cloud-based technology with automated on-farm data collection to provide powerful analytics that help cattle producers make better decisions across financials, nutrition and animal health. The new animal health component of the software was showcased, providing a view of how the digital tool helps producers easily track and monitor health data by group or individual animal to make better data-driven decisions related to the diagnosis and treatment.

Scott McGregor, a fourth-generation cattle producer from Nashua, Iowa, also participated in the event and shared his perspective on the importance of innovative technologies to improve livestock operations’ efficiency. “Performance Beef does the work for us. It’s adaptable and easy to use, automating data entry. Over the three years I’ve been using Performance Beef, it has helped me make better nutrition and inventory decisions. I am instantly tracking how the cattle are doing,” said McGregor.

“We’ve changed how livestock producers manage their business,” said Kuper. “The real-time data at their fingertips allows them to be more proactive, efficient and accurate.”

A growing segment of livestock producers are adopting Performance Beef and relying on their smart phones or tablets every day to make decisions. Technology like this requires enhanced rural broadband access to deliver real-time data without delay. “For connected devices, a stronger rural broadband connection means quicker response and a seamless experience for the user,” said Kuper.

“At Zoetis, we’re committed to providing technology and data analytics tools to help livestock producers and veterinarians solve animal health and welfare, productivity, and sustainability challenges,” said Tim Bettington, executive vice president and president of U.S. Operations for Zoetis. “To meet these challenges, we appreciate the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s commitment to enhancing rural broadband capabilities, strengthening livestock disease prevention measures, and advancing trade opportunities.”

 New IPIC Program Specialist Ready to Build on Relationships and Research Experience

As the newest staff member of the Iowa Pork Industry Center, Stacie Matchan said becoming extension program specialist earlier this summer was both a great fit and exciting next step.

“For almost seven years prior to starting this position, I was research manager for the applied swine nutrition program with Dr. John Patience,” she said. “I have a pretty extensive background in research, planning and administration at Iowa State which set me up to be successful in this position.”

With Patience’s upcoming retirement, Matchan said she was looking for a new opportunity that would build on her existing relationships in the swine industry, allow her to continue working with research and maintain a direct connection to her alma mater. She received a bachelor’s degree in animal science in 2012.

In this role, she will be responsible for coordinating conferences and webinars, handling center finances, and helping develop a new research program. She views her experience, including working for Annette O’Connor at Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine in ISU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, as valuable preparation.

“It was important to me to find a position that would be stimulating and challenging, and also enjoyable,” she said. “When I read this job description, it felt like I found the perfect natural fit.”

Matchan has been involved with the Iowa Swine Day program throughout her time with Dr Patience, with registration and related conference-day activities. Now, however, coordination of the event largely will be her responsibility.

“Getting to think of ideas on how to make this an even better and more desirable conference, is something that excites me,” she said. “I don’t yet know what those ideas will be, and surely COVID-19 will have something to say about them, but the idea that I have input on something already so successful excites me.”

If you don’t already know her, be prepared to meet Matchan soon.

“We already have an amazing team doing outstanding things, and I only hope that I can make it a fraction better,” she said. “It is my hope that through our outreach via conferences, research, and education material, we are able to assist producers with real time issues.”

IPIC director Jason Ross said Matchan’s years of experience in project management and applied research are a great benefit in helping deliver on the research and outreach objectives of the center.

“She did a tremendous job taking over the responsibilities of Iowa Swine Day this summer in what turned out to be a pretty unique year given that we had to deliver the program virtually,” he said. “Stacie also has a strong familiarity with many of the university’s financial processes and that knowledge helps our group to function efficiently and effectively.”

Matchan can be contacted by email at and by phone at 402-812-1103.

USDA Needs Lamb Sales Reports

This past spring, the American Sheep Industry Association asked wool producers to report their sales in an effort to help the U.S. Department of Agriculture develop an accurate picture of the market situation. And now, ASI is asking lamb producers to follow suit.
The loss of the Mountain States Rosen plant in Greeley, Colo., is affecting the lamb industry on several levels – one of which is the loss of negotiated, formula and comprehensive slaughter lamb prices reported due to confidentiality guidelines imposed by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. This has reduced the amount of market information and decreased market transparency available to sheep and lamb producers.
In an effort to provide producers with market information to facilitate open, transparent price discovery, ASI is asking producers, feeders and others involved in direct feeder lamb sales to report those sales to Chris Dias at USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service at 970-353-9750.
Specifically, the association is looking for information on the following:
 • Direct feeder lamb sales for the mountain area and western United States (Colo., Wyo., Mont., Neb., S.D., N.D., Utah, Nev., Idaho, Wash., Ore., Ariz. and Calif.).
“Just like it was with the wool, this price information is invaluable to the American sheep industry,” said ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick. “I can’t stress enough how important it is that we come together as an industry to provide as much information as possible to the Agricultural Marketing Service. In the long term, we will all benefit from contributing to these price reports.”

July Beef and Pork Exports Rebound, but Still Below Year-Ago

July exports of U.S. beef rebounded from recent lows but remained below 2019 levels, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). U.S. pork exports, which are on a record pace in 2020, were also down from a year ago in July but increased compared to June. July lamb exports increased year-over-year and were the largest of 2020.

"With production returning to near-normal levels, we definitely saw an improvement in beef exports, though the recovery was not quite as strong as expected," said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. "China's pork demand has moderated and we are also entering a time when year-over-year gains are not nearly as dramatic, as exports to China began gaining momentum in mid-2019. But pork exports to Mexico showed encouraging signs of recovery in July and we also saw promising growth in several emerging markets, including Vietnam and the Philippines.

"It is also important to remember that the monthly export data is in the rear-view mirror and that weekly export sales data, along with observations from our USMEF-China team, suggest that China's demand for both U.S. pork and beef will be strong through the balance of the year, including purchases for Chinese New Year. When combined with the rebound in other main markets, growth in emerging markets and the return of the U.S. supply advantage, USMEF remains optimistic about a strong finish for U.S. red meat exports in 2020, despite many challenges related to COVID-19."

July beef exports totaled 107,298 metric tons (mt), up 36% from June but still 9% below last year. Export value was $647.8 million, the highest since March but down 10% from a year ago. July exports to China increased sharply year-over-year and shipments trended higher to Taiwan, Canada and Hong Kong. July exports were lower than a year ago to Japan and South Korea and declined significantly to Mexico. For January through July, beef exports were also 9% below last year's pace in volume (698,907 mt) and 10% lower in value ($4.28 billion).

July pork exports totaled 222,035 mt, down 5% from a year ago, while export value fell 12% to $548.3 million. Exports increased year-over-year to China/Hong Kong, Canada, the Philippines, Vietnam and the Caribbean. Exports to Mexico remained below last year but were the largest since March, while shipments to Japan were also down from a year ago but the largest since April. For January through July, pork exports remained 20% ahead of last year's record pace in volume (1.78 million mt) and 22% higher in value ($4.6 billion).

With Mexico as the main driver, July exports of U.S. lamb exports posted the largest monthly totals of the year in both volume (3,547 mt, up 115% from a year ago) and value ($3.5 million, up 46%). July exports also trended higher to Bermuda and Canada. Through July, lamb exports were 20% higher than a year ago at 11,299 mt, but export value ($13.9 million) still trailed last year by 11%.


The fourth round of trade talks between the U.S. and the U.K will be held next week, starting Sept. 8, UK Trade Department Minister Greg Hands said Thursday. “In terms of the U.S., clearly we keep channels of communication open—we talk with all parts of the U.S. political system. We make sure that senators, members of Congress and governors, from both parties and throughout the United States, buy into a future U.K.-U.S. free trade agreement,” he told Parliament.

In October 2018, the Trump administration first announced its intention to negotiate a trade agreement with the U.K. NPPC is supportive of negotiations, provided the agreement eliminates tariff and non-tariff trade barriers on pork, and that the U.K. acknowledges meat industry standards as equivalent. Ambassador Lighthizer continues to warn that the two nations are unlikely to reach a deal before the November elections.


On Tuesday, the National Pork Producers Council, along with the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and American Farm Bureau Federation, filed a motion to side with EPA against a lawsuit filed by Earthjustice. Earthjustice filed the suit against EPA on behalf of a broad coalition of animal rights and environmental groups, including the Humane Society of the United States and Waterkeeper Alliance, to force producers to submit onerous emissions reports to state and local regulators under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).

In December 2008, EPA issued a rule exempting all farms from having to report releases of hazardous substances emitted to the air from animal waste at farms under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), but requiring the reports to be made under EPCRA.  Both NPPC and the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association challenged that rule in court.

Nearly a decade later, the D.C. Circuit, ruling on behalf of the animal rights’ groups, invalidated the 2008 rule in a 2017 decision, which prompted a diverse and bipartisan majority of Congress to pass The FARM ACT, which made clear that farms did not have to report emissions under CERCLA.  Following passage of the FARM Act, EPA issued regulations in 2018 exempting farms from reporting under EPCRA.

Tuesday’s legal action comes as the industry still awaits EPA’s publication of long-overdue emission estimating methodologies, required under consent decrees signed in 2006 to help producers comply with air emission reporting and permitting requirements.

Peterson Statement on Brazilian Government's Tariff Rate Quota on U.S. Ethanol

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson released the following statement regarding the situation with United States ethanol imports to Brazil:

"American corn and ethanol producers are struggling to access domestic markets because of the coronavirus and the Environmental Protection Agency's reckless implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard," said Peterson. "Brazil's move to increase tariffs on American ethanol is more bad news for our producers. The Trump Administration should continue working with Brazilian officials to restore the duty-free access that was in place from 2012 to 2017."

“Tariff wars have consequences, and our biofuels producers are seeing that first hand," added Peterson.

The Brazilian government’s tariff rate quota that placed a 20% tariff on America ethanol imports exceeding 198 million gallons expired on Sunday, August 31st, and Brazilian officials are yet to announce plans for the future of the U.S.-Brazil trade relationship. Without further action by the government of Brazil, all U.S. ethanol exports to the country are facing a 20% tariff.

From 2012 to 2017, the Brazilian government had a zero-duty exemption for U.S. ethanol imports to the country. Brazil is a major purchaser of American-made ethanol, importing 332 million gallons of U.S. Ethanol worth $493 million in 2019.

Congressman Collin Peterson is a Co-Chair of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus and Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture. On August 20th, 2020, Congressman Peterson and 19 Members of Congress sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer encouraging him to pressure Brazilian leaders to restore the zero-tariff ethanol trade that once existed between the U.S. and Brazil.

July ethanol export data underscore need for immediate action on trade barriers

Government data published yesterday showed U.S. ethanol exports slumping to just 74 million gallons in July, down 38 percent compared to the same month last year and the lowest total for July in six years. The escalation of trade barriers and the impacts of COVID-19 have caused year-to-date ethanol exports to slide 9 percent compared to the same period last year and 22 percent compared to the same period in 2018.

After regularly serving as top export markets in recent years, virtually no U.S. ethanol was shipped to Brazil, China, or Colombia in July due to the existence of unjustified trade barriers in those countries. Combined export volumes to those three countries hit a peak of 129 million gallons in March 2018, but dropped to a trickle of just 34,000 gallons in July 2020. The dearth of exports to those markets emphasizes the need for the U.S. government to take decisive action to remove barriers and ensure a level playing field for global ethanol trade, according to the Renewable Fuels Association.

“As the July export numbers show, the spread of protectionist trade barriers around the globe is having a very real impact on demand for U.S. ethanol,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “And the situation is going from bad to worse, as just this week Brazil eliminated its tariff-free quota for U.S. ethanol and will now charge a 20% tariff on all U.S. ethanol imports. These tariff and non-tariff barriers must be addressed and countered with measures that ensure a fair and level playing field for ethanol trade. The persistent ethanol trade disputes involving key markets like Brazil, China, and Colombia are taking a serious toll on U.S. ethanol producers who are already contending with the economic fallout from COVID-19. More needs to be done to restore open and healthy ethanol trading relationships with our customers around the globe.”

Thompson Appointed Executive Director of the 2,4-D Research Task Force

The Industry Task Force II on 2,4-D Research Data ( welcomes Lindsay Thompson as the new executive director. Mrs. Thompson brings extensive experience in government and public relations, and association management in agricultural and science-based organizations.
“The Task Force is delighted that Lindsay Thompson will bring her expertise in working with stakeholders to bring science-based evidence into regulatory and legislative consultations and decisions,” Task Force member Everett Mealman said. “Lindsay’s ability to apply science-based arguments has already helped in successfully defeating legislation seeking to ban classes of federally approved and beneficial pesticides.”
“I am passionate about agriculture,” said Mrs. Thompson, “and believe that the future of agriculture is dependent upon technology and crop protection. I am excited to bring my experience to the 2,4-D Research Task Force to ensure that science-based evidence continues to support the safety and effectiveness of this important crop production tool.”
Lindsay’s time acting as executive director for organizations like the Delaware-Maryland Agribusiness Association, the Maryland Grain Producers Association and Utilization Board, and Maryland Association of Soil Conservation Districts has shown her ability to build relationships with not-for-profit organizations, commodity groups and state and federal regulatory agencies.
Lindsay is recognized by agribusinesses and grower associations across the U.S.A. as a credible spokesperson at public meetings, conferences as well as through traditional and social media. She resides on her family’s grain farm in Maryland with her husband Jared and two children.
About the Task Force

The Task Force is a cooperative research and testing venture whose members develop and submit toxicology and environmental studies to support the safety review and continued registration of 2,4-D, one of the most widely used herbicides applied to control weeds that compete with agricultural crops, feed, forests and turf.  The current members of the Task Force are Corteva, AGRO-GOR and Nufarm Americas.

Thursday September 3 Ag News

 Scheduling the Last Irrigation of the Season
Aaron Nygren - NE Extension Educator

What a year 2020 has been! After a year of record flooding over much of the state, we are now in various stages of drought. With limited rainfall over most of the state this year and fairly extended hot, dry periods, many irrigators may be wondering when is the irrigation season going to end? With the price of grain, it is also worth considering if you need to apply that last inch or two of water to get that last bushel or two. Scheduling the last irrigation can reduce your pumping costs, improve harvest conditions, and in allocated groundwater areas, may save some irrigation water for next year.

Usually by mid to late August, corn and soybeans have progressed enough in maturity that we have a good handle on how much water it will take to finish the crop out. Depending on soil type, some fields may have enough stored soil water to get the crop to maturity without additional irrigation or rainfall. So just how much water do we need to finish out the growing season? This chart gives you a good idea of the amount of water needed based on the growth stage of the crop.

Crop water use for the remainder of the growing season for corn and soybean

Stage of Growth - Approx. Days to Maturity  -  Water Use to Maturity
R4 – Dough - 34 - 7.5
R4.7 – Beginning Dent - 24 - 5
R5 – 1/4 milk line - 19 - 3.75
      – 1/2 milk line - 13 - 2.25
      – 3/4 milk line -  7  -  1.0
R6 – Physiological Maturity - 0 - 0.0
R4 – End of pod elongation  -  37  -  9.0
R5 – Beginning seed enlargement - 29 - 6.5
R6 – End of seed enlargement  -  18  -  3.5
R6.5 – Leaves begin to yellow  -  10  -  1.9
R7 – Beginning maturity   -   0   -   0

During the heart of the irrigation season, we recommend keeping the available soil water level above the 50% depletion level. To do this we recommend irrigating as the soil water level approaches 35% depletion. This will allow a few days for the irrigation to be completed before the crop experiences any stress. As we near the end of the season, we can push the threshold to 60% depletion. The crop is using water at a lower rate per day so that allows us to use more than the 50% depletion and from a deeper depth.

The water-holding capacity of soil varies with its texture and needs to be considered when determining how much soil water is available. For example, loamy sand will hold about 1.1 inches of water per foot or 4.4 inches in top 4 feet while a silt loam soil can hold 2.2 inches per foot or 8.8 inches in the top 4 feet. If the silt loam is at field capacity and we draw down the available soil water to 40% (60% depletion), we would have about 5.3 inches of useable water in the top four feet of soil.

From the table, corn at the beginning dent stage needs 5 inches of water to reach maturity. Using the silt loam soil from above, the example field would have enough water to reach maturity and have an estimated 0.3 inches to spare if the corn is beginning to dent (5.3 – 5.0 = 0.3 inches). The loamy sand, at field capacity, would have 2.6 inches available above the 40% (60% depletion) level. This field would need an additional 2.4 inches of water to reach maturity.

One thing to note is that the time needed for corn to mature is dependent on growing degree days. If corn needs 5 inches of water to reach maturity and we receive some hot, dry windy days in early September the corn will still use 5 inches, it will just finish up a few days quicker. In contrast, soybean maturity is dependent on day length. Because soybeans may use more or less water than the averages listed in the table, and because it may be difficult to determine the actual correct growth stage, it is important to continue to monitor soil water until maturity. This is where tools such as an ETgage and soil water sensors come into play. An ETgage will give you potential crop water use and the soil water sensors will give you an idea of how much water is stored in the soil profile. Then you will be able to determine how much water the crop will need in either irrigation or precipitation to finish out the year.

For more information on this topic check out NebGuide G1871 “Predicting the Last Irrigation of the Season”.

PSC Issues Grain Producer Harvest Reminders

With the start of harvest, the Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC) reminds producers of the need to familiarize themselves with Nebraska Grain Laws.

“Understanding the law is key when it comes to protecting ones assets,” said Mike Bartels, PSC Grain Department Director. “Producers could be left holding the bag should a dealer go out of business and certain requirements haven’t been met.”

Under the Grain Dealer Act if a producer/seller wants to ensure their transactions with a grain dealer are covered by the grain dealer’s security posted with the PSC, they must demand payment within 15 days of completion of their contract with the dealer. Producers/sellers who choose not to demand payment within 15 days after completion of their contract will be unsecured creditors of that dealer and forfeit any protection from the grain dealers security.

Bartels said, “The law is clear. It is the responsibility of the producers to demand payment within the set timeframe to ensure they are covered.”

Grain Warehouse operators are also reminded by the PSC of the Emergency Storage Policy. In order to store grain on the ground, an Emergency Storage application must be filed with, and approved by the PSC. The Emergency Storage Application can be found on the Grain Department page of the PSC website.  

Cover Crops in Corn Systems: Opportunities for Dual Use

Mary Drewnoski - NE Extension Beef Systems Specialist

Can planting cover crops in corn systems provide the dual benefits of improving soil health and be an economical source of forage? This webinar will cover lessons learned on incorporating cover crops after corn silage, high moisture corn, and dry corn harvest in Nebraska. The session will consist of short presentations with ample time for questions and discussion.

Webinar Presentations
-    Soil impacts of planting oats after corn silage and high moisture corn - Lindsey Anderson, Master student in Agronomy and Horticulture at UNL and pathways intern with NRCS.
-    Grazing potential and economics of planting oats after corn silage and high moisture corn - Kallie Calus, Master student in Animal Science at UNL
-    Impacts of cover crop management on soil health - Sabrina Ruis, Research Assistant Professor, Agronomy and Horticulture with UNL
-    Winter hardy cover crops for spring grazing and silage - Mary Drewnoski, Beef Systems Specialist with UNL

The webinar will be held via Zoom on September 15th from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm (central time). This webinar is free but registration is required to participate.

Register for the Cover Crops in Corn Systems Webinar here....  

If you have questions about this event, contact Mary Drewnoski (, 402-472-6289).

This webinar and the research discussed was made possible due to funding from Nebraska Environmental Trust, SARE, and USDA-NIFA-AFRI.

How Much Nitrogen Does My Cover Crop Take Up and When Do I Get It Back?

Katja Koehler-Cole - UNL Research Assistant Professor in Agronomy and Horticulture

With growing interest in cover crops, it is important to understand how cover crops might impact soil fertility for the following cash crop. Nitrogen (N) provided by cover crop biomass may be used in the short-term by the following crop, and in the long-term through improving soil N content and reducing fertilizer input costs. The availability of soil nitrogen is a function of residual soil N (or nitrogen present in the soil) and N mineralized (released by the organic pools in the soil) from previous crop residues. However, environmental and management factors greatly influence cover crop decomposition dynamics, making it a challenge to consistently and accurately predict the amount of N that will become available, or when it will become available, to a subsequent crop.

We compiled field studies from Nebraska and other corn-producing states that evaluated the range of biomass production of cover crops, the amount of N in their biomass, and their C:N ratio. While these studies do not provide exact estimates of when N is available to subsequent crops, they can give us some information to help inform nutrient changes following cover crops.

Nitrogen Uptake by Legume Versus Grass Cover Crops

Cover crops acquire N through the uptake of nitrate and ammonium from the soil. When cover crops decompose, N is recycled back to the soil. Leguminous cover crops, owing to their symbiosis with rhizobia, can acquire N from the air (biological N fixation). When this N is released during decomposition, it is a net gain of N, so legumes are typically thought of as an N source or supplier. However, not all N in legume biomass is fixed N, as legume may take up considerable amounts of N from the soil (Redfearn, 2016).

The N in clover and vetch varieties commonly used in annual cropping systems can vary widely (Tonitto & Drinkwater, 2006). Among the studies included in Table 1, Nebraska hairy vetch biomass production was in the lower range with 364 to 724 lb/ac, which contained 12 to 29 lb N/ac. Red clover was more productive with 78 lb N/ac. In the Eastern United States, cover crops, especially hairy vetch, had more biomass and N, probably due to milder and wetter climates.

Winter cereals are commonly used in the Midwest as cover crops because of their winter hardiness and high early-spring biomass production. They are also very effective in taking up mineral N and are ‘scavengers’ for nutrients that have moved to the lower part of the root zone, rescuing nutrients that may otherwise be lost (Bergtold et al., 2017). In Nebraska, rye produced between 1,312 and 2,072 lb/ac of biomass, which contained between 34 and 54 lb N/ac.

When Does the Nitrogen From Cover Crop Residue Become Available?

Cover crop N release should be synchronized with N demand of the succeeding crop. The N accumulated in the cover crop biomass will be available to crop absorption after mineralization, which depends on soil moisture and temperature, soil type, and the carbon to nitrogen ratio (C:N ratio) of the biomass (Gil and Fick, 2001). The C:N ratio is the amount of carbon in cover crop biomass divided by the amount of N. It is often used to predict how fast soil microbes will breakdown residue and release residue N back to the soil. Microbes use the carbon in residues for energy and the N for protein (think growth). A C:N ratio of 24:1 is considered “ideal” as it has the balance of carbon to N that soil microbes need. Residues with greater C:N ratios will decompose slower because there is not enough N for microbial growth. To decompose residue with high C:N ratios, microbes take up N from the soil, thus immobilizing or “tying up” N. Residues with C:N ratios lower than 24:1 decompose quickly, and because there is more N than microbes need, N will be available for the next crop (USDA, 2011).

Legumes residues typically have lower C:N ratio (Table 1) and decompose more rapidly than grasses, providing readily available N to the subsequent crop. However, if the subsequent crop cannot take up the N, there is potential for loss. Cereal rye residues often have high C:N ratios and may immobilize soil N. Because of that starter fertilizer is typically recommended to overcome immobilization, with a rate between 30–50 pounds of actual N per acre (Midwest Cover Crop Council, 2019).

An experiment in 2015 in Carbondale, IL, assessed the time it took for N from a legume (in this case, hairy vetch) and grass cover crop (cereal rye) to be released. Hairy vetch rapidly decomposed and released about 70 lb N/ac within the first 4 weeks after corn planting (Fig. 1). Cereal rye residues released less than 10 lb N/ac during that same period, and overall released much less N (Sievers & Cook, 2018).

Some strategies, such the incorporation of the residues, can result in faster N release. The use of mixes of grasses and legumes can also modify the C:N ratio and speed up decomposition.

The Bottom Line: Consider Your Species, Biomass, and Environmental Conditions
Biomass production, N uptake, and C:N ratio vary widely across the United States, with Nebraska on the lower end of productivity. The N in cover crop biomass will be released within a few weeks after termination, however, decomposition varies with soil moisture, soil temperature and C:N ratios. Therefore, not all biomass N will be available for the subsequent crop. A better understanding of cover crop N release and cash crop N uptake can help to optimize crop synchrony and the choice of species to grow.

Some cover crop species have the potential to produce a high amount of biomass, providing great soil protection and reduce nitrate leaching, but they may not be suitable as an N source for a subsequent crop. Mixing cover crop species can overcome shortfalls of individual species and should be explored in more detail.

Ricketts Thanks Taiwan for Removing Trade Barriers to U.S. Beef and Pork Exports

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts welcomed news that Taiwan has agreed to alter its trade policies to give American beef and pork producers better market access.

“As we work to get Nebraska growing, we are actively seeking to strengthen relationships with markets in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “Taiwan has been a reliable trade partner and growing market for our world-class ag products.  Its recent decision to remove trade barriers is great news for our cattlemen and pork producers.”

A year ago this month, Taiwanese trade leaders pledged to purchase over $2.1 billion of U.S. soybeans, corn, and distillers grain while on a trade mission to Nebraska.  Specifically, the Taiwan Feed Industry Association signed a letter of intent to purchase 197 million bushels of corn and 0.5 million metric tons of U.S. distillers grains with solubles in 2020 and 2021.  During the visit, the Taiwan Vegetable Oil Manufacturers Association also pledged to buy over 96 million bushels of American soybeans over two years.

Taiwan currently ranks as Nebraska’s seventh-largest market for agricultural exports, buying $229 million of Nebraska-grown ag products in 2018.  Nebraska sells more corn to Taiwan than to Canada, China, or the European Union.  Taiwan is also Nebraska’s fourth-largest Asian market for soybeans, ranking ahead of South Korea and Vietnam.  Beef is Nebraska’s top ag export to Taiwan, at a value of more than $85 million in 2019.

USDA Designates 18 Iowa Counties as Primary Natural Disaster Areas

Today, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue designated 18 Iowa counties as primary natural disaster areas, enabling producers who suffered losses because of the recent Derecho, that occurred on August 10, 2020, to be eligible for emergency loans. Additionally, Perdue reminded producers about the suite of disaster assistance programs available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), including program flexibilities and a special signup through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

“The extent of damage to crops, equipment, facilities, and the ag sector as a whole from this storm is devastating,” said Secretary Perdue. “President Trump has already demonstrated his support for Iowa by immediately approving Iowa’s disaster declaration. He is committed to ensuring Iowa’s farmers get back on their feet and continue to produce the food and fuel America needs to thrive. The recovery process is in full swing, and USDA is working diligently to expedite financial and technical support for Iowa farmers and livestock producers who have suffered unprecedented losses. We are standing by to expand this designation as we learn more about the full impacts of the Derecho.”

Emergency Loans

These natural disaster designations allow the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to extend much-needed emergency credit to producers recovering from natural disasters. Emergency loans can be used to meet various recovery needs, including the replacement of essential items such as equipment or livestock, reorganization of a farming operation, or the refinancing of certain debts.

Iowa Counties – Primary Designation

Benton, Boone, Cedar, Clinton, Dallas, Guthrie, Hamilton, Hardin, Jasper, Johnson, Jones, Linn, Marshall, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Story, and Tama may be eligible to apply for emergency loans.

Iowa and Illinois – Contiguous Designation

Producers in the contiguous counties listed below are also eligible to apply for emergency loans:
    Iowa: Adair, Audubon, Black Hawk, Buchanan, Butler, Carroll, Cass, Delaware, Dubuque, Franklin, Greene, Grundy, Iowa, Jackson, Keokuk, Louisa, Madison, Mahaska, Marion, Muscatine, Warren, Washington, Webster, and Wright.
    Illinois: Carroll, Rock Island, and Whiteside.

The deadline to apply for these emergency loans is May 3, 2021.

FSA will review the loans based on the extent of losses, security available, and repayment ability.

Flexibilities on Environmental Compliance Reviews

To assist producers in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and other states impacted by the Derecho, FSA has streamlined the environmental compliance review process for the Emergency Conservation Program, Emergency Forest Restoration Program, Emergency Loan Program, Farm Storage Facility Program, and Tree Assistance Program. Implementation of these programs has been determined to have potentially low impact to protected resources.

These program flexibilities are meant to address work required to restore existing crops, fields, orchards, barns, storage facilities, fences, equipment, and general debris removal. Work required on previously undisturbed ground, new land clearing, or work that would impact any water body, wetland, riparian buffer, or wetland would not be covered by the streamlined environmental review process.

EQIP Special Signup

Additionally, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is making available $4 million in recovery assistance through a special EQIP signup in parts of Iowa impacted by the Derecho. Applications will be accepted through Oct. 2, 2020. Eligible applicants will receive higher than normal EQIP practice payments rates during this signup.

These EQIP funds can be used for:
    Seeding cover crops on impacted fields;
    Replacing roofs, covers, or roof runoff structures previously funded through NRCS; and
    Replacing damaged high tunnel systems previously funded by NRCS.

ICGA Relays Corn Farmer Derecho and Drought Concerns to Sec. Sonny Perdue

Today, the Iowa Corn Growers Association® (ICGA) spoke directly with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue about assisting Iowa’s corn farmers due to the devasting drought and derecho that has impacted a majority of the state. ICGA presented several ideas for immediate financial relief to Sec. Perdue that came forward from ICGA farmer members. Also in attendance with Sec. Perdue was U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, as the officials attended a conservation field day sponsored by Iowa Corn. Officials also surveyed the drought and derecho crop damage throughout the day while in Iowa.

“Iowa corn farmers wish they didn’t have to request government assistance as they’d rather have a crop to harvest and market access,” said ICGA President and farmer from Randolph Carl Jardon. “Unfortunately, that is not our reality this year with natural disasters, trade disputes, and a global pandemic on top of waiting to hear the outcome of President Trump’s commitment to speaking with Wheeler about the refinery waivers. Iowa’s farmers need immediate aid so they can begin to rebuild for next year.”

IRFA PAC Announces 2020 Champion of Renewable Fuels Awards for Iowa Legislature

Today the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) PAC announced 15 Iowa state legislators are receiving the PAC’s recognition as a “Champion of Renewable Fuels.” The IRFA PAC Board selected state legislators seeking reelection who have maintained a clear voting record of support for renewable fuels and displayed leadership on biofuels issues in the Iowa Legislature. This is the sixth election cycle that the IRFA PAC has given such recognition.

“Today IRFA PAC is standing by Iowa legislators who have stood by Iowa biofuels” said IRFA PAC Treasurer Daryl Haack. “Renewable fuels add incredible value to Iowa farmers’ commodities, boost Iowa’s economy, and help keep Iowa’s air clean. But we cannot continue to provide these benefits without leaders supporting us and helping us grow. Today’s ‘Champions of Renewable Fuels’ have done exactly that, and we are proud to recognize them.”

Recipients of the 2020 Champion of Renewable Fuels awards are:

Senate Champions

Sen. Amy Sinclair               SD 14
Sen. Janet Petersen          SD 18
Sen. Craig Johnson           SD 32
Sen. Pam Jochum             SD 50

House Champions
Rep. Jacob Bossman         HD 6
Rep. Chris Hall                   HD 13
Rep. Matt Windschitl          HD 17

Rep. Dave Sieck                HD 23
Rep. Wes Breckenridge     HD 29
Rep. Pat Grassley              HD 50
Rep. Jane Bloomingdale    HD 51
Rep. Todd Prichard            HD 52
Rep. Dave Jacoby              HD 74
Rep. Dennis Cohoon          HD 87
Rep. Lee Hein                    HD 96

Sales of U.S. Ethanol Lose Momentum in July while U.S. DDGS Exports Post Big Gains

Ann Lewis, Senior Analyst, Renewable Fuels Assoc.
U.S. ethanol exports were 74.0 million gallons (mg) in July 2020, a 6% decrease to the lowest volume in ten months. However, sales to Canada continued to brighten with 30.1 mg of ethanol crossing the border, rising 10% to a high for the year. Exports to India also climbed (up 3% to 13.0 mg) as did sales to the Netherlands (7.9 mg, +131%), South Korea (7.8 mg, +69%), and the Philippines (6.2 mg, up from zero). Other sizable customers of U.S. ethanol included Mexico (4.0 mg), Norway (1.8 mg), Peru (1.3 mg), and Vietnam (1.1 mg). The Brazilian market was conspicuously quiet for the second consecutive month. Global year-to-date exports of U.S. ethanol totaled 804.8 mg, implying an annualized total of 1.38 bg.
July U.S. undenatured fuel ethanol shipments more than doubled (+113%) to 26.4 mg, with India returning to the market (12.7 mg). However, total global sales in July remained 14.6 mg (36%) below year-ago volumes. The Philippines (6.2 mg, up from zero), Mexico (3.8 mg, -48%), and the Netherlands (2.2 mg, up from zero) also purchased significant volumes of American-made undenatured fuel ethanol.
Sales of U.S. denatured fuel ethanol relaxed in July, down 19% to 43.7 mg, although shipments to chief customer Canada rose 14% to 27.1 mg (accounting for 62% of global sales). Exports also surged to South Korea (up 78% to 7.7 mg) and the Netherlands (up 66% to 5.7 mg).
Exports of U.S. ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage purposes declined 67% to 4.0 mg, the lowest volume for the year. Canada (2.6 mg), Sweden (0.6 mg), India (0.3 mg), and Mexico (0.2 mg) were our largest customers.
The U.S. imported 11.1 mg of cane ethanol from Brazil. Year-to-date imports total 57.6 mg.
U.S. exports of dried distillers grains (DDGS)—the animal feed co-product generated by dry-mill ethanol plants—vaulted 23% in July to 1.08 million metric tons (mt), up 30% from a year ago. Shipments to Mexico intensified, increasing 66% to 162,234 mt, which reestablished our neighbor as the largest market for U.S. DDGS. Sales to Turkey spiked to a two-year high of 143,765 mt, up 65% over June. Despite a 32% decline from last month’s record high, exports to Thailand were robust as well at 141,749 mt. Rounding out the top five U.S. DDGS customers in July were South Korea (120,528 mt, +74%) and Vietnam (108,062 mt, +15%). Worldwide exports for the first seven months of the year were 6.06 million mt, implying an annualized total of 10.39 million mt.

Expanding Access to Higher Blends through Pump Infrastructure

Building out the infrastructure needed for future mid-level blends of ethanol continues to be a priority of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA). Over the past three-years, NCGA and state partners have worked with Wayne Fueling Systems to produce and sell fuel pumps certified to deliver fuel containing up to 25 percent ethanol.

Thanks to this key partnership, NCGA has supported the sale of more than 50,000 new fuel pumps across the U.S., building out the infrastructure needed to support future mid-level blends of ethanol.

“This lays the groundwork for growing ethanol demand and moving the industry forward,” said NCGA Market Development Vice President Jim Bauman. “Corn farmers' support of NCGA’s multi-year fuel pump infrastructure program supports the introduction of higher octane fuels delivered by low-carbon, affordable, corn-based ethanol.”

NCGA also recently partnered with the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), assisting fuel retailers in applying for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP). The $100 million program included $86 million to expand the availability of higher blends of ethanol, like E15 and E85.

Corn farmer support for this program helped deliver program awareness and technical assistance for applications representing more than 1,100 fuel dispensers across 21 states and 222 locations. Combined, these locations sell more than 250 million gallons of gasoline annually.

“All of these initiatives complement each other and help us build future demand for ethanol and corn farmers,” Bauman added. “Long-term, if the U.S. were to move to a higher octane, mid-level blend of ethanol, it could equate to 5 billion gallons of new ethanol demand, or 1.8 billion bushels of corn annually.”

You can learn more about NCGA’s efforts at  

USDA Dairy Products July 2020 Production Highlights

Total cheese output (excluding cottage cheese) was 1.11 billion pounds, 1.8 percent above July 2019 but 0.4 percent below June 2020.  Italian type cheese production totaled 457 million pounds, 1.5 percent below July 2019 and 4.2 percent below June 2020.  American type cheese production totaled 452 million pounds, 4.0 percent above July 2019 and 3.5 percent above June 2020.  Butter production was 152 million pounds, 0.7 percent above July 2019 and 1.1 percent above June 2020.

Dry milk products (comparisons in percentage with July 2019)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 163 million pounds, down 5.2 percent.
Skim milk powder - 51.2 million pounds, up 9.7 percent.

Whey products (comparisons in percentage with July 2019)
Dry whey, total - 84.5 million pounds, up 2.0 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 99.6 million pounds, down 6.9 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 39.0 million pounds, down 2.1 percent.

Frozen products (comparisons in percentage with July 2019)
Ice cream, regular (hard) - 71.1 million gallons, up 9.6 percent.
Ice cream, lowfat (total) - 46.4 million gallons, up 6.4 percent.
Sherbet (hard) - 3.10 million gallons, up 10.7 percent.
Frozen yogurt (total) - 5.65 million gallons, down 1.2 percent.

AGCO to Bring Fendt 300 Vario Series Tractors to North America

AGCO Corporation (NYSE:AGCO), a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment, will bring the fourth generation of Fendt® 300 Vario® tractors to North American producers for delivery in early 2022. The 300 Vario tractors are light yet powerful, offering the features and superior quality of larger Fendt tractors in a range perfect for hay and livestock production, field work and general farm use. Customers will be able to choose from models that all deliver the fuel efficiency, maneuverability and comfort expected from a Fendt.

“Soon North American producers who want the excellence of Fendt engineering in an efficient, mid-size tractor will be able to order a Fendt 300 Vario model, configured and equipped with the features that best fit the needs of their operations,” says Tom Turner, AGCO strategic marketing manager. “We’re excited to begin previewing this tractor to customers now.

“Just like the Fendt 700 Gen6 tractors, the four 300 Vario models will be available with the new FendtONE™ operator station that allows each operator to customize the tractor to their individual preferences for each chore. And FendtONE provides the entire suite of Fendt smart farming technology for full connectivity from the tractor to the office.”

Light, agile, productive and efficient

Two characteristics that will set the Fendt 300 Vario tractors apart in the marketplace are their outstanding weight-to-power ratio and agility, traits particularly beneficial for loader work in the tight quarters of livestock operations, inside barns and when feeding livestock. The 300 Vario will include four models, the 311 (100 HP), 312 (113 HP), 313 (123 HP) and the new 314 with 132 HP and up to 142 HP with the Fendt DynamicPerformance (DP) power boost. DynamicPerformance automatically adds 10 HP when it senses the need ‒ either pulling a load or when stationary, running a PTO-driven implement such as a feed grinder-mixer. Especially notable, the premium Fendt 314 ProfiPlus won AgriTechnica’s Tractor of the Year Best Utility award in both 2019 and 2020.

With an unladen weight of just 11,045 pounds, the 314 Vario boasts just over 83 pounds per horsepower yet can be ballasted up to 18,739 pounds when the work at hand calls for more weight. These agile machines provide all of Fendt’s suspension innovations for ride comfort and stability, with a mere 13-foot turning radius. They are powered with a 4.4L AGCO Power™ engine that works in unison with the Fendt tractor management system (TMS), automatic maximum load control and Fendt stepless VarioDrive™ continuously variable transmission (CVT) for optimum power, fuel efficiency and machine life.

Workhorse features excel at implement handling and productivity

“The role of a mid-range tractor on the farm is to do any job asked of it, reliably and economically,” Turner says. “The 300 Vario tractors have been doing that since they were first introduced in 1980. The latest 300 Vario tractors can be equipped to handle a full range of front and rear implements, and they are designed specifically to handle the constant reversing and speed changes needed for loader work.” The Fendt 300 Vario features live third-function loader operation controlled to make easy work of feeding livestock and other tasks around the farm with the Fendt Cargo™ loader that directly integrates into the tractor.

Fendt comfort is paramount

All the operator comfort features Fendt is renowned for can be found on the Fendt 300 Vario tractors coming to North America. In addition to front axle suspension, the 300 Series tractors will be available with either mechanical or pneumatic cab suspension for a comfortable, quiet ride. The standard comfort operator seat features air suspension and easy armrest adjustment. The optional super comfort seat has a seat heater, rotary adapter and pneumatic lumbar support, prerequisites for comfortable work during long days of field work and chores.

All tractor functions are easy to access at the operator’s fingertips. The tractors are controlled through the 12-inch primary display, the ergonomically designed multifunction joystick and control buttons, all integrated into the armrest itself. The new 10-inch “digital dashboard” is situated on the steering column. An optional 12-inch pull-down display recessed into the roof liner is available to provide up to 12 user-selected panels of information that can be shown across the armrest and pull-down displays.

Full suite of precision technology in a mid-sized tractor

Customers who desire the utmost in precision farming and connectivity across their entire fleet can now turn to the mid-sized Fendt 300 Vario tractors. Profi models will be available with Fendt Connect, a telemetry package with three-year subscription standard. It provides location, machine and other valuable operating information helpful to fleet equipment managers.

The ProfiPlus level includes the Fendt Connect package, plus the guidance-ready Fendt Guide package with a choice of either Trimble® (AG-382) or NovAtel® (SMART7) receivers. ProfiPlus models also come with Fendt TaskDoc®, which automates crop production documentation and provides the option of variable-rate control for up to five products and section control of up to 36 sections.

Comprehensive warranty and service

Each Fendt 300 Series tractor is backed by Fendt Gold Star Customer Care, assuring more value and more uptime. This includes a full 36-month/3,000-hour warranty, with no deductible, and covers all scheduled maintenance, including the cost of oil, filters, belts and maintenance items, during this time.

Wednesday September 2 Ag News

 Nebraska Extension partners to spread safety awareness this harvest season

Safety around powerlines should always be front of mind when operating large farm equipment, and Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD), Nebraska Extension and UNMC Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (CS-CASH) are partnering together to spread awareness about potential dangers as harvest season approaches.  

NPPD, Nebraska Extension and CS-CASH will be hosting events at multiple locations across the state which will feature a “Look Up and Look Out” custom combine and an ATV and grain bin entry safety simulator. First responders will be on hand to provide education on how to exit machinery safely in case of contact with a downed power line or pole structure.  

“We want to make sure farmers and equipment operators who are working around power lines know what precautions need to be taken in order to perform their work safely,” says NPPD Transmission and Distribution Construction and Maintenance Manager Scott Walz. “If a piece of equipment gets too close to a powerline or makes contact with a line it can result in serious or fatal injuries, and our main concern is that people are able to go home safe at the end of the workday. Hopefully these events will help remind people to keep a focus on safety.”  

The scheduled events will provide lunch to attendees and will take place at the following locations:
    Scottsbluff Panhandle Research and Extension Center on Tuesday, Sept. 1
    Buffalo County Fairgrounds southwest lot in Kearney on Wednesday, Sept. 2
    York County Fairgrounds on Wednesday, Sept. 9
    Madison County Extension, 1305 S. 13th St. in Norfolk on Thursday, Sept. 10
    Red Willow County Fairgrounds in McCook on Friday, Sept. 25

All the events are scheduled to take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will be marked with identifying banners for exact location. The events will also be supported by local public power districts that serve the surrounding area. Events in Norfolk and Kearney will include live line safety demos  

“Nebraska Extension and CS-CASH continue to be valuable health and safety resources for our ag producers around the state, and we are excited to partner with NPPD to promote harvest safety as the season gets underway with more equipment heading out into the field,” says Nebraska Extension Educator, Susan Harris.

The events are open to the public and will all be held outdoors to encourage social distancing. Attendees are encouraged to wear masks at the event, where CDC guidelines will be in place.

Norfolk Cattle Feedlot Owner Sentenced for Bank Fraud

United States Attorney Joe Kelly announced that Max Kant, age 48, of Norfolk, Nebraska, was sentenced today to 12 months and a day in prison by United States District Court Judge Brian C. Buescher for Bank Fraud. There is no parole in the federal system. Upon his release from prison, Kant will serve 3 years of supervised release. Kant is also ordered to pay $1,590,363.19 in restitution to Security National Bank.

Kant owned and operated MK Feedlots in Battle Creek, Nebraska.  MK Feedlots would house and feed cattle before they would be sold for slaughter. Kant was a customer of Security National Bank and had an operating line of credit, a real estate loan, and a purchase inventory line of credits with Security National Bank. On April 25, 2016, Kant submitted to Security National Bank a fraudulent Live Cattle Purchase Contract between MK Feedlots and what has been identified in the Indictment as Company A, wherein Company A purported to agree to purchase 4,000 head of cattle from MK Feedlots in June 2016. On July 28, 2017, Kant again submitted to Security National Bank a fraudulent Live Cattle Purchase Contract between MK Feedlots and Company A, wherein Company A purported to agree to purchase 5,500 head of cattle from MK Feedlots. These contracts represented a sizable receivable for MK Feedlots which induced Security National Bank to extend Kant’s line of credit. In September 2017, Kant admitted to Security National Bank that the July 28, 2017 contract was fraudulent and MK Feedlots closed. As a result of Kant’s actions, Security National Bank claimed that it experienced a loss of $2.1 million. Security National Bank is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Nebraska Women in Agriculture to launch entrepreneurship web series

Nebraska Women in Agriculture has announced a new monthly live webcast series that will highlight the entrepreneurial spirit of women in the agriculture industry from across the state.

“Open for Business: A Nebraska Women in Agriculture Agripreneurship Series” will debut on Sept. 8 at 6:30 p.m. Central Standard Time with Jaclyn Wilson, a fifth-generation cow-calf producer and founder of Flying Diamond Genetics and Flying Diamond Beef.  

The webcast will feature a conversation between Wilson and Jessica Groskopf, director of Nebraska Women in Agriculture, that focuses on surviving business shocks such as disasters, regulatory changes and shifting family dynamics.  

“We know it’s a challenging time for our state, which is why we are excited to showcase the grit, determination, and success of female agribusiness entrepreneurs in Nebraska,” Groskopf said.

“It’s our hope that their stories inspire and uplift other women to pursue their own goals and that attendees can pick up some creative and useful business insights along the way.”

From Lakeside, Neb., Wilson and her father, Blaine, operate Wilson Ranch, a Red Angus operation founded in 1888.  

In 2011, she founded Flying Diamond Genetics, a recipient business headquartered near Alliance, Neb., and, last fall, co-founded Flying Diamond Beef, a direct-to-consumer venture, with two other female business partners.

Wilson has been active in the beef industry, serving in leadership roles with Nebraska Cattlemen and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. She is an alumna of the Nebraska LEAD program, served as chair of the Nebraska Agriculture Leadership Council, and on agricultural advisory committees for Gov. Pete Ricketts, Sen. Deb Fischer and Rep. Adrian Smith. She currently sits on the Nebraska Humanities Council. In 2016. she received Farm Journal Media’s 40 Under 40 Award.

The webcasts will be free to attend. Registration is required on the Nebraska Women in Agriculture website, The monthly schedule will be updated there as well.

Nebraska Women in Agriculture is a program of Nebraska Extension in the Department of Agricultural Economics, dedicated to providing unbiased, research-based risk management education to female agriculture professionals in Nebraska. This material is based upon work supported by USDA-NIFA under Award Number 2018-70027-28586.


Fortenberry Announces Farm of the Future Event with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and Nebraska Ag Entrepreneurs

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (NE-01) today announced a Farm of the Future event he is hosting Friday, September 4, from 11:30 AM to 12:40 PM, with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and Nebraska Ag Entrepreneurs.  It will be held at the Great Plains Beef Building, 4851 N 84th St, in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Social distancing and mask-wearing are required.

"I invited USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to Lincoln to learn how Nebraskans are pioneering the Farm of the Future––connecting the farmer to the family, the urban to the rural, and the farm to the table.  From farm-to-school leaders to direct-to-consumer pioneers, urban farms to precise ag, feedlot operators deploying advanced tech to track livestock health to dairy farmers using robotics to expand yield at lower cost, the Farm of the Future is nimble, fast, yet intimate, allowing persons to know and appreciate the provenance of their food,” Fortenberry said,.

"I am so honored that Secretary Perdue is taking took time out of his busy schedule to visit us here in the Heartland.  What we are doing in Farm Country is the very essence of America.  We are a community that cares, that works hard, that produces something intimate and elemental––our nation’s food,” Fortenberry added.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will join Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry and University of Nebraska--Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green Sept. 4 for a panel discussion on agricultural innovation at Nebraska Innovation Campus.  Mike Boehm, NU vice president and Harlan Vice Chancellor of UNL's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, will serve as moderator.

The event is invitation-only to ensure social distancing. The event will be open to the media and available for public viewing at The panel discussion begins at 10:15 a.m.

Iowa Pork Industry a Critical Player in State's Economy

The work of Iowa's pig farmers is the core of a vital pork industry in the state, says a new study released by the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA).
Providing Jobs, Economic Activity

Iowa's 5,418 pig farms generate work not only in pig production, but also in hog harvesting and pork processing. In all, there are 147,105 Iowa jobs created by the pork industry through direct, indirect and induced jobs. The jobs break out this way:
    pig production on the farms generates 46 percent of the jobs;
    the state's 14 commercial hog harvesting facilities create 45 percent of the jobs; and
    commercial pork processing contributes another 9 percent of jobs.

A study provided a year ago by the Coalition to Support Iowa Farmers showed that livestock production was the only agriculture sector that was increasing the number of jobs in Iowa.
In the three areas of the pork industry, labor income from those Iowa jobs is $6.84 billion, according to Decision Innovations Solutions (DIS), an economic research and analysis firm that conducted the study for IPPA. DIS used a 2018 Iowa dataset, data from the USDA 2017 Census of Agriculture and other USDA/NASS sources and used IMPLAN modeling to project data that would reflect 2019 numbers and dollars.
The three pork industry sectors generated $40.8 billion in sales. Pig production accounted for 34 percent of the total, or $13.9 billion in sales from Iowa's pig farms. Hog harvesting facilities had 55 percent of the sales, and pork processing accounted for 11 percent of sales.
Using Local Feedstuffs

There are several reasons that Iowa is the nation's number one producer of pork. The state's pig farmers not only have a proud heritage, they have built upon the experiences of that heritage and combine it with using new research and technology to become more efficient in producing nutritious, safe and delicious pork. Another reason is the availability of key feedstuffs for raising pigs.
A balanced pig diet contains energy and amino acids, which come from corn and soybean meal diets. From weaning to reaching market weight, an average pig eats 12 bushels of corn and 2.5 bushels of soybeans. Over the course of a year, Iowa pigs consume corn that is the equivalent of 22 percent of the state's corn production and 23 percent of the state's soybeans. That means nearly one-fourth of Iowa's row crops are marketed for near-by use, thus reducing the cost of grain transportation.
Pigs and Farms, Increasing and Decreasing

The number of pigs in Iowa in December 2019, was 24.8 million hogs. Ninety-five percent (23.79 million) of those hogs are market animals, which have increased by three percent annually for the past decade. Iowa holds 32 percent of the U.S. hog inventory.
Conversely, Iowa's breeding herd (1.01 million head) has been declining slowly despite growth (1.2 percent) in the national breeding herd (6.46 million).
The size of pig farms is increasing, 69 percent of Iowa's hog inventory is now on farms with 5,000 or more pigs (20 percent of all pig farms). However, the most common commercial-size hog farm (32 percent) in Iowa is in the category of 2,000-4,999 head. Farms with 1,000-1,999 pigs are 13 percent of Iowa's pig farms.
The top five counties in pig inventory are Washington, Sioux, Lyon, Hamilton and Plymouth counties. Each of these counties has more than 1 million pigs.
In addition to analyzing state data on the impact of Iowa's pork industry, additional analysis was conducted on 35 counties in Iowa to review local economic contributions. (The data from these counties will be released soon.)
Adding Barns is a Jobs Benefit to Counties

The DIS study also included information about the economic activity in a community when a new 2,400-head finishing barn is built. This part of the study considered the construction and first year operations of a barn this size, which is typical for Iowa. Building the barn would create 12 jobs (half in construction and half in operations) and sales activities of $2.5 million.
A new pig barn sources about 35 percent of inputs locally. The construction of a new pig barn requires several purchases such as steel, concrete and equipment. Once construction is completed, pig farms purchase feed, veterinary and other professional services, and many other inputs to produce market hogs for sale.

Grain Quality Concerns Abound Following Extreme Weather in Iowa

The combination of drought, derecho and hot weather has Iowa crops maturing earlier than usual, and with a host of grain quality concerns.

“Storm damaged corn is on the ground and it is quickly becoming moldy which creates food safety hazards,” said Charles Hurburgh, professor and grain quality specialist in agricultural and biosystems engineering at Iowa State University. “The whole idea here is to get the producer and the crop insurance and the grain market together on determining value for the severely damaged grain, and how can we either take that as a total loss or direct it to another use, but not put it into the grain market.”

The droughted corn, on the other hand, is drying rapidly in the field. The key is monitoring for mold growth and toxin production during the drydown and harvesting quickly if scouting shows signs.

Hurburgh said there is a need for communication across the board, so that solutions can be reached without causing further problems down the line.

Hurburgh and the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach offer the following key points of advice for growers in both the drought and storm damage area:
-    Maintain contact with your crop insurance adjuster. We recommend having a conversation about how grain quality will be handled in your individual policy. It's important to ask about the specific quality factors (test weight, damage) and feed safety factors (mycotoxins) that will be considered.
-    Call your elevator to ask how or if different qualities of grain will be accepted. Ask them what factors they will look at and if there will be acceptance limits.
-    Continue to scout grain in the field for quality issues (primarily mold development). Continue reporting what you find to your crop adjuster, even if there has been one visit for quantity loss determination. This could change acceptance, use and valuation. Again, ask about special markets for severely damaged corn and about the process for zero valuing if quality continues to deteriorate before harvest.
-    Test the grain being fed to livestock. The key factors to consider are test weight, protein and mycotoxins. A veterinarian can access testing from Iowa State on these factors and help interpret data.

With Brazilian Export Market in Jeopardy, Trump Should Immediately Restore Domestic Market by Denying Unjustified RFS Exemptions

While no official announcement from Brazil has been made, the deadline for Brazil to extend the small, tariff-free quota for U.S. ethanol has passed, and Brazil has also not readopted its former position that ethanol trade between the two countries should be totally tariff-free. Instead of restoring free trade, Brazil is reverting to a 20 percent tariff on ethanol from the United States. Brazil has been the largest export market for U.S. ethanol.

In response, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw made the following statement:

“The news from Brazil is the worst possible outcome for U.S. ethanol producers and comes at the worst possible time. The hypocrisy of Brazil to preach about free trade for ethanol and to enjoy that right when they send product to the United States, while simultaneously putting a 20 percent barrier on our product is indefensible.

“While the Trump administration cannot control the decisions of the Brazilian government, they can control the decisions of the EPA. With our largest export market now in jeopardy, there is no time to delay in restoring sanity to domestic biofuels markets. President Trump should immediately order the EPA to deny all pending RFS refinery exemption requests for being both unjustifiable and illegal. Farmers and biofuels producers need this action now, not uncertainty until after the election.

“Further, on August 10, President Trump stated his Administration would pursue an equalization of tariffs if Brazil took this step. We look forward to quick action on this front as Brazil continues to flood the California market with duty-free ethanol while at the same time penalizing U.S. producers. Farmers need markets during this difficult time, and President Trump can quickly take these two steps to expand domestic markets for ethanol.”

Weekly Ethanol Production for 8/28/2020

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending August 28, ethanol production eased 1.0%, or 9,000 barrels per day (b/d), to 922,000 b/d—equivalent to 38.72 million gallons daily. Production remained 9.0% below the same week in 2019 as a result of the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The four-week average ethanol production rate declined 0.2% to 924,000 b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 14.16 billion gallons.

Ethanol stocks grew 2.3% to 20.9 million barrels, which was 12.3% below year-ago volumes. Inventories increased across all regions except the Gulf Coast (PADD 3).

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, contracted by 4.1% to 8.79 million b/d (134.69 annualized). Gasoline demand remained 7.2% lower than a year ago.

Conversely, refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol ticked up 0.8% to 861,000 b/d, equivalent to 13.20 bg annualized, which was 9.6% below the year-earlier level.

The U.S. imported 36,000 b/d of ethanol, or 10.58 million gallons for the week, which is believed to have originated in Brazil. This marks the fifth time over the last six weeks that imports were reported. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of June 2020.)

Farm Sector Profits Forecast to Increase in 2020

USDA Economic Research Service

Net farm income, a broad measure of profits, is forecast to increase $19.0 billion (22.7 percent) to $102.7 billion in 2020, after increasing in both 2018 and 2019. In inflation-adjusted 2020 dollars, net farm income is forecast to increase $18.3 billion (21.7 percent) from 2019. If realized, in inflation-adjusted terms, net farm income in 2020 would be 25.4 percent below its peak of $137.6 billion in 2013, but 13.8 percent above its 2000-19 average ($90.2 billion).

Net cash farm income is forecast to increase $4.9 billion (4.5 percent) to $115.2 billion in 2020. Inflation-adjusted net cash farm income is forecast to increase $4.0 billion (3.6 percent) from 2019, which would be 5.7 percent above its 2000-19 average ($109.0 billion). Net cash farm income encompasses cash receipts from farming as well as farm-related income, including government payments, minus cash expenses. It does not include noncash items—including changes in inventories, economic depreciation, and gross imputed rental income of operator dwellings—reflected in the net farm income measure above.

Cash receipts for all commodities are forecast to decrease $12.3 billion (3.3 percent) to $358.3 billion (in nominal terms) in 2020. Total animal/animal product receipts are expected to decrease $14.3 billion (8.1 percent) with declines in receipts for broilers, cattle/calves, hogs, and milk. Total crop receipts are expected to increase $2.0 billion or 1.0 percent from 2019 levels. Higher receipts for fruit/nuts are expected to more than offset lower receipts for corn, wheat, cotton, and soybeans. Direct government farm payments are forecast at $37.2 billion in 2020, an increase of $14.7 billion (65.7 percent, in nominal terms). The expected increase is because of supplemental and ad hoc disaster assistance for COVID-19 relief.

Total production expenses (including operator dwelling expenses) are forecast to decrease $4.6 billion (1.3 percent) to $344.2 billion (in nominal terms) in 2020. Interest expenses and livestock/poultry purchases are expected to decrease, but fertilizer and cash labor expenses are expected to increase.

Farm business average net cash farm income is forecast to increase $3,800 (4.8 percent) to $82,600 per farm in 2020. All resource regions, except the Heartland and Prairie Gateway, are forecast to see farm business average net cash farm income increase. Farm businesses specializing in crops are expected to see average net cash farm income increase in 2020, while those specializing in cattle/calves, hogs, poultry, and dairy are expected to see average net cash farm income decrease in 2020.

Farm sector equity is forecast up by $18.5 billion (0.7 percent) in nominal terms to $2.68 trillion in 2020. Farm assets are forecast to increase by $33.7 billion (1.1 percent) to $3.11 trillion in 2020, reflecting an anticipated 1.1-percent rise in farm sector real estate value. Farm debt in nominal terms is forecast to increase by $15.2 billion (3.6 percent) to $433.8 billion, led by an expected 5.5-percent rise in real estate debt. The farm sector debt-to-asset ratio is expected to rise from 13.61 percent in 2019 to 13.95 percent in 2020. Working capital, which measures the amount of cash available to fund operating expenses after paying off debt due within 12 months, is forecast to decline 12.8 percent from 2019. When adjusted for inflation, farm sector equity is forecast to decline slightly in 2020, while assets and debt are forecast to increase.

Median Income of Farm Operator Households Forecast to Rise in 2019 and 2020

Total median farm household income is forecast to increase to $83,111 in 2019 and continue to increase in 2020, reaching $89,674. In percentage terms, that is a nominal increase of 14.7 percent (a 12.6 percent increase after inflation) between 2018 and 2019 and a subsequent rise of 7.9 percent (a 5.9 percent increase after inflation) in 2020. The forecast rises in 2019 and 2020 are notable because they follow a trend from 2015 through 2018 of declining median farm household income.

Farm households typically receive income from both farm and off-farm sources. Median farm income earned by farm households is forecast to increase in 2019 to $296 from -$1,735 in 2018 and is expected to continue to increase to $934 in 2020. Median farm income earned by farm households was negative each year from 1996 to 2018. The increase in median farm income in 2019 and 2020 is largely because of increases in government payments to farm operations. In 2019, the Market Facilitation Program provided financial assistance in response to trade disruptions. In 2020, supplemental and ad hoc disaster assistance programs—such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)—provided financial relief to those affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

As in previous years, many farm households rely on off-farm income. The median off-farm income is forecast to increase each year, up 6.3 percent to $70,000 in 2019 and up 3.1 percent to reach $72,187 in 2020. Like the median farm income forecast, the rise in median off-farm income is primarily because of COVID-19 relief distributed to most U.S. households through the Economic Impact Payments. Because farm and off-farm income are not distributed identically for every farm, median total income will generally not equal the sum of median off-farm and median farm income.  

Reaching our Animal Ag Customers Through the Cattlemen’s Education Series

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is the sole sponsor of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Cattlemen’s Education Series (CES), engaging with cattle producers on production efficiency, profitability and sustainability. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many grant-funded in-person events have been canceled, but fortunately, corn and cattle have been able to innovate new solutions aimed at connecting agriculturalists with the latest industry information.

“With many beef industry meetings being canceled due to Covid-19, producers like me are missing out on many of the educational opportunities presented at those meetings,” said former Nebraska corn producer and beef feeder Scott Schaneman. “However, the Cattlemen’s Webinar Series allows me to still be in the know with information that can help make my operation more profitable and sustainable. We appreciate the National Corn Growers for sponsoring events like these!”

So far this year, there have been 14 CES sessions, with four more planned for the remainder of the year. NCGA has reached more than 4,000 cattle producers through these sessions.

“The beef cattle industry consumes more than 1.2 billion bushels of corn, making it our largest animal agriculture customer,” said Market Development Action Team Chair Dan Wesely of Morse Bluff, Nebraska. “It is important for us to collaborate and support the cattle industry. This series is an opportunity to share research on the value of corn and corn-based feed ingredients provide within feed rations.”

NCGA staff and grower leaders participated in one of the recent webinars on health issues in mid to late fed cattle. You can view it here...

Additionally, the Market Development Action Team approved funding for a taping of the Cattlemen to Cattlemen segment on RFD-TV. The focus of the segment will be Beef and Corn, Working Together in a Sustainable Food System. Panelists will discuss the entire value chain from corn in cattle rations, ethanol DDG production, next-generation DDGS, production practices and how sustainability plays a role.

Details on the air date will be released soon.

Barchart Releases September U.S. Yield Forecasts for Corn and Soybeans

Barchart, a leading provider of data and technology services to the financial, media, and commodity industries, announces their September cmdty Yield Forecast for end of season yield at 178.4 bu/ac for corn and 50.5 bu/ac for soybeans in the U.S. This represents an increase in forecasted yield relative to the August 4 report, which forecasted end of season yield for corn 174.8 bu/ac and end of season yield for soybeans 49.2 bu/ac.

Released for free to the public on the first Tuesday of each month during the growing season, and available to clients through daily updates, the Yield Forecasts from cmdty allow users to get insights to guide their business decisions ahead of the USDA’s WASDE report.

“We continue to provide strong and accurate yield forecasts for Corn and Soybeans, keeping our users ahead of the curve and allowing them to build robust pricing models,” says Barchart's Head of Strategy Keith Petersen. “In addition to our reliable yield forecasts, users will soon be able to receive access to production forecasts, giving them insight to even more data and equipping them with the information they need to make more efficient and smart decisions.”

cmdty Yield Forecast Indexes provide users with daily insights on over 3,000 individual growing areas in the United States. Subscribers to cmdtyView Pro will have access to these changing expectations and will be well positioned to anticipate possible changes in localized basis conditions. With better information on supply and demand, grain professionals can market their grain smarter and more confidently.

Most Fertilizer Prices Decline, While DAP and MAP Move Higher

Retail fertilizer prices continue to be mostly lower, although DAP and MAP prices are notable exceptions, according to prices tracked by DTN for the fourth week of August 2020.

As has been the case for the last couple of weeks, six fertilizers were lower in price compared to last month. None were down a significant amount, which DTN designates as 5% or more. Potash has an average price of $352/ton, down $6; urea $355/ton, down less than $1; 10-34-0 $464/ton, down $1; anhydrous $442/ton, down $12; UAN28 $219/ton, down $4; and UAN32 $258/ton, down $4.

Two fertilizers, DAP and MAP, were higher in price than last month. DAP was up significantly, or 5%, with an average price of $430/ton. That's an increase of $20 per ton. MAP was up $6/ton with an average price of $435/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.39/lb.N, anhydrous $0.27/lb.N, UAN28 $0.39/lb.N and UAN32 $0.40/lb.N.

Retail fertilizer prices continue to be considerably lower in price from a year ago. Anhydrous is 16% lower, both urea and UAN28 are 14% less expensive, DAP is 13% lower, MAP is 12% less expensive, UAN32 is 11% lower, potash is 9% less expensive and 10-34-0 is 1% lower from last year at this time.

Dairy Economy Roller Coaster Continuing Through Summer

The monthly margin under the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program for July was $12.41 per cwt. This was an increase of $2.42 per cwt. from the June margin. The milk price increased by $2.40 per cwt., from $18.10 per cwt. in June to $20.50 per cwt. in July. The feed cost calculation for July was just $0.02 per cwt. lower than in June.

Since March, the milk price has been by far the most volatile component of the DMC margin, showing month-to month changes, either down or up, that have averaged $2.83 per cwt. By contrast, the monthly changes in the feed cost component have averaged just $0.19 per cwt., and have been all declines, during that same period. Even the individual items in the feed cost formula have been relatively stable, with monthly price changes since March averaging, on a per hundredweight of milk basis, $0.15 for corn, $0.05 for soybean meal, $0.04 for all alfalfa, and $0.06 for dairy-quality alfalfa.

The pandemic is not yet through gyrating the milk price. Current dairy futures anticipatie a drop of well over $3 per hundredweight in the U.S. average all-milk price during the two months from July to September. The milk price outlook for the fall months has weakened in recent weeks as the second wave of Covid-19 infections continues, darkening the outlook for dairy use in food service and schools, and doing the same for the overall economic outlook. The current delay by Congress in agreeing to another pandemic relief package has added to this uncertainty as well.

The USDA-sponsored DMC Decision Tool is currently anticipating a drop in the margin of $3.30 per cwt. from July to September, with small payments for $9.50 per cwt. coverage occurring in both September and October.  

CWT Assisted Dairy Product Export Sales Reach 8.9 Million Pounds in August

Cooperatives Working Together in August assisted member cooperatives in securing 48 contracts to sell 2.4 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 645,955 pounds of butter (82%), 518,086 pounds of anhydrous milkfat, 4.7 million pounds of whole milk powder, and 641,545 pounds of cream cheese. The product is going to customers in 16 countries in Asia, Central America, the Middle East, Oceania, and South America. The product will be shipped during the months of August 2020 through February 2021.

These contracts bring the 2020 total of the CWT-assisted product sales contracts to 74.255 million pounds of cheese, 6.934 million pounds of butter, 1.982 million pounds of anhydrous milkfat, 5.023 million pounds of cream cheese and 36.019 million pounds of whole milk powder. These transactions bring the total milk equivalent CWT will assist member cooperatives moving overseas to 736.3 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis overseas.

Economists Expect Expansion of U.S. Soy Exports

One might question how COVID-19 and U.S. Soy exports are related. For many, this might be a far stretch, but not for Tanner Ehmke, an economist with CoBank Knowledge Exchange.

While coronavirus continues to grow around the world, especially in the United States, some areas of the world appear to have gotten it contained.

While those economic forecasts look much brighter, unfortunately, we can not say that for the United States, Ehmke said during his presentation that was part of the opening session of the U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange and Specialty Grains Conference.

"This has a huge impact on the outlook for the economic recovery for the United States," Ehmke said. "This means many areas will remain closed, or are reclosing ... severely clouds the outlook."

Going forward, Ehmke said this means we can expect a struggling U.S. economy until a vaccine is developed and deployed across the masses.

As such, the U.S. Federal Reserve has injected an unprecedented amount of liquidity into the world economy, he explained, noting that the Fed has led the world in its quantitative easing.

"All of this added together (gloomy economic outlook, increase in liquidity, political gridlock, 2020 election) -- all this uncertainty has created a depressing outlook for the U.S. dollar," he said. "Some economists even have a 30% drop in the value of the U.S. dollar.

"Therefore, it stands to reason if we have a weakening of the U.S. dollar, it means we could have a more bullish outlook on soybean exports and soybean prices."

Outside of the United States, Ehmke pointed to the Baltic Dry Index (BDI), which has been recovering and is a positive signal of global economic expansion. Ehmke believes the world economy outside of the U.S. has seen the worst of COVID.

He said the Brazilian Real has been strengthening; whereas, in Argentina, the Peso has been weakening along with Paraguay's Guarani.

"The fact that the Brazilian Real is strengthening while the U.S. dollar is weakening, this is an advantage to U.S. exports and a headwind to Brazilian exports going forward," Ehmke said.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's most recent report, it expects record high soybean production around the world and unprecedented availability.

Investigation is Positive Step Toward Fixing Trade Imbalances

The USDA, United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) office and the U.S. Department of Commerce are taking action to remedy damage  caused to America’s produce farmers by increased imports from other countries. USTR is requesting the International Trade Commission focus on blueberries. Imports of fresh fruits and vegetables have increased dramatically over the past 25 years, driving down prices for domestically grown produce.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall testified about the concerns of produce farmers at a USTR hearing in August.

AFBF President Zippy Duvall says:
“We appreciate the work that has been done in recent trade deals to level the playing field for America’s farmers and ranchers, but this investigation demonstrates there are still imbalances that must be addressed.

“Ambassador Lighthizer, Secretary Ross and Secretary Perdue listened to our concerns that seasonal fruit and vegetable growers face unfair competition from foreign growers, and their decision to open an investigation is a positive step forward. We will be following this investigation and we stand ready to help find a solution that will strengthen relationships with our trading partners while giving America’s farmers a fair price for the food they grow.”

Imports of fresh fruits and vegetables from Mexico have increased from approximately $1.2 billion in 1993 to $13.5 billion in 2019.

Tuesday September 1 Ag News

 NeFB Cattle Markets Task Force Preparing Final Report

The purpose of the NEFB Cattle Markets Task Force is to examine underlying issues and focus on the creation of a roadmap for the long-term viability of the cattle sector, the overriding goal being to secure the future of the cattle industry in the state for the long-term.

The Task Force is made up of 11 NEFB members and was given the goal of having a final report submitted to the membership.

To date, the Task Force has met 10 times since the beginning of April. The meetings consisted of a mix of presentations and discussions with experts in the industry along with discussions amongst the Task Force members.

The Task Force identified seven general topics to explore:
    Increase Negotiated Sales for Fed Cattle
    Improve the Cattle Futures Market
    Opportunities in Value-Added Marketing
    Improve Mandatory Price Reporting
    Increase Packer Capacity
    Viable Risk Management Alternatives
    Address Market Power by Packers

In late June through early July, the Task Force surveyed members on those identified topics and asked NEFB members to rank them in order of importance and offer comments on any other topic they felt the group needed to explore. While not scientific, members of the Task Force felt it was important to get feedback from the general membership. In total, over 170 NEFB members responded to the survey.

The final report will be emailed out to all NEFB farmer/rancher members and will be posted on NEFB’s website.

What are Total Export Commitments Telling Us about Beef's Potential in 2020: Positive Signs?

Elliott Dennis, Extension Economist, Dept of Ag Economics, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Overarching Market Conditions

The recent cattle on feed report suggests that cattle feedlots are coming closer to sorting through much of the backlog associated with plant closures and shutdowns as a result of plant workers testing positive and plants implementing CDC and OSHA worker health recommendations. For example, the number of cattle on feed over 90 days has dipped below 2019 levels for the first time since April. However, cattle on feed over 120 days is still about 10% higher than 2019. The result of cattle being on feed longer is sustained record level dressed weights for both steers and heifers. Heavier carcasses has led to higher beef production in recent months relative to 2019 putting downward pressure on cattle prices. With net feedlot placements (i.e. higher than 2019 and the five year average, cattle feedlots look like they are once again reloading with cattle less than 700 lbs. potentially sustaining record beef production in the long term that will need to be consumed. With lower, but growing, domestic demand and concerns about what a second government shutdown might due to domestic demand, beef export demand is likely to play a larger and more prominent role in sustaining domestic cattle prices.
Total Beef Export Commitments

One way to monitor beef exports is through USDA-FAS weekly export sales report. This report shows the number of exports occurring that week, total number of sales that have occurred during the calendar year, previous sales that have not shipped during the calendar year, previous sales planned for this calendar year but were cancelled, and sales scheduled to ship in future years. From this weekly data, one can calculate total sales commitments within a given week (i.e. ) which can be viewed as a leading indicator for export potential.

Exports have partially dampened the effect of lower domestic beef demand resulting from government restrictions due to COVID-19 concerns. Given the importance of beef exports how was 2020 shaping up relative to 2019, both pre and post COVID-19? There was a large number of total commitments in January and February as a result of numerous trade deals completed in prior years. As COVID-19 concerns grew, exports sales began to lag in the middle of February and ultimately dropped from a high of 200% of 2019 total commitments to 15%. Since then 2020 total commitments have continued to deteriorate staying at about 96% of 2019 total commitments, on average, since the beginning of May. Clearly COVID-19 has impacted beef export commitments.

So how much has COVID-19 hurt beef total commitments and what does the 2020 ending total export sales commitment look like? These questions can be partially answered by looking at recent historical export total commitment seasonal patterns and then overlaying these seasonal patterns onto 2020. Export sales tend to follow a seasonal pattern, like most agricultural products. Figure 2 plots this seasonality using each weeks beef total commitments as a proportion of year ending accumulated total commitments. For example, we would interpret the value of 0.63 in 2019 on week 26 as 63% of all commitments occurred prior at end of the 26nd week of the year. Figure 2 clearly indicates that while each year slightly varies, export total commitment patterns have stayed relatively stable since 2015. I use these seasonal patterns to calculate what the hypothetical year ending total commitments were projected to be each week in 2020. At the peak in February it was estimated that 2020 year ending total commitments were estimated to be 1.2 million metric tons. Since COVID-19 estimated year ending total commitments are now at approximately 0.9 million metric tons.

If the proportion of total commitments relative to 2019 held since the beginning of May holds for the rest of 2020 then the estimated weekly sales for the rest of 2020 would be 96% of 2019 commitments in that week. Given this assumption, estimated 2020 ending total commitments at the end of December would be 862,881 metric tons. This would be approximately 22% lower than the projected estimates in January 2020, 30% lower than the peak of total commitments in February 2020, and 20% lower than March 2020, when the U.S. declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
Chinese Overtones in Global Beef Market

China is a large driver of world beef export sales up about 41% from 2019. Although the US has a relatively smaller share of these imports compared to Brazil, Argentina, and Australia. There are fewer US beef exports to China due to the majority of cattle not meeting Chinese traceability and production requirements. Larger than average Chinese beef sales is largely due to the continuing African Swine Fever (ASF) issues occurring in Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe. There has been sustainable progress in eliminating ASF from hog production systems but there still remains a sizable protein gap both in the short term and midrange forecasts. How well these areas of the world do at controlling ASF will likely continue to a primary demand pull of US beef export sales.
FAPRI Forecasts

So how well are economic forecasts incorporating these export and domestic demand conditions? This past week, the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri updated their five-year baseline forecast for beef. Their estimates continue to support the idea the US cattle cycle has peaked and will continue to contract over the next five years. Despite declining beef cows, total beef production is forecasted to be relatively stable at 27 billion pounds per year. Stable production given declining count number can be attributed to heavier carcasses and more efficient feeding systems. Net exports (beef exports - beef imports) is expected to widen from +140 in 2021 to +245 in 2025 largely due to ASF and increasing global competiveness of US beef. Smaller cow numbers will reduce the size of future calf crops reducing the number of feeder and fed cattle marketed and ultimately boxes of beef available to be sold. Combined, this has the effect of raising prices along the supply chain. Planning prices in 2021 were estimated as follows: boxed beef @ $221 per cwt., 5-area steers @ $113 per cwt., and OK City feeder steers @ $151 per cwt.

Reinke Honors Grossenburg Technician with Platinum Plus Service Award

Reinke announces that Jacob Korth with Grossenburg Implement in Wayne has earned the Platinum PLUS (Proven Leaders in Unmatched Service) Certified Technician Award. The award is the most elite technical service designation awarded by Reinke.

“Being recognized as a Platinum PLUS Certified Technician is a remarkable accomplishment,” said Mark Mesloh, vice president of North American sales, Reinke. “Jacob has completed the most extensive technical service training available to Reinke dealers and is to be commended for his hard work.”

The Platinum PLUS Certified Technician Program consists of a series of six technical service training classes and tests. Korth received the Platinum PLUS award by scoring more than 90 percent on all six tests.

“We understand how important qualified service technicians are to growers when they make their buying decisions,” added Mesloh. “That’s the focus of our technical service programs, to consistently build on the level of service capabilities of Reinke dealers across the country and further our commitment to the industry.”

With hundreds of dealers in more than 40 countries, Reinke Manufacturing is the world’s largest privately held manufacturer of center pivot and lateral move irrigation systems. Family owned since 1954, and headquartered in Deshler, Neb., Reinke develops products and technology designed to increase agriculture production while providing labor savings and environmental efficiencies. Reinke is a continued leader in industry advancements as the first to incorporate GPS, satellite-based communications and touchscreen panel capabilities into mechanized irrigation system management. For more information on Reinke or to locate a dealership, visit or call 402-365-7251.

Support any Nebraska FFA Chapter with I Believe in the Future of Ag

September marks the official start of the 10th  annual I Believe in the Future of Ag fundraising campaign. This campaign serves as an outlet for local FFA chapters to receive donations for innovative projects in their classrooms, leadership programming, community service projects and field trips to advance agriculture education in their schools.

This year,, Aurora Cooperative, BigIron Auctions, Central Valley Ag, CoBank  and DEKALB/Asgrow committed $20,000 each to the campaign. Other sponsors, contributing $10,000 each, include: Bayer CropScience, Country Partners Cooperative, CPI, Farm Credit Services of America, Farmers Cooperative, Frontier Cooperative, GrainBridge, Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation, Pinnacle Bank, Producers Livestock and Valley Irrigation.

These corporate partners provide support for an educational campaign for FFA and agricultural education in Nebraska and support fundraising efforts at the local level. “Local FFA chapters and agriculture education chapters play an integral role in growing and developing future leaders in agriculture and in our communities. I see this campaign as a very important tool to help those chapters have the resources they need to grow leaders and build communities,” says Stacey Agnew, Nebraska FFA Foundation Executive Director.

Donors to the I Believe in the Future of Ag campaign choose which chapter they support. One hundred percent of each local donation will be sent back to the designated chapter at the end of the campaign and a portion of the $35,000 challenge matching pool will be distributed to participating chapters. To donate to a local FFA chapter contact your local FFA advisor or go online to

Nebraska farmers among nation’s leading participants in Conservation Stewardship Program

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) has helped Nebraska farmers and ranchers achieve conservation goals on their operations for nearly two decades, and the state is a national leader of the program in multiple aspects.

In 2018, there were 6,038,535 acres—or 13 percent of the state’s total agricultural land—actively enrolled in CSP, according to a fact sheet released today by the Center for Rural Affairs.

The resource also includes information such as the number of active CSP contracts, financial assistance allocated, and the top conservation practices used in the state.

Administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), CSP provides financial and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to maintain agricultural production on their land, and simultaneously address resource concerns with conservation practices. The program is set up so that producers must demonstrate existing conservation efforts, and then have the opportunity to build on those efforts with new practices and enhancements.

“What we found—in both the NRCS data and our own research—is that the farmers and ranchers who use CSP are highly satisfied with the program, and Nebraska is leading the nation in various ways in program use,” said Kate Hansen, policy assistant for the Center.

Hansen said the fact sheet can be a valuable resource for producers, landowners, and policy makers alike.

“As Congress prepares to return to Washington, D.C., they should not forget about the importance of conservation,” Hansen said. “Conservation offers resiliency for operations, which we have seen is sorely needed in these tough times.”

The resource follows the release of a national report from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

The fact sheet: “Impacts of the Conservation Stewardship Program in Nebraska” can be found at

Petsource by Scoular celebrates ribbon cutting at new $50 million facility in Seward, Nebraska

Gov. Pete Ricketts, U.S. Rep. Don Bacon and Seward-area civic leaders on Tuesday participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony and toured Petsource by Scoular’s new $50 million freeze-dried pet food ingredient manufacturing facility. The facility will begin operations in October.

“Scoular has been creating opportunities for Nebraskans for over a century,” said Gov. Ricketts. “The Petsource operation brings great jobs to Seward, and we’re grateful for Scoular’s ongoing commitment to growing its business in the Cornhusker State.”

“Nebraska is the center of agriculture in the United States because of the quality commodities we grow and raise along with the innovation that is generated by such companies as Scoular,” added Rep. Bacon, a member of the House Agriculture Committee. “This Petsource facility highlights the rich resources available in our community but also the brilliant and ingenious talent produced by our Nebraska educational institutions.”
Petsource is an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of The Scoular Company, a 128-year-old employee-owned company headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. Petsource will develop, procure, freeze-dry and package high-protein ingredients as a contract partner for pet food manufacturers. It is among the first in the country to bring these steps together under one roof, positioning itself as the go-to source for pet food companies. The facility includes a testing laboratory where new pet food ingredients, such as freeze-dried whole organ meats and meat analogue recipes, are created.

“We are excited to drive innovation in the pet food industry and encouraged by our customers’ enthusiasm for the capabilities within our new facility,” said Petsource General Manager Amy Patterson. “We look forward to creating new partnerships with our customers by bringing product development together with meat processing, freeze drying and packaging to provide a complete freeze-dried pet food supply chain.”

The 105,000-square-foot manufacturing facility is located in the Seward/Lincoln Regional Rail Campus. After a national search, Seward was chosen in part due to the available labor pool of talented, hard-working people. Petsource is expected to create up to 100 jobs once fully operational.

“Petsource represents the single-largest economic development project for the City of Seward in decades,” said Mayor Josh Eickmeier. “For our community, Petsource is not just a new business, it is a new partner.”

“On behalf of Scoular, I want to thank the greater Seward community and State of Nebraska for their support of and enthusiasm for the Petsource operation from start to finish,” said Scoular CEO Paul Maass. “Scoular is proud to invest in the state we have called home for 128 years.”

Key project partners included the City of Seward, Seward County Chamber & Development Partnership, the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and Gray Construction, based in Lexington, Kentucky.

Perdue, Iowa Leaders Participate in a Crop Damage, Conservation and Innovation Tour

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig will join U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and U.S. Senator Joni Ernst for an agricultural tour through central Iowa on Thursday, Sept. 3.

The state and federal leaders will take an aerial tour of the crop damage caused by the drought and derecho before heading to a nutrient-reducing wetland site to see the state’s conservation efforts in action.

The group will cap off the day with visits to two agribusinesses to learn more about the agricultural innovation at work in Iowa.

11 a.m. Clean Water in Iowa Starts Here tour stop – Hardin County
Stolee Farms, 27242 E Ave., Radcliffe
Conservation tour, presentations and media availability

1:30 p.m. Tour Eagle’s Catch
1802 Industrial Park, Ellsworth

2:45 p.m. Tour Performance Livestock Analytics
2321 N Loop Drive Suite #120, Ames


U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will join Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry and University of Nebraska–Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green Sept. 4 for a panel discussion on agricultural innovation at Nebraska Innovation Campus.

Mike Boehm, NU vice president and Harlan Vice Chancellor of UNL’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, will serve as moderator.

The event is invitation-only to ensure social distancing. The event will be open to the media and available for public viewing at The panel discussion begins at 10:15 a.m. in the banquet area on the second floor of the Nebraska Innovation Commons building, 2021 Transformation Drive.

Former governor of Georgia, Perdue was appointed the 31st U.S. secretary of agriculture by President Donald Trump in April 2017. He grew up on a dairy and diversified row crop farm in rural Georgia. He served in the U.S. Air Force before earning a veterinary degree from the University of Georgia. A Republican, he served in the Georgia State Senate for 11 years and as governor for two terms, from 2003 to 2011.

Ag Law Seminar and Farm Tax Workshop Planned for Sept. 23-24

Farm consultants and tax preparers will have a two-day opportunity to expand their knowledge of current ag law and tax issues Sept. 23-24.

“Moving Forward, Equipping Your Clients for 2021 and Beyond” is an online training hosted by the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation at Iowa State University, and begins with the Agricultural Law Seminar Sept. 23. Topics will include legal issues impacting livestock growers, the impact of COVID-19 on the farm economy and considerations when working with ag lenders, entity planning for farm program payments and tax matters, Iowa’s new partition law and more.

The Sept. 24 Farm Tax Workshop will address COVID-19 relief and legislation impacting agricultural producers, like-kind exchange issues, getting out of the business of farming, retirement issues for farmers and more.

“Our annual September Seminars focus on legal and tax issues most impacting agricultural producers in 2020 and beyond,” said Kristine Tidgren, director of the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation at Iowa State University and Holder of the Leonard Dolezal Professorship in Agricultural Law. “The two-day event features expert speakers from Iowa and around the country. Those attending will have an opportunity to ask the speakers questions and participate through polling questions.”

Speakers at the Ag Law Seminar will include prominent ag attorneys who serve the Midwest, ag lenders and law professors from West Virginia University and the University of Nebraska.

Speakers at the Farm Tax Workshop will include Tidgren, along with CALT staff attorney Kitt Tovar, CALT farm tax specialist Guido van der Hoeven, and Greg Bouchard, director for Cornell University Federal Income Tax Schools.

Both programs will run from 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Continuing education credits are available for attorneys, certified public accountants and other tax preparers, real estate and insurance professionals.

Register online by Sept. 16 for the best rate of $300 for both seminars, or $185 for one seminar. After Sept. 16, the rate is $335 for both or $210 for one seminar.

For more information, Tidgren can be reached at 515-294-6365, or

The American Dairy Coalition Applauds Congressman Fred Keller for the introduction of the GIVE MILK Act

The American Dairy Coalition applauds Congressman Fred Keller on his recently introduced bill designed to foster a taste for milk in children by offering an expanded variety of dairy products, including 2% and Whole fat milk, to participants of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).  The bill, officially titled, “Giving Increased Variety to Ensure Milk into the Lives of Kids (GIVE MILK) Act,” would expand WIC offerings. The American Dairy Coalition and the dairy producers we represent across the nation are thankful Congressman Keller is dedicated to ensuring nutritionally at-risk Americans have the ability to choose what dairy products fit the taste preferences of their families.

The WIC program provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, nutritional education and other support for low-income pregnant or postpartum women as well as caregivers of children under 5. This program helps put good nutrition in the hands of children, and it is vital it include the dairy industry’s best tasting products — full fat dairy! Whole milk provides a nutritionally dense, affordable and accessible complete source of protein that children love. Science shows consumption of these products promotes a healthy weight in both children and adults and fends of chronic diseases.

The American Dairy Coalition supports the work of Congressman Keller to put whole milk back in the hands of children across the country.  More initiatives such as the GIVE MILK Act are necessary to change the antiquated and unscientifically based notion that saturated fats are dangerous to public health. We encourage all members of the dairy industry to not only support the GIVE MILK Act, but also encourage their legislators to urge the Dietary Guidelines for Americans also be updated to remove caps on saturated fats, allowing once more the choice of whole milk in public schools.  Children deserve the best — let’s give them whole milk!

USDA Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production

Total corn consumed for alcohol and other uses was 477 million bushels in July 2020. Total corn consumption was up 10 percent from June 2020 but down 6 percent from July 2019. July 2020 usage included 91.5 percent for alcohol and 8.5 percent for other purposes. Corn consumed for beverage alcohol totaled 3.23 million bushels, down 11 percent from June 2020 and down 37 percent from July 2019. Corn for fuel alcohol, at 424 million bushels, was up 12 percent from June 2020 but down 6 percent from July 2019. Corn consumed in July 2020 for dry milling fuel production and wet milling fuel production was 89.4 percent and 10.6 percent, respectively.

Dry mill co-product production of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) was 1.86 million tons during July 2020, up 12 percent from June 2020 but down 6 percent from July 2019. Distillers wet grains (DWG) 65 percent or more moisture was 859,616 tons in July 2020, up 4 percent from June 2020 but down 28 percent from July 2019.

Wet mill corn gluten feed production was 305,196 tons during July 2020, up 4 percent from June 2020 and up 2 percent from July 2019. Wet corn gluten feed 40 to 60 percent moisture was 264,778 tons in July 2020, up 8 percent from June 2020 and up 5 percent from July 2019.

Fats and Oils: Oilseed Crushings, Production, Consumption and Stocks

Soybeans crushed for crude oil was 5.54 million tons (185 million bushels) in July 2020, compared with 5.32 million tons (177 million bushels) in June 2020 and 5.38 million tons (179 million bushels) in July 2019. Crude oil produced was 2.12 billion pounds up 4 percent from June 2020 and up 2 percent from July 2019. Soybean once refined oil production at 1.58 billion pounds during July 2020 increased 5 percent from June 2020 and increased 4 percent from July 2019.

Canola seeds crushed for crude oil was 204,619 tons in July 2020, compared with 123,242 tons in June 2020 and 145,547 tons in July 2019. Canola crude oil produced was 173 million pounds, up 64 percent from June 2020 and up 42 percent from July 2019. Canola once refined oil production, at 161 million pounds during July 2020, was up 39 percent from June 2020 and up 57 percent from July 2019.

EPA Supports Technology to Benefit America’s Farmers, Improve Sustainability

In another effort to remove barriers to innovation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a rule that will streamline the regulation of certain plant-incorporated protectants (PIPs) that pose no risks of concern to humans or the environment. This action – which will be available for public comment for 60 days – delivers on a  key directive under President Trump’s Executive Order on Modernizing the Regulatory Framework for Agricultural Biotechnology Products.

“This new rule will provide critical new tools for America’s farmers as they work to increase agricultural productivity, improve the nutritional value and quality of crops, fight pests and diseases, and boost food safety,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Embracing this technology through a transparent, consistent and science-based process is long overdue, and will secure benefits to American agriculture well into the future.”

Specifically, EPA is proposing a exemptions under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) for certain PIPs created through biotechnology. The Agency has preliminarily determined that these substances meeting the exemption criteria have no risks of concern to humans or the environment.

EPA’s proposed exemptions for PIPs created through biotechnology seek to facilitate the development of new tools for American farmers to protect their crops and control agricultural pests. By reducing antiquated regulations that restrict access to the market for biotechnology products, science-based innovations to agriculture will become far more accessible to American farmers. These improvements will have the potential to increase America’s food supply.

PIPs are pesticidal substances produced by plants and the genetic material necessary for the plant to produce the pesticidal substance. The existing regulatory exemption for PIPs is limited to those created through conventional breeding. The proposed exemption would allow for PIPs created through biotechnology to also be exempt from existing regulations if they 1) pose no greater risk than PIPs that meet EPA safety requirements, and 2) could have been created through conventional breeding.

Under the proposed exemption, EPA would require developers of PIPs to submit either a self-determination letter or a request for EPA confirmation that their PIP meets the criteria for exemption; a developer could also submit both.

To learn more about the proposed exemption and to submit comments visit:  

USDA Announces Commodity Credit Corporation Lending Rates for September 2020

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Credit Corporation today announced interest rates for September 2020, which are effective September 1-September 30, 2020.

The Commodity Credit Corporation borrowing rate-based charge for September is 0.125%, the same as August.

The interest rate for crop year commodity loans less than one year disbursed during September is 1.125%, the same as August.

Interest rates for Farm Storage Facility Loans approved for September are as follows:
    0.125% with three-year loan terms, down from 0.250% in August;
    0.250% with five-year loan terms, the same as August;
    0.500% with seven-year loan terms, the same as August;
    0.625% with 10-year loan terms, the same as August; and
    0.750% with 12-year loan terms, the same as August.

The loan programs administered by the Farm Service Agency help stabilize the incomes of America’s farmers and ranchers and ensure their continued operations.

Visit for more information on loan eligibility, the application process or to find your local service center.

GRO Network Brings Environmental Transparency to Grain Market

Farmer’s Business Network, Inc. (FBNSM), the leading direct-to-farm ag tech platform and farmer network, today launched GRO Network™, which provides new technology and services that facilitate the scoring, sourcing, and pricing of Low-Carbon Grain from farm to fork, making environmental transparency in the grain industry a reality now.

GRO Network enables comprehensive environmental transparency, and supports a market for premium, environmentally-scored grain. GRO Network also provides buying intelligence software that directly connects farmers with consumer packaged goods companies, animal feed providers, biofuel makers and the world’s other major grain buyers.

POET, the world’s largest producer of biofuels has joined GRO Network as a key customer in the market for verifiable Low-Carbon Grain.

“Family farms have already invested the time, innovation and sweat-equity to develop the regenerative practices required to grow Low-Carbon Grain,” said Amol Deshpande, CEO and Co-Founder of FBN. “With GRO Network, the efforts of farmers as well as food and feed companies, biofuel makers, and ordinary consumers to reduce carbon emissions just got a huge boost.”

Transparency in the agriculture supply chain starts with data direct from the field.

Farmers share information on their cultivation practices - including fertilizer applications, tillage, and cover cropping - with GRO Network, which is processed with artificial intelligence that leverage FBN’s 240 million acre-events of real world farm data, validates and distills the practices into a single farm-level score. This single score - which is the only information shared between GRO Network and prospective buyers - informs the buyer to then source premium grain as well as build programs to meet unique sustainability goals, while protecting farmers’ data privacy.

Importantly, verifiable Low-Carbon Grain will allow agricultural processors and food companies to meet their own significant emission goals. Policymakers will be able to evaluate a precise, farm-level carbon-intensity score to more accurately measure the GHG reduction of biofuels for low carbon fuel policies. GRO Network will help these companies embed the required carbon traceability into their supply chains, all within the current government policy framework.

“At POET we know that agriculture is the key to combating climate change, and we want to support farmers who share our mission to be good stewards of the earth by using environmentally friendly practices,” said POET Founder and CEO Jeff Broin. “We are excited about the potential of the GRO Network to promote sustainable agriculture and utilize the resulting Low-Carbon Corn to produce even greener bioethanol and bioproducts.”

GRO Network is focusing initially on carbon abatement, which, based on GRO Network pilots, can reduce grain emissions by up to 50%, while increasing farm revenues at the same time. It relies on proven, existing science and robust FBN analytics to measure the benefits of conservation activities on the farm, providing immediate, low-risk solutions to reduce the environmental impact of the agriculture supply chain.

“Regenerative agriculture techniques have not only saved us money, they’ve made us money,” said Todd Hanten, who farms 3,000 acres of corn, soybeans and spring wheat in South Dakota. “We’ve always tried these practices side by side and can compare conventional tillage to no-till and strip till and we’ve realized the benefits through our data analytics. We’re happy to find out that the practices we’ve adopted are saving us money and making us a better return.”

FBN began development of GRO Network close to two years ago in order to allow fuel, food and feed companies to work alongside farmers to accelerate the adoption of regenerative agricultural practices that deliver the biggest impact. GRO Network incentivizes sustainable conservation and soil health practices by producers, ensuring a consistent supply of high quality, Low-Carbon Grain for buyers.

“Ultimately, GRO Network aligns farmers, processors, brands, consumers and policy-makers in the fight against climate change,” Deshpande said. “We are excited to see family farm incomes improve as a direct result.”

Nufarm announces launch of new Panther® family herbicide

Nufarm Americas, Inc. is pleased to announce the launch of Panther MTZ herbicide. Panther MTZ is the latest in Nufarm’s portfolio of innovative Panther herbicides formulated to help growers gain weed management efficacy, resistance management and lasting residual control that improves flexibility come spring.

Panther MTZ offers two modes of action, the dual-benefit of swift burndown and lasting residual, and an optimal load of metribuzin at a lower application rate than competing premixes.

“One of Nufarm’s key goals is to expand the tools available to farmers to help them fight challenges posed by weeds,” said Chris Bowley, Nufarm Brand and Customer Marketing Manager. “Panther MTZ improves results where they’re needed most – combatting weed resistance, assisting burndown and adding residual control. In addition to pre-plant application, growers can apply this fall to ease weed pressure out of the gate this spring.”

“Possibly the strongest attribute of Panther MTZ is that it contains a more effective load of metribuzin where other premix products sometimes require the addition of extra metribuzin for certain applications,” added Bowley.

Panther MTZ delivers broad-spectrum control of more than 90 weed species and is labeled uses for soybeans, sugarcane, fallow (including wheat / fallow rotations), non-crop farm areas and industrial vegetation management. It provides flexible fall or spring application timing and tank mixing – and will be available in September 2020,

Panther MTZ herbicide is the latest addition to the Nufarm’s growing list of herbicides that farmers can use for weed management year round, from “Harvest to Canopy™”. For information about all of the crop protection solutions available from Nufarm, visit

Monday August 31 Crop Progress + Ag News


For the week ending August 30, 2020, there were 6.9 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 27% very short, 43% short, 29% adequate, and 1% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 23% very short, 39% short, 37% adequate, and 1% surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn condition rated 5% very poor, 10% poor, 21% fair, 45% good, and 19% excellent. Corn dented was 74%, well ahead of 49% last year, and ahead of 60% for the five-year average. Mature was 11%, ahead of 1% last year and 4% average.

Soybean condition rated 5% very poor, 9% poor, 20% fair, 47% good, and 19% excellent. Soybeans dropping leaves was 16%, ahead of 1% last year and 8% average.

Sorghum condition rated 4% very poor, 8% poor, 31% fair, 32% good, and 25% excellent. Sorghum coloring was 60%, well ahead of 25% last year, and ahead of 53% average. Mature was 2%, near 3% average.

Dry edible bean condition rated 1% very poor, 2% poor, 15% fair, 63% good, and 19% excellent. Dry edible beans setting pods was 94%, equal to last year. Dropping leaves was 31%, well ahead of 9% last year. Harvested was 2%.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 17% very poor, 30% poor, 30% fair, 20% good, and 3% excellent.


Continued dry weather allowed Iowa farmers 6.7 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending August 30, 2020, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Drought conditions and rapidly drying crops are now a concern for most of the State. Field activities included harvesting hay, chopping corn silage and harvesting seed corn. Some farmers have been cleared to mow or disc in their corn damaged by the derecho.

Topsoil moisture condition rated 41% very short, 40% short, 19% adequate and 0% surplus. The State’s topsoil moisture condition deteriorated to 81% short to very short. Subsoil moisture condition rated 37% very short, 40% short, 23% adequate and 0% surplus. The State’s subsoil moisture condition dropped to over three-quarters short to very short.

Corn was 95% in the dough stage or beyond, over 2 weeks ahead of the previous year and 6 days ahead of the 5-year average. Almost three-quarters of the corn crop was in or beyond dent stage, over 2 weeks ahead of the previous year and 1 week ahead of average. The crop seems to be speeding towards maturity with 11% of the crop mature, 18 days ahead of last year and 6 days ahead of average. Corn condition rated 45% good to excellent, a drop of 5 percentage points from the previous week and the lowest level since the week ending October 20, 2013.

Soybeans setting pods were over 2 weeks ahead of last year and 4 days ahead of average at 96%. Soybeans coloring reached 29%. That is the highest percentage of soybeans coloring by August 30 since 2012. Soybean condition fell again this week with the crop now rated 50% good to excellent, the lowest level so far this season.

Alfalfa hay third cutting was 86% complete, almost 3 weeks ahead of last year and 11 days ahead of the 5-year average.

Pasture condition fell 7 percentage points this week to just 16% good to excellent. Many cattlemen have had to begin supplemental feeding of hay due to deteriorating pasture conditions.

Corn, Soybean Good-to-Excellent Condition Ratings Fall Again

U.S. corn and soybean condition ratings continued to fall last week as a flash drought fried crops over a sizeable portion of the Plains and north-central Midwest, USDA NASS said in its weekly Crop Progress report on Monday.

NASS estimated that 62% of the nation's corn crop was in good-to-excellent condition as of Sunday, Aug. 30, down 2 percentage points from 64% the previous week. The crop's current good-to-excellent rating is tied for fifth highest in the past 10 years.  The heat and dryness also pushed corn swiftly toward maturity. Ninety-four percent of corn was in the dough stage as of Sunday, 5 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 89%, and 63% of the crop was dented, 7 percentage points ahead of the average of 56%. Corn mature was estimated at 12%, 2 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 10%.

While corn development was slightly ahead of normal, soybean development continued to run at a near-average pace. Soybeans setting pods was estimated at 95%, just 2 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 93%. Soybeans dropping leaves was estimated at 8%, equal to the five-year average.  Like corn, soybean conditions also declined again last week. NASS estimated that 66% of the nation's soybean crop was in good-to-excellent condition as of Aug. 30, down 3 percentage points from 69% the previous week. The crop's current good-to-excellent rating is still tied for the third highest in 10 years.

Spring wheat harvest continued to make steady progress last week, moving ahead another 20 percentage points to reach 69% complete as of Sunday, bringing it to within 8 percentage points of the five-year average of 77%.


2020 Nebraska Property Tax Changes

J. David Aiken, UNL Professor - NE Extension Water & Agricultural Law Specialist

The Nebraska Unicameral enacted significant property tax relief legislation in the closing days of the 2020 legislative session. The last-minute compromise was negotiated by seven legislators selected by the Speaker. The compromise establishes a refundable state income tax credit of an estimated 6% of the property taxes paid for local schools (excluding property taxes for school bonds and school budget overrides). Taxpayers will be able to claim this credit on next year’s Nebraska state income tax return. For fiscal years (FYs) 2021-22 through 2023-24 (i.e. from       July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2024), the amount available for the refundable state income tax credits will be increased from the $125 million base amount if and only if sales and income tax collections exceed projections and have an annual increase of at least 3.5%. For FY 2024-25 the amount available for the refundable state income tax credit will increase to $375 million. That could lead to refundable state income tax credits of as much as 18% of the property taxes paid to local schools.

Taxpayers can estimate what their refundable credit might be next year by examining a recent property tax statement and multiplying the amount paid to local schools by 6%. Whether the amount of the credit is actually 6% has yet to be determined. Many taxpayers should receive a refund of at least a portion of their property tax income tax credit on next year’s Nebraska state income tax return.

There were many political twists and turns in arriving at the 2020 property tax relief compromise. They include:
school districts opposing proposals to cap school spending increases;
the Governor opposing closing sales tax exemptions to generate additional revenue for property tax relief, significantly lowering the possible magnitude of such relief;
urban school districts opposing changes to the state school aid formula that would have ensured that all school districts would receive some state aid on a per-pupil basis, increasing state aid to rural districts at the expense of urban districts;
rural senators voting against revising the state’s business tax incentive program; and
signature collection to place the proposed 35% solution property tax relief amendment on the November 2020 ballot being called off due to the health risks associated with signature collection during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We were at the point of stalemate at the end of the 2019 legislative session and the attempted compromise did not materialize. The “grand bargain” that did materialize this year, which was adopted with 40-42 votes in favor (out of 49), included three major components: (1) the income tax credit for local school property taxes paid; (2) enacting a new state business tax incentive program (the “ImagiNE Nebraska” act) and (3) a state commitment to provide $300 million in state funding for a $2.6 billion national pandemic and disaster response center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The state funding will be provided if sufficient federal and private funds for the pandemic center are received. The UNMC pandemic center would create an estimated 8700 high paying jobs in the Omaha metropolitan area. The holdout rural senators controlled the votes needed to enact the ImagiNE Nebraska act and the UNMC pandemic center funding, which normally would have enough votes for enactment. But the rural holdout senators insisted that their votes were contingent upon enacting significant property tax relief, and in the end, all three programs were enacted as LB 1107.

One attribute of a compromise is that almost no one is completely satisfied with the result. Those who believe that the only acceptable road to property tax relief is to reduce the spending that property taxes fund will be dissatisfied. They will have to take the more challenging route of persuading local school boards to limit or cut school spending when at the same time local parents want their children to have a full range of educational opportunities. Those who want to modify the state school aid formula to ensure that all Nebraska schools receive at least some state aid will need to include the schools in the policy negotiations. The failure to do so this year and last year doomed – in this observer’s opinion – property tax relief proposals modifying the state aid formula. Those wanting greater property tax relief will need to persuade others that closing sales tax loopholes to pay for property tax relief is a good tax policy tradeoff. None of these challenges are easy, which is why those wanting property tax relief should be pleased that the 2020 Unicameral found a way to get it done. Only time will tell whether improved economic conditions will generate sufficient tax revenue to fully fund the property tax credits from here on out.

Sign-up begins Oct. 1st for new LENRD irrigated acres

Landowners within the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) boundaries, will have an opportunity to apply for new irrigated acres in some portions of the district this fall.

The LENRD board voted, at their August meeting, to allow up to 295 acre-feet of new stream water depletions for new groundwater irrigation development in the Hydrologically Connected or 10/50 Area.  This is in accordance with their Voluntary Integrated Management Plan.  They also voted to allow up to 2,500 acres of new groundwater irrigation development in the Non-Hydrologically Connected or Non 10/50 Area under the district’s standard variance process.  An approved variance is a requirement for any expansion of irrigated acres in the LENRD, whether from an existing or new irrigation well.

Geographic portions of the district that are eligible to be considered for standard variances are areas that fall within the top three categories of the classification map.  A map of the eligible locations will be available at the LENRD office in Norfolk by Friday, September 4th.  Excluded from consideration for this sign-up period will be any parcel of land located in any Quantity Management Subarea or Phase 3 Area located within the LENRD.

LENRD Assistant Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “The board also approved the scoring sheets used by staff when processing applications and reauthorized use of the Conditions for Approval policy.  In addition, a minimum soil score of 85 must be met for any standard variance to be considered for approval.”

The board established a sign-up period to receive applications for Standard Variances between October 1st, 2020 and October 31st, 2020.  Contact the LENRD for more information or visit:  Application forms will be available online and at the LENRD office beginning October 1st.

Ricketts, Dept. of Agriculture Launch New Branding Program for Products Grown & Made in Nebraska

This morning, Governor Pete Ricketts and Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Steve Wellman announced a new branding program to promote agricultural products grown, raised, and made in Nebraska.  The program, “Nebraska Straight from the Good Life,” will launch with a catalog featuring Nebraska companies and the ag products they export.

For information on the program, and to learn about participating in it, visit

Gov. Ricketts: Nebraska Agriculture

·       From historic flooding to the ongoing pandemic, Nebraska’s agricultural producers and agri-businesses have encountered significant challenges over the past year and a half.
·       One way to give Nebraska ag producers and agribusinesses more opportunities to succeed is to expand international trade.
·       Agricultural exports are already big business in Nebraska.  In 2018, Nebraska exceeded $6.8 billion in ag exports, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
·       The international marketplace is vital for Nebraska farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses looking for ways to expand trade.
·       A new program from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture gives us more ways to effectively market and promote Nebraska agricultural and food companies to consumers worldwide.
·       Nebraska Straight from the Good Life is the state’s new agricultural branding program.
·       This program places a greater focus on Nebraska companies and products as we promote our state’s number one industry around the world.  Nebraska companies can participate free of charge.  
·       The catalog and website are tools to promote Nebraska products and companies as State teammates travel to meet with international customers and trade officials.  The coronavirus has limited our travels for the past several months, and we can use this new branding program to help us sell products overseas.

Director Wellman: Nebraska Agriculture Branding Program

·       The branding program is open, at no cost, to any and all ag and food companies headquartered in Nebraska or with a significant presence in Nebraska, including companies providing grains, meat, consumer-oriented foods, agricultural equipment, and agricultural services.
·       Participating companies will be given one page each in our new export catalog to market themselves and their products.  There’s room for photos, company history, products offered, contact information for sales people, markets served, etc.
·       Participating companies will also be allowed to use the Straight from the Good Life program logo on their products, packaging, and marketing.
·       The product catalog shows the diversity of Nebraska agriculture and enables customers to learn more about Nebraska ag and food products.
·       NDA will use the export product catalog and website to promote participating Nebraska companies and their products in international markets.  All participating companies will get equal exposure and opportunities.  The export catalog will also be distributed to overseas customers looking for agricultural goods, equipment, and services.
·       NDA has been reaching out to Nebraska companies this spring and summer and has over 30 companies currently enrolled, each with their own entry in the program export catalog.
·       We are looking to add more companies.
·       Printed and digital versions of the catalog will be available and will be a quick way of showing customers the breadth of ag and food products Nebraska has to offer.
·       For more information, or to list a product in the Straight from the Good Life catalog, go to
·       NDA hopes to make the Straight from the Good Life program available to other Nebraska agencies to use for promotional ventures.  

Visit to learn about it today.

Extension schedules next Know Your Numbers, Know Your Options record-keeping course

The next session of “Know Your Numbers, Know Your Options,” Nebraska Extension’s four-part record-keeping course, will be held virtually on Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon Central time, beginning Sept. 18.

Participants should plan on attending each of the four workshop dates, which also include Sept. 25, Oct. 2 and Oct. 9. The course requires participants to have an internet connection.

This course is designed to help farmers and ranchers understand their current financial position and how big decisions like large purchases, new leases or changes in production will affect their bottom line. Participants will work through the financial statements of a case study farm, watching pre-recorded videos, completing assignments, and participating in video chats. Upon completion of this program, participants will have a better understanding of how financial records can be used to make decisions and confidently discuss their financial position with their family, business partners, and lenders.

The course fee is $20 per participant and class size is limited to 20 people. Register by Sept. 15 at

This course is hosted by Nebraska Extension and made possible by Annie's Project, which is supported by Farm Credit Services of America in Nebraska. This material is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2019-77028-30436.

Register now for webinar series on uncertainty, risk and international trade

Nebraskans will have a rare chance this fall to get an inside look at what is driving current challenges in international trade through a webinar series hosted by the Clayton Yeutter Institute of International Trade and Finance at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln with support from the CME Group Foundation.

The six-part series, titled “International Trade: Measuring and Managing Risk and Uncertainty,” runs from Sept. 14 through Oct. 9. All webinars are free and open to the public.  

Recent shocks, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S.-China trade war, and the collapse of the World Trade Organization’s Appellate Body, have resulted in new risks to supply chains, agricultural markets, and the multilateral trading system. This series will examine how to interpret these risks and explore ways to manage them in order to move the system toward a better, more secure future.  

Sessions will feature leading experts from industry and academia, including former trade negotiators and recent White House advisors.

“The speakers in this series are joining us from three continents and all of them are on the leading edge of measuring risk or explaining trade policy because they have shaped it themselves at the highest levels of government,” said Jill O’Donnell, director of the Yeutter Institute. “I encourage anyone who is interested in learning more about trade to tune in and ask questions.”  

Stanford University economist Nicholas Bloom will open the series on Sept. 14 at noon CDT with a keynote address titled “Uncertainty Shocks: Measuring the Implications for International Trade and Economic Growth.”  

The full schedule is as follows:
    Sept. 14: Uncertainty Shocks: Measuring the Implications for International Trade and Economic Growth  
    Sept. 16: China’s Industrial Subsidies: What Can be Done?   
    Sept. 21: Managing Risk in Agricultural Trade    
    Sept. 25: The Special (Trade) Relationship: U.S.-UK Negotiations  
    Sept. 29: U.S. Trade Negotiations: Is the Phased Approach Here to Stay?   
    Oct. 9: WTO Dispute Settlement: Is There a Future for the Appellate Body?  

Webinar audience members will have the opportunity to submit questions. Advance registration for each webinar is required. All sessions will last 60 minutes. To view all events in this webinar series and to register, click here.

The program is approved for 5 hours of Continuing Legal Education credit.  

As events have moved online, this webinar series is an adaptation of the biennial CME Group Foundation Symposium of the Yeutter Institute.  

The vision of Husker alumnus and renowned trade expert Clayton Yeutter, the Yeutter Institute connects academic disciplines related to law, policy, business and agriculture in order to prepare students for leadership roles in international trade and finance, support interdisciplinary research and increase public understanding of these issues.

To learn more about the institute, visit  

 Fischer Applauds Taiwan Agreement Removing Barriers on American Beef, Pork

Today, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement after Taiwan agreed to remove barriers that limited the export of U.S. beef and pork to the country:

“Taiwan is an important market for our state, and the deal between our countries represents another critical trade victory. It will boost exports of Nebraska beef and pork to Taiwan. I will continue to support agreements that expand market access for Nebraska’s world-class products.”

Taiwan will accept imports of cattle under 30 months old at slaughter. For pork, the country has agreed to international standards for ractopamine residues, having already accepted those standards for beef. These measures will take effect on January 1, 2021.

The U.S. exported $568 million worth of beef to Taiwan last year and $30.3 million worth of pork. Taiwan is the 7th largest market for Nebraska beef.


Amid ongoing impacts from last year’s bomb cyclone, low commodity prices and the COVID-19 pandemic, rural Nebraskans remain optimistic about their current situation and future, according to the 2020 Nebraska Rural Poll.

In 2019, rural Nebraskans were the most optimistic they had been in the history of the Rural Poll, according to Rebecca Vogt, survey research manager. Only slight changes from those levels were seen in the 2020 poll, which was sent to 7,000 rural households across the state in April. Fifty-three percent of respondents believe they are better off than they were five years ago (a slight decrease from 56% last year). This is the second-highest proportion in the poll’s 25-year history. Rural Nebraskans’ optimism about their current situation has been increasing the past seven years as the gap has widened between the proportions saying they are better off than they were five years ago from those saying they are worse off.

In addition, rural Nebraskans remain optimistic about their future. Half of those surveyed believe they will be better off 10 years from now — similar to 52% last year. The proportion saying they will be better off in 10 years has always been greater than the proportion saying they will be worse off. In fact, the gap between the two has gradually widened since 2013.

“Rural Nebraskans have endured a number of hardships over the past several years,” said L.J. McElravy, associate professor of youth civic leadership at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. “If we look back to the Great Recession, major weather events, economic challenges and now the pandemic, rural Nebraskans have had to bounce back. There may be a growing sense and perhaps realization of resilience across rural Nebraska.”

Rural Nebraskans also have positive views of their communities. Most respondents rate their community as friendly, trusting and supportive and have a positive attachment to it. Most also say it would be difficult to leave their community.

And amid the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic, most rural Nebraskans continue to believe that their community dictates its future prospects. Just over six in 10 of those surveyed (63%) strongly disagree or disagree that their community is powerless to control its own future. Their views about the change in their community have also generally been positive. The proportion believing their community has changed for the better during the past year has usually been greater than the proportion believing it has changed for the worse, especially during the past nine years when the gap between the two has widened. Furthermore, their optimism about the expected change in their community 10 years from now has increased during the past decade. The proportion believing their community will be a better place to live 10 years from now has steadily increased since 2011, when it was 20%, to 28% this year.

Despite the overall optimism across the state, Panhandle residents were less positive about both their community and well-being compared to residents from other regions, similar to findings from the past few years. Just under four in 10 Panhandle residents surveyed (39%) think they will be better off 10 years from now, compared to almost six in 10 residents surveyed in the Southeast region (56%). Moreover, a quarter expect to be worse off 10 years from now. When assessing their current situation, only 37% think they are better off than they were five years ago and 19% believe they are worse off. Their pessimism continues when asked about their community: 34% of Panhandle residents surveyed say their community has changed for the worse during the past year, 30% think their community will be a worse place to live in 10 years and 29% agree that their community is powerless to control its own future.

“We continue to see pessimism in the Panhandle,” said Cheryl Burkhart-Kriesel, an extension professor at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff. “Recent data from the 2020 Thriving Index also showed the Panhandle region trailing its peers in other parts of the state. This index identified competitiveness, education, and economic and demographic growth as key challenges for the region. But there is also a silver lining: When it comes to quality of life, the Panhandle ranked quite high.”

The 2020 poll was mailed just after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down many schools and workplaces across Nebraska and disrupted agriculture and other industries. It is the largest annual poll of rural Nebraskans' perceptions on quality of life and policy issues. This year's response rate was 33%. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 2%. Complete results are available at The university's Department of Agricultural Economics conducts the poll with funding from Rural Prosperity Nebraska and the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Behind the scenes at a virtual show

Pioneering a new way to present a farm show wasn't in the cards when Matt Jungmann started on work for the Farm Progress Show and Husker Harvest Days in 2020. But external forces have readjusted the routine for the Farm Progress events manager.

"Creating a virtual farm show that has value to farmers and our exhibitors is important to all of us," Jungmann says. "And this year, more people at Farm Progress are involved in creating a show than, I believe, has happened in a very long time."

The result is the Farm Progress Virtual Experience, which opens its virtual gates on Tuesday, Sept. 15, and runs through Thursday, Sept. 17, with all premiered videos and material available to visitors into 2021.

An important focus for the virtual event, Jungmann says, is that field demonstrations are captured on the show sites where the machines would have run if the show had gone on. The first round of that work wrapped up recently at the Husker Harvest Days show site near Grand Island, Neb., where more than 30 pieces of equipment for handling cattle and making hay did their demonstrations.

"Matt has been focused on providing a view of equipment at work in the field in more detail than ever before," says Don Tourte, a senior vice president at Farm Progress. "He and the camera crew worked hard to attach cameras in key areas of machines so farmers can see just how they work. And that work is continuing as we get ready to premier this virtual show in 2020."

Several GoPro miniature action cameras were attached to each piece of equipment during the demonstration. From attaching the cameras to the tops of cattle chutes as calves were preconditioned, to finding just the right spot behind a mower to show the machine at work. In addition, cameras captured machines from the ground in a more traditional approach and in the air, too, thanks to drone coverage. And that will continue as more machines are captured at the Boone, Iowa, site of the Farm Progress Show ahead of premier day.

"Actually, a farmer watching these videos in the virtual show will get a better look at these machines in action than they would at the real field demos," Jungmann says. "That's the experience we're working to capture."

The Farm Progress Virtual Experience runs Sept. 15-17. The free event will be online at, to learn more about the event and register now, visit

Learn How to Manage Downed Corn During Sept. 2 Webinar

As farmers begin to evaluate the best management options for corn acres with severe derecho damage, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is providing a webinar on Sept. 2 that will address challenges and considerations for those acres that will remain unharvested.

The derecho that traveled through Iowa affected over 3.5 million acres of corn, creating management challenges not typical to Iowa crop fields, especially on such a large scale.

“Areas of the state worst affected by the derecho will have significant acreage where corn is not harvested,” said Mark Licht, assistant professor in agronomy and extension cropping systems specialist at Iowa State.

“Unharvested corn plants create a significant residue management challenge in corn fields across the state,” said Matt Darr, professor in agricultural and biosystems engineering at Iowa State. “This webinar will address key considerations for managing these acres both this fall and next spring with the 2021 crop in mind.”

Attendees will be able to better understand the management options for unharvested fields, including best management practices for using different tillage implements to manage residue, and considerations for these acres going into 2021. Presenters will share information specifically on managing crop residue, cover crops and soil fertility and crop rotation.

Along with Darr and Licht, Prashant Jha, weeds specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, will present on crop rotation and volunteer corn management.

The webinar will run from 1-2 p.m. and is intended for row crop farmers in the derecho-affected area, ag service providers and ag retailers and farm managers. Certified crop adviser credits will be available, pending approval. The program will be recorded and available on the Iowa State Crops Team YouTube channel afterward.

Register for the webinar at to receive connection instructions and link. Registration is free but is required to connect.

For more information, contact Meaghan Anderson, field agronomist with ISU Extension and Outreach, at 319-331-0058 or

Virtual Ag Coffee will Discuss Drought and Derecho in West Central Iowa

The drought conditions in west-central Iowa are causing major concerns for both crop and livestock producers. Compounding this situation, the derecho has caused significant damage to crops and infrastructure across the area. To help address those concerns, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will host a Virtual Ag Coffee Meeting Sept. 9 at 9 a.m. This event will be a live webinar presentation with 11 in-person viewing locations across west central Iowa.

The meeting will be split into two segments with Mike Witt, field agronomist with ISU Extension and Outreach, discussing the agronomic impacts of the drought and derecho. Agronomic topics will include strategies and expectations for harvesting downed corn, managing fields that are unharvestable, and considerations for residue and fall cover crops, as well as grain quality and storage issues.

Tim Christensen, farm management specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach, will discuss the financial impacts and strategies for fall 2020. Specific farm management topics will include crop insurance conversations, new United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency programs, considerations for handling drought and low yield crops with markets in addition to handling farm stress. The meeting will last approximately 90 minutes.

The event will feature both in-person and virtual discussions. If you do not have internet access or would like to attend the meeting in person rather than from home, there are seats available at 11 county extension offices listed below. The speakers will be live via Zoom and able to answer question during and after the presentation.

Each county office will be limited in their seating due to COVID-19 restrictions. Pre-registration is required for in-person attendance, and is on a first-come basis. Walk-ins will not be accepted unless confirmed by individual county offices the day of the meeting.

At home or virtual viewing of the meeting can be done by registering at the website This registration will provide a personal link to the meeting.

The following ISU Extension and Outreach county offices are holding the in-person option:
    Audubon County, 608 Market St., Audubon. Pre-register at 712-563-4239.
    Calhoun County, 325 Court St., Rockwell City. Pre-register at 712-297-8611.
    Carroll County, 1205 West U.S. Highway 30, Suite G., Carroll. Pre-register at 712-792-2364.
    Crawford County, 35 South Main St., Denison. Pre-register at 712-263-4697.
    Greene County, 104 W. Washington St., Jefferson. Pre-register at 515-386-2138.
    Guthrie County, 212 State St., Guthrie Center. Pre-register at 641-747-2276.
    Harrison County, 304 East 7th St., Logan. Pre-register at 712-644-2105.
    Ida County, 209 ½ Moorhead Ave., Ida Grove. Pre-register at 712-364-3003.
    Monona County, 119 Iowa Ave., Onawa. Pre-register at 712-423-2175.
    Sac County, 620 Park Ave., Sac City. Pre-register at 712-662-7131.
    Shelby County, 906 Sixth St., Harlan. Pre-register at 712-755-3104.

Due to COVID-19 and ISU Extension and Outreach’s commitment to doing its best to keep the community safe, certain restrictions and requests will be required to attend the in-person meetings. Please do not attend in person if you are sick or have been exposed to anyone in the past 14 days who has tested positive for COVID-19. Meetings will be held at indoor venues and social distancing requirements will apply. Seating will be limited and pre-registration for these seats is required. Pre-registration is requested at least one day prior to the meeting by contacting the county extension office preferred above, to allow staff to prepare the venue. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis and walk-ins may not be accepted. Attendees are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering when in the presence of others if unable to maintain a six-foot physical distance.

For questions about the meetings, contact Mike Witt at 641-430-2600 or, or Tim Christensen at 515-493-8232 or

Alltech supports farmers with donations to the Iowa Derecho Devastation Relief Fund

In the aftermath of the derecho, the extreme weather event that devastated several communities across Iowa on August 10, Alltech has established the Iowa Derecho Devastation Relief Fund to match donations dollar for dollar and provide goods and services to farmers and their local communities who have been directly impacted.

“This unexpected derecho caused significant destruction in the communities that our customers and colleagues call home,” said Dr. Mark Lyons, president and CEO of Alltech. “Many now face flattened fields and grain bins, significant repair of fencing and much more in the midst of an already difficult year. We hope our Iowa Derecho Devastation Relief Fund provides a boost of support as Iowa’s farming community demonstrates its resilience in recovery.”

Alltech and Hubbard Feeds will be donating the funds raised to the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, the Iowa Pork Producers Association and the Iowa Corn Growers Association, who will ensure that these resources are utilized to aid the rural communities most in need of assistance. The companies are also donating equipment, including tractors and skid steers.

Donations are being collected through the Pearse Lyons ACE Foundation, Alltech’s 501(c)(3) non-profit. Alltech will match donations up to $25,000, and all contributions will go directly toward helping Iowa farmers and the surrounding communities impacted by the derecho. For more information and to donate to the Alltech Iowa Derecho Devastation Relief Fund, visit


Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), a national dairy cooperative owned by family farmers, announced today a continued step forward in its commitment to sustainability, as it becomes the first U.S. dairy cooperative to set a science-based target to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
As a cooperative invested in the dairy supply chain from farm to table, DFA is taking a strong position by setting a science-based target and committing to reduce both direct and value chain greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% by 2030, from a base year of 2018.  By having their targets validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), DFA is supporting the Paris Agreement’s broader goals to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. Additionally, DFA’s target is aligned with work of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and its goals for the U.S. dairy industry to become carbon neutral or better by 2050.
“Our dairy farm families have always been great stewards of the land and environmentally focused, because it protects the land for future generations,” says David Darr, senior vice president and chief strategy and sustainability officer at DFA. “While the entire dairy industry from farm to manufacturer only contributes about 2% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, we know it’s imperative to keep doing better and making improvements. So, we’re proud to take action and set this science-based target, which will help us further reduce our carbon footprint and do our part in taking care of our planet.”
To reduce climate impact and reach its science-based target, DFA, its businesses and its farm family-owners will work across its supply chain to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on farms, in processing plants and on the road. Key strategies to achieve the target include:
-    Mitigating methane emissions from cows by supporting advances in feed efficiency, herd nutrition and feed additives designed to reduce emissions
-    Using renewable energy methods, such as solar panels and wind power, on our farms and in our plants
-    Utilizing anaerobic digesters, which convert manure and food waste to energy, on farms and in plants
-    Capturing emissions through healthy soil and crops
-    Creating transportation and hauling efficiencies to reduce emissions
-    Exploring innovative technologies and solutions to reduce emissions and promote environmental stewardship

In addition to these efforts, DFA is exploring emerging technologies and working with other industry partners, such as Vanguard Renewables, a Massachusetts-based renewable-energy developer, to benefit our farm family-owners’ operations and reduce GHG emissions.
“We began working with Vanguard a few years ago, and our partnership with them continues to grow, as we think there’s a lot of opportunity to create synergies between our farms and plants,” says Darr. “In addition, we’re also looking at some innovative solutions to reduce food waste with startup companies, so there’s a lot of excitement for how we can continue to accelerate our sustainability initiatives.”
“We congratulate Dairy Farmers of America for becoming the first U.S. dairy cooperative to have its emissions reduction targets approved by the Science Based Targets initiative,” said Alberto Carrillo Pineda, Director, Science Based Targets and Renewable Energy at CDP, one of the Science Based Targets initiative partners. “By setting targets that are grounded in climate science, Dairy Farmers of America is positioning themselves as leaders in their sector and setting themselves up for success in the transition to a net-zero economy.”
The science-based target goal announced today is the latest step in DFA’s commitment to sustainably and responsibly produce milk and other dairy products. Earlier this year, the farmer-owned cooperative released its 2020 Social Responsibility Report, “A Mark of Purpose,” which details its overall sustainability strategy and commitment to the planet, its people and communities.
“On our farms, in our facilities and on the road, our journey to continuously improving our social responsibility efforts takes a holistic approach,” adds Darr. “We are committed to developing solutions that reduce or eliminate carbon emissions, feed people around the world and help communities thrive.”
The Science Based Targets initiative mobilizes companies to set science-based targets and boost their competitive advantage in the transition to the low-carbon economy. It is a collaboration between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and We Mean Business.

FFAR Grant Evaluates Gene Editing to Improve Heat Resistance in Cattle

More than half of the global cattle population is raised in sub-tropical or tropical environments. In these tropical environments, cattle often undergo heat stress, which decreases milk and meat production. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a $748,545 Seeding Solutions research grant to Acceligen, a subsidiary of Recombinetics Inc., to examine how genetic alterations can improve heat resistance in cattle. Semex and Acceligen provided matching research funds for a total investment of $1,497,641.

Cattle, if not adapted to heat, can exhibit an extreme physical reaction to heat stress, including reductions in feed intake and milk production, slowed growth and increased disease susceptibility. These reactions decrease sustainable production and can result in severe illness or even death.

“As global temperatures continue to increase due to climate change, cattle experience heat stress more frequently and more intensely – even in traditionally temperate, non-tropical environments,” said FFAR’s Executive Director Dr. Sally Rockey. “Adapting cattle to withstand the effects of heat stress is critical to ensuring global food security.”

To date, most research to reduce heat stress in cattle has focused on improving housing conditions, using feed additives and other non-genetic interventions. This grant is exploring genetic approaches to reduce heat stress.

Acceligen researchers and collaborators at the University of Florida are focusing on cattle that carry mutations, or gene variants, in the prolactin receptor gene (PRLR) that result in a slick coat or short hair. The shorter hair improves heat tolerance; however, this research further examines the impact of the mutations on molecular, genetic and physiological parameters. One aspect of this project involves employing sophisticated monitoring techniques to detect molecular differences emanating from the liver to identify key molecules for controlling metabolism prior to the onset of heat stress. This information could result in development of more effective feed additives to ease seasonal heat stress caused by climate change in temperate zones.

Additionally, scientists at Acceligen and Semex are using gene editing to introduce the mutations into both elite beef and dairy cattle to study an animal’s ability to adapt to extreme heat and humidity. After the edits are introduced, the productivity and well-being of the precision-bred cattle will be compared to those that do not carry any PRLR edits. By introducing these naturally occurring gene variations into non-adapted breeds, researchers can better understand how to control heat stress and ultimately improve animal health, well-being, fertility and economic return for producers.

“Tropically adapted cattle from the Caribbean Basin have provided us a naturally occurring trait that we can leverage to reduce the carbon footprint of cattle globally,” said Tad Sonstegard, the principal investigator of this research. “We believe this is an exceptional opportunity to contribute innovative solutions to food security challenges related to animal protein.”

National Institute for Animal Agriculture to host 10th annual antibiotic symposium

Animal, human and environmental health leaders gather to explore insights and derive solutions using the One Health approach to responsible antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance.

Manhattan, Kans. - During its 10th annual symposium, the National Institute for Animal Agriculture will convene leaders from the animal health, human health and environmental health spaces to discuss, learn and collaborate on the latest research and knowledge about responsible antibiotic use and practices to combat antimicrobial resistance. The 10th Annual NIAA Antibiotic Symposium is themed, Humans, Animals and the Planet … Vital for our Future and will continue to be the leading One Health symposium in the nation. The Symposium will be hosted virtually, November 2-4.

The first Symposium was convened in 2011 with a goal for animal health and human health experts to share science‐based information so an honest dialogue can ensue. Ten years later, the dialogue continues and is just as pertinent as ever. The 2020 Symposium will celebrate the successes that have been achieved as leaders from across the human, animal and environmental spectrum have, together, become better stewards of antibiotics while also worked to combat antimicrobial resistance. The Symposium has long viewed antibiotic stewardship and the combating of antimicrobial resistance as a journey of continuous improvement and the 10th annual Symposium will follow this model.

During the 2020 sessions, participating leaders will explore research and insights with conversations facilitated by the Symposium planning committee. Facilitators include:
    Dr. Andy King, Iowa State University Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication
    Dr. Heather Fowler, National Pork Board
    Dr. Michael Costin, American Veterinary Medical Association
    Dr. Megin Nichols, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    Dr. Paul Plummer, National Institute for Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Education
    Dr. Leah Dorman, Phibro Animal Health
    Dr. Eric Moore, Norbrook, Inc.

The 2020 Symposium - Humans, Animals and the Planet ... Vital for our Future, will feature updates on the latest research on antibiotic stewardship, antimicrobial resistance and alternatives within human, animal - both farm and companion, and environmental health. Leaders participating in the Symposium also will receive updates on global issues affecting U.S. animal agriculture and engage in conversations about how to better share information on antibiotic stewardship and antimicrobial resistance with a variety of audiences.

To register for the 10th Annual NIAA Antibiotic Symposium and see the full agenda, visit .   

USDA Extends Free Meals for Kids Through December 31, 2020

Today, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will extend several flexibilities through as late as December 31, 2020. The flexibilities allow summer meal program operators to continue serving free meals to all children into the fall months. This unprecedented move will help ensure – no matter what the situation is on-the-ground – children have access to nutritious food as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. USDA has been and continues to be committed to using the Congressionally appropriated funding that has been made available.

“As our nation reopens and people return to work, it remains critical our children continue to receive safe, healthy, and nutritious food. During the COVID-19 pandemic, USDA has provided an unprecedented amount of flexibilities to help schools feed kids through the school meal programs, and today, we are also extending summer meal program flexibilities for as long as we can, legally and financially,” said Secretary Perdue. “We appreciate the incredible efforts by our school foodservice professionals year in and year out, but this year we have an unprecedented situation. This extension of summer program authority will employ summer program sponsors to ensure meals are reaching all children – whether they are learning in the classroom or virtually – so they are fed and ready to learn, even in new and ever-changing learning environments.”

“School Nutrition Association greatly appreciates USDA addressing the critical challenges shared by our members serving students on the frontlines these first weeks of school. These waivers will allow school nutrition professionals to focus on nourishing hungry children for success, rather than scrambling to process paperwork and verify eligibility in the midst of a pandemic." said School Nutrition Association (SNA) President Reggie Ross, SNS. "We look forward to continuing our dialogue with USDA to ensure school meal programs are equipped to meet the future needs of America’s students.”

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is extending a suite of nationwide waivers for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) through the end of 2020, or until available funding runs out. This includes:
    Allowing SFSP and SSO meals to be served in all areas and at no cost;
    Permitting meals to be served outside of the typically-required group settings and meal times;
    Waiving meal pattern requirements as necessary; and
    Allowing parents and guardians to pick-up meals for their children.

Collectively, these flexibilities ensure meal options for children continue to be available so children can access meals under all circumstances. USDA is taking this unprecedented action to respond to the needs of its stakeholders, who have shared concerns about continuing to reach those in need without enlisting the help of traditional summer sites located throughout communities across the US. While there have been some well-meaning people asking USDA to fund this through the entire 2020-2021 school year, we are obligated to not spend more than is appropriated by Congress.

Importantly, the summer meal program waiver extensions announced today are based on current data estimations. Over the past six months, partners across the country have stood up nearly 80,000 sites, handing out meals at a higher reimbursement rate than the traditional school year program. USDA has continuously recalculated remaining appropriated funds to determine how far we may be able to provide waivers into the future, as Congress did not authorize enough funding for the entire 2020-2021 school year. Reporting activities are delayed due to States responding to the pandemic; however based upon the April data we currently have available, FNS projects that it could offer this extension, contingent on funding, for the remaining months of 2020. USDA will continue to actively monitor this rapidly evolving situation and continue to keep Congress informed of our current abilities and limitations.

Since the start of the public health emergency, FNS has been maximizing existing program services and flexibilities to ensure those in need have access to food through our 15 federal nutrition assistance programs. To date, USDA has provided more than 3,000 flexibilities across these programs. USDA has also leveraged new and innovative approaches to feeding kids, including a public-private partnership that provided nearly 40 million meals directly to the doorsteps of low-income rural children. For more information on FNS’ response to COVID-19, visit

Valent U.S.A. Opens New Innovation Center in Northern California

Valent U.S.A. has opened a new state-of-the-art facility in San Ramon, called the North American Innovation Center (NAIC), that physically unites employees from its California technical center in Dublin and headquarters in Walnut Creek. The nearly 100,000 square-foot hub for research and development and headquarter operations for North America is custom-designed to enhance collaboration and innovation. The new site will allow Valent U.S.A. to bring sustainable agriculture solutions and professional products to market with greater speed and effectiveness.  

A subsidiary of Sumitomo Chemical, Valent U.S.A. provides unique biorational and traditional grower-focused crop protection solutions for both row and specialty crops in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Valent also develops products for professional turf, ornamental and aquatic uses and has maintained operations in the Bay Area for more than 30 years. Its investment in the NAIC is expected to generate immediate efficiencies and long-term savings, while advancing a research pipeline for future innovations.  

“We’ve brought the diversity, skills and expertise of our laboratory scientists and regulatory, marketing, finance and operations people together under one roof,” said Matt Plitt, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Valent U.S.A. “It’s now easier for our newly centralized team to share information in real time, even face to face, which will boost our efficiency, agility, creativity and, ultimately, benefit the farmers in the field.”

The eco-friendly design of the North American Innovation Center (NAIC) is focused on sustainable practices, including energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality. Outfitted with advanced safety systems and equipment, and key safeguards in response to COVID-19, the NAIC reflects the company’s commitment to sustainability and providing a safe and healthy work environment for employees. In addition to cutting-edge research labs and modern offices, the facility houses 47 conference, project, huddle and focus rooms. The NAIC opened August 3, 2020.

Friday August 28 Ag News

 NDEE’s Return to Compliance Process

To make compliance easy, the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy has created this document, “A Guide to NDEE’s Return to Compliance Process.”

This document outlines recent updates NDEE has made to its Return to Compliance (RTC) process, which includes a new form of correspondence: the Letter of Non-Compliance (LNC). In addition to explaining the new LNC, this document also highlights our Compliance Assistance program and answers questions such as:
-    Why change to the Letter of Non-Compliance?
-    How can I be proactive when it comes to environmental regulations?
-    How does the streamlined Return to Compliance process work?

Because violations can be found during inspections and surveys, NDEE has also created a guidance document titled “Inspection Tips for Regulated Facilities” to help facilities prepare for inspections.

With this change, NDEE hopes to bring consistency, fairness, and transparency to the inspection and Return to Compliance processes.

If you have any questions or comments about the Return to Compliance process or the attached documents, you may reach out to one of our inspectors or call NDEE’s front desk at (402) 471-2186.  There's also more information here....  

LENRD board votes to begin new irrigated acre sign-up on October 1st

At their August meeting, the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) Board of Directors voted to establish a sign-up period to receive applications for Standard Variances, for new irrigated acres, between October 1st, 2020 and October 31st, 2020.

LENRD Assistant Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “Geographic portions of the district that are eligible to be considered for standard variances are areas that fall within the top three categories of the classification map.  A map of the eligible locations will be available at the LENRD office in Norfolk by Friday, September 4th.”

Excluded from consideration for this sign-up period will be any parcel of land located in any Quantity Management Subarea or Phase 3 Area located within the LENRD.  Applications will be available online and at the office beginning October 1st.

After discussing the drought conditions across the district, the board authorized an additional two acre-inches per acre for any irrigation well subject to an Annual Groundwater Allocation in the LENRD Quantity Management Subarea.

In other action, the board instructed staff to provide a letter of support as part of a grant application to the Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET) for the establishment of a UNL Testing Ag Performance Solutions (TAPS) demonstration site within the Bazile Groundwater Management Area (BGMA), and to devote up to $1,000 in financial assistance to the effort, contingent on approval of the grant request.  The demonstration sites recruit local producers who select from a menu of management decisions intended to help maximize input use efficiency.

Earlier this summer, the LENRD received Watershed Flood Prevention and Operations (WFPO) funding from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to complete the Maple Creek Watershed Plan which will evaluate potential flood prevention, watershed protection, and agricultural water management projects.  The board voted to sign a contract with FYRA Engineering, LLC to complete the Maple Creek WFPO Plan and Environmental Assessment.

LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, said, “This plan aims to reduce overall flood risk potential and support the largely agricultural economy in the Maple Creek Watershed.  With the help of the WFPO funding, this project will surpass previous planning efforts by focusing on the entire area, where previous studies have been smaller in scope.”  He added, “We are looking forward to working with FYRA to further define the need for potential flood reduction projects to protect the watershed.”  Four communities are located within the Maple Creek Watershed:  Leigh, Clarkson, Howells, and Nickerson.

The board also voted to work with a landowner in Stanton County to obtain a well permit for an illegal well.  If all required documentation is provided, staff will issue the permit, but the cease and desist order shall remain in place for 5 years, expiring on July 25, 2025.  The 5-year limitation is consistent with the LENRD’s past enforcement of rule violations.

In other business, the board voted to approve the updates to the average cost dockets for the Agroforestry and Conservation Cost-share Programs as recommended by the staff.  They also voted to hold their fiscal year Budget Hearing at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 10th at the LENRD office in Norfolk.

The LENRD board & staff meet each month to develop and implement management plans to protect our natural resources for the future.  The next LENRD board meeting will be Thursday, September 24th at 7:30 p.m.  Watch for further updates and stay connected with the LENRD by subscribing to their monthly emails.


An upcoming Nebraska Extension webinar will discuss the factors going into cow-calf producer decisions on whether to retain cattle to feedlots or keep cattle for backgrounding.

“Ownership Retention Decisions: Is the Market Willing to Pay?” will be presented on Thursday at noon by Elliott Dennis, assistant professor of livestock marketing and risk management, and Jay Parsons, professor and extension farm and ranch management specialist, both in the Department of Agricultural Economics. The presentation is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The webinar is part of an ongoing weekly series produced by the extension Farm and Ranch Management Team in the Department of Agricultural Economics. It will be held live on Zoom for approximately one hour, including time for questions from participants.

Registration is free and can be completed at

Nebraska Ethanol Board September 10th board meeting to be held in Grand Island

The Nebraska Ethanol Board will meet in Grand Island at 10:00 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 10. The meeting will be in the community meeting room at Bosselman Enterprises Headquarters (1607 S. Locust St.). The agenda highlights include:
    Budget Report
    Fuel Retailer Update
    E30 Demonstration Update
    Renewable Fuels Nebraska Update
    Lowering Ethanol's Carbon Intensity
    Marketing Programs
    State and Federal Legislation
    Ethanol Plant Reports
This agenda contains all items to come before the Board except those items of an emergency nature.

 Fundraisers planned for Nexus groundbreaking at Northeast Community College

Two fundraising activities are planned in conjunction with groundbreaking ceremonies for new agriculture facilities at Northeast Community College.

Ceremonies will begin at 10 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 10, near the Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex, 2301 E. Benjamin Ave. in Norfolk. A live event is planned, along with virtual ceremonies and livestreaming. Those attending will be encouraged to text a donation of any amount to the Nexus campaign.

The text-to-give option will be available for a limited time, beginning Sept. 3. To take part, text the word “ag” to (402) 383-FARM (3276). Donations will also be accepted by voice phone at (402) 844-7653.

“Every gift is needed and sincerely appreciated,” said Dr. Tracy Kruse, associate vice president of development and external affairs and executive director of the Northeast Foundation. “All gifts of $500 or more will be recognized on the formal donor wall, but we also want those who contribute a smaller amount to be remembered by the generations of students who will learn in these buildings.”

To provide recognition for gifts of $50 or more, a farmscape wall has been designed and will be located in one of the new buildings. Small, medium and large animal silhouettes to fill the farmscape will be on sale for donations of $50, $100 or $250 respectively. Donors will be able to choose a chicken, pig, cow or horse for their donation, and each silhouette will be engraved with the donor’s name, up to 20 characters.

Animal silhouettes may also be ordered online at or by texting “animal” to (402) 383-FARM (3276). For information on multiple purchases or family groupings, call (402) 844-7240. Space on the farmscape is limited, so those wishing to be recognized in this way are urged to order their animals as soon as possible.

“Agriculture is the lifeblood of our area and these two-ways to give allow everyone the chance to support the next generation of farmers and ranchers and of agribusiness employees,” Kruse said. “Students in these programs tend to stay in this area helping keep our rural communities vital and growing.”

The initial phase of construction on the Nexus project includes a new veterinary technology clinic and classrooms, a new farm site with a large animal handling facility and other farm structures for livestock operations, a farm office and storage. The new facilities will be located near the Pohlman Agriculture Complex. Construction should be completed by fall 2021.

Funding for the $22.3 million improvement to the agriculture facilities will come from the College’s commitment of $10 million, as well as external fundraising to fill the gap. The College has raised enough funds to begin construction; however, fundraising for the Nexus campaign will continue, as more is needed for equipment, technology and furnishings.

Husker Harvest Days Goes Virtual, Nebraska Extension Providing Multiple Presentations

Ron Seymour - NE Extension Educator

Nebraskans are quite creative in developing successful endeavors, particularly in times of need. With a struggling farm economy and the unknowns of the spread of viral infections, there is special emphasis on cultivating new opportunities to improve the lives of Nebraskans. Personnel with Nebraska Extension are uniquely positioned to help provide knowledge to people to cultivate these new opportunities.

Husker Harvest Days (HHD) has traditionally provided a venue for Nebraska Extension to connect with Nebraskans to discuss new developments in agriculture. Even though the face-to-face program has been cancelled, the Farm Progress Virtual Experience will provide an opportunity to learn about these developments in a number of topic areas that may be accessed at Nebraska Extension will be participating in this program with the theme: Knowledge that Helps Cultivate Opportunities and will be accessible at the Extension website.

Nebraska Extension has created several presentation teams that will highlight topics in beef production, cover crops relative to soil health, pest management, water use issues, precision agriculture, and agriculture economic issues. In addition to these topics, lifestyle topics such as home landscapes, leadership development, rural and mental health issues, youth programs in college and career readiness and choosing University of Nebraska agriculture education programs will be presented.

Agriculture Related Presentations

Several Nebraska Extension teams will be providing knowledge to help farmers increase the efficiency of farm production.
    Increasing the performance of beef cattle is essential for the farmers and ranchers of Nebraska, “The Beef State”. The Beef Systems Team will feature a discussion of reproduction and nutrition strategies. Presentations will include considerations for synchronization protocols, how to be flexible in formulating lower cost rations, and alternative systems and feed sources such as small grain silage and crop residues.
    Cover crops also provide an important source of feed for livestock. In addition to providing this resource, there are a number of benefits to the use of cover crops to increase soil health; i.e. erosion reduction, weed suppression, and improved grazing. The Cover Crop/Soil Health Team will feature the use of a tabletop rainfall simulator to compare and contrast soils where best soil health management practices such as the use of cover crops, manure applications, and no-till have been used to those that have not used the practices.
    The use of cover crops is also important in reducing nitrate contamination of ground water thus, maintaining the availability of high-quality water, the driver of agricultural production. The Irrigation and Water Utilization Team will provide further discussion on how producers can make water management decisions that utilize conservation practices to reduce nitrate contamination and to protect the quality of our valuable water resources.
    Exploration of water management and other production techniques can best be accomplished through review of research results. On-farm research is a great way to generate valuable and relevant information to guide future management decisions specific for each farm operation. Members of the Precision Agriculture Team will share how to utilize agriculture technologies on farms to support more data driven decisions which will likely improve farm productivity, profitability, and sustainability.
    Technology on sprayers is one area where there has been considerable change. The Pest Management Team will help program participants sort through the options to increase their understanding of why coverage matters in making a good pesticide application. From technologies like pulse of width modulation, selecting the appropriate nozzles, to picking the best adjuvants, Extension experts can help make sense of it all -- and ensure farmers get the most effective and economical pest control.
    As being discussed by many of the HHD Extension teams, the best use of essential information to make essential decisions is important for all farm operations. The Agricultural Economics Team will help wrap together many of the production team’s topics by highlighting their new website, as a hub to equip decision-makers with information for successful operations. Information will also be provided to assist farmers and ranchers with financial education and analysis through the Nebraska Strong Financial Services program and the Know Your Numbers, Know Your Options workshops.

Quality of Life Related Presentations

While knowledge of production efficiency is one of the keys for successful farms, maintenance of the quality of life and planning for the future of agriculture are also important.
    The environment in which one lives can have a significant impact on quality of life. Trees are important components of the landscape around homes and farms that improve the living environment. The Community Environment Team will provide information about the benefits trees provide for the environment, wildlife, and the people that enjoy them. They will also provide tips on tree selection, planting, and maintenance.
    A good living environment can help maintain a person’s outlook on life. There are additional tools that can be used to help improve this outlook. Farmers, ranchers, and everyone in the agricultural community, including their families need to be equipped with mental health resources and tools to improve wellness and reduce stress. The Rural Family Stress and Wellness Team brings together individuals from a variety of disciplines with complementary knowledge sets to help rural communities in time of need. Information on how to recognize the symptoms of stress, resources on suicide awareness and prevention, and five steps to support your well-being will be highlighted.
    Good community leaders are essential to help Nebraskans navigate life, particularly in difficult times. The Nebraska LEAD Program has been developing agricultural leaders for over 38 years. The program director of the Nebraska LEAD Program will provide information that highlights the importance of developing strong leadership skills.
    Learning life skills is also important for younger students. Equipping Nebraska youth with the skills needed to succeed after high school and empowering them to make decisions about their future is the primary focus of the 4-H College and Career Success Team. The team will share decision making information for youth, in grades 4 through 12, and their parents, with the greatest reach being with high school youth. Program participants will learn how to be better prepared to make higher education and career decisions which increases their ability to positively contribute to their community.
    To complement this information about developing the future of young Nebraskans, the College Recruitment Team, comprised of representatives from the UNL College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CASNR) and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (NCTA), will provide information about attending education programs on the Lincoln and Curtis campuses, respectively.

Even though COVID-19 has changed how we do things this year, we have made adjustments that will allow continued education by presenting high quality information in a virtual environment. It is the hope of the Nebraska Extension, CASNR, and NCTA Husker Harvest Days teams that the information being provided will help participants increase their knowledge to help cultivate opportunities and to develop strong solutions to the diverse issues that are facing rural Nebraskans. We invite Nebraskans to participate in the Farm Progress Virtual Experience at where the typical HHD exhibitors including Nebraska Extension will be found. A direct link to Nebraska Extension topics will be available at

Webinar - Cover Crops in Corn Systems: Opportunities for Dual Use

Mary Drewnoski - NE Extension Beef Systems Specialist

Can planting cover crops in corn systems provide the dual benefits of improving soil health and be an economical source of forage? This webinar will cover lessons learned on incorporating cover crops after corn silage, high moisture corn, and dry corn harvest in Nebraska. The session will consist of short presentations with ample time for questions and discussion.

The webinar will be held via Zoom on September 15th from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm (central time). This webinar is free but registration is required to participate.

Register for the Cover Crops in Corn Systems Webinar -  

Webinar Presentations

    Soil impacts of planting oats after corn silage and high moisture corn - Lindsey Anderson, Master student in Agronomy and Horticulture at UNL and pathways intern with NRCS.
    Grazing potential and economics of planting oats after corn silage and high moisture corn - Kallie Calus, Master student in Animal Science at UNL
    Impacts of cover crop management on soil health - Sabrina Ruis, Research Assistant Professor, Agronomy and Horticulture with UNL
    Winter hardy cover crops for spring grazing and silage - Mary Drewnoski, Beef Systems Specialist with UNL

If you have questions about this event, contact Mary Drewnoski (, 402-472-6289).

This webinar and the research discussed was made possible due to funding from Nebraska Environmental Trust, SARE, and USDA-NIFA-AFRI.

USDA Providing Funds to Protect and Restore Agricultural Working Lands, Grasslands and Wetlands across Nebraska

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now accepting applications for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). This program, created under the 2014 Farm Bill and reauthorized in the 2018 Farm Bill, provides funding for the purchase of conservation easements to help productive farm and ranch lands remain in agriculture and to restore and protect critical wetlands and grasslands.

Nebraska State Conservationist, Craig Derickson said, “Conservation easements are a great tool to ensure natural resources are conserved and protected for all Nebraskans. We encourage Indian tribes, state and local governments, non-governmental organizations and private landowners to contact their local NRCS office to find out how to apply.”

The main goal of ACEP is to prevent productive agriculture land from being converted to non-agricultural uses and to restore and protect wetlands and wildlife habitat. Cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forestland are eligible.

Applications can be submitted at any time, but to be considered for fiscal year 2021 funding opportunities, applications in Nebraska must be received by October 1, 2020. Applications are currently being accepted for both agricultural land and wetland reserve easements.

NRCS provides technical and financial assistance directly to private and tribal landowners to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands through the purchase of conservation easements.  Eligible landowners can choose to enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement. Tribal landowners also have the option of enrolling in 30-year contracts.

All wetland reserve easement applications will be rated according to the easement’s potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds, fish and other wildlife.  Eligible applicants will be compensated with a payment rate comparable to the local land use value.

NRCS also provides financial assistance to eligible partners for purchasing agricultural land easements that protect ag land use and conservation values of eligible land. For working farms, the program helps farmers keep their land in agriculture. Agricultural land easements also protect high quality grasslands under threat of conversion to cropping, urban development, and other non-grazing uses.

Applicants will need to provide accurate records of ownership and ensure they have established fiscal year 2021 ownership eligibility with USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). Application information is available at your local USDA Service Center and at

“NRCS staff will work with all interested applicants to help them through the application process and provide one-on-one assistance to create the conservation easement option that works best for their farming or ranching operation,” Derickson said.

For more information about the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the programs and services it provides, visit your local USDA Service Center or

Hot Beef Sundae Virtual Cooking Contest Results

In light of the cancellation of this year’s Iowa State Fair, Iowa’s beef producers wanted to bring a fair food favorite into beef lovers’ homes and encourage creativity in the kitchen. The Iowa Beef Industry Council teamed up with the Cattlemen’s Beef Quarters to host a Hot Beef Sundae Virtual Cooking Contest for all ages. Entries were accepted online between July 21 and August 4, 2020.

In order for recipes to be considered, they needed to be prepared using 100% real beef. Any cut of beef or combination of ingredients could be included. A list of recipe ingredients, directions and a high-resolution photo of each dish accompanied each entry.

More than 30 creative and drool-worthy entries were gathered from across the state. “We thought hosting this virtual cooking contest would encourage participants to get creative in the kitchen and add their own spin to this fair food staple,” said Kylie Peterson, IBIC Director of Marketing and Communications. “The exciting thing about cooking with beef is there are more than 50 cuts to choose from that all pair perfectly with a variety of spices and flavors, leaving endless opportunities for originality.”

Selection of the first, second and third place winners in each age category and the most creative Hot Beef Sundae were conducted by an anonymous panel of judges. Judging was based on appearance and creativity.

    First Place – Sloppy Joe Sundae by Aaliyah Corcoran
    Second Place – IOWAlicious Hot Beef Sundae by Harris Thorp
    Third Place – You Can Even Eat the Bowl Hot Beef Sundae by Lane Carlson

    First Place – Beefy Banana Split by Julie Petersen
    Second Place – Mike’s Steakhouse Beef Sundae by Mike Moran
    Third Place – Loaded Hot Beef Sundae by Emily Olson

    Winner – Beefy Banana Split by Julie Petersen

First place in each age category received a $100 beef certificate and a free Hot Beef Sundae coupon from the Cattlemen’s Beef Quarters for the 2021 Iowa State Fair. Second place in each age category received a $75.00 beef certificate and a free Hot Beef Sundae coupon from the Cattlemen’s Beef Quarters for the 2021 Iowa State Fair. Third place in each age category received a $50.00 beef certificate and a free Hot Beef Sundae coupon from the Cattlemen’s Beef Quarters for the 2021 Iowa State Fair. The winner of the most creative category received a $100 beef certificate and a free Hot Beef Sundae coupon from the Cattlemen’s Beef Quarters for the 2021 Iowa State Fair.

Check out this year's award-winning Hot Beef Sundae recipes on our website, at


On Friday, Taiwanese President Tsai-Ing-wen said the territory would soon lift restrictions on U.S. pork and beef, paving the way for an eventual free trade agreement with America. Since 2007, Taiwan has denied market access to U.S. pork raised with ractopamine, despite an overwhelming body of scientific evidence that demonstrates the safety of the feed additive. Ractopamine is widely used as a feed ingredient in global beef and pork production. It is approved for use in production by nearly 30 nations and by the CODEX Alimentarius, the international standard-setting organization. Imports of pork raised with ractopamine are accepted by 75 countries. Although ractopamine use by hog farmers is not widespread, it is an option that is safe and acceptable.

The National Pork Producers Council appreciates that Taiwan is indicating it will soon lift all non-tariff barriers to U.S. pork and is grateful for the work of U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the USDA to tear down barriers to U.S. pork exports all over the world. NPPC will continue to defend the right of U.S. hog farmers to use production processes and products that are safe. NPPC opposes government mandates that, with no scientific backing, dictate production practices and unnecessarily increase food prices and inhibit consumer choice.

Sasse Statement on Trade with Taiwan

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, a long-time advocate for Nebraska trade and member of the Senate Finance Committee, issued the following statement after Taiwan’s President announced a proposal to open up Taiwan’s market to American beef and pork products.

“This is great news. Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers are among the hardest workers in the world and they deserve to sell their products across the globe. More Nebraska beef and pork are about to be served at dinner tables all across Taiwan and they will keep coming back for more.”

Conservation Compliance Final Rule Falls Short

Farmers remain powerless in the Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation Final Rule made public today by the USDA. The American Farm Bureau Federation advocated for clear rules and safeguards to ensure fair treatment of farmers in conservation compliance, but the final rule does not remedy unfair enforcement by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, “After decades without a finalized rule in this area, we finally have one, but unfortunately it falls short.

“Farmers and ranchers are some of the strongest advocates of conservation, as demonstrated by the 140 million acres they’ve voluntarily committed to federal conservation programs. That’s not what this is about. This is about unfair treatment, which we’ve clearly laid out for USDA in previous comments and many meetings, backed by court rulings.

“Farmers deserve a fair process and clarity, including an understanding of the exemptions authorized by Congress. They deserve to be protected from repeated, unjustified, costly decisions by NRCS. Although we appreciate recent actions by USDA to rectify historic wrongs, this was a missed opportunity to ensure fairness going forward.

“We will continue to examine this rule and our options to address its shortcomings.”

Deadline Approaching for USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds farmers and ranchers the deadline to apply for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) is Sept. 11, 2020. This program provides direct relief to producers who faced price declines and additional marketing costs due to COVID-19.

“FSA offers several options for farmers and ranchers to apply for CFAP, including a call center where employees can answer your questions and help you get started on your application,” said Richard Fordyce, Farm Service Agency administrator. “With only two weeks before the deadline, now is the time to check out the resources on our website and contact the call center or your local office for your last-minute questions.”

Over 160 commodities are eligible for CFAP, including certain non-specialty crops, livestock, dairy, wool, specialty crops, eggs, aquaculture, and nursery crops and cut flowers. All eligible commodities, payment rates, and calculations can be found on

Customers seeking one-on-one support with the CFAP application process can call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer general assistance. This is a recommended first step before a producer engages the team at the FSA county office at their local USDA Service Center.

Producers have several options for applying to the CFAP program by the Sept. 11 deadline:
    Using an online portal, accessible at This allows producers with secure USDA login credentials, known as eAuthentication, to certify eligible commodities online, digitally sign applications, and submit directly to the local USDA Service Center.  
    Completing the application form using our CFAP Application Generator and Payment Calculator found at This Excel workbook allows customers to input information specific to their operation to determine estimated payments and populate the application form, which can be printed, then signed, and submitted to their local USDA Service Center.
    Downloading the AD-3114 application form from and manually completing the form to submit to the local USDA Service Center by mail, electronically, or by hand delivery to an office drop box. In some limited cases, the office may be open for in-person business by appointment. Visit to check the status of your local office.

USDA Service Centers can also work with producers to complete and securely transmit digitally signed applications through two commercially available tools: Box and OneSpan. Producers who are interested in digitally signing their applications should notify their local service centers when calling to discuss the CFAP application process. You can learn more about these solutions at

All other eligibility forms, such as those related to adjusted gross income and payment information, can be downloaded from For existing FSA customers, these documents are likely already on file.

Farmers to Families Food Box Program Reaches 75 Million Boxes Delivered

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farmers to Families Food Box Program has distributed more than 75 million food boxes in support of American farmers and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this week, President Trump announced an additional up to $1 billion will be added to the Farmers to Families Food Box Program while the economy continues to reopen.

“The delivery of 75 Million food boxes has helped an incredible number of Americans in need,” said Secretary Perdue. “I couldn’t be prouder of the great job done by the food box program staff and the many farmers, distributors and non-profits that helped to get this program off the ground for the American people. Each of these milestones is marked by pride and has required hours of hard work and dedication from USDA employees, farmers, ranchers, distributors and the brave volunteers of countless non-profits going the last mile to reach Americans in need. We are well into the second round of deliveries and we’re working harder than ever to continue to build on the success of the program.”

“In May, under direction from the President, we launched the $3 billion Farmers to Families Food Box program to help feed American families and support our farmers. Just over three months later, the United States has responded in record amounts with over 75 million boxes having been delivered nationwide. This program will continue to fulfill its mission to support the most vulnerable, empower our workforce and uplift great American farmers,” said Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump.


Following the President’s announcement of additional funding up to $1 billion, USDA also announced today it intends to extend current contractors that desire to continue to deliver food boxes through September 18. These extensions will ensure adequate capacity for food box distribution as USDA plans to incorporate the additional funding. USDA continues to review proposals received for the upcoming third round, and will issue additional agreements in the near future, with subsequent contracts to deliver food boxes the remainder of September and through October 31.

In the ongoing second round of purchasing and distribution, which began July 1 and will conclude Aug. 31, 2020, USDA has purchased more than $1.113 billion of food through extended contracts of select vendors from the first round of the program as well as new contracts focused on Opportunity Zones in order to direct food to reach underserved areas, places where either no boxes have yet been delivered, or where boxes are being delivered but where there is additional need.

In the upcoming third round, which begins September 1, USDA plans to purchase combination boxes to ensure all recipient organizations have access to fresh produce, dairy products, fluid milk and meat products. Additional box types will be considered on an as needed basis. Entities that proposed under the previous solicitation, including current vendors, will have to reapply. Proposals will be expected to illustrate how coverage will be provided to areas identified as Opportunity Zones, detail subcontracting agreements, and address the “last mile” delivery of product into the hands of the food insecure population.

The first round of purchases occurred from May 15 through June 30, 2020 and saw more than 35.5 million boxes delivered in the first 45 days.

1890 Land-grant Universities Celebrate 130 Years of Cutting-edge Science, Education and Community Service

Sunday marks the 130th anniversary of the authorizing legislation establishing the 1890 Land-Grant Universities (LGUs). Almost 30 years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act of 1862, the Second Morrill Act, creating our nation’s historically black land-grant colleges, was successfully shepherded through Congress by Senator Justin Smith Morrill and signed into law on Aug. 30, 1890. This thriving network of 19 universities has a legacy of educating first-generation and economically disadvantaged college students, and enhancing the resilience of limited-resourced farmers, families, individuals, and underserved communities.

“America’s 1890 Land-Grant Universities are home to some of the best and the brightest our nation has to offer,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “The thousands of scientists, researches, and educators at these institutions are undertaking user-inspired, cutting-edge science that is transforming lives across our nation and around the world. The students at these institutions are a critical part of the future of American agriculture and with them the future is bright.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) supports a variety of initiatives and programs supporting 1890 institutions across the nation:
    The 1890 Scholarships Program provides scholarships to support recruiting, engaging, retaining, mentoring, and training of undergraduate students. In FY 2020, each of the 1890 LGUs received $752,632 from NIFA, totaling more than $14 million to enhance student opportunities.
    The 1890 Agricultural Extension Program assists diverse audiences, particularly those who have limited social and economic resources, to improve their access to positive opportunities through outreach education. The funds support small and medium-size family farms and new producers in owning and operating viable businesses, youth and others. In FY 2020, these NIFA grants in the amount of $54,720,000 supported all the 1890 LGU’s.
    The 1890 Facilities Grant Program provides for the acquisition and improvement of agricultural and food sciences facilities and equipment, including libraries, so that the 1890 LGUs may participate fully in developing human capital in the food, agricultural, and human sciences.
    The 1890 Institution Teaching, Research and Extension Capacity Building Grants Program supports research, teaching, and extension by awarding grants that address key problems of national, regional, and multi-institutional importance in sustaining all components of agriculture and rural development. NIFA supported this program in FY 2020 with $21,853, 028.
    The Evans-Allen Research Program supports agricultural research activities at 1890 LGUs. In FY 2020, NIFA awarded $62,910,320.
    The 1890 National Scholars Program seeks to increase the number of minorities studying agriculture, food, natural sciences, and related disciplines by providing full tuition and employee benefits for up to 4 years to selected students. Selected students will then be eligible for noncompetitive conversion to a permanent appointment with USDA upon successful completion of their degree.
    The Booker T. Washington Fellowship Program, managed by the Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE), aimed at connecting faculty and staff at 1890 institutions to resources and research available to them at USDA.
    The USDA-1890 Task Force also managed by OPPE – body composed of equal part USDA employees and 1890 institution officials – regularly meets and converses to seek mutually beneficial cooperation.
    The Centers for Excellence Program provides support for enhanced international training and development and to increase diversity in the science, technology, engineering, agriculture, and mathematics pipeline.

In 2015, on the 125th Anniversary of the Second Morrill Act, USDA-NIFA established the 1890 Centers of Excellence Program. This program provides support for the three Centers of Excellence to increase profitability and rural prosperity in underserved farming communities. In fiscal year 2020, NIFA invested $4.8 million in three LGUs, each receiving a $1.6 million grant: University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Tuskegee University, and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

After 130 years of experience and diversity in agricultural research, education, and extension, 1890 LGUs are poised to develop leadership and human capital for our nation’s preeminence in the 21st century.

The universities that make up the 1890 Land-Grant University System are: Alabama A&M, Alcorn State University, Central State University, Delaware State University, Florida A&M University, Fort Valley State University, Kentucky State University, Langston University, Lincoln University, North Carolina A&T State University, Prairie View A&M University, South Carolina State University, Southern University, Tennessee State University, Tuskegee University, University of Arkansas Pine Bluff, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Virginia State University and West Virginia State University.

Some recent examples of impactful 1890 LGU projects:
    After Jacksonville, Alabama was hit by an EF3 tornado that did extensive damage and uprooted scores of trees, Alabama Extension's Urban Green program provided educational resources on proper planting and tree selection, reaching 10,116 individuals across the state.
    University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Agricultural Research Station’s 4-H “Healthy Habits” healthy foods and exercise program instilled healthy habits in 900 local youths.
    Researchers at Tennessee State University developed molecular fingerprint and biosensor methods for detecting Salmonella and other foodborne pathogens that are showing promising results as efficient tools for food safety surveillance. The resulting rapid and accurate detection technology, for use by regulatory agencies, meat and poultry producers and processors helped identify potential food safety problems in facilities and products, reduce testing time from days to hours, and cut testing cost by 50 percent.
    To keep young people interested in critical STEM education, North Carolina A&T Cooperative Extension Program’s Computer Science (CS) Pathways connected 1,804 youths to exciting Computer Science-focused learning experiences.

Thursday August 27 Ag News

 Annual land management workshop to focus on farmland trends and lease considerations for 2021

An upcoming Nebraska Extension webinar will focus on land management issues for landlords and tenants to consider in the coming year.

Farmland Trends and Lease Considerations for 2021 will be held on Sept. 10, from noon to 1:30 p.m. The virtual workshop will offer information and analysis on cash rental rates, flexible leasing, land/tenant communication, farm succession, and utilizing USDA programs.

It will be presented by Extension educators and agricultural economists Jim Jansen and Austin Duerfeldt, along with Allan Wyhnalek, an extension educator for farm and ranch succession.

The team will be presenting findings on current cash rental rates, innovative strategies for setting equitable lease, and strategic planning for uncertainty due to price volatility in the markets.

The discussion will also address programs and tools available from the USDA to help navigate the uncertainty faced by landowners and operators across the state.

"Austin, Allan and I have put together an excellent set of topics and have completely rewritten our land management curriculum to help landlords and. tenants better manage risk," Jansen said.

"We encourage landowners, operators, and agribusiness professionals to join in on the live session and hear about new land management strategies as we look forward to the upcoming production year."

The webinar is being held in lieu of the in-person land management meetings that are traditionally held across the state in the summer and fall. Supplemental video presentations will be available and in-person workshops on the topic are intended to resume in late 2020.

It is being presented online as part of an ongoing weekly series produced by the extension Farm and Ranch Management team in the Department of Agricultural Economics. It will be held live on Zoom for approximately 90 minutes, including time for questions from participants.

Registration is free and can be completed at  

Engler experience looks toward future, honors founding roots

Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is built on the legendary, midwestern work ethic its students embody.  

Engler students recognize and appreciate hard work – including that of the construction workers renovating the C.Y. Thompson Library, the future home of the program. Engler students recently showed their appreciation by serving the C.Y. Thompson construction crew cookies, ice cream and heartfelt thanks.  

“This is an opportunity for us to demonstrate our culture and it’s also an opportunity to demonstrate to students that when you build a company, you value your people across the spectrum of your organization,” said Tom Field, Paul Engler Chair of Agribusiness Entrepreneurship and Director of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program.  

“If you approach everything with a true sense of servant leadership and a true sense of purpose, you will in fact, create remarkable organizations.”

The Engler program’s unique culture begins with its founder, Paul Engler, Field said.  

“Paul Engler built the largest cattle feeding enterprise in the world in Cactus Feeders. Then it became an employee-owned company. That’s a big deal,” Field said.

Paul Engler appreciated innovation and old-fashioned hard work, and Field works to instill the value of both into students who participate in the program. Today, the Engler program encourages students to understand their skills and purpose as well as to be bold in whatever they pursue, which often includes entrepreneurship.

One of the many students who has been impacted by the Engler program is Kelli Mashino, a senior agricultural and environmental communications major, 2020 Engler executive member and host of Engler’s podcast, “The Engler Journey.”

“While I don’t own my own business, Engler has helped me own aspects of my life so that’s been phenomenal. I’ve loved my journey so far,” Mashino said.

Mashino was one of the students who served cookies and ice cream to the construction workers and had the opportunity to thank them for their talents in building the new space.  

“It’s really been awesome to look into their eyes and say, ‘thank you for building our home.’  I don’t think they realize the lives that are going to be changed out of that building and the enterprises that are going to be built and the people that are going to start owning who they are because of that building,” she said.  

Mashino joined Engler as a freshman in college because her older sisters had, but it wasn’t until her junior year that she felt like she called it her own.  

“I found who I was in Miller Hall, but I’m excited to see[EF1]  students grow in the new space. It’s like there’s just more opportunity to discover who you are in the new space,” Mashino said.  

Mashino said the construction workers are building the heart of Engler in the new space, but the depth and core of what and who Engler is will not change, but rather grow stronger as relationships between students and staff grow.

“They are building our values. That’s where our home is and where our culture is going to continue to thrive. We see it as more than just four walls being built over there and we want to honor that.”   

Engler students and staff hope to move into their new home on the 2nd floor of the Dinsdale Family Learning Commons, in early 2021.  

The Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program is a unique opportunity designed to empower enterprise builders. Students across the University of Nebraska Lincoln are pursuing development of their entrepreneurial skills and capacity in the program. The Engler program began in 2010 with a $20 million gift over 10 years ago from the Paul F. and Virginia J. Engler Foundation. The purpose of the program is to identify students with the entrepreneurial drive and then foster development of professional skills conducive to success in applying entrepreneurism in agriculture and agribusiness.

For more information visit or listen to podcasts at


Seaboard Triumph Foods donated 6,000 pounds of Prairie Fresh® pork to Operation BBQ Relief

6,000 pounds of Prairie Fresh® pork headed out to eastern Iowa Friday, August 21, to Operation BBQ Relief (OBR) as Gov. Kim Reynolds served their 8 millionth hot barbecue meal to those affected by the derecho in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Prairie Fresh® is the official pork supplier to OBR. OBR mobilizes barbecue cook teams into natural disaster areas to provide hot barbecue meals to those impacted and volunteers helping with the aftermath of the storms. As of Friday, August 21, OBR had served 45,800 meals and planned to serve another 9,400 meals that day. STF and its parent companies, Seaboard Foods and Triumph Foods, helped make that happen by donating Prairie Fresh® products prior to the deployment.

OBR is still currently deployed in eastern Iowa with a team of passionate volunteers committed to provide hope, compassion and friendship one hot barbecue meal at a time. However, the organization is still in need of monetary donations and more volunteers. Celebrities Ashton Kutcher and Kurt Warner from Cedar Rapids shared OBR’s GoFundMe campaign on their social media pages, but they still need your help. To donate, find feeding-cedar-rapids at To volunteer, visit

“We continue to be amazed by the commitment and dedication of OBR and its volunteers, especially so during a pandemic,” says Tori O’Connell, Seaboard Triumph Foods communications specialist. “Being able to serve a record-breaking number of meals to families in Cedar Rapids is equally amazing, and we are honored to be a part of it. We continue to be in awe of Operation BBQ Relief’s work of providing compassion, hope, and friendship one hot barbecue meal at a time.”

About the Operation BBQ Relief

Operation BBQ Relief is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports communities following natural disasters with hot barbecue meals to those in need and on the front lines. After the devastating tornado in Joplin, Mo., in May 2011, competitive pit masters from eight different states answered the call to feed displaced families and first responders and served over 120,000 meals over 13 days. This experience was the catalyst that started what Operation BBQ Relief is today. With the help of more than 14,000 volunteers, Operation BBQ Relief has provided more than 8 million meals throughout the United States since its inception. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization has provided over 4 million meals to first responders, medical workers, veterans, families and organizations affected by the pandemic. In 2017, Stan Hays, CEO and Co-Founder was recognized as one of the “CNN Heroes” for his work with Operation BBQ Relief. For more information, visit or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @opbbqrelief.

Pesticide Applicators Reminded to Complete Required Training, Testing Requirements

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship today reminded private pesticide applicators to complete their yearly private applicator training requirements by Sept. 30, 2020. The annual April 15 deadline was extended to Sept. 30 this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department is also adding in-person testing sites in September to help commercial and private pesticide applicators get certified.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have offered additional flexibility, training and testing options to help meet the needs of pesticide applicators,” said Secretary Naig. “We appreciate our continued partnership with the agriculture community and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Together, we’re ensuring pesticide applicators have opportunities to complete their training and testing requirements so they can maintain business continuity during these challenging times.”

Private Pesticide Applicator Training Due Sept. 30

In-person private pesticide applicator training is offered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach at many offices around the state. Pre-registration is required. For a list of upcoming training dates and locations, and more information about the site’s COVID-19 protocols, pesticide applicators should contact their local ISU Extension office or visit

In-Person Commercial and Private Pesticide Applicator Testing Available

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is resuming in-person testing sites to help commercial and private pesticide applicators obtain their certifications after COVID-19 caused the cancellation of several in-person testing sessions earlier this spring.

Beginning Sept. 4, in-person commercial and private pesticide applicator exams will be available at select Iowa State University County Extension offices. Individuals will take the tests in-person using social distancing guidelines to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Pre-registration is required to take the exam. Pesticide applicators can sign-up for in-person testing here...  

Online Private Applicator Exam Available

Private pesticide applicators who want to obtain or renew their certifications can register to take the private certification exam online. To register for the online exam, visit

Once applicants pass the online exam, they will use their certification number to log-in to the self-service portal and submit their application, test results and payment. Once the application, payment, training and testing information are received and processed by the Pesticide Bureau, the licenses and certifications will be sent directly to the applicants.

Applicants can also mail their test results, training and application forms, and payments to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s Pesticide Bureau to obtain the private applicator certificate.

Register for the Self-Service Pesticide Portal

In April, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship launched an online, self-service portal. The portal uses each pesticide applicator’s unique certification number to match their application and payment to their training and testing history.

By moving the process online, individual pesticide applicators can access their records anytime by logging into the self-service portal. The system also has a public search function that empowers customers and employers to verify that their pesticide applicators are licensed to work in the state of Iowa. To register for the self-service portal, visit

Additional Information

For additional information about COVID-19-related pesticide applicator training and testing options, visit

For information regarding pesticide applicator licensing and certification, call the Pesticide Bureau at 515-281-8591 or email

Leading Cooperatives Partner to Support Midwest Disaster Relief Efforts

Four of the nation’s leading cooperatives serving agriculture and communities across rural America today announced they are partnering to support the American Red Cross in the wake of the derecho that ravaged Iowa, Illinois and other Midwestern states in early August. CHS, CoBank, Farm Credit Services of America, and Land O’Lakes, Inc. will together donate $200,000 to aid relief efforts in the impacted region.

The derecho, a rare and severe inland storm, hit the Midwest August 10 with winds equivalent to a category 4 hurricane. The 14-hour storm damaged property and crops across 800 miles: from North and South Dakota to Ohio. Though the damage was widespread, Iowa saw the most significant effects, including wide-scale utility disruptions, destruction of residential and commercial property, and severe damage to more than 10 million acres of crops. Damage to trailers, silos and other equipment used for grain transportation and storage has added concerns about handling the 2020 harvest from remaining crops.

The American Red Cross has been providing food, water, shelter and other relief services since the storm hit. In Iowa and Illinois, the organization has provided more than 50,000 meals, distributed nearly 20,000 relief items and provided more than 1,900 overnight stays in hotels or congregate shelters. Red Cross volunteers and disaster workers continue to provide aid and comfort to those unable to return to their homes due to damage and ongoing power outages.

“The devastation in Iowa following the derecho is tragic and unprecedented. After the storm hit, Red Cross volunteers were on the ground to assist those who were affected. We couldn’t do what we do to help communities recover without the support we receive from organizations such as CHS, Land O’Lakes, Farm Services of America, and CoBank. The recovery process in so many communities is going to be extensive. This generous gift allows us to deliver help and hope to families and individuals who are picking up the pieces and determining how to move forward,” said Jill S. Orton, regional chief executive officer, Nebraska Iowa Region, American Red Cross.

“The impact of this devastating storm on local cooperatives, farmers and rural America in an already challenging year won’t be fully known for a while, but we know it will be significant,” said Jay Debertin, president and CEO of CHS. “Farmers and communities in rural America are resilient. The cooperative spirit living in these communities will help as they rebuild their businesses, their homes and their lives.”

“Rural communities across the nation have been affected by unprecedented challenges this year due to the effects of Covid-19,” said Thomas Halverson, CoBank’s president and CEO. “Now, America’s heartland has been hit with a significant natural disaster that could not have come at a more difficult time. Our hearts go out to those whose lives and livelihoods have been impacted. Our organizations hope that this joint contribution will help to ease the most immediate suffering and assist our customers, members, partners and their communities as they begin the journey to recovery.”

“The derecho has been devastating not only for ag producers, but also for the families, friends and neighbors in their communities. We continue to work with producers to address the financial needs of their agricultural operations, said Mark Jensen, president and CEO, Farm Credit Services of America. “By joining with other cooperatives to support the important work of the American Red Cross, Farm Credit Services of America hopes to broaden our reach to address the needs of entire communities in these challenging times.”

“As a nearly 100-year-old, farmer-owned cooperative, we know that we do better when we look after our neighbors and work together to help when things like the Midwest derecho storm hit.  We’re proud to join other national cooperatives to do our part in supporting the vibrant, rural communities that continue to feed our country,” says Beth Ford, President and CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc.

RFA Helps Retailers Across 21 States Apply for Grants for Infrastructure Projects Totaling Over $52 Million

The Renewable Fuels Association was pleased to help many retailers take advantage of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP), which will make $86 million available to transportation fueling facilities to expand the availability and sale of higher blends of ethanol like E15 and E85/Flex Fuel. Now, USDA is reviewing the applications and expects to announce grant awards next month.

“We’re proud to see so many retailers take part in this program, and to have been able to help so many of them work through the complications of the federal grant application process,” said RFA Director of Market Development Cassie Mullen. “Clearly, with so many retailers seeing value in this program, we can expect to see more fuel locations with higher ethanol blends in the near future, supporting rural America’s farmers and ethanol producers. We also want to thank USDA again for launching the HBIIP program and understanding the fundamental link between renewable fuels and the farm economy.”

With support from the National Corn Growers Association, RFA worked with Christianson PLLP and others to assist three dozen retailer companies in the grant process prior to the Aug. 13 application deadline. Submitted applications assisted by RFA cover more than 1,100 fuel dispensers and 128 storage tanks at 222 locations across 21 states. Combined, these locations sell more than 250 million gallons of gasoline annually. RFA provided services and assistance for $21 million in grant requests, which would be matched with another $31 million in private funding for a total investment in higher blends infrastructure of more than $52 million.

“We sincerely appreciate all the assistance RFA and the team at Christianson provided in order to get our HBIIP grant processed in a timely fashion,” said Jill Curtorillo, Corporate Controller at Snappy’s convenience stores in Pennsylvania. “Thank you for including us in your mission to support retailers with this grant program.”

“When we heard about HBIIP we were a bit apprehensive being a smaller retailer (23 stores) and not having previous grant writer experience,” said Christian Whitehead, owner of Whitehead Oil Company/U-Stop Convenience Stores in Nebraska. “As we ventured into the process, we discovered it was more than we expected.” Whitehead said RFA and Mullen “provided great guidance, reassurance, technical support and patience when the process proved to be a challenge. I look forward to working with Cassie and RFA in the future as we continue to explore additional opportunities in ethanol.”

RFA’s work included outreach to retailers via paid and earned media and educating hundreds of them in a series of webinars. The association also created a password-protected website for sharing documents and other digital tools for them to use in the grant application process. Technical reports were prepared for each company, each covering 35 to 50 pages in length, and site-specific environmental reports were submitted covering more than 2,200 pages.

Penn State publishes research showing increased feed efficiency with unique corn silage

Dairy producers seeking an increase in feed efficiency may find it in Enogen® Feed corn, according to recently published research from Penn State University. An in-seed innovation available from Syngenta Seeds, Enogen corn enzyme technology converts starch to usable sugars more quickly than other corn.

The research, which compared Enogen Feed corn silage to non-Enogen corn silage, found a 4% increase in ECM feed efficiency (6% increase uncorrected) with the Enogen Feed corn silage – with no negative effect on rumen fermentation.1 These results directly point to the impact of the in-seed alpha amylase technology of Enogen corn in increasing starch utilization and feed efficiency in dairy cattle," said Duane Martin, Ph.D., head of marketing for Enogen, Syngenta.

"Because dairy producers operate on such tight margins, they are always looking for ways to increase those boundaries and gain a competitive advantage. For these producers, a 4-6% increase in feed efficiency is highly significant," said Martin. "That's why we're so excited about the results from this study. The efficiency gain reported in the trial shows just how valuable Enogen Feed can be for maximizing profit potential."

The Penn State research builds on past university studies that have found that Enogen Feed corn fed as grain or silage can potentially increase feed efficiency by about 5% compared to corn without the Enogen trait.2 Enogen Feed corn hybrids also stand and yield with the best elite corn hybrids, helping dairy producers gain efficiencies in the field as well as in dairy operations.3

"Our goal is to help dairy producers who grow silage maximize their return on investment potential," said Martin. "Enogen Feed corn has been shown to provide excellent yield potential, performing equal to or better than non-Enogen hybrids. Combine that with the increased feed efficiency, and dairy farmers have an excellent opportunity to lower feed costs and gain an advantage in the market."4

The Penn State research was conducted by Dr. Alex Hristov of the university's Department of Animal Science alongside graduate research assistant Sergio Welchez. Results were initially shared at the 2019 American Dairy Science Association Northeast Branch meeting.

Enogen Feed corn hybrids are available from local, independent Golden Harvest® Seed Advisors and NK® retailers in select geographies.5

The development of Enogen Feed corn stems from a Syngenta commitment to accelerate innovation and address the increasing challenges for farmers and the changing views of society. Syngenta is continuously investing and innovating for even more sustainable agriculture.

NGFA launches its second annual Harvest Safety Week  

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) is launching its second-annual Harvest Safety Week on Aug. 31-Sept. 4. During this virtual event, NGFA provides safety resources particularly useful during the fall harvest to NGFA members’ inboxes each day.

“Harvest is a hectic time for our industry, with lines building up at truck dump pits, new seasonal workers added to handle the inbound crop, long hours spent serving farmer-customers and getting that crop stored, marketed and shipped, and this year, it’s compounded by the impacts of a devastating Midwest derecho and a pandemic,” said NGFA President and CEO Randy Gordon. “We are encouraging our members to use this week as an opportunity to reinforce and exemplify their commitment to their employees’ safety by using NGFA’s safety materials and sharing them as far and wide as possible.”

Participants can share safety materials, safety stories and best practices by using #Harvest20 and #HarvestSafetyWeek with @ngfa on social media.

This year, NGFA is introducing two new safety products – a video on combustible dust and a Safety Tips Sheet for protecting against entanglements inside grain bins. The tip sheet adds to NGFA’s robust suite of safety materials for protecting employees from grain bin accidents.  

In addition, NGFA members are encouraged to share these materials with their farmer-customers. Historically, 70 percent of grain bin entrapments occur on the farm. NGFA has many videos, Safety Tips Sheets, webinars and other materials applicable to both commercial and farm facilities – all found at

“This industry fulfills a noble and indispensable role in transforming the bounty of America’s producers into safe, nutritious and affordable human and animal food,” Gordon said. "But we can’t do that without providing a safe workplace to employees working in this great industry.”  

Go to for safety training resources.

Safety always has been an essential value of the NGFA, a commitment that it magnifies through its cooperative Alliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in which they collaborate to broadly communicate safety information to protect employees.

The NGFA’s extensive efforts to enhance safety include unprecedented research and education efforts launched in the late 1970s that helped lead to a dramatic reduction in the number of fire and explosion incidents in commercial grain-handling facilities. NGFA and its charitable foundation, the National Grain and Feed Foundation, have continued this safety focus by increasing a robust suite of safety resource materials and partnering with state and regional affiliates, member companies and OSHA to spread awareness of safety best practices and the availability of training resources. And this year, NGFA is partnering with its member companies to get safety messages communicated directly to farmers.

California Ethanol + Power Completes 15-Year Agreement With CHS to Sell Ethanol Produced at Sugar Valley Energy Campus

Today, California Ethanol + Power announced its intention to enter into a 15-year marketing arrangement with global agribusiness leader CHS Inc. A letter of intent between the companies reflects their intent for CHS to be the exclusive marketer and distributor of ethanol to be produced at Sugar Valley Energy, a new energy campus to be constructed in Imperial County, California.

The parties are negotiating the terms of a relationship in which CHS would sell Sugar Valley Energy’s annual production of 68 million gallons of low-carbon fuel-grade sugarcane ethanol.

Located on a 160-acre site north of Brawley, Sugar Valley Energy will be a multi-plant campus consisting of sugarcane-to-ethanol, sugarcane to low-carbon power plus biomethane and wastewater treatment plants. Sugar Valley Energy is expected to complete financing this fall and break ground before the end of 2020 with ethanol production set to begin in 2023.

“The potential for an arrangement with global leader CHS is a significant step forward for Sugar Valley Energy, confirming the market potential for sugarcane ethanol. Highly respected, CHS has the expertise to bring our low-carbon ethanol to the markets where it will have the most positive impact,” said Dave Rubenstein, president and CEO of California Ethanol + Power.

CHS, the nation’s leading agribusiness cooperative owned by farmers, ranchers and cooperatives, produces 260 million gallons of fuel-grade ethanol and markets 900 million gallons of ethanol each year, making CHS one of the nation’s largest suppliers of ethanol-enhanced gasoline and the largest U.S. retailer of E85 ethanol.

“As an energy provider for rural America, CHS continues to identify new technologies and new partners to help enhance reliable energy supply for our owners from diverse sources, while minimizing environmental impact,” said Brian Schouvieller, senior vice president, CHS Global Grain Marketing. “We look forward to collaborating with California Ethanol + Power and Imperial Valley sugarcane growers on this initiative.”

“This deal with CHS is more than a win for California Ethanol + Power, it’s a long-term win for the community, environment and the future of low-carbon fuels. CE+P is continuing to make positive strides in moving this valuable project forward,” said Ian Parker, managing director, Royal Bank of Canada, which is leading the project financing for California Ethanol + Power’s Sugar Valley Energy.

Sugar Valley Energy will provide a long-term economically sustainable market for about 50,000 acres of sugarcane crop, which is highly suited for growth in the Imperial Valley climate. Sugarcane has a water demand similar to alfalfa, one of the region’s dominant crops. To grow the sugarcane needed, Sugar Valley Energy will seek long-term agreements with dozens of area farmers, providing a stable employment and income base for the community.

California currently imports more than 1.2 billion gallons of ethanol each year, and Sugar Valley Energy’s production will help the state be more ethanol independent.

IGC Ups 2020-21 Grain Production Forecast on Soybean, Corn Harvests

Wheat, corn and soybean harvests next year will be slightly higher than previously expected, the International Grains Council said Thursday, as it increased its forecast for total grains production.

The IGC in its monthly report said the 2020-21 grains harvest is estimated to yield 2.23 billion metric tons, 6 million tons more than the intergovernmental body expected last month.

The revision is driven by larger-than-expected corn and soybean harvests, the IGC said. It said global corn harvests would produce 1.166 billion tons, two million tons more than its previous estimate, and soybean harvests would produce 373 million tons, eight million tons more than previous estimates.

The IGC also upped its wheat production forecast by 1 million tons from its July forecast.

The council expects next year's harvest to be the largest on record and 49 million tons larger than this year's. The change means the IGC now expects carryover stocks to be 630 million tons next year, 5 million tons more than previous forecasts and the largest since the 2017-18 season.

The IGC raised its forecast for consumption by 4 million tons and increased its trade estimate by the same amount.

Syngenta Group records strong first half year performance

Syngenta Group Co., Ltd. today announced the Group’s first half year results after its formation on June 18, 2020. The Group increased sales by 2 percent to more than $12 billion compared to the same period last year. This corresponds to growth of 5 percent on an underlying basis adjusted for one-off change of control royalty income in Seeds and the impact of mandatory ADAMA and Sinofert production site relocations in China. All four business units, Syngenta Crop Protection, ADAMA, Syngenta Seeds and Syngenta Group China, increased their underlying sales in comparison to the previous year. Syngenta Group managed the impacts of COVID-19 well in the first half of 2020, maintaining supply throughout despite the challenging market environment and the need for innovative solutions to overcome logistical difficulties.

Erik Fyrwald, Syngenta Group CEO: “The last few months have been a very challenging time for everybody on this planet. I am pleased that our team delivered strong performance across all of Syngenta Group’s business units despite the COVID-19 pandemic, low grain prices and significant currency headwind. This demonstrates that our strategy to deliver the broadest range of sustainable, innovative, and competitive products and services to farmers worldwide is robust, even in these extraordinary times. Our goal is to be a supplier that our customers can always rely on despite any challenges.”

Chen Lichtenstein, Syngenta Group CFO: “We achieved a robust first half with strong sales performance supported by cost discipline. For the second half of the year, we will continue to build on our positive momentum.”

The sector full year outlook remains challenging, with low grain prices and currency headwinds in developing markets. Further impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic add to second half uncertainty. The Syngenta Group remains committed to achieving underlying growth and leadership in sustainable agricultural innovation.

Wednesday August 26 Ag News

 Nebraska Corn "Farm Readiness Checklist"

We all know no one can learn the nuances of your farm overnight, like which tractor needs a shot of ether to get rolling regardless of temperature, but you can still have a plan in place. Being prepared can not only provide peace of mind in case something happens but can also help reduce stress by having a plan laid out now. Take a few minutes to write out your plan and put it where it can be easily found.  Give a copy to a trusted neighbor or friend.

Protect Yourself
- Always Take A Second for Safety, an extra second could save your life
- Wear proper PPE
- Drink plenty of water and get enough rest
- Make it a point to check in with family and loved ones regularly, even when fall gets hectic
- Practice gratitude
- Take time for yourself, even if it’s just a quick walk around the farm
- Monitor yourself for signs of stress, if you notice something, say something
- Follow all safety guidelines for equipment

General Farm Information
- Hired help contact info and primary job responsibilities
- Typical machinery dealership and/or repair services used
- Crop advisor and/or farm manager name & phone number
- Crop insurance agent name & phone number
- Ag lender name & phone number
- Locations of equipment needed for harvest

Field Plans      
- Field names & locations
    o Highlight in a plat book if possible
    o Note where the field entrance is and what side is best to start working from
    o Do you have tile inlets or irrigation equiptment that needs to be mov ed?
- What still needs to be done? Do you have pivots that need to be checked?

List compiled by the Nebraska Corn Board and the NE Corn Growers Association.  

NC WEBINAR: Adding Value to Feeder Calves

September 1 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm    

Nebraska Cattlemen, along with cattlemen in Minnesota and Kentucky, will host a webinar called "Adding Value to Feeder Calves" on Tuesday Sept. 1 at 7pm.  Featured presenters include:

Michelle Olson - University of Kentucky Extension Veterinarian
The beneficial effects of weaning and preconditioning on Calf Health.  How weaning and preconditioning can:
    decrease antibiotic use;
    allow calves to recover from the stress of weaning and boost immunity to respiratory disease;
    correctly transition calves from forages to grain, avoiding acidosis
    improve overall calf health throughout the feeding period

Alfredo DiCostanzo - University of Minnesota Professor-Beef Cattle Nutrition & Management
    Identifying market opportunities presented by feeder cattle price cycles
    Evaluating feeding and management approaches that result in growth management (backgrounding)

Galen Erickson - University of Nebraska Nebraska Cattle Industry Professor of Animal Science
    feedlot management
    how Nebraska feed yards turns all those feeder calves into great beef!


Saunders County Livestock Association Outlook Meeting

September 15 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Saunders County 4H Bldg,  Wahoo, NE    
RSVP to Dan Kellner, Saunders Co President, 402-663-5197 or

Reynolds, Naig Introduce Program to Help Schools Purchase Iowa-Grown Produce, Protein for Students

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced the creation of a Local Produce and Protein Program today. Gov. Reynolds has allocated $500,000 through CARES Act funding to help Iowa schools purchase locally-grown products from Iowa farmers impacted by COVID-19-related supply chain disruptions. The funding will be awarded through three grant programs administered by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

“Iowa is at the foundation of our global food supply chain and the epicenter of the renewable fuels industry,” said Gov. Reynolds. “COVID-19 and a devastating derecho dealt a major blow to everything from the demand for ethanol to the supply of meat on grocery store shelves. But just as important are the livelihoods of thousands of Iowa farm families, agricultural industries and the communities they support. Today’s investment reflects the critical role Iowa’s ag industry has in our state's overall economic recovery.”

“Connecting Iowa farmers with schools, early care centers, and places of higher education creates more markets for their products and allows schools to serve students a larger variety of fresh, locally-grown foods,” said Secretary Naig. “Through this program and funding support from Gov. Reynolds, we can help strengthen local food systems and help support farmers and schools who have been impacted by COVID-19-related supply chain disruptions.”

These grant opportunities support the purchase of Iowa-grown and raised food by offering funding to purchase protein and produce, as well as equipment and supplies needed to make this food accessible to children.

Equipment Grant for K-12 Schools

Iowa K-12 schools can apply to be reimbursed for some of the costs associated with purchasing kitchen equipment and supplies that allow the food service program to offer more fresh produce and protein sourced from Iowa farmers. For example, school kitchens may purchase food sealer machines, coolers, dicers, single portion containers, and grab-and-go food supplies. To be eligible for this grant, the school must also apply for the local food sub-grant (listed below).

Up to $160,000 will be allocated for these sub-grants. The funds will be divided amongst approved K-12 schools. Each approved applicant may receive up to $5,000, depending on the number of applicants. The expenses must be incurred between March 1 and Dec. 1, 2020. Applications are due Sept. 7, 2020. Funds must be expended by Dec. 1, 2020.

Local Food Grant for All Iowa Schools

All Iowa schools, including K-12, colleges and universities and early care centers, can apply for the local food sub-grant. Approved schools will be reimbursed for a portion of the costs to purchase produce and protein from local farmers. At least half of the funds must be used to purchase fruits and vegetables. Produce, liquid and shelled eggs, and dairy products (excluding liquid milk) must be purchased directly from local producers, food hubs or food auctions. Meat and poultry products must be processed in-state or by a USDA-inspected meat locker.

Up to $220,000 will be allocated for these sub-grants. The funds will be divided amongst approved Iowa schools. The expenses must be incurred between March 1 and Dec. 1, 2020. Applications are due Sept. 7, 2020. Funds must be expended by Dec. 1, 2020.

Equipment Grant for Producers and Food Hubs

Iowa specialty crop producers and food hubs can apply to be reimbursed for the purchase of supplies and equipment needed to serve their products in schools, colleges, universities and early care centers. Some examples of eligible purchases include refrigerated trucks, cold storage units, and boxes and packaging equipment. Producers must be willing to sell to schools and enroll in the Farm to School directory to be eligible.

Up to $110,000 will be allocated to support these sub-grants. The money will be divided amongst approved producers and food hubs. Each approved applicant may receive $5,000 to $10,000, depending on the number of approved applicants. Applications are due Sept. 7, 2020. Funds must be expended by Dec. 1, 2020.

Eligible applicants can apply for the Local Produce and Protein Program grants online at Please contact Tammy Stotts, program administrator, with questions at 515.281.7657 or

Reynolds, Naig Introduce Program to Help Small Meat and Poultry Processors Grow their Businesses

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced the creation of a Meat Processing Expansion and Development Program today. Supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19 have placed significant demands on the state’s small (25 employees or less) meat and poultry processors. Gov. Reynolds has allocated $2 million through CARES Act funding to support these local processors during the recovery effort. The funding will be awarded through three grant programs administered by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

“Iowa is at the foundation of our global food supply chain and the epicenter of the renewable fuels industry,” said Gov. Reynolds. “COVID-19 and a devastating derecho dealt a major blow to everything from the demand for ethanol to the supply of meat on grocery store shelves. But just as important are the livelihoods of thousands of Iowa farm families, agricultural industries and the communities they support. Today’s investment reflects the critical role Iowa’s ag industry has in our state's overall economic recovery.”

“COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of and increased the demand for locally-grown foods,” said Secretary Naig. “Thanks to this funding commitment from Gov. Reynolds, the Department will be able to invest in building strong markets for our local meat and poultry producers and resilient supply chains for their products. This is also an investment in our local meat lockers, which play an important role in their communities and the food supply chain.”

Eligible meat and poultry processors can use the recovery funds for business improvements, direct-to-consumer food marketing or continuing education programs.

Business Improvement Grant

The business improvement grant will reimburse meat and poultry processors for expenses incurred (up to $50,000) to purchase or upgrade equipment. Eligible expenses must allow the facility to increase its processing capacity to accommodate the increased demands brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. In some cases, these upgrades may help a custom-exempt processing plant prepare to become an official plant, or help an official plant make the upgrades necessary to qualify for the Cooperative Interstate Shipment program.

To be eligible for a business improvement grant, the applicant must represent an official or custom-exempt processing plant that is licensed and inspected by the Iowa Department of Agriculture, a federally-inspected plant with 25 or less full-time employees, or an Iowa-accredited meat science education program. The expenses must be incurred between March 1 and Dec. 1, 2020. Applications are due Sept. 7.

Direct Marketing Grant

The direct marketing grant will reimburse livestock producers for a portion of the expenses incurred (up to $2,000) to produce materials, develop services, or purchase equipment to help transition to a direct-to-consumer sales strategy. This may include developing an online sales platform, an alternative sales plan, or another project that would help their farm continue selling their meat products during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Producers that direct-market less than 200 livestock or 2,000 poultry per year are eligible for this grant. The expenses must be incurred between March 1 and Dec. 1, 2020. Applications are due Sept. 7, 2020.

Tuition Grant

The grant will reimburse owners or employees of state-inspected and licensed meat and poultry establishments who attend and successfully complete a HACCP training program by an accredited program in meat sciences. The coursework shall commence on or after Sept. 8, 2020 and must conclude by Dec. 1, 2020. Applications are due Sept. 7, 2020.

Eligible applicants can apply for the Meat Processing Expansion and Development grants online at Please contact Maison Bleam, program administrator, with questions at 515.281.7808 or

Iowa Pork Producers Association Launches Podcast to Connect Iowans to Agriculture, Farmers and Food

Iowans forced to 'shelter in place' and wait out COVID-19 are hungry for new ways to feed their bodies and their curiosity about food. And, while there are nearly 1-million podcasts about cooking food, there are few that connect Iowans to those who grow or raise that food.
That is the focus of the new podcast, ChopTalk. ChopTalk is being produced by the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA), and features host Laurie Johns traveling the state to tell those stories to Iowans.
"Fewer than two percent of Iowans call farming their full-time job, and that often leads to more misinformation than facts out there about agriculture," said Mike Paustian, IPPA President and Walcott pig farmer.
"The simple truth is, there are more pigs than people in this state and that contributes to the disconnect that so many Iowans experience. We hope to change that by bringing farmers and those who support agriculture into the lives of those who are looking for new information, in the place where they are seeking it out: podcasts. It's time to use that tool to engage Iowans so they can learn about farming and the people who are called to the many challenges around being a farmer," Paustian said.
Podcasts are growing in popularity as a safe and personal way to both be entertained and informed. ChopTalk will look at pig farming and the many ways it impacts food choices, the environment, and even the local and state economy.
"Americans eat an average of 65 pounds of pork a year and have long relied on Iowa pig farmers to provide plentiful, affordable protein options for our family tables," said Johns, a former Des Moines TV anchor, reporter and a lifelong Iowan.
ChopTalk episodes can be found on or on Apple Podcasts, iHeart Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app. The first episode is now available and gives Iowans a better picture of how COVID-19 sent ripples through many sectors of the state and how agriculture responded.

National Pork Board Launches Real Pork

In an environment where shoppers continually question what brands and products they can trust. Where increasingly diverse consumers seek to connect with the familiar flavors of their heritage. And home cooks are weary – both from meal preparation and an inability to travel to other cities, states and countries to experience authentic flavors. The National Pork Board is helping America wake up and get real.

Through its new master-brand strategy, the Pork Board invites consumers to experience the authenticity, flavor and ability to bring people together that Real Pork provides.

“Real Pork not only celebrates the authentic flavors of pork, it encompasses the values and beliefs of the pork industry from farm to fork,” said Angie Krieger, vice president of domestic marketing at the Pork Board.  “Our work began on this master-brand strategy before the coronavirus appeared in the United States, but the shift in buying and cooking habits the pandemic created certainly accelerated our efforts. Six months in, consumers are weary of meal preparation, they want new experiences and to travel.”

During the pandemic, retail sales of pork have surged as consumers are cooking more at home, purchasing different products than they normally do and experimenting with new recipes. Supported by extensive consumer research, Real Pork aims to not only sustain the growth from pandemic purchasing but extend it long term by highlighting pork’s advantages.

Those advantages begin in the barn, so telling the authentic stories of pig farmers and pig farms – and how pork’s sustainability creates a protein consumers can feel good about feeding their family – will be a critical part of how Real Pork comes to life.

The first introduction of Real Pork to consumers comes this September, and focuses on “Pork as a Passport,” which celebrates pork’s position as a culturally relevant protein around the world. It encourages small adventures for weary quarantine cooks by showcasing delicious pork dishes from next door and across the globe.

Pork as a Passport will help consumers travel through their taste buds via inspiration that will be found in digital, social media, video, and a new landing page at A few examples of planned activities include:  
    Matching pig farmers with global chefs to connect over pork product
    Highlighting globally inspired pork recipes with modern photography
    Engaging a family psychologist to provide insight about the importance of family meals
    Sharing information on global recipes and flavors using pork through social media influencers
    Connecting U.S. chefs with international chefs to cook and together, create rich sharable videos for online and social media
    Highlighting pork in the most authentic, real and delicious way possible, through street food in a multicultural effort called Menu Urbano

As activities come to life, they will be posted on the new landing page, and the National Pork Board Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest accounts.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 8/21/2020

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending August 21, ethanol production climbed 0.5% higher, or 4,000 barrels per day (b/d), to 931,000 b/d—equivalent to 39.10 million gallons daily. Production remained 10.3% below the same week in 2019 as a result of the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The four-week average ethanol production rate declined 0.8% to 926,000 b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 14.20 billion gallons.

Ethanol stocks increased 0.7% to 20.4 million barrels, which was 11.2% below year-ago volumes. Inventories bulked up in the Gulf Coast (PADD 3), Rocky Mountains (PADD 4), and West Coast (PADD 5) but shifted lower across the other regions.

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, popped up 6.2% to 9.16 million b/d (140.44 annualized). Gasoline demand remained 7.5% lower than a year ago.

Conversely, refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol softened, down 0.7% to 854,000 b/d, equivalent to 13.09 bg annualized, which was 10.6% below the year-earlier level.

The U.S. imported 12,000 b/d of ethanol, or 3.53 million gallons for the week. This marks the fourth time over the last five weeks that imports were reported. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of June 2020.)

RFA Urges Immediate EPA Action on ‘Litany’ of Outstanding RFS Issues

Citing the need for more certainty and stability in uncertain times, as well as the legal requirement to meet statutory deadlines, the Renewable Fuels Association today urged EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to immediately address a number of unresolved issues related to the Renewable Fuel Standard.

“By disregarding statutory deadlines, flouting court decisions, and failing to make timely decisions, the Environmental Protection Agency is undermining predictability and confidence in the renewable fuels market and abetting longtime opponents of the RFS who perpetually seek the destabilize the program,” wrote RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper in a letter to Wheeler. “Consequently, I write today imploring EPA to swiftly resolve a litany of unsettled RFS matters in a manner that is consistent with both the purpose of the Clean Air Act and the spirit of President Trump’s commitments.”

Cooper cited five areas where EPA decisions need to be made immediately:
    Adopting the Tenth Circuit Court decision on small refinery exemptions nationwide.
    Denying all 67 pending so-called “gap year” refinery waiver petitions (for compliance years 2011-2018).
    Deciding the 31 pending petitions for 2019 and 2020 SREs according to the Tenth Circuit Court criteria.
    Publishing the proposed rule for 2021 renewable volume obligations.
    Restoring the 500-million-gallon conventional renewable fuel volume that was illegally waived from the 2016 RFS requirements, as ordered by a federal court.

In the case of small refinery waiver requests, Cooper noted that the statute requires EPA to decide the petitions within 90 days of receiving them from the refiner. Combined, the 98 pending SRE petitions at EPA have the potential to erase another 4.6 billion gallons of RFS blending requirements, eclipsing the 4.0 billion gallons already lost as a result of the 85 SREs previously granted for the 2016-2018 compliance years.

Likewise, Cooper said, EPA is required by law to finalize the 2021 RVO by the end of November. In the past, Administrator Wheeler himself has stated meeting that deadline “provides greater regulatory certainty to farmers and refiners across the country” and “…is critically important to America’s farmers and all stakeholders impacted by the Renewable Fuel Standard program.”

“Mother nature, international trade disputes, and a global pandemic have created a perfect storm that is wreaking economic havoc across Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin and countless other Midwest states,” Cooper concluded. “Today, more than ever, farmers need the certainty and stability that the RFS was intended to provide. … These actions will return integrity to the RFS and uphold the commitments of President Trump.”

DAP, MAP Prices Move Higher While Others Follow Seasonally Lower Trends

Retail fertilizer prices continued to be mixed the third week of August 2020, with six prices falling and two increasing, one of them significantly, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.

Of the six fertilizers that were lower in price compared to last month, none were down a noteworthy amount, which DTN designates as 5% or more. Potash has an average price of $353 per ton, down $7; urea $356/ton, down $2; 10-34-0 $465/ton, down $1; anhydrous $445/ton, down $5; UAN28 $220/ton, down $5 and UAN32 $259/ton, down $4.

DAP and MAP prices were both higher than last month, with DAP price increasing $20/ton, or 5%, to $427/ton. MAP was $434/ton, up $6 from last month.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.39/lb.N, anhydrous $0.27/lb.N, UAN28 $0.39/lb.N and UAN32 $0.40/lb.N.

Retail fertilizer prices continue to be considerably lower in price from a year ago. Anhydrous is 16% lower, both urea and UAN28 are 14% less expensive, DAP is 13% lower, MAP is 12% less expensive, UAN32 is 11% lower, potash is 9% less expensive and 10-34-0 is 2% lower than last year at this time.

EPA and USDA Announce Competition to Advance Agricultural Sustainability in the United States

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the Next Gen Fertilizer Challenges, a joint EPA-USDA partnership and competition to advance agricultural sustainability in the United States. The competition includes two challenges that seek proposals for new and existing fertilizer technologies to maintain or improve crop yields while reducing the impacts of fertilizers on the environment.

“The shared goal here is to accelerate the development of next generation fertilizers for corn production that can either maintain or increase crop yields while reducing environmental impacts to our air, land, and water,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

“USDA is committed to encouraging the development of new technologies and practices to ensure that U.S. agriculture is socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable for years to come,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “This challenge will stimulate innovation and aligns with USDA’s Agriculture Innovation Agenda announced earlier this year.”

“By evaluating the efficacy of existing technologies while sparking research and development of new technologies, these challenges explore the potential innovation that can result from academia, industry, government, and NGOs working together to address the complex issues related to excess nutrients in our environment,” said Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, EPA’s Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Science and EPA Science Advisor.

Along with EPA and USDA, the competition is coordinated with The Fertilizer Institute, the International Fertilizer Development Center, the National Corn Growers Association, and The Nature Conservancy.

The first challenge, the EEFs: Environmental and Agronomic Challenge, aims to identify existing Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizers (EEFs) that meet or exceed certain environmental and agro-economic criteria. EEF is a term for new formulations that control fertilizer release or alter reactions that reduce nutrient losses to the environment. This challenge will not have a monetary prize, but winners will receive scientific evaluation of their product and recognition from EPA, USDA, and other collaborators and participants.

The second challenge, the Next Gen Fertilizer Innovations Challenge, aims to generate new concepts for novel technologies that can help address environmental concerns surrounding agriculture practices while maintaining or increasing crop yields. A panel of expert judges will review the submissions. Each winner will receive at least $10,000.

The Next Gen Fertilizer Challenges open today, August 26, 2020. Registrants must submit their entries by October 30, 2020, for the EEFs: Environmental and Agronomic Challenge and by November 30, 2020, for the Next Gen Fertilizer Innovations Challenge. Winners will be announced in the winter of 2021.

An informational webinar will be held on September 24, 2020 at 10:00 – 11:00 AM ET.

More information about the challenges and the webinar is available at

Senators Seek Robust Enforcement of USMCA Dairy Agreements

A bipartisan group of 25 Senators today sent a letter identifying challenges with implementing several dairy-related provisions in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Underscoring USMCA’s importance to the dairy industry, the letter asks the U.S. government to use USMCA’s enforcement measures to ensure full compliance with the trade deal.

The letter, led by Sens. Tina Smith (D-MN) and Mike Crapo (R-ID), was sent to the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It reads, in part:

“As negotiated, the USMCA will create new export opportunities for America’s dairy industry and creates an equitable playing field for American dairy exports in Mexico and Canada. Given the importance of these provisions to our dairy farmers and to American dairy exports, we ask that you use USMCA’s enforcement measures to hold our trading partners accountable to their trade commitments. It is imperative that Canada and Mexico deliver upon their agreed upon commitments related to dairy products.”

The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) commend the coalition of Senators for standing up for America’s dairy farmers, processors and exporters and pressing for fair and full implementation of USMCA’s dairy provisions.

“Canada has already begun implementing USMCA in a way that thwarts its market access promises and prevents U.S. dairy from making full use of the benefits that Congress and the Administration fought so hard to secure. There are also unanswered questions concerning how Mexico will translate its commitments to safeguard common name cheeses into action. These are unresolved concerns that affect everyday dairy farmers and workers across our industry. I appreciate Senator Smith and Senator Crapo’s proactive engagement and leadership on this letter underscoring that USMCA provides the tools necessary to take enforcement measures now,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC.

“Timely and complete enforcement of USMCA’s dairy-related provisions will allow America’s dairy industry to harness the full potential of this modernized trade agreement. This letter sends a strong message to Canada and Mexico: Efforts to maintain unjust trade practices or block market access will not be tolerated. This bipartisan support for fairer dairy trade in North America also demonstrates not only the importance of exports to America’s dairy farmers, but the key role that dairy plays in our national economy. Thank you, Senator Smith and Senator Crapo, for your leadership and support of a critical industry,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF.

Earlier this month, a bipartisan coalition of 104 Representatives also sent a letter urging the U.S. government to fully enforce USMCA.

Larry Schnell Installed as LMA President for 2020-2022 Term

Larry Schnell of Stockmen’s Livestock Exchange in Dickinson, North Dakota, was installed president of the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) at the 2020 Annual LMA Membership Meeting, held virtually on Sunday, August 23. Schnell will complete a two-year term leading the nation’s largest, livestock marketing trade association that represents more than 800 local livestock auction markets and allied businesses.

Schnell’s family holds a strong history in the livestock marketing industry. In 1937, Schnell’s grandfather, Ray, founded Schnell’s Livestock Auction Market in Dickinson, N.D., using chicken wire fence for a sale ring. In 1977, Schnell became partners with his father and two other individuals, taking over as general manager in 1985. Currently, Stockmen’s Livestock Exchange has two locations in Dickinson and is owned by Larry and his partner, James Erickson.

As LMA President and a market owner, Schnell is actively involved in several livestock industry issues, including the ongoing Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) packer investigations.

“At this time, the most important industry issue we face is the finished cattle pricing system and how to make it more equitable,” Schnell said. “LMA has been very strong in supporting USDA’s and the DOJ’s investigations looking into the pricing system and seeing if there is anything illegal or unfair. We need to find a competitive pricing mechanism that better serves the cattle producers and cattle feeders our members work so heavily with.”

Additionally, Schnell looks forward to serving his two-year term as president, and continued involvement with LMA and its members.

“I look forward to working with the other committee members, and especially our members across the nation, on topics important to the cattle industry,” Schnell said. “I believe that LMA is a very effective organization for the industry and we hope to keep it that way.”

Aside from LMA, Schnell is also involved in a variety of other organizations and activities. He was formerly the Chairman of the North Dakota Beef Council, Regional Vice President for the Federation of State Beef Councils, President of the North Dakota Auctioneers Association and President of the North Dakota Livestock Marketing Associations. Schnell is a former team and calf roper, hockey coach and Elder at Evangelical Christian Church in Dickinson. He is also an avid golfer and adult bible school teacher.

New Case IH FA 1030 Air Boom Applicator Boosts Productivity, Efficiency

To help operators achieve high-efficiency application in challenging conditions, Case IH is launching the FA 1030 air boom applicator. Initially available for the Titan 4540 floater, this rugged applicator is built to carry more product, enhance productivity and deliver accurate application across changing terrain. The FA 1030 will be available for the Titan 3540 in July 2021.

With a rear-mounted 72-foot stainless steel boom and 350 cubic feet of struck capacity, the FA 1030 air boom applicator helps cover more ground. The ability to configure the FA 1030 to spread up to three products and up to 1,200 pounds per acre of total product at 10 mph further ensures maximized field efficiency. The FA 1030 also offers variable rate product application and left/right boom section control, giving operators the ability to optimize their product delivery.

“Not only do today’s operators demand application equipment that will help them cover more ground in less time, but they also need the flexibility and configurations to tailor their equipment, matching their customers’ needs and fields,” said Mark Burns, Case IH application equipment marketing manager. “This rugged applicator is built to carry more product and make the most of in-field time.”

More Options & Configurations

Operators can select from a range of bin options, including single-, double- and triple-bin configurations. An optional micro bin is also available for applications of granular fertilizer, granular chemicals or even cover crop planting with variable rate capabilities. On multiproduct hoppers, operators can use an adjustable divider to easily change from a 50/50 to a 60/40 split, with no tools required. If the micro bin is used for a third product, a 50/37/13 or 60/27/13 split can be selected for ultimate flexibility.

The FA 1030 factory-fit design for the Titan 4540 floater is made possible by the partnership between Case IH and Salford Group Inc., an application equipment manufacturer headquartered in Ontario, Canada.

“We’re pleased to team up with Salford Group to offer this new air boom applicator on the Case IH Titan 4540 floater,” Burns said. “Salford Group is known for developing durable, reliable equipment, and our shared dedication to innovating and helping operators be more productive makes us a great match.”

AGCO Introduces Fendt IDEAL 10, Highest HP Combine in North America

AGCO Corporation (NYSE:AGCO), a global leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of agricultural machinery and solutions, introduces the new model 10 and 10T Fendt® IDEAL® combines to North American producers. The IDEAL 10 and 10T deliver industry-leading maximum engine power of 790 HP, up to 20% more throughput capacity than previous models and harvesting automation that makes operation easier and ensures top grain quality. As another example of Fendt’s unrelenting pursuit of excellence, these new Class 10 combines are designed and built to efficiently harvest more grain in the toughest of harvest conditions.

“As AGCO expands its Fendt dealer network and product line in North America, we are excited to bring the IDEAL 10 and IDEAL 10T with the TrakRide™ system and IDEALdrive™ joystick steering to market for the 2021 harvest seasons,” says Kevin Forth, AGCO tactical marketing manager for Harvesting. “Our engineers have designed substantially more power and cleaning capacity into the IDEAL 10 without increasing the size of the combine. Add the new IDEALdrive steering and TrakRide in combination on the Model 10T combines, and these Class 10 combines will deliver more bushels harvested per day and even easier operation during long days harvesting.”

The IDEAL 10 and 10T join the family of Fendt IDEAL 7, 8 and 9 models introduced to North America in 2018. Harvesting capacity of the IDEAL 10 is up to 20% greater than the IDEAL 9, due to the increased horsepower of the MAN 16.2-liter engine and a 12% increase in separation area. The increased harvesting capacity hasn’t increased the overall size or maneuverability of the IDEAL 10, which maintains a sleek 11.5-foot chassis width. Equipped with wheels or the patented TrakRide system, IDEAL is available with 26-, 30- or 36-inch-wide rubber tracks, which allow operators to match the track to their respective operations and glide over fields with challenging soil conditions.

Higher cleaning capacity with added WavePan cleaning technology

For even higher cleaning capacity and great throughput, the IDEAL 10 offers a re-designed cleaning system compared to Class 8 and 9 models. The IDEAL Balance™ return pans have been optimized to evenly distribute large amounts of material to the cleaning system while keeping the same simple and efficient manner of operation to minimize grain loss and increase grain sample quality.

With the expanded cleaning system, grain now drops down to the top sieve from the stratification pan through the new WavePan™ cascades. The WavePan design adds curved double-drop steps that use stratification and gravity to help separate grain from foreign material. The enhanced design also maximizes airflow so the powerful cleaning fan can suspend light material in the WavePan area before any material reaches the cleaning shoe, pre-cleaning the crop before it reaches the top sieve. The powerful airflow is split between the