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Chad Moyer | KTIC Radio

Chad Moyer

Welcome to the KTIC Agriculture Information blog!!! Check back here for the latest in ag news and information, from local events to international happenings and government reports that affect your operation. Please email with suggestions! -Chad Moyer, Farm Director, KTIC Radio
Friday March 27 Ag News

 Former Northeast ag dean’s widow supports college’s Nexus project

Linda Pohlman is using retirement funds to make a donation to construct new agriculture facilities at Northeast Community College in memory of her late husband, Chuck Pohlman, who served as the institution’s first dean of agriculture.

Chuck Pohlman began working at Northeast in 1972, and created the first agriculture program at any community college in Nebraska. He retired 40 years later, and the ag complex on the Norfolk campus he helped design and for which he raised funds bears his name. Pohlman died in May 2018.

Linda Pohlman said she knew she wanted to make a significant donation to the Nexus project in her husband’s memory, and talked with her tax accountant about using retirement funds for that purpose.

“He said instead of the money going into my account and having me declare it as income that year, the money can go directly to the college with no tax disadvantage to myself,” she said.

Pohlman, of Hadar, said her husband would have approved of this use of their retirement funds.

“This is something so close to his heart,” she said of the plan to build a new veterinary technology clinic and classroom and move the college farm to a new site. “He really wanted to see this accomplished. The college has affected so many lives in northeast Nebraska. We’ve had students from South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas and other states, too, so it’s really affected a large part of the United States in agriculture.”

It wasn’t just Chuck Pohlman who worked with agriculture students, Linda Pohlman explained.

“With Chuck full time at the college, he made a lot of the management decisions for the family farm, but with the help of college students I carried out his decisions. We would have two students who worked on our farm Monday, Wednesday, and up to noon on Friday, and then somebody else on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”

“And when they worked, they would sit around the kitchen table as part of our family,” she continued. “That was a fringe benefit. I always made supper for them. It was fun getting to know about their families and their hopes and dreams. They were a wonderful influence on our children.”

Linda Pohlman said the student workers included several sons who followed in their fathers’ footsteps, like Garret and Tom Ruskamp, Cody and Perry Schultz, and Jared and Dave Tomjack. She said the Pohlman farm near Hadar was the scene of several graduation parties during the early years of the Northeast agriculture program, and she remembers several student softball games in their pasture.

“We share Linda’s desire to honor Chuck with these new facilities,” said Tracy Kruse, associate vice president of development and external affairs and executive director of the Northeast Foundation. “He pioneered agriculture at the community college level in Nebraska and grew our program from the original three students to an enrollment of about 350 today. It was Chuck’s work and vision that set the stage for all of the innovation in agriculture that takes place every day on the Northeast campus.”

Kruse continued, “We invite all of those touched by Chuck Pohlman to join his family and make a donation to the Nexus project in his memory. What better way to remember and honor Chuck than to help complete his dream of state-of-the art agricultural facilities for Northeast students?”

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

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

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

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

 Farm and Ag Law Clinics Set for April

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

COVID-19: Due to the one-on-one nature of these session, organizers plan on continuing to provide this service, however, they will take necessary precautions and adjust plans as conditions change.

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
    Grand Island – Thursday, April 2nd
    Norfolk – Thursday, April 2nd
    Fairbury – Wednesday, April 8th
    North Platte – Thursday, April 9th
    Lexington – Thursday, April 16th
    Norfolk – Thursday, April 23rd
    Valentine – Friday, April 24th

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

What to Do During a Distillers Grains Shortage

Karla H. Wilke, UNL Cow/Calf Systems and Stocker Management

The Domino Effect

The current economic situation has resulted in lower crude oil prices, followed by increased difficulty for ethanol plants to produce competitive fuel sources. In turn, many ethanol plants are planning to shut down until the economy stabilizes. The domino effect is that cattle producers may find themselves without distillers grains, hopefully for only a short period of time. A previously written article, So What if I Can’t Get Distillers Grains, on how to handle tight distillers grains supply may be helpful at this time as well. Unfortunately, if ethanol plants are not producing ethanol at all, the supply of distillers grains becomes unavailable.

Feeding Calves for a Slower Rate of Gain

Backgrounding producers, also impacted by the downturn in the cattle market, may choose to continue to feed calves at a slower rate of gain to wait for a market upturn as well as to reduce the need for distillers grains. An example diet (as is basis) might include 11.25 pounds of corn silage, 4 pounds of alfalfa, 2.5 pounds of corn, and 5.5 pounds of hay millet for a 600 pound calf to gain 1.5 pounds/day.

Providing a Nitrogen Source for the Rumen Microbes

For many years now, cattle producers in Nebraska have fed distillers grains to pregnant beef cows because it has been an economical source of protein. However, a source of nitrogen for the rumen microbes to enable them to digest poor quality forages is sufficient. This can be supplied by alfalfa or by urea based supplements, field peas, or other rumen degradable sources of protein.

Lactating cows need a source of energy as well as protein. Providing 7 pounds (as is) of alfalfa along with 28 pounds of good quality meadow hay would be an option for 1300 pound cows until grass is ready to be grazed. However, hay samples should be tested for quality because the total digestible nutrients (TDN) of the base hay is critical for this to work.

Alternative Sources of Protein

Determining what to use as an alternative source of protein is dependent on availability, commodity price, and transportation costs. Sources that may be available in eastern Nebraska may be cost prohibitive to transport to western Nebraska. Therefore, transportation costs, storage capacity, and handling ability are all important factors to evaluate.

Calculating Supplement Cost per Unit of Protein

If a commodity is $250/ton with transportation costs included, the dry matter content is 85%, and the protein content is 25%, then 250/.85 = $294.12/ton of dry matter of the commodity. $294.12/.25 = $1176.47/dry ton of crude protein. If an alternative commodity is $400/ton, the dry matter is 88%, and the crude protein is 40%, then $400/.88 = $454.55/ton of dry matter and $454.55/.40 = $1136.36/dry ton of crude protein. This calculation allows producers to compare the prices of the actual protein being delivered on an equal basis. These two hypothetical commodities were similar in crude protein price so other factors should be considered. How much of the protein is rumen undegradable? Is that important or is a nitrogen source for the rumen sufficient? Is handling and storage an issue for one of the commodities?

Predicting Performance and Meeting Requirements

Although we are all practicing social distancing right now, Nebraska Extension personnel will be happy to answer phone calls and emails to assist producers with modified feeding plans. Contact local extension personnel for assistance.

A Note from Cattlemen's Ball

Due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 virus, it’s longevity and lasting effects on our state, a decision has been made by the Cattlemen's Ball of Nebraska Advisory Board to postpone the 2020 Cattlemen's Ball until June 4th and 5th, 2021 and will remain in Columbus, NE. Kevin Rasmussen, Chairman of the Advisory Board, stated, "It is with great disappointment and with much discussion of the Advisory Board that it was decided to postpone the Ball to next year. The health of all attending comes first. Let's look forward to 2021, knowing the Columbus group will pick up where they left off and make it even better than it would have been if held this year.”

Scott and Pat Mueller, host family for the 2020 Ball, shared, “While it is disappointing that the 2020 ball is being postponed, our commitment must be to the health and wellness of all the attendees and to what is best for our local community. Our local co-chairs and committees remain committed to hosting the Ball in 2021 and supporting our focus on "Funding Cancer Research & Finding a Cure".

Ticket purchasers for the 2020 Ball or Art and General Store Vendors will have the option to roll their payments to the 2021 Ball or request a refund. No action is required if they are wanting to maintain their spot for the 2021 Cattlemen's Ball of Nebraska in Columbus. All proceeds will be distributed in 2021 to the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center and to the local health and wellness initiatives. The 2020 Cattlemen’s Ball Planning Committee wishes to thank the donors, chairs, committees and volunteers from across the state for their continued support.

Nebraska Firm Helping Develop Swine Fever Field Tests

As the coronavirus sweeps across the globe sickening humans, scientists are making progress on developing tests that could help combat a different deadly disease: African swine fever, which has been ravaging hog herds.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has taken an interest in the disease, which kills 99% of hogs it infects, as it spread in Asia last year and caused protein shortages. If it landed on American soil, it could harm the more than 100 million hogs on U.S. farms, ultimately threatening food supplies.

For now, there are no vaccines or field detection devices that could help combat the virus, but the agency said this week it had successfully evaluated a genetic test that detects the virus and returns results in a matter of hours. It's the first product of its kind that the agency has scrutinized.

As governments around the world are discovering with COVID-19, testing can be crucial to slowing a viral outbreak. Rapid testing can be "a game-changer," said John Neilan, science director in the Department of Homeland Security's science and technology division.

To figure out where the virus is at, "you have to have a detection system and the most rapid ones you can get makes a difference on how fast you can react," he said.

While the virus isn't in the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security is looking at new technologies because "you don't want to start research when it is in the U.S.," said Michael Puckette, a microbiologist at the department.

The test can be used on raw pork imports, as well as on live pigs. It was developed by Lincoln, Neb.-based Materials and Machines Corp., which makes diagnostic systems. The company is making the device and test available immediately overseas, but still needs to go through a regulatory process in the U.S., through the Department of Agriculture.

The U.S. raises more than 115 million hogs valued at $24 billion a year. The Swine Disease Global Surveillance Project estimates that an U.S. outbreak of swine fever could wreak as much as $10 billion in damages in a year.


Nathan Mueller, NE Cropping Systems Extension Educator

   As winter wheat has started to greenup, it is now time to finalize plans for topdress fertilizer applications so you are ready to apply once the soil is dry enough. Even though the acres of wheat are much lower than they once were, wheat still ranks as the fourth most planted crop following corn, soybean, and alfalfa in Saline, Jefferson, and Gage counties with over 8,000 acres harvested in 2019. Nitrogen (N), sulfur (S) and chloride (Cl) are plant essential nutrients that wheat in southeast Nebraska may need to be fertilized with because the soil may not be able to provide a sufficient amount throughout the growing season.

   For yield goals over 80 bushels/acre, I suggest a total of 90 to 120 lbs N/ac be applied for the growing season. Nitrogen management programs for winter wheat vary in the area, but include four potential times: Fall, early spring after greenup, mid-spring prior to jointing, and at flag leaf. The best two times for including both the sulfur and chloride fertilizer with the nitrogen are during fall and early spring after greenup.

   Over the past decade, sulfur deficiency in wheat has become more common on no-till fine-textured soils in north-central and northeast Kansas along with southeast Nebraska. Many growers have noticed this and are already including sulfur on a regular basis. Because of the need for quickly available forms of sulfur, sulfate (dry) and thiosulfate (liquid) fertilizers are recommended for fall and early spring applications in wheat. I would suggest using application rates of 10 to 15 lbs S/acre as a starting point, and making future adjustments based on observations and tissue testing. This equates to 40 to 60 lbs of ammonium sulfate per acre or 3.5 to 5.2 gallons per acre of ammonium thiosulfate. Please remember to account for the nitrogen value in these fertilizers or pounds of N applied towards your total N goal.

   Chloride fertilizer application is something that you may benefit from. Recent analysis in Kansas, by K-State’s Soil Fertility Extension Specialist, Dorivar Ruiz Diaz, performed across multiple years and locations suggest an average yield response of 8% to chloride fertilization. Additional chloride uptake in wheat has been shown to suppress several wheat diseases including take-all root rot, stripe and leaf rust, and Septoria. Research has shown equal performance from both fall and spring topdress fertilizer applications. Utilizing K-State soil test recommendations, I have found that numerous wheat fields in east-central Nebraska were determined to be low in soil test chloride. As a result, I recommended to those producers to apply 20 lbs Cl/acre that equates to 44 lbs of potash fertilizer per acre be applied with their spring topdress application of nitrogen.

   In summary, though not as frightening as lions and tigers and bears, we do need to evaluate our nutrient management plans for winter wheat with nitrogen and sulfur and chloride in mind. To learn more about winter wheat management in eastern Nebraska, contact me (, 402-821-2151, to subscribe to my weekly email called “What’s up this Wheat?” that provides weekly highlights and resources. Know your crop, know your tech, know your bottom line.

Last Push to Submit 2020 Custom Rates Surveys

Glennis McClure - NE Extension Farm and Ranch Management Analyst

Data from the 2020 Custom Rates Survey for Nebraska will be collected until mid-April. Every two years a survey of Nebraska custom operators is conducted to determine the current rates for specific machinery operations and agricultural services. There are fifteen main categories of custom work noted in the survey ranging from tillage and planting operations, harvesting, haying, hauling, fencing, waste handling, and custom contract farming as examples.

Printed surveys were mailed out in February and online survey links were provided to operators that provided their email contact. If you provide custom hire services in Nebraska, and have not completed the 2020 custom rates survey, please complete the following form online and the survey link will be sent to you. The survey will be open until mid-April.

Register to Take the Custom Rates Survey...

The custom rates report generated from this market rate survey is widely used by custom operators and producers seeking current pricing for services. The survey is only completed every other year so it is important that we capture current information from survey participants now. The custom rates report will be published by the middle of 2020. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln only reports district and state rate averages and ranges. Individual data is kept confidential.  

Cattle Feeders Should Stay Flexible, Seek Advice amid COVID-19

Disruptions caused by COVID-19 grow each day. Volatility in the cattle market was one of the first disruptions, and now with ethanol plants slowing production or shutting down, local availability of corn co-products may be limited.

Dan Loy, director of the Iowa Beef Center and extension beef specialist at Iowa State University, said making plans now based on current and potential input availability will help producers determine their next steps.

“This situation is very local, continuously changing, and will vary from producer to producer and community to community,” Loy said. "Supply disruptions could potentially affect other inputs such as feed additives, implants and trace nutrients. Hopefully these disruptions will be short-lived."

Here are three tips to help cattle feeders manage the current challenges for their operation.

    In feedlot diets, soybean meal or urea based supplements (dry or liquid) can replace all of the protein from corn co-products.

    However, remember that smaller calves, calves with lower feed intake or those on growing diets may not be able to utilize all of the protein from urea. loading distillers grains.Formulating on the basis of metabolizable protein accounts for this. The high solubility of urea also comes with limits. Consider these limits for the safety of beef cows and backgrounding cattle.

    Other potential protein sources that may be available include whole soybean. At 40% protein soybean can be a good protein source for beef cattle. The fat content (20%) limits the amount that can be fed. Also, cereal rye, harvested at the boot stage, can be as high as 20% protein or higher.
    When substituting a higher protein supplement for distillers grains, you will likely be substituting corn for distillers as a source of energy, adding more starch to the diet.

    Be sure to use an adjustment period and consider adding more fiber to the diet and managing feed bunks more closely.
    Lean on your nutritionist and other advisers.

    In Iowa, your regional extension beef specialist is a good resource for advice on options available. Find your specialist on the ISU Extension and Outreach website. If adjustments need to be made to implant or supplementation strategies, base your decision on the options available and research-based information.

For more information on changes and updates, visit the Iowa Beef Center’s COVID-19 web page. For more information about IBC, visit

Hoppes Named Iowa Beef Industry Council Executive Director

Rex Hoppes has been named Executive Director of the Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC). A livestock farmer near Van Meter, Iowa, Hoppes has a successful background working for Iowa agricultural organizations, including the Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, and the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers. In addition, he has significant experience in beef cow/calf and swine farrow-to-finish production systems.

“We’re thrilled to get someone with Rex’s experience and talent to lead the staff at IBIC,” says Janine Moore, a beef producer from What Cheer, Iowa, and IBIC chair. “Our team of volunteer leaders and professional staff at IBIC work with purpose and passion to support the beef industry in Iowa, which is more than 25,000 operations strong and contributes over $6 billion in economic activity to the state. With Rex at the helm we will continue our mission to not only produce the country’s finest beef but do it as stewards of a vibrant, sustainable environment.”

Hoppes says he is honored to take on this opportunity to build on IBIC’s tremendous momentum. “Producing quality beef and building consumer trust is everyone's responsibility. At IBIC we have strong partnerships with a wide range of groups that have an impact on the success of our industry, including consumers, educators, health and nutrition professionals, purveyors, retailers and academia,” he says. “We will continue to build those relationships to benefit those who enjoy and those who raise beef.”

Growing up on a livestock and grain farm in Ohio, Hoppes earned a degree in agriculture from Black Hawk East College and one in animal science from Iowa State University. He is a partner in Advanced Beef Genetics, LLC in Van Meter and Wiota, Iowa. Hoppes and his wife Joyce have two grown sons.

State Beef Councils Win Major Legal Victory

The Beef Checkoff program and fifteen grassroots-led state beef councils won a major court victory today when the United States District Court of Montana ruled in favor of USDA and the Montana Beef Council in the matter of R-CALF vs. Sonny Perdue and USDA.

NCBA praised the court’s decision, which ends a legal battle that has spanned more than three years and interrupted beef promotion functions in Montana. The case had threatened local input and promotion efforts at the state level across the country.

“The foundation of the Beef Checkoff has always been state beef councils that collect checkoff funds and determine how those investments are used for research, marketing and promotion efforts in individual states. Those efforts are directed by the same cattlemen and cattlewomen who pay the checkoff, so this victory goes a long way toward ensuring they continue to direct those investments,” said NCBA CEO Colin Woodall.

Woodall emphasized that NCBA will continue to stand with state beef councils whose work is crucial to maintaining beef demand throughout the nation.

Smith Supports CARES ACT Providing Relief to Americans

Congressman Adrian Smith released the following statement after supporting Phase III of the COVID-19 assistance negotiated by the Trump administration, known as the CARES Act:

“This package is aimed at providing assistance for Americans with tax relief, benefits for those who need it, and helping our businesses stay afloat so we can resume a strong economy when the pandemic subsides. I worked to ensure rural America was not left behind, and am pleased this bill addresses the funding needs of Critical Access Hospitals, expands telehealth access for Medicare beneficiaries, and provides funding to address dropping agricultural prices. Although I have concerns about the price tag of this bill, the consequences of doing nothing are too great. We must act for the American people.”

 Nebraska Cattlemen Applauds the Passage of the CARES Act

Nebraska Cattlemen applauds the Senate passage of the CARES act with a vote of 96-0. We extend our sincerest thank you to our Nebraska congressional delegation for their work in the passage of this act and their vocal support to the beef industry.

Nebraska Cattlemen will ask USDA to utilize funds dedicated to livestock producers in the CARES act to issue one-time payments to producers who experienced loss exposure resulting from the COVID 19 disruption, as well as modify and subsidize producer risk protection programs.

The CARES act addresses short-term priority relief to our cattlemen and women through this pandemic. While we are grateful for a win on these short-term priorities for Nebraska Cattlemen, our focus intensifies on our long-term agenda. These items include:
-   Exploring modifications to existing risk mitigation programs like the Livestock Risk Protection program (LRP) or others to incentivize participation by cattlemen.
-    Exploring ideas to incentivize more cattle to be marketed on the cash market, thereby increasing true price discovery and transparency in the marketplace. NC policy encourages cash negotiated trade levels reach 50% of fed cattle marketed.

“These are unprecedented times and our industry, among others, is hurting. Cattlemen are resilient but appreciate the short-term relief the CARES act that will provide to our industry. This is a short-term fix and Nebraska Cattlemen has a big agenda for the long-term. We will continue working hard for our members through this time and beyond.” Ken Herz – Nebraska Cattlemen President.

Secretary Perdue Statement on Coronavirus Rescue Package

 U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement after President Donald J. Trump signed the CARES Act:

“The passage of the Coronavirus response legislation will provide much needed relief to Americans across this country, especially workers and small-business owners who have been impacted by COVID-19. President Trump has made the safety and security of the American people a top priority during this national emergency, and this bill will help make Americans more financially secure. At USDA we will deliver relief assistance to farmers and ranchers as quickly as possible,” said Secretary Perdue. “Americans across the nation are stepping up to the challenges facing them during these uncertain times. At USDA we are doing our part to ensure those who need help will get it, whether it’s through nutrition assistance, ensuring the food supply chain is safe and secure, or through new flexibilities with our Rural Development loan programs.”

The CARES Act contains $9.5 billion in assistance for agriculture producers who have been impacted by COVID-19 along with a $14 billion replenishment to the Commodity Credit Corporation. In addition, the legislation includes $100 million in ReConnect grants to expand access to broadband in rural America for educational purposes, business, and access to critical telehealth services.

ARA Commends Congress on CARES Act Passage

Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) President and CEO Daren Coppock released the following statement following both chambers of U.S. Congress passing a historic stimulus package as a result of the novel Coronavirus pandemic:

"We recognize that the health and safety of all people is a priority at this time. ARA is grateful that Congress is taking swift action to remedy the current situation in our country through passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).

"Ag retailers and their farmer customers, as always, are committed to continuing their businesses so that they can deliver the safe, healthy, and abundant food supply that is in demand now and required for the future.

"We are pleased with the support that Congress has included for the agriculture industry in this bill, and encourage the president to sign it so that we can have certainty moving forward."

NCBA Sends Letter to Ag Secretary Perdue Urging Aid for American Cattle Producers

Following final passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act by the U.S. House of Representatives, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) today sent a letter urging United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue to “take immediate action to provide much-needed relief to cattle producers who have been negatively impacted due to the ongoing Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic.”

“We applaud those House members who rose above party politics to deliver this much-needed relief to American families, especially those in cattle country,” said NCBA President Marty Smith. “It is now incumbent upon Secretary Perdue and his team at USDA to make sure the relief made available by this legislation is speedily delivered to cattlemen and women nationwide. As the largest and oldest national organization representing cattle producers, NCBA stands ready to assist USDA to ensure this happens as quickly and equitably as possible.”

The full letter, signed by NCBA and 45 affiliate organizations, can be viewed here.

The CARES Act was passed this afternoon by the U.S. House of Representatives on a voice vote. The Senate passed companion legislation earlier this week and the bill now goes to the White House for President Trump’s signature. Once enacted, the bill will replenish USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation borrowing authority at the $30 billion level. Those funds can then be used to offset adverse economic effects related to COVID-19 for cattle producers across the supply chain.

NMPF Statement on President Trump’s Signing of Coronavirus Legislation

In response to President Donald Trump’s signing of the CARES Act addressing the coronavirus crisis, National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) President and CEO Jim Mulhern offered the following statement:

“We thank President Trump for quickly signing this measure into law. It will provide much-needed help to dairy producers, who are experiencing steep drops in milk and dairy-product prices due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With the CARES Act now law, we look forward to working with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on several important initiatives, including the need for a significant purchase of multiple dairy products. These efforts will be important to address sales lost because of COVID-19, lift farm milk prices and send a critical signal to disrupted dairy markets. Government dairy-product purchases will provide our food banks with an important, nutritious and popular staple item that will help feed families in need.”


The National Pork Producers Council, the Swine Health Information Center, the National Pork Board, and American Association of Swine Veterinarians jointly developed this week a farm crisis operations planning tool to ensure the U.S. pork industry is prepared for any emergency event. "Emergency events such as natural disasters, disease outbreaks, public health emergencies or market disruptions can lead to reduced or suspended access to resources needed to manage and care for pigs. This can force farmers to deviate from their daily standard operating procedures. "

In preparation for these emergency events, it is important for farmers to work with their production team, including their herd veterinarian, to establish site- or operation-specific crisis operating plans that help contribute to business continuity. This tool highlights key resources and supplies that may be affected during various states of emergency. It can also be used to facilitate discussion and planning for how to anticipate and implement emergency operation plans before the next state of emergency."

To view a copy of the planning tool, click here...  

EPA Announces Steps to Protect the Availability of Gasoline during COVID-19 Pandemic

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced several steps the Agency is taking to protect the Nation’s gasoline supply in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

EPA intends to provide additional flexibility to the marketplace to transition from winter-grade, high volatility gasoline to summer-grade low vapor pressure gasoline. Due to the steep fall-off in gasoline demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, gasoline storage capacity is limited and more time is needed to transition the distribution system in order to come into compliance for the summer driving season. EPA will temporarily waive the summer low volatility requirements and blending limitations for gasoline.

Without a waiver of the summer gasoline requirements, parties upstream of retailers and wholesale purchasers would be required to stop selling the winter gasoline sitting in their storage tanks on May 1, 2020, which would prevent them from loading summer gasoline into the storage tanks, resulting in a shortage of gasoline. By waiving the low volatility and blending limitations through May 20, 2020, EPA will ensure a steady supply of gasoline. EPA will continue to monitor the adequacy of gasoline supplies and, should conditions warrant, may modify or extend this waiver at a later date.

Additionally, EPA does not intend to unilaterally revisit or rescind any previously granted small refinery exemptions issued for prior compliance years. As noted in the temporary policy on COVID-19 Implications for EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Program, issued yesterday, EPA is focused on protecting our employees and ensuring continued protection of public health and the environment from acute or imminent threats during the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, investigating and initiating enforcement actions against small refineries that were previously subject to an exemption is a low priority for the agency. EPA intends to develop an appropriate implementation and enforcement response to the Tenth Circuit’s decision in RFA v. EPA once appeals have been resolved and the court’s mandate has been issued.

Finally, in a forthcoming action, EPA intends to extend the RFS compliance date for small refineries to provide them with additional flexibility. 

RFA: EPA Stall Tactic on Tenth Circuit Just Delays the Inevitable

As part of a package intended to “protect the nation’s gasoline supply in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced it intends to wait until “appeals have been resolved and the court’s mandate has been issued” before developing “an appropriate implementation and enforcement response to the Tenth Circuit’s decision in RFA v. EPA.” On Tuesday, two refiners asked the Tenth Circuit for a rehearing en banc of the RFA v. EPA decision, in which the court struck down three small refinery exemptions and determined EPA had vastly exceeded its statutory authority. Notably, EPA did not ask the court to rehear the case. In response to today’s announcement, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper released the following statement:

“EPA’s attempt to kick the can on nationwide application of the Tenth Circuit Court decision has nothing to do with COVID-19 and everything to do with politics. There is absolutely no reasonable justification for delaying implementation of the court’s decision. The court has already ‘issued a mandate’ and remanded three improperly granted exemptions back to the agency to resolve. EPA correctly chose not to seek a rehearing of the Tenth Circuit decision this week, signaling that it will abide by the decision and move swiftly to implement it. What are they waiting for? There is no rationale for EPA to wait for the courts to respond to the refiners’ hollow request for a rehearing before moving forward with adoption of the decision. In any event, given the unanimous and thoughtful decision by the Tenth Circuit panel that heard the case, we are confident that the ruling is going to be upheld. As ethanol plants are shutting down across the country and farmers are experiencing substantial demand losses, now is not the time for EPA to slow-walk implementation of a court order that would begin to restore integrity to the RFS program.”

Thursday March 26 Hogs & Pigs Report + Ag News


Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on March 1,2020, was 3.80 million head, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. This was up 6 percent from March 1, 2019, but down 1 percent from December 1, 2019.

Breeding hog inventory, at 440,000 head, was down 2 percent from March 1, 2019, but unchanged from last quarter. Market hog inventory, at 3.36 million head, was up 7 percent from last year, but down 1 percent from last quarter.

The December 2019 - February 2020 Nebraska pig crop, at 2.20 million head, was up 3 percent from 2019. Sows farrowed during the period totaled 190,000 head, up 3 percent from last year. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.60 for the December - February period, compared to 11.55 last year.

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 190,000 sows during the March - May 2020 quarter, down 5 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago. Intended farrowings for June - August 2020 are 190,000 sows, down 2 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago.


On March 1, 2020, there were 24.6 million hogs and pigs on Iowa farms, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Hogs and Pigs report. The March 1 inventory is up 4 percent from the previous year.

The December-February 2020 quarterly pig crop was 5.85 million head, down 5 percent from the previous quarter and 1 percent below last year. A total of 520,000 sows farrowed during this quarter. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.25, down 0.10 from the previous quarter.

As of March 1, producers planned to farrow 510,000 sows and gilts in the March-May 2020 quarter and 510,000 head during the June- August 2020 quarter.

United States Hog Inventory Up 4 Percent

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on March 1, 2020 was 77.6 million head. This was up 4 percent from March 1, 2019, but down 1 percent from December 1, 2019.  

Breeding inventory, at 6.38 million head, was up slightly from last year, but down 1 percent from the previous quarter.  Market hog inventory, at 71.3 million head, was up 4 percent from last year, but down 1 percent from last quarter.

The December 2019-February 2020 pig crop, at 34.7 million head, was up 5 percent from last year. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 3.16 million head, up 2 percent from previous year. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 49 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high of 11.00 for the December 2019-February 2020 period, compared to 10.70 last year.

United States hog producers intend to have 3.12 million sows farrow during the March-May 2020 quarter, down slightly from the actual farrowings during the same period one year earlier, but up 2 percent from the same period two years earlier. Intended farrowings for June-August 2020, at 3.13 million sows, are down 4 percent from the same period one year earlier, and down 1 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 49 percent of the total United States hog inventory, up 2 percent from the previous year.

NDA Announces Winners of Ag Poster Contest

National Ag Week is March 22-28, and the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) is adding to the week-long celebration by announcing the winners of its 17th annual poster contest. More than 1,750 students in grades 1-6 from all across Nebraska entered NDA's annual poster contest by highlighting agriculture, the state's number one industry.

"These posters truly express how Nebraska agriculture brings us together," said NDA Director Steve Wellman. "The students who entered this year's contest lifted our spirits with their colorful posters about agriculture and the many contributions the ag industry makes to our state. We appreciate their efforts and the extra time teachers and parents spent to help make our contest a success."

The posters, depicting this year's theme of "Nebraska Agriculture Brings People Together," were judged in three categories: first and second grade; third and fourth grade; and fifth and sixth grade. Here are the winners, grade levels and schools they represent.

In the first and second grade division:
1st place: Hayden Saxton, 2nd grade, Weeping Water Elementary School
2nd place: Santiago Castillo, 2nd grade, Chase County Schools in Imperial
3rd place: Riley Reiman, 2nd grade, Weeping Water Elementary School
Governor's Choice: Ashlynn Pursley, 2nd grade, Chase County Schools in Imperial

In the third and fourth grade division:
1st place: Paisley Peterson, 3rd grade, Oakland-Craig Elementary School in Oakland

2nd place: .Mackenna Wollenburg, 4th grade, St. John Lutheran School in Seward
3rd place: Jett Henderson, 4th grade, Weeping Water Elementary School
Governor's Choice: Cooper Bartling, 4th grade, Ackerman Elementary School in Omaha

In the fifth and sixth grade division:
1st place: Sophia Spieker, 6th grade, St. Mary's Catholic School in Wayne

2nd place: Brandon Rosas, 5th grade, Knickrehm Elementary School in Grand Island
3rd place: Destiny Maya, 5th grade, Pershing Elementary School in Lexington
Governor's Choice: Regina Corado Cruz, 5th grade, Knickrehm Elementary School in Grand Island

NDA announces the winners of its annual poster contest during National Ag Week to highlight the diversity of agriculture and celebrate the food, feed and fuel that farmers and ranchers provide every day. The winning posters and the names of the schools submitting entries are on NDA's website at .

CASNR virtual tours kick off March 25

While in-person tours at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have been canceled in response to the spread of COVID-19, the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources will host virtual tours for prospective students and families.

Since March 25, CASNR has hosted online informational sessions to prospective students and their families daily at 11 a.m. CDT. Students first log in to hear from their chosen college (CASNR) and then transition to virtual breakout rooms for individual academic appointments with majors and advisors.

The virtual sessions also include a video tour of East Campus, hosted by CASNR Ambassador Sydney Brewer for students and families from all over the world.

“CASNR is here for you, and we are embracing changes with innovation and resilience,” said CASNR Recruitment Associate Taylor Hart.

CASNR offers a plethora of degree programs that prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s greatest challenges. Prospective students are invited take an online quiz to see which of the 31-degree programs within CASNR best fits their passions and interests.

For current CASNR students, a new weekly video series, What’s Up Wednesday, helps keep them up to date on daily happenings around campus. The video series also allows the CASNR community to engage with their favorite staff, faculty and students. What’s Up Wednesday videos are available on the CASNR Facebook page.

CASNR Dean Tiffany Heng Moss kicked off the first video in the series. Future videos will feature various members of the college community sharing information on student resources, opportunities, and updates on how CASNR faculty and students alike are transitioning to online learning.

Prospective CASNR students can register for virtual tours online at Current CASNR students, faculty and staff can view What’s Up Wednesday videos on the CASNR Facebook page. For more information about CASNR, call 402-472-2201 or

Valero Halts Some Ethanol Production

At least two of Valero's 14 ethanol plants may be temporarily halting production, citing excess ethanol in storage as gasoline demand is falling amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

In letters sent to traders this week, the company said it was unable to fulfill contracts with traders who sell dried distillers grains for its plants in Albion, Nebraska, and Albert City, Iowa. In addition, Valero has notified corn purchasers for its Lakota, Iowa, ethanol plant that it is not buying corn.

Valero cited the pandemic as a force majeure event in making the decisions.

Force majeure is a clause included in contracts to remove liability for natural and unavoidable catastrophes that interrupt the expected course of events. In this case, Valero isn't required to fulfill its contract obligations.

Valero is one of the largest ethanol producers in the United States with an annual capacity of about 1.73 billion gallons.

USDA Announces More Than 3.4 Million Acres Selected for General Signup Conservation Reserve Program

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced the acceptance of more than 3.4 million acres in the general Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) signup recently completed, the first general signup enrollments since 2016. Through CRP, farmers and ranchers receive an annual rental payment for establishing long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees, to control soil erosion, improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat on cropland. Farmers and ranchers who participate in CRP help provide numerous benefits to the nation’s environment and economy.

“The Conservation Reserve Program is one of our nation’s largest conservation endeavors and is critical in helping producers better manage their operations while conserving valuable natural resources,” Perdue said. “The program marked its 35th anniversary this year, and we were quite pleased to see one of our largest signups in many years.”

Over these 35 years, CRP has addressed multiple concerns while ensuring the most competitive offers are selected by protecting fragile and environmentally sensitive lands, improving water quality, enhancing wildlife populations, providing pollinator forage habitat, sequestering carbon in soil and enhancing soil productivity. Seventy percent of the nation’s land is owned and tended privately, and America’s farmers, ranchers and landowners have willingly stepped up to protect the environment and natural resources.

This general signup included offers for State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE), which allows producers to install practices that benefit high-priority, locally developed wildlife conservation objectives using targeted restoration of vital habitat. Over 95 percent of SAFE offers submitted were accepted under this general signup representing more than 487,500 acres. This acceptance level highlights the commitment to SAFE as an important part of CRP.

The 2018 Farm Bill established a nationwide acreage limit for CRP, with the total number of acres that may be enrolled capped at 24.5 million acres in 2020 and growing to 27 million by 2023.

While the deadline for general CRP signup was February 28, 2020, signups for continuous CRP, Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, CRP Grasslands and the Soil Health and Income Protection Program (SHIPP) are ongoing. The CRP Grasslands deadline is May 15, and the SHIPP signup begins March 30, 2020, and ends August 21, 2020.

FFA Members Work Together to Spread Messages of Positivity

FFA members across the country have a heart for service — and now more than ever, it shows.

FFA members have given back to their communities through a variety of service projects – whether it’s helping with community gardens, volunteering at senior living facilities or helping to clean up green spaces. In a recent survey, FFA state officers indicated that, on average, they participate in one to two community service events a month.

Today, as a new reality sets in with COVID-19 and e-learning becomes the new norm, FFA members are finding ways to encourage others online by sharing messages of positivity. Mamie Hertel, National FFA central region vice president, reached out to several members from across the country to compile words of support from others in a new video.

In addition to the video, the 2019-20 National FFA Officer Team is posting inspiring messages each day on Facebook Live, except for Sunday, staying in touch with tomorrow’s leaders. FFA members, in turn, are joining in the conversation as well. For example, Emily Nave from Tennessee shares that she’s keeping upbeat by doing things she enjoys, such as painting. FFA alumni Adrian Schunk from Michigan shared that she does three things to stay positive – encourage others to learn something new, stay connected to one another and keep active!

“Our positive thoughts and words can make a world of difference to someone who is in need of encouragement,” Hertel said. “We all are capable of being more positive, so why not start today?”

USDA to Initiate Rulemaking on “Product of U.S.A.” Meat Labels in Response to OCM and AGA Petition

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) responded to a petition filed by the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) and American Grassfed Association (AGA) regarding truth in labeling of imported meat.

The OCM and AGA petition, filed in June 2018, called for FSIS to ensure only domestic meat products can be labeled “Product of U.S.A.” The current policy allows imported meat to bear the “Product of U.S.A.” label if it simply passes through a USDA-inspected plant, allowing foreign profiteers to mislabel meat products and plunder the profits of U.S. farmers and ranchers at the expense of U.S. consumers.

In today’s response, FSIS indicated it has decided to initiate rulemaking to define the conditions under which the labeling of meat products would be permitted to bear voluntary statements that indicate that the product is of U.S. origin, such as "Product of USA" or "Made in the USA.”

AGA Executive Director Carrie Balkcom said, “The members and supporters of American Grassfed will aggressively participate in the comment period when this rulemaking process opens. We ask that the comment period be sooner rather than later to allow American farmers to continue to Make America Great, per the mantra of our executive branch and its appointees. For the USDA to continue to allow foreign products to be labeled ‘Product of U.S.A.’ continues to penalize American family farms and farmers." 

OCM Executive Director Angela Huffman said, “Far too often, global monopolies control our regulatory system and almost guarantee the biggest cheaters win. We are encouraged that FSIS agrees with our concerns that the current ‘Product of U.S.A.’ labeling system causes confusion for consumers and takes money out of the pockets of the farmer. We want to thank FSIS for opening up the rulemaking process to right this wrong. Farmers, ranchers and consumers deserve fair and transparent markets.”

In today's response to OCM and AGA, FSIS said:
After careful consideration of your petition and the 2,593 public comments submitted to in response to your petition, FSIS has concluded that its current labeling policy, which permits meat and poultry products that were derived from animals that may have been born, raised and slaughtered in another country but processed in the United States to be labeled as “Product of USA,” may be causing confusion in the marketplace, particularly with respect to certain imported meat products.”

Following the repeal of mandatory Country of Origin Labeling in 2015, global meatpacking corporations began abusing the voluntary “Product of U.S.A.” label by misbranding meat and meat products from foreign countries as “Product of U.S.A.” after moving them through USDA-inspected processing plants. OCM and AGA continue to call on Congress and the Administration to reinstate mandatory Country of Origin Labeling.

Secretary Perdue Applauds State Department’s H-2 Decision

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement in response to the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to authorize temporary waivers for in-person interviews for eligible H-2 visa applicants.

“Temporarily waiving in-person interviews for H-2 visa applicants streamlines the application process and helps provide steady labor for the agriculture sector during this time of uncertainty,” said Secretary Perdue. “H-2 labor is vital to the economy and food security of America – our farmers and producers depend on these workers to continue to feed and clothe the world.”

USDA has been directly engaged with the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to ensure minimal disruption in H-2A and H-2B visa applications during these uncertain times. This Administration is doing everything possible to maintain continuity of this critically important program. These flexibilities will allow our farmers and ranchers to utilize workers they have used in the past, or those who are already in the U.S., to get our food from the farm to our tables.

ASA & Other Ag Groups: ‘Governors, Be Mindful of Supply Chain Impacts’

ASA and other ag groups sent a letter this week requesting that, during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, state governors be mindful of supply chain and workforce impacts on the ag community when considering individual response plans.

Consistency is important for farmers to continue operating and providing necessary inputs for the food and agriculture supply chain, especially as they approach spring planting season. These include, but are certainly not limited to, impacts on accessibility of seed, fertilizer, crop protection products, credit providers, agricultural labor, equipment, grains, oilseeds and processed commodities, flour, animal food and ingredients for food-producing animals, modes of transportation, daily movement of milk and all other agricultural commodities.

ASA and state affiliates will continue working with national and local government officials to ensure growers’ abilities to keep operating and provide the nation with a safe and abundant food and fiber supply now and in the future.

IGC Boosts Grain Production

Measures to halt the spread of coronavirus are disrupting the movement of grains and other vital food-stuffs, just as demand for rice and wheat-based products was surging, the International Grains Council said Thursday.

The group also raised its forecast for global grain production, but noted that its estimates were tentative until the full effect of the pandemic was known.

In its monthly report, the IGC upped its forecast for grain production in the 2019-20 season by 3 million metric tons to 2.175 billion tons. That was higher than the 2.139 billion tons produced in 2018-19.

The intergovernmental body also cuts its forecast for grain demand by 1 million tons to 2.192 billion tons. This compares with demand of 2.163 billion tons in 2018-19.

"Although import buying of some commodities has accelerated in recent weeks, logistical challenges are being reported as movement constraints and quarantine measures become widespread," the IGC said.

The IGC also issued its first set of projections for supply and demand in the 2020-2021 season in which it predicts a grain output of 2.223 billion tons and consumption of 2.226 billion tons, meaning a fourth consecutive year that the global grain market would be in deficit.

USGC Remains Committed To Global Customers During COVID-19 Pandemic

The U.S. Grains Council's (USGC's) staff and representatives around the world remain committed to the mission of developing markets, enabling trade and improving lives - even as that work goes fully virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re continuing operations in this new world that we are all living in,” said Ryan LeGrand, USGC president and chief executive officer. “We are staying on top of available market information in order to update our stakeholders on the status of global grain flows and port operations.”

Since the start of the outbreak, the Council has placed a priority on protecting employees. In late January, USGC staff in China went into telework status. Offices in South Korea and Japan followed suit in subsequent weeks, and other international offices transitioned to telework as the coronavirus outbreak continued to spread. Starting the week of March 16, the entire USGC staff globally began to work remotely from home and will continue do so until further notice.

Despite these global disruptions, USGC staff remain in close contact with customers and governments in the United States and around the world.

“We have everyone within the Council network working at home and making the best use of technology that we can to weather this storm,” LeGrand said. “What we’re trying to do is collect information by by maintaining our contacts and reporting back to the U.S. industry and vice versa.”

LeGrand issued a letter to those contacts this week, sharing important updates on the status of the U.S. grain export infrastructure. Operations are continuing largely as normal, at this time, with the exception of some concerns indirectly related to the coronavirus from a lack of containers.

“We have been in contact with a wide range of U.S. agriculture organizations at the state and national levels; coalitions focused on transportation; and private companies operating on the Mississippi, Illinois and Ohio river system and at export facilities in the New Orleans region as well as the Pacific Northwest region,” LeGrand wrote. “In all cases, we have heard back that operations are ongoing and facilities are taking precautions, such as increased sanitary protocols and social distancing, to ensure the spread of COVID-19 does not require a change in that status.”

The efficiency of the U.S. grain supply chain aids in this process. Much of U.S. agriculture and export infrastructure - from farms to ports - is relatively isolated. Most export facilities operate with limited employees, sometimes as few as two or three, and increasingly benefit from automation, which creates efficiencies, reduces costs and keeps operations in line with social distancing guidelines.

At the national level, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have declared U.S. agriculture and food infrastructure and the employees who work within it as “essential,” meaning they will continue to operate as normally as possible throughout this crisis.

The pandemic and its effect on the global economy continues to evolve rapidly, but the entire U.S. grain industry is cooperating and advocating for continued, stable operations in a very uncertain time. The Council will continue to provide regular updates and, as always, staff members - no matter their location - remain available to answer questions via e-mail or phone.

“We would like to thank you for continuing to put your trust in our farmers, exporters and staff members to help you buy what you need to run your businesses and to feed your communities,” LeGrand wrote to customers. “Each of us realizes the gravity of this situation and the importance of ensuring our work together continues unimpeded until this crisis resolves.”

FSA Makes Changes to Farm Loan, Disaster, Conservation and Safety Net Programs to Make it Easier for Customers to Conduct Business

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices are open by phone appointment only until further notice, and FSA staff are available to continue helping agricultural producers with program signups, loan servicing and other important actions. Additionally, FSA is relaxing the loan-making process and adding flexibilities for servicing direct and guaranteed loans to provide credit to producers in need.

FSA Service Centers are open for business by phone appointment only. While our program delivery staff will continue to come into to the office, they will be working with our agricultural producers by phone and using email and online tools whenever possible.

“FSA programs and loans are critical to America’s farmers and ranchers, and we want to continue our work with customers while taking precautionary measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus,” FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce said. “We recognize that farm loans are critical for annual operating and family living expenses, emergency needs and cash flow through times like this. FSA is working to find and use every option and flexibility to provide producers with credit options and other program benefits.”

FSA is delivering programs and services, including:
    Farm loans;
    Commodity loans;
    Farm Storage Facility Loan program;
    Disaster assistance programs, including signup for the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (this includes producers now eligible because of losses due to drought and excess moisture in 2018 and 2019);
    Safety net programs, including 2020 signup for the Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs;
    Conservation programs; and
    Acreage reports.

Relaxing the Farm Loan-Making Process

FSA is relaxing the loan-making process, including:
    Extending the deadline for applicants to complete farm loan applications;
    Preparing Direct Loans documents even if FSA is unable to complete lien and record searches because of closed government buildings. Once those searches are complete, FSA would close the loan; and
    Closing loans if the required lien position on the primary security is perfected, even for loans that require additional security and those lien searches, filings and recordings cannot be obtained because of closed government buildings.

Servicing Direct Loans

FSA is extending deadlines for producers to respond to loan servicing actions, including loan deferral consideration for financially distressed and delinquent borrowers.

FSA will temporarily suspend loan accelerations, non-judicial foreclosures, and referring foreclosures to the Department of Justice. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will make the determination whether to stop foreclosures and evictions on accounts under its jurisdiction.

Servicing Guaranteed Loans
Guarantee lenders can self-certify, providing their borrowers with:
    Subsequent-year operating loan advances on lines of credit;
    Emergency advances on lines of credit.

FSA will consider guaranteed lender requests for:
    Temporary payment deferral consideration when borrowers do not have a feasible plan reflecting that family living expenses, operating expenses and debt can be repaid; and
    Temporary forbearance consideration for borrowers on loan liquidation and foreclosure actions.

Contacting FSA

FSA will be accepting additional forms and applications by facsimile or electronic signature. Some services are also available online to customers with an eAuth account, which provides access to the portal where producers can view USDA farm loan information and payments and view and track certain USDA program applications and payments. Customers can track payments, report completed practices, request conservation assistance and electronically sign documents. Customers who do not already have an eAuth account can enroll at

FSA encourages producers to contact their county office to discuss these programs and temporary changes to farm loan deadlines and the loan servicing options available. For Service Center contact information, visit

Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. Shares Tips For Beef Safety At Home

With more time at home, consumers can confidently reach for beef as a reliable staple to nourish themselves and their families. Beef is not only an excellent source of protein; it also provides bodies with the strength to thrive throughout all stages of life. 

To ensure consumers are armed with knowledge to have the best eating experiencing with beef, the Beef Checkoff is here to provide some quick tips on how to safely handle and prepare beef when cooking at home.

Storing Beef:
    Refrigerate or freeze beef as soon as possible after purchasing.
    Ground beef can safely be stored in the refrigerator for one to two days before cooking or freezing. Once in the freezer, ground beef can be stored for three to four months before quality is impacted.
    Steaks and roasts can safely be stored in the refrigerator for three to five days before cooking or freezing. Once in the freezer, steaks and roasts can be stored for four to 12 months before quality is impacted.
    If you plan on freezing, repackage your beef into the right-size portion for upcoming meals.
    For longer storage, remove beef from original packaging and place into freezer bags or similar air-tight packaging to remove as much air as possible.

    Defrost beef in the refrigerator, never at room temperature.
    Account for 12 to 24 hours to defrost ground beef and steaks.
    Use a plate or tray to catch any juices.

    Wash hands well in hot, soapy water before and after handling raw meat and other fresh foods.
    Keep raw meat and juices away from other foods.
    Wash all utensils, cutting surfaces and counters after contact with raw meat.

    Always use a meat thermometer.
    Ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F
    Steaks and roasts should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F.
    Don’t forget to refrigerate leftovers within two hours after cooking.

“Beef is a nutrient rich protein that can be a great freezer staple for a variety of dishes and meals,” said  Alisa Harrison, senior vice president of Global Marketing and Research at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff. “With a few simple tips when it comes to storing, handling and cooking beef at home, families can feel confident that their beef meals will be delicious and flawlessly prepared.”

When you’re ready to get cooking, make sure to visit for more information on safe handling, hundreds of recipes, and even online cooking lessons. With step by step instructions and tips for a dozen different cooking methods, from grilling to pressure cooking, the cooking lessons are a great resource for all levels of home chefs.

GAO Finds USDA Improperly Paid More Than $930 Million In Farm Programs

In its latest report, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found government agencies made about $175 billion in improper payments. Of that total, USDA was responsible for $6.7 billion in improper spending to food stamps or farm programs.

The improper payments boil down to payments that never should have been made in the first place, or those made in the wrong amount, according to GAO. Improper payments increased year-over-year as 2018 only resulted in $151 billion spent incorrectly.

“However, the federal government’s ability to understand the full scope of its improper payments is hindered by incomplete, unreliable or understated agency estimates; risk assessments that may not accurately assess the risk of improper payment; and agencies not complying with reporting and other requirements in the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act of 2010,” the report continues.

Of the $6.7 billion USDA spent improperly, just under $1 billion of it went directly to farmer-facing programs. These improper payments are as follows:
    $612 million paid through Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage, improper payments were not reported in 2018.
    $282.5 million paid in crop insurance funding, compared to $184.2 of improper payments in 2018.
    $42.5 million in crop disaster assistance programs—about 23% of the payments were improper, the highest percent by farm program and up from $26.6 million in 2018.

“Improper payments… continue to be an area of fiscal concern in the federal government,” GAO reports. “Improper payments have been estimated to total almost $1.7 trillion government-wide from fiscal years 2003 to 2019.”

Sorghum Checkoff Extends Leadership Sorghum Class V Application Deadline

Due to current adverse circumstances, the Sorghum Checkoff has extended the application deadline for Leadership Sorghum Class V to April 10, 2020.

The program is designed to develop the next generation of sorghum leaders and exposes class members to various aspects of the sorghum industry, offers personal and professional development and networking opportunities over a 15-month time period.

USDA-approved criteria states eligible applicants must be farmers actively engaged in sorghum production within the U.S. and U.S. citizens. The program will accept 15 members into the program's fifth class. More information on the class schedule and program criteria can be found at

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 April 10, 2020. Accompanying reference forms must be submitted by the April 10 deadline, as well. Following the application deadline, all applications and references will be reviewed by a selection committee.

Wednesday March 25 Ag News

Senate Passes Additional Coronavirus Relief Package with Fischer’s Support

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) released the following statement today after the U.S. Senate passed an additional relief package to combat the outbreak of novel coronavirus. Senator Fischer has worked with her colleagues in a bipartisan manner to pass this relief for Nebraska families, businesses, and communities affected by COVID-19.

“We are in a crisis. We must provide people with relief and get our economy on the road to recovery, and that is exactly what the bipartisan legislation we passed today does. It includes relief for individuals, families, businesses, and communities. For small businesses, it ensures that they can keep their employees working and don’t have to shut their doors for good. For health care providers and first responders, it includes substantial hospital funding as well as my bipartisan bill with Rep. Bacon to help produce a sufficient supply of respirator masks. For communities, it creates a new coronavirus relief fund with $150 billion for state and local governments to help them address this pandemic.  And for agriculture, which provides one in four Nebraska jobs, it increases emergency response funding for producers impacted by COVID-19. We need to battle this virus, provide relief to our people through this stressful time, and get our economy stabilized,” said Senator Fischer.

More information on the relief package:


-          Provides $9.5 billion in emergency COVID-19 response funding for livestock producers, including cow/calf producers and feeders who are facing depressed prices and a volatile futures market
-          Safeguards supply chain to fulfill increased consumer demand during the crisis
o   This package provides funding for critical elements of oversight in that chain—including Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) money for continued slaughter and packaging inspections and Agricultural Marketing Services (AMS) money for continued commodity grading and inspection

-          Provides recovery checks of $1,200 for all individuals with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 or $112,500 in the case of those with a head of household filing status. Check amounts begin phasing out for incomes greater than $75,000 and completely phase out for individuals earning more than $99,000.
o   $2,400 for married couples with adjusted gross income up to $150,000
o   An increase of $500 for every child
-          Waives the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty for individuals withdrawing from qualified retirement accounts for virus-related challenges
-          Extends the amount of time a person can receive unemployment insurance and increases the amount of unemployment insurance available per person for up to 4 months

Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses:
-          Paycheck Protection Program: Makes funds available for Small Business Administration (SBA) to give forgivable loans to businesses, certain nonprofits, and veterans’ organizations with 500 or fewer employees who keep their employees on payroll
o   Loans of up to $10 million are eligible for full forgiveness if used to pay debt obligations and keep employees on payroll
o   Businesses can use these funds to cover costs related to payroll, interest payments on a mortgage, rent, utilities, health care benefits, and interest on any other debt obligations
-          Allows borrowers that have received or will receive an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) between January 31, 2020 and December 31, 2020 to be eligible for certain assistance under this program.

-          Provides $150 billion for states to use for COVID-19 expenses, allocated by population proportions, with a minimum of $1.25 billion for states with relatively small populations

-          Includes Senator Fischer’s legislation with Senator Sinema (D-Ariz.) to amend the PREP Act and ensure a sufficient supply of NIOSH-certified respirators
o   Current law, via the PREP Act, allows the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue a declaration granting limited liability protection to manufacturers and distributors of certain countermeasures against diseases—which includes respirators—when the government calls up that equipment to be used in the event of an outbreak or epidemic.
o   However, respirators which are overseen by NIOSH—an office within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—are not currently eligible for that protection.
o   This provision ensures that these respirators are eligible for the same federal liability protections as other medical products, vaccines, and drugs

-          Expands an existing Medicare accelerated payment program to ensure Critical Access Hospitals have a reliable and stable cash flow during COVID-19 response
-          Increases reimbursement for all Medicare providers, including an add-on 20% payment for hospitals for COVID-19 care specifically
-          $100 billion to ensure healthcare providers continue to receive the support they need for COVID-19 related expenses and lost revenue.
-          $275 million to expand services and capacity for rural hospitals, telehealth, poison control centers, and the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program
-          $1.32 billion for Community Health Centers and extend those set to expire on May 22, until Nov 30, 2020.
-          Makes over $330 million available to promote the use of telehealth technologies and the internet connectivity needed to boost telehealth networks.
o   Now more than ever, telehealth capabilities are critical for increasing access to screening and monitoring for patients, while minimizing COVID-19 exposure to others.

Students and Educational Institutions:
-          Defers student loan payments, principal, and interest for 6 months without penalty to the student

Fortenberry Statement on $2 Trillion Coronavirus Relief Package

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (NE-1) offered the following statement today on the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package coming up for a vote in the Senate.

“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.  People are suffering, and America is uncertain.  The bill acts to protect America’s health care system, protect individuals and families, and protect small business.  We are fighting to turn the corner on the disease and the loss of economic well-being at the same time.  With social distancing and aggressive health measures such as a surge in testing, we will keep you safe while helping small business stay open,” Fortenberry said.

“This bill gives $1200 per person, $2400 per couple, $500 per child, within certain limits.  Small businesses can quickly access loan funds through their local financial institutions, with a direct grant for eight weeks of wages and rent to keep people on the payroll.  Other provisions increase unemployment insurance, direct help to hospitals and deliver support to state and local governments,” Fortenberry added

NCBA Applauds Senate's Unanimous Passage of Relief Legislation That Will Benefit American Cattle Producers

NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs, Ethan Lane, tonight released the following statement in support of U.S. Senate passage of Coronavirus relief legislation that provides crucial federal disaster assistance for American cattle producers:

"Tonight’s passage of the CARES Act by the Senate represents the culmination of more than a week of unprecedented bipartisan work on behalf of the American people. This bill marks an important step toward ensuring America’s cattlemen and women will be able to continue the critical work of feeding the nation during this time of crisis. The beef community greatly appreciates the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as Sen. John Thune R-SD, Sen. John Hoeven R-ND, Sen. Jerry Moran. R-KS, Sen. John Cornyn R-TX,  Sen. Roy Blunt R-MO, Sen John Boozman R-AR, and Sen. Deb Fischer, R-NE, for their efforts to provide financial tools and security for cattle producers who have suffered economic hardship as a result of the global Coronavirus pandemic.

"The entire agriculture community requires the certainty this bill provides to ensure their livelihoods and the well-being of rural communities across the nation. We applaud the Senate’s action tonight and urge the House of Representatives to quickly pass the CARES Act and send it to the President’s desk."

NPPC Statement on Economic Stimulus Package

Today, Congress released language on its third stimulus package to aid those sectors of the economy impacted by COVID-19. As part of the funding, $14 billion was provided to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Commodity Credit Corporation to help agriculture, as well as a separate appropriation of $9.5 billion for livestock and specialty crops. A Senate vote is scheduled for later today, with the House expected to follow suit shortly thereafter. National Pork Producers Council President Howard "A.V." Roth, a pork producer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin, had the following statement:

"There is nothing more essential than food and water. U.S. pork producers can't telecommute and remain hard at work to provide pork products to American kitchens. But we have already suffered losses due to COVID 19-related concerns. These new financial setbacks come on the heels of two very difficult years during which pork was at the tip of the trade retaliation spear. We are pleased that the stimulus package includes funding for much-needed relief to livestock farmers, and we recognize a vote is pending. We look forward to working with Congress and the administration to make sure that all pork producers can access this critically important lifeline as we remain committed to keeping food on American tables."

Coronavirus Response Plan Provides Welcome Aid for Dairy; NMPF Thanks Congress

The National Milk Producers Federation commended members of Congress for successfully crafting a bipartisan package to provide support and relief during the coronavirus pandemic to all Americans, including dairy and other agricultural producers who are working night and day to provide a steady, safe supply of food to consumers nationwide.

“Dairy farmers have worked 24/7 to produce safe, affordable, and nutritious products for families throughout the coronavirus crisis, even as their own economic outlook grows darker,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF, the largest organization of U.S. dairy farmers. “Forecasts for milk prices have dropped significantly in the past month, with greater declines possible as the COVID-19 outbreak continues. We are very grateful that Congress understands the significant economic challenges our farmers face and is rising to that challenge on a bipartisan basis.”

Congress is expected to pass quickly the Senate’s coronavirus relief package, released today. The measure creates a $9.5 billion coronavirus agricultural disaster fund that specifically includes livestock and dairy producers, as well as critical assistance to small businesses that are a key link in the entire dairy supply chain. This essential funding will boost finances – and morale – at a crucial time, given the likelihood of widespread economic damage that may affect consumer demand and international trade. The bill also provides $14 billion in additional funding for the Commodity Credit Corporation that USDA can use to assist producers.

“We commend the bipartisan Senate negotiations that produced this outcome. We especially wish to thank Senators Chuck Schumer and Debbie Stabenow for ensuring that dairy farmers will receive significant support,” Mulhern said. “Their work greatly improved this bill. We look forward to its passage.”

NMPF is also grateful to House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson for putting forward multiple dairy provisions in the House of Representatives that will be helpful as the coronavirus-driven economic situation evolves, and to Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson for his ongoing advocacy and work during this challenging process.

NMPF also commended Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for his Department’s proactive, ongoing work to help agriculture manage the impacts of COVID-19. “Secretary Perdue and his team have worked tirelessly to assist dairy and all of agriculture as we deal with the challenges of this pandemic by taking actions across the scope of the agency to provide flexibility and assistance. We are very thankful for their collaboration,” Mulhern said.

NMPF looks forward to working with Congress and the Trump Administration on the additional legislative and administrative responses that are anticipated in upcoming weeks.

Coronavirus Aid Package Critical for Farmers

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall

The coronavirus aid package negotiated by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and agreed to by Senate leaders and the White House will help ensure farmers and ranchers are able to continue feeding America in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.

“Thanks to Leader McConnell and all the senators who diligently fought for farmers and ranchers to ensure they have our backs in the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. The aid to farmers in this package, including funding for the CCC and the Office of the Secretary, will allow USDA to begin crafting an appropriate relief program for agriculture.

“America’s farmers and ranchers face enormous volatility as markets and supply chains rapidly react to changes, but I’ll say again that farmers and ranchers will not let Americans down. All members of Congress must understand that farmers have almost no control over the prices of the goods we produce, so fulfilling our commitment to America requires a team effort.

“We urge swift passage and will continue working with Congress and the Administration to ensure there are sufficient resources to assist farmers, ranchers, rural communities and those in need in these very trying times.”

-    COVID-19 impact on agriculture includes a rapid and unanticipated decline in commodity prices, the likely closure of ethanol plants, the dramatic decline in full-service restaurant and school meal demand, and the reduction in direct-to-consumer sales.
-    The agreement reportedly includes a $14 billion increase in USDA’s borrowing authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation, consistent with a long history of the CCC being tapped to responsibly support agriculture in times of crisis, and $9.5 billion to assist specialty crop producers, direct retail farmers and livestock operators.
-    Forty-eight agriculture groups joined Farm Bureau in calling on Congress to expand USDA’s borrowing authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation.

Stimulus Bill Would Address Most Urgent Concerns for Family Farmers and Rural Hospitals, NFU Says

To alleviate the current and potential economic fallout from the global COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. lawmakers are poised to pass a response, relief, and stimulus package with a nearly $2 trillion price tag.

The bill, which is the most expensive in the country’s history, includes direct payments to individuals, $130 billion for hospitals, $14 billion to support family farmers and ranchers through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), $150 billion for local and state governments, and $300 billion in financial aid for small businesses. Additionally, it allocates funding for nutrition assistance programs, rural broadband, and rural health resources, as well as assistance for specialty crop growers, local food producers, and livestock and dairy farmers.

National Farmers Union (NFU) is extremely concerned about the public health and financial implications of this pandemic for rural and agricultural communities. On behalf of its nearly 200,000 family farmer and rancher members, the organization has asked the administration to ensure that rural hospitals are adequately prepared for this crisis and that that our food system can continue to operate. In a statement, NFU President Rob Larew thanked Congress for heeding many of those requests and urged them to enact the legislation as soon as possible.

“The challenges our country is currently facing are unprecedented – and they call for unprecedented solutions.

“Top of mind for most rural Americans is the health and well-being of their families and neighbors. Rural hospitals have historically been overlooked and underfunded, leaving most without the equipment or personnel they need to handle an onslaught of critically ill patients. This is particularly concerning as rural citizens are, on average, older and more likely to have other health conditions, making them more vulnerable to the virus. 

“Though public health is the most immediate and pressing matter, family farmers and ranchers are worried about their long-term financial stability as well. Many were already strained after a multi-year farm economy crisis and a global trade war. Now markets are evaporating as restaurants and schools shutter and exports stall. Farm labor is in short supply with borders closed and visa processing at a standstill. And falling commodity prices are quickly eroding farm income. If these disruptions continue, many operations won’t be able to last more than a few months.

“By providing much-needed support for rural health care and family farm agriculture, the stimulus bill would address many of our most urgent concerns. In the coming weeks, we will learn more about the additional needs of our rural health care system, farmers, and rural communities, and we urge Congress to be ready to address them."

Ramping Up Beef Promotion & Education

The Nebraska Beef Council wants to share how they are connecting with consumers and helping them deal with cooking at home, buying and storing beef and other topics. Although these are activities they do on a daily basis, they are ramping up some specific topics that are timely due to the COVID-19 situation. They will continue these efforts and will be nimble based on the consumer needs.

Beef Quick Tips are being distributed via social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram to help consumers utilize the beef products they are stocking in their refrigerators and freezers. Digital platforms allow for quick message distribution giving us access to over 30,000 Nebraska consumers in just one weekend.

With so much beef product being purchased for at-home use, food safety information is also being distributed to ensure proper handling & storage.

Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. Helps Consumers Prepare Beef At Home

 The Global Marketing and Research team at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, along with State Beef Councils across the country, are leveraging their extensive library of content, including advertisements, recipes, cooking videos and educational materials about beef nutrition to help consumers while they are home during the pandemic.

“We know consumers are seeking preparation and recipe tips for cooking beef at home,” said Alisa Harrison, senior vice president of Global Marketing and Research at NCBA.  “The good news is that and our partners with the Federation of State Beef Councils have great recipe ideas, resources and cooking tips that can help consumers as they transition to eating at home more.”

These same recipes and resources are also being provided to food influencers, supply chain partners and the news media to support their efforts to educate consumers about food preparation and healthy eating. Additionally, NCBA, is keeping in close contact with supply chain partners to provide support as they adjust to the current consumer and business environments. Beef preparation and recipes tips that are being provided to consumers through Checkoff-funded content include:

    Recipe Collections – While Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. has many recipe collections, current efforts are focused on sharing recipes that are easy, simple, affordable and kid friendly.
    Cooking Lessons – These lessons provide step-by-step instructions and tips for a dozen different cooking methods, from grilling to pressure cooking, these cooking lessons are a great resource for all levels of home chefs.
    Beef Safety Information – From beef handling and storage information to preparation guidelines and additional tips, the Beef Checkoff is providing consumers with the information they need for a safe eating experience.

Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom Offers Virtual At-Home Learning and Online Resources

The Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) program is offering virtual at-home learning resources for teachers, students, and parents during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We know this is a difficult time for educators and families in Nebraska. In continuing with our mission, we are happy to provide AITC materials in a convenient and helpful way for teachers and families now completing educational activities virtually and at home,” said Courtney Schaardt, director of outreach education.

The new virtual and at-home learning resources include live experiences, self-guided opportunities for students, and activity guides to aid parents and teachers.

The live experiences include a reading of the book Right This Very Minute. This beautifully illustrated book celebrates food and farming and inspires readers of all ages to learn more about where their food comes from – right this very minute. The video of the book read by Dawn Kucera, a farmer from Madison County, can be found on the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation Facebook page.

There will also be two virtual field trips to a Nebraska pig farm. These field trips will be live on the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation’s Facebook page. The first field trip is scheduled for April 14 at 1:00 p.m. (CT) with the subject of pig habitats, and the second field trip will be May 5 at 1:00 p.m. (CT) and will focus on the variation of pig traits.

“Facebook LIVE gives us an opportunity to allow pig farmers to open their barn doors to show what happens on their farm,” said Schaardt. “We’ve done virtual field trips for students in the classroom. Facebook gives us the opportunity to get into the homes of these students to continue their learning.”

The self-guided opportunities include many Agriculture in the Classroom resources, including all six editions of AgMag which highlight agriculture and the ways that we are connected to Nebraska agriculture. There are also a variety of websites available that are fun and interactive that highlight agriculture.

Virtual classroom visits will be an entertaining and unique way for students to get up close with learning about food, the environment, nutrition, and business. Each lesson is aligned to Nebraska State Standards for science, social studies, math, or language arts. The videos include a teacher teaching the lesson along with supplemental materials to coincide with the lessons. Visits will be available on the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation Facebook page starting April 15, with a new one being posted each week for at least six weeks. Virtual classroom visits will also be available on the Foundation’s YouTube channel.

“Virtual classroom visits will allow students to participate at their own pace,” said Schaardt. “Topics include pollination, water and soil, plant parts, future’s markets, pig habitats, and corn plastic.”

The Foundation revamped its resources to make the transition from in-person classroom learning to virtual learning and the plan is to add resources and learning opportunities as this challenging situation continues. Access all of the materials at

Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) is a statewide program that helps K-12 students and teachers develop an awareness and understanding that agriculture is their source of life’s necessities. AITC has a long history of creating resources tied to state education standards to assist teachers in connecting their students to their source of food, fiber, and fuel – agriculture!

Agriculture in the Classroom ® is a program coordinated by the National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization and supported by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In Nebraska, the Agriculture in the Classroom program is managed by the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, whose mission is to engage youth, educators, and the general public to promote an understanding of the vital importance of agriculture in the lives of all Nebraskans. For more information about the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, visit  

Center for Rural Affairs offers loan relief, emergency credit

The Center for Rural Affairs, based in Lyons, Nebraska, is offering relief to its borrowers experiencing a drop in revenue due to COVID-19.

“The Center for Rural Affairs is committed to helping our local business partners cope with the economic impact of COVID-19,” said Kim Preston, Center for Rural Affairs’ Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) director. “We know this is a difficult time for many, and we want to do what’s right for small business owners.”

Borrowers with loans in good standing who are experiencing a decline in revenue are eligible to request reduced payments or loan deferment for up to 90 days. In addition, for the next 90 days, all fees including late payment, overdraft, and rescheduling fees, will be waived for existing loans.

The Center for Rural Affairs is also making emergency credit available to qualifying Nebraska small business owners.

“We’re implementing an Express Loan based largely on credit history and pre-COVID-19 income that offers expedited funding of up to $7,500 for new borrowers and up to $10,000 for return borrowers with strong payment histories,” Preston said. “We will continue to offer affordable small business financing of up to $150,000 for small businesses in Nebraska through our traditional loan products.”

Staff, working remotely as much as possible, continue to provide free coaching and resources to small business owners. These services are offered in both English and Spanish.

“Our borrowers are an important part of the communities we serve,” Preston said. “We are committed to supporting local businesses. We’re in this for the long haul.”

The Center for Rural Affairs has lent more than $21 million to Nebraska small businesses since establishing its REAP program in 1990.

Visit to apply. Current borrowers can contact their loans specialist or call 402.687.2100.

 EPA Will Not Appeal 10th Circuit SRE Ruling

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement today after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decided not to appeal a ruling from the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. In that ruling, the court found that the EPA had overstepped its authority in granting a handful of small refinery exemptions (SREs) and ordered the agency to reconsider the exemptions.

“This is the right decision by the EPA. Recently, I led a bipartisan group of my Senate colleagues in a letter urging the EPA not to appeal the 10th circuit’s decision, and I’m pleased to see the administration heed our advice. This is a victory for Nebraska’s economy, especially our farmers and ethanol producers who are struggling due to the economic downturn and low commodity prices,” said Senator Fischer.

In late January, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down three small refinery exemptions that were deemed improperly issued by the 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. The court ruled that the RFS statute only allows agencies to grant extensions for continuously extended exemptions that have been in effect since 2011, which was not the case for these three exemptions.

In March, Senator Fischer led 16 of her Midwest colleagues in writing a letter to President Trump which encouraged EPA to not appeal the 10th Circuit Court decision.

IRFA: Trump Should Apply 10th Circuit Court Ruling Nationwide

The deadline has passed for the Trump administration to file an appeal of the 10th Circuit Court decision on refinery exemptions from the renewable fuel standard (RFS).

Earlier this year a 3-judge panel of the U.S. 10th Circuit Court unanimously found EPA abused their authority when granting refinery exemptions. Some refiners have appealed the decision, requesting a rehearing before the full 10th Circuit Court. With the deadline to file appeals past, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw made the following statement:

“The Trump administration’s decision today not to join the refiner appeals is good news in the midst of dark time for American biofuels producers, who are still hurting from three years of refinery exemption abuse, trades wars, and the demand-destruction caused by the spread of and global response to the coronavirus.

“But the future is still in limbo. We hope the Trump administration will quickly make clear to the market that they intend to do the right thing and apply the 10th Circuit Court decision nationwide. The Court’s decision is in line with Congressional intent of the RFS law. Applying this decision nationwide would be a key step to returning integrity to the RFS and ensuring 15 billion gallons will really mean 15 billion gallons.”

Upholding the 10th Circuit Court Ruling Brings Stability to the Renewable Fuels Industry

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig issued the following statement in response to the Trump administration’s decision to allow the 10th Circuit Court of Appeal’s ruling, which limited the use of small refinery waivers, to stand.

“We appreciate President Trump’s administration for upholding the unanimous 10th Circuit Court's decision,” said Secretary Naig. “Unfortunately, our biofuels producers are still struggling through the economic downturn, trade uncertainty and plummeting fuel demand. Many plants are reported to be ceasing production or closing. But, today, this is welcome news in a very uncertain time. President Trump’s actions signal that he has no intention of leaving rural America behind.”

The renewable fuels industry accounts for more than $5.3 billion — or about 3 percent — of Iowa’s GDP, $2.5 billion in household incomes and more than 48,000 jobs.

Renewable Fuels Coalition Welcomes Administration’s Decision Not to Seek Re-Hearing of Tenth Circuit SRE Ruling

Ethanol and farm groups today welcomed the Trump administration’s decision not to seek a re-hearing of a recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit that struck down certain small refinery exemptions (SREs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard. On Jan. 24, a panel of Tenth Circuit judges unanimously ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had vastly exceeded its authority in granting exemptions from 2016 and 2017 RFS requirements to three refineries.

The challenge was brought against EPA in May 2018 by the Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, American Coalition for Ethanol and National Farmers Union in response to the massive demand destruction caused by the Agency’s illegal and indiscriminate use of SREs. In the wake of today’s decision not to seek a re-hearing of the Renewable Fuels Association et al. v. EPA decision, the four groups called upon the EPA to immediately apply the court decision nationwide. The renewable fuels coalition released the following statement:

“We are pleased the Trump administration has decided not to side with oil refiners in seeking a re-hearing of this unambiguous and well-reasoned court decision in the Tenth Circuit. We trust this also means the administration does not plan to petition the Supreme Court for an appeal. Abiding by the court’s ruling is the right thing to do at a time when our industries and rural America are already suffering from the effects of COVID-19, the Saudi-Russia oil price war and ongoing trade disputes. We look to the RFS as a source of demand stability and certainty, especially in these troubling times. Requesting a re-hearing would have only prolonged uncertainty in the marketplace and exacerbated the pain and frustration already being experienced in the Heartland. With this key milestone now behind us, we look forward to EPA applying the Tenth Circuit decision nationwide to all SRE petitions, beginning with the 25 pending petitions for 2019 exemptions.”

In addition, the coalition noted that fully restoring the integrity of the RFS means also taking immediate action to restore 500 million gallons of inappropriately waived 2016 blending requirements, as ordered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. District in 2017 (Americans for Clean Energy v. EPA). “This is EPA’s opportunity to turn the page and start a new chapter—one in which the Agency faithfully follows the law and implements the RFS in a manner consistent with Congressional intent,” the coalition stated.

For the 2016-2018 RFS compliance years, EPA issued 85 SREs eroding more than 4 billion gallons of renewable fuel blending requirements. In addition to the Tenth Circuit decision and ACEI remand, the coalition continues to consider other actions that can recapture that lost demand.

NBB Welcomes Trump Administration Decision Not to Appeal 10th Circuit Ruling

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) today welcomed President Trump's decision not to join an appeal of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit's ruling in Renewable Fuels Association v. EPA. The Court's January decision invalidated three small refinery exemptions that the Environmental Protection Agency granted retroactively for the 2016 Renewable Fuel Standards, ruling they were not extensions of existing exemptions as required by the language of the law. The 10th Circuit Court further stated that EPA unlawfully considered factors outside the RFS and ignored evidence that refiners recoup any cost to comply with the program.

Although several petroleum refiners requested an en banc rehearing by the Circuit Court, NBB expects EPA to consider all pending 2019 exemption petitions in a manner consistent with the nationwide application of the 10th Circuit's decision.

Kurt Kovarik, NBB's Vice President of Federal Affairs, said, "NBB and its members greatly appreciate President Trump's commitment to support the biodiesel industry and the Renewable Fuel Standard. Last October, the President directed EPA to mitigate the damage to the industry and the RFS from small refinery exemptions. EPA should put an end to the unwarranted expansion of small refinery exemptions.

"EPA's small refinery exemptions destroyed demand for hundreds of millions of gallons of biodiesel and renewable diesel over the past three years. Producers are still struggling to regain momentum and growth; a handful of facilities remain closed after shutting down last year. The industry is also facing the economic impacts of the coronavirus and the threat to U.S. energy security from foreign countries flooding the markets with cheap oil. Applying the Court's ruling nationwide would eliminate an unnecessary ongoing challenge for the industry."

Beginning with the 2016 RFS obligations, EPA rapidly expanded the number of small refinery exemptions. The agency granted exemptions to 85 small refineries over three years, excusing 38.3 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel from the RFS obligations. That action destroyed demand for more than 4 billion gallons of renewable fuel, including advanced biofuels such as biodiesel, renewable diesel, and sustainable aviation fuel. In a supplement to the 2020 RFS rule, EPA acknowledged that it must account for the exempted volumes in order to ensure that RFS volumes are met, as Congress intended.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 3/20/2020

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending Mar. 20, ethanol production scaled back by 2.9%, or 30,000 barrels per day (b/d), to 1.005 million b/d—equivalent to 42.21 million gallons daily and the lowest volume since October. The four-week average ethanol production rate declined 1.1% to 1.041 million b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 15.96 billion gallons.

Ethanol stocks diminished by 1.9% to 24.1 million barrels for a seven-week low. Inventories shifted lower across all regions except the East Coast
(PADD 1). A majority of the stocks draw took place in the Gulf Coast (PADD 3).

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 January 2020.)

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market dropped 8.9% to 8.837 million b/d (371.15 million gallons per day, or 135.47 bg annualized). Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol declined 4.5% to 874,000 b/d—equivalent to 13.40 bg annualized and a six-week low.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production increased to 11.37%.

Retail Fertilizer Trends Again Mixed

According to retailers tracked by DTN, fertilizer prices for the third week of March 2020 are evenly mixed. The COVID-19 pandemic has had an effect on most everything in the world, even the fertilizer industry.

As has been the case in recent weeks, four fertilizers were lower compared to last month while the other four were higher. A new feature of the market last week, however, is the price of urea.

The nitrogen fertilizer was 6% more expensive compared to last month. The fertilizer's average price was $382/ton.

Three other fertilizers were higher in price compared to last month but none were up a considerable amount. 10-34-0 had an average price of $466/ton, anhydrous $491/ton and UAN32 $278/ton.

The remaining four fertilizers, meanwhile, had a slight price decrease compared to last month. DAP had an average price of $408/ton, MAP $433/ton, potash $370/ton and UAN28 $235/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 $0.42/lb.N and UAN32 $0.44/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are now all lower in price from a year ago. DAP is 20% lower, MAP is 19% less expensive, anhydrous is 18% lower, both UAN28 and UAN32 are 13% less expensive, urea is 5% lower, potash is 4% less expensive and 10-34-0 is 1% lower from last year at this time.

Cattle on Feed

Brenda Boetel, Dept of Ag Econ, University of Wisconsin - River Falls

The USDA released the latest Cattle on Feed report on March 20. Overall the report was neutral, and there were only slight deviations from the analyst's expectations for the report.

Cattle and calves on feed for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 11.8 million head on March 1, 2020. This is essentially unchanged from 2019, which was 11.7 million. Cattle on feed over 90 days is up 0.2%.

Marketings of fed cattle during February totaled 1.78 million head, 5.5% over 2019, with the same number of marketing days. Marketings represented 14.9% of the cattle on feed. March will likely see higher year-over-year marketings as well given the number of cattle on feed and the higher number of cattle on feed over 90 days.

Placements in feedlots during February totaled 1.71 million head, 7.9% below 2019. Net placements were 1.65 million head, down 7.8%. Although placements were expected to be lower, due to improved grazing conditions, the decrease in feedlot profit opportunity has contributed to the even lower placement numbers. Just one month ago, I was at a cattle producer meeting in Wisconsin talking about the profit potential feedlot producers would have this year. Today, cattle placed in March no longer have that opportunity and instead will experience losses.

Given the smaller placements in February and the likely smaller placements in March, expect smaller marketings later this summer.

Farm Futures planting intentions 2020: Farmers see corn as safe-haven

Jacqueline Holland, Grain Market Analyst, Farm Futures

While investors flocked to bonds for safety amid COVID-19 fears in recent weeks, farmers are resorting to their own version of a safe-haven asset: planting more corn acres.

According to Farm Futures’ latest survey, U.S. farmers intend to plant 96.4 million acres of corn during the 2020 planting season as a record number of 2019 prevented plant acres come back into 2020 production. Acreage projections for the 2020 season are the second-highest planting on record after 97.3 million corn acres were planted in 2012. The USDA releases its Annual Planting Intentions survey next Tuesday, March 31.

Our result is over 2 million more corn acres compared to USDA’s forecast of 94 million acres, released February at USDA’s Annual Outlook Forum. In the time between the two forecasts, the COVID-19 pandemic upended the global economy. Increased economic uncertainty, historically cheap input prices, and weakened soybean demand from China appears to have made corn the most optimal production choice amid limited options for Midwest farmers.

Survey respondents expect U.S. corn plantings to increase 6.7 million acres from last year’s planted acreage. Using a five-year average yield from 2014-2018, 2020 production could top out at a record-high 15.2 billion bushels, inflating domestic supplies following a lackluster year of exports.

Soybeans up as well

Farmers responding to the March 2020 Farm Futures survey also expect to plant 82.7 million acres of soybeans in 2020, up nearly 6.6 million acres from 2019 plantings. Survey results were 2.3 million acres shy of USDA’s February Outlook projection as farmers exhibited strong preferences for corn acreage in lieu of soybeans. But that could easily shift in the next couple weeks, depending mainly on weather factors.

The benchmark soybean-corn ratio has hovered at or near the pivotal 2.4 mark for much of the year. At its current level below 2.4, the markets favor corn acreage. But corn prices have lost strength in the last week amid corn basis collapsing across the Corn Belt last week on reduced ethanol demand.

The ratio is increasingly moving towards a preference for soybean acreage as ethanol plants across the country make downward production adjustments to offset shrinking profit margins. Potential purchases from China as part of the Phase 1 trade deal could further strengthen soybean prospects in 2020.

Weather will continue to be the dark horse in the race for 2020 planting acreage. Farmers in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan are still scrambling to harvest the last of 2019 crops left in the fields following a cold and wet 2019 harvest season.

If early showers continue to saturate Midwest soils in upcoming weeks, soybean acreage and corn prices alike may get a boost; farmers may be further delayed finishing 2019 harvest and beginning 2020 planting.  If rain continues to plague the Midwest, corn and soybean acreage may both end up lower this year.

Wheat gets demand boost from pandemic

Respondents also expect to plant more wheat acres. Those surveyed indicate 31.7 million acres of winter wheat had been planted, half a million acres more than USDA’s official estimate. Surveyed growers expect to plant 14.2 million spring wheat and durum acres, up 1% from last year. Farm Futures’ final wheat estimate of 45.8 million acres is approximately 800,000 acres more than USDA’s February Outlook estimate of 45.0 million acres.

Wheat demand received an unexpected boost in recent weeks from panic buying as consumer stockpiling increased demand for bread, pasta, and flour. An unexpected Chinese purchase of 12.5 million bushels of hard red winter wheat last week was a strong windfall for the wheat markets.

The uptick in demand could position 2020 wheat acreage as an alternative to corn and soybean acres as winter wheat plantings remain at the second-lowest acreage in history amid record-high global stocks.

Outlook for other crops

Sorghum estimates from the March 2020 Farm Futures survey placed 2020 planting intentions at 6.5 million acres, up nearly 1.2 million acres from 2019 plantings following a rebound in Chinese exports.
Global cotton manufacturing was an early casualty in the initial days of the pandemic and its bleed will likely continue through the 2020 growing season. Cotton growers in the Farm Futures survey projected a 2 million acre drop in 2020 acreage to 11.7 million acres as the industry recovers from the simultaneous supply and demand shocks incurred by the pandemic.

Forecasts in February could not have predicted the economic collapse witnessed in the past several weeks. With that in mind, remember that next week’s report is merely an indication of what farmers want to happen, not necessarily what will happen. Markets are at the mercy of uncertainty and volatility, which means significant factors today may shift by the time the 2020 crop is put into the ground.

The Farm Futures March survey was administered to 1,083 respondents on March 4-20 via an email questionnaire. During that time, the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on global markets and commodities. The U.S. energy and biofuel industries have become casualties in an oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia within the same period.

NGFA, ag groups, request expansion of hours-of-service exemption for all agricultural haulers during COVID-19 pandemic

In a letter to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and 53 other agricultural groups today urged that the agency grant relief from federal drive time rules for all truck drivers hauling agricultural goods.

“As trucking capacity and the availability of drivers tightens due to COVID-19, neither surge nor normal trucking capacity may be adequately available to provide the required just-in-time deliveries to animal feeding operations, food processing and manufacturing plants, distribution facilities, export facilities and retail outlets, which could result in significant food chain supply disruptions,” the groups said.

The agency previously issued an emergency declaration due to COVID-19, but that only exempted drivers delivering food to distribution and retail facilities from compliance with federal hours-of-service rules that limit drive time until at least April 12. The agency expressly included livestock in the exemption. However, today’s letter notes that FMCSA’s previous action “was insufficient to adequately encompass the major beginning and middle segments of the food and agricultural supply chain….Each sector of that chain is linked, and when one segment is affected adversely, the ripple effects extend throughout the supply chain.”

To address tightening trucking capacity and disruptions to truck transport, the groups urged FMCSA “to expand and extend the hours-of-service relief from farm-to-fork.”

The NGFA and other groups said the emergency declaration should be extended to include truck transport of: raw and processed agricultural commodities, animal food and feed ingredients, processed food and food ingredients, honey bees and farm supplies (such as seed, fertilizer and other agricultural products and chemicals needed by farmers to grow crops) “to adequately preserve the resiliency of our nation’s food supply during the pandemic.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently identified the full food and agricultural supply chain as essential critical infrastructure workers that have a special responsibility to continue operations, the letter noted.

“The operations within the food and agricultural chain are closely linked and continuing operations requires timely shipping and receiving…We urge FMCSA to extend the hours-of-service relief to include all food and agricultural critical infrastructure operations to ensure the viability of the food distribution system,” the groups stated.

The groups also requested that FMCSA add flexibility to the process for obtaining new restricted agricultural commercial driver’s licenses, assist in keeping truck washouts open that are necessary for the sanitary transportation of many food products, and provide leadership in harmonizing the temporary increases in truck weight limits that have been announced by several states.

The Andersons to Temporarily Close Some Ethanol Facilities

The Andersons, Inc. announced that it will idle its ELEMENT ethanol facility in Colwich, Kansas, in the coming days for an extended maintenance and repair period and will take spring maintenance shutdowns at the four facilities owned by The Andersons Marathon Holdings LLC (TAMH), a joint venture between The Andersons and Marathon Petroleum Corporation.

"Our primary reason for taking these actions now is the accelerating decline in demand resulting from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

"In the case of the ELEMENT plant, The Andersons and ICM will use the time to focus on the remaining steps needed to gain what we anticipate will be an industry-low carbon score," said Jim Pirolli, president of The Andersons Ethanol Group.

"For the TAMH plants, we will extend the spring maintenance shutdowns, allowing us to practice social distancing and good hygiene to protect our employees and the essential contractors who are required for the shutdown.

"We continue to communicate regularly with all our employees about staying healthy and modifying work practices to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus," added Pirolli.

The company expects to produce ethanol and its coproducts at approximately 50 percent of capacity in April, with a return to more normal production when demand improves.

It also anticipates bringing the ELEMENT plant back into production in the latter part of the second quarter.

Tuesday March 24 Ag News

Secretary Perdue’s Statement on National Ag Day
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement regarding National Agriculture Day and President Donald J. Trump’s Proclamation recognizing the importance of America’s farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers:

“Our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers in America are feeding and clothing the world. Now more than ever it’s important that the American people not forget that. Our farmers are resilient, and during these uncertain times they are still working, day in and day out, to produce what’s needed for our growing population,” said Secretary Perdue. “Today, on National Ag Day, I challenge the American public to keep our farmers, ranchers and producers on their minds – for all their work to provide us a safe, healthy and abundant food supply. We owe them a debt of gratitude.”

Chairman Peterson Statement on National Ag Day

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson released the following statement today in honor of National Ag Day:

“Today is National Ag Day, and in communities across the country, our national emergency has made all of us more aware than ever of how important the people who produce, distribute, cook, and sell our food are to the health and well-being of all Americans. We on the House Agriculture Committee have always been proud to stand up for agriculture and food in Washington, but today that role takes on even more meaning as we honor and thank the farmers and ranchers that anchor that system.”

NPPC Celebrates National Agriculture Day

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) stands with U.S. agriculture today as we celebrate National Agriculture Day and honor those workers who are essential to the nation's food supply.

In a declaration signed on Monday, President Trump said "since our nation's earliest days, farming communities have been a bedrock of our society....As our nation continues to face the unique challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, we pay tribute to the unbeatable strength of America's agricultural producers as they once again answer the call to feed our country and the world."

"Today's celebration to honor our farmers, producers and ranchers couldn't come at a more important time for our industry," said NPPC President Howard "A.V." Roth, a pork producer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin. "As we grapple with the spread of COVID-19 and its impacts on our daily lives, consumers can rest assured that U.S. agriculture will always be there to feed the nation and the globe. The U.S. hog farmers represented by NPPC are committed to keeping American kitchens stocked with affordable, nutritious protein," he added.

Learn more about U.S. pork producer efforts to ensure an uninterrupted supply of pork by visiting:

National Sorghum Producers Celebrates National Ag Day 2020

National Sorghum Producers joins the agriculture community to celebrate National Ag Day March 24, 2020. This is a time to recognize the essential role agriculture and the American farmer play contributing to our nation’s food security and the global economy.

“American agriculture has been a constant source of food, fiber and fuel throughout time, and especially in times of crisis. In this season of challenges and uncertainty, we are proud to see our producers doing their part to meet the needs of American consumers and those around the world,” NSP CEO Tim Lust said. “While sorghum is only one piece of the puzzle, we would like to say thank you to all agricultural producers and those in the food supply chain for their commitment to providing the products our modern world needs.”

“National Ag Day gives producers an opportunity to share with the world what we do to ensure a safe and reliable supply of products remains available for American and global consumers,” NSP Chairman Dan Atkisson, a sorghum producer from Stockton, Kansas, said. “Our association is proud of our producers, their families and all who contribute to the sorghum industry. National Ag Day is our chance to recognize their contributions and dedication to sharing their everyday lives and the impact they have on us all and to reassure the American consumer of the strong agriculture foundation we have here in America.”

Grain sorghum was planted on 5.3 million acres in 2019, and farmers from South Texas to South Dakota, the traditional Sorghum Belt, harvested over 340 million bushels. The inherent tolerance of sorghum to marginal lands and environmental conditions, its versatility as a food and feed grain, and its ability to produce high yields ensure its important, sustainable, role in the lives of millions of people throughout the world.

EPA Celebrates America’s Farmers and Ranchers on National Agriculture Day

Today and every day, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) appreciates America’s rich agricultural history and celebrates the work of American farmers and ranchers. In honor of National Agriculture Day and Week, the agency is highlighting the progress that farmers, ranchers and EPA have made to provide Americans with a safe, abundant, and affordable food supply.

“As we all work together to address the challenges that our nation is facing with the novel coronavirus, I want to thank our farmers for their courageous efforts to continue to provide our nation a safe, abundant and affordable food supply,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Farmers and ranchers are key to our environmental progress and the Trump Administration has worked to enhance our relationship with one of our strongest allies in fulfilling our mission to protect human health and the environment.”

Over 40 percent of all U.S. land in 2017 was farmland according to the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture Census of Agriculture, positioning U.S. farmers and ranchers to be one of the most important sectors in the U.S. economy. EPA is working closer than ever with other federal agencies to ensure consistent federal policies that provide certainty and regulatory clarity to the agricultural community. These actions include:
-    The Navigable Waters Protection Rule: On January 23, 2020, EPA and the Department of the Army finalized the Navigable Waters Protection Rule to define “waters of the United States” (WOTUS). This final rule gives landowners in rural America—including the agricultural community—clarity, predictability, and consistency under the Clean Water Act to understand where federal jurisdiction applies and where it does not. This straightforward regulation continues to protect the nation’s navigable waters while reducing bureaucratic barriers to agricultural production and growth and helping farmers and ranchers feed our nation and manage their land.

-    Year Round E15: The Trump Administration and EPA are making good on their promise to promote the growth of and remove barriers to renewable fuels by providing greater certainty and transparency to farmers and biofuel producers across the country. In May 2019, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler removed the key regulatory barrier to using gasoline blended with up to 15 percent ethanol (E15) during the summer driving season and reform the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program’s compliance system to increase transparency and deter price manipulation. Taken together, these steps follow through on the Trump Administration’s commitment to responsible environmental protection that promotes energy independence, regulatory reform, and increasing the use of biofuels to give consumers more choices, while supporting American farmers.

-    Protecting Pollinators from Harmful Pesticide Exposure: In 2019, EPA updated its bee mortality data table to help farmers and beekeepers know about how long a specific pesticide may remain toxic to bees and other insect pollinators following foliar application to crops. EPA is actively increasing awareness of pollinator protection in 2020 through a three-pronged approach consisting of a workshop/conference co-hosted by USDA, a series of webinars, and the renewal of relevant Memorandum of Understandings.

-    Approved First-Ever Pesticides for use on Hemp: In 2019, EPA initially approved 10 biopesticide applications for use on hemp, just in time to be used during the 2020 growing season. These approvals were made possible by the 2018 Farm Bill, which removed hemp-derived products from Schedule I status under the Controlled Substances Act. To date, 26 pesticide products are approved for hemp. As EPA receives additional applications to amend product labels to add use on hemp, the agency will process those applications on an ongoing basis.

-    Providing Growers with Crop Protection Tools: EPA’s pesticides program continues to protect public health and the environment while promoting a safe, abundant, affordable food supply. From 2017 to 2019, EPA registered over 60 new active ingredients and over 500 new uses of existing pesticides, providing growers with the tools they need to protect the country’s food supply.

-    Approving Innovative Pesticides: In 2019, EPA registered the first-ever pesticide product to help combat Pierce’s disease, a bacterium threatening the livelihood of U.S. grape growers.

-    Connecting Directly with Farmers: Under the Trump Administration, EPA has hosted 650 farmers at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. The agency also signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Future Farmers of America organization.

-    Building Trust and Partnerships: EPA is promoting the use of market-based and other collaborative approaches to improve water quality, including working with agriculture to identify opportunities to leverage existing conservation practices, promote new and innovative practices, and facilitate partnerships across sectors.

For more information about how EPA supports American agriculture, visit

Gov. Ricketts, Ag Leaders, and Healthcare CEOs Discuss COVID-19 Response in Nebraska

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts joined with Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Steve Wellman and Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson to discuss the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response in rural Nebraska.  The Governor also proclaimed March 22nd-28th as Ag Week in Nebraska and talked about the critical role of the state’s farmers and ranchers in providing a stable supply of food in the United States.

Director Wellman assured Nebraskans of the strong biosecurity measures in place in the state’s agricultural industry.  He emphasized that Nebraska’s livestock and crops are not at risk from the coronavirus.  Steve Nelson highlighted measures taken by the Farm Bureau to engage their members in preparing for COVID-19.

Bryan Health President & CEO Russ Gronewold and CHI Health CEO Cliff Robertson also took part in today’s press event.  The healthcare leaders talked about their organizations’ efforts to expand capacity to test for COVID-19 and care for patients with the virus.  They also assured Nebraskans that hospitals in the state have sufficient resources, staffing, and bed capacity to provide medical care to Nebraskans who need it.  Additionally, they announced that their healthcare networks are discontinuing elective surgeries for the time being to focus resources on the COVID-19 emergency.

Gov. Ricketts also emphasized that travelers returning to Nebraska should self-quarantine for 14 days if they are coming back from abroad or from domestic locations where cases of COVID-19 are widespread, such as Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, New York City, San Francisco, or Seattle.

NEW Cooperative Information on COVID-19

As we continue to navigate the outbreak of COVID – 19, (Coronavirus), NEW Cooperative is taking steps to reduce unnecessary risk for employees, their families and customers while providing safety measures as we move forward.

We have communicated to all of our employees about staying home if not feeling well and social distancing while increasing cleaning and personal hygiene protocol.

At this time, we are implementing the following actions:
• All staff has been instructed to conduct as much business as possible via electronic means through phone calls, text messages, emails, etc.
• All breakrooms & public gathering areas are closed to visitors until further notice.
• When face-to-face interaction is necessary, staff will follow CDC social distancing guidelines.
• Please call ahead for orders to be picked up at our facilities. At arrival, please call and we will load your vehicle while you wait in your vehicle.

Grain Settlements

• Use NEW Cooperative’s Mobile App to sign grain contracts. If the mobile App is not used, grain contracts will be mailed to you for signature, and must be returned via mail, or scanned and emailed back to your branch location’s office.
• DIRECT DEPOSIT is now available for customers using Connection Central or the NEW Cooperative Mobile App. Additional information regarding how to sign up for direct deposit is on our website.
• If direct deposit is not utilized, grain settlement checks will be mailed to you rather than picking up in person. Please verify your address for mailing with your branch office.

Daily operations will continue. We continue to receive grain and deliver your products. When delivering grain, please stay in your truck as location employees will assist.

Supply Chain Impacts

We are constantly monitoring for any impact. Thus far, we have assessed a low risk to our supply chain and business capabilities. We currently are doing everything possible to ensure supply of the products and services your operation needs in the coming weeks. Our precautions include following all CDC recommendations and ensuring supply chain readiness and contingency planning around our plant and field operations.

Our Commitment to Employee Safety During Product Deliveries and Pickups

-    On-farm deliveries of agronomy and petroleum products will continue to take place. Please call your location to schedule delivery. If possible describe where the product is to be dropped and allow the NEW employee to make the delivery alone. If you must be present please keep an appropriate distance.
-    If picking up agronomy inputs at one of NEW’s locations please call ahead and an employee will meet you at the appropriate warehouse for assistance.

Our Employees on Your farms

Over the next few months, we will have many employees visiting your farms. Please be assured that all NEW Coop employees will be adhering to our Pandemic Protocols. If there are any additional precautions that you wish for us to be made aware of, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

With the government designating agriculture as a critical infrastructure industry, and NEW Cooperative’s customers relying on us to assist in planting this springs crop, our company does not have the option of shutting down. We must be diligent with our preventive efforts of COVID-19 and ready to respond in any way, if exposure elevates. We will keep you posted as we continue to evaluate the situation.

Agriculture Groups Call on Lawmakers to Support Farmers During Coronavirus Pandemic

Forty-eight agriculture groups are calling on Congress to expand USDA’s borrowing authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation. Congress must act to ensure the CCC has the authority and funding to assist farmers and ranchers facing serious cash flow challenges during the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter, addressed to both Senate and House leaders reads, “Farmers, ranchers and the supply chain that support them will not let Americans down during this unprecedented crisis and they are asking the same of you. Millions of producers will need help with cash flow given the rapid and unanticipated decline in commodity prices, the likely closures of ethanol processing plants, the effective elimination of direct-to-consumer sales and decline in full-service restaurant and school meal demand.”

Groups representing food, fuel and fiber signed on to the letter, including the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“Farmers and ranchers are proud to be trusted to feed nearly 330 million Americans and we’ll continue working every day to do so, but Congress must ensure the CCC has ample authority and funding to help farmers and ranchers survive during this emergency. The inclusion of these provisions would ensure the Secretary of Agriculture has the tools needed to meet this crisis head-on for all of agriculture.”

Beef Checkoff helps make the most of groceries with simple and satisfying beef recipes

While families are spending more time at home, the Beef Checkoff is here to help by sharing beef recipes using common freezer and pantry staples. Some of these options include:
-    Beef and Egg Breakfast Mugs – Four basic ingredients and a mug is all that is needed for this recipe.
-    Beef Quesadillas – This complete meal can be table ready with just five ingredients and 30 minutes.
-    Beef Jerky Trail Mix –   A convenient and customizable snack with as few as four ingredients.
-    Classic Beef Meatloaf – This simple meal calls for fewer than 10 pantry staples and 1.5 pounds of ground beef.
-    Chocolate Beefy Brownies – An easy brownie recipe that can be made with items commonly kept on hand.

“Beef It’s What’s For Dinner is here to help with meal solutions by providing recipes that use common staples many families already have in their pantries and freezers,” said Alisa Harrison, Alisa Harrison, senior vice president of Global Marketing and Research at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff. “These recipes are easy to make with the step-by-step directions on”      

In addition to these simple recipes, check out for a full collection of cooking lessons. With detailed instructions and tips for a dozen different cooking methods, from grilling to pressure cooking, these cooking lessons are a great resource for all levels of home chefs.

Alternative Pasture Weed Control

Amy Timmerman – NE Extension Educator

The term  ‘weed’  can be broadly applied to any plant that is undesirable at any given time and place based on certain criteria. It is important to understand that the word  ‘weed’  has become a general term with no universal definition, and many plants are considered to be weeds, depending on location. For example, a corn plant in a soybean field is considered a weed although both plants are major field crops. This becomes problematic especially in pasture management because producers can be misled regarding what is considered a weed and what the control measures may be. These options could include clipping and cutting, prescribed fire, biological control with insects and the use of livestock.

Alternative Control Options

Clipping and Cutting
Clipping weeds with a mower at the early stages of flowering can suppress weeds and stop weed seed production. Repeat clipping may be necessary throughout the growing season. Cutting the weeds down by hand using a machete can be a precise way to spot control pasture weeds.

Prescribed Fire Use
Prescribed fire can bring many benefits to the grassland ecosystem by reducing unwanted species on the landscape. Further it gives new opportunities to desirable species of native grass and broadleaf species that increase the nutrient dense feed sources for livestock.

Biological Control with Insects
Insects can suppress and possibly control certain weeds in the state. Biocontrol introduces natural predators to prey on the unwanted plants.

It is commonly perceived that cattle, sheep and goats prefer primarily grass species and that only grass should dominate the pasture, leading to a conclusion that if a plant is not a grass, it is a weed and has no value to livestock production. This simplified approach can result in a broad-scale application of herbicides to control broadleaf plants in pastures. Producers should consult a variety of resources in order to assess whether a plant is truly a weed or whether it has some intrinsic value to the system or to livestock diets.

Kathy Voth is a leading expert in an emerging science of managing weeds with livestock. In  her book  Cows Eat Weeds, (Voth, 2010) outlines simple methods that any producer can implement to train cattle to eat a variety of weed species. With her simple techniques, she describes how cattle can be trained to forage a variety of weeds previously thought to be non-palatable. By utilizing grazing as a means of weed control, producers have the potential to decrease input expenses while reaping the benefits of inexpensive weed control through animal nutrition.

Information on the palatability of individual species can be difficult to find and may often be contradictory. Location, time of year and time of day can influence a plant’s relative nutritional (or toxic) value. The relationship between toxins and nutrients in ruminant animals is complex, and in many cases, livestock can successfully mix their own diets as long as enough variety is available.

USDA and USTR Announce Continued Progress on Implementation of U.S.-China Phase One Agreement

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) today announced continued progress in the implementation of the agriculture-related provisions of the U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement. The Agreement entered into force on February 14, 2020, and the recent actions described below build upon the actions announced by USDA and USTR on February 25 and March 10.
Among the recent actions:

    Both countries signed a regionalization agreement that, in the event of a detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza or virulent Newcastle disease in a particular region of the United States, will allow U.S. poultry exports from unaffected regions of the country to continue (APHIS Regionalization Protocol Announcement). This action will help protect the increased access American farmers have gained in China’s poultry market. U.S. poultry exports have the potential to exceed $1 billion per year.

    China notified the United States of proposed maximum residue levels for three hormones commonly used in U.S. beef production. This recognition by China of safe and science-based U.S. production methods particularly benefits trade with China in beef, a fast-growing market that imported $8.4 billion worth of beef products in 2019.

    U.S. beef producers, for the first time since 2003, will have access for nearly all beef products into China. U.S. pork producers will also be able to significantly expand the types of pork products shipped to China. As per the Agreement, China expanded its internal list of U.S. beef and pork products eligible to enter its ports, including processed meat products (Updated Beef and Pork Product Lists). On the beef and beef products list, China removed all references to age restrictions, in line with its February 24 announcement that conditionally lifted restrictions on beef and beef products from cattle aged 30 months and older (Lifting Restriction on U.S. Beef 30 Months and Over Announcement). USDA estimates that American cattlemen could export up to $1 billion per year under this improved trading environment. China also published an updated list of 938 U.S. beef and pork establishments eligible to export to China. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service export library has been updated to reflect these changes. China has agreed to import all beef, pork, and poultry products except for those included in Annex 1 (Beef, Pork, and Poultry Products Considered Not Eligible for Import into China) of Chapter 3 of the U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement. U.S. ranchers and farmers can expect to increase their market share in China as a result of these actions.

    China updated its list of U.S. facilities eligible to export distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) (Updated DDGS Facility List). In 2015, U.S. producers exported $1.6 billion worth of DDGS to China. This action, if coupled with the removal of other trade barriers, will allow U.S. exporters to recapture this market.

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration published a notice to facilitate the registration of animal feed manufacturing facilities for export to China (FDA Notice to Animal Food Exporters). In addition, in response to delays caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, China announced a streamlined process for registering new U.S. feed products for export (Updated Registration Process Announcement).

In addition, China’s tariff exclusion process is in effect, and many importers report that they are receiving tariff relief for purchases of U.S. food and agricultural products. USDA continues to publish guidance for U.S. exporters seeking to participate in this process (USDA Global Agricultural Information Network).

"These steps show that China is moving in the right direction to implement the Phase One agreement," Secretary Perdue said. "We will continue to work with China to ensure full implementation of its commitments and look forward to seeing further improvement and progress as we continue our ongoing bilateral discussions."

"We are working with China on a daily basis as we implement the Phase One trade agreement," Ambassador Lighthizer said. "We recognize China’s efforts to keep the commitments in the agreement and look forward to continuing our work together on trade matters."

New Report Shows Ethanol Industry Fueled by Veterans

A study released this week on employment in the U.S. energy sector shows that America’s ethanol industry employs a significantly larger share of military veterans than any other segment of the energy industry. Nearly one in five ethanol industry employees is a veteran (19%), compared to a national average of 6% across all sectors of the workforce, according to the 2020 U.S. Energy and Employment Report published by the National Association of State Energy Offices and Energy Futures Initiative.

Per 100 workers, the ethanol industry employs more than twice as many veterans as the petroleum, natural gas, nuclear, coal, and wind energy sectors. Across all energy segments, veterans comprise 9% of the U.S. energy sector’s workforce, slightly above the national average.

“The results of this study come as no surprise to us,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper, an Army veteran who attained the rank of Captain. “The ethanol industry is a perfect fit for thousands of veterans across the country. After serving our country in uniform, we have chosen to work in the renewable fuels industry because it allows us to continue honoring a commitment to make America stronger and more independent. We take great pride in knowing we work in an industry that improves our nation’s energy security, economic vitality and environmental quality each and every day.” With ethanol jobs currently at risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic, oil price war, and EPA abuse of small refinery exemptions under the RFS, Cooper said the report serves as a timely reminder that the ethanol industry is a crucial employer of veterans.

“As a veteran with multiple combat deployments, I am proud to say I have found a home in the ethanol industry making a product that I truly believe in,” said Tony Leiding, Director of Operations at RFA member company Trenton Agri Products LLC. “I would prefer to invest in the energy resources of the Midwest, not the Middle East.” Leiding served eight years on active duty in the U.S. Army, primarily as a UH-60 Blackhawk pilot performing medical evacuation missions. Mr. Leiding, who attained the rank of Captain, was deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2017, Leiding and scores of other veterans working in the ethanol industry sent a letter to President Trump, noting the important contributions the U.S. ethanol industry makes to domestic energy security and encouraging the President to include a prominent role for ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard in his energy agenda.

NMPF Thanks USDA for Coronavirus Response, Outlines Dairy Needs as Losses May Exceed $2.85 Billion

The National Milk Producers Federation, the largest organization of U.S. dairy farmers, commended the U.S. Department of Agriculture for its timely responses to the coronavirus crisis while outlining what agency actions could best aid dairy farmers as they brace for further public-health and market impacts of coronavirus.

“Over the last five weeks, the [USDA’s] estimate of 2020 milk prices reflect a drop of about $2.85 billion at the farm level,” wrote NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern in the letter, sent to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue this morning. “Further drops are possible as the impact of the covid-19 outbreak spreads. The demand shock experienced by our entire economy is turning what initially looked to dairy farmers like the first decent year in the last five into one of potentially widespread economic devastation.”

Dairy farmers – whose work as part of agriculture has been reaffirmed as critical infrastructure by the Department of Homeland Security – expect to face price declines and unstable demand over the next several months, as joblessness rises, schools remain closed and farm and dairy processing operations face unprecedented logistical challenges.

Congress and the Trump Administration have already helped by approving food purchases and offering flexibility in transportation rules. In its letter NMPF said it looks forward to working with the USDA in program implementation, trade facilitation and other areas, but said additional remedies will be needed, including:
-    Additional dairy product purchases, which will help Americans in need during what may be a period of very high demand at food banks;
-    Compensation for milk disposal, a real possibility as logistical challenges on the farm and at manufacturing plants may create severe disruptions; and
-     Re-opening signup for participation in the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program, the main safety net for dairy farmers, especially small and medium-sized producers. DMC participation declined in 2020 because of forecasts for higher prices that have been radically revised in light of coronavirus.

“U.S. dairy farmers and their cooperatives will continue to be careful stewards of the naturally nutritious and wholesome product we harvest around the clock, 365 days a year. Like you, we understand the importance of steady production and steady consumption,” Mulhern said. “We hope to work with you on the priorities outlined above, as well as other issues that may arise as we collectively grapple with the consequences of this unique challenge.”

New Website Aims to Connect Americans to Nearest Cattle Producers for Beef

In the wake of reports that beef cases in grocery stores are empty in some areas of the country, R-CALF USA has launched a new Website to connect consumers with their neighboring cattle farmers and ranchers who raise and sell cattle or beef that is exclusively born, raised, and harvested in the U.S. directly to consumers. The Website is

The Website is a platform for cattle farmers and ranchers to list their farms, ranches, or businesses, along with the type of cattle, beef and beef products they offer direct to consumers. American consumers can peruse this list online and contact the farmer, rancher or business of their choice to purchase beef that is exclusively born, raised and harvested in the United States.

In some instances, the farmer, rancher, or business will sell consumers a portion or the entire live animal and will arrange for the consumer to have the animal harvested at a state-inspected packing plant. In other instances, the farmer, rancher, or business will sell beef and beef products directly to consumers that were harvested in a federally inspected packing plant if the consumer lives outside the state where the animal is harvested.

R-CALF USA issued a member alert to its 5,300 members in 43 states on Friday announcing the availability of the platform that its cattle farmer- and rancher-members can begin listing their farms, ranches and businesses so they can be contacted by American consumers. Over the weekend, 31 farms, ranches and businesses from 18 states are already listed on the platform and American consumers can begin contacting them immediately.

All U.S. cattle farmers, ranchers, and business that sell beef direct to the consumer, including local butcher shops and local processors, are invited to list their contact information on, provided they meet the site's only requirement: all beef must be USA -born, -raised, and -harvested.

"This is a small but important step that our organization can take to help connect America's consumers to America's cattle farmers and ranchers so they can enjoy the safest, most wholesome beef in the world - USA beef," said R-CALF USA marketing director Candace Bullard.

Bullard added that her organization hopes that by bridging the gap between consumers and their cattle-producing neighbors, some of the farmers and ranchers struggling with seriously depressed cattle prices will be able to stay in business.

"However, many of our industry's cattle producers are not able to sell their cattle or beef directly to the consumer, which is why our first step in addressing this ongoing crisis was to urge President Trump to take immediate steps to fix our dysfunctional cattle market and to pass a new Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (M-COOL) law for beef so American producers can compete in America's marketplace," she said.

"Back to our new Website, if people share the Website on their social media, and message it to their friends perhaps we can help ensure that no American family will have to go without USA beef on their table at a time when it's needed most," Bullard concluded. 

2020 Animal Ag Alliance Stakeholders Summit set for May 7-8 goes virtual

A close up of a sign Description automatically generatedMarch 24, 2020 – The Animal Agriculture Alliance announced today that its 2020 Stakeholders Summit is going virtual in response to ongoing public health concerns around hosting large events. The Virtual Summit, still being held May 7-8, will include the same exciting speaker lineup that was planned for the in-person event with sessions covering sustainability, animal welfare, influencer engagement, preparing for animal rights activist campaigns and other hot topics. 

“The Alliance team has been closely monitoring the effect of COVID-19 on travel and events and considering what impact this could have on the 2020 Summit,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. “Our number one priority is to ensure the health and safety of our members and attendees. With that in mind, we have decided to move the 2020 Summit to a virtual-only event. This will allow the Alliance to share the excellent content we hoped to cover at Summit while respecting new regulations and public health guidelines for holding events. We are excited for the opportunity to deliver the high-quality, thought-provoking speakers and sessions that our Summit is known for in a new virtual format!”

The Alliance’s annual Summit brings together thought leaders in the agriculture and food industries to discuss hot-button issues and out-of-the-box ideas to connect everyone along the food chain, engage influencers and protect the future of animal agriculture. Attendees will leave the 2020 Virtual Summit, themed Primed & Prepared, with the tools they need to take action and be part of any and all conversations that could impact the future of animal agriculture and their business.

“The Summit, now in its 19th year, is an integral part of the Alliance’s work to bridge the communication gap between farm and fork,” said Hannah Thompson-Weeman, Alliance vice president of communications. “The event is our opportunity to bring together every link along the food chain to learn about the most pressing issues of today and tomorrow and how we can all be primed and prepared to shape the future of animal agriculture. We’re embracing the challenge of translating the value of Summit into a virtual platform and appreciate the support of our speakers, attendees, sponsors and members as we navigate the shift.” 

Registration is now open for Virtual Summit attendees who were not already registered for the in-person Summit. Virtual Summit registration will give attendees exclusive access to 13 hours of live, dynamic content spread out among a series of preconference webinars and the two-day virtual event. Recordings from each session will also be available to confirmed virtual attendees only through the end of 2020. The Alliance team is working to ensure attendees enjoy digital networking opportunities that are more valuable than ever in today’s challenging environment. 

Be sure to check the Virtual Summit website for the most up-to-date Virtual Summit information and the full agenda. You can also follow the hashtags #AAA20 and #PrimedAndPrepared for periodic updates about the event. For general questions about the Summit please contact or call (703) 562-5160.

Bill Sets Goal of Net-Zero Emissions in Agriculture by 2040

A member of Congress wants the federal government and the American ag industry to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree, an organic farmer representing Maine's 1st congressional district, introduced the Agriculture Resilience Act last month.

As part of a national effort to reduce climate change overall, "the goal for the agricultural sector in the United States shall be to achieve at least a 50 percent reduction in net greenhouse gases from 2010 levels by not later than 2030 and to achieve net zero emissions by not later than 2040," the bill states.

In 2010, the U.S. ag industry produced nearly 594 million metric tons (MMT) of greenhouse gas emissions, data from the Environmental Protection Agency says.

In 2017, the sector's contributions had dropped to about 582 MMT of emissions.

Rep. Pingree's bill aims to bring industry emissions down to about 297 MMT by 2030.

In addition to the greenhouse gas reduction goals, the bill would create a new soil health grant, protect existing farmland, increase research opportunities, fund on-farm energy initiatives and reduce food waste.

"We need to empower farmers with the best available science and provide a range of conservation tools, because what works for one farmer in Maine may not for another in Iowa or Georgia," Rep. Pingree said in a statement. "Challenges of this scale demand bold solutions and, unlike other industries, agriculture has a unique opportunity to draw down massive amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil."

Monday March 23 Ag News

NeFB Shares COVID-19 Relief Package Priority List with Nebraska’s Congressional Delegation

Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) is working closely with the Nebraska congressional delegation to address concerns related to how COVID-19 has impacted commodity/cattle markets, supply chain concerns, and the ability to get H-2A workers in agriculture.

“Unfortunately, market uncertainty has shook farm commodity markets at a time when those of us in production agriculture have experienced a multi-year decrease in overall farm income. From live cattle (down 25%), hogs (down 22%), soybeans (down 14%), corn (down 13%), and wheat (down 12%) to ethanol margins currently at negative 25 cents, from top to bottom, commodities are experiencing significant downward pressure,” Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson said. “With these downward trends, we continue to hear concerns being expressed about potential market manipulation particularly amongst our cow/calf producing members. Farm Bureau has shared that concern with the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service as well as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) over the past several days,” he said.

Nebraska Farm Bureau is asking Congress to provide some level of stabilization payments to farmers and ranchers who have watched commodity markets drop.

“We’d also ask these payments be expanded to include cattle producers as they continue to bear much of the brunt of this market downturn. We also ask that Nebraska’s delegation keep in touch with the USDA, as well as the CFTC and ask that they continue to monitor the current market situation,” Nelson said.

While stores around the country continue to see temporarily empty shelves, retailers remain confident supplies of a vast majority of food items remain available. But there are still temporary supply shortages and there are concerns about long-term shortages as COVID-19 continues. NEFB is working to ensure that all our nation’s food processing facilities remain operational during this difficult time.

“As farmers prepare for this year’s planting season and cattle producers continue to work through calving, every effort should be made to ensure supplies of fertilizer, seed, crop protection products, feed, and animal health products remain readily available. While many have already purchased many of these items, we must ensure the supply of these product are available when needed,” Nelson said.

Another concern lies in the ethanol industry as ethanol producers have seen already thin margins disappear, slightly rebound, and then disappear again over the past week. This business is also vital to our state’s cattle industry as ethanol byproducts have become a near constant addition to feed rations. The shuttering of ethanol plants could have far reaching consequences for rural communities across the state.

“NEFB is asking Congress to work with USDA to ensure food production plants remain operational and provide any regulatory relief that might be needed should problems arise. While we absolutely appreciate the exemptions granted to livestock and crop haulers from federal Hours of Service regulations, the hauling of products such as fertilizer and livestock supplies should also be added to that list,” Nelson said.

NEFB is also worried about the availability of H-2A farm workers. With the recent announcement by the State Department to suspend routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services at the U.S Embassy in Mexico City and all U.S. consulates in Mexico until further notice, this is a concern for farmers and ranchers. Nebraska may not be as reliant as some states on the H-2A program, but farmers and ranchers across our country rely on this program to meet their labor needs. According to data compiled by the American Farm Bureau Federation, over 90 percent of the just under 300,000 H-2A workers in the United States came from Mexico. H2-A workers play a critical role in making sure farmers and ranchers get their products to the supply chain and to the grocery store.

“We would ask our Nebraska delegation to work with the administration to find an appropriate mechanism, either through an emergency waiver or some other means, to ensure that H-2A workers may continue to safely come to America’s farms and ranches,” Nelson said.

The toll COVID-19 is taking on our nation’s health care system, small businesses, and overall economy has been profound. NEFB hopes by working with Nebraska delegation and taking aforementioned actions in order to limit the impacts on our nation’s food supply will directly help Nebraska farm and ranch families.


To help fight the spread of COVID-19, and for the safety of employees and customers, Central Valley Ag has closed its offices to all outside traffic, effective immediately. According to an announcement on ther webside, locations remain open for business, they are just closing access to the location offices.

They are still accessible via phone, email or by appointment.  Please consult the CVA website to find the contact information for your location. You may also contact the CVA home office at 888.343.0323 for assistance as well.

The message wraps up by thanking you for your understanding and for helping them as they work to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on their operations.

COVID-19 Affects Operations at Husker Ag Ethanol Plants

Seth Harder, General Manager Husker Ag LLC

Due to the current circumstances and the demobilization of the country, during the next couple of weeks Husker Ag has elected to keep one of our plants down. We just completed a spring maintenance turnaround and rather than bring both plants online, we are waiting until we see a more clear picture of the virus and fuel demand as the terminals are starting to fill up.

We are in fine financial standing, with a large unused line of credit, as well as significant cash assets. We will continue to pay timely for your corn.

Also, we are taking every precaution to safeguard our employees, and as such are restricting access to the site by outside visitors and vendors. We also ask that you follow our signs and policies when you are on the property.

This week, the Department of Homeland Security reaffirmed that ethanol plants are a part of the Nation’s Critical Infrastructure.   So as such, we are fairly confident that we will continue to operate even in a quarantine situation.

We appreciate your business and we will try to keep updating you as things change.

USDA Service Centers Taking Precautions to Prevent Spread of Coronavirus

U.S. Department of Agriculture Service Centers are encouraging visitors to take proactive protective measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Beginning Monday, March 23, USDA Service Centers in Nebraska will continue to be open for business by phone appointment only, and field work will continue with appropriate social distancing. While program delivery staff will continue to come into the office, they will be working with producers by phone, and using online tools whenever possible. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or any other Service Center agency are required to call their Service Center to schedule a phone appointment. In the event a Service Center is closed, producers can receive assistance from the closest alternate Service Center by phone.

Producers can find Service Center phone numbers at FPAC agencies continue to look at flexibilities to deliver programs on behalf of producers, just as they have in past situations, such as natural disasters. Farmers and ranchers are resilient and FPAC agencies will continue to deliver the farm safety net programs and resource conservation programs that keep American agriculture in business today and long into the future. 

Online services are available to customers with an eAuth account, which provides access to the portal where producers can view USDA farm loan information and payments and view and track certain USDA program applications and payments. Online NRCS services are available to customers through the Conservation Client Gateway. Customers can track payments, report completed practices, request conservation assistance, and electronically sign documents. Customers who do not already have an eAuth account can enroll at

For the most current updates on available services and Service Center status visit

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:

Beginning Farmer Board

Britt D. Anderson, Gothenburg

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

Hemp in the Heartland WEBINAR

Lessons Learned Nationally, Implications for Nebraska

March 24, 2020 | 1 - 4 p.m.
Due to coronavirus precautions, this event has moved online and will be held as a webinar.

As Nebraska takes its first, historic steps into a new agricultural market, please join HNP Farm Services and partners for an afternoon of learning and discussion with leading industry experts at this informational webinar.

During this free online event, executives from leading companies along the hemp value chain will present on topics ranging from emerging cannabinoid science, to market dynamics, to the genetics and agronomy of farming hemp. In addition to providing an overview of the status of the industry nationally, presenters will share their views and experiences on best practices to date.

Space will be limited- please confirm your attendance by registering today:

Green Plains Donates Industrial Ethanol for Hand Sanitizer Production

Green Plains Inc. (NASDAQ:GPRE) today announced it has donated industrial ethanol to the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) for the use in the production of hand sanitizer.

“It has never been more imperative for Green Plains employees to help support local communities and do our part in mitigating the spread of COVID-19,” said Todd Becker, president and chief executive officer of Green Plains Inc. “With a severe shortage of hand sanitizer, donating our industrial ethanol to the state of Nebraska is the least we could do in this challenging environment.”

The donated product is made at Green Plains’ York facility, which currently produces 50 million gallons of 200-proof industrial ethanol for use in global markets each year. With the increased need for hand sanitizer, the company is now focusing its efforts to help communities in Nebraska and across the country where there are shortages of this product.

Once the hand sanitizer is produced at NDCS, it will be given to high priority facilities impacted by the coronavirus.

IRFA Members Donate Ethanol and Glycerin to State of Iowa for Hand Sanitizer Production

Today two Iowa Renewable Fuels Association members sent the first donated shipment of Iowa ethanol and glycerin to the state of Iowa to be used by Iowa Prison Industries for the production of hand sanitizer during the national shortage.

The donation is made by Iowa ethanol producer Absolute Energy and Iowa biodiesel producer Western Iowa Energy. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) worked with Iowa Prison Industries to secure the shipment of these products and other necessary ingredients. Templeton Rye is also providing distilled water for the project. The finished product will be distributed free of charge by the state of Iowa for priority use.

“The whole country is working tirelessly to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus and Iowa biofuels producers are proud to help anyway we can,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “We applaud Absolute Energy and Western Iowa Energy for stepping up in the best way they could to help with this effort, as well as the other biofuel plants who stand ready to help if additional production is needed.”

IRFA notified Governor Kim Reynolds’ office early last week that Iowa biofuel producers would be willing to help with hand sanitizer production if needed and her team worked hard to help ensure the project’s success.

“Governor Reynolds and her team deserve credit for making this happen,” Shaw said. “Even during this time of emergency, a number of regulatory technicalities crossing multiple federal agencies stood in our way. Thanks to the efforts of staff in Governor Reynolds’ and Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst’s offices, we were able to overcome these hurdles that could have otherwise prevented this production of much-need hand sanitizer. Knocking down these barriers will have impacts beyond Iowa. In fact, we already know other states have heard about Iowa’s project and are working with their biofuel producers to implement similar programs.”

IDALS Waives Deadline for Pesticide Applicators to Renew Certification

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced today that the deadline for pesticide applicators to renew their certifications has been waived by a proclamation signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds on March 22.

Iowans who were certified through Dec. 31, 2019, can retain their status and now have until Dec. 31, 2020, to submit the testing or training required to renew a pesticide applicator certification.

 “I want to thank Gov. Reynolds for working with the Department to find a solution that allows our farmers and agribusinesses to continue operating while upholding the pesticide testing and certification standards in our state,” said Secretary Naig. “Agriculture is a critical part of our state’s infrastructure. We will continue supporting the agriculture community to prevent supply chain interruptions during this unprecedented situation.”

This waiver comes after the Department canceled its in-person testing sessions through March 31, based on social distancing recommendations from the CDC. Applicators still need to meet pesticide certification standards by Dec. 31, 2020. They are encouraged to apply for recertification upon completion of the testing or training requirements.

More details are available at

Flex Fuel Spreads Its Reach, as Casey’s Becomes 5,000th Station to Offer E85

The number of fuel stations now offering Flex Fuel E85 has reached an important milestone, as a Casey’s store in Ankeny, Iowa, became the 5,000th station nationwide to sell E85. While offering significantly lower emissions than traditional fuel, the E85 flex fuel blend also offers a price advantage to consumers.

“Reaching the 5,000-station mark is a significant achievement for the ethanol industry and our partner in the retail sector,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “The continued expansion of E85 and other flex fuels is great news for drivers looking for savings at the pump and a way to help the environment. E85 has been available to the public for decades but has really caught on in recent years. We’re especially happy to see that this notable landmark was reached by our friends at Casey’s, a company that has long been dedicated to making ethanol-blended fuels available to their customers.”

The 5,000th location is the Casey’s store at 3605 NW Irvinedale Drive in Ankeny, Iowa, where E85 is currently selling for about 30 percent less than regular Unleaded 87.

“We are proud to be a part of this historic milestone as we continue bringing consumer-driven products like Unleaded 88 and E85 to the communities we serve,” said Jake Comer, Fuel Pricing Manager for Casey’s General Stores. “We are grateful for key industry partners like the Renewable Fuels Association that work hard to ensure the success of renewable fuels.”

Click here for a map of E85 locations nationwide. At the website, visitors also can share reviews and current prices.

USMEF Statement on Expanded Access to China for U.S. Beef and Pork

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has updated its Export Library for China to reflect expanded access for U.S. beef and pork. These changes were among the provisions negotiated in the U.S.-China "Phase One" trade agreement.

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

This is an exciting day for the U.S. beef and pork industries, which have waited a long time to have more meaningful and reliable access to China, and USMEF thanks USTR and USDA for their tireless efforts to negotiate and implement the Phase One trade agreement.

With much broader access for U.S. beef, the U.S. industry is well-positioned to expand its presence in the largest and fastest growing beef market in the world. And while unprecedented volumes of U.S. pork have been shipped to China in recent months, the U.S. pork industry has also faced significant barriers that have kept exports below their full potential. The changes announced in the Export Library will benefit pork exporters looking to expand their business in China, as well as producers and everyone in the U.S. supply chain.

U.S. pork and beef still face retaliatory duties in China, but a tariff exclusion process implemented by the Chinese government earlier this month is providing some level of relief. While elimination of all retaliatory duties is still the best way for China to level the playing field for U.S. red meat, the exclusion process is expanding opportunities for importers and for the U.S. industry.

USDA Cold Storage - February 2020 Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers on February 29, 2020 were up 3 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 and up 4 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were up 6 percent from the previous month and up 7 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were up 5 percent from last month and up 38 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on February 29, 2020 were up slightly from the previous month but down 4 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were down 3 percent from the previous month but up 6 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 13 percent from last month but down 25 percent from February 28, 2019.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on February 29, 2020 were up slightly from the previous month but down 1 percent from February 28, 2019. Butter stocks were up 22 percent from last month and up 24 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks on February 29, 2020 were down 12 percent from last month and down 13 percent from a year ago. Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 6 percent from last month and down 1 percent from a year ago.


All layers in Nebraska during February 2020 totaled 8.84 million, up from 8.48 million the previous year, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Nebraska egg production during February totaled 204 million eggs, up from 201 million in 2019. February egg production per 100 layers was 2,305 eggs, compared to 2,373 eggs in 2019.


Iowa egg production during February 2020 was 1.34 billion eggs, down 9 percent from last month but up 2 percent from last year, according to the latest Chickens and Eggs report from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The average number of all layers on hand during February 2020 was 56.9 million, down 2 percent from last month and down 3 percent from last year. Eggs per 100 layers for February were 2,348, down 7 percent from last month but up 5 percent from last year.

February Egg Production Up 3 Percent

United States egg production totaled 8.94 billion during February 2020, up 3 percent from last year. Production included 7.79 billion table eggs, and 1.15 billion hatching eggs, of which 1.07 billion were broiler-type and 81.3 million were egg-type. The average number of layers during February 2020 totaled 397 million, down 2 percent from last year. February egg production per 100 layers was 2,254 eggs, up 5 percent from February 2019.
Total layers in the United States on March 1, 2020 totaled 394 million, down 3 percent from last year. The 394 million layers consisted of 330 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 60.9 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs, and 3.41 million layers producing egg-type hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on March 1, 2020, averaged 77.5 eggs per 100 layers, up 1 percent from March 1, 2019.

Egg-Type Chicks Hatched Down 8 Percent

Egg-type chicks hatched during February 2020 totaled 48.2 million, down 8 percent from February 2019. Eggs in incubators totaled 49.1 million on March 1, 2020, down 8 percent from a year ago. Domestic placements of egg-type pullet chicks for future hatchery supply flocks by leading breeders totaled 482 thousand during February 2020, up 140 percent from February 2019.

Broiler-Type Chicks Hatched Up 8 Percent

Broiler-type chicks hatched during February 2020 totaled 807 million, up 8 percent from February 2019. Eggs in incubators totaled 718 million on March 1, 2020, up 4 percent from a year ago.  Leading breeders placed 8.14 million broiler-type pullet chicks for future domestic hatchery supply flocks during February 2020, up 3 percent from February 2019.

NASS Remains Operational, Farm Reports on Schedule

The USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service statistical reports remain on schedule amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including the March 26 Hogs and Pigs and March 31 Prospective Plantings reports. NASS also continues to collect data for all upcoming reports, asking farmers to complete their surveys online, if they don't already respond that way. To protect the health and safety of producers, partners, and employees, NASS has suspended in-person data collection at least until April 3.

"We are making every effort to produce the U.S. crop, livestock, and economic statistics that the nation counts on," said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. "But to do that responsibly, we are following guidance to slow the spread of coronavirus and to protect the health and safety of producers and employees. It is now more important than ever for everyone who receives a survey to complete it promptly online and encourage others to do the same."

Ensuring that responses are returned on time means little or no additional outreach is needed. In addition, online response is faster and more convenient for producers. Returning the completed questionnaire by phone or U.S. mail is acceptable, but mail responses require in-office personnel to open, scan, and check in each form.

"If we are able to collect enough data over the coming weeks, and conditions are such that estimates can be established and released, we will continue to publish these important reports on schedule. The data in the reports are indicators of the nation's feed and food supply," said Hamer.

To respond online at, producers will need their unique 17-digit survey code from the questionnaire or letter received in the mail. Both the online questionnaire and phone data collection interviews are secure. All information submitted to NASS is confidential, only used for statistical purposes, and published in aggregate form, as required by federal law so that no individual or farm information can be identified. For more information on how NASS protects information, visit For assistance with the online or paper questionnaire, or to submit information by phone, call toll-free 866-294-8560.

NASS continues to evaluate all program operations as the COVID-19 situation evolves.

Student leaders come together virtually to learn how to share story of agriculture

Today and tomorrow, students from across the country will come together online, to learn best practices on sharing the importance of agriculture. It’s part of National Ag Day – a day that not only celebrates agriculture but provides an opportunity for those in the industry to share the importance of agriculture with a broader audience.

The future of agriculture is strong – and this is evident in many student-led agriculture organizations. This week, student leaders from FFA , 4-H, AFA and MANRRS will join together to share information on the critical role agriculture plays in our culture and economy.

“National Ag Day gives students from agriculture youth organizations the chance to work together and share to our national government leaders of the importance of agriculture and agriculture education. The skills the students learn this week, they’ll be able to use as they move forward in life and strengthen agriculture along the way,” said Celya Glowacki, advocacy and literacy officer, for the National FFA Organization.

Ag Day is an opportunity for others to learn how agriculture provides safe, abundant and affordable products.

Originally, the student-leaders were scheduled to be in D.C. Instead, they are working together virtually, to discover how they can continue to be advocates for the agriculture industry while telling the important story of agriculture throughout the nation. “As we provide virtual programming for our agriculture students this week, we are able to not only help flatten the curve, but also broaden our reach regarding the story of agriculture,” Glowacki said.

For more information regarding the virtual events, visit

Corn Checkoff Assisting Teachers with Online Curriculum

If you are a teacher or a parent looking for teaching resources or activities during COVID-19, the National Corn Growers Association and Nourish the Future community network is here to help. The program made possible by farmer-funded state corn checkoff programs across the U.S. provides excellent teaching resources immediately as schools shut down across the country. 

These difficult times remind us of how valuable and important teachers are. They are creative, quick to pivot, and able to keep students learning in tough circumstances. They have the skills needed to flourish while teaching our children during these uncertain times.

The Nourish the Future team has designed virtual resources that can be found at This is what their team is doing to help teachers during these difficult times:
-    Communication! Sending resources and offering help
-    Packaging online curriculum collections in ways that makes them easy for a teacher to use today
-    Mobilizing an advisory group of teachers from across the country
-    Designing virtual experiences so that students can connect with industry through field trips and webinars – check out!
-    Looking at professional development in a new way, combining virtual experiences with in-person workshops shifting to the fall

The curriculum covers topics like Biotechnology, Energy and Ethanol, Plant Anatomy and Growth Stages, Soil Science and Sustainability, and the Role of Clean Water in a Healthy Ecosystem. Lesson plans are designed for middle school through high school, including advanced high school options.

NCGA believes agriculture is a vital partner in engaging students in STEM concepts in ways that directly and indirectly impact their lives. Not only does teaching ag-based curriculum in the science classroom inspire students to solve real-world science issues, reaching students is critical to address the job gap in agriculture-related careers, many of which go unfilled.

NCGA and its state corn checkoff programs began leveraging the great work started by Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association in 2019, making the latest teaching materials and teacher training and mentoring available nationwide. If you want to see how your checkoff support is helping teachers during the closures, go to

The Beef Checkoff’s Support for Beef Demand Continues: An Update

Jared Brackett, Chairman, Cattlemen’s Beef Board, Filer, Idaho

As I watch television news reports from my ranch and listen to radio broadcasts in my truck while checking on cattle, I see the impact that COVID-19 is having on our economy, including the stock market and cattle markets. And, as a beef producer, I know firsthand how frustrating this situation is for cattlemen and women across the country. Certainly, none of us could’ve anticipated the circumstances we’re currently facing on top of other issues that have impacted the entire beef industry over the past few years.

While I’m a beef producer first and foremost, I’m also the 2020 chair of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB). Our 99-member board – consisting primarily of domestic beef, veal and dairy producers – oversees the collection and spending of Beef Checkoff dollars. Our goal is to promote beef and increase demand, and in these uncertain times, I want to assure you that the Beef Checkoff and its contractors continue to work toward that very important goal.

We know that we must quickly reassess our 2020 plans in all checkoff program areas – promotion, research, foreign marketing, industry information, consumer information and producer communications. Our contractors are pivoting as we speak, changing their strategies and tactics to better address the current and future effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past few days, we contacted them to ask for updates in light of the rapidly evolving world situation. As anticipated, our contractors and subcontractors are responding accordingly to ensure beef demand remains stronger than ever.

Most are emphasizing strategies and tactics intended to encourage beef consumption at home rather than in restaurants as more areas mandate social distancing and quarantining. They’re providing influencers, supply chain partners and the media with recipes, videos and other educational materials to support these efforts. Contractors and subcontractors are turning more to social media, digital marketing, updated website content, newsletters, emails and other online tools to continue delivering positive messages about beef to their intended audiences. Many are transitioning scheduled in-person conferences and expos to virtual events or rescheduling them for later this year. More detailed information on specific contractors, programs, events and initiatives is available from our new “COVID-19 Response” page at

The COVID-19 situation is extremely fluid, and none of us can know what next month, next week or even tomorrow may bring. That’s why Beef Checkoff contractors will continue adjusting their plans over the next few weeks and months. As chairman of the CBB, I will work with our team to continue providing regular updates at Knowledge is power, and it’s our job to make sure you are aware of how your checkoff dollars are being spent to help the beef industry adapt to this changing world.

We are all in this together, and we will rise to meet this new challenge. Please know that the Beef Checkoff and its contractors will be working diligently on your behalf to keep driving beef demand so that you can focus on what you do best: producing high-quality beef for consumers worldwide. My thoughts are with all of you, and my hope is that someday soon, we’ll be able to look back and see how our combined efforts made a positive difference during this difficult time.

Ranch Group to U.S. Senate: We Don't Want a Bail-out, We Want Our Industry Back

In a short message sent today to every U.S. Senate office, R-CALF USA emphatically stated:

"Congress should not pass any cattle industry bail-out unless it is accompanied by REAL market structure reforms to correct the severe and prolonged problem depicted below. The serious crisis that America's cattle producers face today has been going on for several years, and no one listened. The coronavirus virus has simply shined a light on the severity of our industry's ongoing crisis. You must fix the absolute disconnect between live cattle prices and wholesale and retail beef prices. Until that's done any bail-out will simply accelerate the ongoing exodus of cattle producers from our industry. We offer two structural reforms that Congress should implement immediately:

1. Place immediate limits on the percentage of cattle that packers can procure through arrangements that both circumvent and undermine the competitive cash market (to preserve the integrity of our industry's nearly destroyed price discovery market, which, importantly, informs our industry's futures market).

2. Require all beef sold in America to be distinguished as to where the animal from which it was derived was born, raised, and harvested so American consumers can put American cattle producers First and choose to purchase safe, wholesome, exclusively American beef.

"We have more solutions, but these are the priorities. R-CALF USA is the largest producer-only cattle trade association in America. We don't want a bail-out, we want our industry back."

The ranch group included the following graphic to help the U.S. Senate understand the severity of the crisis faced by America's cattle producers.

Dr. Mark Jekanowski Appointed World Agricultural Outlook Board Chairman

Chief Economist Robert Johansson today announced the appointment of Dr. Mark Jekanowski as the World Agricultural Outlook Board Chairman. Dr. Jekanowski is currently acting Board chairman and will assume his new duties on March 29.

“Dr. Jekanowski brings to this leadership position extensive experience in domestic and global agricultural commodity markets and deep understanding of the World Agricultural Board and its unique mission.” Johansson said.

Dr. Jekanowski will be responsible for leading the development and release of the monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report. He will also serve as program chairman for USDA’s largest annual meeting, the Agricultural Outlook Forum.

Dr. Jekanowski joined the World Agricultural Outlook Board in 2019 as deputy chairman. Prior to that he was with USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), first serving as chief of the Crops Branch, and later as deputy director for the ERS commodity outlook program. Previously, Dr. Jekanowski was a senior vice president and head of the Washington office of Informa Economics.

Dr. Jekanowski succeeds Dr. Seth Meyer, who departed USDA in July 2019 after servicing as chairman of the World Agricultural Outlook Board for five years.

The World Agricultural Outlook Board is USDA’s focal point for economic intelligence and the commodity outlook for U.S. and world agriculture. The Board coordinates, reviews, and approves the monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report as well as USDA’s long-term agricultural projections.

Friday March 20 Cattle on Feed + Ag News

Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.50 million cattle on feed on March 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was down 4 percent from last year. Placements during February totaled 450,000 head, down 1 percent from 2019. Fed cattle marketings for the month of February totaled 420,000 head, up 1 percent from last year. Other disappearance during February totaled 10,000 head, down 10,000 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 March 1, 2020, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was unchanged from February, but down 6 percent from March 1, 2019. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head had 625,000 head on feed, down 2 percent from last month and down 3 percent from last year. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in all Iowa feedlots totaled 1,295,000 head, down 1 percent from last month and down 4 percent from last year.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during February totaled 108,000 head, down 3 percent from January and down 19 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head placed 69,000 head, down 22 percent from January but up 44 percent from last year. Placements for all feedlots in Iowa totaled 177,000 head, down 11 percent from January and down 2 percent from last year.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during February totaled 106,000 head, down 2 percent from January and down 3 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head marketed 79,000 head, up 27 percent from January and up 103 percent from last year. Marketings for all feedlots in Iowa were 185,000 head, up 9 percent from January and up 25 percent from last year. Other disappearance from all feedlots in Iowa totaled 7,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Up Slightly

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 11.8 million head on March 1, 2020. The inventory was slightly above March 1, 2019.

Cattle on Feed, By State
                     (1,000 hd  -  % March 1 '19)
Colorado .......:     1,050          100             
Iowa .............:         670           94          
Kansas ..........:      2,380          103            
Nebraska ......:      2,500           96         
Texas ............:      2,880          104          

Placements in feedlots during February totaled 1.71 million head, 8 percent below 2019. Net placements were 1.65 million head. During February, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 340,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 315,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 470,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 411,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 115,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 60,000 head.

Placements by State
                          (1,000 hd  -  % Feb '19)
Colorado .......:      165            89           
Iowa .............:      108            81       
Kansas ..........:      390            92          
Nebraska ......:      450            99           
Texas ............:      320            86           

Marketings of fed cattle during February totaled 1.78 million head, 5 percent above 2019.  Other disappearance totaled 58,000 head during February, 12 percent below 2019.

Marketings by State
                          (1,000 hd  -  % Feb '19)
Colorado .......:      210           124           
Iowa .............:      106            97         
Kansas ..........:      400           110         
Nebraska ......:      420           101         
Texas ............:      365           107         

Beef Shines at Nebraska ProStart Competition

NE Beef Council Newsletter

The ProStart cooking competitions in Nebraska took place the last week in February and the first week of March. ProStart is a high school curriculum that teaches students the basics of culinary and foodservice management. Students who take these elective courses are then prepared to advance their education at the collegiate level.

Schools offering the ProStart culinary curriculum can enter teams into three regional state competitions with the final 9 teams competing for the state championship. The Nebraska Beef Council offers a “Best of Beef” award to the team that creates the best beef dish at the state competition along with a $100 voucher for beef products to be used in the classroom.

This year’s state competition included teams from Scottsbluff, Hemingford, Lincoln, Plattsmouth and Omaha. The best beef dish went to Roncalli High School for their seared ribeye cap steak. Of the 9 teams participating in the state finals competition, 5 of them chose to feature beef as their main entrée. The top three culinary teams at the state competition will then compete head-to-head for a chance to represent Nebraska at the national ProStart competition in Washington D.C. 

Tyson to Send More Meat to Supermarkets

If you're worried about food products running out at grocery stores, there is good news from the supply chain. Tyson Foods is reacting to the widespread restaurant closings in the U.S. by making a major shift in its meat production toward the types of cuts sold more often in supermarkets.  "This is the most significant shift we've ever initiated," the company told Bloomberg News this week.

CEO Noel White said in a message to employees that "protecting team members and ensuring the continuity of our business are essential as we continue efforts to address COVID-19 (coronavirus). We've been actively monitoring this situation and are continually adjusting our approach as we learn more about the spread of this virus. Tyson Foods' role as America's largest food company is critical, so ensuring we're able to continue producing food is essential. That's why we're taking additional measures to protect our people and our company."

The production shifts include changes for chicken, beef and pork production.

In Nebraska, it operates plants in Dakota City, Lexington, Madison and Omaha.  In Iowa, it operates both Council Bluffs-Case Ready and Council Bluffs- Prepared Foods, as well as Waterloo-Pork Plant and Waterloo-Prepared Foods KPR, in addition to other facilities in Independence, Columbus Junction, Perry and Storm Lake.

White added to his message to employees, "I want to remind you that COVID-19 is not considered a food safety concern. The CDC says, 'Ccurrently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.' USDA reports, 'There is no evidence at this time to suggest that the Coronavirus is a foodborne pathogen.' According to a statement from the FDA, 'We are not aware of any reports at this time of human illnesses that suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging.'"

Emergency Proclamation Helps Corn Farmers Continue to Feed and Fuel the Country 

Today, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a State of Public Health Emergency Proclamation granting a temporary weight limit exemption and extension of hours for trucks operating on Iowa roads transporting corn and “agricultural supplies and commodities, including but not limited to, livestock, raw milk and crop supplies,” during the global COVID-19 outbreak. This allows for trucks to haul 12.5% per axle (up to 90,000 pounds).  

“On behalf of Iowa’s farmers, we extend a big thanks to Governor Reynolds for this proclamation as it provides tremendous help to farmers during this time of uncertainty as we work to get food and fuel across our state as well as the global system,” said Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) President Jim Greif, a farmer from Monticello.  

Overweight trucks cannot haul on the interstate, exceed maximum axel weight, and must comply with all posted limits on roads and bridges. The proclamation will be effective starting immediately and lasts until April 16, 2020, at 11:59 pm. The proclamation directs the Iowa Department of Transportation to monitor the operation of the proclamation and assure the public’s safety by facilitating the movement of the trucks involved.  

Iowa Learning Farms to Host Webinars During COVID-19 Pandemic

As field days and in-person gatherings are postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Iowa Learning Farms (ILF) will host weekly webinars each Wednesday at noon.

These new weekly webinars will supplement the regular monthly webinar series hosted by ILF and allow timely education on issues related to water, soil, wildlife and other conservation topics. The first webinar, Wednesday, March 25, will focus on carbonate research and the potential for carbon storage in Iowa soils.

Wind-blown loess soils of western Iowa contain a significant amount of calcium carbonate in the form of the mineral calcite. These soils are naturally calcareous due to the calcium carbonate that formed from minerals originally deposited in glacial parent material.

Some carbonate is present in the form of carbonate nodules, which can readily be seen in the soil profile. How much carbon is stored as carbonate in Iowa’s soils? Are there land management practices that degrade or stimulate carbonate deposition?

Mark Rasmussen, director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, will discuss these questions, as well as other aspects of the research being done on carbonate.

“We are interested in these nodules because carbonate minerals form one of the largest reservoirs of carbon on the planet and these minerals play a significant role in the long-term balance between atmospheric carbon and climate,” said Rasmussen. “A major focus of our study is to understand the biological and chemical processes that result in carbonate formation, including the carbon source used in its formation.”

To participate in the live webinar March 25, shortly before noon, visit or go to and enter meeting ID 364 284 172.

Or, join from a dial-in phone line by dialing 1-312-626-6799 or 1-646-876-9923. The meeting ID is 364 284 172.

The webinar will also be recorded and archived on the ILF website for viewing any time. Archived webinars are available at

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

IDALS Hemp Plan Approved by USDA

Farmers can start applying for a hemp license on April 1

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced today that the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has approved the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s hemp production program.

The public hearing to solicit comments on the state plan that was scheduled to be held on April 3 from 9-10 a.m./CT will now be hosted via teleconference. Interested parties can participate by calling 866.685.1580 and entering code 0009990941#.

It is not legal to grow, possess, buy or sell hemp in Iowa until official notice is published in the Iowa Administrative Bulletin, which is scheduled to occur on April 8, and you have received a license from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

“We know farmers are eager for new opportunities and this milestone means they are one step closer to being able to grow hemp during the 2020 growing season,” said Secretary Naig.

Applying for a hemp license

Farmers can start applying for a license to grow hemp on April 1. Detailed instructions on how to apply for a hemp license are available at All individuals associated with the hemp production operation must be listed on the hemp license application and must submit their fingerprints for a background check. Interested growers can request a fingerprint card at (515) 725-1470 or A license cannot be issued until all applicants associated with the hemp license pass the background check.

Applying for a permit to sell hemp seed

Before selling, distributing, advertising, soliciting orders, offering, or exposing hemp seed for sale in Iowa, a retailer must obtain a seed permit from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Seed dealers can apply for a seed permit now. Detailed information about hemp seed testing and labeling requirements are available at

All questions about applying for a hemp license or seed permit should be directed to or (515) 725-1470. Additional resources for hemp growers are available at

This commercial hemp production program does not legalize the use of cannabidiol (CBD) for human consumption, extraction or processing 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.

Rounds Unveils Three-Pronged Approach to Address Cattle Market Crisis

U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) Thursday announced a number of steps he is taking to address the ongoing cattle market crisis, which has been magnified during the recent outbreak of COVID-19 and could lead to producer bankruptcies.

“In recent years, cattle producers have suffered from an undervalued product and low market prices—despite a consistent and growing demand for U.S. beef,” said Rounds. “This has only intensified in recent months following a fire at a meatpacking facility, and now, the spread of COVID-19. We’re at the point where many South Dakota ranching families are on the brink of going under. This is unacceptable. However, there are steps we can take to reverse this trend, if we act now.

“Today, I’ve taken a number of steps that I believe would provide much-needed assistance for our cattle producers. This includes providing immediate relief for cattle producers who are being unfairly harmed due to COVID-19 market disruption, supporting efforts to reinstate Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (MCOOL), and urging a federal investigation into multiple allegations of anti-trust violations by meatpackers.

“Our producers are on the frontlines of our food supply chain. We cannot allow unjustified, unfair and unwise practices to put them at a disadvantage –or worse – force them out of business altogether.”

Regarding his letter to the Department of Justice, Rounds said:
“Today, we are asking the Department of Justice to investigate continued allegations of price fixing within the cattle market. Just last summer, we saw the most recent allegation that resulted in the Department of Agriculture investigating the packers.  That investigation is still under review. Additionally, we are asking the Department of Justice to definitively answer whether a packer oligopoly exists within the cattle market and inherently creates an anti-competitive market place that unfairly disadvantages the cattle producer and consumer.

“Cattle producers are seeing record losses and bankruptcies. Meanwhile, the shelf price of meat is at record highs, and boxed beef prices are increasing as well. These margins don’t make any sense. The reality is that there is an inverse correlation between the producer’s price and the consumer’s price. We want to know why. If the Department of Justice finds that there are no violations, then we must reconsider the statutory environment of this industry, because the status quo isn’t working.

“We need these answers quickly and decisively to protect the integrity of the industry, and every stakeholder, including consumers who are footing the bill.

Steps Rounds has Taken to Address the Cattle Market Crisis:

    Urging a federal investigation into whether the nation’s top meat packers have engaged in anti-competitive activity by abusing their concentration of market power and have engaged in an unlawful price fixing scheme. In a letter to the Department of Justice, Rounds urged the agency to examine the current structure of the beef meatpacking industry and determine whether it complies with U.S. Antitrust law. 

    Urging President Trump to support trade negotiations to allow mandatory country-of-origin labeling (MCOOL) in the United States. In a letter to President Trump, Rounds offered his support for South Dakota Concurrent Resolution 601, which “urgently requests the President of the United States and the United States Trade Representative to negotiate and execute agreements, with Canada and Mexico, which will remove trade barriers to MCOOL.” MCOOL requires labeling to include where the product is sourced. MCOOL was repealed in 2015. Since then, American producers of beef and pork have been at a disadvantage when marketing their products. Additionally, consumers are unable to differentiate between domestic and foreign products when choosing which meat to purchase at the store. Without reinstating MCOOL, and because of existing loopholes within USDA regulations, foreign beef can currently be labeled as a product of the U.S.A.

    Submitting Legislation to Help Offset Loss by Cattle Producers This week, Rounds submitted legislation to Senate leadership to include in a COVID-19 response bill that would direct the Secretary of Agriculture to use Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) funds to offset losses cattle producers take in the live and feeder cattle markets. The legislation would use USDA Economic Research Service projections for 2020 as a baseline for market losses. Producers would report to their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office the month or months in which they sold their cattle and the amount they sold. USDA would then use the reported average sales prices compared to the indexed feeder or live cattle average to determine the COVID-19 market disruption.

    For example, USDA projected that in 2020 feeder cattle would sell at an average of $150 per hundred weight. If a producer sold cattle in April, USDA would calculate the average sales price for that month and pay the producer the difference based on the amount/weight of cattle sold. Therefore, if the average sale for the month of April was $130 per hundred weight, each producer (regardless of their individual sale price) would qualify for a $20 per hundred weight market correction—for 2020 only (all months). The same goes for live cattle sales, meaning it would apply to cattle being sold for slaughter as well as cattle being sold to a feedlot. Conversely, if the market rebounds and the average sale for the month or months reaches the USDA 2020 projected price, then no payment is necessary.  Rounds intends to introduce this as standalone legislation on Friday, March 20, 2020.

Rounds previously introduced the U.S. Beef Integrity Act, which would outlaw foreign beef from being labeled as a “Product of the U.S.A.” and make certain that label only goes on beef and beef products exclusively derived from animals born, raised and slaughtered here in the United States.  Currently, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) does not require that beef be born, raised and slaughtered in the U.S. in order to carry a “Product of the U.S.A.” label. This loophole allows beef from livestock born and raised in foreign countries to be labeled “Product of the U.S.A.” as long as the beef undergoes additional processing at a processing plant in the U.S.

AVMA Champions Law to Help Vets Get More Training

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) welcomed the introduction of the VET MED Act (Veterinary Education and Training Minimizes Educational Debt, H.R. 6134) by veterinarians in Congress, Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Ted Yoho (R-Fla.). This important legislation will help alleviate the cost of additional training for veterinarians. The AVMA has taken a leadership role in advocating for this legislation.

"Residencies and internships are critical to preparing veterinarians for high-need specialties like emergency medicine, oncology and large animal medicine, but during this time spent in additional training, veterinary borrowers face massive interest accumulation that can make loan repayment feel insurmountable," said Dr. John Howe, president of the AVMA. "The VET MED Act is an important step toward alleviating this debt burden, and we're thankful to Representatives Schrader and Yoho for introducing this bill."

Currently, many veterinarians who enter residencies, internships or Ph.D. programs are required to make educational loan payments and will also accumulate significant interest on their loans during their time spent in training. This can present significant fiscal challenges to recruit veterinarians for specialized training because the average residency salary in 2019 was about $34,000.

The VET MED Act would help address this challenge and ensure the nation has enough highly trained veterinarians by allowing veterinary borrowers to pause their interest accumulation and loan repayment while pursuing additional training in veterinary residencies, internships or DVM/Ph.D. programs.

The AVMA is looking forward to working with the veterinary community to pass this important legislation.

U.S. Wheat Associates Statement on Major Chinese Wheat Purchase

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) President Vince Peterson issued the following statement about news of Chinese wheat import purchases.

“The USDA report today that Chinese buyers have purchased 340,000 metric tons, or about 12.5 million bushels, of U.S. hard red winter (HRW) wheat for delivery in the 2020/21 marketing year is very good news for U.S. wheat farmers. This is a significant purchase volume and the largest since China implemented retaliatory tariffs on U.S. wheat in March 2018.

"This purchase falls under China’s 9.64 million metric ton tariff rate quota (TRQ). China has agreed to work toward filling its TRQ for wheat imports. As USW has noted, if the changes are in fact implemented, and Chinese millers can respond to market signals, most of the TRQ should be used. U.S. wheat farmers are in a good position to help fill the TRQ given current export prices, relatively low freight rates and the ready supply of the wheat classes China needs. 

"USW appreciates the efforts of both the U.S. and Chinese governments to reach the Phase One trade agreement that has helped re-open the door to U.S. wheat imports by China. We believe that China’s flour millers and growing baking industry want the opportunity to purchase high-quality U.S. wheat classes again and we hope this is only the beginning of a new, more productive trade relationship.”

NAWG Welcomes News of Large Wheat Purchase by Chinese Buyers

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) President and Cass City, MI wheat farmer Dave Milligan made the following statement in response to largest purchase of wheat by Chinese buyers since the country implemented retaliatory tariffs on U.S. wheat in March 2018:

“With the Coronavirus pandemic adversely impacting domestic and international economies, China’s purchase of American wheat is welcomed news.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed that Chinese buyers purchased 340,000 metric tons, or about 12.5 million bushels, of U.S. hard red winter (HRW) wheat for delivery in the 2020/21 marketing year.

“NAWG also hopes that this is just one of several steps towards implementation of Phase I of the new U.S.-China trade deal. China is one of the largest buyers of U.S. wheat, and we hope that the new U.S.-China trade deal will restore the export opportunity that was building in China for American wheat farmers.”

NCGA COVID-19 Task Force Convenes

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is moving quickly in its efforts to better understand the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the nation’s corn growers. In a letter to NCGA members
Thursday, NCGA President Kevin Ross and CEO Jon Doggett announced the formation of an NCGA COVID-19 Task Force to facilitate the collection of information, streamline the decision-making process to make recommendations and coordinate activities with the broader corn value chain.

The Task Force held its first organizational meeting via teleconference Friday morning. The Task Force consists of state and national farmer leaders and staff, with support from Ross, Doggett and NCGA’s Management Team.

Task Force members are NCGA First Vice President John Linder (OH), Deb Gangwish (NE), Denny Maple (IN), Harold Wolle (MN), Robert Gordon (TX), Bill Leigh (IL), Evan Miles (MD), Paul Thomas (ND), Craig Floss (IA), Colleen Klein (NY), Gary Marshall (MO), and Lisa Richardson (SD). Linder will serve as Task Force Chairman.

Corn growers can follow the work of the Task Force by subscribing to NCGA’s News of the Day e-newsletter or following NCGA on twitter. Farmers are also encouraged to share what they’re seeing in their local regions and any concerns of which they’d like the Task Force to be aware through

Peterson: Agriculture and Food “Absolutely Critical” in Fighting Pandemic

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson welcomed the designation of agriculture, including food production, distribution, and retail, as critical infrastructure by the Department of Homeland Security in an announcement made by the DHS on Thursday.

The announcement allows those along the food and agriculture supply chain to continue operating to meet the national need. In a statement, Peterson noted the importance of farmers, food processors and producers, distributors and retailers as essential to the well-being of the country as it faces the growing coronavirus pandemic.

“Our food system is absolutely critical right now to keeping Americans fed, calm, and healthy,” Peterson said. “As we have heard from farmers and from food companies, we have enough food. The important part now is protecting and supporting the people that grow, raise, distribute and sell that food so supply can continue. The food processing industry is also being impacted by the same shortage of disinfecting products and protective equipment that has reached a crisis situation for our medical professionals.”

Harvesters Urge Agricultural Considerations Amid COVID-19

U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc. today announced a call for the public and government to consider the ag industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  COVID-19 has already had a detrimental effect on most industries, especially those which provide food to the world.

“We are an essential part of the food supply chain and must be allowed to continue our work,” says Glen Jantzen, USCHI President, and owner of Jantzen Harvesting in Plymouth, Nebraska.  “Many concerns are arising from our members that our board and I are working to combat.”

Concerns specific to the custom harvester industry include:
-    H-2A workers – finding employees is the #1 concern in our industry.  Without our overseas workers, our businesses simply cannot complete their jobs.
-    Travel throughout the country – harvesters travel from February to December chopping and combining crops across the country.  With DMVs closed and current waiting periods, we will not be able to license any drivers.
-    Restaurants/grocery stores – as these harvesters travel with crews ranging anywhere from 5 to 100 people, they must have the ability to provide resources for their employees.

Agriculture is an essential business.  A functioning agriculture industry cares for the public by supplying a basic human need.  Custom harvesters harvest these crops that feed the world.  Without farmers and in turn, harvesters, no food will be stocked on grocery store shelves.  We must be allowed to provide a safe, secure food supply.

Please know that our organization stands with you all as we navigate this unprecedented event.

Dean Foods Dumps Dairy Co-Op

Milk processor Dean Foods Co. undid its designation of Dairy Farmers of America Inc. as the lead bidder at a planned bankruptcy sale, removing bid protections that favored the dairy cooperative.

Dean in papers filed Wednesday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Houston said it agreed to "mutually terminate" an asset purchase agreement with DFA, which has offered $425 million for 44 of Dean's processing facilities and other assets.

Bondholders and other creditors had objected to protections included in the bidding rules that favored DFA in exchange for its commitment to put a floor on the purchase price. The protections included a $15 million breakup fee and up to $8 million in reimbursements for DFA's expenses.

The judge overseeing Dean's bankruptcy rejected the proposed bidding rules last week, saying they didn't provide enough transparency for potential alternate bidders and tilted the playing field against other potential bidders.

Dean said Wednesday that DFA wasn't withdrawing from the bidding process. Bondholders are also formulating a bid for a stand-alone restructuring of the company, Dean said. Under Dean's proposed rules, bids for company assets are due on March 30, with a sale hearing to approve winning bids on April 3.

Some creditors have argued that a deal with DFA would run the risk of being rejected by federal antitrust cops, who have been probing the milk processor's possible tie-up with DFA for months.

The Justice Department has discussed with farmers and retailers the potential impact on competition in the heavily regulated dairy industry if DFA, which counts Dean as its biggest customer, were to amass more dairy facilities and purchasing power.

The outcome of any antitrust review could determine the fate of dozens of plants and other assets Dean owns. Competition authorities could also decide to take no action.

Jersey Cow Breaks World Butterfat Record

For the first time in more than a dozen years, a new world record for fat production by a Registered Jersey cow has been recorded by the American Jersey Cattle Association. Last October, 'Lyon Renegade Barb' completed a 365-day lactation of 3,072 pounds of fat, breaking the record set in 2007 by 'Norse Star Hallmark Bootie.' The record-setting lactation had a butterfat test of 8.6%.

The complete lactation, begun at 6 years, 1 month of age, was 35,716 lbs. milk, 3,072 lbs. fat, and 1,382 lbs. protein (94 DCR). Based upon federal order pricing, the gross dollar value of the lactation was $11,042.

Owned by Logan and Autumn Courtney of Chouteau, Okla., the Excellent-90 daughter of BW Renegade-ET was bred by Lyon Jerseys, Toledo, Iowa.

Thursday March 19 Ag News

Record Fall for the March Rural Mainstreet Index: Six of 10 Bank CEOs Expect Recession from Coronavirus

The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) plummeted in March to its lowest level since October 2016. According to the monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy, this is the first reading below growth neutral after six straight months above the 50.0 threshold,.     

Overall: The overall index for March slumped to 35.5 from 51.6 for February.  March’s decline represents the largest one month fall since the survey was initiated in January 2006.

“Approximately 61.3% of bank CEOs expect the coronavirus to produce a recession in their market area. However, almost one-third, or 32.3% expect little economic impact from the coronavirus threat,” said Ernie Goss, PhD, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business. 

Over the last two weeks the coronavirus has resulted in almost one-half, or 47.6%, of bankers surveyed reporting a decline in client or customer visits. Almost one-fourth, or 23.8%, indicated that their bank had experienced higher loan applications resulting from the coronavirus threat.  

Another 14.3% of banks reported an increase in staff absences due to the coronavirus.

Farming and ranching: After moving above growth neutral in December, the farmland and ranchland-price index has fallen below growth neutral for three consecutive months. Even so, March’s reading dipped to 46.6 from February’s 46.8. This is the 75th time in the past 76 months the index has been below growth neutral.

The March farm equipment-sales index slipped to 37.5 from 37.9 in February. This marks the 78th month straight month that the reading has remained below growth neutral 50.0. 

Below are the state reports:

Nebraska: The Nebraska RMI for March tumbled to 32.6 from February’s 48.3. The state’s farmland-price index slipped to 45.2 from last month’s 45.3. Nebraska’s new-hiring index plunged to 33.9 from February’s 42.3.    Between 2018 and 2019, total exports for the state declined by 6.2% with food and agricultural commodities representing 52.4% of total exports for 2019.  

Iowa: The March RMI for Iowa fell to 31.0 from February’s 50.1. Iowa’s farmland-price index slipped to 44.6 from February’s 45.9. Iowa’s new-hiring index for March sank to a regional low of 28.5 from February’s 47.7. Between 2018 and 2019, total exports for the state slumped by 8.3% with food and agricultural commodities representing 32.3% of total exports for 2019.  

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.

NE Extension Hosts 2020 Dairy Webinar Series

Nebraska Dairy Extension is hosting a no fee dairy webinar the second Tuesday of every month at 11:00 am CDT. 

Agenda - Date - Topic - Presenter
April 14 - Feed Efficiencies - shrink, wind loss, spoilage, etc. - Mike Brouk, Kansas State University
May 12 - Preparing for the evaluation: FARM 4.0 - Kim Clark, UNL
June 9 - Improving Cropland Resiliency, Making Manure Part of Fertility Planning - Amy Schmidt, UNL
July 14 - Nutritional Energetics - Logan Morris, UNL
August 11 - Value of Manure - Rick Koelsch, UNL
Sept. 8 - Mindful Manure Mgt: 5 Tips for Staying Safe During Manure Appl. Season - Amy Schmidt, UNL
October 13 - Can a Weather Forecast Reduce Neighbor Odor Exposure? - Rick Koelsch, UNL
November 10 - Does pelleting affect digestibility? - Kirby Krogstad, UNL
December 8 - Feeding strategies with low quality and quantity forages - Paul Kononoff, UNL

No registration is required. To join the webinar visit:

Emerging Issues Forum Rescheduled Due to Coronavirus

In light of the current health issues and precautions taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), the Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB) and Renewable Fuels Nebraska (RFN) have rescheduled the Ethanol: Emerging Issues Forum 2020 for July 15-16. The Forum will be held at the La Vista Conference Center in Greater Omaha if the threat of COVID-19 has subsided. A new registration link and details will be available soon at

The Forum brings together ethanol producers and others from across the nation who are integrally involved in production, technology, policymaking, and marketing of ethanol and its co-products. The agenda runs from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday and 8:00 a.m. to noon Thursday, with multiple networking opportunities in between.

While the conference has been postponed, the hosts have been able to reconfirm many of the speaking engagements. Topics include an overview and discussion of the most pressing federal policies, regulatory and legal actions, and market trends from around the world. Speakers will also outline opportunities in emerging co-product markets from industry partners and remind attendees why they (and why the public should) fall in love with ethanol.

Other scheduled presentations include exploring the potential of future ethanol use in the electric vehicle market, fostering environmental relationships as agricultural and ethanol producers, as well as a discussion considering how ethanol and the petroleum industry can work together.

“We take pride in connecting attendees with some of the most sought-after experts in our industry and providing them with knowledge and foresight of what we truly see evolving in the future,” said Roger Berry, Nebraska Ethanol Board administrator. “Whether you work in the ethanol sector or you’re a citizen enthusiastic about the potential that biofuels have to reduce pollution, we welcome you to attend this exciting and educational event.”


Honey production in 2019 from Nebraska producers with five or more colonies totaled 2.03 million pounds, down 14 percent from 2018, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

There were 39,000 honey producing colonies in Nebraska during 2019, down 3 percent from 2018. Average yield was 52 pounds per colony, down 7 pounds from 2018. Producer stocks were 223,000 pounds on December 15, 2019 down from 850,000 pounds a year earlier.

Prices for the 2019 crop averaged $1.46 per pound, down from $2.01 per pound in 2018. Prices were based on retail sales by producers and sales to private processors and cooperatives. Total value of honey produced in 2019 was $2.96 million, down 38 percent from 2018.

Iowa Honey Production

Honey production from producers with five or more colonies in Iowa totaled 2.09 million pounds in 2019 according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service Honey report. This was a 12 percent increase from the 1.86 million pounds produced in 2018. The number of honey producing colonies in the state at 38,000 is unchanged from 2018. This number does not include producers with fewer than five colonies or producers who did not harvest honey. Yield per colony in Iowa averaged 55 pounds, up from 49 pounds per colony in 2018. Iowa ranked seventeenth nationally in honey production, up from eighteenth place in 2018. Colonies which produced honey in more than one state were counted in each state where the honey was produced. Therefore, at the United States level yield per colony may be understated, but total production would not be impacted.

On December 15, 2019, producer honey stocks in Iowa, excluding stocks under government loan programs, were 1.17 million pounds, a 16 percent increase from 2018. The state’s 2019 honey crop was valued at $4.68 million, up 5 percent from the previous year’s $4.47 million. The average price per pound for all marketing channels in Iowa was $2.24, down 16 cents from 2018.

United States Honey Production Up 2 Percent in 2019

United States honey production in 2019 totaled 157 million pounds, up 2 percent from 2018. There were 2.81 million colonies producing honey in 2019, down 1 percent from 2018. Yield per colony averaged 55.8 pounds, up 2 percent from the 54.5 pounds in 2018. Colonies which produced honey in more than one State were counted in each State where the honey was produced. Therefore, at the United States level yield per colony may be understated, but total production would not be impacted. Colonies were not included if honey was not harvested. Producer honey stocks were 41.0 million pounds on December 15, 2019, up 40 percent from a year earlier. Stocks held by producers exclude those held under the commodity loan program.

Honey Prices Down 11 Percent in 2019

United States honey prices decreased 11 percent during 2019 to 1.97 cents per pound, compared to 2.21 cents per pound in 2018. United States and State level prices reflect the portions of honey sold through cooperatives, private, and retail channels. Prices for each color class are derived by weighting the quantities sold for each marketing channel. Prices for the 2018 crop reflect honey sold in 2018 and 2019. Some 2018 crop honey was sold in 2019, which caused some revisions to the 2018 crop prices.

February Milk Production in the United States up 5.3 Percent

Milk production in the United States during February totaled 17.9 billion pounds, up 5.3 percent from February 2019.  Production per cow in the United States averaged 1,907 pounds for February,  93 pounds above February 2019.  The number of milk cows on farms in the United States was 9.37 million head, 18,000 head more than February 2019, and 9,000 head more than January 2020.

Milk production in Iowa during February 2020 totaled 422 million pounds, up 1 percent from the previous February according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report. However, adjusting production for the extra day due to the leap year causes February milk production to be up less than 1 percent on a per day basis. The average number of milk cows during February, at 215,000 head, was the same as last month but down 5,000 from last year. Monthly production per cow averaged 1,965 pounds, up 75 pounds from last February.

Record High Red Meat and Pork Production in February

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.45 billion pounds in February, up 7 percent from the 4.17 billion pounds produced in February 2019.

Beef production, at 2.13 billion pounds, was 7 percent above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.58 million head, up 5 percent from February 2019. The average live weight was up 24 pounds from the previous year, at 1,376 pounds.

Veal production totaled 5.1 million pounds, 17 percent below February a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 39,700 head, down 18 percent from February 2019. The average live weight was up 5 pounds from last year, at 224 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.31 billion pounds, up 6 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 10.7 million head, up 6 percent from February 2019. The average live weight was up 1 pound from the previous year, at 288 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 10.7 million pounds, was down 4 percent from February 2019. Sheep slaughter totaled 164,200 head, 3 percent below last year. The average live weight was 130 pounds, down 2 pounds from February a year ago.

By State:                  (mil lbs.  -  % Feb '19)

Nebraska .......:         607.0             99      
Iowa ..............:         731.1            112      
Kansas ...........:         474.9            112      

January to February 2020 commercial red meat production was 9.41 billion pounds, up 6 percent from 2019. Accumulated beef production was up 5 percent from last year, veal was down 9 percent, pork was up 7 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 5 percent.

AgriSafe Network hosts COVID-19 Webinar

Monday, March 23, 2020 - 12:00 PM

Coronavirus has gained attention worldwide as an emerging infectious disease. This webinar is intended to share evidence-based information about COVID19 and to help agricultural producers identify strategies for responding on their farm.

Intended Audience:
Agricultural producers, ranchers, farmers, farmworkers, veterinarians, Extension personnel, rural health care providers, and others who work in agriculture.

At the end of the webinar, participants will be able to:
  - be aware of common signs and symptoms of COVID-19
  - understand the transmission risk to yourself, employees, and potentially your animals
 - describe infection control principles and appropriate strategies for limiting disease transmission
 - locate resources and training for Ag producers related to infection prevention

 - Jeff Bender, DVM, MS DACVPM - Professor and Director of the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (UMASH), School of Public Health, University of Minnesota
  - Charlotte Halverson, RN, BSN, COHN-S, Clinical Director, AgriSafe Network Heather Fowler, VMD PhD MPH DACVPM - Director of Producer and Public Health, National Pork Board
  - Chad Roy, Ph.D., M.S.P.H. - Director, Infectious Disease Aerobiology, Director, Biodefense Research Programs at the Tulane National Primate Research Center, and Professor of Microbiology & Immunology, Tulane School of Medicine

If you cannot attend the live event, a recording of this webinar will be available in the AgriSafe Learning Lab shortly after the event is over.

To register for this webinar, please click here to register....  Registration will take place in the AgriSafe Learning Lab. If you are not currently an AgriSafe member, you can still register after setting up a guest account.

Statement of NCFC President Chuck Conner on Designation of Agriculture and Food Supply Chain as Critical Infrastructure

“I would like to applaud the Department of Homeland Security for designating the entire food and agriculture production chain as critical infrastructure as our country responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. This action will help ensure that as we face this unprecedented crisis Americans will continue to be able to find nutritious food on store shelves. It provides much needed reassurance to our hardworking farmers as planting season gets underway. I’d also like to thank Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue for his leadership and hard work on this issue.

“The Trump Administration should especially be commended to recognize the importance of the entire supply chain—from input provides to farmers and ranchers to food processors to retailers. Leaving one link in this chain out of this designation would have made the task facing American agriculture all that much harder.

“America’s co-ops and their farmer-owners stand ready to play their part in this chain. In conversations with our members in the past week, one phrase used frequently is that our country’s farmer co-ops will ‘get it done.’ The coming weeks will require sacrifice, ingenuity, and determination, but I have no doubt that, as we have so many times in our country’s history, farmers and ranchers will rise to the challenge.”

Agricultural Producers Encouraged to Visit Farmers.Gov for Updates on Services in Their Community

As proactive health measures are put in effect nationwide to reduce the spread of coronavirus, the USDA is taking measures to ensure the safety of its employees and customers. As a result, access to certain facilities may be limited while remaining open for business. All service center visitors wishing to conduct business with the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or any other service center agency are encouraged to call their service center to confirm availability for in-person or phone appointments before visiting. Producers can find their service center’s phone number at Agricultural producers should visit for the latest information on available services and the latest status of service centers impacted by these locally-specific health measures.

ARA Working with Administration to Ensure Certainty, Business Continuity for Ag Retailers and Customers

Today the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) sent a letter to President Trump underscoring the priorities identified by its members to be addressed during the COVID-19 pandemic and related limitations on businesses.

“We are now entering the spring season, the busiest time of the year for farmers and the agricultural retailers who supply and support them,” said ARA President and CEO Daren Coppock in the letter. “Continuous flows of seed, fertilizers, crop protection and custom application are most important in the spring. Even missing one or two days in tight windows for planting, fertilizing or applying crop protection can have significant negative impacts on fresh food and row crop production as well as farm income.”

The letter requests flexibility for the agricultural supply chain, including designating agricultural retailers as “essential” and exempt from any temporary closures of “retail” businesses. It also asks that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Hours of Service (HOS) requirements waiver that has been extended to those carrying medical supplies also include the carrying of farm supplies and other products that are time-sensitive to a functioning supply chain.

“… we ask that you keep in mind the importance of this agricultural input supply chain to the farmers and the consumers who rely on that productivity,” said Coppock.

Also included is a request that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designate agricultural retailers and other parts of the farm supply chain be considered “essential” critical infrastructure and allowed to continue to operate and move essential products for delivery to farmers during any mandatory shutdowns, including commercial ports.

USDA and DOL Announce Information Sharing to Assist H-2A Employers

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to help facilitate the identification of foreign and domestic workers that may be available and eligible to transfer to other U.S. agricultural sector employers to fulfill critical workforce needs within the U.S. under existing regulatory authority during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Ensuring minimal disruption for our agricultural workforce during these uncertain times is a top priority for this administration,” Secretary Perdue said. “President Trump knows that these workers are critical to maintaining our food supply and our farmers and ranchers are counting on their ability to work. We will continue to work to make sure our supply chain is impacted as minimally as possible.”

“American farmers and ranchers are at the frontlines of maintaining the nation’s food supply,” Secretary Scalia said. “In these unprecedented times, it is critical for them to have the workforce they need. This new partnership between USDA and DOL will help support our farmers, ranchers, and American families.”

Peterson Welcomes Added Flexibility for Ethanol Producers, Motor Carriers

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson welcomed two announcements from the Federal government that would expand flexibility in response to the growing coronavirus pandemic.

Public guidance issued Wednesday from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau gives added flexibility for alcohol fuel plants and beverage distilled spirits plants to shift to the production of ethanol-based hand sanitizers.

An expanded emergency declaration issued Wednesday from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration provides regulatory relief for motor carriers transporting essential supplies, food and fuel.

“These two actions will provide flexibility for folks along the food and fuel chain to respond to immediate needs within their community and beyond as the challenge of fighting the pandemic grows,” said Peterson.

“Expanding the operations making hand sanitizer grows the need for ethanol at a time when farmers need that,” he added. “And enabling carriers to move freely in providing food, fuel and supplies enables farmers and wholesalers to move food products including milk, as well as livestock and poultry more easily to where they need to be.”

NPPC Applauds Government Guidance Recognizing U.S. Agriculture as Critical Industry

This afternoon, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued guidance on critical industry workforce that should continue as the country addresses and responds to the coronavirus outbreak; U.S. food and agriculture was included among 16 critical industries.

Specifically, DHS recognized as essential a variety of pork production roles. Among these critical workers:
-    Food manufacturer employees and their supplier employees—to include those employed in food processing (packers, meat processing, cheese plants, milk plants, produce, etc.) facilities; livestock, poultry, seafood slaughter facilities; pet and animal feed processing facilities; human food facilities producing by-products for animal food; beverage production facilities; and the production of food packaging.
-    Farm workers to include those employed in animal food, feed, and ingredient production, packaging, and distribution; manufacturing, packaging, and distribution of veterinary drugs; truck delivery and transport; farm and fishery labor needed to produce our food supply domestically.
-    Animal agriculture workers including those employed in veterinary health; manufacturing and distribution of animal medical materials, animal vaccines, animal drugs, feed ingredients, feed, and bedding, etc.; transportation of live animals, animal medical materials; transportation of deceased animals for disposal; raising of animals for food; animal production operations; slaughter and packing plants and associated regulatory and government workforce.

"We thank DHS for acknowledging the vital role that pork producers play in helping to feed consumers here at home and around the globe with a high-quality, affordable protein," said National Pork Producers President Howard "A.V." Roth, a pork producer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin. "We recognize that states and local governments are working hard to ensure operational continuity. As part of that effort, we urge state and local governments to swiftly follow and implement this federal directive. We need to ensure there is a continuous and uninterrupted supply of pork to America's kitchen tables."

NCBA Sends Letter to Capitol Hill Urging Relief for Cattle Producers

In response to the ongoing efforts to provide relief to Americans impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane issued the following statement:

“As the country reels both economically and emotionally from the spread of COVID-19, NCBA has been hard at work ensuring that cattle producers remain able to focus on the national infrastructure priority of keeping high-quality beef available to consumers. 

“Meeting that challenge requires federal officials at the Departments of Agriculture, Transportation, Interior, Treasury, and more to have a full understanding of how our product gets from the pasture to the plate – and we’re extremely proud to tell that story. 

”In these challenging times, that story is about the strength of our cattle-producing families and what they need to weather this storm.  COVID-19 has dealt a tremendously challenging hand to producers across the country. These highly volatile markets cannot be allowed to force our ranching families out of business just when consumers need them most.

“In order to combat this staggering burden, NCBA has been actively engaged with leaders in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to ensure that relief funds from any aid package reach these struggling cattle producers directly. It is important that any such relief avoids the lasting market-altering effects of a price support program, such as those that have been proposed by some members of the Senate. Instead, we must keep the focus on providing quick, targeted relief to struggling producers.  While the effects of COVID-19 will be felt across the country, we must ensure we avoid permanent, fundamental changes to workings of the American cattle market. We applaud Senators and Representatives from across the country who are working to provide those solutions using proven avenues such as the Commodity Credit Corporation as administered through USDA.
“Americans always rise to the challenge in times of need and the work of these officials in Congress and in the administration during this trying time is a testament to that great tradition. We thank each of them for their efforts and stand ready to assist moving forward.”    

Dairy Farmers Elated at Homeland Security’s Reaffirmation of Food and Agriculture as a Critical Industry

The National Milk Producers Federation, the largest organization of U.S. dairy farmers, applauded the Trump Administration’s explanation that the food and agriculture is a critical infrastructure industry in the wake of the coronavirus national emergency, a move that encourages state and local authorities to allow farms and the entire food-supply chain to continue operating as usual amid current and potential restrictions created to stem the spread of the virus.

“This declaration allows farmers to do what they do best – feed U.S. consumers – in a time of acute need and anxiety,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “Agriculture is working around the clock to ensure timely delivery of safe, abundant food. That’s what farmers always do – but in a time of unprecedented public-health concern, a fully functioning food system is even more critical to national health and well-being.”

The administration’s designation of “essential critical infrastructure workforce” was announced today by the Department of Homeland Security. NMPF has been deeply involved with the federal government in food supply-chain discussions throughout the coronavirus crisis: Its senior vice president of regulatory and environmental affairs, Clay Detlefsen, is the private-sector chair of the Food and Agricultural Sector Coordinating Council, an industry-government collaboration set up after the Sept. 2001 terror attacks to share information between government agencies and private businesses.

The Homeland Security declaration reflects how effectively industry is working with government and how much that relationship has progressed in this crisis, Detlefsen said. “We’re witnessing incredible collaboration among the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other government agencies and all sectors of the food industry. That’s been crucial to keeping supply chains running during these crucial days for public health and confidence.

“These key partnerships are firing on all cylinders,” Detlefsen said. “Agriculture’s appropriate designation as a critical industry should bring relief to farm families who want to help their country as well as to consumers who now know the world’s greatest agricultural producers can meet their needs unimpeded.”

Coalition Urges Trump Administration to Help Rural Health Care System Prepare for Coronavirus

As rural communities brace for the arrival of the novel coronavirus, a coalition of organization representing rural communities is urging the administration to ensure that the rural health care system has adequate resources and support to respond to this crisis.

In a letter sent to President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, National Farmers Union, the American Federation of Teachers, Farm Credit Council, Farmworker Justice, the National Association of Counties, and the National Rural Health Association noted that while COVID-19 may be slower to spread to rural areas, its impact is expected to be at least as serious as it has been in urban areas. This is, in part, because rural Americans are more vulnerable to the virus but are less able to access treatment. “The greatest risk factors for severe illness from COVID-19 are advanced age and serious chronic medical conditions– both of which disproportionately affect rural Americans,” the coalition wrote. At the same time, those individuals are more likely to be poor and uninsured, making it difficult for them to afford testing and treatment services.

But because a spate of rural hospital closures over the past decade has left communities with a shortage of medical professionals, hospital beds, equipment, and funding, even patients who can afford treatment still may not be able to access it. “Even in the best circumstances, rural hospitals are often ill-equipped to handle acute medical issues,” the letter reads. “But in the event of a pandemic, understaffed and underfunded facilities will undoubtedly struggle to meet the needs of every patient.”

In anticipation of an influx of patients, the coalition outlined a list of recommendations that would expand the capacity of rural facilities, such as increasing the availability of necessary medical supplies and funding for hospitals, migrant health centers, and other community health providers. Such efforts will help rural Americans access necessary medical services during this crisis.

Keep healthy meals on the table and stress out of the kitchen with these simple suggestions from

As families adjust to more time at home, the Beef Checkoff is offering tips and ideas for batch cooking and leftovers to ensure meal planning is stress-free and packs a nutritious punch. Planning ahead in the kitchen saves time and money, and can also help families reach daily nutrition goals, even when they’re busy juggling a variety of needs and responsibilities. 

Meal prepping and planning for leftovers is a cinch when you start out strong with perfectly prepared beef. Check out these easy guides from the experts at Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. to get the ball rolling:
-    How to Batch Cook Shredded Beef – This quick guide walks you through how to cook a roast in the slow cooker for delicious shredded beef you can use all week long.
-    How to Batch Cook Steak –By following these simple steps, you can be set with steak for days.

In addition to batch cooking, turning leftovers into “planned-overs” can be a great way to keep things fresh when cooking at home.  Be it breakfast, lunch or dinner, these popular dishes from the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. So Long Leftovers recipe collection are sure to be crowd pleasers and can cut down on cooking stress: 
-    Breakfast – Get your day off to a good start with a Beef & Spinach Breakfast Sandwich. Simply pair your leftover steak or roast with eggs, spinach and cheese for a delicious morning meal.
-    Lunch – Elevate your lunchtime routine with a protein-packed Steak Salad with Dried Cherries. A little bit sweet and a little bit savory, this salad will keep you going through the day.
-    Dinner – Put those shredded beef leftovers to work for a delicious meal of Cuban Crispy Shredded Beef. When sautéed with peppers, onions and lime juice, and served with rice and beans, leftovers become new again for a delicious family dinner.

For these recipes and more, including cooking lessons and virtual farm and ranch tours, visit


The Corn Refiners Association (CRA) today announced new climate change policy principles that will guide the industry’s advocacy to ensure a more sustainable future for corn refining, agriculture, and consumers.

“These principles will drive advocacy for science-based public policies that demand economically-sound decisions at the state, federal and global levels,” said CRA President and CEO John Bode. “They will nurture collaboration across industries and lawmakers to minimize greenhouse gas emissions as we foster technological innovation, expand commercial opportunities, build the bioeconomy, and feed a hungry world. Importantly, these principles recognize the significant role that agriculture plays in addressing climate challenges proactively.”

CRA’s climate change policy principles include undertaking initiatives to reduce the overall carbon footprint of corn refining products and processes, an embrace of greenhouse gas reduction goals that are both achievable and science-based, and recognizing agricultural feedstocks in industrial processes as a key element in advancing greenhouse gas reductions, among others.

“By addressing climate change through environmentally-focused solutions, CRA continues to serve as a leading member of the agriculture industry’s economic growth,” said CRA Board Chairman Rob Ritchie. “I am proud to be part of this forward-leaning group, guiding law through sound science and elevating society at every level as a result.”

The full list of climate change policy principles can be found here:

This announcement comes on the heels of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agriculture Innovation Agenda (AIA). The AIA reflects a commitment to the continued success of American farmers, ranchers, producers, and foresters in the face of future challenges.

Since its inception 106 years ago, CRA has fought for corn refiners, farmers and agribusinesses, consumers and other relevant industries. CRA advocates for a healthy and prosperous environment that preserves America’s ability to innovate and promote economic growth. CRA believes environmental regulations are most effective when they are guided by law and rooted in science.

One National Milk Marketing Order Needed as Coronavirus Fallout Reveals Flaws in U.S. Dairy Production System

                The production of milk, grains and meat is vital to national interests, and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will undoubtedly be felt on farms across the United States.

                National Farmers, a marketer of milk, cattle and grains on behalf of farmers across the country, says dairy producers will see major disruptions in farm-level milk prices and product flow interruptions will occur from farms to processors and retailers.

                “The milk industry will face enormous disruptions in the coming weeks and months, and worse yet, we can't anticipate exactly what they will be,” said National Farmers President Paul Olson. “But we know this; one national milk marketing order would help put the country in a better position to handle whatever comes up,” Olson said.

                Currently, 11 Federal Milk Marketing Orders regulate milk marketing. But Olson says the establishment of just one national milk marketing order can facilitate faster reactions to disruptions throughout the system and allow for necessary corrective actions when those disruptions occur. He says one milk order can also can take steps to stabilize prices, address transportation disruptions and stem the loss of family-sized farms.

                “We are requesting U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue strongly consider establishing one federal milk marketing order,” Olson said.

                As Americans face the daily psychological challenges of the novel coronavirus and cope with disappearing products on grocery store shelves, Olson points out the realities of today’s milk production system.

                “More than half of the nation’s milk is produced by only 5 percent of U.S. dairy farms,” Olson said. These giant farms depend on people who make up a vulnerable labor supply to milk and otherwise care for tens of thousands of cows.

                “A coronavirus outbreak among workers on several of those farms will, in all likelihood, lead to plant closures,” Olson said. Notification has already been given by one prominent plant of its intent to close indefinitely.

                The group of dairy farms least likely to be disrupted is family-sized operations. Most labor on these dairies is from family members who live on the farms. Chances for rapid spread of disease among various families on their many operations is lower, because of natural social distancing geographically between farms. But these are the very farms the country is now losing at rates approaching 10 percent per year.

            “We believe a more dispersed milk supply is a safer food supply,” said Olson. Much more so than allowing most dairy cows, and more labor, to be concentrated on very large farms.

Wednesday March 18 Ag News

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:

Nebraska Dairy Industry Development Board

Kent W. Pulfer, Wayne
Douglas Temme, Wayne
William L. Thiele, Clearwater

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

NSB accepting applications for Market Development Coordinator Until March 23

The Nebraska Soybean Board has extended the deadline for people to express interest in their Market Development Coordinator position.  The NSB Market Development Coordinator is responsible for conducting a variety of tasks on behalf of the soybean board.

The main responsibility of the Market Development Coordinator is to work with international and domestic contractors and industry contacts to open new markets for Nebraska soybeans. In order to this, the position works as a program manager to monitor projects that have been funded by the Nebraska Soybean Board international and domestic committees. This includes meticulous examination of invoices and quarterly reports, providing resources and assistance to programs that NSB has chosen to fund. Regularly attending industry meetings to present about Nebraska Soybean, and organization updates and project reports at NSB board meetings.

If you are interested in the position, please submit your resume, cover letter and salary requirements to Scott Ritzman at by March 23, 2020.  More information here...


The Cuming County Feeders Board of Directors has decided to postpone the Cuming Co. Feeders Banquet that was scheduled for April 18. They are working on setting a date for the banquet to be held this summer.  All contribution that have been received will be mailed back.  For more information, call Pat at 402-380-8314 or Keith at 402-380-8648.

Nebraska Soybean Board meeting Cancelled

The Nebraska Soybean Board has cancelled their meeting for Thursday, March 19 through Friday, March 20 at the Embassy Suites located at 1040 P Street in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Other COVID-19 Cancellations and Postponements......

March 28 - Burt County Cattlemen Ladies Night Out, Tekamah - Cancelled
April 4 - Washington County Cattlemen Banquet, Arlington - Postponed TBD

Nebraska Cattlemen Applauds Action Letters to COVID-19 Task Force and Packers

Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) staff and leadership, focused on finding solutions to help correct the market situation, applaud two letters the National Cattlemen Beef Association (NCBA) sent March 17th to top government and packing industry leaders.

The first letter went to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence as chair of the federal government's response to the coronavirus outbreak. The letter asks that the Administration, in partnership with state and local leaders, take swift and proactive steps to minimize the negative consequences of COVID-19 and preserve the economic viability of the U.S. beef supply chain. Specifically, it asks for USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) to expand the availability of low- and zero-interest loans in addition to increasing flexibility of terms for existing loans. Further, it requests FSA coordinate with USDA Rural Development and the Small Business Administration throughout the implementation of these accommodations.

Regarding transportation, the letter requests the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) emergency declaration and suspension of Hours of Service to extend to haulers transporting shipments of livestock feed, critically important animal health technologies, and trucks moving livestock to feedyards and packing facilities. This critical step will not only keep cattle haulers in business, but it is the only way to ensure movement across the entire beef supply chain during this challenging time.

Regarding cattle prices, and the increasing disparity between cattle and boxed beef prices, it requests that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) keep a close eye on the cattle markets to ensure that no one tries to use the uncertainty of the live cattle market to manipulate or illegally take advantage of the situation.

The letter explains that the U.S. cattle producers are no strangers to difficulties in the market created by factors outside of their control and believe they will recover from these dark days in due time. Cattle families feel the impact of this pandemic just like other families and will do their best to keep cattle healthy and to provide American families with safe, high-quality beef. Producers ask government leaders to work with them to keep the stream of commerce moving as efficiently as possible so that they may continue to keep store shelves stocked with beef for American consumers.

NC also supports the second letter, which was sent to the North American Meat Institute (NAMI), the trade organization representing packers. It asks that NAMI members be aggressive in the cash market and base their bids on the increased cutout value we see rather than the futures. This will help with market liquidity and transparency, thus helping bring some stability back to the cattle markets. Second, it asks packers to participate in the weekly Fed Cattle Exchange to provide further confidence to the producer segment of our industry by providing transparency and price discovery. The letter also asks that NAMI actively communicate your actions with NCBA and allow us to communicate those actions to the full beef community.

The letter to NAMI states NCBA will continue to work with USDA to ensure it provides the inspectors and graders to keep the beef supply moving. Any plant shutdown or slowdown will further compound the economic impact on feeders, stockers, and cow/calf producers. NCBA will also help to fight any attempt to restrict interstate commerce that would impact the flow of cattle and beef.

About the calls for action, Nebraska Cattlemen President Ken Herz said NC staff and leadership remain committed to members. "Please know we are working diligently to find solutions to the current situation while keeping our long-term focus on improving market transparency and reducing market volatility. We will continue to keep you up to date as more information becomes available."

Nebraska Farm Bureau President Says Risk of COVID-19 Spread to Rural Nebraska “Real”, Offers Checklist to Help Farmers, Ranchers Prepare

Nebraska Farm Bureau is advising farmers, ranchers, and other rural Nebraskans to not underestimate the risk posed by the potential spread of COVID-19. While most of the confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 have occurred in Eastern Nebraska, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson is urging all Nebraskans to take precautions to help minimize the potential for spread and encouraging farmers and ranchers to prepare for possible impacts to their rural communities and agricultural operations.

“I know some may view the COVID-19 outbreak as only a concern to our state’s high-density population centers, but make no mistake, the potential for the spread of COVID-19 to rural areas is real. It’s especially serious considering the unique challenges rural hospitals and health care providers may face in treating and containing the virus. It’s imperative we all do our part to try and slow the spread of this highly contagious disease. It’s also critical we make sure our farm and ranch operators are ready to deal with possible ramifications in the event of expanded spread,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

To aid agriculture producers in preparing for potential COVID-19 expansion, Nebraska Farm Bureau developed a list of things for farmers and ranchers to consider, covering topics from personal health to operational preparedness.

“There’s no reason for panic, but every reason to plan ahead and be prepared,” said Nelson.

The preparedness list includes:

Protect personal health of farm/ranch owner/operators and employees.
    Personal health is an important first step. Washing hands frequently, disinfecting shared surfaces, and making sure soap and other sanitization supplies are available to employees is a key first step. Strengthening immune systems by taking vitamins and making good food choices is another way to stay healthy. For example, beef is good source of zinc that keeps immune systems strong. Doing business over the phone or online when possible can help limit in-person visits and potential exposure.

Plan for possible labor shortages.
    Ask yourself – what is my plan if my farm help can only work limited hours due to school closings or other events? Are there things my employees can do remotely via technology if they can’t be there in person? Do I have others who can help if my current labor force is unavailable?

Plan for possible supply/input shortages.
    Do I have a backup for feed, fuel, and other inputs in the event my normal channels or supply lines are disrupted? Do I have enough supplies on-hand to weather short-term disruptions? Do I have enough on-farm storage capacity for fuel and other inputs if there is an extended shortage?

Communicate with those with whom you do business.
    Stay in close contact with your business partners - including both input suppliers and those to whom you sell commodities and products. Doing so will give you the best information to make decisions. Are processors, co-ops, etc., accepting delivery? Are they running normal schedules and hours?

Communicate any disruptions.
    If you experience or hear of disruptions in supply chains alert Nebraska Farm Bureau immediately via email at Nebraska Farm Bureau will continue to exchange information with state and federal officials focused on addressing disruptions and maintaining a safe food supply.

“Farmers and ranchers play a critical role in assuring the safety and abundance of our nation’s food supply. In the face of COVID-19, it is imperative we as agricultural producers do our part to help maintain our food system. That means being prepared on our operations and taking personal responsibility and precautions to help slow the potential spread of the virus. By protecting ourselves, our communities, and our farms and ranches, Nebraska farmers and ranchers can play a positive role in working with Nebraskans to collectively address the challenges posed by COVID-19,” said Nelson.

Coronavirus Creates Trade Deal Uncertainty

With planting season just weeks away, news of the coronavirus has farmers wondering what to expect in the marketplace and how it might impact the recently announced phase one trade deal with China.

According to the deal, China has agreed to buy $12.5 billion in U.S. agricultural products in 2020, and $19.5 billion more in 2021. Recent world events have caused uncertainty as to when those shipments will begin, and whether the targets will be met.

“The farmers are hopeful, but they want to understand how the phase one deal will impact their income and export potential, and the coronavirus adds significant uncertainty” said Wendong Zhang, an assistant professor and extension economist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

In an article he co-authored for The Conversation – an independent and nonprofit source of news analysis from academic experts, Zhang says China can still make the purchases noted in the deal, at least for the year 2020, but current events will make doing so more challenging.

“A resilient and recovering Chinese economy means the country can comply with the trade deal and potentially minimize damage to the U.S. economy from an ongoing trade war,” according to the article, which also adds, “Make no mistake. These disruptions have been profound.”

New restrictions in China and the U.S. have led to significant reductions in Chinese imports, according to Zhang, with the possibility that the start date for the phase one deal could be pushed back from February, to late April or May. The rapid spread of coronavirus in Europe and the U.S. makes Chinese buyers even more cautious regarding overseas personnel and cargo flows.

In the article, which Zhang co-authored with Tao Xiong, professor of agricultural economics at Huazhong Agricultural University in China and a visiting scholar at the Iowa State Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, the authors say another factor affecting trade is market prices.

The phase one deal allows Chinese agricultural purchases to be based on market prices and commercial considerations, rather than quarterly purchase targets or commodity-specific purchase contracts. This provision gives China more flexibility with what it purchases, according to the article. For example, China recently bid on U.S. sorghum.

Zhang said there is reason for U.S. producers to be optimistic, including China’s own post-coronavirus recovery and increased demand for pork and other proteins, due mostly to the devastating effects of African swine fever.

“Once life returns to normal, as the coronavirus outbreak slows globally, I think the orders and shipments will slowly ramp up. But the coronavirus will definitely be a hard hit,” Zhang said.

Pulled Pork Madness: Voting Underway to Determine 'Elite 8'

Has the NCAA's cancellation of March Madness given you the blues? Get in on some bracket action with the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) Pulled Pork Madness, a competition that pits Iowa restaurants against each other for the best pulled pork sandwich. The "Sweet 16" matchups were announced Monday.

Members of the public have until noon Friday, March 20 to vote for their favorites and help determine which advance to the next round. Past winners-Warehouse Barbecue Co. + Brewhouse in Ottumwa (2019) and Moo's BBQ in Newton (2018)-are going head to head in District 7.

The monthlong contest, which mimics the college basketball tournament, follows a similar narrowing process that gets restaurants to the "Elite 8" and "Final Four."

Restaurants in the "Sweet 16" are:
District - Restaurant - Town
1 - Sizzlin' J Bar & Grill - Galva
1 - Burn Unit BBQ - Sibley
2 - Smokin' Grumps Barbecue - Rockwell City
2 - Double M Catering & Sandwich Shop - Emmetsburg
3 - Blue Barn BBQ - Cedar Falls
3 - Starbeck's Smokehouse - Cedar Falls
4 - Backwoods Bar and Grill - McGregor
4 - Bents Smokehouse & Pub - Westgate
5 - The Twisted Tail Steakhouse & Saloon - Logan
5 - Smokin with E's Bbq (Cafe Sign) Lenox

6 - Whatcha Smokin? BBQ + Brew - Luther
6 - ShortE's BBQ - Johnston
7 - Warehouse Barbecue Co. + Brewhouse - Ottumwa
7 - Moo's BBQ - Newton
8 - Wildwood Smokehouse & Saloon - Iowa City
8 - Kula's It's Just Sauce - Walker

Earlier this month, nearly 1,700 pork fans nominated Iowa restaurants they felt have the best pulled pork sandwiches. Of the 125 restaurants nominated, the two with the most votes in each of IPPA's eight districts make up the "Sweet 16" bracket.

Playoffs will be fast and furious. Other voting deadlines are March 25 (Elite 8), March 30 (Final Four) and April 2 (championship round). The winner will be announced April 3.

Cast votes and see the results from each round at IPPA's website,, and by following the organization's Facebook page, Also, keep up with the contest on social media using the #PulledPorkMadness hashtag.

"This campaign is a fun way to promote businesses around the state, including restaurants, bars and food trucks who serve up delicious pulled pork sandwiches," said Kelsey Sutter, IPPA's marketing and programs director. "We love the interaction and excitement for pork that comes with this bracket-style competition!"

Along with bragging rights, the winning restaurant will receive $250 and a "Pulled Pork Madness" plaque.

$2 million gift from leading ag organizations supports Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory project

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have each committed a gift of $1 million to help enhance the animal health, food safety, public health and competitiveness of Iowa’s animal agricultural industries.

The commitment will support the new Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL) building project at Iowa State University. The laboratory is the only full-service and fully accredited veterinary diagnostic lab in Iowa and has been a state and national leader in protecting animal and human health since it was established in 1947. Processing more than 90,000 submissions a year – and more than a million tests in total – the laboratory plays a key role in ensuring animal health, including wildlife and companion animals; public health; world food safety; and the competitiveness of Iowa’s $32 billion animal agricultural industry.

“Our investment underscores how Iowa’s pig farmers rely on this in-state facility to help us quickly recognize and contain animal diseases,” said Mike Paustian, the Walcott farmer who is president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association. “The current VDL has been pushed to its limits, while the need for the services they provide continues expanding rapidly. Over 75 percent of the samples being submitted to the VDL are from pig farms, which is why we have decided to help lead the charge to secure the funds needed for this project. Not only is that important to us, but to Iowa’s rural economy. The VDL is a world-class resource that will be critical to the future success of pork producers in Iowa.”

The investment in the new state-of-the-art facility will help greatly increase the state’s diagnostic service and discovery capabilities for current and future generations of Iowa’s livestock farmers. In addition, the new facility will help keep Iowa State at the forefront in discovery of emerging and re-emerging diseases, provide a rich caseload to teach future veterinary practitioners and make innovative discoveries regarding new methods to control and eradicate diseases.

“Livestock is critical to Iowa’s agricultural industry so it is imperative that we are constantly innovating and continuously improving what we do for the overall well-being of our animals and our food supply,” said Craig Hill, president of Iowa Farm Bureau and multi-generation livestock farmer from Ackworth, Iowa. “With this new world-class facility, Iowa livestock farmers will have immediate access to unbiased, third-party diagnoses in livestock and poultry to help ensure a safe food supply for future generations.”

“We are very grateful for the visionary generosity of the Iowa Pork Producers and Iowa Farm Bureau," said Dan Grooms, the Dr. Stephen G. Juelsgaard Dean of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State University. "Through their partnership with Iowa State and the College of Veterinary Medicine, the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory will continue to be a leader in protecting animal and human health while advancing Iowa’s animal agriculture economy.”

The Iowa Pork Producers promotes, educates and provides a leading voice for a sustainable, socially responsible and globally competitive pork industry.

The Iowa Farm Bureau is the largest statewide, grassroots farm organization in Iowa celebrating over 100 years of creating a vibrant future for agriculture, farm families and their communities.

Iowa Pork Producers Association and Iowa Farm Bureau made their gift commitments through the Iowa State University Foundation. The foundation is a private, nonprofit organization committed to securing and managing gifts that benefit Iowa State University. The Forever True, For Iowa State campaign, with a historic goal to raise $1.5 billion, will help support Iowa State in becoming the premier land-grant university for the 21st century and beyond.

International Conference on Pig Survivability set for October 28-29

The International Conference on Pig Survivability is planned for October 28 and 29 in Omaha, Nebraska, at the Hilton Omaha. The conference is part of the Improving Pig Survivability project, a five-year, interdisciplinary, multi-university project funded by the National Pork Board and Foundation for Food and Agriculture. It's aimed at reducing mortality in the U.S. swine industry by 1% or more per year of the project.

Joel DeRouchey, swine extension specialist with Kansas State University, said the conference objective is to facilitate the discussion and dissemination of the most current information relative to sow, litter, weaned pig and grow-finish mortality.

“By featuring presentations and panel discussions from industry leaders and scientific experts, we want to bring the industry together to motivate change,” he said. “We want attendees to walk away with a sense of urgency toward the issue of mortality and some practical ideas of what to do about it.”

Jason Ross, director of Iowa State University's Iowa Pork Industry Center, said attendees will hear from well-known presenters.

“The conference will feature speakers from an array of swine-related businesses and organizations that will discuss relevant, take-home messages to impact swine survivability," he said.

Confirmed speakers and topics are:
    Dr. Lee Schulz, Iowa State University; economics of swine mortality
    Ron Ketchem, Swine Management Services, a division of MetaFarms; trends of U.S. swine survivability
    Dr. Bill Christianson, COO of Genus PIC; trends of international swine survivability
    Cassie Edgar, McKee, Voorhees, and Sease, PLC; advancing technology — regulatory, advocating, and future
    Gustavo Pizarro, DVM, Pipestone Veterinary Services; industry successes and failures in pre-weaning survivability
    Chris Rademacher, DVM, Iowa State University; industry successes and failures in post-weaning survivability
    Valerie Duttlinger, Chief Analytics Officer at Summit Smart Farms; finding the right people for the right jobs
    Sara Probst Miller, DVM, Ag Create Solutions president and creative director; effective training: what works and what does not
    Larry Coleman, DVM; keeping the urgency with employees
    Dr. Justin Ransom, senior director, Sustainable Food Strategy at Tyson Foods; social responsibility of pig survivability
    Dr. Fernando Bortolozzo, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil; breeding herd mortality: opportunities for measurable impact
    Dr. Kara Stewart, Purdue University; pre-weaning mortality: opportunities for measurable impact
    Deb Murray, DVM, New Fashion Pork; nursery mortality: opportunities for measurable impact
    Jim Pillen, DVM, Pillen Family Farms; finishing mortality: opportunities for measurable impact
    Bill Even, CEO National Pork Board; call to action
    Dr. Noel Williams, COO Iowa Select Farms, and Mike Tokach, Kansas State University; conference impressions: now, what should we do to capture value in academics and industry
    Numerous industry panels for interactive discussions

To learn more about the conference, visit Registration will open in May. To be notified when registration is open and to receive other updates from the Improving Pig Survivability project, subscribe to project updates at

The Improving Pig Survivability project is organized as a collaborative effort by Iowa State University, Kansas State University and Purdue University. 

NPPC Renews Call for Labor Solutions, Other Essential Support for Pork Production Continuity

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) renewed its call for government help to prevent a severe labor shortage from becoming a crisis. The decision by the U.S. Department of State to suspend visa processing in Mexico threatens to worsen the labor shortage in the pork industry and across U.S. agriculture. Mexico is a very important source of labor for U.S. hog farmers and packing plants.  

"I want to underscore that our farms and plants are not in crisis today," said NPPC President Howard "A.V." Roth, a pork producer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin. "Farmers are the foundation and heart of the food supply system. Hog farmers and others in the pork industry are doing their part to ensure American kitchens are well-stocked. But we are very concerned about the recent State Department announcement regarding consulates in Mexico and the implications for our operations."

The pork industry, a farm sector that operates year-round, uses the H-2A visa program for specialized work, but cannot use the program for most labor needs because of its seasonal limitation. Hog farmers are major users of the TN visa program, which taps labor from Mexico.

In addition to workforce concerns, NPPC said U.S. pork producers need additional federal support, including:
-    Clarity from the U.S. Department of Transportation that farms are part of the critical domestic infrastructure needed to produce the food that feeds America and the world. This clear designation ensures the uninterrupted supply of commercial feed and other production inputs to farms, as well as the transport of livestock from farm to market. Hog farmers also have concerns about the potential shortage of standard supplies such as boot covers, coveralls and disinfectants needed to maintain high standards of biosecurity, animal care and food safety.
-    Provisions in the pending congressional relief package to provide financial support for childcare for farm and plant workers.

Roth added, "U.S. hog farmers are committed to maintaining the continuity of the food supply and we stand with the administration in its response to the COVID-19 challenge. The pork supply chain is operating, but now is the time to get ahead of looming challenges and ensure federal and state policies support farmers and the critical role they play in meeting the nutritional needs of the nation."

Webinar Series to Address the Impact of Coronavirus on Corn Belt Ag

The coronavirus is causing unprecedented disruptions in the U.S. and global economies, including the corn industry. You can get a better handle on developments by participating in a series of “live” webinar events starting Friday, March 20, beginning at 11 a.m.

The farmdoc webinars by the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences will be happening the following dates and times:
    Fri, Mar 20, 2020 11:00 AM - 11:30 AM CDT
    Tue, Mar 24, 2020 11:00 AM - 11:30 AM CDT
    Fri, Mar 27, 2020 11:00 AM - 11:30 AM CDT
    Mon, Mar 30, 2020 11:00 AM - 11:30 AM CDT

The webinars are expected to be 30-minutes long but can be extended, if necessary. Each webinar will begin with brief presentations, with the bulk of the time available to answer questions from attendees. Register here...

Farm Bureau Highlights Immediate Challenges Facing the Agriculture Sector

American Farm Bureau has released its first assessment of the impact on farmers and ranchers in the wake of the national mitigation efforts to combat COVID-19. 

In a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, AFBF President Zippy Duvall pledged that “America’s farmers and ranchers will be with you every step of the way, doing all that we can to help you win this fight and to ensure the health, safety and prosperity of all America.” USDA invited Farm Bureau to convey agricultural issues or concerns arising as the pandemic mitigation efforts and impact advance. Duvall said labor, supply chain issues and possible price manipulation topped the list of immediate issues farmers are raising with the national organization.

The letter, which will be updated as new issues materialize, outlines concerns from Farm Bureau members across the country as national and local leaders take action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect public health. 


With the State Department’s announcement to suspend all processing of new, non-emergency visa applications in Mexico, U.S. farms and ranches could face a serious labor shortage at a critical time for planting and harvesting crops essential to the domestic food supply. U.S agriculture depends on more than a quarter-million H-2A workers every year, and Farm Bureau is calling on the Administration to find a safe measure to ensure these skilled workers can come to our farms and ranches. AFBF along with members of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition also sent a letter to Secretary of State Pompeo to address these concerns.

Supply Chain

“As companies adopt social distancing policies in keeping with health directives, this mode of work could have a significant impact on the processing plants that drive America’s supply chain,” Duvall wrote. Meat packing plants, dairy processors, ethanol plants and other processing facilities all play vital roles in delivering the food and fuel Americans will continue to depend on in the long days ahead. Additional impacts could include access to seed, fertilizer and crop protection tools farmers need to grow a healthy crop. In addition to calling for close monitoring of potential shutdowns or reduced hours at these facilities, Farm Bureau is also requesting that the current FMCSA Emergency Declaration waiver to hours of service for food transportation be expanded to address the full agricultural supply chain.

Market Concerns

Maintaining stable and fair markets is especially critical at times like these. Duvall noted concerns from livestock producers regarding market manipulation and urged USDA to monitor the situation to protect ranchers and consumers alike from price manipulation. In the fresh produce market, growers have expressed concerns regarding possible dumping of products from other countries. “USDA should work with the appropriate Federal agencies in ensuring U.S. farmers are not unfairly disadvantaged during this unique period,” Duvall wrote.

Duvall also noted USDA’s unique role in urging rural America to take all the prescribed measures to “flatten the curve” and reduce the spread of COVID-19, and thanked Secretary Perdue for his leadership in addressing the crisis facing agriculture and rural America. “We applaud your leadership and commitment and stand ready to work with you as our nation meets this unique challenge.”

Fertilizer Prices Remain Mixed

Retail fertilizer prices continue to be mixed which has been the trend in several months now, according to prices tracked by DTN for the second week of March 2020.

Five fertilizers were lower in price compared to last month but none were down a sizeable amount. DAP had an average price of $407/ton, MAP $432/ton, potash $370/ton, anhydrous $490/ton and UAN28 $235/ton.

The remaining three fertilizers, meanwhile, had a minor price increase looking back to last month. Urea had an average price of $377/ton, 10-34-0 $466/ton and UAN32 $278/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 $0.42/lb.N and UAN32 $0.44/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are now all lower in price from a year ago. DAP is 20% lower, MAP is 19% less expensive, anhydrous is 18% lower, both UAN28 and UAN32 are 13% less expensive, urea is 6% lower, potash is 4% less expensive and 10-34-0 is 1% lower from last year at this time.

IRFA Announces Partnership with ISU BioBus

Many of the often-touted benefits of biodiesel – from cleaner air and reduced carbon emissions to high-paying jobs in rural communities – benefit the next generation beyond all others. In recognition of the important role students and young professionals will play in the future of the biodiesel industry, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association is announcing a partnership with Iowa State University’s BioBus program.

BioBus is an on-campus, student-run organization that collects used cooking oil from Iowa State’s campus dining facilities and uses it to make biodiesel to be used in the school’s CyRide buses.

“We are excited to partner with a group of your scientists who recognize the power and potential of biodiesel,” said Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Marketing Director Lisa Coffelt. “BioBus provides students a platform where the next generation of scientists can learn not only about the science behind biodiesel but see its benefits play out in the real world.”

In addition to providing a donation to the program, IRFA intends to work alongside the group and help support their growth, enabling them to achieve their goals to expand production and student participation.

“We are thankful to IRFA for their support,” said John Cramsey, President of the BioBus club. “Our club looks forward to expanding our reach here on campus in terms of both biodiesel production and student awareness of the benefits of biodiesel.”

Newly Branded Vehicles Highlight of Biodiesel Day

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) today launched its 2020 vehicle branding program designed to showcase biodiesel’s sustainability and emissions reduction benefits. The program kicks-off on National Biodiesel Day, the anniversary of Rudolf Diesel’s birthday, with the theme “Biodiesel: Better. Cleaner. Now!”

“When Rudolf invented the diesel engine in the 1890s, it was designed to run on peanut oil and he envisioned the prominent role plant oils could play in fueling vehicles of the future,” said Kaleb Little, NBB director of communications. “Our industry has come a long way since then and we are excited to highlight numerous fleets advertising their biodiesel use right on their vehicles."

NBB is also launching the 2020 branding program to help biodiesel users across the country share their stories of sustainability and emissions reductions.

“Our new tagline, “Biodiesel: Better. Cleaner. Now!”, tells the biodiesel story simply," said Little. "Biodiesel is better and cleaner than petroleum diesel – with proven environmental, health and economic benefits – and is ready to use now, unlike some other options that require massive infrastructure or retrofit investments.”

NBB encourages biodiesel users to promote their use of biodiesel and share its benefits by applying for matching funds to be used for vehicle branding initiatives which may include wraps, stickers, or other innovative efforts. Applications are available online  and are due by April 30, 2020.

In 2019, NBB provided matching funds to six biodiesel users. They include Roslin Enterprises; Cape Cod Biofuels; The City of Moline, Illinois; G&D Integrated; CityLink, Greater Peoria Mass Transit District; and Al Warren Oil.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 3/13/2020

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending Mar. 13, ethanol production moderated with a 0.9% decline, or 9,000 barrels per day (b/d), to 1.035 million b/d—equivalent to 43.47 million gallons daily. The four-week average ethanol production rate declined 0.1% to 1.053 million b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 16.14 billion gallons.

Ethanol stocks expanded 1.1% to 24.6 million barrels. Inventories shifted higher across all regions except the East Coast (PADD 1) and Midwest
(PADD 2).

There were zero imports of ethanol recorded after 9,000 b/d hit the books the prior week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of January 2020.)

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market accelerated by 2.6% to 9.696 million b/d (407.23 million gallons per day, or 148.64 bg annualized), the largest volume since mid-September. However, refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol veered 0.4% lower to 915,000 b/d—equivalent to 14.03 bg annualized.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production retreated to 10.67%.

Two Grain Barges Sink on Lower Mississippi River

A tugboat leading a train of barges of grain collided with the Luling Bridge Sunday morning, sinking two of the barges in the Mississippi River.  The Mississippi River had been closed near the Luling Bridge, upriver from New Orleans.  No injuries were reported in the crash, according to a spokesman for the Coast Guard.

Two of the 29 barges being pulled by the tugboat sank in the crash. It's unclear how much grain was spilled into the Mississippi.

ACE alerts Trump Administration and Congress economic stimulus will be needed amid COVID-19 market fallout

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads across the U.S., threatening American lives and adversely impacting the nation’s economy, the transportation fuel sector will be especially hard hit.  Declines in consumer gasoline use will shrink demand for corn ethanol. In response to the economic turmoil being felt by its members, the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings released the following statement:

“As Americans do their part to minimize activities and slow the coronavirus’ spread, it creates yet another headwind for ACE members already harmed by trade wars and EPA’s abuse of small refinery exemptions under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). While the Trump Administration was quick to buoy Big Oil by pledging federal purchases to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), the President and Congress will also need to take action to help ethanol producers, and the farmers supplying them corn, who are suffering a proportional economic disaster.

“Preliminary economic forecasts estimate the lack of gasoline consumption caused by the coronavirus will likely reduce ethanol demand by hundreds of millions of gallons and cut corn grind by hundreds of millions of bushels. Demand destruction could be on steroids for several weeks, taking money from the pockets of farmers and ethanol producers who are already suffering from trade wars and mismanagement of the RFS.

“As a first step, the Administration should announce it will comply with the Tenth Circuit’s ruling limiting small refinery exemptions, which benefit oil companies at the expense of farmers and rural Americans, and apply the court’s decision nationally to end the misuse of the RFS. Additionally, EPA should at long last restore 500 million gallons to the RFS in compliance with the 2017 DC Circuit Court case regarding the improper use of EPA’s waiver authority.

“Further, with China releasing its list of U.S. companies eligible to export DDGs earlier this week, the Administration must push to reduce or remove Chinese tariffs to make that huge potential export market a reality. Ethanol producers have diversified over the past several years, enabling them to adjust operations and increase co-product output in response to market signals. Now more than ever we need to sell ethanol and DDGs into all domestic and foreign markets.

“These are first steps. ACE will be actively discussing additional actions that can be deployed both in the near- and long-term to mitigate the staggering and potentially unprecedented impact coronavirus will have on ethanol demand. Whether that be new policies to spur the use of low carbon fuels or additional emergency authorities the Administration or Congress could implement, ACE will be providing decisionmakers in the nation’s capital with economic stimulus recommendations.”

Nominations Now Accepted for Beef Quality Assurance Awards

Nominations for the 14th annual National Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Awards are now being accepted. Deadline for nominations is June 5, 2020.

The 2020 National BQA Awards recognize five winners in the areas of beef producer, dairy, marketing and education:
-    The beef producer honors include BQA Cow Calf and BQA Feedyard awards, which recognize producers who best demonstrate the implementation of BQA principles as part of the day-to-day activities on their respective operations;
-    The BQA / FARM (Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) award honors those dairy operations that demonstrate the best in animal care and handling while implementing the BQA and FARM programs at the highest levels;
-    The BQA Marketer Award acknowledges livestock markets, cattle buyers and supply-chain programs that promote BQA to their customers and offer them opportunities to get certified; and
-    The BQA Educator Award celebrates individuals or companies that provide high quality and innovative training to individuals that care and handle cattle throughout the industry chain.

“These awards recognize the industry’s most accomplished representatives of quality in beef production, marketing and education,” according to Glen Dolezal, PhD, AVP Technical Services and Procurement, Cargill Protein. “They also demonstrate the pride we all have in the work being done to enhance our industry and the products we provide to consumers.”

The National BQA Awards are selected by a committee of BQA-certified representatives from universities, state beef councils, sponsors and affiliated groups. Nominations may be submitted by organizations, groups or individuals on behalf of a U.S. beef producer, dairy producer, marketer or educator. Individuals and families may not nominate themselves, though the nominees are expected to be involved in the preparation of the application. Past nominees are encouraged to submit their application under the new nomination structure. Previous winners may not reapply.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association manages the BQA program as a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. Funding for the BQA Awards is made possible by the generosity of Cargill, which has supported the program since its inception, and Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, which sponsors the BQA educator award.

For the application and nomination requirements, as well as more information about BQA, go here...  All nominations are due by June 5, 2020.

Center for Food Safety Filed Lawsuit Against FDA Challenging Decision to Approve Genetically Engineered Soy Protein Found in the Impossible Burger 

Yesterday, Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its decision to decline the advocacy group’s objections to the agency’s approval of a genetically engineered (GE) soy protein used in the Impossible Burger. Also referred to as genetically engineered “heme,” soy leghemoglobin is the color additive Impossible Foods uses to make its plant-based burger appear to “bleed.”

CFS’s lawsuit asserts that FDA used the wrong legal standard when it reviewed and approved GE heme to be used in raw Impossible Burgers sold in grocery stores. Instead of using the color additive safety standard that specifies “convincing evidence that establishes with reasonable certainty that no harm will result from the intended use of the color additive,” FDA conflated that standard with the food additive safety standard, which does not specify that there must be “convincing evidence.”

“By treating these two standards as ‘the same,’ FDA ignored the ‘convincing evidence’ requirement out of its color additive safety standard, which the agency isn’t legally allowed to do,” said Ryan Talbott, staff attorney at CFS. “This isn’t just a problem with FDA’s review and approval of soy leghemoglobin, but how the agency consistently ignores the “convincing evidence” standard in its review of all color additives that are added to our food.”

In order to make this GMO heme, Impossible Foods uses the process of synthetic biology (or synbio) to extract DNA from the roots of soy plants—where a small amount of heme is produced—and inserts the DNA into genetically engineered yeast where it is fermented to mass-produce this genetically engineered heme.

“This heme produced using synbio has never been consumed before. FDA should have required additional independent testing to make sure that this new substance does not cause allergic reactions or other health problems in people,” said Jaydee Hanson, Center for Food Safety’s policy director. “But instead of following its own guidelines for 90-day studies, the agency allowed the company to conduct a 28-day study to evaluate the safety of its own product.”

CFS filed an objection to FDA’s approval of the GE heme in uncooked Impossible Burgers in October 2019. This objection should have halted Impossible Burger sales in grocery stores, but several chains including Wegmans, Gelson's, and Fairway Market started selling Impossible Burgers illegally before FDA responded to CFS’s objection.

While CFS avidly supports plant-based eating, the lack of transparency in getting the GE Impossible Burger in restaurants and retail stores highlights a troubling deregulatory trend which prioritizes corporate profit over public health and safety.

Tuesday March 17 Ag News

Help Celebrate 2020 National Agriculture Day and Agriculture Week
Larry Howard, Extension Educator, Cuming County
National Agriculture Week and is celebrated March 22  –  28, 2020 and it is a time when producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities, government agencies and countless others across America take time to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by American agriculture.  This year’s Ag Day theme is “Food Brings Everyone To The Table.”    March 24 is the 47th anniversary of National Ag Day, celebrating agriculture and all those who feed our world, care for crops and livestock, and bring awareness to agricultural production. 

According to the Agriculture Council of America, Ag Day is about recognizing and celebrating the contribution of agriculture in our everyday lives. The National Ag Day program encourages everyone to: 1) Understand how food and fiber products are produced  2) Value the essential role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy 3) Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products and 4) Acknowledge and consider career opportunities in the agriculture, food and fiber industry. 

Agriculture provides almost everything we eat, use and wear on a daily basis. But too few people truly understand this contribution. This is particularly the case in some of our schools, where students may only be exposed to agriculture if they enroll in related vocational training.  By building awareness, we can is encourage young people to consider career opportunities in agriculture.  

Each American farmer feeds more than 166 people ... a dramatic increase from 25 people in the 1960s. American agriculture is doing more and doing it better. As the world population soars, there is an even greater demand for the food and fiber produced in the United States.  Agriculture is this nation's #1 export and vitally important in sustaining a healthy economy. In 2016, $135.5 billion worth of American agricultural products were exported around the world. 

It's not just the farmer who makes our food possible. The entire agriculture industry, all the way to the grocery store, are the vital links in a chain that brings food to every resident and millions of people abroad.  It's easy to take agriculture for granted in America as our food is readily accessible and safe. Today, there are 3.75 million Americans employed full- and part-time in agriculture, including forestry, fishing and other activities. If one were to look at food-related industries, the numbers jump way up. In fact, one in 12 American jobs is dependent on agriculture. 

If you are a farmer, an agricultural producer or anyone in that food chain, we say thanks to you for all that you do each and every day to provide food for the world.  I would encourage our agricultural producers to share their agricultural story with a friend, your neighbor or share your story on social media using #AgDay20 or #NationalAgWeek so others know what you do on a daily basis.  The rest of us need to be sure to tell those individuals that we appreciate what they do.

Using Increased Longevity to Reduce Annual Cow Cost

Steve Neimeyer – NE Extension Educator

When evaluating annual cow cost, feed rises to the top of the list. Feed cost is an important area to consider; however, have you evaluated the cost of incorporating replacement heifers into the cowherd?

Cost of developing a pregnant replacement heifer will vary by operation. However, most producers would agree that this cost could be over $1,000. When figuring the specific development costs, here are a few things to consider: 1) initial value of the heifer calf, 2) winter feeding costs, 3) summer pasture and 4) other normal expenses such as vaccinations, interest, yardage, and death loss.

What is the potential benefit of implementing management to increase the percentage of heifers calving in the first 21 days of the calving season? Cushman and other (2013) reported the heifers that conceived early and therefore calved with their first calf within the first 21 days, had increased longevity compared to with heifers that calved in the second 21-d period or later. The average longevity of heifers at U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) that calved in the first, second, or third period was 8.2, 7.6, and 7.2 years, respectively. You might be saying that these heifers were at a research center, so this will not happen on my operation. Within this same publication, cattle owned by producers in South Dakota Integrated Resource Management groups were evaluated for longevity.

2-year old heifers that calved in the first 21-d period were reported to be 5.1 years in age when they were diagnosed open compared to heifers calving later with their first calf (3.9 years). Longevity of the beef female is very important to the sustainability and profitability of any beef operation. 

Additionally, heifers that calved in the first 21 days of their first calving season weaned a heavier calf in each of their first six calving seasons. These benefits from getting replacement heifers set up correctly to improve longevity and produce more pounds of weaned calf weight can influence the bottom line. 

What is the best management strategies to successfully achieve the majority of 2-year-old heifers calving in the first 21 days? Getting your replacement heifers in the correct condition to breed, this would be 60 to 65% of their mature weight. Body condition score should be 5.5 to 6 on the 1 to 9 scale. Ideally, these replacement heifers would have cycled prior to breeding season.

Reproductive technology that assist producers in grouping heifers or cows are estrous synchronization along with artificial insemination. Synchronizing heifers normally achieved 50 to 60% pregnancy rates. Pregnancy rates for heifers that express estrus are around 60 to 70%. Synchronization can be used with natural service or artificial insemination. When synchronization is coupled with natural service, heifers will come into estrus over 10 days compared to animals that are synchronized for AI.

Potential benefits to management strategies to get more 2-yr old heifers calving in the first 21 days are: 1) reduced replacement rates, 2) more calves available to sell as feeder or replaced in feedyard, or 3) more pounds of weight at weaning. The benefits will vary by operations; however, numerous economists have indicated that costs can be reduced by reducing the replacement rates of your cows. Additionally, producers know the cost of developing quality heifers is not cheap, so keeping quality genetics in the herd longer can be beneficial to the financial bottom line.

Central Valley Ag and Farmers Ranchers Co-op move forward in merger

The Board of Directors for both Central Valley Ag (CVA) and Farmers Ranchers Cooperative (FRC) have unanimously approved the next step in a merger of the two cooperatives. The merger proposal will now be presented to FRC members for a vote with results being counted at a special meeting on April 1 in Ainsworth, Neb.

Initial merger discussions between the cooperatives began in January 2020, with the respective boards individually approving the merger in February after a successful merger study was reviewed.

FRC, headquartered in Ainsworth, will host area informational meetings in March for its members followed by mail in ballots with a special meeting to be held on April 1 to count voting results. Additional information regarding times and locations of the meetings will be posted on the FRC website and shared in the future.

For the merger to be finalized, FRC members must approve by a simple majority. Voting by FRC will take place by mail in ballot, and all FRC voting members are encouraged to vote. If approved, the two cooperatives plan to unite on June 1, 2020.

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

Farmers Ranchers Co-op is a supply cooperative which serves farmers, ranchers, and residents of an 11-county region in North-Central Nebraska and South-Central South Dakota. The Cooperative has three divisions which serve customers: Agronomy, Feed, and Energy. Learn more at by visiting:

CVA Response to COVID-19

Carl Dickinson, President/CEO

The situation with COVID-19 continues to be fluid with changes happening rapidly and often. At Central Valley Ag (CVA) we have two main objectives during this time:
-    Work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 to keep our employees and customers safe and healthy and to not overwhelm our local and regional healthcare network.
-    Adhere to CVA’s Mission, Vision and Core Values – more specifically to continue to serve our customers and deliver value to their operations.

CVA is working closely with our local health officials and adhering to the advice from local, state and national health officials. We have established an internal response team to monitor the situation and determine responses and practices as needed. Examples of these practices include frequent cleaning of offices and heavily trafficked areas; restricted travel by employees between CVA locations and use of remote meeting platforms for necessary meetings. We also have engaged in frequent communication with our employees, keeping them informed of changes in the situation.

Plans have been created to keep locations as functional as possible, should we face a challenge in staffing due to quarantine or absences. At some locations and offices, we have asked certain employees to work from home as part of this planning.

The changes and actions we have implemented have been done with the two main objectives listed above in mind. Our primary concerns continue to be serving our customers, delivering value to their operations while ensuring the safety and health of employees and customers.

We will do our best to keep you informed of any relevant changes that may come in the days or weeks to follow. Please feel free to reach out to your local CVA contact with any questions or concerns you have.

Lower Elkhorn NRD office in Norfolk closes to the public until further notice

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) is closing their physical office until further notice, effective immediately, to ensure a healthy and safe environment for their employees and the public.  LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, said, “We continue to closely monitor the evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, along with implementing the latest recommendations from federal, state and local authorities.”

While the office doors are closed to the public, the LENRD staff will continue to answer phone calls, reply to emails, and proceed with spring field work.  There is a drop box at the main entrance for those wanting to drop off reports, etc.

Sousek added, “If you are not already utilizing our digital tools for updated information, we strongly encourage you to begin using the District’s website at, Facebook and Twitter pages.  As we navigate through these uncertain times, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at 402-371-7313.”

NE Corn Board Meeting has been cancelled

The Nebraska Corn Board has cancelled their meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 24 at UNL East Campus and Wednesday, March 25 at The Embassy Suites Lincoln.

Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement banquet postponed

The Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement (NHAA) has postponed its March 20th banquet scheduled at the Embassy Suites in Lincoln.

Following cancellation announcements of gatherings of 50 people or larger by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) due to COVID-19, the NHAA Executive Committee has decided to postpone the opportunity to celebrate this years’ honorees and new inductees.

The Committee places great value on the health, safety and well-being of its members, and their family and friends.

The committee is currently working on a plan to move forward, and more information will be forthcoming in the near future.

Nebraska Cattlemen Works Diligently Through COVID-19

Fallout from the current United States COVID-19 pandemic has spanned far beyond the disease itself, bringing economic and financial destruction to the cattle and beef industry. Unfortunately, this is only one year removed from the most devastating natural disaster to hit the state in decades and eight months since the industry experienced an extensive equity drain due to the cattle and beef market disruptions caused by the fire at Tyson's Holcomb, Kansas beef processing facility.

Given the current situation, your Nebraska Cattlemen staff and leadership are laser focused on finding solutions to help correct the market situation in the short term, but more importantly - focusing on what long term, structural changes can be made to increase transparency and reduce volatility in the cattle markets. Since February 21, 2020, Nebraska dressed steer values have plummeted $20/cwt ($190+/- vs $170+/-), or approximately $185 per head.  USDA's Choice boxed beef index remained virtually unchanged for most of that time frame but has skyrocketed higher by $18.35/cwt over the past two business days as cash fed cattle values have seen continued pressure.

"Nebraska Cattlemen recognizes the fact that if the entire cost of these market disruptions continues to be born exclusively by the production sectors of the beef industry, it may cause the quality of our beef to decrease. Also, if this unforeseen pandemic event results in yet another deep and extended movement of equity away from producers and to entities farther down the beef production chain, then there will certainly be less producers, less cattle, and less beef available at some point moving forward." Ken Herz, Nebraska Cattlemen President.

NC continues to convey the needs of our members and the beef industry to the highest levels of government during this time of crisis. From conversations with Governor Ricketts regarding the importance of keeping the beef supply chain working smoothly in terms of the harvest of fed cattle supply to members of Nebraska's congressional delegation regarding the current market situation, your voice is heard. Additionally, NC leadership and staff have been in continued conversations with USDA/AMS regarding their plans to ensure that USDA inspectors do not become a limiting factor in keeping packing and processing plants from operating.

In our members' best interest, NC has requested that AMS/P&SD increase their vigilance and surveillance throughout the cattle and beef marketing chains to guard against market manipulation and price gouging.

Nebraska Cattlemen staff and leadership remain committed to our members. Please know we are working diligently to find solutions to the current situation while keeping our long-term focus on improving market transparency and reducing market volatility. We will continue to keep you up to date as more information becomes available.

U.S. Pork Producers Committed to Special Responsibility

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) supports Trump administration guidelines announced today to maintain the continuity of critical U.S. infrastructure, including the food supply. U.S. pork producers supply the world's safest, most nutritious and lowest-cost pork in the world and remain committed to supplying Americans and consumers worldwide with the healthy protein they need. 

"We are committed to maintaining the core infrastructure of America's food supply: farms," said NPPC President Howard "A.V." Roth, a pork producer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin. "Pork producers and other farmers take seriously the special responsibility we hold for keeping people fed. Telecommuting is not an option for us; we are reporting for work as always while taking all necessary precautions to protect our health and the health of those we work with."

Livestock Marketing Association on COVID-19 Precautions

Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) is actively working to keep livestock auction markets functioning while following the rapidly changing field of guidance and mandates for businesses in light of COVID-19. Livestock auction markets are essential to maintaining infrastructure and food supply as well as access to capital for the thousands of farmers and ranchers who depend on livestock auction markets to sell their livestock.

LMA continues to work with federal, state, and local officials to ensure continuity of business while taking into account the significant public health consequences of the COVID-19 disease situation.

LMA is discussing public assistance options for livestock auctions and producers in the weeks and months to come. The latest USDA public information notices are available here:


With respect to public attendance at livestock auction markets, LMA is aware that many states and areas are enforcing varied crowd size limits and have mandated restrictions on operation of cafés or other food services. LMA is working with markets on a case-by-case basis to evaluate all parameters and impacts on their sales and strongly suggests markets develop contingency plans accordingly.

LMA has provided the following strategies to markets in order to prepare for and mitigate disease spread:
-    Familiarize yourself with and follow rapidly changing local and state rules regarding assembly of crowds. If you need assistance interpreting relevant recommendations and mandates, reach out to LMA;
-    Work with your café operators to follow location-specific guidance which may include closure or offering to-go service only;
-     Update your website with instructions to customers and your plans for continued operation;
-    Utilize your social media platforms to share fact-based information and your plans for continued operations. If you need help drafting your social media or website statements, please reach out to LMA;
-    If you are in a situation where you need to limit crowd size, request that consignors deliver livestock and return home rather than remaining at the facility;
-    Offer consignors flexibility in picking up their checks if they can’t wait for the mail such as delivery or pick up from their vehicle while remaining in parking lot;
-    Instruct any employee or visitor exhibiting symptoms of illness to remain home and request that any employee or visitor who is a member of a population of heightened vulnerability to consider avoiding areas where people are gathering;
-    Evaluate all options to utilize web broadcast or phone bidding;
-    Provide ample opportunities for visitors and employees to wash hands following CDC best practices;
-    Clean and disinfect any commonly used areas more often; and
-    Clean restrooms more frequently and restock with supplies including soap, paper towels and hand sanitizer.

LMA and our member auctions take this situation very seriously. Human health is of great concern. Because LMA values the wellbeing of our members, their employees, consignors, and buyers, we will remain in contact with and continue providing updates to our membership to help them navigate these trying times.

USDA Ensures Food Safety During COVID-19 Outbreak

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is ensuring the safety and timely delivery of the U.S. food supply while protecting the health of USDA employees during this COVID-19 National Emergency. Yesterday, USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach and USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Mindy Brashears sent a letter to stakeholders reassuring them that APHIS, AMS, and FSIS are rising to meet the challenges associated with COVID-19.

“As leaders of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Agricultural Marketing Service, and Food Safety and Inspection Service we can assure you that the agencies are committed to ensuring the health and safety of our employees while still providing the timely delivery of the services to maintain the movement of America’s food supply from farm to fork… As we come together as a country to address this public health threat, know that USDA remains committed to working closely with industry to fulfill our mission of ensuring the safety of the U.S. food supply and protecting agricultural health,” Under Secretary Ibach and Deputy Under Secretary Brashears said in the letter to stakeholders.
Food Safety and Inspection Service:

-    Meat, poultry, and processed egg inspection services continue as normal.
-    Planning for absenteeism is a part of normal FSIS operations and as such, FSIS is closely monitoring and tracking employee absenteeism to plan for and minimize impacts to operations.
-    FSIS is also working to prioritize inspection at establishments based on local conditions and resources available.

Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)

-    APHIS and AMS continue to provide critical inspections and grading services.
-    APHIS and AMS are ensuring the health and safety of USDA employees while still providing the timely delivery of the services to maintain the movement of America’s food supply moving from farms to forks.
-    APHIS and AMS are prepared to remedy any possible disruptions in their services.
-    AMS will continue to report commodity prices through its market news service.
-    Commodity markets can be assured that the USDA will keep America’s food supply safe as well as abundant during this national emergency.

For more information from the USDA, you may visit
The latest information directly from the CDC can be found at

Get the Low Down on Weed Resistance from the Experts

Welcome to the Take Action Webinar Series on new developments in herbicide-resistance management. If you have questions or concerns about herbicide resistance management you can get some answers Thursday, March 19, at 10 a.m.

The sixth installment of the Take Action Webinar Series features two presentations:
Part 1: Status of On-Combine Seed Destruction Technologies - Kevin Bradley, Ph.D., University of Missouri
Part 2: Chemical Control System Mixing Issues - Joe Ikely, Ph.D., North Dakota State University.

Take Action is a farmer-focused education platform funded by soy checkoff and National Corn Growers Association through state checkoff support. The program is designed to help farmers and their advisors manage herbicide, fungicide and insect resistance.

The goal is to encourage the adoption of management practices that lessen the impact of resistant pests and preserve current and future crop protection technology.

The Take Action Webinar Series aims to bring you the latest information and research on various topics related to pesticide resistance management. For more information on Take Action, visit

Technology to screen for higher-yielding crop traits is now more accessible to scientists

Like many industries, big data is driving innovations in agriculture. Scientists seek to analyze thousands of plants to pinpoint genetic tweaks that can boost crop production—historically, a Herculean task. To drive progress toward higher-yielding crops, a team from the University of Illinois is revolutionizing the ability to screen plants for key traits across an entire field. In two recent studies—published in the Journal of Experimental Botany (JExBot) and Plant, Cell & Environment (PC&E)—they are making this technology more accessible.

“For plant scientists, this is a major step forward,” said co-first author Katherine Meacham-Hensold, a postdoctoral researcher at Illinois who led the physiological work on both studies. “Now we can quickly screen thousands of plants to identify the most promising plants to investigate further using another method that provides more in-depth information but requires more time. Sometimes knowing where to look is the biggest challenge, and this research helps address that."

This work is supported by Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE), an international research project that is creating more productive food crops by improving photosynthesis, the natural process all plants use to convert sunlight into energy and yields. RIPE is sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), and the U.K. Government’s Department for International Development (DFID).

The team analyzed data collected with specialized hyperspectral cameras that capture part of the light spectrum (much of which is invisible to the human eye) that is reflected off the surface of plants. Using hyperspectral analysis, scientists can tease out meaningful information from these bands of reflected light to estimate traits related to photosynthesis.

“Hyperspectral cameras are expensive and their data is not accessible to scientists who lack a deep understanding of computational analysis,” said Carl Bernacchi, a research plant physiologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology. “Through these studies, our team has taken a technology that was out of reach and made it more available to our research community so that we can unearth traits needed to provide farmers all over the world with higher-yielding crops.”

The RIPE project analyzes hundreds of plants each field season. The traditional method used to measure photosynthesis requires as much as 30 minutes per leaf. While newer technologies have increased efficiency to as little as 15 seconds per plant, the study published in JExBot has increased efficiency by an order of magnitude, allowing researchers to capture the photosynthetic capacity of hundreds to thousands of plants in a research plot.

In the JExBot study, the team reviewed data from two hyperspectral cameras; one that captures spectra from 400-900 nanometers and another that captures 900-1800 nanometers. “Our previous work suggested that we should use both cameras to estimate photosynthetic capacity; however, this study suggests that only one camera that captures 400-900 is required,” said co-first author Peng Fu, a RIPE postdoctoral researcher who led the computational work on both studies.

In the PC&E study, the team resolved to make hyperspectral information even more meaningful and accessible to plant scientists. Using just 240 bands of reflectance spectra and a radiative transfer model, the team teased out how to identify seven important leaf traits from the hyperspectral data that are related to photosynthesis and of interest to many plant scientists.

“Our results suggest we do not always need ‘high-resolution’ reflectance data to estimate photosynthetic capacity,” Fu said. “We only need around 10 hyperspectral bands—as opposed to several hundred or even a thousand hyperspectral bands—if the data are carefully selected. This conclusion can help pave the way to make meaningful measurements with less expensive cameras.”

These studies will help us map photosynthesis across different scales from the leaf level to the field level to identify plants with promising traits for further study.

The RIPE project and its sponsors are committed to ensuring Global Access and making the project’s technologies available to the farmers who need them the most.

Monday March 16 Ag News

NE DEE Cancells meetings in Ord, O'Neill
Derek Schreiter, Program Specialist – Ag Section NE Dept of Environment and Energy

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (DEE) had meetings scheduled for medium cattle feeders and large exempt cattle feeders for Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at 1pm at the Loup Valley Ag Complex Exhibit Hall, Valley County Fairgrounds in Ord.... and also Wednesday, March 18, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. at the Holt County Extension Office @ Courthouse Annex in O'Neill.  Due to the measures being taken to curb the spread of Coronavirus, these meetings have been cancelled.  Please contact your DEE inspector with questions.

NE Corn Grower Events Postponed

The Colfax-Dodge and Saunders County Corn Growers associations were planning to host a March madness Cornhole Tournament on Friday March 20th at the Frontier Coop seed shed in North Bend from 5:30pm to 11pm.  However, because of the COVID-19 situation, this event has been posponed to a date TBD.  Email Russ Kavan at or Jordan Emanuel at to get more information.

Also, the Colfax-Dodge County Corn Growers were planning to host a free showing of "SILO, the Film" on Tuesday March 24th 6pm at the North Bend VFW.  Hosts for the movie are to be the North Bend FFA, Colfax Dodge Corn Growers, and Saunders Co. Corn Growers.  Again, in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, this event is postponed to a date TBD.  Email or call 402-652-3268 for more information. 

Amended 2020 NeFU Spring District Meeting Conference Calls Schedule

All meetings will begin at 7:00 p.m., and will be one hour long
Cards will be mailed out to the Districts that have not yet met.
Free Conference Calling: Call in number: (480) 660-5310 Access Code:  737 708
For everyone wanting the meeting handouts email us at:

District 4 Spring Meeting Conference Call:  Tuesday, March 24, 2020.  7:00 p.m.
·         District 4 Director’s Report:  Vern Jantzen
·         NFU Convention report: Vern Jantzen and John Hansen
·         Federal & State issues updates:  John Hansen
·         “Train the Trainer” stress program report:  Vern Jantzen
·         GO Membership Program
For more information: Gayland Regier (402) 520-1094 Cell or Vern Jantzen (402) 230-0011 Cell

District 7 Spring Meeting Conference Call: Thursday, March 26, 2020. 7:00 p.m.

·         District 7 Director Report: Paul Theobald
·         NFU Convention report:  Paul Theobald & John Hansen
·         Federal & State issues updates: John Hansen
·         GO Membership Program
For more information: Paul Theobald (402) 369-3817 Cell or Art Tanderup (402-) 278-4627 Cell

District 3 & District 1 Spring Meeting Conference Call: Friday, March 27, 2020. 7:00 p.m.
·         District 3 Director’s Report: Mary Alice Corman
·         District 1 Director’s Report:  Al Davis 
·         NFU Convention report:  John Hansen
·         Federal & State issues updates:  John Hansen
·         GO Membership Program
For more information: Richard Corman (402) 364-3080 or Mary Alice Corman (402) 364-3079

District 6 Spring Meeting Conference Call: Monday, March 30, 2020 7:00 p.m.

·         District 6 Director’s Report:  Graham Christensen
·         NFU Convention report: Bill Armbrust & John Hansen
·         Federal & State issues updates:  John Hansen
·         GO Membership Program
For more information: Paul Poppe (402) 380-4508 or Graham Christensen (402) 217-5217

District 5 Spring Meeting Conference Call:  Tuesday, March 31, 2020.  7:00 p.m.
·         District 5 Director’s Report:  Ben Gotschall
·         NFU Convention report: Ben Gotschall & John Hansen
·         Federal & State issues updates: John Hansen
·         “Train the Trainer” stress program report:  Ben Gotschall
·         GO Membership Program
For more information: Justin Orem (402) 570-8512 Cell or Ben Gotschall (402) 705-8679 Cell

NE Ethanol Board Moves Forum to July

Roger Berry, NE Ethanol Board

The situation regarding COVID-19, the coronavirus, has changed dramatically over the last week. In light of the current health issues and precautions taken to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB) and Renewable Fuels Nebraska (RFN) have had to make the unfortunate and difficult decision to reschedule the Emerging Issues Forum.

We have arranged the new dates with the conference center for July 15-16 if the threat from COVID-19 has subsided.  Please keep in mind it is difficult to plan with so many unknowns but we are optimistic this will all be behind us by the summer. A new registration link will be sent closer to these dates, and as we know more.

While this is certainly not the outcome we wanted, we know it is in our best interest for the health and safety of many. We look forward to reconvening at a time when it's safe to do so. If you have questions, I encourage you to reach out to our staff at 402-471-2941.


Hosted by NE Cattlemen and NE Extension
Tuesday, March 17, 2020 - 12:00 Noon, CDT       

Link to webinar: []
*no preregistration for the webinar .. just click the above link

Stress has become a fact of life for farm families. Many are facing financial problems, marketing uncertainties, farm transfer issues, weather, production challenges and more.  This webinar to will help producers.
·  Recognizing symptoms of stress in ourselves and others
·  Understanding how chronic stress affects us and learning coping strategies
·  How to talk to someone experiencing chronic stress
·  How to approach a conversation if you feel someone is considering suicide
·  Where to turn for help

We invite all to join in this free webinar.  Share this information with others that may benefit from the webinar. 

About the presenter:

Susan Harris serves Nebraska as the Rural Health, Wellness, and Safety Educator for Nebraska Extension.  Her education includes a bachelor's degree in Family and Consumer Sciences in Business, as well as a master's degree in Health and Human Performance - Gerontology.  Susan also serves as staff member for AgrAbility, a partnership organization between UNL and Easterseals Nebraska, which provides information to producers and their families on assistive technology and site modifications that enable people with disabilities to remain involved in production agriculture.

If you or someone you know needs help with stress management or would like to talk to someone confidentially. Call the Rural Response Hotline 800-464-0258

Votruba Future of Farming Endowment Supports Future Agriculture Leaders

Nebraska FFA Foundation and St. Paul, Minn.-based AgriBank are honored to recognize former Nebraska FFA State Officer Keri Votruba through an endowment to honor his legacy in crop and livestock production.

Votruba, a rancher and crop farmer from Hemingford, Neb., was chair of the AgriBank Board of Directors when he died unexpectedly in October 2019.

“Keri was a tireless advocate for AgriBank, the Farm Credit System, and rural communities and agriculture,” said Richard Davidson, chair of the AgriBank board. “He was especially passionate about helping young people get started in farming and ranching. The endowment is a fitting memorial, because as a young man, Keri served as a state FFA officer in Nebraska.”

The endowment will recognize students with a Supervised Agricultural Experience in crop production or livestock production through the Nebraska FFA Association’s proficiency award program. Stacey Agnew, Nebraska FFA Foundation Executive Director, says “I am very excited to help AgriBank pass on Keri’s legacy through FFA members across the state. This is such a great way to honor his support of agriculture, rural communities and young future leaders in agriculture, food and natural resources.”

Combined United States and Canadian Soybeans Crushed Down 1 Percent From 2018

Combined United States and Canadian soybeans crushed for crude oil was 64.7 million tons in 2019, a decrease of 1 percent from 2018.  Crude oil production was 24.9 billion pounds, down slightly from 2018.

Combined United States and Canadian canola seeds crushed for crude oil was 12.4 million tons in 2019, up 2 percent from 2018.  Crude oil production was 10.8 billion pounds, up 1 percent from 2018.

This report is a result of a joint effort by Statistics Canada and USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service to release the soybean and canola seed crushings information for both countries within one publication. United States soybean and oilseed crushings numbers for 2019 were previously released on March 2, 2020. Canadian soybean and oilseed crushings were released on January 24, 2020.

NMPF Reassures Consumers as Safe, Steady Dairy Production Continues

In light of consumer concern over food-supply disruptions, Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, the largest U.S. organization of dairy farmers, offered the following statement:

“U.S. dairy farmers are stewards of a product that’s harvested around the clock, 365 days a year, and they understand the importance of steady production as well as steady consumption. The U.S. food-supply chain is more than capable of meeting demand, and consumers should be reassured that milk and dairy products will continue to be produced and available in the coming weeks and months.

“Dairy supplies aren’t experiencing production interruptions at this time, and dairy farmers and processors will continue to do what they do best: produce safe, quality products every day for consumers in the U.S. and worldwide. We will vigilantly work with all aspects of the dairy supply chain to ensure these products get to everyone who needs them and that -- as has always been true -- dairy will remain something consumers can count on.”

As Coronavirus Roils Energy Markets, RFA Calls for Immediate Action from White House

With the coronavirus affecting so many Americans and causing so many questions and concerns about the national economy, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper today released the following statement:

“Our hearts go out to all those directly affected by the coronavirus, especially those who have lost loved ones, who are ill or at greater risk. As an industry that employs 350,000 Americans across the heartland, we’re carefully watching the government's response to turmoil in the energy markets. Our industry is being adversely affected not only by the economic constraints caused by the coronavirus, but also by the oil price war, ongoing trade disputes and EPA’s small refinery waivers.

“While the policy response to turbulence in the energy markets has so far focused largely on supporting crude oil producers, we urge the Administration to recognize that biofuel and agricultural commodity markets are suffering as well. Ethanol futures prices hit a record low in recent days, as the coronavirus is expected to negatively impact domestic and international fuel demand in the near term. With many ethanol plants on the verge of shutting down, we implore the Trump administration to take action that equitably supports all liquid fuel industries—including ethanol producers—during this time of unprecedented market uncertainty and unrest.

“One important and positive step we urge the President to take immediately would be to announce that his Environmental Protection Agency will not appeal the recent 10th Circuit court decision on small refinery waivers and that EPA will implement the 500 million gallon remand as ordered by the D.C. Circuit Court in 2017. Given the robust financial assistance the Trump administration is planning to provide to oil producers, immediate actions to ensure EPA abides by these court decisions can help soothe concerns among those whose livelihoods depend on agriculture and renewable fuels.”

USDA Stands Up New Team to Better Serve Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is standing up a new team of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) staff that will lead a department-wide effort focused on serving beginning farmers and ranchers.

“More than a quarter of producers are beginning farmers,” said USDA Deputy Secretary Stephen Censky. “We need to support the next generation of agricultural producers who we will soon rely upon to grow our nation’s food and fiber.”

To institutionalize support for beginning farmers and ranchers and to build upon prior agency work, the 2018 Farm Bill directed USDA to create a national coordinator position in the agency and state-level coordinators for four of its agencies – Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Risk Management Agency (RMA), and Rural Development (RD).

Sarah Campbell was selected as the national coordinator to lead USDA’s efforts. A beginning farmer herself, Campbell held previous positions with USDA and has a wealth of experience working on issues impacting beginning farmers and ranchers. She recently served as acting director of customer experience for the Farm Production and Conservation Business Center, where she led the piloting of innovative, customer-centric initiatives.

In her new role, she will work closely with the state coordinators to develop goals and create plans to increase beginning farmer participation and access to programs while coordinating nationwide efforts on beginning farmers and ranchers.

“We know starting a new farm business is extremely challenging, and we know our customers value and benefit from being able to work directly with our field employees, especially beginning farmers,” Campbell said. “These new coordinators will be a key resource at the local level and will help beginning farmers get the support they need. I look forward to working with them.”

Each state coordinator will receive training and develop tailored beginning farmer outreach plans for their state. Coordinators will help field employees better reach and serve beginning farmers and ranchers and will also be available to assist beginning farmers who need help navigating the variety of resources USDA has to offer.

More on Beginning Farmers

Twenty seven percent of farmers were categorized as new and beginning producers, with 10 years or less of experience in agriculture, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture.

USDA offers a variety of farm loan, risk management, disaster assistance, and conservation programs to support farmers, including beginning farmers and ranchers. Additionally, a number of these programs have provisions specifically for beginning farmers, including targeted funding for loans and conservation programs as well as waivers and exemptions.

Friday March 13 Ag News

Ricketts, Nebraska Grocers Express Confidence in Supply Chain

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts and the Nebraska Grocery Industry Association issued statements expressing confidence in the state’s food supply chain.

“Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers help feed the world,” said Governor Ricketts.  “We have a very secure supply chain, and we are examining steps to ensure that products move quickly.  Nebraskans should make sure they have their prescription medications, and two weeks of food and water on hand.  As Nebraskans heed calls to prepare for coronavirus, we know that some products are being purchased faster than they can be restocked.  Please be patient as our business owners work around the clock to keep operations moving.”

“Grocery stores are open for business,” said Kathy Siefken, Executive Director of the Nebraska Grocery Industry Association.  “While some food products are being purchased faster than they can be restocked, there is no food shortage.  Grocery stores receive multiple trucks every day to restock the food items that have been sold.  Warehouses are full of food.  There is a shortage of paper products and household chemicals and the supply chain continues to work on these issues.  There is no food shortage but there is a lag time between shelves being cleared by consumers and trucks delivering food the next day.”

An Update on 2020 Nebraska FFA State Convention

Stacey Agnew, Executive Director, Nebraska FFA Foundation

The situation regarding COVID-19, the coronavirus, has changed dramatically over the last week. In light of the current health issues and precautions taken to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Nebraska Department of Education has made the difficult decision to cancel all Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSO) 2020 State Conventions. This includes the Nebraska FFA State Convention.

While there are many questions outstanding at this time, we hope to know more in the coming weeks.  While this is certainly not the outcome we wanted, we know it is in our best interest for the health and safety of many.

If you have questions, I encourage you to reach out to our staff.

Corporate sponsors and industry partners contact:
Victoria Broders

Individual donor and supporters contact:
Sarah Mullen


Nathan Mueller, NE Cropping Systems Extension Educator

   Nebraska Extension is fully committed to the health and well-being of Nebraskans. In a disease situation like COVID-19, the principle of social distancing is one of the main methods that can be used to help reduce the spread of the disease. Chancellor Ronnie Green has issued guidance that all UNL classes will move to ‘remote’ modes. To be consistent with that guidance, Nebraska Extension will, whenever possible, provide Extension programs remotely (video or teleconferencing) but will not provide in-person Extension programs, at least until May 9. We recognize that this practice may create some level of disruption relative to the important information we provide to Nebraskans. However, online training options are currently available for both chemigation and private pesticide applicator trainings and you can learn more about those online options below.

Online Private Pesticide Applicator Trainings

   Remember, a private pesticide applicator is one who uses or supervises the use of restricted use pesticides in the production of agricultural commodities on land owned or rented by them or their employer, farmers, ranchers and orchardists. You are not eligible to purchase or apply restricted use pesticides until you are both certified and licensed.

   For those remaining applicators that need to take a private pesticide applicator training, an online self-study (go to course will need be completed for the same cost as the in-person trainings at $40.00 per individual. There are additional online training requirements for use of some Dicamba products and all Paraquat products. Information on these additional trainings can be found online (go to

Online Chemigation Training

   Applying fertilizer through pivots is an opportunity for achieving improved nitrogen use efficiency. However, to do this you need to be a licensed chemigation applicator with the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy. For initial and recertification, study materials are available online at If you are recertifying, you can now watch the videos and take the exam online without coming into the Extension office. If you are taking the training for the first time/initial training, you can also take the training online, but will need to take a proctored exam in-person.  At this time, a training on May 20, 9:00 am to Noon, in Lincoln at the Lancaster County Extension Office (444 Cherrycreek Rd) will be offered, though subject to change.

   We appreciate your patience and flexibility in taking trainings online to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Nebraska. 

Nitrogen Management Certification Training

Keith Glewen, NE Extension Educator, Saunders County

As a result of the virus pandemic, the Lower Platte North/Nebraska Extension Nitrogen Management Certification training scheduled for Thursday, March 19 at the Eastern Nebraska Research & Extension Center near Mead has been cancelled. Growers who had planned on attending the training can secure certification by doing so on-line. Go to:  to start this process. If you choose not to use this method, please contact the NRD office to identify other options. Our apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Nebraska Soybean Board to meet

The Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) will hold its next meeting Thursday, March 19 through Friday, March, 2020 at the Embassy Suites located at 1040 P Street in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Board will conduct regular board business along with committee reports and industry updates. This meeting also focuses on evaluating FY21 research projects funded by NSB.  The meeting is open to the public and will provide an opportunity for public discussion.  A complete agenda for the public meeting is available for inspection on the Nebraska Soybean Board website at

Nebraska Farm Bureau Disaster Relief Fund Closes $3.4 Million Distributed to Storm Victims

It is the one-year anniversary (March 13-14) of one of the most disastrous storms to ravage the state in recent history, causing unprecedented flooding for farmers, ranchers, and rural communities. Nebraska Farm Bureau was there to help, creating the Nebraska Farm Bureau Disaster Relief Fund and collecting $3.4 million to help restore health and safety to individuals and livestock on farms and ranches and in rural communities. One hundred percent of the donations have been distributed, with zero administrative fees charged.

“My calves were surrounded by water, standing there bawling for help. I felt helpless. But Farm Bureau got us hay for two and a half months. They lined up hay, feed, fencing supplies, veterinary supplies to help my sick calves. It was unbelievable what they did for us! I can’t say enough thanks to Farm Bureau for that,” said Tom Geisler who farms with his wife Fran outside of Hooper.

In Spencer, ice chunks 10 to 12 feet high, some the size of cars, took out the Spencer Dam and caused catastrophic damage to the Ruzicka farm, where Willard and his son Anthony, raise cattle near Verdigre. It also took out the water lines in Boyd County where half to two-thirds of county residents were served by the Boyd County Rural Water District. The Nebraska Farm Bureau Disaster Relief Fund helped Ruzicka’s to rebuild, brought water to residents of Spencer and Verdigre, and helped restore the water lines in Boyd County. These are some of the people and places that were able to receive help from the money collected by the Nebraska Farm Bureau Disaster Relief Fund.

“Our regional managers worked side-by-side with Nebraska farmers and ranchers and rural communities to help aid those affected by the challenging weather season. The generosity of people who wanted to help financially or just volunteer their time for clean-up was overwhelming. More than 6,000 individuals and companies donated to the fund. Volunteers have given countless hours of time transporting hay, feed, and veterinary supplies for Nebraska farmers and ranchers who had nowhere else to turn. While we hope this fund will not be needed in the future, we are glad to have a mechanism in place at Nebraska Farm Bureau to provide help to farmers and ranchers when it is needed the most. We stand ready and thank those who supported the flood relief efforts. You truly made a difference for so many individuals,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau, president.

The fund was established at the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, a nonprofit organization with the ability to manage donations and relief distributions. The number of requests coming into the Disaster Relief Fund were overwhelming.

“We received a total of $35 million in unmet need requests to the Nebraska Farm Bureau Disaster Relief Fund. Private gifts were critical to meeting the needs of those affected by the storms, especially the necessities needed immediately following the storms. We sent out our final disaster checks early this month to close the fund. We’re pleased to have worked with so many generous people and organizations in Nebraska and across the county who donated to the Nebraska Farm Bureau Disaster Relief Fund,” said Megahn Schafer, executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation.

Needs reported from relief applicants included debris removal; repair of personal property, including homes; fencing and feed for livestock; veterinary expenses; farm equipment and increased transportation costs due destruction of roads and bridges.

For Tom and Fran Geisler, Nebraska Farm Bureau helped them get through this difficult time.

“I don’t know if Tom would have made it through without Farm Bureau. They were right there on our doorstep after this disaster. They just came through for us,” Fran Geisler said.

Scribner Woman Crowned Nebraska Dairy Princess

Anna Ready, an 18-year-old senior at Logan View High School from Scribner was crowned the Nebraska Dairy Princess during the Nebraska Dairy Convention on February 25th in Columbus.

Ready, the daughter of Sid and Ruth Ready, currently serves as vice president of her school’s FFA chapter. She has been involved with 4-H and Girl Scouts, exhibited dairy animals at the World Dairy Expo and attended the National 4-H Dairy Conference. She is also involved in choir, drama and speech at school.

Ready will spend the next year helping to share the story of dairy farming and dairy’s role in healthy diets with people across the state.

Taylor Larson, 17, daughter of Bob and Kelsey Larson of Creston was named as the Nebraska Princess runner-up. Larson is a senior at Leigh Community Schools and has been involved with 4-H for eight years, showing dairy animals at the fair. Her school involvement includes basketball, Family, Careers and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), One Acts, Dance Band, Choir, Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), yearbook and journalism.

Ready will receive a $1000 scholarship from Midwest Dairy’s Nebraska Division, which sponsors the dairy princess program, while Larson will receive a $500 scholarship.

The Nebraska Dairy Princess is selected based on general dairy knowledge, enthusiasm for the industry, communications skills and ability to reach a consumer audience.

Third NCTA dean candidate visit is March 19

Public seminars with two candidates for the dean position at the Nebraska College of Technical in Curtis will proceed as planned on Monday and Thursday, despite cancellation of classes.

Meanwhile, students are invited to attend the seminars on campus or engage in remote access students meetings with Dr. Clyde Cranwell of Kansas on Monday and Dr. Darrel Sandall of Florida on Thursday.

The two professors, both with agricultural backgrounds, are among three candidates being considered by the NCTA Dean Search Committee.

Each will present a public seminar at 3:45 p.m. at the Nebraska Agriculture Industry Education Center, followed by a public reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Dr. Darrel Sandall currently is Associate Professor Management at the Florida Institute of Technology.

He is a Rock County, Nebraska native who graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with degrees in agriculture education and agricultural honors.

He has been involved in production agriculture his entire life with beef, sheep, and beekeeping operations, and has been involved in workforce development continuously for the past 25 years.

Prior to his current position at Florida Tech, Sandall served as the Chief Operating Officer of Xtreme Alternative Defense Systems and as the Chief Skills Officer (CSO) for SkillsNET Corporation, one of the top 500 fastest growing companies in the United States in 2006 as recognized by Inc Magazine.

In addition to his corporate executive leadership and management experience, Sandall has also been a tenure track faculty member in the Department of Technology Leadership and Innovation at Purdue University.

In 1990, he was a recipient of the American FFA degree.

Dr. Clyde Cranwell will be at NCTA Monday. He is currently on the faculty at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas where he is the chair of the Animal Science Department.

From 1999 to 2006, he served as chair of the NCTA Agriculture Production Systems (APS) Division and coached the Aggie Livestock Judging Team.

Other details about the NCTA Dean search are available at

NCTA is part of the University of Nebraska system. The college emphasizes workforce development in agriculture, agribusiness and veterinary technology.  Students can earn associate degrees, certificates and other credentials.

For details about NCTA, see

Top 10 Announced for Iowa’s Best Burger Contest

Iowans submitted nominations between February 10 – March 10 to kick off the quest to find the best burger in Iowa. Nominations were accepted online by the Iowa Beef Industry Council and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. The number of votes each restaurant received determined the 2020 Top Ten restaurants. The restaurants making the Top Ten list (in alphabetical order) include:

AllyCatz GrubHouse, Denver; Big Schwilly’s Chicken Dillys, Fairfield; Birdies, Burgers, & Brews at the Hillcrest, Graettinger; Brady’s Pub, Sheldon; BurgerFiend, Cedar Rapids; Lucile’s at the Continental Hotel, Centerville; The Buck Snort, Council Bluffs; The Twisted Tail Steakhouse & Saloon, BeeBeeTown; Troy’s Bar and Grill, Earling; and Wink’s Bar & Grill, West Liberty.

"Iowa has over 25,000 beef producers, and this contest is a great way to celebrate the beef they produce and the impact they have on Iowa," says Katie Olthoff, Director of Communications for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.

To qualify, the burger must be a 100% real beef patty served on a bun or bread product. Burgers may include any combination of condiments, sauces, cheese or toppings.

“Several restaurants have really unique and creative ways to encourage customers to vote. It was a close race to the finish line,” comments Kylie Peterson, Director of Marketing for the Iowa Beef Industry Council. “In total, we had nearly 300 towns and cities across Iowa represented which proves that there are a lot of great tasting burgers all across the state.”

Eight of the Top Ten restaurants are new qualifiers. Returning contestants include The Twisted Tail Steakhouse and Saloon in BeeBeeTown and BurgerFiend in Cedar Rapids.

The quest for the winner of the Iowa’s Best Burger will now begin. All Top Ten restaurants will be visited by a panel of anonymous judges who will evaluate the burgers based on taste, appearance, and proper doneness (160 degrees Fahrenheit). The judges’ scores and comments will be accumulated and the winner will be crowned on May 1 to kick off May Beef Month.

“This year’s Top Ten restaurants are award-winning worthy,” says Peterson. “But they are only a few of the many restaurants in Iowa that do an outstanding job of promoting and serving our beef products to their customers on behalf of Iowa’s beef farmers.”

To learn more about the contest and the Top Ten restaurants, including addresses and hours, visit

Secretary Perdue Statement on Canada Passing USMCA

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement after the Canadian Parliament approved the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA):

“USMCA is a great victory for America’s agriculture industry, and I am pleased to see Canada’s Parliament approved the deal today. USMCA locks in and expands access to our neighbors to the North and South. I thank President Trump for negotiating this deal and for always supporting America’s farmers and ranchers. We will continue to work with both Canada and Mexico in implementing this agreement.”

USMCA was signed into law by President Donald J. Trump on January 29, 2020, after it received overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress. All three countries are working together closely on implementation in advance of the Agreement’s entry into force. 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.

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.

U.S. Grains Council Statement On USMCA

On Friday, Canada's government approved the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), making it the third and final party to the agreement to do so. Below is a statement from U.S. Grains Council (USGC) Chairman Darren Armstrong, a farmer from North Carolina, on this milestone:

“Our leaders and members are thrilled to see the completion of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement's approval process and look forward to it entering into force.

“The list of advantages of USMCA for our sector is long. The agreement:
• maintains zero tariffs on U.S. feed grains, co-products and ethanol;
• provides the highest enforceable sanitary and phytosanitary standards in any trade agreement to date;
• addresses regulatory equivalence, science and risk analysis, transparency and cooperative technical consultations;
• creates a rapid-response mechanism to address trade challenges;
• modernizes border procedures; and
• includes an enforceable biotechnology chapter – the first ever in a U.S. trade agreement.

“Throughout the negotiations that produced USMCA, the Council has worked closely within our industry, with our customers - particularly in Mexico - and with the negotiating governments to ensure the needs of the U.S. grains sector were considered and the new agreement continued the success we experienced together under NAFTA. We welcomed the chance to bring Mexican buyers to the United States, U.S. farm reporters to Mexico and talk with so many stakeholders about the importance of our relationships with Canada and Mexico.

“All told, we believe this agreement will solidify our most important and strategic trade relationships with our closest neighbors and best customers, and it will position our industry to continue to grow with our friends and partners in Mexico and Canada.

“We appreciate the hard work of everyone involved in this intense process and look forward to continued growth toward a more successful future with the foundation USMCA provides.”

Flooding Continue to Disrupt Barge Navigation on Mississippi River

Consistent flood conditions on the Lower Mississippi River are causing disruptions from Cairo, IL, to the Gulf of Mexico.  As a result, tow size has been reduced by 5-10 barges and productivity has been reduced by 14-24 percent.

According to the American Commercial Barge Line, flood conditions are based on the river stage at Baton Rouge that crested above 40 feet and is currently slowly falling.

As of March 11, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasted Baton Rouge to remain above the 35-foot flood stage until late March.

Florida to Host 52nd Annual Beef Improvement Federation

Registration is now open for the 2020 Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Research Symposium and Convention. This year’s event will be June 9-12 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Kissimmee, Florida.

The deadline for early registration is May 15. Attendees can save $100 by pre-registering. Online registration is available at

This year’s BIF symposium features two and a half days of educational programming and a full day of tours. The first general session — “Progress in Beef Production in the Gulf Coast” — will feature a presentation by Dr. Todd Thrift of the University of Florida, a panel discussion for bull buyers, a Consumer Market Research presentation by Shawn Darcy of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and finally, attendees will learn about end user perspectives from Henry Zerby, Wendy’s Quality Supply Chain Co-Op. In the second general session, “Trade-offs in Genetic Issues”, attendees will focus on sustainability, learn about the trade-offs of thermo-tolerance and carcass quality and feed efficiency in feedlots versus pastures.

The afternoon breakout sessions both days will focus on a range of beef-production and genetic-improvement topics. The conference also features a Young Producer Symposium on Tuesday afternoon, designed for networking and to equip young cattle producers with essential knowledge as they grow their role in the business. Tuesday evening attendees will enjoy an opening reception.

For more conference details, including registration information, complete schedule and lodging information, visit Prior to and during this year’s symposium, be sure to follow the event on social media channels using the hashtag #BIF2020.

Each year the BIF symposium draws a large group of leading seedstock and commercial beef producers, academics and allied industry partners. The attendance list is a “who’s who” of the beef value chain, offering great networking opportunities and conversations about the issues of the day. Program topics focus on how the beef industry can enhance value through genetic improvement across a range of attributes that affect the value chain.

Corn Checkoff Tackling the Challenge of Tar Spot

Make no mistake, when it comes to corn diseases Tar Spot is a booger. Although largely ignored until 2018 in the U.S., the fungus is now generating interest driven by its ability to severely crush corn yields. In fact, some fields suffered yield losses ranging from 25-60 bushels an acre that year.

Especially concerning is the apparent lack of resistance in many hybrids and how quickly it has spread since its arrival. Tar Spot was first identified in Mexico and then the Caribbean before landing in Illinois and Indiana in 2015. Indiana and Michigan reported hot spots in 2019 with appearances reported in Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Iowa and even Florida.

“Research is critically needed for rapid development of management strategies to reduce its impact and National Corn Growers Association with the support of state corn checkoff dollars and a FFAR grant is working to begin assessing germplasm for potential sources of resistance,” said Robyn Allscheid, NCGA Research and Productivity Director. “Corn Growers, along with additional support from a FFAR grant, are directing efforts to screen germplasm to look for resistance traits. Five lines have been identified thus far with strong potential.”

Work is also underway to develop a Tar Spotter App for smartphones to assist growers in identifying Tar Spot, relay potential fungicide treatments and to establish economic thresholds for treatment.

The knowledge gained through this project will help our growers better understand the management practices necessary to minimize the effects of this emerging disease, and help our partners identify and/or develop the tools needed to better control this pathogen, Allscheid said.

Tar spot is caused by the fungus Phyllachora maydis and can cause severe yield loss on susceptible hybrids when conditions are favorable for disease. Favorable conditions include wet, moderate weather. We continue to have above-average moisture with saturated, wet field conditions, which are conducive to early-season disease.

Tar spot appears as small, raised, black spots scattered across the upper and lower leaf surfaces. Tar Spot can look very similar to other corn diseases making it critical to identify your problem before treating.

Residue management, rotation, and avoiding susceptible hybrids may reduce tar spot development and severity.

NMPF Ready to Help Dairy Farmers Meet Coronavirus Challenges

In response to the continued spread of COVID-19 (the coronavirus) in the United States and the virus’s potential impact on domestic and international markets, National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern said the following:

“As the organization representing U.S. dairy farmers and the cooperatives they own, the National Milk Producers Federation stands ready to assist its members in addressing coronavirus challenges. From possible damages to domestic and world markets, to supply chain labor disruptions on the farm, at the processing plant or in transporting milk, the potential ramifications for dairy are wide-ranging. We will devote our resources to the best of our ability to helping dairy farmers and cooperatives respond to whatever challenges they may face.

“The good news is that the U.S. dairy supply is safe, and production of high-quality products continues unimpeded. The FDA has confirmed that heat treatment kills other coronaviruses, so pasteurization is expected to also inactivate this virus. In addition, there is no evidence that this strain of coronavirus is present in domestic livestock such as cattle.

“Still, all producers will remain vigilant as what has now been labeled a pandemic continues its path. We will continue to answer questions and offer information to help our members. Policy solutions also may be needed for producers whose operations have been affected by the virus. In keeping with our mission of serving our members, regardless of the challenge, we will work with lawmakers and regulators to ensure a safe and adequate supply of milk and to mitigate potential economic harm to dairy farmers.”

Statement from NCBA CEO Colin Woodall on the impact of Coronavirus on the U.S. Beef Supply Chain

"There is a great deal of uncertainty about the ongoing impact of Coronavirus on the beef industry and the United States as a whole. At this time, it’s impossible to measure the full effects of the virus or determine how it may continue to unfold. Although the full beef supply chain is being challenged by the outbreak, all segments of the industry are working closely together and must continue to do so. The current uncertainty facing beef producers is shared by all of agriculture and every American. By working together, we will overcome these obstacles.

"As Coronavirus has spread in the United States, NCBA has been in daily communication with participants from every sector of the beef supply chain. We’re working closely with cow-calf producers, stocker operators and feedlots. We’re also communicating regularly with packing sector participants, restaurant and retail operations. Every one of these operations is facing unique challenges and many shared burdens. As we continue to work through this crisis, we must do everything in our power to safeguard every sector of the business from disruption while ensuring cattle and beef continue to move in an orderly manner.

"In addition to working within the beef community, NCBA is working closely with Congress, USDA and many other regulatory agencies to remove possible barriers to beef production. Our work in Washington, D.C., will help keep the supply chain full and create the necessary food security required by consumers through the entirety of this event.  Consumer demand for beef remains strong, and producers across the industry remain ready to provide the safe, delicious, high-quality protein that’s required and desired around the globe.

"NCBA will continue to work with our members and partners throughout the beef supply chain to facilitate communication. By working together, every segment of the beef community can serve a role in returning the industry to normalcy as quickly as possible."

Proposed Rule Undermines Packers and Stockyards Act, Fails to Provide Needed Protections to Farmers

A rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would undermine the intent of the Packers and Stockyards Act, according to comments submitted today by National Farmers Union (NFU) President Rob Larew.

Established in 1921, the Packers and Stockyards Act exists to "to assure fair competition” in the livestock, meat, and poultry industries and “to safeguard farmers and ranchers. . .from unfair, deceptive, unjustly discriminatory and monopolistic practices." The rule in question, which outlines criteria for determining if a company has shown “undue or unreasonable preferences or advantages” for one farmer over another, does little to achieve either goal. On the contrary, it would provide few, if any, protections to farmers while shielding corporations from legal challenges to abusive and anticompetitive actions.

In a statement, Larew echoed the organization’s earlier concerns with the rule and urged the USDA to develop clear and specific criteria that would offer meaningful protections to family farmers and ranchers.

“There has long been a massive power imbalance between family farmers and the poultry and livestock industries, a fact that Congress tried to remedy nearly a century ago with the Packers and Stockyards Act. But the Act has lacked the teeth it needs to provide even the most basic protections to farmers and ranchers. As a result, they have been subject to discrimination, price fixing, predatory contracts, and other unfair treatment.

“We were hopeful that by more clearly defining 'undue or unreasonable preferences,' this administration was finally taking steps towards balancing the relationship between farmers and corporations. Unfortunately, this proposed rule may just make the situation even worse. Not only does it fail to safeguard farmers from abusive practices, but it may also make it harder for them to litigate such practices.

“The Packers and Stockyards Act is supposed to protect farmers from corporations – not the other way around. To comply with the true intent of the Act, the USDA must revoke the proposed rule. In its place, the agency should develop criteria that are clear and specific and provide family farmers and ranchers the protections they need and deserve.”

Thursday March 12 Ag News

Husker who coined 'flash drought' helps define emerging phenomenon

From late August through early October of last year, drought engulfed much of the Southeast United States in a way that many don’t expect drought to behave — suddenly.

Drought throughout the Southeast spiked from covering about 6% of the region to 44% in less than a month. While many droughts embody the common description of the natural disaster as a creeping phenomenon, taking months or years to develop, the Southeast drought grew widespread and severe in a matter of weeks.

It was a classic flash drought, as defined in a new research paper that seeks to clarify what flash drought is and how to better predict it.

Mark Svoboda, director of the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, is credited with coining the term in the early 2000s. Svoboda said he initially used the phrase to help explain to a USA Today reporter that an early-2000s drought in the southern Plains was developing with unusually rapid intensity.

“I wanted to find a term that would resonate for this quicker-developing drought, and ‘flash drought’ just popped in my head, as I thought people could relate it to their knowledge of flash floods,” Svoboda said. “And that took off like wildfire.”

Svoboda is among the 22 authors of a wide-ranging study on flash droughts that was published March 2 in Nature Climate Change. The paper is the end product of a September 2018 workshop where drought experts from around the world gathered at the Aspen Global Change Institute to address sub-seasonal-to-seasonal prediction and flash drought.

A flash drought, as defined by the American Meteorological Society, is “an unusually rapid onset drought event characterized by a multi-week period of accelerated intensification that culminates in impacts to one or more sectors,” such as agricultural or hydrological impacts.

As part of the team that wrote the definition, Svoboda said the Nature paper helps to clarify what a flash drought is (and isn’t), sets guidelines on detecting that one has occurred, and explores ways to improve monitoring and predictions.

“The growing awareness that flash droughts involve particular processes and severe impacts, and likely a climate change dimension, make them a compelling frontier for research, monitoring, and prediction,” the authors wrote.

“It’s a complex problem and we want to treat it in a complex way,” Roger Pulwarty, senior scientist in the NOAA Physical Sciences Division, said during the 2018 workshop. “It’s not easy to characterize a flash drought, and they’re not the same as saying, ‘We have a hurricane of intensity X or Y.’”

In the paper, the authors establish three principles that apply to flash drought: that it involves a rapid onset, that its intensification rate is high, and that the event reaches enough severity to qualify as a drought. Then they proposed two definitions of flash drought — one that applies internationally, as well as for prediction and research purposes, and another that applies to U.S. monitoring.

The international-prediction definition is based on an experimental drought monitoring and early warning guidance tool called the Evaporative Demand Drought Index. The tool examines differences in atmospheric evaporative demand — essentially the drying of the atmosphere — over a given time period. If there is a 50% or greater increase in drying over a two-week period that is sustained for at least two more weeks, according to the paper, a flash drought can be declared.

The U.S. definition is based on the U.S. Drought Monitor, a weekly drought map jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. When the U.S. Drought Monitor reports a two-category change of drought over a two-week period, and that change is sustained for another two weeks, a flash drought can be declared.

The authors wrote that the next steps will be to apply these definitions retrospectively to verify their accuracy in describing unusual, significant drought events that occurred well before the flash drought term was coined and interest in studying it spiked. The definitions could be further refined to reflect impacts that occur in specific regions, the authors wrote.

The paper also examines specific challenges of predicting flash droughts and providing early warning of their arrival, such as forecasting precipitation deficits over sub-seasonal time periods. Svoboda said that developments in satellite technology are helping experts more quickly assess conditions like the ones that led to the 2019 flash drought in the Southeast.

“We have to trust this new breed of indicators that are looking at stress or demand that we can't even see with the human eye,” Svoboda said. “These tools are looking at indicators of plants that are seen by a sensor that the human eye doesn't denote until it's yellow and wilting. The satellite can see that stress in the plant before it shows visible signs to the human eye.

“It takes a change in mindset to evaluate, trust and integrate these new tools into the Drought Monitor process in order to be using the state of the science and being more responsive to these rapid-onset flash droughts.”

Oversight for Gene-Edited Livestock Should be Under USDA, Not FDA

Thanks to innovation and continuous improvements, U.S. hog farmers are the world's leading suppliers of high-quality, safe and affordable pork. However, America is in danger of losing its leadership standing due to significant flaws in its current approach to regulating emerging animal breeding technologies, Iowa Pork Producers President Dr. Michael Paustian testified this morning before the Senate Agriculture Committee. Oversight should be under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), not the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Gene editing technology, which allows for precise changes within an animal's own genome, offers tremendous promise to combat animal disease while producing safe food in a more sustainable fashion. "Livestock producers need access to these technologies. While countries like China, Canada, Brazil and Argentina are moving quickly to gain a competitive advantage in the market, the U.S. is falling behind," said Paustian, a hog farmer from Walcott, Iowa, testifying on behalf of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).

Despite no statutory requirement, the FDA currently claims regulatory authority over gene editing in food-producing animals. FDA oversight will treat any gene-edited animal as a living animal drug – and every farm raising them a drug manufacturing facility. Under FDA regulation, gene editing faces an impractical, lengthy and expensive approval process, threatening hundreds of thousands of jobs.

"I want to be very clear that we are not advocating for de-regulation of these new technologies," said Paustian. "Farmers support scientifically sound, transparent, risk-based regulations that ensure that these new tools are effective and safe for both animals and consumers. Our concern is not if this technology should be regulated, but rather by who and under what authority," he told the committee.

Paustian continued, "The FDA has insisted that farmers are simply misunderstanding its regulatory proposal. This is incorrect. Alternative strategies the FDA could pursue under its authority have been put forth by multiple stakeholders and quickly rejected, if considered at all.  The agency has not addressed this concern in any meaningful way."

"It is clear we need a new approach," Paustian said. The primary authority for regulatory all agricultural applications of new genetic technologies should be under USDA oversight, he explained. The agency already has a review process in place for genetic editing in plants under its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which can easily be adopted for livestock. "This approach will allow U.S. agriculture to maintain its global edge. We ask you to support moving oversight of gene-edited livestock on American farms from the FDA to the USDA," he concluded.

In June 2019, NPPC launched an aggressive campaign, "Keep America First in Agriculture," to highlight the importance of establishing a proper regulatory framework for gene editing in American livestock. Learn more by visiting

Monday, March 16 Is the Last Day to Schedule an Appointment with Your FSA Office For Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage Enrollment

Agricultural producers who have not yet completed their 2019 crop year elections for and enrollment in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs must schedule an appointment to do so with their local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) by Monday, March 16.

“To date, more than 1.4 million contracts have been signed for the 2019 crop year. This represents 89 percent of expected enrollment with less than a week left for producers to get on FSA’s appointment books,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “If you’ve not completed your elections or enrollment, the clock is ticking, and your program eligibility is at stake; so please call FSA today and request an appointment.”

Producers who do not contact FSA for an appointment by close of business local time on Monday, March 16 will not be enrolled in ARC or PLC for the 2019 crop year and will be ineligible to receive a payment should one trigger for an eligible crop.

ARC and PLC provide income support 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.

OCM Comments on Packers and Stockyards Fair Competition Rule

Today, the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) submitted public comments on a rule that the Secretary of Agriculture would use to determine whether or not a corporate practice would hinder fair competition in agriculture and livestock markets. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) proposed rule regarding enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act (PSA) seeks to clarify how the PSA is interpreted and enforced.

The comment period on the proposed rule is open until Friday, March 13, and OCM encourages all concerned individuals and organizations to submit their comments by tomorrow's deadline.

OCM disagrees with the proposed rule’s inadequate criteria, and demands the reimplementation of protections for producers that were included in the 2016 version, particularly those regarding the USDA’s own interpretation of competitive harm. OCM urges AMS to heed the purpose and intent of the Packers and Stockyards Act and close loopholes in the law that have allowed anti-competitive practices to become customary in the industry.

In its comments, OCM called for AMS to restore the main intent of the PSA, which is to protect agricultural producers from undue harm. OCM stressed the importance of removing the requirement that producers must show industrywide competitive harm when seeking action on reported violations to the PSA. “Nowhere in past enforcement of the PSA is a failure to protect producers more evident than in the repeated requirement for a producer to prove industrywide competitive harm,” the group’s comments state, adding further that, “requiring a producer to prove competitive harm, in itself, is a form of competitive harm.”

“This proposed rule is yet another reason why Secretary Sonny Perdue should be fired,” stated Ben Gotschall, Policy and Research Director for OCM.  “It does virtually nothing to protect producers from deceptive and unfair practices that are currently widespread in the industry,” said Gotschall.  “By renaming ‘customary practices’ in the industry as ‘reasonable business decisions,’ AMS would essentially give bad actors a free pass to continue breaking the law, just because they’ve grown accustomed to doing so,” Gotschall said.

OCM demanded reinstating language from the 2016 version of the rule outlining specific unfair practices, calling for protections for producers from retaliation by meatpacking companies. “By not specifically addressing retaliatory action in this version of the rules, AMS is clearly abandoning producers to be at the mercy of unfair and vindictive treatment at the hands of the packers, contractors, and dealers,” the group argued.

“The unfair and unlawful actions of the meatpacking industry have gone on long enough, and the U.S. has seen far too many farmers and ranchers go out of business as a result,” said Gotschall. “AMS needs to stop these harmful actions and protect America’s farmers and ranchers by enacting clear guidelines and enforcing the Packers and Stockyards Act.”

Bill Introduced to Protect Cattle Producers

U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) introduced their bipartisan Securing All Livestock Equitably (SALE) Act, which would address dealer payment default. The quick turnaround between the purchase and resale of cattle by dealers often leaves the ranchers who originally owned the cattle with little recourse if a dealer defaults on a purchase--the livestock has often already been resold.

In addition to Smith and Inhofe, the bill is supported by a bipartisan group of senators including Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).

The SALE Act would establish dealer statutory trusts, which are similar to existing packer statutory trusts, to ensure that cattle sellers receive payment should a livestock dealer become insolvent.

"We greatly appreciate the leadership of Senators Inhofe and Smith in introducing the SALE Act. They are standing up for livestock farmers and auction markets to make sure we are paid for livestock," said Tom Frey, Livestock Marketing Association President. "This issue is the top priority for LMA in our lobbying efforts. Too many people have experienced the pain of a livestock payment default and not have the right to get their cattle back. It is time to correct this and the SALE Act is the fix."

The 2018 Farm Bill--which Sen. Smith fought for as a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee--contained a provision directing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of establishing a livestock dealer statutory trust. The results of the study came out in December of 2019 and helped inform the senators' ongoing effort to establish the creation of a Livestock Dealer Statutory Trust.

Peterson and Palazzo Introduce Bill to Advance Aquaculture in the United States

Representative Collin Peterson, Chair of the House Agriculture Committee, and Representative Steven Palazzo (MS-4) introduced H.R. 6191, the Advancing the Quality and Understanding of American Aquaculture Act or the AQUAA Act today to increase the United States’ involvement in the production of healthy, sustainable, and affordable seafood.

“Aquaculture is a fast-growing agriculture industry that is creating jobs and improving our country’s food security,” said Peterson. “It also creates a market for soybeans as they provide nutritious aquafeed. Our bill will streamline the permitting process and build upon research and development efforts that are underway.

“The United States imports nearly 90% of our seafood, and of that, more than half is produced through foreign aquaculture without domestic oversight," said Palazzo. "The AQUAA Act streamlines the federal permitting process to usher in a wave of American aquaculture and reduce our dependency on foreign seafood imports while we grow a sustainable market. Food security is national security and, we must work to ensure America is prepared to meet the needs of tomorrow’s food demand.”

With a growing population and an ever-increasing demand for seafood, it is clear that as of right now, the United States does not produce enough seafood to meet domestic demand. Expanding aquaculture in the United States has the potential to create new jobs, high-quality foods, and new markets for agricultural products like soybeans.

Unfortunately, U.S. aquaculture is currently constrained by disjointed federal leadership and numerous regulatory hurdles, including overlapping jurisdiction of federal, state and local governments, and the absence of an efficient and affordable permitting process, particularly in U.S. federal waters.

The AQUAA Act establishes an Office of Marine Aquaculture within the National Marine Fisheries Service at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) headquarters and regional offices to lead coordinating the federal permitting process. The legislation also establishes a permitting process to allow individuals time to secure financing for aquaculture operation while making no changes to current environmental standards, but instead upholding and maintaining existing standards. Additionally, the AQUAA Act authorizes expanded aquaculture research and development authorities at USDA.

The AQUAA Act has strong support from domestic seafood producers and soybean producers, and others within agriculture.

American Soybean Association President Bill Gordon from Worthington, Minnesota -
“Aquaculture off the U.S. coastline provides economic opportunity for soybean farmers, as well as coastal communities and workers, not to mention a safe and affordable supply of seafood. ASA applauds Chairman Peterson’s leadership in recognizing the untapped potential of a domestic aquaculture industry.”

Jamie Beyer, president of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association –
“Minnesota soybean farmers appreciate Rep. Peterson’s work on the AQUAA Act. Growing the U.S. aquaculture industry provides our farmers the opportunity to grow the high-protein, renewable food source for this market while protecting our oceans from being overfished for fish meal.”

Training Session Prepares Farmers Union Members to Respond to Farm Stress

As part of the organization’s broader initiative to address a growing farm stress crisis, National Farmers Union (NFU) last week hosted a two-day, in-person session to train community mental health advocates across the country.

More than 30 Farmers Union members from 19 states completed the training, which was held in conjunction with NFU’s 118th Anniversary Convention in Savannah, Georgia. Among those in the inaugural group were Nebraska Farmers Union Vice President Vern Jantzen and NeFU District 5 Director Ben Gotschall.  The program’s curriculum ­– established in collaboration with American Farm Bureau Federation, Farm Credit, and Michigan State University Extension – prepares participants to both recognize and respond to signs of stress and suicide as well as teach others to do the same. Upon returning home, they will not only serve as a resource for community members struggling with their mental health, but they will also lead future training sessions for farmers’ friends, neighbors, and family members.

“With so much uncertainty and economic pressure, farmers are under immense stress right now,” said NFU President Rob Larew. “At the same time, many people are embarrassed to talk about mental health or don’t know how. By training local leaders to build a meaningful, community-based response to this crisis, we can help break down the stigma and make it easier for farmers to ask for help when they need it most.”

Hosted by Mental Health First Aid, the first day of the training session focused on risk factors for, warning signs of, and strategies to respond to mental health concerns like depression, anxiety disorders, panic attacks, traumatic events, drug misuse, and suicidal behaviors. The second day of training, led by Michigan State University Extension, contextualized those concerns within a rural framework, providing guidance for working specifically with agricultural professionals and rural residents.

“Some of the stressors farmers face are pretty unique. They aren’t just dealing with financial anxiety – they often also have the burden of several generations of family legacy,” Larew said. “This training tailors mental health outreach to the particular concerns and experiences of family farmers and ranchers to ensure that those efforts are really relevant and effective.”

For Farmers Union members who were not able to attend this session, there are other opportunities to get involved. NFU is offering a free, online course to help those who interact with farmers to recognize signs of stress and offer help. Additionally, several Farmers Union state and regional divisions are developing their own training programs for members.

NCBA Cancels Spring Legislative Conference

NCBA leadership understands the anxiety and uncertainty that has resulted from the spread of COVID-19, and we’re committed to doing our part to alleviate those concerns and to help prevent any further transmission. In the past 24 hours, the U.S. Capitol complex has been closed to the public and a state of emergency declaration was made by the Mayor of Washington, D.C. As a result, NCBA is cancelling its Spring Legislative Conference, scheduled for March 31-April 2, 2020.

The NCBA Spring Legislative Conference was scheduled to follow the Public Lands Council’s annual legislative conference, which is also cancelled. There are no plans to reschedule NCBA’s Legislative Conference in 2020, the next event will be held March 16-18, 2021.

Participants who booked hotel reservations through the Trump Hotel International should contact the Reservations Department directly at 202-695-1100 to cancel their reservation as soon as possible. The Trump Hotel has agreed to release all rooms without penalty at this time. Participants who need to cancel airline reservations should contact their air carrier directly, as current cancellation and waiver policies vary by airline.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will work with the entire beef community and its stakeholders to move past this situation as quickly as possible. We thank NCBA members and stakeholders in advance for the ongoing support of the association and the beef community. 

 ACE cancels April DC fly-in due to COVID-19 precautions being taken on Capitol Hill

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) announced today its annual Washington, D.C. Fly-in and Government Affairs Summit scheduled for April 2-3, 2020 has been canceled due to the number of congressional offices declining meeting requests in response to concerns about the rapid spread of COVID-19. Many congressional offices have notified ACE they are not scheduling “any in-person meetings for the foreseeable future due to precautions surrounding coronavirus.”

“Based on the number of Hill offices that have declined meeting requests due to the coronavirus and our overall concern for the health and well-being of ACE members, we have decided to cancel the April 2-3, 2020 fly-in,” said Brian Jennings, ACE CEO. “Medical experts testifying this week on Capitol Hill warned Americans COVID-19 will continue spreading so we need to prioritize the health and safety of our members.”

“We are grateful to everyone who was willing to invest their time and financial resources to travel to D.C. and discuss our priority issues with Congress and the Trump administration,” Jennings added. “We anticipate that eventually the threat of coronavirus will subside, so we are exploring options to reschedule the fly-in to the fall of 2020.”

USDA Extends ReConnect Application Deadline to March 31

Today, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand announced USDA has extended the deadline (PDF, 245 KB) for ReConnect Pilot Program applications to March 31.

“By extending the ReConnect Program application deadline, we are helping even more qualified organizations access the essential funding to make high-speed broadband connectivity a reality for rural communities across America,” Brand said. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA has made deploying this critical infrastructure in rural America a top-priority, because when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”


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 program, called “ReConnect,” including how the loans and grants will be awarded to help build broadband infrastructure in rural America. USDA received 146 applications between May 31, 2019, and July 12, 2019, requesting $1.4 billion in funding across all three ReConnect Program funding products: 100 percent loan, 100 percent grant, and loan-grant combinations. USDA is reviewing applications and announcing approved projects on a rolling basis. Additional investments in all three categories will be made in the coming weeks.

These grants, loans and combination funds enable the federal government to partner with the private sector and rural communities to build modern broadband infrastructure in areas with insufficient internet service. Insufficient service is defined as connection speeds of less than 10 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 1 Mbps upload.

In December 2019, Agriculture Secretary Perdue announced USDA will be making available an additional $550 million in ReConnect funding in 2020. USDA will make available up to $200 million for grants, up to $200 million for 50/50 grant/loan combinations, and up to $200 million for low-interest loans. The application window for this round of funding opened on Jan. 31, 2020. Applications for all funding products will be accepted in the same application window, which will now close on March 31, 2020.

Syngenta expands sustainability tracking integrations

Syngenta Sustainable Solutions promotes an agriculture industry that can feed a growing world while safeguarding the environment for future generations. That’s why Syngenta is proud to announce new and updated integrations with leading sustainability measurement tools to expand the capabilities of AgriEdge®, the Syngenta whole-farm management program that helps customers maximize and sustain their return on investment.

Cool Farm Alliance’s Cool Farm Tool (CFT) is now integrated with Land.db®, the secure, cloud-based software included with AgriEdge, allowing growers to communicate their field-level sustainability down the supply chain to increase transparency.

“Syngenta has been a valuable member of the CFA and we’re thrilled for this new phase in our partnership. Our mission is to provide scalable sustainability measurement to growers and our partners understand and embrace that,” said Richard Profit, General Manager for the Cool Farm Alliance. “We’re happy to empower Syngenta growers through their AgriEdge program.”

Growers can collect and analyze data on a per-field basis within Land.db, allowing them to track and measure stewardship and conservation practices like nutrient management, soil health practices, resistance management, buffer zones and environmental efficiency indicators. They can then use the Cool Farm Tool integration to easily measure and report the outcomes of these practices.

“Collaborations, like this one, are core to the mission of Syngenta Sustainable Solutions,” said Liz Hunt, Digital Agriculture Sustainable Solutions Account Manager at Syngenta. “We believe uniting consumer brands, processors, growers, ag retailers and manufacturers delivers a holistic solution to growers by setting them up for long-term success in their sustainable agriculture continuous improvement journey.”

Syngenta has also upgraded their integration with Field to Market’s Fieldprint® Platform to Version 3.0, enabling farmers to measure and evaluate their sustainability performance across eight sustainability indicators including: biodiversity, energy use efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, irrigation water use efficiency, land use efficiency, soil carbon, soil conservation and water quality. As a member of Field to Market, Syngenta also collaborates with stakeholders across the value chain to foster improved supply chain collaboration and transparency.

“By streamlining grower access to Field to Market’s eight outcomes-based sustainability metrics, Syngenta offers farmers the ability to utilize the food and agriculture industry’s most accepted sustainability measurement framework to document and demonstrate their stewardship,” said Rod Snyder, president of Field to Market. “By fully integrating with the latest version of the Fieldprint Platform, Land.db enables farmers to report their sustainability performance to downstream customers and drive continuous improvement in the sustainability of U.S. commodity agriculture.”

Growers interested in this new partnership should contact their Syngenta representative or visit for more information.

Liberty Brings Back Women's Bibs After Nearly Two Decades

Liberty, an iconic American brand and manufacturer of bib overalls since 1912, has reintroduced its line of women's bibs after discontinuing the female-focused products 18 years ago. The new line includes both denim and duck bib overalls that offer the unwavering quality and craftsmanship Liberty is known for, while featuring female-specific fits and all-new flexible fabric technology.

"Bringing back our women's line has been a top priority for Liberty," said Brad Bromstead, Vice President of Marketing, Merchandising and Design for Liberty. "Hard-working women have worn our men's products for years. We believe they deserve workwear that is not only durable and dependable, but also fits comfortably. Our new women's bibs are designed to fill that void."

The new flexible fabric technology in the denim bibs incorporates a cotton, polyester and spandex blend for increased mobility and comfort. The duck bibs utilize a cotton/spandex blend to offer added durability while maintaining fabric flexibility.

Both styles are constructed with triple-stitched seams, adjustable straps, reinforced front and back pockets, and a washed-for-comfort finish to create durable pieces of workwear perfect for tackling outdoor tasks and labor.

The full product line of Liberty women's bibs (MSRP $60) is available now at select retailers and at

Wednesday March 11 Ag News


Nebraska agricultural land values increased 3% over the last year to a statewide average of $2,650 per acre, according to preliminary results from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Farm Real Estate Market Survey. This marks the first year-to-year increase since land values in the state peaked at $3,315 per acre in 2014.

Survey participants reported that economic forces providing stability in the market included the limited supply of land for sale, strong demand for purchases, and disaster-assistance payments over the last year.

Estimated dryland cropland values in the state rose between 3% and 4%, while the values of gravity- and center-pivot-irrigated cropland rose 2% and 3%, respectively. However, the northwest and southwest districts saw declines between 2% and 5% for the two land classes.

Grazing land and hayland value estimates also rose between 2% and 5% over the last year, with slight declines in two districts. Major cow-calf pair regions, including the northwest, north and central districts, led the increase in market values, with growth between 6% and 8%.

The survey also revealed a high degree of concern between many landlords and tenants when working to agree on an equitable rental rate, generally attributed to landlords facing high property taxes and producers facing low commodity prices.

Value Change by District

East - All Land Average - $6,510 - +5%
Northeast - All Land Average - $5,375 - +3%

The Farm Real Estate Market Survey is an annual survey of land professionals, including appraisers, farm and ranch managers, and agricultural bankers. Results from the survey are divided by land class and agricultural statistic districts. Land values and rental rates presented in the report are averages of survey participants' responses by district. Actual land values and rental rates may vary depending upon the quality of the parcel and local market for an area. Preliminary land values and rental rates are subject to change as additional surveys are returned.

The preliminary report was released in the Department of Agricultural Economics’ weekly Cornhusker Economics newsletter and is available at Final results from the survey are expected to be published in early June.

Nebraska Cattlemen to host Stress Webinar

Nebraska Cattlemen along with the University of Nebraska - Lincoln Extension will be hosting a free Stress Webinar on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at 12:00 Noon, CDT sponsored by Allflex Livestock Intelligence. Everyone is welcome to join by going to: This webinar is free and open to everyone, no preregistration required.

Stress has become a fact of life for farm families. Many are facing financial problems, marketing uncertainties, farm transfer issues, weather, production challenges and more. Susan Harris, Assistant Extension Educator at West Central Research & Extension Center, will be covering the following topics during this webinar:
    Recognizing symptoms of stress in ourselves and others
    Understanding how chronic stress affects us and learning
    coping strategies
    Sleep Deprivation
    How to talk to someone experiencing chronic stress
    How to approach a conversation if you feel someone is
    considering suicide
    Where to turn for help

About the presenter:

Susan Harris serves Nebraska as the Rural Health, Wellness, and Safety Educator for Nebraska Extension.  Her education includes a bachelor's degree in Family and Consumer Sciences in Business, as well as a master's degree in Health and Human Performance - Gerontology.  She has a 14-year history of education, liaison, and administrative work in health, wellness, and safety.  She is certified in Mental Health First Aid, Psychological First Aid, QPR, and the Michigan State University training program for Communicating with Farmers Under Stress, providing workshops across the state.  Susan also serves as staff member for AgrAbility, a partnership organization between UNL and Easterseals Nebraska, which provides information to producers and their families on assistive technology and site modifications that enable people with disabilities to remain involved in production agriculture.

Nebraska Veterinary Diagnostic Center achieves top-level status

The Nebraska Veterinary Diagnostic Center has achieved highest level status in the National Animal Health Laboratory Network.

The diagnostic center is part of the School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The center was dedicated in 2017 on East Campus and is recognized nationally for the expertise of its faculty and staff in diagnosing diseases in cattle and other livestock. The center also provides disease surveillance and diagnostic services to veterinarians, livestock producers, pet owners and researchers.

Numerous entities including the Nebraska Cattlemen, worked to support the financing for construction, and purchase of instrumentation that boosted the center to the top tier.

As a top-tier laboratory, the Nebraska Veterinary Diagnostic Center meets high-level criteria related to the ability to respond by performing testing in the event of a foreign animal disease or high-consequence disease outbreak.

“The dedicated efforts of the highly capable faculty and staff along with the newly constructed Nebraska Veterinary Diagnostic Center building allowed fulfillment of the requirements for this rise in status,” said Bruce Brodersen, Director of the Nebraska Veterinary Diagnostic Center.

The Nebraska Veterinary Diagnostic Center is positioned to provide animal health diagnostic testing to detect biological threats to the nation’s food animals, thus protecting animal health, public health, the nation's food supply, and the agricultural economy. The center also has the capability to diagnose both endemic and high-consequence livestock pathogens in animals, food, and environmental samples and is likely to be a first-line laboratories for recognition of an intentionally or accidentally introduced agent in animals.

For more information about the Nebraska Veterinary Diagnostic Center, visit

Nebraska Beef Council Board Meeting March 24, 2020

The Nebraska Beef Council Board of Directors will have a zoom meeting at the NBC office in Kearney located at 1319 Central Ave. on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 beginning at 12:00 p.m. CDT. The NBC Board of Directors will discuss strategic planning and foreign marketing.For more information, please contact Pam Esslinger at

Veterinary Medical and Biomedical Sciences Professor David Steffen honored with top industry award

Growing up on a farm near the small community in of Fordyce in Northeast Nebraska, David Steffen dreamed of one day becoming a country vet.

His family raised cows, sows and broilers, and he got to know the country veterinarians who tended to the livestock of his family and his neighbors. Their days seemed interesting and varied, Steffen said. Veterinarians helped both animals and the people who cared for them. All of these things appealed to Steffen.

He attended college at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he studied animal science. After graduation, he went on to Iowa State University, where he got his DVM.

For a few years, he did become a country vet. But his wife, whose expertise was in computers, had a difficult time finding a job, and Steffen began looking for a position someplace where she could put her degree to work, too. He and his wife moved to Manhattan, Kan., where he began work on a doctoral degree at Kansas State University. This put him on track for an academic career, with a stop at North Dakota State University before he returned to Nebraska.

Today, he provides leadership in diagnostic pathology and as the quality control section head of the veterinary diagnostic center. And recently, he received the highest honor in the field of veterinary diagnostics -- the 2019 Dr. Edward P. Pope Memorial Award, presented by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians.

The award was a huge honor and came as somewhat of a surprise to Steffen, whose favorite part of the job remains helping people.

On a recent morning in his office in the Veterinary Diagnostic Center, he looked at slides from feeder lambs that were succumbing to a mystery affliction, as well as from a Scottish terrier with a terrible looking liver. Steffen finds it rewarding to figure out a diagnosis for a livestock producer whose livelihood is affected by disease, or for a pet owner who wants to know why their pet is sick.

“It is a blessing to work using scientific knowledge to help others,” Steffen said in a story about the award in the Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation. “Every day I am provided the opportunity to develop meaningful, productive relationships with clients and scientists as we partner to improve the economic vitality of animal agriculture, the emotional health of pet owners, and the general health of animal populations and all people.”

No two days are quite alike, and Steffen enjoys that, too.

“You get to see all kinds of weird, interesting stuff,” he said. “You get to be a detective.”

One particularly interesting mystery he encountered was a fatal type of dwarfism that showed up in several different breeds of calves. Steffen was able to pinpoint a genetic cause for the disease, which ultimately allowed for development of a test for breeders. Over his career, Steffen was able to identify seven different genetic disorders – all of which led to the development of tests that livestock producers can use to determine whether their animals are afflicted.

“With genomics now, we can go from recognizing a disease to having a test for it within a year,” he said.

Throughout his career, he has dedicated time and expertise to advance animal health and veterinary pathology at state and national levels, serving on the Nebraska Poultry Health Committee, the Nebraska State Lab Response Network, and the Johne’s Disease Committee. He has been a member of the American association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnostics since 1996, over the years serving as both vice president and president. He also served as an associate editor for the Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation. He has author or co-authored more than 60 peer-reviewed publications on topics including diagnostics, comparative medical sciences and many other issues and received numerous other awards.  He also served as an undergraduate advisor for more than a decade, and has kept in contact with many of his old students.

“Dave has made many significant contributions to animal health, livestock management, and veterinary pathology,” said Ron Yoder, Associate Vice Chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “We highly value his work here at the university, as do livestock producers across Nebraska and the country.”

Steffen didn’t imagine that his plan to be a country vet would have led him down the path it did. But the things that drew him into vet medicine in the first place – the variety, the opportunity to meet people and to help them – have remained central throughout his career. He’s more likely, though, to do so from his office than on a farm like the one where he grew up.

“My happy place is here at my microscope,” he said.

USDA to Open Signup March 16 for Conservation Reserve Program Grasslands

Farmers and ranchers may apply to enroll grasslands in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grasslands signup beginning March 16. The signup runs through May 15.

“Through this CRP Grasslands signup, farmers and ranchers can protect grasslands, rangelands and pastures, while maintaining the land as working grazing lands,” said Nebraska FSA State Executive Director Nancy Johner. “The program emphasizes support for grazing operations and plant and animal biodiversity, while protecting land under the greatest threat of conversion or development.”

Through CRP Grasslands, participants retain the right to conduct common grazing practices, such as haying, mowing or harvesting seed from the enrolled land. Timing of some activities may be restricted by the primary nesting season of birds.

Participants will receive an annual rental payment and may receive up to 50 percent cost-share for establishing approved conservation practices. The duration of the CRP contract is either 10 or 15 years. FSA will rank applications using a number of factors including existence of expiring CRP land, threat of conversion or development, existing grassland and predominance of native species cover, and cost.

The 2018 Farm Bill set aside 2 million acres for CRP Grassland enrollment. CRP is one of the largest conservation programs at USDA. CRP marks its 35-year anniversary in 2020 with 22 million acres currently enrolled nationwide.

For more information or to enroll in CRP Grasslands, contact your local FSA county office or visit

ASA Corteva Young Leaders Explore Issues, Participate in Leadership Training

The 35th class of American Soybean Association (ASA) Corteva Agriscience™ Young Leaders completed their training Feb. 25 – 29, 2020 in San Antonio, Texas in conjunction with the annual Commodity Classic Convention and Trade Show.

“The ASA Corteva Agriscience™ Young Leader Program helps provide the soybean industry and all of agriculture with strong and forward-thinking grower leaders,” ASA President Bill Gordon said. “The program focuses on leader development and emphasizes collaboration, providing us with growers who are working together to amplify the voice of the farmer. We are grateful to Corteva for their longstanding support of this program and for helping to secure the future of the soybean industry.”

While in San Antonio, the Young Leaders participated in training focused on leadership development, industry issue updates and outreach. The Young Leaders were also recognized at ASA’s annual awards banquet.

“Corteva has been a proud sponsor of the ASA Corteva Agriscience™ Young Leader Program for over 35 years. This program has a rich history of developing soybean growers from across the country and providing opportunities to strengthen their leadership skills and build their network in the agriculture industry,” U.S. Commercial Unit Leader Nate Miller said. “I have interacted with this year’s class of Young Leaders and am excited about the positive impact these leaders will make on agriculture for generations to come.”

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 & 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 King (SD); Drew & Lauren Peterson (SD); Casey Youngerman (TN); Adam & Brittany Davis (VA); Matt Rehberg (WI); and Chris & Rachel Renwick (Canada).

Custom Farming Survey for Iowa Shows Slight Decline in Rates

Custom farming can provide an additional source of income for those with machinery and experience, or alleviate a farmer of a particular task that they do not wish to do on their own.

Whether the farmer is performing or receiving the custom work, the question always comes up over what to charge. And while rates vary from one operator to another, a new report by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach provides a look at projected averages for 2020.

The 2020 Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey is available in the March edition of Ag Decision Maker, and provides custom prices for common farm tasks in Iowa, compiled from 106 respondents.

According to the report, there was a 3% decline across all categories, with complete harvesting and hauling declining by 4%, and bin and machinery rental increasing by 2.3%.

The average price for custom combining corn in Iowa in 2020 is $36.70 per acre, compared to $35.95 per acre in 2019. Spraying, per acre, is $6.70 in 2020, a slight decline from $7.25 per acre in 2019.

In addition to field activities, the report also includes prices for commodity storage, snow removal and farm maintenance, equipment rental and labor prices.

"Subdued commodity prices, lower fuel prices and another year of thin profit margins in crop production in the horizon are setting the tone for overall lower expected custom rates in 2020," said Alejandro Plastina, assistant professor and extension economist with ISU Extension and Outreach. "However, some tasks related to manure management might see some price increases, according to the survey respondents.”

Plastina said it’s important to remember the report is simply an opinion poll, and should only be used as a starting point in the process of determining custom rates.

“This report is not to be interpreted as Iowa State University’s opinion of what the custom rates are or should be, but rather what survey respondents report thinking the rates will be in 2020,” he said.

Still, he believes the data in the report are of value to farmers and ranchers who may be considering custom work this year to provide guidance in their projections.

Additional publications on machinery, including how to estimate specific machinery costs and historic days available for fieldwork can also be found through the Ag Decision Maker website,

Despite Tough Times, Study Finds Ethanol and Biodiesel Production Continues to Power Iowa’s Economy

Today a new study finds despite challenges, Iowa biofuel production continues to have a significant impact on Iowa’s economy, supporting over 48,000 jobs and more than $2.4 billion in household income.

The study, authored by John Urbanchuk of ABF Economics and commissioned by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA), also found that biofuels continue to account for over $5 billion of Iowa’s GDP, or about three percent.

The study looked at the many challenges the industry faced in 2019, including the lapsed biodiesel tax credit and the demand destruction caused by excessive Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) refinery exemptions. The study found Iowa biofuels production could have supported over 4,000 more jobs and $200 million more in household income in 2019 had the exemptions not been granted.

“This study confirms two very important truths – that biofuels continue to play a crucial role in Iowa’s economy, and that role was significantly hampered by RFS exemptions,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “We are encouraged to see that despite the hard times and policy uncertainty Iowa producers faced in 2019, the economic benefits are still strong. It is, however, disheartening to know how much greater the benefits could have been to Iowa had EPA not granted over a billion gallons worth of demand-destroying RFS exemptions.”

Looking forward, the study concludes that growth of the biofuels sector “through new technologies and feedstocks” will only serve to enhance the economic impact of the industry, but “policy stability is essential to maximize these benefits. Uncertainty surrounding issues like RFS refinery exemptions, tax credit extensions, and trade with China, will impede the ability of the industry to provide these societal benefits.”

Weekly Ethanol Production for 3/6/2020

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending Mar. 6, ethanol production slowed, declining 3.2% or 35,000 barrels per day (b/d), to 1.044 million b/d—equivalent to 43.85 million gallons daily. However, the four-week average ethanol production rate increased 0.3% to 1.054 million b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 16.16 billion gallons.

Ethanol stocks moderated to a five-week low of 24.3 million barrels, settling 2.5% below the prior week’s record. Inventories shifted lower across all regions except the West Coast (PADD 5), where stocks lifted 8.2%.

Imports of ethanol arriving into the West Coast were 9,000 b/d, or 2.65 million gallons for the week. This was the second time in three weeks that ethanol was imported. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of January 2020.)

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market rose 2.9% to 9.449 million b/d (396.86 million gallons per day, or 144.85 bg annualized), scaling up to the largest volume since October. Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol followed, increasing 2.5% to 919,000 b/d—equivalent to 14.09 bg annualized and an eleven-week high.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production decreased to 11.05%.

Half of Retail Fertilizer Price Move Higher, Other Half Heads Lower

Retail fertilizer prices are mixed, according to prices tracked by DTN in the first week of March, 2020.  For the first time in several months, prices split down the middle, with half coming in higher and half lower.

Four fertilizers were lower in price compared to last month but none were down a substantial amount, which DTN considers a price move of 5% or more. DAP had an average price of $409/ton, down $4; MAP $432/ton, down $3; potash $369/ton, down $4; and anhydrous $490/ton, down fractionally.

The other four fertilizers, meanwhile, had a slight price increase, looking back to last month. Urea had an average price of $369/ton, up $8; 10-34-0 $466/ton, up $2; UAN28 $235/ton and UAN32 $277/ton, both up fractionally.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.40/lb.N, anhydrous $0.30/lb.N, UAN28 $0.42/lb.N and UAN32 $0.43/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are now all lower in price from a year ago. DAP is 20% lower, MAP is 19% less expensive, anhydrous is 18% lower, both UAN28 and UAN32 are 13% less expensive, urea is 9% lower, potash is 4% less expensive and 10-34-0 is 1% lower from last year at this time.

DFA Postpones Annual Meeting Due to Coronavirus

The Dairy Farmers of America has postponed its annual meeting.  Farmer-members were planning to meet March 16-18 in Kansas City.  Company officials say the decision was made “out of an abundance of caution” due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Dairy Farmers Descend on Senate to Demand Agriculture Labor Reform

Dairy farmers from National Milk Producers Federation member cooperatives and state dairy associations are visiting U.S. Senate offices today and tomorrow as part of a fly-in calling for an agricultural labor bill that could be reconciled with a plan the House approved last year, providing the stable, secure labor force U.S. dairy producers need.

U.S. dairy producers face labor shortages that are more intense than those felt in agriculture as a whole because they cannot use the H-2A farmworker program, which only provides for seasonal labor rather than the year-round workers dairy needs. With domestic workers in short supply and foreign labor difficult to employ under current policies, dairy farmers are urging lawmakers to find real solutions.

“The situation is dire,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF, the biggest U.S. dairy-farmer organization. “Dairy farmers face labor shortages while they are forced to navigate the deeply uncertain and volatile realities undergirding agriculture labor in the U.S. Meanwhile, uncertainty on the farm harms individuals and rural communities that rely on those farms to generate jobs.”

The House of Representatives in December passed bipartisan legislation allowing for year-round visas in dairy as part of the first ag-labor bill to pass that chamber since 1986. NMPF supported the bill, noting that, although imperfect, its passage was a necessary step in moving toward a legislative solution addressing the ag labor crisis, with further work to be done in the Senate to improve upon the House measure.

The fly-in is taking place after the conclusion of NMPF’s March Board of Directors meeting held in Arlington, Virginia. During the board meeting, NMPF officially expanded its membership with the addition of Cayuga Marketing, LLC based in Auburn, NY, adding an important upstate New York voice to NMPF’s work on behalf of all dairy producers. NMPF also endorsed dairy-sector sustainability efforts during its meeting, lauding industrywide plans to reduce carbon emissions to net zero.

Slower growth in organic poultry could affect grains market

Organic poultry production is expected to grow through 2020, but Q1 numbers indicate that growth will be slow. If the trend continues, organic grain markets could suffer the consequences.

The Mercaris Monthly Update for March shows Sept.-Jan. broiler slaughter down 2% over the same period the previous year, due in part to shutdowns in processing during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Despite rebounding numbers in January, the current rate of production would put growth in meat production at under 1% for the 2019/20 market year.

“It will be critical to keep a watchful eye on organic broiler slaughter volumes over the coming months as the majority of organic grain in the U.S. is destined to supply the organic livestock industries with feed,” said Ryan Koory, Director of Economics at Mercaris.

This is not a new situation, Koory said. Broiler slaughter was below the previous year’s totals in five months of the 2018/19 market year.

“With organic poultry being a huge demand driver, this slower growth in organic broiler production volumes raises questions about implications for the rest of the grains market as the 19/20 market year progresses,” he said.

The March Monthly Market Update features major supply and demand factors for organic grains including organic livestock production and year-to-date import data for organic corn and soybeans.

Wilbur-Ellis Company launches unique surfactant EMBRECE-EA™

Wilbur-Ellis Company, a recognized leader in precision agriculture, crop protection, seed and nutritional products, announced today the launch of EMBRECE-EATM, a unique blend of surfactants designed to elevate the performance of fungicides, insecticides and miticides by increasing wetting and spreading of spray materials.

EMBRECE-EA's proprietary blend of nonionic surfactants (NIS) gives growers superior coverage and excellent wetting of their chosen spray material, meaning more product stays on the leaf surface, providing quicker absorption and improved control of the targeted pest. In addition to increased performance, EMBRECE-EA offers growers more safety and peace of mind while allowing for more application flexibility dependent on the crop grown. A lower use rate (1pt/100gal) is ideal for cover sprays, while higher use rates (1qt/100gal) provides more penetration – ideal for crops that have a thicker layer of wax on the leaf surface. The product also works well with difficult formulations, like soluble concentrates.

The product gives growers a safer alternative to similar adjuvants. "EMBRECE-EA can provide a high-performance option to organosilicone-containing adjuvants where there are concerns about phytotoxicity, spray mix run-off and toxicity to beneficial insects," said Wilbur-Ellis' Senior Formulation Chemist Jim Glatzhofer.

In reference to crop safety, Wilbur-Ellis Adjuvant Portfolio Manager Terry Abbott said, "EMBRECE-EA was designed with performance and crop safety in mind. In comparison to current commercial NIS adjuvants, it provides better, more consistent coverage of the spray material on the plant, giving the growers the level of protection they need for the crops they grow."

EMBRECE-EA is part of Wilbur-Ellis' ECO ADVANTAGE® line of products. ECO ADVANTAGE products feature cutting-edge technology and are built upon four key pillars to ensure growers get high-performing, eco-friendly adjuvants. Every ECO ADVANTAGE adjuvant boasts superior performance, is labeled for aquatic use, is made with ingredients for improved safety and handling and is Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPE) Free. EMBRECE-EA boasts lower phytotoxicity concerns than traditional adjuvants as well as lower toxicity concerns for humans and the environment.

This press release is intended for informational use only and cannot be used as a replacement for product label. Any products mentioned in this press release may only be sold in states where they are registered or where registration is not a factor. Please contact your local Wilbur-Ellis representative for more information.

Wilbur-Ellis offers a complete line of agricultural inputs, including crop protection chemicals, organic and sustainable options, fertilizer, seed and technology. It's been family-owned since the beginning, nearly 100 years, and its local expertise, unparalleled knowledge and innovation-driven approach to the agricultural industry gives every Wilbur-Ellis grower the advantage they need for higher yields and a bigger return on investment. For more information on Wilbur-Ellis products, visit

Tuesday March 10 Ag News

2020 NeFU Spring District Meetings Schedule

District 7 Spring Meeting: Perkins, 1229 West Omaha Avenue, Norfolk, NE 68701
Monday, March 16, 2020. 11:30 am Dinner on your own with meeting to follow.
·         District 7 Director Report: Paul Theobald
·         NFU Convention report:  Paul Theobald & John Hansen
·         Federal & State issues updates: John Hansen
·         GO Membership Program
Bring a friend, neighbor or family member.
For more information: Paul Theobald (402) 369-3817 Cell or Art Tanderup (402-) 278-4627 Cell

District 6 Spring Meeting: Jukes Ale Works, 20560 Elkhorn Drive, Elkhorn,Upstairs Room
Monday, April 1, 2020 6:30 pm supper on your own with meeting to follow.
·         District 6 Director’s Report:  Graham Christensen
·         NFU Convention report: Bill Armbrust & John Hansen
·         Federal & State issues updates:  John Hansen
·         GO Membership Program
Bring a friend, neighbor or family member.
For more information: Paul Poppe (402) 380-4508 or Graham Christensen (402) 217-5217

Learning Farms Evaluation Shows Uptick in Conservation Practice Adoption

Iowa Learning Farms recently released its 2019 Evaluation Report detailing the impact of multiple education and outreach initiatives throughout the year.

ILF is a conservation-focused education and outreach program for Iowa farmers and landowners based at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Dedicated to building a culture of conservation, ILF conducted 24 field days, 23 formal presentations, 66 community event appearances and three conferences, reaching 7,800 Iowans.

The evaluation report includes data gathered through on-site comment cards, post-event surveys and an annual survey mailed to all field day participants. The report details the changing demographics of working farmers and landowners in Iowa, increases in conservation practices, and general understanding of different practices among working farmers.

Key statistics from the report include an up year in cover crop plantings – estimated to eclipse 1 million acres in Iowa. Also, 23% of field day attendees were under age 35, 23% were female and 76% of farmers responding to surveys are using between one and five conservation practices (no-till/strip-till, cover crops, extended crop rotation, rotational grazing).

Another notable insight from the evaluation is the reasons farmers gave for implementing these practices. Fifty-one percent listed soil erosion and 36% considered soil heath as top reasons for adoption.

These topics bring farmers and landowners to field days, enabling reinforcement of practice value and introduction of additional approaches that can address their needs and help achieve Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy goals.

“With this report, we are very confident that we are able to portray a fair picture of what field day attendees are doing on their farms as well as what cover crop farmers are doing in general, based on the 62% response rate to our year-end survey and 40% response rate to our post field day surveys,” said Jackie Comito, director of Iowa Learning Farms. “We are thrilled with one bright spot in education where we’ve thoroughly socialized the concept of prairie strips in the farming lexicon, moving the percentage of respondents unfamiliar with the term from 84% in 2017 to just 18% in 2019.”

Many positive trends were seen in 2019, but the data collected was not all good news.

Even with an increase in cover crop acres of 16% over 2018, the growth rate is well below the needed trend to accomplish the Nutrient Reduction Strategy goal of 12 to 14 million acres. The report also reflects that only 10% of the planted acres are from new planters, continuing a five-year trend of declines in new plantings by new farmers.

“It’s encouraging to see the rate of increase in cover crop acres is holding steady, however, the majority of that growth is coming from current cover crop farmers adding more acres,” said Jamie Benning, water quality program manager for ISU Extension and Outreach. “We need to work harder to attract farmers and landowners that have never used cover crops to field days and other conservation events to help them understand the benefits these practices can deliver.”

To view or download the ILF 2019 Evaluation Report, visit

USDA Announces Continued Progress on Implementation of China Phase One Agreement

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that China has continued its progress in implementing the U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement and has taken several additional actions to realize its agriculture-related commitments. The agreement entered into force on February 14, 2020, and the actions announced today build upon the measures announced on February 25. The most recent actions include:
-    Signing a protocol that allows the importation of fresh California nectarines (USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will share details once they are finalized);
-    Conditionally lifting a ban on imports of beef and beef products from animals over 30 months of age (Lifting Restriction on U.S. Beef 30 Months and Over Announcement), subject to other relevant import requirements;
-    Updating lists of facilities approved for exporting dairy, infant formula, seafood, and fish oil and fish meal.

In addition, China’s new tariff exclusion process went into effect on March 2 and importers can now apply for exclusions from retaliatory tariffs (Tariff Exclusion Process Announcement). USDA has published a translation and analysis of China’s guidance for participating in this latest round of exclusions (USDA Report on China’s New Round of Tariff Exclusions). On February 28, China announced new exclusions of U.S. hardwood products; these exclusions were issued under the previous exclusion process (USDA Report on Tariff Exclusions for U.S. Hardwood Products). USDA will continue to closely monitor China’s implementation of the agreement.

“These implementation measures are promising steps showing that China is taking steps to fulfill their purchase commitments,” Secretary Perdue said. “Under President Trump’s leadership, this agreement will produce positive gains for the entire economy, especially our agriculture sector. We look forward to China continuing to achieve their commitments in future months.”

NPPC Seeks Labor Solutions for Potential COVID-19 Impact on Pork Supply Chain

The fallout from an ongoing labor shortage facing the U.S. pork industry and other agriculture sectors could significantly worsen due to the impact of COVID-19, the National Pork Producers Council said in a letter to U.S. government officials today. NPPC's concerns regarding COVID-19 are labor specific. There is no evidence that pigs can contract the virus.

In a letter to the president and other administration officials, members of Congress, and state governors, NPPC called for expedited solutions addressing the need for more workers on hog farms and in pork plants. It also called on federal, state and local governments to work together to develop a response to COVID-19 that protects public health and, whenever possible, supports animal care and minimizes disruptions to the U.S. pork production supply chain and consumers. NPPC also called on the administration to develop support plans for hog farmers if labor-related bottlenecks in the supply chain prevent hogs from being marketed.

"School closures preventing parents from going to work and caring for their animals are already a concern in farm and plant communities," said NPPC President Howard "A.V." Roth, a hog farmer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin. "The specter of market-ready hogs with nowhere to go is a nightmare for every pork producer in the nation. It would result in severe economic fallout in rural communities and a major animal welfare challenge."

The U.S. pork industry relies on foreign labor and needs a stable workforce. Even without the additional challenge presented by COVID-19, the labor shortage threatens to increase production costs and food prices for consumers. Existing visa programs are designed for seasonal agriculture, and reform is needed to address the animal care and other requirements of year-round livestock agriculture.


The US Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service said Monday that it is postponing its scheduled March 16-19 trade mission to Morocco following the detection of coronavirus in that country.

"The World Health Organization is advising the public to avoid traveling to affected countries, and the Moroccan government has suspended all events involving international participants," FAS said in an announcement.

The mission was supposed to focus on boosting U.S. agricultural exports to all of North Africa and will include interested buyers not just from Morocco, but from Algeria, Libya and Tunisia as well.

Ethanol, Farm Groups Respond as Administration Mulls Appeal of Tenth Circuit SRE Ruling

On March 9, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit approved requests by the U.S. Department of Justice, HollyFrontier, and CVR Energy for an extension of the deadline to file motions asking for a rehearing en banc of Renewable Fuels Association et al. v. EPA, in which the Court found EPA vastly exceeded its authority in granting compliance exemptions to three refineries from 2016 and 2018 Renewable Fuel Standard obligations. The new deadline for requesting a rehearing in the Tenth Circuit is March 24.

The petitioners in the case—the Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, American Coalition for Ethanol, and National Farmers Union—offered the following statement:

“We are very disappointed that the Administration has opted to kick the can on deciding whether to appeal the court decision, as all initial indications suggested EPA would not appeal the ruling and would correctly apply the decision nationally. This delay just prolongs uncertainty in the marketplace and stokes more angst and frustration in farm country. Still, we are hopeful the Administration will take this additional time to thoroughly review the court’s well-reasoned, unambiguous decision and carefully consider the adverse consequences of appealing. It is our hope that cooler heads prevail and that the White House reaches the logical conclusion that an appeal is both imprudent and unnecessary. Joining three refineries—who represent less than 1 percent of the nation’s oil refining capacity—in their appeal would be a rash and risky decision for the Administration. In fact, many oil refiners and the American Petroleum Institute have joined farmers and the ethanol industry in opposing an appeal and advocating for nationwide application of the court decision. An appeal by the Administration would be viewed by rural America as a senseless poke in the eye and a breach of the President’s commitments on ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

As EPA continues to mull an appeal, it may come under pressure from small refineries to act on pending retroactive small refinery exemption requests for 2019. EPA may immediately deny pending 2019 exemption petitions that don’t comport with the court’s ruling, but it certainly cannot approve any of the pending petitions within the Tenth Circuit unless they meet the unambiguous requirements for approval laid out by the court. Nationwide application of the Tenth Circuit’s opinion by EPA would in this instance provide a level playing field and help restore stability and certainty to the RIN markets.

In its motion, the Department of Justice stated, “The extension of time is necessary to allow the United States an opportunity to determine whether, and to what extent, the government will file a petition for rehearing en banc in this case.” The motion also acknowledges that the Court decision “…alters EPA’s interpretation and practice, which has been employed in the adjudication of past exemption petitions from many small refineries. The Court’s interpretation…could also have significant practical impacts on the RFS program going forward.” Of course, that the Tenth Circuit’s decision may alter EPA’s practices or have significant practical impacts does not mean the opinion is any less well-reasoned or persuasive—it merely indicates the extent to which EPA had been exceeding its statutory authority.

The petitioners also noted that the Court’s ruling comes less than a month after HollyFrontier announced it had returned $758 million to shareholders in 2019, with $533 million in stock buybacks. CVR Energy told investors it “delivered solid 2019 full-year and fourth quarter results…Our petroleum business again posted increased earnings year-over-year, driven by higher throughput rates, increased capture rates and higher refining margins despite lower crack spreads.” Yet, these are the same companies claiming they have disproportionate economic hardship compared to other refineries. As documented in a recent study by a Colorado State University economist, granting unwarranted exemptions to certain small refineries results in a windfall for their owners and an unlevel playing field in the refining sector.

Fermented Soy Associated with Lower Mortality Risk, According to Study

Will McNair, US Soybean Export Council

Fermented soy products may reduce the risk of premature death, says a recent British Medical Journal (BMJ) observational study. Men and women who ate fermented soy products such as natto, miso, and tempeh had lower rates of cardiovascular disease and early death.

The study followed the diets and health of 92,915 Japanese men and women aged 45 to 74 for an average of 15 years. After controlling for other diet components, hypertension, diabetes, smoking, alcohol intake, and other factors, the researchers found that participants in the highest one-fifth of fermented soy consumption had a 10 percent lower risk of death from any cause compared with those in the lowest one-fifth of fermented soy intake.

Brazil Raises 2019-20 Soybean Forecast to 124.2 MT

Brazilian crop agency Conab raised its forecasts for soybean production for the 2019-20 growing season as good weather in most of the country outweighed a lack of rain in the far south.

Brazilian farmers will grow a record 124.2 million metric tons of soybeans this season, for which harvesting has passed the halfway mark, an increase from the 123.2 million forecast in February. The country grew 115 million tons of soybeans in the 2018-2019 season.

A lack of rain in the southern state of Rio Grando do Sul has led some analysts to cut their forecast of output from the state. Improving weather conditions in Mato Grosso state, Brazil's biggest soybean producer, have boosted output there and helped farmers accelerate their harvesting work.

Improved productivity, and an increase in the area planted will result in Brazil's seventh record crop in 10 years, pushing the South American country past the US in terms of output for the only the second time in history. Brazil's farmers have increased the area planted with soybeans in 13 consecutive seasons.

Brazil's corn production is forecast to rise slightly from last year, even after Conab cut its forecast from February. The country's farmers will grow 100.1 million metric tons of corn in the 2019-2020 season, compared with 100 million tons a year earlier, according to Conab. In February the agency forecast a total corn crop of 100.5 million tons.

U.S. CattleTrace seeks an Executive Director and Program Manager

As U.S. CattleTrace (USCT) transitions from a pilot project to a fully operational business, the organization is expanding. Specifically, USCT is seeking two industry professionals who are passionate about the cattle industry and disease traceability to serve as the executive director and the program manager.

USCT is a private, not-for-profit corporation that was established in 2018 as CattleTrace, Inc. to develop and implement a viable end-to-end cattle disease traceability system, which began as a Kansas-based disease traceability pilot project. In January 2020, state cattlemen’s organizations from major beef producing regions announced a partnership to form U.S. CattleTrace. USCT is led by a 9-member board of directors representing multiple industry sectors and partner states.

The USCT mission is to develop and manage a nationally significant, robust and globally accepted voluntary animal disease traceability system for all cattle entering commerce. This will be accomplished with an industry-led, sustainable, non-profit private enterprise in order to protect the nation’s cattle herd and the U.S. share of the protein market with as little disruption to day-to-day operations as possible.

The USCT Board of Directors seeks an experienced professional with livestock industry expertise and strategic program management to serve as Executive Director and lead USCT in coordination with the U.S. CattleTrace Board and the Industry Advisory Council. An entrepreneurial mindset, proven ability to manage complex projects, outstanding communication skills and partnership development experience are required. A background in fundraising, budgeting, and board management is preferred. An ideal candidate will have a bachelor’s degree in a related area of study.

In addition, the USCT Board of Directors seeks an early career professional with livestock industry experience and exceptional communication skills to serve as a Program Manager. An outgoing personality, attention to detail, and strong interpersonal skills are required. Proficiency in Microsoft Office applications is required and proficiency in InDesign or other design software is preferred. A bachelor’s degree in a related area of study is also preferred.

The USCT staff will be responsible for all aspects of program implementation, including organizational management, administration, fundraising, financial management, communications, database management, and industry partnership development. Specific responsibilities will be assigned by the Board chairman and the newly hired executive director based on individual strengths and experience.

Both positions are full-time and based at the USCT office in Manhattan, Kansas. Both positions will require travel and engagement in producer activities on weekends and evenings as needed.

To be considered, a resume, cover letter and list of references should be sent to U.S. CattleTrace at by the priority deadline of April 1 or until the positions are filled. Full job descriptions can be found on the website under the News section at

Dairy Farmer Testifies Before House Subcommittee on Importance of Expanding Exports Opportunities and Fair Rules

Connecticut dairy farmer, James “Cricket” Jacquier, testified today before the House Committee on Agriculture’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture in order to provide a dairy stakeholder perspective on agricultural trade. Jacquier is Chairman of the Board for Agri-Mark, a dairy cooperative comprised of 850 farm families across New England and New York. Agri-Mark is a member of the National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council, which work together to advance dairy trade policy for the industry.

In his testimony, Jacquier urged Congress to work with the Administration to use negotiating resources wisely to target important agricultural markets and create greater access for U.S. dairy products with key trading partners. He noted that careful and proactive attention to the implementation and enforcement of negotiated trade agreements, such as USMCA, will be critical in the coming year, emphasizing in particular the importance of ironing out details pertaining to new export access and Class 7 related dairy policy reforms with Canada, and common cheese name safeguards with Mexico as USMCA progresses.

Regarding GIs, Jacquier also raised concerns with the European Union’s (EU) efforts to misuse geographical indication to instead confiscate common food names, such as parmesan, feta and asiago, as well as wine and meat terms.

“America’s dairy farmers applaud the certainty that lowered tariffs and fairly negotiated trade agreements bring to our industry. However, if we cannot combat outrageous nontariff barriers, such as those the EU is manufacturing to block the export of American-made cheeses, these trade wins can ring hollow. The EU’s stance on common food names is a protectionist and anti-trade policy and it must be firmly rejected by Congress and by U.S. trade officials at every turn,” Jacquier said.

Dairy farmers, manufacturers and rural communities rely on the economic benefits provided by dairy exports. In 2019, America’s dairy industry exported more than $6 billion in dairy products ranging from cheese to ice cream to milk powders. Trade disputes and a lack of market access comparable to our competitors has significantly harmed the dairy industry, contributing to a 15% decline in dairy farms over the past two years, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

Irrigation professionals promote efficient irrigation in Washington, D.C.

On March 3-4, approximately 30 irrigation professionals representing all facets of the irrigation industry descended on Washington, D.C., to advocate on behalf of the irrigation industry during the Irrigation Association’s 2020 Washington, DC Fly-In.

Again this year, the IA partnered with the National Ground Water Association and the Water Quality Association to host the Water Resources Congressional Summit in conjunction with the IA’s fly-in. This is the fourth year that the IA has co-hosted the summit along with the NGWA and WQA. The summit brought in more than 100 water professionals from across the United States to highlight policies that affect the accessibility of clean water for all uses. During the summit, attendees heard from the Environmental Protection Agency’s assistant administrator for water, David Ross, as well as congressional staff members and other water policy experts.

“This year marked the highest attendance we’ve ever had for a Washington, D.C., fly-in,” said IA Government and Public Affairs Director John Farner. “I’m thrilled to see our membership so excited and dedicated to promoting efficient irrigation through sound policies and legislation.”

IA members met with more than 50 congressional offices, advocating for legislation affecting labor, agricultural water use, WaterSense and other issues.

“Our job now is to build on the great work done by the IA membership in telling their personal stories to their elected officials,” continued Farner. “Through continued support of grassroots advocacy, I’m excited about what the future holds for our industry.”

In addition to the summit and congressional meetings, the IA co-hosted a water resources briefing with the NGWA for congressional staff on March 4. Focusing on agricultural water use and the effect of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances on groundwater, more than 30 congressional staff members attended the briefing.

Monday March 9 Ag News


Specialty crops, like fruits, vegetables, hops and honey, add value and diversity to Nebraska agriculture, the state’s number one industry. That’s why the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) encourages growers and outdoor pesticide applicators to work together to protect sensitive commercial specialty crops and pollinators from pesticides. Pesticides include all categories of pest control products such as herbicides, insecticides and fungicides.

“Specialty crops are one way for Nebraska farm and ranch families to diversify and grow their agriculture businesses,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman. “In order to protect and support specialty crop producers and agriculture in Nebraska, growers and pesticide applicators need to communicate with one another throughout the planting and growing season to raise awareness of specialty crops and beehives in the area.”

DriftWatch™ and BeeCheck™ are online mapping services from FieldWatch that allow those with commercial specialty crops, organic crops and beehives to report their field locations. Farmers and other pesticide applicators can review the map to see where specialty crops are located. Included in the registry are commercial apiary sites, vineyards, orchards, fruit and vegetable grow sites, nursery and Christmas tree production sites and certified organic and transitional organic crops.

These online mapping services help satisfy requirements concerning restricted use pesticide (RUP) dicamba products. Pesticide applicators planning to use RUP dicamba products are required to complete online training and locate specialty crops in the area before using RUP dicamba products. Online pesticide applicator training is available through Nebraska Extension.

In Nebraska, 927 growers have registered a total of 2,007 specialty crop and apiary sites on FieldWatch™. Those sites are currently found in 80 of Nebraska’s 93 counties, and contain over 105,000 acres of specialty crops.

Registration is voluntary, free, easy to use and secure. Pesticide applicators can view the map, sign up for free email alerts and get the free FieldCheck™ app, or receive direct data feeds or downloads. NDA monitors the FieldWatch™ registries for the state. Information about FieldCheck™, DriftWatch™ and BeeCheck™ can be found at, or by calling Craig Romary, NDA Program Specialist, at 402-471-2351.

Eight Nebraskans Attend NFU 118th Convention in Savannah, Georgia   

Eight Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) members attended the National Farmers Union (NFU) Convention March 1-3, 2020 in Savannah, Georgia. The five delegates representing Nebraska were:  Ben Gotschall, Raymond; Shannon Graves, Bradshaw; Bill Armbrust, Elkhorn; Paul Theobald, Osmond; NeFU Vice President Vern Jantzen, Plymouth; and NeFU President John Hansen, Lincoln. NeFU Membership Associate Matt Gregory and Farmers Union Insurance General Manager Jeffrey Downing also attended.

Delegates to the convention adopted the NFU Policy Book and six special orders of business. Before the policy review began, they elected Rob Larew to succeed Roger Johnson as the organization’s president and re-elected Patty Edelburg of Scandinavia, Wisconsin, to serve as NFU Vice President. Convention attendees heard remarks from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue who did not stay to answer questions. NFU President Roger Johnson delivered his final State of the Farmers Union address, offering an overview of his 11-year-long tenure and an optimistic outlook for the organization’s future. Additionally, the convention featured a panel on black land loss and voting rights and breakout sessions on precision agriculture, the history of grassroots organizing, regenerative farming, farm to table, and hemp production.

NeFU President John Hansen said, “We wish retiring NFU President Roger Johnson and his wife Anita the very best in their retirement. Roger left NFU in far better shape after his eleven years of outstanding leadership. We welcome incoming President Rob Larew and look forward to working with him for farm and ranch families in the years to come. The delegates very much enjoyed the Southern charm of Savannah and are looking forward to the convention in San Francisco next year. This year’s convention gave our delegates the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of issues, broaden their perspectives, and meet people from different locations who share their values and commitment to family farm agriculture.”

In addition to updating NFU’s policy, the 199 delegates from 33 states approved 6 Special Orders of Business:
– Family Farming and 2020: A Most Challenging Year
– Family Farming and the 2020 Election
– Family Farming and Cooperatives
– Family Farming and Climate Change
– Family Farming and Dairy Policy Reform
– Family Farming and Truth in Labeling and Promotion of Meat Products

Full text of the adopted policy manual will be available soon at

The 2021 National Farmers Union Convention will be held in San Francisco, California on February 28 – March 2.


Keith Berns, chair, has scheduled a meeting of the Healthy Soils Task Force for Thursday, March 12, 2020. The meeting will begin at 1:00 p.m. at the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, 301 Centennial Mall South, 4th Floor, Lincoln, NE 68509.

Task Force members will be discussing next steps in developing a healthy soils initiative and action plan for the state of Nebraska.

For an agenda and more details, call the Nebraska Department of Agriculture at (402) 471-2341 or visit

Nebraska Dairy Industry Convened in Columbus for Annual Convention and Dairy Farms Awarded

Hundreds of representatives from across the dairy industry convened at the Ramada by Wyndham Columbus Hotel and Conference Center in Columbus, Nebraska on February 25, 2020, to participate in the 2020 Nebraska Dairy Convention.

The convention opened with a trade show where attendees learned from industry experts on various topics including a session on updates to Farmers Assuring Responsible Management version (FARM) 4.0. Midwest Dairy’s CEO Molly Pelzer outlined checkoff’s key strategies to drive sales and trust, concluding with a panel outlining checkoff’s roll in navigating animal activism.

The afternoon included the Nebraska State Dairy Association (NSDA) annual meeting, a session on Optimizing Your Robotic Milking System sponsored by Automated Dairy Systems, and a Dairy Girl Network event focused on cyber security. Convention attendees enjoyed an ice cream bar, wine and cheese reception, and an evening banquet and awards ceremony recognizing producers and key industry people in Nebraska. To conclude the day, attendees heard 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 following producers and key industry people were recognized as 2020 Award Winners.
Nebraska Dairy Princess was awarded to Anna Ready of Scribner and princess runner up was awarded to Taylor Larson of Creston
Philip H. Cole Dairy Industry Person of the Year was awarded to Senator Dave Murman of Glenvil, Nebraska
Holstein Association Service to Industry Award was awarded to Dennis Traeger

Somatic Cell Count Quality Awards
First Place -Broken Bow Dairy with an average Somatic Cell Count (SCC) of 114,000
Second Place- Hochstein Dairy with an average SCC of 124,000
Third Place -Double Dutch Dairy-East with an average SCC of 126,000

Herd Production Award -Holstein Division
First Place- Broken Bow Dairy
Second Place- Steffview Dairy
Third Place- Roger Sprakel

Herd Production Award- Cross Bred Division
First Place- Nuttleman Dairy
Second Place- Crook Dairy
Third Place-Classic Dairy Inc.   

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

Second NCTA dean candidate visit is March 16

The second of three candidates being considered for the position of dean at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis will present a public seminar on Monday.

The public is invited to attend the 3:45 p.m. seminar to be presented on March 16 by Dr. Clyde Cranwell of Hays, Kansas.

The seminar will be in the auditorium of the Nebraska Agriculture Industry Education Center, followed by a public reception at 5:30 p.m., said Tiffany Heng-Moss, who leads the 12-member NCTA Dean Search Committee.

Dr. Heng-Moss is the dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Cranwell is chair of the Department of Agriculture and University Farm Superintendent at Fort Hays State University.

From 1999 to 2006, Cranwell was chair of Agriculture Production Systems (APS) and coached the Aggie Livestock Judging Team at NCTA in Curtis.

He also has been a faculty member working with equine and thoroughbred racing programs at Morrisville State College in Morrisville, New York; and in animal science and livestock judging programs at Oklahoma Panhandle State University in Goodwell, Oklahoma.

Cranwell's family roots are in grain and livestock production in Northeastern Colorado and Southeastern Wyoming. His research interests are in beef cattle nutrition and management, as well as biomechanics of movement in horses and cattle.

More information and his curriculum vitae is available at

On Wednesday (March 11), students, faculty, staff, alumni and the campus community will meet Dr. Larry Gossen, the first candidate to present a campus seminar. Gossen is a State FFA advisor with the Nebraska Department of Education and is based in Lincoln.

NCTA is a part of the University of Nebraska system, and was established in 1967 as a post-secondary institution. It was established by the Nebraska Legislature in 1912 to serve as a residential high school.

Currently, the NCTA campus has 20 faculty, 40 staff, 240 college students at campus plus 92 online students with high school dual credit classes.

A 550-acre teaching farm with commercial crops and production livestock creates a hub for hands-on, experiential courses for NCTA students as well as many Nebraska partners in agricultural and veterinary health industries, Nebraska Extension, and 4-H and FFA programming.

A national search for the NCTA dean was launched in December, following the retirement of Dr. Ron Rosati in August. He left NCTA to become a senior advisor in developing a new agricultural college, Rwanda Conservation Agriculture in Kigali, Rwanda, which opened in September.

Dr. Kelly Bruns has been serving in the capacity of interim dean.  Bruns also is director of UNL’s West Central Research and Extension Center based in North Platte where he oversees a 24-county region in southwest Nebraska.

NCTA emphasizes workforce development in agriculture, agribusiness and veterinary technology.  Students can earn associate degrees, certificates and other credentials.

A third dean candidate, Dr. Darrel Sandall, will visit campus on March 19.


Welcome to Pocket Science: a glimpse at recent research from University of Nebraska–Lincoln scientists and engineers. For those who want to quickly learn the “What,” “So what” and “Now what” of Husker research.

Feeding the growing global population for years to come will require keeping farmlands healthy and resilient.

Scientists in the field of agricultural sustainability and agroecology are at the forefront of this challenge, developing new methods for preventing soil erosion, maintaining clean water and more.

Nebraska’s Andrea Basche and colleagues administered a 28-question survey to agricultural sustainability scientists across the country to gauge their opinions on the current strengths and weaknesses of the field.

Respondents expressed high levels of satisfaction in their relationships with community members and local producers. Interest from students and research communities were also cited as positive factors in their work.

Lack of research funding, entrenched financial interests and political partisanship were the top perceived obstacles listed by scientists. Those surveyed also expressed difficulties in communicating their findings beyond academia to the media and policymakers.

With strong support for sustainable ag practices across demographics, Basche and her colleagues are optimistic about the future of the field. They also see opportunity for improvement in encouraging and preparing scientists to share their research results on a broader scale.

To read the study, visit

Managing Residual Herbicides with Cover Crops

Bob Hartzler – ISU Professor of Agronomy and Meahgan  Anderson – ISU Field Agronomist

A common question when incorporating cover crops into a production system is, will the cover crop interfere with the performance of residual herbicides included with the burndown treatment? This article will discuss the fate of residual herbicides applied to crop residue and living cover crops, and how this may influence herbicide effectiveness.
Crop residue and residual herbicides

Considerable research has evaluated the fate of herbicide intercepted by crop residue present on the soil surface in conservation tillage systems. Agricultural Engineers at Iowa State (Baker and Shiers, 1989) determined 70-90% of preemergence herbicides was washed off corn residue with 2.7 inches of rain, with the majority coming off in the first 0.6 inch of rain. There were small differences in washoff of different herbicides. This research indicates that herbicide interception by dead plant material isn’t a major concern.
Cover crops and residual herbicides
While herbicide interception by dead plant material isn’t a major concern, interception by living plants could be a concern. Weed scientists at the University of Missouri (Whalen et al. 2020) studied how cover crop termination timing affected the quantity of sulfentrazone reaching the soil. Several cover crop species were established in the fall, and a combination of 2,4-D and glyphosate was applied either 21 or 7 days before soybean planting to terminate the cover crops. Authority Maxx (sulfentrazone plus chlorimuron) was included in the burndown mixture to provide residual weed control. The concentration of sulfentrazone in the upper five inches of the soil profile was measured immediately after application and throughout the growing season to determine the impact of interception by cover crops on the availability of residual herbicides.

Averaged over cover crop species, there was approximately a 50% increase in biomass between the early and late termination dates. This increase in biomass between termination dates reduced the amount of sulfentrazone directly reaching the soil by more than 50%. Sulfentrazone soil concentrations declined by about 5% in both termination dates during the first 28 days following application, suggesting sulfentrazone intercepted by the large cover crops (late termination date) was not released into the soil as the cover crop degraded. The reduced availability of sulfentrazone was reflected in waterhemp control, with a 20% reduction in control between the early and late termination dates.

Managing residual herbicides with cover crops

So how do we best integrate residual herbicides with cover crops? If cover crops are terminated early (less than 12-18 inches in height), residual herbicides should be included with the burndown application since there isn’t enough cover crop biomass to significantly suppress weeds. While a portion of the residual herbicide will be intercepted by cover crops with early termination dates, small cover crop plants break down quickly and it is likely some of the intercepted herbicide will reach the soil. 

As termination is delayed and more cover crop biomass accumulates, the answer isn’t quite as simple. In fields with dense, uniform cover crop biomass, omitting the residual herbicide from the termination application and including it with the postemergence application may be advantageous. In this scenario the cover crop biomass can provide effective early-season weed control, replacing the residual herbicide applied at planting. Unfortunately, many fields have uneven stands of cover crop where there are areas with insufficient cover crop biomass to control weeds. Due to the risks of escaped weeds and increased selection pressure for herbicide resistance associated with total postemergence programs, including a residual product in fields lacking uniform stands of cover crops will be necessary.

Rapid Start to 2020 for U.S. Pork Exports; Beef Exports also Trend Higher

Following a record-breaking performance in 2019, U.S. pork exports maintained a torrid pace in January, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). January beef exports were also higher year-over-year, while exports of U.S. lamb trended lower.

January pork exports cooled slightly from the volume and value records established in December 2019, but still far exceeded year-ago levels. Both the January export volume of 273,603 metric tons (mt), up 36% year-over-year, and export value ($738.7 million, up 50%) were the second highest on record. Export value per head slaughtered was $62.53, up 40% from a year ago. Exports accounted for 29.8% of total pork production and 27.4% for muscle cuts only, up substantially from last January's percentages (23.6% and 20.3%, respectively).

Beef exports posted more modest growth in January, increasing 2.5% from a year ago in volume (107,374 mt) and 5% in value ($672.7 million). But beef muscle cut exports were the highest ever for the month of January at 81,342 mt, up 4% from a year ago, while muscle cut value increased 5% to $589.2 million. Export value per head of fed slaughter was $302.93, up 3% from a year ago. Exports accounted for 13.1% of total beef production, down slightly from a year ago, and 10.6% for muscle cuts only (steady with January 2019).

Release of the January export data comes as coronavirus is dominating news headlines, including those related to global trade. USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom said the virus has had an impact on red meat exports, which will likely be more evident in February and March data, but a number of supply and demand fundamentals and market access improvements have underpinned continued strong export volumes.

"The first quarantine actions in China were taken in late January and the calendar had turned to February before coronavirus became a major health concern in countries such as South Korea and Japan," Halstrom said. "But despite logistical challenges, a severe decline in tourism and a notable impact on sit-down dining, overall demand for red meat in these markets is quite resilient. Retail meat sales have remained strong and both retailers and restaurateurs are utilizing e-commerce and delivery services at unprecedented levels. While it's definitely a challenging situation, the Asian food industry is adapting to these conditions and finding creative ways to accommodate consumers."

Pork exports to China/Hong Kong soar, but it's not the only star performer

Pork exports to China/Hong Kong continued on a blistering pace in January, easing somewhat from the record volume reached in December but still increasing 263% from a year ago to 97,002 mt and climbing 361% in value to $245.3 million. The year-over-year increase was even more astonishing for pork muscle cuts, which were up 814% to 76,281 mt, valued at $194.7 million (up 1,297%). January exports included a significant share of carcasses (boxed primals), which totaled 35,358 mt, up from zero last year. Exports of bone-in hams and shoulders were 7,750 mt, up 569%.

Exports to Mexico, which were hampered by retaliatory duties in the first five months of 2019, increased 6% from a year ago in volume (70,460 mt) and jumped an impressive 40% in value to $134.7 million. Chilled bone-in ham and shoulder cuts remained the largest category for Mexico, totaling 42,542 mt, up 11% from last year and accounting for 75% of the chilled/frozen cut volume. Unit export values for pork cuts exported to Mexico were up 36% from last January.

"The January data really underscore the difficult situation U.S. pork was facing in Mexico a year ago," Halstrom said. "Exporters kept much of the volume moving, but the U.S. industry absorbed most of the 20% duty in the form of lower prices. With duty-free access restored and the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement moving toward implementation, we look forward to a continued rebound in Mexico's demand for U.S. pork."

January shipments to Japan, the perennial value leader for U.S. pork exports, were down 4% from a year ago in volume (31,578 mt) and 2% lower in value ($132.6 million). But Japanese import data paint a brighter picture, showing imports of chilled U.S. pork were up 13% to 17,890 mt. Imports of ground seasoned pork were record-large at 12,944 mt, up 95%, illustrating the importance of a restored level tariff playing field. USMEF projects an upward trend in Japan in 2020, due in part to tariff relief provided in the new U.S.-Japan trade agreement. The next round of tariff reductions will come April 1, when the Japanese fiscal year begins.

Other January highlights for U.S. pork exports include:

-    Exports to Oceania, which were record-large in 2019, continued to climb, reaching 11,961 mt (up 29% year-over-year) valued at $38.5 million (up 55%). Exports to Australia set a new record in January, reaching 10,723 mt (up 29%) valued at $34.1 million (up 53%). Australia and New Zealand are key markets for hams and other muscle cuts used for further processing and value-added U.S. processed products are also rapidly gaining popularity.
-    Pork exports to Canada were 18,767 mt in January, up 16% from year ago, while value increased 14% to $66.2 million. Canada's pork exports to China resumed in November after a five-month suspension, so tighter domestic supplies should translate to expanded opportunities for U.S. pork again in 2020.
-    Exports to Vietnam, where domestic production has been heavily impacted by African swine fever, increased 137% from a year ago to 1,105 mt, valued at $2.1 million (up 23%). Vietnam's demand for U.S. pork variety meat increased significantly in the second half of 2019 and that trend continued, with variety meat exports accounting for 44% (490 mt) of the January volume.

Taiwan, Mexico lead January beef export growth

The value of U.S. beef exports to Taiwan was record-high for the seventh consecutive year in 2019, and exports are off to a great start in 2020. January exports to Taiwan increased 24% from a year ago to 5,226 mt, valued at $43.5 million (up 18%). The United States dominates Taiwan's chilled beef export market, capturing 75% market share last year and 83% in January 2020.

"The Taiwanese market is a remarkable success story for U.S. beef, especially for a country with fewer than 25 million residents," Halstrom said. "U.S. beef has an ever-widening footprint in Taiwan that goes way beyond high-end dining and retail. By introducing a wider range of cuts, the U.S. industry and its importers and customers are finding new ways - including exciting new retail packaging and merchandising techniques - to capitalize on growing demand in Taiwan and make U.S. beef available to more and more consumers."

January beef shipments to Mexico were up 4% from a year ago to 21,992 mt, while value jumped 15% to $117.2 million. Mexico is the largest destination for beef variety meat exports, which increased 9% to 9,438 mt, valued at $26.7 million (up 14%).

Coming off a record year in 2019, exports to South Korea remained strong in January, though volume was down slightly from a year ago (17,794 mt, down 1%) and value dipped 3% to $130.6 million. However, U.S. beef continues to capture greater market share in Korea and the outlook remains positive for export growth in 2020, despite Korea's current economic challenges.

Beef exports to leading market Japan, which are also benefiting from lower tariff rates this year, declined 3% from a year ago in January to 25,205 mt, valued at $158.1 million (down 5%). On a more positive note, import data show chilled beef volume to Japan increased 14% to 10,686 mt. The tariff rate for U.S. beef muscle cuts dropped from 38.5% to 26.6% on Jan. 1 and will decline to 25.8% on April 1, the same rates imposed on major competitors in Japan.

Other January highlights for U.S. beef exports include:

-    Exports to the Middle East jumped 16% to 6,464 mt, valued at $17 million (up 12%). Variety meat exports to Egypt (primarily livers) make up most of the U.S. export volume to the region, but January results were also bolstered by larger muscle cut exports to Israel and Saudi Arabia.
-    Led by steady growth in the Dominican Republic and a large increase in the Bahamas, exports to the Caribbean were up 3% from a year ago to 2,212 mt, while value increased 15% to $16.3 million.
-    Beef exports to China continue to develop, with January volume reaching 876 mt (up 7% year-over-year) valued at $6.5 million (up 4%). However, the market access gains included in the U.S.-China Phase One agreement have not yet been implemented. This agreement will significantly expand the percentage of U.S. beef eligible for export to China and holds outstanding potential for the U.S. industry.

January lamb exports trend lower, but muscle cut value rises

January exports of U.S. lamb were down 31% from a year ago to 959 mt, but value declined only slightly ($2.1 million, down 1%) as lamb muscle cuts commanded better prices. January muscle cut exports were down 12% from a year ago to 215 mt, yet value increased 10% to $1.3 million. Muscle cut value growth was mainly driven by Mexico, but also increased to Bermuda, Jamaica and Egypt.

January U.S. Ethanol Net Exports and DDGS Shipments Surge

Ann Lewis, Senior Analyst, Renewable Fuels Assoc.
U.S. ethanol exports accelerated to a fifteen-month high in January, increasing 3% to 151.2 million gallons (mg), according to data issued today by the government and analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). Brazil purchased nearly twice as much U.S. ethanol as in December, solidly outpacing shipments to Canada.

Two-thirds of all U.S. ethanol exports in January landed in Brazil (58.2 mg, +89%), Canada (24.8 mg, -22%), and India (13.3 mg, -52%). U.S. shippers also sent sizable volumes to the Netherlands (12.9 mg, +19%) and South Korea (12.6 mg, -19%). January’s export pace is equivalent to an annualized export volume of 1.8 billion gallons.

Shipments of U.S. undenatured fuel ethanol leapt to the highest volume since April 2018, up 40% to 95.7 mg. The majority was imported by Brazil (58.2 mg, or 61% of the January undenatured export market) with most of the remaining volumes secured by the Netherlands (12.9 mg), India (11.7 mg), and the Philippines (6.3 mg).

Sales of U.S. denatured fuel ethanol eased to a three-month low of 48.1 mg, 37% below December volumes. Canada reduced its purchases by 23% to 23.6 mg, yet it still captured half of denatured exports. South Korea (10.4 mg), Peru (7.3 mg), and Colombia (2.5 mg) were other large markets.

Exports of U.S. ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage purposes bounced back, nearly quadrupling to 7.5 mg. Most product shipped to Nigeria (4.0 mg undenatured) and Colombia (1.4 mg undenatured).

There were essentially no U.S. imports on record in January following a seven-month stretch of shipments.

U.S. exports of dried distillers grains (DDGS)—the animal feed co-product generated by dry mill ethanol plants—increased by 27% in January to 976,688 metric tons (mt). Sales to Mexico rallied after a December dip, rising 19% to 169,854 mt and capturing 17% of the global market. Shippers exported 129,058 mt to South Korea (+3%), 115,632 mt to Indonesia (+21% to a record high), and 86,334 mt to Turkey (up from zero in December). The remaining half of DDGS exports were dispersed among another thirty-two countries, to include Thailand (72,725 mt), Vietnam (55,393 mt), and Japan (52,912). January DDGS sales imply an annualized export volume of 11.7 million mt.

USDA Seeks Nominees for United Sorghum Checkoff Program Board

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is seeking nominees for the United Sorghum Checkoff Program board to fill five vacant producer positions, including one to represent Kansas, one to represent Texas and three at-large positions. The deadline for nominations is May 11, 2020.

Any U.S. sorghum producer who owns or shares in the ownership and risk of loss of sorghum can be considered for nomination. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue will select individuals from the nominations submitted by Certified Producer Organizations. A list of Certified Producer Organizations and the nomination form are available on the AMS United Sorghum Checkoff Program webpage.

The 13-member United Sorghum Checkoff Program Board was established to maintain and expand the market for sorghum. For more information about the board, visit,, or contact Barbara Josselyn at (202) 690-2611,, fax (202) 720-1125 or mail Research and Promotion Division, Livestock and Poultry Program; AMS, USDA, Room 2610-S, STOP 0251; 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-0251.

USDA and HHS Announce Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Meeting Will be Held Online

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in coordination with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced today that the fifth meeting of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, originally scheduled to be held in Washington, DC, later this week, will move to an online-only format out of an abundance of caution in response to travel restrictions imposed by some of the members' employers. There will be no changes to the timing or content of the meeting, and the public will still be able to view the discussions online.

The meeting will be held on Thursday, March 12, 2020 and Friday, March 13, 2020, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., EDT. For more information on the meeting, and to access the links to view online, please visit As previously announced, the meeting will include presentations by each subcommittee, deliberation by the full committee, and discussion of the committee’s plans to finalize its work. This will be the final meeting before the committee publicly shares their draft report, scheduled for May 11, also online.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans serves as the cornerstone of federal nutrition programs and policies, providing food-based recommendations that help prevent diet-related chronic diseases and promote overall health. According to the National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act of 1990, the guidelines are mandated to reflect the preponderance of scientific evidence and are published jointly by USDA and HHS every five years.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) 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 co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans with the HHS Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

Friday March 6 Ag News

Platte Valley Cattlemen Feedlot Meeting March 16
Brandon Groteluschen, PVC President

The Platte Valley Cattlemen would like to invite you to our Feedlot Meeting Monday, March 16, 2020, at Wunderlich’s Catering in Columbus. Social hour will begin at 6:00 sponsored by Settje Agri Services and Engineering. Meal will begin at 7:00 sponsored by Kit Held Trucking/ Kit Held Seed and Chemical.

We will hear a quick few updates and news from Settje Agri Services and Engineering on projects going on.

Our main speaker will be Adam Wolfe from Performance Beef on the topic of tracking rations on an ipad in the feed wagon.

We look forward to seeing you March 16, 2020!

Nebraska Farm Bureau Leaders Visit Washington, D.C. to Talk About Trade, Protecting Livestock Production, Rural Broadband, and Estate Taxes

Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) leaders stressed four key issues facing Nebraska farmers and ranchers, international trade, protecting livestock production, rural broadband, and continued estate tax reform, during an annual National Legislative Fly-In to the nation’s capital March 1-4.

“It’s important for us to travel to Washington, D.C. to express our views to Nebraska’s Congressional delegation in order to put a face and a voice to policy issues and have Nebraska farmers and ranchers tell their stories,” Steve Nelson, NEFB president said, March 6.

NEFB board members, who are all active farmers and ranchers, expressed gratitude to Nebraska’s delegation and the Trump administration for successfully passing the U.S.-Mexico- Canada Agreement (USMCA) and for securing deals with Japan and China. But with the farm economy still struggling, the need to expand agricultural markets continues.

“We urged our delegation and the Trump administration to work to expand market access for U.S. agriculture products in other areas of the world, including the European Union, the United Kingdom, India, and Africa, as exports will likely remain the main avenue to grow U.S. farm and ranch income. We spoke with a trade representative at the Kenya Embassy and talked about expanding our trading relationship including exporting more wheat, which would be a plus for western Nebraska farmers,” Nelson said.

Estate taxes was another discussion point during the fly-in. Nebraska farm and ranch families shouldn’t be forced to pay a substantial tax bill simply due to the death of a family member. The tax code reform package passed a few years ago temporarily doubled the federal estate tax exemption from $5.5 million to $11 million through 2025. This exemption increase however, loses its value if farmland isn’t fairly assessed for tax purposes.

“Sections of the tax code, which allow farmers and ranchers to reduce the land’s valuation to its productive rather than its development value, have not kept up with current trends in the price of farmland. We asked our delegation to permanently increase this valuation reduction, which would help farmers and ranchers avoid paying estate taxes which have the ability to cause financial harm on multigenerational farms and ranches,” Nelson said.

Animal agriculture continues to be in the crosshairs of radical environmentalists, and animal rights activists. Opponents of the livestock industry continue to push to eliminate meat from the diet of Americans and consumers. NEFB board members praised Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer’s introduction of the Real MEAT Act, which clarifies the definition of beef for labeling purposes and eliminates consumer confusion.

“The protection of Nebraska’s livestock sector has and will always be a priority for Nebraska Farm Bureau. This includes support for Sen. Fischer’s bill and support for the new science of genetically editing livestock and plants, which shows great promise for the future of agriculture,” Nelson said.

Nebraska Farm Bureau leaders also talked about the need to improve broadband coverage in rural Nebraska. Farm Bureau supports the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) efforts to roll out their Rural Digital Opportunity Fund and a concept introduced by Microsoft to open TV white space so that it can be utilized to provide expanded broadband coverage throughout the U.S.

“Farmers and ranchers rely on broadband access to manage and run successful businesses and will be left behind if they are without affordable high-speed internet,” Nelson said.

Those attending the Washington, D.C. Fly-In were:
Steve Nelson, president, Nebraska Farm Bureau-Kearney/Franklin County
Bill Baldwin, second vice president, Nebraska Farm Bureau-Scotts Bluff County
Dennis Beethe, southeast region, NEFB representative-Johnson County
David Grimes, south central region, NEFB representative-Kearney/Franklin County
Dave Nielsen, at-large, NEFB representative-Lancaster County
Marty Stewart, northeast region, NEFB representative-Dixon County

Nebraska Soybean Board, United Soybean Board seek leaders to represent NE soybean farmers

The Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) is seeking individuals to represent fellow soybean farmers and the industry as it takes nominations for its own board and the United Soybean Board (USB).

United Soybean Board

The USB is seeking a Nebraska soybean farmer to fill one of the state’s four director positions for a three-year term. The deadline to apply is March 15.

Nebraska Soybean Board

The NSB is seeking board members to represent District 5 (Cass, Johnson, Lancaster, Nemaha, Otoe, Pawnee, and Richardson counties), District 7 (Adams, Buffalo, Clay, Franklin, Hall, Kearney, Nuckolls and Webster counties) and At-Large (all counties in Nebraska). Applicants would serve a three-year term beginning Oct. 1 this year. The deadline to apply is April 15.

To get more information on either of these opportunities, contact NSB’s executive director, Victor Bohuslavsky, at 402-432-5720. 

IRFA to President Trump: Appealing 10th Circuit Decision Jeopardizes Commitment to RFS, Support in Rural America

Today several media sources are reporting that in response to the 10th Circuit Court decision from earlier this year – which unanimously found EPA abused their authority when granting Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) refinery exemptions granted in recent years illegal – that the Trump Administration intends to join petroleum companies in an appeal of the decision.

In response to these reports, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw made the following statement:

“If not changed, this would go down as one of the worst decisions I’ve seen in 20 years of biofuels policy. When you have a unanimous panel decision, the full 10th Circuit only accepts about 1% of appeals for a rehearing and almost never overturns the original decision. So in return for literally no chance to change this straight-forward and common-sense decision, Trump is on the verge of outraging every farm and biofuel group in the country. We could have had a fairly uneventful year for RFS policy heading toward November, but this action would seriously threaten Trump’s reputation in rural states. If the stakes weren’t so important, it would almost be humorous to watch Sen. Cruz hoodwink the White House again.  He’s misled them on refinery profits, on the cost of RINs, on the reasons a Pennsylvania refinery was in economic trouble, and even on his own re-election chances. The president needs to have another talk with his team before he lets Ted Cruz burn him and his best allies across rural America.

“Further, if President Trump makes the mistake of joining the oil companies’ appeal, he sure better direct the EPA to hold off on adjudicating the pending 2019 refinery exemption requests while the legal action plays out. If they use a fruitless appeal as cover to grant a bunch of 2019 exemptions – essentially illegal exemptions that would reduce the effective RFS level below 15 billion gallons for 2019 – then it would be a clear violation of President Trump’s commitment that 15 billion gallons will be 15 billion gallons. Such a scheme would provoke an intense response in farm country that is still hurting from previous refinery exemptions, trades wars and now the global impacts of the coronavirus.”

USDA Announces Action Plan at Pork Forum

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, Greg Ibach today announced additional measures to control and eradicate African Swine Fever (ASF) if the virus is ever detected in the U.S.

“First and foremost, USDA is committed to doing all it can to prevent ASF from entering the U.S. and we greatly appreciate the pork industry’s vigilance and partnership in this successful effort thus far,” said Under Secretary Ibach. “However, the additional measures I am announcing today will strengthen our ability to quickly and effectively respond to the disease if detected here at home.”

USDA is prepared to implement the following measures to help ensure an immediate and effective response if ASF is detected in the U.S.:
·         The Secretary would immediately take necessary steps to declare an “extraordinary emergency” establishing USDA as the leader of a coordinated national approach to control and eradication, and ensuring the availability of funding and additional resources necessary for the response. 
·         USDA would issue a national standstill of at least 72 hours to prohibit all movement of swine increasing USDA’s ability to stop disease spread and to act quickly to restore movement on a regionalized basis.
·         For the depopulation of infected and exposed animals, USDA would work with states and industry to utilize the most efficient and effective depopulation methods approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association that are appropriate for the affected premises. 
·         To prevent virus from leaving infected premises, USDA will work proactively with industry and states to ensure producers have herd plans to deal with carcass disposal in line with regional and local requirements, supporting composting and burial in place as preferred options.
·         To reduce paperwork, USDA plans to pay for virus elimination at a uniform, flat rate, based on the size of affected premises.

USDA researchers are developing vaccine candidates that show promise against ASF. Meanwhile, USDA will continue to work with industry and state partners to keep ASF out of the U.S.

“ASF is epidemiologically similar to foot-and-mouth disease and USDA’s system of overlapping safeguards and prevention efforts have been successful against that disease for over 90 years now,” said Ibach. “We remain confident those efforts will provide the same protections against ASF.”

Note: ASF is a highly contagious and deadly viral disease affecting both domestic and feral (wild) pigs that has not been detected in the U.S. ASF does not affect human health and cannot be transmitted from pigs to humans.

NPPC Reaction to USDA Announced ASF Response Plan

At the National Pork Industry Forum today, USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach announced an African swine fever (ASF) action plan should the swine-only disease be detected in the United Sates. To date, the United States is free of African swine fever; prevention remains the number one priority for the National Pork Producers Council.

According to the plan, USDA Secretary Perdue would immediately declare an "extraordinary emergency" if ASF was detected in the United States. In doing so, the USDA would be established as the leader of a national, coordinated response to control and eradicate the swine disease, which poses no human health or food safety risks. By declaring an extraordinary emergency, the USDA ensures the availability of funding and other resources to effectively manage response.

"We are grateful to Secretary Perdue and Under Secretary Ibach for hearing the concerns of U.S. pork producers," said David Herring, NPPC president and a pork producer from Lillington, North Carolina. "We remain committed to working with the USDA and Customs and Border Protection to keep ASF out of the United States." 

Other elements of the USDA response plan include:
-    A national stop-movement of pigs order of at least 72-hours with an eye toward restoring movement on a regionalized basis as soon as possible.
-    Depopulation efforts aligned with guidance from the American Veterinary Medical Association and in coordination with state animal health officials and the industry.
-    Support for carcass disposal in line with regional and local requirements (composting and burial in place identified as preferred options.
-    Payments for virus elimination at a uniform, flat rate based on the size of affected premises.

ASF Prevention, Plant-Based Product Labels Among NPPC Resolutions Approved

At the National Pork Producers Council's (NPPC) National Pork Industry Forum held here, delegates adopted several important resolutions this week, including those that call on NPPC to:

-    Strengthen efforts to prevent African swine fever (ASF) —an animal disease affecting only pigs and with no human health or food safety risks—and other foreign animal diseases from entering the United States. Separate resolutions were adopted directing NPPC to encourage federal regulatory agencies to investigate the risks of imported pet food and pet products containing pork from foreign animal disease-positive countries; take a position on feeding hogs from plate waste; and support and advance responsible import policies to safely introduce essential feed ingredients from high-risk countries.

-    Advocate for accurate and truthful labeling of plant-based and cell-cultured products, while supporting enforcement of fair labeling by the Food and Drug Administration and USDA. NPPC supports consumer choice and competitive markets. Plant-based and cell-cultured products designed to mimic real meat must face the same stringent regulatory requirements as livestock agriculture, including truthful labeling standards.

-    Support reauthorization of and increased export data transparency in the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act (LMRA), which provides information on the marketing of cattle, swine, lambs and products from those animals. Twice daily mandatory price reports published by USDA include information on pricing, contracting for purchase, supply-and-demand conditions for livestock, livestock production and livestock products. LMRA is set to expire on Sept. 30.

Delegates also passed a resolution reaffirming plans to increase the contribution rate of NPPC's strategic investment program from 10 cents to 20 cents per $100 of hogs marketed, effective July 1, 2021.

"These resolutions reflect the priorities that will help shape the future of the U.S. pork industry," said NPPC President David Herring, a hog farmer from Lillington, N.C. "NPPC will work with Congress, the administration and others to address these vital issues for American hog farmers."

NPPC Elects New Officers, Board Members

The National Pork Producers Council today elected new officers and members to its board of directors at its National Pork Industry Forum held here.

Howard AV Roth, a hog farmer from Wauzeka, Wis., was elected NPPC president. A fifth-generation farmer, he owns and operates Roth Feeder Pigs. In addition to serving on the NPPC board for the past eight years, Roth previously sat on the Wisconsin Pork Association board of directors and currently serves as chairman of the association's Swine Health Committee.

Roth takes over from David Herring, a hog farmer from Lillington, N.C., who becomes NPPC immediate past president and chairman of the council's trade and nominating committees.

Jen Sorenson was elevated to president-elect. For the past nine years, Sorenson has been with Iowa Select Farms, an Iowa farming business that markets more than five million hogs per year. She grew up on a livestock farm, raising pigs and row crops. Previously, she was communications director for the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

Terry Wolters of Pipestone, Minn., was elected by the NPPC board of directors to be vice president. He is active in the Pipestone County Pork Producers Association, Minnesota Pork Producers Association, South Dakota Pork Producers, National Pork Board and committees for each organization. He is chairman of NPPC's Animal Health Food Security Policy Committee.

Robert Ivey of North Carolina and Jeremy Pitman, DVM, of Virginia were elected as new members of the board for a three-year term.

They join current directors Craig Andersen, of Centerville, S.D., Scott Hays, of Monroe City, Mo., Lori Stevermer of Easton, Minn., Mark Cooper, of Des Moines, Iowa, Dale Reicks of New Hampton, Iowa, Dr. Gordon Spronk, of Pipestone, Minn., Duane Stateler of McComb, Ohio, and Kraig Westerbeek, of Warsaw, N.C. Hays was re-elected to a new, three-year term. Spronk was re-elected to a new, two-year term representing the allied industry.

Elected for two-year terms to NPPC's nominating committee were Jim Petrick of South Dakota and Curt Zehr from Illinois.

"AV, Jen and Terry have long-standing and diverse experience that will benefit NPPC and our producers," said NPPC CEO Neil Dierks. "With the addition of our new board members, NPPC remains well positioned to advocate for the public policy interests of America's pork producers."

ASA Recognizes Soy Leaders at Annual Awards Banquet

The American Soybean Association (ASA) recognized outstanding volunteers and leaders at its annual awards banquet in San Antonio, awarding individuals for state association volunteerism, distinguished leadership achievements and long-term, significant contributions to the soybean industry.  Congratulations to the 2020 winners:

- ASA Pinnacle Award Winner Kenlon Johannes, Kan.

ASA's ultimate honor, the Pinnacle Award, is an industry-wide recognition of individuals who have demonstrated the highest level of contribution and leadership within the soybean family and industry, through work involving a significant amount of their lifetime.

For nearly 50 years, Kenlon Johannes has focused on broadening relationships to strengthen the soybean industry. After college and a few years teaching grade school, he returned to his family farm in Nebraska in the mid-1970s and joined the Nebraska Soybean Association and American Soybean Association. Now the of CEO of the Kansas Soybean Association and administrator of the Kansas Soybean Commission, in the past he served as the top executive for soybean associations in Wisconsin and Missouri. During the early 1990s, recognizing the untapped potential of surplus soybean oil, Johannes worked with farmer leaders and university researchers to promote and identify new uses for soybean oil--resulting in biodiesel.

In 1992, Johannes' biodiesel passion led him to become the first executive director of the newly formed National SoyDiesel Development Board, which later became the National Biodiesel Board. Johannes' commitment and skills as an educator and organizer, particularly around biodiesel, have made the U.S. soybean industry stronger for all soybean farmers.

Johannes' commitment and skills as an educator and organizer, particularly around biodiesel, have made the U.S. soybean industry stronger for all soybean farmers.

- ASA Distinguished Leadership Award Winner Steve Wellman, Neb.

The Distinguished Leadership Award recognizes a soybean grower or association staff leader whose leadership has strengthened the national or state association, enhanced soy-related policy efforts and increased farmer education or engagement.

Steve Wellman was a strong leader for both his state organization and ASA. He served as an ASA director for nine years and spent many of those years on the executive committee, including a term as ASA president and a two-year chairmanship of ASA's Strategic Planning Committee, which created a new and strengthened path forward for ASA.

Engaging with and helping educate soybean farmers has always been important to Wellman, as has participating in international marketing missions to help grow U.S. soybean exports. His wide-ranging ASA experience in leadership and extensive involvement with agriculture policy has provided a strong foundation for his current role as director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. Wellman continues to serve as a leader in agriculture who achieves goals and inspires others.

- ASA Outstanding State Volunteer Award Winner Neal Bredehoeft, Mo.

The Outstanding State Volunteer Award recognizes the dedication and contributions of individuals who have given at least three-years of volunteer service in any area of their state soybean association operation.

Neal Bredehoeft served on the Missouri Soybean Association Board in all the state's executive leadership positions and on the ASA board for nine years, including time on the ASA executive committee and a term as ASA president.

Bredehoeft was an early advocate for biodiesel in Missouri and throughout the U.S. and he continues that advocacy through involvement with his state association's Biodiesel Working Group and support of biodiesel production in Missouri. He's also represented Missouri soybean farmers during international marketing missions and welcomed numerous visiting trade delegations to his farm in western Missouri.

The soybean industry has benefited from Bredehoeft's many hours of volunteer service in all areas and his long-term strategic thinking, commitment to maintaining a strong state organization, and focus on making a difference that will outlast his service.

Iowa Farm Bureau ‘Acres of Opportunity’ conference highlights niche farming

Farms that grow strawberries, hops, cut flowers and mushrooms? No, it’s not California—it’s the type of crop diversity found on family farms right here in Iowa. For those seeking to explore ways to step into agriculture through alternative crops and livestock markets, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s (IFBF) ‘Acres of Opportunity’ conference on Saturday, March 28 at The Hotel at Kirkwood in Cedar Rapids will allow guests to hear from a variety of small Iowa farm owners as well as experts on farm business management. 

Breakout sessions will feature Johnson County vegetable grower Kate Edwards, Keri Byrum of Cedar Falls Hops Company, Lara Mangialardi and Jacob McGreal who raise grass-fed beef, Annie’s Acres strawberry farmer David Kendall, Aaron Steele with Goats on the Go, mushroom grower Mike Mahoney, Lori and Jim Bochner who grow cut flowers, Katie Colony with Colony Pumpkin Patch and Laura Cunningham who direct markets beef through Skyview Farms. In addition, Dr. Angela Shaw with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will talk about best practices for those interested in agritourism.

But running a farm is about more than raising a crop or livestock animal—there are business plans, financial questions and legal considerations at hand. To answer more of these questions, an array of experts will host breakout sessions to discuss the “Business Model Canvas,” current available loan programs, taxes, insurance, legal risks and more.

“Farming can be a very capital-intensive endeavor, putting it out of reach for many people who would like to get into raising crops and livestock,” said Amanda Van Steenwyk, IFBF farm business development manager. “But Iowans across the state are finding ways to fulfill niche markets and master the business and marketing side of their small farm. The farmer speakers at this conference are a great example of how you don’t need to be a larger farm to find success; just like any business, it’s about having the drive to find success and improve upon that every year.”

The conference will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration is free for Iowa Farm Bureau members and $55 for non-members. For more information on the Acres of Opportunity conference or to register, please visit

2020 Annual Meat Conference: Beef Is the Most Valuable Protein

More than 1,500 attendees, including retailers, processors and packers attending the 2020 Annual Meat Conference in Nashville, TN learned that beef is the most valuable protein in terms of salesi and how the beef industry’s Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program is helping to improve consumer perceptions about how high-quality beef is raised in the U.S.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), a contractor to the Beef Checkoff and manager of the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand had a major presence at the event, including a packed booth in the tradeshow, which provided an in-depth look at the voluntary, Beef Checkoff funded program that ensures U.S. beef is produced under stringent animal care standards. The BQA program was introduced to consumers in the fall of 2019 with a campaign designed to educate the general public about how beef in the U.S. is responsibly raised and the farmers and ranchers committed to producing safe, high-quality beef. Retailers were excited to learn that today, thanks to the commitment of cattle farmers and ranchers, more than 85 percent of beef comes from BQA certified farmers and ranchers.

“Consumers want to know how their food is raised and market research shows that when consumers learn about BQA, their confidence in beef increases,” said Bridget Wasser, executive director, meat science & supply chain outreach at NCBA. “By relaying that information to retailers, we can help educate and support them in achieving their bottom line and driving beef sales.”

To gain better perspective on BQA and the farmers and ranchers behind it, attendees had the opportunity to talk to cattle ranchers Buck Weirbein and Kim Brackett. Brackett, an Idaho-based cattle rancher and BQA advisory committee chair was at the booth to talk about how she focuses on animal care, grazing practices, cattle genetics, wildlife habitat and soil health. The booth experience was designed to help better equip retailers to educate their customers and answer questions about how beef is safely and humanely raised and was part of the overall campaign to bring BQA to life for consumers, influencers, supply chain operators, and the media

“It was eye opening to attend this event and see this large group of processors, distributors and retailers experiencing many of the same challenges, opportunities and issues that beef producers face day in and day out.” said Buck Weirbein, federation division chair at NCBA. “We truly are on the same team and these folks are just as passionate about our product as we are. I have renewed outlook and I look forward to sharing what I experienced at this conference with my board and fellow producers.”

In addition to getting an extensive look at BQA, attendees were presented with the latest research from a test-pilot program regarding labels. This research tested the effectiveness of featuring the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. logo and QR codes on non-branded packages of beef. Findings from this research included:
-    Packages that feature the Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. logo and a QR code come out on top compared to plain packages, with consumers saying they liked that it grabbed their attention and made it easy to directly search for information about the product.
-    Consumers say they are more likely to purchase a package of beef that has the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. logo and QR code on it, citing credibility and trust as the top reasons.

To further drive home the importance of educating and building confidence in consumers, attendees also got to see the results from market research highlighting the value beef adds to a shopping cart, confirming beef’s position as the most valuable protein. These highlights included:
-    Beef drives sales. When beef is included in the basket, it generates a higher average purchase -total when compared to baskets with other animal proteins.
-    Carts with beef produce sales 19 times greater than carts with beef substitutes.
-    Retail beef demand has continued to increase during the past several years, with demand up 15 percent since 2012.

“Attending the Annual Meat Conference was extremely valuable for our team as we work to educate and support retailers,” said Wasser. “We look forward to continuing to build these relationships and expanding the ways the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand can enhance the meat case experience and in turn drive beef sales.”

To learn more about how Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. can help retailers boost their bottom line, visit

Thursday March 5 Ag News

Drewnoski receives Outstanding Young Extension Specialist award

Dr. Mary Drewnoski is the recipient of the 2020 Midwest Section of the American Society of Animal Science Outstanding Young Extension Specialist Award. Drewnoski is an associate professor and beef systems specialist in the Animal Science Department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The award was presented to her this week during the annual 2020 Midwest section of the American Society of Animal Science meeting held in Omaha, Nebraska.

Drewnoski grew up in Appalachia, attended Berea College and North Carolina State followed by a three year post doctorate at Iowa State and two years on faculty at University of Idaho. She was hired by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2014 as part of an interdisciplinary team focused on developing integrated crop and cattle production systems in Nebraska.

Her extension and research program is focused on the utilization of crop residues and cover crop forages for backgrounding calves and beef cows. She has been instrumental in developing a $4.8 million Nebraska Beef Systems Initiative and leads the extension component. Drewnoski has made 87 presentations at extension meetings and has authored or co-authored 31 extension articles and done 45 interviews over the past three years.

She instigated the development of an exchange for farmers with crop residues or cover crops to connect with cattlemen looking for grazing opportunities. Drewnoski has certainly achieved the goals envisioned as a Beef Systems Specialist.

The ASAS Outstanding Young Extension Specialist Award recognizes an individual currently employed as an extension specialist by a state or federal service and is engaged in outreach education conducting programs in animal or dairy science. This person actively works with people that produce livestock animals or with people in the meat industry and uses their connections to initiate and develop educational programs dedicated to increasing education in areas such as breeding, milk production, nutrition, management, physiology, and many other areas that promote the growth of the industry. This award is sponsored by Purina Animal Nutrition.

AFAN announces winners of 15th anniversary scholarship

The Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN) is honoring their 15th anniversary by celebrating agriculture’s next generation of producers. From over 50 applicants, AFAN has awarded 15 exceptional college students from across the state of Nebraska with a $250 scholarship. To be considered, students applying had to be currently enrolled in college pursuing a degree in the field of agriculture and have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5. Community colleges, universities, undergrad and graduate programs were all eligible.

“AFAN is committed to growing Nebraska agriculture throughout generations so we are excited to be able to celebrate students who are pursuing a degree that will benefit Nebraska agriculture,” said Steve Martin, executive director.

AFAN was formed in 2005 by the leading agricultural organizations in Nebraska to conduct outreach, promotion, and provide information to consumers about Nebraska agriculture and where their food comes from. In 2015, these organizations saw another need – advancing livestock development, agriculture and food processing businesses in Nebraska. Since then AFAN has focused on encouraging the development of livestock, working with communities and Nebraska leaders to create opportunities for industries that add value to Nebraska’s agricultural output and energize the economy.

Following are the 15 students who will receive an AFAN scholarship:
- Nathan Burnett, a freshman from Shelton majoring in livestock industry management and agribusiness at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis.
- Cesar Cyuzuzo, a sophomore from Rwanda majoring in integrated sciences at the University of Nebraska– Lincoln (UNL).
- Sarah Eberspacher, a freshman from Beaver Crossing majoring in agriculture and environmental sciences communication at UNL.
- Brianna Gable, a freshman from Waverly majoring in agricultural economics at UNL.
- Maria Harthoorn, a sophomore from Ainsworth majoring in agricultural economics at UNL.
- Marissa Kegley, a graduate student from Kearney majoring in veterinary medicine at UNL.
- Korbin Kudera, a sophomore from Clarkson majoring in agronomy at UNL.
- Morgan Leefers, a junior from Otoe majoring in agricultural economics at UNL.
- Olivia Leising, a freshman from Arapahoe majoring in agricultural science at Concordia University in Seward.
- Sydni Lienemann, a senior from Princeton majoring in agricultural economics at UNL.
- Tyler Michael Quick, a sophomore from Alliance majoring in agricultural education and horticulture at UNL.
- Jacob Rosse, a senior from Gothenburg majoring in agronomy at UNL.
- Kara Valasek, a graduate student from Palmer majoring in veterinary medicine at UNL
- Alexandra Volchoskie, a Senior from Wilcox majoring in agricultural and environmental sciences
communication at UNL.
- Michael Wolfe, a junior from Palmer majoring in animal science (pre-vet) at UNL.

The Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN) is a non-profit organization formed by leading agriculture organizations with the support of other membership groups, individuals, commodity organizations and private businesses. AFAN works with individual producers and communities across Nebraska to encourage the development of environmentally responsible and economically viable livestock production in the state. For more information, go to


New research from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln has led to the discovery of a novel gene that improves drought adaptation in wheat — a breakthrough that could contribute to increased world food security.

In new research published in Plant Biotechnology Journal, Harkamal Walia, associate professor and Heuermann Chair of Agronomy and Horticulture at Nebraska, and colleagues describe a novel form of a gene obtained from wild wheat that has the potential to improve drought tolerance in cultivated wheat. Introducing this gene into cultivated wheat improved the plant root structure so that it continued to grow in search of water under dry soil conditions.

Wheat is the most widely grown crop in the world and, together with rice, provides more than 50% of the caloric intake of humans globally. Like other crops, wheat is exposed to a wide range of environmental limitations, such as high temperature, disease pressure and drought.

The scavenging nature of wheat root systems during times of drought may have been lost when wild wheats were adopted for agriculture by early humans or as cultivated wheat was bred for improved responsiveness to irrigation and fertilizers during the mid-1900s. This improved responsiveness was key to feeding a booming world population during the 1960s.

As today’s producers strive for “more crop per drop” to feed a world population that is again in the midst of a boom and is expected to grow from about 7.5 billion today to more than 9.6 billion by 2050, it is evident that future crops will need greater drought resilience. The discovery by Walia and his colleagues could represent an important new genetic resource, enabling breeders to recapture this natural survival trait in cultivated wheat. The University of Nebraska–Lincoln has secured a patent on the discovery via NUtech Ventures, enabling future commercialization of this technology.

The potential impact of the discovery grew substantially when the team found that adding the wild root gene also resulted in plants with larger grains in the absence of drought. Walia and his team were not expecting this, as introducing tolerance to a stress can sometimes result in lost productivity when the stress is absent.

“This particular trait may have the opposite effect, which is a benefit in both conditions,” Walia said. “We are now working to understand the reason behind this surprising finding.”

The genetic engineering of wheat plants was performed at Nebraska’s Center for Biotechnology.

Walia is one of many researchers worldwide helping to develop a catalog of genes that will contribute to creating more robust plants for the future. Drought response is a complicated trait, Walia said, which involves many genes contributing to survival and productivity when water is limited. He hopes that research in this area will continue to discover new genetic resources that plant breeders and geneticists can use to develop more drought-tolerant crops.

“From a genetic improvement perspective, it takes a community to make a crop more adaptive,” Walia said. “This finding is one piece of a very large puzzle.”

The research was spearheaded by doctoral students Dante Placido and Jaspreet Sandhu in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture. The work was supported by the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute.

Iowa Still Leads Nation in Egg Production, but Some Challenges Remain

Iowa is the nation’s leader in egg production and eggs play a key role in the Iowa economy, supporting the livelihoods of thousands of Iowans.

To help explain the importance of Iowa’s $1.33 billion egg industry, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has compiled a new report on the number of Iowa’s egg-producing farms, how much they produce and their economic impact.

Called the “Economic Importance of the Iowa Egg Industry,” the 12-page publication highlights the continued expansion of the state’s egg industry, the continued demand for eggs and future opportunities and challenges.

According to the report, a growing population and higher per capita egg consumption have led to a 1.5% annual expansion in egg production nationally over the last 30 years. With Iowa’s abundance of corn and soybean meal for feed, the state is well situated as the nation’s leader.

In one year, the Iowa egg industry uses 57.8 million bushels of corn and 531,317 tons of soybean meal for feed, including the feed used to grow young chicks (pullets).

From 2007-2014, Iowa produced more eggs than the second and third largest egg-producing states, according to the report. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated there were about 57.7 million egg-laying hens in Iowa during 2018, which produced 16.4 billion eggs.

Ongoing challenges

While Iowa is poised to continue leading the nation in egg production, the report outlines several ongoing challenges, including the cost of transporting eggs and egg products to areas where there are more people.

Another challenge is the transition to alternative production systems, which require more space per hen and more labor. These types of housing, which are required in some states like California, significantly increase production costs and the cost to consumer.

Beyond cage-free, there is also the potential for further regulations or customer requests for hens to have access to the outdoors year-round, which would pose a significant challenge for Iowa, given its cold winters and hot summers.

The report is compiled about every three to five years, with new data and a focus on current and emerging trends.

United States and Canadian Cattle Inventory Down 1 Percent

All cattle and calves in the United States and Canada combined totaled 105.6 million head on January 1, 2020, down 1 percent from the 106.2 million head on January 1, 2019. All cows and heifers that have calved inventory at 45.2 million head, down 1 percent from a year ago.

All cattle and calves in the United States as of January 1, 2020 totaled 94.4 million head, down slightly from the 94.8 million head on January 1, 2019.All cows and heifers that have calved inventory at 40.7 million head, down  1 percent from a year ago.

All cattle and calves in Canada as of January 1, 2020 totaled 11.2 million head, down 2 percent from the 11.4 million on January 1, 2019. All cows and heifers that have calved inventory at 4.54 million, down 2 percent from a year ago.

United States and Canadian Hog Inventory Up 2 Percent

United States and Canadian inventory of all hogs and pigs for December 2019 was 91.2 million head. This was up 2 percent from December 2018, and up 4 percent from December 2017. The breeding inventory, at 7.70 million head, was up 2 percent from a year ago and up 4 percent from 2017. Market hog inventory, at 83.5 million head, was up 3 percent from last year and up 5 percent from 2017. The semi-annual pig crop, at 84.6 million head, was up 3 percent from 2018 and up 5 percent from 2017. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 7.57 million head, down slightly from last year but up 2 percent from 2017.

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. The 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 pig crop, at 35.1 million head, was up 2 percent from 2018 and up 5 percent from 2017. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 3.17 million head, down 1 percent from 2018 but up 2 percent from 2017. 

Canadian inventory of all hogs and pigs on January 1, 2020 was 13.9 million head. This was down 1 percent from January 1, 2019 and down 2 percent from January 1, 2018. The breeding inventory, at 1.24 million head, was down 1 percent from last year and down 1 percent from 2018. Market hog inventory, at 12.6 million head, was down 1 percent from last year and down 2 percent from 2018. The semi-annual pig crop, at 14.2 million head, was up 1 percent from 2019 but down 1 percent from 2018. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 1.22 million head, up slightly from last year but down 2 percent from 2018.

United States and Canadian Sheep Inventory Down 1 Percent

All sheep and lambs in the United States and Canada combined totaled 6.00 million head on January 1, 2020, down 1 percent from the 6.07 million on January 1, 2019. Breeding sheep inventory at 4.40 million head, down 1 percent from a year ago. Market sheep and lambs totaled 1.60 million head, down 1 percent from last year.

All sheep and lambs in the United States as of January 1, 2020 totaled 5.20 million head, 1 percent below the 5.23 million head on January 1, 2019. Breeding sheep inventory at 3.81 million head, down slightly from a year ago. Market sheep and lambs totaled 1.39 million head, down 1 percent from last year.

All sheep and lambs in Canada as of January 1, 2020 totaled 802 thousand head, down 4 percent from last year's number of 835 thousand. Breeding sheep inventory at 590 thousand head, down 5 percent from last year. Market sheep and lambs totaled 213 thousand head, down 2 percent from a year ago.

U.S. Farm & Biofuel Leaders Urge President Trump Stand by RFS

America’s top biofuel and farm advocates called on President Trump to immediately speak out against reports from within the administration that the White House may bow to a misinformation campaign spearheaded by Senator Ted Cruz. The senator has urged the president to join a handful of oil refineries seeking to overturn a unanimous court decision that would halt the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) abuse of Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The following joint statement was issued by the National Corn Growers Association, the Renewable Fuels Association, the American Soybean Association, the National Farmers Union, Growth Energy, the American Coalition for Ethanol, the National Biodiesel Board, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, and Fuels America.

“The president needs to understand that Ted Cruz doesn’t care about this administration or families across the heartland who are counting on the White House to keep its promises. Just days ago, thousands of farmers rallied behind Secretary Perdue, who expressed his confidence that we had finally reached the end of a long and painful fight against EPA demand destruction. Tearing open that wound, against the advice of rural champions and the president’s own advisors, would be viewed as a stunning betrayal of America’s rural workers and farmers. We cannot stress enough how important this decision is to the future of the rural economy and to President Trump’s relationship with leaders and voters across the heartland. Ted Cruz comes back year after year with the same lies about refinery profits, disproven over and over by economists, the EPA, and even by Big Oil. We urge the president to stand up now against this misguided effort to torpedo the rural recovery.”

Days ago, more than 20 farm and biofuel groups, including the American Farm Bureau and the National Farmers Union, also sent the attached letter asking President Trump to reject “an appeal of the court decision, given the clarity, unanimity, and strength of the ruling.”

Record Number of Farmers Attend 2020 Commodity Classic

A record number of farmers converged on Texas last week for the 2020 Commodity Classic.  Total farmers registered was 4,678—the highest number in the show’s 24-year history, eclipsing the previous record of 4,595 set in 2016 in New Orleans.  Total registrations of 9,350 was also second only to the New Orleans event.

Held Feb. 27-29 in San Antonio, Texas, the 2020 Commodity Classic featured dozens of educational sessions, a huge trade show with nearly 400 exhibitors, a keynote address by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, a concert performance by Eddie Montgomery of Montgomery Gentry, policy meetings of the sponsoring commodity associations, a wide variety of presentations from well-known industry leaders and top farmers, and tours of area attractions.

Commodity Classic returns to San Antonio March 4-6, 2021, as the show celebrates its Silver Anniversary next year.  For information, visit

USDA to Open Signup March 16 for Conservation Reserve Program Grasslands

Farmers and ranchers may apply to enroll grasslands in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grasslands signup beginning March 16. The signup runs through May 15.

“Through this CRP Grasslands signup, farmers and ranchers can protect grasslands, rangelands and pastures, while maintaining the land as working grazing lands,” said Richard Fordyce, Administrator of USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). “The program emphasizes support for grazing operations and plant and animal biodiversity, while protecting land under the greatest threat of conversion or development.”

Through CRP Grasslands, participants retain the right to conduct common grazing practices, such as haying, mowing or harvesting seed from the enrolled land. Timing of some activities may be restricted by the primary nesting season of birds.

Participants will receive an annual rental payment and may receive up to 50 percent cost-share for establishing approved conservation practices. The duration of the CRP contract is either 10 or 15 years. FSA will rank applications using a number of factors including existence of expiring CRP land, threat of conversion or development, existing grassland, and predominance of native species cover, and cost.

The 2018 Farm Bill set aside 2 million acres for CRP Grassland enrollment. CRP is one of the largest conservation programs at USDA. CRP marks its 35-year anniversary in 2020 with 22 million acres currently enrolled.

CWT assisted sales in February total 9.8 million pounds of dairy exports

CWT assisted member cooperatives in securing 75 contracts with sales of 3.6 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 862,008 pounds of butter, 4.6 million pounds of whole milk powder and 745,163 pounds of cream cheese. The product is going to customers in Asia, Central and South America, the Middle East, North Africa and Oceania. The product will be shipped during the months of February through July 2020.

These transactions bring the 2020 total of the CWT-assisted product sales contracts to 4.896 million pounds of cheese, 1.190 million pounds of butter, 5.291 million pounds of whole milk powder and 1.390 million pounds of cream cheese. These contracts will move the equivalent of 121.5 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis overseas in 2020.

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

FFAR Improves Animal Welfare by Enriching Swine Environment

The environment in which pigs are raised contributes to their health, welfare and productivity. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a $75,000 grant to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to examine how environmental enrichment techniques can improve pig welfare. Nestle and Tyson Foods provided matching funding for a total $150,000 investment.

Pigs are highly intelligent animals that thrive in environments where they can exhibit natural behaviors. The US livestock industry recognizes the need to improve animal welfare including developing better living conditions, which positively affects health and overall well-being. Group housing benefits pigs by improving social stimulation, but it also sometimes results in damaging behaviors like tail-biting and ear-chewing which occur, in part, due to boredom or frustration. Providing pigs with access to toys and devices, referred to as environmental enrichmen, may reduce aggressive interactions and improve welfare.

“There is increasing public attention on how food is produced, and animal welfare is becoming more important,” said Dr. Jeremy Marchant-Forde, USDA-ARS Animal Scientist. “Retailers and consumers expect farm animals to have a certain quality of life and it is essential that livestock industries meet that expectation.”

Providing enrichment can reduce stress levels, increase performance and productivity and decrease aggressive or abnormal behavior towards other pigs. Researchers are testing various environmental enrichment devices like chew toys and other devices and measuring their effects on pig welfare at key development stages in the pigs’ life cycle. Pig producers will use the results to develop environmental enrichment management strategies that benefit pig welfare and performance.

FFAR, Nestle and Tyson Foods are funding one of the first studies in the United States that examines the impact of enrichment materials on US pigs. This research is assessing the pigs’ welfare by measuring behavior, health and growth rates.

In Europe, minimum standards for pig production have already been successfully implemented, positively impacting pig health and welfare. This research examines how some European environmental enrichment practices can be applied to the US livestock industry.

“Apps, trinkets and doodling help many of us pass time and process information - turns out pigs feel the same way. Understanding how environmental enrichment impacts pig welfare pushes the needle in the right direction to ensuring that animal welfare is protected, while maintaining productivity and profitability,” said Dr. Sally Rockey, FFAR’s Executive Director. “This research will provide swine producers with ways to provide enrichment that they can then easily implement on their farms with minimal cost and effort.”

Wednesday March 4 Ag News


The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Dairy Store has come a long way since it first opened as Varsity Dairy in 1917, when it served all-you-can-drink milk for a nickel to those who brought their own glass. In the 103 years since, the store has become locally famous for its ice cream, and soon will begin a new chapter in its history.

On March 12, the Dairy Store will celebrate its grand reopening in a new space at 114 Food Industry Complex on East Campus. The renovated, larger space offers more seating, with a view of Legacy Plaza; a glimpse into Nebraska’s dairy industry; and, of course, the store’s famous ice cream, as well as locally produced meats and cheeses. The grand reopening, which is open to the public, will be from 2 to 5 p.m. Attendees can receive a free scoop of ice cream. The celebration includes remarks at 2:30 p.m. Parking is available near the building or along the East Campus Loop.

The new space is in the same building as before, but faces north toward the Nebraska East Union.

The Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources partnered with Midwest Dairy to bring dairy farmers and production to the forefront of the new space. The store’s south entrance includes a mural featuring dairy products, a wall with dairy farming facts, a photo of a dairy cow and a video showcasing dairy farmers. Customers are encouraged to take photos in front of the mural and share them on social media using #UndeniablyDairy.

“The goal with this space is to bring dairy to life for customers, allowing them to connect to local farmers, learn fun facts about the dairy community, as well as share their own love for dairy with the selfie wall,” said Kris Bousquet, farmer relations manager with Midwest Dairy. “Dairy products enrich our lives with nutrition, but also offer an opportunity for indulgence, which can be celebrated in this new space.”

With more than 100,000 visitors per year to the Dairy Store, Midwest Dairy hopes customers leave with a deeper understanding and connection to Nebraska’s dairy community.


The Dairy Store processing facilities, which have long been popular with Dairy Store visitors, are also moving to a new location — the Food Processing Center on Nebraska Innovation Campus. 

Terry Howell, executive director of the center, has overseen the relocation of the processing facilities. Once the equipment has been moved, ice cream and cheese making in the new location could begin as soon as April 1, he said. As before, food science students will make the ice cream and learn about various aspects of the food processing industry during the experience.

“Food science students are getting exposed to what it takes to work in a food plant, what quality assurance looks like, what regulatory needs look like for food processing and how product development work in a real processing setting,” Howell said. “When they graduate, they are ideal candidates for jobs because they’ve already gotten to put their education into practice — they are pros.”

Once the new dairy plant is up and running, Howell said the plan is to capture video of how dairy products are made to share on the Dairy Store monitor. The video will allow Dairy Store visitors to hear from dairy farmers and university staff and students on the care that goes into producing milk, ice cream and cheeses.

“There are a lot of ways to grow the impact of the store and use it to support students, alumni and friends of the university,” Howell said. “It’s the front door to East Campus, an entry door to the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources and university for people from around the state.”

Soil Fertility Workshop Will Help Producers Maximize Profitability

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the ISU Extension and Outreach Harrison County office are hosting a soil fertility workshop March 17 from 10 a.m. to noon at the ISU Extension and Outreach Harrison County office, (304 East 7th St.).

The workshop will focus on interpreting soil test results to make more informed fertilizer decisions for both row crops and forage crops. The workshop will be led by Aaron Saeugling, field agronomist with ISU Extension and Outreach.

“With lower commodity prices, many farmers are looking to trim costs,” said Saeugling. “For fertilizer, don’t simply trim costs, but rather selectively maximize economic returns to fertilizer expense by understanding how to interpret soil test results and how to use the results to make fertilizer recommendations.”

Even if you already have soil testing and recommendations hired out to an agribusiness, you can still gain a better understanding of how recommendations are made. This workshop will help you to decide where it makes the most sense to reduce fertilizer costs while improving farm income.

Topics will include the importance of soil testing and interpreting soil test results, calculating nutrient removal rates and understanding the odds of getting a return on a fertilizer investment.

Feel free to bring a copy of your soil test results. There is no cost to attend.

Pre-register by March 16 by contacting the ISU Extension and Outreach Harrison County office at 712-644-2105, or

Iowa Crop Production Value Report

The production of Iowa’s field and miscellaneous crops was valued at $14.6 billion in 2019, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Crop Values summary. This was a 4 percent increase from 2018.

The value of corn for grain production totaled $9.82 billion, up 9 percent from the previous year. Iowa’s corn price averaged $3.80 per bushel, an increase of 21 cents from the last marketing year.

Down 7 percent from 2018, the value of soybean production was $4.34 billion, with production down 9 percent. Average prices increased 19 cents from the previous year to $8.65 per bushel.

Value of production increased from 2018 to 2019 for alfalfa hay and oats.

Pulled Pork Madness Nomination Period Opens Friday

Pulled Pork Madness is back for a third year, with Iowa restaurants going head-to-head for the best pulled pork sandwich.

The monthlong contest sponsored by the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) mimics the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament and follows the same bracket-style narrowing process to get restaurants to the "Sweet 16," "Elite 8," "Final Four" and championship round.

However, in this case, it will be fans who determine the winner as they vote on the restaurant in the competition that they think serves the best pulled pork sandwich. The playoffs will be fast and furious, with voting deadlines of March 13, March 20, March 25, March 30 and April 2. The winner will be announced April 3.

Nominations can be submitted at starting at 5 a.m. Friday. For every round after that, votes can be cast via IPPA's Facebook page: Also, keep up with the contest on social media using the #PulledPorkMadness hashtag.

The "Sweet 16" bracket is planned to offer the top two picks in each of IPPA's eight districts.

"Pulled Pork Madness is simply a fun way to celebrate Iowa's pork while uncovering some amazing pulled pork sandwiches around the state," said Kelsey Sutter, marketing and programs director at IPPA. "Who doesn't love a good bracket competition?"

Along with bragging rights, the winning restaurant will receive $250 and a "Pulled Pork Madness" plaque.

Past winners of Pulled Pork Madness include Warehouse Barbecue Co. in Ottumwa (2019) and Moo's BBQ in Newton (2018).

In 2019, IPPA received nominations for 80 restaurants from nearly 1,150 respondents.

Pig Farmers Provide 40,000 Servings of Pork to Fight Food Insecurity in Kansas City

To kick off its national forum meeting, the pork industry announced today that nearly 40,000 servings of pork will be donated to Harvesters – The Community Food Network. The donation, made by Prairie Fresh® Pork on behalf of attendees at the industry’s annual meeting, will help fight food insecurity in the Kansas City area. It highlights farmer commitment to the We Care ethical principles, which include a focus on caring for their communities.

“Helping to fight food insecurity in our local communities and across the United States is important to all pig farmers,” said David Newman, president of the National Pork Board and a pig farmer representing Arkansas. “The donation allows us to live out our We Care commitment during Pork Forum while providing safe and nutritious pork to those in need right here in Kansas City.”

Harvesters serves a 26-county area, including Kansas City, where one in eight individuals is food insecure. Children are often the most in need of food, with one in six children in Harvesters’ service area being food insecure. Only 57% of food-insecure children qualify for federal nutrition programs, meaning that 43% of food-insecure children and their parents are ineligible for federal assistance.

“Our producers at Seaboard Foods and Triumph Foods believe it’s important to support our communities,” said David Eaheart, senior director of communications and Prairie Fresh brand marketing at Seaboard Foods. “We are happy to make this donation on behalf of attendees of the National Pork Industry Forum, especially in Kansas City, where Prairie Fresh® Pork is headquartered.”


The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) thanks President Trump for signing into law on Tuesday legislation (S. 2107) that authorizes funding for 720 new agricultural inspectors at land, air and sea ports to prevent African swine fever (ASF) and other foreign animal diseases (FAD) from entering the United States. Providing additional agricultural inspectors represents a top priority for NPPC.

"Ensuring we have enough agricultural inspectors at our borders is critical to maintaining a healthy U.S. swine herd," said NPPC President David Herring, a hog farmer from Lillington, N.C. "The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have done much to mitigate the risk to animal disease. Bolstered by this legislation, even more resources will be available to strengthen biosecurity at our borders. This is a victory for farmers, consumers and the American economy," he said.

"NPPC thanks Congressional leadership, led by Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas) and Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), for their strong leadership on this issue, and President Trump for signing this essential bill into law. We look forward to working with Congress on appropriations to make sure CBP is fully funded to ensure the benefits of S. 2107 are fully realized," Herring added.

S. 2107 also authorizes 600 new agricultural technicians and 60 new agricultural canine teams.

The most likely path for a FAD to enter the country would be through the illegal transport of contaminated products. An outbreak of certain FADs would immediately close U.S. pork export markets, causing significant damage to farmers and consumers. NPPC continues to advocate for other FAD preparedness measures, including quickly establishing a U.S. Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine bank as provided for in the 2018 Farm Bill. The United States does not currently have access to enough vaccine to quickly contain and eradicate an FMD outbreak.

FAA Proposal Would Ground Drones for Many Farmers, Ranchers

The Federal Aviation Administration should revamp its drone proposal to provide flexibility to allow farmers and ranchers who cannot access the internet to continue using drones, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

America’s farmers and ranchers embrace technology that allows them to be more efficient, economical and environmentally aware. Drones are an important precision agriculture tool they use to manage their crops and livestock and make important business decisions, the organization pointed out in comments to the FAA on its drone-related advanced notice of proposed rulemaking.

“Today’s farmers and ranchers are using precision agricultural devices to make decisions that impact the amount of fertilizer a farmer needs to purchase and apply to the field, the amount of water needed to sustain the crop, and the amount and type of herbicides or pesticides the farmer may need to apply,” Farm Bureau said.

The two main problems with the proposal are: it would ground many drones that farmers and ranchers currently own that do not meet the rule’s specifications and it would prevent many farmers and ranchers from ever operating a drone because of a lack of access to broadband

Farm Bureau had several suggestions for improvement.

FAA’s proposal would require drones to connect to the internet and transmit their remote IDs. But on the 29% percent of farms and ranches without access to the internet, this would be impossible. And while Congress, the FCC and USDA have acknowledged this problem and are working to increase connectivity for precision agriculture equipment, the proposal fails to take this challenge into account.

“Requiring drones to connect to the internet and broadcast a signal would remove one of the newest tools in the toolbox for farmers and ranchers during a time when they have already seen a drastic 50% decline in net farm income in the last four years,” Farm Bureau said.

Farm Bureau is recommending an either/or approach that would allow the drone to send a remote ID signal through an internet connection if available or broadcast a signal if the internet is unavailable.

As for the limited remote ID requirement, Farm Bureau reiterated its call for FAA to provide an alternative method for operators to signal their location when the internet is not available. Another option is removing the requirement that the drone must connect to the internet since the drone must operate within 400 feet of the ground station and cannot operate beyond visual-line-of-sight under the limited remote ID requirement.

The proposal’s lack of definitions for “internet” and “sufficient signal strength and coverage” is also problematic.

“In rural areas where internet connections drastically fluctuate, drone operators need clarity on internet connection speeds that qualify for the standard and limited remote ID requirements,” Farm Bureau said.

The group’s final recommendation was that the FAA establish a position on its Drone Advisory Committee for an agriculture, forestry and rangeland representative.

“Farmers offer a unique perspective on their use of drones because they often operate a drone in more remote areas. Many of the concerns included in these comments could have been discussed during DAC meetings if there was representation,” Farm Bureau said.

Broadband Mapping Legislation Headed to President’s Desk

The House of Representatives passed the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act (S. 1822). The bill, approved by the Senate last year, will now go to President Trump for his signature. The following statement may be attributed to American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.

“Reliable access to broadband is no longer a luxury but a necessity for farmers, ranchers and their rural communities. This legislation will create a more accurate National Broadband Map, which will help ensure resources are targeted to the areas that need it most. Farm Bureau thanks members of both chambers who diligently worked to pass this legislation and are committed to ensuring all Americans, including those in rural communities, have broadband in their homes, at their businesses, and on their farms.”


The DATA Act 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. 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.

Prices for Most Fertilizers End February Lower

Retail fertilizer prices continue to be mostly lower, according to prices tracked by DTN for the fourth week of February 2020.

Just like last week, five fertilizers were lower in price compared to last month, but none were down a considerable amount. DAP had an average price of $409 per ton, MAP $434/ton, potash $371/ton, 10-34-0 $466/ton and UAN28 $235/ton.

The remaining three fertilizers had a minor price increase, looking back to last month. Urea had an average price of $366/ton, anhydrous $490/ton and UAN32 $277/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.40/lb.N, anhydrous $0.30/lb.N, UAN28 $0.42/lb.N and UAN32 $0.43/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are now all lower in price from a year ago. DAP is 20% lower, MAP is 19% less expensive, anhydrous is 18% lower, both UAN28 and UAN32 are 13% less expensive, urea is 9% lower, potash is 4% less expensive and 10-34-0 is 1% lower from last year at this time.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 2/28/2020

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending Feb. 28, ethanol production jumped 2.4%, or 24,000 barrels per day (b/d), to 1.079 million b/d—equivalent to 45.32 million gallons daily. The four-week average ethanol production rate ticked down 0.1% to 1.051 million b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 16.11 billion gallons.

Ethanol stocks shifted 1.0% higher to a record 25.0 million barrels. Inventories built in all regions except the East Coast (PADD 1) and Gulf Coast (PADD 3).

There were zero imports of ethanol recorded after 35,000 b/d hit the books the prior week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of December 2019.)

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market rose 1.7% to a ten-week high of 9.186 million b/d (385.81 million gallons per day, or 140.82 bg annualized). However, refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol diverged with a 0.6% decrease to 897,000 b/d—equivalent to 13.75 bg annualized.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production increased to 11.75%.

USDA Dairy Products January 2020 Production Highlights

Total cheese output (excluding cottage cheese) was 1.10 billion pounds, 0.4 percent above January 2019 but 2.3 percent below December 2019. Italian type cheese production totaled 482 million pounds, 0.4 percent above January 2019 but 0.2 percent below December 2019.  American type cheese production totaled 436 million pounds, 0.7 percent below January 2019 and 4.9 percent below December 2019.  Butter production was 191 million pounds, 0.6 percent above January 2019 and
7.9 percent above December 2019.

Dry milk products (comparisons in percentage with January 2019)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 173 million pounds, up 0.3 percent.
Skim milk powder - 51.5 million pounds, up 29.5 percent.

Whey products (comparisons in percentage with January 2019)
Dry whey, total - 84.8 million pounds, up 4.4 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 87.5 million pounds, down 21.6 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 41.2 million pounds, down 4.5 percent.

Frozen products (comparisons in percentage with January 2019)
Ice cream, regular (hard) - 51.7 million gallons, down 3.4 percent.
Ice cream, lowfat (total) - 30.2 million gallons, down 4.2 percent.
Sherbet (hard) - 2.56 million gallons, up 0.5 percent.
Frozen yogurt (total) - 4.41 million gallons, down 14.4 percent.

Bayer to advance more sustainable agricultural solutions utilizing new innovative greenhouses in Marana, Arizona

To further its global commitment of providing growers with the most innovative, sustainable and technically-advanced agricultural solutions, Bayer has opened its new smart, state-of-the-art, automated greenhouse facility in Marana, Ariz.

The Marana Greenhouse facility is the first of its kind for the company and the most technically advanced. The approximately USD 100 million facility will serve as a global product design center for corn, the only crop to be grown there. Additionally, the Marana facility will capitalize on innovation advancements in proprietary seed chipping, advanced marker technology, automation and data science.

“With our new Marana greenhouses, Bayer is reimagining the way plant breeding is done and setting the standard for environmental sustainability,” said Bob Reiter, Head of Research and Development for Crop Science at Bayer. “Meeting the unique challenges that farmers face requires different ways of thinking and working, and this new innovative facility is one of the many ways Bayer will deliver on its commitments to farmers.”

The Marana greenhouses, which occupies 300,000 square feet of growing space, are designed for the sustainable use of inputs throughout the research process. Water used for crops will be recycled, which helps preserve precious desert water supplies, 100 percent of harvested materials will be used for compost and beneficial insects will be used to reduce pesticide applications.

By locating the Marana Greenhouse facility in the Arizona desert instead of the midwestern section of the United States where corn is traditionally grown, more days of warmth and sunlight will allow researchers to maintain plants year-round, enabling three to four corn crop cycles annually. Also, by utilizing the controlled environment of the greenhouses, the breeding process comes indoors which eliminates crop exposure to adverse weather conditions and prevents delays in new seed development. Growing conditions can be customized to simulate various climate conditions around the world.

“Every investment in innovation is an investment in more sustainable agriculture for the next generation, and the effects travel far beyond one site,” added Reiter. “The corn hybrids developed here, under diverse growing environments and weather scenarios, will bring innovation to growers in every part of the world.”

Tuesday March 3 Ag News

Larry Howard, NE Extension Educator, Cuming County

In a few weeks, alfalfa will green up and start to grow in many areas.   At least those plants that survived the winter. Alfalfa usually comes through the winter in pretty good shape in our area and we hope to avoid serious losses this year.

The lack of snow cover and sub-zero temperatures could have permitted cold injury.   Or more likely, it enabled dry winter winds to dry out and kill some exposed plants, especially in areas that were dry last fall.   If fields were cut during the alfalfa’s winterizing period last fall, that could increase the risk of winter injury.

Evaluate your own stands early this spring.   Older, dryland fields that have fewer than 30 new shoots per square foot coming from 2 or 3 plants may need to be planted soon to a different crop and new fields planted to alfalfa.   Very productive sites, such as irrigated and sub-irrigated fields, should have at least 40 shoots per square foot from 4 to 6 plants.   Anything less is a strong candidate for rotation.   We tend to lose about one tenth of a ton in yield potential for every shoot below these recommended numbers.

Check for these densities in several areas of your fields when the early shoots are 4 to 6 inches tall.   Since some shoots begin growing later than others, stands with enough plants but slightly low shoot density may be alright, especially if shoot height and distribution is fairly uniform.   But, if plant density is low, or shoot growth is not uniform, yields probably will be lowered.

Check your alfalfa stands soon after growth begins.   Then you will still have time to make any needed changes in your cropping plans.


Thin alfalfa stands can be rejuvenated by interseeding grasses and converting them to pasture or haying as a grass-alfalfa mixture.

Most alfalfa fields start to lose stand and production ability after cutting hay for several years.   Sometimes winterkill thins the stands.   As the stand begin to get thin, consider interseeding grasses into the alfalfa.   Not only might you extend the useful life of your alfalfa field by several years, you also will develop excellent hay or grazing for your livestock.

The most common grasses interseeded into alfalfa are orchardgrass and smooth brome, but other grasses like endophyte-free tall fescue, meadow brome and wheatgrasses can also be used.   If you plan to use this field as pasture, include other legumes like red clover for short-term pasture or birdsfoot trefoil if you plan to graze this as pasture more than three years.   This will add diversity to your animals' diet and help assure good legume growth for several more years.

You must get these new seedlings off to an early start, so be sure to interseed as soon as soils thaw and conditions allow tractor and drills to operate properly.   If your alfalfa still is relatively thick and vigorous, also take a very early hay cutting well before buds form, probably during the first week of May.   This will allow sunlight to continue to reach new seedlings below the alfalfa.   Then use your good judgement regarding competition from the existing alfalfa for subsequent hay cuts.   By mid- to late summer you could be able to start to graze rotationally.   The new seedlings won’t contribute much forage this year, but next year they should be a welcome addition.

Interseeding grass into existing alfalfa takes timely planting and haying, but both land and livestock can improve with your efforts.

Farm Succession Workshop in Pender to Offer Planning Strategies, Financial Tools

Nebraska Extension in Thurston County will host a two-part farm succession workshop in Pender for agricultural landowners, ranchers and farmers thinking about how they should proceed with plans to retire, exit or transfer the farm or ranch business. 

The series will be held March 12 and March 16, 1:30-3:30 p.m. each day, at the Pender Fire Hall, 314 Maple St.

Presenters will include Allan Vyhnalek, a Nebraska Extension educator, and Brandon Dirkschneider, a certified financial planner. Vyhnalek specializes in farm succession in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Dirkschneider is a certified farm transition coordinator.

 “Retiring or passing the farm to the next generation is difficult to think about and is an admission of your own impending demise,” said Allan Vyhnalek. “However, it is a necessary step and, with good planning, can be made as painless as possible.”   

The workshop is free, but registration is requested and can be completed by contacting Nebraska Extension in Thurston County at 402-385-6041.

The sessions will cover the importance of having a plan, proper family communications and proper family negotiations, as well as tools for estate planning and other financial strategies.

“Reactions from past participants can be summarized into one comment:  most wished that they had attended this workshop years earlier,” said Vyhnalek. “This program gives a good outline of the process farm and ranch businesses need to take to start or restart that process.” 

Two-part farm succession workshop
March. 12, 2020 and March 16, 2020
1:30-3:30 p.m.
Pender Fire Hall
314 Maple St.
Pender, NE 68047
Registration: 402-385-6041

For more information on Extension resources for transition in Nebraska, visit

Consumers Pay Organic Premiums – Chicken is King and Beef Lags

Elliott Dennis, UNL Livestock Marketing and Risk Management Economist

“Local” and “Organic” are two forms of production that have received considerable public attention in the last 10 years. The label of “Local” and “Organic” are noticeably vague and at times can cause confusion among consumers. The USDA has no specific definition of the “Local” label but work to promote locally grown products. The “Organic” label is more specific and “regulations require that animals are raised in living conditions accommodating their natural behaviors (like the ability to graze on pasture), fed 100% organic feed and forage, and not administered antibiotics or hormones” (USDA 2019).

Converting part or all an operation to certified “Organic” is one way to potentially add more profit to an enterprise. Each operation is different so careful analysis of the costs and benefits of switching production practices is clearly warranted prior to making any decisions. When processing the decision to convert production, one of the most common question I receive from producers is “Are consumers willing to pay more for Organic or Local beef over conventional beef?” The answer is generally, it depends.

This question is difficult to answer in part due to the lack of price reporting by USDA and the many retail cuts that can/should be monitored. Advertised prices from supermarkets provide a signal on what retailers believe is the profit maximizing price for select cuts but tell nothing about quantity purchased by consumers. Nevertheless, these advertised prices can be used to used to calculate the organic price premium during weeks where a select cut is advertised as Organic and Conventional. Using weekly data from the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA-AMS) between December 2018 to January 2020 I determine organic price premiums for select cuts for beef, pork, and chicken.

Organic Premiums Vary by Meat Product

The premium for organic beef ranged from $2.96/lb. for a boneless top sirloin steak to $6.47/lb. for a boneless New York strip steak. Organic ground beef premiums ranged from $2.00/lb. to $2.50/lb. Thus, on average, an organic steak was advertised at a $5.26/lb. premium over conventional steak and organic ground beef was advertised at a $2.18/lb. over conventional ground beef. Ground beef was the most advertised product whereas the type of steak advertised varied. Chicken products ranged from $2.01/lb. to $5.21/lb. Boneless organic products commanded a higher premium than bone-in products. For example, organic boneless and skinless chicken breasts had a $4.64/lb. premium compared to $2.01/lb. split bone-in breast. Likewise, stores tended to frequently advertise the same subsection of chicken products week to week. For example, of the 30 weeks of data, boneless and skinless organic chicken breasts was advertised during 28 of those weeks. The type of pork products advertised varied considerably. The most common was bacon and commanded a $4.17/lb. premium. Likewise, different types of sausage were advertised but premiums were generally lower than bacon.

Comparing organic beef premiums to organic premiums in pork and chicken sheds some light on why adoption of organic practices (i.e. no hormones and no antibiotics) in chicken has been more rapid than beef. Organic premium for a boneless chicken breast was $4.64 (194% of conventional price) compared to $6.02/lb. for a boneless ribeye steak (63% of conventional price). There appears to be a larger organic premium, as a percentage of conventional price, for lower valued products than for higher valued products. Given this premium there would be a greater incentive for adoption in chicken production than in beef production. Thus, the additional adoption of no hormones and no antibiotics in beef production is likely more of a result of towards capturing export, rather than domestic, demand for these attributes.

AGP Chairman Named Director of Year by NCFC

At the 2020 Annual Meeting of the National Council for Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC), Brad Davis, Chairman of the Board and President of Ag Processing Inc a cooperative (AGP), was named recipient of the award for Farmer Cooperative Director of the Year.

The prestigious award is presented annually to a farmer cooperative director in recognition of outstanding leadership and contributions to his/her cooperative’s achievements. Davis has served on the AGP Board of Directors for over 26 years and as AGP Chairman since 2002. During that time, Davis also served as General Manager of Gold‐Eagle Cooperative, a position he held for over 35 years. Overall, he held various roles in the cooperative system for more than 40 years.

“Brad’s leadership as Chairman of the AGP Board reflects his commitment to cooperative values and our mission to serve agriculture,” said AGP CEO Keith Spackler. “His insights and dedication to collaboration and communication enhance our strategic planning and investment programs, and have been an important part of the ongoing success of AGP.”

Commenting on his award, Davis said, “I’m very honored and humbled to receive this award and I want to sincerely thank the NCFC and its membership.”

He added, “The AGP Board of Directors and management have a very open and supportive relationship, and it is so rewarding to work with so many outstanding members of the AGP team. I believe the strength of the cooperative model at AGP mirrors a set of shared values we all strive to incorporate into our lives, our businesses, and our relationships. Moreover, I am proud of AGP’s commitment to share successes with its many cooperative owners, employees, and other stakeholders.”

The nominees for the award are examined by a panel of judges representing the NCFC membership and outside experts. Nominees are evaluated on four broad criteria: how well the nominee understands the cooperative; the ability to provide leadership and be a team player; the possession of good business judgment; and the ability to communicate effectively.

The NCFC Director of the Year award includes a dedicated scholarship for agricultural studies in the name of the recipient to an institution of higher learning of choice. Davis chose Iowa State University to receive the scholarship funds.

First NCTA dean candidate visit is March 11

Larry A. Gossen, Ph.D., a candidate being considered as the new Dean of the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture will visit Curtis on Wednesday, March 11 for a seminar and public reception.

Dr. Gossen currently is a State FFA Advisor with the Nebraska Department of Education, and is based in Lincoln. His career in agriculture education and FFA organizations spans over 40 years in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Nebraska.

The NCTA interview schedule for three candidate finalists was announced Monday by the NCTA Dean Search Committee, led by Dr. Tiffany Heng-Moss, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Dr. Gossen will meet with NCTA students, faculty, staff, alumni and stakeholders during a series of meetings over March 10-12.

He will present a campus seminar from 3:45 to 5 p.m. on March 11 in the auditorium of the Nebraska Agriculture Industry Education Center, Siminoe Drive and University Road.

A campus and community reception for Dr. Gossen will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Ed Center.

Additionally, two other finalists for NCTA Dean will visit Curtis March 15-17 and March 18-20, respectively.  Similar community events are being planned with Drs. Clyde Cranwell and Darrel Sandall.

Other details are available at

Pacific Ethanol Sells Interest in Pacific Aurora to Aurora Coop

Pacific Ethanol, Inc., a leading producer and marketer of low-carbon renewable fuels and high-quality alcohol products in the United States, announced today it has signed a definitive agreement to sell its 74% ownership interest in Pacific Aurora, LLC to the Aurora Cooperative Elevator Company (Aurora Cooperative) for $52.8 million of consideration, subject to certain working capital adjustments. Aurora Cooperative currently holds a 26% ownership interest in Pacific Aurora, LLC. Included in the sale are two ethanol production facilities with a combined annual production capacity of 145 million gallons, a grain elevator with storage capacity of 4.1 million bushels and integrated rail facilities located in Aurora, Nebraska. After working capital adjustments and the settlement of certain payables between Pacific Aurora, LLC and the Aurora Cooperative, the consideration received at closing is expected to be approximately $27 million in cash and $16.5 million in promissory notes. The sale is anticipated to close within the next 45 days, subject to customary closing conditions.

Neil Koehler, Pacific Ethanol’s president and CEO, stated, “We are pleased to come to agreement with our valued partner Aurora Cooperative. The sale of our interest is a win-win for both companies, strengthening Pacific Ethanol’s balance sheet while providing Aurora Cooperative with full ownership of these assets. We are confident that under Aurora Cooperative’s capable management and farmer ownership the facilities will provide value to the local community and the overall ethanol industry. We are committed to a smooth transition of operations and look forward to further collaboration with Aurora Cooperative in growing a successful ethanol business.”

Chris Vincent, Aurora Cooperative President and CEO, stated, “This investment is a great opportunity for Aurora Cooperative, its owners, and the communities that we support. We understand the significance that these two ethanol plants, grain facilities and rail assets mean to our owners. Achieving full ownership of this local destination market is pivotal to our shared success. We look forward to these assets providing long term value for our owners, our Cooperative and our communities.”

Iowa's Best Burger: Less Than Two Weeks To Nominate

There are less than two weeks to nominate your favorite burger joint and it’s a close race to the finish line for several Iowa restaurants vying for this year’s title of Iowa’s Best Burger. The annual contest, sponsored by the Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC) and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association (ICA), is looking to award this title to the best burger in the state.

“Restaurants are a valuable partner to the beef industry and play an important role in providing our customers with an enjoyable eating experience at an affordable price. A 100% real beef burger is a classic American favorite with a taste that can’t be beaten and this contest showcases just that,” says Kylie Peterson, IBIC’s Director of Marketing.

Nominations are being accepted online at The nomination period closes at 5:00 p.m. on March 10.

Details about the contest, rules, and voting form are available on the Iowa Beef Industry Council’s website, Burger lovers can also find a link to the online nomination form at the Iowa Beef Council Facebook page; or by texting BEEF to 313131. Photos of your favorite burger can be shared socially using #IABestBurger.

The quest to find Iowa’s best burger began on February 10. To qualify for the title, burgers must be a 100% real beef patty, served on a bun or bread products and be cooked to 160° F doneness.

The 10 restaurants with the most votes will be named on March 13. In addition to receiving the title of one of the Top 10 best burgers in the state, these finalists qualify for the title of Iowa’s Best Burger.  A secret panel of judges will visit each of these restaurants to taste and judge their burger to help us determine the winner.

“This contest is a hats-off to Iowa’s 25,000 beef farmers and the high-quality, wholesome, and nutritious beef they produce,” says Katie Olthoff, Director of Communications for ICA. “Our cattlemen and women raise a great tasting product that all Iowans can be proud of.”

Beef Checkoff, Pork Board Launch Deli Meat Month Campaign

This March, the North American Meat Institute, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff and The National Pork Board, administrator of the Pork Checkoff, are joining forces to observe and promote National Deli Meat Month. The two organizations have always honored the American favorite, but they are now adding some meat to the month-long celebration.

Together, NAMI, on behalf of the Beef Checkoff, and the Pork Board have created a significant outreach campaign directed to retailers, health professionals, dietitians, restaurateurs and consumers encourage them to enjoy their favorite deli meats - and remind them they can feel good about the nutritional benefits of these popular cuts. The centerpiece of this effort is a newly created website - - which provides a multitude of resources, including infographics, fact sheets, nutrition information and the latest news.

"March is a great time for Deli Meat Month because it's also National Nutrition Month," said Chris Jones, Director, Marketing Strategy at the Pork Board. "Deli meats provide a convenient source of protein, vitamins and minerals."

While the processed meat category is sometimes the target of critics, numerous studies and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans affirm that they can be part of a healthy, balanced diet.

"This month and every month, it is meaningful to note that prepared meats such as deli meats are an important part of meat's sustainability story," said Eric Mittenthal, Vice President of Sustainability for NAMI. "Animals produce far more than steaks, chops and roasts. Deli and other prepared meats provide nutrient, protein dense foods while allowing the industry to utilize more of every animal we harvest. This category contributes greatly to animal agriculture's ethical, nose-to-tail sustainability story."

No matter how you slice it, there are so many choices to tempt taste buds all month long. The deli meats category is diverse and offers choices to meet nutrition needs, tastes, budgets and personal preferences. Thousands of products are available in the meat case and include options that are low- and reduced-sodium, low- and reduced-fat, organic, grass-fed, American Heart Association certified, Kosher and more.

Farmer Survey Highlights Misconceptions About “Right to Repair”

Only a small fraction of farmers is aware of “right to repair” legislation that has been considered by state legislatures in recent years, according to a recent survey. The legislation would provide unfettered access to proprietary embedded code, jeopardizing the safety and sustainability of modern agricultural equipment, including tractors and combines. Out of more than 500 farmers surveyed, only 28% are aware of “right to repair” legislation. However, a majority of farmers believe that they should be able to repair their own equipment.

To help educate farmers about the safety, environmental, and legal risks associated with “right to repair” legislation, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) engaged attendees at last week’s Commodity Classic, the largest farmer-led convention and trade show in North America.

“Equipment manufacturers invest considerable resources in the research and development of advanced agricultural equipment that help farmers maximize their productivity,” said Stephanie See, AEM director of state government relations.” More than a dozen states are currently considering “right to repair” legislation, which would provide access to proprietary onboard diagnostics systems, which may result in loss of warranty, physical risk, violation of federal emission laws and accelerated engine wear.

The survey, commissioned by AEM, was conducted to gauge perceptions and understand awareness of “right to repair” laws across the country. The survey found that three out of four farmers (76%) believe that they already have the right to repair their own equipment. However, seven in 10 farmers (72%) also believe they should be able to conduct repairs to all aspects of their equipment, even if it relates to federally mandated safety or emissions standards.

“’Right to repair’ legislation is not about giving farmers the right to repair their equipment, they already have the ability to make most repairs,” explained See. “The issue here is illegal tampering, and we believe it is important that farmers understand the risks so they do not become victims and pay the cost of illegal tampering.”

Equipment manufacturers and dealers are dedicated to supporting farmers and their equipment needs, which is why AEM and the Equipment Dealers Association (EDA) have committed to make available a comprehensive toolkit of maintenance, diagnostic and repair information for tractors and combines by 2021. Many of the tools and resources referenced in the industry’s Statement of Principles are already available today. The toolkit includes access to the following:
• Manuals (operator, parts, service)
• Product guides
• Product service demonstrations, training, seminars or clinics
• Fleet management information
• On-board diagnostics via diagnostics port or wireless interface
• Electronic field diagnostic service tools, and training on how to use them
• Other publications with information on service, parts, operation and safety

“Proponents of the ‘right to repair’ bills have been pushing the false notion that farmers cannot fix their farming equipment without access to all of the equipment’s software and code. But in reality, efforts to pass these bills are not farmer-led initiatives but are being led by well-funded activists whose main goal is to gain unfettered access to the equipment’s technology,” said Ben Wikner, an Iowa farmer.

“Modern-era tractors are highly advanced pieces of machinery that improve our productivity, safety and environmental footprint. But I believe ‘right to repair’ laws would undermine all of these benefits while forcing manufacturers to relinquish proprietary information,” Wikner added.

To learn more about the industry’s Statement of Principles, visit

NFU Concludes 118th Anniversary Convention

The National Farmers Union (NFU) 118th Anniversary Convention concluded today following the adoption of the organization’s policy book and special orders of business. More than 500 family farmers and ranchers convened in Savannah, Georgia, to set policy positions and priorities that support American farm and ranch families and strengthen rural communities.

Delegates to the convention adopted the NFU Policy Book and six special orders of business that will guide the organization’s government affairs priorities over the course of the next year, especially as they relate to the tough economic circumstances and sustainability issues facing family farmers. Before the policy review began, they elected Rob Larew to succeed Roger Johnson as the organization’s president and reelected Patty Edelburg of Scandinavia, Wisconsin, to serve as NFU Vice President.

“The reason for Farmers Union’s longstanding success – and the reason why I am so enthusiastic about leading this organization – is its grassroots structure,” said newly elected Farmers Union President Larew. “Each year, our members set organizational directives and federal policy priorities in a democratic process, which ensures that the work we do in our national office is really in the best interest of the hard-working family farmers and ranchers feed, fuel, and clothe our nation.”

Convention attendees heard keynote remarks from Matt Paul, a nationally recognized expert in public affairs, and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. NFU President Roger Johnson delivered his final State of the Farmers Union address, offering an overview of his 11-year-long tenure and an optimistic outlook for the organization’s future. Additionally, the convention featured a panel on black land loss and voting rights and breakout sessions on precision agriculture, the history of grassroots organizing, regenerative farming, farm to table, and hemp production.

“Between low commodity prices, climate change, and trade uncertainty, there are so many challenges in farm country right now,” said Larew. “But there are so many bright spots too. As consumers get more interested in where their food comes from and how it’s made, new local and diverse agricultural markets are opening up. Conservation agriculture holds significant potential for financial and environmental benefits. Every day, new technologies are making it easier for farmers to improve efficiency and sustainability. And across the country, there’s a resurgence in support for family farm agriculture. So while this convention is a crucial opportunity to address the difficulties facing family farmers and ranchers, it’s also an opportunity to celebrate all the reasons we love agriculture and dedicate our lives to it.”

In order to provide the national organization a set of priorities for the coming year, 199 Farmers Union delegates approved six special orders of business:
– Family Farming and 2020: A Most Challenging Year
– Family Farming and the 2020 Election
– Family Farming and Cooperatives
– Family Farming and Climate Change
– Family Farming and Dairy Policy Reform
– Family Farming and Truth in Labeling and Promotion of Meat Products

Full text of the adopted policy manual will be available soon at

Ranch Group: "We Are In a Crisis But No One Is Listening"

In response to the late February announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that it will open the U.S. market to fresh beef from Brazil - a country with a history of engaging in corrupt food safety practices - R-CALF USA and its thousands of members are distributing a research paper to congressional offices titled Restoring Mandatory COOL for Beef Without Running Afoul of the WTO's Adverse Ruling.

R-CALF USA said today that Brazil could soon begin exporting significant quantities of fresh beef to the U.S. and current law does not require the foreign country-of-origin label - which is required on all imported beef when entering the U.S. market - to be retained through retail sale.

"This means the law does not require importers to keep the known country-of-origin information on the actual package of imported beef that is offered for sale to consumers at retail stores," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.

"This also means beef produced by America's cattle farmers and ranchers cannot compete against the soon-to-arrive increased quantities of Brazilian beef as both domestic and Brazilian beef will be labeled the same - they will each have identical USDA inspection stickers on them so consumers cannot tell them apart," he added.

Bullard said the only way to end this consumer deception and to allow American-produced beef to compete with the surpluses created by undifferentiated imports is for Congress to pass legislation requiring Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (M-COOL) on all beef products sold at retail stores.

Congress removed beef and pork from the current M-COOL law in late 2015, though the law continues to cover many other food products. And, while R-CALF USA and its members have been calling on Congress for the reinstatement of M-COOL for beef ever since, Congress has refused to take action.

Bullard said many R-CALF USA members have received "canned" responses from their congressional delegations stating Congress cannot reinstate M-COOL for beef because the World Trade Organization (WTO) has authorized Canada and Mexico to impose retaliatory tariffs of over $1 billion if the labeling requirements for beef were restored.

R-CALF USA's research paper addresses this issue directly and reveals that Congress should pass a new M-COOL law for beef that substantively changes the old law's recordkeeping and labeling requirements and that greatly expands the scope of products to be labeled.

According to Bullard, such a new law would not only render the WTO's prior ruling inapplicable, but it would greatly improve the old labeling regime for beef and provide M-COOL labels on even more beef products purchased by American consumers.

"This action is absolutely imperative now that the Trump Administration is encouraging even more undifferentiated beef to enter our domestic market. Imperative because America's family-owned cattle farms and ranches have seen their average annual incomes over the past three years slashed by nearly 20% compared to the average 5-year income they received before the Trump Administration took office.

"America's cow/calf producers, the largest segment of America's cattle industry, have seen the average value of their cattle slashed by nearly $200 per head during the past three years and many of them will not survive past this year's election.

"We are in a crisis, but no one is listening. The least Congress or the Trump Administration can do is give America's cattle producers the tool they need to compete against imported beef in their own domestic market. We hope our research paper will trigger someone to act," Bullard concluded.

Experts Weigh in on Tradeoffs of Plant and Animal Proteins

Will plant-based diets save the planet? Is animal protein important for health? Questions continue to swirl around the pros and cons of animal and plant protein-based diets, particularly as accessibility of plant-based alternatives grows and the climate conversation amplifies. The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) has assembled a diverse panel of experts to offer insights into the tradeoffs during a free webinar, “Experts Weigh In: Evaluating Tradeoffs of Plant and Animal Proteins.”

Scheduled for Monday, April 6, 1 to 2 p.m. CDT, the webinar features three experts in food and agriculture. Melissa Joy Dobbins, MS, RDN, CDE, a nationally recognized registered dietitian nutritionist known as The Guilt-Free RD®, will discuss the pros and cons of plant-based vs. animal-protein diets. Polly Ruhland, CEO of the United Soybean Board, will provide perspective from a commodity that’s involved in both the animal protein and plant protein spaces. Ruhland will also detail USB’s new “Protein First” approach that encourages industry collaboration across all protein types. Frank Mitloehner, Ph.D., is a professor and air quality specialist in cooperative extension in the Department of Animal Science at the University of California, Davis, whose focus includes understanding and mitigating air emissions from livestock operations, as well as the implications of these emissions for the health and safety of farm workers and neighboring communities.

CFI CEO Charlie Arnot will outline a three-pronged process as part of CFI’s Optimizing Sustainability program that offers free tools to help the food industry navigate sustainability decisions, as one well-meaning decision can have unintended and significant consequences that actually undermine a sustainable food system.

“A variety of interest groups and other organizations are harnessing the increased interest in the evolving definition of sustainability to capture opportunity or promote a specific agenda,” said Arnot. “As a result, a new and growing challenge is the focus on a single ingredient, process or practice without accounting for the potential impact on the entire food chain.”

Initially, sustainability was primarily focused on protecting environmental resources, but today’s consumers are concerned with a variety of issues, including health and wellness, animal welfare, worker treatment, food waste and more, said Arnot.

Register for the webinar at More information on CFI’s Optimizing Sustainability resources can be downloaded

Nutrition Coalition Urges Congress to Ask Secretary Perdue How USDA Will Address The Obesity Epidemic in Rural America

With the obesity epidemic continuing to rise dramatically in rural communities across the country, today the Nutrition Coalition, a group that aims to bring rigorous science to nutrition policy, is urging Congress to ask U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue how the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) intends to address the epidemic in the next iteration of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) when he appears in front of the House Committee on Agriculture this week. Secretary Perdue will testify in front of the House Committee on Agriculture on Wednesday at 10:00am.

The federal government has published the Dietary Guidelines—the principal policy guiding diet in the United States—with the goals of promoting good health, helping Americans reach a healthy weight, and preventing chronic disease. However, since the launch of the DGA in 1980, the incidence of chronic, diet-related diseases in America has dramatically increased. Adult obesity rates have doubled; childhood obesity rates have nearly tripled; and two-thirds of American adults are now overweight or have obesity. The CDC has also found that obesity prevalence is significantly higher among adults living in rural counties.

“Our nation’s dietary guidelines are based on weak scientific evidence and because they focus mainly on “healthy Americans,” exclude over 60% of the population who have a nutrition-related disease. With nearly one in five Americans living in rural areas, and half of the country expected to have obesity by 2030, our nation’s dietary guidelines must account for all Americans, not just for those who are healthy,” said Nina Teicholz, Executive Director of The Nutrition Coalition. “Congress must urge USDA to reform the guidelines so that they are based on the best and most rigorous science. Only then will they be able to help Americans fight nutrition-related diseases.”

Saturated fats, for example, have been limited by the DGA for decades, however there is no strong scientific evidence that links these fats to cardiovascular or total mortality.

Responding to this lack of evidence, a group of leading nutrition scientists, including three former members of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, earlier this month challenged the current recommendation to limit the consumption of saturated fats, agreeing that the most rigorous and current science fails to support a continuation this policy.

Members of the group wrote a consensus statement on saturated fats and also sent a letter regarding their findings to the Secretaries of USDA and HHS. The letter urged USDA-HHS to give “serious and immediate consideration to lifting the limits placed on saturated fat intake for the upcoming 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.”

For more information, please visit

Monday March 2 Ag News - Welcome to a New Month!

Sprayer Maintenance Tips for Spring
Amy Timmerman – NE Extension Educator

Prior to spring field operations, ensuring your equipment is ready can save valuable time and reduce stress when windows get tight due to weather conditions. The sprayer is a critical piece of equipment in most crop production operations. Ensuring your sprayer is mechanically sound, clean, and properly setup will help ensure quality and timely applications of spring fertilizer and pesticides.

Nozzle selection and setup

The spray nozzles are a critical piece of quality spray applications. Take time to look at the products you plan to apply in 2020 and evaluate if the nozzles you already have will work well with those products at the speeds and pressure you plan to operate in. Some chemicals like dicamba and 2,4-D products have strict nozzle requirements whereas other products like glyphosate allow more choices. For example, there are only four types of TeeJet nozzles approved for use with Enlist Duo herbicide (nozzle specifications on page three). When applying multiple products, refer to the label with the most strict nozzle requirements to select your nozzle for that application. If you operate at a wide range of speeds and pressures during the season you may want to evaluate the benefits of a PWM (pulse-width modulated) spray system to provide a broader range of nozzle flow rates while managing droplet size more consistently.

Running the sprayer with water to evaluate nozzle performance before the season starts is a best practice. Ensure this is done in a safe manner with proper personal protective equipment. This allows you to check the flow through each nozzle. While this can be time consuming, it helps you identify worn, plugged, or damaged nozzles. Using a tool like a Spot-On Calibrator can make this process quicker and simpler.

Nozzles with debris build up can cause significant deviations in flow between nozzles on a common rail boom setup. The debris will cause the affected nozzle to experience a different pressure than non-plugged nozzles on another area of the boom and create rate variation across the boom. This illustrates the importance of recognizing the quality of water you are spraying and taking appropriate measures to protect your system from debris.   This might include additional strainers on the loading lines of the machine and cleaning nozzles more frequently.   It’s also good to examine nozzle alignment during this process. Nozzle holders or mounts can bend or move (especially if booms frequently hit the ground or other obstructions). Proper alignment ensures the optimum spray pattern is maintained by your machine.

Solution plumbing

It’s always recommended that the machine’s plumbing is cleaned regularly to avoid chemical build up and potential cross contamination. Double check these areas prior to heading to the field in 2020.
Strainers are crucial to ensuring particulate doesn’t get into the solution system or nozzles. Regular cleaning of all strainers on the machine is always recommended. Some machines have multiple strainers on the chassis or boom.

Inspect the machine plumbing for hoses that are not properly secured, sagging, or have excess wear. Sagging or kinked hoses can impede solution flow and cause chemicals to become trapped in these areas. Replace worn hoses and tie up loose hoses.

Remove and check the end caps on solution tubes for buildup and clean if needed.

Depending on the type of flowmeter your system uses, remove the insert and ensure it’s clean and can move freely.

Have the flowmeter on your machine re-calibrated. Your local equipment dealer or rate control supplier can assist you with this process.

The fencerow nozzles are typically the first to be broken on a machine due to their placement. If equipped on your machine, make sure the nozzles and plumbing are in good working order and the system is functional if you intend to use it.

Check around fittings for any chemical residue or evidence of leaks.

Inspect the foam marking systems if equipped. While many operators don’t use these today, they can come in handy if your machine experiences GPS problems.

General machine maintenance

It’s important to make sure your sprayer is mechanically sound. Consult your owner’s manual for checklists and specifications to evaluate during this process. Make sure greasable parts and joints are properly lubricated, machine fluids are at the proper level, filters are clean and in good condition, and tire mounting nuts are properly torqued and in good condition. Many boom suspension components require frequent lubrication to ensure adequate movement and can have an impact on boom height control performance. Sprayer tires also are important to evaluate and check. Due to the high speeds and axle loads experienced by sprayer tires, they need to be in good operating condition and properly inflated.

Taking time to inspect and maintain your sprayer now is one step to preparing for a smooth spring.


The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources has designated March 9-13 as CASNR Week. The 20th annual event will celebrate the successes of the college’s students, faculty, staff and alumni.

The week kicks off with a pancake breakfast beginning at 7:30 a.m. March 9 in the Animal Science Commons Area. A Nebraska East Union mid-renovation open house will follow at 11 a.m.

Other events include a blood drive, fireside chat with Peace Corps representatives, “I Love NU” advocacy day, Ag Olympics, and the Dairy Store relocation celebration and ice cream social. The week will conclude with an invite-only awards luncheon March 13 at the International Quilt Museum.

The CASNR Week schedule:

March 9:
> 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.: Pancake breakfast, Animal Science Commons Area
> 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Nebraska Community Blood Bank blood drive, mobile unit on East Campus Mall
> 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Nebraska East Union mid-renovation open house

March 10:
> 7:30 to 9 a.m.: Doughnuts and bacon, Agricultural Hall
> 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Fireside chat with the Peace Corps, Fireplace Lounge, Nebraska East Union’s second floor
> 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.: “I Love NU” advocacy day, Nebraska State Capitol
> 4 to 7 p.m.: “Encounter CASNR” Community Night, Hardin Hall

March 11:
> 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: “Lunch in The Lobby,” Animal Science Commons Area
> 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Dog agility demonstration, Animal Science Complex, R.B. Warren Arena
> Noon to 2 p.m.: Resume Lab, Animal Science Complex Hub
> 5 to 9 p.m.: Ag Olympics, Animal Science Commons, R.B. Warren Arena

March 12:
> Noon to 12:50 p.m.: Ron and Marilyn Hanson Appreciation Luncheon (invite only), Hardin Hall
> 2 to 5 p.m.: Dairy Store relocation celebration and ice cream social, Dairy Store
> 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.: Homerathon, readings of “Works and Days,” Dairy Store

March 13:
> 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Steve and Jessie Waller CASNR Awards Luncheon (invite only), International Quilt Museum

For more information, visit

USDA Provides Funds to Nebraska for Agricultural Pest and Disease Protection

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is allocating funding to Nebraska from Section 7721 of the Plant Protection Act as part of its effort to strengthen the nation’s infrastructure for pest detection and surveillance, identification, and threat mitigation, and to safeguard the U.S. nursery production system. Overall, USDA is providing almost $70 million in funding this year to support 386 projects in 48 States, The District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico. USDA provides this funding under the authority of the Plant Protection Act Section 7721.

“Nebraska is a critical partner in protecting U.S. agriculture,” said USDA Under Secretary Greg Ibach. “Through these projects, Nebraska will be able to better protect its own resources, and, contribute to USDA’s mission of keeping our nation’s agriculture economy healthy and strong.”

Imported products bring the risk of invasive plant pests that can affect both nursery and commercial agricultural production. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) will conduct surveys for invasive nursery pests at locations across the State. The results will assist nursery stock producers in maintaining their pest-free status and ability to produce and distribute nursery stock nationwide. In 2018 alone, NDA inspected over 1,600 nursery production acres including field and greenhouse sites.

NDA will also use the funds to survey for khapra beetle, a pest of stored grain that could cause significant economic damage if it were to enter and become established in this country. These surveys are essential for early detection and rapid response. NDA will also use its khapra beetle survey results to support continued foreign market access for Nebraska’s grain exports.

In addition, NDA will survey potato production areas in the State following procedures and protocols set by USDA to demonstrate the Nebraska’s continued freedom from potato cyst nematode. They will also use USDA funds to support academic research to enhance diagnostics for cyst and root-knot nematodes. Nebraska will receive close to $60,000 in funding to support these projects.

Since 2009, USDA has supported more than 4,000 projects and provided nearly $600 million in funding through the Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program. Collectively, these projects allow USDA and its partners to quickly detect and rapidly respond to invasive pests and diseases. They also help our country maintain the infrastructure necessary to make sure that disease-free, certified planting materials are available to U.S. specialty crop producers.

As the United States and the world celebrate the International Year of Plant Health in 2020, this funding highlights USDA’s continued commitment to safeguarding our agricultural resources for current and future generations.

You can view the FY 2020 Plant Protection Act, Section 7721 spending plans on the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Web site at

Winter Webinar to Focus on Pasture and Forage Management

Beef cow-calf producers recognize the importance of staying informed on all aspects of their operation, and the fourth and final webinar in the Winter Cow Webinar series from the Iowa Beef Center will help do that. The session is set for March 10, from 6-8 p.m., and focuses on pasture and forage management.

The series is intended to provide timely topics for beef cow management and the opportunity for producers to access the information by joining the webinar at their own location or at any of the nine host sites listed below, according to Iowa State University Extension and Outreach program specialist Beth Reynolds.

Rebecca Vittetoe, field agronomist with ISU Extension and Outreach, will begin the discussion with information on spring forage management. Jeff Mathias, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service state grasslands specialist, will share information on some changes to grazing CRP. The final speaker of the night is Adam Janke, assistant professor and extension wildlife specialist at Iowa State, who will talk about wildlife interactions when grazing.

There is no cost to attend an in-person location or to view the webinar at home. Participants who plan to attend one of the in-person locations listed below are encouraged to preregister by calling the host location.

To view the webinar from your own location, you’ll need to complete the online registration form 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.

Fats and Oils: Oilseed Crushings, Production, Consumption and Stocks

Soybeans crushed for crude oil was 5.66 million tons (189 million bushels) in January 2020, compared with 5.54 million tons (185 million bushels) in December 2019 and 5.49 million tons (183 million bushels) in January 2019. Crude oil produced was 2.15 billion pounds up 2 percent from December 2019 and up 2 percent from January 2019. Soybean once refined oil production at 1.37 billion pounds during January 2020 increased 1 percent from December 2019 but decreased 2 percent from January 2019.

2019 Fats and Oils Oilseed Crushings, Production, Consumption and Stocks

Soybeans crushed for crude oil was 62.6 million tons in 2019, a decrease of 1 percent from 2018.  Crude oil production was 24.1 billion pounds, up less than 1 percent from 2018.

Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production

Total corn consumed for alcohol and other uses was 519 million bushels in January 2020. Total corn consumption was down 2 percent from December 2019 but up 5 percent from January 2019. January 2020 usage included 92.2 percent for alcohol and 7.8 percent for other purposes. Corn consumed for beverage alcohol totaled 2.70 million bushels, down 17 percent from December 2019 and down 6 percent from January 2019. Corn for fuel alcohol, at 469 million bushels, was down 2 percent from December 2019 but up 6 percent from January 2019. Corn consumed in January 2020 for dry milling fuel production and wet milling fuel production was 90.0 percent and 10.0 percent, respectively.

Dry mill co-product production of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) was 1.95 million tons during January 2020, up 2 percent from December 2019 and up 7 percent from January 2019. Distillers wet grains (DWG) 65 percent or more moisture was 1.39 million tons in January 2020, down 1 percent from December 2019 but up 2 percent from January 2019.

Wet mill corn gluten feed production was 308,081 tons during January 2020, up 1 percent from December 2019 and up 17 percent from January 2019. Wet corn gluten feed 40 to 60 percent moisture was 258,481 tons in January 2020, up slightly from December 2019 and up 2 percent from January 2019.

2019 Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production

Total corn consumed for alcohol for 2019 was 5.45 billion bushels, down 4 percent from 2018. Corn for beverage alcohol in 2019 totaled 41.1 million bushels, up 16 percent from 2018. Corn for fuel alcohol was 5.33 billion bushels in 2019, down 4 percent from 2018. 

Dry mill co-product production of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) was 22.6 million tons during 2019, down 5 percent from 2018. Distillers wet grains (DWG) 65 percent or more moisture was 15.7 million tons in 2019, down 3 percent from 2018.  Distillers dried grain (DDG) was 4.30 million tons in 2019, down 7 percent from 2018.

Wet mill corn gluten feed production was 3.47 million tons during 2019, down 4 percent from 2018. Wet corn gluten feed 40 to 60 percent moisture was 2.95 million tons, down 5 percent from 2018.


According to newly released figures by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), alfalfa is the nation’s third most valuable field crop, valued at over $10.8 billion. “Alfalfa continues to provide tremendous value to the nation’s farmers,” said Beth Nelson, President of the National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance (NAFA). “Not only is it the premier feed for dairy and beef cattle, but its value as a cash crop is undeniable. In terms of total protein per acre, there’s nothing better.”

Alfalfa is best known for its value and importance as a high-protein feed source in dairy and beef production systems, but few are aware of alfalfa’s many benefits in protecting the soil, providing wildlife habitat, and fixing biological nitrogen so farmers require less fertilizer on subsequent crops.

Alfalfa is key to sustainable agricultural systems and is an economic engine in rural communities. In terms of value, it is the nation’s third most valuable field crop following corn and soybean. It is also the ultimate regenerative crop, increasing biodiversity, enriching soils, improving watersheds, and enhancing ecosystems.

Alfalfa must offer a competitive value for farmers in order to provide these benefits and maintain and expand its acreage base. Yields of other major cropping choices have significantly surpassed alfalfa due, in part, to the vast amount of public research dedicated to these other crops. Being recognized in policy and public research funding decisions is critical in keeping pace with other cropping choices.

Alfalfa farmers in 42 states produced dry hay valued at $9.1 billion in 2019. In 17 of those states, farmers also produced alfalfa haylage, valued at an additional $1.7 billion, bringing total crop value to $10.8 billion, according to NASS.

Crop Insurance Guarantees Fall in 2020

John Newton, Chief Economist, American Farm Bureau

USDA’s recently released spring crop insurance prices for corn and soybeans were among the lowest in the last 10 years. Cotton prices dropped as well, down nearly 7% from last year. Not only is crop insurance a key risk management tool for farmers, creditors often use the spring crop insurance prices and revenue to establish a minimum income level (but also including other farm financial indicators) and determine how much credit they will extend to a farmer. Additionally, many monitoring the markets use the spring prices to evaluate potential corn and soybean acreage shifts.

2020 Spring Crop Insurance Prices

The 2020 corn crop insurance price was announced at $3.88 per bushel, down 12 cents, or 3%, from last year. The 2020 spring price is the lowest since 2016’s $3.86 per bushel and the second lowest in the last decade.

For soybeans, the spring price was announced at $9.17 per bushel, down nearly 4%, or 27 cents per bushel. Like corn, the spring soybean price is the second lowest in a decade, behind only 2016’s $8.85 per bushel.

The spring cotton price was announced at 68 cents, down 5 cents per pound and nearly 7% lower than 2019’s price.

Clue for Acreage?

While the spring price discovery is important for crop insurance policies, many in the trade also use the spring prices to evaluate potential acreage shifts for corn and soybeans during the upcoming crop year. USDA’s recent Agricultural Outlook Forum provided a first look at acreage projections for cotton and grains and oilseeds for the 2020/21 crop year. Corn acres were projected at 94 million acres, up 4.8%, or 4.3 million acres, from the prior year. Soybean acres were projected at 85 million acres, up nearly 12%, or 8.9 million acres, from 2019. Combined, corn and soybeans are expected to add more than 13 million acres in 2020.

Importantly, these price guarantees are not fixed. Many producers elect to purchase the harvest price option, which utilizes the maximum of the spring or harvest price to determine if a farm has suffered a loss and may assist growers by indemnifying at the replacement value of the crop (if the harvest price is greater than the spring price). The potential exists for harvest prices to increase during the growing season if there is another adverse weather event or demand accelerates on the back of recently signed trade agreements. Harvest prices could also decrease if supplies are larger than anticipated, or demand is lower than currently projected – the latter being an outcome that is increasingly likely for each day that COVID-19 weighs on markets and global supply chains.

Farmers Union Kicks Off 118th Anniversary Convention

National Farmers Union (NFU) officially convened its 118th Anniversary Convention this afternoon in Savannah, Georgia, to celebrate American farm families and to set the organization’s policy positions and priorities for the coming year. More than 500 Farmers Union members from across the country are gathered for the annual event, which runs through March 3.

“At its core, Farmers Union is a grassroots, family farmer-led organization, a fact that is best illustrated at our annual convention,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “Every year, this event brings together family farmers of all types, sizes, and backgrounds around the shared goal of economic prosperity and social justice.”

Over the next three days, Farmers Union members will engage with industry experts, policymakers, thought leaders, and fellow farmers on the issues that matter most to them, including the farm economy, mental health, corporate consolidation in the agricultural sector, climate change and sustainability, and the success of the next generation of family farmers. Keynote remarks at this year’s convention will be delivered Matt Paul, a nationally recognized expert in public affairs, and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. NFU President Roger Johnson will deliver his final State of the Farmers Union speech here tonight at the convention opening banquet.

The convention will also feature a panel on black land loss and voting rights with the Federation of Southern Cooperative’s executive director Cornelius Blanding and director of land retention and advocacy Monica Rainge, as well as Latrice Hill, national director of outreach for the Farm Service Agency. The panel will be moderated by Karis Gutter, who leads government and industry affairs for Corteva Agriscience.

These conversations will set the stage for the organization’s annual line-by-line policy review during the final day and a half of the convention. “Through our grassroots policy adoption process, Farmers Union members determine the direction of the organization and the issues we will bring attention to in Washington, D.C. over the coming year,” Johnson explained. “Because the policies adopted this week truly represent the collective interests and concerns of America’s farm and ranch families, they will carry significant weight and credibility in the nation's capital.”

Convention attendees will also be treated to award ceremonies, a screening of the documentary “Fantastic Fungi,” and the choice of several breakout sessions that explore new and burgeoning corners of the industry, such as precision agriculture, the history of grassroots organizing, regenerative farming, farm to table, and hemp production.

More information on convention programming can be found at

Larew to Lead National Farmers Union as its Next President

Delegates to the National Farmers Union (NFU) 118th Anniversary Convention today elected Rob Larew to succeed Roger Johnson as the organization’s president. Patty Edelburg, a Wisconsin dairy farmer, was reelected to serve a second term as vice president. Larew and Edelburg’s two-year terms begin today and will conclude at NFU’s 120th Anniversary Convention in 2022, at which point both may seek reelection.

“I am so honored that the farmers and ranchers, rural Americans, and advocates who make National Farmers Union all that it is have entrusted me with this great responsibility,” said Larew. “Under Roger’s leadership, this organization has grown and flourished. I look forward to building on those accomplishments to further expand the reach and strengthen the reputation of Farmers Union.”

Larew, who was raised on a West Virginia dairy farm, served as NFU’s Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Communications since fall 2016. In that role, he oversaw 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.

Peterson Congratulates Larew on Election as National Farmers Union President

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson of Minnesota congratulated new National Farmers Union President Rob Larew on his election at the NFU annual convention Monday in Savannah, Ga.

“Rob is a smart leader and a knowledgeable voice on food and farm issues,” said Peterson. “Farmers Union will benefit greatly from his experience, and I look forward to continuing to work with NFU to protect and strengthen America’s farm and ranch families.”

Prior to his time with Farmers Union, Larew served for 22 years as a Congressional and USDA staffer, first in Congressman Peterson’s personal office, then with Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone, before returning to the House Agriculture Committee, where he served as Staff Director for the Democratic staff on the 2008 and 2014 Farm Bills.  He also served at the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

USDA Announces Commodity Credit Corporation Lending Rates for March 2020

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Credit Corporation today announced interest rates for March 2020, which are effective March 1-March 31, 2020.

The Commodity Credit Corporation borrowing rate-based charge for March is 1.500 percent, same as in February.

The interest rate for crop year commodity loans less than one year disbursed during March is 2.500 percent, same as in February.

Interest rates for Farm Storage Facility Loans for March include:
-    1.375 percent with three-year loan terms, down from 1.625 percent in February;
-    1.375 percent with five-year loan terms, down from 1.625 percent in February;
-    1.500 percent with seven-year loan terms, down from 1.750 percent in February;
-    1.625 percent with 10-year loan terms down from 1.875 percent in February; and
-    1.625 percent with 12-year loan terms, down from 1.875 percent in February.

Visit for more information on loan eligibility, the application process or to find your local service center.

Allen elects to retire as Deere Board chairman May 1st

After a 45-year career of distinction and achievement, Samuel R. Allen has elected to retire May 1 from his current position as chairman of the Deere & Company Board of Directors.

The Deere board has elected John C. May, the company's chief executive officer, to become chairman upon Allen's retirement. The actions are another step in the company's systematic process of leadership transition.

Allen has been chairman of the board of directors since 2010 and served as the company's chief executive officer from 2009 to 2019. May was named CEO in November 2019.

"As a result of Sam's leadership and vision, John Deere has developed a more dynamic business model and is uniquely positioned to capitalize on the demographic and technological trends that are defining the future of our businesses," said May.

Allen led the company to record growth and success. Over his decade of leadership, the company expanded its customer base, increased its global footprint, and made major gains in innovation and precision technologies.

"This was also a time of unmatched financial success which included nine of the ten highest-earning years in company history," May said.

"One of the most significant developments of the period was the emergence of precision technologies as a major factor in our industries. Sam established the Intelligent Solutions Group in 2012 to develop these technologies and help bring them to market," May added. "Today products equipped with these advanced capabilities are making our customers far more productive while helping reshape Deere as a smart industrial company."

Allen is also credited with his emphasis on responsible corporate citizenship. During his tenure as chief executive, the company's investment in philanthropic activities more than doubled, to some $38 million annually. During this time, Deere also launched the global employee-volunteerism program, which has recorded nearly one-million hours of volunteer service since its start in 2010.

Allen joined Deere as an industrial engineer in 1975 after graduating from Purdue University. In 2001, Allen joined the company's senior management team as senior vice president for human resources and industrial relations. Two years later, he was named president of financial services, power systems, and human resources.

Then in 2005, Allen became president of Deere's construction and forestry and power systems businesses. He was elected president and chief operating officer and a member of the board of directors in June 2009 and became Deere's ninth chief executive officer in August of that year.

May joined the board in August of 2019 and became Deere's tenth chief executive officer in November.

"As chairman, John will lead the board with the collaborative style and strategic, operating, and technical skills so capably demonstrated over his 23-year career with Deere," said Allen.

May joined Deere in 1997 and became part of the senior management team in 2012 as president of agricultural solutions and chief information officer. In 2018, he was named president of the Worldwide Agriculture & Turf Division, with responsibility for the Americas and Australia; the global harvesting, turf and utility, and crop care platforms; and intelligent-solutions group.

Agency Releases Annual Automotive Trends Report Showing Marginal Increases in Fuel Economy

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its annual Automotive Trends Report, which provides the public with a single source of information about new light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, fuel economy, technology data, and auto manufacturers' performance in light of the agency’s GHG emissions standards.

“Today’s auto trends report provides insights into consumer choice and current market trends. Once again we see marginal improvements in fuel economy, but they are yet a far cry from the unfeasible Obama Administration’s standards,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “These concerns are top of mind and play a key role in the finalization of our Safe Affordable Fuel Efficient Vehicles Rule with the U.S. Department of Transportation, which when finalized will reduce the cost of new vehicles and protect consumer choice.”

The report finds that Model Year (MY) 2018 vehicle fuel economy was 25.1 miles per gallon, slightly higher than the 24.9 miles per gallon MY 2017. Since MY 2004, when the fleet averaged 19.3 mpg, fuel economy and CO2 emissions have improved in twelve out of fourteen years.

The report also assesses compliance performance for individual automakers, and for the U.S. fleet as a whole, with the greenhouse gas emissions standards for light-duty vehicles. Once again, only 3 large manufacturers complied with MY 2018 standards based on the technology levels of their vehicles alone. When accounting for credits however, the report shows all large manufacturers are in compliance. Most large manufacturers used banked credits, along with technology improvements, to maintain compliance in MY 2018.

The report highlights the large consumer shift towards sport utility vehicles (SUV). SUVs continue to gain market share – reaching record high 46 percent market share in MY 2019.

To read the full Automotive Trends Report, please visit:


This annual report is part of the EPA’s commitment to providing the public with transparent information about new light-duty vehicle GHG emissions, fuel economy, technology data, and auto manufacturers' performance in meeting the agency’s GHG emissions standards. This report includes content previously published in two separate reports, the Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends Report, and the GHG Manufacturer Performance Report. These reports have now been combined to provide a more comprehensive analysis.

EPA has collected data on every new light-duty vehicle model sold in the United States since 1975. Data is collected to support several national programs, including EPA criteria pollutant and GHG standards, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, and vehicle Fuel Economy and Environment labels.

Ranch Group Goes Back to Court with New Information on USDA's RFID Mandate

On Friday, Harriet Hageman, Senior Litigation Counsel for the New Civil Liberties Alliance, filed a new motion in the Wyoming federal district court on behalf of R-CALF USA and ranchers Tracy and Donna Hunt and Kenny and Roxy Fox. The new motion reveals that despite the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) assurances to the court that it is no longer pursuing its RFID mandate, and will not initiate any plans to do so without first providing America's cattle producers with a lawful notice and opportunity to comment, a recently published article under the USDA's control continues to promote those requirements and another such article is scheduled for publication next month.

In October 2019 the ranch group filed a lawsuit alleging that the USDA had unlawfully issued a mandate to require cattle producers to begin using by January 1, 2023, RFID eartags on every head of adult cattle shipped across state lines. Shortly thereafter the USDA withdrew the RFID mandate and asked the court to dismiss the case on the grounds that, having withdrawn the requirement, the case was now moot.

The court agreed that USDA's withdrawal of its mandate had effectively eliminated the controversy between the parties, and it issued an order dismissing the case. However, an almost identical document describing the USDA's RFID mandate was published in the February 2020 edition of the Nebraska Cattleman. The February document, replete with official USDA letterhead and logo, states that the RFID mandate would now take effect as part of "Phase 3" of the agency's plan for implementing the use of mandatory RFID technology.

Hageman contacted counsel for the USDA and was informed that the USDA considered the publication of this new document an oversight on the part of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. Hageman was further informed that the new document would also be published in the March edition of the Nebraska Cattleman.

Hageman's most recent motion asks the court to reconsider its previous order to dismiss the case in light of this new information that demonstrates the USDA continues to move forward with a plan to mandate RFID, that it has refused to take steps to prevent the publication of this misinformation, and that it has utterly failed to properly notify the public that the RFID requirement has been withdrawn. Hageman states that USDA's actions are contrary to its prior assurance to the court that no such plans would be pursued without following the lawful notice and comment rulemaking process.

"The USDA's unwillingness to fix this problem speaks volumes. We are frustrated by the agency's refusal to ensure that livestock producers, States and other stakeholders are aware of the fact that there is no RFID mandate in place. The USDA seems to be intentionally creating confusion when it should be clear that the 2013 Regulation governs animal identification and that the agency has no legal authority to require the producers to do something else." Hageman said.

"We're somewhat at a loss to understand the USDA's caviler attitude toward this blatant example of a federal agency that believes it is above the law and can infringe upon the rights, liberties and freedoms of America's cattle producers with impunity," said R-CALF USA Bill Bullard adding, "We hope our federal court system will apply adequate checks to rein in this agency."

Friday February 28 Ag News

 NE Senators Concerned About Lifting of Brazilian Beef Ban

U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, joined a bipartisan group of Senate colleagues in signing a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue expressing concerns over the agency’s recent decision to lift the U.S. ban on Brazilian raw beef imports.

“Given that the United States halted Brazilian raw beef imports less than one year after Brazil was granted access in 2016, we have serious concerns about Brazil’s ability to maintain adequate food safety standards over the long run,” the letter reads.

The U.S. cited concerns over public health, poor sanitary conditions, and animal health when it last halted Brazilian raw beef imports in 2017.

The letter was led by Senator Thune (R-S.D.), and also signed by Senators Tester (D-Mont.), Daines (R-Mont.), Moran (R-Kan.), Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Rounds (R-S.D.), Cramer (R-N.D.), Hoeven (R-N.D.), Enzi (R-Wyo.), Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Booker (D-N.J.), Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Peters (D-Mich).

 9th Annual NE Innovative Youth Corn Challenge

Do you enjoy being outside and earning new things about crops? Are you considering a career involving crops, insects, diseases, soils, water or more? Do you want to help figure out how to feed our world's growing population in a sustainable way?

Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Corn Board are offering the Ninth Innovative Youth Corn Challenge contest. This contest, open to 4-H members (age 10 & older as of Jan. 1st) or FFA members (in-school members), guides participants through all aspects of corn production, as well as agricultural careers related to corn production.

As a team (2 or more participants), youth will be challenged to implement a production practice different than normal to determine if they increased their yield. Economics and sustainability of the practice will also be considered. Yields, cropping history, and production information will be collected in the Corn Yield Challenge management summary.

Cash prizes and plaques are given. First place receives $1,000, second place receives $500, and third place receives $250. Sustainability, crop scouting and "extra mile" awards are also given as cash awards.   

To participate in 2020, youth must register by March 15th to the Fillmore County Extension Office in Geneva, NE. Details can be found at the CropWatch youth activities page. For more information, contact Brandy VanDeWalle at

New NebGuide - Crop Management to Reduce Soil Nitrous Oxide Emissions in Nebraska

A new NebGuide, G2322, authored by Bijesh Maharjan, Virginia Jin, Laila Puntel, Javed Iqbal, Tyler Williams, Humberto Blanco and Charles Wortmann, is available in both html and PDF formats.

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is the greenhouse gas most associated with crop production. This NebGuide covers basic information about nitrous oxide. It addresses the following practices for effects on soil N2O emission with considerations of cost-effectiveness.

1.    Avoid excessive irrigation for no-cost reduction of N2O emission.

2.    Reduce fertilizer-N applied and the amount of residual soil nitrate-N
        Reduce fertilizer-N rates to the most profitable rates for no-cost reduction of N2O emission
        Apply N at 25 lb/ac below the most profitable rate for very low-cost reduction of N2O emission
        In-season N application for sandy loam or sandier soil, often for no-cost or low-cost reduction of N2O emission
        Better crediting of manure-N for no-cost reduction of N2O emission
        Less corn-corn, often for no-cost reduction of N2O emission, and
        Alfalfa in rotation, especially in community wellhead protection areas, often for no-cost reduction of N2O emission.

3.    Well-targeted double cropping and cover crops with some costs for reduction of N2O emission

4.    Timely and well-targeted nitrification inhibitor use with some costs for reduction of N2O emission

5.    Corn stover harvest, often for no-cost reduction of N2O emission.

6.    Tillage effects on N2O emission have been inconsistent with inconclusive results.

Most of the practices for reducing soil emission of N2O will also result in reductions of other losses of N to the environment, including reduced leaching of nitrate beyond the depth of crop rooting zones. Much reduction can be achieved with a gain in profit or at no cost while other practices do have some cost.

Funding Available from USDA to Protect Groundwater

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has funding available through its Source Water Protection Initiative to help landowners install conservation practices. Interested landowners have until March 13, 2020, to apply.

Craig Derickson, state conservationist for NRCS in Nebraska said, “Since nearly all Nebraskans get their drinking water from groundwater, it’s important we work together to help protect this resource from contamination. This designated funding provides an opportunity for landowners to receive financial assistance to install conservation practices that help protect and improve water quality.”

The Source Water Protection priority area consists of 522 wellhead protection areas across the state that are located around the public well sites supplying water for communities in Nebraska. In addition, the Phase 2-4 high nitrate areas and water quantity management areas that are managed by the NRDs have been included in this initiative.

“The Source Water Protection Initiative is an exciting opportunity to improve and protect groundwater resources in Nebraska,” said Marty Link, Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy. “We look forward promoting this program with NRCS to help communities protect their drinking water supplies.”

Agricultural land located in the source water protection priority areas (see map) may be eligible to receive financial assistance. Nebraska NRCS is now accepting applications for source water protection funding. Approved applicants can receive funding to install conservation practices used to address water quality, that include:
    Nutrient management
    Irrigation water management
    Cover crops
    Conversion of flood to pivot or subsurface drip irrigation systems.

NRCS field office staff can determine if applicants are eligible for SWP priority area financial assistance. Applications are accepted anytime, but to receive funding this year, applications must be received by March 13, 2020. Visit your local NRCS field office to learn more.

Nebraska Extension Survey for Beginning Female Farmers & Ranchers

Nebraska Extension is committed to providing quality services for Nebraska agricultural producers. We are asking for your help to let us know how we can better serve the needs of beginning female farmers and ranchers in Nebraska. If you will spend just 15 minutes of your time to complete the survey, we will have information that can be used to deliver high-quality programs.

The USDA defines beginning farmers or ranchers as someone with 10 years or less of active farming/ranching as the principal operator.

In order to gather all of the information needed, we welcome and encourage service providers, established farmers, and industry providers to complete the survey. Your individual responses are confidential. To thank you for completing the survey and as a thank you for your time we are giving away Women in Agriculture tote bags. A total of 30 bags will be awarded, selected at random from the completed surveys.

Take the survey here... 

Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey and assist Nebraska Extension in our programming efforts to help beginning farmers and ranchers in Nebraska.

Supporting teachers, supporting youth

One of the Nebraska Corn Board’s (NCB) four main pillars is education, and the board works to develop and implement educational programs with an impact. Over its 42-year history, NCB has helped people of all ages and backgrounds better understand the state’s corn industry. As fewer people are growing up and residing in rural areas, a larger gap exists between consumer and producer, which is why NCB identified youth as an important audience to reach through its education efforts.

Earlier this year, NCB approved three new education initiatives to support teachers and students across Nebraska. Through each initiative, NCB will partner with other groups to expand reach, avoid duplication and promote implementation into actual classroom settings.

The “Nebraska Soil Summer Institute” is a partnership between the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), Lincoln Public Schools and NCB. Through this pilot program, high school science teachers will take part in a two-week summer workshop. Throughout the two weeks, the teachers will get an in-depth training in soil science concepts, hands-on experiments and learning activities. Teacher participants will then develop curriculum for their science classrooms that meet state science standards and can be utilized by other teachers.

“Soil science integrates multiple disciplines such as biology, chemistry and physics,” said Dr. Martha Mamo, head of UNL’s Department of Agronomy and Horticulture. “By training science teachers in soil science, we support science education and strengthen agricultural education across the state.”

“Learn, Then Do” is a collaborative effort between the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation (NFBF), LPS and NCB. This program began as part of a grant from the national Ag in the Classroom program. Through this program, 20 high school science teachers will take part in a three-day workshop. As part of the program, the teachers will take part in various lessons and field trips to better understand how agriculture can be incorporated into their science courses. Teachers will then work with a national curriculum expert to develop lessons that meet Nebraska’s state science standards.

“Recently, Nebraska modified its state science standards, which are now modeled after and closely align with the Next Generation Science Standards, or NGSS,” said Megahn Schafer, executive director of NFBF. “This puts us in a unique position because there isn’t that much curriculum available at this time that meets NGSS standards. By being on the forefront and developing this content now, we can reach teachers who are looking for these materials, and they’re all based on agricultural concepts. We’re thankful for the support from the Nebraska Corn Board who recognize the importance of exposing teachers and students to agriculture.”

The final project, “Making the Connection: An Agricultural Literacy Conference,” is a partnership between NFBF and NCB. This conference will bring together a variety of Nebraska educators who are wanting to incorporate agriculture into their programs. Participants could include teachers, Nebraska Extension educators and youth leaders. One key goal of the program is to demonstrate the partnerships between Nebraska commodity organizations, UNL, Nebraska Extension and NFBF, and show how high-quality resources and activities from multiple sources can be used to build a meaningful agricultural literacy program.

“We know we are stronger together,” said Brandon Hunnicutt, vice chair of NCB and farmer from Giltner. “By partnering with groups like the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, Lincoln Public Schools and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, our goal is to reach teachers and students across the state with meaningful agricultural curriculum. We know this is the start of something great. Something we can continue to build upon and make stronger.”


All layers in Nebraska during January 2020 totaled 9.17 million, up from 8.45 million the previous year, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Nebraska egg production during January totaled 228 million eggs, up from 223 million in 2019. January egg production per 100 layers was 2,486 eggs, compared to 2,634 eggs in 2019.

Iowa Chicken and Eggs

Iowa egg production during January 2020 was 1.49 billion eggs, up slightly from last month and up 1 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 January 2020 was 58.7 million, down slightly from last month but up 1 percent from last year. Eggs per 100 layers for January were 2,535, up 1 percent from both last month and last year.

January Egg Production Up 1 Percent

United States egg production totaled 9.73 billion during January 2020, up 1 percent from last year. Production included 8.51 billion table eggs, and 1.22 billion hatching eggs, of which 1.14 billion were broiler-type and 86.0 million were egg-type. The total number of layers during January 2020 averaged 403 million, up slightly from last year. January egg production per 100 layers was 2,415 eggs, up 1 percent from January 2019.

All layers in the United States on February 1, 2020 totaled 401 million, down slightly from last year. The 401 million layers consisted of 336 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 61.1 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs, and 3.28 million layers producing egg-type hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on February 1, 2020, averaged 77.9 eggs per 100 layers, up 1 percent from February 1, 2019.


The Nebraska Brand Committee has selected John Widdowson of Kearney, Nebraska as its new Executive Director.

Widdowson is a fifth-generation family farmer and rancher who has been actively involved in ranching most of his life. Widdowson holds a degree in Animal Science from the University of Nebraska­ Lincoln and has first -hand knowledge of the needs of Nebraska's cattle producers. Widdowson has served on the Governor's Ag Committee and has served on the five-member Nebraska Brand Committee since 2015, most recently serving as the Committee' s Chair before his resignation from that position to become the Committee's full-time Executive Director. While on the Committee, Widdowson spearheaded efforts to modernize the Committee, including the Committee's move to electronic brand recording and recordkeeping.

The vacancy was created by the resignation of former Executive Director Bill Bunce in August of 2017. Since then longtime Committee employee Dave Horton has been serving as the interim Executive Director. Horton will remain employed by the Committee as its Chief Investigator.

The Committee spent significant time over the past year identifying and selecting its next leader and developing a new Strategic Plan to guide the Committee and its staff in the years to come. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture assisted with the selection process, and interviews of finalists by Committee members occurred in early February.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts praised the decision: "Congratulations to the Brand Committee on the hiring of John Widdowson as their next executive director. The brand plays an important role in Nebraska's ranching community, and John will do a great job leading the committee into the future."

Current members of the Nebraska Brand Committee are: Vice Chair Adam Sawyer, Bassett; Terry Cone, Burwell; Jay Martindale, Brewster; and Chris Gentry, Hyannis. Governor Ricketts will appoint Widdowson's successor as a voting member of the Committee, and the Committee will hold an election of a new Chair at its next regular meeting scheduled for March 17, 2020 in Broken Bow, Nebraska.

Read, Watch or Listen to Important Options on Risk Management

Managing risk will continue to be a key part of farm profitability in 2020 and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is providing farmers with a wide range of risk management tools to help make the process more understandable.

The February edition of Ag Decision Maker contains four risk management articles, along with accompanying videos that allow producers to watch and listen to each specialist describe each tool.

Topics include the “Basics of Crop Insurance,” featuring Gary Wright, farm management specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach; and “Small- to Medium-Sized Cattle Feeders,” featuring Tim Christensen, ISU Extension and Outreach field specialist.

“Comparing Farmland Returns to Stock Market Investments” is presented by Kelvin Leibold, farm management specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach; and “Farm Financial Performance Analysis” is led by Charles Brown, also a farm management specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach.

The risk management articles and videos were made available through a grant and partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency.

A webinar series on risk management topics will be held on Tuesdays in March, according to Madeline Schultz, program manager for ISU Extension and Outreach Women in Ag.

The goal of the videos and the webinar, Schultz said, is to provide another way of reaching producers and explaining these complex and important topics.

“It’s another opportunity to share more about the different kinds of risk management available and the different risk management topics,” Schultz said.

Topics for the March webinar series will include trade with China (March 3), substitute decision making (March 10), comparing farmland returns to the stock market (March 17), and late and prevented planting lessons learned in 2019 (March 24).

The webinars will be held at noon, and participants should pre-register.

Schultz said the specialists helping to produce the videos and webinar have been supportive of the additional outreach opportunity.

“They’ve been excited about meeting an audience need and getting this information out in different ways,” she said.

Vet Medicine Study Develops New Cattle Vaccine Method

Researchers at the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, in collaboration with Iowa State University, have developed a new vaccine delivery platform to produce long-lasting protection against anaplasmosis infections.

Bovine anaplasmosis, caused by the blood-borne parasite Anaplasma marginale, is the most prevalent tick-transmitted disease of cattle worldwide and causes significant disease loss to beef producers in the United States.

"Currently, a common strategy to control anaplasmosis is to provide mineral or feed containing the antibiotic chlortetracycline to cattle on pasture," said Andrew Curtis, doctoral research assistant in the laboratory of Hans Coetzee, professor and head of the anatomy and physiology department.

"This practice has raised concerns about the potential emergence of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria that may pose a risk to human and animal health," Curtis said. "Although there is an experimental vaccine available to control anaplasmosis, it requires multiple injections and it has not been evaluated in published research studies."

The objective of the College of Veterinary Medicine study was to develop a single-dose implant vaccine platform that provides long-term immunity against anaplasmosis infections by releasing vaccine contents over an extended period.

This new single-dose vaccine, which is administered in the back of the ear, has been shown to protect against clinical anaplasmosis for up to two years and could potentially help make anaplasmosis control more accessible and convenient to livestock producers, Curtis said.

"The concept of providing cattle with a single vaccine implant that could potentially provide lifelong protection against an economically devastating disease, such as bovine anaplasmosis, could revolutionize livestock production," Coetzee said.

Iowa State University currently holds a patent for the implant platform and the K-State/Manhattan Innovation Center is exploring a partnership with Iowa State to further develop this technology.

The first step to a commercially available product would include finding a commercial partner to seek approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In addition to Curtis and Coetzee, K-State researchers involved with the project include Miriam Martin, Brandt Skinner, Shawnee Montgomery, Tippawan Anantatat, Kathryn E. Reif, Majid Jaberi-Douraki, Emily J. Reppert and Michael Kleinhenz. Researchers from Iowa State include Sean Kelly, Balaji Narasimhan and Douglas Jones.

This project was supported in part by the Iowa Livestock Health Advisory Council and the faculty start-up funding provided by Kansas State University.

The study, "Rapid Communication: Development of a subcutaneous ear implant to deliver an anaplasmosis vaccine to dairy steers," was published in the Journal of Animal Science.

Perdue Directs USDA Fleet to Increase Biofuels Usage, Announces Notice of Funding for Biofuels Infrastructure Program

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued a memo today directing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to acquire alternative fueled vehicles (AFV) when replacing conventionally fueled vehicles. USDA owns and operates one of the largest civilian fleets in the Federal Government and this move to a fleet that can use E85 or biodiesel will increase efficiencies and performance. Additionally, as part of the President Donald J. Trump’s October agreement to seek opportunities to facilitate the availability of higher biofuel blends across the country, USDA will make $100 million in grants available this year for the newly created Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP). Through this program, transportation fueling and biodiesel distribution facilities will be able to apply for grants to help install, retrofit, and/or upgrade fuel storage, dispenser pumps, related equipment and infrastructure to be able to sell ethanol and biodiesel. The Department plans to publish application deadlines and other program information in the Federal Register this spring.

“Both of these actions underscore USDA is putting our money where our mouth is when it comes to increased biofuels usage. Expanding nationwide infrastructure that offers biofuels and increasing the number of biofuel capable vehicles in our fleet will increase the use of environmentally friendly fuel with decreased emissions, driving demand for our farmers and improving the air we breathe,” Secretary Perdue said. “President Trump is fighting for our corn and soybean growers and biofuel producers by finalizing year-round E15, ensuring that more than 15 billion gallons of ethanol and 2.43 billion gallons of biodiesel enters the market in 2020, and opening up new markets abroad. USDA will continue to do its part to encourage the use of homegrown energy.”
Background on Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP):

HBIIP will consist of up to $100 million in funding for competitive grants or sales incentives to eligible entities for activities designed to expand the sales and use of ethanol and biodiesel fuels. Funds will be made directly available to assist transportation fueling and biodiesel distribution facilities with converting to higher ethanol and biodiesel blends by sharing the costs related to and/or offering sales incentives for the installation of fuel pumps, related equipment, and infrastructure. Cost-share grants and/or incentives will be made available for higher fuel ethanol/biodiesel blends such as “E15” and “B20” (or higher), at vehicle fueling locations, including, but not limited to, local fueling stations, convenience stores (CS), hypermarket fueling stations (HFS), and/or fleet facilities, as well as fuel terminals for biodiesel. Prospective participants and stakeholders should expect additional specific program information and requirements to be published by mid-spring which will clarify the application process, eligibility, and how applications for grant funding will be scored.
Background on USDA Fleet:

USDA owns and operates one of the largest civilian fleets in the Federal Government. USDA is moving to acquire E85- or biodiesel-capable vehicles that meet USDA mission requirements instead of those that take conventional gasoline. This will occur over time during the normal fleet renewal process. USDA currently has 37,000 vehicles and replaces approximately 3,000 every year. Secretary Perdue directed USDA to:
    Acquire E85 or biodiesel-capable vehicles that meet USDA mission requirements;
    Use station locator websites and applications to fuel with E15, E85, and biodiesel where available;
    Prioritize the purchase of E15 for gasoline vehicles without E85 capability and the purchase of renewable diesel blends for diesel vehicles without B20 capability; and
    For USDA locations that have in-house refueling pumps, coordinate with fuel vendors to acquire and provide biofuel blends, including E15, E85, B20 and higher biodiesel blends, and renewable diesel blends.

These actions have the potential to increase USDA’s annual consumption of E15 by up to 9 million gallons, E85 by 10 million gallons, and biodiesel and renewable diesel blends by up to 3 million gallons. As availability of E15, E85, and biodiesel expands through the nation, USDA has the opportunity to reach these goals and have a significant impact. Where biofuels are available, the USDA fleet is directed to use biofuels.
Background on USDA’s Agricultural Innovation Agenda:

Earlier this month, Secretary Perdue unveiled the Agricultural Innovation Agenda, a department-wide initiative to align resources, programs, and research to position American agriculture to better meet future global demands. Investing in the availability of innovative fuels for American consumers supports this vision while we fulfill our motto to “Do Right and Feed Everyone.” 

USDA Secretary Rolls Out Robust Higher Blends Biofuels Infrastructure Program at Commodity Classic

Today while speaking at the 2020 Commodity Classic, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the USDA will provide $100 million in competitive, cost-share grants for the new Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) to help increase the number of fuel stations and terminals across the country offering higher blends of biofuels.

USDA is expected to publish application deadlines and program details this spring.

“We are excited to see Secretary Perdue and USDA move expeditiously to implement a key part of President Trump’s plan to repair the damage caused by RFS refinery exemptions that was announced last October,” said Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw. “This program is going to assist substantially in helping fuel stations and terminals across the country add the necessary infrastructure of offer higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel. We look forward to working alongside the administration to ensure the successful implementation of the program.”

The drastic increase in the number of refinery exemptions from the renewable fuels standard (RFS) granted by EPA over the last three years destroyed roughly four billion gallons of biofuels demand and caused a major uproar in farm country. On October 4, 2019, EPA announced a number of steps the Trump Administration would take to repair the damage, including an infrastructure program by USDA. The EPA announcement can be found here:

“As we work with the USDA on infrastructure, we stand ready to work with EPA to begin building on the President’s earlier decision to allow year-round sales of E15 by initiating a rulemaking process to streamline labeling and remove other barriers to the sale of E15,” stated Shaw. “This action should move in concert with the infrastructure program to maximize the positive impact of President Trump’s commitments.”

USDA’s Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program Good for Iowa’s Renewable Fuels Industry

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig issued the following statement in response to the USDA’s proposed Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) announced earlier today.

“The proposed Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program from USDA would give consumers more choices at the pump, create more jobs in rural communities and benefit our farmers,” said Secretary Naig. “This USDA program would build upon Iowa’s Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program, which has been tremendously successful. For every dollar the state has invested in renewable fuel infrastructure, it has spurred nearly $6 in private investments. Now consumers have access to E15 at 1,800 fuel retailers in Iowa.”

On Jan. 31, 2020, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Secretary Naig sent a joint letter to USDA voicing support for the HBIIP.

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program offers cost-share grants to help fuel retailers install E85 dispensers, blender pumps, biodiesel dispensers and biodiesel storage facilities. To date, the program has distributed or obligated over $33 million with $200 million added in private economic activity. The grant program is managed by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Learn more about the state’s Renewable Fuels Infrastructure program at

USDA Announces $100 Million in Funding for Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue announced today the department is providing $100 million in competitive grants for infrastructure projects to facilitate increased sales of higher biofuel blends through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP). Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor issued a statement of support following USDA’s announcement:

“We are grateful for USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue for this commitment to expanding infrastructure and access to higher blends of biofuels. Through the original Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership grants and private fundraising, Growth Energy and Prime the Pump have worked with 14 of the largest retailers to install more than 2,000 retail locations across the nation, expanding consumer access to Unleaded 88, fuel blended with fifteen percent ethanol. Secretary Perdue’s announcement today helps propel higher biofuel blends into the next decade, and Prime the Pump’s retail partners are ready to embrace this new wave of growth.”

USDA is exploring options to expand domestic ethanol and biodiesel availability and announced a request for 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.

RFA Thanks USDA for Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Grant Program, Fleet Directive

While speaking to participants at the Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue today unveiled the details of a new Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program. Under the program, USDA will make available up to $100 million in competitive, cost share grants for activities designed to expand the sale and use of renewable fuels. The program will help significantly increase the sale and use of higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel by expanding the infrastructure for renewable fuels derived from U.S. agricultural products.

In addition to the announcement on HBIIP, Secretary Perdue directed USDA to increase the use of renewable fuels in the departments 37,000 vehicle fleet. Perdue directed his department to acquire alternative fueled vehicles when replacing conventionally fueled vehicles. USDA owns and operates one of the largest civilian fleets in the federal government and this move to a fleet that can use E85 or biodiesel will increase efficiencies and performance. These actions, he noted, have the potential to increase USDA's annual consumption of E15 by 9 million gallons, E85 by 10 million gallons, and biodiesel and renewable diesel blends by 3 million gallons.

Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper made the following statement:

“Leadership manifests itself in actions, not words. And today’s announcement by Secretary Perdue is all about taking definitive action to expand the market for biofuels, grow demand for farm commodities, and offer lower-cost, cleaner fuel options to consumers. On behalf of the U.S. ethanol industry, I thank Secretary Perdue and President Trump for their continued commitment to America’s farmers and renewable fuels industry.”

NBB Applauds Agriculture Secretary Perdue's Leadership on Higher Biodiesel Blends

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) today welcomed Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue's announcement of $100 million funding for Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) grants, approximately $14 million of which will go to support biodiesel blending. NBB also applauded Perdue's announcement of USDA's commitment to fuel its fleet vehicles with higher blends of biodiesel and renewable diesel.

Kurt Kovarik, NBB's VP of Federal Affairs, said, "NBB's members appreciate Secretary Perdue's strong support for soybean growers and biodiesel producers and USDA's leadership in driving demand for higher blends of biodiesel and renewable diesel. The grant program that USDA is announcing will expand consumers' access to cleaner, better transportation and heating fuels, such as biodiesel and renewable diesel. USDA's fleet program can add significant market pull for those biofuels simply by utilizing available data on where to fill up."

USDA owns 3,700 diesel fuel vehicles; but currently, its biofuel purchases are less than 4% of its annual fuel use. The agency anticipates increasing its purchase of biodiesel and renewable diesel blends by up to 3 million gallons.

AMVAC® Announces 10 New Products in 2020

AMVAC, an American Vanguard® company, announces 10 new products in 2020. The announcement is a result of the corporation's successful legacy of acquisitions and its "Innovation with Speed and Discipline" product development process, concentrating on specific, customer-focused solutions.

"AMVAC's recent product innovations have strengthened our crop protection portfolio allowing us to offer growers more trusted solutions. Our '10 in 2020' demonstrates the aggressive pace of AMVAC's continued success in offering growers products that solve their challenges," saidSenior Vice President of U.S. Crop Sales, Canada and Application Technology Scott Hendrix.

New products to AMVAC include a recent acquisition of four herbicide brands from Corteva Agriscience™. These products are complementary tank-mix partners for a variety of primary herbicides used in the U.S agricultural market. They are particularly valuable for enhancing weed control performance against increasing numbers of troublesome weed species. The products include:
-    Classic® Herbicide: Expands the postemergence weed control spectrum in soybeans.
-    FirstRate® Herbicide: Provides preemergence and postemergence control of key broadleaf weeds in soybeans.
-    Hornet® Herbicide: Delivers postemergence broadleaf weed control of glyphosate resistant weeds in field corn.
-    Python® Herbicide: Allows flexible broadleaf weed control in soybeans and field corn.

AMVAC also announces the developmental product Impact CORE™ Herbicide, a postemergence corn herbicide combining effective modes of action from a Group 15 residual herbicide with the power of Impact® Herbicide. Field studies have shown extended residual weed control in addition to control of more than 40 emerged annual grass and broadleaf weeds, including several glyphosate-resistant weeds. EPA registration of the product is expected in the first quarter of 2020.

In addition, AMVAC will soon launch a new glufosinate premix. This developmental product uses a proprietary formulation technology to combine the active ingredient found in Impact Herbicide to provide postemergence weed control in LibertyLink® corn. Registration of the herbicide is also expected in the first quarter of 2020.

AMVAC has selected COUNTER® Insecticide/Nematicide, broad spectrum AZTEC® HC Insecticide and zinc, a key micronutrient in corn, as the first products to be packaged in SmartCartridge™ containers and offered as part of SIMPAS™ Applied Solutions, pending EPA registration. SIMPAS (Smart Integrated Multi-Product Application System) is being introduced in a few select markets in 2020. A full launch is planned in 2021.

In addition, AMVAC recently announced its new herbicide - Surepyc IQ™ - a combination of two powerful chemistries for control of tough broadleaves and sedges in warm season turf. It's the first line-extension for the Surepyc brand.

Thursday February 27 Ag News

Central Valley Ag Announces Casey Potter as SVP of Grain

Central Valley Ag (CVA) is pleased to announce Casey Potter 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. Potter joined CVA in 2019 as the Merchandising Manager and was previously the Commercial Manager for the Columbus, Neb. ethanol plant for ADM.

“Casey has more than 19 year’s experience in the grain business focused around merchandising of grain and grain assets within the cooperative and public sectors,” said Carl Dickinson, CEO/President of Central Valley Ag. “I am very excited to have him join our leadership team. He has been a terrific asset to CVA over the past year and we look forward to having him take the lead of the grain department.”

Central Valley Ag’s grain division has access to every major market west of the Mississippi, allowing them to provide competitive bids to patrons. Potter will lead the CVA Grain Specialists who are the frontline grain buyers for the company. These individuals engage producers in everyday grain transactions, providing non-traditional contracting alternatives to find the best way for customers to sell their grain in addition to purchasing grain.

“I am excited to have the privilege to lead a talented group of people at CVA and be part of the cooperative system again,” said Potter. “I look forward to the responsibility of being a steward of CVA’s grain assets and the opportunity to continue to create value for our patrons.”

Potter holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics and agribusiness from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Potter, his wife Jennifer, and their four children reside on their family’s farm outside of Valparaiso, Neb.

Nebraska Cattlemen and CIH are co-hosting an upcoming Beef Margin Management Seminar

Volatility in the cattle markets is becoming the norm. Are you equipped to take advantage of the swings in the fat cattle, feeder, and corn markets?

Join us to learn how to use all the tools available, along with the when and why. We’ll address everything from cash contracts, futures and options to protecting against a weakening cash basis.
-    Quantify price and basis exposures on cattle and feed
-    Balance the trade-off between risk and return potential
-    Adjust positions to leverage market moves and volatility

Dates and Times:
March 11th 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM and
March 12th 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Nebraska Cattlemen Office
4611 Cattle Drive
Lincoln, Nebraska

Price: $300

Registration fee includes breakfast, lunch, an evening cocktail reception and all seminar materials.  Limited seating! Call 1.866.299.9333 to reserve a seat. 

If you have any questions about this program please contact Bonita Lederer or voice/text @ 402-450-0223.

Ricketts Hosts Vietnamese Trade Delegation

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts welcomed a trade delegation from Vietnam to the State Capitol.  The delegation included top officials from Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development as well as Vietnamese business leaders.  Gov. Ricketts and representatives from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture met with the trade delegation to discuss growing the friendship and trade relationship between the Cornhusker State and Vietnam.

During the delegation’s visit, Vietnamese companies signed several memorandums of understanding pledging to purchase Nebraska cattle, corn, distiller’s dried grain solubles, soybeans, and wheat.

The Vietnamese leaders’ visit to Nebraska comes less than six months after Governor Ricketts led a trade mission to Hanoi, Vietnam.  In 2018, Nebraska was Vietnam’s largest U.S. supplier of soybean meal and dry edible beans.  From 2017 to 2019, Nebraska’s beef exports to Vietnam grew 168 percent.  Total U.S. ag exports to Vietnam increased from $2.5 billion to $4.0 billion between 2017 and 2018.

Register for the 2020 World Pork Expo June 3-5 in Des Moines.

Registration is now open for the 2020 World Pork Expo presented by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC). Attendees, media and exhibitors can complete their registration by visiting the World Pork Expo website. This year’s trade show will be hosted from June 3 to 5 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

“We are thrilled to continue the tradition of the World Pork Expo this year,” said David Herring, NPPC president, and pork producer from Lillington, N.C. “There’s truly something for everyone at the Expo — from the trade show to networking. Anyone in the pork industry is encouraged to attend!”

With 360,000 square feet of exhibition space, more than 500 exhibitors are planned for the 2020 World Pork Expo.

Continually Maximizing Indoor and Outdoor Trade Show Space

Organizers plan to take advantage of all the space available in order to give attendees and exhibitors the best experience possible. Of the 500 plus companies attending the show, they will be displaying products and services from animal health, nutrition, build and equipment, financial marketing, genetics and more.

The Expo will be held in the Varied Industries Building and the Jacobson Exhibition Center, outdoors on Grand Avenue and the areas between the two main buildings. Attendees are encouraged to explore the fairground space to experience all the Expo’s offerings.

“We’re currently making adjustments around the show to maximize the flow of the entire trade show. This will help with show continuity for years to come,” said Doug Fricke, director of trade show marketing for NPCC.

Company-sponsored hospitality tents will continue to be around throughout the fairgrounds. Organizers are expecting 60 plus tents this year, giving industry representatives an opportunity to network with producers and employees in a more relaxed setting.

The trade show will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 3-4, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 5.
Start Planning Your Expo Experience

The Expo is packed with three days of learning and networking opportunities, events and activities. More than 15 educational and informational seminars are free to attend. These seminars address innovative production and management strategies, and current issues and topics related to the pork industry.

Other activities you won’t want to miss include:
    MusicFest — Join us on Thursday evening to relax and enjoy free live music and refreshments. Stay tuned to find out who this year will feature!
    Big Grill — Stop by and enjoy a free pork lunch during all three days of the Expo. More than 10,000 lunches are served! Lunches are available between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
    NPPC Hospitality Tent — Visit one-on-one with NPPC board members and staff to learn about current legislation, regulation, and public policy issues that impact pork production.

Additional Registration Information

Registration is now available online until May 28. Tickets include entry to the Expo for all three days. Discounted rates are available during pre-registration including $10 per adult (ages 12 and up) and $1 for children (6 to 11 years old). Registration on-site will be $20 per adult. There is an on-site Friday-only option for $10.

Save the date for June 3-5 to visit Des Moines. Three days of education, fun, networking and delicious pork await you.


Nebraska's layer numbers during 2019 averaged 8.87 million, up 13 percent from the year earlier, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. The annual average production per layer on hand in 2019 was 300 eggs, down 2 percent from 2018.

Nebraska egg production during the year ending November 30, 2019 totaled 2.66 billion eggs, up 11 percent from 2018.

Total number of chickens on hand on December 1, 2019 (excluding commercial broilers) was 11.2 million birds, up 10 percent from last year.

The total value of all chickens in Nebraska on December 1, 2019 was $42.5 million, up 2 percent from December 1, 2018. The average value decreased from $4.10 per bird on December 1, 2018, to $3.80 per bird on December 1, 2019.

USDA Chickens and Eggs 2019 Summary

United States Average Layers Up 1 Percent: Layers during 2019 averaged 400 million, up 1 percent from the year earlier. The annual average production per layer on hand in 2019 was 283 eggs, up 1 percent from 2018.

United States Egg Production Up 3 Percent: Egg production during the year ending November 30, 2019 totaled 113 billion eggs, up 3 percent from 2018. Table egg production, at 99.1 billion eggs, was up 3 percent from the previous year. Hatching egg production, at 14.2 billion eggs, was up 2 percent from 2018.

United States December 1 Chicken Inventory: The total inventory of chickens on hand on December 1, 2019 (excluding commercial broilers) was 532 million birds, down slightly from last year.

United States Total Value: The total value of all chickens on December 1, 2019 was $2.36 billion, up 2 percent from December 1, 2018. The average value increased from $4.32 per bird on December 1, 2018, to $4.43 per bird on December 1, 2019.

Growth Energy Welcomes Focus on Biofuels at Environment and Climate Hearing

Growth Energy thanked Representative Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) for pressing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Wheeler on efforts to restore integrity to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Wheeler testified today about his agency’s 2020 priorities before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change, where he assured rural champions that, “President Trump is fully committed to the RFS program.”

“We’re grateful to rural champions like Representative Dave Loebsack, who continue to press the EPA to enforce the RFS as promised by the president and required by law,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “We urge regulators to deliver certainty and stability for America’s farmers and biofuel producers by upholding the nation’s targets for low-carbon biofuels. That means quickly addressing the 23 exemption requests under review for 2019 and offering true transparency in accounting for each and every gallon. As recognized in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new innovation agenda, low-carbon biofuels are not only vital to the rural economy, they are a critical tool in our fight against climate change.”

USDA Is Pitting America's Family Ranchers Against Brazil's $1.2 Billion Subsidies to Its Cattle Industry

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) recently reported that the government of Brazil subsidizes Brazilian cattle production to the tune of about $1.2 billion in U.S. dollars. The purpose of the government subsidy is to increase Brazilian cattle raising productivity, its herd quality, and its acquisition of high-quality seed stock.

Last week the USDA announced it is opening the United States market to imports of fresh Brazilian beef, which is produced under the Brazilian government's subsidies.

"That will pit America's family cattle farmers and ranchers against Brazil's $1.2 billion in subsidies to its cattle industry," R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard said adding, "That means our family farmers and ranchers will be competing against the Brazilian government's treasury."

According to the CME Group, a global securities and commodity exchange company, during the past two years, America's cattle farmers and ranchers have been receiving prices well below the previous five-year average. Bullard said the income paid to America's cow/calf producers was slashed nearly 20 percent last year compared to the average price they received during the five-year period from 2013 to 2017.

"It's hard to pay off loans when your income is slashed that drastically.

"This is causing a critically serious economic cost-price squeeze for America's cattle industry and unless prices improve quickly, the ongoing exodus of America's family cattle farmers and ranchers will be markedly accelerated," Bullard cautioned.

"The last thing America's family cattle farmers and ranchers need right now is a flood of subsidized beef from Brazil that will most certainly destroy economic opportunities for many of them," he said.

A Nov. 21, 2019, Reuters news article reported that November wholesale beef prices in Brazil were about $1.50 per pound in U.S. dollars. However, the USDA reports that U.S. wholesale beef prices in November were about $2.24 per pound.

Bullard says this means the Brazilian government's subsidies help exporters keep the price of Brazilian beef 33 percent below the cost of U.S. beef.

"This is not a level playing field and there is nothing about this that is fair to either U.S. cattle producers or consumers," he said.

When Congress repealed Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (M-COOL) for beef in 2015, it repealed the requirement that beef imports, such as those from Brazil, must retain their foreign label through retail sale, meaning all the way to the consumer.

Bullard says this means that consumers will be paying the higher U.S. price for beef, but the beef may very well be cheaper beef imported from Brazil.

"The Secretary of Agriculture's action of approving these subsidized Brazilian imports so they can undercut prices that America's cattle producers need to remain profitable and viable is unconscionable. At the very least Congress must intervene by restoring Mandatory COOL for beef so the U.S. industry can at least begin competing against this subsidized foreign beef," he concluded.

Wilbur-Ellis Company announces launch of new adjuvant EFFICAX®

Wilbur-Ellis Company, a recognized leader in precision agriculture, crop protection, seed and nutritional products, announced today the launch of EFFICAX, an adjuvant that helps growers optimize soil-applied residual herbicides.

EFFICAX is a soil retention adjuvant that helps growers' spray applications last longer by increasing the coverage, absorption and adhesion of the spray material deposits onto soil particles. This also improves the residual activity of most soil-applied herbicides, ensuring growers get the full benefit of products they've purchased for their fields.

EFFICAX can improve control of early-season weeds by getting more herbicide on target, holding it in place longer and ensuring herbicide investments are more efficient than ever. To add to these benefits, EFFICAX has excellent tank mix compatibility and can be used with most preferred herbicides.

"Efficax breaks new ground as a pre-emergent adjuvant that delivers optimum pesticide effectiveness," said Wilbur-Ellis' Senior Formulation Chemist Jim Glatzhofer. "It puts its tank mix partners at the right place at the right time - and helps the active ingredient work at its point of attack."

This press release is intended for informational use only and cannot be used as a replacement for the product label. Any products mentioned in this press release may only be sold in states where they are registered or where registration is not required. Please contact your local Wilbur-Ellis Representative for more information.

Wilbur-Ellis offers a complete line of agricultural inputs, including crop protection chemicals, organic and sustainable options, fertilizer, seed and technology. Family-owned since the beginning, nearly 100 years, the Company's local expertise, unparalleled knowledge and innovation-driven approach to the agriculture industry gives every Wilbur-Ellis grower the advantage they need for higher yields and a bigger return on investment.

Truterra, LLC and Syngenta collaborate to support growers with cutting-edge stewardship advancement capabilities

Truterra (formerly Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN) and Syngenta announced today that they are collaborating to offer a step-change in stewardship and conservation best practices for U.S. growers while helping them focus on maximizing acre-by-acre productivity and profitability.

This technology-based alliance will make use of data analytics from both the TruterraTM Insights Engine and the Syngenta AgriEdge® platform. The combined power of insights and expertise will help assess and improve soil health, carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas emissions, livestock lifecycle assessment and water management on American farms.

“We believe this long-term effort will enhance retailers’ experience when servicing growers that use the Truterra and AgriEdge systems,” said Jason Weller, vice president, Truterra, LLC. “In addition, Consumer Packaged Goods companies will have far greater visibility into their sourcing sustainability when working with both Syngenta and Truterra customers.”

“Teaming up our systems will reduce data entry for growers and retailers, and enable seamless data flow,” said Aaron Deardorff, Syngenta head of Digital Solutions in North America. “This capability will enable growers to establish a baseline stewardship level on each agricultural field and benchmark against other fields they farm, or those in their geography, with the appropriate level of grower data privacy.”

Through this collaboration, growers that elect to participate will receive insights on what practices would be beneficial in advancing their stewardship efforts and understand the implications on each field’s profitability potential. The greater geographic footprint of the Truterra and Syngenta alliance will help support sustainability goals of food companies with multi-geography sourcing.

Tommy Jackson, Syngenta Sustainable Solutions lead for Digital Solutions, added, “Ultimately, we are partnering to make stewardship more streamlined and consistent for U.S. growers to help them and food companies better quantify sustainability progress in the food and ag supply chain.”

“In time, we aim to be the leader in conservation and sustainability within the agricultural value chain and related non-governmental organizations,” said Weller.

HELM Agro US Hires Drew Stevenson as Regional Sales Manager

HELM Agro US, Inc., a global manufacturer of high-quality crop protection and fertilizer products, announces the hiring of Drew Stevenson as Regional Sales Manager for the Western Corn Belt.

In his new role, Stevenson will be responsible for territory development and HELM crop protection product sales across Colorado, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

“Drew has a proven track record in developing sales territories and creating customer relationships with staying power,” says Aaron Locker, Vice President of Sales with HELM Agro US. “As HELM works to aggressively expand its footprint across Midwest corn and soybean markets, Drew will be integral in reinforcing our distributor aligned and retailer focused strategies. His keen insights and agronomic knowledge will also help customers glean greater value from HELM products, especially as the Company brings new proprietary solutions to market over the next several years.”

Previously Stevenson worked for Valent USA as a Senior Sales Representative in the states of Kansas and Nebraska. Prior to that he served as a Precision Data Technology Specialist for Landmark Implement. Stevenson has also worked in agronomy sales for CHS, Inc. 

Stevenson holds a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. He currently resides in Selden, Kansas.

 Farm State of Mind Campaign to Expand Impact in Rural Mental Health

Bayer and the American Farm Bureau Federation announce the transition of Bayer’s Farm State of Mind campaign, an initiative to raise mental health awareness among the farming community, to Farm Bureau. The campaign aims to reduce stigma surrounding the topic of mental health in rural communities and to provide relevant information to farm families on this important topic. Farm Bureau plans to combine the Farm State of Mind assets with those of its ongoing Rural Resilience campaign, expanding the reach and effectiveness of its rural mental health initiatives.

Challenging weather, destructive pests, trade disputes, labor shortages and market volatility over the past few years have brought an unprecedented level of pressure on America’s farmers. A 2019 Farm Bureau survey shows that an overwhelming majority of farmers and farmworkers say financial issues, farm or business problems and fear of losing their farm negatively impact their mental health. In addition, 48% of rural adults said they are personally experiencing more mental health challenges than they were a year ago. Nearly one in three farmers doesn’t feel comfortable talking to friends or family members about solutions for a mental health condition.

“As a third-generation farmer, I’m familiar with the stress of farm life, and I’ve heard heartbreaking stories as I’ve traveled the country about warning signs missed and loved ones lost,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “We’d like to thank Bayer for taking the initiative around this important topic and are excited to expand our impact by growing this campaign to connect even more farmers and ranchers with the resources they need.”

Complicating this issue is that many farmers are reluctant to talk about the effects of stress or seek help. The Farm State of Mind initiative provides farmers with resources, encourages conversations and reduces the stigma surrounding the issue of mental health. Transitioning this program to an organization as trusted as Farm Bureau will greatly expand its reach and effectiveness among farmers.

“Bayer recognized the need to help raise awareness on the important issue of mental health in farm communities – these are difficult conversations to have and our heart goes out to those individuals and families who have been impacted. That’s why we developed the Farm State of Mind campaign,” says Lisa Safarian, President of Bayer Crop Science for North America. “It was important for us to provide information and resources on the topic to those who needed it, but we quickly realized that this issue is much bigger than any one single company and no group is better positioned than Farm Bureau to take the lead on this campaign to help realize its full potential.”

The campaign is designed to encourage an open dialogue among farmers through social channels and offers a variety of tips, resources and referrals to address mental health needs. Farm State of Mind has already reached millions of farmers across the country and that number continues to grow.

New Pioneer Seeds App Functionality Improves Customer Collaboration

Farmers have always chosen Pioneer for agronomic expertise, local service and industry-leading products. The latest update to the Pioneer Seeds app takes those services to the next level.

As farmers are cleaning up their shops, Pioneer is cleaning up their smart phones by consolidating the suite of Pioneer digital tools into one app – the Pioneer Seeds app. The Pioneer Seeds app is designed to complement the in-season service and support Pioneer is known for, ensuring maximum performance through integrated knowledge and actionable insights.

Pioneer is building on the success of the revolutionary Yield Estimator tool that launched in August 2019. Now farmers can quickly snap a picture of the Pioneer® brand seeds bag tag to receive:
-    Complete product profile
-    Trait scores
-    Best management strategies
-    Recommended planter settings

“Agriculture is complicated enough already,” said Jeremy Groeteke, U.S. Pioneer Digital Ag Lead. “The new and improved Pioneer Seeds app is a refreshingly easy way to manage and track what matters most in your operation. These new tools provide on-the go access to product knowledge and operational field data, which help farmers maximize genetic potential.”

Growers also can optimize seeding rates on their phone or tablet. The Pioneer Seeds app leverages the extensive Pioneer agronomy research database to provide seeding rate recommendations for economic and agronomic conditions.

To get started, download the app and leverage the basic features. To experience the next level of management, meet with your local Pioneer sales representative, who can help develop your field-by-field plans so you can access information on the app for the 2020 planting season. Download the Pioneer Seeds app at the in the Apple App Store® or on Google Play®

Helena Previews New Herbicide Technology for Corn and Soybeans at 2020 Commodity Classic

Helena Agri-Enterprises, LLC introduced new herbicides for corn and soybeans today at the 2020 Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas. Empyros™ for corn and Antares® Complete for soybeans are innovative, pre-emergence herbicides designed to manage weed threats earlier when valuable resources are at stake. As weed resistance grows, Empyros and Antares Complete will empower crop protection programs with new active ingredients and unrivalled herbicide combinations.

“We’re in a battle with broadleaf and grassy weeds at the beginning of every growing season. If we don’t get out there and manage those weeds early, they can get the upper hand and challenge our corn and soybeans for the light, water, nutrients and ground they need to grow and thrive,” says Mark Wayland, Manager of Herbicide Brands at Helena. “Empyros and Antares Complete give us the versatility and strength we need to maintain an edge against early weed competition.”

Empyros is the first, broad-use corn herbicide from Helena, featuring a groundbreaking formulation of s-metolachlor and tolpyralate, the newest HPPD herbicide active ingredient in the United States. In flexible, pre- and early post-emergence applications, this patented pre-mix offers powerful knockdown and long residual control of broadleaf weeds and produces exceptional results against the toughest grasses in corn. Antares Complete is a multi-powered, pre-emergence herbicide for soybeans with an optimized combination of sulfentrazone, s-metolachlor and metribuzin. By uniting three, proven active ingredients in one, powerful premix, it eliminates early weed competition in all soybean cropping systems with long residual control of key broadleaf weeds and grasses.

“The introduction of Empyros and Antares Complete shows Helena’s commitment to standing with growers from planting to harvest,” says Phil Hollis, Executive Vice President at Helena. “These new herbicides help your crop emerge freely and establish, but our work doesn’t end there. We’re also focused on helping growers create well-rounded programs by talking about how soil health, foliar nutrition, adjuvant technology, and digital farming solutions can impact their success throughout the season.”

Helena is hosting daily learning sessions on these important agronomic topics every hour during the 2020 Commodity Classic, which concludes on Saturday, February 29. Empyros is anticipated for the 2021 growing season, and Antares Complete is anticipated for the 2020 growing season. Both are currently pending approval by the Environmental Protection Agency and state regulatory agencies. For more information, contact a Helena representative, or visit

Wednesday February 26 Ag News

Area bank offers support for Northeast Community College’s Nexus project
Another area bank is throwing its financial support behind Northeast Community College’s plans to enlarge and enhance agriculture facilities on its Norfolk campus.

Rick Chochon, president of Great Plains State Bank, has announced that the bank would invest $25,000 in Northeast’s Nexus project.

“Agriculture will always be important in the state of Nebraska,” Chochon said, “and that’s never going to change. I think the innovation that Northeast Community College is coming up with is definitely going to help the ag sector moving forward. What they’re working toward with the Nexus project is well worth our investment.”

Great Plains State Bank was formed when an investment group headed by Chochon purchased the former Petersburg State Bank in 2016. Great Plains State now has facilities in Petersburg, O’Neill, Columbus and Omaha, with a new headquarters building under construction near 33rd Avenue and Lost Creek Parkway in Columbus.

“When building the Columbus facility, we have tried to use all local contractors. That’s why we’re here – to support local business,” Chochon said.

Agriculture loans are a major part of the portfolio of Great Plains State Bank, Chochon explained.

“We pride ourselves on the personal service other banks can only talk about.”

“We are pleased to welcome Great Plains State Bank as a partner in the Nexus project,” said Tracy Kruse, associate vice president of development and external affairs and executive director of the Northeast foundation. “Financial institutions in northeast Nebraska and elsewhere in the state recognize the importance of agriculture to the state’s economy and are investing in the future of agriculture through their contributions to the Nexus project.”

Funding for the $23 million Agriculture & Water Center for Excellence project is currently being solicited to enhance and expand the agriculture facilities at Northeast Community College. In addition to the College’s commitment of $10 million, Northeast 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 a large animal handling facility and other farm structures for livestock operations, a farm office and storage. The new facilities will be located near the Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex on E. Benjamin Ave. in Norfolk.

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.

Koch One of First Nitrogenous Fertilizer Plants with ENERGY STAR

Tuesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes two nitrogenous fertilizer plants as the first of their kind to earn EPA's ENERGY STAR certification for superior energy performance. Koch Fertilizer's plant in Beatrice, Neb., and Simplot's plant in Helm, Calif., both earned 2019 ENERGY STAR certification.

"I congratulate the owners of these ENERGY STAR-certified plants for demonstrating leadership in reducing the environmental impact of this growing sector and defining a new generation of efficient plants," said EPA Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Anne Idsal. "These plant teams are showing that what makes sense for our environment also makes economic sense. We encourage all fertilizer plants in the U.S. to seek top energy performance."

"We are proud to be recognized among the most energy-efficient facilities of this kind in the U.S.," said Koch Fertilizer Beatrice Plant Manager Phil Tasset. "We recognize the financial and societal benefits from continuously improving our plant operations, including process improvements to reduce energy consumption. Our employees identify and pursue opportunities to create value for our customers, society, and the company."

"We are very pleased to receive this recognition as a reflection of the prioritization we place on energy efficiency. Our ongoing commitment to long-term, sustainable business practices is an important part of providing better service to our customers today and in future generations," said Simplot's Helm Facility Plant Manager Gilbert Rodriguez.

The U.S. fertilizer industry spends nearly half a billion dollars on energy each year. EPA believes the energy performance achievements of these two ENERGY STAR certified plants indicate that there are many opportunities for the industry to increase energy efficiency.

Manufacturing plants that are verified to be among the most energy efficient within their sector are eligible to earn EPA's ENERGY STAR certification. To measure energy efficiency, EPA worked with the fertilizer industry to develop an Energy Performance Indicator (EPI) for nitrogenous fertilizer plants. To qualify for ENERGY STAR certification, the plants used the EPI to benchmark their energy performance and received an ENERGY STAR energy performance score indicating these plants use energy more efficiently than 75 percent of similar nitrogenous plants in the U.S. This means the two plants spend less on energy and have lower energy-related environmental impacts than similar plants. Compared to industry averages, the two plants are preventing 86,688 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. All plants awarded with the ENERGY STAR must have their energy performance verified and be in good standing with federal environmental laws.

Women in Agriculture Conference to Be Held in Washington, Iowa

“Setting the Table for Success” is the theme for the fourth annual Women in Agriculture Conference, to be held at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Washington on March 28.

The event is being hosted by the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Washington County office, along with the Washington County Women in Agriculture Advisory Board.

The goal of this year’s conference is to show women of all ages how they can set their table for success in agriculture by surrounding themselves with the right people and resources to make informed decisions.

The conference will feature four speakers: Scott Siepker, Iowa Nice Guy; Elaine Kub, grain market economist; Delaney Howell, host of Iowa Public Television’s “Market to Market,” and Kay Frances, a humorous and motivational speaker.

Siepker will kick off the conference with a little bit of humor, sharing his insights on how “Setting the Table for Success” starts with who should be around the table as well as how we can steal from the best and tell our story.

Kub and Howell will follow, expanding on how women can set their own table for success. Kub will examine the makeup and motivations of the grain market’s most influential players, as well as pinpoint some price opportunities for the grain markets in 2020.

Howell will expand on this and delve into the various aspects impacting the business of agriculture.

Finally, while agriculture and “Setting the Table for Success” may be stressful at times, the final speaker, Frances, will help attendees to see the “Funny Thing about Stress.” She’ll share some pointers about how to better manage stress, so it doesn’t manage us.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. The conference will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude around 2:30 p.m. with networking and socializing until 3 p.m., along with a wine tasting. Attendees must be 21 or older for the wine tasting.

The cost to attend the conference is $25, or $15 for students. A light breakfast and lunch will be included.

Pre-register by calling the ISU Extension and Outreach Washington County office at 319-653-4811, or online at The pre-registration deadline is March 17. Late registrations and walk-in registrations will be accepted based on availability.

The conference is being made possible in large part thanks to: Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the Azariah and Martha Foster Heritage Endowment, Hills Bank and other local sponsors.

Most Fertilizer Prices Still Lower Third Week of February

Retail fertilizers tracked by DTN for the third week of February 2020 show mostly lower prices, which has been the case in recent weeks.

A streak of five consecutive weeks of significantly lower fertilizer prices was broken. Five fertilizers were lower in price compared to last month but none were down any substantial amount. DAP had an average price of $410/ton, MAP $435/ton, potash $373/ton, 10-34-0 $464/ton and UAN28 $235/ton.

The remaining three fertilizers had a small price increase looking back to last month. Urea had an average price of $361/ton, anhydrous $490/ton and UAN32 $277/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 now all lower in price from a year ago. DAP is 20% lower, MAP is 19% less expensive, anhydrous is 18% lower, both UAN28 and UAN32 are 13% less expensive, urea is 11% lower, potash is 3% less expensive and 10-34-0 is 1% lower from last year at this time.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 2/21/2020

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending Feb. 21, ethanol production expanded by 1.3%, or 15,000 barrels per day (b/d), to 1.054 million b/d—equivalent to 44.27 million gallons daily. The four-week average ethanol production rate grew 0.7% to 1.052 million b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 16.13 billion gallons.

Ethanol stocks ticked downward 0.3% to 24.7 million barrels. Inventories shifted lower across all regions except the Gulf Coast (PADD 3), where stocks lifted 5.4%.

Imports of ethanol arriving into the West Coast were 35,000 b/d, or 10.29 million gallons for the week. This is the first time in six weeks that imports were logged. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of December 2019.)

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market climbed 1.3% to 9.035 million b/d (379.47 million gallons per day, or 138.51 bg annualized). Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol rose 0.7% to 902,000 b/d—equivalent to 13.83 bg annualized.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production increased to 11.67%.

USDA Announces Details of Risk Management Programs for Hemp Producers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the availability of two programs that protect hemp producers’ crops from natural disasters.  A pilot hemp insurance program through Multi-Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI) provides coverage against loss of yield because of insurable causes of loss for hemp grown for fiber, grain or Cannabidiol (CBD) oil and the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage protects against losses associated with lower yields, destroyed crops or prevented planting where no permanent federal crop insurance program is available. Producers may apply now, and the deadline to sign up for both programs is March 16, 2020.  
“We are pleased to offer these coverages to hemp producers. Hemp offers new economic opportunities for our farmers, and they are anxious for a way to protect their product in the event of a natural disaster,” said Farm Production and Conservation Undersecretary Bill Northey.
Multi-Peril Crop Insurance Pilot Insurance Program

The MPCI pilot insurance is a new crop insurance option for hemp producers in select counties of 21 states for the 2020 crop year. The program is available 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. Information on eligible counties is accessible through the USDA Risk Management Agency’s Actuarial Information Browser.
Among other requirements, to be eligible for the pilot program, a hemp producer must have at least one year of history producing the crop and have a contract for the sale of the insured hemp. In addition, the minimum acreage requirement is 5 acres for CBD and 20 acres for grain and fiber. Hemp will not qualify for replant payments or prevented plant payments under MPCI.
This pilot insurance coverage is available to hemp growers in addition to revenue protection for hemp offered under the Whole-Farm Revenue Protection plan of insurance. Also, 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 nursery 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.
Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program

NAP provides coverage against loss for hemp grown for fiber, grain, seed or CBD for the 2020 crop year where no permanent federal crop insurance program is available.

NAP basic 50/55 coverage is available at 55 percent of the average market price for crop losses that exceed 50 percent of expected production. Buy-up coverage is available in some cases. The 2018 Farm Bill allows for buy-up levels of NAP coverage from 50 to 65 percent of expected production in 5 percent increments, at 100 percent of the average market price. Premiums apply for buy-up coverage.

For all coverage levels, the NAP service fee is $325 per crop or $825 per producer per county, not to exceed $1,950 for a producer with farming interests in multiple counties.

Eligibility Requirements

Under a regulation authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill and issued in October 2019, all growers must have a license to grow hemp and must comply with applicable state, tribal or federal regulations or operate under a state or university research pilot, as authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

Producers must report hemp acreage to FSA after planting to comply with federal and state law enforcement. The Farm Bill defines hemp as containing 0.3 percent or less tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on a dry-weight basis. Hemp having THC above the federal statutory compliance level of 0.3 percent is an uninsurable or ineligible cause of loss and will result in the hemp production being ineligible for production history purposes.
For more information on USDA risk management programs for hemp producers, visit to read the frequently asked questions.

Precision Ag Reviews Ranks Top Five Products According to Farmers

Precision Ag Reviews, an independent resource to help farmers make decisions about precision ag equipment, has ranked the top five products of 2019 according to thousands of reviews received by farmers.

"More than 3,000 reviews of precision farming products were submitted to Precision Ag Reviews online and in person at farm shows across the country in 2019," said Stacie McCracken, Precision Ag Reviews project manager. "For the first time, we are sharing the findings from aggregated data that showcases the precision farming products farmers collectively rated the highest."

For 2019, the top five products were determined by the highest overall ratings based on a five-star system that includes cost, ease of use, value and support. 
-    Ag Leader, InCommand Display
-    Climate, FieldView Drive
-    Precision Planting, 20l20 Display
-    Ag Leader, Integra Display
-    Trimble, TMX-2050 Display

The Ag Leader InCommand display topped the list in the categories of ease of use, overall value and technical support, while the Climate FieldView Drive had the highest ranking for cost. The product with the most reviews in 2019 was the John Deere Greenstar 3 2630 display.

"While in-cab displays dominated the highest rating list, Precision Ag Reviews includes nearly 300 precision farming products in the areas of hardware, imagery, software and drones," McCracken said. 

Farmers can quickly and easily leave a review or browse peers' reviews on Precision Ag Reviews at any time. In addition, there is a weekly blog with news, information and tips on precision farming topics.

Started in 2017, Precision Ag Reviews was underwritten by the Ohio Soybean Council and the soybean checkoff to provide a reliable, unbiased source of information about precision technology to U.S. farmers. 

CCFN Urges Trump Administration to Seek Stronger Commitments on Generic Names

In testimony today before the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), the Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN) urged the U.S. Administration to secure "firm and explicit commitments" with trading partners to assure the future use of specific generic food and beverage names targeted by EU monopolization efforts, and to reject the use of GIs as barriers to trade.

"There is a persistent push by the European Union and other European interests to dismantle competition and erect barriers to trade which must be more strongly combatted," said CCFN Senior Director Shawna Morris in her testimony. "Across all markets, but particularly those with which the United States has a free trade agreement or is in the process of pursuing a free trade agreement, we urge the Administration to secure explicit commitments from our trading partners that build upon the positive precedent established in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) whereby market access rights were clearly and definitively affirmed for a non-exhaustive list of common used product terms."

Morris expressed appreciation for the Administration's focus on tearing down trade barriers that hinder U.S. competitiveness, but said that without further commitments that reject illegitimate GIs, U.S. companies are likely to run into further obstacles. That's because EU governments and stakeholders continue to pursue an agenda to monopolize popular generic names with key trading partners.

Morris said the list of common terms in the USMCA was the type of tool that "should be carried forward aggressively by the Administration in order to safeguard our World Trade Organization and free trade agreement market access rights in the strongest manner possible."

CCFN provided written and oral testimony as the USTR prepares its annual review on the status of intellectual property rights protections in its trading relationships around the globe (Special 301 Report). The agency is expected to release the 2020 Special 301 Report this spring.

Tuesday February 25 Ag News


The value of Nebraska’s 2019 field and miscellaneous crops is forecast at $10.3 billion, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This is up 5 percent from 2018.

The value of corn production is expected to total $6.78 billion, up 6 percent from the previous marketing year. Nebraska’s corn price is projected to average $3.80 per bushel, up $0.22 from the last marketing year.

The value of soybean production is expected to total $2.38 billion, up 24 percent from the previous marketing year. Nebraska’s soybean price is projected to average $8.40 per bushel, up $0.20 from the last marketing year.

Emerging Issues Forum to Feature Experts on Ethanol & Renewable Chemical Policies, Regulations and Markets

Join ethanol stakeholders and experts in Omaha for the 15th annual Ethanol: Emerging Issues Forum 2020 at the La Vista Conference Center April 9-10. Governor Pete Ricketts has been invited to open the event and welcome attendees.

The Forum brings together ethanol producers and others from across the nation who are integrally involved in production, technology, policymaking, and marketing of ethanol and its co-products. The agenda runs from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and 8:00 a.m. to noon Friday, with multiple networking opportunities in between. Register at by March 1 for Early Bird savings.

Topics include an overview and discussion of the most pressing federal policies, regulatory and legal actions, and market trends from around the world. Speakers will also outline opportunities in emerging co-product markets from industry partners and remind attendees why they (and why the public should) fall in love with ethanol.

Other scheduled presentations include exploring the potential of future ethanol use in the electric vehicle market, fostering environmental relationships as agricultural and ethanol producers, as well as a discussion considering how ethanol and the petroleum industry can work together.

“We take pride in connecting attendees with some of the most sought-after experts in our industry and providing them with knowledge and foresight of what we truly see evolving in the future,” said Roger Berry, Nebraska Ethanol Board administrator. “Whether you work in the ethanol sector or you’re a citizen enthusiastic about the potential that biofuels have to reduce pollution, we welcome you to attend this exciting and educational event.”

Forum organizers Nebraska Ethanol Board and Renewable Fuels Nebraska expect more than 150 ethanol industry stakeholders to attend. Online registration and an evolving agenda are available at Scholarships also are available to college and university students and can be accessed by emailing Amber Rucker, NEB marketing and finance manager, at

Friday Is the Last Day to Schedule an Appointment with Your FSA Office to Compete in CRP General Signup

Agricultural producers and private landowners interested in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) 2020 general signup must make an offer of acres or schedule an appointment to do so with their local U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) service center by Friday, February 28.

The general signup – which opened in December – is available to producers and private landowners who are either offering for the first time or re-offering acres for another 10- to 15-year term in the 35-year-old USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) conservation program.

“Call your FSA county office today to make an appointment to sign up for the Conservation Reserve Program,” FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce said. “As long as you have an appointment scheduled, your CRP offer will be able to compete in this general signup, even if the appointment is in the first week of March. This is the first opportunity for general sign up since 2016, and we want to make sure interested producers and landowners take advantage of this popular conservation program.”

Farmers and ranchers who enroll land in CRP receive yearly rental payments for voluntarily establishing long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees (known as “covers”), which can control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands.

CRP currently has about 22 million acres enrolled, but the 2018 Farm Bill raises the cap to 27 million acres in fiscal year 2023.  The cap for fiscal year 2020 is 24.5 million acres.

Signed into law in 1985, CRP is one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the U.S. It was originally intended to primarily control soil erosion by taking marginal lands out of production.

Producers and landowners interested in the general signup must contact their FSA county office by Friday, February 28 to schedule an appointment.

Deadline to Apply for Natural Resources Conservation Funds Approaching

Farmers and ranchers interested in preventing erosion, improving soil health, conserving water and wildlife, or making any other natural resource conservation improvements to their property are encouraged to apply now for funding available from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Those interested in receiving funding should sign up before March. 13, 2020.

According to Craig Derickson, state conservationist for NRCS in Nebraska, there are several options available to producers.

“NRCS has a whole suite of conservation programs available to farmers and ranchers looking for assistance in improving and protecting the natural resources on their ag land. These programs provide funding on cropland and rangeland, as well as for animal feeding operations and establishing or enhancing wildlife habitat and wetlands. NRCS staff can help landowners and operators identify their options,” Derickson said.

One of the most widely applied conservation programs in Nebraska is the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The goal of EQIP is to provide a financial incentive to encourage landowners to install conservation practices that protect natural resources, resulting in cleaner air and water, healthy soil and more wildlife habitat.

Individuals interested in entering into an EQIP agreement may apply at any time, but the ranking of applications on hand to be considered for funding in 2020 will begin March. 13, 2020. The first step is to visit your local NRCS field office and complete an application.

USDA Providing Funds to Protect and Restore Agricultural Working Lands, Grasslands and Wetlands across Nebraska

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is now accepting applications for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).  This program, created under the 2014 Farm Bill and reauthorized in the 2018 Farm Bill, provides funding for the purchase of conservation easements to help productive farm and ranch lands remain in agriculture and to restore and protect critical wetlands and grasslands.

Nebraska State Conservationist, Craig Derickson said, “Conservation easements are a good tool to ensure natural resources are conserved and protected for all Nebraskans.  We encourage Indian tribes, state and local governments, non-governmental organizations and private landowners to contact their local NRCS office to find out how to apply.”

The main goal of ACEP is to prevent productive agriculture land from being converted to non-agricultural uses and to restore and protect wetlands and wildlife habitat.  Cropland, rangeland, grassland, pastureland and nonindustrial private forestland are eligible.

Applications can be submitted at any time, but to be considered for 2020 funding opportunities, applications in Nebraska must be received by April 3, 2020.  Applications are currently being accepted for both agricultural land and wetland reserve easements.

NRCS provides technical and financial assistance directly to private and tribal landowners to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands through the purchase of conservation easements.  Eligible landowners can choose to enroll in a permanent or 30-year easement.  Tribal landowners also have the option of enrolling in 30-year contracts.

A key option under the agricultural land easement component is the "grasslands of special environmental significance" that will protect high-quality grasslands that are under threat of conversion to cropping, urban development and other non-grazing uses.  To qualify, the application would need to be in an area meeting the designated criteria.

All applications will be rated according to the easement’s potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds, fish and other wildlife.  Eligible applicants will be compensated with a payment rate comparable to the local land use value.

Applicants will need to provide accurate records of ownership and ensure they have established current fiscal year ownership eligibility with USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA).  Application information is available at your local USDA Service Center and at

“NRCS staff will work with all interested applicants to help them through the application process and provide one-on-one assistance to create the conservation easement option that works best for their farming or ranching operation,” Derickson said.

For more information about the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the programs and services it provides, visit your local USDA Service Center or

USDA and USTR Announce Progress on Implementation of U.S.-China Phase One Agreement

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced today that China has taken numerous actions to begin implementing its agriculture-related commitments under the landmark U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement on schedule. The agreement entered into force on February 14, 2020.

These actions include:
 -    Signing a protocol that allows the importation of U.S. fresh chipping potatoes (U.S. Chipping Potatoes Protocol Announcement);
-    Lifting the ban on imports of U.S. poultry and poultry products, including pet food containing poultry products (Poultry and Poultry Products Announcement);
-    Lifting restrictions on imports of U.S. pet food containing ruminant material (Pet Food with Ruminant Ingredients Announcement);
-    Updating lists of facilities approved for exporting animal protein, pet food, dairy, infant formula, and tallow for industry use to China;
-    Updating the lists of products that can be exported to China as feed additives; and
-    Updating an approved list of U.S. seafood species  that can be exported to China.

 In addition, China has begun announcing tariff exclusions for imports of U.S. agricultural products subject to its retaliatory tariffs (Tariff Exclusion Process Announcement), and it announced a reduction in retaliatory tariff rates on certain U.S. agricultural goods (Tariff Rate Adjustment Announcement). These types of actions will facilitate China’s progress toward meeting its Phase One purchase commitments.

“President Trump and this Administration negotiated a strong trade agreement with China that promises significant benefits for American agriculture,” Secretary Perdue said. “We look forward to realizing these benefits this year and are encouraged by progress made last week. We fully expect compliance with all elements of the deal.”

Ambassador Lighthizer said, “President Trump signed the Phase One agreement a little more than a month ago and we are already seeing positive results. Under the President’s leadership, we will ensure the agreement is strictly enforced for the benefit of our workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses.”

RFA Welcomes Bill Targeting Big Oil’s Big Subsidies

Today, Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Tom Udall of New Mexico introduced a bill that that takes a step toward ending subsidies for oil and gas companies. Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper released the following statement:

"We applaud Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Tom Udall (D-NM) for introducing bipartisan legislation today that closes a century-old tax loophole exploited by oil companies and takes a step toward leveling the playing field for all transportation fuel producers. Study after study show that the oil and gas industry benefits each year from billions of dollars in hidden subsidies, write-offs, incentives, and other giveaways. If oil producers and refiners truly want a 'free market' in the energy sector, they should start by giving up the subsidies and tax preferences that have robbed state and federal coffers for 100 years or more. We hope this bill sets lawmakers on a path toward comprehensive energy tax policy reform, and that the end result is a fair and open market that offers true competition and consumer choice."

February Cattle on Feed

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

The February USDA NASS Cattle on Feed Report was released last Friday and showed feedlot inventory at 11.93 million head on February 1 for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 head or more. This was up 2.2 percent over the same date in 2019. The report was generally neutral as it was within the range of expectations pre-report, but the number of placements during January were lower than the majority of pre-report estimates which could be viewed as slightly bullish. However, the Friday report was nowhere near bullish enough to exclude cattle from the rough day that financial and commodity markets are having on Monday.

The 11.93 million head is the largest February total in the past 12 years and is the fourth largest February total since the series began in 1996. While the U.S. total was up 2.2%, there were some differences among states. Feedlots in Texas showed the largest increase in inventory since a year ago with 190,000 more head (6.9%) on February 1, 2020 as compared to February 1, 2019. The next two largest increases were Kansas which is up 150,000 head (6.7%) and Colorado which is up 60,000 head (5.8%). The largest state decrease was Nebraska which was 100,000 head lower (3.9%) than a year ago.

Placements of cattle into feedlots in January were down 0.6% as compared to January 2019. Most pre-report estimates were for a slight increase in placements. Despite having the largest inventory gains among states since a year ago, Texas had the largest decrease in placements at 50,000 fewer than in January 2019. Kansas showed the largest increase at 60,000 head more than a year ago.

Marketings in January were up 1.1% over a year ago and this was very near the average of pre-report expectations. Overall, the report was fairly well-anticipated with no major surprises.

USDA Expands Market for U.S. Wheat

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that, effective immediately, U.S. wheat may now be shipped to Kenya regardless of state of origin or port of export. This important step will allow U.S. wheat from Idaho, Oregon, and Washington to be added to the list of states that can ship wheat to Kenya.

“American farmers in the Pacific Northwest now have full access to the Kenyan wheat market,” said Greg Ibach, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. “This action proves our commitment to securing fair treatment and greater access for U.S. products in the global marketplace.”

For the last 12 years, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has worked closely with Kenyan officials to address plant health concerns that kept U.S. wheat exports from Idaho, Oregon, and Washington out of Kenya. The U.S.-Kenya Trade and Investment Working Group, established after an August 2018 White House meeting between President Donald Trump and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, provided the forum for APHIS, USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to finally resolve this longstanding issue with Kenya.

On January 28, 2020, Kenya’s national plant protection organization officially signed the Export Certification Protocol between Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service and APHIS/PPQ on Wheat Grain Consignments to Kenya for immediate implementation. The protocol gives U.S. exporters full access to Kenya’s wheat market, valued at nearly $500 million annually.

“Going forward, the USDA team looks forward to building on this success and further strengthening our relationship with Kenya as we pursue a new bilateral free trade agreement that will create additional market opportunities for U.S. producers and exporters,” said Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney.


After 12 years of discussion and a U.S. technical visit, Kenya agreed to lift its prohibition on U.S. wheat exports from Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Kenya will now accept APHIS export phytosanitary inspection and certification for wheat from any U.S. state of origin or port of export, effective immediately.

As part of the technical agreement, APHIS will work with U.S. stakeholders to enhance general surveillance for flag smut of wheat (Urocystis agropyri) in Idaho, Oregon and Washington and ask industry to support a technical visit from Kenya to examine crop surveillance measures for flag smut.

Tools to help growers get ahead of corn rootworm threat

Corn rootworm (CRW) is one of the most destructive corn pests in the United States and costs growers more than $1 billion annually in reduced grain yield and control measures. Long-term corn rootworm management requires a multi-year, whole-farm approach that includes the integration of multiple control measures, not a singular technology.

Growers concerned with CRW should have a plan in place for each field that includes multiple control strategies including crop rotation, corn rootworm-traited corn hybrids, soil applied insecticides, and adult beetle management. To provide growers with information to help guide multi-year CRW management decisions, Syngenta has announced it will assist growers with corn rootworm beetle tracking during the 2020 growing season to help them plan for 2021.

"Corn rootworm is one of the top pests on growers' minds when it comes to corn insect control. Without proper planning and management, this adaptable insect can wreak havoc on corn fields and negatively affect bottom lines," said Tim O'Brien, PhD, Agrisure® traits manager for Syngenta. "Every farm is different and CRW management requires year-by-year, field-by-field evaluation. At Syngenta, we recommend tracking the current year's beetle numbers to gauge the following year's larval threat."

Tracking corn rootworm beetles is an effective method to help growers identify the level of pressure on their farms, delivering valuable information for future insect management decisions.

"Yellow sticky traps are a simple, convenient and reliable method for estimating CRW populations within a corn field," said Andy Heggenstaller, head of agronomy for Syngenta Seeds. "Our goal is to provide growers with the support and knowledge they need to monitor adult corn rootworm in their fields and ultimately make better, more informed management decisions that will pay off next year and in years to come."

Sticky traps should be placed in fields during June or July, though exact timing depends on geography. Growers seeking assistance in tracking CRW pressure and developing a plan specific to their area should contact their local, independent Golden Harvest® Seed Advisor or local NK® retailer this spring to ensure they are prepared to take action in the summer.

To help reduce unexpected damage in high-pressure CRW fields, growers should consider rotating to a non-host crop like soybeans, applying a soil insecticide, managing adult beetles, and utilizing pyramided trait stacks like Agrisure Duracade® trait stacks. Growers looking for more control of more insect pests may want to consider Agrisure Duracade 5222 E-Z Refuge®, as it controls 16 damaging above- and below-ground pests, more than any competitive trait stack.

"Because CRW is so adaptable and has historically demonstrated the ability to overcome some management practices and control technologies, it's important to show this pest something different to delay adaptation to control technologies," said O'Brien. "Agrisure Duracade trait stacks feature a unique mode of action that demonstrates strong performance against CRW and provide a new trait rotational option for a healthier corn crop."

Agrisure Duracade expresses a protein that binds differently in the gut of corn rootworm to show corn rootworm something different. The Agrisure Duracade trait provides a new trait rotation option for corn rootworm management when used in rotation with other industry trait technologies like Agrisure 3122 E-Z Refuge.

Monday February 24 Ag News


Six decades after pouring water into its livestock production, the United States is investing relative drops in the bucket to produce its meat, milk and eggs, says a recent analysis from the University of Nebraska’s Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute.

Relying on data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other sources, the team analyzed the annual U.S. outputs of beef, pork, poultry and milk from 1960 to 2016. The researchers also estimated the yearly amounts of water invested in each class of livestock: the rainfall and irrigation needed to grow grains and other livestock feed; the drinking water those livestock consumed; the water used to clean the animals and their living quarters.

By dividing the annual weight of each livestock product by the volume of water needed to produce it, the researchers then calculated water productivity, a per-animal measure of how efficiently U.S. producers converted water into food.

They found that U.S. water productivity for all six livestock products — beef, pork, chicken, turkey, milk and eggs — improved incrementally but substantially across the 56-year span. The United States produced milk about five times more water-efficiently in 2016 than in 1960; pork nearly four times more efficiently; chicken, turkey and eggs, collectively, about three times more efficiently; and beef about twice as efficiently. Annual water investments in that U.S. livestock dropped 36% from 1960 to 2016, the study reported.

Nebraska’s Mesfin Mekonnen, the study’s lead author, said the projected rise in global population — from an estimated 7.7 billion to nearly 10 billion people by 2050 — will continue to demand improvements in water efficiency.

“Globally, we see that the population is growing, income is improving, and with that, the demand for livestock products is increasing,” said Mekonnen, research assistant professor with the Water for Food Institute. “When comparing a livestock product to a nutrient-equivalent crop product, livestock demands more water. So with the increase in demand for animal products, there will be more water demand, creating more pressure on the limited available water.”

The recent improvements in water productivity, Mekonnen said, likely stem from a few factors. A combination of selective breeding, genetic engineering and supplements have increased the sheer size of the average livestock, he said, generally resulting in more food from each animal.

But similar efforts have also improved the efficiency with which livestock convert their own feed — usually grains, grasses or their byproducts — into meat, milk and eggs. While the total weight of U.S. livestock products increased 48% over the 56-year period, the weight of their feed rose by just 8%, the study found. And many of the grains that constitute livestock feed have themselves been bred or modified to require less water than they did a few decades ago, directly reducing the industry’s water footprint.

Though the water efficiency of beef improved the least among the livestock products — beef cattle account for nearly half of the U.S. livestock industry’s water footprint — Mekonnen emphasized the importance of context when evaluating consequences for the environment and food security. Many cattle, particularly those in the Nebraska Sandhills, forage on grasses that are inedible by humans and grown on rangelands ill-suited for other crops.

Mekonnen did cite the diets of grain-fed cattle and other livestock as targets for further improving water productivity. The team reported that swapping out some corn and soybean for so-called distiller grains — byproducts of the grains distilled for biofuels and other purposes — could improve the water productivity of milk by roughly 20%, pork by more than 10%, and beef and poultry by about 5%. Because distiller grains can contain more protein and provide more energy than corn and soybean meal, they might also indirectly improve water productivity via livestock growth, Mekonnen said.

“It creates the awareness that we need to look at the full supply chain when we talk about livestock or other products — from feed production to the final output,” he said. “We cannot say, ‘This is enough.’ There is a need to keep on improving.”

The team detailed its findings in the journal Environmental International. Mekonnen authored the study with the late Arjen Hoekstra, formerly of the University of Twente, along with Nebraska’s Christopher Neale, professor of biological systems engineering and director of research at the Water for Food Global Institute; Chittaranjan Ray, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Nebraska Water Center; and Galen Erickson, Nebraska Cattle Industry Professor of Animal Science.

A Calf’s Most Important Meal: Colostrum

Mary Drewnoski - Nebraska Extension Beef Systems Specialist
Haley Linder - MS Student
Halden Clark - Health Stewardship Veterinarian

Colostrum is the "first milk" produced after calving. It has a different composition than milk as it has an important role in being the first meal a calf receives. Colostrum is more nutrient dense than milk and contains antibodies essential for calf health. 

During pregnancy, certain molecules important to immune system defense called antibodies, are not passed from dam to calf. When calves are born, they have inactive immune systems and therefore, need protection against potential diseases until their own immune systems mature. Colostrum provides just that as it contains antibodies called immunoglobins. Immunoglobins have important roles in the immune system recognizing and destroying pathogens. Bovine colostrum contains 3 types of Immunoglobin – A, G, and M. However, IgG is over 85% of the total immunoglobin concentration in colostrum. However, the calf's gut can only absorb IgG in the first 24 hours of life. The earlier that calves receive colostrum the better though as the gut's absorptive ability slowly decreases over those first 24 hours. Really consumption within the first 4 to 6 hours is best.   Failure to receive an adequate amount of IgG results in failure of passive transfer of immunity. Calves with failure of passive transfer are more likely to get sick.

Research done at USMARC in Clay Center, NE found that calves with inadequate blood serum IgG concentrations 24 hours postpartum were more likely to experience preweaning sickness or death. In fact, calves with inadequate IgG concentrations had 5.4 times greater risk of death during the preweaning period than calves who had adequate IgG concentrations. Additionally, failure of passive transfer can impact cattle performance. Sickness during the first 28 days of life was associated with a 35-pound lower expected weaning weight.

Healthy newborn calves typically consume enough colostrum for passive transfer of immunity. Still, there maybe cases in which producers should hand feed colostrum to ensure the calf receives this important first meal. If the calf appears to be too weak to stand or experienced a difficult birth, this might affect their ability to suckle. Additionally, if the calf has been abandoned or the dam refused to let the calf suckle, colostrum should be hand fed.

Feeding colostrum from the dam is the best option followed by another cow in the herd. If collecting colostrum is not an option, it is important to understand the difference between colostrum replacer and a colostrum supplement. A colostrum replacer will contain more than 100 g of IgG per dose as well as protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals needed in the calf's first meal. It is meant to fully replace colostrum. On the other hand, colostrum supplements are meant to supplement low quality colostrum.

They usually have 40-60 IgG per dose and do not contain those additional nutrients. There is a price difference between the two but only colostrum replacer can completely replace maternal colostrum. Calves should receive 5% of their body weight in colostrum, typically 2 quarts. Producers should aim to feed colostrum within 4-6 hours of birth as this is when the calf's gut can absorb the most IgG.

Before handfeeding colostrum, warm a wet or cold calf up first. While one may think that feeding a warm meal may help raise body temperature, the calf's gut is not as motile if they are cold. This can negatively affect how they absorb the nutrients and immunoglobins in colostrum.

Colostrum is crucial to getting calves off to a great start in life. Receiving this first meal within the first 4 to 6 hours can help to keep calves healthy before their immune systems mature. Consult with your herd veterinarian for further information about your calves' health.

Ricketts Proclaims “FFA Week” in Nebraska

This morning, Governor Pete Ricketts hosted members of the Nebraska FFA Association for a proclamation signing ceremony declaring “FFA Week” in Nebraska.  FFA started in 1928.  Its mission is to “make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education.”  FFA Week is celebrated nationally February 22-29, 2020.

“FFA is preparing the next generation for leadership in our state’s number-one industry,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “FFA students learn by doing and grow by serving.  Through hands-on involvement in agriculture and related fields, they’re gaining valuable skills and insights that will benefit them throughout their careers.”

The Nebraska FFA Association was the sixth state group chartered by the National FFA Organization.  Nebraska currently has nearly 10,000 FFA members in 189 chapters.  Throughout the years, State agencies have partnered with Nebraska FFA chapters to promote agricultural education, career readiness, and professional development.

“FFA Week celebrates the initiative and accomplishments of FFA members,” said Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Steve Wellman.  “FFA is equipping students with the leadership skills and agricultural education to grow their communities and our state’s economy.”


For the month of February 2020, topsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short, 11 short, 79 adequate, and 7 surplus, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 1 percent very short, 8 short, 83 adequate, and 8 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Winter wheat condition rated 1 percent very poor, 4 poor, 26 fair, 65 good, and 4 excellent.

The next monthly report (for March) will be issued March 30, 2020. Weekly reports will begin April 6th for the 2020 season.

More farmers convert to organic in 2019, beating previous forecast

U.S. farmers harvested nearly 3.3 million acres of certified organic field crops in 2019, driven by 14% more organic field crop operations, according to Mercaris, the market data service and online trading platform for organic, non-GMO and certified agricultural commodities.

The numbers reported in Mercaris’ Final 2019 Acreage Report show that the number of growers converting land to organic production escalated significantly over 2019, adding to the U.S. organic harvest and offsetting the impact of a rainy growing season.

Furthermore, the report shows the importance of understanding regional variations that drive the overall growth of certified organic production.

According to the report, released today, final numbers beat previous estimates for every region of the U.S.  Highlights Include:
-      1.1 million acres of organic hay and alfalfa were harvested over 2019, up 8% y/y with 11% more certified organic operations.
-      13% more certified organic operations harvested organic corn over 2019, offsetting a significant decline in the number of acres harvested per operation.
-      Certified organic operations harvesting organic soybean reached 2,835, up 11% y/y.
-      Harvested organic wheat acres, mostly driven by expansion in the High Plains region, grew 16% y/y.

“2019 was a tough year for agriculture overall, with a number of macroeconomic and weather/climate-related events adding to the uncertainty,” said Kellee James, CEO of Mercaris. “Because of this, it’s more important than ever to track and understand key production statistics for organic agriculture, a sector that continues to show strong growth.”

According to the report, there were 99,442 organic acres harvested in Nebraska in 2019, and the total organic acres harvested in Iowa last year was 140,813. 

“Despite what can be fairly described as the most difficult growing season in more than a decade, 2019 was a remarkable year for organic production,” said Ryan Koory, Director of Economics at Mercaris.  “While growth in the organic industry was anticipated, the 14% y/y expansion in certified organic field crop operations well exceeded expectations. Overall acreage expansion did prove to be limited by weather throughout the growing season. That said, the addition of new organic growers suggests that 2020 could see organic production reach new record highs.”

Mercaris is currently the only organization publishing regional and national data on organic acreage in the United States.

USDA Cold Storage January 2020 Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers on January 31, 2020 were up 5 percent from the previous month and up 3 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were up 2 percent from the previous month but down 4 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were up 8 percent from the previous month and up 11 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were up 6 percent from last month and up 32 percent from last year.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on January 31, 2020 were up 2 percent from the previous month but down 1 percent from January 31, 2019.  Butter stocks were up 28 percent from last month and up 15 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen poultry supplies on January 31, 2020 were up 4 percent from the previous month and up 1 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were down 2 percent from the previous month but up 12 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 30 percent from last month but down 23 percent from January 31, 2019.

Total frozen fruit stocks on January 31, 2020 were down 10 percent from last month and down 10 percent from a year ago. Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 7 percent from last month and down slightly from a year ago.

Dairy Beef Short Course to Focus on Carcasses and Animal Health

The I-29 Moo University Dairy Beef Short Course is scheduled for March 24, as part of the pre-educational events for the Central Plains Dairy Expo. It will be held in the Denny Sanford Premier Center, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in rooms 8, 9 and 10.

“The focus of this year’s program is dairy beef carcasses at the farm, processor and consumer end, along with targeting health considerations for maximum performance,” said Iowa State University Extension and Outreach dairy specialist Fred M. Hall.

This year’s presenters include Ty E. Lawrence from West Texas A&M University; Kevin Hueser, senior vice president of beef margin management with Tyson; Bill Munns, head of sales and supply chain with JBS USA; Russ Daly, extension veterinarian and professor in the Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences Department at South Dakota State University; and Jan Shearer, professor and extension dairy veterinarian at Iowa State University.

Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. and the program starts at 10 a.m. with Lawrence presenting “Finishing Dairy Cattle for Beef: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” Afterward, Munns will lead a discussion of the commercial science behind purebred Holstein beef, followed by Hueser, speaking on dairy cross opportunities in the plant.

Lunch will be provided at 12:30 p.m., followed by Daly outlining health consideration for dairy beef cattle during the feeding period. Shearer is the final presenter for the day and will share information on feedlot cattle lameness and economic impacts. The program will conclude at 3 p.m.

A registration fee of $25 per person covers the short course, lunch and copy of the proceedings. Preregistration is requested by March 20 and limited to 130 attendees on a first-come, first-served basis.

Register at or on the I-29 Moo University website at You also can register by mailing the registration fee to Tracey Erickson at 1910 West Kemp Ave., Watertown, SD 57201. Include your contact information and any dietary restrictions when mailing in your registration information.

If attendees also plan on going to the Central Plains Dairy Expo Welcome Reception, they should register for that ahead of time at

The Dairy Beef Short Course, hosted by I-29 Moo University, is a collaboration of Iowa State University, South Dakota State University, University of Minnesota, North Dakota State, and University of Nebraska Extension Services.

For more information, contact Hall by email at or ISU Extension and Outreach beef specialist Beth Doran by email Both can also be reached by phone at 712-737-4230.

CFTC to Hold Open Commission Meeting in Kansas City on March 31

Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Heath P. Tarbert today officially announced the CFTC will hold an open commission meeting in Kansas City, Mo. on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. The meeting—which is the first to take place outside of Washington, D.C. since 1997—will be held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City at 2:00 p.m. (CDT).

“I often say that America’s farmers and ranchers are at the heart of our real economy, so when there’s an opportunity to get out of Washington to meet with end users, I’ll always take it,” said Chairman Tarbert. “My fellow Commissioners and I will be in nearby Overland Park, Kansas for the third annual Agricultural Commodity Futures Conference with Kansas State University on April 1st and 2nd, making this a perfect opportunity for the Commission to have an open meeting in the heartland.”

Matters that may be considered at the meeting include proposed amendments to bankruptcy rules (Part 190).

General Public Attendance Instructions: The meeting is open to the public, however advance notification is required. To attend, email your first and last name and affiliation to by close of business on March 20. Please arrive at least 30 minutes before the meeting begins with a photo ID to undergo security screening. Walk-ins will not be allowed entry. Disabled persons requiring special accommodations to attend the meeting should contact Susan Burns at 816-881-2572. 


Shayle D. Shagam, Livestock Analyst, World Agricultural Outlook Board, USDA

Total red meat and poultry production in 2019 increased to a record 105.2 billion pounds, the fifth consecutive year of increase. Beef, pork, and broiler production increased in 2019; however, production of turkey and lamb was lower. For 2020, red meat and poultry production is forecast to increase over 3 percent to 108.8 billion driven by record production of beef, pork and broiler meat. Although turkey production is expected to increase for the first time in 3 years, it will remain below its recent peak.

With record beef and broiler meat production levels, cattle and broiler prices declined in 2019. Hog prices, on the other hand, increased despite higher production as strong packer demand, supported by increased slaughter capacity and export growth underpinned hog markets. After experiencing sharply lower prices in late 2017-18, turkey producers began cutting production. As turkey supplies were reduced in 2019, prices moved higher. For 2020, fed steer prices are forecast to remain fairly stable as production growth slows. Hog prices will increase despite relatively large gains in production as an increasing proportion of U.S. pork enters international markets. Broiler prices are expected to decline as the expected increase in production pressures prices. Turkey prices will average higher in 2020 as producers continue to balance supply and demand. Exports of all major meats are expected to increase in 2020.

Feed Prices will Remain Moderate and Economic Growth Will Support Demand

Feed prices during 2020 are likely to be slightly lower than 2019. Corn prices in the first part of 2020 are expected to be above a year ago reflecting a forecast 2019/20 crop year average of $3.85 per bushel. However, prices later in the year are expected be below 2019, reflecting a decline in the season average price to $3.60 per bushel for 2020/21. Soybean meal prices in the first part of 2020 will reflect a 2019/20 crop year average of $305 per ton and prices in the fourth quarter are expected to reflect a market year forecast of $310 for 2020/2021. Hay stocks on December 1, 2019 were 84.5 million tons, an improvement over both 2017 and 2018, but well below the 92-96-million-ton level of 2014-16. Although stock levels were higher in a number of major cattle producing states, stocks were lower in Oklahoma, Nebraska and in many Southeast states. In addition, the quality of the hay is reportedly variable.

Real U.S. GDP is expected to slow in 2020, increasing less than the 2-percent or better rates of the past 3 years. However, unemployment is forecast to remain low and consumer prices are forecast to only increase moderately relative to 2019; both these factors tend to be supportive for meat demand. Internationally, economic growth is forecast to be slower than last year. The U.S. dollar will likely strengthen slightly against key importers which could dampen prospects for exports. However recent trade agreements and imports from countries whose production has been affected by disease outbreaks are expected to be strongly supportive to meat exports.

Read the full report here, including the beef and pork breakout....

The Grain and Oilseed outlook is here...

The Dairy outlook is here...

NFU Urges Public and Transparent Process for Any Future Trade Assistance

Amidst reports that recent trade deals may have a more gradual and modest impact on agricultural exports than initially thought, President Donald Trump today tweeted that “aid will be provided by the federal government” if necessary.

Though National Farmers Union (NFU) appreciates the administration’s ongoing support for farmers affected by trade disputes, the organization has been critical of its haphazard approach to development and implementation. In a letter sent today to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, NFU President Roger Johnson urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to follow a “public and transparent process.”

Echoing earlier sentiments, Johnson expressed concerns about the complete exclusion of Congress from trade assistance decision making during both rounds of the Market Facilitation Program (MFP), particularly considering the significant sums of money involved. “When the first iteration of MFP was announced in the summer of 2018 . . . the USDA did not seek input from the legislative branch and spent approximately $10 billion over the course of six months,” Johnson wrote. This “opaque process” drew widespread criticism, potentially undermining support for future farm bills and agricultural spending.

The first two rounds of MFP were marked not only by the absence of collaboration but also inadequate review and an absence of long-term solutions. “MFP was used as a quick fix, spent $14.5 billion in a matter of months, and did not tackle larger problems in the farm safety net,” said Johnson, adding that the implementation was “rushed” and “seemingly spurred by a similar presidential tweet.”

To ensure that any additional trade assistance is a “sound investment” and “does not erode the underpinnings of future farm policy,” Johnson compelled USDA to work closely with Congress on any future trade assistance packages. “Our members appreciate the much-needed help MFP provided in the last two years, but also know that this program must do better,” the letter reads. “I strongly suggest that USDA work with the House and Senate agriculture committees to convene a joint hearing to receive public comments, explore the present challenges with our export markets, and to consider sound policies for distributing financial assistance.”

NCBA CEO Colin Woodall Speaks At U.S. Chamber Event On Modernizing NEPA

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association's (NCBA) CEO Colin Woodall today spoke at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with the Unlock American Investment Coalition about the need to modernize the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). This event was held ahead of the White House Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) second hearing tomorrow in Washington D.C. on proposed updates to NEPA.

“NEPA in its current form has become a costly and time-consuming burden for ranchers, with some ranch families facing grazing permit delays as long as 30 years,” said NCBA CEO Colin Woodall, who spoke at today’s press conference event in Washington. “I want to thank President Trump and his team at CEQ for listening to rural America and bringing common sense back to an outdated law. These proposed changes are welcome news for thousands of ranchers and farmers whose livelihoods depend on NEPA reviews.”

Led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Unlock American Investment Coalition is made up of 45 organizations representing a diverse cross section of the American economy who who are all in favor of updating NEPA – a law that was first enacted 50 years ago and has not been substantively amended in nearly four decades. Over time, NEPA evolved from a useful tool to a complex web of onerous processes and bureaucratic red tape. In fact, according to a 2018 report from CEQ, it took the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service an average of 4.5 years to complete an Environmental Impact Statement. This is just too long for ranchers who rely on NEPA reviews for renewals of a term grazing permits, construction of range improvements, or to become eligible for participation in USDA programs. Submit your comments on NEPA reforms by March 10th by visiting