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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 January 27 Ag News


For the month of January 2020, topsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short, 11 short, 68 adequate, and 18 surplus, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short,  12 short, 71 adequate, and 14 surplus.
Field Crops Report:

Winter wheat condition rated 3 percent very poor, 7 poor, 31 fair, 54 good, and 5 excellent. 

The next monthly report (for February) will be issued February 24, 2020. Weekly reports will begin April 6th for the 2020 season.

Four Midwest Governors Sign New Agreement to Combat Flooding

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, Governor Laura Kelly of Kansas, Governor Mike Parson of Missouri, and Governor Kim Reynolds of Iowa announced that they had signed a new Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) in response to historic flooding along the Missouri River.

“Ten months after flooding began, our states are still working to recover and rebuild because of the historic scale of the natural disaster,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Moving forward, we want to see people and communities put first when managing the Missouri River.  Thank you to Governor Kelly, Governor Parson, and Governor Reynolds for your collaboration, and I look forward to working together to implement solutions that keep our communities safe.”

“The year 2019 proved to be historic when it came to flooding and the Missouri River,” said Kansas Governor Laura Kelly.  “Unfortunately, we have seen an increasing frequency of damage over the last 10 to 15 years.  The local land and business owners in the lower four states of the Missouri Basin have experienced the bulk of the damage.  The states must take a more active role in working toward solutions that limit future damages.  I’m happy to join Governor Ricketts, Governor Parson, and Governor Reynolds in this important effort and partnership.”

“All of our states have been heavily impacted by flooding this year, and we must work together to be more prepared for the future,” said Missouri Governor Mike Parson.  “Our citizens cannot continue to risk their lives, homes, livestock, and futures on a flood-control system that is insufficient to protect them.  I look forward to continue working with Governor Kelly, Governor Reynolds, and Governor Ricketts to share ideas and identify regional flood control solutions.”

“The Missouri River is a vital resource that affects the well-being of the entire region and we must be prepared for the upcoming snow melt,” said Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.  “By working together as a regional group of governors we can put forth comprehensive solutions that improve current recovery while also preparing for the future.  I want to thank Governor Ricketts, Governor Parson, and Governor Kelly for partnering with Iowa to find comprehensive solutions that work for the entire region.”

Read the new agreement by clicking here...

Ricketts Congratulates Natural Resources Director on Retirement 

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts congratulated Jeff Fassett, the Director of Natural Resources (DNR), on his pending retirement.  Fassett has served as DNR director since August 2015.

“I want to express my deep gratitude to Jeff for leading the department over the past four and a half years,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “Jeff was the right leader at the right time.  From agriculture to recreation, he helped build trust and solve problems collaboratively by developing solid lines of communication among interested stakeholders.”

During Fassett’s tenure, Nebraska secured a settlement of claims regarding Colorado’s past use of water under the Republican River Compact with the help of the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office.  Additionally, DNR completed major basin plans for the Republican River and the Upper Platte River.

“It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve Governor Ricketts and the people of Nebraska,” said Director Fassett.  “Nebraska has an outstanding team at DNR, who are working every day to keep our state growing.  With their help, Nebraska will continue to be a leader in water management for years to come.”

Fassett’s last day will be February 28th.  Gov. Ricketts has commenced his search for the next director.  Jesse Bradley will serve as the interim director.

Is your grain in the bin going out of condition?

Amy Timmerman – NE Extension Educator

Many producers put grain into their storage bins last fall at higher moisture contents than normal, due to late crop maturity and less in-field drying in 2019. For grain stored wetter than recommended for storage through the winter months (above 15% for corn and 13% for soybeans), it is especially vital to monitor grain this winter to get ahead of situations that could cause a loss in condition.

Maintaining grain temperatures below 35-40 degrees is the best defense against spoilage for grain that is wetter than ideal. To do so, it is necessary to aerate to cool grain in the fall after filling the bin, plus aerate as often as needed throughout the winter to keep grain cool.

Even after cooling, grain can warm in storage bins in the winter by solar heating on the bin roof and south-facing walls.

It is important to remember that the time required to fully aerate a bin (to cool grain and even out grain temperatures) depends on the fan size, or airflow. A small aeration fan (0.1 cfm/bushel) can take nearly a week to fully cool a bin of corn. Err on the side of running the fan too long to prevent uneven grain temperatures. Run aeration cycles when the averages between the daily high and low temperatures are near 30-35 degrees.

This winter, as you are monitoring grain condition weekly and aerating as needed, be sure to inspect and probe the grain for crusting, damp spots, and warm spots. Smell the first flush of exhaust air after turning on the fan to notice any off-smelling odors that indicate molding (musty or sour). The first flush of air exits the grain within seconds for a large drying fan and within minutes for an aeration fan. Have a plan of action and move grain at the first sign of it going out of condition. Remember that grain above safe storage moisture content will have to be dried or marketed prior to warm temperatures returning in spring.

Producers should also be aware that low test weight corn and or low-quality grain will have a shorter allowable storage time than good quality grain. Corn with a test weight below 53 lbs/bushel may only have about half the effective storage life of 56 lbs/bushel corn. It is not advised to store grain longer than half of its allowable storage time to reduce the risk of quality loss before marketing.

Trade Agreements for the Heartland

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer

After World War II, our nation forged new trade deals and opened markets to create unprecedented economic growth. However, in the decades that followed, some interests and priorities have shifted. America needed to refocus and update our trade deals to level the playing field and restore fairness and reciprocity for the hardworking men and women of the heartland.

When one in four of our state’s jobs are directly related to production agriculture, Nebraskans need certainty that our trading markets are secure.

For years now, that’s exactly where my focus has been, and I have worked closely with President Trump to build on the tremendous momentum our economy has created to deliver trade deals with Canada, Mexico, China, and Japan. These historic agreements restore principles of fairness, reciprocity, and prioritize Nebraska’s families and workers.

I was proud to join some of my Midwest Senate colleagues as we took part in a signing ceremony for the USMCA and sent the agreement to the president’s desk for his signature.

Passage of the USMCA meant securing our state’s two largest markets. Currently, Canada and Mexico receive 44 percent of Nebraska’s total exports. In 2018, Nebraska sent nearly $1.5 billion of ag products to our neighbors to the north and south. According to USDA, Canada and Mexico purchase more than 82 percent of distillers grains exports and nearly 80 percent of our dairy exports. There is no doubt that this broad bipartisan agreement will benefit Nebraska’s farmers and ag producers both now and in the future as they continue to feed the world.

The new decade also ushered in encouraging progress in strengthening our trade relationship with China.

On January 15th, President Trump and Chinese representatives signed a “Phase One” agreement, which is a significant win for Nebraska and represents China’s return to the table as a major customer of our agricultural products. China has agreed to purchase, on average, $40 billion of U.S. agricultural goods per year for the next two years.

Nebraska Farm Bureau predicts that, “At the very least, agricultural exports to China this year should be $32 billion and should equal $39 billion in 2021. For context, peak U.S. agricultural exports to China were nearly $26 billion in 2012.” The agreement also includes provisions that address a multitude of non-tariff barriers for commodities like beef, dairy, animal feed, and biotech products.

In addition to agriculture, the agreement makes important strides concerning intellectual property services, currency manipulation monitoring, and a process for dispute resolution. This Phase One deal will help expand market access for Nebraska and bring much needed economic certainty to Nebraska’s manufacturing, agriculture, and energy sectors.

All of these trade deals follow the progress made with Japan last year. The first stage of the U.S.-Japan deal took effect January 1, 2020, reducing tariffs and raising quotas on many U.S. agriculture exports. Japan is our largest customer for all ag exports, beef, pork, eggs, and wheat. In 2018 alone, Nebraska’s exports to Japan totaled nearly $1.2 billion.

Our state’s manufacturers, small businesses, families, and communities are going to benefit from all of these trade agreements. We’ve made great progress in securing more customers for the world-class products that Nebraskans produce. Now, we are setting our sights on the United Kingdom to secure more valuable trading markets in the future.

I want to thank President Trump for keeping his word and following through for our state and America’s heartland. I am proud of the work we have been able to accomplish by working together with this administration and with my colleagues in the United States Senate.


Gross refrigerated storage capacity in Nebraska totaled 47.9 million cubic feet on October 1, 2019, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Usable refrigerated storage capacity was 38.0 million cubic feet, or 79 percent of the gross space. Usable freezer space was 93 percent of the usable refrigerated space with the remaining 7 percent used as cooler space. Refrigerated warehouse numbers totaled 15 in 2019.

U.S. Refrigerated Warehouses Capacity 3.65 Billion Cubic Feet

Gross refrigerated storage capacity in the United States totaled 3.65 billion cubic feet on October 1, 2019. This was the 51st biennial survey of refrigerated warehouses. The five States with the largest gross warehouse capacity (million cubic feet) were: California 389, Washington 282, Florida 252, Wisconsin 247 and Texas 242.

Usable refrigerated storage capacity was 2.97 billion cubic feet, or 81 percent of the gross space. Usable freezer space was 80 percent of the usable refrigerated space with the remaining 20 percent used as cooler space.

Public warehouse refrigerated storage capacity totaled 2.68 billion gross cubic feet in 2019, accounting for 74 percent of the total storage.  Private and semiprivate warehouse refrigerated capacity totaled 962 million gross cubic feet, or 26 percent of the gross refrigerated space.

Refrigerated warehouse numbers totaled 912 in 2019. The number of public warehouses is 551. Private and semiprivate warehouses totaled 361.

Tenth Circuit Court Strikes Down EPA Small Refinery Exemptions

In a decision that is expected to broadly impact the Environmental Protection Agency’s approach to granting small refinery exemptions (SREs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit late on Friday struck down three exemptions that were improperly issued by EPA.

The court ruling stems from a May 2018 challenge brought against EPA by the Renewable Fuels Association, the National Corn Growers Association, the American Coalition for Ethanol and National Farmers Union.

“We are extremely pleased with the Tenth Circuit’s decision to vacate the waivers granted by EPA to three refineries owned by CVR Energy and HollyFrontier,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “The Court has affirmed our long-held position that EPA’s recent practices and policies regarding small refinery exemption extensions were completely unlawful. And while the decision addresses three specific exemptions, the statutory interpretation issues resolved by the court apply much more broadly.”

Among other findings, the Court held that EPA cannot “extend” exemptions to any small refineries whose earlier, temporary exemptions had lapsed. According to the Court opinion, “the statute limits exemptions to situations involving ‘extensions,’ with the goal of forcing the market to accept escalating amounts of renewable fuels over time. None of the three small refineries here consistently received an exemption in the years preceding its petition. The EPA exceeded its statutory authority in granting those petitions because there was nothing for the agency to ‘extend.’” EPA’s own data show that a maximum of only seven small refineries could have received continuous extensions of their previously existing exemptions. Yet, recently EPA has granted as many as 35 exemptions in a single year.

“The Court’s decision is welcome news for corn growers,” said National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Ross. “Ethanol is an incredibly important value-added market for corn farmers, and EPA’s waivers have reduced RFS volume requirements by more than 4 billion gallons over the past three years, impacting corn demand. We are optimistic this decision will finally put an end to the demand destruction caused by waivers and keep the RFS back on track.”

The Court also found that EPA abused its discretion in failing to explain how the Agency could conclude that a small refinery might suffer a disproportionate economic hardship when the Agency has simultaneously consistently maintained that costs for RFS compliance credits, or RINs, are passed through and recovered by those same refineries.

“ACE members are elated the Tenth Circuit court agreed with us that EPA overstepped its authority in granting three specific small refinery exemptions to CVR Refining and HollyFrontier,” said American Coalition for Ethanol President CEO Brian Jennings. “The court’s ruling highlights how EPA abused the SRE provision of the Renewable Fuel Standard in broader terms to unfairly enrich the oil industry which could have far-reaching implications on the legitimacy of other refinery waivers and limit how they can be used moving forward.”

According to the renewable fuels coalition, the Court’s decision sends a resoundingly positive signal to the marketplace at a time when it is desperately needed.

“This ruling comes at a critical time for America’s farmers and the biofuels industry,” said National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson. “Due in large part to EPA’s rampant and ongoing abuse of the SRE program, 2019 was one of the most challenging years in history for the agriculture and biofuel sectors. We believe this ruling will help restore the ability of the RFS to drive demand and expand markets for renewable fuels, as Congress intended, providing a badly needed shot in the arm for rural America.”

NeFU Hails Court Decision as a Big Win for Family Farmers

Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU), Nebraska’s longest and most ardent ethanol advocate hailed the Tenth Circuit Court decision striking down EPA’s use of small refinery exemptions as a big win for corn producers and family farm agriculture.

The court ruling in in response to a May 2018 lawsuit brought against EPA by National Farmers Union.  Renewable Fuels Association 9RFA, National Corn Growers Association, and the American Coalition for Ethanol.

NeFU President John Hansen who also serves on the National Farmers Union board of Directors said, “Anytime you go to court over an issue it is going to cost both time and money. You also know if you lose you set a negative legal precedent. In this instance, we thought we had a very strong legal case against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), we knew how much EPA’s illegal use of small refinery exemptions was hurting corn utilization and depressing corn prices, and the fact we had three good partners to help share the legal costs made the decision to pursue legal remedy a risk we had to take. It is always heartwarming when the little guys who grow corn can take on both big corporate oil and the federal government, and win. Teamwork paid big dividends for our nation’s farmers,” Hansen said.

The Tenth Circuit found that EPA’s granting of small refinery exemptions to three companies owned by CVR Energy and HollyFrontier were unlawful and exempted them from meeting required levels of biofuel production under the nation’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“I hope EPA takes the court’s decision to heart and ends its systematic abuse of the small refinery waiver process,” said Hansen. “The misuse and overuse of these waivers reduced ethanol production by over 4 billion gallons in three years, or over 1.4 billion bushels of corn.  By comparison of use, in 2018 the U.S. ethanol utilized 34.5% of the corn crop, feed and residual, 33.2%, and exports 15.4%.  In an already struggling corn marketplace already hurt by trade conflicts, losing domestic utilization thanks to EPA makes a bad situation worse,” Hansen concluded.

Among their findings, the court held that EPA cannot “extend” exemptions to any small refinery that had a temporary exemption lapse. EPA’s own data showed that a maximum of seven small refineries qualified for continuous extensions. Yet, EPA has granted as many as 35 waivers in a single year.

IPPA Announces 2019 Master Pork Producers, Pork Partners

At the 2020 Iowa Pork Congress, the Iowa Pork Producers Association introduced the 2019 class of Master Pork Producers and Master Pork Partners.

A Master Pork Producer award denotes an individual's or family's excellence in pork production, as measured by their pork production statistics, their commitment to We Care® principles, and their contribution to their community. There are six We Care principles that outline a pig farmer's responsibilities to uphold high standards for animal well-being, food safety, the environment, as well as support of their local community.

IPPA's 78th class of Master Pork Producers includes eight pig farmers. They are:
    Ben Reck, Winthrop, Buchanan County
    Bruce Edwards and Kerry Edwards, Storm Lake, Buena Vista County
    Andrew Perry, Aurelia, Cherokee County
    Javan and Danielle Kruse, Hartley, Clay and O'Brien Counties
    Ryan Tripp and Brent Tripp, Dows, Franklin County
    Allan Schmidt, Holstein, Ida County
    Nolan Kooiker, Doon, Lyon County
    Bill and Joan Tentinger, Le Mars, Plymouth County

 IPPA started the Master Pork Producer Award program in 1942 and has now named 1,492 Iowa pig farmers as Master Pork Producers.

IPPA created the Master Pork Partner Award in 2014 to recognize pork production company employees who have made positive impacts on pork production systems, even though they don't have active daily roles at a specific production site. There were two categories added to the Partner Awards in 2019 to recognize other important partners in pig production. One of these awards is for veterinary care, the other for transportation.

The 2019 Master Pork Partners are:
    Matt Zitelman, a Pipestone Systems manager near Winthrop, Buchanan County
    Dr. Shamus Brown, DVM at Iowa Select Farms, Indianola, Warrant County
    Ty Rosburg, an independent trucker at Rosburg Livestock, Charter Oak, Crawford County

All award winners are nominated by their peers and neighbors, and represent the diversity of Iowa's pig farms. This production diversity helps maintain the strength of the industry and enables Iowa producers to compete successfully in the domestic and international commodity and niche markets.

The Iowa Pork Producers Association and Iowa State University Extension co-sponsor the Master Pork Producer program to demonstrate the character and breadth of Iowa pork production. Nominations for the 2020 Master Pork Program awards will open in May.

Pork Producers Name Youth Leadership Team at Iowa Pork Congress

Abby Bean, Marathon; Alexis Berte, Algona; and Caleb Hogan, Monticello, are the 2020 Iowa Pork Youth Leadership Team. They were selected from a field of 13 contestants during the Iowa Pork Congress last week.

The Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) sponsors the contest, which includes interviews, demonstrations of their outreach skills, and testing on their knowledge of pork and pig production. They also were judged on their community involvement and experience. The top female contestant is crowned pork queen, and the top remaining contestants, male or female, are named youth ambassadors.

Bean, a senior at Sioux Central High School in Sioux Rapids, will reign as the 2020 Iowa Pork Queen. Berte and Hogan are Pork Ambassadors. Each receives a $4,000 scholarship and plaque noting their award. But according to their predecessors, the most valuable things they will gain are the many growth and leadership opportunities provided by these positions. Over the next year, they will participate in public activities promoting pork and pig production, from county activities around Iowa to the Iowa State Fair, World Pork Expo, and events in Washington, D.C.

Bean, who also served as the Buena Vista County Pork Queen in 2018 and 2019, is the daughter of CJ and Chris Bean of Marathon. After graduating from high school this spring, she plans to pursue a degree in feed science and agricultural marketing. She is a member of the 2019-2020 Iowa State 4-H Council.

Berte, the daughter of Patrick and Nancy Berte of Algona, is a junior studying animal science at Iowa State University, with plans to go on to veterinary school. In summer 2019, she was a production intern with Midwest-based Christensen Farms, one of the largest, family-owned pork producers in the country. She served as the 2018-2019 North Central Vice President of the Iowa FFA Association. 

Hogan is a freshman studying agriculture business at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, and he plans to continue his studies at Iowa State University. The son of Dominic and Karen Hogan of Monticello, he grew up helping his dad with pig chores and eventually began managing a 2,400-head hog barn. He currently works as a research assistant at Diamond V's Research and Innovation Center on Kirkwood's agriculture campus.

Western Iowa Family Receives Pork All-American Award

Fifth generation farmers, Aaron and Alyce Nieland of Breda, have been named by the Iowa Pork Producers Association as the 2019 recipients of the Pork All-American Award. They were presented their award at the 2020 Iowa Pork Congress in Des Moines.

The IPPA Pork All-American award was established in 1970 to honor producers younger than 40 years of age who have established themselves as community leaders and successful and dedicated business people. They have also previously been presented with the Master Pork Producer designation; the Nielands won that award in 2017.

The Nielands finish pigs and farm row crops. The pig barns allowed them to diversify their farm operation. Together, they handle the day-to-day animal care, where Alyce specializes in getting weaned pigs off to a good start. Alyce also oversees the pig barns, which is a good fit with her animal science degree from Iowa State University.

They are contract growers for Audubon-Manning Veterinary Clinic (AMVC), and the Nielands often host veterinary students in their buildings when AMVC is providing on-farm practice for those students.

Aaron runs their expanding crop operation, which uses all the manure from their pig barns. They do soil sampling and follow a manure management plan developed with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. He also runs seed-related trials in their fields.

Aaron and Alyce have three children under the age of 10: Aisha, Will and Ellie. They are involved in their church, the Sac County Pork Producers and help coach Little League teams. Alyce also runs a Facebook page called Pigs and Kids, where she shares news about the farm and promotes the swine industry.

United Nations Declares 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health

Plants make the oxygen we breathe and give us 80 percent of the food we eat. But plants are under attack by invasive pests. These pests destroy up to 40 percent of the world’s food crops and cause $220 billion in trade losses each year according to the United Nations (U.N.). That leaves millions of people worldwide without enough food to eat and seriously damages agriculture—the primary source of income for rural communities.

To bring worldwide attention to this challenge, the U.N. has declared 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health. They are calling on people, organizations, industries, scientists, and governments to work together to protect plants against the introduction and spread of invasive pests. The U.S. National Plant Protection Organization—the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Plant Protection and Quarantine—is leading the effort in the United States.

“At USDA, we do all we can for our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers so that they can continue to feed and clothe this nation and the world,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, Greg Ibach. “That’s why we’re urging everyone to take this issue seriously and to do their part. Protecting plants from pests and diseases is far more cost effective than the alternative.”

According to USDA, everyone can help avoid the devastating impact of pests and diseases on agriculture, livelihoods, and food security. You can get started today by taking a few important actions, including:
    Look for and report unusual signs of pests or disease in trees and plants to your local Extension, State department of agriculture, or local State Office.
    Don’t move firewood. Instead, buy heat-treated firewood or responsibly gather wood near the place it will be burned to ensure tree-killing beetles hiding inside can’t spread to new areas.
    Always declare food, plants, or other agricultural items to U.S. Customs and Border Protection when returning from international travel so they can make sure these items are free of pests.
    Contacting your local State Office before you buy seeds or plants online from other countries to find out if they need to be inspected and certified as pest free or meet other conditions to legally bring them into the United States.

To learn more about the International Year of Plant Health and how you can help stop destructive invasive plant pests, visit USDA’s website at

Group Intends to Sue EPA

(AP) -- A conservation group announced Monday that it's preparing to sue the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to enforce the Clean Water Act relating to pollution limits for the Chesapeake Bay.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation announced it is preparing a notice of intent to sue the EPA, saying the agency has failed to take action for what the foundation is describing as an inadequate pollution reduction plan from Pennsylvania.

"That EPA is abdicating its responsibility under the Clean Water Act is a tragedy," said Will Baker, the president of the foundation. "Failing to hold Pennsylvania accountable undermines the success we have seen in recent years. It is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory."

The foundation says Pennsylvania's proposal to reduce nitrogen pollution between now and a 2025 deadline has a funding shortfall of more than $300 million annually and the plan still falls 25% short of the nitrogen goal.

The EPA and Pennsylvania did not immediately comment on the announcement.

The foundation is highlighting comments made by Dana Aunkst, the director of the EPA's Chesapeake Bay Program, for saying recently that the goals were aspirational and not legally enforceable.

"We are currently in discussion with a range of potential partners concerning the legal strategies we can use to force EPA to comply with the law," said Jon Mueller, CBF's vice president for litigation.

CBF points out that the group sued the EPA in 2009 for failing to enforce the Clean Water Act in the Chesapeake Bay region, prompting a yearlong negotiation between the group and the EPA.

That resulted in the EPA developing a limit on the amount of pollution the bay can withstand and remain healthy, and CBF agreed to drop the lawsuit.

The Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint was created with the goal of having programs in place by 2025 to restore the bay. States in the bay's watershed, the District of Columbia and the EPA endorsed the pollution reductions, and each jurisdiction pledged to reduce its share of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution, the foundation noted in its announcement Monday.

Friday January 24 Cattle on Feed + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.46 million cattle on feed on January 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was down 4 percent from last year.  Placements during December totaled 465,000 head, up 13 percent from 2018.  Fed cattle marketings for the month of December totaled 470,000 head, up 9 percent from last year.  Other disappearance during December totaled 15,000 head, down 5,000 head from last year.


Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 670,000 head on January 1, 2020, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was down 3 percent from both December 1, 2019, and January 1, 2019. 

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during December 2019 totaled 72,000 head, down 35 percent from November 2019 and down 15 percent from December 2018. Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during December 2019 totaled 90,000 head, up 18 percent from November 2019 but down 2 percent from December 2018. Other disappearance from feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head in Iowa totaled 2,000 head.

Note:  Iowa cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head estimates will be released on January 31, 2020.

United States Cattle on Feed Up 2 Percent

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 12.0 million head on January 1, 2020. The inventory was 2 percent above January 1, 2019. The inventory included 7.37 million steers and steer calves, up 1 percent from the previous year. This group accounted for 62 percent of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 4.59 million head, up 4 percent from 2019.

On Feed -         (1,000 hd   -   % Jan 1 '19)

Colorado ......:       1,090          108                  
Iowa .............:        670            97                  
Kansas ..........:      2,420          104                
Nebraska ......:      2,460           96                 
Texas ............:      2,960          108               

Placements in feedlots during December totaled 1.83 million head, 3 percent above 2018. Net placements were 1.76 million head. During December, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 465,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 455,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 413,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 295,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 95,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 105,000 head.

Placements      (1,000 hd   -   % Dec '18)

Colorado ......:           140            97                  
Iowa .............:            72            85                 
Kansas ..........:           435           110               
Nebraska ......:           465           113               
Texas ............:           410           100                 

Marketings of fed cattle during December totaled 1.83 million head, 5 percent above 2018. Other disappearance totaled 67,000 head during December, 11 percent below 2018.

Marketings -     (1,000 hd   -   % Dec '18)

Colorado ......:            145           104               
Iowa .............:            90            98                
Kansas ..........:            430           105             
Nebraska ......:            470           109             
Texas ............:            365           106             


Two decision-making tools created by Nebraska Extension for agricultural producers across the state have been updated for the new year.

The 2020 Nebraska crop budgets ( and representative cow-calf budgets ( are now available to provide producers with cost-of-production estimates. 

Both sets of budgets are available as PDFs and Excel files, which feature tools that allow users to enter information into worksheets to calculate estimated production costs.

“Both the crop and livestock budget files are made available online so producers can download, then modify, production and expense figures to more closely match their various enterprises,” said Glennis McClure, a Nebraska Extension educator in the Department of Agricultural Economics. “Understanding enterprise cost of production in agriculture is important in product mix decision-making, pricing, marketing and financial analysis.”

The crop budgets include 82 production budgets for 15 crops produced in Nebraska, along with cost data for power, machinery and labor. They were compiled by a team led by Robert Klein, an extension crops specialist, and McClure, utilizing a template created by Roger Wilson, a retired extension farm and ranch management analyst.

There are five cow-calf budgets that offer representative herd data for different regions of the state. Background stories are included to assist producers with information relevant to each budget, which may guide producers in determining their own costs. McClure led the cow-calf budget effort, which was compiled from information gathered from producer panels that have met as part of the university’s multidisciplinary Beef Systems Initiative.

 LENRD board learns about the Northeast Nebraska Growing Together Initiative

In 2018, the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) board of directors approved a motion to fund a portion of the riverfront development project to revitalize downtown Norfolk, paving the way for a brighter future for Northeast Nebraska.

At their January meeting, former state senator Mike Flood, and Norfolk mayor Josh Moenning updated the LENRD board on their $1 million investment to the riverfront project.  The two also summarized the goals of the Northeast Nebraska Growing Together initiative, explaining the history and future of population loss in the area and how to change the downward trend.  The Aksarben Foundation has organized and funded the initiative.

“It was a big commitment made by the board to join with the city to invest in this recreation project that is leading to new development and growth,” Moenning said.  Flood added, “It’s important that the city and the NRD are on the same page.  We’re all pulling in the same direction.”

Moenning said designs will be finalized for Johnson Park improvements, river restoration, and other downtown projects in the coming years.  Some projects, such as the River Point Square, will begin this year.

LENRD general manager Mike Sousek, said, “One of the 12 responsibilities of the NRDs is the development of recreational facilities.  The LENRD’s investment in the riverfront development project will work towards bringing more people back to the area and will compliment the efforts that will be made through the Growing Together initiative.  This is all part of the LENRD’s mission to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Northeast Nebraska.”

In other business, the board made a motion to direct staff to send non-compliance notification letters to well owners who have not yet submitted groundwater use reports (flow meter readings) for all active high-capacity wells.  The deadline to submit the reports to the LENRD is December 1st of each year.

The board also elected officers for 2020... Gary Loftis, Craig, Chairman; Kurt Janke, Wayne, Vice-Chairman; Dennis Schultz, Wisner, Treasurer;  Matt Steffen, West Point, Secretary;  Joel Hansen, Wayne, Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) Alternate; Scott McHenry, Norfolk, NARD Delegate.

The next LENRD board meeting will be Thursday, February 27th at 7:30 p.m. at Wayne State College.  

Bostelman Introduces Flood Task Force Bill

This week, Sen. Bruce Bostelman of Brainard introduced LB1201, a bill that aims at identifying existing resources that communities can use in response to flood events and evaluating floodwater management issues.

"Nebraskans in District 23 and across the state suffered from the worst flooding in memory in 2019. Nebraskans stepped up and pulled together to bring our state through this tough time. By working together and delivering this bill, we can plan so our communities can be prepared for the future, " said Sen. Bostelman.

Six additional Senators joined LB1201 as cosponsors. A hearing date for the bill will be set in the near future.

Sen. Bostelman has been a leader in evaluating the state’s future planning and needs for flood response. As co-chair of LR241, Sen. Bostelman held meetings to evaluate the impact of flood on the state. During the interim study, he visited the Lincoln well field, Ashland National Guard camp, Loup Canal at Genoa, Schuyler, Winslow, and Spencer Dam as well as met with numerous emergency managers, county highway superintendents, commissioners, public power, private landowners, and city officials.

A copy of the bill can be found here:

Iowa Corn Discusses Rented Land at the Iowa Power Farming Show

Iowa Corn is hosting panel discussions at the Iowa Power Farming Show on January 28 and 29, 2020. Join Iowa farmers and Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Julie Kenney, as they share success stories of tenants working with their landlords to improve conservation and profitability on rented land. Moderated by The Nature Conservancy’s Mike Dunn. A free lunch will be available for attendees following the seminars.

WHAT: Iowa Power Farming Show
WHEN: January 28-29, 2020
Seminars:  January 28, 11 A.M. Mezzanine Meeting Room #2
    Doug Gronau, Crawford County farmer
    Gary Petersohn, Ringgold County farmer
    Roger Zylstra, Jasper County farmer
January 29, 11 A.M. Mezzanine Meeting Room #2
    Julie Kenney, Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Story County farmer
    Keaton Krueger, Boone County farmer
    Lance Lillibridge, Benton County farmer
WHERE: Iowa Events Center, 833 5th Ave, Des Moines, IA

While there, visit Iowa Corn booth #852 at the east entrance to the Community Choice Convention Center. ICGA members who stop at the booth can update contact information and enter to win prizes. If you are not a member, you are able to sign up at the booth and receive a free hat.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Host the National Pork Board

On Jan. 9, members of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) hosted the National Pork Board’s board of directors and Pork Checkoff staff members at the Miami International Airport to showcase ongoing work its team does every day to help protect the nation from foreign animal disease and plant and animal pests.

“The tour was really eye-opening,” said Bill Luckey, a wean-to-finish producer and National Pork Board member from Columbus, Nebraska. “It was fascinating to watch the dogs work and the officials do their job to help protect our borders and our livelihood. I’m confident that they’re doing their best to safeguard our industry.”

During a  typical day in 2018, CBP agriculture specialists across the nation seized 4,552 prohibited plants, meats, animal byproducts and soil, along with intercepting 319 insect pests at U.S. ports of entry. Of recent note was the seizure of nearly 14 pounds of raw unknown meat, pork hot dogs and raw ruminant tripe at the Philadelphia International Airport.

Having the Beagle Brigade on duty goes a long way in making these kinds of statistics possible. To that end, the livestock industry would like to see even more dogs and handlers on the job.

“I came away more well informed about how CBP works, including how the dogs intercept contraband,” said Gene Noem, an Ames, Iowa producer who serves as National Pork Board treasurer. “I hope to see the beagle program get even stronger in the future to help safeguard all of our ports of entry.”

Also, at ports of entry, the National Pork Board and its allies want to see more secondary screening of people who indicate that they were on a farm or near livestock outside of the country. In fact, if CBP does not follow-through when this is the case, Paul Sundberg, executive director of the Swine Health Information Center, asks that people send him an email about it to help improve the process nationwide.

Pork Checkoff’s Veterinary Team Continues to Drive ASF Collaboration

On Jan. 16, staff members of the National Pork Board's veterinary team, including newly announced team member, Pam Zaabel, DVM, met with USDA officials at the National Animal Disease Center in Ames, Iowa, to share and discuss research priorities and gaps for African swine fever (ASF) in 2020 and beyond.

Along with pork industry partners from the National Pork Producers Council and the North American Meat Institute, Pork Checkoff staff participated in the daylong meeting that focused on what government-based groups are doing on a variety of issues related to ASF. Helping to spearhead the meeting was the Checkoff’s Lisa Becton, DVM, director of swine health, who also presented key ASF priorities of the National Pork Board’s Swine Disease Council task force. 

Representatives from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, the Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service and the Department of Homeland Security offered insights into ongoing work on ASF diagnostics and vaccines. Top ASF researchers, Manual Borca and Doug Gladue from the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, also gave updates on ASF vaccine and diagnostic work that is showing promise.

“This type of meeting is critical to ensure that all U.S. groups with a stake in ASF are on the same page and are moving forward on mutual objectives as quickly as possible,” Becton said. “It’s great that the Checkoff can continue to foster collaboration on ASF work as we strive for real-world solutions to protect our industry.”

Dave Pyburn, the Checkoff’s chief veterinarian, said that his team will continue its focus on ASF and all foreign animal diseases that pose a real threat to the U.S. pork industry.

“Disease prevention and rapid, effective response to disease outbreaks are our top priorities,” Pyburn said. “Leading to gather of groups at meetings such as this goes a long way in achieving those goals.”

Altoona Chef Wins Culinary Contest that Kicks Off Iowa Pork Congress

Facebook should be giving this year's winner of the Taste of Elegance competition a big thumbs-up "like."

Chef Ben Hayes of the Peace of Cake Café at the Facebook facility in Altoona, Iowa, took home the 1st place honors - or Chef Par Excellence - at the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) Taste of Elegance competition. This year's contest, held annually at the beginning of Iowa Pork Congress week, challenged chefs to prepare an entrée featuring a single serving of a crown roast of pork.

Hayes is in charge of the kitchen at Facebook's Altoona and Pleasant Hill facilities, where 1,000 employees eat daily. For the Taste of Elegance competition, he prepared East Meets Midwest, which was a crown roast marinated in five spices and slightly charred. The rib pork chop from the crown roast was served with a marmalade, chiles and miso pickles. The judges commented on how perfectly executed the dish was, making it "hard to beat."

Hayes received $1000 and a plaque in his effort to prepare the top entrée in a field of 9 chefs.

The judges selected Chef Ken VanMilligen of St. Kilda Surf & Turf in Des Moines for second place. VanMilligen also received the People's Choice Award by those who attended the Taste of Elegance competition. VanMilligen prepared a rib from the crown roast that was served with a butternut squash puree. He received a plaque for each award and a total of $750.

Third place and the Media's Choice Award went to Diego Critelli of The River Center in Des Moines. Critelli also received two plaques and $500. His crown roast of pork entry was served with figs and balsamic.

A crown roast of pork is made by forming a regular bone-in pork loin. Kelsey Sutter, IPPA's marketing/programs director, said "The crown roast traditionally would be tied into a crown and stuffed to create a beautiful centerpiece for a special occasion. In this contest, chefs were challenged with cooking the roast whole and then serving it up for our judges in individual tomahawk or French cut chops to modernize this roast."

One of the judges, Chef Kevin Scharpf of Dubuque, applauded the choice of that cut for the competition. "This a great idea as many chefs are looking at bringing back cuts and dishes from the past and modernizing them for today's consumer. The crown roast of pork is a perfect example of that." Scharpf was the winner of the 2014 Taste of Elegance competition.

The Taste of Elegance is a Pork Checkoff-funded culinary competition designed to inspire innovative and exciting ways to menu pork in restaurants. This event brings together talented chefs from across Iowa.

Thursday January 23 Ag News


A new Nebraska Extension financial services program offers farmers and ranchers across the state tools to utilize existing data to improve decision-making and management in their operations.

Nebraska Strong Financial Services was created by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Department of Agricultural Economics to offer analysis and planning that is complementary to — and independent of — accounting services. Benchmarking, which measures a variety of financial indicators to compare performance to other area operations, will be a major focus of the program.

“Management requires measurement,” said Cory Walters, associate professor of agricultural economics. “Benchmarking provides a foundation for farm businesses to assess how they are doing relative to leading businesses.”

Comparing a producer’s operation to state and regional data will provide a clearer picture of performance over time and aid in decision-making.

“Benchmarking allows farms to survive and correct weakness to increase economic efficiency, which increases the chance of farm survival,” Walters said.

As part of extension, Nebraska Strong Financial Services offers an unbiased source of analysis, said Pedro Masi, a financial analyst hired to work with producers in the program.

“We don’t see ourselves as competing with accounting firms for accounting services,” he said. “We are actually providing an additional service to help farmers improve their decision-making.”
The program offers both whole farm and enterprise analysis to provide an overview of operations and identify strengths and weaknesses. Cash flow planning and benchmarking are then incorporated to aid projections and assessment over time. All data collected through the service will remain anonymous.

During the post-analysis phase, Nebraska Strong Financial Services can also work to help producers connect with the specialized expertise of extension educators and university faculty, to assist with farm management needs, such as better marketing strategies, pest

Producers of any size, including those affected by the 2019 flooding, are encouraged to find out more or sign up for the service by calling Masi at 402-472-3401 or visiting the Nebraska Strong Financial Services website at

Ricketts Announces Appointments to Boards and Commissions

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts announced recent appointments he has made to fill Nebraska’s boards and commissions.

The following appointees are unpaid and are not subject to Legislative confirmation, including:
Healthy Soils Task Force - Nathan P. Pflueger, Osceola

The following appointees are unpaid and subject to Legislative confirmation, including:
Nebraska State Fair Board - Beth Smith, Lincoln

Thank you to the many Nebraskans that generously give their time and talent to make a difference in our state.  These appointments will provide crucial insight and expertise to their respective boards, committees, and commissions.  To learn about openings and apply to serve on a board or commission, go to

 NARD Legislative Conference Brings Together Elected Leaders, Highlights Partnerships

In preparation for another legislative session, the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts host their annual Legislative Conference to highlight partnerships and discuss natural resources policy at the Lincoln Embassy Suites Jan. 28-29.

The two-day conference brings together Natural Resources Districts (NRDs), elected officials and public-private partners integrally involved in conservation, technology and policymaking. The conference also provides attendees an opportunity to learn how Nebraska’s NRDs work with ag producers, state and federal agencies, and members of the public to protect Nebraska’s natural resources and the economy.

Governor Pete Ricketts has been invited to kick off the event Tuesday, Jan. 28, followed by a discussion of proposed legislation of interest to the NRDs. During the evening Senators Reception, NRD leaders will meet with state senators to discuss natural resources challenges and successes in the districts.

The conference continues Wednesday, Jan. 29, with breakout sessions for attendees, including:
    How NRDs can use and benefit from bonding authority
    Initiating secure, online payments for customers
    Promoting science for the common good: working with the media
    Economic development and natural resources enhancements
    Responsibilities for dam safety and strategy for siting new dams
    Current status of agroforestry and pathways for practical implementation

More than 400 natural resources stakeholders are expected to attend the conference, which is presented by Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts with a range of local and national sponsors. Online registration and a detailed agenda are available on the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts’ website

Eye on Biodiesel Winners Showcase an Image of Success

The National Biodiesel Board’s annual awards recognize a diverse group of individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to biodiesel. From long-time champions to present-day breakthroughs, the commercial biodiesel industry wouldn’t be where it is today without these individuals.

“Each year we recognize valuable leaders who have helped us make strides in America’s Advanced Biofuel,” said NBB CEO Donnell Rehagen. “Our association applauds and thanks these individuals and organizations for their sincere devotion to making our world better, cleaner, now!”

NBB recognizes the 2020 “Eye on Biodiesel” award winners throughout the week at the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo. The honored nominees include:

Victor Bohuslavsky, Executive Director, Nebraska Soybean Board – Inspiration Award
Victor Bohuslavsky and the Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) have truly been instrumental in biodiesel growth since its origination. Bohuslavsky spearheaded support for and development of the biodiesel industry in Nebraska after recognizing the glut of soybean oil that needed a new market to add value to the state’s soybean farmers.

Under Bohuslavsky’s leadership, NSB also played a vital role in the development of the Bioheat® market on the East Coast through supporting organizations such as the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) and Brookhaven National Laboratory, along with work at NBB. Through this relationship in the Northeast, biodiesel is at the forefront of efforts to improve air quality and reduce emissions in home heating.

Other awards presented:

Northeast Heating Coalition – Industry Partnership Award
Wallace E Tyner, Agricultural Economist, Purdue University – Pioneer Award
Mike Erker, United Soybean Board, Director of Bio-Based Products – Impact Award
Ruan Transportation Management Systems – Initiative Award

FFA Members Return from Educational, Cultural Experience in Portugal and Spain

During the past two weeks, 75 FFA members visited Portugal and Spain for a 12-day educational and cultural experience.

Members participated in the 2020 International Leadership Seminar for State Officers (ILSSO) as an annual, international opportunity through the National FFA Organization. The seminar allows FFA members to experience a foreign culture, learn about international agriculture and become more knowledgeable regarding the global marketplace.

Seventy-five past and present state FFA officers representing 23 states left the United States on Jan. 4 The group traveled throughout Spain and Portugal while surveying the agricultural landscape. While in Spain, the group toured a variety of cities- from Madrid to Toledo to Seville. Students visited a beef cattle farm as well as Costa Tropical- the most prominent co-op in Spain. They then spent time in Almeria, which is known as “Europe’s Vegetable Garden.”  They also visited the main olive oil cooperative in Spain.

In Portugal, students visited the Amorim Cork factory – as Portugal has become one of the worlds’ top cork producers. They also visited Companhia das Lezirais, a state-run agricultural and forestry company. In Lisbon, they toured the city and visited College of Agriculture at Santarem- the most important agricultural school of Portugal.

“We hope that through a structured experience like ILSSO, students will not only see the importance of agriculture on an international level but understand it is essential to feeding the world,” says Eric Nelson, program manager with the National FFA Organization. “This seminar exposes students to culture and food production practices beyond what they are accustomed to in the United States,” Nelson says.

Prior to departing the United States, the students completed eight weeks of online coursework related to cross-cultural adaptability. The program was made possible by corporate sponsors Bunge North America and John Deere.

 Students shared their experience throughout their trip on Twitter and Instagram. To see a recap of their adventures, visit:

Those students who participated in the trip were: Brandon Traini of Anchorage, Alaska; Ka’Shiya McKinney of Tallassee, Ala.; William Aycock of Albertville, Ala., Alyssa Glover of Dothan, Ala.; Cole Hanson of Plant City, Fla.; Lauren Roberts of Cross City, Fla.; James Prescott of Plant City, Fla.; Sydney Swartman of Plant City, Fla.; Ronald Raper of Marianna, Fla.; Madison Dvorka of Lakeland, Fla.; Courtney Ball of Avon Park, Fla.; Hope Brecht of Belle Plaine, Iowa; Shalani Wilcox of Menan, Idaho, Katelyn Hettinga of Kuna, Idaho, Herman Roberts of Preston, Idaho, Cassidy Plum of Meridian, Idaho, Sydney Plum of Meridian, Idaho, Katherine Doumit of Troy, Idaho; Lukas Sebesta of Wilson, Kan., Abby Goins of Oswego, Kan., Elizabeth Wright of Olsburg, Kan., Mason Prester of Wilson, Kan., Jon Wells of Sedan, Kan.; Salem Johnson of Campti, La.; Jaclyn Bryant of Frederick, Md.; Lafe Aarsvold of Altura, Minn., Elaine Dorn of Kenyon, Minn., Savannah Aaenrud of Donnelly, Minn., Madilyn Smith of Preston, Minn., Nicholas Potthoff of Dunnell, Minn., Adam Kroll of Royalton, Minn., Britton Fugsleth of Fertile, Minn.; Gabriel Elliott of Asbury, Mo.; Jacquelyn Everett of Philadelphia, Miss., Mary Barnes of Decatur, Miss.; Kyla Andres of Missoula, Mont.; Jacy Hauge of Fargo, N.D.; Luke Krabel of Juniata, Neb., Samuel Wilkins of Ainsworth, Neb., Kooper Jelinek of Atkinson, Neb., Megan Fehr of Sutton, Neb., Weston Svoboda of Burwell, Neb., Savannah Gerlack of De Witt, Neb.; Nicole Sickler of Pedricktown, N.J.; Talia Priore of Alloway, N.J., Owen Donnelly of Oxford, N.J.; Anna Bica of Watertown, N.Y.; Holly McClay of Fredericktown, Ohio; Deidre Schreiber of Enterprise, Ore., Olivia Palacios of Hubbard, Ore., Keegan Gibbs of Heppner, Ore., Elizabeth Hanson of Woodburn, Ore., Riley Davis of Albany, Ore., Josiah Cruikshank of Bend, Ore.; Sarah Kroeger of Brookings, S.D., Marie Robbins of Aurora, S.D.; Erika Brown of McEwen, Tenn., Caroline Gurton of Paris, Tenn., John Ryan Scarlett of New Market, Tenn., Taylor Campbell of Jonesborough, Tenn., Emily Nave of Woodbury, Tenn., Nathanial McClard of Westmoreland, Tenn.; Ryan Gobble of Abingdon, Va., Erin Orgen of Stephens City, Va., Carly Carpenter of Mount Crawford, Va., Makenzie Kline of Strasburg, Va., Hope Showalter of Mt. Crawford, Va., Madison Sifford of Goldvein, Va., MaKayla Craig of Remington, Va., Shelby Stevens of N. Dinwiddie, Va., Jacob Dinterman of Appomattox, Va.; Devin Schafer of Ritzville, Wash., Abbie Dorhauer of Yelm, Wash., Kendyl Wiley of Davenport, Wash.; and Cassie Hargis of Harpers Ferry, W. Va.

The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to more than 700,000 student members who belong to one of the more than 8,600 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is also supported by more than 8 million alumni and supporters throughout the U.S.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 1/17/2020

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending Jan. 17, ethanol production scaled back by 46,000 barrels per day (b/d), or 4.2%, to 1.049 million b/d—equivalent to 44.06 million gallons daily and a nine-week low. The four-week average ethanol production rate declined 0.8% to 1.068 million b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 16.37 billion gallons.

Ethanol stocks expanded by 4.5% to 24.0 million barrels, the largest reserves since July 2019. Stocks built in all regions except the Rocky Mountains (PADD 4) and West Coast (PADD 5).

There were zero imports of ethanol recorded after 25,000 b/d hit the books the prior week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of November 2019.)

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market grew 1.2% to 8.662 million b/d (363.80 million gallons per day, or 132.79 bg annualized). Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol followed, increasing 1.2% to 864,000 b/d—equivalent to 13.25 bg annualized.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production decreased to 12.11%.

October-December Milk Production up 0.8 Percent

Milk production in the United States during the October - December quarter totaled 53.8 billion pounds, up 0.8 percent from the October - December quarter last year.  The average number of milk cows in the United States during the quarter was 9.34 million head, 18,000 head more than the July - September quarter, but 22,000 head less than the same period last year.

By State -  million lbs  -  % of Q4 '18

Nebraska ...:        354.0            unch   
Iowa ..........:       1,306.0         -1.5    
Kansas .......:         972.0            4.9    

December Milk Production up 0.9 Percent

Milk production in the 24 major States during December totaled 17.4 billion pounds, up 0.9 percent from December 2018. November revised production at 16.7 billion pounds, was up 0.9 percent from November 2018. The November revision represented an increase of 4 million pounds or less than 0.1 percent from last month's preliminary production estimate.

Production per cow in the 24 major States averaged 1,978 pounds for December, 14 pounds above December 2018.   

The number of milk cows on farms in the 24 major States was 8.81 million head, 16,000 head more than December 2018, but unchanged from November 2019.

IOWA: Milk production in Iowa during December 2019 totaled 444 million pounds, down 1 percent from the previous December according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report. The average number of milk cows during December, at 215,000 head, was down 1,000 from last month and down 5,000 from last year.  Monthly production per cow averaged 2,065 pounds, up 30 pounds from last December.

Record High Red Meat and Pork Production in December

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.73 billion pounds in December, up 8 percent from the 4.37 billion pounds produced in December 2018.

By State          million lbs  -  % of Dec '18

Nebraska ....:       680.4            105      
Iowa ...........:       770.3            116      
Kansas ........:       484.1            104      

Beef production, at 2.26 billion pounds, was 7 percent above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.75 million head, up 7 percent from December 2018. The average live weight was up 5 pounds from the previous year, at 1,373 pounds.

Veal production totaled 6.5 million pounds, 1 percent above December a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 49,800 head, down 7 percent from December 2018. The average live weight was up 18 pounds from last year, at 228 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.44 billion pounds, up 9 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 11.4 million head, up 9 percent from December 2018. The average live weight was up 2 pounds from the previous year, at 288 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 12.1 million pounds, was down 8 percent from December 2018. Sheep slaughter totaled 196,500 head, 3 percent below last year. The average live weight was 123 pounds, down 8 pounds from December a year ago.

January to December 2019 commercial red meat production was 55.0 billion pounds, up 3 percent from 2018. Accumulated beef production was up 1 percent from last year, veal was down 2 percent, pork was up 5 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 3 percent.

Secretary Perdue to Travel to Belgium, Netherlands and Italy

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will travel to Belgium, Netherlands and Italy January 26th to January 30th to engage with his counterparts on important issues facing agriculture at home and abroad. The Secretary will also meet with industry representatives and tour agriculture operations.

Sunday, January 26th
    Secretary Perdue tours a livestock farm and participates in a farm roundtable with U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Ronald Gidwitz, Belgian Minister of Agriculture Denis Ducarme, Wallonia Region Minister of Agriculture Willy Borsus and farmers from the European Union.

Monday, January 27th
    Secretary Perdue meets with EU Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski, EU Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan and EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides.

    Secretary Perdue participates in a media roundtable at the United States Mission to the European Union (USEU).
    Secretary Perdue attends a luncheon with the EU Council of Agriculture Ministers.
    Secretary Perdue participates in an EU Parliament engagement with the European Food Forum.
    Secretary Perdue delivers remarks at a reception to recognize partners in the U.S.-European Union agricultural relationship.

Tuesday, January 28th
    Secretary Perdue tours Wageningen University & Research (WUR) Bleiswijk Research Station with Dutch Agriculture Minister Carola Schouten, WUR President Louise Fresco, U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands Pete Hoekstra and Dutch Ambassador to the U.S. André Haspels.
    Secretary Perdue tours Koppert Cress, a Dutch company focused on innovative agriculture.

Wednesday, January 29th
    Secretary Perdue meets with industry representatives at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
    Secretary Perdue participates in a roundtable discussion with USUN Permanent Representatives from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan and New Zealand.
    Secretary Perdue meets with FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu.
    Secretary Perdue meets with Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP) David Beasley, WFP Assistant Executive Director for Operations Valerie Guarnieri and WFP Director of School Feeding Unit Carmen Burbano.

Thursday, January 30th
    Secretary Perdue meets with Italian Minister Teresa Bellanova at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry Policies.
    Secretary Perdue participates in a pasta cooking presentation promoting American farm and food products.

EPA and Army Deliver on President Trump’s Promise to Issue the Navigable Waters Protection Rule – A New Definition of WOTUS

Today, at an event at the National Association of Home Builders International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James will announce a new, clear definition for “waters of the United States.” With the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army (Army) are delivering on President Trump’s promise to finalize a revised definition for “waters of the United States” that protects the nation’s navigable waters from pollution and will result in economic growth across the country.

“EPA and the Army are providing much needed regulatory certainty and predictability for American farmers, landowners and businesses to support the economy and accelerate critical infrastructure projects,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “After decades of landowners relying on expensive attorneys to determine what water on their land may or may not fall under federal regulations, our new Navigable Waters Protection Rule strikes the proper balance between Washington and the states in managing land and water resources while protecting our nation’s navigable waters, and it does so within the authority Congress provided.”

“Having farmed American land myself for decades, I have personally experienced the confusion regarding implementation of the scope of the Clean Water Act,” said R.D. James, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works. “Our rule takes a common-sense approach to implementation to eliminate that confusion. This rule also eliminates federal overreach and strikes the proper balance between federal protection of our Nation’s waters and state autonomy over their aquatic resources. This will ensure that land use decisions are not improperly constrained, which will enable our farmers to continue feeding our Nation and the world, and our businesses to continue thriving.”

The Navigable Waters Protection Rule ends decades of uncertainty over where federal jurisdiction begins and ends. For the first time, EPA and the Army are recognizing the difference between federally protected wetlands and state protected wetlands. It adheres to the statutory limits of the agencies’ authority. It also ensures that America’s water protections – among the best in the world – remain strong, while giving our states and tribes the certainty to manage their waters in ways that best protect their natural resources and local economies.

The revised definition identifies four clear categories of waters that are federally regulated under the Clean Water Act: the territorial seas and traditional navigable waters, like the Atlantic Ocean and the Mississippi River; perennial and intermittent tributaries, such as College Creek, which flows to the James River near Williamsburg, Virginia; certain lakes, ponds, and impoundments, such as Children’s Lake in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania; and wetlands that are adjacent to jurisdictional waters.

These four categories protect the nation’s navigable waters and the core tributary systems that flow into those waters.

This final action also details what waters are not subject to federal control, including features that only contain water in direct response to rainfall; groundwater; many ditches, including most farm and roadside ditches; prior converted cropland; farm and stock watering ponds; and waste treatment systems.

The final definition achieves the proper relationship between the federal government and states in managing land and water resources. The agencies’ Navigable Waters Protection Rule respects the primary role of states and tribes in managing their own land and water resources. All states have their own protections for waters within their borders and many already regulate more broadly than the federal government. This action gives states and tribes more flexibility in determining how best to manage their land and water resources while protecting the nation’s navigable waters as intended by Congress when it enacted the Clean Water Act.

Despite prior reports, there are no data or tools that can accurately map or quantify the scope of “waters of the United States.” This is the case today, and it was the case in 2014 when the Obama Administration issued its blog titled “Mapping the Truth.” Therefore, any assertions attempting to quantify changes in the scope of waters based on these data sets are far too inaccurate and speculative to be meaningful. While this Administration agrees that the current data and tools are insufficient, we are committed to supporting the development and improvement of the technology needed to map the nation’s aquatic resources.

This final action is informed by robust public outreach and engagement on the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, including pre-proposal engagement that generated more than 6,000 recommendations and approximately 620,000 comments received on the proposal. The final definition balances the input the agencies received from a wide range of stakeholders.

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

Fischer Applauds Step Two of President Trump’s WOTUS Repeal

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement today after President Trump announced “Step 2” of his administration’s efforts to repeal the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. Senator Fischer has long been a proponent of scaling back the 2015 WOTUS rule.

“I applaud the Trump administration for taking this next step which includes a much narrower definition of “Waters of the United States” than the 2015 rule. This helps to put Nebraskans back in charge of our state’s own precious water resources. It will also address the higher costs and federal overreach that the Obama-era regulations would have put on Nebraskans,” said Senator Fischer.

Step 1, which was announced in October, repealed the Obama administration’s WOTUS rule. Step 2, known as The Navigable Waters Protection Rule, now offers a more narrow definition of protected waterways relative to the Obama rule.

Senator Fischer has been a leader in efforts to stop the 2015 WOTUS rule. After the Obama administration announced WOTUS, Senator Fischer chaired a field hearing by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in Lincoln regarding the rule. She also helped introduce the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, which would have required the Obama administration to consult states and stakeholders before imposing federal regulations on state-owned water resources, as well as the Defending Rivers from Overreaching Policies (DROP) Act. This bill targeted the flawed science used by the EPA to expand the definition of water.

Ricketts Applauds President Trump’s WOTUS Rollback

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts praised President Donald J. Trump and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a new rule that rolls back President Barack Obama’s 2015 rule pertaining to the Clean Water Act.  The 2015 rule had stretched the bounds of the EPA’s authority beyond its constitutional scope by expansively defining “Waters of the United States ” (WOTUS).

“Thank you to President Trump and his team for successfully rolling back President Obama’s expansive Waters of the U.S. rule,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “This new rule builds on the great work the Trump Administration has been doing to cut red tape.  The rule respects states’ rights, and protects our farmers and ranchers from federal government overreach.” 

The 2015 rule had taken authority away from states, transferring it to the federal government.  The EPA’s new rule acknowledges that states have primary responsibility to regulate their own water resources.

Statement by Steve Nelson on Behalf of the Common Sense Nebraska Coalition Regarding WOTUS Rule Replacement

“Today the Trump Administration successfully enacted a new clean water rule effectively replacing the highly controversial Obama era 2015 ‘Waters of the U.S.’ Rule. Today’s action is a major victory for Nebraskans and others who support private property rights and respect the rights of states to manage waters as directed by Congress under the Clean Water Act.”

“This new rule provides much needed clarity and certainty to landowners as to their obligations and marks the successful conclusion of the Common Sense Nebraska coalition’s ongoing efforts to stop the largest expansion of federal authority over private land in U.S. history. Nebraskans care about clean water and environmental stewardship, and this new rule will allow us to protect both without needlessly expanding federal regulations and powers.”

“We greatly appreciate the work of the Trump Administration, the federal agencies involved, and the members of Nebraska’s Congressional delegation; all of whom have contributed to this ‘win’ for Nebraskans.”

Common Sense Nebraska is a Nebraska-based coalition consisting of organizations and entities that have come together in response to EPA’s “Waters of the U.S.” proposal which would harm both rural and urban Nebraskans through expansion of EPA’s powers and authorities under the federal Clean Water Act. The coalition’s purpose is to build awareness and understanding of the EPA proposal and the impacts it would have on Nebraskans.

Naig Voices Support for Final WOTUS Rule

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig issued the following statement in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.

“The 2015 WOTUS rule enacted by the Obama administration failed to clearly define which bodies of water fall under the Navigable Waters Protection Rule,” said Secretary Naig. “The new rule finalized under the Trump administration helps address these issues by defining four categories of waters that are considered ‘waters of the United States.’ This provides clarity and consistency for stakeholders, and removes one hurdle we had to overcome to implement conservation practices outlined in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.”

Secretary Perdue Statement on EPA WOTUS Rule

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today praised the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for defining the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule with the Navigable Waters Protection Rule:

“President Trump is restoring the rule of law and empowering Americans by removing undue burdens and strangling regulations from the backs of our productive farmers, ranchers, and rural land-owners. The days are gone when the Federal Government can claim a small farm pond on private land as navigable waters,” Secretary Perdue said. “I thank President Trump and Administrator Wheeler for having the backs of our farmers, ranchers, and producers and for continuing to roll back Federal overreach. With reforms and deregulation, Americans once again have the freedom to innovate, create, and grow.”

NCBA on New Water Rule: "Some Power Has Been Put Back in Hands of Landowners"

NCBA President Jennifer Houston today released the following statement in response to the finalization of a new water rule:

“This is the last regulatory step in a long-fought battle to repeal the 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule and replace it with common-sense regulation. The 2015 WOTUS rule was an illegal effort to assert control over private property - and we fought to have it repealed - but it also needs to be replaced, and today’s action is the last step in that process.

“President Trump, EPA Administrator Wheeler, and Assistant Secretary of the Army R.D. James deserve a lot of credit for listening to cattle producers and for working with us to get us to this point. We look forward to working with EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to successfully implement this new rule in the years to come.

“NCBA relentlessly fought WOTUS on Capitol Hill, at the Agencies, and in the Courts. Today, we can rest a little easier knowing that some power has been put back in the hands of landowners.”

NPPC Applauds EPA's Actions to Replace WOTUS Rule

The National Pork Producers Council applauded today's action by the Environmental Protection Agency to replace the unlawful 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule with a final rule called the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. The final rule is fully consistent with the Clean Water Act and recent Supreme Court decisions. The EPA's actions give farmers greater certainty, while also protecting water quality and the environment. 

The previous WOTUS rule issued by the Obama administration in August 2015 gave EPA broad jurisdiction over U.S. waters to include other water bodies, upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams. Most importantly, it also covered lands adjacent to waters such as farm fields.

"We're pleased EPA has finalized a common-sense rule, the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, that works with—not against—farmers to protect our nation's waterways," said NPPC President David Herring, a pork producer from Lillington, N.C. "The previous WOTUS rule was a dramatic government overreach and an unprecedented expansion of federal authority over private lands. Today's action balances the role of federal, state and local authorities, protects property rights and provides clarity for farmers like me, while providing regulatory certainty to our farmers and businesses."

NPPC opposed the 2015 WOTUS rule because it was overly broad and had significant technical flaws, including the process that EPA used to develop the rule, which violated basic due process and long-standing procedural protections. On Aug. 21, 2019, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia remanded the rule to EPA to redraft, stating that the Obama-era WOTUS rule itself violated the Clean Water Act and that the Obama administration's procedures for enacting the WOTUS rule were clearly in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act.

NMPF Applauds Final WOTUS Rule Release

NMPF is pleased that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army Corp of Engineers have released a new final Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. Today’s action puts an end to years of contentious rulemaking and will provide a common-sense approach to regulating waters of the U.S.

On Oct. 22, 2019, the EPA and the Department of the Army published a final rule to repeal the 2015 Clean Water Rule: Definition of “Waters of the United States” to restore regulatory text that existed prior to the 2015 Rule. That final rule became effective Dec. 23.

In the interim between repealing the 2015 Rule and introducing a new one, the agencies implemented pre-2015 Rule regulations, as informed by applicable agency guidance documents and consistent with Supreme Court decisions and longstanding agency practice. This action was a temporary fix as the agencies continued their work in crafting the WOTUS replacement issued today.

NMPF has engaged with EPA on this issue for years, in meetings and in numerous written comments, seeking improvements to the 1986 WOTUS rule, which lacked clarity for farmers. While NMPF will need to carefully review today’s new rule, we were pleased with the proposed rule and believe it will provide much-needed clarity and not infringe on the rights and responsibilities of state jurisdictions.

New “WOTUS” Rule Favorable for Soy Farmers

The Trump Administration has announced replacement regulation for Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS), which was repealed fall 2019. A spokesperson for the administration said during the announcement that the new Navigable Waters Protection Rule, “represents a promise made [by President Trump] and a promise kept.” Under the president’s direction, members of the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say they have worked to remove unnecessary regulatory burden and lay out a new definition that includes a, “unifying legal theory” around navigable waters with more clear guidelines illuminated in its preamble.

“We are pleased that this rule replaces the 2015 rule, which was cumbersome and confusing, and that new regulation will better provide certainty and clear direction for our farmers.” said Bill Gordon, soy grower from Worthington, Minn., and American Soybean Association (ASA) president. “We have long rallied for a replacement rule that protects our waterways while still offering a workable solution for farmers and that does not impose undue burden on agriculture. We express our thanks to the administration.”

ASA looks forward to reviewing the rule fully and learning more of the details.

NCGA: New WOTUS Rule Good News for Agriculture

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

“Farmers are committed to protecting the environment and implementing on-farm soil health practices like planting cover crops, reducing tillage and more carefully managing crop residue. This new rule gives the flexibility and clarity needed to implement stewardship practices without the threat of government action. The final WOTUS rule will protect our nation’s water and be implemented without confusion, welcome news for farmers. NCGA appreciates the work done by the Trump Administration to provide this regulatory certainty.”

NAWG Applauds Release of Updated WOTUS Rule

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a final rule to provide more clarity in Clean Water Act (CWA) applicability to, and definition of, waters of the U.S. (WOTUS).

“Today’s announcement is welcome news to America’s wheat producers who’ve dealt with years of regulatory uncertainty,” said NAWG President and Lavon, TX, farmer Ben Scholz. “Farmers are dependent on protecting our natural resources for safe and reliable water to grow crops and for the communities that farmers are a part of. To do so, we need regulatory certainty and clarity as well as a commonsense framework for how the rules will work. Wheat growers are pleased the Trump Administration has made this announcement and looking forward to diving into the details.”

This final rule follows an initial proposed rule from December 2018 that NAWG supported. Throughout this process, U.S. farmers have continued to press for regulatory clarity and a framework that focused on waters that are truly navigable in nature. 

New Clean Water Rule Provides Clarity, Certainty to Farmers and Ranchers

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duval

“Farmers and ranchers care about clean water and preserving the land, which are essential to producing healthy food and fiber and ensuring future generations can do the same. That’s why we support the new clean water rule. It provides clarity and certainty, allowing farmers to understand water regulations without having to hire teams of consultants and lawyers. We appreciate the commitment of the agencies involved and this administration to crafting a new regulation that achieves important regulatory oversight while allowing farmers to farm. Clean water, clear rules.” 

Wednesday January 22 Ag News


An organic farming workshop will assist growers seeking information on what is required to grow organic corn, soybeans, wheat, grain sorghum and forage crops.

“Starting an Organic Grain Farming Operation — What You Need to Know” is 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Jan. 30 at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.

Keith Glewen, Nebraska Extension educator, said the program is geared toward those who wish to learn more about the components of successful organic grain production.

“Extension professionals across Nebraska have experienced an uptick in the number of questions pertaining to organic grain production,” Glewen said. “We are providing this educational program as an attempt to answer questions and provide additional information as it relates to getting started in this growing industry.”

The workshop features speakers experienced in various facets of organic crop production and marketing.

“The presenters have a wealth of experience with organic farming,” said Gary Lesoing, extension educator. “They will provide important information about the transition to organic farming and tools for success for farming organically.”

Topics and presenters include:
> “The Mental Transitioning from Conventional to Organic Farming,” Dave Welsch, certified organic farmer since 1993, Milford;

> “Organic Certification — From Application to Certification Decisions,” Clayton Blagburn, certification specialist, OneCert Organization Inc., Lincoln;

> “Organic Grain Marketing,” Alex Wolf, Scoular organic grain manager, Omaha;

> “The Importance of Cover Crops in an Organic Rotation,” Jim Starr, Joel and Jim Starr Partnership, Hastings;

> “Farming System Strategies for Success in Organics” and “Weed Management in Organic Row Crops,” Joel Gruver, associate professor of soil science and sustainability agriculture, Western Illinois University.

The program will conclude with a speakers panel during which attendees can interact with those directly involved in organic grain farming.

There is no fee to attend, but pre-registration is required by 4:30 p.m. Jan. 28 to ensure resource materials are available and for meal-planning purposes. Seating is limited. Registration and more information is available at

The workshop is sponsored by Nebraska Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program.

Legislature fails to address ‘imitation meat’ labeling

The Nebraska Legislature has failed to penalize companies for deceptive beef labeling on packages and fast-food menus, even though deceptive labels lead consumers to believe that plant-based products are meat.

A bill in the Legislature aimed to stop that deceptive advertising was put on hold Thursday, Jan. 15, after a year of development.

During floor debate, it became apparent that the votes weren’t there, so the bill was placed on hold, sponsoring Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue said.

ICON President Jim Dinklage said it was a blow to see the bill go back off the legislative floor after the bill finally reached that level.

The bill, LB 594, would allow individuals to sue a company for each mislabeled item, putting enforcement in the hands of consumers, instead of the Attorney General’s office, which typically prosecutes deceptive trade practices -- but is not yet prosecuting deceptive food labels.

Blood said opposition came from vegetarian groups and manufactures of imitation meats. She said she overcame the bulk of objections and was disappointed she couldn’t bring it to a vote.

On the floor, Sen. Tom Brewer, who represents most of the Nebraska Sandhills, immediately moved to send the bill back to committee.

Brewer said a similar bill has been introduced in Congress by Sen. Deb Fischer, and federal regulations will take precedence, so the Legislature should wait for federal guidance.

However, Dinklage said the state legislature should do something about fake meat.

“It should have passed,” he said of LB 594. “It will be a fight to get it passed in Congress. Beef is a term used to describe the meat from cattle for centuries, and burgers are made from beef. That’s the way it’s been for decades. When the terms ‘beef’ or ‘burger’ are used to describe something that comes from plants -- that is as deceptive as can be.”

Nebraska Dairy Industry to Convene in Columbus for Annual Convention

On February 25, 2020, hundreds of representatives across the dairy industry will gather at the Ramada by Wyndham Columbus Hotel and Conference Center in Columbus, Nebraska, to participate in the 2020 Nebraska Dairy Convention.

The convention will open with a trade show starting at 9:30 am and run through 6:15 pm. Convention attendees will have the opportunity to learn from industry experts on various topics including; Farmers Assuring Responsible Management Version (FARM) 4.0, Midwest Dairy’s new CEO, Molly Pelzer will outline checkoff’s key strategies to drive sales and trust and the afternoon session will feature a panel outlining checkoff’s roll in navigating animal activism.

The afternoon will include the Nebraska State Dairy Association (NSDA) annual meeting, an educational session presented by a key 5-star allied member and a Dairy Girl network event focused on cyber security. Convention attendees will also enjoy an ice cream bar, wine and cheese reception, banquet and awards ceremony. To conclude the day, attendees will hear from Trent Loose, a former radio host, actor and stockman whose life mission is to support, defend and educate consumers about modern day agriculture.

The full convention agenda is outlined below:
8:00                     Nebraska Dairy Industry Review Board Meeting       
9:00–10:30          NE Holstein Association Annual Meeting
9:30-6:15            Trade Show
10:30-11:15         Session 1:  Kim Clark FARM 4.0 Update                                                                                
11:45–12:15        Lunch, Dairy Checkoff Update
12:15–1:00          Checkoff’s Role in Navigating Animal Activism
1:15-2:45             NSDA Annual Meeting
2:45–3:45            Ice Cream Bar on Tradeshow Floor
3:45-4:45             Session 2:  Presented by 5-star sponsor (announced February 2)
4:30-5:30             Dairy Girl Network Event: Cyber Security                                                                                                        
4:45                     Wine & Cheese Reception
6:15                     Tradeshow Vendor booths close
6:30                      Banquet Meal, Awards, and Princess Coronation, Keynote Speaker: Trent Loose

For more information on how to be an exhibitor at the convention, please contact Kris Bousquet at (531) 207-4291 or, or go to and complete a membership application.

USDA Encourages Producers to Enroll Now in Key Safety Net Programs

Don’t Delay – Make An Appointment with FSA

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Nebraska State Executive Director Nancy Johner reminds agricultural producers to sign up now for the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs. The deadline to choose between ARC or PLC and complete enrollment for the 2019 crop year is March 16, 2020.

“By making an appointment now, producers can beat the rush and get the process completed before focusing on spring planting,” Johner said. “Producers who complete the ARC and PLC election and enrollment process now, ahead of the deadline, will still have until March 16 to come back and make changes, if necessary.”

ARC and PLC provide financial protections to farmers from substantial drops in crop prices or revenues and are vital economic safety nets for most American farms.

“Contacting FSA as soon as possible to make an appointment and preparing ahead of time to make a definitive ARC or PLC election will help expedite the enrollment process and ensure FSA meets your customer service expectations,” said Johner.

To assist with the decision-making process, informational resources are available at Producers also can access where information under the “Spotlights” section includes a webinar that provides ARC and PLC information shared at recent public meetings held across Nebraska.

Fischer Participates in Senate Signing of USMCA

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today joined Senate President Pro Tempore Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), as well as Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and several other of her Senate colleagues, for the Senate signing of the bipartisan United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) Implementation Act.

Senator Fischer’s full remarks:
I just want to thank Chairman Grassley.  He has been very tenacious on getting this agreement done.

And the other guy who has been tenacious for a number of years is Chairman Roberts.

To have them both chair these important committees and be able to continue to advocate for trade agreements, which are so important for our states, has been tremendous. 

Thanks to the president for sticking with this, for keeping his words.

And thank you to Ambassador Lighthizer, because he really pushed on this as well and was able to get it across the finish line.

This is a remarkable achievement—to be able to have a bipartisan trade agreement that passed overwhelmingly in the United States Senate.

Agriculture is the economic engine of my state, of Nebraska.

One in four jobs are directly related to production agriculture.

54,000 jobs are related in Nebraska to exports.

$13.8 billion in economic activity from my state is related to agriculture.

To be able to have these kind of agreements, whether it is USMCA or a trade agreement with China or a great agreement now with Japan that we have and now we are looking over into the UK and the EU, and really all across the globe, in order to find more customers for the great products that we produce.

Whether it’s in ag, manufacturing, or small businesses, families and communities across Nebraska are going to benefit from all of these trade agreements.

I’m just really proud of the work we have been able to do in working together with the administration and with my great colleagues here in the United States Senate in order to get these agreements done, and especially the USMCA, with our top two trading partners, Mexico and Canada.

Don Bacon Files for Re-election

Congressman Don Bacon (R-NE) filed for re-election with Nebraska's Secretary of State on Wednesday.

"Today I made my re-election campaign official," said Bacon. "We've put together a great team that includes hundreds of volunteers, and I look forward to continuing to serve Nebraskans as a pragmatic conservative."

In 2016, less than two years after retiring from the United States Air Force as a brigadier general, Bacon became the only Republican in America to defeat a Democrat Congressional incumbent. In the 2018 "blue wave" he outperformed Republicans nationally by more than 9%.

"The 2020 election will have lasting repercussions for our district, state, and nation," said Bacon. "I believe we can work together to find solutions to the issues we all care about, like lowering healthcare costs, strengthening our national security against growing threats, and reforming immigration. We share the same priorities, and our team has a great track record of success. I'm grateful for the chance to represent this district again."

Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management Short Course Planned for February

Crop advisers and producers who want to take a deeper look at the principles of soil, soil fertility and nutrient management should consider registering for the two-day Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management Short Course Feb. 25-26.

Sponsored by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, this popular event will include topics related to Iowa soils, soil sampling and testing, plant nutrients, liming, site-specific nutrient management, and manure management.

“This is a chance for people who want to learn more about the details of soil fertility and management, and get more in-depth into the science,” said John Sawyer, professor and extension specialist in soil fertility and nutrient management at Iowa State.

Sawyer will give talks on essential plant nutrients and nutrient plans, cation exchange, soil pH and liming, nitrogen dynamics and management, secondary and micronutrients, and he will take part in a round-table discussion at the close of the event, Feb. 26.

Other presenters include Antonio Mallarino, professor and extension specialist in agronomy at Iowa State; Lee Burras, professor of agronomy at Iowa State; and Joel DeJong, field agronomist with ISU Extension and Outreach, covering topics such as soil testing, phosphorus and potassium management, environmental phosphorus management, soil formation and soil survey, and manure nutrient management.

The short course will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1325 Dickinson Ave., Ames.

Nutrient management and soil and water management credits will be available, subject to approval by the Certified Crop Advisers Board. There will be 11.5 nutrient management credits, and one soil and water management continuing education credit.

Class size is limited to 40 participants and pre-registration is required to attend. Registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-paid basis.

Lunch is included both days with registration. The registration is $275 before midnight, Feb. 17. Pre-registration is required.

Lodging is not included with course registration and is the responsibility of the attendee. A block of rooms is available at the Hilton Garden Inn for this course at $129 per night plus tax. Contact the hotel at 515-233-8000 to make reservations and mention the ISU soils course to be included in the room block.

Additional course information and online registration with credit card is available at For more information, contact ANR Program Services at (515) 294-6429 or email

Cattle Organizations from Major Beef Producing Regions Launch U.S. CattleTrace

Multiple state cattlemen’s organizations from major beef producing regions have partnered together to form U.S. CattleTrace, a disease traceability initiative. The goal is to develop a national infrastructure for disease traceability and encourage private industry’s use of the infrastructure for individualized management practices.

The new U.S. CattleTrace initiative combines the efforts of CattleTrace, which includes multiple partners, including the Kansas Livestock Association and others in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Oregon and Washington, as well as traceability pilot projects underway in Florida and Texas. Those projects are facilitated by Florida Cattlemen’s Association, Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association.

“With producers and industry stakeholders working together from across the country, the U.S. CattleTrace partnership will be a catalyst to build upon the CattleTrace foundation we established the past few years,” said Brandon Depenbusch, CattleTrace board of directors chairman. “We encourage other state organizations and individual producers to join our efforts in building a nationally significant animal disease traceability system for the United States. By working together, we will build something that works for the industry.”

Volunteer leaders from each of the partner organizations have agreed to a set of guiding principles for U.S. CattleTrace, including the following statements:
    In order to protect the producers’ share of the protein market from the potential impact of a disease event, cattle identification and traceability needs to be enacted, enhanced and further developed using electronic I.D. and electronic transfer of data.
    U.S. CattleTrace is focused on developing a voluntary national traceability system to include all cattle and complement the current USDA regulations.
    The goal is to build a system that is recognized as nationally significant to all domestic and foreign markets.
    The U.S. CattleTrace disease traceability system strives to be equitable to all industry segments, and must be industry-driven and managed by a producer board of directors to ensure data privacy and protection.
    U.S. CattleTrace supports the use of one technology for a United States cattle industry disease traceability system to maximize the value of technology investment. Since multiple RFID technologies are in use today, U.S. CattleTrace will accept data in a standardized electronic format from available technologies but supports a transition to ultra-high frequency technology by Dec. 31, 2023.

“Cattle disease traceability is a top priority in the beef cattle industry, and this partnership will continue to help guide the development of an enhanced traceability system in the United States,” said Jim Lovell, past TCFA chairman. “Our different state projects have always had a similar goal in mind – to develop a disease traceability system that works across the country. Combining our efforts makes this initiative stronger on a national level.”

For more information about U.S. CattleTrace, including details on how to get involved, visit

Secretary of Agriculture Perdue to Share Insights at 2020 Cattle Industry Convention

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will share insight on issues of concern to cattlemen and women at the 2020 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show in San Antonio, Texas, Feb. 5, 2020. Perdue will participate in the Opening General Session of the event, being held Feb. 5-7, 2020 at the San Antonio Convention Center. Among topics he is expected to address will be recent trade developments, markets, farm bill implementation and other issues affecting the state of American agriculture.

                The convention is the largest gathering of cattle industry professionals in the country. The NCBA Trade Show will feature about 350 exhibitors on more than 7 acres. Annual meetings of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, American National CattleWomen, CattleFax and National Cattlemen’s Foundation will also be held at this event.

                NCBA President Jennifer Houston of Tennessee says the industry is honored to host Secretary Perdue at the Convention. “Those of us in the cattle industry are affected every day by what goes on in Washington, D.C., so It’s great that Secretary Perdue will visit with us about the administration’s work on our behalf,” Houston said. “In addition to hearing his information, we look forward to further sharing with the Secretary our priorities for the coming months.” 

                Registration for the 2020 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show is still open. For information go to

USDA Cold Storage December 2019 Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers on December 31, 2019 were up 1 percent from the previous month and up 5 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were up 1 percent from the previous month but down 3 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were up 1 percent from the previous month and up 15 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were up 25 percent from last month and up 61 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on December 31, 2019 were down 1 percent from the previous month but up 1 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were down 2 percent from the previous month but up 9 percent from last year.  Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 5 percent from last month but down 23 percent from December 31, 2018.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on December 31, 2019 were down 1 percent from the previous month and down 2 percent from December 31, 2018.  Butter stocks were up 5 percent from last month and up 6 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks on December 31, 2019 were down 9 percent from last month and down 9 percent from a year ago.  Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 8 percent from last month and down 1 percent from a year ago.

Urea Leads Fertilizers Lower

Retail fertilizer prices continue to move lower, according to prices tracked by DTN for the second week of January 2020.

For the third-straight week, seven of the eight major fertilizers had lower prices compared to a month earlier. Only urea was down a notable amount, down 5% compared to last month and had an average price of $357/ton.  Six other fertilizers once again had a slight price decline from the previous month. DAP had an average price of $433/ton, MAP $444/ton, potash $375/ton, anhydrous $487/ton, UAN28 $237/ton and UAN32 $275/ton.

The remaining fertilizer, 10-34-0, had a slight price increase, looking back to last month. The starter fertilizer had an average price of $470/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.39/lb.N, anhydrous $0.30/lb.N, UAN28 $0.42/lb.N and UAN32 $0.43/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are mixed in price from a year ago. MAP is 17% lower, both DAP and anhydrous are 16% less expensive, both urea and UAN28 are 12% lower, UAN32 is 10% less expensive and potash is 2% less expensive from last year at this time. In addition, 10-34-0 is 2% higher compared to last year.

China’s ASF Problem Remains Bleak for 2020; Vietnam Shows Glimmer of Hope

Despite 2019 having been China’s official “Year of the Pig,” things could not have been much worse for the nation’s swine herd, its farmers or the country’s 1.4 billion consumers who have a strong preference for pork as a protein.

On a positive note, official reports of African swine fever (ASF) outbreaks in China were more of a trickle in the second half of last year compared with the prior nine or so months. However, many industry experts believe that the country has little hope to rebound its ability to produce more pork in 2020. The main reason? The breeding herd. Last year, every province officially became ASF-positive. This resulted in the country losing about half of its swine herd, which equates to roughly one-quarter of the world’s swine herd.

According to Dave Pyburn, the Pork Checkoff’s chief veterinarian, China’s ASF woes are many.

“We continue to monitor the situation closely here and hope that China will see some relief,” Pyburn said. “But it’s not looking very promising with reports of ongoing ASF outbreaks and no real sense that an overall control strategy is being adhered to in the country. Without a stringent control methodology that’s fully implemented, ASF will continue to plague China for years.”

In the run-up to the Chinese New Year, which starts on Jan. 25, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs has organized nationwide ASF control measures focused on pork slaughter facilities. This entails implementing self-ASF detection and an official veterinarian station in slaughterhouses, conducting responsible meat quality inspection, not keeping “unqualified” products in inventory and stock management, and maintaining a safe meat production system to ensure safety and quality of meat.

In yet another blow to China’s pork situation, in December the nation’s official media outlets reported intentional ASF infection of healthy swine herds by criminal elements. The gambit is based partly on the buildup to China’s official Lunar New Year celebrations, which start Jan. 25. The criminals know that consumers stock up on pork, which increases demand and causes prices to soar. By successfully infecting healthy pig farms using technology such as drones laden with ASF-positive material, the outlaws then offer the farmers deeply discounted prices for their pigs and sell the pork on the black market for huge profits.  

Vietnam Shows Some Promise

While it’s not time for celebration in Vietnam regarding ASF, there is a glimmer of hope. Along with the government’s collaboration on much-needed assistance from the outside to control the deadly disease, recent statistics show some promise, with only 152,000 pigs culled in November compared with last May when 1.2 million pigs were either culled or died.

First detected in February last year, ASF has spread to all 63 provinces of Vietnam. According to a report by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, ASF in Vietnam led to the death and culling of about 5.9 million pigs, or about 22% of the total swine population, pushing prices to record highs. Although the end of the ASF outbreak can’t be known, the rate of reported ASF cases appears to be slowing.

With its ongoing work in Vietnam, the Swine Health information Center (SHIC) has continued to make headway on its USDA-funded research grant on several fronts. According to SHIC’s executive director, Paul Sundberg, the main benefit for U.S. producers is to learn how ASF acts on farms today and responds to various control measures so that they can be prepared to respond to it here if needed.

“This research is allowing us to see firsthand how ASF responds in pig populations of 500 or 1,000 at a time and not just 10 or 12 in a pen like we can do in our highly controlled research facilities in North America,” Sundberg said.

Last month, Vietnam’s ministry of agriculture released more rules concerning restocking of pig farms and selling of live pigs and pork. All pork producers received a letter advising them to minimize the risk of disease recurrence in accordance with current regulations on restocking. They also were advised to adhere to strict application of biosecurity, avoid hoarding to ensure price stability and to not be involved in illegal trading of pigs or slaughtered pigs across the Vietnam border.

Biodiesel Industry Welcomes New Fuel Quality Reports

Biodiesel fuel quality information is more accessible than ever thanks to new reports being published from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Through funding and support from the National Biodiesel Board, NREL's statistical analysis is based on thousands of data points that were previously unavailable.

"Never before has NREL been able to provide this level of fuel quality information," said Theresa Alleman, senior fuel chemist for NREL. "By partnering with NBB's National Biodiesel Accreditation Commission, BQ-9000, we now have a simpler, more efficient way to collect, analyze, and determine the quality of biodiesel. These reports will act as a reoccurring insight into biodiesel fuel quality each year."

The reports are comprised of data gathered from U.S. and Canadian BQ-9000 producer members. The analysis from both the 2017 and 2018 reports show that the vast majority of biodiesel readily exceeded the specification limits in ASTM D6751, the standard for biodiesel.

"These reports show what we've been saying for years," said NBB Technical Director Scott Fenwick. "Biodiesel fuel is of the absolute highest quality, and these reports prove it. Having this data every year will go a long way in demonstrating to OEMs and regulatory agencies that biodiesel should be the fuel of choice for any diesel engine."

As part of the data gathering process, biodiesel producers test their own B100 fuel at the point of production monthly, then provide the NBAC with the resulting data. NBAC randomizes and anonymizes the results and provide the final version to NREL for statistical analysis.

The data was presented during a breakout session at the 2020 National Biodiesel Conference and Expo.

ASA Celebrates Its ‘First Soy Century’

What began on an Indiana soybean farm 100 years ago developed into an organization that quickly grew to be the leading advocate for soybean farmers and foster the building of the U.S. soybean industry— the American Soybean Association (ASA). ASA is celebrating its “First Soy Century” as it recognizes its 100th anniversary throughout 2020.

The roots of ASA were formed when brothers Taylor, Noah and Finis Fouts hosted the first Corn Belt Soybean Field Day at their Soyland Farms operation in Camden, Indiana on Sept. 3, 1920. The event drew nearly 1,000 farmers from six states, who were interested in discovering more about this emerging new commodity called soybeans.

The National Soybean Growers’ Association—later renamed the American Soybean Association—was formed that very day. Taylor Fouts was elected as the first president of the association.

In the century since those humble beginnings on an Indiana soybean farm, ASA has continually been on the leading edge—focused on sustaining and improving the prospects and opportunities for profitability for U.S. soybean farmers.

Throughout the years, ASA has been at the forefront—engaged, committed and working diligently on behalf of U.S. soybean farmers on a variety of issues including:
    Helping remove interstate commerce restrictions and protect domestic markets for U.S. soybeans and soy food products.
    Leading the charge to improve soybean grading standards in order to meet the quality demands of domestic processors and international soybean buyers.
    Working with USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service decades ago to initiate market development projects for U.S. soy and soy products in what was just a few countries starting in the mid-1950s, growing to more than 40 countries in the 1960s, and reaching today’s globally strong position of exporting U.S. soy to more than 100 countries.
    Funding initial research that led to dozens of new uses for soy-based products—from paint to printer’s ink, from plastics to building materials.
    Working with the soybean processing industry to improve the quality, characteristics and value of U.S.-grown soybeans.
    Fostering the development, growth and engagement of state soybean associations—creating a powerful nationwide network of soybean advocates and farmer-leaders.
    Creating a “voluntary” soybean farmer-investment program in 1948 that eventually led to the establishment of state soybean checkoff programs.
    Advocating and achieving passage of legislation creating a national soybean checkoff—managed by the farmer-led, USDA-appointed United Soybean Board.
    Ensuring that soybean farmers are heard—loud and clear—when key legislation is being developed and debated—from Farm Bills to renewable fuels, from regulatory issues to international trade.
    And most importantly, representing the best interests of soybean farmers at every opportunity.

A Year-Long Celebration of ASA’s ‘First Soy Century’

ASA plans a robust year of activities to celebrate the association’s centennial including:
    High-profile activities at the 2020 Commodity Classic in San Antonio Feb. 27-29, including a gathering of more than 20 former ASA presidents, an impressive exhibit booth featuring historical photos, artifacts and soy treats, and a fun-filled annual banquet focused on the 100th anniversary.
    A policy-focused event on July 8, 2020 at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
    A dedication ceremony on Aug. 4, 2020 for an historical marker to be located on the Fouts family farm in Camden, Indiana, the site of ASA’s birth in 1920.
    A forward-looking symposium entitled “The Next Soy Century” to be held on the campus of Purdue University on Aug. 5, 2020, featuring an impressive line-up of thought leaders and industry experts.
    A website dedicated to the 100th anniversary at
    A Land’s End web portal through which ASA-branded merchandise can be ordered. A link to this portal is available on the ASA 100th Anniversary website.
    A commemorative book outlining the history and achievements of ASA over the past century.
    Dozens of web videos featuring anecdotes and congratulatory messages from former ASA presidents, policy makers and soybean advocates.
    A wrap-up celebration at the ASA board meeting in December 2020.

For more information on the 100th anniversary of the American Soybean Association, visit ASA's 100th Anniversary website....

Apply Now for ASA, Valent Ag Voices of the Future Program for Students

The American Soybean Association (ASA) and Valent are now accepting applications for Ag Voices of the Future, a program for students, held in conjunction with the summer ASA Board meeting and Soy Issues Forum from July 6-9, 2020, in Washington, D.C.

Ag Voices of the Future gives college students an inside look at how agricultural policies are made in Washington, along with education on effective advocacy and the significant legislative, trade and regulatory issues that impact farmers. The program also provides the chance to visit with professionals who work in Washington and learn more about careers related to agriculture policy. Class size is limited and students must be at least 18 years old to apply.

Application Process

To apply for the ASA and Valent Ag Voices of the Future program, and be considered for a scholarship to the AFA Leaders Conference, students should visit the scholarships page on the AFA website, click on the green “Apply Now” button, and submit their online application by March 11.

To make sure students are considered for the Ag Voices of the Future program, they should check the box that reads, “I have an interest in agriculture policy and would like to be considered for the ASA and Valent Ag Voices of the Future Program (July 6-9, 2020, in Washington, D.C.), as well as receiving an AFA Leader and Academic Scholarship.” If a student has already applied for the AFA Leaders Conference, they can still modify their application to include checking the box for the Ag Voices of the Future program.

Bonus Opportunity through Agriculture Future of America

Through a partnership ASA and Valent have with collegiate organization Agriculture Future of America (AFA), two students from the 2020 Ag Voices of the Future program will also have the opportunity to win the following:
    $1,600 academic scholarship
    Complimentary registration (includes hotel stay) for the Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Leaders Conference – Nov. 12-15, 2020, in Kansas City, Missouri.
    Up to $500 for reimbursement of travel expenses to the AFA Leaders Conference

For more information on the Ag Voices of the Future program, visit or contact Michelle Hummel at

Commodity Classic Discounted Registration Fees End January 29

Only a few days remain to take advantage of registration discounts for the 2020 Commodity Classic to be held Feb. 27-29 in San Antonio, Tex.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020, is the last day the discounts will be in effect.

Registration fees vary depending on the number of days attended. Full registration covers all three days of the event, and one-day registrations are also available.  Members of the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Sorghum Producers and National Association of Wheat Growers receive additional discounts on registration.

All registration and housing reservations should be made online at  Experient is the official registration and housing provider for Commodity Classic.  In order to stay at an official Commodity Classic hotel, reservations must be made only through Experient to ensure favorable rates, reasonable terms and confirmed hotel rooms.

The 2020 Commodity Classic will be held at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.  The convention center will house all Commodity Classic events, including the Welcome Reception, General Session, Evening of Entertainment, Trade Show, Learning Center Sessions and What’s New Sessions.

A detailed schedule of events is also available on the website.

Established in 1996, Commodity Classic is America's largest farmer-led, farmer-focused convention and trade show, produced by the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Sorghum Producers, and Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

FMC Launches New Authority® Edge Herbicide in the U.S.

FMC launches Authority® Edge herbicide, a new preplant and preemergence herbicide for the 2020 growing season. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration has been granted for use in soybeans, sunflowers and dry shelled peas, including chickpeas.

     Authority Edge herbicide provides two effective sites of action to combat resistant weeds and help preserve the effectiveness of postemergence herbicide technologies. Its optimized low-use-rate liquid formulation of a best-in-class Group 14 herbicide with the newest Group 15 herbicide delivers long-lasting residual control of small-seeded broadleaf weeds and grasses.

     Authority Edge herbicide controls a wide spectrum of weeds including waterhemp, Palmer amaranth, pigweed, black nightshade, common lambsquarters, kochia, Russian thistle, morningglories, smartweed, foxtail, barnyardgrass and fall panicum. The new herbicide is effective against ALS, triazine, HPPD, ESPS (glyphosate) and PPO herbicide resistant weed biotypes.

     “In trials, Authority Edge herbicide has demonstrated better in-season control of driver weeds than competitive products. It is an excellent foundational herbicide,” says Godfrey Lue, FMC herbicide product manager. “The optimized ratio of sulfentrazone to pyroxasulfone in this proprietary herbicide premix offers very strong weed control performance with use rate flexibility to fit with other in-season residual programs growers are using today. In soybeans, Authority Edge herbicide may be followed by Anthem® MAXX herbicide, early post, as part of a sequential residual strategy.”

Unmatched residual control

     The long residual control of Authority Edge herbicide creates a wider window for timely postemergence control. “Once pigweeds emerge, they can grow 1 to 3 inches in a day. Since all post herbicide programs recommend treatment before pigweeds reach 4 inches tall, a strong soil residual herbicide is essential to maintain maximum control as long as possible. Authority Edge herbicide provides unmatched residual weed control, which importantly helps reduce the selection pressure on post herbicide technologies,” explains Nick Hustedde, FMC technical service manager.

     In a 2019 Southern Illinois University soybean trial, Authority Edge herbicide provided 98% control of waterhemp, 42 days after a preemergence treatment, exceeding the length of other treatments. In a 2019 University of Tennessee trial in Jackson, Authority Edge herbicide provided 98% control of Palmer amaranth and 83% control of pitted morningglory 28 days after application, compared to just 71% and 72% control with a competitive standard herbicide.

     Available in a convenient low-use-rate and easy-to-use liquid formulation, Authority Edge herbicide is labeled for fall and spring preplant and preemergence applications, up to three days after planting. FMC has applied for and anticipates having Authority Edge herbicide available for tank mixing with different products including XtendiMax® with VaporGrip® Technology, Engenia® herbicide, Enlist One® herbicide and Enlist Duo® herbicides.

     Authority Edge herbicide is part of the FMC Freedom Pass Program, which includes Application Innovations, Agronomic Rewards, Product Financing and Product Assurances.

Trump Administration Recruits Six New Members as U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions

On Tuesday, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the addition of six new U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions. These champions are U.S. businesses and organizations pledging to reduce food loss and waste in their own operations by 50 percent by the year 2030. New champions in 2019 and announced today include: Browns Superstores, Compass Group, Giant Eagle, Hello Fresh, Las Vegas Sands, and The Wendy’s Company.

“Food products make up 22 percent of municipal solid waste sent to our nation’s landfills annually and working with my partners at USDA, we are challenging American businesses and consumers to reduce food waste,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “The commitments made by these organizations in joining the Champions program will help propel the U.S. one step closer towards meeting the national goal of reducing food waste and loss 50 percent by 2030.”

“Businesses across the country are stepping up to reduce food loss and waste,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “We applaud the manufacturers, grocers, restaurants, and other businesses that have made a commitment to reduce food loss and waste in their operations, and we call on more businesses to become U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions.”

“The elimination of food waste has been a critical component of our Sands ECO360 sustainability plan,” said Las Vegas Sands Senior Vice President of Global Sustainability Katarina Tesarova. “While this is definitely an environmental issue, it is also a social and economic issue. Not only does wasted food end up in the landfill, but there are other implications as well. For instance, we continue to focus on new ways to get excess unserved food to those in the community who are food insecure.”

The six new Champions join the list of existing 2030 Champions, which include: Ahold Delhaize, Aramark, Blue Apron, Bon Appetit, Campbells, ConAgra, Farmstead, General Mills, Hilton, Kellogg’s, Kroger, Marley Spoon, MGM Resorts, Mom’s Organic Market, Pepsico, Sodexo, Sprouts, Unilever, Walmart, Wegmans, Weis, Whitsons and Yum! Brands.

Cutting food waste in half by 2030 will take a sustained commitment from everyone. Success requires action from the entire food system including the food industry, and the U.S. 2030 Food Loss and Waste Champions group can help lead the way. Details on becoming a U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champion can be found at and

Businesses not in a position to make the 50 percent reduction commitment may be interested in participating in EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge: State, local, tribal and territorial governments interested in making a commitment to food waste reduction can sign the Winning on Reducing Food Waste pledge.


Facts about food waste:
    EPA estimates that more food (over 75 billion pounds) reaches landfills and combustion facilities than any other material in everyday trash, constituting 22% of discarded municipal solid waste.
    Landfills are the third largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States.
    Food waste not only impacts landfill space and emissions, it hurts the economy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates the value of food loss and waste for retailers and consumers each year to be over $161 billion.
    Food waste consumes 21% of all fresh water globally.
    Wasted food also results in unnecessary, excess expenditures of U.S. domestic energy resources.

Ongoing Federal Efforts:
EPA has taken significant measures to highlight the need to reduce food waste nationally. In October 2018, EPA, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and USDA signed a formal agreement to align efforts across the federal government to educate consumers, engage stakeholders, and develop and evaluate solutions to food loss and waste.

The agencies launched “Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month” in April 2019 with a Presidential Message from President Trump encouraging public action and participation from all sectors.

During the month of April 2019, Administrator Wheeler and leadership from USDA and FDA convened a summit at EPA bringing state and local stakeholders together to form partnerships with leading food waste reduction non-governmental organizations. At this event, over 30 governmental organizations signed onto a new pledge in which state, local, tribal and territorial government organizations solidified interest in working with the federal government to continue to build upon existing efforts back home to reduce food loss and waste. Also at the summit, EPA announced $110,000 in funding for food waste management and infrastructure projects (to expand anaerobic digestion capacity) in Wisconsin, Vermont, and Washington. EPA also opened a Small Business Innovation Research Grants program solicitation in 2019, which included “preventing food waste” as a topic.

For more information on the Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative, visit:

Tuesday January 21 Ag News

Preparing for the Calving Season
Larry Howard, NE Extension, Cuming County

It is time to start thinking about and planning for calving season. Planning ahead and being prepared can help increase the chances of success. You can begin by asking yourself two simple questions. Are my cows ready for calving? Am I ready for calving?

Ideally, we would like our cows to give birth to healthy, vigorous calves with little calving difficulty and successfully re-breed. A major factor to this happening is the nutritional status of the cows at calving. Evaluating the nutritional status of your cows using Body Condition Scores (BCS) 60 to 80 days prior to the calving season provides a means to offset these problems. Cows with a BCS 5 and heifers with a BCS 6 on a 1 to 9 scale at calving are much less likely to suffer these problems and have a much greater chance of re-breeding. For more information on BCS scoring refer to “Body Condition Scoring Your Beef Cow Herd” (

Getting yourself ready for calving season starts with evaluating calving areas to make sure that all are clean, dry, strong, safe, and functioning correctly. Consider assembling all the needed supplies so everything is in one place. Supplies should include disposable obstetrical sleeves, disinfectant, lubricant, obstetrical chains, and obstetrical handles.

Lastly, before calving season starts, review and develop a protocol. Refer to the publication “Assisting the Beef Cow at Calving Time” ( for more information. You should plan what to do, when to do it, who to call for help, and how to know when you need help. Review these plans with all family members or your help. Make sure everyone is familiar with what to expect during a normal calving and how to determine if there is a problem. Visit with your veterinarian about the protocol and incorporate their suggestions. Having a plan and being prepared will help make the calving season a success. 

2020 Nutrient Management Record Keeping Calendars are Now Available

An easy-to-use record keeping calendar for livestock operations that keeps track of manure related records is available to all livestock producers. The calendar was designed to be used by all sizes of livestock operations and includes all records required for operations permitted for the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). It has been approved by the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) and recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a valuable resource for livestock producers.

Records of rainfall, storage depth gauge levels, and storage and equipment inspections are an important aspect of required manure and runoff storage records for a NDEQ permit. It also has a sample of an Annual Report that a CAFO must submit by March 1st of each year.  These and other records will help you gain value from manure nutrients and document your stewardship of the environment.  The calendar also has several pieces of information throughout that will be helpful to the producer.

The calendar is available for free.  You can pick one up at the Cuming County Extension office or receive one by contacting Leslie Johnson ( or the NDEE office. Calendars are good through January 2021.


Corn and wheat growers across Nebraska will be able to gain hands-on experience with cutting-edge technologies that will allow them to more precisely identify the amount of nitrogen fertilizer their crops need, while preventing excess nitrates from ending up in the state’s water supply.

This opportunity comes in the form of a $1.2 million On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service. The grant was awarded to 14 extension educators and four extension specialists working with Nebraska Extension’s On-Farm Research Network. The network consists of producers from across the state who work with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln to try out new technologies and emerging practices in their own operations. Each year, 60 to 70 producers and agronomists participate in 70 to 100 trials, said Laura Thompson, an extension educator who helps coordinate the On-Farm Research Network.

Thompson said producers involved with the project will use new technologies to more precisely apply nitrogen fertilizer to their crops. Thompson hopes that by better managing nitrogen applications, farmers will increase profits, while preventing excess nitrogen from leaching into the water supply.

“There’s a lot of potential to help farmers use real-time data to manage nitrogen more efficiently,” Thompson said, “and that will help not only with their own profitability, but with conservation of our natural resources.”

Technologies to be used in the trial include:
> Crop canopy sensors, which farmers can use to measure plant reflectance, which can help indicate the need for nitrogen;

> Imagery captured by drones, satellites or airplanes, which can give producers an overview of field conditions and also measure plant reflectance;

> Crop nitrogen-simulation models, which can incorporate weather and soil conditions to predict nitrogen needs;

> Nitrification and urease inhibitors, which can be mixed with some fertilizers to reduce loss of nitrogen from fields.

These technologies may be cost-prohibitive for producers to try on their own, Thompson said, or farmers may not have the background and training to use them effectively.

“One of our goals is to help farmers get exposure to these technologies in their own operations,” Thompson said. “This will help them determine if these technologies are a good fit for them and if they should adopt them in their operations.”

In turn, the university can evaluate and improve the technologies on real, working farms across Nebraska’s diverse crop production environments.

The On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials grant program is a new resource for institutions helping implement conservation-friendly agricultural practices.

For producers, using the right amount of nitrogen fertilizer is critically important. Using too little can lead to significant yield loss. Using too much can result in elevated levels of nitrate in groundwater. High levels of nitrate can lead to unsafe drinking water, as well as threats to biodiversity and the overall health of natural resources.

“The Conservation Innovation Grants program is funding the future of conservation and agriculture,” said Matthew Lohr, Natural Resource Conservation Service chief.

The grant will fund 40 trials a year for three years. Producers who wish to participate in the program can contact Thompson or visit for more information. Those who wish to participate in the program must be Environmental Quality Incentives Program eligible.



Those interested in learning about how to keep honey bees are encouraged to register for Nebraska Extension’s introductory beekeeping workshops. The first of a two-part workshop is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 1 at the Douglas-Sarpy County Extension’s Central Office, 8015 West Center Road in Omaha.

The workshop consists of lectures, demonstrations and hands-on activities designed to help participants understand the biology and importance of honey bees. Topics will include basic beekeeping techniques and equipment, prime apiary locations, pollinator-friendly plants, honey production and beeswax processing.

The second part of the workshop is a field day designed to teach practical skills on starting and maintaining a honey bee colony. The field day will be at the same extension office from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 25.

All ages are invited to participate in the workshop.

Registration is $80 per person, which includes course materials, refreshments and lunch. The cost for each additional family member is $30 and does not include materials. Pre-registration is required for all workshops.

Register online at Checks should be payable to the University of Nebraska and sent to the UNL Bee Lab, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, 103 Entomology Hall, Lincoln, NE 68583-0816

For more information, contact Dustin Scholl at


All layers in Nebraska during December 2019 totaled 9.14 million, up from 8.60 million the previous year, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.  Nebraska egg production during December totaled 234 million eggs, up from 219 million in 2018. December egg production per 100 layers was 2,554 eggs, compared to 2,545 eggs in 2018.

IOWA: Iowa egg production during December 2019 was 1.48 billion eggs, up 4 percent from both last month and 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 December 2019 was 58.9 million, up 1 percent from last month and up 3 percent from last year. Eggs per 100 layers for December were 2,519, up 3 percent from last month and up 1 percent from last year.

U.S. December Egg Production Up 4 Percent

United States egg production totaled 9.80 billion during December 2019, up 4 percent from last year. Production included 8.59 billion table eggs, and 1.21 billion hatching eggs, of which 1.12 billion were broiler-type and 88.6 million were egg-type. The total number of layers during December 2019 averaged 403 million, up 3 percent from last year. December egg production per 100 layers was 2,429 eggs, up 1 percent from December 2018.
All layers in the United States on January 1, 2020 totaled 404 million, up 3 percent from last year. The 404 million layers consisted of 341 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 59.9 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs, and 3.50 million layers producing egg-type hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on January 1, 2020, averaged 78.0 eggs per 100 layers, up 1 percent from January 1, 2019.

Egg-Type Chicks Hatched Up 1 Percent

Egg-type chicks hatched during December 2019 totaled 46.9 million, up 1 percent from December 2018. Eggs in incubators totaled 48.3 million on January 1, 2020, down 6 percent from a year ago. Domestic placements of egg-type pullet chicks for future hatchery supply flocks by leading breeders totaled 266 thousand during December 2019, down 1 percent from December 2018.

Broiler-Type Chicks Hatched Up 4 Percent

Broiler-type chicks hatched during December 2019 totaled 858 million, up 4 percent from December 2018. Eggs in incubators totaled 715 million on January 1, 2020, up 5 percent from a year ago. Leading breeders placed 8.66 million broiler-type pullet chicks for future domestic hatchery supply flocks during December 2019, up 1 percent from December 2018.


The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) are partnering with nearly a dozen state corn organizations this winter to put on five trade schools in farmers’ local areas, aiming to educate and empower grower-leaders on trade topics.

The regional events build on similar workshops held in Washington, D.C., in 2016 and 2019 and in St. Louis in 2018. Each offered wide-ranging information demonstrating the importance of trade to the agriculture industry and farmers’ profitability; details on hot topics on the trade agenda; and training on how participants can talk about trade issues in their communities.

Negotiations on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), a trade agreement with Japan and a trade deal with China dominated much of agriculture news in 2019, spurring interest among those in the ag sector and creating demand for more and more detailed information on trade topics.

“In the last several years, we’ve really seen the interest in trade and market development surge among farmers who are seeing how critical overseas sales are to their profitability,” said Melissa Kessler, USGC director of strategic relations, who manages the trade school events. “The Council and NCGA work together with our members every day on trade issues and are thrilled for the opportunity to partner in bringing experts to meet with growers who want to continuously learn about these topics.”

The first of the 2019/2020 winter events was held in December in Maryland in partnership with the Maryland Grain Producers Board, attracting local farmers as well as representatives from an elevator, railroad and Farm Credit.

Future events are planned for:
    Indianapolis on Jan. 21 and 22, in partnership with the Indiana Corn Marketing Council, the Ohio Corn Marketing Board, the Michigan Corn Marketing Program and the Kentucky Corn Promotion Program.
    Olathe, Kansas, on Feb. 17, in partnership with Kansas Corn, Nebraska Corn, Missouri Corn and Iowa Corn.
    Moline, Illinois, on Feb. 19, in partnership with Iowa Corn and Illinois Corn.
    Burlington, Colorado, on March 11 and 12, in partnership with Colorado Corn.

“Our focus for 60 years has been on developing markets opened by strong trade policy. We truly believe in our mission and are glad to be sharing that mission with so many in our grains community this winter,” Kessler said.

Each event is free for participants, though pre-registration is required. The events are designed to minimize the time away from home for participants, however, hotel access has been arranged at each location for those who need to stay over.

To learn more about Trade School, click here

Farm Bureau Establishes 2020 Priorities

Farmer and rancher delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 101st Annual Convention today adopted policies to guide the organization’s work in 2020 on key topics ranging from dairy to labor and climate change to conservation compliance.

“Delegates from across the nation came together today to look ahead at issues and opportunities facing farms, ranches and rural communities,” said American Farm Bureau Federation Vice President Scott VanderWal. “The 2020 policies ensure we are able to continue producing safe and healthy food, fiber and renewable fuel for our nation and the world.”

Delegates also re-elected American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall and Vice President Scott VanderWal for their third terms. VanderWal served as chair of the meeting on behalf of Duvall, who is grieving the loss of his wife, Bonnie.

Delegates updated labor and immigration policies, emphasizing that we must see significant changes to the H-2A program. While AFBF has long had policy in place to ensure an accessible, competitive guest worker program, the updates address problems with the adverse effect wage rate and emphasize the importance of year-round program access to all of agriculture. AFBF looks forward to working with Congress on efforts that align with these policy objectives.

After a year-long process to review ways to modernize Federal Milk Marketing Orders, AFBF’s delegates voted to support creation of a flexible, farmer- and industry-led milk management system. This includes giving individual dairy farmers a voice by allowing them to vote independently and confidentially on rules governing milk prices. The new dairy policies, when combined, will form a strong foundation to guide the organization during future reform efforts to better coordinate milk supply and demand in the U.S.

There are significant new policies on conservation compliance. Delegates called on USDA to significantly improve program transparency and due process for farmers. They specifically prioritized changes in USDA’s processes for wetland delineations and the appeals process. Delegates also adopted a new policy supporting the repeal of Swampbuster provisions. The changes highlight growing frustration with conservation compliance practices within the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Delegates voted to support allowing a higher THC level in hemp, giving AFBF staff the flexibility to engage in discussions with regulators about the appropriate legal level, and to increase the window of time farmers are allowed to conduct THC testing, acknowledging the many questions about how the testing process will work and the potential for backlogs.

New policies are on the books supporting science-based climate change research and the documentation of agriculture’s tremendous advances toward climate-smart practices. Delegates also made clear they want federal climate change policy to reflect regional variations, and they oppose a state-by-state patchwork of climate change policies.

Beyond policy changes, delegates also elected members to serve on the AFBF board of directors and national program committees.

AFBF President Zippy Duvall and Vice President Scott VanderWal were re-elected to two-year terms.

David Fisher, president of New York Farm Bureau (Northeast Region); Shawn Harding, president of North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation (Southern Region); and Randy Kron, Indiana Farm Bureau (Midwest Region) were elected to fill one-year terms on the AFBF board of directors.

Thirteen other state Farm Bureau presidents were re-elected to two-year terms to represent their regions on the board.

Midwest Region
Carl Bednarski, Michigan
Blake Hurst, Missouri
Steve Nelson, Nebraska

Northeast Region
Rick Ebert, Pennsylvania
Ryck Suydam, New Jersey

Southern Region
Mark Haney, Kentucky
John Hoblick, Florida
Harry Ott, South Carolina
Jimmy Parnell, Alabama
Wayne Pryor, Virginia
Rich Hillman, Arkansas

Western Region
Bryan Searle, Idaho
Ron Gibson, Utah

National Program Committees
Morgan Norris of Florida was elected as the new chair of the AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee for a one-year term. She will also serve a one-year term on the AFBF board of directors.

Vickie Bryant of Kentucky, Dotty Jensen of Utah and Margaret Gladden of Indiana were elected to two-year terms on the Women’s Leadership Committee. Jennifer Cross of Maryland was re-elected to a two-year term.

The National Biodiesel Board Shares New Industry "Vision"

The biodiesel industry comes together this week to focus their sights on learning, networking, and doing business during the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo. The national event of the year kicked off on Tuesday in Tampa with motivating remarks from industry leadership.

To lead off the conference, all eyes were on National Biodiesel Board CEO, Donnell Rehagen as NBB’s new public vision statement highlighted his state of the industry remarks to attendees. The new NBB vision reads:

Biodiesel, renewable diesel, and renewable jet fuel will be recognized as mainstream low-carbon fuel options with superior performance and emission characteristics. In on road, off road, air transportation, electricity generation, and home heating applications, use will exceed six billion gallons by 2030, eliminating over 35 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas emissions annually.  With advancements in feedstock, use will reach 15 billion gallons by 2050.

“Without a clear vision of the future – what we want to be, where we want to go, and how we’ll get there – we’ll never be more than we are today,” said Rehagen. “As carbon policies around the country really begin to take hold, we see low-carbon fuels like biodiesel, renewable diesel, and renewable jet fuel with a tremendous opportunity for growth. While the volumes in our new industry vision may seem ambitious, there is a very clear path to meeting this vision as long as we stay committed to working together and continuing to collaborate.

“Ambitious industries need ambitious goals. And, in our case, our country needs us to be this ambitious.”

The association’s plan recognizes there is no logical path to zero carbon without growing volumes of carbonless transportation fuels like biodiesel and renewable diesel.

“I truly believe we are on the cutting edge of a fundamental shift in how consumers look at their fuel for transportation and home heating,” shared Rehagen. “Just look at some of our largest markets. Consumers there are already paying for the value of low-carbon fuels. Biodiesel is a premium product and it must be produced, bought, and sold that way."

Rehagen also showcased a new tagline to go with the long-used biodiesel logo that emphasizes the benefits of the fuel in a succinct way –Better. Cleaner. Now! This tag line will be a center point of NBB’s education and promotion activities moving forward, aiming to drive the narrative about the myriad of ways that biodiesel and renewable diesel are a better choice for consumers, policy makers, and the environment.

The opening ceremony also included a look at the industry’s continuous efforts in federal policy, including major challenges and some significant wins in 2019. The crowning achievement last year was the reinstatement of the biodiesel tax credit that provided much-needed retroactivity for 2018 and 2019 and a forward-looking credit through 2022. Three years forward is the longest time period the industry has been able to count on the credit since it was first introduced in 2005. Now the association will turn collective attention to the number one industry driver – the Renewable Fuel Standard.

“Our job is not an easy one with an EPA that has taken every opportunity it has to hold growth of renewable fuels down,” said Rehagen. “2020 will see us aggressively claim our space in the RFS and advocate at all levels of government for the recognition that significant growth of biomass-based diesel in the RFS is not just warranted and earned by our industry but is good federal policy in an environment of carbon reduction.”

Walmart Announces Opening of New Beef Packing Facility

Walmart has opened its new 201,000-sq-ft case-ready beef packing facility in Thomasville, GA. Operated by FPL foods, the project created more than 200 new jobs.

"Our new Angus beef supply chain is a perfect example of Walmart's dedication to bringing customers high-quality food at a great price," Scott Neal, senior vice president, Meat at Walmart U.S., said in a statement. "By enlisting a number of top companies to take part in our Angus beef supply chain, including FLP foods, which operates the facility we're proud to open today, we'll be able to provide customers with unprecedented transparency throughout the supply chain and leverage the learning we gain across our business."

The company started construction on the site in August 2018 as part of an effort to increase the quality of the food products it carries. Walmart's Thomasville plant will process and distribute cuts of Angus beef, including steaks and roasts, to 500 Walmart stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and other parts of the southeast U.S.

As part of its efforts to create an end-to-end beef supply chain, Walmart is also partnering with some prominent suppliers in the space, like cattle supplier Prime Pursuits, feed firm Mc6 Cattle Feeders, and processor Creekstone Farms.

Plans for the project were first announced in April 2019. The retailer said consumer demand for clean labels, traceability and transparency were driving its decision to develop its supply chain and open the new facility in Georgia.

Canada to OK CUSMA Next Week

(AP) -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday Canada will move next week to formally approve the new North American trade agreement.

Trudeau said the government will introduce a motion when Parliament resumes Jan. 27, and will introduce legislation to ratify the deal two days later.

Trudeau said millions of Canadians depend on stable, reliable trade with their largest trading partners.

That will effectively remove the final legal hurdle to the deal with the U.S. and Mexico.

U.S. President Donald Trump campaigned in 2016 on ripping up trade deals that he said added to the nation's trade deficit and cost the country manufacturing jobs. He promised he would rewrite NAFTA if elected, a pact he described as "the worst trade deal in history."

Last week, the U.S. Senate passed its implementation bill of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Trudeau's government had been waiting for the U.S. to formally ratify the pact before introducing its own bill. Mexico ratified the deal in June.

ASA’s WISHH Trade Team Delivers Four Key

U.S. soybean growers delivered four key soy protein messages to current and potential customers in Cambodia and Myanmar where protein demand is rapidly growing for aquaculture and livestock feeds as well as human foods. The American Soybean Association’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health’s (WISHH) Southeast Asia trade team also celebrated a milestone with a WISHH strategic partner by joining a ribbon cutting for Cambodia’s first in-pond raceway aquaculture system, an important innovation for the sustainable increase of fish production in the region.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds supported the January 12-20 travel for the 13 soybean leaders to have face-to-face discussions with WISHH’s many contacts in the human food and livestock feed industries. U.S. Ambassador W. Patrick Murphy addressed the U.S. and Cambodian business leaders during WISHH’s 2020 U.S.-Cambodia Soy Trading Conference.

“We came to make personal connections with our current and future customers for U.S. soy. By visiting Cambodia and Myanmar, we hope we demonstrated how much we care about these emerging markets and our customers’ success using U.S. soy,” said WISHH Program Committee Chair Daryl Cates, an Illinois soybean grower.

“U.S. soy delivers quality protein to emerging markets whether their need is feeding their fish, chickens or pigs or they are seeking a nutritious and affordable ingredient for human foods,” Cates added.

“First, we stressed that U.S. soy is high-quality protein. Second, we shared with these emerging market leaders that the United States is a reliable supplier of sustainable soy to meet their protein needs,” Cates said “Third, we emphasized that U.S. soy is delivered in containers, bags and really however they want it. Finally, we reinforced the message to Cambodia and Myanmar’s food and feed leaders that we will help them maximize the value of U.S. soy through WISHH’s multi-faceted technical assistance.”

U.S. Ambassador W. Patrick Murphy recognized the importance of the trade team and the opportunities for U.S. soy in Cambodia in his remarks to the U.S. and Cambodian business leaders during WISHH’s 2020 U.S.-Cambodia Soy Trading Conference on January 17 in Phnom Penh.

The Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council (MSMC) supported WISHH technical assistance in the planning and construction of Cambodia’s first in-pond raceway aquaculture system, which is a channel for continuous flow of water to grow fish at the Rathada Farms Hatchery. The family-owned business breeds tilapia and catfish. Rathada raises the fish through the “seed” and fry stages before selling fingerlings to fish producers in the region.

“Our Missouri farmers’ soybean checkoff dollars were vital to WISHH’s work with Rathada on the new raceway,” said David Lueck, a WISHH Program Committee member and a past MSMC chairman who served on its board for more than a decade. “Furthermore, WISHH leveraged our investment by integrating Rathada’s strengthened fish-production capacity into WISHH’s USDA-funded Commercialization of Aquaculture for Sustainable Trade (CAST) – Cambodia project.”

CAST is a USDA Food for Progress project designed to develop a lasting aquaculture industry in Cambodia. Cambodia’s GDP has increased by more than 7 percent per year since 2011, growing the demand for animal and aquaculture-sourced protein. The country’s aquaculture industry demand for soybean protein is projected to reach 100,000 metric tons per year by 2030.

In addition to Cates and Lueck, WISHH Program Committee members on the trade team included WISHH Vice Chair Gerry Hayden (KY), WISHH Treasurer Jim Wilson (MI), Bob Haselwood (KS), Morey Hill (IA), Bob Suver (OH) and United Soybean Board (USB) Ex-Officio Member David Williams (MI). ASA Director David Droste (IL),USB Director Mike McCranie and South Dakota Research and Promotion Council Director Bob Metz joined.. ASA and U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) Director Stan Born as well as USB and USSEC Director Doug Winter, both of Illinois, also joined the team in Myanmar.

The trade team also included representatives of six U.S. soybean exporting companies to directly share information about U.S. food grade soybeans and how U.S. soy is available in containers.

While in Southeast Asia, the WISHH trade team also traveled to Myanmar. WISHH is leading USDA-funded activities to grow Myanmar’s human food market, and the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) is active in the animal feed and aquaculture sectors.

Monday January 20 Ag News


Senator Bruce Bostelman of Brainard (Republican) announced he has filed to seek reelection to the Nebraska Legislature in District 23. District 23 includes Butler and Saunders Counties as well as most of Colfax County.

“It is an honor to serve the people of District 23 in the Legislature,” said Sen. Bostelman. “I am working to earn your support again so I can continue to fight for property tax relief, grow agriculture and Main Street, and protect our pro-life values. Together, we can keep Nebraska moving forward and create more opportunities for our rural communities."

Sen. Bostelman has the endorsement of Governor Pete Ricketts and Lt. Governor Mike Foley as well as former Governor Dave Heineman, former Governor Kay Orr, and numerous State Senators.

National Pork Board Makes Changes to Senior Leadership Team

The National Pork Board has announced senior leadership changes to better implement a new Pork Checkoff vision, structure and operating plan supported by its board of directors – the first major restructuring in nearly 20 years.

The new plan was developed with grassroots input from across the industry, including more than 1,000 pork producers, and focuses on two overarching goals, to build trust and to add value. To deliver on these goals and the expectations of pork industry leaders for nimbleness and forward-thinking, the National Pork Board has restructured staff teams and elevated high performers to lead them.

“We have our marching orders – to move at the speed of business and to be consumer-focused, producer-led. That is how we will keep pork relevant and competitive,” said Bill Even, National Pork Board CEO. “These changes align highly capable leaders and staff with the work that must be done, such as making continuous improvement through We CareSM and protecting swine health from foreign animal disease.”
Highlights of the changes include:

    Jerry Flint, who has served as vice president of outreach and engagement for the National Pork Board since August 2019, is assuming the role of chief operations officer. Prior to joining the Pork Board, Flint held leadership roles at Corteva Agriscience and Monsanto. The respected agriculture leader will apply his ability to motivate teams and drive accountability in Pork Board operations.

    John Johnson is transitioning to consultant status as of Feb. 14 after more than 10 years serving the National Pork Board as vice president of strategic administration and as chief operations officer. In his new capacity, Johnson will conduct outreach in the Northeast about pork farmers’ commitment to the We CareSM ethical principles.  

    Jarrod Sutton, the previous vice president of domestic marketing, is now senior vice president of strategy and innovation. The 20-year Pork Board veteran has served the industry in retail marketing, channel marketing and social responsibility roles. In his new position, Sutton’s team will help the Pork Board rise to the challenge of being more future-focused, insight-driven and responsive to customers.

    Angie Krieger has been promoted to vice president of domestic marketing after nearly three years with the National Pork Board in packer relations and channel outreach roles. Krieger joined the Pork Board from JBS and had previously spent 14 years at Cargill. As a result, she is very in tune with the supply chain and is passionate about leading her team to add value for pork producers.   

    Brett Kaysen, is the new vice president of sustainability. Kaysen joined the National Pork Board nearly two years ago from Zoetis. As a pig farmer who also spent more than 16 years teaching at Colorado State University, Kaysen is uniquely qualified to lead his team of experts in public health, environment and animal welfare to ensure broad adoption of the We CareSM ethical principles.

    Dave Pyburn, DVM, as the National Pork Board’s chief veterinarian, will lead a team of veterinarians and swine production experts. Pyburn rejoined the Pork Board in 2013 after 13 years as the senior veterinary medical officer at USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. This new focus will allow Pyburn to leverage his experience and relationships to help protect the U.S. pork industry from foreign animal disease.

    Jill Criss is now senior vice president of human resources and administration. Criss has provided human resources/operations services and leadership to the National Pork Board for more than 16 years. Criss will be on the front lines of hiring and training the high-quality talent needed to implement the new strategic plan as well as ensuring internal administrative processes are streamlined for success.

“In short, we’re ready and excited to be starting 2020 and the new decade with a new vision, a few clear priorities and the resources – people, budget and organizational structure – to accomplish them,” Even said.

CattleFax Cow-Calf Survey Released

CattleFax has introduced its annual Cow-Calf Survey sponsored by Crystalyx. Information requested in the survey provides participants and the rest of the industry with valuable data regarding industry benchmarks and trends.

Survey participants will receive a results summary packet, with useful informaiton that will allow managers and owners to evaluate their own operations. Items such as cow-calf profitability, tendencies of high and low return producers, regional data and other valuable materials are included. To receive the summary packet, a valid email address must be submitted. Individual results will be confidential and remain anonymous.

By completing the survey and submitting a valid email address, participants will also be entered in a drawing to win a $700 CattleFax voucher. The credit can be used for any CattleFax memberships, registration fees for education seminars (Corporate College and Risk Management Seminar), and/or registration fees for the annual Outlook and Strategies Session.

The survey can be accessed by going to, selecting the About tab at the top of the page, and then clicking on 2019 Cow-Calf Survey on the sidebar. The deadline to complete the survey is February 21, 2020.

Purdue Study Confirms Benefits of US Biodiesel, Addresses Concerns over Deforestation

The impacts of US biofuel policy on deforestation in Malaysia and Indonesia are found to be insignificant, according to the latest research from leading economic modeling experts from Purdue University. The study looked at concerns from renewable fuel opponents claiming that biofuels are to blame for increased agricultural activity in southeast Asia.

“Our analysis shows that less than one percent of the land cleared in Indonesia and Malaysia can be tied to U.S. biofuel production,” said Farzad Taheripour, a research associate professor in Purdue agricultural economics. “The amount is not significant.”

Previous analysis published by USEPA, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and Argonne National Laboratory have quantified the benefits of using biodiesel in place of fossil fuel because of its significant reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG). With a quantified reduction in carbon dioxide emissions between 50 and 86 percent lower than petroleum, biodiesel and renewable diesel are experiencing increased use under federal and state policies.

This new research also confirms there is no shortage of fats and oils used to make biodiesel. Nor is there a shortage of land in the US for producing farm commodities.

“In the U.S, we have lots of unused land available to farmers who can convert it to corn or soybeans. There has been no need to cut forests here,” Taheripour said. “In addition, crop productivity has increased significantly over time, providing more yield on the same amount of land. Because of those, the expected deforestation or conversion of natural land has not had to largely happen to account for U.S. biofuel production.”

Taheripour and the late Wally Tyner, who also contributed to this study have been modeling environmental impacts of energy policy for over a decade. Together, with various collaborators and researchers, they developed the GTAP-BIO model for CARB to quantify the market-mediated impacts of the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard and the national Renewable Fuel Standard. Those polices hold biofuels accountable for increased agricultural production predicted to occur all around the world.

“It doesn’t matter that this increased agricultural production is for producing food and not for producing biofuels,” said Don Scott, director of sustainability for the National Biodiesel Board. “Biofuels are held responsible for the positive economic signals created by these policies. Biodiesel is the leading edge of the bioeconomy, and even renewable industries are held accountable for changes in net carbon emissions. Even with these penalties conservatively applied, biodiesel is still resoundingly better than petroleum from an environmental standpoint.”

The report titled, US Biofuel Production and Policy Implications for Land Use Changes in Malaysia and Indonesia was just published in the journal of Biotechnology for Biofuels.

The National Biodiesel Foundation holds a biennial workshop inviting experts and academic leaders to prioritize research that quantifies the sustainability impacts of biofuels. Through those forums, the foundation supported a portion of this work by Purdue University. Significant funding for this research also came from the Federal Aviation Administration, because the international airline industry is eager to identify fuels that have total carbon benefits, after including indirect impacts on global forests and land use change.

 Olivia Nelligan Named CHS Chief Financial Officer

CHS Inc., the nation's leading agribusiness cooperative, announced today it has named Olivia Nelligan as its new executive vice president and chief financial officer, effective Jan. 29, 2020.

Nelligan brings more than 20 years of experience as a global finance leader and business partner with expertise leading transformation across teams and delivering sustainable, profitable growth. Most recently, Nelligan served as founder and chief executive officer of Inish Enterprises, a strategic advisory firm. Prior to that, Nelligan served as chief executive officer of Nasco, LLC, a private equity-owned company that provides specialty products for education, healthcare, laboratory testing and agriculture. After serving as Nasco's CEO, she served as non-executive chair of the company's board. Before being named Nasco's CEO, Nelligan was the company's chief financial officer.

Prior to joining Nasco, Nelligan spent 14 years at Kerry Group, a global leader in technology-based food ingredients, flavors and solutions where she held finance and strategy leadership positions, including serving as global chief financial and strategic planning officer for the Taste & Nutrition division and chief financial officer for the Americas Ingredients & Flavors division. She began her career at Arthur Andersen in Dublin, Ireland.

Nelligan has a bachelor's degree in civil law and a higher diploma in business and financial information systems from University College Cork, Ireland. She earned an MBA at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and is a chartered accountant.

"We are excited to have Olivia join CHS. She brings an impressive record of executing and achieving financial results and leading organizations through transformation and growth," said Jay Debertin, CHS president and chief executive officer. Nelligan will be a member of the CHS strategic leadership team and will report to Debertin.

Farm Bureau Mourns Passing of Bonnie Duvall

Saturday, Bonnie Duvall, wife of American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall, lost her courageous battle with cancer. The following statement may be attributed to American Farm Bureau Vice President Scott VanderWal.

"It is with deep sadness that I share the news of Bonnie Duvall's passing after a courageous battle with cancer. She was a special member of the Farm Bureau family, from being chosen for the 1982 National Young Farmer and Rancher Award with Zippy, to her travels with him 33 years later when he was elected president of American Farm Bureau.

"Zippy and Bonnie were partners in every respect for all of their 40 years together. She put her business degree to work keeping the books on their Georgia farm, enabling Zippy to turn his attention to serving his fellow farmers at the county, state and national levels.

"At moments like this our faith consoles us, knowing her soul is at peace, having gone on to our heavenly Father. We will forever be inspired by her sense of humor, love of farming and optimism in the face of adversity. She taught us all what it means to make every moment count.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Duvall family, including the four children Zippy and Bonnie have always been so proud of, Vince, Corrie, Zeb and Zellie, their dear son- and daughters-in-law, and their five beautiful grandchildren."

BASF #MonarchChallenge has another successful year

The BASF Living Acres Monarch Challenge has completed another successful year. In 2019, 20,000 milkweed seedlings were shipped to farmers and golf courses across the Midwest who were passionate about preserving monarch populations.

Milkweed is the essential plant for the monarch butterfly life cycle and the sole food source for the monarch caterpillar. It has become less common over the years, which is why the BASF Monarch Challenge encourages the planting of milkweed in non-crop areas of farm land and out-of-play areas of golf courses.

Since its start nearly four years ago, the Monarch Challenge has flourished, with increasing support from across the agriculture and golf course industries. Farmers, farm families and golf courses have been enthusiastic about stepping up and getting involved in the program.

“Last year, we visited a number of events across the U.S. and learned firsthand how many farmers’ perceptions of milkweed have shifted,” said Chip Shilling, BASF Sustainability Strategy Manager, Agricultural Products, North America. “Milkweed has been known as a problem weed for generations, but throughout the last few years, farmers are beginning to understand milkweed can thrive in non-productive areas of farmland.”

With the support of many this year, the challenge successfully garnered more than 2,500 farmers, farm families and others interested in monarch conservation, and led to partnerships with more than 56 golf courses.

“Every critter is a beneficial critter, is the way I see it,” said Andy Herring, a North Carolina farmer who has participated in the Monarch Challenge for several years. “I think what we’ve been doing with milkweed is going to help in some way.”

Terry Hills Golf Course, located in upstate New York, took the Monarch Challenge two years ago, and since then the milkweed has flourished. “It has especially flourished within our community,” said Thad Thompson, Superintendent at Terry Hills. “People will stop in to look at the habitat. They’re excited to see a golf course giving back to their community by doing something positive for the environment.”

The Monarch Challenge first spread its wings in 2016 as part of the BASF Living Acres biodiversity program. Since taking flight, over 6,500 participants have signed up for the Monarch Challenge, and 65,500 milkweed plants have been established on farmlands and golf courses from Rhode Island to Idaho. BASF Living Acres has put years into preserving and reestablishing milkweed habitats, and it has become greatly rewarding as more and more people become interested in aiding monarch populations.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has been tasked with determining whether the monarch butterfly warrants Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection. Since the deadline for that decision is December 15, 2020, it is important that the Monarch Challenge continues to spread as many milkweed seedlings as possible throughout the country next year.

“No matter the decision, we will continue to educate and grow our program in aiding monarch butterflies and other pollinators,” said Shilling. “All the measures we take are to ensure we are helping farmers and golf courses leave a sustainable operation for future generations.”

Friday January 17 Ag News

Nebraska students win regional Farm to School Month competition

In October, students in Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming, competed in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Regional Crunch Off.

“The event is a friendly competition to see which state can pledge the most celebratory bites into crunchy, local food per capita during the month of October,” said Justin Carter, project associate with the Center for Rural Affairs. “The goal of this event is to promote the purchase and consumption of local produce as well as celebrate Farm to School Month in a creative way.”

Nebraska was victorious, totaling the most crunches per capita with 88,812 participants, 4.58 percent of the state’s population.

“The Farm to School program feeds kids, teaches kids, and inspires kids about local, nutritious food and farm life,” said Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, a co-sponsor of the federal Farm to School Act, after attending a Crunch Off event at Clinton Elementary in Lincoln. “I am very happy that the children of Nebraska will continue to benefit from this program and that our schools are embracing this opportunity to teach young people to ‘know your farmer, know your food.’”

The Nebraska crunches spent an estimated total of $14,300 on local foods. In the U.S., every dollar spent on farm to school activities generates $0.60 to $2.16 in economic activity.

Tamara Yarmon, nutrition services director at Omaha Public Schools, said the biggest challenge in supporting local producers is making the commitment. She has successfully worked with distributors to procure from Nebraska produce farmers as well as from larger local companies, such as Tecumseh Poultry.

“Procuring local food keeps people employed, highlights what’s produced in Nebraska, and shows students where their food comes from,” she said. “Local food needs to be a part of our culture, it needs to stay in the schools after folks move on or retire. You can’t think of it as a goal to achieve but as a continued effort that will last.”

“Nebraska’s Crunch Off victory is another step in helping create this culture,” Carter said.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Supports Revenue Committee’s Property Tax, School Funding Reform Proposal

A proposal by the Legislature’s Revenue Committee that seeks to lower property taxes and reform the way Nebraska funds K-12 schools has gained the support of the Nebraska Farm Bureau. According to Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson LB 974 makes progress in several areas of concern for the organization.

“LB 974 is a good bill. It provides property tax relief for all Nebraskans, including farm and ranch families who’ve experienced the greatest property tax increases. It also puts the state on the path of taking back responsibility for funding K-12 education; a responsibility that’s been pushed more and more onto property owners over the years,” said Nelson.

The property tax savings in the bill are achieved largely by using state dollars to replace property taxes now used to fund schools. The bill lowers property valuations for purposes of calculating state aid to schools in the state’s aid formula. The bill also directly lowers valuations for purpose of calculating property taxes due to local school districts.

Nelson says LB 974 also addresses a long-standing concern the organization has had as it relates to the treatment of Nebraska students.

“Under our current school funding system we have situations where the state is paying for the vast majority of the basic education costs for students in some school districts, while at the same time students in others schools, many of them rural in nature, receive little to no state support in comparison. We believe the state has an obligation to help pay for the basic education of all students, regardless of where they live,” said Nelson. “LB 974 moves in a positive direction by guaranteeing that at least 15 percent of the basic education costs of a school are provided for by the state, in addition to establishing additional per-student foundation aid for all schools.”

A public hearing before the Revenue Committee on LB 974 is scheduled for Wed. Jan. 22 at 1:30 p.m. (CT) in room 1524 of the State Capitol.

“I encourage Nebraskans to let their senator know that they support this important piece of legislation that recognizes the importance of quality education for our students, while respecting the need to reduce property tax pressures on Nebraska taxpayers,” said Nelson.

March 1, 2020, deadline for soybean farmers interested in United Soybean Board nominations

The Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) is looking for soybean farmers interested in filling one of Nebraska’s four director positions with the United Soybean Board (USB), for a three-year term.

USB is made up of 78 volunteer farmer-leaders who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of meal, oil and sustainability, focusing on programs and partnerships that drive demand and preference for U.S. soy. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.

Any farmer interested in applying needs to meet the following criteria:
-    Be involved in a farming operation that grows soybeans
-    Be a resident of Nebraska
-    Be at least 21 years of age

To be considered for the national leadership position, interested farmers need to submit a USDA Background Information Form before the March 1, 2020, deadline. To obtain this form, contact Victor Bohuslavsky at the Nebraska Soybean Board office at 402-432-5720.

The Nebraska Soybean Board members will submit a “first preferred choice nominee” and “second preferred choice alternate” for the open positions to USDA for consideration. The Secretary of Agriculture will make the final appointments. The USDA has a policy that membership on USDA boards and committees is open to all individuals without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation and martial or family status. The chosen individual appointed is eligible to serve a total of three consecutive terms.

For more information about the United Soybean Board, visit

USDA Invests $5.7 Million in Broadband for Rural Nebraska Communities

Today, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under Secretary Greg Ibach announced that USDA has invested $5.7 million in a high-speed broadband infrastructure project that will create or improve rural e-Connectivity in parts of three Nebraska counties. The investment is expected to connect 489 rural households, 24 farms and eight businesses to high-speed broadband internet in unserved portions of Madison, Wayne and Pierce counties. This is one of many funding announcements in the first round of USDA’s ReConnect Pilot Program investments.

“From my experience on my family’s farm to my time as Nebraska’s Director of Agriculture, I know first-hand that high-speed broadband internet connectivity is essential to making agricultural businesses more efficient and profitable,” Ibach said. “While serving the state of Nebraska, I saw the potential impact that high-speed broadband would have not only for agricultural producers, but for everyone in our community. It is a privilege to now serve at USDA, under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, and see the Administration make the deployment of this critical infrastructure in rural America a top priority.”

Eastern Nebraska Telephone Company will use a $5.7 million ReConnect Program grant to construct 221 miles of fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband infrastructure. The company will use matching funds of $1.9 million to complete the project, for a total project cost of $7.6 million. Eastern is a certificated local exchange carrier providing broadband service to its eight exchanges in eastern Nebraska. The company, headquartered in Blair, Neb., provides long-distance and wireline voice to all its exchange areas and high-speed broadband service to select areas.

USDA Announces High-Speed Broadband Investment for Rural Nebraska

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Commerce and Agriculture Committees and a long-time advocate for expanding connectivity in rural America, released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it has invested $5.7 million in high-speed broadband infrastructure to create and improve rural e-connectivity in three Nebraska counties:

“High-speed internet access is an essential resource for Nebraska families, agriculture, communities and businesses. Whether you live in a rural area or a city, it’s critical that we continue deploying and strengthening our broadband infrastructure. I applaud the USDA for making this investment in the Heartland,” said Senator Fischer.

More information:

The $5.7 million investment comes through the USDA’s ReConnect Program, and will be awarded to Eastern Nebraska Telephone Company to construct 221 miles of fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband infrastructure in unserved portions of Madison, Wayne, and Pierce counties. The investment is expected to connect 489 rural households, 24 farms, and eight businesses.

In March 2018, Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America. On Dec. 13, 2018, Secretary Perdue announced the rules of the ReConnect Program, including how the loans and grants will be awarded to help build broadband infrastructure in rural America.

In November, Senator Fischer joined her colleagues in writing a letter to the USDA urging the agency to make adjustments to the ReConnect Program’s application process to reduce barriers and encourage fuller participation, which the USDA committed to incorporating.

Register Now for the 22nd Annual Iowa Farmers Market Association Workshop

Registration for the 22nd annual Iowa Farmers Market Association Workshop is now open. The event, organized by the Iowa Farmers Market Association with assistance from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, will take place on Feb. 8, 2020. It will be held at the Grace Lutheran Church, 3010 52nd Street, Des Moines, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The workshop brings together farmers market managers and vendors from around the state to share ideas about promoting and growing their markets.

This year's guest speaker is Dr. Alphonso Morales, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in the Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Morales will take an in-depth look at the history of markets and describe how markets can position themselves as community assets.

Other topics that will be covered during the workshop include grant funding opportunities, enhancing markets with food trucks, a look at Farmers Market Coalition metrics in Iowa, updates on the Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), the Iowa Sensitive Crop Registry, Double Up Food Bucks Program, and a question and answer period with staff from the Iowa Food and Consumer Safety Bureau. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will perform scale inspections and licensing and conduct a training session for the FMNP.

New this year, participants have the option to register and pay online through Eventbrite. Attendees can also view the full agenda or download a printable registration form on the IFMA website at

Questions about the event can be directed to Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship State Horticulturist Paul Ovrom at or 515-242-6239.

Farm Lending Declines at End of 2019

Nathan Kauffman, Vice President and Omaha Branch Executive
Ty Kreitman, Assistant Economist

Farm lending activity declined for a second consecutive quarter at commercial banks as 2019 closed. A reduction in non-real estate farm lending, particularly for operating loans, was the primary contributor to a reduced volume of loans at banks with portfolios concentrated in agriculture. The declines came alongside an additional reduction in production expenses, but reduced loan demand likely also was due to an increase in revenue from government payments (Market Facilitation Program) connected to trade disputes that lingered through the year.

Fourth Quarter National Farm Loan Data

The volume of agricultural lending at commercial banks remained elevated, but declined for a second consecutive quarter. Total non-real estate farm loans decreased about 12 percent in the fourth quarter and declined over consecutive quarters for the first time since early 2017. Following average annual growth of more than 10 percent in 2017 and 2018 and several quarters of sharp increases, lending activity contracted in the second half of the year and, on average, was 5 percent lower in 2019.

Despite decreasing from a year ago, farm lending volumes remained higher than the 20-year average. Total volume of non-real estate loans averaged about $90 billion in 2019 and was about 8 percent above the average since 1999. Overall, persistent weaknesses in the farm sector have continued to stimulate strong demand for agricultural lending, although Market Facilitation Program payments in the second half of 2019 and relatively strong crop yields may have curbed demand in the fourth quarter. In fact, on a rolling four-quarter basis, farm lending has been above the recent historical norm for all but three quarters since 2014.

The slight pullback in agricultural lending during 2019 was driven by a decrease in the volume of operating loans and lending at banks with large farm loan portfolios. Nearly all of the $6 billion decline in the average volume of non-real estate loans in 2019 was attributed to operating loans. In addition, non-real estate lending at banks with farm loan portfolios larger than $25 million decreased about $8 billion, but increased more than $2 billion at banks below that threshold in 2019.

In addition to recent government payments and increased production, lower production expenses likely also have limited demand for farm loans. Adjusted for inflation, 2019 agricultural production expenses were more than 15 percent lower than the historical highs in 2014. Similarly, farm operating and livestock loans have edged lower in 2019 and have declined about 9 percent since 2014. A decrease in crop input expenses and lower feed costs accounted for the majority of the decline in total expenses, and that drop has contributed to a modest reduction in demand for credit.

Alongside reduced loan volumes in the fourth quarter, the average interest rate and maturity of new loans declined slightly. Interest rates on all loan types remained well below the 20-year average while maturities remained slightly above the average for most loan types. The decline in both interest rates and maturities was largest for machinery and equipment loans. In addition, the decreases also were slightly greater at banks with larger farm loan portfolios.

Third Quarter Call Report Data

Farm loans outstanding at commercial banks declined through the third quarter, according to Call Report data. Total agricultural loans decreased from the previous year for the first time since 2011, due primarily to the exit of a large agricultural loan portfolio from commercial bank reporting. Excluding all loans at that institution, farm real estate debt increased 3 percent and non-real estate loan balances were little changed. Increases in farm real estate loans continued to support steady growth in total agricultural debt at commercial banks through the third quarter, but the pace of growth slowed.

As farm debt at commercial banks has increased in recent years, lending also has become more concentrated among a smaller share of institutions. Banks with farm loan portfolios greater than $250 million held 36 percent of outstanding balances through the third quarter, compared with 23 percent in 2000. General inflation has contributed to the growth in the size of farm loan portfolios at larger institutions. However, consolidation and other factors also are likely to have contributed to an increased concentration of agricultural lending at commercial banks.

Delinquency rates on farm loans continued to increase at a modest pace through the third quarter alongside elevated levels of farm debt. While remaining historically low, loans that were considered past due at banks with the largest farm loan portfolios were higher than at institutions smaller in size. Since 2015, the share of farm loans past due at banks with farm loan portfolios more than $500 million have been about 70 basis points higher than the rate at all banks.

Despite an ongoing trend of increasing delinquency rates on farm loans, financial performance has remained relatively strong at agricultural banks. The return on assets at agricultural banks remained at a 20-year high, increasing slightly from a year ago. Moreover, even as profit margins among agricultural producers have remained subdued, returns at agricultural banks have kept pace with most other banks in recent years.

Third Quarter Regional Agricultural Data

Similar to national trends, regional Federal Reserve surveys of agricultural credit conditions also indicated that demand for farm loans increased at a slower pace than recent years. While loan demand remained strong overall, the share of bankers reporting higher farm loan demand was lower in nearly all participating Districts. The pace slowed the most in the Minneapolis District and loan demand continued to contract in the Dallas District.

Alongside a slight increase in farm loan delinquency rates, regional contacts continued to report declines in farm loan repayment rates. The pace of decline in repayment rates increased from a year ago in all Districts expect Chicago. The pace of decline increased moderately in the Dallas and St. Louis Districts and slightly in Kansas City and Minneapolis.

Similar to recent quarters, farm real estate values remained relatively stable. The average value of non-irrigated farmland in all participating Districts changed less than 2 percent in the third quarter. Declines were slightly larger in the northern most states during the third quarter, but remained modest; values increased slightly in Texas and Oklahoma.


The volume of new farm loans originated at commercial banks remained above recent historical norms, but continued to ease in the fourth quarter. The decrease in lending activity was driven by operating loans, which have declined in the past several years alongside relatively lower agricultural production expenses and, more recently, government payments. However, delinquency rates on farm loans continued to edge higher and the outlook for farm finances in 2020 will depend critically on cash flow projections and the need for financing operating loans in the new year.

USDA Reminds Producers to Pay Their Crop Insurance Premiums by January 31

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA) is reminding producers that their crop insurance premiums for the 2019 crop year are due January 31. Under this change, policies that do not have the premium paid by January 31, 2020, will have interest attach on February 1, calculated from the date of the premium billing notice.

USDA had deferred to January 31, 2020, the accrual of interest on 2019 crop year insurance premiums for most policies with a premium billing date of August 15, 2019, to help the large number of farmers and ranchers affected by extreme weather in 2019.

“At USDA, we understood the challenges that farmers and ranchers faced due to inclement weather last year, so we deferred the interest to give producers additional time to pay their premium, which is now due on January 31,” RMA Administrator Martin Barbre said. “We urge producers to make their premium payment on time to ensure they don’t get charged interest back to their premium billing notice date.”

The extended interest deferral built on other steps taken by USDA to support farmers and ranchers impacted by flooding and other disasters. As of January 13, RMA has paid roughly $8.1 billion in overall claims for the 2019 crop year.

Producers are encouraged to contact their crop insurance agents for more information or assistance.

USDA Announces School and Summer Meals Reforms

Delivering on his promise to act on feedback from dietary professionals, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced two proposals today that will put local school and summer food service operators back in the driver’s seat of their programs, because they know their children best. Under the school meals proposed rule, school nutrition professionals have more flexibility to serve appetizing and healthy meals that appeal to their students’ preferences and subsequently reduce food waste. The proposed rule also encourages state and local operators to focus resources on feeding children rather than administrative paperwork. These improvements build on the 2018 reforms that preserve strong nutrition standards while providing schools the additional flexibilities they need to best serve America's students.

“Schools and school districts continue to tell us that there is still too much food waste and that more common-sense flexibility is needed to provide students nutritious and appetizing meals. We listened and now we’re getting to work,” said Secretary Perdue. “Our proposed changes empower schools to give their very best to our children nationwide and have the potential to benefit nearly 100,000 schools and institutions that feed 30 million children each school day through USDA’s school meal programs. Providing children with wholesome, nutritious food is part of our motto at USDA, which is to ‘do right and feed everyone.’”


The school meals proposed rule would continue to ensure children receive wholesome, tasty meals that provide the nutrition they need to grow and thrive, while offering increased flexibilities for local school districts to serve children food they will want to eat, by:
    Allowing local schools to offer more vegetable varieties, while keeping plenty of veggies in each meal;
    Making it easier for schools to offer school lunch entrees for a la carte purchase, thereby reducing food waste;
    Providing schools options to customize meal patterns to best serve children in different grades or smaller schools who eat together;
    Supporting a more customized school breakfast environment by letting schools adjust fruit servings and making it simpler to offer meats/meat alternates, ultimately encouraging breakfast options outside the cafeteria so students can start their day with a healthy breakfast; and
    Shifting to a performance-focused administrative review process that is less burdensome and time consuming, which would increase collaboration with operators to improve program integrity.

USDA also proposed another rule with customer-focused reforms to the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which serves more than 2.6 million children during the summer months, when they are at higher risk of food insecurity and poor nutrition because they do not have access to school meals. The summer feeding rule offers operators more local control to better serve children by:
    Providing more flexibilities in choosing meal offerings, meal service times, and allowing children to take certain nonperishable food items offsite;
    Granting tested and proven flexibilities that make it easier for sponsors and sites to participate by reducing paperwork and streamlining the application process for high-performing, experienced operators;
    Balancing program integrity and flexibility with stronger monitoring to help sponsors maximize their resources; and
    Clarifying performance standards and eligibility requirements for sites.

USDA remains committed to listening to and collaborating with customers, partners, and stakeholders to make these proposed reforms as effective as possible and encourages all those who are interested in school meals, summer meals, and all child nutrition programs to comment on the proposals once they publish on

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) works to reduce food insecurity and promote nutritious diets among the American people. The agency administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage American’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. FNS also co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provide science-based nutrition recommendations and serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy.

ACE: Mexico Supreme Court rules against E10 implementation process, not the product

This week, the Mexico Supreme Court ruled against the regulation allowing for higher ethanol content in gasoline, based on the way in which the Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE) implemented the change in 2017. In July of that year, the CRE decided to increase the maximum content of ethanol in gasoline as an oxygenate to 10 percent, up from 5.8 percent, outside of the major metropolitan areas of Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey in the regulatory standard NOM-016-CRE-2016. American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Senior Vice President and Market Development Director Ron Lamberty traveled to Mexico on behalf of the U.S. Grains Council over the past few years participating in technical ethanol workshops to educate fuel retailers and equipment suppliers about offering E10. Lamberty released the following statement after the Court’s ruling:

“The Mexico Supreme Court ruled against the process, not the product, and the oil/MTBE industry can't really be happy the court said the CRE needs to weigh economic benefit (which clearly favors ethanol) against risks to the environment (which also favor ethanol). The ruling won't go into effect for 180 days, and proving ethanol is cheaper and better than MTBE for the environment shouldn't even take 180 minutes.

“Oil and MTBE’s strategy translates in any language. They can't win based on science, so they try to throw a stick in ethanol’s spokes by going to the courts and filing a multitude of lawsuits to prevent ethanol from competing in the marketplace. In the rare instance they win a case, Big Oil distorts the decision as some sort of scientific indictment of ethanol, but lawyers and judges aren’t scientists, and I doubt any of them even believe gas, oil or MTBE is better for the environment than ethanol.”

U.S. Wheat Associates Board of Directors Elect Officers for 2020/21

The U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) board of directors elected new officers for the 2020/21 (July to June) fiscal year at their meeting Jan 17, 2020, in Washington, D.C. The board elected Michael Peters of Okarche, Okla. as Secretary-Treasurer; Rhonda Larson of East Grand Forks, Minn., as Vice Chairman; Darren Padget of Grass Valley, Ore., as Chairman. These farmers will begin their new leadership roles at the USW board meeting in June 2020 when current Chairman Doug Goyings of Paulding, Ohio, will become Past Chairman. USW is the export market development organization for the U.S. wheat industry.

"I'm excited. We have a great team here at U.S. Wheat Associates," Peters said after his election as the next USW officer. "I'm sure there will be many challenges ahead but I'm looking forward to tackling them."

Peters said being asked to represent Oklahoma wheat farmers in Italy, Israel and Morocco first peaked his interest in the work being done overseas to promote U.S. wheat. "It is very important to for us to build upon those relationships and support to increase overseas demand," he added.

Michael Peters is a farmer and rancher growing hard red winter wheat and canola, and winter grazing stocker cattle on wheat. Peters is President of his local CHS Coop Board, is a member of the Okarche Rural Fire Fighters' Association Board. He has also served as President of  St. John’s Lutheran Church. He currently serves as a Commissioner and Secretary of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission. As a USW Director, Peters serves as Chairman of the Wheat Quality Committee. He has participated in several farm leadership programs sponsored by CHS and the National Wheat Foundation. Peters and his wife Linda have two teenage boys who work with him and his father on their farm.

Rhonda Larson was raised on her family’s Red River Valley farm and has been engaged in the operation full-time for nearly 30 years. Her father started the farm 51 years ago growing potatoes, wheat and barley. With her two brothers and her son, the third generation on the farm, they currently grow wheat and sugarbeets. Larson has been a board member of the Minnesota Wheat Research & Promotion Council for 17 years; serving as chair from 2010 to 2012. She served on the Wheat Foods Council board and is a long-time member of the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers and the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association. As a USW director, she served on the Long-Range Planning Committee and the Budget Committee. Larson received a bachelor’s degree in public administration and a juris doctor’s degree in law from the University of North Dakota.

Darren Padget is a fourth-generation farmer in Oregon’s Sherman County, with a dryland wheat and summer fallow rotation currently producing registered and certified seed on 3,400 acres annually. Previously, Padget held positions on the Oregon Wheat Growers League board of directors and executive committee for seven years, serving as president in 2010. He chaired the Research and Technology Committee for the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and served on the Mid-Columbia Producers board of directors, for which he was an officer for 10 years.

Doug Goyings’ family has been farming in northwestern Ohio since 1884. Together with his wife Diane, son Jeremy, daughter-in-law Jessica and his twin grandsons, Goyings grows soft red winter (SRW) and has hosted numerous trade teams on their farm. With more than 35 years of experience representing wheat and Ohio agriculture, Goyings has been a member of the USW board while serving as a director for the Ohio Small Grains Checkoff Board since 2009 and is a past chairman of the USW Long-Range Planning Committee. He is also a past-president of his local Farm Bureau and previously sat on the board of directors for the Ohio Veal Growers Inc., Creston Veal, Inc., and Paulding Landmark, Inc.

Alltech launches relief effort for Australian farmers

Even as rain begins to fall in some parts of Australia, wildfires continue to devastate large portions of the country. The fires have already destroyed an estimated 10 million hectares, claiming 25 lives and killing wildlife and livestock. Alltech, a leading animal nutrition company, is lending its support to the country’s agriculture industry, launching a global fundraising effort for farmers and pledging to match donations dollar-for-dollar. The Australia Farming Relief Fund will provide goods and services directly to producers and will be coordinated on the ground by Alltech family companies Alltech Lienert Australia and KEENAN Australia. 

“The Australia Farming Relief Fund represents a coordinated effort among our Alltech family, suppliers, customers and the global agriculture industry to support the producers who feed our families and are the core of our rural communities,” said Mark Peebles, managing director of Alltech Lienert, which is located in Roseworthy, Australia. “The bushfires have been devastating, but Australians are resilient, and we are committed to rallying around our farmers as they recover from this crisis.”

As farmers assess the damage, the loss of livestock is expected to exceed 100,000. Producers, who were already contending with a three-year drought, are struggling to secure supplies and feed.

Alltech Lienert and KEENAN Australia will use their resources to distribute supplies either donated locally or purchased using donations from the Australia Farming Relief Fund. Such supplies will include hay, finished feed, feed supplements, silage, water troughs, fencing and non-perishable items. The companies will deploy their trucks and drivers to deliver supplies to producers in Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland. Team members will also volunteer their time to work alongside farmers, rebuilding fences, repairing sheds and providing any on-farm support they need.

The effort will initially focus on dairies, sheep and beef farms, and apiaries. Alltech is also exploring partnerships that will offer longer-term mental health support for farmers grappling with trauma as a result of the fires.   

Thursday January 16 Ag News + USMCA Passage

New crops, cow-calf budgets available for 2020

Two decision-making tools created by Nebraska Extension for agricultural producers across the state have been updated for the new year.

The 2020 Nebraska crop budgets and new representative cow-calf budgets are now available to provide producers with cost-of-production estimates.

Both sets of budgets are available as PDFs and Excel files, which feature tools that allow users to enter their own information into worksheets to calculate their estimated production costs.

“Both the crop and livestock budget files are made available online so producers can download, then modify production and expense figures to more closely match their various enterprises,” said Glennis McClure, an extension educator in the Department of Agricultural Economics. “Understanding enterprise cost of production in agriculture is important in product mix decision making, pricing, marketing, and financial analysis.”

The crop budgets include 82 production budgets for 15 crops produced in Nebraska, along with cost data for power, machinery and labor. They were compiled by a team led by Robert Klein, an extension western Nebraska crops specialist, and McClure, utilizing a template created by Roger Wilson, a retired extension farm and ranch management analyst.

There are five cow-calf budgets that offer representative herd data for different regions of the state. Background stories are included to assist producers with information relevant to each budget, which may guide producers in determining their own costs. McClure led the cow-calf budget effort as they were compiled from information gathered from producer panels that have met as part of the university’s multidisciplinary Beef Systems Initiative.

Rural Mainstreet Index Begins 2020 on Strong Footing: Bank Loans to Farms Lowest in Almost 7 Years

The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) for January climbed to its highest level since June 2018. January’s reading marked the fifth straight month the reading has moved above growth neutral according to the monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy.     

Overall: While the overall index for January rose to 55.9 from 50.2 in December. It was the 11th time in the past 12 months that the index has risen above growth neutral 50.0.

 “Only 17.7% of bank CEOs reported that their local economy was in an economic downturn.  This is an improvement from one year ago when 22.9% indicated that their local economy was in a recession, or economic downturn,” said Ernie Goss, PhD, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business. 

Farming and ranching: After moving above growth neutral last month, the farmland and ranchland-price index fell to 45.6 from December’s much stronger reading of 52.8. This is the 73rd time in the past 74 months that the index has fallen below growth neutral.

While farm land prices have weakened for several years, property taxes on that land have tended to rise. Two of three Nebraska bankers reported property taxes as a significant factor reducing farm profitability, while only one in 10 non-Nebraska bankers indicated property taxes were a significant factor reducing farm profitability," said Goss.

The January farm equipment-sales index increased to a weak 35.0 from December’s 27.9. This marks the 76th month that the reading has remained below growth neutral 50.0. 

This month, bankers were asked to project farm equipment sales for 2020. On average, bank CEOs expect sales to decline by 4.2% this year.
Below are the state results:

Nebraska: The Nebraska RMI for January increased to 49.1 from December’s 44.3. The state’s farmland-price index fell to 44.8 from last month’s 52.1. Nebraska’s new-hiring index slumped to 45.8 from December’s 53.4. Over the past 12 months rural areas in Nebraska lost jobs at a rate of minus 1.1% compared to a gain of 2.6% for urban areas of the state. 

Iowa: The January RMI for Iowa increased to 56.1 from December’s 53.5. Iowa’s farmland-price index slumped to 45.3 from December’s 52.5. Iowa’s new-hiring index for January advanced to 57.2 from December’s 48.7. Over the past 12 months rural areas in Iowa have experienced job losses with employment growth at minus 0.6% compared to a stronger 1.1% for urban areas of the state.

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.

Nebraska Beef Council Board Meeting January  29, 2020

The Nebraska Beef Council Board of Directors will meet at the NBC office in Kearney located at 1319 Central Ave. on Wednesday January 29, 2020 beginning at 10:00 a.m. CST. The NBC Board of Directors will have election of officers and review the final audit report for FY- 2018-2019. For more information, please contact Pam Esslinger at

RFA’s Cooper Offers Outlook for Ethanol’s Future at Iowa Summit

As the keynote speaker at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit today, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper shared four ethanol predictions for the new decade and recapped the successes and tribulations of 2019.

“What made 2019 such an especially frustrating year is that our policy and regulatory wins were often overshadowed by new obstacles and unexpected setbacks,” Cooper said. “At every turn, it seemed our hard-fought victories were eclipsed by new impediments and a general sense of malaise and cynicism in the marketplace.”

Cooper cited many policy successes for the industry, from approval of year-round E15 and a presidential visit to an Iowa ethanol plant to EPA finally including measures to reallocate RFS blending volumes lost to small refinery exemptions. Despite these victories, he said, the “promise of new demand evaporated when trade wars crimped export opportunities and EPA doled out dozens of secret refinery waivers.”

Cooper also offered four predictions for the new decade. First and foremost was that the battle over the Renewable Fuel Standard will not only continue but intensify. “We know refiners are already working to recast the post-2022 RFS into something that limits the use of ethanol and other biofuels and fails to drive further growth,” he said. “We can’t let that happen. That’s why we are redoubling our efforts to ensure the RFS remains intact as the transformative and growth-oriented program Congress intended it to be in 2023 and well beyond.”

Going into 2020 and beyond, Cooper also predicted that low carbon fuel standards will spread; that with thawing trade wars, U.S. ethanol exports will resume vigorous growth; and that—at some point in this decade—E15 will become the standard gasoline blend in the United States.

Regarding the last of these, Cooper reminded his audience of the history of E10. “Twenty-five years after its commercial introduction, E10 still only accounted for about 20 percent of total US gasoline sales,” he said. “But in just seven years—between 2003 and 2010—E10 saw hockey-stick growth and went from about 20 percent of the market to almost 100 percent of the market.”

Closing his speech with a note of optimism, Cooper ended with a fifth prediction that flows from these prior ones: “Ethanol’s best and brightest days are ahead of us!”

Organized by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit is taking place this year in Altoona, Iowa.

New USB-FFAR Partnership Boosts Protein in Soybeans

A $3.2 million investment between the United Soybean Board (USB) and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) is enhancing the U.S. soy industry’s competitive advantage, driving opportunities for American soybean farmers. This partnership specifically funds research to improve the protein content and quality of U.S. soybeans while protecting yield.

“Leveraging USB funds in this manner with other public and private collaborators extends the reach and potential impact of USB investments, as well as increases buy-in from key value chain partners,” says USB Vice President of Meal Strategy Keenan McRoberts. “USB will continue to seek and act on opportunities like this to amplify the soy checkoff’s investment reach, impact and returns through critical partnerships and leveraged funding sources.”

USB and FFAR are co-funding soybean research to support four projects:
    Dr. George Graef, with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is leading an interdisciplinary team to improve genetic diversity, seed composition and yield of soybeans using highly productive soybean genetic resources, breeding, genomics, and biotechnology to identify and understand key genes involved in soybean seed protein composition. It also includes developing soybeans capable of producing a 48% protein meal and 11 pounds of oil per bushel, with good amino acid balance and yield that meet or exceed yield of elite varieties in MG 0 to V. This project received $778,078 from USB and $651,673 from FFAR for a total award of $1,429,751, with funding available through September 2021.

    Dr. Rouf Mian, with USDA-North Carolina State University, is utilizing genetically diverse soybeans and wild relatives to develop new germplasm varieties with consistently elevated protein and yields comparable to commercial varieties. The project aims to release at least five soybean varieties capable of producing more than 48% meal protein and higher yields. The project received $810,114 from USB and $695,020 from FFAR for a total award of $1,505,134, with funding available through September 2020.

    Dr. Doug Allen, with USDA-Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, is identifying the novel amino acid composition genes in the mutant variety and taking advantage of a new analytical method to create a more nutritious soybean. Soybean meal, considered a gold standard to which most protein sources are compared, contains an inadequate amount of sulfur amino acids. Earlier research uncovered soybeans with enhanced sulfur-containing amino acids in a mutant variety. USB contributed $96,578 and FFAR invested $80,886 for a total award of $177,464, with funding available through September 2020.

    Dr. Yong-Qiang An, with USDA-Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, is identifying the genes that result in elevated protein and using them in breeding efforts of commercial soybean varieties. The identification and validation of these genes has the potential to create both a more nutritious soybean as well as a more profitable one for farmers. The project was awarded $86,468 from USB and $72,421 from FFAR for a total award of $158,889, with funding available through September 2020.

“The protein content in soybeans, on average, is decreasing,” says Sally Rockey, Ph.D., FFAR’s executive director. “By partnering with USB, we are investing in research to increase the protein content of U.S. soybeans. This research not only helps U.S. soybean farmers remain competitive, but also adds additional protein to the food supply.”

 “Our goal is to meet the needs of U.S. soy customers around the globe who seek increased protein content and consistent, high-quality soybeans,” says USB Chair and Arkansas farmer Jim Carroll. “We also have a commitment to protect yields, which supports both environmental and financial sustainability.”

FFAR has invested $1.5 million, and with matching funding from USB, this partnership is contributing more than $3 million to this research. These projects went through USB’s competitive FY20 funding process. In looking forward to 2021, USB’s FY21 Request for Pre-Proposals can be found at

In addition to identifying ways to improve crude protein content and overall quality of U.S. soybeans, USB also anticipates the findings will help strengthen the U.S. soybean industry’s position in the marketplace, developing and expanding domestic and foreign markets.

McRoberts adds, “Protein is the fundamental building block of our food supply, and a Protein First approach, extending access to plant- and animal-based foods with this key macronutrient, is a priority for the U.S. soy community.”

Peterson, Costa Welcome Funding for Farm Bill Animal Pest and Disease Programs, Progress on Vaccine Bank

Following an announcement from USDA on the award of $10.2 million in funding for animal pest and disease prevention and management efforts and the request for vaccine bank Foot and Mouth Disease proposals, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson of Minnesota, and House Agriculture Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman Jim Costa of California issued the following statement. Both Peterson and Costa led bipartisan efforts to include of mandatory, long-term funding for these programs to ensure the U.S. has tools to address disease risks including African Swine Fever, Avian Influenza, Virulent Newcastle Disease, and Food and Mouth Disease.

“In the last Farm Bill, we fought hard to establish and fund the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program (NADPRP) and the new National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank as well as reauthorize the National Animal Health Laboratory Network. As our committee oversees Farm Bill implementation, we are pleased to see USDA moving forward on all three of these programs. These important tools will help prevent and respond to animal pests and diseases, help keep animals healthy and ensure markets stay open. We look forward to seeing these programs address an even wider range of prevention and mitigation activities in future years.”

USDA Announces Plenary Speakers for the 2020 Agricultural Outlook Forum

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announces plenary speakers for the 2020 Agricultural Outlook Forum (AOF), to be held Feb. 20–21, 2020, in Arlington, Va., under the theme “The Innovation Imperative: Shaping the Future of Agriculture.”

The opening plenary session will feature a fireside chat between Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and John Hartnett, Founder and CEO of SVG Ventures, a platform of corporations, universities, and investors focused on the food and agriculture industries. Secretary Perdue and Mr. Hartnett will discuss the future of agriculture, challenges facing the sector, and emerging solutions that could address them.

The fireside discussion will be followed by a panel titled “Innovation as a solution for farmers,” which will bring together industry leaders to speak about various aspects of innovation and implications for farmers. Speakers at the plenary panel include:
    Frank Yiannas, Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
    Jeff Broin, founder of POET
    Shari Rogge-Fidler, President of Farm Foundation

The session will be moderated by John Newton, Chief Economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Also during the Thursday morning session, USDA Chief Economist Robert Johansson will unveil the Department’s outlook for U.S. commodity markets and trade in 2020 and discuss the U.S. farm income situation.

Along with the plenary presentations, Forum attendees can choose from 30 sessions with more than 90 speakers. Among the concurrent track sessions and topics supporting this year’s theme are: innovations in agriculture, global trade trends, food loss and waste, frontiers in conservation, and the science of food safety. Participants can also take part in a pre-forum field trip on February 19, which will feature a local urban farm enterprise and a visit with scientists who conduct research on microgreens, locally adapted fruit varieties and other urban farming topics at USDA’s Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. A nominal fee covers transportation and a boxed lunch.

Now in its 96th year, the Agricultural Outlook Forum is USDA’s largest annual meeting and the sector’s premier event, attracting around 1,600 attendees each year from the U.S. and abroad. The forum highlights key issues and timely topics affecting the agriculture sector, offering a platform for exchanging information and ideas among producers, processors, policymakers, government officials, and non-governmental organizations, both foreign and domestic.

USDA Seeks Input on New Ethanol Sales Infrastructure Incentive Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking public input to help with the creation of the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP), a new program that will expand the availability of domestic ethanol and biodiesel by incentivizing the expansion of sales of renewable fuels.

“Feedback from farmers, retailers and biofuels producers is critical to the success of this future program,” Agriculture Secretary Perdue said. “Under the leadership of President Trump, USDA remains committed to fulfilling a key promise to American farmers to enhance the promotion of biofuels."

President Trump has made it abundantly clear he is unleashing the full potential of American energy production as we retake our rightful place as the world’s leader and become energy independent. Expanding the sale of biofuels will provide consumers with more choices when they fill up at the pump, including environmentally friendly fuel with decreased emissions, driving demand for our farmers and improving the air we breathe.

Growth Energy welcomes USDA outreach on biofuel infrastructure plan

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a request for information on biofuel infrastructure priorities, seeking feedback from stakeholders on a key element of president’s promise to expand markets for higher ethanol blends like E15. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor issued the following statement: 

“We appreciate the USDA’s outreach, and we look forward to sharing our insights on efforts to expand the availability of cleaner, lower-cost fuel options. Restoring integrity to the Renewable Fuel Standard and breaking down market barriers to higher ethanol blends are pillars of the president’s commitment to farm families and rural workers, and positive results are well overdue. Smart infrastructure investments will support rural jobs and allow more drivers across the nation to take advantage of the administration’s move to unleash sales of E15 year-round.” 

Working hand-in-hand with Prime the Pump, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping build the infrastructure and distribution of higher biofuel blends, Growth Energy has doubled the number of E15 stations five years in a row to include more than 2,000 stations across 30 states.

The USDA announced on Jan. 16, 2020 they are seeking input from all interested parties on a Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP). USDA is exploring options to expand domestic ethanol and biodiesel availability and is seeking information on opportunities to consider infrastructure projects to facilitate increased sales of higher biofuel blends (E15/B20 or higher.) This effort will build on biofuels infrastructure investments and experience gained through the Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership (BIP). USDA administered BIP from 2016-2019 through state and private partners to expand the availability of E15 and E85 infrastructure to make available higher ethanol blends at retail gas stations around the country. 

Sen. Roberts, Bushue receive top Farm Bureau honors

The American Farm Bureau Federation will be presenting its highest honors, the Distinguished Service Award and the Farm Bureau Founders Award, to Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Barry Bushue, respectively, during AFBF’s 101st Annual Convention.

AFBF established the Distinguished Service Award in 1928 to honor individuals who have devoted their careers to serving the national interest of American agriculture. The Farm Bureau Founders Award was established in January 2017 to recognize exemplary leadership, service or contributions to Farm Bureau by officers or employees of AFBF and state Farm Bureau organizations.

Sen. Pat Roberts has served Kansas in the U.S. Congress since 1981, first in the House of Representatives then in the U.S. Senate. He is the only member in history to serve as chairman of both the Senate and House Agriculture committees, leading bipartisan coalitions to pass eight farm bills. Sen. Roberts has a long record of bipartisanship on ag issues, highlighted by his public commitment to work side-by-side with Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, to pass the 2018 farm bill.

Sen. Roberts says, “The ag committee is like a family. That’s the way it was in the House and it is now, even through very, very tough times. She [Sen. Stabenow] is a Democrat, I’m a Republican. We don’t vote alike on the floor a lot, but we knew we had to get this bill done. Certainty and predictability – that was the key.”

As a former U.S. Marine, Sen. Roberts chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee for four years, a role which took him to a Soviet-era secret city in 1999. There he reports seeing stockpiles of pathogens, including hoof and mouth disease, an infectious and sometimes fatal disease that affects cloven-hoofed animals, being weaponized. The experience motivated him to help secure funding for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, which is slated to open in two years.

Sen. Roberts is a mentor to many and strong supporter of agriculture in Kansas and across the country. Richard Felts, president of the Kansas Farm Bureau, says, “Sen. Roberts’ retirement is going to create a big void for us in agriculture. He’s been there for quite some time, I won’t say an institution, but has a tremendous amount of experience and tenure. And not only that, he has a lot of respect among his peers that really looked up to him, and we’re going to miss that leadership that he has been able to provide.”

Barry Bushue served as the vice-president of AFBF from 2008-2016 and is known as a tireless worker, mentor and fundraiser. He served as the Oregon Farm Bureau President and on the AFBF Board of Directors, Executive Committee, Trade Advisory Committee and the Vision for Action Task Force. He is a firm believer that farmers and ranchers should get involved in education and the policy making process.

Bushue says, “Activism needs to be a part of your business plan. You budget for fertilizer, you budget for your seed, you budget for maintenance, you budget for all these things you do, new tractors, whatever it is you need. But, if you don’t have a line item that somehow represents an activist piece of what it is you do and show your passion for agriculture, then I think you are missing something on your farm.”

Bushue and his wife, Helen, invite members of the public to their family farm outside Portland, Oregon, to pick various fruits, vegetables, and a fall favorite, pumpkins. Bushue says opening his farm to the public comes with its challenges but he has developed a customer base that recognizes the value of agriculture.

Sharon Waterman, also a former president of the Oregon Farm Bureau, talks about Bushue’s affection for Farm Bureau, “Barry talks about the Farm Bureau family and what we can do as a Farm Bureau family because if we stand together for agriculture, we can move forward.”

Bushue says his father told him if he was going to farm smart, he needed to be part of Farm Bureau, adding, “He said, ‘We’re going to go to the [Farm Bureau] meeting tonight, and you’re going with me. I embraced it and I loved it. I’ve always had a passion for it, I think I inherited that, it’s probably genetics in our family.”

Sen. Pat Roberts was nominated by the Kansas Farm Bureau. Barry Bushue was nominated by the Oregon Farm Bureau. A national Farm Bureau committee selected each of the winners.

Sorghum Checkoff Opens Applications for Leadership Sorghum Class V

The Sorghum Checkoff is accepting applications for Leadership Sorghum Class V, a program designed to develop the next generation of sorghum leaders.

During the 15-month leadership program, class members will be exposed to various aspects of the sorghum industry in addition to personal development and networking opportunities. Through both hands-on and classroom-style learning experiences, class members develop an understanding of how sorghum moves through the value chain, how checkoffs and stakeholder organizations interact on behalf of the industry and what the future holds for sorghum.

“Leadership Sorghum allows for the cultivation of leaders within the sorghum industry who are passionate about the industry and driven to learn more,” Sorghum Checkoff Executive Director Florentino Lopez said. “By investing in this program we are not only investing into the individual class members, but the U.S. sorghum industry as a whole. We are equipping these farmers with skills, knowledge and understanding to be champions for the industry themselves and their local communities.”

USDA-approved criteria state eligible applicants must be farmers actively engaged in sorghum production within the U.S. and U.S. citizens. Fifteen growers will be accepted into the program's fifth class. More information on the class schedule and program criteria can be found at

“Watching each class member grow, learn and experience new things has been so fulfilling,” Sorghum Checkoff Marketing Director and Leadership Sorghum Program Coordinator Shelee Padgett said. “We are equipping each class of Leadership Sorghum with the tools to advocate for sorghum, take new-found knowledge back to their communities and further the industry by becoming involved in leadership positions across the industry.”

Full consideration will be given to all applicants regardless of age, gender, race or occupation. Every effort will be made to select a class, based on the applicant pool, which is representative of the entire sorghum industry, its diversity and rural community interests.

Applications for the program are available at and are due by 5:00 p.m. CST March 27, 2020. The accompanying reference forms must be submitted by the March 27 deadline, as well. Following the application deadline, all applications and references will be reviewed by a selection committee. Finalists may be contacted via phone to arrange an interview.

Ranchers Warned About Dismantled Competitive Infrastructures

R-CALF USA spoke to hundreds of Colorado and New Mexico ranchers during meetings held in Brush and La Junta, Colo. and Las Cruces, N.M. last week and over the weekend.

The Colorado meetings were cosponsored by the Colorado Independent CattleGrowers Association and the Southern Colorado Livestock Association. The Las Cruces, N.M. meeting was sponsored by the Range Allotment Owners Association.

In opening remarks, R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard reported that in November 2019 while U.S. fed steer prices averaged $116 per hundredweight, steers in Argentina, Brazil and Australia averaged about $39, $70, and $88 per hundredweight, respectively.

"You operate in a global marketplace and the goal of the multinational beef complex is to normalize global cattle prices so they can seamlessly source low-cost cattle from anywhere in the world and sell the resulting beef in whichever country pays the highest prices.

"How can you expect to compete against this world supply of cheaper cattle and cheaper beef when packers and retailers who sell beef from your superior U.S. cattle are not required to distinguish it as a U.S. product with a country-of-origin label?" he rhetorically asked the audiences.

Moving on in his presentation titled "Why America is Losing Its Ranches," Bullard explained the trajectory of the U.S. cattle industry is pointed downward as a result of historically shrinking numbers of U.S. cattle producers, U.S. cattle, U.S. feedlots, U.S. livestock auction yards, and U.S. meatpackers.

He said the promises and expectations surrounding the implementation of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of creating more beef demand, more market access, and more opportunities to strengthen the U.S. cattle industry never materialized.

"In fact, the exact opposite occurred. Economic returns to cow/calf producers and feeders were less during the 25 years of NAFTA than they were in the years before NAFTA."

Bullard explained that what was most alarming was the dismantling of the industry's competitive infrastructure during 25 years of NAFTA. He said the industry lost 20% of its cattle operations, 3 million of its mother cows, 75% of its farmer-feeders, 25% of its livestock auction yards, and about 48 meatpackers.

"To remain viable, a livestock industry must maintain a critical mass of competitive infrastructure, meaning you must maintain sufficient numbers of producers, cattle, marketing outlets and all the support businesses needed to sustain robust competition all across the nation. Once you lose those, it's game over because you won't bring them back.

"Just ask your friends in your sister hog, poultry and sheep industries how competitive they are now that their respective competitive infrastructures have been dismantled," he said.

Bullard said the cattle industry still has the critical mass of competitive infrastructure to maintain a competitive industry for its independent producers. But he warned that unless the current trajectory of the industry is changed, the point of no return will soon be reached.

"You can't change this trajectory on your own. That means we must get organized right now so we are strong enough to fix our broken markets, restore mandatory country-of-origin labeling for beef, and stop the government from partnering with multinational companies who are trying to capture control over our live cattle supply chain. We can do this if we stand together as a group dedicated to make needed changes," he concluded.


 Secretary Perdue Statement on Senate Passage of USMCA

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement after the Senate passed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) by a bipartisan vote of 89 – 10.

“We’ve long waited for this day and now USMCA will finally head to the President’s desk,” Secretary Perdue said. “The passage of USMCA is great news for America’s farmers and ranchers. With Congressional consideration now complete, our farmers and ranchers are eager to see the President sign this legislation and begin reaping the benefits of this critical agreement. I thank President Trump and Ambassador Lighthizer for successfully delivering an improved and modern trade agreement and working so hard for the people of American agriculture to get this deal across the finish line.”

USMCA will advance United States agricultural interests in two of the most important markets for American farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses. This high-standard agreement builds upon our existing markets to expand United States food and agricultural exports and support food processing and rural jobs.

Canada and Mexico are our first and second largest export markets for United States food and agricultural products, totaling more than $39.7 billion food and agricultural exports in 2018. These exports support more than 325,000 American jobs.

All food and agricultural products that have zero tariffs under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will remain at zero tariffs. Since the original NAFTA did not eliminate all tariffs on agricultural trade between the United States and Canada, the USMCA will create new market access opportunities for United States exports to Canada of dairy, poultry, and eggs, and in exchange the United States will provide new access to Canada for some dairy, peanut, and a limited amount of sugar and sugar-containing products.

Earlier this year, nearly 1,000 American food and agriculture associations and companies announced their support for USMCA and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture signed a letter to Congressional leadership urging them to ratify USMCA.

In September, all former U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture since President Reagan’s Administration announced support for USMCA. In a letter to Congressional leaders, former Secretaries John Block (Reagan), Mike Espy (Clinton), Dan Glickman (Clinton), Ann Veneman (W. Bush), Mike Johanns (W. Bush), Ed Shafer (W. Bush), and Tom Vilsack (Obama) underscored the importance of passing USMCA saying, “We need a strong and reliable trade deal with our top two customers for U.S. agriculture products. USMCA will provide certainty in the North American market for the U.S. farm sector and rural economy. We strongly support ratification of USMCA.”

Key Provision: Increasing Dairy Market Access
    America’s dairy farmers will have expanded market opportunities in Canada for a wide variety of dairy products. Canada agreed to eliminate the unfair Class 6 and 7 milk pricing programs that allowed their farmers to undersell U.S. producers.

Key Provision: Biotechnology
    For the first time, the agreement specifically addresses agricultural biotechnology – including new technologies such as gene editing – to support innovation and reduce trade-distorting policies.

Key Provision: Geographical Indications
    The agreement institutes a more rigorous process for establishing geographical indicators and lays out additional factors to be considered in determining whether a term is a common name.

Key Provision: Sanitary/Phytosanitary Measures
    The three countries agree to strengthen disciplines for science-based measures that protect human, animal, and plant health while improving the flow of trade.

Key Provision: Poultry and Eggs
    U.S. poultry producers will have expanded access to Canada for chicken, turkey, and eggs.

Key Provision: Wheat
    Canada agrees to terminate its discriminatory wheat grading system, enabling U.S. growers to be more competitive.

Key Provision: Wine and Spirits
    The three countries agree to avoid technical barriers to trade through non-discrimination and transparency regarding sale, distribution, labeling, and certification of wine and distilled spirits.

Fischer Statement on Senate Passing USMCA

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer, a member of Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement today after the Senate passed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA):

“Nebraska’s families, ag producers, and manufacturers depend on access to Canada and Mexico, our state’s two largest export markets. I am happy that Congress got this deal done and look forward to President Trump signing it, securing great opportunities for Nebraska.”

Nebraska Ag and Manufacturing Information:
-        In 2017, Nebraska sent nearly 900 million dollars of ag products to Mexico and nearly 450 million dollars of ag products to Canada

-        Agriculture trade between Canada and Mexico supports nearly 54,000 Nebraska jobs

-        The value of total Nebraska exports to Mexico and Canada in 2018 was $3.5 billion

-        More than 300 Nebraska manufacturing firms depend on exports to Mexico and Canada

-        In 2018, Nebraska exported $2.2 billion in manufacturing goods to Mexico and Canada

Sasse Statement on USMCA Passage

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, an outspoken advocate for Nebraska agriculture and trade, issued the following statement on the passage of the USMCA in the Senate.

"The USMCA trade deal is a huge win for Nebraska agriculture. We've fought long and hard to get here. Nebraskans are tough and the past couple of years have been a hard slog. We don't give up. Our farmers and ranchers literally feed the world, and they do that through trade. This trade deal is going to help provide the stability to go strong. With the USMCA, our state is open for business. Nebraska is going to keep feeding the world."

Ricketts Applauds Senate Passage of USMCA

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts issued the following statement upon ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) by the U.S. Senate.

“Today’s passage of USMCA by the U.S. Senate is a big victory for Nebraska and our ag producers,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “It ensures Nebraska will have the opportunity to grow our relationship with Canada and Mexico, two of the most important markets for our ag products.  I want to thank Senator Fischer, Senator Sasse, and our entire federal delegation for their successful work to deliver USCMA for our farmers and ranchers.”

Nebraska Farm Bureau Praises Senate for Passage of USMCA
Steve Nelson, President

“Nebraska Farm Bureau is pleased with the Senate approval of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). We especially want to thank Senators Fischer and Sasse for their work in moving this agreement forward. This is a victory for Nebraska agriculture and is more good news for farmers and ranchers who now can depend on access to these markets to sell their products.”

“This brings long-term stability to Nebraska agriculture markets with two of Nebraska’s most important trading partners. USMCA ensures Nebraska beef, pork, corn, and soybean producers will maintain essential access to Mexico and Canada markets that account for significant percentages of Nebraska’s overall international agricultural sales. USMCA also opens the door for greater purchases of Nebraska wheat, poultry, and dairy products, as well as modernizing other areas of this critical agreement.”  

Congress Ratifies USMCA: A Great Start to 2020 for Corn Farmers

Today Congress ratified the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) allowing for free trade with our neighboring countries to the north and the south. The bill, which passed with broad support, will now go to President Trump’s desk for his signature. Mexico and Canada are the U.S. corn industry’s largest, most reliable market. In 2018/2019, 21.4 million metric tons of corn and corn co-products were exported to Mexico and Canada. These exports were valued at $4.56 billion. In 2018/2019, Mexico was the top export for U.S. corn and DDGS while Canada was the top export of U.S. ethanol.

“The United States is set up perfectly to trade with our neighbors to the north and south of us,” said Jim Greif Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) President and farmer from Monticello. “The passage of the modernized agreement is a bright spot for corn farmers starting fresh in 2020 as exports are a key market for corn in all forms. Last year was tough for many farmers who faced an excess amount of challenges outside of our control. USMCA demonstrates the commitment for trade agreements for the United States, and ICGA will continue to work for the facilitation of free trade with partners around the world.”

ICGA extends a thank you to members and the Iowa Congressional leaders for their continued efforts to see USMCA to the finish line.

Naig Celebrates the Passing of the USMCA Trade Agreement

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Senate’s vote to ratify the USMCA trade agreement.

“I want to thank President Trump for his commitment to negotiating better trade deals for America’s farmers,” said Secretary Naig. “This year, we’ve secured new agreements with Japan, China, Canada and Mexico — four of our largest trading partners — which gives producers greater market access for their products and a renewed sense of optimism heading into the 2020 growing season.”

    Full implementation of USCMA could increase U.S. agricultural exports by $2.2 billion, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission.

    Iowa exports to Canada in 2018, according to WISERTrade.
        $198 million of ethanol
        $137 million of animal feed
        $108 million of pork
        $7 million of beef
        $86 million of corn
        $44 million of soybeans

    Iowa exports to Mexico in 2018, according to WISERTrade.
        $15 million of ethanol
        $229 million of animal feed
        $112 million of pork
        $1 million of beef
        $546 million of corn
        $224 million of soybeans

Iowa Cattlemen Applaud USMCA

On January 16, the U.S. Senate passed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the final step before President Trump signs the trade bill. This news, along with Phase I of the Chinese trade deal, is welcome to cattle producers in Iowa. 

“USMCA has been a top priority for our association, and we are pleased with the Senate’s vote. We urge President Trump to sign the agreement as soon as possible, in order to provide more opportunity and certainty to Iowa’s farmers, and especially our beef producers,” says Matt Deppe, CEO of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.

As a whole, export markets add over $300 to the value of each head of cattle in Iowa, and Canada and Mexico are responsible for about $70 of that total.

Iowa’s 27,000 beef producers have enjoyed the benefits of the North American Free Trade Agreement over the past 25 years. NAFTA has provided duty-free trade with Canada and Mexico which adds gross value to the cattle that producers raise, feed and market in Iowa.

Mexico is especially important because of the demand for variety meats like tongue, tripe and heart. In the U.S., these cuts are nearly worthless. By exporting them, we are able to capture much greater value.

USMCA preserves the duty-free trade we have benefited from through NAFTA, and supports other agricultural commodities, as well. U.S. farmers export approximately $9.4 billion worth of products to Canada and Mexico annually. Of that total, $1.8 billion comes from the cattle industry and $3.2 billion is from corn and corn co-products.

The agreement was held up for several months as Democrats and Republicans sparred over labor, pharmaceuticals, and partisan politics. The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association has been aggressively advocating for Iowa’s senators and representatives to prioritize the needs of farmers in the state.

“I’d like to thank our board of directors and other members who have made phone calls, sent emails, and written letters to their congressional representatives over the past year. This trade agreement is proof that grassroots advocacy makes a difference,” says Deppe.

NCBA Hails Senate Ratification of USMCA

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Jennifer Houston issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Senate vote to ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA):

"The ratification of USMCA is a crucial win for all U.S. beef producers and a reassurance that U.S. beef will continue to have unrestricted, duty-free access to Canada and Mexico. NCBA has been a strong supporter of USMCA since day one, and we believe that today’s vote sends a strong message to the rest of the world that the United States believes in free and fair trade. We are thankful to every Member of Congress in both House and Senate who voted for USMCA, and we thank President Trump for continuing to secure and defend strong market access for America’s cattlemen and cattlewomen.”

NPPC Applauds Senate for Overwhelmingly Approving USMCA

The U.S. Senate today overwhelmingly approved the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement, which, once implemented, will provide much-needed certainty for U.S. pork producers.

"Ratification of USMCA has been a top priority for the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), and we thank members of the Senate who supported this critical trade deal," said NPPC President David Herring, a hog farmer from Lillington, N.C. "USMCA provides U.S. pork producers with certainty in two of our largest export markets. It received strong support in both chambers of Congress, and we look forward to seeing President Trump sign it into law."

In 2018, Canada and Mexico took more than 40 percent of the pork that was exported from the United States and a similar volume is expected in 2019. U.S. pork exports to Canada and Mexico support 16,000 U.S. jobs.

"We also appreciate the administration's work to establish a phase-one trade agreement with China," added Herring. "We urge China to eliminate all restrictions on U.S. pork exports at a time when they are struggling with food price inflation and need reliable, affordable sources of pork. Doing so would more than double annual U.S. pork sales, generate 184,000 new American jobs and reduce the overall trade deficit with China by nearly six percent, all within the next decade."

USMEF Statement on Senate Approval of USMCA

Today the U.S. Senate approved implementing legislation for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Dan Halstrom issued this statement:

The U.S. Senate moving quickly to approve USMCA reaffirms the United States' commitment to two key trading partners, both of which are very important destinations for U.S. pork, beef and lamb. USMEF applauds Congressional leaders and the Trump administration, especially the trade experts within USTR and USDA, for their tireless efforts to ratify USMCA, which bolsters our position as a reliable supplier to two leading markets that account for about one-third of all U.S. red meat exports. Shipments to Mexico and Canada in 2019 totaled about 1.25 million metric tons valued at $3.8 billion, and the U.S. red meat industry looks forward to many years of further growth.

U.S.-Mexico-Canada Reunited by USMCA!

Soy growers, other agriculture and business groups have rallied collectively for months to urge Congress to pass the “new NAFTA.” Today, on Jan.16, it happened! The American Soybean Association (ASA) expresses its strong appreciation to Senate leaders for passing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) by a overwhelming 89-10 vote. With passage through both congressional chambers, USMCA will now move to the president’s desk for signature. This final step will ensure soy growers maintain access to two of their top markets.

“ASA has worked throughout the year to encourage legislative support for USMCA, so we appreciate Congress working with the administration, coming together for this bipartisan effort, and getting USMCA to the final step,” said Bill Gordon. “In addition to securing the Mexican market as the second largest importer of U.S. soybeans, the terms agreed to by Canada will increase U.S. poultry and dairy exports, which is also a positive for our industry.”

Mexico is the #2 market for whole beans, meal and oil, and Canada is the #4 buyer of meal and #7 buyer of oil for U.S. soybean farmers, making the trade agreement essential to sustaining the growth realized in those two countries under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Under NAFTA, U.S. soybean sales to Mexico quadrupled and to Canada doubled.

Gordon concluded, “We express our gratitude to Congress for making USMCA passage a priority, as it means we can start 2020 on a more positive note.”

U.S. Dairy Industry Praises Administration and Congress for Final Passage of USMCA

The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) cheered today’s Senate vote paving the way for the President’s signature of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Looking ahead, USDEC and NMPF urged U.S. officials to carefully monitor Canada and Mexico’s USMCA commitments once the trade deal takes effect to ensure its provisions are enforced accordingly so that the dairy industry is able to reap the full benefits of the agreement negotiated by Ambassador Lighthizer and the negotiating teams at USTR and USDA.

“USMCA makes important strides to break down trade barriers, opening the door to new opportunities and supporting the flow of high-quality American dairy products to two valuable export markets,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC. “The strong enforcement measures included in the final agreement give officials the tools necessary to hold our trade partners accountable and ensure the gains secured by USMCA are completely realized. We are grateful to the Administration for the sizable accomplishments secured in USMCA on dairy. With this trade deal complete, negotiators can now turn their attention to other key markets around the world in order to gain further ground for U.S. dairy.”

“America’s dairy farmers are celebrating today’s bipartisan vote as a win. Under President Trump’s leadership, USTR and USDA negotiated an agreement that will deliver a more certain future for our dairy farmers and rural economy,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “The U.S. must now remain diligent and proactively work with Canada and Mexico to implement USMCA in both letter and spirit. Full compliance is essential to achieving more fair trade with Canada and protecting American-made cheeses in Mexico.”

USMCA fundamentally changes Canada’s trade-distorting policies, reforms Canada’s controversial dairy pricing system and provides exclusive Canadian market access for U.S. farmers and manufacturers. According to the International Trade Commission, U.S. dairy exports are projected to increase by more than $314 million a year. USMCA also strengthens the relationship between Mexico and the U.S. and establishes new protections for products that rely on common cheese names, such as parmesan and feta.

NCGA Statement: Senate Passes USMCA

National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Ross today thanked members of the U.S. Senate for their bipartisan approval of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Ross made the following statement.

“Nearly a year ago, NCGA’s farmer members, recognizing the importance of our trading relationship with Mexico and Canada, declared passage of USMCA their top legislative priority. Since that time, corn farmers have been using every opportunity to urge members of Congress to support the new trade agreement and we are incredibly thankful for the strong bipartisan support it has received in the Senate today.

“NCGA thanks the U.S. Senators who voted to ensure corn farmers will continue to have access to our largest and most reliable markets and is especially grateful for the leadership of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley who has been a steadfast supporter of corn growers and committed to getting USMCA across the finish line.”

USMCA Clears the Way to Fire Up Ag’s Economic Engine

America’s farmers and ranchers received a second round of good news this week with Senate approval of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).  At a time when farmers continue to face strong economic headwinds, the agreement is expected to increase U.S. agriculture exports by $2 billion.

“This trade agreement comes at a critical time for farmers and ranchers, increasing optimism that we’ll turn the corner in 2020,” said American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. “USMCA is an important step toward restoring the competitiveness of America’s farmers and ranchers, strengthening our trade relationships in North America and setting an example for agreements with other important trading partners.”

The USMCA is expected to result in a $65 billion increase in gross domestic product.  Canada will increase quotas on U.S. dairy products, benefitting American dairy farmers by $242 million.  Canada will also treat wheat imports the same as domestic wheat for grading and pricing.

“We commend President Trump, the House and the Senate for working together in a bipartisan manner to enhance these important trade relationships and help jumpstart our ag economy,” Duvall added. “Their leadership shows a dedication to protecting the livelihood of millions of Americans on the farm and throughout the food system.”

President Trump is expected to sign the USMCA soon, the final step to enacting the agreement.

The USMCA vote comes just one day after the United States signed a new trade agreement with China, which promises to increase agricultural exports overseas by tens of billions of dollars.

Duvall said, “USMCA, the China trade agreement, the recently enacted U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement, and the U.S.-South Korea Rice Agreement are moving us toward rebalancing the scales of international trade. It is important this trend continues as the U.S. negotiates agreements with other international trading partners. We’re making great strides in giving farmers and ranchers fair access to the global market again.”

Additional trade agreements worthy of attention include the U.S.-European Union negotiations, as well as an agreement with the United Kingdom as it leaves the European Union.

NFU Applauds Senate’s Passage of USMCA

The U.S. Senate today voted 89-10 in favor of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), moving the trilateral deal to President Donald Trump’s desk for final approval.

Though National Farmers Union (NFU) initially withheld endorsement when USMCA was introduced over a year ago, the organization’s board voted to support it after the U.S. House of Representatives made several improvements. NFU President Roger Johnson applauded the agreement’s passage and urged future improvements to American trade policy:

“For 25 years, National Farmers Union has stood in staunch opposition to the disastrous free trade framework established by NAFTA. By prioritizing the interests of corporations over those of working-class Americans, this framework is largely responsible for our massive trade deficit, the rapid exportation of domestic jobs, the decline of wages, and the deterioration of our national sovereignty.

“Though USMCA is not a perfect replacement, it does make some important changes to its predecessor. We are particularly encouraged by the inclusion of stronger labor standards, more robust enforcement mechanisms, and better environmental protections. On top of that, we are pleased to see the partial elimination of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) arbitration procedure, which is the source of many of our aforementioned grievances against NAFTA.

“That being said, there is still significant room for improvement. This trade deal still doesn’t restore commonsense Country-of-Origin-Labeling, nor does it address import dumping. With that in mind, we urge Congress and the Trump administration to continue working to strengthen trade deals so they better support the success of family farmers and rural communities.”

RFA Lauds Senate Passage of USMCA

The Renewable Fuels Association today thanked the U.S. Senate for passing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), a crucial trade pact that will benefit U.S. ethanol producers and rural economies across the nation. RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper offered the following statement:

“America’s ethanol producers look forward to seeing this important agreement in place. Canada and Mexico are among our most important and reliable export markets for both ethanol and distillers grains, and we look forward to strengthening our trading relationship with the two countries. USMCA is a good deal for the U.S. ethanol industry, the farmers who support us, and our industry’s partners in Canada and Mexico. We thank President Trump and Congress for getting this done.”

Cooper said that, in 2019, Canada ranked second for ethanol exports from the United States, purchasing an estimated 22 percent of U.S. ethanol exports, and ranked in the Top 10 for distillers grains. Canada has imported more ethanol from the United States since 2012 than any other country in the world. Click here for more information.

Mexico was the top export market for U.S. distillers grains in 2019, importing 19 percent of all U.S. exports, and ranked in the Top 10 for ethanol exports.

 ACE: USMCA strengthens North American trade partner relationships and key ethanol market opportunities

Today, the U.S. Senate passed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), ratifying the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) replacement after it was advanced by the U.S. House of Representatives in December. The new agreement solidifies a multi-billion-dollar export market while providing more stable market access to farmers and instilling confidence in other nations that the U.S. is a reliable partner and supplier to help U.S. agriculture remain competitive in the years ahead. ACE CEO Brian Jennings released the following statement in response to today’s announcement:

“Passage of the USMCA in Congress is welcome news to America’s farmers. NAFTA has been a success for American agriculture and the USMCA builds upon this successful trading relationship. Over the past 20 years, U.S. agricultural exports to Canada have tripled and quintupled to Mexico. For U.S. corn, Mexico and Canada have served as the industry’s largest and most reliable markets, and this agreement keeps the door open for related commodities, like ethanol and distillers grains. Although USMCA doesn’t set ethanol-specific trade provisions, its ratification positively reaffirms this long-standing relationship with markets next door as we enter into this new decade of market growth.”

NGFA commends ratification of USMCA agreement

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) commended Congress for ratifying the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) after the Senate approved the trade deal on Jan. 16 by an overwhelming 89-10 vote.

“The USMCA is a tremendous positive for the United States and the entire North American region and our interdependent economies,” said NGFA President and CEO Randy Gordon. “Having a sound and competitive free trade agreement with Mexico and Canada is critical to continued economic growth and job creation in the United States and the North American region. The USMCA preserves or expands upon critical market access for U.S. agricultural products in the North American market, improves the process for resolving non-technical barriers to trade and provides a 21st century blueprint for future trade agreements.

“We particularly appreciate the dedication and persistence of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. lawmakers for their commitment to finalizing and ratifying USMCA. We also commend the governments of two of our most important trading partners – Mexico and Canada – in working with the United States to address and resolve issues throughout the negotiation process.”

The USMCA trade agreement will preserve or expand upon critical market access for U.S. agricultural products in the North American market. In addition to maintaining a tariff-free environment for most agricultural goods, USMCA also will help address non-tariff barriers, which are paramount among the current global challenges that distort and slow cross-border trade flows. Among other benefits, USMCA will: Facilitate cross-border trade flows through higher levels of regulatory coherence and cooperation; implement timelines and notifications for adverse import checks; include steps to reduce the likelihood of trade disruptions in products of agricultural biotechnology; use technical consultations for sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) disputes; and require that SPS standards be grounded in science and based on proper risk assessments and implemented using accepted risk management techniques. Read more about USMCA here.

The agreement now goes to President Trump for his signature. Mexico’s legislature already has passed USMCA, and the Canadian Parliament is expected to approve the accord in late January or early February. The agreement takes effect 90 days after all three countries approve it, meaning it likely will go into force sometime in May.

NSP Commends Senate Passage of USMCA

National Sorghum Producers Chairman Dan Atkisson, a sorghum farmer from Stockton, Kansas, made the following statement today after the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement passed the U.S. Senate.

"We commend President Trump, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and our congressional leaders for their hard work to bring this agreement across the finish line. USMCA passage provides a trade win for U.S. agriculture producers and an added level of certainty as we head into the 2020 growing season. Mexico is our closest trade partner to the south, and we have enjoyed commerce with the feed and food industries there for a very long time. We anticipate the President’s signature on this agreement next week and are hopeful for passage by Canada so it may be enacted as soon as possible.”

U.S. Wheat Industry Applauds Senate for Passing the U.S. Mexico-Canada Agreement

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) applaud the U.S. Senate for passing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) today.

  “Trade deals can put the price of wheat back on track for many growers and create new opportunities for many farmers,” said NAWG President and Lavon, Tex., farmer Ben Scholz. “NAWG applauds the U.S. Senate for moving quickly on passing USMCA out of the Chamber.”

“Mexico continues to be our top importing country,” said USW Chairman and Paulding, Ohio, farmer Doug Goyings. “Wheat farmers are relieved to see the agreement moving on to the President and I think the Mexican millers who want our wheat are relieved, too.”

USMCA retains tariff-free access to imported U.S. wheat for those long-time flour milling customers in Mexico, a crucial step toward rebuilding trust in the U.S. as a reliable supplier in this important, neighboring market. In addition, the USMCA makes important progress towards more open commerce for U.S. wheat farmers near the Canadian border by allowing U.S. varieties registered in Canada to receive reciprocal grading treatment. 

Other measures that benefit the wheat industry include the Agreement’s language around agricultural biotechnology which supports 21st Century innovations in agriculture and new language to strengthen disciplines for science-based SPS measures.

Wednesday January 15 Ag News + US-China Phase 1 Signing Reaction


Growers, crop consultants and educators are encouraged to attend Nebraska Extension Weed Science School from 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Jan. 29 at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead.

The Weed Science School is a one-day seminar covering numerous topics. The morning session will cover herbicide-resistant weeds in Nebraska; dicamba off-target movement; and industry mergers and their impact on herbicide discovery. The afternoon session will cover nozzle selection and management of herbicide drift; corn-ear formation issues; management of herbicide-resistant water hemp; and soybean response to 2,4-D or dicamba.

Certified Crop Advisor credits and pesticide recertification are available.

There is no cost to attend, but participants are asked to register at

Ricketts: Tax Receipt Growth Means Property Tax Relief Ahead

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts issued a statement following news that state general fund tax receipts for December were $52 million ahead of forecast, or 12.2 percent above projections.

“Another strong month of growth in tax revenues reflects Nebraska’s strong economic growth over the past year,” said Governor Ricketts.  “I will continue to work with the Legislature to control spending, so we can deliver additional property tax relief for Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers, homeowners, and businesses this legislative session.”


The difference between a good farmer and a great manager often comes down to knowing the true financial position of a farm. Good records make it possible to track an operation’s true financial position. Inaccurate records can lead to misguided management decisions.

Nebraska Extension’s “Good Farmer to Great Manager” record-keeping classes will teach farmers and ranchers to keep accurate records for their operations. The two-part class will be held in York on Jan. 23, 1-5 p.m., and Jan. 24, 8 a.m.-noon, at the York County Fairgrounds 4-H Building, 2400 N. Nebraska Ave.

The course fee is $50 per person and class size is limited to 25 people. Register online at

Keeping good records is less about using a certain software and more about gathering and organizing information, according to Tina Barrett, course instructor and executive director of Nebraska Farm Business Inc.

“In this class, you will learn about what information you should have easily available as part of your farm or ranch records. When you have good records, everything from tax preparation, annual loan renewals, and financial analysis become much easier,” she said. “More importantly, it will allow you to make financial management decisions that improve your business.”

Topics Include:
    ·       What are Good Records?
    ·       Getting Good Tax Records
    ·       Moving to Management Records
    ·       Financial Statements & Ratios

This course hosted by Nebraska Extension and is inspired by Annie's Project. Annie's Project is supported by Farm Credit Services of America in Nebraska.

Bomgaars family donates to Northeast campaign citing future of agriculture in the region

Agriculture and youth are important to the Bomgaars family, and those priorities are why the family is investing in the Nexus project at Northeast Community College in Norfolk.

Aaron Bomgaars, vice president/property management/store development at Bomgaars Supply Inc., has announced that the company will contribute $50,000 to the project to build new ag facilities at Northeast.

“Agriculture is the foundation of the economy of the Midwest states served by Bomgaars,” he said. “And the future of agriculture is the future of Bomgaars.”

Bomgaars Supply Inc. is a family-owned retail chain of farm and ranch supply stores headquartered in Sioux City, IA. Bomgaars serves customers in Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Bomgaars stores can be found in 10 communities in the 20 county area served by Northeast Community College.

Bomgaars said his family is excited to be part of the Nexus project.

“Northeast is training students to be the next generation of farmers and ranchers. Those students will become the future residents of the small rural communities where Bomgaars stores are located. These new ag facilities at Northeast will attract more students who will help local communities grow and thrive.”

“At Northeast Community College, we share the Bomgaars family’s support of agriculture and youth,” said Dr. Tracy Kruse, associate vice president of development and external affairs, and executive director of the Northeast Foundation. “Each year, 350 students enroll in agricultural classes at Northeast, making it the single largest program of study on the campus.”

Kruse said Northeast grants more associate degrees in agriculture than any other college in Nebraska and the eighth most two-year degrees in agriculture in the nation.

“We have an excellent faculty and outstanding programming. We are now trying to bring the ag facilities up to that same standard,” she said.

Funding for the $23 million Agriculture & Water Center for Excellence project is currently being solicited to enhance and expand the agriculture facilities at the College. In addition to Northeast’s commitment of $10 million, the institution is seeking at least $13 million in private funds to begin the initial phase of construction, which includes a new veterinary technology clinic and classrooms, a new farm site with 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 Ag Complex on E. Benjamin Ave. in Norfolk.

In August, 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.

Chase County Teacher Named Teacher of the Year for Bringing Agriculture into the Classroom

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation has selected Arlys Cupp for the 2020 Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom Teacher of the Year honor. The Teacher of the Year is awarded to outstanding teachers that incorporate agriculture into their classroom through innovative ideas and lessons.

Arlys Cupp, a second-grade teacher at Chase County Schools in Imperial, was honored at a surprise ceremony at the school on Jan. 13.

“The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation is pleased to honor Arlys Cupp, a teacher who demonstrates a strong connection between core classroom learning and agriculture all year in the classroom,” said Courtney Schaardt, director of outreach education. “She creatively incorporates lessons and activities that help students understand that agriculture is their source of food, fiber, and fuel.”

Cupp has been a teacher in Southwestern Nebraska for 35 years. Throughout those years, she has continuously incorporated agriculture into her curriculum. Cupp uses many ways to connect learning and agriculture into core subject areas like language arts, math, social studies, and science.

Cupp’s classroom uses Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom resources to help the students learn and understand that agriculture is part of their lives every day. From the food they eat to the clothes they wear, agriculture is all around them.

One of Cupp’s favorite programs is the Ag Pen Pal program. Her classroom partners with a rancher in the sandhills who has a cattle operation. The classroom and the pen pal write letters to each other throughout the school year. Their pen pal shows them the importance of cattle being produced to feed the population and how crops are produced and harvested in our state.

“Letter writing skills are taught and improved while the students learn about agriculture in Nebraska,” said Cupp. “The friendships and relationships developed are personal and create a real-life connection to agriculture for the students.”

Cupp uses many of the accurate agriculture books that the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation recommends in her language arts class. One of her favorites is First Peas to the Table by Susan Grigsby. The book is based on a contest that Thomas Jefferson held with his friends and neighbors every year. The book integrates school gardens, history, and seasonal weather themes into a fun-to read book. Cupp developed an hour-long lesson to go with the book where the students learn about Thomas Jefferson, farming throughout history, and modern-day agriculture.

“After we read the book, each student received a package of peas to plant at home,” said Cupp. “I received pictures all summer long of the pea plants and produce the students grew to eat with their families.”

Cupp is also involved with 4-H and FFA. Cupp has been a 4-H leader for 26 years and has lead projects in the areas of livestock, vet science, gardening, cooking, S.T.E.M, and communications. She enjoys watching the children explore and excel in agriculture related areas while challenging them to further their knowledge and expand their projects.

On her own farm, Cupp grows 2.5 acres of pumpkins and has a corn maze and pumpkin patch that is open to the public on the weekends. She enjoys being able to incorporate Farm Bureau’s companion resources as part of the unit she teaches on pumpkins. Each Christmas her classroom sends hand-painted, dried gourds to their Ag Pen Pal.

“I feel so privileged to be able to teach my students about the generations before us and their agriculture practices,” said Cupp. “Many of my students have grown into individuals with successful agriculture careers. I’m so lucky that I get to be a part of what interests them in agriculture at such an early age.”

Cupp will receive an expense-paid trip to the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference, an accurate agriculture book bundle featuring 12 books and corresponding literature guides, and a $250 cash prize. The conference, held June 23-26 in Salt Lake City, UT, brings educators together from all over the United States to learn how to use agricultural concepts to effectively teach core subjects such as reading, math, science, and social studies. The conference features recognition for Teacher of the Year honorees, educational workshops, traveling workshops to agribusinesses and research facilities, and farm tours.

With Fischer’s Support, USMCA Advances Out of Senate Commerce Committee

At today’s Senate Commerce Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) voted to advance the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The agreement passed the committee by a bipartisan vote. The full Senate is expected to vote on the agreement tomorrow, sending it to President Trump’s desk for signature.

Senator Fischer spoke on the importance of the agreement to Nebraska families, ag producers, manufacturers, and businesses.

Senator Fischer’s full remarks:
“Mr. Chairman, and fellow members of the committee:

“When I travel across Nebraska, I hear directly from our families, ag producers, manufacturers, and businesses about how important the passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement would be.

“Let me explain specifically how this deal brings economic certainty to our state.

“Agriculture is the economic engine of Nebraska, and the USMCA is critical for farmers and ranchers.

“Currently, Canada and Mexico receive 44 percent of Nebraska’s total exports.

“In 2017 alone, our state sent nearly 900 million dollars of ag products to Mexico and nearly 450 million dollars of ag products to Canada.

“Agriculture trade between Canada and Mexico supports nearly 54,000 jobs in Nebraska.

“Importantly, the USMCA maintains and strengthens markets for corn and soybeans.

“It also allows U.S. beef producers to continue to grow their exports to Mexico – which have risen 800 percent since NAFTA was first ratified.

“In 2018 alone, Nebraska exported over 250 million dollars of beef to both countries.

“According to Nebraska Department of Agriculture reports, our state’s 6.4 billion dollars in agricultural exports in 2017 led to nearly 8.2 billion dollars in additional economic activity in our state.

“But let’s not forget that the benefits of the USMCA extend far beyond our farm and ranchland.

“Nebraska’s manufacturers rely on America’s neighbors to the north and south, and a modernized trade deal means good-paying manufacturing jobs for our state.

“More than 300 Nebraska manufacturing firms depend on exports to Canada and Mexico.

“These manufacturing jobs tend to be full-time, pay high wages, and offer major opportunities for workers.

“In 2018, Nebraska exported $6.5 billion in manufacturing goods to the world—and $2.2 billion of that went to Mexico and Canada.

“The USMCA represents a bipartisan agreement that will benefit Nebraska families and all of the American people.

“It’s high time to unite around this common-sense trade deal and push the USMCA over the finish line.”

ISU Extension Workshops to Focus on Maximum Return for Fertilizer Dollars

The cost of managing soil fertility in Iowa continues to change, with increased fertilizer input costs and a rising demand for nutrients from higher-yielding crops.

To help producers maximize profits, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is hosting 17 workshops from the end of January through March called Soil Testing Interpretations and Recommendations: Maximizing Return on Investment.

ISU Extension and Outreach field agronomist Josh Michel said the workshops will lead farmers through the basics of soil testing, analytical tests, calculating crop nutrient removal, understanding return on investment from fertilizer applications, how crop response correlates to soil test levels and what is known about crop response to micronutrients.

“These workshops provide producers the skills to best allocate fertilizer input dollars on their farms,” said Virgil Schmitt, field agronomist with ISU Extension and Outreach. “Producers are already thinking about next year’s fertility decisions.”

The workshops are designed to help farmers understand their current soil nutrient situation, the amount their crops are using in a growing season and what needs to be added, said Rebecca Vittetoe, another ISU Extension and Outreach field agronomist, who will be presenting.
2020 Soil Fertility Workshops

    Jan. 22, Woolstock Community Building (104 McArthur St.), 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration is $40 per person and pre-registration is required by Jan. 17. Enrollment is limited to 30. Call the ISU Extension and Outreach Wright County Office at 515-532-3453 or the ISU Extension and Outreach Hamilton County Office at 515-832-9597.
    Jan. 28, ISU Extension and Outreach Madison County Office, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration is $20 per person and pre-registration is required by Jan. 24. Enrollment is limited to 30. Call the Madison County office at 515-462-1001. Meeting sponsored by the Iowa Farm Bureau.
    Jan. 29, ISU Extension and Outreach Humboldt County Office, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration is $40 per person and pre-registration is required by Jan. 24. Enrollment is limited to 30. Call the Humboldt County office at 515-332-2201 or the ISU Extension and Outreach Pocahontas County Office at 712-335-3103.
    Jan. 31, Jefferson County Activities Building, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration is $10 per person and pre-registration is required by Jan. 29. Enrollment is limited to 30. Call the ISU Extension and Outreach Jefferson County Office at 641-472-4166. Meeting sponsored by Libertyville Savings Bank.
    Feb. 4, ISU Extension and Outreach Mitchell County Office, 1-4:30 p.m., with lunch served at 12:15 p.m. Registration is $40 per person and pre-registration is required by Jan. 28. Enrollment is limited to 30. Call the Mitchell County office at 641-732-5574.
    Feb. 7, Poweshiek Water Association, Brooklyn, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration is $10 per person and pre-registration is required by Feb. 5. There is no registration cost for Corn Grower Members, but RSVP by Feb. 5. Enrollment is limited to 30. Call the ISU Extension and Outreach Poweshiek County Office at 641-623-5188. Meeting sponsored by Iowa Corn Growers.
    Feb. 13, ISU Extension and Outreach Jones County Office, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration is $40 per person and pre-registration is required by Feb. 11. Enrollment is limited to 30. Call the Jones County office at 319-465-3224.
    Feb. 13, ISU Extension and Outreach Ringgold County Office, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. There is no registration fee, but for questions or to RSVP, call the Ringgold County office at 641-464-3333.
    Feb. 18, ISU Extension and Outreach Bremer County Office, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration is $40 per person and pre-registration is required by Feb. 14. Enrollment is limited to 30. Call the Bremer County office at 319-465-3224.
    Feb. 19, Heartland Community Room in Gowrie (1201 Market St., Gowrie), 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration is $40 per person and pre-registration is required by Feb. 14. Enrollment is limited to 30. Call the ISU Extension and Outreach Webster County Office at 515-576-2119 or the Calhoun County office at 712-297-8611.
    Feb. 19, ISU Extension and Outreach Adair Office, 10 a.m. to noon. There is no registration fee, but for questions or to RSVP, call the Adair County office at 641-743-8412.
    Feb. 20, Western Iowa Research Farm near Castana in Monona County, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Registration is $40 per person and pre-registration is required by Feb. 14. Enrollment is limited to 25. Call the ISU Extension and Outreach Monona County Office at 712-423-2175.
    Feb. 21, ISU Extension and Outreach Marion County Office, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration is $40 per person and pre-registration is required by Feb. 19. Enrollment is limited to 30. Call the Marion County office at 641-842-2014. Meeting is sponsored by the Iowa Corn Growers.
    Feb. 27, Southeast Research and Demonstration Farm near Crawfordsville, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration is $40 per person and pre-registration is required by Feb. 25. Enrollment is limited to 30. Call the ISU Extension and Outreach Washington County Office at 319-653-4811.
    Feb. 28, ISU Extension and Outreach Black Hawk County Office, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration is $40 per person and pre-registration is required by Feb. 26. Enrollment is limited to 30. Call the Black Hawk County office at 319-234-6811.
    Feb. 28, ISU Extension and Outreach Cass County Office, 10 a.m. to noon. There is no registration fee, but for questions or to RSVP, call the Cass County office at 712-243-1132.
    March 13, ISU Extension and Outreach Plymouth County Office – Le Mars Convention Center, Board Room, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Registration is $40 per person and pre-registration is required by March. 9. Enrollment is limited to 25. Call the Plymouth County office at 712-546-7835.

Enrollment size is limited and registration is required. Registrants should contact their ISU Extension and Outreach county office or the site location they wish to attend. Fees can be paid the day of the workshop. Registration for each event includes publications, copies of presentations and brunch or lunch, if provided.

For more information or if you have questions, contact your local extension field agronomist.

Property Taxes, Veterinarians Among IFBF 2020 Priorities

Members of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), Iowa's largest grassroots farm organization, will focus their 2020 legislative lobbying strength on issues most important to members, including protecting property taxpayers.

"Our members across Iowa have clearly stated that protecting property taxpayers should be a key focus during the 2020 legislative session," says Craig Hill, IFBF president and Warren County farmer. "Property taxes have more than doubled in the past 18 years, and the average property tax bill on 500 acres of farmland in Iowa is now approximately $13,000."

Iowa Farm Bureau members have developed policy stating that property taxes should be used to fund essential property services, while the state budget should be used to pay for services for citizens, such as mental health. "Now is the time to transition to an equitable funding source, and have the state assume the costs of the mental health system," said Hill.

Iowa farmers are committed to responsible livestock care, and that entails a close working relationship with their veterinarian. Farm Bureau members will work with lawmakers to develop programs that help ensure the future availability of private practice food animal veterinarians. Some of those programs could include a state-based student loan forgiveness plan, economic development incentives for rural vet clinics, mentorship, transition tax incentive for retiring vets or other programs.

"Raising livestock is a vital part of Iowa's economy, so maintaining an adequate supply of food animal vets is essential," Hill said.

Farm Bureau will also work with lawmakers to develop a driver's permit, similar to a school permit available to youth at age 14 and a half, to independently drive a vehicle for farm work. The farm driving permit would mimic several other states, providing important efficiencies for Iowa family farms.

Supporting conservation and water quality efforts through the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy remains a Farm Bureau focus. "Iowa farmers have proven over the years that they are willing and able to continue to advance conservation if funding and sensible state and federal cost-share programs are available," said Hill.

Deadline to Sign Up for Cover Crop Insurance Discounts Extended to January 31

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig has extended the deadline for farmers who planted fall cover crops to sign up for a $5 per acre reduction on their 2020 crop insurance premiums. Farmers and landowners now have through January 31 to sign up online at

Fall 2019 cover crop acres enrolled in other state or federal cover crop cost-share programs are not eligible. Farmers who received prevent plant payments in 2019 are still eligible for the discounted insurance premiums.

The insurance premium reductions will be available for fall-planted cover crops with a spring-planted cash crop. Some insurance policies may be excluded, like Whole-Farm Revenue Protection, or those covered through written agreements. Participants must follow all existing farming practices required by their policy and work with their insurance agents to maintain eligibility.

For questions regarding the application process, call 515-281-5851 or email

This is a joint, three-year demonstration project administered by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) aimed at increasing the use of cover crops in Iowa. More than 1,200 farmers have applied for this program and planted 300,000 acres of cover crops in the past two years.

Farmers are encouraged to visit their local USDA service center offices to learn more about other cost-share funding available to support the implementation of conservation practices.

FSA Encourages Producers to Enroll Soon in Agriculture Risk Loss and Price Loss Coverage Programs

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) encourages agricultural producers to enroll now in the Agriculture Risk Loss (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs. March 15, 2020 is the enrollment deadline for the 2019 crop year.

Although more than 200,000 producers have enrolled to date, FSA anticipates 1.5 million producers will enroll for ARC and PLC. By enrolling soon, producers can beat the rush as the deadline nears.

“FSA offices have multiple programs competing for the time and attention of our staff.  Because of the importance and complexities of the ARC and PLC programs; and to ensure we meet your program delivery expectations, please do not wait to start the enrollment process,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “I cannot emphasize enough the need to begin the program election and enrollment process now. Please call your FSA county office and make an appointment soon to ensure your elections are made and contracts signed well ahead of the deadlines.”

ARC and PLC provide financial protections to farmers from substantial drops in crop prices or revenues and are vital economic safety nets for most American farms.

The programs cover the following commodities: barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium and short grain rice, safflower seed, seed cotton, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat.

Until March 15, producers who have not yet enrolled in ARC or PLC for 2019 can enroll for both 2019 and 2020 during the same visit to an FSA county office unless yield updates are requested. Additionally, farm owners have a one-time opportunity to update PLC payment yields that take effect beginning with crop year 2020. If the owner accompanies the producer to the office, the yield update and enrollments may be completed during the same office visit.

Urea Leads Retail Fertilizer Prices Lower in New Year

Retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN for the first full week of 2020 show the trend of lower prices persisting into the new year.

For the second straight week, seven of the eight major fertilizers had lower prices compared to a month earlier. Only urea was down a noteworthy amount, about 6%, compared to last month and had an average price of $358 per ton, down $22/ton. DTN considers a price move of 5% or more to be significant.

Six fertilizers had slight price declines from the previous month. DAP had an average price of $435/ton, down $10/ton; MAP $444/ton, down $19/ton; potash $375/ton, down $3/ton; anhydrous $486/ton, down $3/ton; UAN28 $237/ton, down $4/ton; and UAN32 $272/ton, down $4/ton.

The remaining fertilizer, 10-34-0, had a negligible price increase compared to last month. The starter fertilizer had an average price of $471/ton, up $1/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.39/lb.N, anhydrous $0.30/lb.N, UAN28 $0.42/lb.N and UAN32 $0.43/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are mixed in price from a year ago. MAP is 17% lower, anhydrous is 15% less expensive, DAP is 14% lower, urea is 12% less expensive, UAN28 is 11% lower, UAN32 is 10% less expensive and potash is 2% less expensive from last year at this time. In addition, 10-34-0 is 2% higher compared to last year.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 1/10/2020

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending Jan. 10, ethanol production expanded by 33,000 barrels per day (b/d), or 3.1%, to 1.095 million b/d—equivalent to 45.99 million gallons daily and the largest volume since June 2019. The four-week average ethanol production rate rose 0.7% to 1.077 million b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 16.51 billion gallons.

Ethanol stocks grew 2.4% to a 15-week high of 23.0 million barrels. However, inventories were 1.5% lower than the same week last year. Stocks built sharply in the Gulf Coast (PADD 3), the primary region from which ethanol is exported, with smaller increases in the East Coast (PADD 1) and Rocky Mountain (PADD 4) regions.

Imports of ethanol arriving into the West Coast were 25,000 b/d, or 7.35 million gallons for the week. This is the first time in five weeks that imports were logged. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of November 2019.)

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market bounced back from the prior week, up 5.2% to 8.558 million b/d (359.44 million gallons per day, or 131.19 bg annualized). Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol followed, increasing 6.6% to 854,000 b/d—equivalent to 13.09 bg annualized.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production declined to 12.80%.

Brazil's Soybean Crop Poised to Break Another Record

Brazilian soybean production in 2019-20 crop year is forecast at 123.9 million mt, up 1.4% from December estimate due to better yield expectation, agricultural consultancy AgRural said Monday.

According to SP Globa, the soybean yield was expected to rise 4% year on year to 3.32 mt a hectare on sufficient rainfall across the region in the past few weeks, Brazilian national crop agency Conab said in its latest report.

The country's soybean harvest has reached 0.4% of the projected 2019-20 area as of January 9, Agrural said. The current harvest pace is 1.7 percentage point slower year on year and 0.3 points lower than the five-year average, it added.

AgRural estimates that Brazil will plant soybeans on 36.4 million ha in the 2019-20 crop year, which started from September 1, up 1.6% year on year.

Under normal weather conditions soybean planting across Brazil starts in mid-September but dry weather in September 2019 delayed planting by a couple of weeks. As a result, the harvest pace is lagging behind year on year, Conab said.

The USDA forecasts Brazil -- the world's largest soybean producer and exporter -- will export 76 million mt of beans in the 2019-20 marketing year, up 1% year on year.

Canadian auctioneer wins World Livestock Auctioneer Championship qualifier

Dean Edge, Rimbey, Alta., was named Champion at the 2020 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship (WLAC) Midwestern Regional Qualifying Event. Stockmen’s Livestock, Inc., Yankton, S.D., hosted the final of three WLAC qualifying events on Wednesday, January 8. A total of 31 contestants competed for a top ten placing, granting them a spot in the 2020 WLAC Semi-Finals at Dickson Regional Livestock Center, Inc. in Dickson, Tenn.

Edge, who has competed off and on since 2002, was Reserve at the 2019 WLAC Championship and made Top 10 in 2018. He says the win gives him a boost of confidence going into the 2020 WLAC contest.

“I can now go into June knowing that I can place at the top,” Edge says. “The other qualifiers were tough, and I know the competition is high, but I believe I have a good shot of being at the top.”

Edge was introduced to livestock auctioneering through a high school instructor who would auctioneer during class time. Interested in the profession, Edge attended auctioneering school at Western College of Auctioneering in 1999 and began working as an auctioneer at the Vold, Jones & Vold Auction in Rimbey, Alta., upon graduation.

“I worked hard at it,” Edge says. “I came by it fairly easy, but I had a lot of support from friends and family who were connected to the livestock marketing industry.”

Edge says the competition allows him to further enhance his skillset and serve his community members.

“I compete because I have a competitive nature, but this competition makes me a better auctioneer and livestock marketer. I get to go home with the experience of seeing different ways to auctioneer and market livestock. I think it provides an advantage to my producers as I become more experienced.”

Although his sights are set on obtaining the 2020 title, Edge believes his most rewarding experiences as an auctioneer don’t come from a contest win.

“When a customer comes up and thanks you for working so hard for them, you feel as though you are the one getting the check. It keeps me going.”

Edge was sponsored by Vold, Jones & Vold Auction Co. LTD, Rimbey, Alta.

The contest includes a live cattle sale with actual bidders in the seats. Contestants were judged on the clarity and quality of their auction chant; auctioneer presentation; ability to catch bids and conduct the sale; and how likely the judge would be to hire the auctioneer. Judges for each qualifying event are livestock market owners, managers, dealers and/or allied industry members from across the United States.

Also making a great showing were Reserve Champion Leon Caselman, Long Lane, Mo. and Runner-Up Curtis Wetovick, Fullerton, Neb. The remaining contestants who earned a top ten finish are Troy Bradshaw, Lipan, Texas; Dakota Davis, Waukomis, Okla.; Brandon Hamel, Damar, Kan.; Justin Mebane, Bakersfield, Calif.; Daniel Mitchell, Cumberland, Ohio; Chris Pinard, Swainsboro, Ga.; and Zack Zumstein, Marsing, Idaho. The Top Rookie Award went to Mike Witten, Trenton, Mo.

Other contestants who competed are Frederick Bodnarus, Saskatoon, Sask.; Albert Carroll, Downeyville, Ont.; Collin Gibbs, Miles City, Mont.; Patrick Greenleaf, Wilmore, Kan.; Seth Harvey, Jackson, Ga.; Brett Heath, Colome, S.D.; Jacob Hills, Ridgeway, Wis.; Jake Hopwood, Valentine, Neb.; Kent Korte, Metropolis, Ill.; Ed Leist, Petoskey, Mich.; Curt Littau, Carter, S.D.; Kyle Mueller, Bloomington, Wis.; Clayton Neumann, Bigfoot, Texas; Mark Oberholtzer, Loyal, Wis.; Jim Settle, Arroyo Grande, Calif.; Jeff Showalter, Broadway, Va.; Ryan Siecke, Creighton, Neb.; Robert Strickler, Banco, Va.; Marshal Tingle, Nicolasville, Ky.; and Brad Veurink, Corsica, S.D..


China Phase I Deal is a Bonanza for American Agriculture

U.S. Secretary Perdue issued the following statement after President Donald J. Trump signed the historic Phase One Trade Agreement between the United States and China:

“This agreement is proof President Trump’s negotiating strategy is working. While it took China a long time to realize President Trump was serious, this China Phase I Deal is a huge success for the entire economy. This agreement finally levels the playing field for U.S. agriculture and will be a bonanza for America’s farmers, ranchers, and producers,” said Secretary Perdue. “China has not played by the rules for too long, and I thank President Trump for standing up to their unfair trading practices and for putting America first. We look forward to exporting to Chinese customers hungry for American products.”

The United States and China have reached an historic and enforceable agreement on a Phase One trade deal that requires structural reforms and other changes to China’s economic and trade regime in the areas of intellectual property, technology transfer, agriculture, financial services, and currency and foreign exchange. The Phase One agreement also includes a commitment by China that it will make substantial additional purchases of U.S. goods and services in the coming years. Importantly, the agreement establishes a strong dispute resolution system that ensures prompt and effective implementation and enforcement. The United States has agreed to modify its Section 301 tariff actions in a significant way.

Information on specific chapters of the Phase One agreement is provided below:
    Agriculture: The Agriculture Chapter addresses structural barriers to trade and will support a dramatic expansion of U.S. food, agriculture and seafood product exports, increasing American farm and fishery income, generating more rural economic activity, and promoting job growth. A multitude of non-tariff barriers to U.S. agriculture and seafood products are addressed, including for meat, poultry, seafood, rice, dairy, infant formula, horticultural products, animal feed and feed additives, pet food, and products of agriculture biotechnology.
    Intellectual Property: The Intellectual Property (IP) chapter addresses numerous longstanding concerns in the areas of trade secrets, pharmaceutical-related intellectual property, geographical indications, trademarks, and enforcement against pirated and counterfeit goods.

    Technology Transfer: The Technology Transfer chapter sets out binding and enforceable obligations to address several of the unfair technology transfer practices of China that were identified in USTR’s Section 301 investigation. For the first time in any trade agreement, China has agreed to end its long-standing practice of forcing or pressuring foreign companies to transfer their technology to Chinese companies as a condition for obtaining market access, administrative approvals, or receiving advantages from the government. China also commits to provide transparency, fairness, and due process in administrative proceedings and to have technology transfer and licensing take place on market terms. Separately, China further commits to refrain from directing or supporting outbound investments aimed at acquiring foreign technology pursuant to industrial plans that create distortion.

    Financial Services: The Financial Services chapter addresses a number of longstanding trade and investment barriers to U.S. providers of a wide range of financial services, including banking, insurance, securities, and credit rating services, among others. These barriers include foreign equity limitations and discriminatory regulatory requirements. Removal of these barriers should allow U.S. financial service providers to compete on a more level playing field and expand their services export offerings in the Chinese market.

    Currency: The chapter on Macroeconomic Policies and Exchange Rate Matters includes policy and transparency commitments related to currency issues. The chapter addresses unfair currency practices by requiring high-standard commitments to refrain from competitive devaluations and targeting of exchange rates, while promoting transparency and providing mechanisms for accountability and enforcement. This approach will help reinforce macroeconomic and exchange rate stability and help ensure that China cannot use currency practices to unfairly compete against U.S. exporters.

    Expanding Trade: The Expanding Trade chapter includes commitments from China to import various U.S. goods and services over the next two years in a total amount that exceeds China’s annual level of imports for those goods and services in 2017 by no less than $200 billion. China’s commitments cover a variety of U.S. manufactured goods, food, agricultural and seafood products, energy products, and services. China’s increased imports of U.S. goods and services are expected to continue on this same trajectory for several years after 2021 and should contribute significantly to the rebalancing of the U.S.-China trade relationship.

    Dispute Resolution: The Dispute Resolution chapter sets forth an arrangement to ensure the effective implementation of the agreement and to allow the parties to resolve disputes in a fair and expeditious manner. This arrangement creates regular bilateral consultations at both the principal level and the working level. It also establishes strong procedures for addressing disputes related to the agreement and allows each party to take proportionate responsive actions that it deems appropriate.

Ricketts Comments on China “Phase One” Deal Signing

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts issued a statement as President Donald J. Trump signed a “Phase One” trade deal with China.

“Congratulations to President Trump on securing a Phase One trade deal with China.  The President’s relentless focus on right-sizing our trade relationship with China is important for Nebraska as we seek to expand markets for our ag products around the world.  Looking to the future, the U.S. must stay the course on addressing remaining priorities in our national interest in Phase Two.”

 Senator Fischer Attends White House Signing of China Trade Deal

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement today. She attended the White House signing of the first phase of a trade deal between the United States and China:

“I thank President Trump and his team for working hard to negotiate this deal between China and the United States. China has agreed to purchase, on average, $40 billion of agricultural products every year for the next two years. This deal will help expand market access for Nebraska and will bring much needed economic certainty to the manufacturing, agriculture, and energy sectors,” said Senator Fischer.

This trade agreement reflects a commitment from China to purchase at least an additional $16 billion in agricultural products above the $24 billion purchased in 2017.  The agreement also includes provisions that address a multitude of non-tariff barriers for commodities like beef, dairy, animal feed and biotech products.

In addition to agriculture, the trade agreement makes headway on intellectual property, technology, financial services, currency manipulation monitoring, and a process for dispute resolution.

Sasse Statement on “Phase One” China Deal

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, an outspoken advocate for Nebraska agriculture and trade, issued the following statement as President Trump signed a “Phase One” trade deal with China.

“Trade is always good news. Every Nebraskan is rooting for the President to get good deals done. More trade is a win-win for Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers. The Chinese aren’t our foes, but the tyrants running the Chinese Communist Party are. Nebraskans want to keep the pressure on the commies in Beijing and make sure Chinese families can enjoy the best ag products in the world.”

Smith Statement on United States-China Trade Deal

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement after attending the signing of the “Phase One” China trade agreement today at the White House:

“This first phase agreement with China is a positive first step toward addressing one of our biggest trade challenges. We must be vigilant in ensuring China follows this agreement, as we continue to fight for free and fair treatment of Nebraska products. I look forward to taking Nebraska agriculture producer concerns to the White House.”

Steve Nelson, President, Regarding President Trump Signing Phase One Trade Agreement with China

“Today’s signing of the Phase One deal with China is positive for American agriculture and Nebraska’s farm and ranch families. There’s no question it’s a critical step forward in stopping escalation of the trade dispute with what has been one of our largest trading partners and purchasers of Nebraska agricultural commodities; particularly Nebraska soybeans. Equally important, this deal opens the door for the U.S. to regain a foothold in Chinese markets. Make no mistake, there’s a lot of ground for the U.S. to make up. Our diminished access created cracks allowing many of our global competitors to make inroads into China. While we’re still learning about the full provisions, there appears to be much promise in this deal for agriculture. We are extremely hopeful the excitement around the agreement is validated by the Chinese in the form of significantly increased purchases of U.S. and Nebraska agricultural commodities and products moving forward.”

    Chinese purchases of U.S. agricultural products average just over $25 billion per year between 2014-2017, with Nebraska agriculture exports to China averaging just under $1 billion between 2015-2017 (i.e. the years prior to the start of trade disruptions).

    In 2018, Chinese purchases of U.S. agricultural products fell to $13 billion and through November of 2019 equaled $15 billion.

    According to the American Farm Bureau, the U.S. lost agricultural export sales to China over the last two years of nearly $16 billion. The two-year decline in soybeans and oilseed products accounted for more than $11 billion of the losses followed by grains and animal feed losses of nearly $2 billion. 

NCGA at White House for U.S.-China Phase One Signing

NCGA President Kevin Ross today attended a White House ceremony, commemorating the signing of the phase one deal between the United States and China. Ross made the following statement.

“Signing the phase one agreement with China is a step in the right direction to resolving the trade dispute with China and restoring the trading relationship between our two countries. China holds tremendous opportunity for American corn, ethanol and DDGs and NCGA looks forward to learning further details of what phase one will mean for these products. As more specifics become available, we will closely monitor implementation to ensure that the commitments are upheld and that U.S. corn farmers resume trading with Chinese customers. NCGA urges the Administration to quickly commence phase two negotiations and work to resolve retaliatory tariffs.”

Soy Growers Appreciate Tangible Progress with China, Have Renewed Hope for Tariff Resolution

The soybean industry applauds the Administration for making considerable strides with China in its Phase 1 deal and is hopeful the agreement will lead to additional measures that restore open trade between the two countries, including a negotiated solution in the next phase that removes tariffs on American soybeans shipped to China.

“We have long supported changes to how China conducts business with the world, in agriculture and other industries. Today’s signing addresses many of those concerns and is a positive for the U.S., including reduction of non-tariff barriers to trade that are important to soybean growers and other agriculture groups.” said Bill Gordon, soy farmer from Worthington, Minn., and ASA president.

Changes outlined in the Phase 1 deal are encouraging: Increased agriculture purchases; a more predictable, efficient, science- and risk-based regulatory process for evaluation and authorization of agricultural biotechnology products; improvements to sanitary and phytosanitary measures; and intellectual property protection for agriculture, among others. The American Soybean Association (ASA) has actively advocated for many of the improvements itemized in White House summary documents of the deal.

“We are very pleased to see true progress on the regulatory process for ag biotech products, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and other big points of concern. And, importantly, this milestone moment in the negotiation process bodes well for de-escalation of the tension between our two countries and making further progress,” Gordon commented, “Yet, as an industry, we have a lingering unease regarding the tariff on U.S. beans, which was not addressed in this deal. China needs to take action, and, as a goodwill gesture, offer to remove its retaliatory tax on our soybeans.”

According to documents released by the White House outlining details of the deal, China’s imports of U.S. agricultural products, “such as soybeans, cotton, grains, meats, ethanol, seafood, and the full range of other agricultural products,” will total at least $80 billion over the next two years.

USMEF Statement on U.S.-China Phase One Trade Agreement

Today President Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He signed the U.S.-China "Phase One" trade agreement. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has posted the agreement text and related fact sheets online. U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Dan Halstrom issued this statement:

For the U.S. pork and beef industries to expand their business in China, the world's largest and fastest-growing destination for imported red meat, it is critically important that China follows international standards for pork and beef trade. The Phase One trade agreement lays important groundwork toward this goal, and USMEF thanks the Trump administration for addressing the barriers that have hampered U.S. pork and beef exports to China for many years.

Last year China's red meat imports exceeded $14 billion, a 65% increase from 2018. The U.S. industry looks forward to capturing a greater share of this rapidly growing market.

NPPC Welcomes Phase-One Trade Deal with China; Urges Elimination of All Punitive Tariffs

Today, President Trump signed the first phase of a trade deal with China that includes the purchase of $40 billion in agricultural products, including pork—by far the most significant protein consumed in China. National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) President David Herring and Board Member Craig Andersen were in attendance at today's signing ceremony. Herring, a hog farmer from Lillington, N.C., issued the following statement:

"NPPC applauds the administration for its hard work in negotiating this deal. China is the world's biggest producer and consumer of pork. However, the country's hog supply has been ravaged by African swine fever — a disease affecting only pigs with no human health or food safety risks — resulting in a tremendous shortage of pork and mounting food price inflation. The U.S. is typically the largest pork exporting nation in the world and generally the lowest-cost producer in the world. We are ideally positioned to address this unprecedented sales opportunity for pork in China.

"While China's phase one commitments are welcomed, U.S. pork exports continue to be suppressed because of the country's 60 percent punitive tariffs. In order to fully capture the benefits of this deal, we need China to eliminate all tariffs on U.S. pork for at least five years. According to Iowa State University Economist Dermot Hayes, if U.S. pork gets unrestricted access to the Chinese market, it will reduce the overall U.S. trade deficit with China by nearly six percent, generate 184,000 new U.S. jobs and produce $24.5 billion in new pork exports all within the next decade. However, if the U.S. continues to face 60 percent punitive tariffs (and a cumulative tariff of 68 percent), while our competitor nations are assessed an 8 percent tariff, U.S. pork sales will be suppressed as China imports more pork from other nations."

U.S. pork producers have been significantly harmed by trade retaliation from China, losing $8 per hog—or $1 billion on an annualized industry-wide basis, according to Dr. Hayes. U.S. pork producers need tariffs eliminated, helping China manage rampant food price inflation and ensuring America fully benefits from the phase one agreement.

"Pork is a litmus test for the phase one deal with China. The worst kept secret in the world is China's serious shortage of pork and rampant food price inflation. If China is unwilling to drop its tariffs on U.S. pork, it's difficult to envision the country meeting the $40 billion per year agriculture purchase commitment," added Herring.

NCBA: Trade Deal With China a "Game Changer" for American Beef Producers

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association today applauded the signing of a Phase-One trade agreement with China, saying this agreement will lay the groundwork for American-produced beef to be highly competitive in the world’s most populous market.

“The Phase-One Agreement with China will be a game changer for the U.S. beef industry," said NCBA President Jennifer Houston, who joined President Trump at the White House for today's event. "For many years, Chinese consumers have been denied access to high-quality U.S. beef—the same U.S. beef we feed to our families. Non-scientific trade barriers like the ban on production technologies, the extensive traceability requirements, and the 30-month BSE restriction have greatly limited our ability to tap into growing beef demand in China. The removal of these massive trade barriers gives Chinese consumers access to the U.S. beef they desire, and it gives America’s cattlemen and cattlewomen the opportunity to provide U.S. beef to a growing consumer-base that represents one-fifth of the global population and a middle-class that is greater than the entire U.S. population.

“We cannot begin to express our thanks to President Trump for fighting for America’s cattle producers,” Houston continued. “Restoring U.S. beef access to China was the top agenda item resulting from the Mar-a-Lago summit in 2017, and our negotiators have never stopped working to reopen the Chinese market for U.S. beef. The Trump Administration did not allow the odds to dictate the outcome, and because of their hard work and dedication, America’s cattle producers and Chinese consumers will have a stronger relationship that will benefit both countries for generations. Today is a great day for the U.S. beef industry and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.”

When American-produced beef was banned from China for 14 years, NCBA worked with the U.S. government for more than a decade to reopen access to the market of nearly 1.4 billion consumers. American producers scored an initial victory in June 2017, when the Chinese market was reopened for the first time since 2003. NCBA joined U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and American Ambassador to China Terry Branstad in Beijing to celebrate and mark the official reopening of the Chinese market.

However, many non-science-based, non-tariff trade barriers remained in place, which limited the amount of American-produced beef that qualified for China. NCBA says that this Phase-One Agreement will begin knocking down those trade barriers and significantly improve access to what is potentially a top export market for U.S. beef producers.

Farmers Welcome Opportunities from China Agreement

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall

The United States and China today signed a “Phase 1” trade agreement that both countries say will lead to increased purchases of U.S. agricultural products by China.  “Today’s signing is an important step in giving America’s farmers and ranchers the ability to get back to business in the global market.

“China was once the largest market for U.S. agricultural products but has dropped to fifth largest since retaliatory tariffs were introduced. This agreement will help turn around two years of declining agricultural exports. The potential of tens of billions more in exports is welcome news for farmers who are eager to compete on a more level playing field.

“This is a great way to start the new year, but there is more work to do. We encourage the Senate to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to increase export opportunities with our North American neighbors. We also look forward to additional trade agreements with countries that are locking-in deals with our competitors. This must be a focus in 2020.”

-    The agreement takes effect in 30 days.
-    Over the next two years, China could potentially purchase up to $50 billion worth of agricultural products annually, according to U.S. officials.
-    As a result of the agreement the U.S. did not impose threatened tariffs on $160 billion of Chinese imports in 2019.

First Phase of U.S.-China Trade Deal Finalized

In an effort to ease tensions between their two countries, President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He today signed the first phase of a trade agreement. At the time of the signing, the deal’s text had not yet been published. However, according to the White House, China has agreed to “structural reforms” on trading, currency, and intellectual property rules and practices. The country will also reportedly increase its purchases of American goods and services by at least $200 billion over the next two years, which includes $40-50 billion worth of agricultural products. Though China has confirmed that it will increase its agricultural purchases, it has not publicly committed to a specific dollar amount, nor has it indicated which products it plans to buy.

The progress comes as a relief to National Farmers Union (NFU), which has consistently expressed concern about the consequences of President Trump’s antagonistic trade policy for American farmers and ranchers. But because the terms of the deal are still largely unclear, the organization continues to be apprehensive about its implications for agriculture and China’s trade practices.

In a statement, NFU President Roger Johnson conveyed cautious optimism about the first phase of the agreement and pushed for stronger and more enforceable provisions in the second phase:

“After so many months of uncertainty and escalating tensions, it is a good sign that our two countries appear to have found common ground. We are hopeful that this deal will meaningfully address China’s problematic trade practices and intellectual property theft as well as finally establish some stability for American farmers’ export markets.

“But given the numerous deals that have been reached and then breached in the past two years, we are also skeptical. And without more concrete details, we are deeply concerned that all of this pain may not have been worth it. Not only has this trade war cost farmers billions of dollars worth of sales to China, but it has also bruised our reputation, making other trading partners reluctant to work with us. To justify these lasting damages, this deal must deliver more than vague, unenforceable, short-term commitments ­– we need real and lasting behavioral change from China, and we need reliable and robust agricultural export markets. That is the standard the Trump administration should be aiming for as it negotiates the next phase of this agreement.”

U.S. Grains Council Statement On Signing Of U.S.-China Phase One Agreement

Chairman Darren Armstrong, farmer from North Carolina

“The U.S. Grains Council is pleased to see the signing today of a Phase One deal with China, which should reduce continued market uncertainty and incentivize China to purchase significant amounts of the full range of U.S. agricultural products, including grains, distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and ethanol, to total at least $80 billion over the next two years.

"The structural reforms, particularly those affecting feed grains, agricultural biotechnology, and sanitary and phytosanitary measures – once fully committed and implemented – will hopefully offer lasting impacts beyond short-term commitments to make accelerated, market-driven purchases. The agreement, as we understand it, will offer opportunities for U.S. farmers to once again become competitive in China and serve our customers by addressing retaliatory tariffs and long-standing, non-tariff barriers to trade.

“Our organization and our members believe in the long-term value of international trade, and we have spent more than 35 years working with partners in China to develop its feed and livestock industry. Our sector is committed to remaining a reliable supplier of grain products and ethanol for customers in the feed, food and energy industries in China as our countries' relationships evolve.”

Dairy Applauds Key Achievements Made in China Phase One

Today’s signing of the Phase One trade agreement with China makes important advances on nontariff issues harming U.S. dairy trade. While promises of additional Chinese purchases of U.S. agricultural products in the next two years are encouraging, the benefits for the dairy industry remain unclear. Given that China’s retaliatory tariffs remain a significant impediment to U.S. dairy sales in China, the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) stress that work with China is not complete until the retaliatory tariffs against all U.S. dairy exports are fully lifted.

“Today’s announcement of a deal that makes progress on regulatory restrictions and other nontariff barriers hindering dairy trade is a positive step forward. These are important deliverables that USDEC has been pressing China for over the course of the last few years,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC. “We need to continue to work with our government, China’s government and our customers to finish the job by lifting the remaining Chinese retaliatory tariffs against our exports.”

“America’s dairy farmers have been disproportionally harmed by China’s retaliatory tariffs, and we cannot ask our farmers to continue operating under this financial uncertainty,” said Randy Mooney, dairy farmer from Rogersville, MO and Chairman of NMPF, who joined President Trump and administration officials at the White House signing ceremony on Wednesday. “We appreciate the hard work invested by both the U.S. and Chinese governments, but we urge China to swiftly lift all retaliatory tariffs against U.S. dairy products and work with U.S. suppliers to fulfill their purchasing commitment.”

The Phase One deal with China makes progress on nontariff barriers important to U.S. dairy, such as:
    Tackling facility and product registration steps that have stymied firms seeking to export to China for several years;
    Improving the regulatory pathway for exports of infant formula and fluid milk (including extended shelf life milk) to China;
    Creating new transparency and due process obligations regarding geographical indications and common food names; and
    Promises of increased purchases of U.S. agricultural goods, including dairy.

Left to be fully resolved is how China will fulfill its commitment to purchase large quantities of U.S. agriculture products, including dairy.

China remains a valuable export market for U.S. dairy products, despite retaliatory tariffs. Over the 12-month period spanning December 2018 – November 2019, U.S. dairy exports to China totaled $377 million in sales. However, retaliatory tariffs on U.S. dairy products have steeply disadvantaged the U.S. industry compared to its competitors and contributed to 47 percent decline in U.S. exports to China over that same period, harming U.S. farmers, manufacturers and exporters.

Phase One Trade Deal Should Restore China’s Demand for U.S. Wheat

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) are very encouraged by the signing of a Phase One trade agreement with China. Chinese imports of U.S. soft white (SW), hard red spring (HRS) and hard red winter (HRW) wheat classes were trending up before abruptly ending when China implemented retaliatory tariffs on U.S. wheat and other agricultural commodities in March 2018.

“Even though China has huge domestic wheat stocks, they were buying more U.S. wheat because they needed it to meet growing demand for higher quality wheat foods,” said Vince Peterson, President of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), the organization funded by farmers and the U.S. government to promote wheat exports. “The losses we demonstrated soon after China stopped importing U.S. wheat have only grown since then, so we hope the agreement signed today signals a potential turn-around.”

Adding to the optimism is China’s separate agreement to work toward filling its 9.6 million metric ton (MMT) reduced tariff rate quota (TRQ) for wheat imports. If the changes are in fact implemented, and Chinese millers can respond to market signals, most of the TRQ should be used. For U.S. wheat farmers, the Phase One deal and TRQ compliance would create a very welcome opportunity for Chinese miller customers to once again apply the technical expertise and assistance USW provides to use wheat with specialized end-use applications that distinguishes U.S. wheat from domestic Chinese supplies.

"Wheat farmers have experienced the harm of unfair trading practices at the hands of China for far too long, as reinforced by the recent WTO wins. This step forward in negotiations between the U.S and China is a tremendous way to begin the new year," stated NAWG CEO Chandler Goule. "As part of its Winter Conference this week, NAWG and its states will hold several meetings on The Hill where it will be stressed to Members and staff the need to continue expanding our international markets, including to swiftly move forward with Phase One of U.S.-China trade deal."

Re-opening China would be a huge lift for wheat farmers who are still producing a quality product in spite of the income challenges they have faced for several years. USW and NAWG want to thank the negotiators in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative for their dedicated effort to create this opportunity and we look forward to learning more details about the agreement.

“Our organization and the farmers we represent agree with the Trump Administration that China has not been transparent about its protectionist policies,” Peterson said. “Now it remains to be seen if China will comply fully with its WTO commitments and this new agreement so that trade between our two countries can flourish.”

USW and NAWG are especially pleased that the agreement contains structural changes to how U.S. exporters access the Chinese market. U.S. negotiators should be commended for seeing the opportunity to build on our wins at the WTO against China’s TRQ administration and agricultural subsidy policies by including provisions on administration and transparency of policies.

The additional commitments included in the agreement contain important transparency measures, such as reporting on TRQ awards and operation of subsidy programs in addition to reaffirming commitments on eligibility for access to TRQ.

NCFC President Chuck Conner on the Signing of the Agreement between the United States and China

“The signing today of the ‘phase one’ trade agreement between the United States and the People’s Republic of China represents an important step towards helping America’s farmers and ranchers expand their exports. A key to this is that the agreement includes a commitment by China to significantly increase in purchases of U.S. agricultural exports and to reform a range of trade practices that impact agriculture. We look forward to working with the Trump Administration in the coming months to ensure that this commitment by China is kept so that American farmers can take advantage of this tremendous opportunity.”

NGFA issues statement on signing of Phase One trade accord with China

The National Grain and Feed Association issued the following statement on the signing of the Phase One trade agreement with China. NGFA Chairman Eric Wilkey, president of Arizona Grain Inc., Casa Grande, Ariz., was among agricultural industry leaders attending the signing ceremony at the White House today.

“The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) commends President Trump and his administration for successfully concluding and signing a Phase One trade accord with the People’s Republic of China. It represents a significant first step in resolving disruptions and long-standing, festering impediments involving trade between the world’s two largest economies, and contains substantial commitments from China to purchase U.S. food, agricultural and seafood products. It also is significant that the agreement contains Chinese commitments to abide by science- and risk-based processes with transparency and specific timelines for regulatory actions related to agricultural biotechnology, animal food, and meat and poultry products.

“NGFA looks forward to delving into the details of the agreement and its application to U.S. agricultural exports, and will have additional comments and analysis once doing so. But early indications are that the Phase One agreement will help begin the process of restoring U.S.-China agricultural trade volumes and effectively address several existing trade impediments for specific agricultural products. 

“NGFA believes more negotiations need to occur to resolve particularly non-tariff barriers to trade, including sanitary and phytosanitary issues, affecting grain and grain products, that too frequently and unpredictably disrupt U.S. agricultural trade with China. NGFA also seeks to restore competitive open market agricultural trade and a level playing field with China. NGFA appreciates the administration’s recognition of these issues and will be encouraging that they be addressed in Phase Two negotiations with China. NGFA hopes those discussions will begin soon to build on the momentum and progress established in the Phase One agreement.”

NSP Statement on Phase One Agreement Signing with China

National Sorghum Producers Chairman Dan Atkisson, a sorghum farmer from Stockton, Kansas, made the following statement today after the signing of the U.S.-China Phase One agreement at the White House.

"National Sorghum Producers was pleased to be a part of the signing today of a Phase One deal with China and applauds both the U.S. and Chinese administrations for their hard work to progress negotiations and reach an agreement that should lessen market uncertainty and shift purchases to more U.S. agriculture products, like sorghum, by our customers in China. Our farmers, as well as Chinese consumers, will benefit from this agreement.

We anticipate fully analyzing the terms of the deal, but as for what we understand today, it offers more opportunities for our growers to once again become competitive in the Chinese market and to regain relationships with our customers there. We know we have the sorghum to sell, and we know our customers in China want our product. Therefore, we look forward to re-establishing business at the shipment levels we saw before this process began.”

Skor statement on signing of Phase One trade agreement with China

Today, U.S and Chinese government officials signed the Phase One trade agreement, re-opening many major export markets between the two nations. Growth Energy, the nation’s largest ethanol association, CEO Emily Skor issued the following statement:

“The signing of the Phase One trade agreement with China today is another positive step towards restoring market confidence for U.S. biofuel producers,” said Skor. “We’re grateful to U.S administration officials for their continued work on securing this trade agreement at such a pivotal time for our nation’s agriculture and renewable energy industries. Breaking down trade barriers between our nations will provide a valuable opportunity to restore demand for American biofuel, and we hope to soon see biofuels and DDG exports back on the Chinese market.”

In 2016, China was the third largest export market for U.S. biofuels, but exports were nearly eliminated due to retaliatory tariffs and trade negotiations. 

RFA Hails First Phase of U.S.­–China Trade Agreement

With today's signing of the first part of the new U.S.–China trade agreement, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper released the following statement.

“We are very optimistic about the potential of this agreement for American agriculture and the renewable fuels industry—with the inclusion of ethanol and key co-products like distillers grains—and are looking forward to more specific details on the agreement. America’s ethanol producers have experienced significant economic losses due to punitive Chinese tariffs on our products, and we are eager to return to a more open trading relationship with China. Chinese consumers understand that using ethanol can lower fuel prices and help address major air quality concerns in urban areas across the country. In addition, the ethanol industry’s animal feed co-products are an economical source of nutrition for China’s livestock and poultry sector.

“We hope this deal reopens the door immediately for meaningful exports of both ethanol and feed co-products to China, and we thank President Trump, the U.S. Trade Representative, and U.S. Department of Agriculture for their efforts to reopen the Chinese market to U.S. agricultural and energy products. And like President Trump in his remarks right before the signing, we also appreciate the hard work of Sens. Chuck Grassley, Joni Ernst and Deb Fischer as true champions for ethanol.”

ACE: China phase one trade deal is a step forward, but significant ethanol market constraints remain

Today, a “phase one” trade agreement between the U.S. and China was signed and is set to go into effect within 30 days. Among other provisions, the partial agreement includes a commitment by China to purchase agricultural products over the next two years, including U.S. ethanol and distillers grains. American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings issued the following statement after early assessment of the available trade agreement details:

“Phase one represents a positive step in the right direction, especially once we have evidence that China has made actual purchases of U.S. ethanol and distillers grains, but given ongoing export and domestic market constraints, there is much more work to do.

“The signing of this partial trade deal with China doesn’t erase the pain still being felt at home due to the artificial lid EPA’s mismanagement of the Renewable Fuel Standard has placed on domestic ethanol demand. Further, today’s trade agreement follows reports that China suspended its plan to implement an E10 nationwide mandate this year, raising more uncertainty for the industry. We remain hopeful the next phase of talks with China can conclude with the restoration of a robust and enforceable trade relationship.”

Tuesday January 14 Ag News

Conservation efforts recognized at Lower Elkhorn NRD Awards Banquet

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) board honored outstanding conservationists at their annual awards banquet on Thursday, January 9th, 2020.  The event was held at the Stables Event Center in Norfolk.

Outstanding Partnership Award – Steve Rasmussen of Wayne

LENRD Board Chairman, Gary Loftis of Craig, presented the partnership award.  Loftis said, “The District works with various agencies and partners each year as we strive to improve the quality of life for the citizens across Northeast Nebraska.  The Outstanding Partnership Award recognizes excellence in community outreach efforts that highlight our mission of protecting our natural resources for future generations.”

Loftis said, “We want to recognize Steve Rasmussen of Wayne, District Forester with the Nebraska Forest Service, for his outstanding partnership with us, in promoting our projects and programs across our 15-county district.”

For the past 37 years, Steve has held a strong partnership with the NRDs across the state.  He started with the Nebraska Forest Service in 1982 working as the NFS Forester and the NRD Forester for the Lower Loup NRD in Ord.

In 1984, he became the Nebraska Forest Service – Northeast District / Extension Forester at Concord.  In 2007 he became the Coordinator for the four-state Great Plains Forestry Initiative until 2010.  He then returned to the Nebraska Forest Service as the Northeast District Forester from 2010 to the present.  He has also been a member of the Society of American Foresters for 30 years.

Steve’s work involves providing professional forestry assistance to 15 counties in 5 NRDs across northeast Nebraska.  He works primarily with the design and management of conservation tree plantings as well as riparian forest and woodland management.  He also deals with the marketing and utilization of wood resources.  Educating our youth and the public about the importance and care of trees is also a large part of Steve’s work.  He has partnered with the NRDs to bring education programs to the schools and communities across 5 districts.  He continues to promote our programs to community leaders and presents Arbor Day and other tree celebration programming.  Working with communities with tree resources and tree planting grants is also a highlight of Steve’s career.  Promoting and assisting with local arboretums and overall technical assistance to tree owners on the care and management of trees takes much time and effort.

Loftis added, “Steve has always been a strong supporter of the NRDs and our mission.  He has worked side by side with us to inform the public of our programs and to assist in tree planting projects across the area.  In the aftermath of the 2019 flood, Steve assisted with many calls and visits to producers across our district.  We appreciate Steve’s support of our projects and his willingness to jump in and assist us.  Thank you, Steve, for your partnership in protecting our natural resources for future generations.”

Sustainable Agriculture Award – Dan & Melinda Stelling & Family

The Lower Elkhorn NRD’s Conservation Honor Farm awards were first presented in 1973.  The winners are selected for their demonstrated excellence in soil & water conservation.  Dan & Melinda Stelling & Family of Pierce were honored at the banquet for their outstanding conservation work as the 2019 Sustainable Agriculture Award winners.

Dan Gillespie, NRCS No-till Specialist for Madison County, nominated the Dan Stelling Family for this award.  Gillespie said, “Over the past 40 years, Dan Stelling has utilized innovative techniques to conserve soil and water in his farming practices.  Dan describes his journey in conservation and regenerative agriculture as a series of steps taken that culminated in the systems he now operates on his farms.”

Dan’s first step was starting to no-till all crops in 2004.  He gives no-till the credit for starting his transition to regenerative agriculture on his farms.  The no-till stopped soil erosion from water and wind on his Valentine sands and reduced evaporative losses from the cropland.

Step two came in 2006 when Dan flew cereal rye on his soybean ground as a participant in the LENRD Cover Crop Incentive Program.  He grazed the cereal rye cover crops in the spring with the cow calf herd, then would remove the cows and plant the corn right away, terminating the rye a week or two afterwards.  After a few years of trials, they have been planting green since 2009.  Planting green allows the cover crop to grow more biomass in the soil and allows for a friendly soil biological environment for the newly germinated seedlings.

In 2019, Dan diversified his crop rotation to include small grains on one quarter.  After planting cereal rye as a cover crop in soybean stubble and terminating it, he planted half the quarter to oats and peas that were later harvested as hay.  He followed that with a mix of BMR Sorghum, mung beans, guar, buckwheat and black oil sunflowers.  Dan will utilize that half quarter for winter grazing for the cow herd.  The other half quarter was planted to a grazing corn, cowpeas, forage soybeans, and sunflower mix, and was chopped for silage.  The field was then planted to a mix of grazing popcorn, spring peas, spring oats, cereal rye, forage collards, purple top turnips, and radishes.  That mix will be grazed in the spring with cow calf pairs.  The implementation of small grains into their crop rotation has enabled them to plant multi-species cover crops that provide quality forage for their cowherd to graze, while providing opportunities to take pressure off pastures.

Dan farms two quarters in the Bazile Groundwater Management Area and has plans to implement cover crops on them next year.  The implementation of continuous no-till with cover crops will keep soil out of the creek and nitrates out of the groundwater.  Planting cover crops also sequesters nutrients unused by the cash grain crops, making them available to the next cash crop.

Gillespie added, “Dan and Melinda have been leaders ‘in the field’ by adopting soil health practices and implementing regenerative agriculture systems.  The diverse crop rotations and diversified ag enterprises they enlist on their farms are modeling the way to reduce expenses and increase profitability.  The time savings that no-till farming provides also allows them to be active in their community.  Dan and Melinda are Huddle Group Leaders for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Pierce High School.  Congratulations to the Stelling family as the recipients of the 2019 Sustainable Agriculture Award.”

Staff Awards

Staff awards were also presented during the banquet by Chairman Loftis, and General Manager, Mike Sousek.

Char Newkirk of Stanton – Conservation Aide in the Stanton County NRCS office – 20 years of service

Valissa Tegeler of Battle Creek – Programs Assistant in the Madison County NRCS office – 20 years of service

Danny Johnson of Decatur –  Logan East Rural Water System Technician in the Oakland office – Danny recently retired after 25 years of service.

Julie Wragge of Pierce – Information & Education Specialist in the Norfolk office - 25 years of service

Vickie DeJong of Pierce – Administrative Supervisor in the Norfolk office – 40 years of service

NC Plan Cattlemen at the Capitol Day 

9:00 am - 2:30 pm
Scottish Rite Ballroom, 322 Centennial Mall, Lincoln

Cattlemen at the Capitol will focus on engaging members of Nebraska Cattlemen in the political process.  Learn how you can be more involved advocating for the beef industry in Lincoln and outside the Capitol.  

Strength in numbers at the Capitol shows our elected representatives that Nebraska Cattlemen members truly care about the issues that directly impact the states #1 industry! 

9:00 am -11:30 am    Member issues briefing and legislative workshop 
11:45 am -1:00 pm    Lunch with Senators
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm     Capitol and Senator Visits 

For more information or to RSVP email or calling 402-475-2333.


The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) is currently accepting grant proposals for its Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP). NDA administers the program which is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Specialty crops are generally defined as fruits, vegetables, nuts, honey and some turf and ornamental crops. The deadline for submitting proposals is Jan. 31, 2020.

“Specialty crops help grow Nebraska’s economy by adding value and variety to our ag industry,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman. “The money awarded to selected projects supports the research, development and marketing of specialty crops which will benefit Nebraska agriculture for years to come.”

For the 2020 SCBG program, NDA anticipates approximately $700,000 will be available to fund new projects. Producers, organizations and associations, as well as state and local agencies, educational groups and other specialty crops stakeholders are eligible to apply.

Last fall, several organizations in Nebraska received nearly $675,000 in USDA grants to fund projects designed to strengthen the specialty crop industry in the state.

This year’s proposals will be reviewed and scored using select criteria. Applicants who make it through the first round will be asked to submit additional information. NDA and USDA will announce the projects receiving funding in the fall.

Instructions for submitting a proposal, proposal applications, performance measures and program guidelines are available on NDA’s website at All proposals should be saved as a Microsoft Word .docx file and sent electronically to by the Jan. 31 deadline. For additional information contact Casey Foster at 402-471-4876, or by the email listed above.

To view a comprehensive list of eligible specialty crops and examples of projects funded under the SCBGP, visit USDA’s website at

GAO to Investigate EPA Misuse of Small Refinery Exemptions

Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) announced that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) had responded to a letter written by bipartisan members of the House Biofuels Caucus, including Axne and Rep. Abby Finkenauer (IA-01), requesting an investigation into the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) misuse of small refinery exemptions. The GAO accepted the request, and according to the letter will "begin work shortly."

"Year after year, this administration has let Iowans down by issuing an unprecedented number of small refinery exemptions," Rep. Axne said. "These exemptions are a handout to big oil at the expense of ethanol producers and Iowa farmers. I am pleased that the GAO will conduct an investigation of the EPA's handling of these exemptions."

Since 2017, the EPA has issued over eighty small refinery exemptions (SREs), resulting in the loss of demand for billions of gallons of renewable fuel and millions of bushels of corn.

On Aug. 21, Axne joined bipartisan members of the House Biofuels Caucus, including Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson, in requesting the GAO conduct an investigation of the Environmental Protection Agency's handling of SREs. Axne also requested an investigation by the EPA's Office of Inspector General.

In addition to Axne and Peterson, the original request was also backed by Abby Finkenauer, Rodney Davis, Roger Marshall, Dave Loebsack, Mike Bost, Don Bacon, Dusty Johnson, Cheri Bustos, Adam Kinzinger and Darin LaHood.

In its reply to Axne, GAO Orice Williams Brown, managing director of its congressional relations, said the department accepted the request as work within its scope of authority.

"As applicable, we will also be in contact with the cognizant Inspector General's office to ensure that we are not duplicating efforts. If an issue arises during this coordination, we will consult with you regarding its resolution," Brown wrote.

Naig Presents Renewable Fuels Marketing Awards to Diamond Oil Company and Elliott Oil Company

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig presented the 2020 Renewable Fuels Marketing Awards to Elliott Oil Company of Ottumwa, Iowa, and Diamond Oil Company of Des Moines at the FuelIOWA Annual Meeting.

“Renewable fuels are good for everyone — consumers at the pump, farmers, rural Iowa communities and the environment,” said Secretary Naig. “I am proud to recognize Elliott Oil Company and Diamond Oil Company for their continued commitment and innovative efforts to grow this important market for Iowa’s economy.”

The Secretary’s Ethanol and Biodiesel Marketing Awards were created by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to recognize fuel marketers that have gone above and beyond in their efforts to raise awareness about the benefits of and generate demand for renewable fuels.

Secretary’s Ethanol Marketing Award

Elliott Oil Company is the recipient of the 2020 Secretary’s Ethanol Marketing Award. Located in Ottumwa, Elliott Oil has been a renewable fuels leader for decades. The company was founded in 1961 and currently employs 237 people.

Elliott Oil operates its retail motor fuel locations under the BP brand and has five locations offering E85. In recent years, Elliott Oil has participated in the Iowa Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Program and has increased private investments into its retail locations to accommodate the sale of high blend ethanol products.

Over the past year, Elliott Oil has promoted the growing interest and demand for E15 in Iowa to BP brand representatives. Through its efforts, Elliott Oil has reached an agreement with BP to allow the sale of E15 under the BP brand canopy at its location in Osceola.

Iowa leads the nation in ethanol production. Elliott Oil’s efforts help build demand for ethanol while encouraging discussions between retailers and their parent brands about incorporating E15 into their product offerings.

Randy and Andrew Woodard received the award on behalf of Elliott Oil.

Secretary’s Biodiesel Marketing Award

Diamond Oil Company is the recipient of the 2020 Secretary's Biodiesel Marketing Award. Located in Des Moines, Diamond Oil has made a commitment to supplying biodiesel to its diverse customer base.

While Diamond Oil supplies and markets biodiesel through traditional brick and mortar retail outlets, its biodiesel footprints extend into high-volume end-users in the agriculture, residential, industrial, racing and transportation arenas. The company has been serving customers since 1978.

As its education and marketing efforts have expanded its biodiesel sales, Diamond Oil has participated in the Iowa Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Program to complement its significant private investments. The company expanded its infrastructure to support the growing demand for biodiesel by installing terminals in Des Moines and State Center.

The biodiesel terminal infrastructure at the company’s bulk storage facilities allows Diamond Oil to provide custom blending options tailored to each customer. With its infrastructure, Diamond Oil can blend B20 through B98, depending on the customer’s request.

Jim Martin received the award on behalf of Diamond Oil.

Renewable Fuels Industry Overview

Iowa leads the nation in the production of ethanol and biodiesel. Iowa has 43 ethanol refineries capable of producing more than 4.1 billion gallons annually. In addition, Iowa has 12 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce nearly 350 million gallons annually.

Pork Industry Releases New Sustainability Report

Today, the pork industry released its new sustainability report, Commit and Improve: Pig Farmers’ Approach to Sustainability, and updated website, The report and website share firsthand accounts and data supporting pig farmers’ progress toward sustainability through the We Care ethical principles.

As pig farmers, we are committed to producing safe food, protecting the environment and caring for our pigs by following the six We Care ethical principles,” said David Newman, president of the National Pork Board and a pig farmer representing Arkansas. “These new resources were developed to share relevant information and metrics and to lay a foundation for continuous improvement in the area of sustainability.”

The new report demonstrates the progress pig farmers have made toward the We Care ethical principles of: Food Safety, Animal Well-Being, the Environment, Public Health, Our People and Communities Data for the report was gathered from governmental agencies, the pork industry’s life cycle assessment and pig farmers from across the country. Highlights that demonstrate the pork industry’s commitment to the We Care principles include:
-    According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pork production contributes just 0.46% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere.
-    More than 71,000 individuals are Pork Quality Assurance® Plus (PQA® Plus) certified, representing roughly 85% of U.S. pork production.
-    The pork value chain has come together to develop and use the Common Swine Industry Audit, which is certified by the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization.
-    The most recent life-cycle assessment, A Retrospective of U.S. Pork Production, shows a significant reduction in the use of natural resources during the past 55 years. Per pound of pork produced, U.S. pork producers have reduced land use by 76%, water use by 25%, energy use by 7% and their carbon footprint by more than 7%.
-    More than 94% of pig farms keep detailed medical and treatment records, which shows pig farmers’ commitment to responsible antibiotic use.
-    In 2018, pig farmers donated 3.2 million servings of food, volunteered more than 54,000 hours and donated more than $5.5 million to local charities.

“The findings in the sustainability report and on not only illustrate our commitment to ethical and sustainable practices, but also show our commitment to transparency as an industry,” said Brett Kaysen, assistant vice president of sustainability for the Pork Checkoff. “We look forward to sharing this powerful story and our continued progress with the global pork supply chain and with consumers around the world.”

The report can be downloaded at

NFU Urges Strengthening of Conservation Stewardship Program

As the U.S. Department of Agriculture works towards 2018 Farm Bill implementation with the introduction of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) interim rule, National Farmers Union (NFU) is urging the agency to strengthen the working lands program to better help farmers improve conservation practices on their operations. In comments submitted to USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and in a statement released today, NFU President Roger Johnson emphasized the program’s value and recommended improvements to ensure its efficacy.

“Family farmers and ranchers understand the importance of conserving natural resources and mitigating climate change – their very livelihoods depend on it. But the agricultural practices that build soil, water, and air quality, bolster biodiversity, and sequester atmospheric carbon often require significant time, money, and expertise. That’s why programs that provide financial and technical assistance for conservation efforts – including the Conservation Stewardship Program – are so vital and so popular. Currently, far more farmers are applying for contracts than available funding can support.

“Given the high demand for and considerable value of CSP, it is especially important that every single dollar set aside for the program in the farm bill be used prudently and in full. There are a number of ways to get more environmental bang for the program’s buck. For one, the application process should not penalize long-term stewardship by prioritizing applicants who have not previously engaged in best practices over those who have. Instead, contracts should be awarded based on overall environmental benefits provided.

“Additionally, CSP should not just benefit the largest operations, nor should it benefit those not actively farming – in order to make funding available to the largest number of engaged farmers possible, USDA should enforce a payment limit of $200,000 and prohibit payments to cash-rent landlords.

“Finally, CSP should give greater consideration to soil health. Healthy soil is the foundation of a healthy farm: not only does it boost crop yields, but it also mitigates climate change by storing carbon and helps farmers adapt by building resilience to extreme weather events. All conservation programs, CSP included, should reflect the vital role of soil health – we urge NRCS to be more specific and expansive in its soil health efforts to better help farmers as they cope with a rapidly changing climate.”

The Future of Biodiesel Comes into Focus in Tampa in the New Year

All eyes will be on Tampa Bay in the new year when the annual National Biodiesel Conference & Expo unveils "Vision 2020" at the Tampa Convention Center, January 21.

The largest gathering of North American biodiesel enthusiasts arrive in Florida on a roll with recent policy victories in Washington, DC, and California, as well as a heating oil industry that is partnering with producers to reduce pollution in the Northeast with the cleaner burning, renewable fuel.

"Last year at this time, U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel producers faced an uncertain future," said Donnell Rehagen, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board. "Thanks to our members and the support of the industry's coast-to-coast champions, we're rolling into the new year reinvigorated to deliver even more biodiesel to both our transportation and home heating fuel customers."

While celebrating the advancements in 2019, Rehagen said the focus at the conference will be to share a clear vision for what the biodiesel industry needs to accomplish in the years ahead.

"We have arrived at where we are because we recognized the importance of strategic planning and setting goals to continue to grow the industry," Rehagen said. "This is an opportunity to lay out a roadmap full of growth for the next ten years for a fuel that is -- more than ever -- better, cleaner, and available now coast-to-coast.”

The conference offers an engaging lineup of speakers, with keynote speeches and roundtable discussions presented by industry experts. Attendees will get new information on the latest vehicle technology, take a deep dive into the future of renewable fuels, and hear from expert speakers on environmental policy.

In the expo hall, dozens of companies servicing the biodiesel industry will share their newest technology and products and provide fans an inside look at how America’s Advanced Biofuel is produced and delivered to their hometown. Residents with a valid Florida driver’s license or military ID will be welcomed to the conference on Wednesday, January 22 (no industry representatives, please).

In addition, the always popular vehicle showcase and ride-and-drive events will provide conference attendees the opportunity to check out the latest biodiesel cars and trucks rolling out from the world’s largest manufacturers.

New BLOOM! Campaign Introduces Youth to Plant-based Solutions to Community Challenges

Press Release

Today, Seed Your Future announced the launch of “Plants to the Rescue!” — its newest BLOOM! campaign to excite young people about the power of plants and their unique ability to help solve some of the most pressing problems in their communities. Teaming up with Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education, and media company, BLOOM! provides free eye-catching, fact-based content delivered both inside and outside of the classroom.

Plants are critical to a healthy future for the planet, but their power is unknown to most American youth. The latest BLOOM! campaign marks year three of this initiative of Seed Your Future, a coalition of more than 200 partners — including horticulture companies, gardening organizations, schools, colleges, universities, public gardens, youth organizations, nonprofit organizations and individual advocates — united in their mission to promote horticulture and careers working with plants.

“Youth have told us that they want to help solve some of the most difficult problems in our world today,” said Susan E. Yoder, executive director of Seed Your Future. “They hear about world-hunger, climate change, flooding, air pollution, noise pollution, food deserts and more and they’re anxious to do something about it — but they don’t know how or even what would make a difference. BLOOM! helps them to identify the root of each challenge and opens their eyes to how plants and the people who work with them can make a positive difference.”

Seed Your Future, along with Scholastic, has expanded its educator website – The site includes sample lesson plans, student activities, and a robust online learning module. The module contains a dynamic video along with a trivia game, virtual plant dissection tool and plant matching game to reinforce the learning in the activities and video. 

The new contest and sweepstakes — the “Plants to the Rescue! Plant Mash-up” takes learning a step further and engages students in imagining their own plant hybrid with unique qualities to benefit a specific challenge in their own community. They will select an issue, then describe a new plant-based solution and illustrate their idea. Prizes are awarded to both the student and the educator/youth program leader/parent of the winning submissions. In addition, a sweepstakes component of the contest gives every submission the chance to be a winner.

BLOOM! is educating and inspiring young people about the power of plants and green-collar career opportunities. New this year is a colorful classroom poster introducing youth to the more than 100 careers working with plants. In addition to the educator website, the main Seed Your Future website — serves as a digital hub of resources on careers in horticulture, including links to cool videos, real-life stories, and engaging content to inspire youth and their families.

Seed Your Future’s premise is that whether BLOOM! introduces today’s youth to a lifelong passion or a fulfilling career, one thing is clear — the more you know about plants, the more you can make a difference in the world today.

Monday January 13 Ag News

2020 Class of the Corn and Soybean Ambassador Program Announced

This year, eleven University of Nebraska-Lincoln students, as part of the 2020 Corn and Soy Collegiate Ambassador Program, are getting the chance to learn more about the corn and soybean industries. The Nebraska Corn Growers Association and Nebraska Soybean Association launched the Corn and Soy Ambassador Program to give students a comprehensive understanding of the industries. The program’s goals are to educate the students about state and federal policy issues affecting agriculture, and opportunities available to them from supporting organizations like the Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Soybean Board and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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 being provided by the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Soybean Board.

The eleven members of the 2020 class are:
    Nicole Hanson, Concord
    Alexandria Humlicek, Linwood
    Halie Andreasen, St. Edward
    Taylor Nielsen, Lincoln
    Jennifer Howsden, Alma
    Tanner Nun, Geneva
    Josh Bauer, Ravenna
    Payton Flower, Scottsbluff
    Emma Hoffschneider, Burwell
    Daniel Petersen, Nora
    Brigita Rasmussen, Hudson, SD

During the year the ambassadors will take part in four seminars. The first seminar covers state and federal policies affecting the corn and soybean industries. The second seminar will focus on the role of checkoff programs in promoting corn and soybeans.

During the summer students will partake in an ag industry bus tour. Stops will include different agribusinesses including manufacturing, production, and processing. These stops will hopefully give students more insight into potential jobs and internships in the industry. As part of the program students are also asked to spend time promoting the state’s corn and soybean grower associations and checkoffs at promotional events such as Husker Harvest Day and Soybean Management Field Days.

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association and Nebraska Soybean Association would like to congratulate the recently graduated nine members of the 2019 Corn and Soy Ambassador class on a successful year!

Beef Quality Assurance Program Continues Impressive Growth

The Beef Quality Assurance program continues to grow significantly, with more than 100,000 cattle producers now certified through its online learning system. The online option was introduced by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, in early 2017. Since the BQA program was initiated in the early 1990s hundreds of thousands have become BQA-certified through in-person and online training, with an estimated 85 percent of the U.S. fed beef supply now touched by BQA-certified operations.

The Beef Checkoff-funded BQA program is a nationally coordinated, state implemented program that provides systematic information to U.S. beef producers and beef consumers of how commonsense husbandry techniques can be coupled with accepted scientific knowledge to raise cattle under optimum management and environmental conditions. BQA guidelines are designed to make certain all beef consumers can take pride in what they purchase – and can trust and have confidence in the entire beef industry.

Online BQA training provides 24/7 access to the program through a series of videos and animations. While in-person training is still available through numerous sessions conducted by in-state BQA coordinators throughout the country, online certification provides a chance for certification at any time. Three courses are available (cow/calf, stocker/backgrounder and feedyard) to deliver a program that most closely aligns with the individual’s operation. The tools are also available in Spanish. BQA Transportation training for professional cattle haulers and farmers and ranchers is also available through the platform.

“Over the past year we’ve doubled our online certifications, which is a tremendous accomplishment,” according to Bob Smith, DVM, chair of the BQA Advisory Board. “This demonstrates that U.S. beef producers and transporters continue to embrace this tool for optimizing quality in their operations. Those participating in the BQA program can be proud of their work, which gives consumers more confidence in the beef they’re buying.”

For information on completing online BQA training, go to

USDA to Re-Survey for Unharvested Corn, Soybeans

USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service will re-contact respondents who previously reported acreage not yet harvested in Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin in the spring, once producers are able to finish harvesting remaining acres. If the newly collected data justifies any changes, NASS will update the Jan. 10 estimates in a future report. Stocks estimates are also subject to review since unharvested production is included in the estimate of on-farm stocks.

When producers were surveyed for the Crop Production 2019 Summary there was significant unharvested acreage of corn in Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin; and soybean acreage not yet harvested in Michigan, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. The unharvested area and expected production were included in the totals released on Jan. 10.

As a result of this work, NASS may release updated acreage, yield, production, and stocks estimates for corn and soybeans later this spring. Because farmers' ability to complete harvest is impacted by winter weather, timing of the re-contacts and subsequent publication schedule will be announced at a later date.

Peterson Bill Would Allow Marketing of Hemp-Derived CBD in Dietary Supplements

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson of Minnesota introduced legislation today that would provide the Food and Drug Administration with the flexibility to allow hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) to be marketed in dietary supplements. The bill would also require a study and report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the production of hemp, on the regulatory and market barriers for farmers engaged in hemp production.

“The last two Farm Bills were landmark successes for hemp, but we are still very early in this process, and growers need regulatory certainty,” said Peterson. “This bill will allow FDA to regulate CBD that comes from hemp as a dietary supplement, providing a pathway forward for hemp-derived products. It would also identify barriers to success for hemp farmers, informing growers and policy makers of the challenges facing this new industry.”

Trump to Speak with Farmers and Ranchers at Farm Bureau’s Annual Convention

President Donald J. Trump, for the third year in a row, will address farm and ranch families at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 101st Annual Convention. The address is scheduled for January 19 in Austin, Texas, at the Austin Convention Center.

“The American Farm Bureau is honored President Trump will return for a third consecutive year to speak with farmers and ranchers who work tirelessly to produce the quality food and fiber our country needs,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “We are grateful that he has made agricultural issues a priority and look forward to welcoming him to Austin at a time when there is much to talk about, from trade progress to important regulatory reforms.”

Other officials currently scheduled to attend are: Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.).

Beef Exports (again) a Key Factor to Watch in 2020

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

The latest Monthly Trade data for November 2019 was released by USDA Economic Research Service last week. The report continued the recent trend of lower monthly exports as compared to 2018. After three consecutive years of double-digit increases (2016-2018) in beef exports, current data show January-November 2019 exports to be down 4.6 percent compared to the same period in 2018. There are also new and hopeful trade deals to add to the mix with Japan, Canada, Mexico, and China. Needless to say, there are plenty of moving parts for 2020.

November 2019 beef exports were 8 percent below the same month of 2018 at just under 245 million pounds. For January-November 2019, exports to four of the top five destinations were lower (Japan, Mexico, Canada, Hong Kong) with the exception of South Korea which is up 6.3 percent. Japan is still the top destination for U.S. beef though the gap between first and second place narrowed. Through November 2019, 26.5 percent of U.S. beef exports went to Japan and 22.6 percent went to South Korea. In 2018, 28 percent of beef exports went to Japan and 20.2 percent went to South Korea. Exports to Mexico (14.1 percent of total) and Canada (8.8 percent of total) are below year-ago levels but are tracking near their respective export shares for 2018. Exports to Hong Kong meanwhile are down 23 percent through November and the share of total exports was only 7.5 percent compared to 10 percent in 2018.

It is important to note that 2019 was not at all a "bad" year for beef exports. Even with the decline from 2018, it will still very likely go down as the second-largest beef export year on record. The 3.02 billion pounds of 2019 beef exports projected by the monthly USDA World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) would trail only the 3.16 billion pounds exported in 2018.

On the trade agreement front, the bilateral trade deal with Japan will lower tariffs on U.S. beef and has the potential to slow the decline in U.S. market share in Japan. The expected agreement with Canada and Mexico (USMCA) would also remove uncertainty about the future of trade with those countries. Though exports to China are only one percent of US total beef exports, the increasing reports that a Phase 1 trade agreement with China will be reached could also alleviate market uncertainty across many products. Put it all together and the trade agreement news for beef has been positive in recent months.

Where does that leave us for 2020? It leaves us with plenty of questions! Beef exports are generally expected to be strong in 2020. The latest WASDE projection for 2020 beef exports is 3.3 billion pounds which would be a new record and about 9 percent above 2019 levels. But the recent declines and the impact of new and expected trade deals should make exports in 2020 interesting to track.

New Consumer Lawsuit Challenges USDA’s New Swine Inspection System

Press Release

Today, Center for Food Safety (CFS), Food & Water Watch (FWW), and two supporting members filed an action against the U.S. Department of Agriculture for issuing New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) rules that undermine pork-safety inspection in slaughter plants.

The NSIS rules are a draconian reversal to the swine slaughter inspection system that has existed in the United States since 1906. Prior federal law required that meat inspectors critically examine each and every animal for conditions (as dangerous as septicemia and salmonella) before and after slaughter.

The new rules prevent such inspection and hand over these responsibilities to the slaughter companies themselves. They also surrender federal control over removing contamination from carcasses to slaughter companies without any minimum training requirements for slaughter-plant employees.

At the same time, the NSIS rules lifted prior limits on slaughter-line speeds that were in place to prevent foodborne illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths. Even with these line-speed limits, contaminated pork may cause as many as 1.5 million cases of foodborne illnesses, 7,000 hospitalizations, and 200 deaths in the United States each year.

The lawsuit claims NSIS rules cannot stand and must be permanently stopped. USDA is acting beyond its authority in essentially leaving inspection up to slaughter companies. These new rules are contrary to the Federal Meat Inspection Act.

“Reducing the number of trained federal inspectors and increasing line speeds is a recipe for disaster,” said Ryan Talbott, Staff Attorney for CFS. “USDA has an obligation to protect the health and welfare of consumers. USDA cannot do that when it takes a back seat and lets the slaughter plants largely regulate themselves.” 

“There is no gray area here. The new rules curtail the ability of federal inspectors to detect serious food-safety problems and expose those who consume such pork products to serious health threats like salmonella,” said Zach Corrigan, Senior Staff Attorney, Food & Water Watch. “It’s easy to read between the lines with these new rules: the USDA is letting the wolf guard the hog-house. Food safety is one of the most important protections in our country and gifting the slaughter industry self-regulation powers will mean pork eaters in this country will be facing higher threats of disease.”

This is the fourth action challenging the NSIS rules. FWW has filed a separate lawsuit for the agency’s violation of the Freedom of Information Act and concealing of information related to the rules. The newest complaint is the first to challenge the rules because of the harm posed to consumers. The 69-page complaint details in more than 358 paragraphs how the agency has delegated critical inspection activities to the slaughter companies themselves and how this will harm public health. Two other groups have challenged the rules because of the harm posed to plant employees and to the animals because they will result in inhumane treatment.

Friday January 10 USDA Reports + Ag News


Corn for grain production in Nebraska based on year-end surveys is estimated at 1.79 billion bushels, down slightly from 2018, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Yield of 182 bushels per acre is down 10 bushels from last year. Farmers harvested 9.81 million acres of corn for grain, up 5 percent from 2018. Corn for silage production is 4.60 million tons, down slightly from last year. Silage yield of 23.0 tons per acre is up 2.0 tons from last year. Corn for silage harvested acreage of 200,000 acres is down 20,000 acres from last year. Corn acreage planted for all purposes is 10.1 million acres, up 5 percent from last year. 

Soybean production for 2019 totaled 283 million bushels, down 13 percent from 2018. Yield, at 58.5 bushels per acre, is up 0.5 bushel from a year earlier. Area for harvest, at 4.84 million acres, is down 13 percent from 2018. Planted acreage totaled 4.90 million acres, down 13 percent from last year.

Sorghum for grain production in 2019 is estimated at 12.1 million bushels, down 24 percent from 2018. Yield, at 93.0 bushels per acre, is down 1.0 bushel from a year earlier. Area harvested for grain, at 130,000 acres, is down 24 percent from 2018. Sorghum for silage production is 600,000 tons, up 173 percent from last year. Silage yield of 10.0 tons per acre is down 1.0 ton from last year. Sorghum for silage harvested acreage of 60,000 acres is up 40,000 acres from last year. Sorghum acreage planted for all purposes is 200,000 acres, down 30,000 acres from last year. 

Alfalfa hay production, at 3.61 million tons, is down 1 percent from a year earlier. The average yield, at 3.80 tons per acre, is down 0.50 ton per acre from 2018. Area harvested, at  950,000 acres, is up 12 percent from 2018. Alfalfa haylage and greenchop production, at 205,000 tons, is up 105 percent from last year. Average yield, at 4.10 tons per acre, is up 0.10 ton per acre from last year. Area harvested, at 50,000 acres, is up 25,000 acres from last year. Seedings of alfalfa during 2019 totaled 140,000 acres, up 20,000 acres from a year earlier. 

All other hay production, at 2.48 million tons, is down 26 percent from last year. The average yield, at 1.65 tons per acre, is down 0.15 ton per acre from last year. Area harvested, at 1.50 million acres, is down 19 percent from 2018. All other haylage and greenchop production, at 145,000 tons, is up 42 percent from last year. Average yield, at 5.80 tons per acre, is down 1.00 ton per acre from last year. Area harvested, at 25,000 acres, is up 10,000 acres from last year. 

Proso millet production in 2019 is estimated at 3.29 million bushels, up 27 percent from last year's production. Yield, at 31.0 bushels per acre, is down 1.0 bushel from a year earlier. Area harvested for grain, at 106,000 acres, is up 31 percent from 2018. Area planted, at 115,000 acres, is up 21 percent from last year.

Oil sunflower production in 2019 is 33.8 million pounds, down 1 percent from last year. Yield, at 1,300 pounds per acre, is down 120 pounds from a year earlier. Area harvested, at  26,000 acres, is up 8 percent from 2018. Area planted, at 28,000 acres, is up 12 percent from last year. Non-oil sunflower production of 11.1 million pounds is down 17 percent from last year. Yield, at 1,300 pounds per acre, is down 100 pounds from a year earlier. Area harvested, at  8,500 acres, is down 1,000 acres from 2018. Area planted, at 9,000 acres, is down 25 percent from last year. 

Sugarbeet production is estimated at 1.07 million tons, down 24 percent from last year. Yield is estimated at 25.4 tons per acre, down 6.5 tons from the previous year. Acres harvested are estimated at 42,100 acres, down 5 percent from the previous year. Area planted, at 44,000 acres, is down 1,500 acres from last year.

Dry edible bean production is estimated at 1.88 million cwt with a yield of 1,940 pounds per acre. Area harvested is estimated at 97,000 acres with total acreage planted of 120,000 acres. Beginning in 2019, chickpeas are excluded from the dry edible bean estimates. 

Dry edible pea production is estimated at 667,000 cwt, down 26 percent from 2018. Yield is estimated at 2,300 pounds per acre, up 460 pounds from last year. Acres harvested are estimated at 29,000, down 41 percent from a year ago. Total acreage planted is 31,000 acres, down 47 percent from last year.

Potato production is 9.46 million cwt, up 2 percent from 2018. Yield, at 480 cwt per acre, is unchanged from a year earlier. Area harvested, at 19,700 acres, is up 400 acres from 2018. Area planted, at 20,000 acres, is up 500 acres from last year.


Nebraska corn stocks in all positions on December 1, 2019 totaled 1.48 billion bushels, up 2 percent from 2018, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Of the total, 940 million bushels are stored on farms, up 3 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 540 million bushels, are up slightly from last year. 

Soybeans stored in all positions totaled 261 million bushels, down 13 percent from last year. Onfarm stocks of 88.0 million bushels are down 27 percent from a year ago, while off-farm stocks, at 173 million bushels, are down 3 percent from 2018. 

Wheat stored in all positions totaled 53.2 million bushels, down 14 percent from a year ago. Onfarm stocks of 5.90 million bushels are up 59 percent from 2018, and off-farm stocks of 47.3 million bushels are down 19 percent from last year. 

Sorghum stored in all positions totaled 10.3 million bushels, down 12 percent from last year. On-farm stocks of 1.40 million bushels are down 50 percent and off farm holdings of 8.92 million bushels are up slightly from last year.

On-farm oats totaled 670,000 bushels, up 63 percent from 2018. 

Hay stocks on Nebraska farms totaled 4.20 million tons, down 7 percent from last year.

Grain storage capacity in Nebraska totaled 2.18 billion bushels, up 7 million bushels from December 1, 2018. Total grain storage capacity is comprised of 1.20 billion bushels of on-farm storage, unchanged from last year, and 980 million bushels of off-farm storage, up 7 million bushels from last year.


Winter wheat seeded area for 2020 is estimated at 900,000 acres, down from last year's seeded area of 1.07 million acres, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.


Corn for grain production in Iowa for 2019 is estimated at 2.58 billion bushels, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service Crop Production 2019 Summary report.  Current year production is 3 percent more than the previous year’s 2.50 billion bushels.  Iowa has led the Nation in corn production for the last 26 consecutive years and 41 of the last 42 years.  Iowa's corn for grain yield is estimated at 198 bushels per acre.  Area harvested for grain is estimated at 13.1 million acres, 300,000 acres above 2018.  Corn planted for all purposes in 2019 is estimated at 13.5 million acres.

Corn for silage production is estimated at 7.92 million tons, up 43 percent from 2018.  The silage yield estimate of 22.0 tons per acre is up 1.5 tons per acre from 2018.  Producers harvested 360,000 acres of corn for silage, up 33 percent from 2018. 

Soybean production is estimated at 502 million bushels in 2019.  This is down 9 percent from last year’s 550 million bushels.  The Iowa soybean crop yielded 55.0 bushels per acre in 2019.  The harvested acreage of 9.12 million is down 710,000 acres from 2018.  Soybean planted acreage, at 9.20 million, is down 750,000 acres from 2018.   

All hay production for the state is estimated at 3.12 million tons, up 4 percent from the 3.00 million tons produced in 2018. Producers averaged 3.05 tons per acre, down from 3.19 tons in 2018. All hay harvested acres are estimated at 1.02 million acres, up 80,000 acres from 2018.

Alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures production is estimated at 2.38 million tons, up 4 percent from 2018.  Producers averaged 3.40 tons per acre, down 0.30 ton from 2018.  Harvested acres are up 80,000 from last year, to 700,000 acres.  Iowa producers seeded 140,000 acres of new seedings of alfalfa and alfalfa mixtures in 2019, up 33 percent from 2018.   Other hay production is estimated at 736,000 tons, up 5 percent from 2018.  Producers averaged 2.30 tons per acre, up 0.10 ton per acre from the 2018 yield. Harvested acres of other hay, at 320,000, are equal to 2018 acres.


Corn stored in all positions in Iowa on December 1, 2019, totaled 2.14 billion bushels, down 2 percent from December 1, 2018, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Grain Stocks report.  Of the total stocks, 62 percent were stored on-farm. The September - November indicated disappearance totaled 845 million bushels, 7 percent above the 794 million bushels from the same period the previous year. 

Soybeans stored in all positions in Iowa on December 1, 2019, totaled 514 million bushels, 3 percent below the 528 million bushels on hand December 1, 2018.  Of the total stocks, 43 percent were stored on-farm.  Indicated disappearance for September - November is 146 million bushels, 32 percent above the 111 million bushels from the same quarter the previous year. 

Iowa on-farm storage capacity on December 1, 2019, was 2.10 billion bushels, unchanged from December 1, 2018, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Grain Stocks report.  Iowa’s 860 off-farm storage facilities have a storage capacity of 1.51 billion bushels, up 10 million from the previous year.  As of December 1, 2019, Iowa had a total of 3.61 billion bushels of storage capacity, the largest total storage capacity of any state.

On-farm capacity included all bins, cribs, sheds, and other structures located on farms that are normally used to store whole grains, oilseeds, or pulse crops. Off-farm capacity included all elevators, warehouses, terminals, merchant mills, other storage, and oilseed crushers which store whole grains, soybeans, canola, flaxseed, mustard seed, safflower, sunflower, rapeseed, Austrian winter peas, dry edible peas, lentils, and chickpeas/garbanzo beans.  Capacity data exclude facilities used to store only rice or peanuts, oilseed crushers processing only cottonseed or peanuts, tobacco warehouses, seed warehouses, and storage facilities that handle only dry edible beans, other than chickpeas/garbanzo beans.


All hay stored on Iowa farms as of December 1, 2019, is estimated at 2.18 million tons, an increase of 6 percent from December 1, 2018, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Crop Production report. This is the third lowest recorded amount of hay stored in December. Disappearance from May 1, 2019, through December 1, 2019, totaled 1.28 million tons, compared with 1.30 million tons for the same period in 2018.

USDA Crop Production 2019 Summary

Corn for grain production in 2019 was estimated at 13.7 billion bushels, down 5 percent from the revised 2018 estimate. The average yield in the United States was estimated at 168.0 bushels per acre, 8.4 bushels below the 2018 yield of 176.4 bushels per acre. Area harvested for grain was estimated at 81.5 million acres, up less than 1 percent from the revised 2018 estimate.

Sorghum: Grain production in 2019 was estimated at 341 million bushels, down 6 percent from the 2018 total. Planted area for 2019 was estimated at a record low 5.27 million acres, down 7 percent from the previous year. Area harvested for grain, at 4.68 million acres, was down 8 percent from 2018. Grain yield was estimated at 73.0 bushels per acre, up 0.9 bushel from 2018.

Soybean production in 2019 totaled 3.56 billion bushels, down 20 percent from 2018. The average yield per acre was estimated at 47.4 bushels, down 3.2 bushels from 2018. Harvested area was down 14 percent from 2018 to 75.0 million acres.

All cotton production is estimated at 20.1 million 480-pound bales, up 9 percent from 2018. The United States yield is estimated at 817 pounds per acre, down 47 pounds from last year. Harvested area, at 11.8 million acres, is up 16 percent from last year.

USDA Grain Stocks

Corn stored in all positions on December 1, 2019 totaled 11.4 billion bushels, down 5 percent from December 1, 2018. Of the total stocks, 7.18 billion bushels are stored on farms, down 4 percent from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at 4.21 billion bushels, are down 6 percent from a year ago. The September - November 2019 indicated disappearance is 4.52 billion bushels, compared with 4.54 billion bushels during the same period last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions on December 1, 2019 totaled 3.25 billion bushels, down 13 percent from December 1, 2018. Soybean stocks stored on farms totaled 1.53 billion bushels, down 21 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 1.73 billion bushels, are down 5 percent from last December. Indicated disappearance for September - November 2019 totaled 1.22 billion bushels, up 8 percent from the same period a year earlier.

All wheat stored in all positions on December 1, 2019 totaled 1.83 billion bushels, down 9 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks are estimated at 519 million bushels, up 3 percent from last December. Off-farm stocks, at 1.31 billion bushels, are down 13 percent from a year ago. The September - November 2019 indicated disappearance is 512 million bushels, 35 percent above the same period a year earlier.

Grain sorghum stored in all positions on December 1, 2019 totaled 249 million bushels, down 4 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks, at 30.2 million bushels, are down 32 percent from December 1 last year. Off-farm stocks, at 219 million bushels, are up 2 percent from a year earlier. The September - November 2019 indicated disappearance from all positions is 156 million bushels, up 11 percent from the same period in 2018.

U.S. Winter Wheat Planted Acres Down 1 Percent

Winter wheat seeded area for 2020 is expected to total 30.8 million acres, down 1 percent from 2019. Approximate class acreage breakdowns are: Hard Red Winter, 21.8 million; Soft Red Winter, 5.64 million; and White Winter, 3.37 million.

Platte Valley Cattlemen Membership Meeting is Jan 20

Boyd Hellbusch, PVC President

The next monthly meeting of the Platte Valley Cattlemen is right around the corner.  As always, January is our membership month. January could be one of our most important meetings of the year; your membership is something that keeps this organization alive and vibrant. No matter what age you are, the Platte Valley Cattlemen are always open to new members who are passionate about the Beef Industry.

We would like to thank our sponsors for this month.  Lindsay Co-op is sponsoring our meal for the night, and Tredas will be sponsoring the social hour.  We thank both of you for your help and support to this organization.

Our Speaker for the month is Dr. Jeff Fox.  He is going to share with us about how to “make a secure beef plan” if an outbreak such as Foot and Mouth would ever breakout in our beef, and how we can ensure the future of the beef supply market.   Jeff is a graduate of Kansas State University, College of Veterinary Medicine.  While at KSU, Jeff completed a certificate in Feedlot Health and Production Management as well as receiving a Master of Science degree.  Additionally, he has several years of experience in production operations ranging from cow-calf to meat processing.  Jeff has held several positions in the feedlot industry since graduation from veterinary school including staff veterinarian, private feedlot consulting and the pharmaceutical industry.  Jeff is currently the owner of Bovine Veterinary Management Resources, LLC.  Jeff lives in Beemer, Nebraska, with his wife Rhonda and their three children.

Nebraska Corn Board partners with Casey’s to offer higher ethanol blends

Through a new partnership between the Nebraska Corn Board (NCB) and Casey’s General Stores (Casey’s), motorists in the state will have increased access to higher blends of American Ethanol. Through its blender pump incentive infrastructure program, NCB provided grant assistance to help Casey’s upgrade existing fuel pumps to offer Unleaded88, a 15% ethanol blend. Twelve Casey’s locations in Nebraska have been upgraded – nine in Omaha, one in La Vista, one in Papillion and one in Norfolk.

“In an environmentally-conscious world, filling up with ethanol is an easy way for us all to do our part for the planet and our overall health,” said John Greer, District 2 Director of NCB and farmer from Edgar. “Ethanol is a clean-burning, renewable fuel that is less toxic than traditional gasoline, which is good for our air. By investing in our ethanol infrastructure, we’re not only working toward a greener world, but we’re also saving consumers money while boosting Nebraska’s economy. Ethanol is a win for everyone.”

This isn’t the Ankeny, Iowa-based fuel retailer’s first venture into offering higher ethanol blends. This summer, Casey’s added Unleaded88 infrastructure to more than 60 of its locations. In Nebraska, the retailer also began offering E85 at its stores in Ogallala and Cozad.

“We’re offering Unleaded88 at more stores because our guests want it. The benefits of a lower price and higher octane are hard to argue with,” said Jake Comer, fuel pricing manager at Casey’s.

“Unleaded88, or E15, is the most widely tested fuel ever,” said David Bruntz, chairman of the NCB and farmer from Friend. “We know these fuels work well in vehicles and provide countless benefits. The Nebraska Corn Board has worked hard and will continue to work hard to ensure consumers have easy access to these options. We also applaud Casey’s for being an outstanding partner in this process.”

The twelve upgraded Casey’s are located in Norfolk, Papillion, Lavista, and 9 stores in Omaha.  To find all local fuel retailers offering higher ethanol blends, visit

In addition to its support of Casey’s, the NCB invested in eight other fuel retail locations across the state during this current fiscal year. Each year, fuel retailers wanting to upgrade to blender pumps can fill out a grant application to be considered for the program.


As Nebraska’s number one industry, agriculture brings people together in many different ways. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) is once again asking students to enter its annual poster contest highlighting the state’s ag industry. This year’s theme, “Nebraska Agriculture Brings People Together,” lets students show what they know about Nebraska agriculture while highlighting the many contributions agriculture makes to our state. NDA’s poster contest is open to all Nebraska students in grades 1-6.

“NDA’s annual poster contest generates a lot of interest in Nebraska agriculture, especially from younger students,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman. “The contest is in its 17th year, and it’s designed to give teachers and parents the opportunity to teach children about the vital role agriculture plays in our day-to-day lives. We look forward to seeing the students’ creativity as they show how agriculture brings people together.”

NDA’s poster contest is divided into three age categories: first and second grade students; third and fourth grade students; and fifth and sixth grade students. Entries must be postmarked by the March 2, 2020, deadline.  

NDA will announce the winners of the poster contest during National Ag Week, March 22-28, 2020. National Ag Week highlights the diversity of agriculture and celebrates the food, feed and fuel that farmers and ranchers provide every day. NDA will feature winning entries from this year’s poster contest on its website and in promotional materials and publications. 

Poster contest rules and official entry forms are available online at For more information, contact Christin Kamm at 402-471-6856 or by email at  #

Nebraska Soybean Board seeks leaders to represent Nebraska soybean farmers

This year, the Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) will be seeking soybean farmers to represent fellow soybean farmers and the industry. Candidacy petition period began on December 1 and concludes on April 15.

How does the election work?

The election is conducted by mail-in ballot in July for District 5 and 7. Soybean farmers who reside in counties that are up for election for 2020 will receive ballots and candidate information regarding NSB’s election process via direct mail. The At-Large position on the Nebraska Soybean Board is open to all soybean farmers in Nebraska and will be elected by the sitting board members at the July board meeting.

What are the 2020 election districts and counties?

     District 5: Cass, Johnson, Lancaster, Nemaha, Otoe, Pawnee, and Richardson
     District 7: Adams, Buffalo, Clay, Franklin, Hall, Kearney, Nuckolls and Webster
     At-Large: All counties in Nebraska

Who can be a candidate for the NSB seats or At-Large position on the board?

    Be a resident of Nebraska
    Be a resident of the district in which the election is being held
    Be a soybean farmer in Nebraska for at least the previous five years
    Be at least 21 year of age
    Have submitted a NSB candidacy petition

Roles and responsibilities for soybean board member representative:

    Attend every NSB meeting – 8-day fiscal year commitment
    Attend/participate in other educational events sponsored by the Nebraska Soybean Board
    Receive no salary but are reimbursed for the expenses incurred carrying out board business
    Serve a three-year term that would begin October 1, 2020

To apply for candidacy in District 5, 7 or the At-Large position you must:
    Obtain a NSB Candidacy Petition by contacting NSB’s executive director, Victor Bohuslavsky, at 402-432-5720
    Complete the petition and collect the signatures of 50 soybean farmers in their district
    Return such petition to the NSB office on or before April 15, 2020

Lindsay Corp. Reports $109 Million Revenue in First Quarter

Lindsay Corporation, a leading global manufacturer and distributor of irrigation and infrastructure equipment and technology, Thursday announced results for its first quarter of fiscal 2020, which ended on November 30, 2019.

Revenues for the first quarter of fiscal 2020 were $109.4 million, a decrease of $2.6 million, or 2 percent, compared to revenues of $112.0 million in the prior year first quarter. Revenues decreased $3.3 million as a result of the divestiture of a company-owned irrigation dealership that occurred in the first quarter of fiscal 2019. Net earnings for the quarter were $8.3 million, or $0.77 per diluted share, compared with net earnings of $1.2 million, or $0.11 per diluted share, for the prior year first quarter. Net earnings for the prior year first quarter adjusted to eliminate costs associated with the Foundation for Growth initiative were $4.1 million, or $0.38 per diluted share.

"We were pleased to see our fiscal 2020 get off to a solid start, with improved results in both the irrigation and infrastructure businesses," said Tim Hassinger, president and CEO. "Margin expansion gained through our Foundation for Growth initiatives contributed to improved performance in our irrigation business. Outstanding results in our infrastructure business were achieved through revenue growth, margin improvement, and a favorable mix of higher margin revenue."

Irrigation segment revenues for the first quarter of fiscal 2020 were $82.4 million, a decrease of $5.3 million, or 6 percent, compared to $87.6 million in the prior year first quarter. North America irrigation revenues of $52.6 million decreased $3.9 million, or 7 percent, compared to the prior year, although $3.3 million of the decrease was attributable to the divestiture of a company-owned dealership. Higher irrigation equipment unit volume was offset by the impact of lower average selling prices and lower sales of replacement parts. International irrigation revenues of $29.7 million decreased $1.4 million, or 5 percent, due primarily to the negative impact of changes in foreign currency translation rates.

Irrigation segment operating margin was 11.8 percent of sales in the first quarter, compared to 8.9 percent of sales (9.0 percent adjusted)1 in the prior year. Operating margin improvement resulted primarily from improved cost and pricing performance compared to the prior year.

Infrastructure segment revenues for the first quarter of fiscal 2020 were $27.0 million, an increase of $2.7 million, or 11 percent, compared to $24.3 million in the prior year first quarter. The increase resulted from higher sales of road safety products along with an increase in Road Zipper System lease revenue compared to the prior year.

Infrastructure segment operating margin was 32.4 percent of sales in the first quarter, compared to 17.1 percent of sales (17.6 percent adjusted)1 in the prior year first quarter. Operating margin improvement resulted from a more favorable revenue mix and from improved cost and pricing performance compared to the prior year.

The backlog of unfilled orders at November 30, 2019 was $69.2 million compared with $49.2 million at November 30, 2018. Included in these backlogs are amounts of $5.2 million and $0.3 million, respectively, that are not expected to be fulfilled within the subsequent twelve months.

"Recent progress regarding a preliminary trade agreement between the U.S. and China offers encouragement for U.S. farmers by improving the outlook for agricultural exports," said Mr. Hassinger. "In the international markets we continue to see good activity in Brazil and in developing markets."

Hassinger added, "We like the traction we are getting with our Road Zipper growth strategy and the pipeline of opportunities that are being generated."

Many Candidates Vie for Youth Leadership Team

Fifteen young women and men are competing for three positions on the 2020 Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) Youth Leadership Team. The competition will be held during Iowa Pork Congress Jan. 22 and 23, and winners will be named at the evening banquet on Jan. 23.

The Youth Leadership Team is designed for those who are passionate about the pork industry. Contestants are seniors in high school or college students up to age 20 at the time of the event. Candidates will be judged on their knowledge about pork and pig production as shown in a speech presentation, personal interview, media interview, experience, and a test about the topics.

The female contestant with the highest score will automatically be crowned Iowa Pork Queen, and receives a $4,000 scholarship, plaque, crown and sash. Two other applicants will become Premier Pork Youth Ambassadors; each receives a $4,000 scholarship and plaque. All three will assist with state pork promotional and educational activities throughout 2020.

Contestants, their hometowns and counties are:
Brooke Boyle, Danbury - Woodbury County
Christian Koch, Pierson - Plymouth County

Abby Bean, Marathon - Buena Vista County
Alexis Berte, Algona - Kossuth County
Samantha Black, Nevada - Story County
Kylee Brown, Earlham - Madison County
Ellie Cook, Hubbard - Hardin County
Paige Dagel, Sanborn - O'Brien County
Madison Fishback, Washington - Washington County
Caleb Hogan, Monticello - Jones County
Ashley Kahler, Cambridge - Story County
Eric Keller, Gladbrook - Tama County
Macy Loecke, Manchester - Delaware County
Zachary Riedemann, Calumet - O'Brien County
Dalton Weeks, Milo - Warren County

‘SILO’ Feature Film to Screen at the Iowa Power Farming Show

Sukup Manufacturing Co. and the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs are bringing SILO, the first ever feature film about a grain entrapment, to the Iowa Power Farming Show on January 29th, 2020 at 4:30pm CST. The film will screen at Hy-Vee Hall at the Iowa Events Center. The event is presented with the support of the Iowa Power Farming Show, Successful Farming Magazine and Iowa Corn.

Inspired by true events, the 70-minute film follows a harrowing day in an American farm town. Disaster strikes when teenager Cody Rose is entrapped in a 50-foot-tall grain bin. When the corn turns to quicksand, family, neighbors and first responders must put aside their differences to rescue Cody from drowning in the crop that has sustained their community for generations.

This unique Iowa Power Farming Show event will be followed by a Q&A with the film’s producer, Sam Goldberg, Sukup Manufacturing Co. CEO Steve Sukup, and other special guests. Food and beverages will also be provided.

SILO aims to both entertain and educate audiences in an effort to bring community members closer together. The film's unique distribution strategy, The SILO Community Screening Campaign, puts community first and addresses the challenge of bringing high-quality, independent cinema to rural audiences. SILO is not available on traditional streaming services. Instead, the SILO Community Screening Campaign works with agricultural companies, nonprofits and local community organizers to host screenings all around North America.

SILO is produced by Samuel Goldberg and Ilan Ulmer and is directed by Marshall Burnette. The script was written by Jason Williamson, and stars Jack DiFalco, Jeremy Holm, Jill Paice, Jim Parrack, Chris Ellis and Danny Ramirez.

For more information, please visit

USDA Proposes Criteria to Strengthen Enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act

As part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) commitment to ensuring fair and competitive markets for the livestock, meat and poultry industries, today the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) published in the Federal Register a new proposed rule specifying four criteria the Agency would consider when determining whether an undue or unreasonable preference or advantage has occurred in violation of the Packers and Stockyards (P&S) Act. We invite public comment on the proposed criteria until March 13, 2020.

The P&S Act states that it is unlawful for a packer, swine contractor or live poultry dealer to make or give any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to a seller or grower of livestock or poultry. An undue or unreasonable preference or advantage is an action that creates excessively favorable conditions for one or more persons, reducing opportunities for optimal pricing and business success for competitors.

The proposed criteria will serve as a basis to determine whether these differences are a reasonable and fair preference or advantage. Under the proposed rule, USDA would consider whether a preference or advantage meets one or more of the criteria below:
-    cannot be justified on the basis of a cost savings related to dealing with different producers, sellers, or growers.
-    cannot be justified on the basis of meeting a competitor’s prices.
-    cannot be justified on the basis of meeting other terms offered by a competitor and,
-    cannot be justified as a reasonable business decision that would be customary in the industry.

USDA would not be limited to considering only these four criteria, but could also take other factors into consideration as appropriate on a case-by-case basis. The proposed rule retains necessary flexibility while providing greater clarity around what may constitute a violation.

These criteria are being provided for public comment for 60 days. Comments will be taken into consideration as we work to finalize these guidelines. Comments must be submitted through and should reference the document number on the top of the first page of the proposed rule, along with the Federal Register date and page number where the published proposed rule is located. AMS will make all submitted comments available to the public, including the identity of the commenter and any personal information provided.

Livestock Competition Rule Unlikely to Provide Needed Protections to Farmers

More than two years after failing to finalize a set of rules to protect American family farmers and ranchers from anticompetitive and abusive business practices from the increasingly consolidated meatpacking and processing industries, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today released a long-awaited proposed rule that would more clearly define when a company has shown “undue or unreasonable preference or advantages” for one farmer over another.

Though National Farmers Union (NFU) is encouraged by the administration’s efforts to address this issue, the organization is concerned about a provision that would allow customary industry practices to not be considered as an unfair preference or advantage. Lax antitrust enforcement over the past several decades has enabled the poultry and livestock industries to engage in manipulative and discriminatory practices, making those practices customary. As a result, the rule could strengthen the status quo, leaving farmers with little recourse when confronting unfair but typical treatment. It is unclear if the rule’s other provisions will provide needed protections to farmers.

In a statement, NFU President Roger Johnson expressed his apprehension about the rule and encouraged the administration to move forward with greater protections for family farmers and ranchers:

“Family farmers and ranchers have been plagued by corporate consolidation for as long as this organization has existed – but it’s gotten much worse in recent decades. With almost no oversight, just a handful of corporations have taken control of the poultry and livestock markets. This has made for an extremely lopsided relationship between meatpackers and processors and those who sell to them, where the former sets almost all of the terms and the latter has no choice but to accept them. This has left farmers susceptible to substantial discrimination and abuse.

“Though lawmakers have promised greater protections to farmers experiencing unfair treatment, we’ve seen very little in the way of progress. While Congress and the USDA have spun their wheels for more than a decade, farmers have continued to endure anticompetitive practices with few defenses.

“After so many years of inaction, it is encouraging to see this administration take some small steps to level the playing field. However, this rule does not go far enough to safeguard farmers from unfair treatment, nor does it address many of the other difficulties farmers have been suffering at the hands of powerful corporations. In order to provide farmers with the protections they need and deserve, we strongly urge USDA to strengthen its definition of “undue or unreasonable preference” as well as introduce additional rules to ensure fair treatment and competition in the livestock sector.”

OCM Condemns Latest GIPSA Rule Iteration

On Monday, January 13, 2020, the Federal Register will publish a proposed rule by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). This rule aims to specify criteria the Secretary of Agriculture would consider when determining whether an undue or unreasonable preference or advantage has occurred in violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act. Upon its initial review of the proposed rule, Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) issued the following assessment:

USDA fails to own up to its longstanding position that the Packers and Stockyards Act is both an antitrust law and a producer protection law. Unlike the previous iteration of this rule, it fails to set out which actions are unfair, unjustly discriminatory, or deceptive by meat packers and processors. USDA leaves farmers, ranchers, and poultry contract growers under the threat of retaliation for speaking out against any wrong doing of the packer or processor. A particularly gross omission in this proposed rule is restoration of the right of an individual producer to bring a claim without proving competitive harm to the entire sector.

USDA is obviously attempting to minimally meet the 2008 Farm Bill Congressional mandate with this rulemaking. OCM will be further reviewing the rule and its impact alongside our stakeholders as we continue to fight for the rights of America's farmers and ranchers.

OCM had applauded the December 2016 version of this proposed rule, which would have allowed farmers to hold agribusinesses accountable for practices like retaliation, bad faith cancellation of contracts, or collusion efforts among packers to force individuals out of the market, while relieving farmers and ranchers from the requirement to demonstrate competitive injury. The 2016 proposed rule, along with two others, had been the product of a nearly 10-year rulemaking process.

SHIC Receives Extension from National Pork Board and Reviews 2019 Results

When the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) was formed July 1, 2015, it was with the understanding it was a five-year project. The proposal language surrounding the Center’s formation stated, “Funding of the Center past its five-year life will depend on it being able to demonstrate a sufficient return on the investment to justify keeping it running.” Following presentation and approval of SHIC’s 2019 Progress Report on January 7, 2020, the National Pork Board (NPB) Board of Directors voted to extend the project for two more years, using SHIC’s existing funds. NPB also agreed to continued consideration of future funding and coordination beyond the two-year extension. In the 2019 report, it is clear African swine fever (ASF) required significant resources, however, SHIC remained faithful to its mission to protect the health of the US swine herd through comprehensive preparedness, monitoring, response, and communications activities. The 2019 Progress Report details progress in each of these areas.

Preparedness Activities on Behalf of US Swine Herd Health
    Developed the Diagnostic Assay Catalog which includes polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays and enzyme linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) for detection of emerging disease and made available to all diagnostic labs
    Developed PCR and ELISA tools now widely available to labs in the US
    Researched priority pathogens porcine circovirus 3 (PCV3), foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), and African swine fever (ASF)
    Administered USDA-Foreign Ag Service grant to fund the analysis of Vietnamese field oral fluid samples
    International transportation biosecurity practices of four cooperating US breeding stock companies were analyzed
    Due to a Senecavirus A (SVA) outbreak in Brazil, investigated the possibility a Brazilian feed mill and/or its ingredients could be a source of the pathogen’s transmission

Monitoring Swine Disease Transmission Vectors
    SHIC and the National Pork Board (NPB) co-funded a project analyzing the risk of ASF and classical swine fever (CSF) being introduced into the US through prohibited swine products by air passengers
    Joined with the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV), National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and NPB to meet multiple times with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) during 2019 to voice concerns about the lack of secondary screening of travelers after declaring contact with foreign farms or animals relating to ASF and FAD threats

Improving Transport Biosecurity Domestically
    Funded pilot study to investigate the transfer of contamination from livestock trailers to barns during marketing events
    Evaluating if implementing a staged loading procedure will prevent the transfer of swine pathogen contaminated particles from livestock trailers to barns

Investigating Common Inputs as Vectors for Disease Introduction
    Kansas State University project improved the half-life calculations of ASF in feed ingredients exposed to transatlantic shipment conditions
    Examined 14 feed additives to determine their ability to negatively affect viral survival and be cost-effective mitigants
    Encouraged the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) as they updated feed mill biosecurity guidelines
    Participated in a feed processor ASF task force to define prevention, detection, and response protocols for feed ingredients, feed manufacture, and on-farm feed delivery
    Sponsored a workshop to increase understanding of the vitamin supply chain and identify potential risk factors for introducing foreign animal disease to the US
    Brought together soybean industry stakeholders to increase understanding of the soy supply chain and identify potential risk factors for introducing foreign animal disease into the US

Improving Swine Health Information
    Continued to support the Morrison Swine Health Monitoring Project (MSHMP) which monitors approximately 50% of the US sow herd for economically important pathogens
    Described key differences in the biosecurity aspects of breeding herds with relatively low porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) incidence, compared to those with relatively high PRRS incidence
    Funded a study applying machine-learning to predict porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PED) outbreaks on sow farms
    Funded thorough study of the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP), its associated organizational structure and operations, and industry participation and execution across the various segments of the US poultry industry to assess the potential for establishing a similar program for the US swine industry

Surveillance and Discovery of Emerging Disease
    New variant of porcine sapovirus identified in 2019 and appears to be the first detection of a single porcine sapovirus infection in piglets with diarrhea in the US
    Real time RT-PCR to detect viral RNA in clinical samples and determine the viral load being developed
    Developed and evaluated a serum/oral fluid ELISA to detect antibodies against atypical porcine pestivirus (APPV)
    Improvements made toward a nationally coordinated swine health surveillance system to prepare, detect and rapidly respond to emerging and foreign animal diseases were investigated
    Streptococcus equi ssp zooepidemicus confirmed in assembly yards resulting in isolates being sequenced, a species-specific PCR being developed, and a challenge study being done
    Continued further diagnostic work into understanding a hemorrhagic tracheitis syndrome in Canada

Responding to Emerging Disease
    US pork industry created the National Swine Disease Council made up of key industry leaders, the North American Meat Institute and representatives from SHIC, NPB, NPPC, and AASV along with USDA and state animal health official representation
    In collaboration with AASV, held a webinar titled Disease Management of Viral Myelitis for veterinary practitioners and pork producers.

African Swine Fever
    Funded a project to report the current state of knowledge regarding possible strain differences and pathogenicity of ASF
    USDA-Foreign Ag Service grant awarded to SHIC, with active support from NPPC, funds project in Vietnam helping to build strategic partnerships while increasing trade of US pork to the region including swine health field projects ultimately informing North American pork producers about effective ASF preparedness and response

Funded by America’s pork producers to protect and enhance the health of the US swine herd, the Swine Health Information Center focuses its efforts on prevention, preparedness, and response. As a conduit of information and research, SHIC encourages sharing of its publications and research for the benefit of swine health.

Registration Open for NFU's 118th Annual Convention

Registration is open for National Farmers Union's 118th Anniversary Convention! The annual gathering will be held March 1-3, 2020, at the Hyatt Regency Savannah in Savannah, Georgia.

The convention provides Farmers Union members and attendees the opportunity to learn, collaborate, and grow through policy discussion, breakout sessions, and farm tours. This year's event will offer new learning opportunities while still maintaining a focus on the issues that matter most to our family farmers and ranchers, such as the farm economy and providing meaningful support to the men and women who feed, fuel, and clothe us.

Additionally, NFU's annual grassroots policy making process culminates at the convention. Elected delegates from Farmers Union state divisions will discuss and vote on the organization's policy positions and priorities. The resulting policy book guides the work National Farmers Union staff does in Washington, D.C. for the subsequent year.

Convention details and registration can be found here....

Three Vie for Farmers Union Presidency

As current National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson plans to step down at the end of his term, the organization is preparing for an election for his successor at the annual convention in March.   Three candidates filed to run for the position before the December 31 deadline:

Rob Larew, who was raised on a West Virginia dairy farm, has served as NFU's Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Communications since fall 2016. In that role, he oversees the organization's legislative advocacy in Congress and the executive branch as well as its public relations activities. Prior to his employment with NFU, Larew served over 22 years in Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), most recently as the staff director of the House Committee on Agriculture.

Donn Teske has led Kansas Farmers Union (KFU) as its President since 2001. During that time, he also held the position of National Farmers Union Vice President for four years, from 2014 to 2018. Prior to his time at KFU, Donn worked for the Kansas Rural Center and for Kansas State University Agricultural Economics Department as a farm financial analyst. He also serves on the board of a dozen state, regional, and national boards concerning agriculture and the environment. A fifth generation farmer, Teske co-owns and operates an organic grain operation in Pottawatomie County with his wife.

Mike Eby has served as spokesperson and chairman for the National Dairy Producers Organization for the last five years. He, his wife, and their four children live on his family's seventh-generation farm in Lancaster County. Up until 2016, they milked 60 cows, but have since transitioned to grass-fed beef and crops. In addition to his role for NDPO, Eby sits on the board of Pennsylvania Farmers Union and Allied Milk Producers and serves as the President of Family Dairy Farms. Previously, Eby held a number of agriculturally-related jobs, including AI technician, feed salesman, and farm radio account executive.

All three candidates will have an opportunity to give a campaign speech at the convention. Elected delegates from Farmers Union state divisions will then select a winner in a weighted vote.

Soaring Pork Prices Keep China's Inflation At Seven-Year High

Soaring pork prices that nearly doubled in December over a year ago kept inflation at a seven-year high despite government efforts to ease meat shortages caused by a disease outbreak, official data showed Thursday.

The Associated Press reports that surging inflation adds to challenges for communist leaders who are trying to shore up slowing economic growth and resolve a tariff war with Washington.

The price of pork rose 97% over a year earlier despite increased imports of China's staple meat and the release of thousands of tons from government stockpiles.

Food prices rose 17.4% and overall consumer inflation was 4.5%, well above the ruling Communist Party's official target of 3%. That matched November's inflation, the highest since 2012.

China produces and consumes two-thirds of the world's pork but supplies plunged as authorities destroyed pigs and blocked shipments to contain an outbreak of African swine fever that was confirmed in August 2018. Farmers have allowed herds to dwindle.

Global pork prices have climbed as Chinese importers buy more from Canada, Europe and other suppliers, the AP reports.

Beijing announced in September it would lift punitive tariffs imposed on U.S. pork and soybeans during its trade war with Washington. That would ease pressure on Chinese pig farmers who use soy as animal feed.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast in October that China's 2020 pork production would fall 25% from a year earlier. The forecast gap of 12 million metric tons would be equivalent to almost the entire U.S. annual production.

Thursday January 9 Ag News

An upcoming Nebraska Extension workshop in West Point will help farmers develop marketing plans for 2020.

“Risk and Reward: Using Crop Insurance and Marketing to Manage Farm Survival” will be presented on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., at the Nielsen Community Center, 200 Anna Stalp Ave.

Extension economists will discuss the role of farm location and yield/price relations in making informed grain marketing and crop insurance decisions.

“This is a unique opportunity to think about grain marketing differently,” said Jessica Groskopf, a regional extension economist. “Often, we think of marketing and crop insurance as two separate decisions. This workshop will show the importance of how these tools work together to help farms survive.”

“Understanding production risk becomes especially important as farm locations move farther from the center of the corn belt,” said Cory Walters, associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics. “These workshops are designed to assist Nebraska farmers in improving their decision-making and understanding the role of production risk considerations in their marketing plans.”

Participants will learn how to use crop insurance and pre-harvest marketing together. The workshops will encourage producers to focus on specific risks to evaluate the balance between these two tools, which will vary from operation to operation.

“The role of crop insurance and marketing is not the same for everyone,” Walters said. “Farm location matters.”

Attendees should leave the workshops with a strategic plan of farm survival, focused on the role and use of crop insurance and pre-harvest marketing specific to their location and crop.

Registration can be completed by calling Nebraska Extension in Cuming County at (402)372-6006.

General Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Informational Meeting

Location: Max Bar & Grill, Wayne, NE 68787
Date: 1/27/2020
Time: 5:30-7:30 P.M.

General CRP sign-up takes place from December 9th to February 28th 2020 at your local FSA office.  These sessions will help landowners and producers learn how to maximize their score and improve their chance for getting enrolled.

For more information, please contact your local FSA Office:

Husker research brings swine industry closer to broad virus protection

After eight years of gathering data from more than 1,000 pigs infected with porcine circovirus 2, University of Nebraska–Lincoln researchers have identified the gene associated with pigs’ susceptibility to the deadly swine disease.

Based on the research, genetic tests can now be developed to help the swine industry identify pigs more resistant to the virus, said lead researcher Daniel Ciobanu, associate professor of animal science at Nebraska. Early identification of pigs susceptible to the virus should improve the general health and welfare of swine populations worldwide. This discovery may also have broader implications across species and viral pathogens, Ciobanu said.

Despite being the smallest virus known to infect mammalian cells, porcine circovirus 2 is one of the most detrimental to the swine industry. The virus is found in all swine populations across the world, costing U.S. swine producers more than $250 million annually — mostly in the form of vaccines. Though the virus is found on all swine farms, only a few pigs show signs of infection. Because no methods are available to differentiate susceptible from tolerant pigs, producers are forced to vaccinate all of their pigs. By blinding the immune system, the virus also makes swine susceptible to other pathogens, Ciobanu said.

The research team started by monitoring 1,000 infected pigs at the university’s Animal Science Complex. The researchers analyzed the pigs both for basic genetic information and indicators of disease, such as the number of viral copies in blood, presence of antibodies and weight loss during infection. Statistical analyses interrogated relationships between DNA markers located across the genome and indicators of disease susceptibility.

Those efforts allowed the researchers to associate PCV2 susceptibility with a specific DNA variant and a gene called Synaptogyrin 2. The discovery also solved a puzzle of swine biology: why certain pigs, but not others, were tolerant to the infectious disease.

“The research integrated the largest data set ever generated to understand the role of host genetics in PCV2-related illnesses,” Ciobanu said. “We found that a pig’s own genetics can impact the ability of the virus to multiply and cause disease.”

Working with Ciobanu were Nebraska graduate students Lianna Walker, Taylor Engle and Emily Tosky; Thomas Burkey and Hiep Vu from the Department of Animal Science; Stephen Kachman from the Department of Statistics; Dan Nonneman and Timothy Smith from the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center; Tudor Borza from Dalhousie University; and Graham Plastow from the University of Alberta.

The results of the study were recently published in PLOS Genetics.


Elena M. Bennett, professor and Canada Research Chair in Sustainability Science at McGill University, will deliver the next Heuermann Lecture on Jan. 14. Bennett’s research focuses on ecosystem services — or benefits that humans freely gain from the natural environment and properly functioning ecosystems.

The free public talk, "From Planetary Boundaries to Ecosystem Services: Guiding Development on a Changing Planet,” is 7 p.m. at the Nebraska Innovation Campus Conference Center, 2021 Transformation Drive.

The current scale, rate and intensity of human-caused change is unprecedented and has evoked broad discussion about how these changes will affect the future of the planet. Humans are unnecessarily threatening their own security by undermining natural capital and the provision of ecosystem services. In the talk, Bennett will show how the science of ecosystem services can be used to guide natural resource management and limit human-caused change while providing for human well-being.

The Heuermann Lecture series, organized by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, focuses on providing enough food, natural resources and renewable energy for the world's people, along with securing the sustainability of rural communities where the vital work of producing food and renewable energy occurs.

The lectures are funded by a gift from B. Keith and Norma Heuermann of Phillips. The Heuermanns are longtime university supporters with a strong commitment to Nebraska's production agriculture, natural resources, rural areas and people.

The lectures are streamed live at and air on campus channel 4. The talks are recorded and air on NET2.

View Calving Management Webinar Individually or With a Group

The Iowa Beef Center wants beef cow-calf producers to be informed on all aspects of their operations so they are making it convenient for producers to attend the winter cow webinar series. The second of the four-part webinar series is set for Wednesday, Jan. 22, from 6 to 8 p.m.; participants have the choice of joining the webinar at their own location or at one of nine host sites.

Beth Reynolds, beef specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, said the series is intended to provide timely topics for beef cow management and the second webinar focuses on calving time management.

Grant Dewell, Iowa State University extension beef veterinarian, will discuss calving season preparations and dealing with dystocia. Chris Clark, DVM and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach beef specialist, will highlight tips for managing newborn calves.

There is no cost to attend an in-person location or to view the webinar at home. Those planning to attend an in-person location are encouraged to preregister by calling the host location.
    Madison County Extension Office, 117 N. John Wayne Dr., Winterset, 515-462-1001
    Cass County Extension Office, 805 West 10th St., Atlantic, 712-243-1132
    Washington County Extension Office, 611 Highway 1 South, Washington, 319-653-4811
    Hancock County Extension Office, 327 West 8th St., Garner, 641-923-2856
    Delaware County Fairgrounds Community Center, 200 East Acers St., Manchester, 563-927-4201
    Emmet County Extension Office, 26 S 17th St., Estherville, 712-362-3434
    O’Brien County Extension Office, 340 2nd St. SE, Primghar, 712-957-5045
    ISU Western Research and Demonstration Farm, 36515 Highway E34, Castana; call ISU Extension Monona County, 712-423-2175
    Hansen Ag Student Learning Center, 2508 Mortensen Road, Ames, 515-294-BEEF (2333)

For those wanting to view the webinar privately, online registration must be completed prior to the seminar. Look for the “Join this live webinar” link on the main webinar series page. Use that same link to join the seminar when it begins.

Dates and topics for the remaining two sessions are:
    Feb. 18 – Market trends, tracking and improving profitability
    March 10 – Pasture renovation, forage management

All sessions run from 6 to 8 p.m.

Southwest Iowa Cow-Calf Short Course to Focus on Calving Management

A short course that combines classroom learning and hands-on instruction will be offered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Jan. 27. The course will instruct cattlemen and women in areas specific to beef calving management, cow nutrition and financial management.

The program will be held at the Cass County Community Center at 805 W. 10th St. in Atlantic. Registration will begin at 10:30 a.m., with the program running from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“The goal of the program is to provide an opportunity for cattlemen and women to enhance their management skills going into the 2020 calving season,” said Erika Lundy, beef specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. “The program will feature a hands-on dystocia demonstration session utilizing a life-size calving simulator as well as other sessions focused on planning for newborn calf health management and processing and calving season first aid tips.”

Other short course topics include a discussion focused on beef cow economics, record keeping and benchmarking tips, and the importance of beef cow nutrition during lactation leading up to breeding season. 

Southwest Iowa Cow-Calf Short Course Speakers
    Dr. Tyler Dohlman, DVM, professor of vet diagnostic and production animal science at Iowa State University.
    Dr. Nate Hansen, local veterinarian from Anita Veterinary Clinic.
    Beth Reynolds, program specialist with the Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University.
    Erika Lundy, beef specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach.

Registration for the course is $10 and includes materials and supplies. Lunch will also be provided, thanks to sponsorship from Merck Animal Health. Registration is requested by Jan. 24, by calling the ISU Extension and Outreach Cass County office at 712-243-1132 or emailing For more information about the course, contact the extension office or view the program flyer.

Wheeler Named IFBF Public Relations Manager

Andrew Wheeler has been appointed Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) Public Relations manager starting Jan. 13. He will replace Laurie Johns, who is retiring.

Wheeler joined Farm Bureau in 2013 and currently serves as the senior public relations coordinator. He has worked to connect Iowa farmers with numerous local, state, national and international media to build trust and understanding of Iowa agriculture and has been central to the organization's issues management strategy. Wheeler has also conducted communications training for several county Farm Bureaus and groups over the years. Prior to joining IFBF, Wheeler served in public relations and marketing capacities in Missouri. He received his master's degree in communications from Drury University in Springfield, Missouri and a bachelor's degree from Drake University.

"I'm grateful and excited for the opportunity to continue my work on behalf of Iowa's farm families," said Wheeler. "Agriculture is essential to communities across this state and I look forward to sharing the stories of farming today with consumers and other audiences in my new role."

Wheeler grew up in Pleasant Hill and rural Indianola and now resides in Des Moines with his two children.

New research reveals connection between drug treatments and antimicrobial resistance in cattle disease

A new study from Kansas State University on the treatment of non-responding cases of bovine respiratory disease, known as BRD, conducted by Hans Coetzee and his collaborators from Iowa State University, sheds light on the relationship between drug treatments and the emergence of antimicrobial resistance.

The study, "Association between antimicrobial drug class for treatment and retreatment of bovine respiratory disease (BRD) and frequency of resistant BRD pathogen isolation from veterinary diagnostic laboratory samples," was published in the December 2019 issue of the journal PLOS ONE.

"Bovine respiratory disease is one of the most important diseases facing beef cattle producers in the United States with economic losses estimated to approach $1 billion a year," Coetzee said. "Antibiotics are critical to minimize losses associated with BRD caused by bacterial infections."

Antibiotics that are used to treat BRD are broadly classified into two groups: namely those that prevent growth of the bacteria — i.e., bacteriostatic — and those that kill the organism — i.e., bactericidal. Although 90% of BRD relapses are reported to receive retreatment with a different class of antimicrobial, the impact of antibiotic selection — bactericidal or bacteriostatic — on disease outcomes and the emergence of antimicrobial resistance has not been investigated, according to Coetzee.

The focus of the study is determining the association between antimicrobial class selection for treatment and retreatment of BRD relapses and antimicrobial susceptibility of Mannheimia haemolytica, Pasteurella multocida and Histophilus somni.

Pathogens were isolated from samples submitted to the Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory from January 2013 to December 2015. A total of 781 isolates with corresponding animal case histories, including treatment protocols, were included in the analysis.

"Our overall interpretation of the data suggests that there is direct association between the number of treatments to which an animal was exposed and the emergence of antibiotic resistance in samples submitted to a veterinary diagnostic laboratory for analysis," Coetzee said. "In addition, these exploratory data suggest that BRD treatment protocols involving first-line treatment with a bacteriostatic antibiotic followed by second-line treatment with a bactericidal antibiotic may increase the probability of isolating BRD bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics."

While this observation suggests that consideration should be given to the mechanism of action of the antibiotic when selecting drugs for retreatment of non-responding cases of BRD, Coetzee said further research is needed to determine the clinical relevance of this finding in livestock production systems.

Coetzee is a professor and head of the anatomy and physiology department at the College of Veterinary Medicine. He has published 160 peer-reviewed scientific papers and has received more than $10 million in research funding.

USDA, FDA, EPA Launch Website for Biotechnology Regulation

Today, in recognition of January 2020 as National Biotechnology Month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a Unified Website for Biotechnology Regulation. The Website streamlines information about the three regulatory agencies charged with overseeing agriculture biotechnology products and is part President Donald J. Trump’s Executive Order on Modernizing the Regulatory Framework for Agricultural Biotechnology Products.

“Agricultural biotechnology has been and will continue to be an essential tool in helping America’s farmers and ranchers feed, fuel, and clothe the world,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “From producers to consumers, all Americans deserve a government that delivers science-based, common-sense regulations that foster innovation, conserve resources, and protect public health—especially when it comes to the food supply. The launch of this unified Biotechnology Regulation website is proof of President Trump’s commitment to provide the American people with sensible regulations in a clear and transparent manner.”

“EPA is pleased to be working with our partners at USDA, FDA, and across the federal government to implement President Trump’s Executive Order and launch this new, coordinated website,” said EPA Administrator Wheeler. “This new website will help provide regulatory certainty and clarity to our nation’s farmers and producers by bringing together information on the full suite of actions the Trump Administration is taking to safely reduce unnecessary regulations and breakdown barriers for these biotechnology products in the marketplace.”

“This is a time of unprecedented scientific innovation. Agricultural biotechnology promises to bring dynamic new products to the marketplace,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, M.D. “At the FDA, we are committed to fostering flexible, risk-based approaches in this field while upholding our mission of protecting and promoting both human and animal health and animal well-being, for example by reducing their susceptibility to diseases like novel influenzas and resistance to zoonotic or foreign animal diseases. Our approach balances our internationally respected, science-based review standards with our ongoing risk-based regulatory approaches to ensure the safety of our food supply.”

The Unified Website for Biotechnology Regulation describes the federal review process for certain biotechnology products and allows users to submit questions to the three agencies. The goals of this website are to provide enhanced customer service to innovators and developers, while ensuring Americans continue to enjoy the safest and most affordable food supply in the world and can learn more about the safe use of biotechnology innovations. 

Checkoff Program Reform Legislation Filed in U.S. House of Representatives

Today, Congresswoman Titus (NV-01) introduced the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. This legislation is the companion bill to S.935, filed in 2019 by U.S. Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). The OFF Act would put an end to the most egregious abuses committed by the boards and contractors of the federally mandated commodity checkoff programs.

Checkoff programs have been instrumental in the history of agricultural advertising. Famous campaigns, such as “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner,” have been paid for with farmers’ checkoff tax dollars. However, checkoff programs have fallen under the control of commodity trade organizations representing global agribusiness interests, and oftentimes the millions of dollars paid into checkoff programs by hard-working farmers and ranchers end up being used to lobby for policies that harm their interests.

Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) issued the following statement:
“Organization for Competitive Markets extends our gratitude to Congresswoman Titus for sponsoring this legislation. The evidence is clear: commodity checkoff programs abuse the very farmers and ranchers who are mandated to pay into them. The over $850 million these programs take from farmers each year are a cash cow for organizations that work against fair competition and market transparency. As long as checkoff funds remain hidden from accountability and in the hands of trade and lobbying groups, independent family agriculture is in peril of being wiped from the face of the countryside. It is imperative that this legislation be passed and signed into law.”

For over five years, OCM has waged a FOIA lawsuit challenging the United States Department of Agriculture and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s (NCBA) refusal to disclose beef checkoff spending records. OCM took action following an independent audit of the program that found gross misuse of funds by the NCBA, using checkoff funds for expenses including spousal travel, policy work, and golf tournaments.

Recent reports demonstrating executives at Dairy Management Inc. are being paid exorbitant salaries out of dairy checkoff funds while dairy farmers are being driven out of business in record numbers makes it even more urgent Congress take action to clean up these programs.

Farmers are struggling amidst increasing consolidation, low commodity prices, and excess supply. Net farm income is at a 19-year low. Along with recent trade disruptions and natural disasters, such as the flooding in the Midwest, the last thing farmers want, or need, is their tax dollars working against them.

The OFF Act would prohibit trade organizations that lobby from receiving checkoff funds; however, this restriction does not apply to universities. It would rein in conflicts of interest and stop anticompetitive activities that harm other commodities and consumers. It would also force checkoff programs to publish their budgets and undergo periodic audits so that farmers and ranchers know where their hard-earned tax dollars are going.

The major reform provisions of the OFF Act, which would end the glaring abuses of the program boards, are:

1.           Stop federally mandated checkoff dollars from being transferred to parties that seek to influence government policies or action relating to agriculture issues.

2.           Enforce the prohibition against conflicts of interest in contracting and all other decision-making operations of the checkoff program.

3.           Stop federally mandated funds from being used for anticompetitive programs or from being spent to disparage another commodity in the marketplace.

4.           Increase transparency of the individual boards’ actions by shedding light on how federal checkoff funds are spent and the purpose of their expenditures.

5.           Require audits of each program every five years to ensure their activities are in compliance with the law.

Wednesday January 8 Ag News

Nebraska Dairy Princess Candidates Sought

The Midwest Dairy–Nebraska Division is seeking candidates to participate in the State Dairy Princess contest scheduled Feb. 25, 2020, at the Ramada Inn in Columbus, Nebraska. The event is held in conjunction with the Nebraska State Dairy Convention.

The Nebraska Dairy Princess reigns for one year as the official goodwill ambassador for the state’s dairy industry, making a variety of public appearances to help consumers understand dairy products and the responsible practices used by dairy producers.

The entry deadline is February 5, 2020.

Candidates must be 17 to 24 years old, at least a high school junior this year, unmarried and have parents or guardians who are actively engaged in the production of milk for sale to a licensed plant. A candidate also qualifies if she, her parents or guardian is employed on a dairy farm or a young lady sincerely interested and passionate about the dairy community. Candidates are judged on their communication skills, personality, general knowledge of the dairy industry and enthusiasm for dairy promotion.

The 2020 Nebraska Dairy Princess will receive a $1,000 scholarship from Midwest Dairy. A $500 scholarship will be awarded to the first runner-up. For complete rules and an application form, visit or contact Jodi Pulfer, Midwest Dairy—Dairy Princess Consultant, 402-375-2285,

Harmon Named Director of Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension

Jay Harmon was named the associate dean for extension and outreach programs and director of Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University on Jan. 1.

Harmon has served as interim since April 2017 when John Lawrence was named the interim vice president of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

“Dr. Harmon is an outstanding, dedicated and thoughtful leader and an excellent person for this position,” said Daniel J. Robison, endowed dean’s chair of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “He not only understands the important role Extension and Outreach plays in the state’s economic development, and how it is part of the fundamental mission of Iowa State University, but also how it is infused in the culture and work of our faculty, staff and even our students. He’s an expert and we are thrilled to have his leadership.”

Harmon will lead the comprehensive Agriculture and Natural Resources program area of Extension and Outreach for the College and for ISU Extension and Outreach. Robison said he was chosen because of his commitment and engagement to animal agriculture and engineering, but also to every aspect of agriculture and natural resources, from agronomy to economics, from sociology to molecular biology and from water quality to forestry.

“He will be the key connection for the college with other programs in extension, all across the state, and on campus,” Robison said.

Lawrence, Iowa State University vice president for extension and outreach, said Harmon has the expertise and experience for this position.

“Jay is a humble leader who will do well in this position,” Lawrence said. “He’s worked with Iowans in several roles since he came to Iowa State and his leadership has helped ISU Extension and Outreach enhance connections between faculty, staff and students and Iowa’s farmers, agribusinesses, land owners and rural communities.”

Harmon, a professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering and extension livestock housing specialist, joined ISU’s agricultural and biosystems engineering faculty in 1993.

His extension duties have focused on improving profitability and sustainability through a systems approach to livestock housing, and management of ventilation, cooling and heating systems for swine housing. He has advised more than 200 producers on making the best decisions on siting new swine facilities by running an ISU-developed odor assessment model and has conducted over 150 ventilation workshops for swine producers throughout the state since the program began in 2001. He leads the Agricultural Systems and Environmental Stewardship Extension Plan of Work team and, from 2014 to 2015, he served as interim director of ISU’s Iowa Pork Industry Center.

Harmon has taught courses on subjects that include agricultural engineering design, swine environmental management, ventilation of agricultural facilities and wood structural design. He also conducts applied research on efficient and sustainable swine production systems.

Harmon is the professor-in-charge of the Midwest Plan Service at Iowa State, which produces agricultural engineering publications and materials in collaboration with 12 Midwestern universities. In 2015, he was nationally recognized as the recipient of the G.B. Gunlogson Countryside Engineering Award for exemplary service to animal production systems from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. He is a Fellow of ASABE and a registered professional engineer.

Harmon earned his bachelor’s degree at Purdue University, his master’s at University of Minnesota and his doctorate at Virginia Tech, all in agricultural engineering.

Webinar Offers Overview of Iowa Nutrient Research Center

Iowa Learning Farms will host a webinar on Wednesday, Jan. 15 at 12 p.m. about the Iowa Nutrient Research Center.

Matt Helmers, director of the Iowa Nutrient Research Center, will discuss the center and some of the impacts from research projects funded by the center, as well as current activities. The funded research focuses on nutrient export from agricultural lands and the performance of conservation practices. The research increases the understanding of nutrient reduction practices’ performance and development of new methods for reducing nutrient loss.

“The center is interested in hearing from stakeholders what they think are the most pressing research questions,” said Helmers.

To watch, go to and click the link to join the webinar shortly before 12 p.m. on Jan. 15 to download the Zoom software and log in option. The webinar will be recorded and archived on the ILF website for watching at any time at

CHS Reports $177.9 Million in First Quarter Net Income

CHS Inc., the nation’s leading agribusiness cooperative, today reported net income of $177.9 million for the first quarter of fiscal year 2020 that ended Nov. 30, 2019. This compares to net income of $347.5 million in the first quarter of fiscal year 2019.

The results for the first quarter of fiscal year 2020 reflect:
-    Revenues of $7.6 billion compared to revenues of $8.5 billion for the first quarter of fiscal year 2019.
-    Strong supply chain performance in our propane business that was a positive contributor resulting from efficient sourcing of propane during significantly increased fall demand – brought on by unseasonably early cold and wet weather during harvest – for crop drying and home heating.
-    Less advantageous market conditions in our refined fuels business compared to the first quarter of fiscal year 2019, during which the company experienced historically wide pricing spreads between Canadian crude oil and crude oil from the United States. CHS processes Canadian crude oil at its refineries in Laurel, Montana, and McPherson, Kansas.
-    Poor weather conditions that occurred in fiscal year 2019 and the first quarter of fiscal year 2020 continued to negatively impact our Ag segment’s operations, resulting in lower crop yields, poor grain quality in some areas and lower fall crop nutrients sales.
-    Pressure on grain volume and margins due to slow movement of grain associated with unresolved trade issues between the United States and foreign trading partners.
-    Decreased fertilizer volumes compared to the first quarter of fiscal year 2019 due to a slow harvest in the first quarter of fiscal year 2020.

“We are not immune to the challenges of our industry, and our first quarter results reflect the difficulties brought on by fall weather and ongoing trade tensions,” said Jay Debertin, president and CEO of CHS Inc. “The cooperative system, however, provides CHS and its owners stability to withstand these difficult times. Our focus remains on building efficiencies in our supply chain and on operating in this challenging agricultural environment.

“During a cold and wet harvest, we leveraged our supply chain to meet the significant increase in propane needs of our owners and customers,” Debertin continued. “Our focus on meeting the needs of our owners helped deliver the successful launch of two products – AcuvantTM and TrivarTM – that will be available for spring planting.

First Quarter Fiscal 2020 Business Segment Results

The following segment results were reported for the first quarter of fiscal year 2020 as compared to the first quarter of fiscal year 2019.


Pretax earnings of $162.2 million in the first quarter of fiscal year 2020 compared to $232.5 million for the first quarter of fiscal year 2019 reflect:
-    Significantly less advantageous market conditions, driven primarily by decreased crude oil spreads on heavy Canadian crude oil processed at our refineries and, to a lesser extent, decreased crack spreads in our refined fuels business compared to the same period during fiscal year 2019. The decreased crude oil differentials and lower crack spreads were partially offset by favorable hedging activity in refined fuels.
-    The decrease in pretax income for refined fuels was partially offset by significantly improved propane margins from a late, wet crop combined with unseasonably cold weather across much of CHS service area that led to increased fall demand for crop drying and home heating compared to the first quarter of fiscal year 2019.


Pretax loss of $13.9 million compared to pretax earnings of $80.3 million in the first quarter of fiscal year 2019 reflects:
-    Poor weather conditions in fiscal year 2019 that culminated in a late and smaller fall harvest, resulting in decreased demand for farm supplies and crop nutrient products.
-    Ongoing global trade tensions between the United States and foreign trading partners continued to negatively impact grain volumes and margins.
-    Lower margins in our processing and food ingredients business.

Nitrogen Production

Pretax earnings of $16.5 million compared to pretax earnings of $23.7 million in the first quarter of fiscal year 2019 reflect:
-    Lower equity income from our investment in CF Nitrogen, of which CHS has partial ownership, attributable to decreased market pricing of urea and urea ammonium nitrate, which are produced and sold by CF Nitrogen.

Corporate and Other

Pretax earnings of $20.7 million compared to pretax earnings of $30.8 million in the first quarter of fiscal year 2019 reflect:
-    Results primarily from lower equity income from our investments in Ardent Mills and Ventura Foods and decreased income in our financing and hedging businesses due to market-driven interest rate reductions and lower trading activity, respectively.

“We know the remainder of fiscal year 2020 will continue to present challenges, and we are confident in our ability to find opportunities in those challenges, to help our owners grow their businesses and to continue to strengthen our company,” Debertin said. “No one feels those challenges more than our owners. We remain committed to supporting communities and experts as they address the stress felt across rural America.”

November Pork Exports Shatter Previous Records; Beef Exports Trail 2018

U.S. pork exports posted the best month on record in November, easily reaching new highs in both volume and value, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). November exports of U.S. beef were below the previous year's large totals.

Pork exports surged to 259,812 metric tons (mt) in November, up 26% year-over-year and 11% above the previous high set in July 2019. Export value was $712.7 million, up 32% from a year ago and breaking the previous record (also from July 2019) by 14%. These results pushed January-November exports 7% above the previous year's pace in volume (2.39 million mt) and 6% higher in value ($6.19 billion). Pork exports are now on pace to exceed previous records for both volume (2.45 million mt in 2017) and value ($6.65 billion in 2014).

Pork export value per head slaughtered was $62.90 in November, up 29% from a year ago and the highest in five years. Through the first 11 months of 2019, per-head value averaged $52.24, up 2% year-over-year. November exports accounted for 29.7% of total pork production and 26.8% for muscle cuts only, up substantially from a year ago (24.5% and 22%, respectively). For January through November, exports accounted for 26.4% of total pork production and 23% for muscle cuts, up from 22.4% and 25.7%, respectively, a year ago.

November beef exports totaled 108,662 mt, down 4% from a year ago, valued at $658.1 million (down 7%). For January through November, beef exports trailed 2018's record pace by 3% in both volume (1.21 million mt) and value ($7.4 billion). However, 2019 is already the second-highest year for beef export value, trailing only the 2018 record of $8.33 billion.

Beef export value per head of fed slaughter was $307.55 in November, down 15% from a year ago. Through November, per-head export value averaged $308.74, down 4%. November exports accounted for 13.7% of total beef production and 11% for muscle cuts only, down from 14.1% and 11.8%, respectively, a year ago. For January through November, exports accounted for 14.1% of total beef production and 11.4% for muscle cuts, down from 14.5% and 12%, respectively, a year ago.

Pork surge to China/Hong Kong continues; export value to Mexico rebounds

Demand from China/Hong Kong continued to drive U.S. pork export growth in November, with volume climbing to 86,213 mt— up 284% from a year ago — valued at $204.9 million (up 240%). For January through November, exports to the region were up 71% to 554,789 mt, valued at $1.18 billion (up 49%).

Although November pork export volume to Mexico was lower than a year ago at 57,537 mt (down 6%), export value surged 28% to $124.3 million, the highest since July. For January through November, exports to Mexico were down 11% from a year ago in volume (641,952 mt) and 6% lower in value $1.14 billion. Competition from Canadian pork was especially strong in the Mexican market while Canada was suspended from China (late June to early November). From January through November, Canada's exports to Mexico increased 8% from a year ago to 128,100 mt, valued at $185 million (up 14%).

"While the surge in pork shipments to China will capture most of the headlines this month, it is equally encouraging to see export value to Mexico make such a strong recovery," said Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and CEO. "Getting exports to Mexico back to the record levels of 2017 and early 2018 is a top priority for the U.S. pork industry, because demand from Mexico is such an important driver of profitability for everyone in the supply chain. The same is true in Japan, so it's very important to reclaim lost share in these longtime mainstay markets. "

November exports to Japan trailed the previous year by 3% at 32,594 mt, while value was down 1% to $136.5 million. Through the first 11 months of the year, exports to Japan were down 6% from a year ago in volume (340,568 mt) and 7% lower in value ($1.4 billion). Japanese import data show imports of U.S. pork decreased by $121 million with much of the decline being in ground seasoned pork, which fell by $73 million due to the wide tariff rate discrepancy. Beginning Jan. 1, Japan's tariff rates on U.S. pork and pork products were lowered to match those imposed on European, Canadian and Mexican pork, eliminating a significant price disadvantage that slowed U.S. exports in 2019. The rate for U.S. ground seasoned pork fell from 20 to 13.3%.

January-November highlights for U.S. pork exports include:

    Exports to Colombia rebounded in November to pull 9% ahead of the previous year's pace in volume (92,280 mt) and 7% higher in value ($203.6 million). Also bolstered by strong growth in Chile and Peru, exports to South America already surpassed previous full-year records in both volume (141,657 mt, up 18% year-over-year) and value ($356.2 million, up 22%).
    Led by strong growth in Panama, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica, exports to Central America also set new annual records for volume (86,794 mt, up 16%) and value ($211.8 million, up 20%).
    Surging demand in Australia and New Zealand pushed exports to Oceania to new heights. Exports to the region jumped 36% from a year ago in both volume (105,399 mt) and value ($304.5 million).
    Exports to Canada increased 6% from a year ago in both volume (197,847 mt) and value ($738.2 million).

Beef exports to Korea, Taiwan headed for new records

Although November beef exports to South Korea were lower than a year ago in volume (19,116 mt, down 5%) and value ($139 million, down 11%), the market remained on pace to break the 2018 records. Through November, exports to Korea were up 6% in both volume (234,310 mt) and value ($1.69 billion). U.S. share of Korea's chilled beef imports reached 62%, up from 58% in 2018. U.S. beef accounted for 51% of Korea's total beef and beef variety meat imports and more than one-third of Korea's total beef consumption.

Beef exports to Taiwan will be record-large for the fourth consecutive year in 2019. November exports were 4,869 mt (up 8% from a year ago) valued at $43 million (up 7%). This pushed January-November results 8% ahead of the previous year's pace at 57,837 mt, valued at $513.3 million (up 4%).

The gains in Korea and Taiwan have been offset by a decline in Japan, which is still the largest destination for U.S. beef exports but one in which the U.S. industry has faced a steep tariff rate disadvantage compared to imports from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Mexico. Through November, exports to Japan were down 6% from a year ago in volume (287,090 mt) and dropped 7% in value ($1.8 billion). But on Jan. 1, U.S. beef gained tariff relief in Japan that brings rates in line with key competitors, so the outlook is very positive for 2020.

"The Japanese market performed extremely well for U.S. beef in 2018, even though we were already facing a tariff rate disadvantage versus Australia," Halstrom explained. "More competitors saw tariff rate cuts in 2019 under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which further tilted the playing field against U.S. beef. For example, Canada's beef exports to Japan increased 57% last year. So the rate cuts Japan recently implemented for U.S. beef are long overdue, and USMEF is working aggressively with U.S. exporters and the Japanese trade to capitalize."

January-November highlights for U.S. beef exports include:

    In Mexico, the third-largest market for U.S. beef behind Japan and Korea, exports increased 4% from a year ago in value to just over $1 billion despite a 2% decline in volume (214,963 mt). This was largely due to a strong value increase for tripe, one of the top U.S. beef variety meat export items to Mexico. Variety meat exports were up 2% year-over-year in volume (89,667 mt) but jumped an impressive 18% in value to $244.5 million. This included $88 million in tripe exports, up 28%.
    Led by strong demand in Indonesia and steady growth in the Philippines, beef exports to the ASEAN region increased 23% from a year ago in volume (55,583 mt) and were 7% higher in value ($270.6 million).
    Exports to the Dominican Republic already surpassed the 2018 record, increasing 24% in volume to 7,523 mt valued at $61.4 million (up 19%).
    In Central America, strong demand in Guatemala and Panama helped push exports 4% higher than a year ago in volume (14,044 mt) and 9% higher in value ($79.9 million). Export value to Guatemala and Panama jumped 9% and 25%, respectively.
    Mexico and Japan have led a very strong year for global exports of U.S. beef variety meat, which were up 4% from a year ago in volume (295,527 mt) and 9% higher in value ($885.9 million). Exports to Japan, which largely consist of tongues and skirts, were up 20% from a year ago to 58,278 mt, valued at $355.5 million (up 13%). Egypt, the largest destination for U.S. beef livers, saw a 4% increase in volume (59,203 mt) while export value climbed 17% to $69 million. Led by strong demand in Indonesia, variety meat exports to the ASEAN increased 39% in volume (16,595 mt) and 43% in value ($37.3 million). Strong growth in the Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago pushed variety meat exports to the Caribbean 17% higher in volume (6,814 mt) while value surged 61% to $14.2 million.

November lamb exports trend lower

November exports of U.S. lamb were 1,253 mt, down 10% from a year ago, while value also dipped 10% to $2.19 million. Through the first 11 months of 2019, lamb exports remained well ahead of the previous year's pace in volume (14,507 mt, up 23%) and value ($23.7 million, up 11%). Led by strong demand in Mexico, lamb export volume is the largest since 2011 and export value is set to exceed $25 million for the first time since 2014. In addition to Mexico, growth markets in 2019 included Trinidad and Tobago, Panama, Guatemala and the Philippines.

Fertilizer Prices Mostly Lower at Start of 2020

Average retail prices for most fertilizers continued their lower trend during the week including the last two days of 2019 and first few days of 2020, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.  Seven of the eight major fertilizers were lower in price compared to a month earlier. This broke a streak of five weeks in which all eight were lower.

Only one fertilizer was down a significant amount. Urea was down 5% compared to last month and had an average price of $363 per ton.  Six fertilizers had slight price declines from the previous month. DAP had an average price of $438/ton, MAP $446/ton, potash $376/ton, anhydrous $487/ton, UAN28 $238/ton and UAN32 $273/ton.

The remaining fertilizer, 10-34-0, had a minor price increase from a month ago. The starter fertilizer had an average price of $470 per ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.39/lb.N, anhydrous $0.30/lb.N, UAN28 $0.42/lb.N and UAN32 $0.43/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are mixed in price from a year ago. MAP is 16% lower, anhydrous is 15% less expensive, DAP is 14% lower, urea and UAN28 are both 11% less expensive, UAN32 is 10% lower and potash is 1% less expensive from last year at this time. In addition, 10-34-0 is 2% higher compared to last year.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 1/3/2020

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending Jan. 3, ethanol production tapered by 4,000 barrels per day (b/d), or 0.4%, to 1.062 million b/d—equivalent to 44.60 million gallons daily. The four-week average ethanol production rate capped off an eleven-week rise with a 0.2% decrease to 1.069 million b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 16.39 billion gallons.

Ethanol stocks rose 6.8% to 22.5 million barrels, the highest reserves since Sept. 2019. However, inventories were 3.4% lower than the same week last year. Stocks increased in all PADDs except the Rocky Mountain region (PADD 4).

There were zero imports of ethanol recorded for the fourth consecutive week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of November 2019.)

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market during the holiday week dropped 9.2% to 8.133 million b/d (341.59 million gallons per day, or 124.68 bg annualized)—the weakest level in nearly three years. Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol followed, decreasing 9.4% to 801,000 b/d—equivalent to 12.28 bg annualized and the lowest weekly demand in two years.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production increased to 13.06%.

As Iran Crisis Drives Oil Prices Higher, Ethanol Delivers Relief at the Pump

Tensions in the Middle East have inflamed global oil markets, sending Brent crude oil futures over $70 per barrel and pushing U.S. gasoline futures to a nine-month high. Analysts expect these gas price increases to reach the pump in the days ahead, hitting consumer pocketbooks and again underscoring the importance of enhancing domestic energy security through increased production and use of low-cost renewable fuels like ethanol.

At the fuel terminals where gasoline is blended, ethanol is currently selling for 40-50 cents per gallon less than gasoline.

Earlier this week, London’s Financial Times pointed out that America’s “shale revolution alone cannot deliver true energy independence,” adding: “America remains far from energy independent. While net exports show a decreasing reliance on imports, the country continues to buy oil from other nations in part to meet the needs of its refiners.”

The U.S. imported nearly 600 million barrels of crude oil and petroleum products at a cost of more than $36 billion from the Persian Gulf in 2018, with almost one-third coming from Iraq.

As U.S. consumers brace for higher prices, a recent study shows that our nation’s growing supply of ethanol significantly helps dampen gasoline price shocks that result from sudden oil market disruptions. In fact, if renewable fuels were removed from the fuel supply, gas prices would be more than $1 per gallon higher, the study found.

“The current crisis in the Middle East again highlights the critical need for greater domestic energy security and diversity,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “Given the global nature of crude oil markets, we cannot simply frack our way to energy independence. The fastest and most effective way to insulate our nation’s consumers from geopolitically induced price shocks at the pump is to increase our use of domestically produced ethanol. To help mitigate impending pump price increases, EPA should immediately act on the President’s commitment to remove regulatory barriers to E15 expansion and fully enforce the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

The September gas price study, by independent economist and energy expert Dr. Philip K. Verleger, Jr., looked at oil market disruptions over nearly 50 years and provided an example in which the availability of ethanol avoids a significant impact to U.S. gasoline prices from a supply disruption.

“Retail prices would today be above $4 per gallon were renewable supplies removed from the supply mix,” Verleger writes. “The lower gasoline prices, in turn, allowed consumers to spend more on the things they wanted rather than motor fuels. … The economic benefit of lower gasoline prices that is directly attributable to the availability of renewable fuels adds one to two percentage points to the U.S. GDP every year.”

Dr. Verleger cataloged various crises and their impacts on the oil supply, from the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo to ongoing political and economic challenges in Venezuela. When it comes to crises such as these, Verleger asserts that even “a modest amount of renewable fuels can significantly moderate the price impact of market disruptions.”

The study incorporated and built upon a May report by Dr. Verleger that found the RFS lowered gas prices by an average of 22 cents per gallon from 2015-2018, saving the typical American household $250 annually.

Cargill reports fiscal 2020 second-quarter results

Cargill Tuesday reported results for the fiscal 2020 second quarter ended Nov. 30, 2019. Key measures include:
    Adjusted operating earnings were $1.02 billion, up 19% from $853 million last year. For the first half of the year, this brought adjusted earnings to $1.93 billion.
    Net earnings on a U.S. GAAP basis for the quarter were $1.19 billion, up 61% from a year ago. The increase included gains from divesting Cargill’s malt business and financial subsidiary, CarVal Investors. Net earnings for the first half climbed 20% to $2.11 billion.
    Second-quarter revenues rose 4% to $29.2 billion. Six-month revenues totaled $58.2 billion, a 3% rise.

“We saw very good execution from our global teams throughout the quarter, as they focused on delivering what matters for our customers,” said Dave MacLennan, Cargill’s chairman and chief executive officer. “Our ongoing transformation, as well as recent acquisitions and expanded capabilities, are all helping us continue to raise our performance.”

Performance highlights

Adjusted operating earnings increased in two of Cargill’s four business segments: Animal Nutrition & Protein, and Industrial & Financial Services. They declined in Origination & Processing and Food Ingredients & Applications. Notable results include:
    Cargill’s protein businesses around the world were well prepared to meet opportunities from country-by-country changes in demand, shifts in global protein flows due to African swine fever and other market forces.
    Transformation efforts, recent acquisitions and capital investments all had positive impacts in businesses like animal nutrition and global poultry. Likewise, the ocean transportation business benefited from its readiness for the upcoming industry shift to low-sulphur fuels that began on Jan. 1, 2020.
    The company’s agricultural trading business stayed well-positioned across commodities, while some of the regional origination and processing businesses continued to feel the negative impact of trade uncertainty and weather disruptions, particularly in North America.
    Several global product lines of food ingredients saw softer results, including starches and sweeteners in Europe and Brazil, and edible oils in South America. Strong product deliveries kept cocoa and chocolate results near even with last year.
    The beneficial impact of wintry weather combined with production efficiency gave a boost to road safety salt results.

Innovation for growth

Cargill and joint venture partner Royal DSM began commercial-scale production of EverSweet® stevia sweetener in November at Cargill’s $50 million fermentation facility in Blair, Nebraska  – the first of its kind in the U.S.  This zero-calorie sweetener uses fermentation to create the two best-tasting molecules in the stevia leaf. In addition to providing scale, fermentation is much more sustainable than traditional leaf-based production, since these molecules make up less than 1% of the stevia leaf in nature.

The innovation has significant growth potential because it’s well-suited for many kinds of food and beverage applications such as soft drinks, flavored waters and teas, smoothies, yogurt, confections and ice creams. More than 300 customer trials and product development projects are currently in progress.

Far-reaching climate solutions

With a major presence in food and agriculture supply chains around the globe, Cargill is committed to protecting the planet’s vital natural resources. To that end, Cargill announced at the start of December that the company has adopted a Scope 3 target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in its global supply chains by 30% per ton of product by 2030. The goal aligns with many of Cargill’s customers and has been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). It complements the company’s previously announced goal to reduce emissions from operations by 10% on an absolute basis by 2025. Along with the target, the company reinforced its commitment to the Paris Climate Accord through the We Are Still In coalition and pledged to the CEO climate statement.

To achieve the Scope 3 target, Cargill is focused on supply chain partnerships and solutions that benefit farmers, customers and the broader food system. This includes accelerating progress through the BeefUp Sustainability initiative, efforts to help farmers sequester carbon by maintaining healthier soils, reductions in carbon for sustainable shipping, and more.

“Without bold and decisive action by all involved in the production of food, climate change will destabilize the food system,” MacLennan said. “As with all areas of our business, we are innovating alongside our partners in the supply chain to make sure we can nourish a growing world for years to come.”


Leading global equipment manufacturer New Holland has partnered with the National Hemp Association (NHA), the nation’s leading non-partisan hemp advocacy group. The partnership, announced today at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, plans to accelerate the return of hemp commodity crops on farms across North America, under the banner “Pushing Progress Together.”

The National Hemp Association will participate alongside New Holland at 16 national farm shows throughout North America, delivering educational sessions and panel discussions, as well as exhibiting the variety of products produced from hemp.

The alliance will also work toward solving the industry’s biggest challenge: the absence of commercial scale harvesting and decortication equipment needed to meet demand. In order to begin laying the foundation of an integrated North American hemp supply chain, the alliance will call on other industry partners to join a “Hemp Pledge” and commit to purchasing hemp grown and processed in the U.S. by U.S. farmers.

“We see this exclusive partnership as a way to bring the nation’s leading hemp advocates and educators to events where they can respond to the issues of most concern to farmers, manufacturers, processors and the general public”, says Brett Davis, vice president, New Holland, North America. “It will also provide New Holland with the opportunity to hear from our dealer network, our customers and the more than 115,000 farmers who are looking to New Holland to bring forward supply chain solutions.”

The National Hemp Association has also committed to creating and funding a new “Hemp Farmer Educational Fund” to assist farmers with agricultural, regulatory and production issues related to converting to hemp production.

“We know that the biggest challenge facing this crop and restricting its return is commercial scale harvesting and decortication equipment,” says NHA chair and PAHIC president Geoff Whaling. “Without that solution, all of the promise for hemp – for the food, feed, construction, automotive, energy and textile industry – will not be realized.  Our partnership with New Holland Agriculture will be the beginning steps towards that end.”

“This Pennsylvania-rooted partnership is very big step to building the national supply chain,” says U.S. Sen. Judy Schwank of Pennsylvania, the leading proponent of industrial hemp legislation in the Pennsylvania Senate. “Together we need to provide any legislative fixes that are necessary as well as ensure the resources and tools are available to assist and help the industry move forward.”

For more information on New Holland hemp initiatives and solutions, visit

Tuesday January 7 Ag News

Manure: Waste or Valuable Agricultural Resource?
Larry Howard, NE Extension Educator, Cuming County

Stories about manure often illustrate two opposing sentiments. Is manure a “Waste” that pollutes our water resources and creates undesirable nuisances for communities?   Or, is manure a “Resource” that reduces the demand for importing greenhouse gas intensive inorganic fertilizers and improves the health of our soils? 

Both statements contain some truth. However, the balance of the truth shows in the management choices made during the storage and utilization of animal manures. When using manure in cropping systems, how can manure’s benefits be maximized and undesirable traits minimized?”

A team of university educators from Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota along with some agricultural organizations would like to better understand farmer’s views on factors  that impact manure use on cropland. What issues are most important to you as you make decisions for the use of manure in cropping systems? Why do you choose manure over other fertilizers? Or commercial fertilizers instead of manure? Manure can create challenges, so which of these challenges are “deal breakers” preventing manure use on some fields? Which barriers and benefits drive your decisions about manure use in cropland?

Please help them answer these questions by sharing your perspectives in a 15 minute survey at

Lindsay and Farmers Edge Expand Digital Partnership to Connect Two Million Irrigated Acres by the End of 2021

Lindsay Corporation (NYSE: LNN), a leading global manufacturer and distributor of irrigation and infrastructure equipment and technology, and Farmers Edge, a global leader in digital agriculture, announced a plan to connect and digitize two million irrigated acres by the end of 2021. The companies will integrate their digital platforms to provide their growers and dealer networks with a first-of-its-kind, fully connected crop management solution. The expanded partnership will also focus on a collaboration in data science, machine learning, and AI-driven analytics to deliver highly precise water-based insights and predictive models, setting a new standard in agriculture.

[Lindsay and Farmers Edge announced a plan to connect and digitize two million irrigated acres by the end of 2021. The companies will integrate their digital platforms to provide their growers and dealer networks with a first-of-its-kind, fully connected crop management solution.]

As part of the strategic initiative, Farmers Edge will provide Lindsay access to both high-resolution satellite imagery and the most comprehensive field-centric dataset available in the industry. Syncing Lindsay's market-leading irrigation management platform—FieldNET Advisor®—with the Farmers Edge fully-integrated, AI-driven farm management platform—FarmCommand®— creates an exclusive opportunity for growers to access digital tools that deliver real-time information to control pivots and monitor crop health, along with advanced predictive models to help identify issues, including: seeding or application errors, tile drainage, weather damage, pests, disease, and more. The combination of the two digital platforms enables growers to make more informed water management decisions to optimize applications and yield potential.

Adding another layer of connectivity to its suite of solutions, Farmers Edge will provide Lindsay's FieldNET Pivot Watch™—a remote irrigation monitoring solution that includes proprietary IoT sensors that connect to any center pivot—and FieldNET Advisor to help growers better understand when, where, and how much to irrigate.

"This integration of platforms enables growers to use tools like high-resolution satellite imagery to see a visual indication of variation in crop health across a field from the convenience of their laptop or smartphone. The connected farm strategy also enables growers to collect all aspects of field data and feed that information into FieldNET Advisor and FarmCommand. Once that data is collected, the platforms can provide AI-powered insights to ensure the most accurate decisions are being made on the farm," said Albert Maurin, product manager for irrigation software at Lindsay Corporation. "We are excited to bring growers this evolution of our partnership with Farmers Edge, and we will continue to leverage our industry partners to deliver innovative irrigation solutions to our customers."

"Our goal at Lindsay is to help growers increase water and energy efficiency and profit while exercising more sustainable farming practices, and we firmly believe digitization in agriculture is key to that," said Randy Wood, president of global agricultural irrigation at Lindsay Corporation. "Farmers Edge is very much aligned with that vision, and we're confident that by connecting our platforms through this strategic partnership, we'll reach our goal of two million digitized and connected irrigated acres by the end of 2021."

"At Farmers Edge, we're focused on creating a digital agricultural ecosystem that's centered around a fully connected farm. Farmers Edge has thousands of connected machines, weather stations, and in-field sensors across the globe, but we have yet to bring a crucial asset—center pivots," said Wade Barnes, CEO and co-founder of Farmers Edge. "Having access to FieldNET Pivot Watch is a key component for achieving this goal.  The ability to add pivot irrigation data into our unique field-centric datasets, and then move that information into FieldNET Advisor is extremely exciting. The power of the insights and analytics from the partnership will change how farms use irrigation, and we're eager to bring this type of industry changing technology to two million irrigated acres by 2021."


This enhanced platform will be available to new and existing Farmers Edge and Lindsay growers through the Zimmatic® dealer network and the Farmers Edge sales network.

Healthy Farms Conference Planned Jan. 31 – Feb. 1 in Grand Island, Neb.

Plan now to attend the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society’s Healthy Farms Conference, Jan. 31 - Feb.1 at the Ramada Midtown Hotel in Grand Island, Neb. Online registration is available at

The Healthy Farms Conference has been hosted by the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society for over 40 years. The conference combines farmer-to-farmer training with sessions aimed at equipping farmers, aspiring farmers, foodies, and advocates with the skills and knowledge about sustainable agriculture.

Dave Vetter and Bill Bullard are the keynote speakers planned for the event. Vetter is the Chief Executive Officer of Grain Place Foods. He has been a leader in organic agriculture in central Nebraska and the world for over 40 years. Bullard is the Chief Executive Officer of the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA). He has been an advocate for cattle producers for nearly 20 years.

Headquartered in Marquette, Neb., Grain Place Foods began as one of the first organic farming operations in the Great Plains. It expanded into a grain cleaning and storing operation to serve fellow organic farmers. It has since grown into a company that provides grain products that are grown and produced in an ecologically sustainable and socially responsible manner to customers across the U.S. and Canada.

The Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America is the largest national cattle-producer organization in the U.S. that represents the live cattle segment of the United States’ beef supply chain. R-CALF USA’s voluntary membership consists of thousands of U.S. cow/calf producers, backgrounders, stockers and feeders located in 46 states. R-CALF USA represents its members on issues concerning international trade and marketing.

In addition to the keynote speakers, the Healthy Farms Conference will feature breakout sessions on topics ranging from cover crops, agritourism and resources for beginning farmers. The full agenda is available on the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture website

The Healthy Farms Conference will also include exhibits about local food, holistic health, sustainability, natural resources, and marketing. A silent auction will feature locally produced food, crafts, artwork, agritourism experiences and more. A locally-sourced dinner will be served Friday night featuring food grown by many of the conference attendees and supporters.

Cost to attend the full conference is $85.00. Single day, young farmer/student and family registration rates are also available. All registrations are accepted online by visiting the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society’s website: Early registration ends Jan. 16 and is greatly appreciated for an accurate meal count.

36th Young Leader Class Kicks Off in Indianapolis

The 36th class of American Soybean Association (ASA) Corteva Agriscience Young Leaders recently began its leadership journey at the Corteva Agriscience Global Business Center in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Indianapolis training session was the first phase of the program designed to identify future grower leaders within the agriculture community and provide them with opportunities to enhance their skills and network with other farmers. Representatives from 19 states and the Grain Farmers of Ontario participated in the program.

During the training, ASA President Bill Gordon (MN) provided participants with an association overview and United Soybean Board (USB) Director Mark Seib discussed the checkoff and engagement of future agricultural leaders. ASA Vice President Kevin Scott (SD) joined the program via teleconference for a panel discussion and open forum on the soybean industry.

The Young Leaders also participated in leadership styles and communications training, discussed consumer trends and acceptance, and were introduced to AgriNovus Indiana. Additional discussion provided updates on other soybean industry advancements.

“As a graduate of the Young Leader program, I’ve seen firsthand how this training provides participants with the tools and knowledge they need to be an effective advocate for agriculture,” Gordon said. “Former Young Leaders can be found in leadership roles throughout the industry and public policy. We are grateful to Corteva Agriscience for making this program possible and helping to lay the foundation of agriculture’s future.”

“Corteva Agriscience was proud to welcome the ASA Corteva Agriscience™ Young Leaders to Indianapolis, Indiana for the first time in our 36-year history as the program sponsor,” said Susanne Wasson, President, Crop Protection Business Platform, Corteva Agriscience. “The Young Leader Program provides participants developmental training to hone their leadership skills and strengthen the voice of agriculture. After meeting with the 2019-2020 Young Leader participants, I am confident the future of the soybean industry is in good hands.”

The 2020 Young Leaders are: Caper & Alison Robinson (AR); Jesse Patrick (GA); Brady Holst (IL); James Ramsey (IN); Eric Schwenke (IN); Noah & Anna Fedders (IA); Ryan & Kristin Oberbroeckling (IA); Jeremy Olson (KS); Houston & Kathryn (Katy) Howlett (KY); Nathan Engelhard (MI): Allison Morse (MI); Mike & Dawn Kunerth (MN); Ryan Mackenthun (MN); Garrett & Cara Riekhof (MO); Josh England (NE); Lucas & Becky Miller (NE); Trey & Rebecca Liverman (NC); Justin Sherlock (ND); Justin & Emily Esselburn (OH); Scott Ruck (OH); Jesse & Emily King (SD); Drew Peterson (SD); Casey Youngerman (TN); Adam & Brittany Davis (VA); Matt Rehberg (WI); Chris & Rachel Renwick (Canada).

This second phase of the Young Leader program will take place Feb. 25 – 29, 2020 in San Antonio, Texas, with training held in conjunction with the annual Commodity Classic Convention and Trade Show.


The third largest indoor U.S. farm show, presented by Farm Credit Services of America and AgDirect, will be held January 28-30 in Des Moines, Iowa at the Iowa Events Center. Spread across nearly 8 acres, the Iowa Power Farming Show features the broadest mix of ag-related products and services found in the Midwest.

Agriculture remains the lifeblood of rural Iowa where families operate and maintain 86,900 farms across the state. Contributing approximately $27 billion in annual cash receipts to the state’s economy, Iowa farmers grow a diverse mix that includes corn, soybeans, oats and alfalfa, and run beef, pork, poultry, lamb and dairy operations.

“With 740 companies on hand representing 60 product and service categories, farmers will find everything they need to increase profits, lower input costs and improve productivity at the Iowa Power Farming Show,” said Tom Junge, show director. “It’s an agricultural megastore.”

Check out Purdue University’s award-winning agBOT on the Wells Fargo Arena floor. This autonomous machine can identify plants, destroy weeds and fertilize crops, all while navigating a field. The 2019 first place agBOT Challenge winner has the potential to not only decrease the overall cost of farm operation but reduce negative environmental impacts and compensate for farm labor shortages as well.

Ag Tech Innovation Competition on Wednesday at 2 pm on the east end of Hy-Vee Hall. Watch five ag tech start-ups pitch their latest ideas to help producers manage their operations more effectively. A $20,000 Grand Prize and $5,000 People’s Choice  will be awarded!

Exclusive film screening of the movie “Silo” – January 29th from 4:30-6:00 pm – east end of Hy-Vee Hall.

88 NEW exhibitors

NEW second flight of stairs to Wells Fargo Arena floor

Show hours are 9 am to 4 pm Tuesday and Wednesday, and 9 am to 3 pm Thursday. Parking and shuttle are FREE at Iowa Cubs-Principal Park. Farmers may register online at to save $5 off the $8 admission.

Workshops to Discuss What Dairy Needs to Know about Contagious Disease

Dairy producers and the industry should prepare in advance for the possibility of a contagious disease outbreak, such as foot-and-mouth disease.

On Jan. 27 and Feb. 11, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, along with Iowa State University, will host two one-day workshops for dairy producers, processors, veterinarians, extension employees, emergency responders and others.

The free workshops will focus on how to prepare for a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak and steps that can be taken to protect dairies from foreign animal diseases and diseases already found in the United States.

Danelle Bickett-Weddle, associate director of the Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University, said the goal is to educate people about prevention, and what they need to know if one of these highly contagious diseases is found.

“Farmers will hear how to protect their animals, what to do if this disease is diagnosed, what a ‘movement standstill’ means, and what the farm needs to do to request a movement permit,” Bickett-Weddle said.

A movement standstill could potentially limit the movement of animals, feed and milk, and would be issued by IDALS or the United States Department of Agriculture.

Bickett-Weddle said foot-and-mouth disease was eradicated from the U.S. in 1929 but is still present in more than two-thirds of the countries around the world.

The workshops include question and answer time, allowing dairy farmers to voice their concerns and provide feedback.

During her portion of the program, Bickett-Weddle will review the resources available from Iowa State University. She said some of the biosecurity measures producers can take are to limit the contact their animals have with visitors, new animals and other exposures.

“Think of your farm as a castle and do the things you need to do in order to protect it,” she said.

Dates and locations

One workshop will be offered Jan. 27 in Sioux Center, Iowa, at Terrace View. The address is 230 St., Andrews Way, Sioux Center.

The same workshop will also be offered Feb. 11, in Calmar, at the Northeast Iowa Dairy Foundation, 1527 Highway 150 South, Calmar.

A free lunch will be provided at each workshop and pre-registration is encouraged. Check-in starts at 8:15 a.m., with workshops ending at 3 p.m.

Registration must be made through IDALS. Register by emailing, or calling 515-281-5305.

Nominate conservation leaders for the 2020 Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Awards

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig and Department of Natural Resources Director Kayla Lyon invite Iowans to nominate farm families for the Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award. Farmers who voluntarily take action towards improving soil health and water quality are eligible. Nominations will be accepted until Monday, May 4, 2020, to be considered for the 2020 awards ceremony held at the Iowa State Fair. The application is open earlier than past years to allow additional time to nominate outstanding farmers.

To qualify, individuals must take action toward improving water quality and soil health. These farmers incorporate best management practices into their operation because they know that sustainable practices extend beyond the fields and impact those in our state and downstream. They must also actively serve as leaders in the farm community.

“Iowa farmers have been feeding and fueling the world for generations, and are leaders in conservation,” said Gov. Reynolds. “They go above and beyond improving water quality and soil health, serving as a model for others to follow. The 2020 Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Awards is one way we say thank you, and recognize farmers for all they do.”

“Farmers across the state are investing in practices that positively impact their land and water,” said Secretary Naig. “Conservation practices like cover crops, saturated buffers and wetlands are being implemented at a rate that we’ve never seen before. I look forward to recognizing the farmers who have adopted practices that help achieve the goals outlined in Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy.”

“It is always gratifying to be able to recognize the farmers who are voluntarily leading the way when it comes to protecting our land and waters,” said DNR Director Lyon. “Being conscientious of our natural resources will ensure a rich legacy for future generations.”

An appointed committee of representatives from both conservation and agricultural groups will review the nominations and select the winners. The recipients will be recognized on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020, at the Iowa State Fair.

Since the creation of the award in 2012, more than 600 farm families have been recognized. Winners are presented a certificate as well as a yard sign donated by Bayer. The nomination form, a list of previous awardees and other information can be found at

Will 2020 Be The Year The Land Market Tumbles?

The land market in 2019 continued the plateau trend of the past several years during which the supply of agricultural land for sale on the market remained lower than average and prices for good quality cropland held mostly steady. Looking ahead to next year, will financial stress from lower commodity prices and poor harvests in some regions cause prices to decline?

Farmland sale activity in the first part of 2019 was slower than it had been for some time with late spring and early summer especially void of farms for sale. Planting delays and prevented plantings contributed to the lackluster activity.

“Despite the slower land market, Farmers National Company and its agents saw a 25 percent increase in acres sold in 2019 from the prior year and the most since 2014. Sellers are seeking the best advice and marketing strategy to sell their land and that is why the amount of land listed for sale at Farmers National is very strong at over $300 million” said  Randy Dickhut, senior vice president of real estate operations.

Land values in 2019 once again bucked the prevailing depressed mood in agriculture to hold steady or even increase slightly in some instances except for the most stressed areas or segments such as dairy. With generally more cautious buyers, some markets saw a move to private treaty listings or bid sales instead of the traditional public land auction. 

“The lower supply of land for sale had much to do with land prices being mostly steady as did having adequate demand for quality cropland. Lower quality farmland had less demand and in many cases was harder to sell. Investor interest in cropland increased somewhat in 2019 with several new entities entering the market and also from an increase in purchasing activity by existing institutional investors,” said Dickhut.

Several other factors had a favorable effect on farmland values in 2019. Interest rates remained historically low and moved even lower during the year when at one time, most thought rates would work higher. The other significant factor supporting land values and buyer demand, especially by farmers, was the amount of government support for production agriculture. One third of agriculture's 2019 net farm income came from government provided sources including crop insurance, the Market Facilitation Program, and various other conservation and program funding. 

In 2019, the ag industry endured floods, planting frustrations, trade uncertainty and struggling commodity prices. Financial conditions for some producers degenerated, but agriculture overall remains in better shape than expected due to support payments and the fact that land values remain historically strong. The land market weathered many storms in 2019 just like U.S. agriculture as both balanced precipitously on the plateau of the past five years.

So will 2020 be the year that the land market breaks out of its plateau? 

“There are a number of factors that indicate that the land market will continue to be steady in 2020,” said Dickhut.  “Interest rates are low and are poised to remain so during the foreseeable future and government support through MFP payments will likely continue if Chinese trade issues are not fully resolved. Overall, agriculture is in adequate financial shape, but there are individual and regional concerns.”

There are also factors that could have a more depressing influence on farmland values in 2020, Farmers National reported. In addition to on-going trade disruptions, there is the concern if there will be an increase in financially caused sales of land by producers. Buyer demand for good cropland has been adequate for the supply and this would have to remain so in order for land values to continue on their plateau. 

Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas

“Land sale activity across the Southern Plains has been quite varied and dependent on location, quality and use,” said Paul Schadegg, area sales manager for Farmers National Company. “In general, good quality continues to sell while lower quality land struggles.”

During the fall, Farmers National auctioned a good quality crop farm in north-central Kansas for $8,800 per acre, which was near record for the area even though land prices are off the peaks by five years.

“Our local agent did a great job talking with all the potential buyers and Farmers National did a full marketing campaign for the sale. We definitely reached the buyers,” Schadegg said.

Texas timber land and ranches are in demand from buyers and are holding or increasing in price.  In Oklahoma, Schadegg said that Farmers National has held a number of “good auctions selling both cropland and grass.”

“Nebraska land buyers are being more cautious, forcing sellers to be more realistic in a price that will consummate a sale,” said Schadegg.

Looking ahead into the coming year, attention turns to what is going to impact the farm economy and the land market and whether or not the current lower commodity prices will be the new normal. Financial stress has increased for some individual farm operators, but overall financial conditions in agriculture are adequate.

With the current land market sitting on a plateau for the past several years, landowners are asking questions about what to do if they are thinking of selling their farm

“We are getting sellers calling Farmers National looking for good advice about the land market and for the best marketing and sales strategy to get their land sold. These landowners want someone they can trust to sell their farm,” Schadegg said.

Iowa and Wisconsin

What started out as a slow year in farmland sales has now picked up the pace as additional farms come on the market.

“The first six months of the year were about as slow as I have seen the land market. Auction activity really picked up for Farmers National agents through the fall months and for the upcoming winter sales season,” according to Sam Kain, area sales manager for Farmer National Company. The ongoing lower supply of land for sale on the market has helped support land prices.

“Good quality cropland remains steady to strong. Farmers National recently sold a tract of land for $13,000 per acre, which was definitely above expectations. Lower quality land takes more time and effort to get it sold, which is more typical of Wisconsin farms due to the financial stress of the past few years in dairy. Good quality cropland sells well in the state while lower quality land or properties with dairy facilities struggle to sell,” Kain said.

Looking ahead into the coming year, attention turns to what is going to impact the farm economy and the land market. Producers are beginning to wonder if the current lower commodity prices will be the new normal for a while. Financial stress has increased for some individual farm operations and areas that may have had below average yields.

“As the number of farms and amount of acres sold increases, there has to be adequate demand to support current land prices. We have been seeing more cautious buyers for several years and now we are starting to see fewer buyers interested in making a land purchase” said Kain.

With the current land market sitting on a plateau for the past several years, landowners are asking questions about what to do if they are thinking of selling their farm.

“We are getting sellers calling Farmers National looking for good advice about the land market and for the best marketing and sales strategy to get their land sold. These landowners want someone they can trust to sell their farm,” said Kain.

Sasse’s First Vote On Finance Committee Is To Advance USMCA Trade Deal

Today, U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, an outspoken advocate for Nebraska agriculture and trade, officially joined the Senate Finance Committee and cast his first committee vote to advance the USMCA trade agreement.

Senator Sasse’s remarks and excerpts are found below....

“There are good reasons why this is regularly referred to as the most powerful committee in the Congress. The work here effects moms and dads, farmers and ranchers, patients and doctors, taxpayers present and future. And so, Chairman, thank you for having me serve on this committee and for your welcome.”

“I'm also extremely eager to have my first vote on this committee be the U.S., Mexico, Canada Agreement. The USMCA should have been done a long, long time ago. It languished in the House for reasons that aren't really that defensible but it's great that we're going to finally have the opportunity to vote on this trade agreement.”

“The USMCA comes at a critical time for Nebraska agriculture. Here's the bad news: farmers have experienced low commodity prices, excessive supply, weather disasters, global trade disruptions and the farm economy - as the Senator from Kansas has said - is embarrassingly sluggish. But here's the good news: the USMCA trade agreement strengthens our trading agreements with North American neighbors. It is also the foundation for some future trade agreements in terms of some modernization of rules and regulations, laws and obligations with conformity, transparency, and verification.”

“So, here's the bottom line: Nebraska is ready to keep feeding the world and we need open trade markets to do so. We should get the job done. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”

NPPC Applauds Senate Committee Approval of USMCA

Today, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee approved the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement, which once implemented will provide much-needed certainty to U.S. pork producers.

"We thank Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) for making USMCA passage a top priority and we thank those members of the committee who support this important trade deal," said National Pork Producers Council President David Herring, a hog farmer from Lillington, N.C. "USMCA will allow the U.S. pork industry to maintain long-term, zero-duty market access to two of our largest export markets.

"We now urge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to schedule a vote on the floor as soon as possible," added Herring.

In 2018, Canada and Mexico took over 40 percent of the pork that was exported from the United States and a similar percentage is expected in 2019. U.S. pork exports to Canada and Mexico support 16,000 U.S. jobs.

USMCA Moves Ahead in U.S. Senate

Members of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee today voted 25-3 in support of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), a critical step to moving the new trade agreement toward final passage in the U.S. Senate.

“USMCA will bring much needed certainty, and real benefits to America’s farmers, workers, and businesses. Farmers are getting better and more reliable market access, which they badly need,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in his opening remarks.

Members of the House of Representatives in December overwhelmingly approved USMCA. The agreement is critically important to corn farmers. Mexico and Canada are the U.S. corn industry’s largest, most reliable market. In 2018, 21.4 million metric tons of corn and corn co-products were exported to Mexico and Canada, valued at $4.56 billion.

The trade agreement will next need to be approved by the full Senate which could occur as early as next week.

USMCA Action is a Welcome Start to 2020

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall

“We are now one step away from unleashing the competitiveness of America’s farmers and ranchers with our two largest trading partners thanks to today’s Senate Finance Committee vote. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement will protect our valuable trade relationships with our nearest neighbors and return certainty to our markets. We urge immediate approval by the full Senate to deliver a much-needed win for agriculture. 

“The challenges farmers and ranchers faced in 2019 are no secret, but it’s a new year and we are eager for new opportunities to compete, building on the progress with Japan and the pending announcement of a new China agreement.

“We hope the USMCA will be a model for future U.S. trade agreements as the administration pursues a level playing field around the globe for our farmers and ranchers.”

Designed to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, the USMCA builds on important trade relationships in North America.
-    The agreement is expected to increase U.S. ag exports by $2 billion and result in a $65 billion increase in gross domestic product.
-    The agreement will provide new market access for American dairy and poultry products while preserving the zero-tariff platform on all other ag products.
-    In particular, the agreement gives U.S. dairy products access to an additional 3.6% of Canada’s dairy market – even better than what was proposed in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.
-    U.S. wheat will receive fairer treatment, thanks to Canada’s agreement to grade our wheat no less favorably than its own.
-    Mexico and the United States have also agreed that all grading standards for ag products will be non-discriminatory.
-    Additional provisions enhance science-based trading standards among the three nations as the basis for sanitary and phytosanitary measures for ag products, as well as progress in the area of geographic indications.
-    The agreement also includes measures that address cooperation, information sharing and other trade rules among the three nations related to agricultural biotechnology and gene editing.

NPPC Response to January 5, 2020, 60 Minutes Story

In October 2019, journalist Lesley Stahl conducted an 80-minute interview with Dr. Liz Wagstrom, chief veterinarian of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC). The “60 Minutes” story that aired on Jan. 5, 2020, included less than two minutes of Dr. Wagstrom’s comments and failed to include critical information about modern pork production. The U.S. pork industry has an excellent food safety record and NPPC is proud to represent hog farmers who provide the safest, healthiest and most affordable pork in the world. Here’s what consumers should know about U.S. pork:
Food Safety:

The United States pork production system is the envy of the world and yields the safest, highest-quality and most affordable pork available. U.S. pork producers adhere to rigorous government regulations and stringent production standards defined by the industry’s Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) Plus program. Food safety truly is a team effort – from the farm to processing facilities to consumers who must be informed about food handling and cooking temperatures. Close scrutiny of U.S. government data shows that American consumers can take pride not only in the quality, but indisputably in the safety of U.S. pork.

Use of Antibiotics:
U.S. pork producers have been committed to responsible antibiotic use for decades. They supported regulations adopted three years ago requiring veterinary oversight and limiting the use of antibiotics important for human medicine. These regulations and the industry’s PQA Plus certification program require farmers to form client-patient relationships with licensed veterinarians. Only these veterinarians can prescribe antibiotics on farm. Sales data reflects declining use of antibiotics in livestock. Since 2015, there has been a 41 percent decline in antibiotic sales used for livestock.

Although there’s broad scientific acknowledgment that the use of antibiotics in people is the primary source of antibiotic resistance, agriculture is committed to responsible use in animals to minimize any contribution. Both the medical and animal health communities are working to reduce the need to use antibiotics to ensure they’re available and effective for people and animals.

The PQA Plus certification program includes on-farm assessments to evaluate how antibiotics are used. We stand by the safety, affordability and nutritional value of U.S. pork as second-to-none in the world.

The New Swine Inspection System:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently finalized the new swine inspection system (NSIS), a voluntary program supported by many years of research. It is designed to increase efficiency and effectiveness of the federal inspection process and to provide more flexibility for adopting new food-safety technologies. It had been 50 years since pork inspection had been modernized and these changes were long overdue.

It’s important to know that the USDA maintains absolute authority and accountability for inspection. Like any industry, the pork industry is focused on continually improving and incorporating technologies that improve the way we raise animals and produce safe pork products.

Farm Biosecurity:
The health of pigs is a top priority, so farmers follow strict biosecurity protocols, including being very careful about who comes onto a farm or enters a pig barn. African swine fever (ASF), an animal disease affecting only pigs and with no human health or food safety risks, is growing as outbreaks continue throughout China and other parts of Asia. There are no reported cases of ASF in the United States and thanks to diligent vigilance by USDA and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, we have kept the disease outside our borders. Farmers take biosecurity very seriously; the last thing they want is for someone to carry a disease into a barn and cause animal suffering.

While on-farm access is limited, the U.S. pork industry is highly regulated and USDA conducts surveys on farms periodically and makes these findings available. NPPC has actively advocated for USDA funding required to gather more farm data that supports the industry’s commitment to continuous improvement.

For more information about U.S. pork production, please visit


The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) today called Impossible Foods' naming convention for its plant-based products designed to mimic real pork a brazen violation of labelling law. Citing law that prohibits the use of words that redefine pork as it has been known by consumers for centuries, Dr. Dan Kovich, director of science and technology for the National Pork Producers Council, issued the following statement:

"What's impossible is to make pork from plants. This is a brazen attempt to circumvent decades of food labelling law and centuries of precedence. Any adjective placed in front of the word pork can only refine it, not redefine it. It's not pork. It's not pork sausage. It can't be labelled as such."

NPPC supports consumer choice and competitive markets on a level playing field. Accordingly, plant-based and cell-cultured products designed to mimic real meat must face the same stringent regulatory requirements as livestock agriculture, including truthful labelling standards.

U.S. Ethanol Exports Ease Despite Pop in Sales to Brazil while U.S. DDGS Shipments Surge Higher

Ann Lewis, Research Analyst, Renewable Fuels Association
U.S. ethanol exports receded in November, decreasing 5% to 107.3 million gallons (mg), according to data issued today by the government and analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). However, the Brazilian export market was reinvigorated despite the restrictive tariff rate quota limiting volumes that can enter the country duty-free. Brazil doubled its purchases and overtook Canada as our top customer for the first time since April.

Two-thirds of all U.S. ethanol exports in November landed in Brazil (27.0 mg, +131%), Canada (26.8 mg, -11%), and Colombia (12.5 mg, +47% to a record high). U.S. shippers also sent sizable volumes to Oman (9.4 mg following zero in October), South Korea (9.0 mg, -3%), and the European Union (8.7 mg, +4%). November ethanol sales imply an annualized export volume of nearly 1.5 billion gallons which, if realized, would be the second-largest volume on record.

Shipments of U.S. undenatured fuel ethanol slowed in November by 11% to 52.8 mg. Half of exports were destined for Brazil (27.0 mg, +131%) with the remainder dispersed among another dozen countries including Nigeria (4.7 mg, up from zero), the Netherlands (4.6 mg, +84%), India (3.3 mg, -81%), and South Korea (3.2 mg, +14%). Notably, sales to Mexico scaled back 91% to under 200,000 gallons.

Sales of U.S. denatured fuel ethanol picked up in November, pressing 13% higher to 51.9 mg. Roughly half of exports (25.3 mg) moved north to Canada, despite an 11% decrease to the smallest volume since May. Remaining shipments of denatured fuel ethanol were distributed primarily to Colombia (11.2 mg, +56%), Oman (9.4 mg, up from zero), South Korea (5.1 mg, -10%), and Peru (0.7 mg, -69%).

Exports of U.S. ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage purposes slipped 67% to 2.6 mg. The majority of undenatured product shipped to Canada (0.9 mg), South Korea (0.7 mg), and Saudi Arabia (0.5 mg), while most denatured product landed in Canada (0.2 mg) and the Dominican Republic (0.1 mg).

Imports from Brazil intensified in November as the U.S. purchased its second-largest volume of cane ethanol in a year, up 16% to 25.4 mg. Total U.S. ethanol imports for 2019 now stand at 189.4 mg—nearly triple the volume imported last year during the same period. Consequently, the U.S. is on pace to log over 200 mg by year end.

U.S. exports of dried distillers grains (DDGS)—the animal feed co-product generated by dry-mill ethanol plants—rebounded in November, jumping 20% to 911,569 metric tons (mt). Sales to Mexico rallied with a 36% increase in DDGS heading southbound, or 200,669 mt (a six-month high), again marking its place as our top customer (22% of our export market). Sales also took off in South Korea (105,328 mt, +51%) and Thailand (88,424 mt, more than triple October exports). Vietnam (84,188 mt, -29%), Indonesia (72,698 mt, +13%), Turkey (54,449 mt, up from zero), and the European Union (41,588 mt, +116%) rounded out our top markets in November. Total year-to-date exports of U.S. DDGS stand at 10.02 million mt, which implies an annualized export volume of 10.93 million mt.

CWT Assisted December Sales Raise 2019 Milk Equivalent Exports to 1.3 Billion Pounds


December’s CWT-assisted sales of 4.1 million pounds of cheese, butter, whole milk powder and cream cheese raised the 2019 export sales to 48.9 million pounds of America-type cheeses, 5 million pounds of butter, 46.1 million pounds of whole milk powder, and 6.8 million pounds of cream cheese. The milk equivalent of these 2019 CWT-assisted sales is 956.3 billion pounds on a milkfat basis.

These sales mean an estimated 135 million pounds of CWT-assisted dairy products have been shipped out of the U.S. and into overseas markets in 2019, the milkfat equivalent of 1.257 billion pounds of milk.

In December, CWT assisted six member cooperatives in securing 42 sales contracts for 2.1 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 332,898 pounds of butter, 1 million pounds of whole milk powder, and 634,931 pounds of cream cheese. The products will be shipped during the months of December 2018 through April 2019.

Assisting CWT member cooperatives gain and maintain world market share through the Export Assistance program positively impacts all U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price. It does this by expanding the demand for U.S. dairy products beyond the domestic market thereby increasing the total demand for U.S. farm milk.

NCBA and Masters of Beef Advocacy Announce 2019 Advocate of the Year

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, has selected Brandi Buzzard Frobose, blogger, Kansas rancher and influencer, as the 2019 Advocate of the Year. This honor is given annually to an outstanding Masters of Beef Advocacy (MBA) program graduate to recognize his or her success in reaching and educating consumers who want to learn more about beef and raising cattle. MBA is a Checkoff-funded program designed to equip advocates with the training, knowledge, and experience to advance their advocacy efforts as spokespeople for the industry.

In addition to being a mom to 3-year old Oakley and co-owner of High Bar Cattle Company with her husband, Hyatt, near Greeley, Kansas, Buzzard Frobose is a full-time beef industry communications professional. As busy as she may be, Brandi still finds time to connect with consumers by honestly and transparently sharing information about beef’s great taste, unbeatable nutrition and the hardworking farmers and ranchers who produce it through her online social media platforms and blog.

Brandi’s interest in and passion for the beef industry was ingrained in her at a young age as she tagged along with her dad and grandpa at feedlots, roping, and working with her cattle and hogs for the local fair.

As an exemplary advocate, Buzzard Frobose enjoys giving her fans and followers a glimpse into her life as a rancher and mom. She also frequently shares tasty beef recipes and candid perspectives on current beef events through her blog, Buzzard’s Beat, and across her social media channels. Her “door” is always open for people to ask questions. Brandi uses social media as a way of connecting, sharing and inspiring others about life on the ranch and raising cattle.

“Passionate, knowledgeable people are among our industry’s greatest assets,” according to Laurie Munns, Utah rancher and chair of the Federation of State Beef Councils, a division of NCBA. “When you add the willingness to communicate with both consumers and critics about the value we bring to society, it’s a blessing. Brandi represents what is best about beef industry outreach.”

Buzzard Frobose started blogging in 2009, and since then has elevated her status as an influencer and beef advocate. She’s become heavily involved in the MBA program, a project she helped to grow during her time as a NCBA employee from 2013 to 2017.

Buzzard Frobose continues to set a strong example for other beef advocates by sharing her story in ways that connect with others inside and outside the beef community. Brandi’s focus on blending stories about her life on the ranch and raising cattle with her role as a working mom resonates with her audience and has fueled success on her social platforms. She genuinely connects with consumers, which has led to interviews this past year on national television networks including CBS, FOX, and MSNBC.

As part of her advocacy work, Buzzard Frobose has tackled large issues, including food labels at the grocery store, environmental sustainability, and beef’s role in healthy sustainable diets. She continually gives back by encouraging fellow beef advocates and sharing her experiences to help others.

You can follow Brandi Buzzard Frobose’s advocacy efforts online at or on social media at @BrandiBuzzard. Buzzard Frobose will be recognized as Advocate of the Year during the 2020 Cattle Industry Convention in San Antonio.

Corteva Agriscience Submits Novel New Pasture Herbicide to EPA

Corteva Agriscience submitted for approval a new selective herbicide for broadleaf weed control on pastureland to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Pending EPA registration, this herbicide will provide cattle producers access to a broad-spectrum weed control product that preserves white clover and annual lespedeza — and all their benefits.

Announced during the American Forage & Grassland Council annual conference, ProClova™ herbicide is expected to meet a long-standing need for livestock grazers.

“White clover does so much for forage and livestock production, but it is sensitive to current broadleaf pasture herbicides,” said Jillian Schmiedt, Range & Pasture Category Lead at Corteva Agriscience. “When broadleaf weeds establish, producers don’t have a way to control weeds without also removing white clover. ProClova provides that.”

Multiple years of testing show ProClova provides exceptional, broad-spectrum control of important broadleaf species, including ironweed, cocklebur, wild carrot, buttercup, biennial thistles, ragweeds, plantain, wooly croton, poison hemlock and many others. ProClova will offer several anticipated features, including:
    Preserving white clover and annual lespedeza for an abundant, diverse, quality forage
    Being safe to desirable forage grasses
    Maintaining the benefits white clover and annual lespedeza provide to forage and livestock production
    Controlling a broad-spectrum of weeds in permanent grass pastures, rangeland, hayfields and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres
    Providing an effective, broad-spectrum weed control option for situations such as flexibility in hay marketing and crop rotation, where a nonresidual option is desired
    Having no grazing or manure restrictions and only minimal haying restrictions after application

“Many livestock producers rely on white clover and annual lespedeza in their pastures to improve forage quality for grazing and haying and for what these legumes’ nitrogen-fixing properties bring to soil fertility and health,” said Scott Flynn, Corteva Agriscience Zonal Biology Leader. “Without effective broadleaf weed control, the harm weeds cause to forage production and quality can outweigh the benefits these legumes provide. That can be frustrating.”

Pending EPA registration, ProClova will be the only broad-spectrum herbicide that preserves white clover and annual lespedeza while still controlling broadleaf weeds. Corteva Agriscience expects this to be the fourth new product the company brings to the pasture market in three years.

“During 2018, we introduced MezaVue herbicide as the new standard in pricklypear control, followed by LANDVisor, a digital decision support tool, and then, most recently, DuraCor herbicide, containing the first new active ingredient for pasture broadleaf weed control in more than a decade,” Schmiedt said. “Corteva Agriscience is focused on developing new and better solutions for the challenges beef producers face. We are excited about bringing these new products to market.”

Corteva Agriscience anticipates making ProClova™ herbicide available to livestock producers during 2021.

Monday January 6 Ag News

Platte Valley Cattlemen Plan Banquet
Boyd Hellbusch, PVC President

It’s that time of year again for the Platte Valley Cattlemen 2020 annual Banquet.  This year it will be held on Saturday, February 8th, at the Humphrey Community Center. We are looking forward to an enjoyable night and another outstanding banquet.  Our guest speaker this year will be former Husker receiver and commentator for Husker football and men’s basketball, Matt Davison.  Matt has been with the Huskers since he was a player in 1997 and played 4 seasons for the football team.

For the rest of the night we will be listening to the band “90 Proof.”  We look forward to seeing you there.

Our annual Banquet is our major fundraiser for the year.  Thanks to your continued support, our organization has been able to promote the beef industry and inform our members of current issues and policies. In the past, your dollars have enabled us to promote “Beef Month” in May, ensure quality speakers for our monthly meetings, offer an educational tour, promote 4-H and FFA programs at the county fairs and assist in awarding scholarships. In 2019, we were able to award two $1000.00 college scholarships and with continued support, we hope to offer two again this year.

A donation response sheet and a stamped, self-addressed envelope are enclosed for your convenience. Your response would be greatly appreciated by January 27th. Thank you in advance for your continued support of the Platte Valley Cattlemen and I look forward to seeing you on Saturday, February 8th.

Platte Valley Equipment Breaks Ground on New Store

Platte Valley Equipment recently broke ground on a new store in Fremont, NE. Excavating and utility work has begun. The new store will feature an expanded service shop, training facilities, parts department, and showroom. The business will move from its current location at 2263 Business Park Drive, Fremont to just north of town. The move is expected to occur in late 2020. 

“Our current facilities were built in 1983. Equipment has significantly grown in size since then,” said Matt Lamb, general manager. “With our additional growth in business and employee headcount, we’ve run out of space in our current facilities. We strive to offer the best experience to our employees and customers to ensure their success. Our new facilities will enable us to do that. We look forward to hosting career exploration days for area high schoolers, interactive training programs for our employees and customers, and appropriate space to service equipment and support our customers now and to the future.” 

The Fremont location is the flagship of the four-store company. The new facilities will allow the local business to operate more efficiently and play a larger role in supporting its customers and area communities. Key features of the new facilities include: • 30,000 sq. ft service shop  • 55,000 sq. ft total  • 1,275 sq. ft of training facilities  • Current facilities total 34,000 sq. ft with 18,000 sq. ft of service shop space

Owned by Brandt Holdings Company, Platte Valley Equipment, LLC is a John Deere dealership serving eastern and north-central Nebraska. From lawn mowers to combines, Platte Valley Equipment is committed to providing successful careers in local communities and a worldclass purchasing experience to ensure customer success. Founded in 1996, Platte Valley Equipment has locations in Clarkson, Fremont, Humphrey, and Wahoo.

Use the Numbers (correctly) this Bull Sale Season

Matt Spangler, UNL Associate Professor and Beef Genetics Extension Specialist

This bull sale season, profit-minded cattle producers will utilize expected progeny differences (EPD) and economic selection indices when selecting their next group of bulls. These tools are far more accurate at predicting the average difference in offspring than visual appraisal or actual weights. This is beyond contestation.

That said, it is completely unrealistic to expect all commercial bull buyers to completely understand all available EPD and economic selection indices. Commercial cattle producers have a cattle enterprise to run leaving little (if any) time to dedicate to understanding the intimate details surrounding genetic prediction.   There are resources (e.g., designed to help.   Ideally, seedstock suppliers should also aid in the understanding and use of these tools. To perhaps ‘kickstart’ the process, I’ve detailed a few key points below.

1.  Have a breeding objective in mind (or better yet written down). This should include how you plan to sell calves, if you plan on retaining replacement females, and any labor or other environmental constraints (e.g., limited forage).   This helps identify the traits that are economically relevant to you. 

2.  Choose a breed (or breeds) that fit your current crossbreeding system and match your objectives.   Compare breeds based on current research (i.e., US Meat Animal Research Center) and not a historical view as breeds have changed overtime. 

3.  Identify a seedstock supplier (or suppliers) that you trust and that have bulls for sale that match your breed needs and your breeding objective. 

4.  Identify bulls, based on EPD or (preferably) economic index values that match your objectives.
          a. If calving ease EPD exist, do not use birth weight EPD. Calving ease EPD are generated using birth weight information.
          b. If you retain replacement females, pay attention to calving ease maternal EPD.   These are really ‘Total Maternal Calving Ease’ EPD, and reflect how easily a bull’s daughters will calve as two-year olds.
          c. Reproductive longevity is a key profit driver for self-replacing herds. If a Stayability EPD or Sustained Cow Fertility EPD exists, use it.
          d. If you retain replacement females in limited feed environments, consider selecting bulls with more moderate mature weight and milk (maternal weaning weight) EPD.
          e. Understand that even if you sell calves at weaning, someone is going to own them in the feedyard. If you want to build a market for your calves, do not completely ignore post-weaning gain and carcass merit.
          f. Use an index that fits your objectives—this can greatly simplify bull selection decisions. Do not use a completely terminal index if you retain replacement heifers.
          g. Buy quality, but do not overpay.   Sometimes the bull that is not top on your list is actually the better economic decision.

This bull sale season do not make the process more complex than it really needs to be and certainly do not get caught in the trap of believing that you can visually see the genetic potential of a bull—use the tools that science has provided and has continually improved and validated.

UNL Beef Roundup Webinars January 21, 28

Nutrition, profitability, and health are the themes of the 2020 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Beef Roundup hosted by Nebraska Extension on Tuesday, January 21, and Tuesday, January 28, at 6pm MST (7pm CST). This series features topic experts from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Kansas State University. Each evening features two presentations that can be viewed from any location with internet access or at several locations across Nebraska. Sites and registration information is listed below.

On Tuesday, January 21, two UNL beef cattle nutritionists comprise the program. Mary Drewnoski, beef systems specialist, will discuss meeting the mineral requirements of your cowherd. Drewnoski has an extensive background assessing mineral nutrition in feedlot, growing cattle, and cow-calf systems, which includes working under Jerry Spears, a leading authority in mineral nutrition. Since 2014, Drewnoski has focused on integrated crop and cattle systems emphasizing corn residues and cover crops as a forage source. Following Drewnoski, Travis Mulliniks, range production system specialist and faculty director of the Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory, will then discuss how to adapt cow-calf nutrition to environmental conditions. Mulliniks’ research and extension objectives consist of developing an applied cow-calf research program that emphasizes sustainability and economically viable management options.

On Tuesday, January 28, experts from Kansas State University and UNL’s Great Plains Veterinary Education Center (GPVEC) will speak. Dustin Pendell, agricultural economics professor at Kansas State University, will discuss drivers of cow-calf profitability. Pendell’s interdisciplinary research interests include livestock and animal health issues that span from the producer through the meat supply chain to the final consumer. Dr. Brian Vander Ley, veterinary epidemiologist at GPVEC, will conclude the 2020 UNL Beef Roundup by discussing how to build health resilience into cow-calf systems using lessons from 2019. His research includes population diagnostic tools for Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus and improving cattle health and performance through understanding and eliminating disease including heart failure in feedlot cattle and developing herd-level surveillance tools for common bovine pathogens.

Cost to attend or view the webinars is $10. Those wishing to participate in the online meeting will need to pay their local beef extension educator prior to receiving the webinar link. Those attending a viewing site listed below can pay at the door. Please call to register for the webinar meeting at one of these locations.
Broken Bow (Mid-Plains Community College), 308-872-6831
Chadron, (Dawes County Extension Office), 308-432-3373
Curtis (NCTA Education Center), 308-367-4424
Fullerton (Nance County Extension Office), 308-536-2691
Hartington, (Cedar County Extension Office), 402-254-6821

Kimball (Kimball County Extension Office), 308-235-3122
Kearney, (Buffalo County Extension Office), 308-236-1235
North Platte (West Central Research and Extension Center), 308-532-2683
Scottsbluff (Panhandle Research and Extension Center), 308-632-1230
Valentine (Cherry County Extension Office), 402-376-1850
Whitman (Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory), 308-645-2267

Please register by Friday, January 17, to attend a webinar host site by contacting the local Nebraska Extension office where you plan to attend to insure enough program materials are available.

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


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Feeding more protein than cattle need can get expensive.  Alfalfa can be a less expensive protein source, especially if you feed just enough alfalfa to provide the protein your animals need.

               Cattle often need extra protein when their winter diet is based on corn stalks, prairie hay, straw, or winter range.  The protein supplement you chose is important, both in its effectiveness and its cost.  Many cheap protein sources contain mostly urea and other forms of non-protein nitrogen.  These supplements often are not used very effectively when cattle are eating mostly low energy winter forages.

               Supplements containing mostly all-natural protein may be better. All-natural protein feeds the microbes in the rumen so they can digest more fiber from your forage.  And many times the cheapest natural source of protein is alfalfa, especially when hay price is reasonable.

               Keep costs down further by determining how much extra protein your cows actually need.  Both a forage test for protein and a close estimate of how much your cows are actually eating are needed to be accurate.  Then you can work with a local extension educator, a nutritionist, or use your own skills to calculate how much more protein is needed.

               Many winter forage diets need between one-half and one pound of extra protein per day.  Since the forage test of your alfalfa will tell you how much protein it contains, you can calculate how much alfalfa to feed each day, or every other day, to keep cows healthy and productive.  This could come from as little 2 pounds of hay when feeding high protein alfalfa to cows needing just a little extra protein to as much as 8 to 10 pounds when using lower quality alfalfa to cows after calving.

               It may not sound like a big difference, but when you feed just two or three pounds each day per cow, the savings add up fast.

Valmont to Acquire Remaining Shares of AgSense

Valmont Industries, Inc. announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the remaining 49% stake in AgSense for a purchase price of approximately $42 million. The acquisition is expected to close later this month and will be funded with cash on hand. Operating results for AgSense have been included in the Company's consolidated financial statements since a 51% stake was acquired in August 2014. The transaction will not impact revenue or operating income but will be EPS accretive in fiscal 2020, primarily from a change in earnings attributable to noncontrolling interests.

Founded in 2003, AgSense and its industry-leading remote management technology has led to the most comprehensive offering of integrated, advanced irrigation technology solutions available to the market, growing to approximately 95,000 connected devices globally. "We are very pleased with this acquisition and its performance," said Stephen G. Kaniewski, Valmont president and CEO. "Completing our ownership of AgSense directly aligns with our strategic priority to accelerate our global technology leadership position. Its profitable, recurring revenue service model has provided a growth platform for technology sales that will continue to be beneficial to our customers and shareholders."

Len Adams, group president, Valmont Irrigation, added, "Our goal has always been to fully own AgSense, so this transaction represents the achievement of another major milestone as we continue to execute on our technology strategy. We have demonstrated that our team and our dealers are able to successfully work with technology partners over time. We welcome the AgSense team to our technology sales group, and are excited to continue investing in innovation to meet growers' needs around the world."


The annual Nebraska Women in Agriculture Conference will celebrate 35 years Feb. 20 and 21 at the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Kearney.

Workshops and presentations will offer tools and information to help women better manage risk, improve their farms and ranches and become more successful operators and business partners.

“We are so excited, 35 years later, about the growth this conference has experienced,” said Jessica Groskopf, director of Nebraska Women in Agriculture. “We are grateful for the opportunity to continue supporting women with the tools, skills and relationships they can use to become even more effective in agriculture.”

Both single- and two-day registrations will open Jan. 6 on the Nebraska Women in Agriculture website, The costs are $75 for one day and $125 for both days through Feb. 9; after that, the two-day cost is $150. Scholarships are available for students, 4-H members and FFA members.

Designed to educate and uplift women who are involved in any aspect of Nebraska’s agricultural industry, the event will focus on the five areas of agricultural risk management: production, market, financial, human and legal.

The conference will feature more than 30 workshops and five speakers, including author Michele Payn, blogger Lauren Eberspacher and beef advocate Amanda Radke.

For more information, including a full schedule, visit the website above.

Iowa Cattlemen's Association to host Educational Forums

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association is hosting three free educational events for feedlot and cow/calf producers in the month of January. Each forum will include a free meal, a tradeshow, an update from the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and Iowa Beef Industry Council, and educational sessions.
Feedlot Forum

The Carroll Feedlot Forum will give area producers the opportunity to learn about ways to manage risk and incorporate EID’s into their beef business. In addition to those topics, Carl Babler of Atten and Babler Commodities will be providing a cattle and grain market outlook with his presentation called “Producing Cattle in a Global Marketplace; with a plan to manage price risk”. 

Wednesday, January 15
Carrollton Inn
1730 US-71 Carroll, IA 51401
9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Cow/Calf Forums

If you’re a cow/calf producer, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to hear about how to improve cow nutrition and calf performance from expert Dr. Allison Meyer of University of Missouri. Lee Schulz of Iowa State University will be providing the market outlook, letting producers know what to expect in the cattle markets in the next year.

Thursday, January 16
Southwest Iowa Rural Electric Cooperative Building
1502 W. South St.
Mt. Ayr, IA
5:00 p.m.  - 8:30 p.m.

Friday, January 17
Lee Co. Fairgrounds- Youth Learning Center
1100 N Main St.
Donnellson, IA 52625
5:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Producers can RSVP by calling 515-296-2266 or email kate@iacattlemen. Walk-ins are always welcome, and you do not need to be a member to attend.

Register Now for 2020-2021 SowBridge Educational Series

SowBridge, the distance educational series for those who work with sows, boars and piglets, and with genetic and reproductive issues, begins its next program year in February. Registration is now underway.

This low-tech opportunity pairs electronically provided materials with live presentations via teleconference. Suggestions from past participants help with planning the next year’s topics and speakers, and maintain the program’s value, according to Ken Stalder, Iowa State University animal science professor and extension swine specialist.

“Each year we ask participants for suggestions on topics and speakers, then follow through as much as possible to provide current content that people are interested in,” Stalder said. “SowBridge provides all participants with the opportunity to hear directly from experts, and to contact those experts following the individual sessions.”

Stalder, who also is the Iowa contact for SowBridge, said registration cost remains at $200 (U.S.) for the first registration from an entity, and each subsequent registration from the same entity is half that amount.

“We recognize the current economic condition of the pork industry, and want to encourage participation by all producers,” Stalder said. “By maintaining this lower registration fee set last year, we hope more people will be able to take part.”

SowBridge is designed to improve the understanding and application of various tools and techniques involved in daily care of the breeding herd and piglets. Sessions are typically scheduled for the first Wednesday of every month but occasionally may be moved a week to avoid interference with national industry events or holidays.

“With the live phone presentation and slideshow available on their computer or other device, participants can take part anywhere without needing internet access,” Stalder said.

The distance learning approach allows people to take part without having to travel, take time from work or worry about weather conditions. During each session, participants can ask questions of the industry expert presenter and discuss with other participants from the comfort of their home, office or swine unit.

Before each session, participants receive a link to download the presentation and any additional information provided by the presenter. Participants call in for the audio portion of each session to listen to the presenter and while following the presentation file on their own computer or device. Sessions begin at 11:30 a.m. Central Time and last no more than an hour.

Each registration provides access to one phone line per session and all program materials for each registration, including audio recordings of the live session. Materials, delivery process and program costs are slightly different for those with non-U.S. mailing addresses. Regardless of location, those with questions on the program or registration should contact Sherry Hoyer at Iowa Pork Industry Center at Iowa State University for more information. Hoyer can be reached by phone at 515-294-4496 or email

An example video was created to provide a look at the content of SowBridge sessions. The video uses the presentation material and audio recording from a 2017 session where speaker Corinne Bromfield presented, “Identifying Scours.”

The program is offered only to those who register for the yearlong series. Register by Jan. 15, 2020 to ensure receipt of materials for the first session Feb. 5. A brochure with information and a registration form is available on the IPIC website at Iowa residents who want more information can call Stalder at 800-808-7675.

SowBridge 2020 session information
    Feb. 5 – African Swine Fever and Secure Pork Supply, Pam Zaabel, Iowa State University
    March 4 – What You Need to Know About Foreign Animal Diseases, Justin Brown, Iowa State University; and Chelsea Hamilton, IDALS and ISU
    April 1 – Feeding Strategies for Pre-farrow Females on Piglet Survivability, Kiah Gourley and Jason Woodworth, Kansas State University
    May 6 – Impact of Drying Newborn Piglets, Mike Ellis, University of Illinois
    May 27 – Porcine Circovirus type 3: What We Know, Albert Rovira, University of Minnesota
    July 1 – Capturing Value of Cull Sows, Ken Stalder, Iowa State University
    Aug. 5 – Maintenance of Euthanasia Equipment, Steve Moeller, The Ohio State University
    Sept. 2 – Gestation/Lactation Ventilation Do’s and Don’ts, Erin Cortus, University of Minnesota
    Oct. 7 – Proper Disinfectant Application, Jose Ramirez, Virox Animal Health
    Nov. 4 – Induction Protocol Updates, Rob Knox, University of Illinois
    Dec. 2 – Upcoming Technology in Pork Production, Andy Brudtkuhl, National Pork Board
    Jan. 6, 2021 – Electronic Sow Feeding Management Tips and Tricks, Tom Parsons, University of Pennsylvania

SowBridge is sponsored by a group of 11 universities – including Iowa State University – from the nation’s major swine producing states.

New Soil Health & Conservation Study: Soybean Farmers Committed to Conservation

The American Soybean Association (ASA) has released results of a soil health and conservation study conducted through third-party surveys and focus groups in 2019. The key finding of the work is that soybean farmers are active conservationists with a desire to do more.

“ASA is committed to helping soybean farmers bring conservation practices to their farms. And, this study demonstrates their receptiveness and commitment to advancing those efforts,” said Brad Doyle, ASA secretary and member of its Conservation Committee.

In the research study conducted to assess soybean farmers’ attitudes and experiences with conservation programs and practices, 73% of farmers surveyed said they would implement more measures if they thought it would be profitable to do so.

The research also found that growers have, on average, 14 longstanding conservation practices in place, recently have added new ones, and intend to implement more –despite the average grower having to pay for all conservation measures, with average expenditures totaling more than $15,000 per year. Most farmers (78%) manage rental land the same as land they own, paying conservation expenditures even on rented land, which means the positive practices put in place by farmers extend to all the land they farm.

For ASA, there is other bright news: Grower organizations and land grant universities were identified as the most trusted sources of information for farmers.

ASA CEO Ryan Findlay responded, “Even with a soft agricultural economy, we have learned farmers are focused on conservation. Knowing ASA is in a key position to lead and promote implementation of additional conservation practices is great.” Connecting the pieces of the study, Findlay added, “That nearly three quarters of farmers are open to economically-feasible conservation measures means there is a world of potential for ASA, our state affiliates, and other partners to aid growers with these initiatives.”

The study found that farmers trust other farmers the most, meaning ASA networking events and educational shows like Commodity Classic, which ASA cohosts annually, are opportune times for farmers to connect. Sharing success stories was shown to be the most appealing way to spread information.

Doyle commented, “When ASA was founded 100 years ago, our focus was on being committed to development and networking opportunities to introduce the new soybean plant. It’s great to know we can build on that legacy today by devoting even more of an effort to help farmers learn from each other when it comes to conservation practices.”

The study also identified that farmers need better information – not better communications – to set up their conservation efforts for success, another area in which ASA can assist by disseminating useful information and resources.

With support from the Walton Family Foundation, ASA conducted four focus groups and a quantitative survey among ASA members and boards in 13 states surrounding the Mississippi River basin. Data was collected from December 2018 to July 2019. Millennium Research, Inc., conducted the survey and focus groups.

USDA Dairy Products November 2019 Production Highlights

Total cheese output (excluding cottage cheese) was 1.10 billion pounds, 0.5 percent above November 2018 but 3.2 percent below October 2019.  Italian type cheese production totaled 474 million pounds, 1.0 percent above November 2018 but 2.4 percent below October 2019.  American type cheese production totaled 435 million pounds, 0.2 percent above November 2018 but 2.5 percent below October 2019. Butter production was 156 million pounds, 4.4 percent above November 2018 but 0.6 percent below October 2019.

Dry milk products (comparisons in percentage with November 2018)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 142 million pounds, up 5.7 percent.
Skim milk powder - 43.7 million pounds, up 3.0 percent.

Whey products (comparisons in percentage with November 2018)
Dry whey, total - 75.1 million pounds, up 3.9 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 90.2 million pounds, down 12.5 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 40.3 million pounds, down 1.5 percent.

Frozen products (comparisons in percentage with November 2018)
Ice cream, regular (hard) - 48.9 million gallons, up 1.8 percent.
Ice cream, lowfat (total) - 27.3 million gallons, down 9.5 percent.
Sherbet (hard) - 2.12 million gallons, down 9.3 percent.
Frozen yogurt (total) - 3.06 million gallons, down 6.1 percent.

Dairy Defined: In Search of “Big Dairy”

“Big Dairy.” One of the strangest terms attached to the industry. As seen in fear-mongering headlines, Big Dairy is used to de-personalize individual dairy farmers and imply some large, faceless force foisting an agenda on unsuspecting consumers. So, who exactly is it? Maybe by figuring out what Big Dairy is – or isn’t – some light could be shed on what’s real, and what’s contrived, in debates about dairy and its presence in the marketplace.

Perhaps Big Dairy means dairy farms themselves. Consolidation has been a fact of life for all of agriculture for generations, and family farms indeed are getting bigger. Even so, according to the latest USDA Census of Agriculture, nearly three-quarters of U.S. dairy farms have fewer than 100 cows on them. Of course, most production comes from the largest farms, but even the biggest ones – the 189 U.S. dairies with more than 5,000 cows as of 2017 – are too numerous and geographically dispersed to create a monolithic giant. And more than 95 percent of all dairy farms, regardless of size, are family-run farms. That’s far from faceless.

That rules out farmers. But what about dairy corporations? The dairy industry boasts some impressive-sized businesses. Land O’Lakes is ranked #212 on the Fortune 500, and Dairy Farmers of America would make the list too, if it were publicly traded. That might be Big Dairy, except – DFA and Land O’Lakes are farmer-owned cooperatives. If that’s what people mean when they talk about “Big Dairy,” then­­­ Big Dairy contains an awful lot of small and medium-sized family farms. And these cooperatives are tiny compared to, say, Big Healthcare, (four entries among Fortune’s top 10 companies) Big Oil (four of them in Fortune’s top 25), or Big Tech (six in the top 50).

But maybe it’s not about raw size. Maybe Big Dairy is a myth invented by those who want to make family dairy farmers seem “big” to advance some contrasting image of their competitors – who want to be seen as plucky, usually plant-based, upstarts taking on Big Dairy with highly touted “innovation.”

Let’s explore this. Take, for example, Perfect Day, allegedly just a humble innovator with nothing to offer but a thousand $20-a-pint tubs of imitation ice cream … and startup funding from Temasek – a venture-capital arm of the government of Singapore -- and Archer-Daniels-Midland, an agri-business behemoth with $64 billion in annual sales that ranks #49 on the Fortune 500. Other plant- and cell-based alternatives are financed by Jeff Bezos (worth roughly $115 billion, the world’s richest man at the end of 2019) and Bill Gates (net worth over $100 billion) – not exactly little guys, to say the least. In fact, if you added up the gross receipts of all 40,000 dairy farmers in the United States last year (an estimated $39.9 billion), you’d only be worth about two-fifths as much as Jeff Bezos. So-called “Big Dairy” will never compete with that.

To be sure: Dairy is a significant U.S. industry. According to research commissioned by the “Got Jobs?” campaign commissioned by dairy groups, including NMPF, the sector as a whole is responsible for nearly 3 million U.S. jobs and has an overall economic impact of more than $620 billion, including indirect effects. Dairy directly employs nearly 1 million Americans, with an impact of more than $206 billion. In agriculture and in the U.S. economy, we aren’t David to someone else’s Goliath. Whatever success we have is because we work hard and work together.

But dairy isn’t Goliath either, and wannabe Davids shouldn’t get a pass peddling false narratives. Dairy is family farmers, cooperatives and companies, of all sizes and types, who believe deeply in the health and nutrition of their products and stand up for it against its opponents -- who usually aren’t anywhere near the underdogs they pretend to be. Creating nutritious products, day in and day out, is a big task. But it’s a challenge met collectively by a diverse set of people from farm to fork, who work together to feed the U.S. and the world.

Dairy issues matter. They warrant a robust discussion. Putting the term “Big Dairy” to rest would make it a more honest one.

Borden Seeks Bankruptcy Protection

(AP) -- The U.S. dairy industry, the largest in the world, is under severe pressure as the dietary habits of Americans shift.

Borden Dairy Co. filed for bankruptcy protection, the second major U.S. dairy to do so in as many months. Borden produces nearly 500 million gallons of milk each year for groceries, schools and others. It employs 3,300 people and runs 12 plants across the U.S.

American refrigerators are increasingly stocked with juice, soda and milk substitutes made from soy or almonds. At the same time, protein bars, yogurts and other on-the-go breakfasts have replaced a morning bowl of cereal. That has hammered traditional milk producers like Borden, which was founded in 1857.

The amount of liquid milk consumed per capita in the U.S. has tumbled more than 40% since 1975. Americans drank around 24 gallons a year in 1996, according to government data. That dropped to 17 gallons in 2018.

"Despite our numerous achievements during the past 18 months, the company continues to be impacted by the rising cost of raw milk and market challenges facing the dairy industry," said Borden CEO Tony Sarsam in a prepared statement late Sunday. "These challenges have contributed to making our current level of debt unsustainable.

As milk consumption has fallen, dairy farms have closed their doors. In court filings, Borden says 2,730 U.S. dairy farms have gone out of business in the last 18 months alone. The remaining farms can command higher prices, but that has pinched Borden, which can't charge consumers more because of pressure from big competitors like Walmart. Walmart opened its own milk processing plant in Indiana in 2018.

Dean Foods, the nation's largest milk producer, filed for bankruptcy protection in November. Both dairies are based in Dallas.

Borden -- whose smiling mascot Elsie the cow first appeared on milk cartons in the 1930s -- says it will continue operations during its financial restructuring.

Friday January 3 Ag News

Sorry, forgot to post on Friday.... Here's the end-of-the-week Ag News. 

NE FFA Alumni Convention Coming to West Point

The Nebraska FFA Alumni & Supporters will hold their annual Convention and Awards Banquet in Cuming County on January 24 & 25, 2020. The two day event will be co-hosted by West Point, Wisner Pilger, & North Bend Alumni & Supporters and FFA Chapters.

Friday’s itinerary includes tours of the Nielsen Center Science & Technology facility, Jones Manufacturing, Alber’s Feedlot and the Wisner Pilger Agricultural Education new addition. Supper, hosted by Wisner FFA Alumni & Supporters, will be held at Rainforth Animal Health. The evening will conclude with a tour of the West Point Community Theater and a viewing of the movie “Spies in Disguise”.

The annual meeting will be held at the Nielsen Community Center Citizens State Room beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. Following the annual meeting, tours will be held at West Point Implement and West Point Design. Lunch will be held at Native 32 Winery hosted by West Point FFA with a tour to be held following lunch. Afternoon tours will include Nebraska Vet Services Embryo Barn and Valmont Industries. An ice cream social will be held at Tomka Ag/Countryside Consignments hosted by the North Bend FFA Alumni & Supporters.

The convention will conclude with the annual awards banquet to be held at the Nielsen Community Center. The banquet will include a prime rib dinner, award presentations, keynote speaker, Aaron Davis, and a silent and live auction. Jake Hopwood of Valentine will be the auctioneer for the live auction.

Registration deadline is January 10th. You may register online at: or by contacting Jill Goedeken, NE FFA Alumni & Supporters Secretary, at 402-276-1076.

The Nebraska FFA Alumni & Supporters 2020 Convention & Awards Banquet is funded in part by the Cuming County Visitor’s Bureau.

January 7th Public ARC/PLC Meeting in Stanton

An ARC/PLC informational meeting is scheduled for 6:30 pm on Tuesday, January 7th at the VFW in Stanton.   This meeting is designed to provide important information to producers as they begin to make farm-bill related program decisions.

This meeting will have specific examples using Stanton County data along with yield data for Colfax, Cuming, Madison, Pierce, Platte, and Wayne Counties.

This public meeting will also discuss the Farm Loan Program and Conservation Reserve Program general and continuous signup period provisions.

Stockmen’s Livestock, Inc. to host World Livestock Auctioneer Championship qualifier January 8

Stockmen’s Livestock Inc., 1200 E Hwy 50, Yankton, SD will host the final of three regional qualifying events for the World Livestock Auctioneer Championship (WLAC). The midwestern regional qualifying event will be January 8. Opening ceremonies will commence at 9:00 a.m. CST with the awards ceremony to follow. A total of 36 contestants will compete for a top 10 placing, granting them a spot in the semi-finals for the 2020 WLAC at Dickson Regional Livestock Center, LLC, in Dickson, Tenn.

Each qualifying event is a live sale where each contestant auctions 8 drafts of livestock (traditionally cattle) to actual bidders. Contestants are judged on the clarity of their auction chant, professionalism and their ability to conduct the sale while catching bids.

Contestants competing are Frederick Bodnarus, Saskatoon, Sask.; Troy Bradshaw, Lipan, Texas; Jeff Bynum, Attalla, Ala.; Albert Carroll, Downeyville, Ont.; Leon Caselman, Long Lane, Mo.; Dakota Davis, Waukomis, Okla.; Dean Edge, Rimbey, Alta.; Brandon Frey, Ft. Collins, Colo.; Collin Gibbs, Miles City, Mont.; Patrick Greenleaf, Wilmore, Kan.; Brandon Hamel, Damar, Kan.; Cody Hanold, Brighton, Ill.; Seth Harvey, Jackson, Ga.; Brett Heath, Colome, S.D.; Jacob Hills, Ridgeway, Wis.; Jake Hopwood, Valentine, Neb.; Kent Korte, Metropolis, Ill.; Ed Leist, Petoskey, Mich.; Curt Littau, Carter, S.D.; Justin Mebane, Bakersfield, Calif.; Daniel Mitchell, Cumberland, Ohio; Kyle Mueller, Bloomington, Wis.; Clayton Neumann, Bigfoot, Texas; Mark Oberholtzer, Loyal, Wis.; Jake Parnell, Sacramento, Calif.; Chris Pinard, Swainsboro, Ga.; Jay Romine, Mt. Washington, Ky.; Jim Settle, Arroyo Grande, Calif.; Jeff Showalter, Broadway, Va.; Ryan Siecke, Creighton, Neb.; Robert Strickler, Banco, Va.; Marshal Tingle, Nicolasville, Ky.; Brad Veurink, Corsica, S.D.; Curtis Wetovick, Fullerton, Neb.; Mike Witten, Trenton, Mo.; and Zack Zumstein, Marsing, Idaho.

The public may attend the livestock auction and competition free of charge. It will also be streamed live on and the LMA Youtube channel.

The remaining qualifying events are balanced regionally across the LMA Membership. The western regional was held at Crawford Livestock Market, LLC; October 11. The eastern regional was held at Farmers Livestock, Inc; November 18.

Nebraska Cattlemen Reflects on 2019

Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) once again reflects on membership and leadership happenings as another year passes.

Nebraska Cattlemen started the year off with excitement about the big move to the newly constructed office building as well as the formation of a professional business relationship with the Harry A. Koch Co. to create NCIG. This entity is a joint venture to offer insurance products of all types to NC members, with a percentage to be remitted to NCIG. The Board’s primary motivation for this joint venture was to address the critical challenge of escalating health care costs. With HAK & Co. seeking out NC to offer this opportunity, it allows a path to a significant member benefit the association has never had previously.

March brought devastation in the form of bomb cyclone Ulmer, impacting the entire state, it’s people, cattle and the beef community. The sever and negative impacts will continue to challenge Nebraska Cattlemen and its members moving forward. In order to help those cattlemen and women in need NC formed the Nebraska Cattlemen Disaster Relief Fund and generated $1.7 million in donations all of which went to the applicants of the fund.

Another event that caused significant financial and emotional hardship on cattle and beef producers was the fire at the Tyson plant in Holcomb, Kan., on Aug. 9. This event gave evidence of how any disruption can negatively affect the entire industry. NC, in conjunction with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, actively worked with a variety of entities, including Tyson Fresh Meats, for ongoing transparency to producers; the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to emphasize oversight in all phases of government functions; Commodity Future Trading Commission, to actively monitor market manipulation; CME, to ascertain that market trading activity is not abused; the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, to allow federal hauling and facilitate the needed hours for transport; and the Food Safety and Inspection Service, to move federal meat inspectors to plants increasing harvest levels. The plant is just now coming back online to levels that existed prior to the fire.

The conclusion of the calendar year is complete with the passing of the baton from one NC leader to the next. Ken Herz is a respected, thoughtful leader who is ready to make a difference as NC’s president. His experience as NC’s Tax Committee chair has positioned him to be the right leader at the right time, with property tax and relief more possible than in recent years. Ken and the 2020 Board are poised to act on proposed property tax relief and reform and other issues for the membership’s benefit.

Nebraska Extension Offering Land Application Training in January and February

Leslie Johnson - Animal Manure Management Project Coordinator

The Animal Manure Management team is busy preparing for the annual Land Application Training days that are scheduled across the state January 27 through February 7, 2020. This year, interactive experiences using real-life scenarios will guide the selection of preferred manure application sites based upon agronomic and soil health benefits, cost of transportation, water quality protection, and minimizing neighbor odor exposure. Participants will combine their experience with a few management principles for finding preferred fields. I'm pretty excited to hear what folks think of the new activity.

Livestock producers with livestock waste control facility permits received or renewed since April 1998 must be certified, and farms must complete an approved training every five years. Participants who attend the day-long (9 am – 3:30 pm) event will receive NDEE Initial Land Application Training Certification. In many locations Recertification will be held during the last two and a half hours of the day-long land application training. Other locations are holding the Recertification training as a separate event. Farm personnel responsible for land application of manure are encouraged to attend for either training. Discounts for multiple employee attendance are available.

What will you learn?

Initial training will discuss basic manure topics like sampling, record keeping, and manure value for crop production. The recertification portion of the workshops will consist of a two-and-a-half-hour program including updates on regulations and a real-life scenario to determine the best location for land application based on manure’s fertilizer value, transportation costs, weather forecasts as they relate to odor risk, as well as water quality concerns and soil health benefits. Any farm staff responsible for implementing the farm’s nutrient plan are encouraged to attend.

What will it cost?

Pre-registration is required for all workshops. The initial training workshop cost is $75 per operation (includes one representative) plus $25 for each additional participant from the same operation.

For those who want to recertify, the cost is $50 per operation (includes one representative) plus $25 for each additional participant from the same operation.

Where and when can you attend?

Recertification Training
January 29 at 6:30 pm - Extension Office - West Point
January 31 at 1:00 pm - Plainview Public Library - Plainview
February 6 at 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm - Pinnacle Bank - Columbus 

Initial Training   
January 30 at 9:00 am - Extension Office - West Point
January 31 at 9:00 am -  Plainview Public Library - Plainview
February 7 at 9:00 am - Feb 7 - Extension Office - Columbus

Seating is limited at all locations, so please pre-register at least eight business days in advance of the workshop you’re planning to attend by using the online form or by using the form in the program brochure.

The workshops are sponsored by the Nebraska Extension Animal Manure Management Team, which is dedicated to helping livestock and crop producers better utilize manure resources for agronomic and environmental benefits.

For additional information on the workshops and other resources for managing manure nutrients, visit or contact Leslie Johnson at 402-584-3818 or

Butler County Ag Expo 2020

Hosted by Nebraska Extension in Butler County and Butler County, NE Chamber of Commerce
Tuesday, February 11, 2020 at 9:30 AM – 3:00 PM CST
Butler County Event Center 62 L St David City, NE

Schedule of Events:
9:30 AM - Nitrogen Certification/Water Conservation, Lower Platte North NRD
          Butler County Event Center meeting room      

9:30 AM - Exhibitor Booths Open to attendees
          Butler County Ag Expo - Multipurpose Room - Area FFA members begin State presentations in presentation area

11:00 AM - 1:00 PM Free lunch served - Sponsors will be announced soon

11:30 AM - 1 PM Agricultural Presentation Allan Vyhnalek-UNL Extension Educator  Topic: “Ag Land Leasing for 2020”

1:00 PM - Private Pesticide Applicator - Certification: Butler County Event Center (Meeting Room)   

3:00 PM - Exhibit Booths Close

LENRD-Bazile GMA No-Till, Cover Crops, and Planned Grazing Systems WORKSHOP

Lifelong Learning Center – Norfolk, Nebraska
Wednesday, February 12, 2020 - 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Lance Gunderson MS:  President & Owner Regen Ag Lab - “What does the PLFA test tell us?” “Understanding the Haney Test:   A Glimpse Beyond the Numbers!”

Justin McMechan: Crop Protection and Cropping Systems Specialist, ENREC - “Integrating Cover Crops into IPM Plans”

Dale Strickler: Soil Health Rancher, Agronomist at Green Cover Seed - “Getting Out of the Spinning Hamster Cage”

Dale Strickler: “Tying it All Together—Soil Health, Nitrogen Use Efficiency and Improving Groundwater Quality”

Educator Panel: Q & A at the End of the Day: Lance, Justin and Dale will answer any questions this outstanding group of educators will have brought to your attention. 

Please RSVP by February 4, 2020 for meal count to your local NRCS or call LENRD, 402-371-7313.  Sponsored by: Natural Resources Conservation Service, Upper Elkhorn, Lewis and Clark, Lower Niobrara and Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources Districts

Nebraska Cover Crop & SOIL HEALTH Conference

2020 Theme: Inter-Seeding Cover Crops for Corn & Soybean Rotation

Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020 - 8:30am to 3:45pm
University of Nebraska Eastern NE Research and Extension Center, 1071 County Road G, Ithaca, NE

The 2020 Nebraska Cover Crop and Soil Health Conference features innovative speakers who have worked with cover crops extensively and will share what they have learned. This is your opportunity to get your questions answered.  The theme for this year is, "Inter-Seeding Cover Crops for Corn & Soybean Rotation"

How can you get started with cover crops in your corn/soybean rotation?
Already using cover crops - could you be doing it better?

There are many benefits to utilizing cover crops, such as improved soil heath and reduced erosion. It’s the details of how and what to do that can present challenges. The focus of the conference is to provide information to growers who are in a corn/soybean rotation and to assist them in understanding the value of cover crops.

CCA credits are applied for and pending approval.

Finding the Right Fit with Cover Crops - Abbey Wick, North Dakota State University
Cover crops can be a useful tool for managing several on-farm goals.  But figuring out the right fit for both goals and comfort level can be tricky. Talking through practical approaches farmers are using combined with science-based information helps minimize risk while achieving goals.

Farming With 2020 Vision in Mind - Loran Steinlage, Farmer/Practical Field Engineer DAWNequipment/UndergroundAg, FLOLO Farms, West Union, Iowa
Loran Steinlage Owner/Operator of FLOLOfarms with wife Brenda Specializes in adapting practices and equipment to our unique area on the edge of the Driftless area.  The Steinlages are evolving to Companion/Relay NoTill cropping system which is focused on cycling plants to keep a living plant in the soila at all times,to help aid in moisture management and weed suppression. Currently producing Corn, Soybeans, Cereal Rye, Winter Wheat, Malt Barley and Buckwheat. And recently took on a role with DAWN Equipment/Underground Ag as an Infield Practical Field Engineer.

Selling Seed in Nebraska - Steve Knox, Director, Nebraska Crop Improvement Association
What you will need and what you have to do to be able to sell seed in Nebraska.

Accelerating Soil Health Adoption by Quantifying Economic & Environmental Outcomes and Overcoming Barriers on Rented Lands - Brian Brandt, Director of Ag Conservation Innovations , American Farmland Trust, Columbus, Ohio

Review of Cover Crop Demonstrations in Central Platte NRD - Dean Krull, Farmer/ UNL Research Technologist
Environmental Impact; Planting dates and results; Seeding Strategies and moisture concerns.

Understanding Soil Health, Measuring Success and Reducing Risk - Aaron Hird, State Soil Health Specialist, Co-Presented with Noah Seim, Merrick County Farmer
The USDA/NRCS in Nebraska will present an update on the Nebraska NRCS Soil Health Initiative.  Understanding how soil health can improve “in your crop field” is an important step in understanding the various measurements of success and how healthy soil reduces risk.  NRCS Nebraska has partnered with the UNL Agronomy & Horticulture Department as well UNL Extension’s Nebraska On-Farm Research Network to work alongside interested farmers and ranchers across the state to monitor the aspects of improved soil health in a crop fields and rangeland and capture the results.  Presenting about his Soil Health Initiative Demonstration Field, Noah Seim, will offer his experience comparing in-season seeding of cover crops into corn with germination between V4 and V6 growth stages vs seeding after harvest vs no cover crops.  Seim has seen the benefits of soil health and is interested in the story the data from his crop field is telling.
Thoughts from a 1st Year Inter-Seeder and Why You Should Give it a Try! - Jay Goertzen, Henderson, NE Farmer and Jennifer Rees, Nebraska Extension Educator
    How I built an inter-seeder out of what I had laying around the farm.
    My observations on what grew and what didn't.
    What I'm going to modify to hopefully make it more successful.

Cover Crops by Helicopter: FAQ - Brent Wulf, Owner and Chief Pilot, Hexagon Helicopters Inc.
An introduction to the equipment, techniques and advantages  of interseeding with a helicopter. 

Cover Crop Panel    

Seating is limited!  Pre-register by 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 7 at:  No fee to attend, but must pre-register.  Preregistration required to ensure resource materials are available and for meal planning purposes.  Questions - email or call 402-624-8030.

Nebraska Women in Agriculture Conference is Feb. 20-21

The annual Nebraska Women in Agriculture Conference will celebrate 35 years Feb. 20 and 21 at the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Kearney.

Workshops and presentations will offer tools and information to help women better manage risk, improve their farms and ranches and become more successful operators and business partners.

“We are so excited, 35 years later, about the growth this conference has experienced,” said Jessica Groskopf, director of Nebraska Women in Agriculture. “We are grateful for the opportunity to continue supporting women with the tools, skills and relationships they can use to become even more effective in agriculture.”

Both single- and two-day registrations will open Jan. 6 on the Nebraska Women in Agriculture website, The costs are $75 for one day and $125 for both days through Feb. 9; after that, the two-day cost is $150. Scholarships are available for students, 4-H members and FFA members.

Designed to educate and uplift women who are involved in any aspect of Nebraska’s agricultural industry, the event will focus on the five areas of agricultural risk management: production, market, financial, human and legal.

The conference will feature more than 30 workshops and five speakers, including author Michele Payn, blogger Lauren Eberspacher and beef advocate Amanda Radke.

Optimizing Poultry Manure Value in Cropoping Systems Workshop

Wednesday, February 26, 1-4pm, Hruska Memorial Public Library, David City
Hosted by Nebraska Extension

Is poultry manure right for your cropping operation?  Learn more at the manure land application workshop presented by the UNL Manure Management team.  Topic on the agenda include:
  - Background on poultry facilities and raising poultry
  - Utilizing poultry manure for crop production
  - panel discussion with producers currently using manure in their cropping systems
  - odor risk and land application regulations.

Pre-registration is requested by Monday, Feb 24.  There is no registration fee, and meeting materials are available free of charge.  Reserve a spot by calling the Butler County Extension office at 402-367-7410, or email 

Nebraska Corn Growers Association Accepting Applications for FLAGship Program

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association is now accepting applications for the fifth class of the Future Leaders in Agriculture Scholarship (FLAGship) Program. The FLAGship Program is a scholarship program intended for future agricultural leaders in Nebraska. The Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) will award up to 5 $2,000 scholarships to high school seniors or college freshman who are continuing their education in the state of Nebraska. Three of the scholarships are set aside strictly for those students pursuing a degree directly related to agriculture. Two of the scholarships are open to non-agricultural degree seeking students.

“Each time we look over applications for this program, the quality of applicants seems to get better and better,” said Andy Jobman, Vice President of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association and Chairman of the Grower Services Committee. “We know with the quality of applications we have been receiving, that the future of our industry is in great hands.”

To be eligible for this scholarship students must be a member of NeCGA or the son/daughter of an NeCGA member. The application for the FLAGship Program must include one letter of recommendation, a current resume (not to exceed one page), as well as proof that the student is continuing their education in state. Applicants are also asked to explain how they will advocate for agriculture in their future career as well as what issues they feel the ag industry is currently facing.

Applications must be postmarked by February 28, 2020. Packets can be mailed to 4435 O Street, Suite 210 Lincoln, NE 68510 ATTN: Director of Grower Services, or emailed to Recipients will be notified in March 2020 and scholarships will be distributed in December 2020. For more information about the scholarship and an application, please visit or call (402) 438-6459.

4th Annual Pink at the Pump® Campaign Raises over $20,000 for Breast Cancer Research and Patient Support

This October Iowa drivers raised over $20,000 for breast cancer research and support services simply by choosing cleaner-burning Unleaded 88 during the 4th annual Pink at the Pump® campaign, co-sponsored by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) and Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPM).

Seventy-four retail stations donated three cents of every gallon of Unleaded 88 sold from Oct. 1 through Oct. 31 to National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) and The Hormel Institute. Unleaded 88, also know as E15, is a fuel containing 15 percent ethanol and is approved for use in all 2001 and newer vehicles.

“We are thrilled that this year’s Pink at the Pump® campaign featured a record number of participating stations and raised a record-breaking amount of funds for such a worthwhile cause,” said IRFA Communications Director Cassidy Walter. “Pink at the Pump® is an exciting promotion because not only does it support such important research and services, but it shines a light on the fact that biofuel blends like Unleaded 88 are reducing the amount of toxic emissions coming out of our tailpipe and helping keep our air cleaner and healthier to breathe.”

NBCF provides help and inspires hope to those affected by breast cancer through early detection, education, and support services. The Hormel Institute is a global, cutting-edge research facility with a seven-decade history of making significant scientific discoveries on better ways to prevent, detect, and treat cancer.

“We truly appreciate every consumer who chose homegrown Unleaded 88 at the pump during October,” said Roger Zylstra, ICPB President and farmer from Lynnville, Iowa. “Through Pink at the Pump®, Iowa motorists were able to support cleaner-burning fuels and help combat breast cancer. The monetary donations collected go towards funding breast cancer research and support. As we kick off the New Year, we encourage consumers to continue selecting Unleaded 88 because using more ethanol reduces your exposure to harmful, cancer-causing chemicals and toxins, and it is better for the environment!”

Youth Encouraged to Participate in Swine Judging Contest

The hundreds of youth that will participate in the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) Youth Swine Judging Contest in January will learn more information to grow their interest in pork production, and senior level teams will be eligible to win scholarships.

The contest, which is held in conjunction with the 2020 Iowa Pork Congress, will be Thursday, Jan. 23, at the Pioneer Livestock Pavilion on the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

This is a team contest, and teams should register on under the Youth tab by Jan. 10. A team will consist of 4 students, with 3 of the scores counting towards the team total. Teams of 3 will be allowed if a team of 4 cannot be formed. If a team of 3 cannot be formed, individuals will be accepted.

Check-in for the contest will be at the fairgrounds on Jan. 23, from 8-9:30 a.m., with the contest starting at 10 a.m.

Teams will judge four classes of animals: keep/cull gilts; live carcass evaluation; market hogs; and commercial gilts. There will also be two short assessments, each containing approximately 12 questions. The first will focus mostly on general farm practices, and the second will focus on meat quality and characteristics as they relate to pork production.

For more information, contact IPPA at 800-372-7675 or email

Weekly Ethanol Production for 12/27/2019

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending Dec. 27, ethanol production scaled back by 17,000 barrels per day (b/d), or 1.6%, to 1.066 million b/d—equivalent to 44.77 million gallons daily. The four-week average ethanol production rate ticked 0.1% higher to 1.071 million b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 16.42 billion gallons.

Ethanol stocks thinned to 21.0 million barrels. Inventories were 2.0% lower than last week and 9.2% lower than the year-ago level. Stocks declined in all regions except the Midwest (PADD 2). Gulf Coast (PADD 3) stocks are the lowest in ten months.

There were zero imports of ethanol recorded for the third consecutive week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of October 2019.)

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market during the holiday week decreased 3.7% to 8.961 million b/d (376.36 million gallons per day, or 137.37 bg annualized). Notably, the cumulative daily average of gasoline product supplied for the year was 0.3% higher than 2018. Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol narrowed for the week ending Dec. 27 by 5.8% to 884,000 b/d—equivalent to 13.55 bg annualized.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production increased to 11.90%.

Thursday January 2 Ag News


Nebraska Extension’s private pesticide applicator training season runs from January through April for the approximately 10,000 private applicators who are recertifying their licenses to apply restricted use pesticides.

“The training sessions are one of three options available for private applicators to become first-time (initial) certified or recertified,” said Clyde Ogg, an extension educator who leads the Pesticide Safety Education Program.

A second option is the online self-study program, which includes assessment quizzes that participants must pass to become certified.

A third method is to attend one of six extension crop production clinics in January or the Nebraska Crop Management Conference Jan. 22-23 in Kearney.

Separate, additional training is required for anyone purchasing and applying restricted use dicamba and paraquat, Ogg said.

Every three years, a licensed private applicator must attend a training session, complete the self-study course approved by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture or pass an NDA exam for license renewal. Once licensed, applicators may purchase, handle or apply restricted use pesticides. Fees are separate for extension training and NDA licensing.

“The user-friendly online private self-study training is an exclusive PSEP training option that has had positive results,” Ogg said.

No matter the method, training topics include the importance of reading and following the product label, as well as protecting non-targets such as people, sensitive plants and wildlife; helping prevent weed resistance; and properly applying pesticides.

This year, on-site meetings could include mention of potential federal regulation changes, Ogg said. For example, a comment period about part of the federal Worker Protection Standard is now underway.

“When any decisions on changes are known, PSEP will pass on the information to extension educators involved with pesticide training and through other venues,” Ogg said.

The Worker Protection Standard aims to protect people involved in agricultural work from pesticide exposure. Even if there are changes in the law, it is helpful to become familiar with the standard. A tool from the Pesticide Educational Resources Collaborative, available at, can help workers, managers, employers, producers and others understand the law, Ogg said. By answering a series of questions related to the duties on an agricultural establishment, the tool will relay if and how the Worker Protection Standard applies, and what steps are needed to comply.

Private applicators needing recertification in 2020 should have been notified by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture in mid-December or by their local extension office. The letter includes a bar code that eliminates the need to complete the standard application form; applicators should bring the letter to the training session. Applicators also should check their licenses for the expiration date. If the license expires in 2020 but the applicator has not yet received a letter from the NDA, they should contact the agency at 402-471-2351.

Applicators will again use the updated EC130 Guide for Weed, Disease and Insect Management in Nebraska to learn how to use label information such as chemical group numbers and nonchemical techniques, to reduce development of pesticide-resistant pests. The comprehensive guide, normally $15, is included with registration. Pre-registration is required for all training events.


Detailed information about training opportunities is available at or through the links below. Pre-register by contacting host extension offices.

> For private initial certification and recertification training locations, dates and contacts, visit Extension training is $40; NDA licensing is an additional $25.

> For private online self-study training, visit Extension training is $75; NDA licensing is an additional $25.

> Applicators with both private and commercial/noncommercial licenses may find extension’s crop production clinics helpful. Visit The cost is $80. NDA licensing for private applicators is an additional $25; for commercial, $90; there is no license fee for noncommercial.

> The Nebraska Crop Management Conference, Jan. 22-23 in Kearney, is another option. Registration is $80 per day or $150 for both days. Visit

In case of inclement weather and possible cancellations of extension training sessions, listen to a local radio or television station, or call the training site.


Extension training also will be held for the growing number of dicamba products. It is a federal requirement to complete state-approved dicamba training each year before using any of these products due to the potential for drift and damage to non-target crops and vegetation. For more information, visit No fee is charged for this training.


Since fall 2019, paraquat labels include a link to required training for anyone who mixes, loads, applies or handles paraquat. Federal EPA online training, good for three years, provides information about paraquat’s toxicity, new label requirements and restrictions, and consequences of misuse.

Widely used in agriculture, paraquat is fatal when ingested in even a small amount; there is no antidote. Also in effect are new closed-container system standards for non-bulk end use product containers. This means the containers must be completely sealed, with no way to open and pour out the contents except into application equipment. For more information, visit No fee is charged for this training.

For more information on pesticide safety, visit



Pesticide safety is at the heart of more than four dozen training sessions to be offered from January through April across Nebraska. The sessions are offered in multiple formats for commercial/noncommercial pesticide applicators to become certified or recertified.

Awareness and knowledge about pesticides are important, said Clyde Ogg, a Nebraska Extension educator who leads the Pesticide Safety Education Program.

“Applicators bear the burden to responsibly use pesticides and document their use,” Ogg said. “Knowledge and training help applicators keep current on products, methods and technology.”

Commercial applicators are those using restricted use and general use pesticides when making applications in lawn care or structural settings, for hire or compensation. Noncommercial applicators are those applying these same pesticides to sites owned by their employer, or for a government agency or political subdivision of the state.

Separate training is required before using paraquat and dicamba.

“The label is the law,” Ogg said. “The label is a legal document, so it is the applicator’s responsibility to read and comply with all label directions, even if they’ve used that same product before.”

Labels can change without warning due to updates in formulations or research. Changes might include the requirement of a respirator or a longer restricted-entry interval; the protection of a wildlife species; or a new rate of application.

The Pesticide Safety Education Program conducts pesticide safety and dicamba training. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture issues three-year licenses for applicators who pass their certification exams and pay the fee.

Coming this year is a new opportunity for potential commercial/noncommercial applicators to study for their initial certification.

“Our new digital flipbooks are a segue into the new decade,” Ogg said.

Internet-based flipbooks combine video with text, eliminating time and expense to attend on-site training. They are convenient and have searchable text, and most have color images. Watch for information about purchasing FlipBooks and subsequent testing at


Anyone preferring the traditional initial training through print materials and on-site videos may still do so. Advance registration of $80 is required through The start time is 8:30 a.m. for each of the following locations; exams are conducted at the end of sessions.
> Beatrice: Gage County Extension Office, Fairgrounds, 1115 W. Scott St., March 17
> Columbus: Platte County Courthouse, 2610 14th St., Feb. 25
> Grand Island: College Park, Hall County Extension Office, 3180 W. Highway 34, Feb. 4 and 25
> Lincoln: Lancaster County Extension Office, 444 Cherrycreek Road, Feb. 4 and 27, March 17 and April 9
> Norfolk: Madison County Extension Office, 1305 S. 13th St., Feb. 4 and 25, and March 17
> North Platte: West Central Research and Extension Center, 402 W. State Farm Road, Feb. 11 and 27, March 17 and April 9
> Omaha: Douglas/Sarpy County Extension Office, 8015 W. Center Road, Feb. 11, April 9 and 16
> O’Neill: Holt County Annex, 128 N. Sixth St., Suite 100, April 16
> Scottsbluff: Panhandle Research and Extension Center, 4502 Ave. I, Feb. 11, 25 and 27, and April 9

Once certification is attained in the commercial classification, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture issues a license for an additional $90 fee. There is no charge for a noncommercial license.


Commercial/noncommercial applicators whose licenses expire in April 2020 may recertify at an on-site extension video training session in February or March.

In 2020, about 3,500 commercial/noncommercial applicators — such as fumigators, lawn care workers and exterminators — need to be recertified. For individual applicator license status, visit or call the NDA at 402-471-2351. Applicators whose licenses have expired must retest.

Pre-registration of $80 is required. Visit The start time is 8:30 a.m. for each of the following recertification locations:
> Beatrice: Gage County Extension Office, Fairgrounds, Feb. 18, March 10 and 19
> Columbus: Platte County Courthouse, Feb. 20 and March 19
> Grand Island: College Park, Hall County Extension Office, Feb. 6 and 18
> Holdrege: Phelps County Fairgrounds, Ag Center, 1308 Second St., Feb. 12 and March 10
> Lincoln: Lancaster County Extension Office, Feb. 6 and 20, and March 26
> Norfolk: Madison County Extension Office, Feb. 12, 13 and 18, and March 10
> North Platte: West Central Research and Extension Center, Feb. 13 and 18, and March 19
> Omaha: Douglas/Sarpy County Extension Office, Feb. 13, March 19 and 26
> O'Neill: Holt County Annex, Feb. 13 and March 19
> Scottsbluff: Panhandle Research and Extension Center, Feb. 6 and 20, and March 24


Training is required prior to use; no fee is charged for either type of training.

For information on annual dicamba training, visit For information on paraquat training, due every three years, visit


Crop production clinics are a great option to recertify in the agricultural plant category and demonstration/research subcategory. Registration of $80 is required at Clinics begin at 8:45 a.m. local times.
> Jan. 7 – Gering, Gering Civic Center, 1050 M St.
> Jan. 8 – North Platte, Sandhills Convention Center, 2102 S. Jeffers St.
> Jan. 10 – Beatrice, Southeast Community College, Truman Center, 4771 W Scott Road
> Jan. 13 –  Norfolk, Lifelong Learning Center, 601 E. Benjamin Ave.
> Jan. 14 - York, Holthus Convention Center, 3130 Holen Ave.
> Jan. 15 – Mead, Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center, 1071 County Road G

The Nebraska Crop Management Conference is Jan. 22 and 23 at the Younes Conference Center, 416 Talmadge Road in Kearney. Pre-registration is required at The cost is $80 per day or $150 for both days. Recertification is available either day.

The Nebraska Turfgrass Conference is Jan. 7-9 at the La Vista Conference Center, 12540 Westport Parkway in La Vista. Recertification in ornamental and turf pest control is available. Pre-register at or call the Nebraska Turfgrass Association at 402-207-0911.

The Nebraska Aviation Trades Association Convention is Feb. 25 and 26 at the Younes Conference Center in Kearney. Recertification in agricultural plant and aerial pest control is available. For more information, email or call the association at 531-289-8323.

For more information on pesticide safety, visit


For the month of December 2019, topsoil moisture supplies rated 1 percent very short, 10 short, 80 adequate, and 9 surplus, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 1 percent very short, 8 short, 84 adequate, and 7 surplus.

Field Crops Report:
Winter wheat condition rated 2 percent very poor, 4 poor, 24 fair, 64 good, and 6 excellent. 

The next monthly report (for January) will be issued January 27, 2020. Weekly reports will begin April 6th for the 2020 season.

PorkBridge Educational Series for 2020 Begins Feb. 6

Since 2005, PorkBridge has provided relevant and timely information to grow-finish swine producers and other industry professionals across the U.S. and around the world through a unique low-tech delivery method. The 2020 program year series begins on Feb. 6 and continues on an every-other-month for six total sessions.

The program is a source of relevant and accurate information for those who own, manage or work in swine grow-finish facilities, according to Iowa State University animal science professor and extension swine specialist, Ken Stalder, who is the Iowa contact for PorkBridge.

PorkBridge provides an interactive teleconference with electronic materials and live presentations. About a week before each session, subscribers will receive a weblink to download the session’s presentation and any additional information provided by the presenter. Participants call in for the audio portion of each session and follow along with their own copy of the presentation on their computer or other device.

“Producers and others in the industry can get the information they need without the hassle of traveling or giving up an entire day to attend a meeting,” Stalder said. “PorkBridge participants can take part at home, in an office or in the swine unit, wherever it works best for them. And everyone can listen later to the audio we record of each live session.”

Sessions are scheduled for the first Thursday of each designated month but occasionally are moved a week to avoid interference with national industry events or holidays. Each session begins at 11:30 a.m. Central Time and lasts approximately 45 minutes.

The price remains at $100 for the entire series, and as in the past, each subsequent registration from the same entity is half that amount. Each registration provides access to one phone line per session and all program materials for each registration, including audio recordings of the live session, Stalder said.

“Program costs are slightly different for those with non-U.S. mailing addresses,” he said. “Anyone with questions, regardless of location, should contact Sherry Hoyer at Iowa Pork Industry Center at Iowa State for more information.”

Hoyer can be reached by phone at 515-294-4496 or email

The registration form and payment must be received by Jan. 15 to ensure receipt of program materials in time for the first session on Feb. 6. The program brochure has details and the registration form. Iowa residents who want more information can call Stalder at 515-294-4683.
2020 PorkBridge session dates, speakers and topics
    Feb. 6 – Pam Zaabel, Iowa State University; “African Swine Fever and Secure Pork Supply”
    April 2 – Steve Moeller, The Ohio State University; “Maintenance of Euthanasia Equipment”
    May 28 – Matt Ritter, Provimi US; “In-barn Impacts on Meat Quality”
    Aug. 6 – Yuzhi Li, University of Minnesota; “Tail, Ear and Flank Biting: Reasons Why and How to Address”
    Oct. 1 – Jose Ramirez, Viroz Animal Health; “Proper Application of Disinfectants”
    Dec. 3 – Andy Brudtkuhl, National Pork Board; “Precision Technologies for Commercial Swine Production.”

Public Comment Period Begins for Iowa’s New Hemp Production Regulations

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced that the open comment period for the state’s proposed hemp production regulations began Jan. 1. The public can visit to read the proposed administrative rules that will regulate the planting, growing and harvesting of commercial hemp in Iowa. Comments will be accepted until 4:30 p.m./CT on Jan. 22, 2020.

The state of Iowa submitted its proposed hemp production program to the USDA for approval on Dec. 11, 2019. The USDA has 60 days to review and provide feedback. It is not legal to grow, possess, buy or sell hemp in Iowa until the USDA approves the state plan and the Department publishes notice of the approval in the Iowa Administrative Bulletin.

Once production has been legalized, licensed farmers will be able to grow up to 40 acres of hemp per season. The Department will start accepting hemp license applications once the USDA approves the state hemp plan and the online licensing system is operational. Interested growers should continue to monitor for updates.

This commercial hemp production program does not legalize the use of cannabidiol (CBD) for human consumption in Iowa. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is still working to determine if CBD is safe for human consumption. Hemp grain, hemp seed oil and protein powder derived from hemp grain have been cleared by the FDA for human consumption.

To read Iowa’s proposed hemp regulatory administrative rules in their entirety, visit To read the Iowa Hemp Act, visit

U.S. Grains Council’s 2019/2020 Corn Harvest Quality Report

After one of the United States’ most challenging growing seasons in history, that included weather-related planting delays, delayed crop maturation and early rains and snows during harvest, the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) has published its ninth annual Corn Harvest Quality Report, a representative view of the quality of corn assembled for export, collected as it enters the international merchandising channels.

The report is based on 623 samples collected from inbound farm-originating trucks at harvest.

“As industry stakeholders and international buyers make decisions about purchase contracts and processing needs for corn for feed, food or industrial use, corn quality information becomes critical,” said Kurt Shultz, USGC senior director of global strategies. “Reports like the Council’s crop quality reports provide transparency about crop conditions and consistently reinforce that the United States is the world’s most reliable supplier of good quality corn.”

This season’s growing conditions forced some producers to harvest at relatively high moisture levels that have led to lower-than-average test weights, slightly higher stress crack incidences and higher broken corn and foreign material (BCFM) as compared with last year’s corn crop.

A forthcoming companion report – the 2019/2020 Corn Export Cargo Quality Report – will focus on export cargo samples collected from corn shipments undergoing federal inspection and grading processes at export terminals. It will provide information on grading, handling and how U.S. corn is moved and controlled through export channels.

The reports offer reliable information on U.S. corn quality from the farm to the customer based on transparent and consistent methodology. They each give an early view of grading factors established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), moisture content and other characteristics not reported elsewhere.

The Council’s global staff and grower-leaders will share the results of the first report in a series of crop quality seminars around the world, beginning in Taiwan in January. These outreach activities help establish clear expectations with buyers and end-users regarding the quality of corn this marketing year. During these events, crop quality information is accompanied by presentations on U.S. corn grading and handling.

“Successful market development and outreach efforts, like the corn quality roll out presentations, demonstrate the return on investment for the efforts of the Council and our partner organizations,” Shultz said. “It allows our experts to answer questions directly about the efficacy of this year’s crop and to continue to offer an open line of communication between producers and end-users who want what we have to offer.”

Additional roll-out events are scheduled in January as follows:
• Taiwan – Jan. 6-10, 2020
• South Korea – Jan. 12-18, 2020
• Southern Mexico – Jan. 13-17, 2020
• Northern Mexico – Jan. 13-17, 2020
• Japan – Jan. 18-25, 2020
• South America (Colombia, Peru) – Jan. 19-24, 2020
• Central America (Cost Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala) – Jan. 20-25, 2020
• Middle East, Africa and South Asia (Cyprus) – Jan. 22-24, 2020

“The Council’s quality reports can be compared across time, enabling buyers to make well-informed decisions as they purchase U.S. corn,” Shultz said.

USDA Nov '19 Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production

Total corn consumed for alcohol and other uses was 507 million bushels in November 2019. Total corn consumption was up 5 percent from October 2019 and up 1 percent from November 2018. November 2019 usage included 92.0 percent for alcohol and 8.0 percent for other purposes. Corn consumed for beverage alcohol totaled 3.41 million bushels, up 7 percent from October 2019 and up 16 percent from November 2018. Corn for fuel alcohol, at 457 million bushels, was up 5 percent from October 2019 and up slightly from November 2018. Corn consumed in November 2019 for dry milling fuel production and wet milling fuel production was 90.5 percent and 9.5 percent, respectively.

Dry mill co-product production of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) was 1.88 million tons during November 2019, up 3 percent from October 2019 but down 3 percent from November 2018. Distillers wet grains (DWG) 65 percent or more moisture was 1.35 million tons in November 2019, up 5 percent from October 2019 and up 3 percent from November 2018.

Wet mill corn gluten feed production was 272,089 tons during November 2019, down 7 percent from October 2019 and down 5 percent from November 2018. Wet corn gluten feed 40 to 60 percent moisture was 262,089 tons in November 2019, up 12 percent from October 2019 and up 2 percent from November 2018.

USDA Nov '19 Fats and Oils: Oilseed Crushings, Production, Consumption and Stocks

Soybeans crushed for crude oil was 5.24 million tons (175 million bushels) in November 2019, compared with 5.61 million tons (187 million bushels) in October 2019 and 5.34 million tons (178 million bushels) in November 2018. Crude oil produced was 2.00 billion pounds down 7 percent from October 2019 and down 3 percent from November 2018. Soybean once refined oil production at 1.36 billion pounds during November 2019 decreased 13 percent from October 2019 and decreased 6 percent from November 2018.

Canola seeds crushed for crude oil was 152,430 tons in November 2019, compared with 188,299 tons in October 2019 and 161,507 tons in November 2018. Canola crude oil produced was 127 million pounds, down 20 percent from October 2019 and down 5 percent from November 2018. Canola once refined oil production, at 96.3 million pounds during November 2019, was down 22 percent from October 2019 and down 37 percent from November 2018.

Cottonseed once refined oil production, at 41.2 million pounds during November 2019, was down 3 percent from October 2019 and down 15 percent from November 2018.

Edible tallow production was 90.3 million pounds during November 2019, up 22 percent from October 2019 but down 2 percent from November 2018. Inedible tallow production was 341 million pounds during November 2019, up 16 percent from October 2019 but down 3 percent from November 2018. Technical tallow production was 118 million pounds during November 2019, up 15 percent from October 2019 and up 7 percent from November 2018. Choice white grease production, at 121 million pounds during November 2019, increased 6 percent from October 2019 and increased 4 percent from November 2018.


The Atrazine Preliminary Interim Decision (PID) document published today in the federal register supports EPA’s commitment to use credible scientific research in setting a reasonable aquatic ecosystem Level of Concern (LOC) for atrazine. The interim decision is positive for growers who rely on the atrazine for weed control, according to the Triazine Network, a coalition of agricultural organizations that advocates for science-based regulatory decisions regarding the triazine herbicides including atrazine.

The PID corrects a recommendation made in the 2016 Ecological Risk Assessment to set the LOC at 3.6 parts per billion, an ultra-low level that would have banned the use of atrazine in much of farm country. The lower LOC was based on questionable research, including studies that had been turned down by EPA’s 2012 Science Advisory Panel (SAP). Relying on several points of information, including EPA’s SAP recommendations, the agency modified the LOC to 15 parts per billion over a 60-day average.

“This PID is good news for farmers across America,” said Missouri Corn Growers Association CEO Gary Marshall, who chairs the Triazine Network. “Through our diverse coalition of grower organizations, we met with EPA Administrator Wheeler and staff to provide specific details on why this product is tremendously important to farmers across the country, especially for weed control in conservation practices. From citrus to sorghum and corn to Christmas trees, farmers rely on the agency’s use of credible science to regulate the products that allow us to safely grow more with less for a hungry global population.”

Atrazine is a key herbicide that helps farmers control weeds that rob crops of water and nutrients and is especially important for conservation practices. Utilized for over 60 years, atrazine is the most researched herbicide in history and has a proven safety record.

“Simply put, atrazine helps farmers control weeds that rob field crops of nutrients, water, and sunlight,” Marshall said. “Over the years, farmers have dramatically reduced application rates of atrazine. Through farmer-funded research, we have learned how to efficiently and effectively use it to control weeds and to help implement conservation measures like no-till farming.”

The publication of the atrazine PID in the Federal Register opens a 60-day comment period that ends on March 2, 2020. Marshall said it is crucial for growers to submit comments supporting the atrazine preliminary interim decision, explain how they use atrazine, and why it is important to their farming operations.

“EPA made a move to use credible science in its interim decision,” noted Marshall. “That won’t please some well-funded special interest groups that have targeted atrazine for many years. This is why we need comments in support of this decision from growers who actually use atrazine, and who understand its safety and value to long-term conservation efforts.”

Approved for use in 1958, atrazine has been extensively reviewed by EPA over the decades and across administrations. The current registration review process began in 2013.

Commodity Classic Early Registration Discount Ends January 9

Thursday, January 9th is the deadline for the early registration discount for Commodity Classic—America’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused agricultural and educational experience.

The 2020 Commodity Classic will be held Thursday, Feb. 27 through Saturday, Feb. 29 in San Antonio, Texas. To register, reserve hotel rooms and sign up for email updates, visit  A complete schedule of events is also available on the website.

Established in 1996, Commodity Classic is unlike any other agriculture event, featuring a robust schedule of educational sessions, a huge trade show featuring the latest technology, equipment and innovation, top-notch entertainment, inspiring speakers and the opportunity to network with thousands of farmers from across the nation.

Commodity Classic is presented annually by the American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Sorghum Producers and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

Agriculture Workforce Coalition Urges Senate Action on Ag Labor Crisis

Following on the heels of a government-mandated increase in farmers’ labor costs, the Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC), a diverse group of organizations representing the needs of agricultural employers across the country, today urged the U.S. Senate to take up legislation to solve the agricultural labor crisis by calling attention to the dire labor situation facing our nation’s agricultural producers.

The Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) is the required wage rate for farmers who use the H-2A program and the Department of Labor today mandated an increase that will average 6% across the nation.  The AWC told the Senate that the increase will make it difficult for some farms to continue operating, coming after a year of natural disasters, trade disruptions, low commodity prices and declining farm income.

In its letter, the AWC called on the Senate to take action to address critical agricultural labor issues.  The coalition urges the Senate to consider the impacts of the AEWR on U.S. farmers and is asking for an alternative that will ensure a level playing field for farmers and ranchers making them more competitive with foreign producers.

Farmers who use the H-2A program to procure legal workers from other countries must comply with a complicated and expensive application process to assure that domestic workers are not displaced, though few U.S. workers are willing to take jobs on farms. Farmers are also required to provide free certified housing and transportation to and from guest workers’ place of residence. The AEWR implemented today will immediately increase farmers’ labor costs by an average of 6% while revenues for agricultural goods continue to diminish due to an influx of cheaply produced imports flooding American markets.

Over the last five years the AEWR has increased nationwide by 17% on average while revenues for fruits and nuts have increased only 3% and vegetables and melons have seen no revenue increases. While American farmers are required to pay their H-2A employees more and more each year, the U.S. continues to import more and more produce from Mexico and Central and South America, where workers are paid a fraction of U.S. wage rates.

The Agriculture Workforce Coalition is asking the Senate for a legislative solution that ensures the competitiveness of America’s farmers and ranchers, stabilizes the current U.S. agricultural workforce and provides guest worker program access to year-round agriculture sectors such as dairy, livestock and mushrooms.

New Rule Reveals Why Congress and President Favor Importers and Ignore U.S. Ranchers

On December 30, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a proposed rule to reapportion the Beef Checkoff Program's Cattlemen's Beef Board (CBB). The proposed rule reveals that importers control more cattle inventories than any state in the United States except Texas.

To make its calculations regarding who controls domestic cattle inventories, the USDA counts imported live cattle and converts imported beef into a live cattle equivalent. The agency uses a conversion factor of 592 pounds to determine the live cattle equivalent. For example, 1 billion pounds of imported beef is the rough equivalent of 1.7 million live cattle.

According to the proposed rule, importers now control about 6.9 million cattle in the U.S. market. Only the state of Texas, which controls about 12.6 million cattle exceeds the importers' control. Neither Kansas nor Nebraska, which are the nation's second and third top cattle inventory states, can compete with the importers' dominant control.

According to R-CALF USA, the combination of cattle and beef imports represent the largest agricultural commodities imported from Canada and Mexico. R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard said USDA data show the U.S. imported $4.1 billion in cattle and beef from Canada and Mexico in 2018, which far surpasses the second-place agricultural import that year, malt beverages at $3.7 billion.

Bullard says the importers dominant control over cattle inventories in all but one state affords them extraordinary influence in both Congress and the Administration, enabling them to drown-out the voices of United States cattle farmers and ranchers.

"It's disheartening that Congress and the Administration are listening to importers while ignoring hard-working U.S. cattle farmers and ranchers. The $4.1 billion of imported, cheaper cattle and beef from Canada and Mexico is being sold to consumers across the U.S. without disclosing their foreign origins. This prevents consumers from choosing to support United States cattle farmers and ranchers through their purchases," Bullard said.

"U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) supporters and the Administration only disclose the roughly $1.9 billion in cattle and beef exports to Canada and Mexico and convey that this is good for U.S. cattle farmers and ranchers; yet they fail to mention the $4.1 billion in imports that completely overwhelm our exports." He continued, "This is wrong."

Bullard said cattle and beef importers are vehemently opposed to mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) because they do not want consumers to know the origins of their cheaper-sourced products. He said their overwhelming influence in Washington, D.C. helps explain their success in preventing the inclusion of COOL in the USMCA, which recently passed overwhelmingly in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"United States cattle farmers and ranchers must now focus on the U.S. Senate to attempt to overcome the importers' undue lobbying influence that prevented the restoration of COOL for beef in the U.S. House's version of the USMCA," Bullard concluded.

Wednesday January 1 Ag News - Happy New Year!

Inspired by Annie's Project Winter Class Series

Nebraska Extension is excited to offer four Annie’s inspired programs in Southeast Nebraska starting in January running through March.  Annie’s Project is a nationwide program dedicated in providing educational programs designed in strengthening women’s roles in their farming operation.  These programs give women the opportunity to learn from agricultural professionals and connect with other women in agriculture in a relaxed, fun and dynamic setting.  Participants will interact with the speaker and join in hands on activities. 

 “Beef 101” will provide a hands-on experience to learn about beef and forage sampling from a beef extension educator.  This educational program will focus on scoring the body condition of cows, cattle handling and sampling forages for analysis, and what does the testing report mean for your herd.  “Beef 101” will be held on Monday January 6th at the Ag Hall building located at the Polk County fairground, 12931 N Blvd, Osceola, NE. 

The second Annie’s inspired workshop will concentrate on Farm & Ranch Budgets and Financial Statements.  This class will walk you through the free Farm & Ranch budgets offered by the University of Nebraska.  An Ag Economist extension educator will address how to best utilize these budgets and how to fit them to your business.   Farm & Ranch Budgets and Financial Statements will be held Monday February 3rd at the Hruska Memorial Public Library, 399 N 5th St, David City, NE. 

Session three, Mental Health and Stress Management will address how to recognize stress in yourself and others, whys to cope with stress and tips in caring for your own mental health.  Tools and resources will be available to participate to help them and those they know care for their own mental health.  Please join us for the Mental Health and Stress Management class on Monday March 2nd at the Seward Civic Center, 616 Bradford St., Seward, NE. 

We will finish our Annie’s inspired series with a workshop on Crop Scouting.  This class will cover basic crop scouting techniques, pest identification, disease diagnostics, and integrated pest management strategies.  The Crop Scouting workshop will be held on March 16th at the York County Fairgrounds in the 4H building, 2345 N Nebraska Ave, York, NE.  

All classes are held on Monday evening, running from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., beginning with a light meal and networking, followed by a presentation and hands-on activities.  The registration fee is $5 per person, per class, covering the meal, handouts and additional resource for the class.  Please RSVP one week prior to the class by contacting Butler County Extension office at 1-402-367-7410 or York County Extension office at 1-402-362-5508.  Questions can be directed to Melissa Bartels or Jenny Rees  These courses are hosted by Nebraska Extension and are inspired by Annie’s Project.  Annie’s Project is supported by Farm Credit Service of American in Nebraska.

Seminars and Training at the 2020 Iowa Pork Congress

Midwest pig farmers who attend the 2020 Iowa Pork Congress on Jan. 22-23 will find a variety of educational seminar and training opportunities, along with more than 300 trade show exhibitors. All the events will take place at Hy-Vee Hall in the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in Des Moines.

"The seminars and presenters that are lined up will provide producers with practical information that can be put in place immediately, as well as outlooks and ideas that can help guide future decision-making for both pig farmers and pork stakeholders," says the president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association, Trent Thiele of Elma.

There will be five seminars on Wednesday, Jan. 22:
-    9:30 a.m. - Nuisance case discussion with attorney Eldon McAfee of Brick Gentry Law Firm. McAfee has represented many Iowa livestock farmers in cases claiming nuisance. Moderator Drew Mogler will encourage those in the audience to ask questions they may have about this concern and what they might do proactively to head off similar lawsuits.
-    10:45 a.m. - Andy Curliss of the North Carolina Pork Council will provide both a deep and broad look - citing specific instances - at how significant, coordinated advocacy is threatening animal agriculture. He will offer an unprecedented look at the ongoing attacks against the livestock industry and provide attendees with insights on how these attacks are being executed in strategy and tactics.
-    12:45 p.m. - In late September 2019, the USDA conducted an on-the-ground functional exercise to see how the reaction system would work if African swine fever was diagnosed in the United States. There were three swine farms in Iowa that participated in the exercise. Moderator Dr. Pam Zaabel will talk with them about what they learned regarding their own preparedness to respond, and what changes they are making now to their farm operations. Panelists include Heidi Vittetoe of JWV Pork, Washington County; Dr. Pete Thomas, Iowa Select Farms, and Ian Levis - Seaboard.
-    2 p.m. - There are many different ventilation systems being used in today's swine barns. Moderator Dr. Jay Harmon of Iowa State University will discuss the types and their benefits with people who manage those decisions or make recommendations daily. Panelists include: Ray Foerster, Smithfield Hog Production; Fernando Gomez, PIC; and Doug Owens, Senior Service Manager at New Fashion Pork.
-    3:15 p.m. - The economic outlook session is always a popular one as pig farmers hear about the details of factors that may impact producer profitability for the coming year. Economists Steve Meyer and Joe Kerns, both of Kerns and Associates, will outline both livestock and crop issues that can make a difference in profitability.

Also on Wednesday, producers can choose to attend this certification training sessions:
-    10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. - Pork Quality Assurance Plus Certification

There are also five seminars scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 23:
-    9:15 a.m. - Producers can learn more about what the foreign experience with African swine fever has been. Moderator Dr. Andrew Hennenfent, the Emergency Management Coordinator at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, will discuss the topic with Todd Thurman of SwineTex Consulting who has experience in China; Ilia Zubtsov, a PIC technical consultant with experience in Russia; and Gary Flory of the Virginia Dept. of Environmental Quality who has done carcass consulting with multiple countries.
-    10:30 a.m. - Risk management with contracts and insurance is a critical issue for producers whether they are faced with weather situations like floods or heavy snows, or disease threats. Moderator Colin Johnson of Iowa State University Extension will moderate a panel discussion on the tools you might use to protect yourself, your farm, and your pigs. Panelists include: Matt Berger, Gislason & Hunter LLP; Chris Pudenz - Iowa State University; and Marty Pippett of Mark Crop Insurance.
-    11:45 a.m. - For producers who want to explore alternatives to antibiotics, moderator Dr. Heather Fowler of the National Pork Board leads a discussion with researchers and veterinarians about options to use in swine production. Panelists include Dr. Nick Gabler, Iowa State University; Dr. Peter Schneider, Applegate; and a representative of Smithfield Hog Production.
-    1 p.m. - Managing margins in the futures and options markets may help farmers control financial risks. Tim Hughes of CIH will talk about those tools.
-    2 p.m. - If you are looking for ways to improve the longevity of pig buildings through maintenance, this session will provide information on how to get the most value and years from your building investment. Moderator Brian Blumhagen of New Modern Concepts leads a panel that includes John Boleyn, Hog Slat; Matt Cunningham, Premier Ag Systems; and a representative from Precision Structures.
-    3 p.m. - As interest in using cover crops continues, there is also interest in learning about the use of manure in fields where cover crops are planted. Dr. Dan Anderson, Iowa State University, discusses with two farmers their experiences. Those farmers are Steve Berger, Wellman, and Mark Schleisman, Lake City.

There will be one certification training session on Thursday:
    10 a.m. - Noon. - Confinement Site Manure Applicator Certification. Applicators should bring their manure applicator certification card to this session.

Pre-registration to attend the Iowa Pork Congress seminars and trade show is available through Jan. 9 at, or by using the form in the November issue of the Iowa Pork Producer magazine, or by calling (800) 372-7675.
-    IPPA members who pre-register can attend Iowa Pork Congress free.
-    Non-IPPA members can save $5 off the normal $10 admission cost by pre-registering by the Jan. 9 deadline.

Registrations will be accepted after the deadline, including through each day of the show. The cost will be $10.  For more information about events and registration, contact IPPA at (800) 372-7675 or visit

As World Celebrates New Year, American Cattlemen Celebrate New Trade Deals

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Jennifer Houston today issued the following statement regarding the new trade deals with Japan and the European Union (EU), which go into effect on New Years Day:

"As the clock struck midnight and revelers around the world popped champagne and toasted the new year, American cattle producers had two big reasons to celebrate. That’s because the New Year brings new opportunities and better access to two of our major export markets: Japan and the European Union.

"The new deal with Japan today immediately lowered the tariff on U.S. beef from 38.5 percent to 26.6 percent, and it will eventually drop to 9 percent. Most importantly, it keeps us at the same tariff rate as other international beef producers who export to Japan under the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

"Our new deal with the EU today establishes a duty-free quota for high-quality U.S. beef from non-hormone treated cattle. Under the terms of this agreement, the U.S.-specific annual quota will increase from 18,500 metric tons in the first year to 35,000 metric tons in year seven. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative estimates that this quota will increase annual U.S. beef sales in Europe from $150 million to $420 million.

"NCBA is proud to have worked very hard to build support for the increased access to Japan and Europe that we celebrate today, and we're going to continue working hard to improve access to lucrative international markets like China - and to finalize approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) as soon as possible in 2020. Happy New Year!

All Fertilizer Prices Lower Again

Retail fertilizer prices continued to move lower the fourth week of December 2019, according to sellers surveyed by DTN. This several-months-long trend appears set to continue into the new year.

All eight of the major fertilizers were lower in price from the month earlier, but once again, none were substantially lower. DTN designates a significant price move as 5% or more.

DAP had an average price of $443 per ton, MAP $454/ton, potash $377/ton, urea $378/ton, 10-34-0 $469/ton, anhydrous $488/ton, UAN28 $240/ton and UAN32 $276/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.41/lb.N, anhydrous $0.30/lb.N, UAN28 $0.43/lb.N and UAN32 $0.43/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are mixed in price from a year ago. MAP is 15% lower, anhydrous is 14% less expensive, DAP is 13% lower, UAN28 is 10% less expensive, UAN32 is 9% lower, urea is 7% lower and potash is 1% less expensive from last year at this time. In addition, 10-34-0 is 3% higher compared to last year.

Monday December 30 Ag News

Report says Phase One Trade Deal Signing May Happen This Weekend

Reports surfaced early on Monday that the Chinese Vice Premier will lead a delegation to Washington, D.C., to sign the Phase One trade deal. A source close to the situation tells the South China Morning Post that Liu (Lou) He will fly to Washington on Saturday to sign the agreement. The source said the U.S. extended the invitation and Liu has accepted. Beijing and Washington haven’t confirmed the trip yet.

China is already buying larger amounts of U.S. agricultural products, including soybeans, which was a big part of the agreement for U.S President Donald Trump. The possibility of making the deal official this weekend will mean increased purchases by China, as well as a partial end to the trade war that’s dominated headlines for the past 18 months. China’s soybean imports from the U.S. recently hit a 20-month high at 2.6 million tons, the highest number since March of 2018, when the trade war between the world’s largest economies began to pick up steam. Reports of higher food prices in China will likely mean a need for increased imports of U.S. agricultural goods in the months ahead to bring down those prices.

Iowa Farmers Using Cover Crops Can Sign Up for Crop Insurance Discounts until Jan. 15, 2020

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig reminds farmers who planted fall cover crops that the deadline to sign up for a $5 per acre reduction on their 2020 crop insurance premiums is quickly approaching. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will accept applications until Jan. 15, 2020.

Farmers and landowners can sign up online at Fall 2019 cover crop acres enrolled in other state or federal cover crop cost-share programs are not eligible. Farmers who received prevent plant payments in 2019 are still eligible for the discounted insurance premiums.

“Cover crops offer multiple benefits to farmers and landowners; they are proven to reduce nutrient loads, improve soil health and can be used for livestock grazing,” said Secretary Naig. “This program is just one of many options farmers can use to implement innovative conservation practices on their land.”

The insurance premium reductions will be available for fall-planted cover crops with a spring-planted cash crop. Some insurance policies may be excluded, like Whole-Farm Revenue Protection, or those covered through written agreements. Participants must follow all existing farming practices required by their policy and work with their insurance agent to maintain eligibility.

This is a joint, three-year demonstration project administered by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) to increase the use of cover crops in Iowa. More than 1,200 farmers have applied for this program and planted 300,000 acres of cover crops in the past two years.

Farmers are encouraged to visit their local USDA service center offices to learn about other funding available to support the implementation of conservation practices.

U.S. Soy Leads the Way in Sustainable Global Aquaculture

What do U.S. soybean farmers and global aquaculture have in common? Quite a bit, actually, especially in helping to make fish farming more sustainable and scalable.

Working towards Sustainability in Global Fish Farming

For nearly 30 years, the U.S. Soybean Export Council’s (USSEC) aquaculture program, funded by the soybean checkoff, has provided critical training and technical knowledge for global aquaculture — ranging from small family fish farms in Asia to large international operations that provide fish for your local supermarket and large global retailers like Costco and Walmart.

Beginning in the 1990s, the program worked to transition Chinese fish farms from manure-based feed to formulated pellet feed, and over the years has provided training to improve feed and farming methods that improve food safety and sustainability, while lessening environmental impact.

Four Areas of Focus Help to Shape Sustainable Aquaculture

In aquaculture, USSEC focuses on four areas: feed, technology advancements, aquaculture investment, and sustainability. USSEC works to optimize and demonstrate the value of U.S. Soy through all of these efforts. Let’s take a look at each.

Feed: USSEC’s technical experts work with feed mills and farmers to develop feed formulations, feed demonstrations, and best feed practices. USSEC’s partnership with business and academia on the International Aquaculture Feed Formulation Database provides valuable training for feed formulators. And aquafeed formulation research made possible by soy industry support is archived for public use.

Technology Advancements:  Hatchery improvements, genetic/breeding advancements, and the In-pond Raceway System (IPRS) technology transfer ensure better fish health and safety, water conservation, less environmental impact and higher yields. USSEC holds educational field trips and seminars to share best practices of successful farms.

Aquaculture Investment:  U.S. Soy’s renowned Aquaculture Investment Workshops promote investment in aquaculture infrastructure in Latin America so that industry can expand to meet global demand.

Sustainability:  All of the U.S. Soy aquaculture program’s initiatives are based on making global aquaculture more sustainable. The U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP) allows for soy feed ingredients to be certified sustainable, and USSEC works closely with aquaculture sustainability certification programs such as BAP and ASC so that the SSAP is accepted as a standard for sustainable soy.

U.S. Soy: A Sustainable Alternative

High quality U.S. soybeans help to increase the affordability and sustainability of the world’s supply of healthy, farm-raised seafood and can replace much of the fishmeal in feeds for many farmed species, thus reducing the pressure on wild fish resources.

U.S. Farm Exports to Philippines Hit Record

The United States has seen a lot of benefits from the Philippines’ growing demand for imported agricultural products. The USDA’s Foreign Ag Service says agricultural exports to the Philippines will reach a record of $3 billion by the end of this year as shipments continue to arrive. The U.S. currently commands 28 percent of market share in the nation, making it the largest supplier of agricultural products. Last year, the Philippines was the 11th-largest market for U.S. ag exports. The top five products included soybean meal, wheat, dairy products, pork and pork products, as well as poultry.

Last year, ag exports to the Southeast Asian nation reached a record of $2.9 billion. U.S. soybean meal was the highest-value export, worth $884 million in 2018. USDA data shows that “While sales were down four percent from January to October year-on-year, Manilla officials still expect a record $3 billion as shipments picked up ahead of the holiday season.” U.S. food and beverage products alone will reach a record $1.2 billion by the end of 2019, which amounts to more than 29,000 container trucks.

EPA Receives 16 Requests for 2019 Small-Refinery Exemptions

Todd Neeley, DTN

Just as the biofuels industry in the United States continues to lament the EPA's latest Renewable Fuel Standard action that by most accounts falls short of industry expectations when accounting for small-refinery exemptions, the agency has received additional waiver requests for 2019.

According to the latest numbers on EPA's RFS dashboard, the agency has received 16 SRE requests for 2019. Those requests come at a time when the price of renewable identification numbers, or RINs, continue to be low. One of the major reasons cited by refiners for making exemption requests, is the exorbitant costs of compliance with the RFS.

From 2016 to 2018, the EPA has granted an average of 28 small-refinery exemptions per year and received an average of 33.

One of the major concerns the biofuels industry has is the retroactive nature in which the EPA has granted small-refinery exemption -- requests for a given year typically are made at the close of that compliance year.

In the most recent finalized RFS proposal the agency opted to use the U.S. Department of Energy's estimate for SREs of about 700 million gallons per year, in attempt to account for exemptions in 2020.

The industry thought it had a deal with the White House that would have used a three-year rolling average of actual gallons exempted in 2016 to 2018, or about 1.35 billion ethanol-equivalent gallons.

USB Sets Goals for 2020

United Soybean Board CEO Polly Ruhland recently announced her group’s priorities for the year ahead. 2020 goals will include improving farmer profitability by focusing in on meal, oil, and sustainability. One of the things they’re researching this year is to prove the amino acid profile, as well as how valuable it can be to livestock producers that feed soy to their animals. That’s why they’re looking further into both their meal and protein quality improvements in the soybean.

Another area of focus for USB is enhancing and communicating the sustainability of soy. Improvements in technology over the years have allowed soybean farmers to grow more soybeans and use fewer acres of land to do it. They want the public to know that the sustainability of soy can help the planet and put profit into a farmer’s operation at the same time. Another 2020 objective is to focus their research on the benefits of soybean oil, more specifically in high oleic soybean oil. The objectives were highlighted this month during the United Soybean Board meeting in December.

Jim Beam Fined for Bourbon Spill

(AP) -- Jim Beam was fined $600,000 earlier this month after a July warehouse fire sent a nearly 23-mile plume of alcohol into the Kentucky and Ohio rivers, killing fish.

The distiller agreed to the fine in a Dec. 6 order from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, The Courier-Journal reports. Jim Beam will also reimburse the state agency $112,000.

The July 3 fire was started when lightning struck a massive barrel warehouse near the Woodford-Franklin County line. The blaze sent flames shooting into the night sky that could be seen for miles and generated so much heat that firetruck lights melted. About 40,000 barrels of aging whiskey were destroyed, with the runoff pouring into nearby Glenns Creek and then downstream into the rivers.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources found dead fish along 62 miles (100 kilometers) of Glenns Creek and the Kentucky River. There were also dead fish in the Ohio River, but Energy and Environment Cabinet spokesman John Mura has described the impact there as "negligible."

In a Friday comment to the newspaper, Beam Suntory, the Chicago-based spirits company that owns Jim Beam, said, "While we were able to minimize impacts to the surrounding environment and wildlife ... we recognize the regrettable and unavoidable impacts of the incident and have been committed to doing what we can to restore the environment. That includes making payments to the state to compensate for time spent, resources utilized and costs to supplement the local fish population."

Syngenta celebrates 40 years of Seedcare innovation

Growers rely on seed treatments to prepare for each season’s unique challenges. In an effort to meet this need, Syngenta and its legacy companies have been at the forefront of seed treatment research for 40 years. Since the introduction of Concep®, the first sorghum seed safener, in 1979, the company has developed novel active ingredients and crop-specific seed treatment recipes across all major crops.

“Helping growers protect their seed investment has always been one of our core goals,” said Ross Weikel, head of Syngenta Seedcare. “Each year, we look for new, innovative ways to help crops get a healthy start. And with four decades of experience, we’re never short on thoughtful solutions.”

This year, that history of innovation has continued with the EPA registration of Saltro® fungicide seed treatment, which offers protection against sudden death syndrome and nematodes. It is the latest in a long line of research-driven solutions. In 1982, Apron®, the first seed treatment fungicide to offer protection against downy mildew, entered the market. Eleven years later, the company introduced Maxim® seed treatment fungicide, the first seed treatment to be labeled “reduced-risk” by the EPA. Syngenta also developed Avicta®, the first seed treatment nematicide, in 2006. The company is not showing any signs of stopping either.

“Even in times of lower commodity prices, seed treatments still have a high potential return on investment, especially with early planting,” Weikel said. “From diseases and insect pests to unpredictable weather, growers don’t know what challenges they’re going to face during the growing season. We’re providing solutions that can help, no matter the situation.”

With its industry-leading portfolio, product development and support capabilities, Syngenta Seedcare always puts customers first. “We offer a three-pillar approach around product, application and service,” said Ravi Ramachandran, Ph.D., head of the Syngenta North America Seedcare Institute in Stanton, Minnesota. “We’re the only company offering this level of service to our customers.”

ASPCA Invites Public to Detox from Factory-Farmed Food for One Week

ASPCA News Release

The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) announces its second Factory Farm Detox, a week-long consumer challenge to eliminate factory-farmed foods and replace them with more humane and sustainable alternatives including those with a meaningful welfare certification and plant-based products. This January, consumers are encouraged to participate in a Monday-through-Sunday detox during the week of their choosing—joining a community of advocates who are fed up with the animal cruelty, pollution and injustices occurring on factory farms.

The Factory Farm Detox was created to raise awareness about the negative impacts of the industrial operations that raise over 95 percent of farm animals across the U.S. in unacceptable conditions not aligned with consumers' values. Often referred to as concentrated or confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), factory farms are industrial facilities on which large numbers of animals are confined in unnatural conditions that prioritize the production of meat, eggs or dairy at the expense of animals' welfare, the environment, workers, consumers, rural communities and farmers.

"Every food purchase is a vote for how animals should be raised, and consumers have the power to show that there is no market for farm animal cruelty," said Kara Shannon, Senior Manager, ASPCA Farm Animal Welfare Department. "The Factory Farm Detox provides consumers with the tools to make informed purchases, cutting through misleading claims and helping people support farmers who are actually raising animals in more humane systems."

Participating in the Factory Farm Detox is as simple as not buying meat, eggs or dairy from factory farms where animals are caged, crowded and lacking access to environmental enrichments. During the Detox, participants can opt for products bearing meaningful animal welfare certifications, including Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World, Certified Humane, and Global Animal Partnership (GAP) 2+ or plant-based products.

Factory Farm Detox participants will receive everything they need to succeed including:
-    A text-based helpline staffed by animal welfare experts to help you find more humane food
-    Label guides for meat, eggs and dairy and a list of welfare-certified brands
-    Encouraging emails with guidance along the way
-    Discussion starters, shopping tips and help for dining out
-    Inspirational advice from former New York Times' food writer Mark Bittman and chefs including Bill Telepan, Naama Tamir and more

Over the past year, the ASPCA has worked with small farmers, large producers, independent businesses and large corporations to help them pursue more humane animal husbandry practices and source from higher welfare farms and ranches, making it even easier for consumers to shop responsibly. Among these, Whole30® became the first dietary program to commit to comprehensive animal welfare standards with additional new commitments from Chop't Creative Salad Co., ButcherBox, Serenity Kids, and more.

Friday December 27 Ag News

Increased Ag Trade Deals at the Top of Nebraska Corn’s Christmas List

As 2020 approaches, many farmers across the state are breathing a collective sigh of relief as one of the most challenging years in recent memory is drawing to a close. Extreme weather throughout 2019, stagnant farm incomes, EPA’s waivers to oil refiners and trade disputes have led to a year of uncertainty for the agricultural industry. Fortunately, as 2019 wraps up, there have been positive movements on the trade front, which corn farmers are hopeful will lead to a productive 2020.

Late last week, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted in favor of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) paving the way for increased market access to two of the largest customers of Nebraska’s corn and corn-related products. In fact, total Nebraska ag exports to Canada and Mexico equate to $1.46 billion, with corn exports totaling over $402 million, ethanol at $96 million and distillers grains at $27 million.

“We’re glad the House was able to work in a bipartisan way to do what was good for American agriculture,” said David Bruntz, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board (NCB) and farmer from Friend. “We’ve been waiting for this agreement for a long time, so we’re looking forward to its rapid approval by the Senate in early-January.”

The NCB and the Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) are pleased with the ratification of the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement, which will take effect Jan. 1, 2020. Japan is the No. 2 buyer of U.S. corn, purchasing more than $2 billion in the most recent marketing year. The agreement reduces U.S. corn imports for all purposes to a zero-level tariff and includes a staged tariff reduction for U.S. ethanol and corn. U.S. feed and food corn, corn gluten feed and distillers grains will continue to receive duty-free market access.

Finally, Nebraska’s corn industry is encouraged by a potential trade agreement with China. The U.S. and China recently announced “Phase one” of an agreement that reduces some U.S. tariffs. In return, U.S. officials say China will purchase significantly more American agricultural products.

“The trade landscape has been perplexing for some time, but I think we’re beginning to see real progress,” said Dan Nerud, president of the NeCGA and farmer from Dorchester. “I’m hopeful recent agreements will all be positive for our ag industry in Nebraska and can also be used as templates for future agreements with other partners.”

NCB and NeCGA are thankful and appreciative for our state’s congressional delegation for their continued support of fair and free ag trade.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               As the year ends, it helps to look back at the good and bad of this year’s production and learn what might be done better next year.

               For example, did you take an extra late cutting of alfalfa last fall because of good September and October growth?  I’ll bet that hay was super quality, so either sell it for a premium price or use it only for special feeding situations.  This coming spring, though, it may grow a little slower at first.  If so, let it start to bloom before cutting.

               Did your pastures or hay fields receive flood damage?  Many of these sites need reseeding.  Carefully consider what you will plant and then obtain the seed.  Then make sure you, your planting equipment, and the field is ready when planting time comes.

               Even without flooding, remember how wet and cool it was last spring?  Maybe you ran out of hay and damaged pastures by grazing muddy fields.  Extra hay, sacrifice pasture areas, or rapid movement through multiple paddocks may reduce problem damage if it happens again.    

               With all the rain last year, you may have had plenty of grazing available all season or even extra for winter grazing.  You probably could have had even more grazing available if you planned ahead.

               More likely this year, though, it will be drier.  Normally, when do your pastures run out?  Mid-summer?  Late summer?  Fall?  You have plenty of options among annual forages to fill any gaps – forages like sudangrass, pearl millet, oats, and turnips.  Plant, and use these temporary feeds when your other pastures are stressed so you have plenty of grazing for your cattle.  And maybe your regular pastures will bounce back quicker as well.

               We all can do better next year than we did this year.  One of the best ways to accomplish this goal is to look back to learn what we hope to do better in the future.  Have a Happy New Year.

2nd Annual Nebraska Cattlemen Gala

Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) invites everyone to attend our 2nd Annual NC Gala on January 11th, 2020 at Kirk’s Nebraskaland in Lexington, Nebraska beginning at 6:30pm CST. The evening will be filled with great food, entertainment and fundraising for the Nebraska Cattlemen Political Action Committee. Please consider sticking around after the program for the live band.

During the program there will be an auction. A few of the items being auctioned off are listed below:
    UNL Basketball Tickets
    Party Package
    BBQ Package
    Bruning Farms Sale Packet
    4 Tickets to NCAA World Series
    Gourmet Beef Dinner for Six in Friend
    Wall Hanging
    1 ton Alfalfa Pellets
    $100 Gift Card to the Fort – Columbus
    Cookie Package
    Wine Bottle Holder (includes 3 bottles of wine)

A huge thank you to all those who have donated to our NC Gala auction. You won’t want to miss this fun event, please mark your calendars for January 11th! Tickets can be purchased by calling (402) 475-2333 or at any Bruning Bank Location. You may also purchase tickets online at:

The NC State PAC helps ensure the interests of beef producers are maintained in Nebraska. The aim of the NC State PAC is to support candidates who champion the beef industry by making decisions about laws and regulations that enhance the business climate for profitable beef production in Nebraska and foster opportunities for expansion. NC will always be judicious with our contributions to support the strongest candidates regardless of party.

This event is sponsored by Neogen and the beef meal donated by Lone Creek Cattle.

USMEF Looks to Expand Pork Opportunities in Hong Kong

The U.S Meat Export Federation is planning to fill the fresh pork supply shortfall in Hong Kong with U.S. chilled pork. The African Swine Fever Virus caused the number of live hogs coming into Hong Kong from China to drop by fifty percent, with the numbers running below 2,000 head per day. “This has caused a shortage of local, fresh pork, and the fresh pork product that is available is being sold at much higher prices,” says Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific. He says the opportunity could benefit the U.S. industry in both the short and long term, as more Asian consumers get used to chilled pork. “The opportunity for more pork supplies has never been better,” Haggard adds. It does take a bit more time shipping to Hong Kong than it does to Japan and Korea. Also, the wet market vendors in the country will need to be taught the proper way to handle the vacuum-packaged chilled product. “The product will initially be sold in supermarket chains,” Haggard says. “More than 100 supermarkets in Hong Kong are selling U.S. chilled pork, along with some of the city’s traditional wet markets.” Haggard says this is the largest chilled pork distribution that USMEF has ever seen, calling it, “satisfying to see it finally come to fruition.”

Iowa Cattlemen's Association Sets 2020 Policy

In December, Iowa cattlemen from across the state gathered at the Iowa Cattle Industry Leadership Summit to determine policy priorities for 2020. This annual event is where the Association’s grassroot policy development takes place and policy for the following year is set to guide the direction and priorities of ICA.

ICA’s three policy committees (Business Issues, Cattle Production, and Beef Products) each met to take up interim policies, discuss new policy ideas, and review resolutions and directives that were scheduled to sunset this year. Together we reviewed, amended, and enacted more than 40 policies! The recommendations from the policy committees were presented and ratified the following day at the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association Annual Meeting.

The Policy Committee Meeting was led by Policy Committee Chairs: Mark Putney (Business Issues), Mike Schwarck (Cattle Production), and Tom Hiler (Beef Products), with the support and input from Vice-Chairs Bob Butcher (Business Issues), Matt Winters (Cattle Production), and Will Longinaker (Beef Products).

A big thank you to Mark and Bob as they finish their time as Chair and Vice-Chair of the Business Issues Committee. Your efforts to help guide policy development, inform membership, and lead ICA are appreciated.

Business Issues

In the Business Issues Committee discussion, members supported new policy focused on amending the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Master Manual to restore flood prevention and protection of property as top priorities. This policy specifically addressed concerns related to the regulation and management of the Missouri River, which remains top-of-mind for many of our producers who experienced flooding in the western part of the state earlier this year.

Much of the Business Issues Committee discussion was centered on anaerobic digestion and manure management best practices. These innovative policy recommendations, brought forth by ICA member Bryan Sievers, support the research and development of anaerobic digestion systems and similar technology, equitable monetization of dairy and beef cattle manure, and stewardship of our resources.

Cattle Production

The Cattle Production discussion began by reinstating current policy, including support for continuation of the 2019 Green/Gold Tag Task Force. This task force includes representation from the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association (IVMA), the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA), and producers. The purpose of this task force is to assess the efficacy of the current preconditioned, green tag, and gold tag programs, while considering potential improvements. We look forward to continuing this important discussion on into the new year.

Next, the discussion shifted to traceability. Per a directive, ICA has established a Traceability Task Force to list and weigh the pros and cons related to an animal disease traceability (ADT) system. Many members representing various sectors of the beef cattle industry have been actively engaged in this task force. The main focus of this task force is ADT, but other value-added opportunities have been discussed. Questions about technology, implementation, information management, and cost have been raised by members. The work of this task force will remain a priority for ICA due to rising concern surrounding foreign animal disease and potential for outbreaks.

Most of the Cattle Production Committee meeting was focused on cattle marketing, and more specifically, market transparency and negotiated cash trade. The Feedlot Council, comprised of 9 active producer-members from across the state, have held numerous meetings this fall to address cattle marketing concerns of Iowa cattlemen. ICA staff have diligently worked to provide members with access to information and opportunities for grassroots input. In October, ICA held five listening sessions throughout the state. These listening sessions were focused on market transparency and negotiated cash trade. ICA staff provided historical context, current policy, and potential policy solutions to participants. Most importantly, we dedicated time to hear your thoughts.

The listening sessions, in conjunction with an online survey to all members, helped inform the Feedlot Council meeting discussion on Dec. 4. Members discussed current cattle marketing issues, and reviewed a variety of policy proposals. The Council came to a consensus on a few new policy proposals, which were ultimately introduced to membership at Leadership Summit.

The first significant change included the introduction of a new directive to “examine programs that would provide an economic incentive for cash negotiated fed cattle sales.” Current ICA policy encourages membership as well as NCBA to require all major cattle feeding regions to market 50 percent of more of their cattle on negotiated cash trade, with the ultimate goal of increasing price discovery. While the Iowa/Minnesota region consistently trades over 50 percent negotiated cash, other regions, such as Texas/New Mexico/Oklahoma rarely exceed 10%.

The second policy change focused on increasing transparency in formula transactions, specifically by changing Livestock Mandatory Reporting requirements.

A third policy proposal supported adjustment of reporting regions that are utilized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). The Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act of 1999 requires USDA AMS to publish mandatory data on meat and livestock price trends, contracts, and supply and demand conditions to provide market transparency to the public, all while protecting the identity and transactions of reporting entities. In order to maintain confidentiality for said entities, the Livestock Mandatory Reporting program uses a confidentiality rule, also known as the 3/70/20 rule.

According to USDA AMS, the rule is as follows:
-  At least three reporting entities need to provide data at least 50 percent of the time over the most recent 60‐day time period;
-  No single reporting entity may provide more than 70 percent of the data for a report over the most recent 60‐day time period; and
-  No single reporting entity may be the sole reporting entity for an individual report more than 20 percent of the time over the most recent 60‐day time period.

Some states/regions do not meet these parameters, and therefore do not report out to the public. To help address this issue and improve market transparency, ICA supports combining Colorado and Wyoming for price reporting, and adding South Dakota and Illinois to the Iowa/Minnesota regional market.

The fourth policy proposal supports an 11:00 am daily report from USDA-AMS providing the average carcass weight of cattle harvested the previous day. This policy reflects current reporting that occurs in the swine industry, with a much greater volume of harvests in any given day.

Beef Products

The Beef Products Committee meeting, led by Tom Hiler, began by reinstating policies focused on food safety and consumer education.

When the opportunity presented for additional feedback from membership, engaged members brought forth discussion focused on Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (MCOOL). ICA staff provided brief context regarding MCOOL and current ICA policy, which supports the repeal of MCOOL that occurred in 2015. This lively discussion ultimately led to a proposal to establish a directive for the ICA Board of Directors to develop a task force to assess the potential market impact of MCOOL.

Former Co-Op Managers in IA Indicted for Blending Oats & Soybeans

Two former co-op officers in Sioux Center, Iowa, were indicted on federal charges of conspiracy to commit fraud for blending oats and soybeans, then making false statements to USDA officials.

According to an indictment filed on December 19 in the U.S. District Court in Sioux City, Kenneth Ehrp and Calvin Diehl both worked at a cooperative in Sioux Center, with Ehrp serving as the general manager and Diehl as the assistant general manager.

The two are accused of knowingly blending oats into soybeans and then hiding the fact from USDA inspectors from 2011 to April 2017. The practice of mixing grains is prohibited unless the grain is marked as “mixed grain” or unless the administrator of the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration grants an exemption. During the times relevant to the indictment, soybeans were more valuable than oats, with soybeans worth $9.69 and oats worth $2.39 on March 31, 2017, as an example.

Documents said the two would instruct employees to layer soybeans on top of oats in storage bins and in trucks. Furthermore, Diehl reportedly told a worker on April 10, 2017, to “blend oats at all times.” He also said to a warehouse examiner that he didn’t know why a pile of oats was next to a pile of soybeans at a satellite facility.

Around March 22, 2017, Ehrp and Diehl supervised workers who buried oats at the bottom of delivered truckloads only for the customer to discover and then reject the grain, according to the indictment.

Around March 30, 2017, Diehl is also said to have said the co-op only had 5,007 bushels of oats when they actually had more.

On two separate occasions around April 25, 2017, and March 31, 2017, Ehrp caused the cooperative’s controller to make a false statement, reporting that the property was overvalued. The indictments said this was done to influence the actions of a lender on a revolving operating loan.

Ehrp was charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and two counts of making false statements. Diehl was charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and one count of making false statements.

Ehrp served as the CEO and general manager of Farmer’s Cooperative Society of Sioux Center until April 28, 2017. He then sued the co-op on in March 2019 for $634,458.41 in past wages and to maintain his life insurance policies. The lawsuit is ongoing.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 12/20/2019

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending Dec. 20, ethanol production expanded by 19,000 barrels per day (b/d), or 1.8%, to 1.083 million b/d—equivalent to 45.49 million gallons daily and a 28-week high. The four-week average ethanol production rate continued its rise for the tenth consecutive week, up 0.6% to a five-month high of 1.070 million b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 16.40 billion gallons.

Ethanol stocks narrowed by 1.5% to 21.5 million barrels. Inventories were 7.2% lower than the same week last year. Stocks declined in all regions except the Midwest (PADD 2). Gulf Coast (PADD 3) stocks are the lowest in six months.

There were zero imports of ethanol recorded for the second straight week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of October 2019.)

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market settled 1.1% lower to 9.303 million b/d (390.73 million gallons per day, or 142.61 bg annualized). Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol scaled up 2.9% to 938,000 b/d—equivalent to 14.38 bg annualized.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production increased to 11.64%.

EPA Announces $1.5 Million to Reduce Diesel Engine Emissions

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Midwest Region (Region 7) will accept diesel emissions reduction proposals requesting up to $1.5 million from eligible applicants in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. EPA anticipates awarding approximately $44 million across the country in Diesel Emission Reduction Program (DERA) grant funding to eligible applicants.

DERA funding implements projects aimed at reducing emissions from the nation's existing fleet of older diesel engines.

"Modernizing our nation's aging fleet of diesel-powered vehicles is an important part of the Trump Administration's plan to further reduce harmful emissions and guide counties and states from nonattainment into attainment," said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. "Our hope is that through these upgrades and ongoing efforts, communities will continue to see improved health outcomes for their residents, ensuring all Americans breathe cleaner air."

Diesel-powered engines move approximately 90% of the nation's freight tonnage, and today nearly all highway freight trucks, locomotives, and commercial marine vessels are powered by diesel engines.

EPA is soliciting applications nationwide for projects that significantly reduce diesel emissions and exposure, especially from fleets operating at goods movements facilities in areas designated as having poor air quality. Those applicants in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska can contact Greg Crable, Region 7 air program, at (913) 551-7391 or

Applicants may request funding to upgrade or replace diesel-powered buses, trucks, marine engines, locomotives, and nonroad equipment with newer, cleaner technologies. Priority for funding will also be given to projects that engage and benefit local communities and applicants that demonstrate their ability to promote and continue efforts to reduce emissions after the project has ended.

EPA anticipates releasing a separate Tribal DERA grant funding opportunity in early 2020.

For more information, visit:

Thursday December 26 Ag News

Preparing the Cow Herd for Cold Weather
Larry Howard, NE Extension Educator, Cuming County

Moisture, high winds, and cold temperatures increase the cow's energy requirements. Cows in an optimal body condition score (BCS 5 to 6) are better able to withstand adverse environmental conditions. As a risk management strategy as we go into the winter, reduce the number of BCS 4 cows and increase the number of BCS 5 cows in your herd.

Another management strategy is to provide cattle with an area that provides wind protection. The lower critical temperature of a beef cow is the lowest temperature a cow can be exposed to before she needs to have metabolic changes to cope with cold stress.

Usually what happens metabolically is cows begin to shiver. These processes require extra energy. Lower critical temperature for beef cows is influenced by hair coat condition (dry or wet/muddy), body condition (thin, moderate, fleshy) and hair coat description. 

As hair coat changes from summer to winter, BCS changes from thin to fleshy, and hair coat changes from wet to dry, the lower critical temperature decreases which means cows can withstand harsher conditions without an increase in energy needs. Energy requirement increases about 1% for each degree of cold stress. As an example, cows that have a heavy winter hair coat that is dry and are in condition score of 5 have a lower critical temperature of 19°F.

Let's say, for the next week if the temperature next week is going to be 5°F and the wind at 15 mph, then the wind chill index is -10° F. At those environmental conditions, the energy needs of the herd increases by about 30%.

If the total digestible nutrients (TDN) requirements of the cows are 12 pounds of TDN per head per day for this week, you would consider bumping the ration to 15.5 lb/hd/day. This is an increase in 3.5 pounds of TDN per head per day. If grass hay is 57% TDN, that's an increase of about 6 lb/hd/day on a dry matter basis.  However if, the hay is 88% dry matter, that would mean each cow receives an additional 7 lb/hd/day. If these cows were being fed 24 lb/hd/day under current conditions, could they eat 31 lb/hd/day during the harsh weather conditions? For a 1200 pound cow, this calculates to about 2.3% of her body weigh on a dry matter basis to maintain body condition.

Be very careful if you plan to use grains (corn) to increase the energy density of the diet during severe conditions as you may do more harm than good. Feeding more than 2-3 lb/hd/day of corn to cows on a forage based diet will decrease fiber digestion. When cows are on a forage-based diet and supplemental energy is needed, consider the use of high energy, non-starch feed stuffs such as distillers grains and soy hulls to meet cow energy requirements. It is not advisable to change rations daily, but if is predicted that weather conditions will be severe over a period of time then ration changes may be warranted.

CVA Announces Jeremy Lee as SVP of Grain

Central Valley Ag (CVA) is pleased to announce Jeremy Lee as Senior Vice President of Grain. He will be responsible for leading the grain division of CVA, focused on providing the best markets to local producers in the challenging grain marketing environment. Lee comes to CVA from Mid-South AG of the Lawrence Group in Wilson, Arkansas. where he held the position of CFO/COO.

Central Valley Ag’s grain division has access to every major market west of the Mississippi, allowing them to provide competitive bids to patrons. Lee will lead the Grain Specialists at CVA. They are the frontline grain buyers for the company and help customers find the best way to sell their grain.

“Jeremy has a very diverse background in agriculture serving coops, banking, and private ag companies,” said Carl Dickinson, CEO of Central Valley Ag. “I am very excited to have him join our leadership team. He is a terrific entrepreneurial leader that shares the values of our cooperative.”

“I’m very excited to join the CVA team,” said Lee. “I look forward to working with the grain division to continue providing outstanding service and marketing opportunities for CVA patrons.”

Lee holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and financial management from the University of North Dakota. He started working at CVA in early December.

CVA Hosts Annual Meeting

Central Valley Ag Cooperative (CVA) recently hosted its Annual Meeting at the Holthus Convention Center in York, Nebraska, on November 25, 2019, for member-owners to review the fiscal year. CVA reported $8.7 million in Total Profit from $1.4 billion in total sales for their fiscal year 2019, ending on August 31, 2019.

“I am really proud of the job our employees did,” said Carl Dickinson, CEO/President of Central Valley Ag. “This was an extremely difficult year with floods, rain, and many challenging conditions for the entire industry.” Despite those challenges, CVA reported an over $9.0 Million increase in working capital from 2018.

“CVA has built a balance sheet to withstand the difficult times in agriculture, ensuring your cooperative will be there to serve future generations of producers,” said Dave Beckman, CVA Board Chairman.

The cooperative also invested $42.6 Million in several capital improvement and expansion projects to better serve patrons. “We’re here to add value and help our farmers in their operations – both in easing their workload, reducing the stress. To ultimately make more profits, raise more bushels,” said Dickinson. “It’s about us getting up every day in an ever-changing world and saying, “What do we need to do to add value today?”.”

At the meeting, CVA announced the election of Dave Beckman, Pat Wemhoff, Randy Johnson, Ron Benson, Mark Philips and Jacob Porter to serve on their Board of Directors.

Three new associate board members were announced at the meeting:
    Grant Schmidt - Henderson, NE
    Derek Applebee - Akron, IA
    Ryan May – Hunter, KS

CVA relies on its Board of Directors to position the cooperative for future success and profitability for member-owners. CVA’s Board of Directors is made up of local agricultural producers who are recognized for their industry expertise, as well as economic and community development skills.

“Serving on the CVA Co-op Board prompts me to take a wider view of agriculture, which I value and enjoy,” said Jacob Porter, CVA Board of Director from Mankato, Kansas. “It’s exciting to be a part of, and I believe producer-owned cooperatives are necessary for a healthy marketplace for agricultural inputs and products.”

Feedlot Forum Explores Marketing Challenges, Expectations

Feedlot Forum 2020 will be held Jan. 14, 8:30 a.m.-3:15 p.m., at the Terrace View Event Center, Sioux Center. The event marks the 17th year for the program co-hosted by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Iowa Beef Center, the Sioux, Lyon and Plymouth County Cattlemen's Associations, and the Iowa Cattlemen's Association.

Feedlot Forum is an opportunity for feedlot producers and allied agribusiness professionals to receive the latest information on beef production and marketing. The program features several industry-leaders as speakers, agribusiness sponsor displays, a steak dinner and a $10 beef certificate for attendees.

"The feedlot industry has had its share of challenges, including restricted processing capacity, high export tariffs and plant proteins competing for the center of the consumer's plate," said Beth Doran, beef program specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. "Coupled with these challenges, the consumer also has expectations. They want assurance that their beef is produced with attention to animal stewardship and environmental sustainability, and that it is nutritious and high quality."

Keynote speakers and their topics are:
- Kim Stackhouse-Lawson, director of sustainability, JBS USA, presenting "Customer Expectations of Today."
- Greg Hanes, Cattlemen's Beef Board CEO, "International Customer Expectations and Your Checkoff."
- Colin Woodall, National Cattlemen's Beef Association CEO, "NCBA's Role in Marketing Issues."
- Andrew Gottschalk, R.J. O'Brien and Associates senior vice president and LLC president, "Herd Expansion Ends, What's Next?"

Attendees will also hear brief updates on the Iowa Beef Industry Council's efforts to increase consumer demand and the Iowa Cattlemen's Association's efforts to maintain market access for Iowa feedlot operators.

"Marketing has expanded beyond the farm gate to include not only state and national venues, but now an expansive international focus," Doran said. "The goal of this forum is to help today's producer learn what it will take to be competitive in the future."

The forum features 26 agribusiness sponsor displays with the latest in cattle products, technology and services, all of which are available to cattle producers.

Registration for Feedlot Forum 2020 is $25 per person with a discounted price of $10 for students. Registration is due to the ISU Extension and Outreach Sioux County office (400 Central Ave. NW, Suite 700, Orange City, IA 51041) no later than Jan. 9.

For more information, contact Doran at 712-737-4230 or

Plant Engineering Research Breakthrough Could Boost Productivity


Photosynthesis research from the University of Illinois and U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service has been gaining global attention. The work of Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE) has been featured by Reuters, BBC, Science Daily, The Japan Times and many others.  The study is part of an international project to boost global food production sustainably.

Changing the way crops like soybeans, rice and wheat process sunlight has the potential to increase yields by 40 percent, according to the researchers’ report published in the journal Science.

These crops, along with fruits and vegetables, use the C3 photosynthesis process, which has a natural “glitch” or inefficiency in the use of energy as resources.

“We could feed up to 200 million additional people with the calories lost to photorespiration in the Midwestern U.S. each year,” said principal investigator Donald Ort, the Robert Emerson Professor of Plant Science and Crop Sciences at Illinois’ Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology in a press release. “Reclaiming even a portion of these calories across the world would go a long way to meeting the 21st Century’s rapidly expanding food demands—driven by population growth and more affluent high-calorie diets.”

Researchers inserted genes from bacteria, green algae and other plants into tobacco plants, shortcutting the C3 photosynthesis process. Two years of replicated field trials found that these engineered plants developed faster, grew taller, and saved enough energy to increase productivity by 40 percent in real-world conditions.

According to Paul South, lead author and a research molecular biologist with the Agricultural Research Service, “Photosynthesis is nearly identical in plants, so we expect that benefits observed in tobacco will result in changes to food crops.”

The team is now translating these findings to boost the yield of soybeans, rice, potatoes, and other crops.

“It takes 10 to 15 years for technologies like this to undergo rigorous regulatory approval process, which examines engineered crops for health and environmental impacts. Thus, it is all the more urgent to invest in these types of technologies today,” said South.

According to Timothy Searchinger, lecturer at Princeton University and senior fellow at the World Resources Institute who authored a recent report on sustainable food systems, the latest findings provide “important, promising work as it may open up new ways to expand crop yields.”

Many innovations in agriculture, come with costly intellectual property rights, but RIPE and its sponsors, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, are committed to ensuring that smallholder farmers, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, will have royalty-free access to all of the project’s breakthroughs.  According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, smallholder farmers provide up to 80 percent of the food supply in those regions.

Fertilizer Prices Continue to Move Lower

Average retail fertilizer prices continued to shift lower the third week of December 2019, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.

All eight of the major fertilizers were lower in price from a month earlier, but none were considerably lower. DTN designates a significant price move as 5% or more.

DAP had an average price of $444 per ton, MAP $460/ton, potash $378/ton, urea $377/ton, 10-34-0 $469/ton, anhydrous $487/ton, UAN28 $239/ton and UAN32 $276/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.41/lb.N, anhydrous $0.30/lb.N, UAN28 $0.43/lb.N and UAN32 $0.43/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are mixed in price from a year ago. Both MAP and anhydrous are now 14% less expensive, DAP is 13% lower, UAN28 is 10% less expensive, UAN32 is 9% lower, urea is 7% lower and 10-34-0 is 3% less expensive from last year at this time. In addition, potash is 1% higher more expensive compared to last year.

USDA Announces Pilot Insurance Coverage for Hemp Growers

USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) today announced a new crop insurance option for hemp growers in select counties of 21 states in 2020.  The pilot insurance program will provide Actual Production History (APH) coverage under 508(h) Multi-Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI) for eligible producers in certain counties in Alabama, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The MPCI coverage is for hemp grown for fiber, grain or CBD oil for the 2020 crop year. It is in addition to the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection coverage available to hemp growers announced earlier this year.

“We are excited to offer coverage to certain hemp producers in this pilot program,” said RMA Administrator Martin Barbre. “Since this is a pilot program, we look forward to feedback from producers on the program in the coming crop year.”

The 2018 Farm Bill amended the Controlled Substances Act to address how industrial hemp is to be defined and regulated at the federal level, and those modifications cleared the way for the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation to offer policies for it. The Farm Bill defines hemp as containing 0.3 percent or less tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on a dry-weight basis.

To be eligible for the MPCI pilot program, among other requirements, a hemp producer must comply with applicable state, tribal or federal regulations for hemp production, have at least one year of history producing the crop, and have a contract for the sale of the insured hemp. Producers also must be a part of a Section 7606 state or university research pilot, as authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, or be licensed under a state, tribal or federal program approved under the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) interim final rule issued in October 2019. The MPCI provisions state that hemp having THC above the federal statutory compliance level will not constitute an insurable cause of loss. Additionally, hemp will not qualify for replant payments or prevented plant payments under MPCI.

In addition, beginning with the 2021 crop year, hemp will be insurable under the Nursery crop insurance program and the Nursery Value Select pilot crop insurance program. Under both programs, hemp will be insurable if grown in containers and in accordance with federal regulations, any applicable state or tribal laws, and terms of the crop insurance policy.

More information on the MPCI pilot will be available in 2020. Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents.

Monday December 23 Hogs & Pigs Report + Ag News


Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on December 1, 2019, was 3.75 million head, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. This was up 6 percent from December 1, 2018, but unchanged from September 1, 2019.

Breeding hog inventory, at 440,000 head, was unchanged from December 1, 2018, but down 2 percent from last quarter. Market hog inventory, at 3.31 million head, was up 6 percent from last year, and up slightly from last quarter.

The September - November 2019 Nebraska pig crop, at 2.22 million head, was down slightly from 2018. Sows farrowed during the period totaled 190,000 head, down 3 percent from last year. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.70 for the September - November period, compared to 11.45 last year.

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 190,000 sows during the December 2019 - February 2020 quarter, up 3 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago. Intended farrowings for March - May 2020 are 190,000 sows, down 5 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago.


On December 1, 2019, there were 24.8 million hogs and pigs on Iowa farms, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Hogs and Pigs report. Inventory is up 5 percent from the previous year, and is a record December 1 inventory.

The September-November quarterly pig crop was 6.02 million head, down 113,000 head from the previous quarter and 6 percent below last year. A total of 530,000 sows farrowed during this quarter. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.35, equal to last quarter.

As of December 1, producers planned to farrow 520,000 sows and gilts in the December 2019-February 2020 quarter and 520,000 head during the March-May 2020 quarter.

United States Hog Inventory Up 3 Percent

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on December 1, 2019 was 77.3 million head. This was up 3 percent from December 1, 2018, but down slightly from September 1, 2019.   Breeding inventory, at 6.46 million head, was up 2 percent from last year, and up slightly from the previous quarter.  Market hog inventory, at 70.9 million head, was up 3 percent from last year, but down slightly from last quarter.

The September-November 2019 pig crop, at 35.1 million head, was up 2 percent from 2018. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 3.17 million head, down 1 percent from 2018. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 49 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high of 11.09 for the September-November period, compared to 10.76 last year.

United States hog producers intend to have 3.13 million sows farrow during the December 2019-February 2020 quarter, up 1 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period one year earlier, and up 5 percent from the same period two years earlier. Intended farrowings for March-May 2020, at 3.15 million sows, are up slightly from the same period one year earlier, and up 3 percent 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 48 percent of the total United States hog inventory, unchanged from the previous year.

Cuming County Farm Service Agency Announces County Committee Election Results

Cuming County U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that Cassandra Guenther of Bancroft was elected to represent her local administrative area (LAA) during the recent county committee election.

“County Committee members are a critical component of the day-to-day operations of FSA,” said Sarah Beck, County Executive Director. “They help deliver programs at the county level and work to serve the needs of local producers. All recently elected county committee members will take office in January 2020 and will be joining the existing committee.” 

Every FSA office is served to by a county committee made up of local farmers, ranchers and foresters who are elected by local producers. Nearly 7,800 FSA county committee members serve FSA offices nationwide. Each committee has three to 11 elected members who serve three-year terms of office.

County committee members impact the administration of FSA within a community by applying their knowledge and judgment to help FSA make important decisions on its commodity support programs, conservation programs, indemnity and disaster programs, emergency programs and eligibility.

County committee members impact producers through their decision making and help shape the culture of a local FSA office. They also ensure the fair and equitable administration of FSA farm programs in their counties and are accountable to the Secretary of Agriculture. Members conduct hearings and reviews as requested by the state committee, ensure underserved farmers, ranchers and foresters are fairly represented, make recommendations to the state committee on existing programs, monitor changes in farm programs and inform farmers of the purpose and provisions of FSA programs. They also assist with outreach and inform underserved producers such as beginning farmers, ranchers and foresters, about FSA opportunities.

Organic Grain Production Topic of January 30 Workshop

An organic farming workshop on January 30 will assist growers who are seeking information on what is required to grow organic corn, soybeans, wheat, grain sorghum and forage crops.

Nebraska Extension Educator, Keith Glewen says this program is geared for those individuals who wish to learn more about the components of successful organic grain production.  He says, “Extension professionals across Nebraska have experienced an uptick in the number of questions pertaining to organic grain production. Therefore, we are providing this educational program as an attempt to answer questions and provide additional information as it relates to getting starting in this growing industry”.

The “Starting an Organic Grain Farming Operation – What You Need to Know” workshop will take place on Thursday, Jan. 30 at the University of Nebraska Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead, Nebraska from 9 a.m. – 3:15 p.m. with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m.

The workshop features speakers experienced in various facets of organic crop production and marketing.  Nebraska Extension Educator, Gary Lesoing says, “The presenters have a wealth of experience with organic farming. They will provide important information about the transition to organic farming and tools for success for farming organically.”

Topics and presenters include:  The Mental Transitioning from Conventional to Organic Farming - Dave Welsch - Certified Organic Farmer since 1993, Milford, NE; Organic Certification- From Application to Certification Decisions - Clayton Blagburn, Certification Specialist, OneCert Organization Inc., Lincoln, NE; Organic Grain Marketing - Alex Wolf, Scoular Organic Grain Manager, Omaha, NE; and The Importance of Cover Crops in an Organic Rotation - Jim Starr, Joel & Jim Starr Partnership, Hastings, NE.  Joel Gruver, Associate Professor of Soil Science and Sustainability Ag – Western Illinois University will speak on two topics - Farming System Strategies for Success in Organics and Weed Management in Organic Row Crops.

The program will conclude with a speakers panel with the opportunity to interact with those directly involved in organic grain farming.

There is no fee to attend, but must pre-register by 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 28 to ensure resource materials are available and for meal planning purposes.  Seating is limited.  Registration and more information available at:

Sponsored by Nebraska Extension and the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education.

USMCA will hurt Nebraska ranchers

The Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska continue to oppose the pending U.S.- Mexico-Canada trade agreement because it will open the doors to more burdensome supplies of beef in the U.S. beef market.

Not only that, because there is no country-of-origin label provision in the agreement, packers can import Canadian and Mexican beef into the U.S., process and market it as a product of the United States.

The USMCA trade agreement will also heighten the annual beef trade deficit. The average annual trade deficit in cattle and beef products with Canada and Mexico has been $1.4 billion during the years of NAFTA (1994-2018), according to the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund – United Stockgrowers of America, citing information from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.

The size of trade deficit flies in the face of President Trump’s efforts to Make America Great Again.

The United States imports more beef than any other country in the world, ICON President Jim Dinklage said.

“At times, the U.S. is a net import beef country, meaning that we import more live and raw unprocessed beef than we export,” Dinklage said. “Packers can bring in beef from other countries, depress the U.S. market, and then falsely label it as U.S. beef. It’s a sweet deal for them, but a raw deal for ranchers. Live feeder calf markets are down $150-$200 per head from last year.”

Congress could soften the detrimental impact of U.S beef imports by requiring country-of-origin labels. The labels would allow consumers to know where their beef comes from.

Since NAFTA was enacted, 20% of America’s cattle producers, 25% of U.S. livestock auction yards, 48 meatpacking plants and 75% of all U.S. cattle feedlots have gone out of business, according to R-CALF / USA.

The USMCA has not yet been ratified by the U.S. Senate. It can still be modified, similar to the way that stronger labor standards, enforcement mechanisms, and improvements to environmental protection were added to the agreement before it came up for a vote Dec. 19 in the U.S. House of Representatives.

ICON urges cattlemen to call their senators and tell them not to support the USMCA unless it requires country of origin labels for beef.

NE Agri-Business Assoc. 2020 Soil School

February 5th and 6th, 2020
Quality Inn and Conference Center, Grand Island, NE

Soils School 2020: An Advanced Topics Shortcourse, co-sponsored by the  Institute Agriculture and Natural Resources of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Nebraska Agri-Business Association will be on February 5th and 6th  at the Quality Inn and Conference Center in Grand Island, NE.

Soils School 2020 has been specifically designed for employees to go into depth about the topics of soil.  Leading experts from the University of Nebraska will be presenting the latest up-to-date information.

The price for registration is $300.00 for NeABA and $400.00 for non-members. The registration fee includes lunch for both days, breaks, and handouts.  Please contact us at the Association Office with any questions at 402-476-1528 or at  To register online, go here....

Free Farm Finance and Ag Law Clinics this January

Free legal and financial clinics are being offered for farmers and ranchers at five sites across the state in January. 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.

Clinic Sites and Dates
    Norfolk — Friday, January 3
    Fairbury — Friday, January 10
    North Platte — Thursday, January 16
    Norfolk — Wednesday, January 22
    Valentine — Thursday, January 23

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, Legal Aid of Nebraska, North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center, and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

AGP Commends Passage of Biodiesel Tax Incentive

Ag Processing Inc a cooperative (AGP) commends Congressional leaders for passage of a five-year extension of the federal biodiesel tax incentive, which was signed and enacted into law by President Trump late on Friday of last week.  Passage of the extension, included as a component of the FY 2020 government funding package, was the result of many biodiesel producers and stakeholders working together at the grassroots level and in Washington, DC to support this vital industry.  The $1.00/gallon biodiesel tax incentive, which expired in 2017, was extended retroactively for 2018 and 2019 and will be in place for calendar years 2020, 2021, and 2022.  

AGP’s Chief Executive Officer Keith Spackler welcomed the extension and said “We want to thank our Congressional supporters for their efforts to move this five-year extension forward at a time of uncertainty for the biofuels industry.  AGP has long supported biodiesel and its importance to farmers, AGP, and AGP’s cooperative member-owners cannot be overstated.  We look forward to the positive impact the extension of the biodiesel tax incentive will have on soybean prices and U.S. biodiesel production.”  

Troy Alberts, Senior Vice President for Refined Oils and Renewable Fuels and a member of the National Biodiesel Board’s Governing Committee, spoke about the market dynamics of the biodiesel industry and AGP’s leading presence, as both a biodiesel producer and feedstock provider.  “The multi-year extension will support and provide certainty for AGP’s integrated soybean processing platform and improve demand for soybean oil used in the production of biodiesel.  Soybean oil is currently the primary feedstock for the industry.”  Alberts also noted the important role the biofuels industry has in supporting farmers, rural American jobs, and providing cleaner-burning fuels for the environment.


All layers in Nebraska during November 2019 totaled 9.13 million, up from 8.31 million the previous year, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.  Nebraska egg production during November totaled 225 million eggs, up from 203 million in 2018. November egg production per 100 layers was 2,469 eggs, compared to 2,444 eggs in 2018.

IOWA:  Iowa egg production during November 2019 was 1.42 billion eggs, down 3 percent from last month but up 3 percent from last year, according to the latest Chickens and Eggs report from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The average number of all layers on hand during November 2019 was 58.0 million, up 1 percent from last month but down 1 percent from last year. Eggs per 100 layers for November were 2,443, down 4 percent from last month but up 3 percent from last year.

November Egg Production Up 4 Percent

United States egg production totaled 9.50 billion during November 2019, up 4 percent from last year. Production included 8.32 billion table eggs, and 1.17 billion hatching eggs, of which 1.09 billion were broiler-type and 87.9 million were egg-type. The average number of layers during November 2019 totaled 402 million, up 2 percent from last year. November egg production per 100 layers was 2,364 eggs, up 2 percent from November 2018.
Total layers in the United States on December 1, 2019 totaled 403 million, up 2 percent from last year. The 403 million layers consisted of 341 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 58.9 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs, and 3.55 million layers producing egg-type hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on December 1, 2019, averaged 78.6 eggs per 100 layers, up 1 percent from December 1, 2018.

Egg-Type Chicks Hatched Up 2 Percent

Egg-type chicks hatched during November 2019 totaled 47.9 million, up 2 percent from November 2018. Eggs in incubators totaled 47.9 million on December 1, 2019, down 5 percent from a year ago.  Domestic placements of egg-type pullet chicks for future hatchery supply flocks by leading breeders totaled 198 thousand during November 2019, down 18 percent from November 2018.

Broiler-Type Chicks Hatched Up 4 Percent

Broiler-type chicks hatched during November 2019 totaled 795 million, up 4 percent from November 2018. Eggs in incubators totaled 709 million on December 1, 2019, up 2 percent from a year ago. Leading breeders placed 8.17 million broiler-type pullet chicks for future domestic hatchery supply flocks during November 2019, up 3 percent from November 2018.

Yersinia Infections Taking Advantage of Beef Cattle

Russ Daly – South Dakota State University Extension Veterinarian

Of all the germs associated with cattle illnesses during the challenging summer and fall, a pathogen that’s not one of the usual suspects has been identified in several cases of cattle death losses in Eastern South Dakota.

Historically, the bacteria Yersinia pseudotuberculosis has been found in a wide variety of animal species, but only rarely associated with disease. Cattle, sheep, goats, deer, dogs, and cats are some of the animals the germ’s been found in. Because it’s so common, yet apparently not very dangerous by itself, many consider it to be an opportunist – a germ that only causes illness in animals debilitated from other reasons. As it turns out, the environmental conditions present in much of the area have likely contributed to its emergence, also.

Yersinia pseudotuberculosis was identified in three cases from different farms across eastern South Dakota submitted to the South Dakota Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Lab during November, 2019. Veterinarians had been called out by producers to investigate cattle that quickly went downhill after the sudden onset of illness.

The most common sign in affected animals in each case was severe diarrhea, resulting in rapid weight loss and death. The sick cattle included beef cows on pastures and 2 separate groups of 8-month old and 4-month old Holstein calves. Numbers of sick animals within groups ranged from 7 out of 100, 15/200, and 16/60.

When veterinarians performed necropsy examinations on the dead animals, the findings were similar across these geographically-separated animal groups. Inflammation in the small and large intestines and enlarged lymph nodes in the gut were consistent findings.

The clinical signs, as well as the necropsy findings, had veterinarians thinking about another, more common infection that causes diarrhea and death losses in cattle: Salmonella. But cultures at the lab were negative for this germ. The diarrhea in the cow herd had vets thinking about Johne’s Disease – but animals usually don’t die so rapidly from Johne’s Disease. The identification of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis was the common thread.

Another common thread, however, was that animals in all 3 of these cases had other health issues, notably pneumonia. In one of the cases, calves had been dealing with chronic pneumonia prior to the onset of the diarrhea. In the cases submitted to the diagnostic lab, the pneumonia present in the animals was not severe enough to cause illness, let alone death. But it did illustrate that affected cattle were dealing with other infections at the time they succumbed to the Yersinia infection.

The environments these animals resided in likely played a role, too. The beef cow herd was still grazing a pasture that had been flooded this summer and fall. One of the Holstein groups was housed in a bedded pack that was extremely wet and manure-filled. While many intestinal germs thrive in warm weather, Yersinia pseudotuberculosis prefers wet, cold conditions. Therefore, its growth can outstrip that of other germs on cold wet pastures or bedded packs this time of year.

It’s also worth pointing out that Yersinia pseudotuberculosis can make people sick also, causing symptoms similar to food poisoning. It’s always important to take cleanliness precautions after working with cattle, especially sick ones.

Fortunately, veterinarians got good responses when they used certain antibiotics to treat sick animals on the affected farms. Since no vaccine exists for Yersinia infections, prevention has to focus on other methods. While wet pastures might be hard to avoid in certain areas, keeping bedding clean and dry will diminish the environmental growth of this germ. Taking steps to decrease draining illnesses such as pneumonia will also help cattle to avoid this opportunistic germ.

It appears that these Yersinia infections are another gut-punch from Mother Nature after a summer and fall of wet, cool weather. It’s worth keeping this illness in mind as you care for your cattle this fall and winter and enlisting the aid of your veterinarian when this – or any other illness – is suspected in your cattle.

USDA Cold Storage November 2019 Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers on November 30, 2019 were down 2 percent from the previous month but up 2 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were up 3 percent from the previous month but down 7 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were down 6 percent from the previous month but up 13 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were up 14 percent from last month and up 40 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on November 30, 2019 were down 10 percent from the previous month but up 1 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were up 4 percent from the previous month and up 7 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were down 42 percent from last month and down 17 percent from November 30, 2018.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on November 30, 2019 were down 1 percent from the previous month and down 2 percent from November 30, 2018.  Butter stocks were down 23 percent from last month but up 17 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks were down 6 percent from last month and down 7 percent from a year ago.  Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 3 percent from last month and down 1 percent from a year ago.

USDA Report Affirms Feasibility of Dealer Trust 

A Dealer Statutory Trust would improve the recovery of livestock sellers in a dealer payment default while also allowing commerce to continue as usual, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report released December 20.

In the 2018 Farm Bill, Congress instructed USDA to examine the feasibility of establishing a livestock Dealer Statutory Trust and provide a report within one year. Based on its analysis of industry data, public input, and experience with the livestock industry, USDA finds that it would be feasible to implement a livestock Dealer Statutory Trust.

Under current law, farmers, ranchers, and livestock auctions have been devastated when livestock dealers default on payment. The sellers often do not have the ability to get the livestock back for which they were not paid and recover little from the dealer’s bond. While the Eastern Livestock default, which cost livestock sellers tens of millions of dollars, is the best-known example of this, the USDA report analyzes 82 additional dealer defaults occurring from October 1, 2013 – June 30, 2019.

A Dealer Statutory Trust would give unpaid sellers of livestock the legal right to reclaim livestock or, if they have been resold, proceeds from livestock in the unfortunate event of a livestock dealer payment default. The USDA report finds existing statutory trusts in other segments of agriculture (sales of livestock to packers as well as poultry, fruit, and vegetables sales) are effective in improving financial recoveries and similar results could be expected under a livestock Dealer Statutory Trust.

“We appreciate the in-depth analysis of USDA on this important issue,” said Livestock Marketing Association President Tom Frey. “These findings will be helpful as we work with Congress in 2020 to get livestock auctions and producers the increased certainty and predictability of payment they deserve.”

Creation of a Dealer Trust is supported by the livestock industry, including the Livestock Marketing Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, United States Cattlemen’s Association, American Sheep Industry Association, and American Farm Bureau Federation. Prior to the 2018 Farm Bill calling for the USDA report, the bipartisan Securing All Livestock Equitably (SALE) Act, which would have created a Dealer Statutory Trust, was introduced in the House and Senate.

Additional key findings in the USDA report include:
-    A Dealer Statutory Trust could improve sellers' chances of obtaining full recoveries.
    Under a Dealer Statutory Trust, livestock purchase payments made to sellers within 90 days before a dealer files bankruptcy would not be considered preferential transfers and could not be reclaimed from sellers.
-    Establishment of a livestock Dealer Statutory Trust would likely have little effect on buyer and seller behavior in livestock markets. In general, commerce would continue as usual.
-    Implementation of a livestock Dealer Statutory Trust would be unlikely to significantly impact credit availability or lender behavior.

Registration Open for Cover Crops Conference

Registration is open for the Midwest Cover Crops Council Annual Conference, Feb. 11-12 in Kansas City, Mo.

The event will be at the KCI Expo Center, says Charles Ellis, University of Missouri Extension field specialist in agricultural engineering. Ellis also serves on the MCCC board of directors. Twelve states and one Canadian province belong to the council.

Ellis says the conference will have sessions on both row crop and cattle operations due to the large number of producers in the Kansas City area producing both grain and livestock.

Event sponsors include MU Extension, K-State Research and Extension, University of Nebraska Extension and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Speakers include faculty from MU, University of Nebraska, and Kansas State University, as well as cattle producers and representatives from NRCS and cattle companies. Sessions include:
- Selecting and Managing Cover Crops
- Weed and Herbicide Interactions Using Cover Crops
- Incorporating Cover Crops in Cattle Operations
- Cover Crop Environmental and Economic Benefits
- Cash Crop Interactions With Cover Crops
- Farmer Panel Discussion

Sessions will look at using cover crops in row crop production, livestock and grazing, as well as environmental and economic issues. Details are available at The meeting is open to the public.

Register online at or Learn more about MCCC and cover crops at

Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. Wraps Up 2019 by Reaching Consumers more than 1 Billion times with Content Showcasing Real Beef and Real Farmers and Ranchers

 Two years after it was relaunched, the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand has had a reach of more than 1 billion consumers with drool worthy and informative digital marketing and social media content. Funded by the Beef Checkoff and developed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand aims to inspire families to explore their culinary talents with nutritious and delicious beef, while connecting consumers with stories of the farmers and ranchers who raise real beef. 

Today, the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand is reaching more consumers more frequently and more effectively than ever before. According to market research, when people are aware of Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner., they are more likely to eat beef more often and feel good about purchasing and preparing beef for their families

“For a brand to have a reach of more than 1 billion in today’s crowded marketing environment is a major milestone,” said Laurie Munns, a cattle rancher from Hansel Valley, Utah and Federation Division Chairman, at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “This achievement also demonstrates the equity of the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand and its ability to continue to meet the needs of today’s discerning consumers. It’s clear that consumers want more information about beef’s great taste, its powerful nutrition profile and the hardworking farmers and ranchers that raise the beef they eat.”

Since the introduction of the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand more than 25 years ago, NCBA has continued to evolve marketing strategies and adapt to changing media landscapes. This evolution included a shift away from television advertising to focus on digital marketing efforts. Specifically, during the past two years, the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand has developed and executed several successful integrated digital marketing campaigns. A few highlights include:

Rethink the Ranch

Introduced in 2017 in conjunction with the relaunch of the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand, this campaign featured the people behind beef.  From farm to plate and everything in-between, this video series gave consumers a look inside the lives of real farmers and ranchers and how they continue to produce more high-quality beef more sustainably than ever before.

Nicely Done, Beef

This ongoing campaign highlights beef’s greatest assets - it’s pleasurable eating experience, the amazing people who raise beef and the nutrients beef provides. These messages are delivered through a consistent “nicely done” creative wrapper, with various ads communicating everything from “Nicely done, beef. You prove that meat substitutes are just that. Substitutes.” to “Nicely done, beef. You build strong muscles. No protein shake required.”

The Right Way

Lunched in October, this recent campaign from Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. introduces consumers to the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program, a  Beef Checkoff-funded voluntary program ensuring  U.S. beef is produced under stringent animal care standards, resulting in safe, high-quality meat.

Drool Log

To celebrate the holiday season, Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. put a spin on the iconic Yule Log with a new mouthwatering video. The two-hour long video features a beautiful prime rib roast cooking to perfection on a rotisserie over an open flame. 

Chuck Knows Beef

In addition to these, and many other creative and informative, campaigns, Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. created the first all-knowing beef virtual assistant, Chuck Knows Beef in 2018. Powered by Google Artificial Intelligence, Chuck can serve up recipes and answer a variety of beef-related questions – from nutrition, cut and cooking information to how beef is raised. Chuck can be accessed on a computer or smart phone at or through Amazon Alexa or Google Home smart devices.

As consumers continue to have an interest in where their food comes, the nutrients it provides and how to prepare it in new and innovative ways, the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand will serve as an informative, convenient and mouthwatering resource. Thanks to these ongoing efforts, consumers can continue to feel good about choosing beef for the center of their plates.

To learn more about Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. and see the brand’s latest marketing campaigns, visit


Full-Page Ad: Fake Meat or Dog Food.... Can you tell which is meant for human consumption?

Today, the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom placed a full-page ad in The Los Angeles Times questioning if the everyday consumer can tell the difference between the ingredients found in dog food and “plant-based” meats. This is the latest in a series of print and video ads raising awareness about fake meat.

Despite 76% of Americans believing fake meat is healthy, these products are ultra-processed synthetic imitations. According to the NOVA classification system, ultra-processed means “formulations of ingredients, mostly of exclusive industrial use, typically created by series of industrial techniques and processes.” The National Institutes of Health found that ultra-processed foods can cause weight gain and overeating, which can contribute to a motley of health problems.

Over the last six months, CCF has run ads in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other publications to debunk the “plant-based” myth. In addition, provides helpful tools and content that helps consumers better understand what’s in fake meat.

Court Approves Dean Foods Debtor-in-Possession Financing

Dean Foods Company announced that the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas has entered a final order granting the Company authority to access the full amount of its $850 million in debtor-in-possession ("DIP") financing. The Company had previously received interim approval from the Court to access up to $475 million of the DIP financing. The Court also granted all other relief sought, including providing final approvals for certain other of the Company's "First Day Motions" intended to support the business.

Eric Beringause, president and chief executive officer of Dean Foods, said, "We are pleased to have received final Court approval of our DIP credit facility. I can't thank our employees enough for their continued dedication and hard work, and our suppliers, customers and other partners for their support and patience as we move through this process. We remain focused on providing customers with an uninterrupted supply of high-quality dairy products."

As previously announced, Dean Foods and all of its wholly owned subsidiaries filed voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy code on Nov. 12.

Additional information is available on the restructuring page of the Company's website,

USDA Grants Mr. Claus Movement Permit in U.S.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today issued a movement permit to Mr. S. Nicholas Claus of the North Pole, a broker with Worldwide Gifts, Unlimited. The permit will allow reindeer to enter and exit the United States between the hours of 7 p.m. December 24, 2019 and 7 a.m. December 25, 2019, through or over any U.S. border port.

“With a growing world population, Mr. Claus will have his busiest Christmas yet. At USDA, we want to ensure we are not hindering Mr. Claus’ important work of spreading Christmas Cheer for all to hear,” said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “Ease of access into the United States for Mr. Claus and his nine reindeer will ensure that children all over the country – including my own fourteen grandchildren – will wake up on Christmas morning with joy and filled with the spirit of the season. USDA issued this permit in advance and waived all applicable fees to help ensure a smooth trip on Christmas Eve night.”

In addition to the normal disease testing requirements, flying reindeer must undergo additional tests to ensure they will be able to safely handle significant changes in altitude and temperature throughout their journey, and are fit for landing on rooftops. On this year’s health certificate, the accredited veterinarian noted that one of the reindeer named Rudolph was positive for “red nose syndrome,” however, it was also explained that this is normal for him and not an animal health concern. The veterinarian also verified the reindeer have been vaccinated against any diseases they could encounter on their trip around the world.

At the request of Mr. and Mrs. Claus, APHIS also completed a courtesy welfare and humane treatment check of the reindeer facility. Mr. Claus and his staff passed with flying colors.

They will arrive pulling a wooden sleigh with jingling bells attached, filled with brightly wrapped gifts. Port personnel will clean and disinfect the runners and underside of the sleigh at the time of entry, and will also conduct a short visual inspection of the reindeer. Mr. Claus will also have his boots disinfected and will thoroughly wash his hands. These measures are intended to prevent the entry of any livestock diseases the team may encounter during deliveries to farms around the world prior to entering the United States.

“It would be a disaster for Worldwide Gifts, Unlimited, if my reindeer were to unintentionally bring in foot and mouth disease along with all the gifts,” explained Mr. Claus. “Why, something like that could put me out of business. That’s why we work all year to keep the reindeer healthy and take all possible precautions before and during our trip.”

Mr. Claus has also provided an advance list of what port personnel should expect upon their arrival. This includes a variety of food items, all of which come from approved locations and none of which pose a threat to U.S. animal or plant health.

Friday December 20 Cattle on Feed Report + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.48 million cattle on feed on December 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was down 5 percent from last year. Placements during November totaled 520,000 head, unchanged from 2018. Fed cattle marketings for the month of November totaled 475,000 head, down 3 percent from last year. Other disappearance during November totaled 15,000 head, down 5,000 head from last year.


Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 690,000 head on December 1, 2019, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was up 5 percent from November 1, 2019, but down 1 percent from December 1, 2018. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head had 580,000 head on feed, up 9 percent from last month but unchanged from last year. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in all Iowa feedlots totaled 1,270,000 head, up 7 percent from last month but down 1 percent from last year.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during November totaled 110,000 head, down 4 percent from October but up 4 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head placed 120,000 head, down 2 percent from October but up 20 percent from last year. Placements for all feedlots in Iowa totaled 230,000 head, down 3 percent from October but up 12 percent from last year.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during November totaled 76,000 head, down 17 percent from October and down 27 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head marketed 66,000 head, down 1 percent from October but up 14 percent from last year. Marketings for all feedlots in Iowa were 142,000 head, down 11 percent from October and down 12 percent from last year. Other disappearance from all feedlots in Iowa totaled 8,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Up 2 Percent

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 12.0 million head on December 1, 2019. The inventory was 2 percent above December 1, 2018.

Cattle on Feed By State

                           (1,000 hd   -   % Dec 1 '18)

Colorado .......:          1,100          109                 
Iowa .............:            690             99            
Kansas ..........:          2,430          103               
Nebraska ......:          2,480           95                 
Texas ............:          2,930          109                

Placements in feedlots during November totaled 2.09 million head, 5 percent above 2018. Net placements were 2.03 million head. During November, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 620,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 500,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 423,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 310,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 130,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 110,000 head.

Placements by State

                             (1,000 hd   -   % Nov '18)

Colorado .......:          185           132                   
Iowa .............:          110           104                  
Kansas ..........:          415           104              
Nebraska ......:          520           100            
Texas ............:          465           103                 

Marketings of fed cattle during November totaled 1.81 million head, 3 percent below 2018.  Other disappearance totaled 65,000 head during November, 19 percent below 2018.

Marketings by State

                             (1,000 hd   -   % Nov '18)

Colorado .......:          150           103                   
Iowa .............:           76              73                
Kansas ..........:           395           103                   
Nebraska ......:           475            97                
Texas ............:           390            91            

Nebraska Pig Farmers “Pay It Forward”

Food is essential. It’s fun. It’s therapeutic. But for some, it can be a luxury. During the holiday giving season between “Giving Tuesday” and Christmas this year, the pork industry called on its friends to come together to “pay it forward” with pork through the Hams Across America program.

The program was created in 2016 to draw attention to the way pig famers serve their communities year-round through food bank donations, raising funds and preparing meals for those in need. Or, as the name suggests, giving a holiday ham to neighbors and community outreach services. Hams Across America has grown rapidly, and in 2018 this program raised more than a half million pounds of donated pork nationwide–or about 2.2 million servings!

The Nebraska Pork Producers Association continued its commitment to the program in 2019 by donating approximately 2,700 pounds of ham to organizations across Nebraska. In the past, donations have gone entirely to the Lincoln and Omaha areas, but due to the generosity and matching funds provided by the Iowa Pork Producers Association, Nebraska distribution was expanded to include Grand Island, Hastings, Kearney, Columbus, Fremont, Norfolk and Broken Bow.

NPPA President Tim Chancellor enthusiastically supported Hams Across America activities and even donated half of the Broken Bow hams himself. “These organizations do so much to fight hunger in our Nebraska communities,” he said, “that it feels terrific to offer an assist by donating some of the high-quality pork products we produce here in Nebraska.”

The hams were purchased through Sam’s Club in Omaha, and Cedar Hollow Hams and Hy-Vee in Grand Island. The National Pork Board’s pork trailer was on hand in Omaha December 19 to help distribute the hams there and to help raise awareness for the promotion.

NeCGA Elects Officers

Members of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association gathered at the Ramada Inn in Grand Island on Tuesday, December 17, for their Annual Meeting. Following the Annual Meeting, NeCGA held a regular board meeting and elected officers.

Dan Nerud, of Dorchester, was re-elected as President. Other officers re-elected include Andy Jobman of Gothenburg, Vice President; Chris Grams, of Upland, Secretary; and Dan Wesely of Morse Bluff, Chairman. Elected to Treasurer was Michael Dibbern of Cairo. The board is thankful to Tom Nathan of Meadow Grove, for his years of service as Treasurer for the organization.

During the Annual Meeting, NeCGA delegates elected two at-large members to the board. Steve Ebke, of Daykin, and Carl Sousek of Prague, were re-elected.

“We are very grateful for the volunteer efforts that our grower leadership and officers give on an annual basis,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of NeCGA. “I look forward to working alongside our leadership team in increasing opportunities for our membership in the coming year.”

Nebraska Corn Dissatisfied With Final RVO Rule

The Nebraska Corn Board (NCB) and the Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) are disappointed today after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final Renewable Volume Obligation (RVO) rule, which sets biofuel blending requirements as part of the 2020 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). NCB and NeCGA contend the rule paves the way for small refinery exemption (SRE) waivers to further erode RFS volumes and destroy demand for America’s biofuel industries and our nation’s farmers.

“The EPA really blew it this year,” said Dan Nerud, president of NeCGA and farmer from Dorchester. “EPA’s blatant disregard for the law while issuing refinery waivers was appalling, so we really hoped the Administration was going to right this wrong. Fifteen billion gallons of conventional biofuel looks good on paper, but EPA has shown us time and time again they can’t be trusted. This was not the deal President Trump promised us on Oct. 4. He said farmers were going to be very happy. We’re not happy.”

In the rule released today, the EPA used a three-year average of waivers recommended by the Department of Energy (DOE) in coming up with its 2020 waiver estimate, rather than an average of actual gallons waived by the EPA. However, the EPA has historically ignored DOE’s recommendations when issuing waivers and granted substantially more.

“I’d like to say I can trust EPA will follow through with their rule, but the agency continues to side with the oil industry,” said David Bruntz, chairman of the NCB and farmer from Friend. “Additionally, they failed to account for a court remand requiring them to reallocate 500 million gallons of biofuel. Ultimately, the RVO rule today will only be good news if EPA actually follows DOE recommendations, and we’ll be keeping a close eye to ensure they do.”

“Our corn grower members banded together and urged the EPA and our Administration to uphold the law and restore integrity to the Renewable Fuel Standard, but the EPA came up short, said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of NeCGA and NCB. “We will continue to work with the Administration and the EPA to ensure they uphold their commitment to corn farmers. We need the EPA to follow through and blend at least 15 billion gallons as per the law. We’ll be monitoring this carefully to hold the EPA accountable.”

Additionally, Nebraska Corn will push EPA to follow through with its promises to provide biofuel infrastructure funding and update outdated E15 labeling requirements.

EPA ruling on 2020 Renewable Volume Obligations undermines ethanol industry

The Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB) is disappointed in the final rule setting the renewable volume obligations (RVOs) for ethanol for 2020 issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Dec. 19. The rule sets conventional ethanol demand for next year at 15.8 billion gallons and not at the 16.34 billion gallons necessary to immediately move the Renewable Identification Number (RIN) market and incentivize industry growth.

“The EPA missed a big opportunity to restore market faith that there will be 2020 ethanol demand at the levels laid out in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) law,” said Roger Berry, NEB administrator. “We appreciate that the EPA increased the RVO by .8 billion gallons of conventional ethanol, but there is no evidence this addition will ultimately reflect the number of lost 2020 gallons given the EPA’s historical practice of granting retroactive Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs) without reallocation. This ruling also does not set safeguards into place that will ensure SREs are only granted to refineries who truly prove economic hardship.”

Since 2017, the EPA has granted roughly 40 percent more waived gallons than the annual average of about .8 billion that were recommended to have been waived by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

“The EPA has now had its say on next year's ethanol demand volumes,” Berry said. “We are going to work with our political champions and industry peers to ensure that the EPA does not grant more than .8 billion in SREs for 2020, so that there will be a solid 15 billion gallons of stable conventional ethanol demand next year. That outcome will help restore confidence and growth in the ethanol industry, and we look forward to seeing improvement as soon as possible."

“We are cautiously hopeful that the EPA will start strictly following DOE’s recommendations, as Secretary Perdue told me in person last week that 15 billion gallons of conventional corn ethanol truly means 15 billion gallons,” said Nebraska Ethanol Board Chairman Jan tenBensel.  

Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation Announces Availability of Youth Scholarships

The Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation (NCF) is accepting applications for scholarships from qualified youth in Nebraska who have an interest in the beef industry. These scholarships will be awarded for the 2020-2021 academic year and are provided through contributions received by the Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation. Applications are available on the Nebraska Cattlemen website ( or can be obtained by calling the NCF office at (402) 475-2333.

The Nebraska Cattlemen Beef State Scholarship awards a $10,000 scholarship to an outstanding college junior, senior or graduate-level student. Eligible students must be residents of Nebraska and be enrolled in a Nebraska college or university pursuing a beef industry-related degree. The scholarship will be awarded based on student need, Nebraska beef industry involvement (past achievements and future plans) and academics. Students will be required to complete the written application (due in the NCF office by February 14, 2020) and finalists will be invited to an final interview with the selection committee.

NCF offers numerous other $1,000 minimum scholarships, awarded on the basis of academic achievement, beef industry involvement and goals/quality of application. This application is due into the NCF office by March 16, 2020. Scholarship recipients must be a high school senior or college student, have a “C” or higher grade point average, and be enrolled or intending to enroll full time in a college or university that offers a bachelor degree, an approved vocation or trade school, or a state accredited junior college. Refer to the application for complete selection requirements.

Nebraska Cattlemen Hires Stohs as Controller

Nebraska Cattlemen would like to announce the recent hire of Kyle Stohs as Controller. Kyle originates from Odell, Nebraska, most recently residing in Lincoln while working for a public accounting firm. He graduated from the University of Nebraska at Kearney with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration – Accounting, and continued to earn his Master of Business Administration. Along with an exceptional academic career Kyle has kept to his roots in Odell where he operates his cow herd and enjoys hunting.

“I am beyond excited to continue my accounting career at Nebraska Cattlemen.” said Stohs “I look forward to working for an organization that shares the same passions as myself.”

“I am very pleased to announce Kyle Stohs as the newest addition to the Nebraska Cattlemen family. Kyle’s exemplary education achievements and previous work experience, coupled with being a beef producer, make him a perfect individual to serve as NC’s controller.” – Pete McClymont, Nebraska Cattlemen Executive Vice President.


Today the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) submitted a state hemp plan for approval to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). USDA will have 60 days to review the Nebraska hemp plan before either approving it as is or suggesting changes to comply with federal standards.

For more information on the Nebraska Hemp Program and to view the Nebraska state hemp plan proposal that was submitted to USDA, visit NDA’s website at

2019 IBIC Beef Quality Assurance Award Winners

At the 2019 Iowa Cattle Industry Leadership Summit, the Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC) recognized Steve Rehder of 3-R Feedlots Inc., Bruce River, Katy Lippolis and Sheldon Livestock Sales Inc. for the 2019 Iowa Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Awards. The four recipients exemplify continual improvement for the beef industry by encouraging their fellow producers to implement BQA practices and leadership involvement in Iowa’s cattle industry. BQA practices, such as low-stress handling, thorough record-keeping and judicious antibiotic use show the beef industry’s daily commitment of proudly producing safe, wholesome and healthy beef.

Steve Rehder of 3-R Feedlots from Hawarden, Iowa, is the 2019 BQA Feedyard Award Recipient. Owned and managed by Steve Rehder alongside his son Trent and wife Shari. Rehder raises hogs and manages a feedlot where they finish multiple turns of cattle a year. He was an early adopter and participant when feedlot assessments were first implemented and has been steadfast in the utilization of BQA principles on the farm. Furthermore, he’s a hands-on leader and has assisted with planning for the Sioux Co. Feedlot Forum since the early 2000s, served as the President of the Sioux Co. Cattlemen’s Association multiple times and co-chairs the Sioux County Carcass Contest. A committed leader that has chaired the Iowa Beef Industry Council Board of Directors twice and currently serves on the Federation of State Beef Councils.

Bruce River of Maquoketa, Iowa, was the recipient of the 2019 BQA Cow-Calf Award. Bruce and his wife Chris have two sons, Peyton and Carter. Both sons grew up playing an active role in the day-to-day activities on the farm. Peyton has since returned to the family farm and Carter resides in Nashville where he works in finance and accounting. Bruce and his family manage their cows utilizing pasture and a dry lot system. The calves are retained on the farm and finished out through the family’s feedlot each year. They’re diligent managers that keep comprehensive records and have been longtime users of the CHAPS cow record-keeping systems and utilize a performance monitoring system in the feedlot. They’re proactive in implementing BQA principles, in particular, low-stress cattle handling practices. Bruce has been a valuable contributor in producer roundtables and extension think tanks--a few examples of his industry leadership. River is an outstanding producer that emulates best management practices the beef community is continually striving to uphold.

The 2019 recipient of the BQA Educator Award was Katy Lippolis. Before assuming her current role as Iowa State Beef Cow-Calf Specialist and Assistant Professor, she completed a master’s program in beef systems management at Colorado State University where she became more deeply involved in information and research on beef cattle, including serving as the coordinator of the Colorado Beef Quality Assurance Program. Lippolis then attended Oregon State University for a doctoral program which solidified her interest in improving calf and feeder cattle performance through management and nutrition, specifically during weaning. Over the past two years, we have seen the demand for BQA trainings drastically increase and through a partnership with the Iowa Beef Center and their staff, the call to action has been answered. She was instrumental in the planning and preparations for the Regional Stockmanship and Stewardship event hosted in Ames this past summer. We are most thankful for her diligence in sharing of BQA programming here in Iowa, with her Iowa State students and producers alike.

The 2019 recipient of the Marketer Award was awarded to Sheldon Livestock Sales Incorporated. Their strong presence in the ag community is manifested through three barn locations in Iowa and South Dakota. Sheldon Livestock has been a strong supporter of the BQA program and has been proactive in working alongside their ISU Region 1 Beef Specialist, Beth Doran, to help increase customers’ awareness and accessibility to the BQA program. They have hosted multiple training sessions and have been accommodating in helping producers navigate the process. Additionally, they were one of the first barns to help develop and host ICA preconditioned feeder calf sales, health, age and source verified program. Livestock auction markets are a vital cog in the supply chain that enables Iowa’s ag economy to continue functioning and help drive a robust ag economy in the state.

 “The Beef Quality Assurance program strives to build beef’s demand by maximizing consumer confidence in beef while exceeding their eating expectations. When producers implement the best management practices of a BQA program, we show our end users, consumers, that we care and we are capable,” said Casey Allison, Director of Industry Relations for the Iowa Beef Industry Council and State BQA Coordinator. “The BQA awards are a way for the National Beef Checkoff Program through the Iowa Beef Industry Council to recognize the outstanding men and women in Iowa who put great tasting beef on our consumers’ plates each and every day. It is imperative that we recognize the education and application of these practices and stewardship that is involved within the beef industry daily. This year’s award recipients are a testament of our beef farmers caring for their land and livestock while being involved in their local communities. Through their leadership and implementation of BQA on their operations, the future of the Iowa beef industry is bright.”

Wine Taste May Have Untapped Potential in Iowa

Grape and wine producers in Iowa and across the Midwest have a few challenges that some more popular grape-growing regions do not.

Namely, the threat of cold winters, late frost springs and hot, humid summers – factors that can play into grape production and flavor. But Iowa’s potential in the wine industry is as unique as the state, which is to say, there is much opportunity for quality wines to be made in Iowa.

Aude Watrelot, assistant professor of enology and extension enology specialist at Iowa State University, is in the process of studying how different factors, including winemaking and chemistry, affect our sense of taste and what can be done to improve the taste perception of Iowa wines.

“I’m here to help the winemakers from Iowa and the Midwest region improve their wine quality,” said Watrelot, a native of France who started with Iowa State in August.

Watrelot earned her Ph.D. in France and completed postdoctoral research at California State, Fresno, and the University of California, Davis, where some of the most popular wines in the United States are produced. But she said that every region is unique, and she sees strong potential for Iowa wines.

For Iowa, that means embracing what the state has, and overcoming the challenges.

“I think we should not compare ourselves to what we already know about wine from another region,” she said. “You can find really good wine in Iowa that is unique to this part of the country.”

Watrelot’s optimism is supported by her research, which focuses on understanding the relationships between viticultural winemaking practices, grape and wine chemical composition, molecular interaction, taste and perception.

Her current research includes a focus on how to manage the concentration and composition of polyphenols in cold-hardy grapes and wines and a focus on how grape tannins interact with salivary proteins, which influences the level of astringency (dryness) experienced when drinking red wine.

Watrelot’s work was featured in a December article in The Conversation, an international news service that features articles written by researchers.

“Basically, the more tannin there is in a wine, the more astringent it will be,” she writes. “When you take a sip, the large tannin molecules interact with proteins from your saliva. They combine and form complexes, reducing the number of salivary proteins available to help lubricate your mouth. It leaves your mouth with a dry sensation – like if a snail were to lose its mucus layer, it would dry out.”

The desired “dry” mouthfeel can be a bit more challenging with Iowa grapes, because the varieties grown here must first be resistant to cold harsh winters, and hot humid summers, which results in wines with lower amounts of tannins.

Watrelot is in the process of assembling her own lab, where she is researching ways to improve the finished wine quality, and also ways to evaluate wine scientifically, to be as close as possible to the human perception.

In addition to her lab work, Watrelot said she is excited about the workshops and outreach opportunities available to Iowa wine producers.

A wine microbiology workshop to learn about microbiological lab techniques for winemaking will be held Jan. 8, at Iowa State.

For the latest events and information, visit the Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute online. The website has up-to-date resources for grape and wine producers, and timely articles about the wine industry.


NPPC Newsletter

This week, legislation was introduced that codifies one of NPPC's top accomplishments of 2019: an agreement reached earlier this year between the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure Cell-Cultured Protein (CCP)—produced from cultured cells taken from pigs and other livestock—is regulated on terms that ensures a level playing field.

Senate Bill 3053, introduced by Sens. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), would ensure the agreement between the two agencies has the force of law. The Meat and Poultry Inspection Act clearly indicates that CCP should be under the oversight of USDA's Federal Safety Inspection Service (FSIS). FDA will have a role in ensuring that ingredients used in the manufacture of CCP products are safe. When it comes to making products from these cells, only FSIS has the capability to provide continuous, risk-based inspection and apply strict labeling standards that will ensure consumer awareness of what CCP is and how it's produced.

Thanks in part to the efforts of the National Pork Producers Council, on March 7, 2019, the FDA and USDA's FSIS signed a formal agreement to regulate CCP. The agreement was designed to leverage the expertise of both agencies to protect the country's food supply and provide safe and accurately labeled products. It's critical that product names and label claims protect the investments livestock farmers have made to establish a definition of meat protein that is widely understood by consumers.

The White House Office of Management and Budget on Wednesday approved USDA's changes to its Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rules, clearing the way for release of the proposal. Earlier this year, USDA indicated its intention to develop new GIPSA rules in compliance with the Congressional direction in the 2010 Farm Bill. 

NPPC opposes any new GIPSA regulations that interfere with pork producer rights to freely enter into contractual business relationships or otherwise restrict producers' ability to sell and packers' ability to buy livestock. The U.S. pork sector is highly competitive and pork producers are the most innovative sector of the overall agricultural economy. 

Broadband Map Fix Will Reveal Needs

The House of Representatives passed Farm Bureau-backed legislation that will improve the accuracy of broadband coverage maps to better identify needs.

The Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act (H.R. 4229) requires broadband providers to report more specific data to create a significantly more accurate and granular National Broadband Map. With more precise data, federal agencies can target funding to areas that need it most.

“Broadband is a necessity and many rural areas still don’t have access to it or are underserved.  With limited funding, it’s critical we target resources where they are needed most,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “Farm Bureau thanks members of the House who worked diligently to pass this legislation and who are committed to delivering broadband access to rural communities. We strongly encourage the Senate to take up this issue without delay.”

Current broadband coverage maps are inadequate because they rely on census block data to determine which areas are covered. Census blocks are too large in rural and remote locations to accurately determine need. If even one household in a given census block is reported by a provider as being served, then the entire block is considered served. Census blocks larger than 2 square miles comprise more than 64% of the U.S. land area, so every rural area is impacted by this problem in some way.

In addition to creating more accurate maps, the bill requires the FCC to establish an audit process that ensures internet service providers are providing accurate data used to create the maps. It also would create a user-friendly process to challenge the data.

Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. Hosts “Roast & Toast” Influencer Event

Eleven food influencers gathered in the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Culinary Center, funded by the Beef Checkoff, for “Roast & Toast with Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner.” to learn how to prepare the perfect roast just in time for the holiday season. Bravo Top Chef finalist and winner of Beat Bobby Flay, chef Carrie Baird, was the guest of honor, teaching the influencers how to prepare a flawless roast.

During the event, the attending influencers, popular with consumers for their food and lifestyle blogs and social media profiles, were not only treated to a hands-on beef roast cooking demonstration by chef Baird, they also learned about beef and wine pairings and enjoyed appetizers from the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. recipe collection including:
-    Bao Beef Buns
-    Beef Bruschetta with Roasted Garlic-Feta Spread
-    Mini Merry Meatballs
-    Spicy Korean Beef & Cucumber Appetizer

The evening wrapped up with a family style dinner, allowing for further networking among the influencers and providing time for the influencer team at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, to further engage with the influencers and discuss all things beef.

Rounding out the event were four cattle producers. The ranchers provided a unique perspective into beef and the people who raise it as they shared their story as beef advocates and gave a personal look into the beef industry.

“Events like “Roast & Toast” present a great opportunity for cattle producers to interact with chefs and influencers and address common misconceptions about the cattle industry,” said Buck Wehrbein, NCBA Federation Division Vice Chairman. “Food influencers are excited to share the high-quality beef they know and love with their large consumer following, but often have questions about where their food comes from. Events like this one help close the knowledge gap and put faces to the farmers and ranchers raising real beef.”

In addition to hosting the “Roast & Toast” event to inspire influencers and their content, Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. is keeping the craveability of beef at the top of the mind for consumers this holiday season with the roll out of roast-inspired content. Efforts include a spin on a classic yule log with the Beef Drool Log, a two-hour video featuring a prime rib roast cooking to perfection on a rotisserie over open flame, as well as a “12 Days of Roastmas” series on social media and a Holiday Entertaining recipe collection featured on

Thursday December 19 Ag News

December Rural Mainstreet Index Rises Above Growth Neutral: Farm Land Price Index Highest Since 2013

The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) for December remained above growth neutral for the fourth straight month and for the 10th time in the past 12 months, according to the monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy.     

Overall: While the overall index for December fell to 50.2 from 54.2 in November, it marked the tenth time in 2019 that the index has remained above growth neutral 50.0.

“Federal agriculture crop support payments and somewhat higher grain prices have boosted the Rural Mainstreet Index above growth neutral for the month.”

“Bank CEOs, on average, expect approximately 12.4% of grain farmers to experience financial losses for 2020. However, this is down from last year at this time when bankers projected 15.3% of grain farmers to experience negative cash flows for 2019,” said Ernie Goss, PhD, Jack A. MTacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business. 

Farming and ranching: The farmland and ranchland-price index soared to 52.8 from November’s weak 40.4. This is the first time since November 2013 that the index has risen above growth neutral, 50.0. 

The November farm equipment-sales index sank to 27.9 from November’s 37.5. This marks the 75th month that the reading has remained below growth neutral 50.0. 

Banking: Borrowing by farmers weakened again from December. The borrowing index declined to 50.0 from November’s 51.4. The checking-deposit index fell to a still strong 61.1 from November’s 68.1, while the index for certificates of deposit and other savings instruments slipped to 50.0 from 51.4 in November.    

This month, bankers were asked to project the level of farm loan defaults for 2020. “One of nine bank CEOs expect 2020 farm loan defaults to expand by 10% to 20%. On average bankers expect 2020 farm loan defaults to grow by approximately 4.0%.  This is down from an anticipated gain of 4.4% for 2019 recorded last December,” said Goss.

Bankers were also asked about their bank’s response to weak farm income. Almost two-thirds, or 65.7%, indicated their bank had increased collateral requirements, while 34.3% reported that their bank had rejected a higher percentage of farm loan applications.

Below are the state reports:

Nebraska: The Nebraska RMI for December sank to a regional low of 44.3 from November’s 51.0. The state’s farmland-price index sank to jumped to 52.1 from last month’s 39.3. Nebraska’s new-hiring index improved to 53.4 from November’s 48.6. Over the past 12 months rural areas in Nebraska have added jobs at a rate of 0.2% compared to a gain of 2.5% for urban areas of the state.  

Iowa: The December RMI for Iowa increased to 53.5 from November’s 52.5. Iowa’s farmland-price index soared to 52.5 from November’s 39.7. Iowa’s new-hiring index for December slumped to 48.7 from November’s 57.1. Over the past 12 months rural areas in Iowa have experienced job losses with employment growth at minus 0.2% compared to a stronger 1.1% for urban areas of the state.

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.

Nebraska Soybean Association Celebrates 50 Years!

The Nebraska Soybean Association celebrated its 50th anniversary during the Nebraska Soybean Day and Machinery Expo Thursday in Wahoo. For 50 years, the grower members of the Nebraska Soybean Association have served as leaders, pioneers and advocates for the soy industry. The association has made invaluable contributions to not only the soybean industry, but all of agriculture.

The American Soybean Association congratulates the Nebraska Soybean Association on this milestone and is grateful for 50 years of leadership and partnership. ASA Director and past president Ron Moore from Illinois presented a commemorative plaque to Nebraska Soybean Association Vice President Doug Bartek of Wahoo on Thursday.  ASA Directors from Nebraska Dennis Fujan of Prague and Ken Boswell of Shickley were also in attendance and showed their support.

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, Regarding Sen. Ben Sasse Appointment to Senate Committee on Finance

“Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s appointment of Ben Sasse to the Senate’s Finance Committee gives Nebraska farmers and ranchers a strong voice on arguably one of the most powerful committees in Congress. Sen. Sasse is unapologetically supportive of trade and now he’ll be fighting for agriculture from the front lines of the Committee that holds jurisdiction over trade, tariffs, and all other international commerce issues. Sen. Sasse has always made sure that Nebraska farmers and ranchers have a seat at the table, and we look forward to continuing to work with Sen. Sasse on agriculture priorities like expanding trade, lowering taxes, and affordable health care.”

Nebraska Farm Bureau Delegates Elect 5 to State Board

Delegates at the Nebraska Farm Bureau Annual Meeting and Convention in Kearney elected five members to the organization's Board of Directors.

Katie Olson was re-elected to the Nebraska Farm Bureau Board of Directors representing the North Central region in Nebraska. Olson will represent members from 14 counties including Cherry, McPherson, Logan, Thomas, Keya Paha, Boyd, Brown, Rock, Holt, Blaine, Loup, Garfield, Wheeler, and Custer counties. Olson and her husband, James, grow corn, soybeans, and raise cow/calf pairs on a ranch near Atkinson. They are members of Holt County Farm Bureau.

Dustin Ladenburger was re-elected to represent the Southwest region in Nebraska. He represents Farm Bureau members in 13 counties including Perkins, Lincoln, Dawson, Chase, Hayes, Frontier, Gospher, Phelps, Dundy, Hitchcock, Red Willow, Furnas, and Harlan. He grows dryland wheat, corn, milo, and has a cow-calf operation near Stratton. He is a member of Hitchcock County Farm Bureau.

David Grimes was elected to represent the South Central region of Nebraska. He represents Farm Bureau members in 13 counties including Hamilton, York, Seward, Kearney, Adams, Clay, Filmore, Saline, Franklin, Webster, Nuckolls, Thayer, and Jefferson. He replaces Leslie Boswell of Shickley, who completed her term of six years on the Nebraska Farm Bureau Board. Grimes and his wife Becky raise irrigated corn, soybeans, and alfalfa on their farm near Minden. They are members of Kearney/Franklin County Farm Bureau.

Hilary Maricle was re-elected as the Ag Promotion At-Large director. The Ag Promotion At-Large position represents local and state promotion and education committees on the state board of directors. These committees promote agriculture locally, statewide, and on a national level. Maricle and her husband, Brian, grow corn, soybeans, alfalfa, and raise cattle, hogs, and sheep near Albion. They are members of Boone County Farm Bureau.

Lance Atwater was re-elected as Youth-At-Large member of the board. The Youth-At-Large position represents young farmers and ranchers on the state board of directors. He and his wife, Krystal, grow irrigated corn, popcorn, non-GMO white corn, soybeans, and have a cow-calf operation near Ayr. They are members of Adams/Webster County Farm Bureau.

All terms are for three years. The Nebraska Board of Directors has 13 members, who must all be farmers or ranchers in Nebraska.

Calyxt Announces Collaboration with Central Valley Ag to Expand Grower Network

Calyxt, Inc., a plant-based technology company focused on healthy food ingredients, has entered into a collaboration with Central Valley Ag (CVA) cooperative, a leading provider of products and services in grain, agronomy, feed and energy, to expand Calyxt’s Identity Preserved grower network for Calyxt crop varieties.

CVA will contract acres to launch new Calyxt soybean varieties and offer seed distribution, seed treatment and agronomy services to Calyxt Identity Preserved growers. In addition, Calyxt will gain access to CVA’s grain elevators and rail logistics for the shipping of Calyxt’s High Oleic Soybean grain – further strengthening Calyxt’s supply chain.

The new relationship with CVA, and existing relationships with Landus and Agtegra, expands Calyxt’s access to geographies where 45% of the 89 million acres of U.S. soybean are grown. It also helps support the future launch of Calyxt’s high fiber wheat product in four of the top ten wheat production states in the U.S., including North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas and Minnesota.

“This collaboration expands our geographic footprint into Nebraska and Kansas where we can introduce our new soybean varieties while further leveraging the success of our Identity Preserved system and premium producer program,” said Jim Blome, chief executive officer of Calyxt. “With more than 75,000 acres already contracted, we are nearing our goal to contract 100,000 acres for 2020.”

“This collaboration expands our access to geographies with 45% of domestic soybean acreage, supporting the continued growth of our oil customer base – having recently added multiple new restaurant chains as customers, with a packaged goods manufacturer in the final stages of testing. 2020 is shaping up to be an exciting year, and we look forward to continued operational execution and long-term shareholder value creation,” concluded Blome.

“We are pleased to announce our collaboration with Calyxt,” said Nic McCarthy, CVA senior vice president of agronomy. “This mutually beneficial relationship allows our farmers an opportunity to secure offtake and grow Calyxt’s high oleic soybean, while simultaneously increasing the utilization of our grain elevator and rail infrastructure.  We look forward to working with Calyxt management to create value for both their shareholders and our member-owners,” concluded McCarthy.

Truterra and Soil and Water Conservation Society Awarded $1.5M from USDA to Accelerate
Adoption of Precision Nutrient Management Practices in Midwestern States

Truterra, LLC and the Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS) have been awarded $1.5 million in funding from USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to accelerate the adoption of precision nutrient management and soil health practices in partnership with agricultural retailers in Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska. Truterra, formerly Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN, is the sustainability solutions business of Land O'Lakes, Inc., one of America's largest farmer-owned cooperatives. SWCS is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization that serves as an advocate for conservation professionals and for science-based conservation practice, programs, and policy.

The joint project between Truterra and SWCS, titled Advancing Precision Nutrient and Soil Health Management with Retailer Cooperatives, will help four agricultural retailers in the Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN network set up innovation trial programs for growers to demonstrate, across three years of crop production, the benefits of a full-system approach to precision agriculture. The trials will use the Truterra™ Insights Engine, a leading on-farm conservation management platform, to help collect and measure findings.

"At Truterra, we know that collaboration drives stewardship. This grant is a monumental step in public-private collaboration supporting on-farm stewardship," said Matt Carstens, senior vice president of Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN. "With the Soil and Water Conservation Society and agricultural retailers, we are working together to build a system of change that seeks to increase and accelerate the rate of stewardship adoption around the country."

Project partners will support agricultural retailers in Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska to engage producers in on-farm trials that demonstrate the agronomic, environmental and economic incentives for conservation practice adoption. Through firsthand experience, the project aims to increase producer knowledge of these practices, integrate conservation management programs into retailer services, and broaden and accelerate conservation practice adoption. In addition to administering the program, SWCS will provide scientific support to help evaluate environmental outcomes.  The agricultural retailer partner in Nebraska is Frontier Cooperative based in Lincoln. 

"We are excited for this incredible opportunity to collaborate with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Truterra to implement on-the-ground conservation activities and evaluate their impact," said SWCS CEO Clare Lindahl. "The Soil and Water Conservation Society's ability to bring together multiple perspectives around the newest research and technologies puts us in a strong position to simultaneously deliver innovative approaches to on-farm conservation and evaluate impact through a scientific lens. We look forward to strengthening public and private sector partnerships in the conservation space for the betterment of our natural resources and the future of agriculture through this project."

The funding is provided through the On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials, a new component of the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) first authorized in the Conservation Title of the 2018 Farm Bill. The improved CIG program is one of many policy changes in the 2018 Farm Bill championed by Land O'Lakes. These policy improvements can help make on-farm conservation practices easier and more accessible to farmers and agricultural retailers.

The program will work with growers to implement a full suite of zone prescriptions, VRT applications, stabilizers, and tillage management in an effort to help enhance both profitability and environmental performance. Cover crops are also be included in the program.

Additional details on the grant and the projects will be released in the coming weeks and months.

Fischer Statement on Government Spending Legislation

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) released the following statement today after voting in favor of the government spending legislation passed by Congress:

“While I don’t support this process or the price tag, these bills contain too many important Nebraska priorities—including disaster relief—for me to oppose them. Each year, I meet with thousands of Nebraskans in my office and across the state about the needs of their families and our communities. These bills directly address many of those necessities and avoid a needless government shutdown.”

The spending legislation includes the following key Nebraska priorities Senator Fischer fought for:
Disaster relief:
-        More than $400 million for Nebraska’s military installations impacted by flooding
          o   Air Force procurement to replace RC-135 simulators and mission equipment at Offutt Air Force Base
          o   Rebuilding of Camp Ashland including refurnishing and remediation
-        An additional $1.5 billion in disaster aid for farmers and ranchers
-        Provisions from Senator Fischer’s Disaster Tax Relief bill, which provides tax relief to presidentially declared disaster areas
          o   Eliminates penalties for early withdrawals from IRAs for those in affected areas
          o   Eliminates cap on charitable deductions within disaster areas
          o   Expands casualty loss deduction to assist with destroyed property
          o   Temporarily establishes employee retention credits for businesses in affected areas

-        Military pay raise of 3.1 percent, the largest in a decade
-        Funding of the 55th Wing and state equities
          o   Continued modernization of the C-135 family of aircraft
          o   Open Skies recapitalization
-        Key nuclear modernization initiatives
          o   $3.0 billion for the B-21 bomber program
          o   $557 million for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program
          o   $713 million for the Long Range Standoff Weapon Program
-        $107.4 million for upgrades to test and evaluation infrastructure to support hypersonics, space, directed energy, and cyber

Families and safety:
-        School safety through funding for the STOP School Violence Act, which Senator Fischer cosponsored
-        One-year extension of Senator Fischer’s paid family leave tax incentive

Border security:
-        $1.38 billion for a border wall system
-        Require DHS to submit a report on visa overstays and publish border security metrics, which has long been a priority for Senator Fischer

Health and Human Services:
-        $2.82 billion for Alzheimer’s disease research
-        $1.63 billion for Community Health Centers that serve more than 28 million patients per year through 11,000 centers
-        $2.5 million for the Firefighter Cancer Registry

FY 2020 Omnibus Appropriations Includes Increased Funding for Ag

ASA Newsletter

Congress introduced a tax package this week that includes welcome increases in funding for agriculture research, inland waterways infrastructure and disaster assistance. Here’s what’s in the Fiscal Year 2020 Omnibus Appropriations package that impacts soy growers:

Ag Research
-    Funding for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) was increased from $415 million to $425 million—which was a top appropriations priority for ASA.

Inland Waterways Infrastructure
-    The Energy & Water Appropriations portion of the package provides $7.65 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, an increase of $652 million from last year.
-    The bill makes full use of the estimated revenues for the Inland Waterways Trust Fund and provides an enhanced cost-share for the Chickamauga Lock & Dam project at 65-35 instead of 50-50.
-    The bill provides $2.68 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers Construction account, an increase of $498 million above last year.
-    Funding for Operation and Maintenance is $3.79 billion, a slight increase above FY19 levels and a sixth consecutive year of increased funding.
-    The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund projects receive $1.63 billion, which exceeds the target set by the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRDA) of 2014.

Disaster Relief
-    The bill includes $1.5 billion additional for Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (WHIP) disaster assistance and clarifies that quality losses due to excessive moisture are also covered.

Disaster Aid, Farm Stress, Broadband Funding Wins for Farmers and Ranchers

Legislation to fund the government adopted by Congress this week contains many wins for American farmers and ranchers. From much-needed disaster aid to increased broadband access, rural communities will benefit from this legislation.

“We are grateful to members of Congress from both parties for their work to develop and pass budget bills that will help farmers and ranchers on multiple fronts,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.

Wins for American farmers and ranchers:
-    $1.5 billion in additional disaster aid will expand recovery efforts to those impacted by severe weather in 2018 and 2019.
-    Full funding of the Farmer and Rancher Stress Assistance Network at $10 million will help those struggling to cope with a tough year in agriculture.
-    $550 million in grant funding for the ReConnect program will help expand broadband access to historically underserved communities. This will allow people living in these underserved areas to utilize new technologies to reach customers, access precision agriculture technology and connect to communities worldwide.
-    Retroactively extending the biodiesel tax credit to apply to 2018 and 2019 and extending it through 2022 will bring stability to producers after years of debate in Congress. Ten biodiesel plants have halted production since the $1-per-gallon credit expired in 2017.
-    Delaying the requirement for implementation of electronic logging devices on livestock haulers through Sept. 30, 2020 will help safeguard the welfare of livestock during transportation.

EPA Takes Steps to Provide Needed Clarity and Certainty for U.S. Agriculture

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing two important actions that will help the agricultural sector protect crops from pests and weeds. Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), EPA is approving the use of 10 pesticide products on hemp in time for the 2020 growing season. Nine of these products are biopesticides and one is a conventional pesticide. EPA is also issuing a proposed interim decision on atrazine — a widely used herbicide. Both actions provide regulatory certainty and clarity on how these tools can be used safely while also helping to ensure a strong and vibrant agricultural market.

“With common-sense actions, we are protecting the health of our nation and ensuring that crops such as corn, sorghum, sugar cane and hemp can be protected against a broad spectrum of weeds and pests,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Under the Trump Administration, the EPA is committed to providing much needed certainty to farmers and ranchers across the country who rely on crop protection tools to ensure a global supply of products, while driving economic growth in agricultural communities across America.”

The first action EPA is announcing is the approval of ten pesticide applications for use on hemp, just in time to be used during the 2020 growing season. EPA wanted to ensure the agency acted on these applications quickly to give growers certainty for next spraying season in 2020 and to make timely purchasing decisions for next year. These approvals were made possible by the 2018 Farm Bill, which removed hemp-derived products from Schedule I status under the Controlled Substances Act.

While EPA oversees pesticide registrations for hemp under FIFRA, other federal agencies are working to streamline their separate regulatory implementation processes for the newly legalized crop. The 2018 Farm Bill directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop a regulatory oversight program for hemp. USDA has since proposed a rule for state-level hemp growing/management plans. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration also plays a role in regulating hemp products when they fall under their regulatory authority. EPA is committed to working with our federal partners and helping hemp growers obtain the tools needed to support and increase commercial production. The step the agency is taking today recognizes that innovation in pesticide use is critical to the success of our strong and vibrant agricultural sector.

The second action EPA is taking today is to propose new, stronger protections to reduce exposure to atrazine — the next step in the registration review process required under FIFRA. Atrazine is a widely used herbicide that controls a variety of grasses and broadleaf weeds. It is well-known and trusted by growers as one of the most effective herbicides. Atrazine is used on about 75 million acres annually and is most often applied to corn, sorghum, and sugarcane. (Note: Atrazine is not one of the ten pesticides approved for hemp.)

As part of this action, the agency is proposing a reduction to the maximum application rate for atrazine used on residential turf, and other updates to the label requirements, including mandatory spray drift control measures. EPA’s proposed decision is based on the 2016 draft ecological risk assessment and the 2018 human health draft risk assessment for atrazine. EPA is also proposing updates to the requirements for propazine and simazine, which are chemically related to atrazine. EPA will be taking comment on the atrazine, propazine and simazine Proposed Interim Decisions for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. Comments can be made to the following dockets EPA-HQ-OPP-2013-0266 (atrazine), EPA-HQ-OPP-2013-0250 (propazine), and EPA-HQ-OPP-2013-0251 (simazine) once the Federal Register notice publishes online.

In addition to today’s regulatory actions, EPA is continuing to build and enhance its relationship with the agricultural sector through the agency’s Smart Sectors program. Staff and senior leaders, including Region 5 Administrator Cathy Stepp and Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford, are meeting today in Lenexa, Kansas with representatives from the renewable fuels industry. The meeting is providing a platform to collaborate with the renewable fuels industry and develop sensible approaches that better protect the environment and public health.

For additional information:
Hemp action:
Atrazine action:

USDA:  Record High Red Meat and Pork Production in November

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.74 billion pounds in November, up 1 percent from the 4.68 billion pounds produced in November 2018.

Beef production, at 2.30 billion pounds, was 1 percent below the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.77 million head, down 1 percent from November 2018. The average live weight was up 5 pounds from the previous year, at 1,375 pounds.

Veal production totaled 6.1 million pounds, 9 percent below November a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 46,500 head, down 16 percent from November 2018. The average live weight was up 17 pounds from last year, at 227 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.43 billion pounds, up 3 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 11.3 million head, up 3 percent from November 2018. The average live weight was up 3 pounds from the previous year, at 288 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 11.2 million pounds, was down 13 percent from November 2018. Sheep slaughter totaled 179,700 head, 8 percent below last year. The average live weight was 125 pounds, down 7 pounds from November a year ago.

By State   (million lbs.  -  % Nov '18)

Nebraska .....:     738.4            103 
Iowa ............:     768.0            109      
Kansas .........:     424.8             84      

January to November 2019 commercial red meat production was 50.3 billion pounds, up 3 percent from 2018. Accumulated beef production was up 1 percent from last year, veal was down 2 percent, pork was up 5 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 3 percent.

Farmers Unite to Launch U.S. Hemp Growers Association

The U.S. Hemp Growers Association (USHGA),, the only national farmer-directed hemp trade association, was announced this week in Indianapolis. Founded by a diverse group of leaders, the organization will provide world-class educational and market development resources, research, and networking opportunities and will unify the voice of farmers to actively engage in critically important advocacy efforts.

Founding partners that came together to create USHGA include U.S. Hemp Farming Alliance, First Crop, International Hemp Solutions, HiLo Seed, GenCanna and Farm Journal. At launch, more than 300 farmer-members of U.S. Hemp Farming Alliance will fold into USHGA.

Caren Wilcox will serve as the inaugural USHGA executive director. Wilcox is a well-known ag and food leader who has held executive roles at Hershey, the USDA and the Organic Trade Association. USHGA will meet in late February 2020 in San Antonio to secure founding partners and to install an initial board of directors. A majority of the board leaders will be active hemp farmers.

"I am honored to be a part of this historical moment in U.S. agriculture and lend my experience and expertise to the emerging commercial hemp industry as we develop this organization," said Caren Wilcox, executive director for USHGA. "The forward-thinking industry leaders who have partnered on this endeavor see the potential for hemp as an agricultural commodity and understand this industry can contribute to the environment and sustainable products that benefit, at the grassroots level, farmers and consumers."

"Industrial hemp provides a unique economic opportunity for farmers and all of rural America," said Michael Bowman, cofounder of First Crop. "I am thrilled that First Crop is a founding partner of USHGA. Our focus is to promote regenerative farming practices to nurture the soil, not just for this year's crop but for future generations, and hemp is one of the tools that will help us achieve these goals."

Farmers and organizations interested in supporting U.S. agriculture's role in the success of industrial hemp should go to to obtain more information or to sign up as a member of the organization.

Climate Change Conversation to shift dramatically, research shows

Most Americans engaging online about climate change are mired in the debate as to whether it exists. However, the focus of the conversation will shift dramatically in the next two years, according to new research from The Center for Food Integrity (CFI). In addition, there is no evidence consumers associate or link the consumption of animal protein to climate change.

Currently, 52.2 million people are engaged in the climate change conversation, with less than half of those focused on causes and solutions. However, CFI’s digital ethnography report, which uses a research tool that analyzes millions of conversations online in real time, shows that while the climate change debate is only expected to grow 3.6 percent in the next two years, the conversation on causes is expected to grow 260 percent and solutions 202 percent. The heated dialogue is now focused on “what’s next.” 

“The findings aren’t surprising, given the rapidly growing interest in sustainability,” said Terry Fleck, CFI executive director. “Those interested in causes and solutions want to bring about change by taking action on a personal level and being the change. They also fear making uninformed choices, want to protect the American way of life, and look to science and innovation to provide solutions.” 

While consumers are not talking about a link between consumption of animal protein and climate change, they are talking about the link between greenhouse gas emissions from livestock production and climate change, according to the research. The level of online conversation about this topic is just shy of 26 million, but expected to grow to nearly 210 percent in the next two years.

“While ‘local food’ is not associated with improving climate change, key topics associated with ‘local food’ and ‘improving climate change’ include beef industry topics like cattle farming, beef consumption, industrial agriculture, environmental footprint and water use,” said Fleck. “These topics are more related to causes than local food production to improving climate change.”

Engaging consumers on the topic of climate change presents a unique challenge given today’s political environment, said Fleck. However, the predicted conversation shift to causes and solutions, and focus on science and innovation, provides an opportunity for the food industry to communicate its successes and its commitment to addressing climate change via technology.

“These consumers are information seekers and advocates for the environment, and crave credible information from sources they can trust,” said Fleck. “Provide balanced information, share third-party studies and give them a forum to engage with you on the topic.”

Suggest ways that they can make a difference, too.

“They want to play a part in improving our planet and ‘be the change,’” he said. “We encourage the food industry to do its part to empower them.”

Additional information on CFI’s digital ethnography research can be found at

NMPF Thanks Congress for Prodding FDA to Get the Job Done on Fake Dairy

The National Milk Producers Federation commended Congress for including language in the report accompanying the final 2020 government funding measure to urge the Food and Drug Administration to finally enforce dairy-product standards of identity.

Both the House and Senate versions of the Agriculture-FDA bill report included language reaffirming bipartisan congressional concern with mislabeled imitation dairy products and directing FDA to enforce its own rules on labeling. The House and Senate passed the final compromise funding bill this week.

“We hope that the bipartisan, bicameral reminder from Congress, coupled with Dr. Stephen Hahn’s confirmation as FDA Commissioner earlier this month, will give FDA momentum to finally enforce standards of identity for dairy products,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “Plant-based mislabeling intentionally misleads consumers into purchasing nutritionally inferior products that bear dairy’s good name. It’s long past time for FDA to right this wrong, and we hope this message from Congress helps make it happen.”

The report reaffirms Congress’s concern “about the proliferation of products …. that include the names of dairy products that do not contain milk or ingredients derived from milk,” as stated in Senate language. To address the problem, the Senate asks FDA to report on “steps taken to enforce against dairy imitation products marketed using dairy names,” while House language “urges the FDA to continue its work toward ultimately enforcing standards of identity for dairy products.”

The final measure also provides funding for several critical programs that were authorized last year in the 2018 Farm Bill. These include the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network to help distressed farmers during challenging times; the Dairy Business Innovation program to help the dairy industry explore opportunities for innovation and modernization; and the Healthy Fluid Milk Incentives Program designed to increase consumption of fluid milk.