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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
Ag News Round-up - Week ending Feb 26

 Sorry I've been away from the blog for a few days.... but here's some must-know agricultural news and information from the second half of last week.... take care, and good luck!   -Chad  



 USDA Offers Disaster Assistance to Nebraska Farmers, Livestock Producers Impacted by Recent Winter Storms

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides technical and financial assistance to help Nebraska farmers and livestock producers recover from damages brought on by winter storms Uri and Viola. Agricultural producers are encouraged to contact their local USDA Service Center to learn about the programs available to help them recover from crop, land, infrastructure and livestock losses.

“The recent extreme cold and winter weather has been a challenge for farmers and ranchers in Nebraska,” said Timothy Divis, acting state executive director for USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) in Nebraska. “We know some producers have experienced losses or other impacts. USDA offers disaster assistance programs that may be able to help.”

Disaster Assistance

USDA encourages farmers and ranchers to contact the FSA county office at the local USDA Service Center to apply for eligible programs and to learn which documents, such as farm records, herd inventory, receipts and pictures of damages or losses should be provided to help expedite assistance.

Producers who experience livestock deaths due to the winter storms may be eligible for the Livestock Indemnity Program. Meanwhile, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program provides eligible producers with compensation for feed and grazing losses. For LIP and ELAP, producers will need to file a notice of loss for livestock and extra feed costs or feed losses within 30 days and honeybee losses within 15 days.

Additionally, eligible orchardists and nursery tree growers may be eligible for cost-share assistance through the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes or vines lost during the winter storms. This complements Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) or crop insurance coverage, which covers the crop but not the plants or trees in all cases. For TAP, a program application must be filed within 90 days.

FSA also offers a variety of direct and guaranteed loans, including operating and emergency loans, to producers unable to secure commercial financing. Producers in counties with a primary or contiguous disaster designation may be eligible for low-interest emergency loans to help them recover from production and physical losses. Loans can help producers replace essential property, purchase inputs like livestock, equipment, feed and seed, cover family living expenses or refinance farm-related debts and other needs.

Risk Management

Producers who have risk protection through Federal Crop Insurance or FSA’s NAP should report crop damage to their crop insurance agent or FSA office. If they have crop insurance, producers should report crop damage to their agent within 72 hours of damage discovery and follow up in writing within 15 days. For NAP covered crops, a Notice of Loss (CCC-576) must be filed within 15 days of the loss becoming apparent, except for perishable crops, which should be reported within 72 hours.

“Crop insurance and other USDA risk management options are there to help producers manage risk because we never know what nature has in store for the future,” said Collin Olsen, director of RMA’s Regional Office that covers Nebraska. “The Approved Insurance Providers, loss adjusters and agents are experienced and well trained in handling these types of events.”


The Emergency Conservation Program and Emergency Forest Restoration Program can assist landowners and forest stewards with financial and technical assistance to restore damaged farmland or forests.

More Information

On, the Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool, Disaster-at-a-Glance fact sheet, and Farm Loan Discovery Tool can help producers and landowners determine program or loan options. For assistance with a crop insurance claim, producers and landowners should contact their crop insurance agent. For FSA and NRCS programs, they should contact their local USDA Service Center.

Eastern Nebraska Producers Invited to Participate in Weather Ready Farms

The Weather Ready Farms Designation Program is currently searching for participants to engage in the expanded pilot of our program. The only qualification for participation is for the crop producer to reside in Eastern Nebraska.

The program will run from Monday, Nov. 1, 2021 to Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023. Interested candidates must sign a participation verification letter before Friday, March 12, 2021. Participants will complete the four phases of the designation program to improve sustainability and weather resiliency on their farms. These steps include:
    Self-Assessment: Participants complete a self-assessment to determine areas of vulnerabilities on the farm.
    Education: Participants attend a variety of Nebraska Extension programs and partner events, where they learn about new research and ways to implement practices on the farm. Education includes experiences and resources on the following topics: climate literacy; management of soil, water, pests and crops; and disaster, emergency planning and preparedness.
    Verification: Participants prioritize areas on the farm where they can implement new management strategies, and these practices are verified by a third-party provider.
    Designation: Participants who have completed phases 1-3 receive the Weather Ready Farms designation.

Participants of the WRF designation program, will receive a participation stipend of $1,200 and $1,300 to put toward funding new weather-ready agriculture practices on their farms. Farms who complete our designation program will also receive weather ready designation status, as well as a homestead sign recognizing this status. Moreover, participation in the program will offer invaluable knowledge and allow participants to join a community of sustainable and weather ready farmers.

If interested in participating in WRF, please contact Candace Hulbert at

Nebraska Farm Bureau Backs “Right to Repair” Bill, Says Timely and Affordable Repair of Equipment Vital to Farmers

A legislative bill targeted to ensuring Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers, and independent repair technicians have access to information, diagnostic equipment, and parts to repair farm equipment and machinery has received support from the Nebraska Farm Bureau. LB 543 was introduced by Sen. Tom Brandt of Plymouth to address an ongoing issue of concern to farmers whereby farm equipment manufacturers have maintained exclusive control over equipment information and technology, in turn limiting farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to purchase information and tools necessary to repair their own equipment or turn to an independent third-party service technician for assistance.

“Production agriculture is a machinery and equipment intense business. It’s also a time-sensitive business subject to the whims of the weather and needs of livestock. Tractors must run when cattle need fed. Combines need to run during harvest when crops are fit. Our business is predicated on equipment working when it’s needed. Timely and cost-effective repair is vital to our members,” said Mark McHargue, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

Nebraska Farm Bureau has been engaged in deliberations at the state and national levels with farm equipment manufacturers about addressing the “right to repair” issue through a private memorandum of understanding similar to ones utilized in the automobile industry, whereby vehicle owners and independent technicians can purchase information, diagnostic equipment, and parts needed for vehicle repairs from vehicle manufacturers.

“Nebraska Farm Bureau has a great appreciation for the role equipment manufacturers and their local dealers play in our business and our rural communities. They’re an important partner. With that in mind, our members want the same flexibility in farm equipment repair that’s available in the automobile industry,” said McHargue.

According to McHargue, a private agreement would be best for all parties involved and Nebraska Farm Bureau is open to continuing the discussions with the manufacturers.

“We believe LB 543 offers a solution to a long-standing concern if we’re unable to arrive at a non-legislative solution by working with the manufacturers. We’d prefer to have the memorandum of understanding, but this needs to be resolved quickly. Our support for LB 543 is real and we’ll support this bill until it passes, or we reach an agreement,” said McHargue.

McHargue also clarified where Farm Bureau stands in the broader “right to repair” conversations that expand into other industries and areas such as the right to modify equipment.

“To be clear, our interest is in making sure farmers and ranchers have the ability to purchase what they need at a reasonable rate to get their equipment up and running or have the option of turning to an independent technician. Farm Bureau is not seeking the right to modify farm equipment and we’re not interested in the broader “right to repair” discussions surrounding off-road vehicles or consumer electronics,” said McHargue.


The value of Nebraska’s 2020 field and miscellaneous crops is forecast at $11.9 billion, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This is up 22% from 2019.

The value of corn production is expected to total $7.61 billion, up 21% from the previous marketing year. Nebraska’s corn price is projected to average $4.25 per bushel, up $0.73 from the last marketing year.

The value of soybean production is expected to total $3.18 billion, up 36% from the previous marketing year. Nebraska’s soybean price is projected to average $10.80 per bushel, up $2.53 from the last marketing year.


The production of Iowa’s field and miscellaneous crops was valued at $15.8 billion in 2020, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Crop Values 2020 Summary. This was a 15% increase from 2019.

The value of corn for grain production totaled $9.87 billion, up 9% from the previous year. Iowa’s corn price averaged $4.30 per bushel, an increase of 80 cents from the last marketing year.

Up 29% from 2019, the value of soybean production was $5.48 billion. The average price increased $2.62 from the previous year to $11.10 per bushel.

Value of production also increased from 2019 to 2020 for alfalfa hay and oats.

The TRUTH About Animal Ag Emissions

William H. Rhea III, Nebraska Cattlemen President

It takes a community of people to bring beef from pasture to plate including farmers and ranchers, feedlot operators, livestock auction market owners, and packing plant workers. As a cattleman, I take great pride in being part of that community.

According to both the USDA and EPA’s own estimates, beef cattle production in the U.S. accounts for only 3.3% of total greenhouse emissions.i Transportation and electricity generation together make up 56%, by comparison.ii

It has been suggested that reducing beef consumption would make a significant reduction in greenhouse gasses. When in fact, cutting back on beef consumption does not impact environmental sustainability as much as some groups have led consumers to believe. Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences found if all livestock in the U.S. were eliminated and every American followed a vegan diet, greenhouse gas emissions would only be reduced by 2.6 percent, or 0.36 percent globally.

Despite the minimal reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, The Beef State would face serious consequences.  Thousands of lost jobs, skyrocketing unemployment that would devastate Nebraska’s rural communities, and severe harm to the state budget given livestock’s $12 billion economic impact. Think less money for schools, roads, NRDs, health and human services, etc.

There has been significant progress in overall sustainability achieved by the U.S. cattle industry, and we are doing more with less than our forefathers. Compared to 1977, the U.S. today produces the same amount of beef with 33% fewer cattle. We are dedicated to continuously improving and becoming even more sustainable.

Cattle play an incredibly important role in our food system as upcyclers, which refers to their ability to consume human inedible forage and plant leftovers and turn it into high-quality protein.[i] [ii] In fact, 90% of what cattle eat is forage and plant leftovers that people can’t eat,iv and more than 40% of the land in the contiguous U.S. is pasture and rangeland that is too rocky, steep, and/or arid to support cultivated agriculture – yet this land can support cattle and protein upcycling. [iii]

Additionally, those who oppose eating beef likely have not considered that research is beginning to show how proper grazing management can actually sequester carbon in the soil and help reduce the impacts of climate  Partnerships between groups like the Nebraska Cattlemen and Rainwater Basin Joint Venture are helping restore ecosystems and provide critical habitat for millions of migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, and other wildlife.

In the face of a growing global population, we need ruminant animals, like cattle, to help make more protein with fewer resources.iii History and well-established research consistently shows that science-based advancements and practical, balanced dietary patterns promote health and sustainability, not eliminating single foods, like beef.[iv] [v]

Everything we eat requires the use of natural resources like land, energy, and water—it is what we do with those resources that is most important. Today, beef is produced using fewer resources than ever before. But conservation is never complete; farmers and ranchers will continue to work hard to feed a growing population, while, at the same time, working to reduce water use, care for the land, and protect the environment.

[i] Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST). 1999. Animal Agriculture and Global Food Supply. Task force report N. 135 July 1999, Department of Animal Science, University of California, Davis, CA, USA. Available at:

[ii] National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle: Eighth Revised Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

[iii] USDA, Economic Research Service using data from the Major Land Use data series. Available at:

[iv] Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. 2015. Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee: Advisory Report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Agriculture. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Washington, DC.

[v] United States. Department of Health and Human Services., United States. Department of Agriculture., United States. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Dietary guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020. Eighth edition. ed. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture; 2015.

viMichigan State University and the Union of Concerned Scientists. 2018. “Impacts of soil carbon sequestration on life cycle greenhouse gas emissions in Midwestern USA beef finishing systems.” Available at


The Nebraska State Fair added two new Board members to the State Fair Board. Governor Pete Ricketts appointed Tom Dinsdale of Grand Island to serve as the Grand Island representative on the Board. Tom Schellepper of Stanton was recently elected to the State Fair Board, as the District 3 representative, at the annual Nebraska Association of Fair Managers Annual Meeting.

Dinsdale is the owner of Dinsdale Automotive in Grand Island. His childhood days were spent on the farm near Palmer where he learned that hard work was a way that he could make a difference in life. Many hours were spent haying and feeding cattle. Most recently he served on the 1868 Foundation Board, Stuhr Museum Board, and President of the Fonner Park Board. Dinsdale Automotive is the Sponsor of the State Fair Beef Barn. Tom was recognized as the Grand Island Independent Man of the Year in 2010 for his considerable and consistent effort to give back to the community over the years. He brings that same enthusiasm to the State Fair Board where he is excited to help grow the Nebraska State Fair.

Schellpeper, a lifelong Stanton native, is extremely excited to be a member of the Nebraska State Fair Board. His father served as a State Fair Board member. Schellpeper’s term on the Stanton County Fair Board has spanned 15 years. He is Past President of the Nebraska Association of Fair Managers. Tom has grown up with the Nebraska State Fair and understands the Agricultural heritage of the Fair. His involvement with the family farm’s diversified livestock and grain operation allows him to bring great vision and excitement to the Nebraska State Fair Board.


The Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Department of Animal Science at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, and the Nebraska Cattlemen are conducting a survey of Nebraska feedyard managers regarding to general management practices in your feedyard.

Each year our departments and organizations field numerous calls regarding current management practices. These practices range from implant strategies to labor costs. Advice given on value added practices and implementation costs are primarily based upon this report. Adequate number of responses ensures that the information is accurate and useable. This survey has been done once every five years since 1995 and is a national flagship for management and labor costs.

Take the Survey Online  

If you have any questions or comments about this study please contact Dr. Elliott Dennis at 402-472-2164 or by email at

Extension offering free online Quickbooks, Quicken training for ag producers

Two online courses from Nebraska Extension aim to equip farmers and ranchers with the skills and tools needed to improve financial record-keeping for their operations.

Self-paced, free video courses for Quicken and Quickbooks teach the basics of both financial management software programs, which allow users to track transactions, separate expenses, generate whole-farm budgets and more.

The courses have been produced by Nebraska Extension’s Farm and Ranch Management team and focus on the record-keeping needs of agricultural producers. Participants will learn how to input transactions, use categories, tags, memos and run common reports.

Registration for each course is available at

This material is based upon work supported by USDA-NIFA under Award Number 2018-70027-28586.

 Free Farm and Ag Law Clinics Set for March

Free legal and financial clinics are being offered for farmers and ranchers across the state in March 2021. The clinics are one-on-one meetings with an agricultural law attorney and an agricultural financial counselor. These are not group sessions, and they are confidential.

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

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

Clinic Dates
    Wednesday, March 3
    Wednesday, March 10
    Wednesday, March 17
    Wednesday, March 24
    Wednesday, March 31

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.

March BeefWatch Webinar Series

The BeefWatch Webinar series is designed to highlight management strategies in grazing, nutrition, reproduction, and economics to increase cow/calf and stocker production efficiency and profitability. Each session will feature industry experts and plenty of opportunity to interact to get your questions answered.

Each webinar is free and will begin at 8:00 PM Central Time.

Drought Management
Mar. 2: Preparing to Make Decisions During a Drought
Dr. Jay Parsons, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Jay will discuss decision making and the importance of early planning. He will outline a process for being better prepared to make decisions in stressful situations, creating better alternatives, and avoiding common pitfalls.  

Drought Management
Mar. 9: The Forecast is Hot and Dry - What are My Options?
Aaron Berger, Beef Educator, Nebraska Extension
Management options such as feeding, shipping and selling will be discussed along with their potential repercussions.

Drought Management
Mar. 16: Pre-During-Post Drought Management of Rangelands
Dr. Mitchell Stephenson, Panhandle Research and Extension Center
How do we prepare for a drought and manage our rangelands during and after? Mitch will walk us through trigger dates and how we can make decisions to manage our rangelands including how to use tools such as grass cast.

Drought Management
Mar. 23: Alternative Forage Options During a Drought
Dr. Jerry Volesky, West Central Research and Extension Center
What are some alternative forage sources during a drought? This presentation will review different annual forages and how they might be used to increase grazing capacity or provide extra hay. Grazing management of these forages will also be discussed.

Drought Management
Mar. 30: Stretching Forage to Meet Cow Requirements During a Drought
Dr. Travis Mulliniks, West Central Research and Extension Center
What do you need to consider when managing cows during a drought? Travis will discuss the importance of proper nutrition for the cow during a drought and how we can meet nutritional needs depending on forage availability. Register here.

Register and get more information here....  

Nebraska Ethanol Board March 9 Board Meeting to Be Held in Lincoln

The Nebraska Ethanol Board will meet in Lincoln at 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 9. The meeting will be at Hyatt Place (600 Q Street). Agenda highlights include:
    Fuel Retailer Update
    E30 Demonstration Update
    Nebraska Corn Board Update
    Renewable Fuels Nebraska Update
    Economic Impact Study
    Marketing Programs
    State and Federal Legislation
    Ethanol Plant Reports

This agenda contains all items to come before the Board except those items of an emergency nature.

Statewide farm-to-school program proposed

February 24, 2021 - Sen. Tom Brandt

A Nebraska farm-to-school program would provide locally grown and minimally processed food to elementary and secondary school students under a proposal considered Feb. 23 by the Education Committee.

LB396, introduced by Sen. Tom Brandt of Plymouth, would require the state Department of Education to hire a coordinator to administer the program, which also could provide students with hands-on learning activities, such as farm visits, cooking demonstrations and school gardening and composting programs.

The coordinator would partner with public agencies and nonprofits on a public engagement campaign and build a communication network that links farmers and schools.

They also would encourage schools to develop and improve their nutrition plans using locally grown or processed food and provide technical assistance to school food services staff, farmers, processors and distributors regarding the demand for and availability of Nebraska food products.

Brandt said a statewide farm-to-school program would benefit local producers, improve the quality and quantity of local food served in Nebraska schools and teach students where their food comes from and how it is made.

“By providing a stable, reliable market for local produce,” he said, “farm-to-school enables Nebraska communities to start recapturing a portion of the 90 percent of our school food dollars that are currently leaving the state.”

Sarah Smith, local foods consultant and fresh fruit and vegetable program coordinator at the state Department of Education, testified in support of the bill on the department’s behalf. She said the department’s current farm-to-school programs are limited and that a statewide network would provide the structure needed to help more schools and farmers navigate the complex food procurement system.

“Nebraska can lead the nation in community health and well-being,” Smith said, “celebrating our agricultural heritage and cultural diversity, with farm-to-school as the vehicle.”

Marcus Urban testified in support of the bill on behalf of seven agricultural organizations. He said the lack of direct and consistent access to local farms prevents some large, urban school districts from participating more fully in current farm-to-school programs. A statewide coordinator would address that problem, Urban said.

“We especially appreciate that this bill promotes a farm-to-school model in both an economic and educational package that can be maximized in school districts and communities all across Nebraska,” he said.

Joan Ruskamp, who farms and feeds cattle with her husband near Dodge, also testified in support. For the past 15 years, she said, they have held tours for students at their farm as part of a Nebraska Farm Bureau program. Ruskamp said LB396 would introduce more students to the people who raise and grow their food and show them the variety of career opportunities in agriculture.

“In addition to providing a healthy diet,” she said, “we can benefit our school kids and families by introducing them to agriculture through more direct interaction with farmers and ranchers.”

Also in support was Nathan Beacom of the Center for Rural Affairs. Approximately 30 percent of Nebraska schools participate in current farm-to-school programs, he said, but they spend less than 20 percent of their food budgets on locally grown food.

Beacom suggested that LB396 could increase that amount if it also required the coordinator to study food supply chain obstacles.

“With more streamlined distribution, consistent supply and processing that could extend the life of foods,” he said, “the price point for local foods could be lowered, thereby making it easier for schools to purchase greater quantities of produce locally.”

No one testified in opposition to the bill and the committee took no immediate action on it.

Red Meat Production Down 3 Percent from 2020

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.80 billion pounds in January, down 3 percent from the 4.96 billion pounds produced in January 2020.

By State  (million lbs.  -  % Jan '20

Nebraska .....:     677.9             95       
Iowa ............:     776.0             97       
Kansas .........:     499.9             96       

Beef production, at 2.31 billion pounds, was 3 percent below the previous year.  Cattle slaughter totaled 2.74 million head, down 5 percent from January 2020.  The average live weight was up 24 pounds from the previous year, at 1,399 pounds.

Veal production totaled 4.6 million pounds, 28 percent below January a year ago.  Calf slaughter totaled 32,300 head, 35 percent below January 2020.  The average live weight was up 23 pounds from last year, at 247 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.48 billion pounds, 3 percent below the previous year.  Hog slaughter totaled 11.2 million head, 5 percent below January 2020.  The average live weight was up 5 pounds from the previous year, at 295 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 10.4 million pounds, was 12 percent below January 2020.  Sheep slaughter totaled 161,800 head, 11 percent below last year.  The average live weight was 129 pounds, down 1 pound from January a year ago.

Iowa delegation requests assistance for custom cattle feeders

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association extends its thanks to Iowa’s congressional delegation for its swift action in supporting custom cattle feeders. We greatly appreciate the delegation for working in a bipartisan fashion to advance the priorities of Iowa’s beef business.

Earlier this year, the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association emphasized the need for additional coronavirus assistance after speaking with producer members and state Farm Service Agency officials. While we recognize the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s commitment to the cattle industry, more help is needed.

As a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, Iowa custom cattle feeders suffered economic hardships. Their experiences over the past year are similar to challenges faced by swine and poultry contract growers, who are eligible to receive assistance through existing programming.

Senators Grassley and Ernst, Representatives Axne, Feenstra, Hinson, and Miller-Meeks on Wednesday sent a joint letter to Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack. The letter requests that USDA include custom cattle feeders in existing or forthcoming aid programs. Iowa Cattlemen’s Association CEO Matt Deppe says, "One of our top priorities over the past year has been working to ensure cattle producers receive adequate assistance to recover from COVID-19 losses. The united show of support from Iowa’s congressional delegation on this important issue is exactly what our producer members need.”

Iowa State University researchers study effects of cellulosic feedstocks for ethanol production

A new Iowa State University study considers an increase of growing cellulosic feedstocks for ethanol production and the effect it could have on land use and water quality, specifically nitrogen loss, in the Mississippi Atchafalaya River Basin.
Kelsie Ferin, a graduate student in agronomy, conducted a modeling study based on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) mandate which set a goal to include 16 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol production into gasoline by 2022. To assess the impact of this mandate, she ran scenarios to predict how planting cellulosic feedstocks would have on the environment and the economy.

Ferin’s adviser, Andy VanLoocke, associate professor in agronomy, also took part in the research, which was published recently in the peer-reviewed journal, Environmental Science and Technology.

“The fundamental question is if we grew particular crops in the Mississippi River Basin, would we change the amount of nitrogen that we lose in the Gulf of Mexico?” VanLooke said.

Three scenarios were tested and analyzed for nitrogen loss: A baseline, which reflects ethanol production of 7.5 billion gallons of 100% corn grain-based ethanol produced prior to the renewable fuel standard; a mid-production scenario, producing 15 billion gallons of corn grain ethanol; and a high production example, producing 16 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol using corn stover, miscanthus and switchgrass.

“The amount of ethanol production went from 7.5 billion gallons of corn grain ethanol in the baseline to 15 billion gallons of corn grain ethanol in the scenarios,” Ferin said. “Our modeling simulations resulted in the 15 billion gallons corn grain ethanol scenario having 8% greater nitrogen loss relative to the baseline. For the full corn grain and cellulosic ethanol scenario, it was between 16-17% more nitrogen loss.”

Miscanthus and switchgrass are perennial grasses capable of reducing nitrogen loss from soil and water when incorporated into the current landscape. However, this benefit is greater when these grasses are replacing active cropland (i.e. corn and soybean production area) rather than on idle cropland.

“Based on current markets, growing them on the active corn and soybean acres wouldn’t turn a profit based on the economic model,” VanLoocke said. “If we did plant the perennial grasses on active cropland, we would improve the water quality in our scenarios. It just didn’t make enough money to do so.”

A sensitivity study was also conducted where 100% of the cellulosic ethanol was produced with miscanthus and switchgrass – no corn stover. In this case, the economic model determined 68% would be planted on active cropland, resulting in a 10% decrease in nitrogen loss relative to the corn grain and cellulosic ethanol production scenario.

“There’s no mandate that says 100% [of cellulosic ethanol] will come from miscanthus or switchgrass. We just wanted to assess how big of an impact they could have on our current landscape,” Ferin said.

Environmentally speaking, it is better to plant miscanthus and switchgrass on active cropland. Economically speaking, Ferin said the research showed it is more profitable to use the active cropland for corn and soybeans.

Ferin and VanLoocke’s research was supported by the new Department of Energy Bioenergy Research Center - Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation (CABBI), which focuses on increasing the value of bioenergy crops with a “plants as factories” approach.

Ferin and VanLoocke said if CABBI is successful, crops like miscanthus and switchgrass containing valuable oils, fatty acids and other bioproducts in their stems could be extracted and sold separately from the lower-value cellulosic biomass. There is potential to grow more cellulosic feedstocks if they can be utilized for products other than ethanol.

“There needs to be other innovations around cellulosic feedstocks to get over the economic hump,” VanLoocke said. “The future of cellulosic ethanol depends on innovations, like finding more value within the crops that we are growing so we can market to multiple markets and be more diverse.”

NCGA Leads Call for Farmer Participation in Paycheck Protection Program

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), along with  K·Coe Isom, today led a coalition of 35 agriculture organizations urging Congress to work with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to ensure that farming partnerships and limited liability corporations (LLCs) are able to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

In a letter to the leaders of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and the House Committee on Small Business, the organizations said it is critical for agricultural producers, many of whom have structured their operations as partnerships and LLCs, to receive PPP funding regardless of the tax structure.

“As you know, farming and ranching are capital-intensive operations often operating at a loss and with owners who frequently do not work for wages,” the organizations wrote.

Section 313 of The Economic Aid Act made changes to the initial eligibility requirements for PPP, recognizing the special circumstances of those working in agriculture and helping many farmers and ranchers participate in the program. Unfortunately, the SBA has since interpreted this language to exclude farm and ranch operations structured as partnerships and LLCs.

“We believe this interpretation is in error and is preventing many farm and ranch families from participating in the PPP,” the organizations wrote. “We ask that you clarify to SBA that Congress intended to include farm partnerships and LLCs in Section 313.”

Soybean Growers Approve 2021 Resolutions

Members of the American Soybean Association (ASA) have completed the organization’s annual resolutions process to set the tone and direction for policy advocacy in the weeks and months ahead.

As is typical with any “out with the old, in with the new” activity, the organization aims each year to build on sound existing resolutions by adapting where needed and supplementing with new resolutions to address emerging priorities. One such example of a soy priority on which the organization is focusing more this year is climate and conservation.

Kevin Scott, ASA president and soybean farmer from Valley Springs, South Dakota, said, “Throughout this year’s document we recognize the role that climate and conservation will play in policy discussions in 2021, from thoughtfully addressing development of public and private ecosystem services markets to promoting precision agriculture technology as a tool to improve environmental stewardship while providing economic returns for growers.”

Changes and additions for 2021 run the full gamut. Among the approvals are resolutions supporting:
• Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) reauthorization
• A sufficiently-funded Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) account to ensure timely benefits to farmers
• A strong farm safety net and crop insurance program, including support for expanding double crop soybean coverage
• Federal efforts to boost precision ag technology availability and grower adoption
• Increased federal funding to provide conservation technical assistance to growers
• USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service’s definition of soil health
• Development of voluntary carbon markets that incentivize agricultural conservation
• Significant increases in rural infrastructure funding
• Changes to the traditional gas tax to reflect the increase in EVs/hybrids on the road to support the Federal Highway Trust Fund
• Identifying additional funding mechanisms for rural broadband investment and deployment
• Increased utilization of higher-blend biodiesel to lower emissions and improve air quality
• Reducing barriers and increasing access to improved genetics and crop protection tools that lead to improved environmental outcomes

The ASA resolutions process has been a monthlong series of input from state delegates, ASA board members and other farmer-leaders and staff who serve on ASA’s advocacy teams covering the various soy policy areas. Recommendations are funneled from state members into resolution subcommittees, which then hone the language that is finally voted on by delegates. The process is conducted in multiple stages to allow ample input, revisions, and improvements from ASA membership across the soy states and culminates in the final voting process, held this year on Feb. 25.

 UK Announcement On Standardizing E10 Is Welcome News Amid Push To Cut Emissions And Meet Paris Commitments

Today, the U.S. Grains Council, Growth Energy and Renewable Fuels Association released a statement following the United Kingdom’s (UK) announcement to introduce a ten percent ethanol blend standard (E10) nationwide by September of this year:

“The United Kingdom’s introduction of an E10 ethanol blend comes amid a global push to decarbonize the transportation sector and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is a welcome announcement that will benefit the health of U.K. residents, create more jobs, and accelerate the country’s goal of a zero-emissions future. It is also another example of how biofuels like ethanol are being used to help countries achieve their climate targets. We look forward to the environmental benefits that E10 will bring not only to the U.K., but to decarbonization efforts across the world.”

In his announcement, U.K. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps emphasized how higher ethanol blends offer immediate environmental benefits. “There are steps we can take to reduce emissions from the millions of vehicles already on our roads – the small switch to E10 petrol will help drivers across the country reduce the environmental impact of every journey, as we build back greener,” he said.

Current gasoline blends in Britain contain no more than 5% ethanol (E5). The announcement noted that switching to E10 could cut transport carbon dioxide emissions by 750,000 tons per year – the equivalent of taking 350,000 cars off the road.

In 2018, the U.S. Grains Council, Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association submitted comments as the U.K. Department of Transport was considering implementation of a nationwide E10 ethanol blend, sharing both the environmental and cost saving benefits of ethanol.

Land O’Lakes, Inc. reports strong annual results for 2020

Land O’Lakes, Inc. reported net sales of $13.9 billion and net earnings of $266 million for the year ending December 31, 2020, compared to net sales of $13.9 billion and net earnings of $207 million in 2019. Net Earnings improved $59.1 million compared to the prior year despite the economic challenges and volatile market conditions due to impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“While I’m proud of our performance, I am even more proud of the team that delivered it. In an evolving and difficult landscape, Land O’Lakes was able to perform,” said Beth Ford, president and CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “We focused on growth in a challenging environment by standing up e-commerce across the business units as everyone moved online, developing revenue options for farmers and working to offset significant market declines.”

2020 earnings strength was driven by improved performance in our core Dairy Foods and Animal Nutrition businesses. Dairy Foods earnings were higher due to strong sales of our retail products including butters and spreads and our Kozy Shack product lines, which more than offset volume declines in Foodservice and the impacts of commodity market volatility.
Animal Nutrition earnings were also higher due to growth in all lifestyle species – animals like backyard flock and horse – and improved performance in Premix. Crop Inputs earnings were lower as Crop Protection margins were compressed due to unfavorable product mix driven by grower buying decisions and basic manufacturers lowering prices. Crop Inputs showed improved performance in both its Crop Nutrition and International businesses while leveraging its investment in digital sales platforms to help its network of brick-and-mortar retailers avoid service disruptions throughout the pandemic.

The company also worked to address issues that directly affected its members, their families, and the communities in which they live. Under its American Connection Project, Land O’Lakes partnered with its ag retail network to turn on their Wi-Fi to provide free, public access at a critical time during the onset of the pandemic. Other partner organizations joined in the effort, delivering over 2,800 Wi-Fi locations in 49 states. In addition, more than 140 organizations joined with Land O’Lakes in advocacy efforts to close the digital divide. This focus on digital connectivity also helps the company support and advance community vibrancy, strengthening the economies, healthcare, and educational access of less connected communities, both urban and rural.

Truterra, in combination with WinField United, delivered products and services to help growers be part of the climate change solution while maintaining profitable and productive acres. This included making decision-support technologies like the Truterra Insights Engine available to more farmers, on more acres, embedding more conservation agronomy experts with local ag retailers, and fostering the market conditions to drive demand for stewardship through unprecedented food company and conservation partnerships. In July 2020, Land O’Lakes announced a multi-year alliance with Microsoft that includes pioneering new innovations in agriculture and closing the digital divide, fueling enhanced technological solutions for our members and customers.

Interactive Advanced Education Modules Provides Cattle Producers with Targeted Online Learning on Biosecurity

NCBA’s Beef Quality Assurance program releases a new Beef Checkoff-funded tool to help cattle producers ensure they are prepared with a custom biosecurity plan.   

To further support cattle producers across the country the Beef Checkoff-funded Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program has released the first in a series of Advanced Education Modules. This initial module on biosecurity details the basics of disease transmission and prevention.

These resources were developed so that anyone who is involved in raising cattle – from the operation manager to personnel to family members – has the opportunity to understand how biosecurity principles are integrated into their farm or ranch and plan for continuous improvement in the future. Learners will walk through sections that build on each other, starting with basic principles of biosecurity and understanding its importance on the cattle operation. Interactive and real-world best practice examples are provided for a variety of topics such as new bull or replacement purchases and manure management to reduce feed contamination, among others.

As a part of the training, producers are able to fill out the Daily Biosecurity Plan for Disease prevention, another biosecurity tool recently released by BQA, and tailor the biosecurity information to their specific operation. Producers are then introduced to the USDA supported Secure Beef Supply to better understand the necessary biosecurity measures in the event of a foreign animal disease (FAD) outbreak and to prepare an enhanced biosecurity plan in preparation for such an event. Learners can compare details between the daily biosecurity plan and the enhanced biosecurity plan to view the changes they would need to address in the occurrence of an FAD outbreak.

“Introducing these advanced education modules has been a major goal of the BQA team,” said Dr. Julia Herman, Beef Cattle Specialist Veterinarian at NCBA. “With this Beef Checkoff-funded tool, beef cattle producers can enhance their biosecurity education, help train their teams, and continue to keep their cattle safe and healthy.”

For more information about BQA, to access the Advanced Education Biosecurity modules, or download the BQA Daily Biosecurity Plan, visit

By-Product Value and Importance to Fat Cattle Prices

Brenda Boetel, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Wisconsin-River Falls

In 2020, the US exported $7.6 billion in beef and variety meat products (down 6% from 2019); variety meat exports to all partners accounted for 11.8% of that value, down from 12.4% in 2019. When the value for hides and all offal products is added, the total offal value plus hides accounted for 20.7% of the export value in 2020, down from 22% in 2019. Variety meats account for a significant percentage of the export value, so what value do these by-products add to the finished steer?

The Agricultural Marketing Service of the USDA reports the by-product drop value for steer. On February 23, 2021 the hide and offal value from a typical slaughter steer was estimated at $9.71 per live hundredweight and includes values for cattle hides, variety meats (i.e., cheeks, hearts, tripe, etc.) and tallow. This value equates to $135.94 for a 1400 lb. steer. This value has been increasing recently and is at a level last seen in May 2018.

Products that add the greatest value to the byproduct value reported by AMS are the hide, tallow, tongue, tripe, oxtail, and cheek meat. International destinations provide markets for products not typically consumed in the US. Japan and Mexico are the leading importers of US variety meats, importing $369 million and $228 million worth of variety meats in 2020. Japan is the leading importer of beef tongue, while Mexico leads in beef tripe. As their import levels of variety meats change, so does the value contribution of tongue and tripe change in the overall byproduct value calculation, which ultimately will impact the finished steer price.

Beef and beef by-products are typically produced in nearly fixed proportions; however, when packers experienced line disruption in 2020, many plants changed fabrication methods to keep more whole muscles/primals intact and keep less offal to maximize line speed. The decrease in beef and offal provided less opportunities for exports and by-product values decreased to $6.79 in May 2020. When these edible offal products are not exported, they will often go into rendering or into pet food and ultimately decrease the overall value of the finished steer.

With the continued recover from COVID disruptions, by-product production has mostly returned to pre-COVID levels; and given the relatively fixed pounds of by-products per 1,4000-pound steer, the by-product drop value contributions have been increasing due primarily to changes in demand. Beef exports are expected to be up almost 6% in 2021. As exports of beef and variety meats rises, additional support to the finished steer price is provided.

Ranch Group Responds to Ag Secretary’s Interest in COOL

In a letter sent today to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, R-CALF USA responded to statements made by Vilsack during his Senate confirmation hearing held earlier this month. Vilsack had then indicated an interest in revisiting country-of-origin labeling (COOL) for beef if it could be done without triggering the retaliatory tariffs authorized by the World Trade Organization (WTO) during Vilsack’s previous term as Agriculture Secretary.

In today’s letter, the group attached a proposed draft bill that Congress can use to require all beef sold in America to be labeled as to where the animal was born, raised, and harvested. Also attached is a summary that explains why the proposal should alleviate the concerns raised by the WTO regarding the old COOL law that Congress repealed after 2015.

The letter states the proposal would also accomplish what the old COOL law did, which was to eliminate the mislabeling of foreign beef products with a “Product of U.S.A.” label.

“Reinstating a functioning mandatory COOL law is vital to U.S. cattle producers who are presently without the means to build demand for their U.S. cattle and to U.S. consumers who desire to know from what country(s) their beef originates,” the letter adds.


New EIA Data Show U.S. Ethanol Volumes Fell in 2020 Due to the Pandemic

Year-end data released today by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) provides evidence of both the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resilience of the ethanol industry. U.S. ethanol production fell to 13.93 billion gallons last year, down 1.85 bg, or 11.7%, from 2019. It was the lowest production level since 2013.

The data indicate that domestic ethanol consumption was 12.63 bg (13.2% below the 2019 level and the lowest since 2009). Gasoline consumption in the United States totaled 123.49 bg, down 13.5%.

The implied ethanol blend rate—the average content of ethanol in gasoline—rose slightly to a record 10.23%. On a monthly basis, the blend rate slumped to 9.05% in April as petroleum prices plummeted and the price of renewable identification numbers (RINs) remained subdued after more than two years in which large-scale exemptions from the Renewable Fuel Standard had been granted to refiners. However, by November and December, the blend rate rose to record highs of 10.78% and 10.81%, respectively, as petroleum prices rebounded and RIN prices began strengthening after the election and no further refinery exemptions had been granted during the year.

“While the COVID pandemic, Saudi-Russia oil price war, and trade disputes presented major marketplace obstacles throughout 2020, the U.S. ethanol industry showed its resilience and determination,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “Despite the drop in annual ethanol production and domestic blending, ethanol’s share of the gasoline pool strengthened at the end of the year as RIN prices continued to rebound and the RFS returned to the demand-driving force it was intended to be by Congress. Meanwhile, U.S. ethanol exports were relatively buoyant, especially when export barriers and the impact of the pandemic on global fuel consumption are considered.”

The EIA estimated fuel ethanol exports at 1.34 bg, a decline of 8.5%. Exports were fairly strong to start the year but then were affected by a combination of trade barriers and pandemic-related declines in fuel consumption in key markets.

Growing Exports of Poultry and Egg Products Delivers Value Back to Corn Farmers

Exports of U.S. corn-fed poultry and egg products are one key area of future demand that the Market Development Action Team (MDAT) at NCGA focuses on. The team has funded projects with the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council (USAPEEC), most recently including an economic study on the value of poultry exports to U.S. corn and updates to improved versions of buyer’s guides. The economic study found that poultry exports add $0.28 of value per bushel of corn, which is approximately $4.1 billion in revenue. The new and improved buyer guides for chicken, turkey, and eggs were digitized and updated, including a section on the value and sustainability of U.S. corn. These guides play a large role in securing value back to the U.S. corn grower as they are used at almost all of USAPEEC’s international trade and marketing activities.

The partnership with USAPEEC is one poised to enable success for both poultry producers and U.S. corn growers through the support of NCGA’s Market Development Action Team as well as various state commodity associations. The U.S. poultry industry consumes over 1.2 billion bushels of corn and is a key customer of U.S. corn.

“As we look toward opportunities to increase demand for corn, U.S. poultry and egg exports is one area we can count on. It’s important to support the work USAPEEC does to get U.S. corn-fed poultry and egg products onto families’ tables around the world,” said Bob Hemesath, chairman of the Market Development Action Team.

USAPEEC poultry and egg exports for 2020 were valued at approximately $4.4 billion, with broiler exports up 2 percent in value as compared to the previous year. Mexico remains the top U.S. broiler export market, followed by China, Taiwan, Cuba, Vietnam and Canada. Taiwan is a key market that has experienced record exports as of late, with the U.S. having 93 percent of market share. Vietnam is another area of great interest moving forward for USAPEEC.

“The USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) is extremely grateful for the ongoing partnership that we have with NCGA,” said USAPEEC’s Chief Operating Officer, Greg Tyler. “Without their generous support, USAPEEC would not be able to carry out some of our vital programs around the globe.  These programs are essential to the continued growth in exports for the industries we represent and, in turn, allow for increased production in the United States, which means more demand for high-quality feed grains.”

USAPEEC also markets U.S. turkey internationally. The majority of U.S. turkey exports go to Mexico, followed by China and Canada. Eggs exports were up 6percent in value as compared to the previous year. The top export markets for table and shell eggs are Mexico and Hong Kong, followed by Canada. Processed egg exports mainly go to Japan, followed by Mexico and Canada.

Moving forward, USAPEEC continues to monitor low and high path avian influenza outbreaks and resolve associated trade disruptions. China continues to be an area of opportunity, and South Korea is one of the most promising markets, which USAPEEC is hoping to be further enabled by a recent USDA study on semicarbazide residues levels. This research will be key to allowing more U.S. poultry plants to be relisted as approved for exporting to South Korea. South Africa is another country with opportunity as the U.S. quota continues to increase as consumption requirements of South Africans rise. Finally, India is a huge opportunity market that has recently opened. However, high tariffs continue to limit trade with India, and USAPEEC has made the case to negotiate a tariff reduction of implementation of a tariff-rate quota to USTR.

Casey’s and Feeding America® Join Forces to Help Fight Hunger Across the Heartland

One in six people could face hunger due to the ongoing economic fallout from COVID-19, including one in four children. As more neighbors in need turn to charitable food assistance for help, food banks across the nation are meeting the increased need.

Millions of meals are making their way into communities across Iowa and the other 15 states that Casey's calls home. Pictured: Michelle Book, CEO of Food Bank of Iowa, and Ena Williams, Chief Operating Officer of Casey's. (Photo: Business Wire)

Millions of meals are making their way into communities across Iowa and the other 15 states that Casey's calls home. Pictured: Michelle Book, CEO of Food Bank of Iowa, and Ena Williams, Chief Operating Officer of Casey's. (Photo: Business Wire)

That is why the Feeding America® network is proud to partner with Casey’s to help provide more meals to communities in need across the heartland. The Casey’s #HereforGood Hunger campaign helped provide more than 15 million meals* to children and families who may not know where they will find their next meal.

“The generosity of our guests and vendors paired with the passion from our team members resulted in an overwhelming result for this campaign. We are confident these 15 million meals are having a direct impact on the hunger experienced in our own backyard. But, the need continues and we encourage others to take action by donating to, or volunteering at, a local food bank,” said Ena Williams, Chief Operating Officer of Casey’s.

As part of Casey’s campaign, consumers were invited to round up their purchase at the register. In addition, when consumers purchased a Coca-Cola four-pack, $1 was donated to Feeding America. Casey’s campaign raised more than $1.5 million for 47 local food banks across its 16-state footprint, including Food Bank of Iowa.

“At Food Bank of Iowa, we are grateful for the support that Casey’s has provided,” said Michelle Book, president and CEO at Food Bank of Iowa. “In this time of need, we want every household to have food on their table and that is why Feeding America’s partnership with Casey’s is critical to help us reach more Iowans.”

The Feeding America network of food banks is responding every day to help children and families in need. In 2020, the network distributed more than 6 billion meals to communities across the country.

“Sadly, the pandemic has thrust even more of our neighbors into food insecurity. Feeding America is thankful to Casey’s for its generous support. This partnership helps us provide people with nourishing meals when they need them most,” said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America. To learn more about how to join Feeding America in the fight against hunger, visit

*$1 helps to provide at least ten meals secured by Feeding America® on behalf of local member food banks.

Tuesday February 23 Ag News

 LEAD set to resume this fall, Fellowship Applications Available for Group 40

The Nebraska Leadership Education Action Development Program (LEAD), a two-year development program for leaders in the state’s agricultural sector, will resume programming in 2021, following a year-long pause as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Nebraska LEAD is accepting applications for its 40th cohort until June 15. In addition, the program’s 39th cohort will resume its monthly seminars and other scheduled activities this fall.

“We are anxiously anticipating the resumption of LEAD programming this coming fall. We have spent our pause year reassessing the entire program,” said Ed Woeppel, Chairman of the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council, which sponsors the program. “We are confident that the Nebraska LEAD Program is positioned to continue to be a leader in agricultural leadership development. We look forward to continuing the experiences for LEAD 39 after a one-year pause as well as to welcome in a new group in LEAD 40.”

Applications for Group 40 are now available for men and women involved in production agriculture or agribusiness.  

“Up to 30 motivated men and women with demonstrated leadership potential will be selected from five geographic districts across our state," said Terry Hejny, Nebraska LEAD Program director.

Applications are due no later than June 15 and may be requested via e-mail by contacting the Nebraska LEAD Program office at Those interested in the program may also request an application by writing to Nebraska LEAD Program, 104 ACB, Lincoln, Neb., 68583-0940 or by calling (402) 472-6810. Information about the selection process is available at  

LEAD fellows attend monthly three-day seminars throughout Nebraska from mid-September through early April each year. Fellows also have the opportunity to participate in a 10-day national study/travel seminar, as well as a two-week International study/travel seminar.

Seminar themes include leadership assessment and potential, natural resources and energy, agricultural policy and finance, leadership through communication, Nebraska’s political process, global perspectives, nuclear energy, social issues, understanding and developing leadership skills, information technology, advances in health care, and the resources and people of Nebraska’s Panhandle, Hejny said.

The Nebraska LEAD Program prepares the spokespersons, problem-solvers, and decision-makers for Nebraska and its agricultural industry. The program is operated by the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council, a nonprofit organization, in collaboration with the UNL’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources and in cooperation with Nebraska colleges and universities, business and industry, and individuals throughout the state.


– Ben Beckman, NE Extension Educator

Protein and energy are two critical components to providing our animals with a balanced ration.  Unfortunately we often focus on one side of the paring or forget that digestion is a complicated process between both sets of nutrients.  When this happens rations become unbalanced.
Swings in the energy content of a forage are often less noticeable than the impact relatively small shifts in protein can make.  It can be easy to get lazy and “judge the feed by its protein” and lose track of the energy side of a ration, just assuming that it’s covered.  This can result in slow body condition declines, but can really come back to haunt us when animal energy demands peak, like during cold temperatures or at peak lactation.
Beyond giving energy and protein equal consideration when feeding, understanding the relationship between the two during digestion is critical.  Ruminants require protein for two main reasons, for the animal itself and for the microorganisms in the rumen responsible for breaking down hard-to-digest plant parts.  If animals aren’t gaining like we want or it’s a cold day, it might be tempting to supplement a low protein forage diet with some cracked corn.  We’ve recognized the need for more energy and are meeting it right?
Sort of.  The animals could use more energy, but by providing it in the form of starch without additional protein in a diet with less than 9% Crude Protein, we goofed.  Because the animal can’t break down starch efficiently, they need the rumen microbes to do it for them.   Each diet is different, but in this circumstance, the microbes can’t do their job effectively without more protein.  Most of that additional energy is going unused.
Providing animals with the right balance of protein and energy in a diet is crucial for a healthy herd, but doing so takes some time and know-how.  Don’t forget to look at both parts of the diet and how they interact.  And as always your local beef extension educator is happy to help if you have questions.

AFAN Announces the 2021 Nebraska Pork Expo

Anyone considering expanding or diversifying their operations are invited to the Nebraska Pork Expo set for July 21 in York, Neb.  The program will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Holthus Convention Center. Admission is free and lunch will be provided. Registration is requested by July 7, 2021.

The day will begin with a tradeshow and breakfast from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Attendees will hear sessions on marketing and risk management, sustainability and renewable energy, ASF and traceability along with much more throughout the day. Panel discussions will be held over niche and contract pork production. A social hour will be held from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. to round out the day.

The event is sponsored by the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN), the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, and the Nebraska Pork Producers Association.

“The pork industry in Nebraska continues to grow and there are many great options for farmers looking to diversify with pork production. Diversifying an operation with livestock can increase cash flow and provide valuable nutrients that can offset commercial fertilizer costs,” said Kris Bousquet, AFAN director of livestock development. “We have designed this conference to provide farmers with the information and insight they need to consider adding swine production to their operations for future growth.”

Reservations can be made by visiting  


It’s application time for one of the biggest youth agriculture outreach events in the
state—the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute (NAYI). This year, NAYI is celebrating 50 years of bringing together high school juniors and seniors to learn more about Nebraska agriculture, network with agriculture leaders and discover the many careers available in agriculture. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) helps sponsor and coordinate NAYI every year.

NAYI will be held July 12-16, 2021, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s East Campus and will follow any COVID-19 recommendations in place at the time. Applications for NAYI are available at and must be submitted online. Current high school juniors and seniors interested in attending have until April 15, 2021, to apply.

“NAYI is 50 years strong this year and still the longest running agricultural youth program of its kind in the nation,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman. “NAYI offers networking, career development and leadership activities in creative and fun ways to engage high school students interested in the ag industry. Be sure to encourage the high school juniors and seniors you know to apply to NAYI before the April 15th deadline.”

This year’s NAYI 50th anniversary theme is “Timeless Traditions” and will feature motivational speakers, discussions on agricultural issues and career options, a farm management game, awards presentations and creative opportunities to interact with other participants.

NAYI is coordinated by the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Council, which is comprised of 21
college-aged students selected by NDA for their passion and interest in the ag industry. The Council’s purpose is to provide young Nebraskans with a better understanding of agriculture, including agricultural opportunities available to today’s youth and career choices for the future.

NDA selects students to attend NAYI based on their leadership skills, interests and involvement in agriculture. Applications are available online at and must be submitted by
April 15, 2021, at 11:59 p.m.

Northeast Nebraska farmer to be featured on Women in Ag webcast

“Open for Business: A Nebraska Women in Agripreneurship Series” will feature Hannah Borg, a sixth-generation farmer in northeast Nebraska, during its next live webcast on March 9 at 6:30 p.m.

Produced by Nebraska Women in Agriculture, the monthly webcast series highlights the entrepreneurial spirit of women in agribusiness from across the state, offering creative insights and the stories behind what it takes to build a business.

The conversations focus on surviving business shocks such as disasters, regulatory changes and shifting family dynamics. Featured business leaders are interviewed by Brittany Fulton, extension assistant with the Nebraska Women in Agriculture program.

Borg’s family farm, near Allen, Neb., raises crops, cattle and chickens. Her main role is operating the pullet barns that they raise for Costco. When she isn't farming, you can find her behind a camera or in a history book.

Borg graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a bachelor’s in Agricultural Communications. She has interned for FarmHer and the Rural Radio Network as a farm broadcaster, is active at her church and is a board member at the Wakefield Heritage Organization.

The webcast is free to attend but registration is required on the Nebraska Women in Agriculture program website,

2020 Annual Milk Production up 2.2 Percent from 2019

The annual production of milk for the United States during 2020 was 223 billion pounds, 2.2 percent above 2019. Revisions to 2019 production increased the annual total 59 million pounds. Revised 2020 production was up 165 million pounds from last month's publication. Annual total milk production has increased 13.7 percent from 2011.  Production per cow in the United States averaged 23,777 pounds for 2020, 382 pounds above 2019. The average annual rate of milk production per cow has increased 11.5 percent from 2011.  The average number of milk cows on farms in the United States during 2020 was 9.39 million head, up 0.5 percent from 2019. The average number of milk cows was revised up 6,000 head for 2020. The average annual number of milk cows has increased 2.1 percent from 2011.

2020 Annual Milk Prod. by State

                       (billion pounds - % of '19)

Nebraska ........:          1.46           +3.6%    
Iowa ...............:         5.374         +1.6%    

January Milk Production up 1.8 Percent

Milk production in the 24 major States during January totaled 18.3 billion pounds, up 1.8 percent from January 2020. December revised production, at 18.0 billion pounds, was up 2.6 percent from December 2019.  The December revision represented a decrease of 74 million pounds or 0.4 percent from last month's preliminary production estimate.  Production per cow in the 24 major States averaged 2,049 pounds for January, 15 pounds above January 2020. The number of milk cows on farms in the 24 major States was 8.93 million head, 92,000 head more than January 2020, and 6,000 head more than December 2020.

IOWA: Milk production in Iowa during January 2021 totaled 468 million pounds, up 3% from the previous January according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report. The average number of milk cows during January, at 222,000 head, was 2,000 more than last month and 7,000 more than January 2020. Monthly production per cow averaged 2,110 pounds, up 5 pounds from last January.

USDA Cold Storage January 2021 Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers on January 31, 2021 were up 3 percent from the previous month but down 12 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were down 3 percent from the previous month but up 6 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were up 11 percent from the previous month but down 26 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were up 2 percent from last month but down 56 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on January 31, 2021 were up 3 percent from the previous month but down 11 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were down 5 percent from the previous month and down 15 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 37 percent from last month and up 2 percent from January 31, 2020.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on January 31, 2021 were up slightly from the previous month and up 3 percent from January 31, 2020.  Butter stocks were up 20 percent from last month and up 33 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks on January 31, 2021 were down 11 percent from last month and down 18 percent from a year ago.  Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 8 percent from last month but up 5 percent from a year ago.

I-29 Moo University Dairy Beef Short Course Planned

Industry professionals and beef producers who are finishing and marketing dairy beef are invited to virtually attend the I-29 Dairy Beef Short Course. The webinar, offered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, is set for March 23.

It features a morning session from 10 a.m. to noon and an afternoon session from 1-3 p.m. Participants may choose to attend one or both sessions.

The morning session focuses on factors affecting dairy beef performance. Tara Felix, extension beef specialist at Pennsylvania State University, will present information on the role of nutrition and implants in dairy beef health and animal performance. Following her is Phil Durst, field-based educator with Michigan State University with over 30 years of experience working with farmers. He will share how dairy beef employees influence animal health and performance.

The afternoon focuses on the future of dairy beef production from a consumer lens and an economic standpoint. Bill Halfman, extension agricultural agent with the University of Wisconsin – Madison, will provide an understanding of economic factors that influence the return on investment to the operation. Rounding out the day is Lisa Scebbi, director of marketing at JJBS USA. She will focus on how future consumer trends may optimize market opportunities for dairy beef.

Registration for the event is $25, payable through the online registration form, and must be done before March 22. The webinar session links will be sent following registration. At the conclusion of the webinar, participants will receive an electronic copy of the proceedings along with access to two recordings of the two sessions.

See more information on the I-29 Moo University website. Direct inquiries may be made to Fred Hall, ISU Extension and Outreach dairy specialist, at or Beth Doran, ISU extension and outreach beef specialist, at, or phone 712-737-4230 to visit with either of them.

The Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University was established in 1996 with the goal of supporting the growth and vitality of the state’s beef cattle industry. It comprises faculty and staff from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and College of Veterinary Medicine, and works to develop and deliver the latest research-based information regarding the beef cattle industry. For more information about IBC, visit

Farmers Union Ready to Work with Secretary Vilsack to Strengthen Farm System

In a 92-7 vote, the U.S. Senate today confirmed Tom Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture, demonstrating strong bipartisan support for President Joe Biden’s pick. Vilsack previously held the position for eight years under President Barack Obama.

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Rob Larew released the following statement in response to the news:

“No one is more qualified to lead the USDA than Tom Vilsack. After serving as Secretary of Agriculture for eight years, he knows the agency inside and out, giving him the insight he needs to get to work right away on behalf of family farmers, rural communities, and hungry Americans.

“That’s a good thing, because there is no shortage of things to get done; most immediately, he must prioritize pandemic recovery. That means ensuring that all Americans have access to food, providing farmers of all types and sizes with the relief they need to stay in business, helping rural hospitals treat critically ill patients and distribute vaccines, and protecting workers across the food chain from covid-19.

“But the pandemic is hardly the only problem beleaguering agriculture; the industry is also grappling with a rapidly changing climate, unchecked corporate power, persistent oversupply, institutional racism, an aging population, and insufficient local processing infrastructure. During his second stint as Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack can’t let any of these issues fall by the wayside. We look forward to working with him towards lasting, meaningful reforms that will secure a bright and prosperous future for family farmers and their communities.”

 Fischer Statement on Confirmation of Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement after the Senate voted to confirm Thomas Vilsack, President Biden’s nominee to serve as Secretary of Agriculture:

“Agriculture is the economic engine of Nebraska, and I look forward to working with Secretary Vilsack on key issues for our ag producers. This includes facilitating market access for our products, addressing the lack of price discovery in the cattle market, and supporting our biofuels industry.”

NeFB Statement Regarding Tom Vilsack Confirmation as Secretary of Agriculture

Mark McHargue, President, NE Farm Bureau

“Nebraska Farm Bureau congratulates Tom Vilsack on his confirmation as the next U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. As Secretary Vilsack knows, there are many challenges, yet also many opportunities for American agriculture. We look forward to working with him to tackle those issues in a way that leads to prosperity for our members, particularly in the areas of expanding markets for agricultural commodities, extending high-end broadband to every corner of America, and ensuring environment and climate initiatives work for farm and ranch families.”

Naig Applauds Vilsack’s Confirmation as U.S. Ag Secretary

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig issued the following statement today in response to Secretary Tom Vilsack’s confirmation as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

“Having an Iowan at the helm of USDA is positive for our state’s agriculture community. Secretary Vilsack will be able to hit the ground running given his previous experience as agriculture secretary, and being a former Governor, he understands the partnership between states and the federal government. I look forward to working alongside Secretary Vilsack to continue to grow demand for renewable fuels, prevent foreign animal diseases, advance water quality and soil health, promote international trade and support investments in rural America.”

IRFA Congratulates USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack

Today the U.S. Senate voted to confirm former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack to be the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for the second time. Secretary Vilsack formerly served eight years under President Obama.

In response to today’s confirmation vote Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw made the following statement:

“We congratulate Secretary Tom Vilsack and look forward to working with him once again in this role. Whether serving as USDA Secretary, Iowa’s Governor, or a private citizen, Secretary Vilsack has never forgotten the value biofuels bring to American agriculture and the air we breathe. We are confident that during his tenure at USDA he will continue to be a strong champion for ethanol and biodiesel, working hand in hand with his colleagues in the administration to ensure biofuels are given every opportunity to help reduce this country’s carbon footprint and dependence on fossil fuels.”

NCGA Congratulates Tom Vilsack on Senate Confirmation to Lead USDA

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) today congratulated Tom Vilsack on his Senate confirmation to serve as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). NCGA President John Linder made the following statement.

“NCGA congratulates Secretary Vilsack on his confirmation. Corn growers appreciated his comments in support of biofuels, along with the positive role he sees agriculture playing in addressing climate change, during his confirmation hearing. Secretary Vilsack has consistently shown a willingness to listen to corn growers, to understand the issues they face on their farms, and we’ve welcomed his outreach to agriculture. Corn growers are looking forward to working together to build long-term demand for our product, mitigate the impact of climate change, seek new markets around the globe, and continue to feed and fuel the world.”

Congratulations from Soy & Welcome Back, Secretary Vilsack!

The American Soybean Association (ASA) congratulates Tom Vilsack as he returns as head of the United States Department of Agriculture. Secretary Vilsack gained choice experience in the same role as part of President Obama’s administration and was known as a staunch supporter for renewable fuel initiatives, biotechnology advances, fair trade agreements and preserving the farm safety net.

Kevin Scott, ASA president and soybean grower from Valley Springs, South Dakota, said, “We appreciate that Secretary Vilsack always supported farmers and understood that they are a driving force for the rural economy. We are confident that he will continue to support producers and appreciate his ongoing commitment to seeking farmer input.”

Secretary Vilsack is from a large soybean-producing state and has vast agriculture knowledge, including that gained during his terms as Iowa governor and more recently, running a large agricultural organization. He has a history of advocating for biodiesel and biotechnology, with conservation being another priority. Vilsack has expressed his beliefs that climate can provide market opportunities for farmers and must be designed to ensure that the principal beneficiaries are farmers.

ASA looks forward to working with him on these priorities and other issues important to soy and agriculture.

Wheat Organizations Welcome Tom Vilsack Back to USDA

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) are pleased with the bipartisan U.S. Senate vote today approving the appointment of former Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to that important post again under the Biden-Harris Administration.

“We welcome Secretary Vilsack’s return to USDA in a year that is projected to see record U.S. agricultural exports,” said USW President Vince Peterson, who currently serves on the USDA Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee for Trade. “We look forward to working with him again to continue building on the successful export market development partnership between U.S. wheat farmers and USDA.”

“NAWG applauds the Senate for its timely consideration and strong bipartisan support for confirming Secretary Vilsack to lead the USDA once again,” said NAWG CEO Chandler Goule. “Like many farmers across the country, wheat growers are facing economic challenges, and we are pleased to see the Senate and President work to fill these leadership positions at the USDA with qualified candidates, so we can continue to work on policy that benefits rural America. Secretary Vilsack is uniquely qualified to head up the USDA, having served there previously, and has an exceptional understanding of agricultural and rural issues. We look forward to working with him and continuing to build our relationship with the USDA.”

Farm Bureau Congratulates Tom Vilsack on Confirmation

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented today on the confirmation of Tom Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture.

“AFBF congratulates Tom Vilsack on his confirmation as the next Secretary of Agriculture. His strong track record of leadership and previous experience at USDA will serve rural America well.

“Secretary Vilsack and I have spoken several times in recent weeks about opportunities and challenges facing America’s farmers and ranchers, and I look forward to close collaboration. We have a lot of work to do as we overcome obstacles created by the COVID-19 pandemic. We must commit to resuming CARES Act programs and continue to build on advances made in trade. We must move forward on the successes made in climate-smart practices while seeking partnerships to ensure new environmental policies remain market-based and voluntary. We also recognize the importance of strengthening the farm bill and bringing broadband to every community in America.

“We stand ready to work with Secretary Vilsack and USDA on issues that benefit this nation’s farmers and ranchers – his success means rural America’s success.”

NMPF Statement on the Confirmation of Tom Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture

National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern

“All of U.S. agriculture has an effective advocate in Tom Vilsack, and the nation will be well-served by his return to public service leading the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“We in the dairy community who have had the opportunity to work with him have seen first-hand his deep passion for rural America and his commitment to advancing agriculture and the communities it serves, from farmers and food-sector workers to the consumers and businesses that depend on USDA to meet their needs every day, in every way. That’s especially important in light of today’s pressing challenges, which include a farm economy battered by the COVID-19 pandemic; climate change, sustainability and the environment; nutrition and food insecurity; international trade policies that limit U.S. exports; labor shortages that are worsening with time; and the legacies of societal injustice that need to be addressed.

“Tom Vilsack’s experience and leadership will be crucial to meeting these challenges, and more. We congratulate him on his confirmation and pledge to do our best to contribute to his successful service.”

NCBA Delivers State of the Industry Address During Virtual Winter Reboot

Today, during the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) virtual Winter Reboot conference, NCBA CEO Colin Woodall and NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane discussed the state of the industry and priority issues in Washington, D.C. that could affect cattlemen and women.

Woodall and Lane discussed the availability of USDA programs to assist farmers and ranchers from the damage done by the frigid temperatures that were seen across the country last week, the impact COVID-19 has had on cattle markets, and the work NCBA has done to provide opportunities for increased profitability while ensuring a steady food supply chain.

They also shared the many wins that the NCBA policy team has had including, working to ensure the beef industry is eligible for pandemic relief programs including USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) and the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), two programs that farmers and ranchers across the country utilized during the market disruptions caused by COVID-19.

They went on to discuss the outlook for the Biden administration and the 117th Congress. When talking about the priorities of the Biden administration, Lane shared that NCBA has a robust relationship with senior level leadership across various agencies and that those individuals are willing to listen to NCBA’s perspective.

“They really want to start these conversations at the ground level. They are making it clear that we have a seat at the table,” he said. “We can find some common ground and help them see the benefit of some of the things that have been propagated over the past couple years.”

When referencing the work that NCBA is doing to ensure the beef industry’s success Woodall said, “What we’re doing is what we do best and that is being the most effective advocate for cattlemen and women in Washington, D.C.”

The Virtual Winter Reboot, sponsored by Corteva Agriscience, is a two-day event that gives members the opportunity to hear an update on the work NCBA has been doing in D.C., participate in educational sessions with industry leaders, and interact virtually with other members.

Dairy-Based Sports Drink Launches with Industry Support

A Chicago-based start-up has launched GoodSport, a sports drink that is 97 percent dairy and aims to compete nationally against leading brands.

This first-of-its-kind natural sports drink made from the goodness of milk and backed by science will be available this month at and Broader retail distribution is planned for later this year. The product launched with support from the dairy checkoff and other industry groups.

GoodSport Nutrition Founder & CEO Michelle McBride conceived the concept after being frustrated with the sports drink category options.

"I didn't want my son drinking sports drinks filled with artificial ingredients that were being offered to him at his baseball games," she said. "I gave him chocolate milk as a healthier alternative after his workouts and it provided the inspiration to look at milk as a source of hydration during physical activity."

Milk is a natural source of the essential electrolytes and carbohydrates needed to provide effective hydration. In fact, scientific studies have shown milk hydrates better than traditional sports drinks and water.

However, milk's consistency and protein content, which slowly digests, were barriers for athletes before and during exercise. GoodSport's patent-pending formula and process cracked the code to provide naturally powerful hydration in a clear and thirst-quenching beverage. It delivers three times the electrolytes and 33 percent less sugar than traditional sports drinks, McBride said. All ingredients are from natural sources and the beverage provides a good source of calcium and an excellent source of B vitamins. It is lactose free and shelf stable.

To bring her idea to life, McBride engaged recognized experts in sports nutrition and from across the dairy industry. Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), which manages the national dairy checkoff, assisted McBride with category insights and provided contacts to accelerate speed to market. State and regional checkoff teams also offered support. Dr. Greg Miller of National Dairy Council serves on the company's scientific advisory council and McBride also participated in the Dairy Farmers of America Co-Lab Accelerator for startups. The 90-day program offers training, growth opportunities and mentorship.

FARM Program Publishes 2020 Year in Review

The National Dairy FARM Program (FARM) has published its 2020 Year in Review. Serving as the annual summary of the achievements and program developments of the FARM Program, the Year in Review showcases successes and challenges during a year of change and uncertainty.

“As the industry shifted with the pandemic, we adapted the program to fit farmer’s and program participant’s needs,” says Emily Yeiser Stepp, vice president for the FARM Program at the National Milk Producers Federation, which administers FARM. “We were still able to provide value, develop helpful resources and provide assurances of on-farm social responsibility for the dairy supply chain despite the rollercoaster of 2020.”

The Year in Review details the resources and tools developed across all program areas to help farmers become more fully engaged with the program. It also shows how aspects of FARM were brought into a virtual environment. Events like the annual Evaluator Conference, monthly Evaluator Engagement Hours and the program’s Quick Convos series gave FARM staff the ability to connect with stakeholders online as 2020 presented unrivaled challenges.  

The Review also summarizes changes made to the FARM Program Areas in 2020. FARM Animal Care Version 4 went into effect on January 1 with updates supporting closer farmer-veterinarian relationships, requiring continuing education for all employees and adding a new standard for pain management when disbudding animals. FARM also launched Version 2 of the Environmental Stewardship program which includes updated crop emissions factors, a breakdown of greenhouse gas emissions by gas type, a metric on the use of nutrient management plans, and the ability to capture the benefits of solid-liquid separation, and solar and wind energy. Additionally, Version 1 of the Workforce Development evaluation became available and focuses on human resources and safety best practices. It provides assurances to the supply chain and helps farmers identify what will be most useful to implement within their operation and track improvement over time.

Download the 2020 Year in Review here....  

Beef Is, and Always Will Be Sustainable

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association's (NCBA) President Jerry Bohn, today released the following op-ed for publication:

There is an ongoing conversation in consumer spaces about beef’s contribution to climate change. In many circles, beef is being painted as a villain that can be minimized and/or eliminated to help solve global climate issues. On the ground, as cattle producers, we know this isn’t accurate. In fact, we know it’s an outrageous lie that’s being used to sell consumers a fake meat product they don’t want or need and one that won’t do anything to solve climate problems. The reality is that we know cattle can be a part of the solution. We know that pasture and rangeland, through proper management, can actually reduce the amount of carbon and more than offset the short-lived methane emissions of our cattle.

Climate and environmental stewardship matter to farmers and ranchers, we feel the impacts of our stewardship decisions every day and we are the first, and most affected portion of the population, when it rains too much or too little. We are the first to be impacted when the weather is too hot or too cold and we’ve seen time and again the consequences of a changing environment. Because of this, most of the farmers and ranchers I speak with are committed to protecting the resources we manage and doing our part to make improvements. However, to make real change, Americans and decisionmakers around the world must recognize that cattle farmers and ranchers are part of the solution. Every food has an impact so simply swapping out beef for alternative proteins or lab-manipulated fake meat will never be an effective solution.
The reality is that consumers in the United States and elsewhere are going to continue to consume meat and there is no nation better at raising cattle and beef in an efficient and environmentally friendly manner than we do right here at home. U.S. cattle producers don’t clear forests for pastures, we don’t plow up land that shouldn’t be farmed and we ensure that our animals are cared for through every phase of their life. On our feedlot in Kansas, we make certain that animals have fresh feed and clean water every day. We take pride in management practices that both care for our cattle and produce the best quality beef possible. By ensuring the beef we produce meets consumer demand we’re also helping to reduce food waste when our products reach the consumer.
On our farms and ranches, cattlemen and women are controlling invasive weeds and maintaining the pastures that feed our animals. Our farms and ranches provide open spaces that create habitat for wild animals that would otherwise be pushed out by housing developments and urbanization. We do these things because it makes our operations better but also because it is the right, sustainable thing to do. Our families depend on our lands year-after-year, generation-after-generation.
If consumers choose alternative proteins rather than beef, they should know the facts about those products and not just the sensationalized marketing that some activists are using to sell a product that has historically been ignored by consumers. In the past, consumers have largely rejected these products as a highly processed, expensive and inferior alternative to real beef. There are people who have invested in fake meat companies seeking to profit from legitimate consumer concerns about climate change and the environment.
The science disputes the claims of alternative protein companies. The fact is, even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that U.S. beef production has a minimal footprint when it comes to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Beef production is responsible for only 2 percent of U.S. GHG emissions. Even when the production of animal feed, fuel and electricity necessary for beef production is factored into the equation, it is still responsible for just 3.7 percent of GHG in the United States, according to EPA. In contrast, emissions from electricity generation account for 28 percent of U.S. emissions and transportation accounts for 29 percent of U.S. emissions.
It's likely that you’ve heard individuals like Bill Gates claim that U.S. livestock’s contribution to climate change is immense. However, these claims are flat out wrong. Some activists and others like Gates often cited old claims made in the United Nation’s debunked report titled Livestock’s Long Shadow. They also use global numbers about U.S. cattle production to back their marketing claims and sell their products.
It’s critical that Americans understand that global GHG emissions are skewed higher because they include emissions from nations whose cattle and beef management systems are far less efficient than the those in the United States. Global numbers also include countries like India, which have large bovine populations but where harvest is very low or non-existent because of cultural or religious practices. In global terms, U.S. beef cattle production counts for just .5 percent of global GHG emissions, so even if every American stopped eating beef in favor of fake meat substitutes, there would be virtually no discernable impact on our changing climate.
The U.S. beef production system is among the most productive and efficient in the world and it continues to improve over time. Between 1975 and 2017, beef cattle emissions declined 30 percent. Today, the U.S. produces 18 percent of the world’s beef with just 6 percent of the world’s cattle numbers. This is possible through commitments to animal welfare, better animal nutrition and advancements in genetics. Those statistics are often overlooked or ignored by individuals like Bill Gates, the writers at OZY and others who are working to advance an agenda that drives people away from eating meat using scare tactics and unsound science to advance their cause and line their pockets with grocery money from well-meaning, concerned consumers who have been sold something they don’t want and never needed in the first place.


Hugh Sanburg, 2021 Chair, Cattlemen’s Beef Board and Colorado Cow-Calf Producer

With the holidays now far behind us, few people are giving thought to the cozy evening they likely spent watching “It’s a Wonderful Life." For those unfamiliar with the 1946 classic film, the main character’s guardian angel reveals what the world would be like without him.

Fast-forward to 2021 and the current chatter surrounding the Beef Checkoff. Certain interest groups have launched a full-court press to – in their own words – call for “an up or down vote on the termination” of the 35-year-old program.

But what would the cattle industry look like without the Beef Checkoff, whose entire mission is beef promotion, research and education? During this lingering pandemic, how much worse might things be without Checkoff-funded efforts driving consumer demand for beef? Could average, family-run operations purchase advertising as effective as “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.”? Could they sponsor sustainability or nutrition research to inform consumers about the positive attributes of beef? Could they operate in foreign markets to sell more American beef overseas?

And it’s not just national programming that would vanish with the dissolution of the Checkoff. In 2020, 44 states received Checkoff revenue for local-level beef programming. Of those 44, only 15 currently have their own state Checkoff assessment to keep their work afloat. Stated plainly, if the national Checkoff went away, most state beef councils would have very limited resources for funding their own local beef initiatives.

In the field of physics, there’s a saying: “Nature abhors a vacuum”. Those who argue against the Beef Checkoff have not suggested an alternative to address the void its termination would create. In the 1970s and 1980s, it took producers about ten years and two failed referendum votes to create the Beef Checkoff. Even if a replacement program could be crafted and adopted within a similar timeframe (which is uncertain given the external forces working to weaken or end the animal protein markets), what would happen in the intervening decade without funding for strategic and coordinated promotion, research and education about beef? There’s little doubt that other proteins would step in to fill the void. If the Checkoff were not out there promoting beef, who would?

It’s important to remember that the producer-run Beef Checkoff does not and cannot control the markets. What it can do is support producers in a lot of positive ways – and it does. For example, Checkoff contractors’ efforts have helped increase beef’s protein market share by 4 percentage points since March 2020 (Source: IRI data analytics and market research). The Cattlemen’s Beef Board’s 2020 Annual Report has just been released and articulates the many creative ways producers’ Checkoff dollars have been hard at work. You can read the report in its entirety at, then decide for yourself whether life would truly be better without the Beef Checkoff.

Monday February 22 Ag News


For the week ending February 21, 2021, topsoil moisture supplies rated 14% very short, 32% short, 51% adequate, and 3% surplus, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 20% very short, 42% short, 37% adequate, and 1% surplus.

Field Crops Report:
Winter wheat condition rated 9% very poor, 13% poor, 44% fair, 33% good, and 1% excellent.

The next report was will be issued March 29, 2021.

Webinar to focus on farm program, crop insurance decisions for 2021

A Nebraska Extension webinar on March 1 at noon will present updates on farm programs, crop insurance and marketing to assist producers who are facing decisions in these areas for the 2021 crop production year.

The presentation will include discussion of newly finalized crop insurance price information, marketing strategies and factors that may impact ARC and PLC programs in the coming year. It will also explain the new Enhanced Coverage Option (ECO) that offers additional area-based coverage for a portion of an underlying crop insurance policy deductible.

Presenters from Nebraska Extension will include Brad Lubben, a policy specialist; Cory Walters, a grain marketing specialist; and Jessica Groskopf, the agricultural economist for the panhandle region.

The webinar will be presented as part of the Agricultural Economics Extension Farm and Ranch Management weekly series.

Registration is free at

2021 Nebraska Dairy Convention Set for Thursday, March 18

On March 18th, 2021 the dairy industry will gather at the Ramada by Wyndham Columbus Hotel & Conference Center in Columbus, Nebraska to partake in the 2021 Nebraska Dairy Convention. The convention will open with a trade show starting at 9:30am and run until 6:15pm.
Throughout the day attendees will have the opportunity to learn from industry experts on various topics to include; transition and estate planning, Midwest Dairy checkoff update, NSDA annual meeting, dairy nutrition update and a dairy girl network event. Also happening during the Event will be an ice cream bar, wine and cheese reception, banquet, and awards ceremony. To cap off the night attendees will hear from US Dairy Export Council CEO, Krysta Hardin.
Kris Bousquet invites all remarking “If you are involved in the dairy industry, this event is a must. The networking opportunity farmers and businesspeople experience here is unmatched. We encourage all sectors of dairy to come learn and grow with us.”
To register visit

Ricketts Warns Against Federal Overreach on Energy, Climate, & Conservation Issues

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts issued a statement regarding Executive Order 14008, also know as the “Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.”  It was signed by President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on January 27, 2021.

“Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers are our state’s original conservationists.  They work day in and day out to cultivate the land and manage water they’ve known for generations in a way that helps grow our state.  With a new administration taking office, Nebraskans should be on the lookout in their communities for attempts by federal agencies and their partners to regulate land and water use.  We are already seeing big changes in how the federal government is approaching energy, climate, and conservation issues.”

“From canceling the presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline to rejoining the Paris Agreement, the Biden Administration has taken a number of actions that harm our national security, energy independence, and working American families.  I am especially troubled by President Biden’s recent executive order on climate.  The executive order blocks significant amounts of oil and gas development and outlines far-reaching plans to lock away staggering portions of our nation’s land and natural resources.”

“In particular, I want to draw the attention of Nebraskans to the executive order’s goal of restricting ‘at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030.’  Federal interventions that purport to aim at conservation or that regulate land and natural resource uses are only likely to hurt agriculture and to hinder growth in our economy.  Nebraska will stand up against federal government overreach to protect our family farms and our way of life.  Just as we defeated President Obama’s Waters of the U.S. regulation, we will work together to stop new federal overreach.”

In response to President Biden’s recent Executive Order, Governor Ricketts has signed a letter along with 16 other Governors.

Drought Planning for the Grazing Season

– Jerry Volesky, NE Extension Pasture & Range Specialist

The start of the growing season is just a couple of months away and last year’s drought conditions across much of Nebraska should inspire us to complete grazing and forage plans for the upcoming year.
Within these plans, options for a possible drought are essential.  A drought plan can have varying levels of detail and complexity and can be customized to fit the specific needs of your operation.  Key considerations should include projected cattle numbers (or stocking rates), turnout dates, the possibility of an extended period of hay feeding, the level of utilization on pastures last year, possible culling and weaning strategies, and a pasture use sequence for multiple pasture rotations.  In addition, some farmer and ranchers have the opportunity to use planted annual forages to increase grazing capacity or to provide extra hay. Sourcing seed for this possibility should begin soon.
Some plans place an emphasis on critical or trigger dates.  These are dates where one evaluates their total local precipitation up to that date.  On May 1, for example, one could determine their total spring precipitation and compare that to long-term averages for their area.  If precipitation totals are significantly below the averages, that could trigger a choice of several possible management actions such as an extended period of feeding hay or culling of some livestock.  These actions are adjusted to account for varying levels of drought.  Other important dates in relation to critical periods for rapid grass growth might include May 15, June 1, June 15, and July 1.
While we always hope for the perfect amount of rain for the growing season, being prepared for droughty conditions can reduce the impact.

Cryptosporidiosis: A Potential Source of Illness in Calves and People Alike

Russ Daly – South Dakota State University Extension Veterinarian
Cryptosporidiosis is a pertinent example of a disease with zoonotic potential: one that can be passed from animals to people. Symptoms of “crypto” in people include the miserable experiences of diarrhea, stomach cramping, nausea, and vomiting. In some cases, affected people require hospitalization for treatment of their dehydration.

The protozoa that cause cryptosporidiosis can be divided into two main categories: human-only Cryptosporidia species and animal-related Cryptosporidia species. People can be affected by both. Human-only forms are often associated with summertime swimming pool and water park outbreaks.

In Animals

Animal-related Cryptosporidia are very common in manure from calves, healthy or sick. Calves affected by cryptosporidiosis have diarrhea ranging from pudding-like to watery. The resulting fluid and electrolyte losses can be fatal, especially when other scours-causing bacteria and viruses are involved.
Calves are first exposed to Cryptosporidia right after birth, with higher exposures in dirty, manure-filled environments compared to clean pens or pastures. It takes about a week for the germs to disrupt the calf’s gut sufficiently to create observable illness. Illness due to Cryptosporidium is age-dependent, almost exclusively affecting calves between a week and month of age. Older calves are more resistant to illness but can still pass the germ in their manure. Unfortunately, there are no effective treatments or vaccines for cryptosporidiosis in calves.

In Humans

Between 100 and 200 human crypto cases are reported in South Dakotans in an average year. This is very likely an undercount since many affected people do not seek medical treatment. In reported cases, the causative Cryptosporidia species is usually not categorized between human-only or animal-related strains.

Work at SDSU with the South Dakota Department of Health in 2012 revealed that almost 90% of South Dakotans diagnosed with cryptosporidiosis had exposure to animals, with about half of all patients living or working on a farm. Most reports of human Cryptosporidiosis involve only one person, but larger Cryptosporidiosis outbreaks occur. These have occurred in groups of people working with clinically ill calves and in petting zoo environments where young calves were present.

Preventative Measures

Since all young calves should be considered sources of Cryptosporidia regardless of their health status, people directly working with them should protect themselves. Manure is the main source of these germs, but they will also contaminate bedding, haircoats, and saliva. Creating barriers between contaminated materials and our mouths is of particular importance. These efforts should include use of disposable gloves and hand washing immediately after working with calves (hand sanitizers are ineffective at inactivating Cryptosporidia). Face masks will help prevent splashes of unwanted materials into the mouth. Boots and coveralls should be worn and properly managed, so they do not move manure and other contamination into the farmhouse or other areas of the farm.

Human Cryptosporidia infections do occur despite the use of such preventive measures. This illustrates the low infectious dose of Cryptosporidia for people. While 100 to 200 Cryptosporidia germs are sufficient to cause illness in a person, millions of organisms per gram of feces can be shed by a clinically affected calf. Cryptosporidia are very hardy in the environment and won’t be killed by most disinfectants.

While any young calf is a potential source of Cryptosporidia, those clinically sick with diarrhea are the most problematic. This highlights the importance of calf health -- providing clean calving and housing environments. While many calf outbreaks occur in young dairy-breed calves grouped together, transported, and otherwise stressed, beef calves exposed to overwhelming exposures in calving areas are also at increased risk.

Dairy and beef producers should work with a veterinarian to determine the extent to which Cryptosporidia are involved in calf illnesses and take general steps to limit exposure. Along with that, they should also consider the potential for Cryptosporidiosis to affect them, their fellow workers, and family members.

Explore Opportunities for Livestock with Silvopasture Management

Silvopasture management is the topic of the Iowa Learning Farms webinar on Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Silvopasture is an agroforestry practice that involves intentionally managing livestock, trees and forage in the same productive space. There are several strategies to implementing silvopasture, and the wide variety of strategies depends on the space, animals and trees being managed. During this webinar, Ashley Conway, assistant research professor at the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry, will provide a brief introduction to silvopasture management.

“Despite being a very old practice, silvopasture is gaining mainstream momentum as a way to raise livestock that enhances economic and environmental resiliency,” said Conway. She hopes webinar participants will gain a strong understanding of what silvopasture is, and also what does not constitute a silvopasture system.

Conway is working to develop a research program investigating the logistical, economic, environmental and social dynamics of silvopasture systems in Missouri and the Midwest through the lens of efficient and responsible animal production.
Webinar Access Instructions

To participate in the live webinar, shortly before 12 p.m. CST on Feb. 24:
    Click this URL, or type this web address into your internet browser: Or, go to and enter meeting ID 364-284-172.
    Or, join from a dial-in phone line by dialing +1-312-626-6799 or +1-646-876-9923, meeting ID 364-284-172.

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

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

After Careful Consideration, EPA Supports Tenth Circuit’s Renewable Fuels Association Decision

EPA is today announcing that, after careful consideration of the 2020 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Renewable Fuels Association et al. v. EPA, 948 F.3d 1206 (“Decision”), EPA supports that court’s interpretation of the renewable fuel standard (RFS) small-refinery provisions. This conclusion, prompted by a detailed review following the Supreme Court’s grant of certiorari in the case, represents a change from EPA’s position before the Tenth Circuit. The change reflects the Agency’s considered assessment that the Tenth Circuit’s reasoning better reflects the statutory text and structure, as well as Congress’s intent in establishing the RFS program.
RFS Program Background

Congress created the RFS program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand the nation’s renewable fuels sector while reducing reliance on imported oil. This program was authorized under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and expanded under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. In enacting the RFS program, Congress recognized the need to allow small refineries (those with aggregate crude oil throughput less than or equal to 75,000 barrels per day) to transition into the program. Small refineries were exempted from the RFS program in its earliest years, 2006-2010, after which a small refinery could petition EPA for and receive an extension of its exemption if it could demonstrate the refinery would suffer “disproportionate economic hardship” as a result of complying with its RFS obligations. See CAA section 211(o)(9).
Surge in Small-Refinery Petitions Granted in Past Four Years

In calendar year 2017 (largely for the 2016 RFS compliance year), EPA began granting a large number of petitions for extensions of Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs). By 2018, the number of SREs issued for the 2017 compliance year was more than quadruple the number issued for the 2015 compliance year. For example, for the 2015 compliance year, only 290 million renewable identification numbers (RINs) were not retired due to SRE petitions granted, yet for the 2017 compliance year, that number grew to 1.82 billion non-retired RINs. The large increase in SRE petitions granted and associated unretired RINs represents a significant decline in the required use of renewable fuel volumes, which in turn decreased the incentives for the production and use of renewable fuels.
Tenth Circuit’s Decision

In January 2020, the Tenth Circuit vacated and remanded three EPA decisions granting SRE petitions for the 2016 and 2017 RFS compliance years which were issued in calendar years 2017 and 2018, holding that a small refinery’s petition can be granted only if the refinery satisfies two conditions:
    Demonstrate an existing exemption: Emphasizing the dictionary definitions of the word “extension” as “an increase,” the court held that EPA could not extend or increase a small refinery’s exemption unless the exemption was “in existence.” In the court’s view, “a small refinery which did not seek or receive an extension in prior years is ineligible for an extension, because at that point there is nothing to prolong, enlarge, or add to.” The court also described CAA section 211(o)(9)(b)(i) as “funnel[ing] small refineries towards compliance over time.”

    Demonstrate disproportionate economic hardship caused by RFS compliance: The court held that any alleged hardship justifying the grant of an SRE petition must be “caused by” RFS compliance. The court also held that EPA had acted arbitrarily and capriciously by deviating, without acknowledgment or a stated reason, from its prior position that refineries generally do not incur disproportionate economic hardship from purchasing RINs on the open market because the refineries “pass through most or all of their RIN purchase costs” to their customers.
Supreme Court Case and EPA’s Position

On January 8, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court granted the small refineries’ petition for a writ of certiorari asking the Court to review the Tenth Circuit’s holding regarding the SRE eligibility of small refineries that lack an existing exemption. HollyFrontier Cheyenne Refining, LLC, et al. v. Renewable Fuels Assn., et al., United States Supreme Court, Case No. 20-472.
After further, careful review of the RFA Decision following the change of Administration, EPA has reevaluated the statutory text and now agrees with the Tenth Circuit’s reading of CAA section 211(o)(9)(B)(i) that an exemption must exist for EPA to be able to “extend” it. EPA agrees with the court that the exemption was intended to operate as a temporary measure and, consistent with that Congressional purpose, the plain meaning of the word “extension” refers to continuing the status of an exemption that is already in existence.
For background on EPA’s RFS Program, see  

Ricketts Applauds EPA Decision to Follow Court Ruling on Ethanol Blending

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts issued a statement following news that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would follow a recent Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on small refinery exemptions from ethanol blending requirements.

“Today’s announcement by the EPA is good news for Nebraska’s farm families and our 25 ethanol plants,” said Governor Ricketts.  “We are the second largest producer of ethanol, and Nebraskans want to see a robust Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  We appreciate the EPA’s commitment to following the court’s decision, which will help ensure the agency is following the law and maintaining a robust RFS.”

 Fischer Applauds EPA Decision to Protect Biofuels

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) announced its support of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit’s ruling in Renewable Fuels Association et al. v. EPA.

“The Biden administration’s EPA listened to our warnings and reversed course in their interpretation of the Small Refinery Exemption process. This is a critical win for Nebraska’s economy. I will continue to push the EPA to ensure it is upholding the intent of the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

IRFA Praises EPA Decision to Enforce 10th Circuit Court Decision on RFS Exemptions

Today the EPA announced that it has decided it agrees with the logic laid out in the decision from the 10th Circuit Court decision from January of 2020 regarding Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) exemptions. In particular, EPA agrees that the exemptions need to be an extension of an exemption a refinery has always maintained and only if that refinery can continue to demonstration disproportionate economic harm.

In response to support for this decision, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw made the following statement:

“We are excited and pleased to hear EPA finally embrace the common-sense 10th Circuit Court decision on RFS exemptions. The RFS exemption program was always intended to be a tool to provide temporary relief to truly small refineries and it has been abused for far too long. Hopefully this signals an end to the dark days of undermining the RFS through illegal exemptions and waivers, and we can look forward to the law being applied in a way that actually grows demand for ethanol and biodiesel blends as was always intended.”

Growth Energy Applauds EPA’s Decision to Stand with 10th Circuit’s Ruling on SREs

Growth Energy welcomed news that, despite the Trump administration’s previous view of the 10th Circuit’s interpretation of small refinery exemption (SRE) eligibility under the RFS, the current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not file a brief supporting that position by the Supreme Court’s deadline in HollyFrontier today. In response, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor issued the following statement:

“We are pleased to see the Biden EPA signal support for the 10th Circuit’s ruling and repudiate the prior administration EPA’s misguided attempt to distort the plain language of the RFS to serve oil industry interests at the expense of America’s biofuel producers and farmers.”

HollyFrontier v. Renewable Fuels Association (Case No. 20-472) is challenging the Tenth Circuit decision (Renewable Rules Association v. EPA, Case No. 18-9533). In January 2020, the lower court rightly found that the plain language of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) required refineries to have been granted small refinery exemptions (SREs) in all prior years as a condition of eligibility for any additional SREs.

Farm, Biofuel Leaders Embrace EPA’s New Position on Tenth Circuit’s Small Refinery Waiver Decision

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it is supporting the Tenth Circuit Court’s January 2020 decision in Renewable Fuels Association et al. v. EPA. After careful review of the decision, EPA’s new leadership agrees with both the court and the biofuel litigants that small refinery exemptions were meant to be temporary and that only pre-existing exemptions may be “extended” by the agency.

EPA states that it “agrees with the court that the exemption was intended to operate as a temporary measure and, consistent with that Congressional purpose, the plain meaning of the word ‘extension’ refers to continuing the status of an exemption that is already in existence.”

The four petitioners in the case—the Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, American Coalition for Ethanol and National Farmers Union—released the following statement:

“Our nation’s biofuel producers and farmers appreciate EPA’s careful review of the Tenth Circuit Court’s decision, and we are pleased the agency’s new leadership is reversing the previous administration’s flawed position on small refinery exemptions. This announcement marks a major step forward by the Biden administration to restore the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard and honor the intent of Congress. We wholeheartedly agree with EPA’s conclusion that the small refinery exemption was intended to be a temporary measure and we are pleased to see the agency confirming that only previously existing exemptions may be extended.”

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a request from two refiners to review the Tenth Circuit case, even though EPA did not ask the high court to examine the ruling. Arguments before the Supreme Court are expected in the spring.

Commodity Classic Farmer-Leaders Excited About Digital Edition of 2021 Event

Commodity Classic’s pivot from a live show—originally scheduled to take place in San Antonio— to a digital online format has created some unique opportunities, according to the two farmers who are co-chairing the 2021 Special Edition of Commodity Classic.

The 2021 Special Edition of Commodity Classic features more than 50 educational sessions that will be delivered digitally direct to farmers across the nation and around the world March 2-5, 2021.   Registration is open at and the first 5,000 farmers to register can do so at no charge.

Anthony Bush, an Ohio corn farmer and co-chair of the 2021 Commodity Classic, said this year’s digital event provides a platform for the event to bring together top agribusiness executives for a series of live, first-ever Executive Roundtables. “We will hear from CEOs from various stakeholders in our industry. I'm not sure what other venue would exist that we would be able to do this. I think that's going to be pretty exciting to get their perspective on what's going on in our industry right now.”

Brad Doyle, an Arkansas soybean farmer and co-chair of the 2021 Commodity Classic, noted that Commodity Classic is created by farmers, for farmers.“  It separates us from just a media-based platform or an industry-based platform because Commodity Classic is farmer-led and farmer-focused. The message is just more sincere and more honest that we, as farmers, get to choose the program, what's in the program, who our speakers are, what content we have.”

Doyle added that, each year, the farmer committee develops the entire Commodity Classic agenda, including the selection of the educational sessions. “We want this information, too.  We want to hear from the speakers. We look at it that way—create a program that will help our fellow farmers.  That's the great thing about this show.”

Bush said that in a year of incredible challenge, the education at Commodity Classic is more valuable than ever before. “There is so much going on right now in agriculture, just like any other year; but this year the marketing trends can make you or break you right now,” he said.  “It's the same way with the equipment purchases and decisions.  The people you will be available to connect with at Commodity Classic will be incredibly valuable.  I'm really looking forward to it.”

Premier Sponsors of the 2021 Special Edition of Commodity Classic are AGCO, Bayer, Case IH, Corteva Agriscience, John Deere and United Soybean Board/Soy Checkoff.

Champion Sponsors are BASF and Syngenta.  Key Sponsors are Great Plains Manufacturing, Inc., Kubota, New Holland, Pioneer, Precision Planting and Valent U.S.A.

Established in 1996, Commodity Classic is presented annually by the American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Sorghum Producers and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

Federal Maritime Commission demands information from carriers

The Specialty Soya and Grains Alliance applauds the Federal Maritime Commission’s decision last week to issue an information demand to ocean carriers and marine terminal operators to answer questions on detention and demurrage practices, as well as policies and practices related to container returns and container availability to exporters.

In a statement issued Feb. 17, the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) announced that Commissioner Rebecca F. Dye issued the order to determine if “ocean carriers operating in an alliance and calling the Port of Los Angeles, the Port of Long Beach and the Port of New York & New Jersey” are meeting their legal obligations, along with marine terminal operators (MTOs) at those ports.

According to the FMC press release:
The orders are being issued under the authority Commissioner Dye has as the Fact Finding Officer for Fact Finding 29, “International Ocean Transportation Supply Chain Engagement.”  …

Failure of carriers and MTOs to operate in a way consistent with the Interpretive Rule on Detention and Demurrage that became effective on May 18, 2020, might constitute a violation of 46 USC 41102(c) which prohibits unjust and unreasonable practices and regulations related to, or connected with, receiving, handling, storing, or delivering property.

Information received from parties receiving demands may be used as a basis for hearings, Commission enforcement action or further rulemaking.

In October, SSGA was among the first national agricultural associations to shine a light on the disruption of the food supply chain and other critical problems facing containerized ag exports after members had been informed that some ocean carriers were suspending containerized and other overseas ag shipments in order to keep up with import demand of goods from Asia.

"In their haste to meet increased demands for foreign imports to the United States, the ocean carriers have left U.S. ag exporters behind while clogging the ports and disrupting the supply chain throughout the system, including rail and trucking," said Eric Wenberg, SSGA executive director. "That's why the Federal Maritime Commission needed to step in. But more needs to be done.

“Now, ocean carriers and marine terminal operators must cooperate with the FMC, and the hope is this can be resolved quickly so our members’ products and ingredients can get to the foreign food manufacturers who have been patiently waiting for them.”

On Feb. 9, SSGA representatives had the opportunity to give testimony to the FMC, along with a large contingent of national ag organizations, including the National Grain and Feed Association and the Agriculture Transportation Coalition.

For more on the container shipping crisis, see the latest IP-ODCAST, in which SSGA Secretary/Treasurer and Competitive Shipping Action Team Chair Darwin Rader spoke about the ongoing situation.

The Specialty Soya and Grains Alliance (SSGA) is the premier business alliance of U.S. companies focused on production, processing and shipping of specialty soya and grains worldwide. Its mission is to provide resources that communicate the quality, diversity, and availability of IP soya and specialty grain products.

Deere Reports First-Quarter Net Income of $1.224 Billion

Deere & Company reported net income of $1.224 billion for the first quarter ended January 31, 2021, or $3.87 per share, compared with net income of $517 million, or $1.63 per share, for the quarter ended February 2, 2020. Worldwide net sales and revenues increased 19 percent in the first quarter of 2021 to $9.112 billion. Equipment operations net sales were $8.051 billion for the quarter, compared with $6.530 billion in 2020.

"John Deere started 2021 on a strongly positive note," said John C. May, chairman and chief executive officer. "Our results were aided by outstanding performance across our business lineup and improving conditions in the farm and construction sectors. In addition, our smart industrial operating strategy is making a significant impact on the company's results while it also helps our customers be more profitable and sustainable."

Company Outlook & Summary

Net income attributable to Deere & Company for fiscal 2021 is forecast to be in a range of $4.6 billion to $5.0 billion.

"We are proud of our success executing the strategy and creating a more focused organization that can operate with greater speed and agility," May said. "As our recent performance shows, these steps are leading to improved efficiencies and helping the company target its resources and investments on areas that have the greatest impact. At the same time, even as we ramp up factory production and intensify our efforts to serve customers, we are mindful of the continuing challenges associated with the global pandemic. We remain committed, above all else, to safeguarding the health and well-being of our employees."

AGCO to Temporarily Close Kansas Hesston Plant

AGCO has slowed operations at its facility in Hesston, Kansas, due to rising natural gas prices in the area. It was reported that the plant currently employs around 1,000 workers.  

AGCO announced the shutdown in relation to a potential $2.1 million gas bill.  "Something has to be done about the price gouging and what's going on with (natural) gas prices. It's going to affect all of us," said union president Glen Davis, noting that floor employees will be missing out on average of $200 per day.

When asked about the shutdown, a spokesperson for AGCO said like many businesses and residents in the Kansas area, AGCO's Hesston plant is experiencing fuel and heating costs that have skyrocketed in recent weeks.

CNH Industrial Reman Extends Warranty Coverage to Industry Leading 24-months Parts and Labor

CNH Industrial Reman is excited to announce its industry-leading replacement parts warranty has been extended to 24-months parts when dealer-installed. The newly extended, two-year warranty has dealers and customers covered from day-one on remanufactured parts for Case IH, Case Construction, New Holland Agriculture and New Holland Construction equipment.

“Unlike competitors, rebuilds or after-market replacement parts, CNH Reman parts are backed by an industry leading warranty that provides peace of mind from day one” said Presley Parish, marketing and communications manager at CNH Industrial Reman. “The new extended warranty coverage protects dealers and end-users from warranty liability associated with point of failure repairs.”

The CNH Industrial Reman replacement parts warranty exceeds OEM and replacement part warranties and is backed by CNH Industrial Parts & Service.

Parts covered under the extended 24-month warranty include: long block, short block and replacement engines; fuel injection pumps; fuel injectors; turbocharger; axles; clutches; torque converters; manual, power shift and power shuttle transmissions; rotor drives; torque amplifiers; wobble boxes; alternators; controllers; ECUs; generators; starters; hydraulic cylinders, motors and pumps; AC compressors; ATS and wheels.

Cylinder heads, connecting rods, camshafts, crankshafts, oil coolers and all other reman products are covered under a 12-month warranty on parts when dealer installed.

If a customer chooses to install the Reman part themselves or use options other than an approved CNH dealer location, CNH Reman parts are backed by industry leading 12-month warranty protection.

For Reman Repair & Return Programs, the new warranty includes 12-months of parts coverage for wiring harnesses and 18-months of parts coverage for electrical components.

CNH Industrial Reman is committed to providing the best remanufactured product on the market, leading to increased reliability and lower cost of ownership. This value is reflected not only in the extended warranty, but in every aspect of the continued development of parts and leading-edge processes. CNH Industrial Reman stands behind the products they provide to give dealers and customers peace of mind.

Solectrac launches reservation program for its all-electric tractors

As demand has grown quickly for Solectrac's first to market all-electric tractors, the company announced its new reservation campaign. With a $1000 deposit, reduced from fifty percent of the total cost, customers can now reserve their place in the productions line. "We've decided to decrease the initial deposit to allow customers to express their interest and intent. This is good for our customers and good for our production line," said Steve Heckeroth, CEO/Founder.

Solectrac Inc., North America's first manufacturer and distributor of quiet, zero emission electric tractors came to the attention of the marketplace last year with their very successful crowdfunding campaign, followed by double investments from Ideanomics. Solectrac has since grown their manufacturing capabilities to ramp up production and meet demand while pursuing their long-term goal to reduce carbon output in farming and utility work.

Solectrac is taking reservations for its 40 HP-equivalent eUtility tractor and the 4-wheel drive 30 HP-equivalent compact electric tractor (CET). Both tractors are built to outperform their diesel counterparts by eliminating exhaust and noise and with the benefit of instant torque at low RPM.  Solectrac tractors accommodate existing implements and are perfectly suited for farm and utility operations, as well as in livestock and equestrian environments where noise is an important consideration. Additionally, the low noise level and absence of exhaust makes electric tractors desirable in any environment by improving workers' health and safety.

Solectrac's electric tractors can be charged either from the utility grid or from renewable energy, like solar and wind. Electricity is cheaper than diesel fuel and Solectrac tractors only have one moving part in the motor. Consequently, maintenance and fuel cost over the lifetime of the electric tractor is estimated to be one-third that of a diesel tractor. Using solar or wind energy in the charging infrastructure completely eliminates fossil fuel inputs thereby reducing the users' carbon footprint and helping meet climate goals.

In 2019 Solectrac became a California Benefit Corporation and a Certified B Corp "to use business as a force for good." The company is also the recipient of the World Alliance's Solar Impulse Efficient Solutions label. Through the World Alliance the Solar Impulse Foundation is selecting 1,000 of the most efficient and profitable solutions that can transition society to being economically viable while being environmentally sustainable.

Friday February 19 Cattle on Feed + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.61 million cattle on feed on February 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 5% from last year.  Placements during January totaled 530,000 head, up 4% from 2020. Fed cattle marketings for the month of January totaled 460,000 head, down 4% from last year. Other disappearance during January totaled 10,000 head, unchanged from last year.

Iowa Cattle on Feed Report

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 620,000 head on February 1, 2021, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was up 2% from January, but down 7% from last year. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head had 565,000 head on feed, up 1% from last month but down 12% from last year. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in all Iowa feedlots totaled 1,185,000 head, up 1% from last month but down 10% from last year.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during January totaled 109,000 head, up 17% from December but down 2% from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head placed 60,000 head, down 13% from December and down 32% from last year. Placements for all feedlots in Iowa totaled 169,000 head, up 4% from December but down 15% from last year.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during January totaled 97,000 head, up 7% from December but down 10% from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head marketed 49,000 head, up 9% from December but down 21% from last year. Marketings for all feedlots in Iowa were 146,000 head, up 7% from December but down 14% from last year. Other disappearance from all feedlots in Iowa totaled 8,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Up 1 Percent

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 12.1 million head on February 1, 2021. The inventory was 1 percent above February 1, 2020. This is the second highest February 1 inventory since the series began in 1996.

On Feed, by State (1,000 hd - % of Feb 1 '20)

Colorado .......:           1,120            102             
Iowa .............:             620               93              
Kansas ..........:           2,520            105              
Nebraska ......:           2,610            105                
Texas ............:           2,910             99              

Placements in feedlots during January totaled 2.02 million head, 3 percent above 2020. Net placements were 1.96 million head. During January, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 410,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 440,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 575,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 417,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 105,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 70,000 head.

Placememts by State (1,000 hd - % Jan '20)

Colorado .......:                    195            95             
Iowa .............:                    109            98               
Kansas ..........:                    480           108               
Nebraska ......:                    530           104               
Texas ............:                    405           109               

Marketings of fed cattle during January totaled 1.82 million head, 6 percent below 2020.  Other disappearance totaled 56,000 head during January, 4 percent above 2020.

Marketings by State (1,000 hd - % Jan '20)

Colorado .......:                  180            95                
Iowa .............:                    97            90                 
Kansas ..........:                  450            99                
Nebraska ......:                  460            96                 
Texas ............:                  350            92                 

Cattle on Feed and Annual Size Group Estimates

Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head represented 81.4 percent of all cattle and calves on feed in the United States on January 1, 2021. This is comparable to the 81.6 percent on January 1, 2020.

Marketings of fed cattle for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head during 2020 represented 87.1 percent of total cattle marketed from all feedlots in the United States, up slightly from 87.0 percent during 2019.


Nebraska's number of farms and ranches declined during 2020, according to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. The number of farms and ranches in the state, at 45,500, was down 200 farms from 2019. Numbers of farms and ranches in Nebraska with less than $100,000 in agricultural sales decreased 200 farms from a year earlier while operations with agricultural sales of $100,000 or more was unchanged.

Land in farms and ranches in Nebraska totaled 44.9 million acres, unchanged from 2019. The average size of operation, at 987 acres, was up 5 acres from a year earlier.

Iowa Land in Farms

The total number of farms in Iowa in 2020 was 85,000, down 300 farms from 2019, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Farms and Land in Farms 2020 Summary report. Farms in the $10,000-$99,999 sales class decreased by 200, while farms in the $250,000-$499,999 sales class decreased by 100.

Total land in farms for Iowa during 2020 was 30.6 million acres, unchanged since 2010. The average farm size in Iowa in 2020 was 360 acres, up 1 acre from 2019. The average farm size for those in the
$250,000-$499,999 sales class increased 6 acres from 2019.

U.S. Farms and Land in Farms Highlights

The number of farms in the United States for 2020 is estimated at 2,019,000, down 4,400 farms from 2019. The number of farms in all sales classes declined. In 2020, 51.1 percent of all farms had less than $10,000 in sales and 81.5 percent of all farms had less than $100,000 in sales. In 2020, 7.4 percent of all farms had sales of $500,000 or more.  

Total land in farms, at 896,600,000 acres, decreased 800,000 acres from 2019. The biggest change for 2020 is that producers in Sales Class $10,000 - $99,999 operated 550,000 fewer acres than in 2019. In 2020, 30.1 percent of all farmland was operated by farms with less than $100,000 in sales, while 40.8 percent of all farmland was operated by farms with sales of $500,000 or more.

The average farm size for 2020 is 444 acres, unchanged from the previous year. Average farm size increased in the $250,000 - $499,999, $500,000-$999,999, and $1,000,000 or more sales classes and remained unchanged in all others.

Fort Report Column: Fake Meat

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry

Here’s a tweet I wrote this week: “I’ve been in meetings with @BillGates.  I respect his intellect and desire for social responsibility by the world’s wealthy.  On this idea, though, maybe he should come to #Nebraska and learn a little more.  #NoFakeMeat.”    

I was responding to an interview Gates did for the MIT Tech Review in which the Microsoft co-founder opined on climate change: “I do think all rich countries should move to 100% synthetic beef.  You can get used to the taste difference, and the claim is they’re going to make it taste even better over time.  Eventually, that green premium is modest enough that you can sort of change the [behavior of] people or use regulation to totally shift the demand.”    

I have no beef with Bill about transitioning from a hydrocarbon-based economy to a more sustainable one.  I support many initiatives in Congress that are prudently moving us towards that renewable energy future without economic disruption in the process.  But making supper from a lab?  That's not a solution, that's a chemistry experiment.      

Gates’ push for lab-grown meat is rooted in a belief that if we slowed the production of cow-based methane we’d make a huge dent in global warming.  Though potent, methane is a short-lived “flow gas” that often gets destroyed in the atmosphere within about a decade.  The CO2 generated by the burning of fossil fuels is a “stock gas” that builds up in the atmosphere and can stick around for over 100 years without sequestration.  Per the EPA, livestock contributes less than 3% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.  Switching to meat substitutes will not appreciably affect the climate crisis, though an obsessive focus on the U.S. beef industry as a mythical key contributor to global warming will blind us to its primary contributors, such as large coal-burning countries like China and India.    

Here’s another overlooked fact: the role that real beef plays as a cornerstone of nutrition and rural livelihood.  Nebraska is world-famous for its high-quality beef.  According to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Nebraska is the only state that is a national leader in every aspect of beef production: cow/calf, backgrounding, corn-growing, cattle feeding and processing.  Cattle outnumber people here by more than three to one.  What wine is to France, beef is to Nebraska.    

As the Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, I joked on a recent radio program about inviting Mr. Gates to the West Point Livestock Auction, where he can present his lab-based meat proposal to the cattle producers and farmers there.  We’d have a fun, healthy debate.    

In Congress, I co-chair the Congressional Beef Caucus to provide Members of Congress the opportunity to discuss the importance of the U.S. beef and cattle industry.  Nevertheless, I tried a vegan hamburger once.  Not my thing, but I get that it’s a fast-growing market.  In this case, however, you’ve got to follow the desire of vested money interests to conflate environmental protection with their profit-driven efforts to get Americans to eat meat substitutes.    

Cattle numbers have remained relatively flat for several decades.  Couple that with methane’s short atmospheric shelf-life, it seems to me a stretch to single out cattle as a significant contributor to global warming.  Curtailing beef production makes about as much sense as banning all travel by plane.  I bet Bill Gates knows that won’t fly.    

Lab-grown meat, in particular, is not a good cultural fit for Nebraska.  Think about going to Misty’s Steakhouse in Lincoln: “I’ll have the synthetic medium-rare steak with that special A1 C02 sauce, but with a little less red dye this time, thanks.”     

Synthetic meat is, at the end of the day, fake meat.  I had some fun coming up with creative slogans.  How’s this?    
        “Carefully Chemically Crafted”    
        “From Our Lab to Your Table.”    

Madison Avenue doesn’t even have to pay me.    

Part of my responsibility in Congress is to oversee both the USDA and the Food and Drug Administration.  Watch the process closely in Washington, particularly over labeling this product.  After all, it’s about what’s for dinner.  

Succession and estate planning webinars planned for farmers and ranchers

Two upcoming Nebraska Extension webinars will focus on helping farmers and ranchers to establish or improve their succession and estate plans.   

The first part will be presented on Feb. 25, noon—1 p.m., and focus on why farmers and ranchers do not like to plan, the risks of inaction and the importance of family communication. It will be led by Allan Vyhnalek, an extension educator for farm and ranch succession.

Part two will be March 4,  noon—1 p.m., and feature a discussion about specific tools that can be used in estate and succession planning. Vyhnalek will be joined by Brandon Dirkschneider, a certified farm transition specialist with Omaha-based Insurance Design Management.

The webinars will be presented as part of the Agricultural Economics Extension Farm and Ranch Management weekly series.

Registration is free at

Time is running out to order your conservation trees for spring planting

Trees help soften the harsh climate of the Great Plains, but extreme weather events are leaving areas of Nebraska at-risk of losing their tree canopy and the innumerable benefits trees provide.

According to the Nebraska Forest Service, communities lost an average of 18 percent of their tree canopy in the last two decades due to extreme weather events, diseases, and invasive insects.
“We have a proud history of planting trees in northeast Nebraska, but along with the planting of trees we must continue with annual care and maintenance and continue to renovate the areas that are falling behind,” said Todd Stewart, Natural Resources Technician, for the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD).

Stewart added, “Time is running out to order for this spring.  If you can have your orders submitted by March 8th, you’ll have the best chance of getting the species you’re looking for.  If you’re interested in a windbreak design or assistance with planning your renovation project, give us a call.”

Each year, Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) help communities and landowners plant more than 700,000 trees throughout the state.  Conservation trees benefit both people and animals. They shade and shelter homes, reduce soil erosion, protect crops and livestock, provide food and cover for wildlife, buffer noise, provide valuable products, and add beauty to the landscape.

For more information or to place an order, contact the LENRD or your local Natural Resources Conservation Service.  Orders must be received by March 8th to guarantee arrival in April.   Visit for more details.

Nebraska Tree Canopy in Decline, Planting More Important Than Ever

Trees help soften the harsh climate of the Great Plains, but recent weather events are leaving Nebraska communities at-risk of being devoid of trees and their innumerable benefits.

According to the Nebraska Forest Service, Nebraska communities lost an average of 18 percent of their tree canopy in the last two decades due to extreme weather events, diseases and invasive insects.

As a result of the 2012 wildfires, northwest Nebraska lost large sections of forests unique to the Pine Ridge District. Upper Niobrara White Natural Resources District (UNWNRD) is helping replant the ponderosa pine forests in the area. UNWNRD Director Scott Berndt has seen firsthand the benefits of tree planting.

“Nebraska has a proud history of planting trees, but we’ve fallen behind in maintaining our once-coveted designation,” Berndt said. “Trees are an investment in the future, and Nebraskans should revitalize their tree-planting spirit.”

Each year, Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) help communities and landowners plant more than 700,000 trees throughout the state. For approximately $1 each, conservation trees benefit both people and animals. They shade and shelter homes, reduce soil erosion, protect crops and livestock, provide food and cover for wildlife, buffer noise, provide valuable products and add beauty to the landscape.

Each NRD program varies, but possible tree program services include: planting, weed barrier installation or weed control, and drip irrigation. Order your trees now as NRDs will soon close tree orders for spring plantings. For more information or to place an order, contact your local NRD or visit and select “Find Your NRD.”

Learn more about the NRD Conservation Tree Program at  


One of the Area's premier indoor farm events, the TRIUMPH OF AGRICULTURE EXPOSITION will be held March 3-4, 2021, at the CHI Health Center - Omaha, 10th and Capitol Avenue, just off I-480.  The 55th Annual Farm and Ranch Machinery Show will once again be filled with the latest agricultural innovations, equipment and supplies with more than 500 displays for farmers, ranchers, and their wives to meet experts all on one level of over 100,000 square feet in the state-of-the-art CHI Health Center - Omaha.     Since 1967, the Triumph of Ag Expo has been regarded as one of the finest indoor farm shows. The 2021 Expo is your opportunity before spring planting to save time and money, improve operations, yields, safety, efficiency and find the latest solutions. In this challenging industry, the Annual Omaha Show is convenient for farmers to attend with Free Admission, which it has offered for over 50 years.   


The Triumph of Agriculture Exposition established the Annual “Agri-Award” as part of Nebraska’s Centennial Celebration, in 1976 to recognize outstanding organizations and individuals that have contributed to the Agricultural Development in the Midwestern area. This year's winners are Ken Pohlman, Founder & CEO of Midwest Laboratories, and Don Bacon, US Congressman, will receive their awards at a Special Presentation at 12 Noon, during the Luncheon on Wednesday, March 3 at the CHI Health Center Omaha. For those interested in attending the Luncheon call 402-346-8003, $15.00 per person.

Ken Pohlman, Founder & CEO - Midwest Laboratories

Ken Pohlman’s laboratory career has spanned 58 years, (1962-2020).  Ken’s background in soil physics and agronomy led him early in his career to manage analytical testing labs. He gained tremendous knowledge in areas like soils, feeds, fertilizer, and plants. Ken’s experience in the lab and ag retail business prepared him for his ultimate venture of starting a new lab, A&L Midwest Labs in Omaha, NE in 1975. As the lab grew, it became apparent the location at 120th and Center was quickly going to be too small and in 1978 the decision was made to move to the 136th and B Street location. From here, Ken purchased the company from Midwest Labs and grew its current campus in 2020 to 14 buildings, from A Street to C Street. The company is currently in the process of moving to a new campus in Papillion.

Midwest Laboratories, under Ken’s direction, has grown and flourished. Soil sample volumes have grown exponentially over the years. In 2020, soil sample volumes hit an all-time record of 1,800,000 soil samples received. In addition, the company expanded into other industries including municipality drinking water/wastewater, pet food, food safety/microbiology and ethanol and has a total employee count of 218 employees.

Don Bacon - U.S. Congressman

Growing up and working on a farm in Illinois, Congressman Don Bacon learned first-hand how the value of hard work and commitment contributes to the success of a small business. He moved from the family farm to attend Northern Illinois University, from which he graduated with a Bachelors of Political Science in 1984, the same year he married Angie, the love of his life. They have three sons, one daughter, and six grandchildren. One year later, he began his military career by joining the U.S. Air Force and serving nearly 30 years, ultimately retiring as a Brigadier General. Rep. Don Bacon (NE-02) has been named as Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations. The subcommittee addresses policies and statutes relating to nutrition, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and domestic commodity distribution and consumer initiatives, as well as department agency oversight and special investigations.

“During this pandemic, more families are struggling to put food on the table as they suffer job losses and income reductions. I am looking forward to working on how we can best make nutrition and domestic food assistance programs more efficient and effective so families most in need will get the assistance these programs were intended to provide,” said Rep. Bacon.

"The Triumph of Ag Expo is always packed with lots of new improvements and helpful information" says Brent Pohlman from Midwest Laboratories. At no other time this spring will area Farm Operators be able to see this much farm equipment and technology on display.  The 2021 Expo is excited to have RFD TV coverage leading up to and during this year's Expo. New features for the first time include a designated area showcasing “Innovations in Farming."  "It's an excellent opportunity to see all types of Short-Line farm equipment, new products, labor and time saving ideas all under one roof," says Mike Mancuso, the Show's Producer.  "The Triumph of Ag Expo is the best place for farmers to find answers for what they do control while taking advantage of the new technologies with hands-on experience.  The show will continue to feature educational seminars, new technologies with the old reliable that are so popular in the industry."

The Expo has something for every kind of farm operation, including tillage equipment, planters, monitor and control systems, soil testing equipment, mowers, cattle chutes, augers, fertilizers, various seed hybrids, feeders, tanks and pumps, hay moving and handling equipment, plows, combines, computers and software, tractors, and many more agricultural products and services for today's farmers and ranchers.          

      If you are interested in agriculture and farming, this year’s Expo is the place to be on March 3-4, 2021. Exhibits are open 9 AM to 4 PM on Wednesday and 9 AM to 3 PM on Thursday.     In addition to all of the latest equipment, products, and services, see antique farm tractors and equipment, and enjoy special programs.  THE TRIUMPH OF AGRICULTURE EXPOSITION FARM & RANCH MACHINERY SHOW   is produced by Mid-America Expositions, Inc.

Smith and Biofuels Caucus Co-Chairs Introduce Legislation to Ensure Transparency in RFS Small Refinery Waiver Process

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) joined his fellow co-Chairs of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus, Representatives Angie Craig (D-MN), Dusty Johnson (R-SD), Cindy Axne (D-IA), Rodney Davis (R-IL), and Mark Pocan (D-WI), in introducing bipartisan legislation to ensure transparency and predictability to the Environmental Protection Agency’s small refinery exemption (SRE) process.

The Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act would require small refineries to submit a petition for a Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) hardship exemption by June 1st of each year, allowing EPA to properly account for exempted gallons in the annual Renewable Volume Obligations set each November. The bill would also increase transparency by mandating the public disclosure of data surrounding SREs – a process that has previously been carried out behind closed doors with little to no congressional oversight.

“Now, more than ever, transparency in fuel markets is vital for our farmers and biofuels producers,” said Representative Adrian Smith. “The Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act will ensure all parties can make production decisions knowing they can rely on EPA to fairly and evenly enforce the RFS.”

By law, the RFS requires that the EPA make adjustments when determining future biofuels targets to account for waivers to ensure that the overall biofuels targets are not reduced by waivers. However, in recent years, the agency has not accounted for these waivers, which has undercut the demand for biofuels. And under the Trump Administration, the EPA greatly expanded the number of small refinery hardship biofuel waivers that were issued, including exemptions to Exxon Mobil and Chevron. By issuing 85 waivers under former Administrator Scott Pruitt, the EPA saved the oil industry hundreds of millions of dollars while threatening rural economies and harming the biofuels industry at large.

The bipartisan bill is supported by the National Corn Growers, Growth Energy, Fuels America, the Renewable Fuels Association, the National Biodiesel Board, the American Soybean Association, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and the National Farmers Union.

Growth Energy Applauds Introduction of Bipartisan RFS Integrity Act

Today, U.S. Representatives Angie Craig (D-Minn.) and Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) introduced the Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act to reduce the secrecy currently surrounding the small refinery exemption (SRE) process and bring more certainty into the renewable fuel marketplace. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor released the following statement in strong support of the legislation:

“We applaud the introduction of the RFS Integrity Act and the strong bipartisan effort to restore integrity and transparency to the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Skor. “The intent of the RFS is to blend more biofuels into our nation’s transportation fuel supply every year, not have oil companies use questionable tactics to delay and avoid their blending obligations, creating a tremendous amount of uncertainty for farmers, biofuels producers, and the entire fuel supply chain.

“Recent research has found that greenhouse gas emissions from corn ethanol are 46 percent lower than gasoline. As science on biofuels continues to update and highlight the increasing environmental benefits of ethanol over gasoline, it’s critical we restore the RFS to its original intent and harness the power of biofuels to immediately address climate change concerns and decarbonize our transportation fleet. We are grateful to Rep. Craig and Rep. Johnson for their continued leadership on this issue.”

Currently, EPA does not impose a clear deadline for submitting a request for an SRE. If enacted, the RFS Integrity Act would set an annual deadline of June 1st for refineries to submit SRE petitions and bring greater transparency to SREs by no longer excluding from public disclosure the refinery’s name, the number of exempted gallons requested, and the compliance year requested.

ACE Endorses the Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act

Representative Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Representative Angie Craig (D-Minn) led Co-Chairs of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus in introducing the Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act, legislation that addresses the timing and transparency issues associated with the small refinery exemption (SRE) program under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings issued the following statement in support:

“ACE thanks Representatives Johnson and Craig for leading the reintroduction of this bipartisan legislation to ensure the statutory volumes of the Renewable Fuel Standard are enforced by restoring transparency and integrity to EPA’s handling of small refinery exemptions. This legislation is necessary because under President Trump, EPA brazenly granted nearly 90 waivers for small refineries, erasing over 4 billion gallons from the RFS volumes established by Congress. As of today, 66 additional refinery waivers are pending.”

Growth Energy Rejects Attempt by Oil to Forgo Blending Obligations

Growth Energy submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to the petitions from refiners and oil states to waive renewable fuel blending obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for the 2019 and 2020 compliance years.

The petitioners claim that the alleged negative economic impacts caused by COVID-19, the Tenth Circuit’s small refinery exemption (SRE) decision last year, and, in their view, the high cost of RINs, entitle refiners to a waiver of their obligations because compliance with the RFS would cause “severe economic harm.”  

As Growth Energy notes in its comment response, these refiners and oil states claims run counter to how the RFS is supposed to work and are far from meeting the narrow conditions under which such waivers have been and should be granted.   

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor stated that “many industries, including the biofuels industry, are suffering from the drop in transportation fuel demand brought on by the pandemic. The petitioners’ misguided and misleading attempt to frame the severe economic harm waiver in terms that would selectively and unfairly benefit the oil industry at the expense of America’s biofuels and agriculture producers should be roundly and swiftly rejected by the EPA.”

Johnsonville Rolling Out New Ground Sausage Flavors

(from National Pork Board newsletter)

Starting this month, Johnsonville is rolling out three new flavors of seasoned ground sausage nationwide. The flavors include Sloppy Joe, Original Taco and Salt & Pepper. Pork Board shared insights with Johnsonville about the growing demand of ground pork, leading to the development of the Salt & Pepper product to capitalize on the category’s growing popularity. The most recent IRI data on retail meat sales, available through Checkoff-funded subscription, shows ground pork sales for the four-week period ending January 24 grew nearly 9% compared to the same period last year.

Albertson’s, Safeway, Hy-Vee, Target and Cub Foods are all carrying the new flavors.

Ground Pork Recipe Labels Debut in Arizona  

The Pork Board is partnering with Bashas’ — a 130-store retailer in Arizona and New Mexico — to apply recipe labels to their ground pork packages. The labels provide customers with recipe ideas, including “Meals in 25 Minutes or Less” and “Easy Appetizers.” A QR code also sends users to a collection of ground pork recipes on Yummly.

The new relationship with Bashas' is in collaboration with JBS® Pork and provides shoppers with more reasons to buy pork at a time when they are showing increased interest in ground pork and looking for meal inspiration.

Science Shows Soy Good for Health in USA & Abroad

Today’s release of the U.S. government’s 'Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025’ reaffirms the role of U.S. soy in human diets. As a globally-respected, science-based reference, the report recognizes soy in core elements of healthy dietary patterns.

ASA’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) Program offers training on these health benefits with entrepreneurs and organizations in emerging and developing countries that produce nutritious foods and feeds containing soy that contribute to improved health and economic opportunities. WISHH connects trade and development across global market systems, improving food security.

The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services issued the 164-page report. It stresses, “The foods and beverages that people consume have a profound impact on their health.” The Dietary Guidelines is designed for policymakers and nutrition and health professionals to help all individuals and their families consume a healthy, nutritionally adequate diet. This edition of the Dietary Guidelines highlights the importance of encouraging healthy dietary patterns at every life stage from infancy through older adulthood.

Soy’s potential to contribute to a healthy dietary pattern includes:
• Protein foods, including lean meats, poultry, and eggs; seafood; beans, peas, and lentils; and nuts, seeds, and soy products
• Soy-fortified beverages and yogurts
• Oils, including vegetable oils

“When U.S. soybean growers founded WISHH 20 years ago, they recognized the important role that U.S. soy could take in meeting the nutritional needs of the world’s fastest-growing populations in developing and emerging economies,” says Kentucky soybean grower Gerry Hayden who serves as ASA/WISHH Chairman as well as on the ASA Board.

“WISHH is currently working with strategic partners in 20 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America who are making more protein available through soyfoods, breads, beverages as well as fish, eggs, and meat.”

Knowing that protein plays an essential role in human nutrition, visionary U.S. soybean growers founded WISHH in 2000 to serve as a catalyst in emerging markets. WISHH brings the power of strategic partnerships to our unique market-systems approach. Local business leaders, governmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as academic institutions join WISHH in increasing demand and fueling economic growth for the sustained availability of nutritious and affordable human foods and livestock feeds.


(NPPC Newsletter)

Late last week, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) extended its COVID-19 emergency declaration for Hours of Service (HOS) waivers for the transportation of livestock and livestock feed through May 31. HOS governs the amount of time commercial truckers can drive their loads and when they are required to rest between drives. The agency had previously extended the waivers through Feb. 28. NPPC thanks the administration and FMCSA for ensuring the continuity of the U.S pork supply chain as an essential element of the nation’s food delivery infrastructure.  

On Monday, the World Trade Organization (WTO) formally approved former Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as its next director general. Her term will start on March 1 and is set to run through Aug. 31, 2025. Last fall, Okonjo-Iweala emerged as the consensus choice to lead the WTO for all but one member—the United States—which backed South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee. That led to a stalemate that essentially halted any WTO actions, until earlier this month when Myung-hee withdrew her nomination. The U.S Trade Representative’s office recently issued a statement, expressing “strong support” for Okonjo-Iweala.

Commodity Classic Extends Invitation to USDA Secretary-Nominee Vilsack To Provide Keynote During 2021 Digital Event

With his pending return to the position of U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack may also be returning to Commodity Classic as the keynote speaker during one of its 2021 General Sessions.

Commodity Classic has extended an official invitation to Secretary-nominee Vilsack to speak with attendees during the 2021 Special Edition of Commodity Classic during the Closing General Session from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Central on Friday, March 5.

Vilsack has spoken at several Commodity Classic events over the years while he served with USDA under the Obama Administration.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s Commodity Classic is being delivered digitally online March 2-5, 2021.

Registration for the 2021 Special Edition is available at Thanks to the generous support of sponsors, the first 5,000 farmers who register can do so at no charge.  All other attendees can register for $20. Registration includes access to the entire week’s program as well as access to archived sessions through April 30, 2021.

The 2021 Special Edition schedule includes more than 50 educational sessions across 3-1/2 days, including executive roundtables, Learning Centers, What’s New Sessions, General Sessions and a number of ways to connect with agribusiness companies and other farmers from across the nation. A complete schedule of events is available at

Premier Sponsors of the 2021 Special Edition of Commodity Classic are AGCO, Bayer, Case IH, Corteva Agriscience, John Deere and the United Soybean Board/Soy Checkoff.

Champion Sponsors are BASF and Syngenta. Key Sponsors are Great Plains Manufacturing, Inc., Kubota, New Holland, Pioneer, Precision Planting and Valent U.S.A.

Cattle Producers Raise More Than 40K to Fight for the Opportunity to Vote on Beef Checkoff

On December 12, 2020, Fort Pierre Livestock Auction hosted a successful fund-raiser that generated more than $40,000 for the national Beef Checkoff Referendum Campaign. The money generated from the calf sale will be used to directly fund this campaign.

A market ready steer was donated by Vaughn and Lois Meyer of Reva, S.D., and Kenzy Backgrounding in Gregory, S.D. The value of the steer was further increased when U.S. Beef Producers in Ft. Pierre, S.D., donated the processing of the animal.

Vaughn Meyer serves as the R-CALF USA Checkoff Committee Chair and initiated this fundraising effort. “Funding events and donations are crucial in supporting the Checkoff petition drive to purchase materials and advertising for all the hard-working office and ground personnel that are sacrificing their own time and resources to assist beef producers with their first Checkoff vote in over 35 years,” said Meyer.

“Although the Beef Promotion Act allows periodic referendums, there has never been a referendum giving producers a say in their Checkoff,” he continued. “Voting is the ‘American way’ and if producers, especially young producers, want a voice in their program they have to secure a referendum consisting of over 10% (89,000) of their fellow producers. Unlike most American elections, this referendum obstacle must be overcome before any voting can take place.”

When asked why he stepped forward to host this fundraiser, Bryan Hanson, co-owner of Ft. Pierre Livestock Auction and former R-CALF USA president said, “The Checkoff program doesn’t differentiate it’s advertising program to U.S. product versus imported product. That is something I have been frustrated with for quite some time.

“The number two issue is the main contractor of the Checkoff is the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) that has fought us on several issues that would help independent producers be profitable,” Hanson continued. “They were instrumental in helping to lobby to get rid of Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (M-COOL) for beef rather than litigate the World Trade Organization (WTO); they are extremely forceful in fighting any attempt to reimplement M-COOL for beef; and they oppose 50/14 and that is something that is very important to put competition into this fed cattle industry.”

The 50/14 bill would require beef packers with more than one plant to purchase at least 50% of their cattle in the competitive cash market each day and require those cattle to be harvested within 14 days of purchase.

R-CALF USA Field Director Karina Jones added, “This rollover fundraiser was unique in the fact that we used our national checkoff committee to bring in donations from across the United States. The fact that we received donations from 16 different states; from California to Kentucky and North Dakota to Texas tells us how much support there is for this campaign.”

“It has been 35 years since American cattle producers were given the opportunity to vote on a Beef Checkoff Referendum,” said Jones adding, “The strong support for this fundraiser, which was organized in a short period of time, speaks volumes as to how strongly cattle producers want to vote again.”

It was a packed house at Fort Pierre Livestock and the energy could be felt. “Our Ft. Pierre rollover fundraiser was a huge success thanks to all the independent cattle producers, the numerous agricultural related main street businesses and the dedicated crew at Ft. Pierre Livestock Auction. I am especially grateful to our R-CALF USA staff and board of directors who have stepped up and undertaken this referendum challenge on behalf of all USA beef producers,” praised Meyer.

Hanson agreed, “I thought it was a pretty big statement that we could hold a rollover auction in Ft. Pierre and raise over $40,000. That shows to me that producers are pretty fired up about this issue.”

“The funds raised are being used to support and maintain the website, in addition to the costs incurred by a national producer mailing effort that has already placed the petition into the mailboxes of tens of thousands of cattle producers,” explained Jones.

Cattle producers are encouraged to sign the petition at to signal to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that the cattle industry desires to vote on a Beef Checkoff Referendum. Hardcopy petitions can be printed from the website for everyone to take around to their cattle producing neighbors to sign.

Anyone who would like to donate to support the Checkoff Petition Campaign or send in signed hardcopy petitions can send to Checkoff Vote, P.O. Box 30536, Billings, MT, 59107, or call 406-252-2516.

Tractor Supply Co. to Acquire Orscheln Farm & Home

Tractor Supply Company announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire Orscheln Farm and Home for approximately $297 million.

Orscheln Farm and Home operates 167 stores located in 11 states: Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Indiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Kentucky, Illinois and Ohio. The acquisition is conditioned on the receipt of regulatory approval and satisfactory completion of customary closing conditions.

"This is an exciting step for Tractor Supply as we expand our footprint in the Midwest with the high-quality assets of Orscheln Farm and Home. We have always had great respect for Barry Orscheln and the team at Orscheln Farm and Home for the strong connection they have with customers in the communities they serve, along with their industry knowledge and capabilities," said Hal Lawton, Tractor Supply's President and Chief Executive Officer.

Tractor Supply's preliminary estimates indicate the acquisition will be immediately accretive to earnings per share upon closing. Tractor Supply intends to fund the acquisition through existing cash on hand.

Thursday February 18 Ag News

 Processing Newborn Calves
Connor Biehler, NE Extension Educator, Saunders County

 Producers anticipate calving season by working relentlessly to make sure their herd is properly managed, healthy, fed, and vaccinated. Once a cow has calved ideally there is a healthy calf to tend to, and a new set of protocols are administered for raising that calf. Due to the broad scope of the U.S. beef industry, producers’ strategies after weaning may vary. But before that time comes, specific procedures need to be conducted to properly manage the calf through weaning and prepare them for the next stage of production.

Calving should be attempted to be conducted in a clean and dry environment, and out of the elements if possible. Calving in confinement has its advantages, but if the environment is muddy or dirty newborn calves can develop scours or respiratory issues. Once a newborn calf is dry it is important to make sure that they receive colostrum within the first 12 hours of birth to help administer antibodies that calves are born without and will build up their immune system.

Colostrum is a source of immunoglobins, energy, vitamins, and minerals that transfers immunities from the cow to the calf to help prevent illness. Maximum antibody exposure from colostrum is the greatest within the first four hours post-calving. Weak calves should be tube fed stored colostrum if they have not nursed within the first four hours. After 12 hours the offspring’s ability to absorb the immunoglobins in colostrum drastically decreases.  

Producers should work closely with their veterinarian to develop a herd health protocol tailored to their operation. Some protocols that should be administered in the first 24 hours include dipping the newborns navel in iodine, tagging, and weighing the calf. Dipping the navel as soon as possible after birth helps to prevent bacterial infections. Tagging works as a temporary and early identification system to easily determine the dam of a calf if pairs were to get separated. Weighing calves is important for purebred/seedstock producers to record EPDs. Cows should also be checked to see if they have cleaned up their afterbirth. If a cow retains her placenta, contact a veterinarian, or administer a long-acting antibiotic, but DO NOT try pulling it out. Pulling those membranes does more harm than good and can cause issues such as delayed heat cycles.

After 24 hours post-calving, calves should look perky and well fed. Calves will sleep a lot in the first week of life, but when they are up, observe for signs of weather stress, lethargy, or starvation. Remember to check calves more frequently in instances of severe weather. After 72 hours all pairs that are doing well should be moved from calving area to pasture. Keeping pairs on large, well-drained pastures reduces incidence of scours.

For more information on processing newborn calves reach me at my office (402)624-8007 or my cell (402)413-8557 or follow my twitter page @BigRedBeefTalk for more information on Nebraska Beef Extension. Wishing you all a safe and prosperous calving season!

Rural Mainstreet Economy Expands Again: Economic Outlook Soars to Highest Level since 2011

For the fourth time in the past five months, the Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) climbed above growth neutral. According to the monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy, the index increased to its highest level since January 2020.          

Overall: The overall index for February rose to 53.8 from January’s 52.0. The index ranges between 0 and 100 with a reading of 50.0 representing growth neutral.

“Sharp gains in grain prices, federal farm support, and the Federal Reserve’s record-low interest rates have underpinned the Rural Mainstreet Economy. Only 8% of bank CEOs indicated economic conditions worsened from the previous month. Even so, current rural economic activity remains below pre-pandemic levels,” said Ernie Goss, PhD, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business.  

Farming and ranching:
For a fifth straight month, the farmland price index advanced above growth neutral. The February reading climbed to 60.0, its highest level since May 2013, and up from 56.3 in January. This is first time since 2013 that Creighton’s survey has recorded five straight months of above growth-neutral farmland prices.

Bank CEOs estimated 2021 cash land rent for non-irrigated, non-pastureland at $218.  

The February farm equipment-sales index rose to 62.7, its highest reading since February 2013, and up from 54.5 in January. After 86 straight months of readings below growth neutral, farm equipment bounced into growth territory for the last three months.    

“As a result of the rapidly improving farm economy, bankers expect farm equipment sales to expand by 3.8% over the next 12 months. This is up significantly from October when bank CEOs estimated that farm equipment sales would fall by an additional 3.1% over the same period,” said Goss.  

Below are the state reports:

Nebraska: The Nebraska RMI for February expanded to 58.4 from January’s 55.6. The state’s farmland-price index climbed to 62.3 from last month’s 56.1. Nebraska’s new-hiring advanced to 55.2 from 45.4 in January. Over the past 12 months, Nebraska’s Rural Mainstreet economy has lost 2.4% of its nonfarm employment compared to a 2.2% loss for urban areas of the state.   

Iowa: The February RMI for Iowa increased to 54.0 from January’s 51.2. Iowa’s farmland-price index rose to 60.1 from 55.9 in January. Iowa’s new-hiring index for February advanced to 53.0 from 46.6 in January. Over the past 12 months, Iowa’s Rural Mainstreet economy has lost 4.1% of its nonfarm employment compared to a 4.2% loss for urban areas of the state.   

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

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


Declared essential by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security at the onset of the COVID pandemic, hog farmers, veterinarians, livestock haulers, harvest facility employees and other workers across the pork supply chain play a vital role in our nation’s food security and rural economies. Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced plans to deploy qualified personnel across several states to assist in the administration of the COVID vaccine. NPPC applauds the USDA for taking this special action. The following statement is attributable to NPPC President Howard “A.V.” Roth, a pork producer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin.

“The U.S. pork industry takes its role as an essential economic sector seriously and has made considerable investments to ensure the safety of its workers while maintaining its commitment to the nation’s food security. Of course, vaccination is the best defense against COVID-19 and we are grateful to the USDA for making personnel available to accelerate this national priority.”

Yesterday, NPPC launched a campaign, “You’re Essential, So It’s Essential,” to encourage U.S. pork industry workers to get vaccinated as soon as possible. For more information, visit

CattleFax Cow-Calf Survey Released

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

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

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

The survey can be accessed by going to, selecting the About tab at the top of the page, and then clicking on 2020 Cow-Calf Survey on the sidebar. The deadline to complete the survey is Feb. 22, 2021.

Grain Bin Safety Week is February 21-27

Grain Bin Safety Week is a collaborative effort with industry leaders and agricultural professionals to raise awareness about grain bin dangers and provide education and share best safety practices to reduce the number of preventable injuries and deaths associated with grain handling and storage.

         Suffocation is the leading cause of death in grain accidents.
         In four seconds, an adult can sink knee-deep in flowing grain and be rendered unable to free themselves without help.
         Nearly 400 grain entrapments have been recorded in the past 10 years. It’s estimated an additional 30% of cases go unreported.
         In 2019, there were 38 grain entrapment cases – a 27% increase over 2018 and a four-year high.
         70% of grain entrapments have occurred on farms vs. commercial facilities.
         Many of these incidents involve young people who often lack a good understanding of the potential dangers and proper safety procedures.

Sources: 2019 Summary of U.S. Agricultural Confined Space-Related Injuries and Fatalities and United Press International

Green Plains Announces Carbon Sequestration Partnership with Summit Carbon Solutions

Green Plains Inc. (NASDAQ:GPRE), today announced that three of its biorefineries have entered into a long term carbon offtake agreement with Summit Carbon Solutions (SCS), a subsidiary of Summit Agricultural Group. SCS today announced a carbon capture and sequestration project that will create the infrastructure to transport CO2 from Iowa to North Dakota for deposit into geologic storage. Capturing and storing carbon is widely viewed as a key technology for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and combatting climate change. With this announcement, the biorefineries attached to the pipeline can dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of their biofuels. In addition, Green Plains’ Ultra-High Protein, renewable corn oil and other sustainable products will become true low carbon ingredients for aquaculture, pet food, dairy and poultry companies and low carbon feedstocks for renewable diesel.

“The partnership with Summit Carbon Solutions aligns with our ongoing transformation to lead the way in sustainable biorefining,” said Todd Becker, president and chief executive officer of Green Plains. “The future is low carbon, and while we have already made enormous strides in improving the efficiencies and sustainability of our processes through Project 24 and Fluid Quip’s extensive IP suite, taking advantage of the advancements in carbon sequestration is the next logical step of our evolution.”

“By capturing and sequestering the carbon dioxide from our biorefineries, we are able to reduce our CI score by as much as 50%, comparable or lower than other low carbon fuels available in the market today, and position our renewable fuels for low carbon markets globally,” added Becker. “Based on current LCFS markets, we believe we can achieve a minimum of 15 cents per gallon margin uplift as well as potential for carbon credits, 45Q tax incentives and direct returns on our investment in the pipeline and SCS.”

Green Plains will initially connect the biorefineries at Fairmont, Minn., Fergus Falls, Minn. and Superior, Iowa, and have the option to expand to additional locations as the pipeline network grows. When completed, SCS is expected to have infrastructure capable of capturing and sequestering 10 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, the equivalent of removing over two million cars from the road each year.

“Combined with growth in sustainable Ultra-High Protein, clean sugar production and renewable corn oil, carbon capture and sequestration will usher in a new era for our biorefinery products,” added Becker. “We believe this puts ethanol on a path toward achieving carbon neutrality. Collaborating with SCS on this project will help to address the urgent global need for decarbonization, while contributing to the infrastructure necessary to launch full scale carbon capture and sequestration for biorefineries across the Midwest.”

Green Plains will make an initial investment in Summit Carbon Solutions to help fund the development of the project, and expects the pipeline to begin operation in late 2024.

Summit Agricultural Group Announces Creation of Summit Carbon Solutions and World’s Largest Carbon Capture and Storage Project

Today, Summit Agricultural Group announces the creation of Summit Carbon Solutions, a new business platform that will address the global challenge of decarbonization by developing the world’s largest carbon capture and storage project.  In doing so, Summit Carbon Solutions will accelerate the transition toward sustainable, renewable energy by dramatically lowering the carbon footprint of biorefineries and other carbon dioxide emission sources throughout the Midwestern region of the United States.

When fully developed, Summit Carbon Solutions will have an infrastructure network capable of capturing and permanently storing more than 10 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, which is equivalent to taking 2 million cars off the road per year.  In addition to the project’s positive environmental impact, it will enhance the economic sustainability of the biofuels and agriculture industries, while providing tremendous benefits to communities across the Midwest in the form of significant private investment and job creation.  Expected to be operational in 2024, Summit Carbon Solutions will be the largest carbon capture and storage project in the world.

Summit Carbon Solutions has partnered with a select group of leading biorefiners located in Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota to execute the first phase of the project, which will put them on the path of ultimately delivering a net-zero-carbon fuel.  In addition to biorefiners, Summit Carbon Solutions will partner with other industries throughout the Midwest that have carbon reduction goals to help them capture and store their carbon emissions.

“This is a giant leap forward for the biofuels industry,” said Bruce Rastetter, CEO of Summit Agricultural Group. “Carbon capture and storage is a future-focused solution that allows the biorefiners to lower their already attractive carbon footprint by up to 50 percent.”

“Simply put, this will be the most impactful development for the biofuels industry and Midwestern agriculture in decades,” Rastetter added. “We are grateful for our partnership with a significant group of forward-thinking biorefiners who have agreed to partner with us on this exciting new venture.”

Summit Carbon Solutions is proceeding with initial engineering, design and permitting associated with the project, which will permanently store carbon dioxide in underground saline geologic formations.

“Summit Carbon Solutions is a truly transformational project,” said Summit Ag Investors President Justin Kirchhoff. “This opportunity helps satisfy the urgent global need to decarbonize and meets the ever-growing demand for low carbon fuels by collaborating with leading biorefineries to capture and store carbon on a scale not yet achieved anywhere in the world.”

New CCS Venture Puts Ethanol on Path to Net-Zero Emissions

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings issued the following statement after the announcement of a new carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) project called Summit Carbon Solutions:

“ACE welcomes the announcement of this ambitious and important project which recognizes the incredible potential ethanol holds to help achieve net-zero carbon emissions in the U.S. by capturing the CO2 from corn ethanol fermentation and transporting it via pipeline to a final carbon sequestration site.    Given improvements occurring in corn farming and within ethanol facilities, corn ethanol’s carbon intensity (CI) continues to drop, and this project would harness the added benefit of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) which puts ethanol on a path to attain net-zero emissions.

“ACE looks forward to supporting our members who participate in this endeavor to increase the value of their ethanol by improving their carbon footprint, supporting their rural communities, and helping the nation reach net-zero carbon emissions by midcentury.”

Weekly Ethanol Production for 2/12/2021

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending February 12, ethanol production slowed by 2.8%, or 26,000 barrels per day (b/d), to a 20-week low of 911,000 b/d—equivalent to 38.26 million gallons daily. Production remained 12.4% below the same week last year. The four-week average ethanol production rate decreased 1.0% to 929,000 b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 14.24 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks scaled 2.1% higher to 24.3 million barrels, which was 2.0% below a year-ago. Inventories built across all regions except the Rocky Mountains (PADD 4) and West Coast (PADD 5).

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, jumped 7.0% to 8.41 million b/d (128.88 bg annualized). Gasoline demand was 5.7% less than a year ago.

Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol rose 0.5% to 789,000 b/d, equivalent to 12.10 bg annualized. This was 11.9% below the year-earlier level as a result of the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were zero imports of ethanol recorded for the week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of December 2020.)

NBB Calls RFS Waiver Requests Unnecessary, Unjustified

Today, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) filed comments on requests from refiners, several state governors, and an environmental organization that the Environmental Protection Agency waive 2019 and 2020 Renewable Fuel Standard volumes. Nothing the parties have described in their petitions meets the criteria EPA has established for granting a general waiver of RFS volumes, NBB writes.

Kurt Kovarik, NBB's Vice President of Federal Affairs, states, "It's unclear why EPA – in the final days before the transition to a new administration – invited public comment on these meritless waiver requests. None of the petitions provides the required evidence that the RFS itself is causing economic or environmental harm. In fact, the requests point to the continuing coronavirus emergency as the cause of economic harm, rather than the RFS.

"The argument that the RFS general waiver provision should be twisted to allow specific fossil fuel interests to skirt the program requirements is particularly absurd. It is simply a ploy to continue destroying demand for advanced biofuels like biodiesel, similar to unwarranted small refinery exemptions.

"Biodiesel and renewable diesel production generates economic opportunity for communities across the country. Moreover, cleaner, better fuels provide carbon and criteria pollutant reductions that benefit everyone. The petitions discount the economic harm that small biodiesel producers experience when the RFS program is delayed and destabilized. EPA should reject the petitions."

The U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel industry supports 65,000 U.S. jobs and more than $17 billion in economic activity each year. Every 100 million gallons of production supports 3,200 jobs and $780 million in economic opportunity. Biodiesel production supports approximately 13 percent of the value of each U.S. bushel of soybeans.

RFA: RFS General Waiver Requests are Unjustified and Illegal

The Renewable Fuels Association today filed comments with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in response to earlier requests from oil refiners and the governors of six oil-producing states seeking a general waiver from 2019 and 2020 renewable volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

“These waiver requests, which were rushed out the door by EPA one day before President Joe Biden was sworn in, never should have seen the light of day,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “They do not satisfy any of the criteria established by the statute and they do not comply with past EPA guidance. Continuing this charade now shows a clear misunderstanding of the statutory waiver provisions and demonstrates a complete lack of knowledge regarding how the RFS actually works. The governors themselves acknowledge that the real source of economic harm experienced by refiners in 2020 was COVID-19, not the RFS. That admission alone should immediately disqualify these requests from any further consideration.”

In his comments, Cooper laid out several reasons why EPA must reject the waiver requests, including the following:
-    The harm experienced by refineries in 2020 was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, not the Renewable Fuel Standard itself. EPA requires petitioners seeking a general waiver to show that the RFS caused severe harm to the economy of a state, region, or the United States.
-    The request by a group of small refiners that they alone be excepted from RFS requirements is clearly contrary to the law, which states that any waiver be national in scope.
-    A waiver would have no impact on renewable fuel volumes or transportation fuel prices during the compliance years for which it was requested, since they are in the past. A substantial inventory of renewable identification numbers (RINs) was carried over into 2019 and 2020 that would be available to small refineries and other obligated parties to use for compliance.
-    Academic research and the EPA’s own statements establish that refiners pass along the cost of RINs via the price they charge for fuels in the wholesale market.
-    The petitioners did not provide any economic analysis substantiating the need for a waiver, as explicitly required by the EPA’s 2008 guidance on future requests for waivers.

“It’s time for refiners to stop playing games and deal with the reality that the Renewable Fuel Standard is the law of the land—and has been so for 15 years now,” Cooper said. “The RFS promotes energy security, boosts the rural economy, and has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by almost 1 billion tons just since 2008. We are confident that the new administration will implement the RFS as intended by Congress and finally put an end to the refiners’ efforts to skirt their renewable fuel obligations.”

ACE Urges EPA to Ditch Unwarranted RFS Waiver Petitions

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) request for comments on petitions received for a waiver for refiners from their blending obligations under the 2019 and 2020 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). EPA is not proposing to grant any of the waiver petitions but is rather seeking comment to “inform future decision-making.”

In ACE’s comments, CEO Brian Jennings highlighted the lack of merit behind the petitions from refiners, oil-state governors, and the National Wildlife Federation to waive the RFS and detailed how these requests fail to satisfy the statutory evidentiary requirements and precedent from 2008 and 2012 which require EPA to determine that the RFS itself must be proven to be the cause of “severe economic harm” to justify a waiver, not outside factors such as the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, the primary argument made by the parties.

Jennings noted, “the pandemic-related shutdowns caused comparable economic harm to ethanol producers and virtually every other sector of the U.S. economy,” and further described the devastating impacts on the ethanol industry, mentioning ACE’s April 3 letter outlining three immediate steps EPA could have taken under the Trump administration to help curb the economic losses but ultimately did nothing.

ACE detailed the following topics in its comments to help inform future EPA decision-making regarding the RFS:

    Existing precedent regarding the “severe economic harm” criteria in the general wavier authority compels EPA to reject recent waiver petitions because COVID-19 is the latest cause of economic harm.
    RIN prices are not the cause of severe economic harm to these refineries and cannot be used as any justification to trigger the general waiver provision of the RFS.
    Prior abuse of small refinery exemptions undermines arguments for general waivers.
    The RFS reduces greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants, and EPA should replace its wildly outdated corn ethanol lifecycle analysis with the latest GREET model assumptions.

NMPF Statement on Proposed Immigration Reform Legislation

In response to the immigration bill introduced today in Congress, NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern offered the following statement:
“As a leader in agricultural labor reform efforts, NMPF knows all too well that immigration policy is one of the most controversial and difficult issues to solve. We applaud President Biden, Representative Sanchez, and Senator Menendez for stepping up and leading with the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, making clear that immigration legislation is a significant, immediate priority. Still, reforms to our immigration system must include changes crucial for the dairy workforce. These include extending to current workers and their families the legal protections they have earned and enabling dairy farmers to use a guest worker program to supplement their domestic workforce when needed.
“NMPF looks forward to continuing to work with our policy champions in Congress in a bipartisan manner, as well as the administration, to get ag labor reform across the finish line and secure the stable, legal workforce dairy needs to continue producing affordable nutritious food to feed our country and our world.”

Study Shows Grain Exports Support $64.5 Billion In Economic Output, 295,000 Jobs

Access to international markets for U.S. grain supported an additional $41.8 billion in business sales during 2018 over and above the value of the grain sold, according to a study commissioned by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) - highlighting the importance of new market access and robust market development for the profitability of U.S. grain farmers.

The study - the fourth in a series conducted by Informa Economics/IHS Markit - pegged the direct value of U.S. corn, sorghum, barley, the grain components of ethanol, distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and certain meat products at $22.7 billion, for a total economic output of $64.5 billion in 2018.

This analysis and that preceding it based on 2014, 2015 and 2016 sales help make the case for trade as a top priority for U.S. agriculture and the new administration's outreach to the global community.

"Exports are a driver for our economy in general, but nowhere is that more important than in agriculture," said Ryan LeGrand, president and CEO of the Council, which works in more than 50 countries to build export markets for U.S. grains and grain products.

"We know that demand today from our overseas customers helps support price and basis for farmers throughout the United States. Demand tomorrow will come from the growing populations in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Putting a dollar figure to the impact that demand has here at home just highlights how important it is to keep working with our customers around the world."

The study showed in detail the importance of grains exports to the U.S. economy and jobs. It determined the export of grain products supported U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by $27 billion over what would have occurred without such exports, with roughly 295,000 jobs linked directly or indirectly to grain exports.

“This look at the economic contributions provided by each U.S. state and 52 Congressional districts will allow NCGA and our corn grower members to effectively demonstrate to lawmakers the need for policies that support U.S. agriculture’s competitiveness around the world,” said NCGA CEO Jon Doggett.

U.S. food and agriculture support up to 20 percent of all U.S. economic activity, making the industry one of the country's most important. The grain industry data show the positive impacts of grain exports extend well beyond the farm gate into wholesale trade, real estate, oil and natural gas extraction and pesticide and chemical manufacturing as well as local hospitals and restaurants supported by dollars that start with agricultural producers.

"Grains exports are a way to bring the wealth of the world home to U.S. farmers' local communities," LeGrand said. "We often tell our farmer members that the world is their market, and this study goes a long way to proving that.”

Telling the story of trade’s impact on the farm sector and the wider economy is a critical part of gaining support for trade policy enforcement and development as well as engagement with overseas customers.

“Agriculture trade is a great story for the American farmer. We’re optimistic about the many opportunities to expand our trading relationships before us today that will continue to enable U.S. agriculture to be a vital part of the U.S. economy,” Doggett said.    

Helena Readies Production of Empyros Corn Herbicides

Corn weed control gets a fresh take this season as production starts on three Empyros™ corn herbicides from Helena Agri-Enterprises, LLC. Empyros, Empyros Triad and Empyros Triad Flex recently received federal registration from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These groundbreaking pre- and early post-emergence herbicides provide excellent control of broadleaf weeds and grasses with novel combinations of the newest HPPD inhibitor to hit the U.S. corn market.

Empyros corn herbicides are built on tolpyralate, or what Mark Wayland, Manager of Herbicide Brands at Helena, calls a “backbone chemistry.” It’s combined with industry-standard herbicides, s-metolachlor and atrazine, to create exclusive two- and three-way pre-mixes. Together, these highly complementary active ingredients broaden the weed control spectrum and offer more versatility across geographies and planting conditions.

“When we talk to customers about what they want in a new herbicide, they often tell us flexibility, and that’s what we’re providing with the Empyros family,” says Wayland. “Each formulation is tailored for different needs across the country, and with long application windows, they can be applied on your schedule.”

Empyros is a pre-mix of tolpyralate and s-metolachlor, while Empyros Triad and Empyros Triad Flex add atrazine to the mix. Three years of research show Empyros herbicides rival and often exceed the performance of market-leading two-, three- and even four-way corn herbicide pre-mixes. With the introduction of tolpyralate, Empyros herbicides take a different approach to weed control with selectivity that provides strengths lacking in other corn herbicides.  

“Tolpyralate is very strong from a post-emergence perspective, so along with activity on pigweeds, ragweeds and other common broadleaf weeds, we’re also able to get really good grass control that you don’t see with some of the other HPPD herbicides currently in the market,” says Dr. Michael Cox, Crop Protection Specialist for Research and Development at Helena. “When we couple that with a residual herbicide, we get a really complete product that gives a nice punch from one formulation.”

Empyros, Empyros Triad and Empyros Triad Flex will be available for the 2021 growing season, pending approval by state regulatory agencies. Customers are encouraged to contact their Helena representative or an authorized Empyros dealer to secure their orders now. Empyros herbicides are labeled for use in pre- and early post-emergence applications in corn.

Wednesday February 17 Ag News

Applications open for one-of-a-kind feedyard management internship

The Timmerman Feedyard Management Internship is a nationally renowned feedyard management training program, exclusive to the University of Nebraska­­–Lincoln, which has been producing feedyard management and industry leaders since 1988.  

Designed for students interested in pursuing a career in beef feedyard management or other related agribusiness areas, the program trains students through comprehensive feedyard and personnel management classes and with real-world experiences in established Midwest feedyards.

“We’ve had students from 20 states, and we’ve worked with 50 feedyards and numerous interns who have completed the program in the past 30 years,” said Galen Erickson, Nebraska Cattle Industry Professor of Animal Science, and UNL feedyard extension specialist.

“This is the perfect way for students to get into agriculture, get your foot in the door to learn skills so you can continue at the feedyard you intern at or take them somewhere else.”  

As the only internship program in the nation designed specifically to develop business and experiential skills necessary for the feedyard, interns who come to Nebraska will have a unique seven-month experience. The tri-segment program begins in late May with six weeks of class discussions and industry field trips.  

From July through December, interns are assigned to a Nebraska feedyard, which is tailored to their specific goals and interests. Once placed at a feedyard, interns will have the opportunity to experience each facet of the business - from animal health, economics, waste management, working with rations at the feed mill, personnel management and bookwork.  

Finally, students will return to campus in December for two weeks to review their experiences at feedyards and learn from the experiences of other students in the program.

“After the internship I’ve agreed to continue working at Brothers Feedlot in Spalding, Neb., where I am now, and continue working in the industry,” said Melissa Losby, Timmerman Feedyard Management Intern.

“Even if I wouldn’t continue at the feedyard, I think this would have been a super valuable experience. I’ve learned a lot of skills that I think can transfer to a lot of different areas in agriculture.”  

The program works to fill the growing need of trained, responsible individuals who can enter into management positions in feedyards. That’s why the program opened its doors to accept students from two-year institutions for the first time, such as from the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture.  

Terry Klopfenstein, Emeritus professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, pioneered the Timmerman Feedyard Management Internship, and has mentored hundreds of graduate students in his 47-year career at Nebraska.

“The need for young people in agriculture is great, Klopfenstein said. “We really need an employee that can work into management. We know the demand is there. Our job at Nebraska is to produce the supply.”

Timmerman Feedyard Management Internship applications close March. 1. For more information, visit  


– Brad Schick, NE Extension Educator

Last week we looked at ADF and NDF and how it is used to measure a hay sample’s fiber content which affects digestibility and forage intake which help predict animal performance. Today, we will look at Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN).

Often, the terms TDN and energy are used interchangeably when discussing forages and feeds, but realistically TDN is only one measurement of energy.

TDN is a combination of digestible fiber, lipids, soluble carbohydrates, and proteins. Acid detergent fiber or ADF is usually the least digestible part of the forage and is used to calculate TDN. The assumption is that the lower the ADF, the higher energy the forage. Knowing TDN is useful especially for diets that are primarily forage. TDN is one of the most important values to know from our hay test. In cases involving brood cows, TDN is often overlooked. Without consideration, diets may be lacking energy as much or more than crude protein because protein often receives more focus from producers.

Values for TDN vary with forage type and maturity. For example, alfalfa can range from 60 to 70% TDN with cool-season grasses having 55 to 68% TDN, and warm-season grasses with lower TDN values of 45 to 65%.

Understanding energy is important for the health and nutrition of livestock. Use TDN to calculate forage energy availability and meet animal needs.

Online beekeeping class set for March

Nebraskans interested in learning about the role and importance of bees are invited to a beekeeping workshop hosted by the Center for Rural Affairs. This free event will be offered in English and Spanish.

“Explore Beekeeping” will occur online, on Wednesday, March 10, from 6 to 8 p.m.

“Beekeeping is a rewarding hobby with business opportunities,” said Kirstin Bailey, Center for Rural Affairs senior project associate. “It offers you a chance to connect with a large community and you can engage your family. Beekeeping is a physical and intellectual activity that strengthens your connections to nature, and furthers your understanding of natural systems.”

Attendees will learn about bee biology, how the hive functions as a system, start-up costs, and the process of getting started.

Registration is required by March 10; visit For more information, contact Bailey at 402.367.8989 or

ACT NOW! Tell EPA We Need Atrazine!

Call to action from NE Farm Bureau

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking comment on draft Endangered Species Act biological evaluations relative to the potential effects of atrazine on threatened or endangered (listed) species and their designated critical habitats.

Atrazine is an important tool for weed mitigation in several crops, including corn and sorghum. The use of atrazine, especially in corn and sorghum production enables added environmental benefits for farmers seeking to utilize conservation tillage and no-till practices that conserve soil, preserve and increase nutrients, improve water quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Without atrazine, many farmers would not be able to utilize these methods, which result in positive environmental outcomes.

The methodology used in EPA’s draft biological evaluation led to inaccuracies such as determining atrazine was likely to adversely affect already extinct species. EPA should ensure the process used to make these determinations is transparent and based on the best available science. How the EPA responds to these findings based on this biological evaluation methodology will have a broad impact on the future availability of atrazine and other active ingredients equally important to the agriculture industry.

Submit your comments to the EPA now advocating for the continued use of atrazine in crop production here... Comments due Feb. 19 by midnight.  

DAP, Urea Prices Surge 21% Over Last Month as Fertilizer Prices Spike

Retail fertilizer prices continued to climb sharply higher the second week of February 2021, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.  For the second week in a row, all eight of the major fertilizers' prices were higher by a significant amount, which DTN designates as 5% or more.

DAP and urea led the way higher. Both fertilizers were a staggering 21% more expensive compared to last month. DAP had an average price of $588 per ton, up $102, while urea was at $453/ton, up $80.

MAP was 17% more expensive, looking back to the prior month. The phosphorus fertilizer had an average price of $642/ton, up $91.  Behind MAP, was UAN28 and UAN32, which were both 16% more expensive, looking back to last month. UAN28 had an average price of $243/ton, up $33, and UAN32 $285/ton, up $38.

Anhydrous was up 10% compared to last month. The nitrogen fertilizer has an average price of $524/ton, up $50.  Starter fertilizer, 10-34-0, was up 9% looking back to last month. The average price for 10-34-0 was $512/ton, up $43.  And, finally, potash was up 7% compared to the prior month. Potash had an average price of $398/ton, up $25.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.49/lb.N, up 2 cents from last month; anhydrous $0.32/lb.N, up 1 cent; UAN28 $0.43/lb.N, unchanged; and UAN32 $0.45/lb.N, up 3 cents.

Both UAN28 and UAN32 are now 3% more expensive, both potash and anhydrous are 7% higher, 10-34-0 is 11% more expensive, urea is 25% more expensive, DAP is 42% higher and MAP is 48% more expensive compared to last year.

Soy Farmers Seek to Protect Phosphate Choices

The American Soybean Association (ASA) has filed joint comments to the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) regarding a petition by the Mosaic Company to enforce countervailing duties on Russian and Moroccan imports of phosphate fertilizer.

Kevin Scott, ASA president and soybean farmer from Valley Springs, South Dakota, said, “We believe countervailing duties on these imports will have a negative impact on the availability of phosphate fertilizer in the United States and, in turn, adversely affect crop production and farmer livelihoods.”

Phosphorus is one of several main macronutrients necessary for plant growth and is vital to crop production. Adequate levels of phosphorus in the soil benefit early season root development and help provide the energy crops need to maximize growth and production. Phosphate fertilizers are widely used by soybean, corn, cotton and other crop producers throughout the United States.

Mosaic’s petition in support of countervailing duties is not in the best interest of a healthy U.S. agriculture marketplace, jeopardizing domestic availability of phosphate fertilizer and reducing the competition and choices available to farmers.

ASA joined National Corn Growers Association and National Cotton Council of America in filing the comments to USITC Feb. 17.

United Soybean Board Leaders Meet Virtually to Set 2022 Investment Directions

The 78 farmer-directors serving on the United Soybean Board met virtually today to define strategies and goals to strengthen soy’s position in the U.S. and global marketplaces for the checkoff’s next year of investments related to soybean meal, oil and sustainability.

“We all look forward to meeting in person hopefully in the coming months once conditions merit doing it safely,” said Dan Farney, USB Chair and soybean farmer from Morton, Illinois. “Until then, the Executive Committee and directors will continue our roles as stewards of the soybean checkoff program, meeting virtually to make decisions committed to research, promotion and education that serve to benefit the more than 515,000 U.S. soybean farmers.”

USB’s financial stewardship and program development responsibilities include investing in projects to promote the sustainability of U.S. soy as a market differentiator domestically and to build new markets abroad. In addition, the soy checkoff funds education to enhance end-user awareness of soy products as well as research to strengthen the resilience of soybean production, improve meal quality and develop new uses for soybean oil.

Early highlights for fiscal year 2021 investments to date for meal, oil and sustainability included:
    Meal: Market promotion efforts conducted by the soybean industry’s international market-building organizations have all successfully transitioned to a virtual format with record audiences in attendance. Nutrition research continues to create opportunities for soy, including product differentiation in the marketplace around factors such as meal quality (amino acids and energy) with key partners.
    Oil: Opportunities continue to expand for soybean oil. High oleic variety planting contract opportunities continue to increase to meet demand for refined high oleic oils by end users in the food sector. Innovations for industrial uses include motor oil and asphalt.  
    Sustainability: Supply partnerships and education initiatives advance in collaboration with regional soybean research boards and extension education efforts. USB’s partnerships are well-positioned to increase understanding and adoption of sustainable soil practices, ultimately leading to carbon neutrality and consumer benefits.

Prior to the meeting, as part of the soy checkoff’s Value Creation Framework process, USB farmer-leaders convened with their assigned Target Area Work Groups. The groups discussed insights and context to inform the strategic approach to accomplish the checkoff’s objectives in FY22. Direction from the work groups defines the areas of greatest importance to guide future investments.

“Farmer-leaders determine investments to positively impact key audiences related to supply, marketplace and demand,” said USB Strategic Management Committee Chair Jim Carroll III and soybean farmer from Brinkley, Arkansas. “In the months ahead, we look forward to reviewing a variety of project proposals that increase the preference for U.S. soy but also bring value to our farmers’ bottom line.”

Nearly 500 proposals were submitted across the three target areas to achieve checkoff objectives in research, education and promotion. The shared goal of all selected proposals is to strengthen U.S. soy’s reputation and competitive advantage when it comes to nutrition, quality and sustainability.

Between now and USB’s next meeting in July, checkoff farmer-leaders will review proposals in detail to determine strategic fit ahead of making their final FY22 project portfolio recommendations.

AMS Announces New Dealer Statutory Trust to Protect Livestock Sellers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) today announced a new Dealer Statutory Trust to Protect Livestock Sellers. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, signed on December 27, 2020, amended the Packers and Stockyards (P&S) Act by adding Section 318 to establish a “Dealer Statutory Trust” for the benefit of unpaid cash sellers of livestock.

“USDA supports transparency in pricing throughout the supply chain to ensure farmers and livestock producers are getting a fair price, and we look forward to working with Congress and the federal family to improve price discovery and protect against unfair treatment,” said Robert Bonnie, USDA Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy.

Much like the existing packer and poultry trusts, the amendment requires livestock dealers to hold all livestock purchased, and if livestock has been resold, the receivables or proceeds from such sale, in trust for the benefit of all unpaid cash sellers of livestock until full payment has been received by those sellers. Dealers whose average annual livestock purchases do not exceed $100,000 are exempt.

Livestock sellers who do not receive timely payment from a dealer may file claims on the dealer statutory trust. To be valid, trust claims must be filed within 30 days of the final date for making payment, or within 15 business days after the seller receives notice of a dishonored payment. Dealers who receive a trust claim notice are required to give notice within 15 days to anyone holding a lien on the livestock held in the trust.

Costa Applauds Announcement of New Dealer Statutory Trust to Protect Livestock Sellers

Today, following a release from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman Jim Costa of California applauded the agency’s move to protect unpaid livestock sellers through a Dealer Statutory Trust:

“I am pleased that USDA has taken the necessary steps to put these protections in place for the benefit of livestock sellers throughout our country. I co-led bipartisan bills to establish this trust in the 115th and 116th Congresses, and I look forward to working with the experts at USDA to ensure farmers and ranchers are not left bearing the costs of dealer defaults.”

Modeled after the existing Packer Statutory Trust, the new Dealer Statutory Trust was authorized through the Consolidated Appropriations Act that was signed into law last December.  

RFA Honors Former Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson

Citing his decades of service to farmers and ethanol producers, the Renewable Fuels Association today honored former Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), longtime chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, with the RFA Industry Award. The award was presented in conjunction with RFA’s 26th annual National Ethanol Conference, held digitally this year due to the pandemic.

“This year, I am proud to recognize someone whose contribution to the U.S. ethanol industry cannot be measured in a single development or discovery, but for a career dedicated to value-added agriculture and policies laying the foundation for the U.S. ethanol industry,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “Congressman Collin Peterson, or ‘The Chairman,’ as anyone involved in agriculture knows him, has been the ethanol industry’s most effective and passionate advocate in the House of Representatives for decades.”

Among his achievements, Peterson helped form the Congressional Biofuels Caucus and fended off attacks on the tax incentive available to gasoline marketers for ethanol-blended fuels. He also was instrumental in defeating efforts to eliminate the reformulated gasoline oxygen standard that helped build ethanol demand nationally. In the early 2000s, he worked tirelessly to promote a more robust and progressive ethanol policy, which would become known as the Renewable Fuel Standard. And, Cooper added, “…the dramatic expansion and extension of the RFS in 2007 would not have happened without Chairman Peterson’s masterful negotiating efforts and dedicated advocacy.”  Most recently, Peterson led efforts in Congress to bring more transparency and integrity to the RFS small refinery exemption program; and, as COVID ravaged ethanol markets in 2020, he ensured that assistance for ethanol producers was included in the House-passed HEROES Act.

“I've been working on ethanol for a long time. I believe in it, and it's been a passion of mine and it's just been a pleasure for me to be able to lend a hand to make sure this industry is successful and moves ahead,” Peterson said in accepting the award. “I'm not going to walk away from ethanol, and now that I'm not in office I don't know exactly what I'm going to do yet, but I will stay engaged in advocating for agriculture in some way, shape or form. You're going to have my help— whether you want it or not.”

National Use of Livestock Insurance Products Offered by USDA-RMA

Elliott Dennis, Livestock Extension Economist, Dept of Ag Econ, University of Nebraska – Lincoln

The changes to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA) Livestock Risk Protection (LRP) insurance plan took effect on January 20, 2021, for the crop year 2021 and succeeding crop years. These changes included: (a) increasing livestock head limits for feeder and fed cattle to 6,000 head per endorsement/12,000 head annually and swine to 40,000 head per endorsement/150,000 head annually; (b) modifying the requirement to own insured livestock until the last 60 days of the endorsement; (c) increasing the endorsement lengths for swine up to 52 weeks; and, (d) creating new feeder cattle and swine types to allow for unborn livestock to be insured. These changes, in addition to the dramatic changes in subsidy levels and allowing premiums to be paid at the end of the coverage endorsement period, should significantly improve the use of LRP. How much so likely depends on several factors including an understanding of risk protection, personal attitudes towards risk, previous experience with risk management tools, and competing risk management options, among others.

How frequently is LRP used compared to other USDA-RMA offered insurance products?

Cattle can be insured through various existing USDA-RMA products. Options include Livestock Gross Margin (only fed cattle), Livestock Risk Protection (fed and feeder cattle), and Whole Farm insurance (fed and feeder cattle). Federally subsidized insurance was first offered in 2003. Between 2003-2010, the total liability of LRP fed and feeder cattle represented $722 million dollars, and 25,000 policies covering 0.94 million head. Between 2011-2019, the total liability of fed and feeder cattle under LRP represented $1,950 million dollars, and 51,000 policies sold covering 1.65 million head. LGM is used much less frequently compared to LRP. Between 2003-2010, the total liability of LGM fed cattle represented $32 million dollars, and 616 policies covering 50,000 head. Between 2011-2019, the total liability of fed and feeder cattle under LRP represented $27 million dollars, and 301 policies sold covering 20,000 head.

While there was a large increase in LRP use over the last decade, LGM cattle products have decreased. Further, the levels of liability, policies sold, and head covered are small compared to other programs and commodities such as the Dairy Margin Coverage for milk, LRP Lamb, and LGM for swine. Comparing the total number of fed and feeder cattle insured using USDA-RMA products to the total number of cattle in the United States show that coverage still represents a small fraction of total production. Approximately 0.50% of fed and feeder cattle are insured using either LRP or LGM. These shares are comparable to swine and dairy. Lamb producers have historically been heavy significant users of USDA-RMA products. In some years, upwards of 60% of total lamb production was insured using LRP. The high use is likely because lamb producers have very few other available market options to manage output price or feeding margin risk.

LRP and LGM Use and Performance Varies Geographically and Through Time

A small number of states make up the majority of LRP fed and feeder cattle sales. Since 2003, Nebraska, South Dakota, Kansas, North Dakota, and Missouri have made up 80-85% of all policies sold and the total number of head insured. The relative share of use by these states have remained constant over time. LRP fed cattle sales show similar patterns. The geographic distribution of policies sold is even more pronounced for LGM fed cattle. Iowa, Nebraska, and Wisconsin account for nearly 95% of all policies sold and the total number of head insured. This is slightly misleading given that only 16 policies were sold in 2019 and 155 at its peak in 2007.

Possible Explanations for LRP and LGM Use (or lack thereof)

Policy premiums and performance are two reasons explaining the use of LRP and LGM, or lack thereof. For LRP, premiums are comparable to an “at-the-money” or “out-of-the-money” put. As such, all premiums costs are entirely attributed to the “time value” of the option (i.e. the farther we are away from contract expiration = the higher the premium). Figure 1 shows how these premiums curves look at different coverage rates and endorsement lengths for a representative day. It shows that the longer the endorsement length, the more expensive the premium ($/cwt.). In other words, the curves shift vertically up the farther one is away from contract expiration. Producers choosing to manage price risk using options must choose between using USDA-RMA’s LRP or CME put options. How similar these premiums are, both with and without subsidies, is currently being studied.

How reliable a market instrument is as managing price risk is another important consideration. If LRP is unreliable as a market instrument over time, then this may reduce the trust and ultimately use of the product. Loss ratios are one method used to determine how well an insurance product is functioning. One way to interpret loss ratios are for every dollar paid into the product, how much is paid out. Loss ratios below one “hurt” producers since they are paying more than what they get back in coverage while loss ratios > 1 “hurt” the insurer since the product is paying too much out compared to premiums received. Ideally, long-term loss ratios should be equal to one. The loss ratio for feeder and fed cattle under LRP does vary considerably across locations and through time. Some states have either historically high or low loss ratios. For LRP feeder cattle, 4 out of the 37 states have long-term loss ratios between 0.90-1.10, 28 states have loss ratios < 0.90, and 5 states have loss ratios > 1.10. LRP and LGM fed cattle are less promising. All states that have used LGM or LRP fed cattle have loss ratios below 0.80. Few states having long-term loss ratios at or near 1.0 is one reason why the use of LRP or LGM has been low. Three animations are available from LMIC or available upon request from me that showing loss ratios by state between 2003-2019. These animations show that LGM and LRP (fed and feeder cattle) have both expanded in use but loss ratios have tended to vary significantly over time.
Industry Implications

The industry has lobbied the USDA-RMA to increase the subsidy levels of LRP as a solution to market volatility experienced during COVID-19. Industry representatives have cited the subsidy differential between crop insurance and livestock insurance as the primary justification for increasing subsidy levels and suggesting that subsidy levels were the primary barrier to risk management adoption for smaller producers. Newly established subsidy levels should increase the use of LRP fed and feeder cattle. Whether the future use of LRP is by large operations switching from CME options to LRP or if small producers using LRP for the first time remains to be seen. The ability to insure unborn cattle and having premiums due at the end of the endorsement period are likely to be larger contributors to increasing the use of LRP than changes in the subsidy levels since they significantly reduce logistical barriers for producers. As with all risk instruments, LRP is still meant to be used to minimize downside price due to market shocks and not as a tool to improve market prices after market shocks have occurred. Thus, LRP, either fed or feeder cattle, will only work to mitigate future market shocks similar to COVID-19 if producers have risk management in place prior to the market shock.

Top Agribusiness Executives Featured in Live Roundtable Discussions During 2021 Special Edition of Commodity Classic

What do the next 20 years look like in American agriculture?  Attendees at the 2021 Special Edition of Commodity Classic will have the opportunity to hear some of the top executives in agribusiness answer that question.

Three Executive Roundtables will be held during the 2021 Special Edition of Commodity Classic that will be delivered digitally March 2-5, 2021.  Each roundtable will be presented live and then archived for future viewing through the end of April.  More information is available at

The first Executive Roundtable takes place from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Central on Wednesday, March 3, and features top executives from the ag equipment industry, including John Deere, AGCO, Case IH and Kubota, discussing how changing farm demographics, consumer demands, and technology may impact the ag equipment industry and agriculture in general. The panel will be moderated by Charlene Finck of Farm Journal.

The crop production industry will take the digital stage on Thursday, March 4 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Central.  Executives from Bayer Crop Science, Corteva Agriscience, Syngenta and BASF will be on the panel to discuss how climate, environmental regulations and innovative technologies may impact crop production and influence the future of agriculture. Greg Horstmeier of DTN will moderate.

The final Executive Roundtable will take place Friday, March 5 from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Willie Vogt of Farm Progress will moderate a panel of top executives from Valent, New Holland and the United Soybean Board who will discuss what to expect in the coming years as the ag industry wrestles with recent turmoil.

The Executive Panels are among more than 50 educational sessions scheduled during the 2021 Special Edition of Commodity Classic, which kicks off at noon Central on Tuesday, March 2.

Thanks to the generous support of sponsors, the first 5,000 farmers who register can do so at no charge.  All other attendees can register for $20.  The registration fee includes access to the entire week’s program as well as access to archived sessions through April 30, 2021.

Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame Announces 2021 Inductees

The Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame has announced its 2021 inductees and award winners who will be recognized at its 12th annual banquet to be held Aug. 9, 2021, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Johnny Trotter, president and CEO of Bar-G Feedyard in Hereford, Texas, and Steve Gabel, founder of Magnum Feedyard in Wiggins, Colorado, are the newest inductees into the Hall of Fame, which annually honors two leaders who have made lasting contributions to the cattle feeding industry.

Gary Smith, visiting professor in the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University, is the recipient of the Leadership Award. George Eckert of Green Plains Cattle Company in Leoti, Kansas, and Gaspar Martinez of Harris Feeding Company in Coalinga, California, were named Service Award winners.

These inductees and award winners will be recognized at the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame banquet in conjunction with the Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show to be held Aug. 10-12 in Nashville.

"Through their dedication and leadership, these honorees have made lasting contributions to our industry," said Cliff Becker, vice president of publishing for Farm Journal Media and Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame board member. "It is an honor to recognize their achievements which have helped advance the cattle feeding industry."

Tickets for the 2021 Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame banquet can be purchased as part of the Cattle Industry Convention registration and will be available in June. Event sponsorship and table sponsorships are also available. Founding sponsors of the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame include Merck Animal Health, Drovers magazine and Osborn Barr Paramore (OBP).

All proceeds from ticket sales and corporate sponsorships will benefit future initiatives for the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame. All funds from tickets purchased by cattle feeders will be donated in full to the Hall of Fame.

Syngenta, university researcher advocate holistic approach to maximize yield potential and minimize future obstacles

For every grower, maximizing yield to increase potential return on investment is the ultimate goal. As farmers know, there are many factors affecting their yields that require constant monitoring and action throughout the year. Syngenta sat down with Stevan Knezevic, Ph.D., weed management specialist at the University of Nebraska, to discuss his “10 Commandments” of weed management that growers can reference to make sure all their bases are covered this coming season.

According to Knezevic, his “10 Commandments” are as follows:
·       Commandment 1: Know your weeds and understand their lifecycles and biologies. This is the foundation for all of the commandments. “A full understanding of the weeds in your region and how they may interact with your crops is an important step in managing an efficient and successful operation,” said Knezevic.

·       Commandment 2: Rotate your crops. “Crop rotation is a key component in an effective weed resistance management strategy,” said Mark Kitt, corn herbicide technical product lead for Syngenta. “It will extend the range of available herbicides and agronomic practices.”

·       Commandment 3: Rotate your herbicide sites of action. “By having extra sites of action, you are widening the spectrum of weed control,” said Knezevic.

·       Commandment 4: Use premixes with multiple effective sites of action. “Within the Syngenta portfolio, Acuron® corn herbicide is a great example,” said Kitt. “It provides protection through its four active ingredients, including the Syngenta-exclusive bicyclopyrone, and three effective sites of action.” This formulation provides powerful weed management that leads to higher yield potential — 5 to 15 more bushels an acre than any other corn herbicide.*

·       Commandment 5: Use full labeled rates of herbicides. “Full label rates will provide a full length of residual activity that should cover the critical period of weed control,” said Knezevic. “By reducing the label rate, you’re in danger of not killing the weed, but only crippling it. A surviving weed that is growing after a herbicide application has a chance to potentially produce herbicide-resistant offspring.”

·       Commandment 6: Scout your fields. “Go out and scout those fields,” says Knezevic. “Look for survivors, and look for regrowth because that regrowth can most likely carry a resistance gene, so you will have problems next year.”

·       Commandment 7: Apply post-emergent applications, ideally before new weed growth is discovered. Overlapping residuals can help prevent these weed escapes.

“Halex® GT herbicide is the perfect product to use post-emergence to provide that overlapping residual and post-emergence management when applied in a system where a foundation rate of a preemergence herbicide is used,” Kitt said.

·       Commandment 8: Use cultural practices to manage weeds, and don’t overlook your field borders. “This is where employing sound agronomic practices will prove to be especially beneficial, including tillage and crop rotation,” said Knezevic. “Any uncontrolled weeds will produce seeds. If you don’t control them well and let them drop seeds, you’re going to fight them for at least three to five more years into the future.”

·       Commandment 9: Use clean equipment, especially during harvest, to manage weed seed. “Over the last 10 years or so, we have seen a rapid spread of glyphosate-resistant waterhemp and Palmer amaranth, which were not spread by weeds, animals or wind. They were spread by combines during harvest,” cautioned Knezevic.

·       Commandment 10: Know the cost of poor weed management. “The culmination of the commandments is that in managing cost versus yield, understand that it is much more expensive if you spend less money and do not kill the weeds,” concluded Knezevic. “A general rule of thumb is that for every stage of delayed weed control, there is a 2% loss of potential yield.”

Collaborating with leading university researchers and sharing information are ways Syngenta works to help local agronomists and their growers combat the unique weed pressure they face each season. “It all starts with solid agronomics,” Kitt said. “We want to provide our retailer partners and growers with the knowledge and tools they need to effectively manage their top weed pressures so they can maximize their yield potential next season and for many seasons to come.”   

When you start with agronomics and your end profitability goal in mind, you can better assess what practices and products will get you there. Before you commit to a season-long “deal” that may limit your choices, do some math and see how everything pencils out — because better yield is the better deal.

New ruminant meta-analysis from Alltech addresses protein challenges, carbon footprint and profitability

The tightening of global protein supplies is creating uncertainty for producers and the feed industry alike as to where this year’s protein supply will come from. Add to that the ever-increasing pressure on producers to meet the growing global demand for milk and meat while also reducing their environmental impact and remaining financially viable. While striking a balance between these seemingly conflicting goals may seem impossible, Alltech has released data from a new meta-analysis for ruminants that proves otherwise.

The results showed that Optigen®, a non-protein nitrogen ingredient, can replace vegetable protein sources and enable dairy and beef producers to simultaneously improve animal performance, reduce their carbon footprint and increase profitability. The new data from the meta-analysis examining the effects of Optigen supplementation in dairy cows is based on the results of 17 studies carried out in six different countries, while the beef study was based on the results of 17 studies carried out in nine different countries.

“The responsible sourcing of protein for animal feeds is a crucial global issue in the livestock supply chain, and the use of plant protein sources in animal diets can be restricted based on availability, price volatility and associated environmental impact,” said Dr. Saheed Salami, research fellow at Alltech. “These meta-analysis studies have confirmed that Optigen is a viable substitute for plant protein sources in ruminant rations, resulting in improved feed efficiency, profitability and environmental sustainability for dairy and beef production.”

Dairy research key findings:

    The use of Optigen in dairy diets resulted in a carbon savings of around 54 g of CO2-eq/kg milk.
        When extrapolated to the annual milk output of the Dutch dairy sector, for example, this would be equivalent to a carbon emission reduction of 574,004 tonnes of CO2-eq. Such a carbon saving represents 10% of the entire reduction target for agriculture and land use sectors required by the Dutch government by 2030.
    Optigen partially replaced approximately 21% of soybean meal across all diets.
    Dry matter intake (DMI), protein intake and nitrogen intake decreased through space “saving” in the diet
    Milk yield increased, and feed efficiency was improved by 3% in Optigen diets.
    Nitrogen utilization efficiency in dairy cows increased by 4%, thanks to improved nitrogen capture in the rumen. This translates to a reduction of the manure nitrogen excretion by 12 to 13 g of nitrogen/cow/day.
        This data suggests, for example, that the use of Optigen could reduce the annual manure nitrogen excretion from Germany’s dairy sector by an average of 17,028 tonnes of nitrogen based on the annual milk output.
     The environmental benefits Optigen brings are through the substitution of soybean and other high protein concentrates in combination with improved production efficiency.

Beef research key findings:

    The meta-analysis highlighted how the partial replacement of vegetable protein with Optigen exhibited a consistent improvement in the liveweight gains and feed efficiency of beef cattle.
    There was an 8% average increase in liveweight gain and an 8% improvement in feed efficiency with the inclusion of corn silage, enhancing the effects of Optigen.
    A simulation analysis based on these benefits indicated that feeding Optigen to 1,000 head of cattle with the goal of each animal gaining 440 pounds would:
        Reduce time to slaughter by nine days.
        Lower feed costs by $18,000.
        Decrease the carbon footprint of the beef unit by 111.5 tonnes of CO2-eq, contributing to a nearly 2.2% reduction in the carbon footprint of beef production.

“Vegetable protein sources are volatile; they fluctuate in price and their nutritional composition is incredibly variable, while Optigen is the opposite and provides consistency in the rumen-degradable protein supply that is critical for rumen function,” said Dr. Vaughn Holder, ruminant research group director at Alltech. “These new meta-analyses on both beef and dairy animals show the depth of our research in both areas, as well as the versatility of the product across dietary raw materials and global geographies.”  

As a concentrated nitrogen source, Optigen takes up less space in the diet compared to other nitrogen sources, such as soybean meal and rapeseed meal, leaving room for more rumen-friendly materials, such as homegrown forages. This additional space can also aid in allowing more energy into the diet. In some cases, dietary crude protein levels can also be decreased, thereby increasing efficiency and reducing the risk of nutrient wastage. These studies reaffirm that feeding Optigen offers unique economic and environmental benefits to dairy and beef production and positively impacts our food supply chain.

Altosid® IGR, the Industry Standard for Horn Fly Control, Announces Lower Price To Protect Cattle And Bottom Lines

Altosid® IGR, the industry-leading feed-through insect growth regulator for horn fly control, is now available at a price of 2 to 3 cents per animal, per day. This lower price point improves the cost efficiency of Altosid® IGR, a solution proven to dramatically lower horn fly populations on pasture and improve weight gains in treated cattle by as much as 15.8%.

“Altosid IGR has truly represented the gold standard for horn fly control for nearly 50 years, and we’re excited to make the best value in the industry even better,” said Mark Upton, director of sales for the Feed Additive Group at Central Life Sciences. “Horn flies are the number one economic pest threat to cattle on pasture, so it was important to us to make Altosid IGR accessible to more operations of all sizes.”

Horn flies infest cattle on pasture with populations that can reach as high as 4,000 flies per animal in untreated herds. Even populations of 200 horn flies per animal can inflict up to 28,000 bites per day, which equates to a loss of two gallons of blood over the entire season. These losses from horn flies cost the industry an estimated $1 billion each year due to the stress they inflict and cattle disease they spread, inciting weight loss as high as 50 pounds per yearling.

“Producers using Altosid IGR for horn fly control are not just protecting their cattle, they’re protecting their bottom line,” said Upton. “We’ve conducted studies that have shown that at this new price, increased weight gains from treated cattle could potentially produce a return on investment of as much as 13:1 with Altosid IGR.”

Altosid® IGR is a feed-through fly control solution that passes through the digestive system and into manure where horn flies lay their eggs. It was designed specifically to break the horn fly life cycle by preventing pupae from developing into biting adults. Able to exert its effect at very small concentrations, Altosid® IGR is an ideal fly control choice for today’s environmentally responsible producer. For greatest effectiveness, Altosid® IGR should be used as the foundation of an integrated pest management (IPM) program including proper sanitation, maintaining physical structures, incorporating naturally occurring fly enemies and using chemical controls.

“While many products tout an “all-in-one” approach that will control all fly species, we like to remind customers that there is no silver bullet when it comes to fly control,” said Upton. “For horn fly infestations on pasture cattle, the best results are going to come from a product designed specifically to control horn flies— Altosid IGR.”

Altosid® IGR is available in mineral blocks, tubs, liquid feed supplements, and as a premix that can be top dressed or mixed into feed.

Zoetis Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2020 Results

Zoetis Inc. (NYSE: ZTS) today reported its financial results for the fourth quarter and full year 2020 and provided full year guidance for 2021.

The company reported revenue of $1.8 billion for the fourth quarter of 2020, which was an increase of 8% compared with the fourth quarter of 2019. Net income for the fourth quarter of 2020 was $359 million, or $0.75 per diluted share, compared with $384 million, or $0.80 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Adjusted net income for the fourth quarter of 2020 was $438 million, relatively flat compared with the fourth quarter of 2019, or $0.91 per diluted share, a decrease of 1%. Adjusted net income for the fourth quarter of 2020 excludes the net impact of $79 million for purchase accounting adjustments, acquisition-related costs and certain significant items.

On an operational basis, revenue for the fourth quarter of 2020, excluding the impact of foreign exchange, increased 9% compared with the fourth quarter of 2019. Adjusted net income for the fourth quarter of 2020 increased 3% operationally, excluding the impact of foreign exchange.

For full year 2020, the company reported revenue of $6.7 billion, an increase of 7% compared with full year 2019. Net income for full year 2020 was $1.6 billion, or $3.42 per diluted share, an increase of 9% and 10%, respectively.

Adjusted net incomefor full year 2020 was $1.8 billion, or $3.85 per diluted share, an increase of 5% and 6%, respectively. Adjusted net income for full year 2020 excludes the net impact of $206 million for purchase accounting adjustments, acquisition-related costs and certain significant items.

On an operational basis, revenue for full year 2020 increased 9%, excluding the impact of foreign exchange. Adjusted net income for full year 2020 increased 10% operationally, excluding the impact of foreign exchange.

Opening Brief Filed in Lawsuit Challenging Trump Administration’s Expansion of Bee-killing Insecticide Sulfoxaflor

Yesterday, Center for Food Safety and the Center for Biological Diversity filed the opening brief in their lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) approval of the pollinator-killing insecticide sulfoxaflor.

The two groups sued the Trump administration in 2019 over its decision to approve the use of sulfoxaflor on pollinator-attractive crops across more than 200 million acres. Today’s brief argues that the EPA failed to consider sulfoxaflor’s harms to the nation’s endangered and threatened species, bumblebees, and all other native pollinators, which play critical roles in maintaining biodiversity.  

“Our bees and pollinators are dying, and yet EPA went ahead and allowed another toxic insecticide to be sprayed across America without any care for their well-being. We are in court so to ensure that our bees can have a chance to survive,” said Sylvia Wu, senior attorney at Center for Food Safety and counsel on the case.

The EPA originally approved sulfoxaflor use back in 2013, but the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently vacated the approval for failing to comply with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, or FIFRA. The EPA issued the 2019 approval of sulfoxaflor even though its own scientists still found the insecticide could threaten honeybee colonies and injure non-honeybees.

Prior to issuing the 2019 registration, the EPA also refused to consider sulfoxaflor’s effects on federally protected endangered species. The 2019 decision expanded sulfoxaflor’s use to a wide range of crops that attract bees, including strawberries, squash, and citrus.

“In the midst of an insect apocalypse, it’s just astounding that the EPA is continuing to fight to expand the use of this poison and can’t even be bothered to consider its impacts on the nation’s most vulnerable bees and butterflies,” said Stephanie Parent, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity and counsel on this case. “Amazing and once common creatures like monarch butterflies and the American bumblebee are now heading towards extinction, and we can’t let the agency get away with this.”

The organizations’ lawsuit, filed in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, contends that before approving the sweeping new uses of sulfoxaflor, the EPA violated its duty to ensure that its approval of sulfoxaflor doesn’t jeopardize the continued existence of endangered species by consulting on the effects of its actions with wildlife experts at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service. The EPA also failed in its legal duty to show that the approval would not result in unreasonable adverse effects on the environment, as required under FIFRA.

In October of last year, more than a year after the two organizations sued the EPA, the agency admitted that it had failed to conduct any assessment of sulfoxaflor’s harm to the nation’s federally protected species, in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

But instead of removing the unlawful pesticide from the market, the EPA asked the court to permit the continued sale and use of sulfoxaflor while the agency took at least seven years to complete the required assessment. The 9th Circuit refused the EPA’s request last month, allowing the case to proceed.

The EPA will file its answering brief to the 9th Circuit on March 30, 2021. The 9th Circuit has expedited oral argument for the litigation upon completion of briefing.

Tuesday February 16 Ag News

– Ben Beckman, NE Extension Educator

The time for spring planting alfalfa is just around the corner and two traits often confused, are fall dormancy and winter survival.  Last week we covered winter survival, let’s look at fall dormancy today.

Fall dormancy is a measure of an alfalfa plant’s ability to regrow in the fall after harvest and spring following winter. It is scored on a scale ranging from 1 to 11 with 1 being most dormant and 11 the least.  Higher dormancy means a harvested plant will focus its resources in the fall more on building reserves to survive the winter and less on new growth.

This tendency toward slower regrowth manifests throughout the year, with less dormant varieties typically recovering faster in the spring and producing overall higher yields.  Another role dormancy plays is keeping plants from starting growth during the random warm-ups in the fall and winter months. Plants that break bud during these periods are subject to winterkill.

Finally, fall dormancy can impact the harvest timetable.  Lower dormancy ratings means a plant regrow slower.  This translates into more time to remove forage from the field before “windrow disease” and field traffic become a concern.

In the past, fall dormancy traits were linked with winter survival. With new varieties, this isn’t always the case, so fall dormancy needs to be evaluated on its own.

Variety selection depends upon your management, production goals, and ability for a stand to make it through winter without sacrificing additional yield.  If you have regular issues with stand winterkill, a lower rated variety with improved dormancy.  In Nebraska, we recommend dormancy ratings 1 through 5.  

Naig Requests Funding to Support Recommendations from the Economic Recovery Advisory Board Ag Working Group

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig met with the Iowa House Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee today to review the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s proposed FY2022 budget. Secretary Naig used this opportunity to discuss some of his priority initiatives that help protect animal health, continue to improve soil health and water quality, and create new markets for Iowa farmers.

“I was proud to co-lead the Governor’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board Agriculture Working Group. Input from those stakeholders helped shape some of the Department’s legislative priorities,” said Secretary Naig. “The Ag Working Group identified strategies to support a value-added agriculture program, increase the demand for higher blends of renewable fuels, and continue to lead the state’s ongoing conservation, environmental stewardship and sustainability efforts. Funding to support these initiatives is reflected in the Department’s FY2022 budget request.”

Value-Added Agriculture Grant Program

New this year, Secretary Naig has requested $500,000 to establish a value-added agriculture grant program. If this funding is approved, the Department will provide grants that incentivize, reduce some financial risk and create networks so producers feel empowered to explore new product offerings, expand production and test alternative marketing strategies. The Department successfully pilot-tested similar grant programs using CARES Act funding in 2020.

Secretary Naig also requested increased funding to support the following ongoing initiatives:

Foreign Animal Disease Prevention and Response Planning

Iowa’s livestock market contributes more than $13 billion to the state’s economy. If a foreign animal disease breaches U.S. borders, it could be devastating to Iowa’s livestock herds, international trade markets, and agriculture-based economy. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has been working closely with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), farmer-led livestock groups, and other livestock-producing states to apply the lessons learned during previous animal disease outbreaks and develop plans to prevent, contain and eradicate any future outbreaks as quickly as possible.

Since 2019, the Department has held a series of workshops to prepare for an African Swine Fever outbreak and test its Foot and Mouth Disease vaccination strategy. The state has purchased equipment and developed resources to help producers formulate on-farm response plans, and created an online training program to increase the number of public and private veterinarians who are available to assist with a disease outbreak.

Secretary Naig has requested an additional $500,000 from the Iowa Legislature to continue building upon these efforts.

Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program

The renewable fuels industry is a cornerstone of Iowa’s economy. According to a recent study commissioned by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, the production of ethanol and biodiesel accounts for nearly $4 billion in state GDP, supports 37,000 direct and indirect jobs, and boosts Iowa household income by $1.8 billion. The renewable fuels industry was also hit hard in 2020 by travel restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Secretary Naig has requested an additional $2 million for the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program (RFIP) to help fuel retailers and dispensers convert their equipment to offer more and/or higher blends of renewable fuels at convenience stores and travel centers. When fuel retailers invest in infrastructure that supports higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel, drivers gain access to more affordable, cleaner-burning fuels at the pump.

To date, the RFIP program has distributed or obligated more than $38 million to help fund 335 E85 dispensers/blenders, 362 biodiesel dispensers/blenders, 72 E15 projects, and 143 biodiesel terminals in Iowa.

Soil Health and Water Quality Initiative

2020 was a record year for conservation efforts in the state of Iowa. With continued, long-term water quality funding, the Department will continue working alongside farmers, landowners and municipal leaders to support the adoption and completion of conservation practices in priority watersheds to advance the goals outlined in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. These rural and urban projects improve soil health and water quality, provide wildlife habitats, and support recreational opportunities, like hunting and fishing. To learn more about the Department’s ongoing soil health and water quality initiatives, visit

NCBA’s Winter Reboot Features Unique Educational Sessions

The 2021 Cattle Industry Convention Winter Reboot is a two-day virtual event and will be held Feb. 23-24, featuring 15 unique educational sessions. The title sponsor of the event is Corteva Agriscience.

The Winter Reboot will kick off each day with general sessions followed by a series of educational sessions. Day one includes a two-part General Session, sponsored by Central Life Sciences, featuring National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) CEO Colin Woodall and NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane to discuss the state of the cattle industry and expectations in Washington, D.C., over the next four years. Part two will include a D.C. issues update with NCBA’s Washington D.C., staff to share their work and the conversations they are having on both sides of the aisle to fight for the interests of U.S. cattle producers. The General Session on day two will feature a market update presented by CattleFax and sponsored by Zoetis and Purina Animal Nutrition.

“During the Winter Reboot, producers not only have an opportunity to hear from some of the leading experts in topics that impact their cattle operations every day, but they also have the chance to interact with those experts and ask questions,” said NCBA Executive Director of Producer Education & Sustainability Josh White. “The wide variety of sessions offers something for every producer and this virtual experience will provide vital industry updates and education. We encourage cattlemen and women to take advantage of this informative and educational program.”

The Winter Reboot experience will also feature a Cattlemen’s College convention preview with Jayson Lusk Ph.D., titled “The COVID Effect. Are Consumers Still Hungry for Beef?”, sponsored by Zoetis.

Winter Reboot attendees can expect to learn more about genetics and reproduction. John Genho and Darrh Bullock, Ph.D., will lead a session to help cattlemen and women navigate how to best invest resources in making wise decisions that drive positive, productive change including how to best utilize EPDs, selection indexes, genomics, crossbreeding and other decision-making tools. Anna Taylor, Ph.D., and Dusty Abney, Ph.D., will discuss the value of appropriate nutrition through targeted and strategic supplementation during the different stages of reproduction to improve producers’ short- and long-term goals. These sessions are sponsored by Neogen and Cargill, respectively.

Attendees can also dive deeper into the topic of sustainability through a session with Jason Sawyer, Ph.D., and Myriah Johnson, Ph.D. They will provide an overview of the latest, science-based information supporting beef’s critical role in a sustainable food system. This session is sponsored by Diamond V.

Other educational topics featured during the Winter Reboot include a discussion, sponsored by Popular Ag Finance, with Dan Childs and Jason Bradley from the Nobel Research Institute to discuss how to market cattle with intention to add value. Attendees will also learn more about technology tools being used by every sector of the cattle industry from Justin Sexten, Ph.D., and Jacob Gilley. This session is sponsored by Fort Supply Technologies.

NCBA Washington, D.C., team members Danielle Beck, Allison Rivera, and Kaitlynn Glover will lead a discussion on how to build and maintain working relationships with Congress, sponsored by Norbrook.

Additional information about the Winter Reboot experience, can be found at

Agriculture Makes Gains in Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions

New analysis of EPA data highlights agricultural emissions reductions and the importance of developing new research and technologies to capture more carbon in cropland and pastureland. The American Farm Bureau Federation’s latest Market Intel also reviews trends in U.S. carbon sequestration as climate-smart farming practices increase.

The report reveals that U.S. carbon sinks offset 12% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and sequestered 764 million metric tons during 2018. The largest carbon sink involved U.S. forestry lands.

It also highlights the fact that cropland productivity has increased by nearly 50% since 1990 while the net emissions “flux” – the net of carbon emissions and carbon sinks associated with land use and land-use changes – has remained consistent. This builds on existing evidence that farmers and ranchers are raising more food, fibers and producing more renewable fuels using fewer resources and utilizing smarter practices.

“Farmers and ranchers have made great strides in climate-smart practices, yet we’re always looking for ways to do better,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Agriculture has been proactive in working toward sustainability goals and we’re looking for partners to help us do even more through market-based, voluntary programs. The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance, which we co-founded, has 40 recommendations for lawmakers as they consider climate policy. We encourage new allies to join us as we build on climate-smart advances while ensuring farmers continue to provide safe, affordable food for America’s families.”

The Market Intel reports an almost 34-million-acre reduction in forestland and cropland since 1990, with a 28-million-acre growth in housing and commercial development.

New research and technologies are needed to achieve climate goals without jeopardizing production of the world’s food, fiber and fuel.

Ethanol Industry Generated $35 Billion in GDP, Supported Over 300,000 Jobs in 2020

Even after experiencing a sudden drop in demand due to the COVID pandemic, the U.S. ethanol industry still had a significantly positive impact on the U.S. economy in 2020, according to the annual ethanol industry economic impact study released today by the Renewable Fuels Association.

The economic analysis was prepared for the RFA by John M. Urbanchuk, Managing Partner of ABF Economics.

“Despite the disruptive effects of the COVID pandemic, economic and regulatory challenges in 2020, the ethanol industry continued to make a significant contribution to the economy in terms of job creation, generation of tax revenue, and displacement of crude oil and petroleum products,” Urbanchuk writes. “The importance of the ethanol industry to agriculture and rural economies is particularly notable.”

In 2020, more than 62,000 U.S. jobs were directly associated with the ethanol industry, which supported an additional 242,600 indirect and induced jobs across all sectors of the economy. The industry created $18.6 billion in household income and contributed $34.7 billion to the national gross domestic product. This was 19 percent below 2019’s GDP contribution, primarily as the result of lower output and lower prices.

“Even though the pandemic created enormous headwinds for our industry in 2020, the resilience of the men and women who work in the U.S. renewable fuels sector shined through,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “The ethanol industry certainly was not spared from the devastation that beset the entire U.S. economy in 2020, but the nation’s 200-plus ethanol biorefineries continued to provide good-paying jobs in scores of rural communities. And those essential workers did more than produce renewable fuel and livestock feed in 2020—they also made virus-killing sanitizers and the dry ice used to ship millions of doses of life-saving vaccines.”

Vilsack Confirmation, Ag Climate Hearing and Delay for USTR Nominee

The Senate will vote to confirm Tom Vilsack as Agriculture secretary, on Tuesday, February 23.  The Senate made the decision on Saturday after the vote on former President Donald Trump's impeachment. The Senate has not set a time for the confirmation of Vilsack, who served as Agriculture secretary in the Obama administration.

Both the Senate and the House are out of session this week following the Presidents Day holiday.

House Ag to Hold Climate Hearing Next Tuesday

The House Agriculture will hold a hearing, Climate Change and the U.S. Agriculture and Forestry Sectors, on Tuesday, February 23.

The hearing will be the committee's first since Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., became chairman of the committee.

The hearing will be held at 10 a.m. as a hybrid meeting held in Room 1300 of the Longworth House Office Building and via Cisco Webex.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, House office buildings are closed to the public, but the hearing will be available on YouTube.

Grassley: No Hearing on USTR Nominee Likely Until mid-March

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who chaired the Senate Finance Committee in the 116th Congress, said today he does not expect Katherine Tai, President Biden's nominee for U.S. trade representative, to get a committee confirmation hearing until mid-March.

Speaking to rural reporters, Grassley said that Tai might get a Senate floor confirmation vote before the congressional break that begins March 26 for two weeks because she is not considered to be a controversial nominee, but that her confirmation vote might not come until April.

Top Agribusiness Executives Featured in Live Roundtable Discussions During 2021 Special Edition of Commodity Classic

What do the next 20 years look like in American agriculture?  Attendees at the 2021 Special Edition of Commodity Classic will have the opportunity to hear some of the top executives in agribusiness answer that question.

Three Executive Roundtables will be held during the 2021 Special Edition of Commodity Classic that will be delivered digitally March 2-5, 2021.  Each roundtable will be presented live and then archived for future viewing through the end of April.  More information is available at

The first Executive Roundtable takes place from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Central on Wednesday, March 3 and features top executives from the ag equipment industry, including John Deere, AGCO, Case IH and Kubota, discussing how changing farm demographics, consumer demands and technology may impact the ag equipment industry and agriculture in general. The panel will be moderated by Charlene Finck of Farm Journal.

The crop production industry will take the digital stage on Thursday, March 4 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Central.  Executives from Bayer Crop Science, Corteva Agriscience, Syngenta and BASF will be on the panel to discuss how climate, environmental regulations and innovative technologies may impact crop production and influence the future of agriculture. Greg Horstmeier of DTN will moderate.

The final Executive Roundtable will take place Friday, March 5 from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Willie Vogt of Farm Progress will moderate a panel of top executives from Valent, New Holland, and the United Soybean Board who will discuss what to expect in the coming years as the ag industry wrestles with recent turmoil.

The Executive Panels are among more than 50 educational sessions scheduled during the 2021 Special Edition of Commodity Classic, which kicks off at noon Central on Tuesday, March 2.

Thanks to the generous support of sponsors, the first 5,000 farmers who register can do so at no charge.  All other attendees can register for $20.  The registration fee includes access to the entire week’s program as well as access to archived sessions through April 30, 2021.

Former U.S. Ambassador Gregg Doud Joins Aimpoint Research

Aimpoint Research®, a global, strategic intelligence firm, today welcomes former U.S. Ambassador Gregg Doud as Vice President of Global Situational Awareness & Chief Economist. Doud most recently served as Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and is one of the primary architects of the U.S.-China "Phase One" trade agreement.

Aimpoint Research specializes in providing superior intelligence to the agri-food value chain and Doud brings an unparalleled global perspective and economic expertise to the team. He will work closely with members of the Executive Intelligence Network (EIN) and play a major role as the organization tackles its thought leadership priorities, including Farmer of the Future, Next Gen Consumer, Mobility of the Future, and more.

"We are thrilled to bring Gregg onto our team," said Brett Sciotto, Aimpoint Research CEO. "His economics background, experience in trade and commodity markets and his global perspective will be an extraordinary addition as we serve our clients in the agri-food industry. Gregg will also bring tremendous insights to our thought leadership platforms and Executive Intelligence Network."  

Doud cited the company's approach to intelligence and core values for his decision.

"Aimpoint Research is built on the foundational principals of military intelligence and the core belief that food power is essential to national security," said Doud. "I was drawn to those values, as well as to their distinctive approach to intelligence. They are doing fantastic things in the agri-food industry as they work to build resiliency and competitive advantage for their clients. I'm honored to join them in their mission."

Prior to his role with the U.S. Trade Representative Doud served as President of the Commodity Markets Council, the leading trade association for commodity futures exchanges and their industry counterparts, where he worked to lead the industry in addressing global market and risk management issues.

As a senior staff member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Doud helped craft the 2012 Senate Farm Bill working on international trade, food aid, livestock, and oversight of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Doud served as Chief Economist for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association for eight years and is a former market analyst for the U.S. Wheat Associates.

Raised on a dry-land wheat, grain sorghum, soybean, swine, and cow-calf operation near Mankato in North-Central Kansas, Doud continues to be involved in his family's 100-year-old farm and is a partner in a commercial cow-calf operation. He received a B.S. in Agriculture with an emphasis in animal science, as well as a M.S. in Agricultural Economics from Kansas State University. He currently resides with his family on their horse farm in Lothian, Maryland.

Brazil's Slow Soybean Harvest Widens U.S. Export Window

Harvesting delays in Brazil, the world's top soybean producer, are prompting buyers led by China to rely on rival exporter the United States for longer than usual in 2021, according to government data and traders.

Reuters reports that sustained demand for U.S. soybeans is accelerating an historic drawdown of U.S. supplies of the oilseed and could further drive up soybean prices at a time of rising food inflation as countries hoard staples during the pandemic.

Concerns over tight global soybean supplies after China dramatically increased purchases in recent months ignited a 4.5% U.S. soybean futures rally last month to a 6-1/2-year high.

Brazil usually harvests its soybeans in the first three months of the year, marking an end to the dominance of U.S. exports. However, that process has been delayed by a drought last year that slowed plantings, and rainfall at harvest time.

The country's shipments of soybeans in January were 28 times lower than a year before at 49,500 tonnes, an amount insufficient to fill up a single vessel, Brazilian trade data showed.

In contrast, the United States, its biggest rival in global markets, inspected some 8.9 million tonnes for shipment in the month, the highest on record, according to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) data.

DEI Joins Fight Against Sudden Death Syndrome in Soybeans with First-ever Biological Agent

American soybean growers will now have a tough new EPA-registered seed treatment option for guarding crops from sudden death syndrome (SDS) and improving their yields. It will be made available in the U.S. for the first time through Direct Enterprises, Inc. (DEI), the Indiana-based seed treatment experts.

“We’re pleased to be the first to bring CeraMax® to American farmers,” says Bill Haubner, DEI co-founder and president, in announcing the new product’s availability. “CeraMax is the tool today’s soybean producers need in the war against Fusarium, the fungal disease causing SDS.”

Containing the active ingredient Natamycin, CeraMax empowers the genetic potential of soybean seeds to increase early-season vigor for a stronger, more uniform emergence and maximum yield potential according to research findings. Haubner says DEI sought to bring the product to the US after seeing yield trials.

“Across research trials in 10 states, where CeraMax was added to Acceleron Standard seed treatments, beans showed significantly lower SDS disease incidence and an average yield increase of 4.3 bushel per acre,” explains Haubner. More than 50 field trials were accomplished and compared with an Acceleron-only control treatment. CeraMax also bested hard chemical alternatives ILEVO® and Saltro® in plant vigor tests with no signs of phytotoxic stress on the beans.

DEI is well known for their custom seed treatment blends of hard chemistry, growth promotors and flowability Agents as well as their multi-strained Brady Rhizobia inoculant N-Force™.

The company expects to place 20,000 units of the new CeraMax biological in a variety of growing conditions throughout soybean producing areas hardest hit by SDS in years just past.

“We’ve seen the heartache SDS has brought US soybean farmers and this is an effective, yield-enhancing alternative that is much better from an environmental stewardship standpoint,” says Dennis Tauchen, DEI co-founder and COO. CeraMax was discovered and is produced by Ceradis, a spin-off of Wageningen University & Research in The Netherlands. After looking into Ceradis, developers of CeraMax, Tauchen and Haudner felt this was a logical offering for DEI.

“Farmers in the USA are under pressure by regulators and consumers to move to biological products, but they also wish to keep their yield in doing so,” says Willem-Jan Meulemeesters, CEO of Ceradis. “Now, with CeraMax, farmers can achieve both.”

Meulemeesters says CeraMax is another example of Ceradis’ green innovations – technology to help reduce chemical pesticides. “We are fully committed to making CeraMax a success in the US with our partners at DEI.”

Monday February 15 Ag News

Cuming County Beef for Schools needs restocked
Keith Kreikemeier, President, Cuming Co. Feeders

We are out of beef for our Beef for Schools program.  ASC Lockers will have a Federal inspector there this Wed - Fri ( Feb 17-19, all 3 days).  If you have anything that would qualify, please call ASC Lockers to set up an appointment.  They also take cull cows & bulls for the Beef for Schools program.  You will NOT be responsible for the processing charge as we have donors to cover that.  
ASC Lockers:  402-372-6956
Other Beef for Schools questions: Pat Meiergerd - 402.380.8314  cell  -or-  402.372.2904  office

 Farm Bureau Day at the Nebraska Ag Expo

The second-largest indoor farm show in the U.S. and newly named Nebraska Ag Expo (formerly the Nebraska Power Farming Show) is gearing up for farmers and ranchers February 23-25 at the Lancaster Event Center in Lincoln. Presented by Farm Credit Services of America and AgDirect, the 14th annual farming show will showcase the broadest mix of ag technology, equipment and services found under one roof. Farm Bureau members are encouraged to stop by the Nebraska Farm Bureau booth – #2111 in Pavilion 2 – and visit Farm Bureau member benefit partners at the show.

During COVID-19, safety is a top priority. “We have been working closely with the Lancaster Event Center and Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department to determine all the necessary precautions we must take to have a safe and successful Expo,” said Tom Junge, expo director. The event will feature six easy-to-access entrances, wider aisles, additional lunch seating and extra staff to help keep facilities clean and sanitized.

“We urge Farm Bureau members to stop by the Nebraska Farm Bureau booth to receive a member appreciation gift and a Farm Bureau cup for free drinks all three days of the show. In addition, members can enter for a chance to win a remote-controlled cooler from Ford, a surprise gift from MEDICA and tools from Grainger. On Nebraska Farm Bureau Day (Wednesday, February 24) the first 100 people to visit the Farm Bureau booth will also receive a mystery gift,” said Lisa Klutz, director of member benefits, Nebraska Farm Bureau.

Spread across 9.2 acres, the ag expo features the broadest mix of ag-related products and services in the Midwest. Show hours are 8:30 am to 4:30 pm Tuesday and Wednesday, and 8:30 am to 3 pm on Thursday. Register online for FREE admission at

“This year, several member benefit partners will have booths alongside Nebraska Farm Bureau. MEDICA and Farm Bureau Financial Services will have staff on hand to answer insurance questions and Ford will have several new vehicles on display. It’s a great opportunity to learn about the various savings programs available, such as Farm Bureau members receiving $500 Bonus Cash on the purchase/lease of eligible new Ford vehicles and $750 Bonus Cash on eligible new Lincoln vehicles,” said Klutz.

“Don’t forget to pick up a red farmer or rancher T-shirt for yourself,” added Klutz. The cost is $10 per shirt, and the money goes to the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation. “Through the work of the Foundation, K-12 students and teachers develop an awareness and understanding of the importance of agriculture in their lives.”

Klutz added, “We look forward to visiting with you at the Nebraska Farm Bureau booth #2111 in Pavilion 2!”

90 NEW Exhibitors at Nebraska Ag Expo

With 90 NEW exhibitors, the Nebraska Ag Expo is the place to be to see the latest agriculture products and services. Here are some new products to check out:

Agtronix [Booth 1223] The Feedpro™ product line offers a continuous flow mixing system consisting of multiple units working together. A superb quality of mix is obtained because each ingredient is added to the other ingredients flowing through the collection auger.

Pattern Ag [Booth 1411] Starting with the belief that the next level of yield gains will be unlocked by the living layer of soil Pattern Ag uses the latest in DNA sequencing to characterize soil biology in enough detail to understand and act on it!

RealmFive Agriculture [Booth 1639] – RealmFive provides the best wireless connectivity built for agriculture, empowering operations with simple, reliable and scalable connectivity.

Hydro Rain [Booth 2238] The B-hyve AG center pivot remote monitoring and control system from Hydro Rain is a FREE subscription service that provides the ability to monitor and control center pivot irrigation systems from a smart connected device.

Metos USA [Booth 2303] Become more efficient with farm & land monitoring solutions that monitor your micro-climate in real-time to make informed decisions, including soil moisture, weather, pests, disease and more.

Razor Tracking [Booth 2513] Razor Tracking’s Agriculture Fleet Management allows farmers the capability of both fleet tracking and asset tracking to manage their entire farm, from equipment to employees.

Artex Mfg. [Booth 3003] The ARTEX Mfg. Trax units spread materials up to 60 feet with the cyclone attachment, getting the job done without compacting soil. Add on the Raven optional variable rate system to spread with perfect precision and a lot less work.

PhiBer Manufacturing [Booth 3541] The PhiBer Manufacturing Dash is designed to increase sprayer efficiency while keeping chemicals separated. On average, an additional 320 acres per day can be completed, increasing sprayer capacity by up to 20%.

Fendt [Booth 4101] See the newly released Fendt tracked tractors at the Nebraska Ag Expo! The Fendt 1100 Vario MT tractors range from 511 - 673 hp with four models including the 1167 Vario MT, the largest two-tracked tractor in the market at 673 hp. The Fendt 900 Vario MT includes three models ranging from 380 - 431 hp.

Show hours run 8:30 am to 4:30 pm Tuesday and Wednesday, and 8:30 am to 3:00 pm Thursday. Register online for FREE admission at

The Nebraska Ag Expo is produced by the Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association in conjunction with local Nebraska and Iowa farm equipment dealerships. The show is sponsored by: Diamond Sponsor – Farm Credit Services of America and AgDirect; Platinum Sponsor – Nebraska Farm Bureau; Gold Sponsors – Stine Seed Company and Sukup Manufacturing; and Media Sponsors – Midwest Messenger and Rural Radio Network.

The Nebraska Ag Expo. New name. Same great show!

2021 Beef Feedlot Rountables available via webinar

Beef feedlot managers, owners, employees and allied industries will learn new information related to feedlot management at Nebraska Extension’s 2021 Beef Feedlot Roundtables via webinar in February and March.

“We are hoping feedyard employees and managers find useful information here to use in their own operations and can find a flexible time one of these two weeks to join us,” said Galen Erickson, beef feedlot nutrition specialist. “These will replace our in-person meetings we normally provide across the state annually in February.”

For producer ease of use, the 2021 webinar will offer three separate sessions on either Feb. 23, 24, and 25 from noon to 2 p.m. Central Time (CT) or March 2, 3, and 4 from 3 to 5 p.m. Central Time (CT) to fit people’s schedules at one of two offered times. Topics will repeat each week.  

University and industry leading representatives will speak about animal handling practices, fed cattle marketing, research updates, the value of manure, using cover crops and more.  

The webinar series begins Feb. 23 with Jesse Fulton, Nebraska’s new Nebraska Beef Quality Assurance Coordinator, by sharing the ins and outs of feedyard audits. Following an overview on audits, Ruth Wiowode, assistant professor of animal science, will present on animal handling certification options, and Brian Vander Ley, assistant professor and veterinary epidemiologist within IANR’s Great Plains Veterinary and Educational Center, will discuss having a secure beef plan that will benefit livestock producers and veterinarians.  

Cattle marketing has been a challenge this past year, and some new policies are being used in the industry. Ashley Kohls with Nebraska Cattlemen and Elliott Dennis with UNL will discuss these policies and implications for feedyards. New research pertaining to beef nutrition and management will be also be shared mid-webinar by Nebraska Feedlot Extension Specialist Galen Erickson. Topics from the 2021 beef report include growing calf and yearling management, genetic selection tools, animal behavior, nutrient management and more.

Concluding the webinar series will be perceptions of manure’s value and what feedyards should know about using cover crops presented by the Rick Koelsch, UNL professor of biological systems engineering, and Mary Drewnowski, beef extension specialist.  

Full webinar schedule is as follows:

Feb. 23, from noon-2 p.m. or March 2, from 3-5
    Feedyard Audit: Jesse Fulton, Nebraska BQA
    Animal Handling: Ruth Wiowode, UNL
    Secure Beef Plan: Brian Vander Ley, GPVEC

Feb 24, from noon – 2 p.m., or March 3 from 3-5  
    Policy Implications for Fed Cattle Marketing: Ashley Kohls, Nebraska Cattlemen; Elliott Dennis, UNL
    Research Update: Galen Erickson, UNL

Feb 25, from noon -2 p.m. or March 4, from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.
    Perceptions of Manure’s value: Rick Koelsch, UNL
    What Feedyards Should Know about Using Cover Crops: Mary Drewnoski, UNL

Register for the February webinars here, and for the March webinars here   

For more information or to request a registration form, contact Galen Erickson at 402-472-6402 or

2021 Beef Feedlot Roundtables are sponsored by Nebraska Extension.

How Valuabull?

Aaron Berger – NE Extension Educator

The spring bull sale season is underway.   Catalogs are being studied, EPDs and individual animal performance numbers are being compared, and choices are being made as to which bulls will be the next herd sires. One of the primary drivers in the choice of which bull will be bought is the bull’s price. The perceived breeding value and the expected value of a bull’s offspring are evaluated by the potential purchaser and compared to the bull’s price. As long as the perceived value the bull is expected to bring to the operation exceeds the bull’s cost then the bidding continues.  

When evaluating how much one can afford to pay for a bull, remember to take into account not only the bull’s purchase price, but also the annual care and feed cost that will be associated with using that bull to sire calves. The expected cull value of the bull when he leaves the herd should be credited against the cost of ownership. When all of these costs and credits are taken into account, then the total expected bull cost can be calculated.

Next consider how prolific you expect a bull to be in siring calves.   The expected number of years of service, the bull to cow ratio and expected pregnancy rates all impact total calves sired.   Once this expected number is tabulated, then bull cost per calf produced can be calculated.

Bull costs can be a significant expense to the cow-calf enterprise. Nebraska Extension has developed an Excel® spreadsheet tool called the “Breeding Cost Cow-Q-Lator” that provides producers with a framework from which to calculate what estimated bull breeding costs are per cow and per calf produced.

This spreadsheet also allows producers to compare the cost of using natural service to artificial insemination (A.I.) and to evaluate that as a breeding opportunity. The benefits of estrus synchrony, proven success of fixed time A.I., combined with the prospect of using the best bulls in the industry can make A.I. a cost-effective option to use alone or in combination with natural service.


Taking the time to evaluate breeding expenses and bull cost based on cost per calf produced or cost per pound of calf produced can give insight into the value of a bull. The “Breeding Cost Cow-Q-Lator” can be a helpful tool for producers to utilize in evaluating what they can afford to spend on a bull in comparison to the expected value he will produce.

Cattle brand reform: Keep it simple, fair for all producers.

     Two bills to change the state’s system of livestock brands would amount to a tax shift, favoring large operators and disfavoring smaller operators, the Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska said at hearings Feb. 9 before the Legislature’s Agriculture Committee.

     One bill, LB 572, would give the 100 registered feedlots in Nebraska an additional discount on brand inspection, but it would hike fees for cow-calf producers and most of the feedlots in the state.

     The other bill, LB 571, would create a registration system for backgrounder feedlots, so they could receive steep discounts too.

     On the other hand, fees would dramatically increase to renew brand registrations and to register a new brand. Brand inspectors would charge for the miles they travel to inspect livestock at ranches, and bill an hourly fee to research brand records.

     The brand inspection fee would decrease by just 5-cents per head for two years for most cattle owners, than have a new cap of $1.50 per head. However, the 25-cents to 50-cents per head currently being paid by the registered feedlots would be cut in half.

     “It’s a shift,” ICON’s Dave Wright said. “The burden falls on the smaller operator, so the brand inspection fee for big feedlots can be reduced even more than it is already.”

     Currently, registered feedlots pay an inspection fee based on their one-time annual capacity, which they turn twice or more a year, not the actual cattle that come and go.

     The Independent Cattlemen (ICON) favors a simple alternative, LB 614, which would eliminate the category of registered feedlots in Nebraska. That way, every cattle owner would pay the same $1 per head inspection fee with the potential for a future reduction for All.

     Dr. Don Cain, DVM, urged the committee not to advance either LB 571 or LB 572, and Cain talked about the fragile nature of electronic ID tags, which is another trend in big feedlots.

     The need for cattle ownership verification by a third party is self-evident, Cain said, citing examples of significant cattle thefts, fraud and corruption. He noted that electronic IDs can be lost, removed or replaced without penalty; and that electronic IDs rely on radio frequencies and technologies that are ever-changing.

     Electronic IDs pose significant costs for ranchers as well as jeopardize the privacy of business records if herd information were to be hacked.

     Electronic IDs do not leave a paper trail. On the other hand, Nebraska’s existing system, with brand and a physical inspection on each animal and a paper trail whenever the animal changes owners, provides solid evidence of ownership when questions arise.

     ICON urges cattle owners to call the Senators on the Legislature’s Agriculture Committee and urge them to kill LB 571 and 572, and to Advance LB 614.

Livestock Inventory Records Important for Disaster Programs

Nebraska producers are reminded to keep updated livestock inventory records. These records are necessary in the event of a natural disaster and are an important part of disaster assistance program applications, including applications for the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP).

When disasters strike, the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) can assist producers who suffered excessive livestock death losses and grazing or feed losses due to eligible natural disasters.

To participate in livestock disaster assistance programs, producers will be required to provide verifiable documentation of death losses resulting from an eligible adverse weather event and must submit a notice of loss to their local FSA office within 30 calendar days of when the loss of livestock is apparent. For grazing or feed losses, producers must submit a notice of loss to their local FSA office within 30 calendar days of when the loss is apparent and should maintain documentation and receipts.

To be eligible for livestock deaths, producers must submit evidence to support their losses. Some examples of records that could be used to help support a claim include: veterinary records, contemporaneous producer records, veterinary certification existing at the time of the event, balance sheets, brand inspection records, loan records, docking records, bank statements, shearing records, farm credit balance sheets, property tax records, ear tag records, trucking and/or livestock hauling records, sales and purchase receipts, inventory records used for tax purposes, private insurance documents, chattel inspections, and canceled check documentation.

To be eligible for livestock injuries, producers must submit one of the following documents that indicate an injured animal: sales receipt from a livestock auction, sale barn or other similar livestock sales facility; private insurance documents; or processing plant receipt. At a minimum, these records must include livestock kind, type, and weight, and the price for which the animal was sold.

For more information on documentation requirements associated with receiving disaster-related assistance, contact your local FSA office.

Study Finds the Iowa Biofuel Standards Legislation Will Grow Iowa’s Economy, Boost State and Local Tax Revenue

A study released today finds the Iowa Biofuel Standards legislation will support thousands of new Iowa jobs and hundreds of millions in new household income over the next five years, while boosting state and local tax revenue.

The study, authored by John Urbanchuk of ABF Economics and commissioned by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) found the Iowa Biofuel Standards bill, HSB 185/SSB 1179, will support more than 3,500 new jobs and generate nearly $550 in household income by 2026. It will also add over $450 million to Iowa’s GDP, which in turn generates an estimated $182 million in new state and local tax revenue by 2026. The study expects the benefits to continue to increase after the five-year period analyzed in the study.

“If you look at it from a state of Iowa standpoint, from a consumer standpoint, from a taxpayer standpoint, this is a really good piece of legislation,” Shaw said. “The Iowa Biofuel Standards will boost farm income and support thousands of jobs while generating millions in tax revenue to help with Iowa’s economic recovery. The standards bill will create stable market demand for Iowa farmers and biofuels producers right here in Iowa, provide retailers with the resources they need to upgrade infrastructure to offer higher biofuel blends, and give consumers greater access to cleaner, lower-cost fuel options. It will do all of this while also adding to the bottom line of both Iowa families and the state’s general fund. It’s a win all the way around.”

Governor Kim Reynolds introduced the bill into the Iowa Legislature last week to establish biofuel standards for fuel sold across Iowa and provide Iowa retailers with increased funding to upgrade infrastructure to offer higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel. The bill sets a 10 percent minimum ethanol standard for gasoline fuel and an 11 percent minimum biodiesel standard for diesel fuel. Both standards have limited exceptions. The biodiesel standard would step up to 20 percent biodiesel blends during the summers beginning in 2024. The governor would have the discretion to increase the ethanol standard to 15 percent blends beginning in 2025.

The bill also budgets $5 million from Iowa’s general fund for the Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program (RFIP) on top of $5 million from the separate Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund called for in the Governor’s budget proposal. RFIP is a public-private partnership that provides cost-share grants for retailers to upgrade fueling equipment to offer higher biofuel blends. The bill also contains reforms to existing biofuels tax credits to more than offset the increase in RFIP funding, leaving tens of millions of additional tax dollars in the state’s general fund over the next five years.

Students Celebrate Agriculture and Leadership Around the Country

Agriculture is part of our daily lives—from the food we eat to the clothes we wear. Next week, more than 760,000 FFA members across the country will share the story of agriculture as part of National FFA Week.

Today, FFA provides the next generation of leaders who will change the world. As the top school-based youth leadership development organization in the nation, FFA helps young people meet new agricultural challenges by helping members develop their unique talents and explore their interests in a broad range of career pathways. FFA members are our future leaders, our future food-suppliers, our future innovators and so much more!

Whether it is through service projects or community gatherings, National FFA Week is a time for FFA members to raise awareness about the role the National FFA Organization plays in developing agriculture's future leaders and the importance of agricultural education.

National FFA Week always runs Saturday to Saturday and encompasses Feb. 22, George Washington's birthday. This year, the week kicks off on Feb. 20 and culminates on Saturday, Feb. 27.

The National FFA Board of Directors designated the weeklong tradition, which began in 1948, in recognition of Washington's legacy as an agriculturist and farmer. A group of young farmers founded FFA in 1928, and the organization has been influencing generations that agriculture is more than planting and harvesting — it involves science, business and more.

National FFA Week is a time for FFA members to share agriculture with their fellow students as well as their communities. Chapters also give back to their communities through service projects during FFA Week. For example, during FFA Week, the Cleveland FFA chapter in Minnesota will be hosting a supply drive for the local humane society. In Arkansas, Clarksville High School FFA will be reviving the old community garden. Richland High School FFA chapter in North Carolina plans to organize a food drive and Wheatland FFA in Montana will be building park benches. These are just a few examples of how FFA members will be living to serve in their communities.

During FFA Week, the six national FFA officers will connect virtually with chapters across the country –delivering keynotes, greetings, workshops and more!

National FFA Week is also a time for alumni and supporters to advocate for agricultural education and FFA. Alumni and Supporters will celebrate Alumni Day on Tuesday, Feb. 22, and on  Thursday,  Feb. 25, the National FFA Foundation will celebrate Give FFA Day, a 24-hour campaign encouraging the public to support various needs impacting FFA members. If interested in giving, one can visit Friday, Feb. 26, all FFA members and supporters are encouraged to wear blue and show their FFA pride!

National FFA Week will be featured on social media as well. Follow the #FFAweek hashtag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and don’t miss @NationalFFA Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat posts.

The National FFA Organization is a school-based national youth leadership development organization of more than 760,000 student members as part of 8,700 local FFA chapters in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

Caulfield to address misinformation in the time of COVID-19 at 2021 Virtual Summit

Timothy Caulfield, author and professor of health law and science policy at the University of Alberta, is slated to speak at the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s 2021 Virtual Stakeholders Summit, set primarily for May 5-6. In his keynote presentation, Caulfield will provide his take on addressing misinformation in the time of COVID-19. His latest book, Your Day, Your Way: The Fact and Fiction Behind Your Daily Decisions, will be available at a discounted rate for purchase during registration. Early registration discounts are available through February 28. To register, visit

“In the times of a global pandemic, the dissemination of accurate and research-based information is even more paramount,” said Hannah Thompson-Weeman, Alliance vice president of strategic engagement. “Unfortunately, animal rights activists never miss the chance to capitalize on fear and confusion and have repeatedly attempted to tie animal agriculture to the COVID-19 pandemic, making it more important than ever that we engage and communicate factual information. Timothy Caulfield will share valuable insights into how we can turn the communication obstacles of 2020 into engagement opportunities for decades to come.”

Professor Timothy Caulfield is an unrivaled communicator who debunks myths and assumptions about innovation in the health sector — from research on stem cells to diets to alternative medicine — for the benefit of the public and decision-makers. Caulfield is the recipient of numerous academic and writing awards, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. In addition, he is the author of several bestselling books including The Cure for Everything: Untangling the Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness and Happiness and Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: When Celebrity Culture and Science Clash. Caulfield is the host and co-producer of the award-winning documentary TV show, A User’s Guide to Cheating Death.

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. The 2021 event, themed “Obstacles to Opportunities,” is scheduled for May 5-6 with preconference webinars planned for the five business days prior.

The Virtual Summit agenda featuring many of the exciting and high-caliber speakers you can expect to see at the 2021 event has been posted on the Virtual Summit registration website. Sessions will highlight ways to position animal agriculture as a path forward to climate neutrality, how to elevate the voices of farmers in dialogues surrounding food and agriculture and strategies for virtual stakeholder and influencer engagement.

Be sure to check the Virtual Summit website for the most up-to-date information. You can also follow the hashtag #AAA21 for periodic updates about the event. For general questions about the Summit please contact or call (703) 562-5160.

Get involved:

Show your support for the Alliance’s outreach efforts by becoming an official Summit sponsor today! For 2021 sponsorship opportunities, please visit For more information, contact Casey Kinler at

Thank you to our 2021 Summit sponsors: Watt Global Media, Farm Journal, Meatingplace, National Pork Producers Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Smithfield, National Pork Board, American Feed Industry Association, United Egg Producers, Country Folks, Dairy MAX, Farm Credit, National Biodiesel Board, Cobb Vantress, Inc., Protect the Harvest, Progressive Dairyman, The National Provisioner, Kemin, American Veal Association, National Chicken Council, Trans Ova Genetics, Vivayic, North Carolina Farm Bureau and Eggland’s Best.

The Alliance also thanks the following members for their continued support of Summit and other Alliance programs: U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, Zoetis, Merck Animal Health, C.O.nxt, Diamond V, Genus PLC – PIC/ABS, Aviagen Group, Boehringer Ingelheim, Cargill, Dairy Farmers of America, Hendrix Genetics, Hy-Line North America, LLC, Iowa Soybean Association, Midwest Dairy, National Turkey Federation, Nutrien, Provimi North America, Inc. and Seaboard Foods.

Weekend Ag News Round-up - Feb 14

 Virtual meeting to be held March 2nd for the Maple Creek Watershed Plan

FYRA Engineering will facilitate a virtual public meeting regarding the Maple Creek Watershed Improvement Project Work Plan - Environmental Assessment (Plan-EA).  The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) is partnering with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to complete the work plan.  The public meeting will be held virtually through Zoom on Tuesday, March 2, 2021 beginning at 6:00 p.m.

The public is invited to attend the meeting to discuss the project development.  Personnel from the project team will be available to answer questions and receive comments.  The Maple Creek Watershed Improvement Project is located in Stanton, Platte, Cuming, Colfax, and Dodge Counties in Nebraska.

USDA-NRCS provides federal funding to local project sponsors so that they may work together to develop solutions for watershed issues such as erosion, floodwater and sediment damage, water quality and habitat improvements, and others.  This funding has been provided to the LENRD to create a watershed plan for the Maple Creek watershed.  The Plan-EA is scheduled to be finalized in late-2022 by FYRA Engineering.

Please visit the project website to learn about the project and access the Virtual Public Open House on March 2nd, 2021:  Written comments or requests should be submitted to Curt Becker, LENRD Projects Manager at  For those without internet access, information may be obtained at the LENRD office at 1508 Square Turn Boulevard in Norfolk.

Northeast's AG-Ceptional Women’s Conference to focus on “AGssential” women

A popular conference geared toward women in agriculture will be held this spring at Northeast Community College.

Registration is currently underway for the 12th annual Northeast Community College AG-ceptional Women’s Conference – a day-long event to be held Fri., March 12, originating from the Lifelong Learning Center on the Northeast campus in Norfolk with opportunities to attend off-campus as well. This year’s conference theme is “AGssential.”

The AG-ceptional Women’s Conference - northeast Nebraska’s premier event for women in agriculture - is typically held each November, but the COVID-19 pandemic postponed the event to March. Typically attracting over 400 women who come together for a full day of networking, professional development and personal growth opportunities, this year’s event has been scaled back with a limited number of tickets available. However, there will be no shortage of events, workshops and presentations for those who attend.

The AG-ceptional Women’s Conference will feature over 20 speakers who will share their experiences and expertise on a range of topics pertaining to crop and livestock production, financial planning, and personal well-being. This includes farm transitioning, plant identification, soil health, hiring interns on the family farm, injury treatment and preventions, communication techniques, and many others. Exhibits and networking opportunities will also be available.

“We’ve had to be very flexible with planning the conference this year, as pretty much every aspect of it has changed in some way,” said Karmen Hake, conference spokesperson. “Instead of one general admission ticket, we now have five ticket-types, including attendance in Norfolk as well as attendance at each of the Northeast extended campus locations in O’Neill, South Sioux City, and West Point. We have also included a virtual ticket where participants will be able to attend sessions via Zoom.”

The opening session will feature a humorous speaker who illustrates the importance of energy, attitude, and motivation. Larry Weaver grew up in the rural village of Saxapahaw, N.C., where he spent much of his childhood working “involuntarily” on his uncle’s farm.

“From topping tobacco, to picking beans, to shucking corn, to harvesting potatoes, Larry has lived it,” Hake said. “He has a heart and understanding for farmers and the struggles they face. I’m certain attendees will laugh, learn, and leave feeling inspired and encouraged to live their full potential and creative best each day.”

The closing session, “12 Reasons,” is described as a discussion on “how this past year has changed us for the better.” Hake said 12 strong women will share the reasons they have changed their perspective on life and the way they live it.

“It will be an uplifting message about how we move forward and use the positives we have found in this past year to improve our lives.”

A tribute to the 2020 Ag-Ceptional Woman of the Year will also be a highlight of the conference.

Breakfast and lunch are also served for those who attend in person. Hake said registration fees vary by the type of attendance.

“The fee for those who attend in person in Norfolk is $44 and it’s $40 for those who attend in O’Neill, South Sioux City, and West Point. For those who attend virtually, it’s $22. Our fees remain affordable because of the support we receive from the many sponsors of our event.”

Face masks will be required at all Northeast locations and social distancing protocols will be in place.

To register or learn more about the Ag-Ceptional Women’s Conference, go online to For additional information, email Hake, call (402) 844-7181.

Hake said, “We wouldn’t be able to hold our conference without the help of our valued sponsors who have adapted right along with us, and have been very supportive, despite all of the changes that we have made to the conference experience.”


As the 2021 crop production season begins, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will contact producers nationwide to determine their plans for the upcoming growing season.

“Each year, the agriculture industry eagerly awaits USDA’s Prospective Plantings report, which provides the first survey-based estimates of U.S. farmers’ planting intentions for the year,” said NASS’ Northern Plains Regional Director, Nicholas Streff. “The March Agricultural Survey provides the factual data that underpins these projections, making it one of the most important surveys we conduct each year.”

NASS will mail the survey questionnaire in February, asking producers to provide information about the types of crops they intend to plant in 2021, how many acres they intend to plant, and the amounts of grain and oilseed stored on their farms. NASS encourages producers to respond online or by mail. Those producers who do not respond by the deadline may be contacted for a telephone interview.

NASS safeguards the privacy of all respondents and publishes only aggregate data, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified.

Survey results will be published in the Prospective Plantings and quarterly Grain Stocks reports to be released on March 31, 2021.

NACD National Poster Contest winners announced

Each year the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) sponsors a Conservation Poster Contest to engage students in learning more about our precious natural resources and how we can protect the environment we live in.  The 2020 theme was “Where would we BEE without pollinators?”  The winning posters from the LENRD are sent on to the State contest in Lincoln.  The winning State posters are then forwarded on to the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) for the National Competition.  Nebraska had a winner in the NACD National Poster Contest this week!  Congratulations to Emerson Ortmeier, from Guardian Angels Central Catholic in West Point, who won first place in the 7-9 grade category!

Great job Emerson!  Way to represent Nebraska!

Swine Building Ventilation Workshops Set for March

Pork producers can learn more about building ventilation from the inside out through a series of workshops in mid-March. Iowa Pork Industry Center joins Iowa State University Extension and Outreach in offering “Managing Your Unseen Employee: The Ventilation System” at five different Iowa locations at no cost. The series is sponsored by Automated Production Systems and lunch is provided courtesy of Iowa Pork Producers Association.

Brett Ramirez, assistant professor in agricultural and biosystems engineering at Iowa State University, said the daylong program provides a two-pronged approach to understanding issues and consequences of decisions by combining classroom instruction with hands-on trials and application of knowledge gained in a real-world setting.

“Session content is divided into three categories delivered classroom style and a fourth that provides hands-on learning,” he said. “In that final portion, attendees will be able to see and feel the impacts that design, maintenance and management can have on various ventilation practices through the use of Iowa State’s 24-foot mobile Swine Ventilation Trailer.”

Workshop dates, locations and preregistration contacts are below.
    March 15, Sutherland, Northwest Research and Demonstration Farm, 6320 500th St.; contact Dave Stender, or 712-225-6196.
    March 16, Emmetsburg, Iowa Lakes Community College, 3200 College Drive; contact Dave Stender, or 712-225-6196.
    March 17, Radcliffe, Hands On Excavating Shop, 3305 Ziegler Ave.; contact Russ Euken, or 641-923-2856.
    March 18, Cresco, Howard County Fairgrounds, Featherlite Center, 220 7th St. West; contact Mark Storlie,, 563-425-3331.
    March 19, Iowa City, Johnson County Extension Office, 3109 Old Highway 218 S.; contact Matt Romoser,, 319-430-7533.

All workshops run from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Attendance is limited to 32 participants at each location and people may sign up for one location only. Preregistration is required using this online form...  

Elite Octane Joins Iowa Renewable Fuels Association

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) is excited to announce Elite Octane, a 150 MGY ethanol plant near Atlantic, has joined the association as a producer member.

Nick Bowdish, Elite Octane’s President & CEO, will serve on IRFA’s board of directors. Bowdish said he is excited to work alongside the rest of the IRFA board this year to grow ethanol demand across Iowa, especially in light of Governor Kim Reynolds recent introduction of the Iowa Biofuel Standards legislation earlier this week. If passed, the legislation would set a minimum standard of 10 percent ethanol and 11 percent biodiesel sold in Iowa and chart the path to universal availability of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol in Iowa.

“We share the vision of Governor Kim Reynolds, IRFA, and the other supporters of the Iowa Biofuel Standards legislation that gasoline containing 15% ethanol should be available for consumers at every Iowa retail station and this bill provides retailers with the support they need to make it happen,” Bowdish said. “We are looking forward to being a part of the IRFA team as it works alongside the Governor and other ag groups to see the passage of this crucial legislation.  Upon doing so, Iowa will continue to lead by example as we advocate for other states and countries to offer higher blends of ethanol.”

IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw said IRFA was excited to welcome Elite Octane as a new member.

“While Elite Octane has only been in operation for a couple of years, Nick has been an active and staunch supporter for ethanol for many years and we look forward to his voice joining our board of directors,” Shaw said. “He is passionate and driven and as we work this year to pass ground-breaking legislation to boost biofuel demand, IRFA will be that much stronger because Elite Octane is now a part of our team.”

RFS Has Slashed GHG Emissions by Nearly a Billion Metric Tons to Date

A new analysis from a renowned carbon accounting firm finds that the greenhouse gas emission reductions achieved under the Renewable Fuel Standard far exceed the reductions originally projected by EPA. Between 2008 and 2020, the use of biofuels under the RFS has resulted in cumulative savings of 980 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions.

The research, which updates the results from a previously published study, was conducted for the Renewable Fuels Association by Stefan Unnasch and Debasish Parida of Life Cycle Associates.

The greater-than-expected GHG savings are attributable to several factors: corn ethanol provided larger GHG reductions than anticipated by EPA; the actual carbon intensity of gasoline and diesel was worse than estimated by EPA; and use of biodiesel and renewable diesel exceeded EPA’s original expectations.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard has been the single most effective and efficient policy we’ve ever had for decarbonizing our nation’s transportation fuels,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “This research clearly demonstrates that the RFS has already put us firmly on the path toward net-zero GHG emissions by mid-century, and the program will continue to serve as the bedrock for future efforts to combat climate change. The RFS has overachieved its original expectations, and renewable fuel producers and farmers across the country should be extremely proud of their important role in securing 1 billion metric tons of carbon reduction.”

According to the report, the carbon intensity of corn-based ethanol used toward the RFS is now 45% below the carbon intensity of gasoline, having dropped 20% between 2008 and 2020. The authors attribute ethanol’s shrinking carbon footprint primarily to improvements in the corn ethanol production process, growth in the use of low-carbon biogas as the process fuel, and the elimination of coal as a thermal energy source for dry mill ethanol plants.

Cooper noted that the Life Cycle Associates study is consistent with recently released research from Environmental Health & Engineering Inc., which showed that GHG emissions for ethanol are 32% to 62% lower than gasoline, with a central best estimate of 46%. In addition, the assessment showed that carbon emissions from converting prior land uses to corn farming make up only 7% of the biofuel’s total GHG emissions—a much smaller amount than generally recognized.


This week, the Philippines’ government moved one step closer to expanding the quota for pork imports. Specifically, the government is proposing to raise the minimum access volume (MAV) to 400,000 metric tons (MT) to address shortages and higher prices for the preferred protein. The current MAV is 54,000 MT and the country’s initial proposal increased the figure to 164,000 MT. The proposal will need to be approved by the MAV Management Committee before it is submitted to President Duterte for approval. The proposal would then need to be ratified by Congress.

This latest proposal comes on the heels of the National Pork Producers Council’s recent meeting with the Philippines Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Manuel Romualdez. NPPC has been working with the Philippines’ government for more than a year to negotiate an expansion of the quota and lower pork import tariffs. NPPC welcomes the government’s proposal, as the Philippines holds tremendous market opportunities for U.S. pork exports.

NMPF Congratulates Senator Baldwin on Agriculture Appropriations Chair Selection

The National Milk Producers Federation today congratulated Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) on her selection as Chair of the Senate Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Subcommittee.

“During her time in both the House and the Senate, Senator Baldwin has been an effective champion for dairy farmers in Wisconsin and beyond,” said Jim Mulhern, NMPF president and CEO. “She has fervently fought for dairy’s good name in the face of FDA’s unwillingness to enforce clear, simple dairy product terms. She also has played a key role in efforts to positively reform dairy policy and tirelessly worked on the Appropriations Committee to champion dairy innovation, as well as initiatives to combat farmer stress in rural America.”

Senator Baldwin has served on the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, which sets spending for agriculture and numerous nutrition programs along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, for six years. During that time she has sponsored the bipartisan DAIRY PRIDE Act, which would compel FDA to enforce current law by requiring marketers of imitation dairy products to use proper labeling. She has also advocated successfully for critical improvements to the dairy safety net both in the Bipartisan Budget Act and the 2018 Farm Bill. Finally, Baldwin sponsored the bipartisan FARMERS FIRST Act which reestablished USDA’s Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network to help farmers manage the unique stressors they face.

“Senator Baldwin becomes Chair of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee with a strong record of bipartisan achievement at a critical time for our nation’s dairy producers and their cooperatives,” Mulhern said. “We look forward to working with her as our nation continues to weather the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and begins to tackle the challenges that will follow.”

Ethically Made: Organic Valley’s Transparent Approach to Food and Farming

Organic Valley shares its impact on the food system through over 30 years of leadership focused on building a better tomorrow for people, animals, and the earth in its newly released 2021 Impact Report.

The comprehensive 31-page report represents Organic Valley's commitment to cataloging and reporting its business's impact.


Care for People
●      Stable, sustainable pay price for farmers
●      $15 minimum wage for employees
●      45% of women in leadership compared to 30% in most businesses

Care for Animals
●      50% more grazing time than organic requirements
●      5,000 farm visits per year by animal care staff
●      Average dairy herd size is 3.5 times smaller than the national average

Care for Earth
●      100% renewable electricity at owned facilities
●      440 million pounds of toxic chemicals kept off the land since 1988
●      Promotes regenerative organic farming and implemented a five-year Climate Action Plan

“We work together to produce healthy food that will nourish people across the country while providing economic stability for family farmers and rural communities,” said Bob Kirchoff, CEO of Organic Valley. “We build healthy soil, protect the environment, and care for animals. It is our part to play in nurturing the world around us.”

In the report, the organic, farmer-owned cooperative also features its sustainability efforts that include 100% renewable electricity at its owned facilities and climate-smart farming programs focused on regenerative farming systems and improving soil life.

Kicking off the new year with inspiration for customers, consumers, and employees, Organic Valley published the report, which is available for anyone to view or download at

Thursday February 11 Ag News

 North Bend Teacher Named Teacher of the Year for Bringing Agriculture into the Classroom

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation has selected Becky Streff for the 2021 Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom Teacher of the Year honor. The Teacher of the Year is awarded to outstanding teachers that incorporate agriculture into their classroom through innovative ideas and lessons.

“The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation is pleased to honor Becky Streff, a teacher who integrates agriculture into core classroom learning,” said Courtney Shreve, director of outreach education. “Her efforts to incorporate year-long learning with Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom lessons and activities have helped students understand the vital message that agriculture is their source of food, fiber, and fuel.”

Streff has been teaching for 16 years, with 13 of those years at North Bend Central Elementary in Dodge County. Even though she teaches in a school that has many students who are growing up on farms, she still sees a need for them to understand the important connection between agriculture and the learning environment.

“Agriculture is part of our daily lives, has many connections to our future, and possible future careers,” said Streff. “As a teacher, I want to encourage my students to follow their dreams, learn from resources around them, and learn the importance of agriculture in their lives.”

When the students went to virtual learning in the spring of 2020, Streff got creative with her lessons and set up virtual field trips through Zoom to her students’ farms. The students talked about their animals with their classmates and how they got their animals ready for their county fairs. They were also able to meet with a veterinarian who shared the role she has in agriculture on a daily basis.

“Connections and daily life within agriculture were rich and visible during the virtual field trips,” said Streff. “It was a great opportunity to make the connections between agriculture and future careers.”

Streff has been part of the Ag Pen Pal Program for several years. The program matches a Nebraska classroom with a farmer or rancher in Nebraska. The pen pals write a series of letters to each other, giving students the opportunity to learn about farming first-hand, ask questions, and learn about different aspects of agriculture.

“There are often pictures that accompany the letters which help us see the farm, products, animals, and agriculture even better,” said Streff. “We often research the area of Nebraska where our pen pal lives, have class discussions, and compare and contrast our farming area with that of our pen pal’s.”

Streff also uses many of the Nebraska Agriculture in the Classroom lessons plans which align with Nebraska education standards.

“The lesson plans provided by AITC connect nicely to our learning of the environment, food cycles, food webs, and animals,” said Streff. “I look forward to accessing more of the lessons to benefit my students’ learning and opportunities to understand science and agriculture with quality hands-on experiences.”

Streff will receive an expense-paid trip to the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference, an accurate agriculture book bundle featuring 12 books and corresponding literature guides, and a $250 cash prize. The conference, held June 28 – July 1, 2021 in Des Moines, IA, brings educators together from all over the United States to learn how to use agricultural concepts to effectively teach core subjects such as reading, math, science, and social studies. The conference features recognition for Teacher of the Year honorees, educational workshops, traveling workshops to agribusinesses and research facilities, and farm tours.

“I am honored and humbled to earn this award,” said Streff. “The opportunities are endless, and I feel it is important to build these connections since agriculture is an important part of Nebraska. Additionally, to cross-curricular connections, many of my students live on a farm, so not only are we learning educationally, but we are also able to build relationships through agriculture.

Weisbrod is new Pesticide Safety Education Program coordinator

Jennifer Weisbrod joined the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture Jan. 19 as an assistant extension educator and Pesticide Safety Education Program coordinator. Weisbrod is taking the reins from predecessor Emeritus Extension Educator Clyde Ogg.

The PSEP team at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln provides educational and training programs that address health, the environment, economic well-being and pesticide safety across the state and has been credited as one of the best programs in the nation.

Weisbrod’s primary responsibilities include maintaining the online and in-person pesticide applicator training, and developing and maintaining a strong relationship with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy. She is currently creating a public relations plan for the program while managing the budget and team.

“I’m proud to be a part of the University of Nebraska Extension and I look forward to being an advocate for Nebraska pesticide applicators for years to come,” Weisbrod said. “My extended family has always been involved in Nebraska agriculture and I feel honored to provide them with the materials and education they need to continue their agricultural practices.”

Weisbrod grew up in Salina, Kansas, where she was very involved in environmental science competitions including Eco-Meet and Envirothon, and 4-H. She earned a Bachelor’s of Science from Kansas State University in 2013 with a degree in natural resource, parks, and conservation management. She received a minor in entomology and her primary focus was interpretation — a term that refers to informal education. She received a Master of Science in May of 2020 from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in the Department of Entomology. Weisbrod’s research focus was on pollinators, pesticides and honey bee management.

Prior to Nebraska, Wiesbrod worked at a zoo and nature center near Manhattan, Kansas, as a conservation specialist, naturalist and zookeeper. After completing her master’s, she taught physiology at Southeast Community College and worked in a laboratory processing DNA.

Wiesbrod said she and her husband Matt are new to Nebraska, having lived here for just three years. They keep busy with a menagerie of pets including a dog, a cat, two conures, a box turtle and a snake. She’s teaching her husband beekeeping as well. Her favorite activities involve the outdoors — hiking, camping and fishing. Weisbrod says she also enjoys attempting to create art, and playing video and board games.


On Aug. 10-11, 2020, a derecho swept across the Plains, producing widespread high, straight-line winds; extreme, torrential rain and hail; and an outbreak of weak tornadoes. The storm killed at least four and left behind significant damage in agricultural areas along a 750-mile path. In fact, its estimated $7.5 billion toll made it the most damaging thunderstorm event in American history.

It was also largely unnoticed outside the Corn Belt at a time when the presidential election, pandemic and racial unrest were dominating the news.

“This was a huge event, but it didn’t receive much coverage, which was one of the huge motivators for me to study it,” said Christine Wittich, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

One of her research areas is community resilience — improving infrastructure to make it less susceptible to natural hazards and reducing the impact of damage to communities. Most research in this field has focused on urban and suburban areas — for example, how buildings can withstand hurricanes or earthquakes. Here was an opportunity to focus on the resilience of critical infrastructure in rural communities. The storage bins and silos dotting the rural landscape often hold thousands of bushels of grain or hundreds of tons of livestock feed. When those structures are damaged or destroyed, the impact is felt locally but can also disrupt the U.S. economy and global food production.

Wittich already had begun researching rural resilience, and she obtained a one-year, $45,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to focus on the derecho’s aftermath. NSF's Rapid Response Research funding mechanism, known as RAPID, enables the agency to quickly process and support research that addresses an urgent need.

“There’s a huge part of the fabric of the United States that we can’t account for right now” in community resilience, she said. “But it’s really critical.”

Storm damage to agricultural infrastructure such as silos is common but tends to be isolated to individual farms and acreages. The derecho’s effects were felt along a path that included Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, with the most serious damage in Iowa. In that state alone, researchers had a rare opportunity to study damage to thousands of structures. There was no widespread structural damage in Nebraska.

Wittich began by poring over news articles and documentation of structural damage in Iowa. She gathered information from the National Weather Service about wind speeds and other conditions in various areas. Then she headed into the field, studying damage, talking to landowners, documenting damage and correlating it with the weather data she’d compiled from NWS.

Wittich also used a drone to get aerial views of the damage, including close-up looks at roof damage. Her team noted crop damage, too.

She’s now back in her lab studying the data. Her findings have the potential to influence standards for new construction and lead to solutions that safeguard existing structures.

Her goal is to establish key parameters that may affect structures’ ability to resist high winds, including foundation type, anchorage depth and baseplate design. Wittich is also investigating how wind speed affects the probability of structural failure, a critical piece to advancing knowledge of structural vulnerability and identifying regions that are especially vulnerable to widespread damage from strong winds. Until engineers better understand these fundamental research questions, agricultural and rural communities will continue to be devastated by high-wind events, Wittich said.

Research could lead to recommendations for future silo construction and ways to remediate existing structures. For example, civil engineers studying hurricane damage developed hurricane clips that could be added to make existing homes less susceptible to high winds.

“We hope to make a determination of what measures should be incorporated. … What are the mitigation measures that we can recommend?” Wittich said.

Northeast Nebraska Cattlemen membership meeting

February 15 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm    
6:00 social
7:00 prime rib dinner
Speaker – Jeff Stolle, NE Cattlemen
Venue -  Geno’s Steakhouse, Wayne, NE

Nebraska Beef Quality Assurance Webinar with Jesse Fulton

March 9 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm    
    Meet Jesse Fulton, the new NE BQA Coordinator
    Discuss the Importance of BQA
    Talk about Training and New Programs
    What Future plans there may be

Click here:  

Nebraska Cattlemen Leading at the National Level

Nebraska Cattlemen once again is leading at the national level with the National Cattlemens Beef Association.

 Buck Wehrbein was voted in to serve as Policy Division Vice Chair. Jaclyn Wilson now serves as Vice Chair for the International Trade Committee. Ken Herz is Vice Chair of Ag and Food Policy Committee. Barb Cooksley continues to serve on the NCBA Executive Committee as Region VII Director on the Policy Division. Jim Ramm also serves on the NCBA Executive Committee representing the Nebraska Beef Council as a revenue seat. Mike Drinnin has started his service to the NCBA Nominating Committee.
Also, Torri Lienemann and Dave Hamilton serve on the Operating Committee for Cattlemen's Beef Board and Jeff Rudolf is on the Operating Committee for the Federation of State Beef Councils.

Other new NCBA Leadership:
    Jerry Bohn (Kansas) - President
    Don Schiefelbein (Minnesota) - President-elect
    Todd Wilkinson (South Dakota) - Vice President
    Mark Eisele (Wyoming) - Chair of the NCBA Policy Division
    Buck Wehrbein (Nebraska) - Vice Chair of the NCBA Policy Division
    Clay Burtrum (Oklahoma) - Chair of the NCBA Federation Division
    Brad Hastings (Texas) - Vice Chair of the NCBA Federation Division

NCBA Policy Update

On Thursday of last week, the NCBA board of directors approved their top 2021 policy priorities, with continued focus on advocating for a business climate that increases opportunities for producer profitability. These priority items are listed below.

NCBA’s policy priorities for the coming year demonstrate several pressing issues facing farmers and ranchers, including:
    Price discovery and transparency in cattle markets is a concern for NCBA members and is a priority for the organization along with ongoing COVID-19 recovery efforts.
    NCBA will continue to ensure that all alternative plant-based or cell-grown protein products are labeled truthfully and their ingredients are fully represented.
    NCBA is committed to protecting those in the cattle industry while strengthening the beef supply chain to meet the growing demand for U.S. beef. The removal of non-tariff barriers to increase worldwide markets for U.S. beef will also remain a priority for the organization.

Nebraska Extension Grass Land Survey

A newly launched survey by Nebraska Extension seeks ranchers’ input on the design of grassland conservation programs in the state. The survey, a partnership among Nebraska Extension, Nebraska Cattlemen's, Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and the University of Nebraska, is a targeted effort to get feedback directly from the ranchers in the state.

The information you provide will be kept confidential and will only be used for the research purposes of this project. Your feedback will allow for grassland conservation programs that enhance ranching livelihoods and Nebraska’s natural resources. This web survey is short and should only take about 10-15 minutes to complete. To access the survey online, please go:  
If you have any questions about the survey, please do not hesitate to contact Kyle Martens who is conducting this survey at 402-472-2660 or

Iowa Corn Announces New Director of Market Development

Iowa Corn is proud to announce the new Director of Market Development, Grant Menke. In this position, Menke focuses on growing the demand for Iowa corn through biofuels, livestock, international trade, and other key market opportunities.

“It is such an honor to join the Iowa Corn team to grow demand for Iowa corn, both domestically and internationally,” said Menke. “With many key market development opportunities and challenges facing Iowa’s corn farmers, particularly in the areas of biofuels, livestock, and international trade, I look forward to working together with Iowa Corn’s board, staff, membership, and partner organizations to address these matters head-on and make more corn disappear.”

Menke comes to Iowa Corn from USDA Rural Development in Iowa where he served as the agency’s State Director. Prior to USDA, Menke worked as the Policy Director for Iowa Renewable Fuels Association and before that held a position in Washington D.C. on the United States Senate Finance Committee staff of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley.

Menke, a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, was raised on a corn and soybean farm near Calumet, Iowa. Currently, Menke resides in Ankeny, Iowa with his wife Susie and their three sons (J.J. 12, Luke 10, and Winn 7).

USGC Recognizes Two Iowa Corn Delegates For 10 Years Of Service

The Council recognized two farmer delegates for 10 years of service at the virtual 18th International Marketing Conference & 61st Annual Membership meeting: Duane Aistrope and Roger Zylstra.

Aistrope serves on the Council’s Board of Directors as an At-Large Director. In this capacity, he works with other elected leaders, staff and membership to understand industry needs and set priorities to develop and strengthen export markets for the U.S. across the globe. Aistrope has been involved with the Council since being elected to the Iowa Corn Promotion Board.

“When I was first elected to the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, I was advised that I would learn about the many initiatives and efforts to improve the industry and grow trade,” he said. “I was also told I would find an area that would spark my interest, and I quickly gravitated toward our work related to exports. Because of this, serving on the Council has provided a natural fit I’m passionate about.”

Aistrope has taken on many roles while at the Council. Prior to being elected to the board, he was a Biotechnology Advisory Team (A-Team) leader.

“I always enjoy opportunities to work with and hear from members about important issues as we set the priorities for our efforts and develop a path for carrying out our work,” he said. “Being an Iowa farm boy and getting to learn about and see so much of the world has been a real eye-opener!”

Roger Zylstra, like Aistrope, was also honored for 10 years of service with the Council. He serves as chairman of the Iowa Promotion Board.

Zylstra began his work with the Council when he was asked to host a trade delegation on his farm. Since then, he has served on several A-Teams, including Biotechnology and Asia, as well as hosting many trade groups on his farm. He has also participated in several trade missions which included travel to Colombia.

“One of my highlights working with the Council was a trade mission to Colombia a couple of years ago,” he said. “On that trade team, we explored the poultry and feed companies in order to further develop markets.”

Being a part of the Council allows Zylstra to share his story with others around the globe.

“It has been an honor for me to share my farming experiences with some of our customers from other countries,” he said. “We grow more than we use. Our success depends on our ability to trade.”

Please join us in congratulating these farmer leaders on their 10 years of service!

Iowa Cattlemen’s Association to Host Education Cattle Producer Forums

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association is hosting four free educational events for feedlot and cow/calf producers in the month of March. Each forum will include a free meal, a tradeshow, an update from the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and Iowa Beef Industry Council, and educational sessions.

March 3 - 5:00 p.m | Afton, IA

Show Arena Union Co. Fairgrounds
909 E Filmore St., Afton IA 50830

“R&R for pastures in 2021—Recovery and Renovation” - Chris Clark
There are numerous reasons why pastures suffered in 2020, but regardless of the reason many need some much needed attention to recover for 2021. This presentation will discuss tools to evaluate current pasture status and techniques to boost existing pasture production or in extreme cases to renovate pastures.

"The Right Price: Grain & Livestock Market Signals for 2021" - Elaine Kub
A comprehensive look at the price levels in the livestock and feed grains industry, analyzing what's projected to be profitable in 2021 and what those profit benchmarks indicate about advantageous sales targets.

Iowa Cattlemen’s Association Update
A lot has happened in the past year. Hear how your association has been at the table advocating for the livelihood of Iowa’s independent cattle producer.

Iowa Beef Industry Council Update
Key accomplishments with the Beef Checkoff from the Iowa Beef Industry Council.  Attendees will have the opportunity to learn ways the Iowa Beef Industry Council is advocating for beef as the number one protein.

Other Dates and Locations:
March 2  - 5:00 p.m. | Bloomfield, IA
March 10 - 5:00 p.m. | Monticello, IA
March 11 - 5:00 p.m. | Oskaloosa, IA

Each event will feature a trade show with the latest products and services for cow-calf and feedlot producers. If you renew your ICA membership at any forum you will receive a pair of ICA gloves.

Producers can RSVP by calling 515-296-2266 or email kate@iacattlemen. Walk-ins are always welcome, and you do not need to be a member to attend.

Invest in Innovation: Attend the 2021 Biotech Showcase

The Iowa Biotechnology Association (IowaBio) has announced the finalists for the 6th annual Biotech Showcase, a bioscience pitch competition offering a $10,000 prize to the winning company. The competition will take place March 2, 2021, during IowaBio’s annual Iowa Biotech Showcase & Conference (“IBSC” – formerly known as Partnering for Growth), to be held virtually in light of COVID-19.

This year’s Biotech Showcase sponsor is Corteva Agriscience, an IowaBio member and a global pure-play agriculture company that provides farmers with the industry’s most complete portfolio of seed, crop protection and digital solutions focused on helping maximize productivity to enhance yield and profitability.

“At Corteva Agriscience, we know that no one can solve the world’s biggest challenges alone – which is why we’re proud to serve as a catalyst for ideas, collaborations and progress through our work in Open Innovation,” said Mat Muller, Leader – Technology Acquisition and Licensing at Corteva Agriscience. “We’re pleased to sponsor this year’s Biotech Showcase and to recognize the immense potential represented in this year’s finalists.”

Eight startup finalists have been carefully selected to compete in the Biotech Showcase based on their innovative technologies across diverse biotechnology industries, including a variety of human and animal health technologies, food supply management platforms, and remote management for livestock facilities. The participating startups are gathered from around the United States, with 50 percent of them based in Iowa.

The 2021 Biotech Showcase finalists are:
3D Health Solutions, Inc – Ames, IA;
CartilaGen, Inc. – Iowa City, IA;
Distynct – Ames, IA;
FBB Biomed – Coralville, IA;
Hilltop BioSciences, Inc. – Mansfield, MA;
LEAH Labs – Rochester, MN;
Mazen Animal Health, Inc – St. Joseph, MO;
Otrafy – St. Paul, MN;

All eight finalists have pre-recorded their full pitch, which are currently available for viewing at On the day of the Biotech Showcase, the finalists will present a live, two-minute “elevator pitch” to a designated expert judge in front of the IBSC virtual attendees. Five minutes of Q&A will follow from the designated judge, and IBSC attendees will have an opportunity to vote on and select a “Fan Favorite.”

Participating judges who will select the Biotech Showcase winner include industry influencers and entrepreneurs from organizations like MedCara Pharmaceuticals, BrownWinick Law, PCS Biotech, and Cargill.

“We are thrilled to once again present the Biotech Showcase as a part of our annual conference,” shared Executive Director Jessica Hyland. “This showcase shines a spotlight on the latest innovation and cutting-edge technology happening in the heartland and across the country. This competition is a great way to support these companies and get the word out about the amazing technologies they are developing. We have an excellent group of companies competing this year, and we can’t wait for the audience to learn more about them.”

Past Biotech Showcase winners have included Skroot Laboratories (2020), Cardio Diagnostics (2019), SynderBio (2018), Aptimmune (2017), and Viewpoint Molecular Targeting (2016).

For a complete list of the 2021 finalists, visit

To see the full, two-day agenda for the Iowa Biotech Showcase & Conference, visit:


In the Northern Plains Region (Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota) there were 36,000 workers hired directly by farm operators on farms and ranches during the week of July 12-18, 2020, down 3% from the July 2019 reference week, according to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Workers numbered 39,000 during the week of October 11-17, 2020, down 9% from the October 2019 reference week.

Farm operators in the Northern Plains Region paid their hired workers an average wage of $16.68 per hour during the July 2020 reference week, up 7% from the July 2019 reference week. Field workers received an average of $16.83 per hour, up $0.93. Livestock workers earned $15.57 per hour, up $1.76. The field and livestock worker combined wage rate at $16.30, was up $1.30 from the 2019 reference week. Hired laborers worked an average of 44.6 hours during the July 2020 reference week, compared with 42.2 hours worked during the July 2019 reference week.

Farm operators paid their hired workers an average wage of $16.83 per hour during the October 2020 reference week, up 6% from the October 2019 reference week. Field workers received an average of $17.04 per hour, up $0.63. Livestock workers earned $15.52 per hour, up $1.76. The field and livestock worker combined wage rate, at $16.45, was up $1.05 from the October 2019 reference week. Hired laborers worked an average of 46.0 hours during the October 2020 reference week, compared with 43.4 hours worked during the October 2019 reference week.

Iowa Ag Labor Report

There were 21,000 workers hired directly by farms in the Cornbelt II Region (Iowa and Missouri) during the reference week of July 12-18, 2020, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Farm Labor Report. This was down 9% from the July 2019 reference week. Farm operators paid their hired workers an average wage rate of $15.90 per hour, up 82 cents from July 2019. The number of hours worked averaged 37.7 for hired workers during the reference week, compared with 37.2 hours during the July 2019 reference week.

During the reference week of October 11-17, 2020, there were 25,000 workers hired directly by farms in the Cornbelt II Region (Iowa and Missouri). This was down 4% from the October 2019 reference week. Farm operators paid their hired workers an average wage rate of $16.10 per hour during the October 2020 reference week, up $1.00 from October 2019.  The number of hours worked averaged 39.8 for hired workers during the reference week, up from 38.3 hours during the October 2019 reference week.

New Research Shows Benefits for Beef Industry from Enogen Corn

Syngenta Seeds, in partnership with the University of Arkansas Resiliency Center, unveiled newly published research highlighting the potential for beef producers to reduce their environmental footprint by using Enogen corn for feed from Syngenta Seeds.

The life cycle assessment is based on studies conducted at the University of Nebraska and Kansas State University, which identified feed efficiency gains of around 5%2, which can lead to reduced emissions and less consumption of natural resources - while still helping farmers maximize their operations.

Agriculture alone is responsible for 12% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and the whole food value chain accounts for 25% of emissions. Syngenta Seeds, as part of the Syngenta Group, is committed to helping the agriculture industry reduce its carbon footprint and play a role in meeting the world's net zero target.

Syngenta Group launched its new Good Growth Plan in June 2020, announcing new targets and investment objectives as part of a $2 billion commitment to help farmers address the effects of climate change and improve long-term agricultural sustainability.

Enogen corn for feed, fed to cattle as grain or silage, helps convert starch to sugar more efficiently, resulting in more readily available energy for livestock. The purpose of the UARC study was to evaluate the performance of Enogen corn for feed - compared to conventional feed corn - when used as an ingredient in their operations. The life cycle assessment was conducted by Drs. Greg Thoma, Marty Matlock and Martin Christy at the University of Arkansas Resiliency Center.

"To your average person, small percentages like 5 percent might not seem significant when feeding cattle," said Marty Matlock, Ph.D., Executive Director of UARC. "But improving sustainability indicators across a complex system like beef production with tens of millions of cattle starts with understanding where the impacts occur in the life cycle of the product. Technological innovations like Enogen corn from Syngenta Seeds have the potential to enhance sustainability of agricultural production, especially reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

The UARC findings indicate that an improvement in feed efficiency - as demonstrated in University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) feeding trials2 - results in approximately 6% improvement in the four key environmental performance metrics of beef production.

The observed environmental performance improvement during the backgrounding phase - as seen in Kansas State University (KSU) trials2 - was in the 3.5-5% range, which suggests Enogen corn for feed is an important potential technology for mitigation of environmental impact in this phase of beef production, as well.

"We're thrilled with this new data from the UARC study that supports earlier research showing clear environmental benefits when using Enogen corn for feed," said Chris Cook, Head, Enogen at Syngenta Seeds.

"Potential feed efficiency gains of around 5%2 are highly significant for beef and dairy producers when you consider there are nearly 100 million cattle in the U.S. alone. It helps maximize potential in their farm operations while also helping to deliver environmental benefits through reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and improvements in land, energy and water use efficiency," said Cook.

 ACE Elects 2021 Officers and Executive Committee  

During its first quarter meeting, the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Board of Directors elected its Officers and Executive Committee for 2021.

Re-elected to serve as officers on the 2021 Executive Committee are:
    Dave Sovereign, Chairman of Golden Grain Energy’s Board, which oversees a locally owned 120 million-gallon-per-year (MGY) ethanol plant in Mason City, Iowa. Sovereign also serves on the Absolute Energy board, a locally owned 125 MGY ethanol producer in St. Ansgar, Iowa. Sovereign accepted the nomination of President of the ACE Board.

“I’m looking forward to lending my perspective as an Iowa farmer who’s served on the boards of two Iowa ethanol plants in this leadership position on the ACE board,” Sovereign said. “After serving on the executive committee for a number of years, I’m eager to further the tremendous work this organization and its staff have done to promote and provide ethanol demand opportunities as its president.”

Duane Kristensen, who served as the President of ACE’s Board of Directors for the past three years, is stepping down from the ACE Executive Committee but keeping his seat on the Board. Kristensen is the General Manager and Vice President of Operations of Chief Ethanol Fuels, which owns a 70 MGY ethanol plant in Hastings and a 40 MGY plant in Lexington, Nebraska.

    Troy Knecht, South Dakota farmer, representing Redfield Energy, a 50 MGY ethanol producer in Redfield, South Dakota. Knecht accepted the nomination of Vice President of the ACE Board.

    Ron Alverson, serving as Treasurer of the ACE Board of Directors, represents Dakota Ethanol, which owns a 50 MGY plant in Wentworth, South Dakota.

    Chris Wilson, General Manager of Mid-Missouri Energy, a 50 MGY plant in Malta Bend, Missouri, serving as the Secretary of the ACE Board.

Newly elected to serve on the 2021 Executive Committee are:

    Chris Studer, Chief Member and Public Relations Officer for East River Electric Power Cooperative.
“East River is proud of our history as a founding member of ACE and a partner in biofuels production as the wholesale electric supplier to over a dozen ethanol plants in the region,” Studer said. “I am looking forward to working alongside my colleagues on the Executive Committee to ensure biofuels and the electric cooperative system have a seat at the table as we work to strengthen rural America.”

    John Christianson, Director of Christianson PLLP, an accounting and business consulting firm for Ag and Renewable Energy, who also served on the Minnesota Biofuels Council’s Executive Committee.
“I’m excited to join the ACE Executive Committee to support ACE’s role to develop new clean fuel policies in the Midwest and at the federal level which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase ethanol demand, and reward ag producers for being stewards of our environment,” Christianson said.

Imports of Cattle and Beef Hit Historical High in 2020

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) recently released cattle and beef trade data for December provide the whole cattle and beef trade picture for the 2020 calendar year. According to R-CALF USA, the volume of imported beef, cattle, beef variety meat and processed beef hit an all-time high of nearly 2 million metric tons, or about 4.4 billion pounds in 2020.

Calculating the volume of both cattle and beef is difficult as imported beef and beef products are recorded by weight while imported cattle are recorded by the number of head. To account for these differing measures, R-CALF USA converts imported cattle numbers to pounds by multiplying the number of imported cattle by each years’ average cattle carcass weight. This enables R-CALF USA to express both imports and exports of beef and cattle in terms of weight.

The USDA’s recently updated data also show the average price of fed cattle in 2020 was just under $1.09 per pound, while all-fresh retail beef prices averaged about $6.39 per pound, the highest yearly average all-fresh beef price in history.    

R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard said the 2020 average fed cattle price was lower than in any year during the past decade. He said in 2011 the average fed cattle price was $1.15 per pound, and back then consumers only paid on average $4.44 per pound for all-fresh beef.

Bullard explained that these data inform both cattle producers and consumers that importing record volumes of cheaper, undifferentiated beef and cattle does not correlate with lower consumer beef prices, but it does correlate with severely depressed domestic cattle prices.

“With that knowledge, both cattle producers and consumers should be calling their congressional delegations to tell them America must put a stop to failed trade policies that promote cheaper imports at the expense of American cattle farmers and ranchers on one end of the food supply chain and American consumers on the other,” Bullard said.

As shown by the chart below, the U.S. has consistently imported more beef and cattle than it exports for the past several decades, making the U.S. a net importer of beef and cattle and causing a 30-year cumulative trade deficit of over 20 million metric tons, or about 44 billion pounds of beef and cattle.

“To put this in perspective, in 2020 we exported 2.9 billion pounds of beef and cattle – the fourth-largest export volume in history – but we imported 4.4 billion pounds. That means for each 1-pound of beef and cattle exported in 2020, we imported over 1.5 pounds of beef and cattle.

“And that’s well below the 30-year average. In other words, for 30 years we’ve imported well over 1.5 pounds of beef for each 1-pound exported.

“Imagine how much stronger our domestic food supply chain would be, and how many more opportunities U.S. cattle farmers and ranchers would have if America stopped displacing the production of our American family famers and ranchers with billions of pounds of foreign beef and cattle,” Bullard concluded.

 UPDATE: Stimulus Proposal, Ag Provisions

American Soybean Association

The House Agriculture Committee held a lengthy business meeting yesterday to officially organize and consider agricultural-related provisions of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan.

The stimulus consideration process was distinctly different than the path of past COVID relief packages. The congressional process of budget reconciliation is being used as a parliamentary tool to fast-track the stimulus legislation with a simple majority vote in the House and Senate.

Chairman David Scott (D-GA) described the stimulus provisions as a way to address needs that were not included in the December year-end COVID package. That December package included more than $11 billion in ag relief, including supplemental Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) payments, which has not yet been implemented by USDA.

The stimulus provisions approved by the committee on a party line vote include:
    $1 billion in assistance to and support for community-based organizations and 1890 Land Grant and other minority-serving institutions that work with Black farmers and other farmers of color on land access, financial training, heirs property issues, training the next generation and access to education
    Farm Loan Assistance for Black farmers and other farmers of color
    Extending 15% SNAP benefit increase through September 30, 2021
    $37 million to the Commodity Supplemental Food Program to fill a gap that has grown as food for this program has become scarcer during the pandemic
    $500 million in Community Facility Program funds to help rural hospitals and local communities broaden access to COVID-19 vaccines & food assistance
    $3.6 billion for the Secretary of Agriculture to continue to help the food and ag sector supply chains
    $100 million in overtime fee relief to small meat and poultry processors currently grappling with COVID-19-related backlogs
    $800 million for the Food for Peace program, including for purchases of U.S.-grown crops used in international humanitarian aid

The sole amendment approved by the committee was proposed by Rep. Feenstra (R-IA) to extend WHIP+ coverage to 2020 crop losses and clarify that high winds and derechos are covered causes of loss. Rep. Axne (D-IA) crossed party lines to support the amendment.

The provisions passed by the House Agriculture Committee will now be combined with relief approved by other committees before moving to the full House for consideration.

Soy Checkoff Supports Study on Sustainable Ag Tech Investment

The United Soybean Board is a proud funding partner and endorses a multi-organizational initiative to connect private sector capital investors with innovative climate-smart, soil-centric agricultural technologies. U.S. farmers are leaders when it comes to using leading-edge technologies and best management practices to improve soil health while also increasing economic and environmental sustainability. By scaling up climate-smart agriculture, U.S. agriculture could reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by more than half by 2025, from 9.9% to 3.8%, and ultimately be a carbon sink by 2035 at -4% of total U.S. GHG emissions by 2035.

U.S. Farmers & Ranchers in Action (USFRA) partnered with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, The Mixing Bowl and Croatan Institute to release a report that analyzes the state of emerging soil health technology and the need for climate-smart technologies to be commercialized with partnership funding from private sector capital investors.

“U.S. agriculture has the potential to be the first net negative greenhouse gas emissions sector in our economy,” said Lynn Rohrscheib, USB farmer-leader from Illinois and USFRA board member. “Reaching that goal is important to me because sustainability’s connection to improving soil health translates into long-term viability for my farm and the next generation.”

Providing economic context, the report included an in-depth analysis of the $972 billion in annual capital that flows from asset owners through asset classes and financial intermediaries to participants in the U.S. agricultural value chain. The report revealed the primary funding sources include institutional investors (approx. $600 billion), retail investors (approx. $360 billion) and U.S. government via federal/state payments and incentives (approx. $20 billion).

Beyond investment, leveraging technology to accelerate and scale on-farm adoption of climate-smart agriculture encompasses several action steps that align with USB’s sustainability goals. This ranges from supporting the development of tools that collect on-farm data to exchanging best practice know-how and data related to soil health, yield, profitability, etc. The report outlines these action steps as a vital linchpin to unlock the full potential of our soils.

“It is critical the financial community partners with farmers and ranchers to help the U.S. achieve a transitional net-zero economy," said USFRA CEO Erin Fitzgerald. “Farmers and ranchers and the sector need investment over the next decade to realize the potential of agricultural soils as a natural climate solution.”

Climate-smart agriculture is a suite of practices that increases productivity and income, enhances resiliency and adaptive capacity and reduces GHG emissions. Overall, the USFRA report focuses on six established farming and ranching practices, spanning:
    No-till/reduced tillage with retained residues.
    Cover crops.
    Crop rotation.
    Compost application.
    Managed grazing.
    Integrated crop and livestock systems.

The soy checkoff’s sustainability goals intrinsically align with the six practices outlined in the USFRA report. From reducing land use impact by 10%, greenhouse gas emissions by 10% and soil erosion by 25%, while increasing energy use efficiency by 10%, U.S. soybean farmers can use sustainable farming practices to reduce their environmental footprint.

“This report reinforces the value of what can be achieved through sustainable farming practices and the momentum possible through investments in technology to enable U.S. soybean farmers to become carbon-negative,” said Mace Thornton, USB vice president of communications and marketing strategy and USFRA Communications Council chair. “Partnerships for investments are critical to forge the widespread integration of these climate-smart agricultural technologies.”

The release of this investment report is one step and an essential pathway in the process of mapping soil carbon sequestration targets. USFRA will bring together representatives from each of the participating organizations, companies and investment partners to co-create action plans and funding/investment streams to continue moving the initiative forward. In addition to USB, the research was funded by Wells Fargo & Company.

Biden Administration’s Travel Ban Affects Supply of Foreign H-2A Workers for Agriculture

At their annual convention, U.S. Custom Harvesters (USCHI) hosted a day-long H-2A learning session for their members at their annual conference. The next week, Monday, January 25, the Biden Administration banned foreign travelers from South Africa, Brazil, the United Kingdom and 26 other European countries due to concerns regarding the Covid-19 and new virus variants. These countries are where many custom harvesters hire their seasonal crews.  

After USCHI and other ag groups expressed concerns to the Administration, the State Department announced that H-2A and H-2B travelers that were covered by the Presidential Proclamation of January 25, 2021 will now receive a waiver under the National Interest Exception since they are “essential to the economy and food security of the United States.”  While this alleviates some of the concern with South African workers, it does not provide relief from other countries subject to the ban.

According to the Department of Labor, H-2A workers are defined as nonimmigrant workers that perform agricultural labor on a temporary or seasonal nature. In the third quarter of 2020, there was a four percent increase in H-2A positions from the prior year, nearing 90,000 temporary jobs. “Most custom harvesters try to fill their crews with American employees, but due to the seasonality of the job, that becomes unfeasible. Many of our members will start their harvest season in the southern states in March and will continue north until late fall. That is only about 8 months of work, so utilizing H-2A workers makes sense for our members,” said Raph Jolliffe, USCHI president.

“What I’ve been told is there are about 5,000 workers that the harvest industry uses through the H-2A program for this country,” said Louie Perry, Cornerstone Government Affairs. "We understand that a travel ban may be necessary to stop the spread of Covid-19, but it has created a serious issue for the harvesting and agricultural industry, which is the foundation of the food system. We look forward to working with the Biden Administration to define a pathway to get these essential food system workers cleared to continue to support the U.S. food supply.”

Ethanol: Your Cold-Weather Friend

Robert White, Vice President of Industry Relations, Renewable Fuels Assoc.

With temperatures at or below freezing in many states, a lot of drivers are curious or concerned about the effect on their vehicles. And there are systems you especially need to watch or maintain, such as your battery and your radiator.

Thanks to ethanol, however, one old worry drivers used to have has gone away—the possibility of gas freezing in the tank or the fuel line. Since ethanol is an alcohol, and present in a higher amount than a bottle of gasoline antifreeze in a tank, it does a terrific job at keeping your fuel from freezing. Even Gold Eagle, producer of one of the most popular brands of gasoline antifreeze, recognizes this: “Most gas contains up to 10 percent ethanol and will work as antifreeze.”

Here are some more explanations from experts in the field:
“Water does collect in gas tanks and fuel lines from moisture in the air, or from the storage tanks at gas stations. Today, however, vehicles in most parts of the country burn gasoline that includes up to 10 percent ethanol, a form of alcohol that performs the same water-absorbing chores as brand-name gasoline antifreezes,” writes “Gas-line antifreeze isn’t expensive and probably can’t hurt, but if you have 15 gallons of fuel in your vehicle and 10 percent of it is ethanol, your tank already has 1.5 gallons of alcohol in it. Adding another 12 to 16 ounces of alcohol is not going to provide any additional protection against freezing.”

An auto writer at agrees: “Gasoline deicer sales have plummeted in the last ten years because fuel producers are putting ethanol (ethyl alcohol) into their blends. Fuel deicer’s primary active ingredient is alcohol, so if refineries are putting 10 percent alcohol into their regular blends, a few ounces from a plastic bottle into a full tank won’t really add much to the mix.”

And we can be sure Minnesotans know how to deal with cold weather. “Adding a gas line antifreeze is not necessary when using ethanol-blended fuel, writes an auto columnist at the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “The ethanol — ethyl or grain alcohol — is an effective antifreeze/moisture remover so no additional additive is necessary.”

Whatever the season or weather, ethanol-blended fuel is a smart option for so many reasons. Stay warm, stay safe—and choose ethanol!

SfL 'Agriculture Renaissance' Report Spotlights Global Farmer Leadership

Today’s newly released white paper from Solutions from the Land (SfL) notes that the 21st century is now fully under way, amid weather-related crop failures; locust plagues; wildfires and deforestation; regional conflicts; loss of biodiversity; erosion of ecosystem health and functionality; a changing climate; and the spillover of 2020’s global pandemic into 2021.
Our 20th century agricultural production and conservation systems are increasingly under stress and are proving to be inadequate to manage the risks and uncertainties of 21st century production. SfL’s report promotes solution pathways that better boost not only food security, but energy, healthy ecosystems and livelihoods as well.
The paper highlights an overarching objective of the vision for 21st century agricultural and forestry production systems: attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 17 objectives set in 2015 for 2030 by UN members to call for (among other outcomes) the elimination of hunger, the restoration of clean water resources, the development of clean energy and the mitigation of a changing climate.
To address these multiple outcomes, agriculture is critical, and must be defined through the lens of a broader reality of living as opposed to simply surviving. SfL’s report sets out this vision, with pathways to promote the resilience needed to maintain abundance in the years to come.
The farmers, foresters and ranchers of today must address the proliferating and varied challenges surrounding hunger, livelihoods, water scarcity, clean water, healthy soil, ecosystem resilience, climate change, greenhouse gases and a whole range of local and global realities. To meet them, the paper offers a lengthy list of technologies and innovations being applied to support precision agriculture, agricultural ecosystem and biodiversity management, and easier, more effective ways for farmers and others in farming landscapes to communicate and collaborate.
Advanced science is also uncovering processes in microbiology, plant biology, agroecology and landscape ecology – at field, farm and landscape scales – that can be harnessed to develop nature-positive production systems and maximize the experiential or indigenous experience of farmers. Inventions from in every field of technology, data and biological science are rapidly moving past conceptualization to experimental trials and mainstream uses.
"Yet despite these advances," the report warns, "without the full engagement of farmers, foresters and their partners, our capacity to transform the systems of agriculture for the future will be compromised. The development of a more dynamic and robust toolbox is essential, but will be insufficient without the voice, experience, and understanding that the stewards of the land provide as they move beyond timely projections to address changes and threats in real time." In other words, those on the front line must have support and resources to strike new ground in managing their lands and shaping their working landscapes.
A vision for working landscapes of the future offered by the paper brings production, environmental, food, and nutrition policies into harmony and streamlines regulations that are too often overlapping and contradictory. It is a model that engages with farmers to sharpen a shared focus on outcomes, not prescriptive mandates that tell farmers how to farm.
The vision calls for strategies anchored by the three overlapping climate smart agriculture (CSA) pillars: 1) sustainable intensification of production, 2) adaptive management and 3) greenhouse gas reduction. The paper notes that a CSA approach does not prioritize any one of the pillars and represents the simultaneous co-benefits that accrue from their pursuit. Subsequently, a "many pathways" approach to managing working lands recognizes the tremendous diversity of agricultural landscapes and ecosystems, and enables producers to utilize the systems and practices that best support their own unique situations and circumstances.
Thanks to hard work, indigenous knowledge, innovation and technology, and uncommon collaboration among those who make their living off the land, agriculture is poised to bloom, grow, and emerge as a primary solution pathway towards the achievement of worldwide sustainable development goals. SfL invites partners across the planet to join in this epic quest and movement to position farmers, ranchers and foresters at the forefront of addressing global challenges.

Turn outliers into a profit opportunity, not a loss equation

J.P. Pollreisz, DVM, Beef Technical Services, Zoetis

No one wants sick cattle. From well-being concerns to unexpected costs, it can be a lose-lose situation. But when cattle do get sick, intentionally managing bovine respiratory disease (BRD) chronics and other outliers can help you improve animal well-being and stop economic losses you might not even know exist.

While outliers — those animals that are chronically ill or need surgical care — are an expected occurrence, especially on a feedlot, they might be undermining the profit opportunity of the whole pen or group of cattle if they aren’t managed intentionally.

What are the real costs?

By my calculations, mismanaging just two out of 100 animals could be the difference between profit and loss. Consider that selling an animal as a realizer or railer is only going to provide about 40% of the forecasted sale price. That’s a lost opportunity cost of about $900 based on current fat cattle prices.

Outlier napkin math:
    $600 salvage price/animal
    $1,500 average market price/animal - $600 salvage price = $900 saved/animal
    $900 x 2 outliers = $1,800
    $1,800 divided by a group of 100 head = $18/head gain just from better managing two out of 100

Add in the cost of space, labor and treatment that you put into keeping a chronically ill animal in the sick pen and you can start to picture the true losses. Don’t forget that shipping an animal at the wrong time — resulting in a violative residue — carries repercussions for the feedyard. A follow-up inspection by state or federal authorities often occurs, and increased scrutiny when cattle are marketed may be instituted if multiple violative residues are detected.

But in reality, you don’t want to just realize or salvage these animals, you want to get them back on the fat truck. And that may be possible in some outlier situations with intentional management. Intentionally managing these animals can set your business apart from others that might be just absorbing the losses.

The path to intentional management

So where can you start? Start by asking a few key questions for your operation:
        1. How do you manage your outliers?
        2. What is your relationship with your veterinarian for these animals?
        3. How do you bill out your feed in your outlier pen? Are they getting a "free meal"?
        4. How well and how often do you train employees on identifying and treating these animals?
        5. What is the condemnation rate of your realizers?

Remember: Your veterinarian is a critical part of this discussion to help you build protocols, prescribe treatments, develop management plans and provide medical care for outliers.

A colleague of mine, Dr. Kynan Sturgess, co-owner of Hereford Veterinary Clinic in Hereford, Texas, has been talking with his customers about this topic. He says while the economic conversation makes sense, it all comes down to constant communication and training with employees. He suggests starting by:
    Identifying the specific issue facing each animal and then treating it individually
    Working with your local veterinarian to set up specific care plans for each condition
    Training employees on surgical procedures, or setting up a plan of care with your veterinarian
    Focusing on follow-up care for the animals — this could include nutrition, pain mitigation, specific environmental needs and keeping them separate from their original pen

While not every outlier case will be able to get back to optimum performance, intentionally treating and managing these animals can help recover losses you might be overlooking.

The bottom line

At the end of the day, it’s about considering how you are currently managing these animals and evaluating where you have unexpected losses. Once you clearly see the impact, work with your veterinarian to develop standard operating procedures so that management becomes turnkey, and you can get these animals back on the right track.  

Wednesday February 10 Ag News

Nebraska Farm Service Agency to Host Quality Loss Adjustment Program Webinar on Feb. 17

Nebraska U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) is hosting a public webinar next week to review details of the Quality Loss Adjustment (QLA) Program. The event will run from 12 p.m.-1 p.m. CST on Wednesday, Feb. 17.

Those interested in accessing the webinar can join the event at the following link:

Another way to access this link is by visiting the Nebraska FSA website at and finding QLA under the “Spotlights” section.

During the 1-hour live event, Nebraska FSA program specialists will review details of the QLA program, provide examples of qualifying crop quality losses and review the steps to complete a QLA application.

The deadline to apply for the QLA program is Friday, March 5. The QLA program provides assistance to producers who suffered eligible crop quality losses due to natural disasters occurring in 2018 and 2019. As part of the application process, producers must be able to provide documentation to support claims of quality loss or nutrient loss, such as scale tickets, sales receipts from buyers, settlement sheets or written sales contracts.

“This program may be applicable for quality losses suffered as a result of excessive moisture and flooding in 2019,” said Tim Divis, acting state executive director for Nebraska Farm Service Agency. “FSA has already completed program work related to quantity losses, and we want to ensure producers understand how this program works regarding quality losses.”

Visit to learn more about the program or contact your FSA county office. To locate your nearest FSA county office, visit and click on the Service Center locator.


– Brad Schick, NE Extension Educator

Last week we looked at crude protein and how it is used for the rumen microbes and the animal. Today, we will look at neutral-detergent fiber or NDF and acid-detergent fiber or ADF.

Both NDF and ADF are part of a detergent analysis system used to analyze forages and their physical and chemical components. NDF measures how much of the forage sample is cell wall or fiber. This includes cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, and silica portions of the forage which are the primary structural components. NDF is related to voluntary intake and rumen fill as well as how much energy is available to the animal. Usually, a low NDF results in higher energy available to the animal. As a forage plant matures, NDF increases and the forage quality decreases. NDF levels can vary from 80% in straw to less than 40% in early bloom alfalfa.

ADF measures cellulose and lignin, which, are usually the least digestible parts of the plant. ADF is related to the digestibility of the forage. This is used to calculate total digestible nutrients or TDN which will be covered next week. As ADF increases, the digestibility decreases. This means that high ADF forages are usually lower in energy. Alfalfa at early bloom has an ADF of 30-35% while a late bloom alfalfa has an ADF usually above 40%. Straw will have an ADF nearer to 50%.

NDF and ADF influence forage intake and digestibility. This can help predict animal performance by understanding how forage quality affects animal performance. We can also use this information to help decide when to harvest hay or what quality of hay to purchase.

Bacon Named Ranking Member of House Agriculture Subcommittee

Rep. Don Bacon (NE-02) has been named as Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations. The subcommittee addresses policies and statutes relating to nutrition, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and domestic commodity distribution and consumer initiatives, as well as department agency oversight and special investigations.

“During this pandemic, more families are struggling to put food on the table as they suffer job losses and income reductions. I am looking forward to working on how we can best make nutrition and domestic food assistance programs more efficient and effective so families most in need will get the assistance these programs were intended to provide,” said Rep. Bacon. “This includes looking at ways we can improve program integrity and move people toward self-sufficiency by incentivizing work.”

“Congressman Bacon will work tirelessly to help hunger challenged families as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations,” said Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, Republican Leader of the House Agriculture Committee. “I know he has the keen eye and dedication necessary to advance thoughtful oversight and pro-growth policies, and I’m thankful for his leadership this Congress.”

“I thank Ranking Member Thompson for placing his faith in me to serve in this position,” added Rep. Bacon.

Chairman Scott Welcomes Members of the House Agriculture Committee for the 117th Congress

Ahead of today's House Agriculture Committee Full Committee Virtual Meeting, Chairman David Scott of Georgia welcomed new and returning Democratic Members of the Committee for the 117th Congress.

"The issues facing the Agriculture Committee are as important now than ever before," said Chairman Scott. "While this roster includes an impressive diversity of region, background, and agricultural priorities, I have faith that each of these Members will work diligently to fight for the interests of our consumers, food and fiber producers, and rural communities."

By seniority, Democratic Members of the House Agriculture Committee for the 117th Congress:
David Scott, Georgia, Chairman
Jim Costa, California
Jim McGovern, Massachusetts
Filemon Vela, Texas
Alma Adams, North Carolina, Vice-Chair
Abigail Spanberger, Virginia
Jahana Hayes, Connecticut
Antonio Delgado, New York
Bobby Rush, Illinois
Chellie Pingree, Maine
Gregorio Sablan, Northern Mariana Islands
Ann Kuster, New Hampshire
Cheri Bustos, Illinois
Sean Patrick Maloney, New York
Stacey Plaskett, U.S. Virgin Islands
Tom O'Halleran, Arizona
Salud Carbajal, California
Ro Khanna, California
Al Lawson, Florida
Luis J. Correa, California
Angie Craig, Minnesota
Josh Harder, California
Cindy Axne, Iowa
Kim Schrier, Washington
Jimmy Panetta, California

IFBF on developing Iowa biofuels standard

Iowa Farm Bureau Federation President Craig Hill

"The Iowa Farm Bureau applauds Governor Reynolds’ efforts to set a biofuels standard in Iowa. By raising the floor for biofuel blends and increasing the percentage of ethanol and biodiesel sold in Iowa, we can create growth opportunities in renewable fuels for our rural communities and farmers.

This is a proven approach that has worked for decades in other Midwestern states, and it is imperative that Iowa, the national leader in biofuels production, catches up with our neighboring states in enacting policies promoting biofuel sales.

Farm Bureau members look forward to working with the Governor and Iowa legislature to move Iowa’s biofuels policies forward."

Weekly Ethanol Production for 2/5/2021

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending February 5, ethanol production ticked 0.1% higher, or 1,000 barrels per day (b/d), to 937,000 b/d—equivalent to 39.35 million gallons daily. Production remained 9.3% below the same week last year. The four-week average ethanol production rate was unchanged at 938,000 b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 14.38 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks declined 2.1% to 23.8 million barrels, which was 2.3% below a year-ago. Inventories drew down across all regions except the Midwest (PADD 2) and Rocky Mountains (PADD 4).

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, increased 1.1% to 7.86 million b/d (120.45 bg annualized). Gasoline demand was 9.9% less than a year ago.

Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol rose 0.9% to 785,000 b/d, equivalent to 12.03 bg annualized. This was 10.1% below the year-earlier level as a result of the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were zero imports of ethanol recorded for the week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of December 2020.)

 Urea Prices Jump 16% Above Last Month as Prices for All 8 Fertilizers Surge

Retail fertilizer prices skyrocketed higher in the first week of February, according to prices tracked by DTN.

Once again, all eight of the major fertilizers' prices were higher, but this time, they're all up a significant amount, which DTN designates as 5% or more. Leading the way higher was urea. The nitrogen fertilizer was up a whopping 16% compared to last month and had an average price of $429/ton. That's a $61/ton gain.  Right behind urea was DAP, which was 15% more expensive, looking back to last month. The phosphorus fertilizer's average price was $554/ton, up $72/ton.

Next up was UAN28, which saw an increase of 14% from last month. The liquid nitrogen had an average price of $239/ton, up $30/ton.  MAP was 11% higher from last month. The phosphorus fertilizer's average price was $601/ton, up $58/ton. The last time MAP was above the $600/ton level was the first week of October 2014. That week, MAP had an average price of $600/ton.

Three fertilizers were 8% higher compared to the previous month. Anhydrous had an average price of $507/ton, up $37/ton; 10-34-0 $502/ton, up $38/ton; and UAN32 $272/ton, up $21/ton.  Potash was also significantly higher. The fertilizer was 5% more expensive from last month and had an average price of $389/ton, up $20/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.47/lb.N, up 3 cents from last month; anhydrous $0.31/lb.N, up 1 cent; UAN28 $0.43/lb.N, up 4 cents; and UAN32 $0.42/lb.N, up 2 cents.

With retail fertilizer prices moving higher over recent months, all fertilizers are now higher in price from a year ago with one exception. UAN32 is still 2% less expensive looking back to last year.  UAN28 is now 2% more expensive, anhydrous is 3% higher, potash is 4% more expensive, 10-34-0 is 8% higher, urea is 19% more expensive, DAP is 34% higher and MAP is 38% more expensive compared to last year.

Economic Boom From Grain Exports Highlights Need For Trade Access, Market Development

Access to international markets for U.S. grain supported an additional $41.8 billion in business sales during 2018 over and above the value of the grain sold, according to a study commissioned by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) - highlighting the importance of new market access and robust market development for the profitability of U.S. grain farmers.

The study - the fourth in a series conducted by Informa Economics/IHS Markit - pegged the direct value of U.S. corn, sorghum, barley and the grain components of ethanol, distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and certain meat products at $22.7 billion, for a total economic output of $64.5 billion in 2018.

This analysis and that preceding it based on 2014, 2015 and 2016 sales help make the case for trade as a top priority for U.S. agriculture and the new administration's outreach to the global community.

"Exports are a driver for our economy in general, but nowhere is that more important than in agriculture," said Ryan LeGrand, president and CEO of the Council, which works in more than 50 countries to build export markets for U.S. grains and grain products.

"We know that demand today from our overseas customers helps support price and basis for farmers throughout the United States. Demand tomorrow will come from the growing populations in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Putting a dollar figure to the impact that demand has here at home just highlights how important it is to keep working with our customers around the world."

The study showed in detail the importance of grains exports to the U.S. economy and jobs. It determined the export of grain products supported U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by $27 billion over what would have occurred without such exports, with roughly 295,000 jobs linked directly or indirectly to grain exports.

“This look at the economic contributions provided by each U.S. state and 52 Congressional districts will allow NCGA and our corn grower members to effectively demonstrate to lawmakers the need for policies that support U.S. agriculture’s competitiveness around the world,” said NCGA CEO Jon Doggett.

U.S. food and agriculture support up to 20 percent of all U.S. economic activity, making the industry one of the country's most important. The grain industry data show the positive impacts of grain exports extend well beyond the farm gate into wholesale trade, real estate, oil and natural gas extraction, and pesticide and chemical manufacturing as well as local hospitals and restaurants supported by dollars that start with agricultural producers.

"Grains exports are a way to bring the wealth of the world home to U.S. farmers' local communities," LeGrand said. "We often tell our farmer members that the world is their market, and this study goes a long way to proving that.”

Telling the story of trade’s impact on the farm sector and the wider economy is a critical part of gaining support for trade policy enforcement and development as well as engagement with overseas customers.

“Agriculture trade is a great story for the American farmer. We’re optimistic about the many opportunities to expand our trading relationships before us today that will continue to enable U.S. agriculture to be a vital part of the U.S. economy,” Doggett said.

National Sorghum Producers Announces March 1 Virtual Industry Forum

National Sorghum Producers will host a virtual industry forum March 1 at 5:30 p.m. central to honor 2020 Sorghum Yield Contest winners and address relative issues and advancements in the sorghum industry. The event will take place in advance of Commodity Classic where it is typically held in person, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, all events will take place virtually this year.  

“We look forward to bringing the same level of energy and insight into this condensed virtual program to honor our 2020 sorghum yield contest winners and to address sorghum farmers nationwide,” NSP CEO Tim Lust said. “The beauty of having a virtual event is we are able to open this forum to the entire industry and guests through an efficient, informative and entertaining program.”

The event, sponsored by Pioneer Seeds, will feature a keynote with insights from Washington, D.C. Reece Cannady, U.S. Grains Council manager for global trade, and Sorghum Checkoff director Florentino Lopez will overview opportunities relating to current markets and sorghum demand. This will be followed by updates from Sorghum Checkoff Agronomy Director Brent Bean on the No. 1 producer requested advancement in sorghum seed technology—improved grass control with herbicide tolerant sorghum.

NSP encourages interested participants to view the event website to learn more about the program agenda and speakers. The first 50 farmers to RSVP to the event at will receive a Sorghum: The Smart Choice ® t-shirt and a pair of NSP cotton gloves.

Philippines to Ramp Up Pork Imports

The Philippines plans to increase pork imports this year to roughly 400,000 tonnes, more than double the initial proposal, as it seeks to cover a domestic shortfall that has pushed market prices higher, its farm minister said on Tuesday.

According to Reuters, a government advisory panel has endorsed the import volume for approval, which is much higher than the 162,000 tonnes planned earlier, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a briefing.

The Southeast Asian country, among the world's biggest pork importers, is under increasing pressure to boost supply of the meat, a mainstay in the Filipino diet, after African swine fever outbreaks reduced hog inventories.

Philippine inflation hit a two-year high in January, partly due to higher pork prices.

Creeping inflation suggests that the room to maintain an accommodative monetary policy to support recovery of the country's pandemic-hit economy might be narrowing, some economists have said.

The plan is still subject to a review by a Cabinet panel before it is recommended for final approval by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The public shock over spikes in meat prices has also prompted the government to allot billions of pesos for hog repopulation and impose a two-month price cap for both pork and chicken in the capital region starting this week.

Grazing more can help save on feed costs

The prospects for higher grain prices, drought-tightened hay inventories and market uncertainty give producers ample incentive to focus on maximizing pasture production this grazing season. Growing more, high-quality grazed forages is an excellent cost-containment strategy, and getting the jump on weeds is a great place to start.

When weeds, brush or other undesirable plants encroach on grazing space, it’s usually a sign something is amiss in the pasture. Pasture turnout might seem a long way off, but it’s never too early to plan. Adjusting grazing strategies, improving soil fertility and other early season improvements can help set the course for a better start to the grazing season.

“Annual and biennial broadleaf weeds can green up even before pasture grasses. Once up and growing, weeds are just stealing the moisture, nutrients and sunlight forages need,” says Scott Flynn, Zonal Biology Lead at Corteva Agriscience. “Catching weeds early gives pasture grasses a competitive advantage.”

Early in the season means when weeds are small and growing. At that size, they’re easy to cover and control, and they haven’t robbed much from the grass yet.

Using a residual herbicide, such as DuraCor® herbicide, early in the season stops weeds that are up and growing while providing control of those that germinate later. This extended control will help stop weeds throughout the season, preserving moisture and allowing grasses to get a head start on the weeds.

“Following a year where weather conditions were less than favorable, I encourage producers to scout early and often to prepare for what’s to come,” Flynn says. “Eliminating weeds lets the grass get up and growing. From there, the cow can be a very good management tool. You can work with her to graze properly so the grasses shade and outcompete the weeds.”

Advancements in genetics and traits from Syngenta address local challenges

For many growers, elite corn hybrids with the most current trait packages are the pivotal factor behind strong yield and profit potential.  To give growers highly informed choices, Syngenta increased genetic trialling by more than 30%, offering a deeper, more extensive understanding of how hybrids perform in different environments and soil types.

“A greater understanding of how our pipeline performs in local environments means we can place products on farms with a higher level of confidence because we’ve tested them in research and development (R&D) trials under a wide variety of environments,” said Drew Showalter, strategic marketing manager for corn at Syngenta Seeds.

The Trait Conversion Accelerator, a $30 million corn breeding facility in Nampa, Idaho, is home to the Syngenta R&D and seed production site where a majority of Syngenta North American corn trait conversion work takes place.

The site features state-of-the-art greenhouses and laboratories that provide reliable, controlled growing environments where Syngenta incorporates desired genes from trait donor sources into elite cultivars or breeding lines. The site ultimately furthers the Syngenta commitment to agronomic innovation.

These investments and trials test for regional challenges like yield consistency and standability by simulating various growing environments. Testing products in extensive, controlled environments and implementing comprehensive data collection allow Syngenta to bring fully tested, specialized corn hybrids and seed traits to market that meet the needs of specific local geographies with varying conditions.

“We develop products with growers’ production problems first and foremost in mind,” said Tim O’Brien, Ph.D., Agrisure® traits manager at Syngenta. “We’re not just developing hybrids, varieties or traits for the sake of building a portfolio — we direct our research to solve the problems that keep farmers up at night.”

World's First Cultivated Ribeye Steak Made from 3D Bioprinting

Aleph Farms Ltd. and its research partner at the faculty of Biomedical Engineering at the Technion -- Israel Institute of Technology, have successfully cultivated the world's first slaughter-free ribeye steak, using three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting technology and natural building blocks of meat -- real cow cells, without genetic engineering and immortalization. With this proprietary technology developed just two short years after it unveiled the world's first cultivated thin-cut steak in 2018 which did not utilize 3D bioprinting, Aleph Farms has the ability to produce any type of steak and plans to expand its portfolio of quality meat products.

Unlike 3D printing technology, Aleph Farms' 3D bioprinting technology is the printing of actual living cells that are then incubated to grow, differentiate, and interact, in order to acquire the texture and qualities of a real steak. A proprietary system, similar to the vascularization that occurs naturally in tissues, enables the perfusion of nutrients across the thicker tissue and grants the steak with the similar shape and structure of its native form as found in livestock before and during cooking.

"This breakthrough reflects an artistic expression of the scientific expertise of our team," enthuses Didier Toubia, Co-Founder and CEO of Aleph Farms. "I am blessed to work with some of the greatest people in this industry. We recognize some consumers will crave thicker and fattier cuts of meat. This accomplishment represents our commitment to meeting our consumer's unique preferences and taste buds, and we will continue to progressively diversify our offerings," adds Toubia. "Additional meat designs will drive a larger impact in the mid and long term. This milestone for me marks a major leap in fulfilling our vision of leading a global food system transition toward a more sustainable, equitable and secure world."

The cultivated ribeye steak is a thicker cut than the company's first product -- a thin-cut steak. It incorporates muscle and fat similar to its slaughtered counterpart and boasts the same organoleptic attributes of a delicious tender, juicy ribeye steak you'd buy from the butcher.

"With the realization of this milestone, we have broken the barriers to introducing new levels of variety into the cultivated meat cuts we can now produce. As we look into the future of 3D bioprinting, the opportunities are endless," says Technion Professor Shulamit Levenberg, Aleph's Co-Founder, Chief Scientific Advisor and a major brainpower behind the company's IP. Levenberg is considered a global leader in tissue engineering and has amassed over two decades of research in the field at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in the United States and at the Technion, in Israel. Levenberg is also the former Dean of the Biomedical Engineering Faculty at the Technion.

Aleph Farms' plans to diversify its offering align with its mission to create a global platform for local production, leveraging a highly scalable technology to create culinary experiences that can be adapted for the different food cultures around the world.

Aleph Farms food company is paving a new way forward as a leader of the global sustainable food ecosystem, working to grow delicious beef steaks from non-genetically engineered cells, isolated from a cow, using a fraction of the resources required for raising an entire animal for meat, without antibiotics and without the use of Fetal Bovine Serum (FBS). Aleph Farms was co-founded with The Kitchen Hub of the Strauss Group and with Professor Shulamit Levenberg, former dean of the Biomedical Engineering faculty of the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology. Aleph Farms is backed by some of the world's most innovative food producers, such as Cargill, Migros, and the Strauss Group.

The company has recently received top accolades for its contribution to the global sustainability movement from the World Economic Forum, UNESCO, Netexplo Forum, FAO and EIT Food.

Tuesday February 9 Ag News

 Farm Bureau Tells Legislature Access to High-Speed, High-Quality Broadband Critical to Agriculture, Rural Nebraska

Agriculture and rural Nebraska will not reach its full potential until Nebraskans from every corner of the state have access to high-speed, high-quality broadband service. That was the message from Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue to members of the Legislature’s Transportation and Telecommunications Committee in testimony supporting LB 388. The bill was introduced by Sen. Curt Friesen of Henderson at the request of Gov. Pete Ricketts. The proposal calls on the legislature to invest $40 million over the next two years to increase high end broadband access for individuals in unserved and underserved areas of the state.

“Much of the technology allowing farmers and ranchers to increase efficiencies and boost environmental benefits depends on quality e-connectivity. Our ability to use precision technology is what will allow us to move closer to farming and managing our land by the inch, rather than by the acre or field. That’s one of the many reasons improving broadband access is a Nebraska Farm Bureau priority,” said McHargue. “Like electricity, broadband access has become an infrastructure necessity. Rural Nebraska can’t afford to be left behind as it impacts everything from growing main street businesses and expanding tele-health opportunities, to simply allowing children to get online to do their homework.”

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 39 percent of Americans in rural areas lack access to broadband service defined by the FCC as 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speeds.

In addition to LB 388, McHargue offered support for several other bills geared to boosting or improving broadband in Nebraska.

“My message today is simple,” McHargue told the committee. “I urge you to find a way to get these bills across the finish line. The need is urgent. Our members support using all the tools in the toolbox to bring access to every community in our state.”

Lactational Nutrition

Connor Biehler, NE Extension Educator

Raising beef cattle during the winter comes with its own obstacles, such as freezing temperatures and blizzards which ultimately lead to a forage shortage. These conditions create additional obstacles requiring greater nutrient intake for all classes of cattle, but spring calving cows have additional nutrient requirements for late gestation and early lactation. Postpartum requirements are crucial to meet because the cow has a calf on her side, is repairing her reproductive tract, resuming heat cycles, breeding, and if this was her first calf, she is still growing herself. All these processes put significant strain on her body.   

In times where forage is not enough to make up for the increased requirements producers are forced to feed cows to ensure they remain productive and wean a healthy calf or risk their herd getting too thin to rebreed. The lactation stage is the part of the production cycle that requires the greatest nutrient intake, and generally occurs before early spring growth of forage.

If environmental conditions are not taken into consideration when planning a supplementation program, it can induce a drop in body weight and body condition score (BCS). Deeming it important to ensure that the proper steps are taken to alleviate seasonal stresses on gestating and lactating cows. If cows are already thin this could also be used as a time to increase body condition by exceeding requirements. This however should be a last-ditch effort to add condition before lactation. Cows should be fed adequately year-round to remain in good condition but can get behind and need a little extra cover to guarantee a proper body condition (BCS Score of 5-6) entering breeding season.

Anytime there is a discussion on supplementation programs, economics of feeding needs to be a part of the conversation. It is easy to find a feeding program but making sure the economics make sense before purchasing commodities should be taken into consideration to prevent any expensive errors. It is easy to spend a lot to improve reproductive performance, but the cost of feed per cow needs to be calculated to understand if this is a feasible approach to achieving goals. Seasonal price changes of commodities means that the cheapest feeds in terms of per unit of energy or protein could vary from year to year. So just because a certain feed was cheaper last year or in the fall producers should still compare feeds on a per unit of energy and protein basis and not a per ton basis to ensure the cheapest rate per unit of protein or energy.  

Finally, accurate nutrient composition for each commodity is important for formulating cow rations. Otherwise, nutrient requirements for cows can be under- or over-shot and cutting into the operations bottom line. Sampling forages and other roughages will ensure nutrient requirements are met accurately without enduring any unnecessary costs. For more information on lactational nutrition reach me at my office (402)624-8007 or my cell (402)413-8557 or follow my twitter page @BigRedBeefTalk for more information on Nebraska Beef Extension.


Ben Beckman, NE Extension Educator

Whether you planed it originally or held off due to dry conditions in the fall, the time for spring planting alfalfa is just around the corner. Selecting the right seed is crucial, and two traits to consider are fall dormancy and winter survival. These traits are often treated the same, but are different.  Today let’s look at winter survival.

Winter survival or winter hardiness is the ability for an alfalfa plant to make it through winter without injury, once the plant goes dormant. This is different than the fall dormancy rating that measures the alfalfa’s ability to prepare for and recover from dormancy.  Winter survival is measured on a 1 to 6 scale with 1 being extremely hardy and 6 not hardy.  For Nebraska, a winter survival rating of 3 is about as high as we want to go.  There are free alfalfa ratings available online that may be helpful for comparison between varieties.

As temperatures drop and days shorten, alfalfa plants change their physiology to survive freezing temperatures and make it through winter.  Increased hardiness can lead to reduced yield potential, but for a high dollar perennial forage, having a stand year after year is key.

In the past, winter survival traits were linked with fall dormancy.  With new varieties, this isn’t always the case, so winter survival needs to be evaluated on its own.

We want to pick a winter survival ranking that will get us through winter without compromising yield.  Where you are in the state plays a big role in what to pick. Winter temperatures affect the choice, but maintained snow cover is also important.  As snow can help insulate the ground, parts of the state that regularly have open winters may need as high or higher survival rating than colder locations with winter-long snow cover.

Bottom line for Nebraska, a winter survival rating of 3 is about as high as we want to go and areas with open winters or regularly colder temperatures should be even lower.

RFA Opposes Extending RFS Compliance Deadlines

In a virtual public hearing held today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Renewable Fuels Association opposed the agency’s proposed extension of the 2019 and 2020 Renewable Fuel Standard compliance deadlines. Former EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler released the proposal just days before the swearing-in of President Joe Biden.

“To put it briefly, this proposal is one last attempt by the former EPA administrator to undermine the RFS on his way out the door,” said RFA Chief Economist Scott Richman. “One last favor to oil refiners. One last bit of contorted logic to justify actions contrary to the statute and even to common sense. All that this proposal does is to compound problems that the agency itself created under the former administration—the massive and illegal increase in small refinery exemptions and the failure to finalize the 2021 Renewable Volume Obligations by the statutory deadline.”

Richman pointed out how, in the case of the 2019 compliance deadline, EPA is actually seeking an extension of an extension; nearly a year has passed since the original deadline, and refiners are simply seeking to stall the inevitable. EPA’s continued delays have allowed those refiners who did not use a sufficient volume of biofuels to comply with their 2019 standards to instead buy RIN credits at historically low prices.

“This proposal is unwarranted, and the timelines it contains are excessive,” Richman concluded. “It is reasonable to assume that refiners were planning to meet the regulatory compliance deadline on March 31, and have had ample time to position themselves to do so. The agency should quickly reject the proposed extensions and re-establish integrity in its implementation of the RFS.”

House Ag Committee Chairman on the Budget Reconciliation Text

Today, following the release of the Agriculture and Nutrition title of the FY2021 Budget Reconciliation bill, House Agriculture Committee David Scott of Georgia made the following statement:

“I am proud of the work that has gone into putting this critical bill together. In this current time of crisis for the American people, this language sees to it that we can provide assistance to our farmers, rural communities, and the most vulnerable among us.

This bill is a stepping stone to the vision President Biden has set forth to get our Country back on track. Each dollar included in this legislation plays an invaluable role in doing just that.

I am pleased to be a part of this effort to put our Black farmers in a better position after suffering the impacts of this pandemic and the inability to receive equal access to USDA programs over decades.

This funding will also help to continue the vital food assistance through our SNAP Program as families face continuing uncertainty under this pandemic, while allowing the Secretary to assist our rural communities in helping their citizens access food assistance and health care, including access to COVID-19 vaccines, and shoring up our food supply chains.”

Notable provisions in the package include:
    $1 Billion in assistance to and support for community-based organizations and 1890 Land Grant and other minority-serving institutions that work with Black farmers and other farmers of color on land access, financial training, heirs property issues, training the next generation and access to education
    Farm Loan Assistance for Black farmers and other farmers of color
    Extending 15% SNAP benefit increase through September 30, 2021
    $37 million to the Commodity Supplemental Food Program to fill a gap that has grown as food for this program has become scarcer during the pandemic
    $500 million in Community Facility Program funds to help rural hospitals and local communities broaden access to COVID-19 vaccines & food assistance
    $3.6 billion for the Secretary of Agriculture to continue to help the food and ag sector supply chains
    $100 million in overtime fee relief to small meat and poultry processors currently grappling with COVID-19-related backlogs
    $800 million for the Food for Peace program, including for purchases of U.S.-grown crops used in international humanitarian aid

Commodity Classic Announces 2021 Schedule of Events

The tentative schedule for the 2021 Special Edition of Commodity Classic has been announced. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s event is being presented digitally on March 2-5, 2021.  The 2021 Commodity Classic, originally scheduled for San Antonio, Texas, in early March, is the Silver Anniversary of America’s largest farmer-owned, farmer-focused agricultural and educational experience.

Registration is now open at  Thanks to the generous support of sponsors, the first 5,000 farmers who register can do so at no charge.  All other attendees can register for $20.  The registration fee includes access to the entire week’s program as well as access to archived sessions through April 30, 2021.

“Education is a significant emphasis of this year’s Commodity Classic and that is clearly evidenced by the fact that we have more than 50 sessions scheduled over 3-1/2 days,” said Brad Doyle, an Arkansas soybean farmer and co-chair of the 2021 Commodity Classic. “This is an outstanding schedule of information, insight and innovation that is sure to have something of value for every farmer.”

“The 2021 schedule includes Learning Centers on a wide range of topics from soil health to grain marketing, from stress management to pest management and much, much more,” said Anthony Bush, a corn farmer from Ohio and co-chair of the 2021 Commodity Classic.  “We’re also offering more What’s New Sessions than ever before, showcasing the latest innovations, technology and services designed to help farmers improve efficiency and profitability.”

The week’s schedule also includes three Executive Roundtables, during which the leaders from some of the nation’s top agribusiness companies and organizations will discuss their perspectives on the future of their industry and agriculture in general.

The Opening General Session kicks off the 2021 Commodity Classic at noon Central on Tuesday, March 2 and will feature a discussion between the leaders of the five associations that present Commodity Classic annually: American Soybean Association (ASA) President Kevin Scott; National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) President John Linder; National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) President Dave Milligan; National Sorghum Producers (NSP) Chairman Kody Carson; and Ag Chair for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), Todd Stucke who serves as the Senior Vice President, Product Support & Strategic Projects for Kubota Tractor Corporation.

The Closing General Session starts at 11:30 a.m. Central on Friday, March 5 and will feature a high-ranking government official discussing the outlook for agriculture.  Both General Sessions are sponsored by Corteva Agriscience.

The schedule also includes evening sessions from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Central on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday featuring well-known ag personalities.

Premier Sponsors of the 2021 Special Edition of Commodity Classic are AGCO, Bayer, Case IH, Corteva Agriscience, John Deere and United Soybean Board/Soy Checkoff.

Champion Sponsors are BASF and Syngenta.  Key Sponsors are Kubota/Great Plains, New Holland, Pioneer, Precision Planting and Valent.

Established in 1996, Commodity Classic is presented annually by the American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Sorghum Producers and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

March 15 Last Day to Complete Enrollment for 2021 Agriculture Risk Coverage, Price Loss Coverage Programs

Agricultural producers who have not yet enrolled in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for 2021 must do so by March 15. Producers who have not yet signed a 2021 enrollment contract or who want to make an election change should contact their local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office to make an appointment. Program enrollment for 2021 is required in order to participate in the programs, but elections for the 2021 crop year are optional and otherwise remain the same as elections made for 2020.

“FSA offices have multiple programs competing for the time and attention of our staff. Because of the importance and complexities of the ARC and PLC programs, and to ensure we meet your program delivery expectations, please do not wait to start the enrollment process,” said FSA Acting Administrator Steve Peterson. “I cannot emphasize enough the need to begin the program election and enrollment process now. This process can be completed when applying for other FSA programs as well.”

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.

Although 1,033,310 contracts have been completed to date, this represents less than 59% of the more than 1.7 million contracts anticipated by the Agency. By enrolling soon, producers can beat the rush as the deadline nears.

Producers who do not complete enrollment by close of business local time on Monday, March 15 will not be enrolled in ARC or PLC for the 2021 crop year and will be ineligible to receive a payment should one trigger for an eligible crop.

ARC and PLC contracts can be emailed, faxed or physically signed and mailed back to FSA. Producers with level 2 eauthentication access can electronically sign contracts. Service Center staff can also work with producers to sign and securely transmit contracts electronically through two commercially available tools: Box and OneSpan. You can learn more about these solutions at Producers may also make arrangements to drop off signed contracts at the FSA county office. Please call ahead for local mailing or drop off information and options for submitting signed contracts electronically.

Producers are eligible to enroll farms with base acres for 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.

Yield Data and Web-Based Decision Tools Available

FSA recently updated the annual and benchmark yields for ARC/PLC program years 2019, 2020 and 2021. This data is useful to producers in choosing to participate in either ARC or PLC.

For added assistance with ARC and PLC decisions, USDA partnered with the University of Illinois and Texas A&M University to offer web-based decision tools to assist producers in making informed, educated decisions using crop data specific to their respective farming operations. Tools include:
-    Gardner-farmdoc Payment Calculator, the University of Illinois tool that offers farmers the ability to run payment estimate modeling for their farms and counties for ARC-County and PLC.
-    ARC and PLC Decision Tool, the Texas A&M tool that allow producers to analyze payment yield updates and expected payments for 2019 and 2020. Producers who have used the tool in the past should see their username and much of their farm data will already be available in the system.

Crop Insurance Considerations

Producers are reminded that enrolling in ARC or PLC programs can impact eligibility for some crop insurance products. Producers who elect and enroll in PLC also have the option of purchasing Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) through their Approved Insurance Provider. Producers of covered commodities who elect ARC are ineligible for SCO on their planted acres.

Unlike SCO, RMA’s Enhanced Coverage Option (ECO) is unaffected by participating in ARC for the same crop, on the same acres. You may elect ECO regardless of your farm program election.

Upland cotton farmers who choose to enroll seed cotton base acres in ARC or PLC are ineligible for the stacked income protection plan (STAX) on their planted cotton acres.

More Information

For more information on ARC and PLC including web-based decision tools, visit

FarmlandFinder announces an online farm sale-leaseback program

As a part of its mission to make land sales simple, instant and online; FarmlandFinder announces a sale-leaseback program as a part of its online marketplace for farmland.

“Talking with farmers, there is a contagious curiosity to find ways to unlock equity that’s tied up in their land without giving up control of the property or taking on additional debt,” says Steven Brockshus, Founder and CEO of FarmlandFinder. “Through our private investment platform, a farmer can apply for a sale-leaseback and if they qualify, they’ll get connected with a qualified investor who partners with them to help unlock equity.”

A farm sale-leaseback can be an effective means of alternative financing for progressive farmers. How does it work? An investor acquires the land from the farm owner-operator and then leases it back to them on a long-term basis. This program can provide value to farmers seeking an alternative financing solution. A sale-leaseback provides liquidity to the farmer while helping them maintain on-going operational control of the land. By pairing an owner-operator with a qualified investor through the FarmlandFinder platform, a sale-leaseback can be done in a few simple steps.

Sale-leasebacks in farmland aren’t new, however – FarmlandFinder makes them readily accessible to farmers who find themselves in a variety of different situations. “It could be a good program for a retiring farmer whose equity is tied up in the land, but they’d like to keep farming for a few years,” says Peter Jaques, Head of Real Estate at FarmlandFinder. “Or a progressive farmer who wants to take the equity from one property and use it to buy another piece of land or invest elsewhere in their operation. The other time a program like this could be useful is when a farmer has fallen on hard-times and they need to free up some cash to keep the farm going. It may not be ideal, but at least there’s an option.”

“For farmland investors who are open to partnering with farmers, it’s a tough option to beat,” says Brockshus. “Who knows the land better than the person who’s been farming it for years? They’ll be your new partner to make sure your investment is taken care of.”

There is no up-front cost to the farmer for entering into a sale-leaseback and it can be a flexible alternative financing tool to help producers achieve a variety of objectives. To see if you qualify for a farm sale-leaseback, visit

Results from Hemp Checkoff Survey Posted

The National Industrial Hemp Council and The Hemp Industries Association announced results of a month's long survey on industry attitudes towards a hemp checkoff program.

The results of the overall survey show that nearly 8 out of every ten farmers and processors support the checkoff program for research, promotion and consumer education. Over six of ten farmers and processors support being assessed to fund a program.

"This is exciting news for our industry and exciting that there is such wide consensus in our industry to support such a program," said Patrick Atagi, Board Chairman of the National Industrial Hemp Council. "We believe that a checkoff program will help hemp not only develop markets for hemp products, but also fund much needed research and educate consumers on the usefulness and versatility of hemp."

"It's clear from the survey response that there is a broad level of excitement around the idea of a national hemp checkoff program, and significant interest in the potential return the hemp industry could see from an effective research and marketing program under USDA," said HIA President Rick Trojan.

"We in the industry recognize the incredible potential of this agricultural commodity, and there was a strong consensus around the importance of educating the market about the value of hemp across the supply chain for food/grain, fiber, and cannabinoids. It's encouraging to see the positive feedback this dialogue with the industry has generated so far and we look forward to continuing to partner with the NIHC and other forward-looking allies to explore the tremendous opportunity a national checkoff represents for hemp" said Trojan.

USDA checkoff programs seek to promote farm commodities and expand market opportunity for farmers, importers, and industry stakeholders. Funded through assessments on the produced commodity at the first point of sale; checkoff programs allow producers of commodities to pool resources for research, education, and promotion efforts that can expand sales and improve production efficiencies.

The survey received 270 responses and was conducted online via Survey Monkey from November 30, 2020 until December 31, 2020.

Indian Re-Certification Questions Could Impact Overall Organic Market

The close ties between the Indian and U.S. organic soybean markets were put in the spotlight last month as USDA announced the ending of an agreement between the USDA National Organic’s Program (NOP) and India’s Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA). Mercaris notes the announcement could have major implications for both countries, with India playing a significant role in the U.S. organic soybean supply and the U.S. serving as their largest export customer.

“India is by far the largest supplier of organic soy products to U.S. markets. We estimate that they provided 42 percent of total U.S. organic soybean and meal supplies over the 2019/20 marketing year,” says Ryan Koory, Director of Economics for Mercaris. “To put this bluntly, organic soy imports from India over 2019/20 were nearly double U.S. production during that same period.”

Koory says major impacts won’t likely be felt until after 2020/21, given recent import trends. He suggests major shifts may begin in August this year, potentially impacting supplies over 2021/22.

Through January of 2020/21, imports of Indian organic soybean meal have exploded, up 90 percent year over year.

“In our October commodity outlook, we outlined a stable U.S. organic soybean market following a slight increase in imports from India this year” adds Koory. “That increase could easily be accomplished by April given the current pace of imports, avoiding any significant shortfall for supplies in this marketing year.”

While the NOP has allowed until July 12 for recertification, it is unclear how much of India’s organic market will do so ahead of this deadline. The largest risk to supply will likely show itself emerge in August, ahead of this year’s fall harvest.

These observations and the rest of Mercaris’ Monthly Market Update were released today. In addition to the pricing information found in the report, Mercaris’ organic trading platform also continues its growth trajectory. To access a copy of the Monthly Market Update or to learn more about the additional tools from Mercaris, visit  

NCLA Brief Accuses USDA and APHIS of Establishing Unlawful Federal Advisory Committees on RFID

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) have violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). In their attempt to unlawfully mandate “radio frequency identification” (RFID) eartags on livestock destined for market, USDA and APHIS set up two advisory committees to assist their RFID efforts, the “Cattle Traceability Working Group” (CTWG) and the “Producer Traceability Council” (PTC).

An opening brief filed by the New Civil Liberties Alliance in the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming argues that USDA and its subagency, APHIS, failed to comply with FACA’s statutory requirements in establishing and using the two advisory committees to gather information necessary to implement RFID eartags.  NCLA represents the Ranchers Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA) and four ranchers: Tracy and Donna Hunt from Wyoming, and Kenny and Roxy Fox from South Dakota, who filed a lawsuit against these agency defendants challenging their illegal April 2019 “guidance” as violating the 2013 Traceability and Identification Rule by attempting to force cattle producers to use RFID eartags in lieu of all other forms of approved identification under the earlier rule.

NCLA’s brief criticizes the Defendants’ decision to establish and utilize “advisory committees” without complying with FACA’s procedural requirements, as well as their decision to exclude from participation anyone who opposed the RFID requirements. Defendants’ mandate, issued in violation of the 2013 Final Rule, was designed to prohibit cattle producers from using any animal identification options that up to now had been perfectly acceptable, including tattoos, backtags, permanent metal eartags, brands, and group/lot identification numbers.

Defendants have taken the position that they neither “established” nor “utilized” the CTWG and PTC advisory committees within the meaning of FACA. However, their Administrative Record and documents obtained through a FOIA request prove otherwise. Defendants have conceded that they did not follow FACA’s procedural requirements—mostly because they wrongly assumed that they should not have to. Again, however, their own documents demonstrate that FACA applies in this case: (1) the agency urged the formation of CTWG; (2) numerous APHIS employees actively participated in CTWG’s and PTC’s meetings and calls; (3) CTWG’s fixed membership included APHIS officials; (4) CTWG and PTC—and their various subgroups—met regularly and made a series of recommendations to APHIS regarding the implementation of the RFID technology.  

NCLA is asking the court to recognize the CTWG and PTC as federal advisory committees set up by USDA. To penalize USDA for not following FACA’s public meeting and balanced membership requirements, NCLA is further asking the court to prohibit Defendants from using any of the work product or recommendations made by either CTWG or PTC.  

Crop Insurance Protected U.S. Farmers, Rural Communities as Weather, Health, Political Challenges Rocked the Nation in 2020

U.S. crop insurance policies protected the country’s farmers and ranchers and ensured rural communities stayed strong in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, tornadoes, hurricanes, and political unrest. In all, those policies protected 398 million acres of land in 2020.

In her opening remarks at the crop insurance industry’s annual meeting, Kendall Jones, chair of the National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS) and president and CEO of ProAg, told the group that 2020 had been a challenging year for our country. But crop insurers rose to the challenge and provided stability to rural communities.

“We are in the crisis business,” Jones said. “So, it is not surprising that we performed extremely well over the last year, helping America’s farmers and ranchers mitigate their risks, continue their essential work, and keep the world fed.

“From floods and wildfires to hurricanes and even ‘The Derecho,’” she continued, “we were there to help our customers pick up the pieces in an unprecedented time of hardships created by lost crops, lost customers, and lost markets in the U.S. and overseas.”

To date, the crop insurance industry has delivered $7.4 billion in indemnities to help farmers rebuild. This includes a brand-new insurance product that is tailored to hurricane protection – a product that was triggered by eight separate weather events during last year’s unprecedented string of hurricanes.

“Our industry works with our government partners and leverages the efficiency of the private sector to make sure farmers and ranchers get payments on time,” Jones said. “This keeps agriculture growing after disaster strikes and quickly stabilizes rural economies.”

During the annual meeting, which was held virtually this year, Jones told attendees that agriculture has the unique power to unite lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

“Elected officials on the right of the political spectrum often emphasize the importance of vibrant rural businesses, reducing risk, keeping taxpayer costs low and expanding the economy,” Jones said. “On the left, lawmakers also tout a healthy economy and place an emphasis on sound science, sustainability, and giving those in need a helping hand. That sounds just like crop insurance to me.”

Jones concluded by taking time to applaud many of the behind-the-scenes industry initiatives that often go unrecognized.

This includes collecting and analyzing mountains of data and conducting new research to continually improve operations and customer service. She also highlighted industry investments over the past decade to provide free business training to socially disadvantaged farmers and award scholarships to minority students attending 1890 Land Grant Universities.

NGFA releases new interactive safety training module on ‘Lockout/Tagout’

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) has issued a new, interactive and free training module that thoroughly covers a vital safety procedure for all grain, feed and processing facilities – Lockout/Tagout.

Lockout/Tagout is a safety procedure used to ensure that machines that can pose a safety hazard are shut off or tagged-out properly so they are not started up again prior to the completion of maintenance or repair work. This procedure requires that hazardous energy sources be “isolated and rendered inoperative” before work is started on equipment, and is one of the requirements under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) control of hazardous energy standard.

NGFA-produced training modules developed through Articulate 360 are issued periodically as part of the Association’s continued commitment to enhance safety in the workplace. These modules are funded by the National Grain and Feed Foundation and are designed to provide information on certain types of hazards and best safety practices within the grain handling, feed and processing industry.

“This industry fulfills a noble and indispensable role in transforming the bounty of America’s producers into safe, nutritious, sustainable and affordable human and animal food,” said NGFA President and CEO Randy Gordon. “An essential component of fulfilling that mission involves providing a safe workplace to employees working in this great industry. At NGFA, we’re committed to providing free training materials that can be widely shared and easily incorporated into safety training programs.”

Another interactive training module is available from NGFA covering “Slips, Trips and Falls” at Several other types of safety resources also can be found at that website, including videos, “Safety Tips Sheets” and webinars applicable to both commercial and farm facilities. NGFA members are encouraged to share these materials with their farmer-customers.

Safety always has been an essential service of the NGFA, a commitment that is magnified through its cooperative alliance with OSHA, which fosters collaborative efforts to broadly communicate safety information to protect employees. NGFA and its charitable foundation, the National Grain and Feed Foundation, have built a robust suite of safety resource materials and partnered with state and regional agribusiness affiliates, member companies and OSHA to spread awareness of safety best practices and the availability of training resources.

The Top 5 Technologies Transforming Food and Agriculture in the Next Decade

It’s harder than ever before to be a food or agriculture company. Smaller competitors are using digital tools, novel channels to gain market access, and other innovations to gain share, shaking up the entire agrifood value chain. To help guide innovation in this space, Lux Research released its annual report, “Foresight 2021: Top Emerging Technologies to Watch.”

The Foresight 2021 report identifies and ranks 12 key technologies that will reshape the world. The technologies are chosen based on innovation interest scores from the Lux Tech Signal, a composite measure assembled from a variety of innovation data sources, along with input from Lux’s experts. In addition to highlighting the key overall technologies, for the first time ever, this year’s report ranks the top five technologies in the food and agriculture space.

“The agrifood ecosystem is experiencing a phase of rapid, intense change, where most of the growth in the space in recent years has gone to companies outside the top 20 players. As smaller and more agile brands meet consumer demand for personalization, larger brands will need to look for innovative solutions to regain lost ground and get ahead,” states Joshua Haslun, Ph.D., Senior Analyst at Lux Research.

Lux’s new report takes a deep look at the agrifood ecosystem and reviews what topics emerged and which technologies rose to the top during 2020. Its expert analysis of the hottest innovation topics and best tech startups found that the top five technologies food and agriculture leaders should look to in 2021 are:
    Bioinformatics – Having developed and risen to prominence largely focused on medical and pharma applications, bioinformatics is now crossing over into agrifood and health.

    Alternative Proteins – Concerns about health and sustainability are pushing to diversify diets away from meat and fish, leading to changes ranging from land use to ingredient supply chains.

    Precision Agriculture – Digital tools are continuing to revolutionize agriculture, improving product yield and quality and reducing environmental impact.

    Biofertilizers – Biofertilizers and other microbial biostimulants use living microorganisms to improve nutrient use efficiency and agriculture sustainability.

    Ingredient Informatics – Applying machine learning to recipes and ingredients can produce new product formulations more quickly, rapidly accelerating new food product launches.

“Agriculture and food companies alike will need to capitalize on the digital revolution, with ingredient informatics as a prime focus for shortening product development cycles and precision agriculture technologies as unfamiliar-but-critical complements to conventional agrichemical developments,” explains Haslun. “Alternatives to mainstay ingredients are another hallmark of both agriculture and food, where biofertilizers and alternative proteins, respectively, loom large. Finally, look for bioinformatics to come out of its early role in pharmaceutical development to take a prominent, transformative position across the agrifood ecosystem.”

Monday February 8 Ag News

 Online discussion set for agriculture educators

Agriculture educators in Nebraska are invited to “Seed Starting & School Growing Chit Chat.” This free, online event is hosted by the Center for Rural Affairs and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension.

This informal discussion is set for Wednesday, Feb. 17, from 10 to 11 a.m. The workshop will be facilitated by John Porter, urban agriculture program coordinator at Nebraska Extension.

“As we move into the spring season, participants are invited to share ideas and resources on activities they’re incorporating into their greenhouses and classrooms,” said Justin Carter, project associate for the Center for Rural Affairs. “Join us to learn more about what’s happening in school agriculture programs across the state.”

Students are invited to attend the event alongside agricultural educators.

Registration is required; sign up at For more information, contact Carter at or 402.237.5082.

This event is funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm to School grant.

PVC February Meeting

The next meeting of the Platte Valley Cattlemen will be February 15, 2021, at Wunderlich’s.  This is the Ladies Night program, so bring your bride along for supper.

Social hour will start at 6:00pm. 143 Vintage (Samantha Wietfeld) and Backyard Boutique (Jennifer Dicke) are sponsoring the social hour. The meal will be at 7:00pm, and Columbus Sales Pavilion, Travis Bock, will sponsor the meal.

The speaker for the night will be Crystal Klug who will be speaking about the 2021 Cattlemen’s Ball. She will talk about activities and entertainment that is planned for the Ball on June 4th and 5th.

Nicole Saafeld will also be there during social hour with samples  of brewed beers, wine and liquor she has to offer at Cork & Barrel in Columbus.

They look forward to seeing you on Feb. 15, 2021 at Wunderlich’s in Columbus.

ICGA Welcomes Introduction of House Study Bill 185 to Expand Ethanol Opportunities

Today, the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) welcomes the introduction of HSB 185.  This bill, proposed by Governor Reynolds, creates more opportunities and markets within Iowa for corn-based ethanol including significant funding for biofuels infrastructure, as well as an E10 standard.

ICGA President Carl Jardon made the following statement.
“The Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) thanks Governor Reynolds for her efforts on pushing ethanol into the future of Iowa giving all consumers the opportunity to select a clean-burning, cost-effective fuel at the pump,” said Carl Jardon, farmer from Randolph, Iowa. “Iowa is the nation’s leader in corn and ethanol production, and ICGA will continue to be proactive on this bill to see it through the finish line as it is a top priority for Iowa’s corn farmers.”

Iowa Pork Producers Association Being Led by Southwest Iowa Pig Farmer

Dennis Liljedahl, a second-generation pig farmer from Essex, is the new president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA). The change in leadership followed the IPPA annual meeting on Jan. 26. Liljedahl, who had served as president-elect in 2020, replaces Mike Paustian of Walcott. Paustian now holds the past president position on the IPPA Board of Directors. Both will serve one-year terms in those roles.
Liljedahl has been a member of the IPPA Board of Directors since 2016, when he was elected by pig farmers in his area to represent them as the District 5 Director. He became a member of the executive committee in 2018. He has served on several IPPA committees and has been chairman of two - the public relations and research committees. He has also represented IPPA on two Iowa trade missions, one to China in 2017 and one to South Korea and Taiwan in 2019.
Other changes on the IPPA board include:
    a new president-elect, who is Kevin Rasmussen of Goldfield. He formerly represented District 2 on the board.
    Trish Cook, Winthrop, continues as the NE Region director and adds responsibilities as the vice president of resources.
    Kyler Oswald, Coon Rapids, is the new District 5 director. He was elected by those in his district to fill the position that Curtis Meier, Clarinda, held as an interim director for the past 10 months.
    Aaron Juergens, Carroll, was elected by those in Districts 5 and 6 as the SW Region director. He replaces Jason Hocker of Audubon, whose term had expired.
    Jeff Johnson, Dunkerton, will fill the Allied position role. The board of directors elected Johnson to fill the term previously held by Stan Cavner, Iowa Falls.
    Ben Schmaling, Prescott, will fill one of the two Stakeholder positions on the board. Schmaling replaces Jarrod Bakker of Dike, whose term had expired.
    An interim director for District 2 will be appointed by the board at their March meeting.

 The board oversees leadership and direction for all IPPA Pork Checkoff programs, public policy and general direction of the organization.

Land Sales Up 53% at Farmers National Company

Randy Dickhut, Senior Vice President - Real Estate Operations, Farmers National Company

The value of land sold by Farmers National Company from October, 2020 through January, 2021 was up 53% over the average of the past three years! The total number of acres of land sold by Farmers National Company agents increased 50% over the three year average!
There are a number of factors that propelled the increase in sales for the company during this four month period which is normally a peak sales time for farms. The first would be that Farmers National Company's extensive network of agents across the grain belt and southern plains brings local land market knowledge to the forefront when sellers need a trusted advisor to sell their property. The diversity of land sales handled by Farmers National Company including farms, ranches, recreational, timber, and development type properties, comes into play when sellers are looking for someone to market and sell their land.
Market factors are also propelling land sales. As previously mentioned, demand to own land of all types has increased since the onset of Covid-19. With the continued lower supply of land for sale on the market, increased demand is driving prices higher, especially for good cropland. Farmers who are currently more optimistic in their outlook along with investors seeking a safe, long term real estate investment are both helping propel the farmland market. Investor interest in timber land has increased too as well as individuals looking for a small tract of land for personal or recreational use.
Calls from buyers and sellers come in daily at Farmers National Company. Interest in land and ag land in particular grew in 2020. Looking ahead, if nothing unexpected happens to challenge the current land market, land prices will continue to firm up in 2021.

IPPA Delegates Support Swine Health and Marketing Proposals

The past year of living through COVID-19 has made everyone aware of what pork producers have known for some time. There are severe negative economic impacts and movement constraints that come with a foreign disease entering the U.S.
That's why county delegates at the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) annual meeting on Jan. 26 in Des Moines supported two resolutions that would build a more efficient system for managing swine health incidents.
The first was a resolution asking Iowa pig farmers to record and maintain their pig movement records with both the source premises and destination premises identification numbers (PIN or Prem ID) in a format that would be readily available to send to the Iowa state veterinarian in the event of a foreign animal disease (FAD) outbreak.
Quickly sharing that information with the state vet would help state and federal animal health officials make decisions about animal movement, a key to both containing the disease as well as keeping the food supply chain operational.
The second resolution dealing with swine health supported a two-year pilot project to develop and demonstrate a U.S. Swine Health Improvement Plan (USSHIP). USSHIP would initially focus on African swine fever and classical swine fever.
With delegate support, IPPA became the first organization to support the pilot program. The move also assured that pig farmers would have a seat at the table as the plan - which will use the 85-year-old National Poultry Improvement Plan as a model - for biosecurity, testing, and traceability is put together. The pilot program will involve discussions with farmers, packers, swine veterinarians, and state and federal animal health officials.
Swine health issues, especially as they are related to FADs, would have an immediate and possible long-term impact on U.S. pork export markets, which is where one-third of pork produced in the U.S. goes. In the event of a FAD, it's been shown time and again that countries around the world close their borders to products coming from countries reporting the FAD.
County delegates also gave their support to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) pork cutout contract that was launched in November 2020. The pork carcass cutout estimates the wholesale value of meat in a hog. As another marketing tool, the delegates supported that IPPA, along with the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council work with CME to provide education on the contract for farmers.
The fourth action taken by delegates was to delay increasing the Strategic Investment Program (SIP) rate. SIP is a voluntary program and is completely separate from the Pork Checkoff. SIP supports non-checkoff programs at both the state and national level.
Last year, IPPA members voted to increase the SIP rate from 10 cents per $100 of value per hog marketed to 20 cents per $100 of value, and to have that go into place on July 1, 2021. The resolution passed this year would delay that increase to July 1, 2022.
The SIP proposal, as well as the one to support educational efforts on the CME pork cutout contract, have both been forwarded to delegates that will attend the National Pork Forum in March.

Man Sentenced to Prison for Grain Blending Scheme

A former manager of a grain cooperative in Sioux Center, Iowa who directed employees to blend oats into soybeans has been sentenced to three months in federal prison.

60-year-old Calvin Diehl of Aberdeen South Dakota received the prison term after a June 9, 2020 guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States.

In a plea agreement, Diehl admitted he was the Assistant General Manager at a federally licensed grain warehouse that is headquartered in Sioux Center.

In July 2015, Diehl said he agreed with others to defraud the U.S. government.

The fraud involved blending lower value oats into soybeans and then selling the mixture as soybeans. During the fraud, the individuals involved also made false statements and executed false certificates to USDA inspectors, layered soybeans on top of oats in both storage bins and trucks to deceive USDA inspectors and customers about the quality and quantity of the grain, and made false entries and adjustments in reports provided to the grain warehouse’s bank.

In March 2017, one of Diehl’s subordinates instructed a warehouse manager in Worthing, South Dakota, to blend more oats with soybeans. As a result, approximately 30 truckloads of what were supposed to be soybeans were “spiked” with oats. After the customer happened to discover the badly “slugged” or “spiked” loads, one of the customer’s managers called Diehl and told him to stop blending oats into soybeans.

The manager warned Diehl that “someone can go to jail for this.” Diehl feigned surprise, apologized, and falsely promised that the practice would not happen in the future.

However, Diehl continued to blend oats into soybeans and sell them to the same customer.

In late March 2017, the USDA conducted a pre-planned inspection of the cooperative. During the inspection, the cooperative’s Sanborn, Iowa location manager called Diehl and stated that he had oats visible because he was mixing oats with soybeans in open view.

Diehl instructed the Sanborn location manager to cover up the oats by putting soybeans on top of the oats in order to hide the oats from the USDA inspectors.

After learning of the conspiracy, the USDA conducted a search of grain bins at the cooperative’s various locations in Iowa and South Dakota. Of the estimated 87,996 bushels of grain in the bins at these locations, the bins actually contained only 34,354 bushels of soybeans even though all of these bins had been certified as soybeans.

2020 Pork Exports Shatter Previous Records; December Beef Exports Outstanding

U.S. pork exports reached nearly 3 million metric tons (mt) in 2020, topping the 2019 record by 11%, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Pork export value also climbed 11% to a record $7.71 billion. Exports set new annual records in China/Hong Kong, Central America, Vietnam and Chile, and achieved strong fourth quarter growth in Japan and Mexico.

U.S. beef exports finished 2020 lower year-over-year, falling 5% in both volume (1.25 million mt) and value ($7.65 billion). But beef exports finished the year with very strong momentum, with fourth quarter volume up 4.5% from 2019 and posting one of the best months on record in December. Beef exports to China were record-large in 2020 and a new volume record was also achieved in Taiwan.

"Obviously the surge in demand from China, especially in the first half of 2020, was a driving force behind the record performance for U.S. pork exports," said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. "But China was not the only success story in 2020, as exports achieved growth in a broad range of markets. Diversifying export markets is a top priority for USMEF and the U.S. industry, and that strategy paid dividends - especially in the fourth quarter, when exports to China/Hong Kong were down 9% from 2019 but shipments to the rest of the world nearly offset that slowdown."

Beef exports were heavily impacted by foodservice restrictions in many major markets but trended higher late in the year, bolstered by very strong retail and holiday demand.

"Consumers across the world responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by seeking high-quality products they could enjoy at home, and U.S. beef and pork definitely met this need," Halstrom said. "We expect these retail and home-delivery demand trends to continue even as sit-down restaurant dining recovers, creating robust opportunities for U.S. red meat export growth."

December pork exports totaled 259,654 mt, down 8% from the very large year-ago volume, with value down 10% to $687.2 million. December muscle cut exports were also down 8% at 219,224 mt, valued at $590.2 million (down 11%). For the full year, pork muscle cut exports were record-large at 2.51 million mt, up 15% from 2019, valued at a record $6.67 billion (up 12%).

December beef exports totaled 119,892 mt, up 8% from December 2019 and the largest in nearly 10 years. Export value was $744 million, up 9% from a year ago and the second highest total on record. December exports of beef muscle cuts were the second largest ever at 93,941 mt, climbing 11% year-over-year in both volume and value ($659.8 million). For 2020, beef muscle cut exports were down 2% year-over-year at 976,953 mt and fell 5% in value to $6.77 billion.

U.S. lamb exports reached a record 20,045 mt in 2020, up 27% year-over-year, though export value fell 9% to $23.8 million. Export growth was led by leading market Mexico, where volume climbed to 18,927 mt (up 38%) valued at $17.4 million (up 25%).


Cattle producers Hugh Sanburg, Norman Voyles, Jr. and Jimmy Taylor are the new leaders of the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion & Research Board (CBB). This officer team is responsible for guiding the national Beef Checkoff throughout 2021.

Sanburg, Voyles and Taylor were elected by their fellow Beef Board members during their 2021 Winter Meetings, held virtually this year. Sanburg, the 2020 vice chair, will now serve as the CBB’s chair, while Voyles will transition from his role as the 2020 secretary-treasurer to become the 2021 vice chair. Taylor is the newest member of the officer team, taking on Voyles’s former responsibilities as secretary-treasurer.

2021 Chair Hugh Sanburg hails from Eckert, Colo., where he and his brother are managing partners of their primarily horned Hereford cow-calf operation, accompanied by a Registered Hereford operation to complement the commercial herd. Sanburg graduated from Colorado School of Mines with a degree in mining engineering in 1983 before moving back to the home ranch in Western Colorado. For the past 30-plus years, Sanburg has been an active member of the Colorado Farm Bureau, serving on various boards. He is also a member of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and is a past chair of the Gunnison Basin Roundtable. In 2020, Sanburg received Colorado Farm Bureau’s Service to Ag Award.

“As I begin my tenure as CBB chair, the beef industry continues to face many challenges,” Sanburg said. “2020 was certainly a difficult year for many beef producers, but I’m optimistic 2021 holds better days for all of us. The CBB is a group of everyday producers who take time away from their operations, and in the coming year, we will do our absolute best to advance the beef industry, make informed decisions and encourage Checkoff contractors to execute programs and initiatives that accomplish our primary goal – driving demand for beef.”

Vice Chair Norman Voyles, Jr. owns and operates a seventh-generation grain and livestock farm near Martinsville, Ind. with his brother Jim and son Kyle. Voyles received a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Purdue University and a master’s degree in ruminant nutrition from the University of Nebraska. Voyles is a member of the Morgan County (Ind.) Beef Cattle Association and the Indiana Cattlemen’s Association. He’s a member of the Indiana Farm Bureau and a past member of the Farm Service Agency board of directors and the Morgan County Fair board.

Secretary-Treasurer Jimmy Taylor and his wife Tracy run a commercial Angus herd near Cheyenne, Oklahoma consisting of approximately 600 females on 12,000 acres. Their ranching efforts have earned them the 2011 Certified Angus Beef Commitment to Excellence Award and the 2013 Oklahoma Angus Association Commercial Breeder of the Year. The use of artificial insemination, proper nutrition, genomics and other new technologies play a large role in obtaining the operation’s goal: to create a good eating experience for the consumer. Taylor has also served on several local and state boards.

“We’re all very pleased to once again have such a strong leadership team to guide the CBB throughout the coming year,” said Greg Hanes, CEO of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. “These gentlemen have given so much time and energy to the beef industry over the years, and their experience as both leaders and cattle producers will serve the CBB well. Hugh, Norm and Jimmy fully understand the beef industry’s current challenges, as well as the many opportunities, and I know they will use their knowledge and expertise to help the CBB and the Beef Checkoff reach new levels of success in 2021.”

To learn more about the Beef Checkoff and its programs, including promotion, research, foreign marketing, industry information, consumer information and safety, visit

ACE Supports Bipartisan Legislation to Expand Availability of Higher Ethanol Blends

Today, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) reintroduced The Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Investment and Market Expansion Act, bipartisan legislation to create a renewable fuel infrastructure grant program at the United States Department of Agriculture and streamline regulatory requirements to help fuel retailers sell higher blends of ethanol.

Specifically, the legislation would authorize $500 million over five years for USDA biofuel infrastructure grants and direct the Environmental Protection Agency to finalize a proposed rule to repeal E15 labeling requirements. The bill would also direct EPA to finalize provisions from the same proposed rule to allow certain existing Underground Storage Tanks to store higher blends of ethanol.

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings issued the following statement of support:

“Senators Klobuchar and Ernst are demonstrating the kind of bipartisan leadership necessary to ensure biofuels play a leading role in helping the U.S. achieve net-zero emissions by midcentury. While electric vehicles (EVs) are getting a lot of attention lately, experts conclude EVs alone will fail to reach President Biden’s goal of net-zero emissions in the U.S. by 2050, and that increased use of biofuels will be required to help address the emissions gap. A recent study by Harvard validates what ACE has been saying for years; today’s corn ethanol is nearly 50 percent cleaner than gasoline. This vital legislation would ensure infrastructure parity for biofuels and EVs and help ethanol continue to be part of the solution to climate change.”

RFA Thanks Senators for Efforts to Expand Ethanol Infrastructure

The Renewable Fuels Association today thanked Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) for reintroducing bipartisan legislation that would create a renewable fuel infrastructure grant program and ease certain restrictions that currently discourage retailers from offering cleaner, greener ethanol blends to consumers.
“We thank Senators Klobuchar and Ernst for their determined efforts to drive investment in our nation’s renewable fuels infrastructure,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “If enacted, this legislation would greatly expand the availability of low-carbon renewable fuels like ethanol in the marketplace, resulting in cleaner air, lower fuel prices and a more vibrant rural economy. We know retailers want to offer smarter fuel options to their customers, but antiquated regulatory burdens often prevent them from moving ahead. This legislation would ensure that overly restrictive provisions are streamlined or removed, allowing small businesses across the nation to provide cleaner and more affordable options to American drivers.”
The Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Investment and Market Expansion Act would authorize $500 million over 5 years for infrastructure grants for fuel retailers. The bill also directs EPA to finalize a proposed rule to repeal pump labeling requirements that confuse and deter drivers from using E15, a blend of gasoline with 15 percent ethanol. Finally, the legislation directs EPA to finalize provisions from the same proposed rule to allow certain existing underground storage tanks to store higher blends of ethanol.

RFA Releases Statistical Reports on 2020 Ethanol, Distillers Grains Exports

The Renewable Fuels Association today released two reports summarizing 2020 U.S. ethanol and distillers grains export and import data. These annual reports provide industry advocates, policymakers, the media and the general public with the latest information on the important role U.S. ethanol and distillers grains play on the world stage.

“Exports continued to be a major demand driver for the U.S. ethanol industry in 2020, even as producers coped with the impacts of a global pandemic and ongoing trade wars,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “As these reports show, the value of our industry’s exports approached $5 billion in 2020, making a significant contribution our nation’s balance of trade and underscoring the growing worldwide need for low-carbon, high-octane fuel and high-protein animal feed. U.S. ethanol producers should be proud of the positive impact they had on the lives of millions of consumers around the globe in 2020.”

The export/import trade summary report on ethanol provides annual and monthly data on U.S. ethanol exports, highlighting the fact that more than 1.334 billion gallons—10 percent of the ethanol produced in the United States—were exported in 2020. While this is 9 percent lower than 2019, it remains the fourth largest export volume in history. This ethanol, valued at $2.33 billion, was shipped to 90 countries on six continents. Canada was the top export destination, taking in nearly a quarter of U.S. ethanol exports, followed by Brazil and India.

The United States brought in less than 200 million gallons of ethanol imports, meaning the industry remained a net exporter by a large margin in 2020. Maps depicting the leading ports of entry and departure for U.S. ethanol imports and exports are offered in the reports, as are figures showing the annual economic value of U.S. ethanol exports.

The second report released today covers U.S. exports of distillers grains, a high-protein co-product of dry mill ethanol production used in livestock and poultry feed, which totaled 10.958 million metric tons in 2020, a slight improvement on 2019 and the seventh straight year these exports exceeded 10 million metric tons. A record high share of total U.S. distillers grains production—38 percent—was  exported in 2020. Mexico remained the top destination for U.S. distillers grains, representing 16 percent of total shipments, followed by Vietnam and South Korea. U.S. distillers grains exports had an aggregate value of $2.33 billion in 2020, the fifth highest on record.

Klobuchar Introduces Sweeping Bill to Promote Competition and Improve Antitrust Enforcement

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the lead Democrat on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, introduced sweeping new legislation today to reinvigorate America’s antitrust laws and restore competition to American markets. The Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act will give federal enforcers the resources they need to do their jobs, strengthen prohibitions on anticompetitive conduct and mergers, and make additional reforms to improve enforcement.

“Competition and effective antitrust enforcement are critical to protecting workers and consumers, spurring innovation, and promoting economic equity. While the United States once had some of the most effective antitrust laws in the world, our economy today faces a massive competition problem. We can no longer sweep this issue under the rug and hope our existing laws are adequate,” said Senator Klobuchar. “The Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act is the first step to overhauling and modernizing our laws so we can effectively promote competition and protect American consumers.”

This bill is cosponsored by Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust and Commerce Committee members Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Brian Schatz (D-HI).

Many industries are consolidating as large mergers and acquisitions increase and big companies buy out upstart rivals before they can become a competitive threat. Harmful exclusionary practices by dominant companies – such as refusals to deal with rivals, restrictive contracting, and predatory pricing – squelch competition. U.S. antitrust law enforcement against powerful firms has lagged efforts in other developed countries, particularly when it comes to enforcement against the dominant digital platforms and other large corporations. To remedy these longstanding issues, the Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act will:

1. Increase Enforcement Resources
For years, enforcement budgets at the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and Federal Trade Commission have failed to keep pace with the growth of the economy, the steady increase in merger filings, and increasing demands on the agency's resources. To enable the agencies to fulfill their missions and protect competition by bringing enforcement actions against the richest, most sophisticated companies in the world, this bill would authorize increases to each agency’s annual budget.

2. Strengthen Prohibitions Against Anticompetitive Mergers
The bill would restore the original intent of Section 7 of the Clayton Act, which was designed to stop anticompetitive mergers in order to address competitive problems in their “incipiency” before they ripened and caused harm. As the law stands today due to court decisions, enforcers can block only the most egregious acquisitions, which has allowed many harmful mergers to escape scrutiny. To remedy this, the Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act will:
-    Update the legal standard for permissible mergers. The bill amends the Clayton Act to forbid mergers that “create an appreciable risk of materially lessening competition” rather than mergers that “substantially lessen competition,” where “materially” is defined as “more than a de minimus amount.” By adding a risk-based standard and clarifying the amount of likely harm the government must prove, enforcers can more effectively stop anticompetitive mergers that currently slip through the cracks. The bill also clarifies that mergers that create a monopsony (the power to unfairly lower the prices a company it pays or wages it offers because of lack of competition among buyers or employers) violate the statute.
-    Shift the burden to the merging parties to prove their merger will not violate the law. Certain categories of mergers pose significant risks to competition, but are still difficult and costly for the government to challenge in court. For those types of mergers, the bill shifts the legal burden from the government to the merging companies, which would have to prove that their mergers do not create an appreciable risk of materially lessening competition or tend to create a monopoly or monopsony. These categories include:
-        Mergers that significantly increase market concentration
-        Acquisitions of competitors or nascent competitors by a dominant firm (defined a 50% market share or possession of significant market power)
-        Mega-mergers valued at more than $5 billion

3. Prevent Harmful Dominant Firm Conduct
Decades of flawed court decisions have weakened the effectiveness of Section 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act to prevent anticompetitive conduct by dominant companies. The bill creates a new provision under the Clayton Act to prohibit “exclusionary conduct” (conduct that materially disadvantages competitors or limits their opportunity to compete) that presents an “appreciable risk of harming competition.”

4. The legislation would establish a new, independent FTC division to conduct market studies and merger retrospectives.

5. Implement Additional Reforms to Enhance Antitrust Enforcement
The Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act will also implement a series of reforms to seek civil fines for antitrust violations, study the effect of past mergers, strengthen whistleblower protections, and more.

Fed Cattle and Feeder Cattle Divergence

Stephen R. Koontz, Dept of Ag and Resource Economics, Colorado State University

The current outlook communications for the cattle and beef markets in 2021 are commonly optimistic –bullish. The underlying market fundamentals support this position. On feed number are currently high and will moderate through the remainder of the year with smaller placements and smaller calf numbers. Further, the currently very large carcass weights will shrink into the spring as winter weather has its impact. Similar optimistism is often offered for feeder cattle and calves but I believe this is a tenuous perspective. Rather, I believe cow-calf producers should look hard at Livestock Revenue Protection (LRP) insurance. My outlook communications discussed to potential for returning to normal seasonal patterns and opportunities this year. For cow-calf producers that involves diversifying and making some sales in the spring and early summer with fed cattle and beef price rallies. I am concerned that this year may playout more like last year. In 2020, selling opportunities evaporated through March. If the current changes to feed costs persists then we may be in for a repeat.

The February WASDE report will be released this week and the first look at USDA grain acreage forecasts will be offered at the Agricultural Outlook Forum at the end of next week. This information will update us on the tightness of corn and soybean stocks and possible acreage relief with this crop year. Regardless, stocks are considerably tighter than what was anticipated as of last fall. And even with the substantial increases in corn and soybean futures prices for nearby contracts the current corn basis across the central and southern plains remains strong – the cash activity and price levels have followed the futures rally. In this setting, these increases are not temporary but rather permanent. And permanent for cattle feeding cost-of-gains. Even crude oil is participating with the March contract – the contract that was negative in 2020 – rallying from the low-$40s to the mid-$50s.

Bullish moves for fed cattle are in the works but those for feeder cattle and calves are far more limited. What do the technicals say? I believe the technicals will reveal first to market watchers any slowing or stopping of the changes to feed costs. And I see none currently.

Grains first: corn and soybean contracts all show multiple and strong uptrends in place. Soybeans showed a 5-day retreat to the steepest trend line in January. That trend holds and holds across the contract spectrum. It holds for contracts of the current crop year and holds for contracts of the next harvest. The picture is the same for corn with the exception that the retreat to the trend line – which held – was 7 days. New crop beans are $11.60 and new crop corn is $4.50. This feed cost perspective and the cattle supply picture is very different from the prior three years. And these grain markets are offering no sell signals.

Thompson Statement on Agriculture Democrats Release of Partisan Reconciliation Measure

Today, House Agriculture Committee Republican Leader Glenn “GT” Thompson (PA-15) issued the following statement after Democrats released the Agriculture Committee’s portion of the FY21 budget reconciliation bill:

"Democrats unveiled their $16 billion bill which was drafted behind closed doors, placing secrecy over solutions. The package is neither timely, nor targeted, and will fall devastatingly short of delivering direct relief for the agriculture industry and farm families. I implore my colleagues across the aisle to work with us to more thoroughly review resources and needs to better provide support.”

Chairman Scott Announces House Agriculture Subcommittee Chairs for the 117th Congress

Today, following the House Agriculture Committee’s Democratic Caucus organizational meeting, Chairman David Scott of Georgia announced the election of the Chairs of the Committee’s six Subcommittees:
    Jim Costa of California will Chair the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture
    Abigail Spanberger of Virginia will Chair the Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry
    Jahana Hayes of Connecticut will Chair the Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight and Department Operations
    Antonio Delgado of New York will Chair the Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit
    Cheri Bustos of Illinois will Chair the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management
    Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands will Chair the Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research

“Each of these Members is well suited to take on the task of the very important issues facing their Subcommittees,” said Chairman Scott. “I look forward to working with each of them to continue advancing the work of the Committee and serving our consumers, food and fiber producers, and rural communities during this critical time.”

Ranch Group Files Opening Brief in RFID Case

Today in the Wyoming federal district court, Harriet Hageman, Senior Litigation Counsel for the New Civil Liberties Alliance, filed an opening brief related to R-CALF USA’s Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In addition to R-CALF USA, Wyoming ranchers Tracy and Donna Hunt and South Dakota ranchers Kenny and Roxy Fox are plaintiffs in the case.

In April 2019, the USDA’s veterinary subagency, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), issued a mandate to U.S. cattle producers to use radio frequency identification (RFID) eartags on all adult cattle moved interstate beginning January 2023. The mandate included a requirement that cattle producers register their premises with the government.

R-CALF USA and the other rancher-plaintiffs sued on the grounds the mandate was unlawful and it undermined existing law that allows cattle producers to choose among various lower-cost technologies, including metal eartags, when moving cattle interstate. Just weeks after the lawsuit was filed, APHIS withdrew its mandate.

But the original case alleged that APHIS also violated another law, the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), which requires federal agencies to follow certain protocols when establishing and utilizing advisory committees to ensure both government transparency and a balanced perspective among advisory committee members.

The opening brief addresses the plaintiffs’ FACA claims and contends that since late 2017, APHIS established and utilized two unlawful advisory committees to assist it in transitioning the U.S. cattle industry to exclusively use RFID eartags when moving adult cattle interstate, and to reduce cattle-producer opposition to the agency’s plan.  

The latest brief points out that defendants (USDA and APHIS) have never asserted that they followed lawful protocols and achieved balance on the advisory committees, but that they instead argue that they neither established nor utilized either the Cattle Traceability Working Group (CTWG), formed in late 2017; or its successor, the Producers Traceability Council (PTC), formed in early 2019.

The opening brief states that the defendants’ denials are disingenuous, citing to scores of emails, working papers, meeting minutes, news releases, and an APHIS strategy paper as evidence the agency both established the two advisory committees and then utilized them up to October of 2019, which was when the plaintiffs first filed their lawsuit against APHIS’s mandatory RFID plan.   

According to the opening brief, plaintiff Kenny Fox was invited to serve on the CTWG until several members complained the CTWG was unable to reach consensus to push forward with an RFID requirement. Consequently, the PTC was formed by excluding Fox and others who opposed a mandatory RFID system from its membership. Yet, the same APHIS officials who served on the CTWG continued to serve on the PTC, as did eartag manufacturing representatives and other RFID advocates.

R-CALF USA and the other plaintiffs are seeking an injunction from the court barring APHIS from using the advice and work products it received from the advisory committees as the agency forges ahead to deny cattle producers the choice to use various low-cost technologies as authorized in current law.

Friday February 5 Ag News

Over 500 students attend district livestock judging contest at Northeast Community College

The Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex at Northeast Community College in Norfolk was the site of the District II, III, and IV FFA District Livestock Judging Contest recently. Five-hundred-twenty contestants from 46 schools participated in the event held over three-days this year.

Michael Roeber, agriculture/livestock judging instructor at Northeast, said several changes were made this year due to the pandemic.

“In order to limit numbers in the facility at a given time, each of the three districts participated on separate days, with District 2 competing on Thur., Jan. 28, District 3 on Tue., Feb. 2, and District 4 on Thur., Feb. 4.  The District 4 contest also had to deal with late starts by many schools due to the snow and wind taking place,” he said. “Additional pandemic protocols included each school being assigned a time to begin their competition, with team members from a school being kept together in their own group away from contestants from other schools.”

Teams could have up to eight members, with the top four scores counted. Roeber said the top 25% in each division in each district qualify for the State Livestock Evaluation contest, which will be held virtually on April 1st, with the state results being announced the following week during the virtual Nebraska State FFA Convention.

There were approximately 25 faculty members, staff and students from Northeast Community College who assisted in conducting the contest.

Individual and team results include:

District 2 Seniors
Individual: 1st - R.J. Bayer, Howells-Dodge; 2nd - Colby Bolton, Cross County.
Team: 1st - Columbus Lakeview (Zach Anderson, Makiaya De La Cruz, Alex Hinze, Abigail Lutjelusche, Ella Meyer, Eli Osten, Carly Schaad, and Emily Schaad. 2nd - Howells-Dodge (Justin Bayer, R.J. Bayer, Levi Belina, Regan Burenheide, Gavin Nelson, Blake Sindelar, and Brittin Sindelar).

District 2 Juniors
Individual: 1st - Tara Hambleton, Leigh; 2nd - Barrett Walahoski, Raymond Central.
Team: 1st - 1st Columbus Lakeview (Blake Anderson, Emma Anderson, Madisen Greisen, Adyson Groteluschen, MaKenna Lutjelusche, Niels Schmidt, Kyle Olmer, and Gunnar Wolfe).
2nd - Leigh-Clarkson (Dylan Brabec, James Grotelueschen, Taya Hambleton, Dylan Higby, Jacob Martensen, Jordan Noonan, and Dalton Zulkoski).

District 3 Seniors
Individual: 1st - Kendra Loseke, Blair; 2nd - Logan Buhrman, Wisner-Pilger.
Team: 1st - Blair (Trinity Back, Callie Landauer, Kendra Loseke, Dalton Nielsen, Baydun Read, Tyler Thompson, and Wyatt Wiemer.) 2nd - West Point (Lance Ditloff, Rachel Groth, Kaleb Hasenkamp, Cole Hutchinson, Anna Karnopp, Ethan Kreikmeier, Evie Schlickbernd, and Levi Schiller.)

District 3 Juniors
Individual: 1st - Emma Heller, Wisner-Pilger; 2nd - Jacie Bonneau, Pender.
Team: 1st Wisner-Pilger (Addisyn Albers, Danika Alexander, Cameryn Bellar, Emma Heller, Owen Heller, Jocelyn Russman, Braxton Siebrandt, and Trey Stewart). 2nd - Pender (Jacie Bonneau, Rylie Bonneau, Kendra Burns, Matthew Ferris, Logan Mosser, Colton Sanderson, Kylie Sturek, and Lillie Timm).

District 4 Seniors
Individual: 1st - Christen Curtis, Creighton; 2nd Jacie Painter, Norfolk.
Team: 1st - Crofton (Connor Arens, Lauren Buschkamp, Tom Burbach, Brooklynn Fiscus, Tuff Foxhoven Tucker Goeden, Jayden Jordan, and Stran Sage). 2nd - Battle Creek (Dylan Amick, Becca Arkfeld, Elly Kurpgeweit, Keisha Nelson, Ashlynn Schwartz, Jenna Ruge).

District 4 Juniors
Individual: 1st - Levi Cronk, Summerland; 2nd Blair Jordon, Crofton.
Team: 1st - Crofton (Josie Anthony, Emma Bilka, Garret Buschkamp, April Guenther, Blair Jordan, Madisen Petersen, Megan Tramp, and Ty Tramp). 2nd - Battle Creek (Brayton Croghan, Jeret Hassler, Dane Kilday, Justine Kurpgeweit, Trinity Lutt, Quintin Uehling, and Ryan Zohner).

Extension webinar seeks to help ag producers better understand costs of production

A Nebraska Extension webinar on Feb. 11 at noon will feature a panel discussion aimed at helping farmers and ranchers to better manage costs of production.

The webinar will focus on where to find cost-of-production information, characteristics of profitable operations and areas to reduce costs without sacrificing productivity. It is the second installment in a series that seeks to help agricultural producers to better understand their financial positions.

Panelists will include Nebraska Extension Educators Glennis McClure, Aaron Berger and Austin Duerfeldt, as well as Tina Barrett, program manager at Nebraska Farm Business, Inc.

The webinar is presented as part of the Agricultural Economics Extension Farm and Ranch Management weekly series.

Registration is free at


Private Pesticide Training Offered by Zoom

Nebraska Extension in Northeast and North-central Nebraska will be offering four private pesticide applicator trainings by Zoom in March and April. Each one will have a different agricultural area of focus. The areas to be focused on are corn, soybean, pasture and wheat/alfalfa.  

A few different steps will be required to attend these trainings.
1)    Preregistration will be required. Register at the following links:
        March 1 at 6 p.m. — Corn
        March 8 at 6 p.m. — Soybean
        March 25 at 1 p.m. — Pasture
        April 9 at 9 a.m. — Wheat/Alfalfa
2)    Training materials will need to be picked up at a County Extension Office prior to training.
3)    Nebraska Department of Agriculture paper will need to be filled out and submitted when training materials are picked up.
4)    The training fee of $50 will need to be paid when training materials are picked up.
5)    Attend and participate in the training session for which you are registered.

No certification will be initiated unless all five steps are completed. Individuals outside of the Northeast and North-central regions are welcome to attend, but they should contact their local extension office first to see if training materials are available.  

Each training will offer individuals the opportunity to pick one of the special topics. Those being offered are:

March 1 — Corn
    Tar Spot and Bacterial Leaf Streak  
    Western Corn Rootworm  
    Palmer Amaranth and Waterhemp  

March 8 — Soybean
    Frogeye Leaf Spot, Soybean Cyst Nematode, White Mold  
    Soybean Gall Midge  
    Palmer Amaranth and Waterhemp

March 25 — Pasture
    Thistle ID and Management  
    Pocket Gophers & Prairie Dogs  
    Grasshopper Management

April 9 — Wheat/Alfalfa
    Fungicides and Wheat  
    Insecticides in Alfalfa  
    Weed Management in Alfalfa

For questions regarding the trainings, contact one the organizers below:
    Aaron Nygren, Nebraska Extension in Colfax County; by email or 402-352-3821  
    Wayne Ohnesorg, Nebraska Extension in Madison County; by email or 402-370-4040  
    Mitiku Mamo, Nebraska Extension in Dixon County; by email or 402-584-2234  
    Melissa Bartels, Nebraska Extension in Butler County; by email or 402-367-7410  
    Amy Timmerman, Nebraska Extension in Holt County; by email or 402-336-2760  
    Troy Ingram, Nebraska Extension in Valley County; by email or 308-754-5422

Ethanol: Emerging Issues Forum 2021

Thursday, March 25, 1 to 4:30 p.m.  | Friday, March 26, 9 a.m. to noon

The Nebraska Ethanol Board and Renewable Fuels Nebraska invite you to the 16th annual Ethanol: Emerging Issues Forum. A diverse group of ethanol producers and others integrally involved in production, technology, policymaking and marketing of biofuels and its co-products from across the country will participate in this virtual event. An agenda will be made available soon.


Registration is complimentary for this year's Forum. Early Bird Registration (through March 1) includes free sponsor swag mailed to you!  Register here...  

PRIME Class V Applications EXTENDED

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) has extended the application period for the PRIME Program. The PRIME Program is a continuing education opportunity for young or beginning producers who are interested in learning more about agronomic, business, innovations and marketing that will benefit their operations. Over the course of a year, participants will come together for three seminars to learn and discuss new ideas that can be incorporated into their own operations. We know the past year has been a difficult one for many and we want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to be involved in this program. It is a great way for young and beginning farmers to get their feet wet with the association and network with like minded growers from across the state.

“Providing opportunities to further education and involvement is one of our core missions,” said Andy Jobman, president of NeCGA. “The PRIME Program is one opportunity for members to focus on the agronomics and business aspects of their operations. I look forward to welcoming the fifth class into this great program.”

The first session will be in March, with dates to be determined by the participants. During this first session participants will have the opportunity to participate in the Nebraska Ag Tour. During the summer session participants will take part in a day trip to St. Louis where they will tour the Mel Price Locks & Dam. The final session will be in conjunction with the Nebraska Corn Growers Association Annual Meeting. Applications for the PRIME Program can be found here. The applications are due by Friday, February 19. All costs to participate in the program are covered for those that are 3-year members of the Association. If applicants are not members, the fee is $190 (the cost of a 3-year membership).

The PRIME Program is made possible with funding from our presenting partners, Northwestern Mutual and Farm Credit Services, along with the Nebraska Corn Board. For more information about the PRIME Program, please visit

Please share with anyone you think may be interested! They DO NOT have to be members to apply.

FLAGship Program Applications Now Available!

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association is now accepting applications for the sixth class of the Future Leaders in Agriculture Scholarship (FLAGship) Program The FLAGship Program is a scholarship program intended for future agricultural leaders in Nebraska. The Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) will award up to 5 $2,000 scholarships to high school seniors or college freshman who are continuing their education in the state of Nebraska. Three of the scholarships are set aside strictly for those students pursuing a degree directly related to agriculture. Two of the scholarships are open to non-agricultural degree-seeking students.

To be eligible for this scholarship students must be a member of NeCGA or the son/daughter of a NeCGA member. The application for the FLAGship Program must include one letter of recommendation, a current resume (not to exceed one page), as well as proof that the student is continuing their education in the state. Applicants are also asked to explain how they will advocate for agriculture in their future careers as well as what issues they feel the ag industry is currently facing. Applications must be postmarked by March 5, 2021, or emailed to

Cultivate Your Future at the 2021 Inaugural Nebraska Hemp Conference and Trade Show

Through a collaborative effort, several Nebraska agricultural growers, businesses and organizations are partnering to host a virtual conference in March to focus on growing the industrial hemp industry in the Midwest. Join researchers and Nebraska Extension professionals from throughout the state and region for research-based education focused on “Growing Industrial Hemp in Nebraska."

Organizers anticipate that 350 people will attend the 2021 Inaugural Nebraska Industrial Hemp Conference and Trade Show, a virtual two-day conference held on Thursday, March 25th, and Friday, March 26th, 2021. Planners intend to make this an annual event. The conference will bring together industry experts who will provide proven agronomic practices and insights to help growers make the best decisions for their farms. Several prominent speakers from around the country will be on-hand to discuss different types of hemp (CBD/Floral, Fiber, and Grain), trends across the US, growing practices, pest and disease control, harvest and post-harvest practices, nutrient management, as well as legal and banking considerations and policy news.

In addition to these educational offerings, a new segment will be added, “Building the Industrial Hemp supply-chain in Nebraska.” It will be a networking opportunity for growers, suppliers, processors, brokers, local businesses, and area organizations. The goal is to support the expansion of supply and demand networks in the region by encouraging inter-business coalitions between event attendees and businesses to strategize and find creative opportunities for outside partnerships.

The conference is sponsored in part by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Midwest Hop Producers, LLC. Conference proceeds will support further industrial hemp research and education.
Registration, agenda, sponsorships, and other details will be available on February 9, 2021 at

Thompson Announces Republican Agriculture Subcommittee Leadership for 117th Congress

Today, House Agriculture Committee Republican Leader Glenn “GT” Thompson (PA-15) announced the subcommittee Ranking Members for the 117th Congress.

“Rural America faces tremendous challenges—from addressing the COVID and opioid crises and preventing supply chain disruptions to expanding economic development opportunities. This is an extraordinarily talented group of members to lead our subcommittees and I look forward to working with them," said Republican Leader Thompson.

Ranking Members and assignments for the 117th Congress are as follows:
Rep. Austin Scott (GA-08) will serve as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management.

Rep. Michelle Fischbach (MN-07) will serve as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy and Credit, R&D, and Broadband.

Rep. Doug LaMalfa (CA-01) will serve as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry.

Rep. Don Bacon (NE-02) will serve as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations.
Rep. Dr. Jim Baird (IN-04) will serve as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research.

Rep. Dusty Johnson (SD-AL) will serve as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture.

Iowa Water Summary: January Precipitation, Temps Higher than Average

While January is usually the driest month of the year, last month saw above-normal precipitation and above-normal temperatures across the state, according to the latest Water Summary Update.

Temperatures averaged 4 degrees above normal for the month, with 1.27 inches of precipitation, 0.35 inches above normal. However, abnormal dryness and drought conditions remained generally unchanged through January. Under the snow, the shallow soils are dry enough that there is the potential for drought issues later this spring.

"Despite the abundance of snow in January, there is concern over dry soils in western parts of the state," said Tim Hall, DNR's coordinator of hydrology resources. "A dry spring could be problematic for parts of the state. A virtual meeting is planned for March 4 to discuss conditions in more detail."

Staff from the Iowa DNR, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Weather Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey will provide current information and projections for potential drought conditions in Iowa at the meeting, to be held online from 1 to 3 p.m. Additional meeting information is available at

Temperatures in January were unseasonably warm, on average 23.6 degrees or 4.2 degrees above normal. Northwestern Iowa experienced the warmest conditions, where positive departures of up to seven degrees were reported in the monthly averages. Stations in eastern Iowa reported average temperatures one to three degrees warmer than normal.

Streamflow conditions across most of the state remain normal. Flows in the Des Moines River basin continue to be below normal.

For a thorough review of Iowa's water resource trends, go to

The report is prepared by technical staff from Iowa DNR, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, IIHR--Hydroscience and Engineering, and the U.S. Geological Survey, in collaboration with Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department.

Iowa Legislators to Announce New Bill Stopping Factory Farms Statewide

On Tuesday, Iowa state legislators will announce new legislation to establish a statewide moratorium on factory farms. The announcement comes amidst overwhelming public support for a moratorium. According to the organizers, 63% of Iowa voters stand behind legislation to stop factory farm expansion and corporate monopolies in our food system, and recent polling suggests that these numbers have only surged in rural communities. Nationally, 88% of young rural voters and 82% of independent rural voters support moratoriums on factory farms.

Since the first introduction of a factory farm moratorium in 2017, the Iowa legislature has failed to rise to the urgency of the moment. As constituent demand mounts, Iowa bill sponsors Rep. Art Staed and Sen. Pam Jochum will speak Tuesday on the bold moves necessary from colleagues to stop factory farms. Family farmer Barb Kalbach, and local environmental activists from Food & Water Watch and Sierra Club will also speak on the urgency of this moratorium.

Following the event, impacted citizens will hold a virtual rally in support of the factory farm moratorium. Rural community leaders, farmers, and impacted Iowans will share frontline experiences with the factory farm industry, including how corporate agriculture has ravaged and divided rural communities, created a breeding ground for public health concerns, and created long-lasting damage to our environment.

This event is a joint effort of concerned citizens represented by Food & Water Watch, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Iowa Citizens for Responsible Agriculture, Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture, Iowa Farmers Union, Poweshiek CARES, and the Sierra Club.

Iowa Farm Couples Can Enjoy a Weekend Getaway This Spring

Couple holding hands while walking in autumn countryside, by michaeljung/stock.adobe.comAMES, Iowa – In response to high levels of both personal and financial farm stress, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is offering three “Farm Couple Getaways” aimed at farmers wanting to take advantage of activities to improve farm family communication, work on farm or family goal setting or farm transitioning, or who would just like a weekend away to discuss farm and family issues.

The first getaway will be held Friday and Saturday, March 26 and 27 at Best Western Plus in Dubuque. The dates and locations for the other getaways are as follows:                                            
    Friday and Saturday, April 9-10, at Lake Shore Center at Okoboji in Milford.
    Friday and Saturday, April 16-17, at Hotel Winneshiek in Decorah.      

The getaways run from 12:30 p.m. on the first day to 3:15 p.m. on the second day. There is no cost to attend, as food, lodging and other expenses are being paid for by sponsorships. However, there is a $50 per couple deposit to hold each reservation, refundable on the second day of the event.

“Past Farm Couple Getaways have proven to be beneficial to farm couples. They are a productive and delightful time to discuss items of importance to help farms and families be successful,” said Larry Tranel, dairy specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach.

Each getaway will consist of 10 farm couples and the extension facilitators. Registration will be on a first-come, first-served basis, due two weeks prior to each session. Registration brochures for the various sites can be obtained from select ISU Extension and Outreach county offices, or from dairy specialists.

Jenn Bentley can be reached at or at the Winneshiek County office at 563-382-2949; Fred Hall, at or the Sioux County office at 712-737-4230; and Larry Tranel, at or the Dubuque County office at 563-583-6496.

The Farm Couple Getaways statewide gold sponsor is the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, with other local sponsors recognized at each local event. More information is available in the event brochure for Eastern or Western Iowa at

Iowa Farm Bureau shares insights from the "Fill Your Freezer" contest

For some Iowans, the decision to serve their family real meat is based on its unique ability to strengthen their immune systems, and for others, it’s the nutritional value and health benefits found exclusively in animal protein. There are many reasons Iowans flock to the meat case, and now 106 lucky winners from each of Fareway’s Iowa locations will receive a $200 gift card for meat from the Iowa Farm Bureau’s “Fill Your Freezer” contest.

The month-long contest was part of Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s (IFBF) Real Farmers. Real Food. Real Meat. initiative, which showcases the nutritional benefits of meat and the innovation of Iowa livestock farmers who raise it.

The 2020 Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm Index® shows that 95 percent of Iowa households eat meat at least weekly and 96 percent consume dairy at least weekly, while 9 in 10 see animal-based proteins such as milk (91 percent) and meat (90 percent) as healthy options.  During a time of heightened awareness of health and wellbeing, the survey revealed that nearly 9 in 10 Iowa grocery shoppers (87 percent) are likely to purchase food based on its ability to strengthen their immune systems. The survey also found that 70 percent of Iowa grocery shoppers say they are likely to increase their consumption of meat and poultry upon learning that zinc helps immune systems function properly and that meat and poultry provide the majority of the zinc in Americans’ diets.   

“Iowa farmers strive to provide consumers with a variety of real animal protein options that are not only healthy and fit into a variety of budgets, but are also sustainable,” said Craig Hill, IFBF president. “In fact, the U.S. is the world leader in sustainable livestock production. All of agriculture accounts for around 10 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). By contrast, transportation accounts for 28 percent of GHG emissions and electricity accounts for nearly 27 percent. With technology available today, agriculture is on a trajectory to reduce its GHG emissions by 50 percent.”

Highlights from the February 2021 Farm Income Forecast

USDA Economic Research Service - Feb 5, 2021

Net farm income, a broad measure of profits, is forecast to decrease $9.8 billion (8.1 percent) to $111.4 billion in 2021. In inflation-adjusted 2021 dollars, net farm income is forecast to decrease $12 billion (9.7 percent) in 2021 after increasing $37.8 billion (44.2 percent) in 2020 to its highest level since 2013. Despite this decline, 2021 net farm income would be 21 percent above its 2000-19 average of $92.1 billion.

After increasing a forecasted $27.3 billion in 2020, net cash farm income is forecast to decrease $7.9 billion (5.8 percent) to $128.3 billion in 2021. Inflation-adjusted net cash farm income is forecast to decrease $10.4 billion (7.5 percent) from 2020 and would be 15.3 percent above its 2000-19 average ($111.3 billion). Net cash farm income encompasses cash receipts from farming as well as farm-related income, including Government payments, minus cash expenses. It does not include noncash items—including changes in inventories, economic depreciation, and gross imputed rental income of operator dwellings—reflected in the net farm income measure above.

Cash receipts are forecast to increase in 2021, but lower direct Government farm payments are expected to drive most of the decline in both net income measures. Cash receipts for all commodities are forecast to increase $20.4 billion (5.5 percent) to $390.8 billion (in nominal terms) in 2021. Total animal/animal product receipts are expected to increase $8.6 billion (5.2 percent) with increases in receipts for cattle/calves, hogs, and broilers. Total crop receipts are expected to increase $11.8 billion (5.8 percent) from 2020 levels following higher receipts for soybeans and corn. Direct Government farm payments are forecast at $25.3 billion in 2021, a decrease of $21 billion (45.3 percent) in nominal terms. The expected decrease is because of lower supplemental and ad hoc disaster assistance for COVID-19 relief in 2021 relative to 2020.

Also contributing to the 2021 decline in net income are higher production expenses. Total production expenses, including operator dwelling expenses, are forecast to increase $8.6 billion (2.5 percent) to $353.7 billion (in nominal terms) in 2021. Most of this reflects higher spending on feed, fertilizer, and labor.

Farm business average net cash farm income is forecast to decrease $6,100 (6.2 percent) to $91,800 per farm in 2021. Farm businesses in all resource regions are forecast to see declines in net cash farm income except the Heartland. When farm businesses are categorized by commodity specialization, most see average net farm income fall in 2021. The exceptions are farms specializing in wheat, corn, soybeans, and hogs.

Farm sector equity is forecast up by $47.8 billion (1.8 percent) to $2.74 trillion (in nominal terms) in 2021. Farm assets are forecast to increase by $57.4 billion (1.8 percent) to $3.18 trillion in 2021, reflecting anticipated increases in the value of real estate assets held by the sector. Farm debt is forecast to increase by $9.6 billion (2.2 percent) to $441.7 billion (in nominal terms), led by an expected 3.1-percent rise in real estate debt. The farm sector debt-to-asset ratio is expected to rise slightly from 13.84 percent in 2020 to 13.89 percent in 2021. Working capital, which measures the amount of cash available to fund operating expenses after paying off debt due within 12 months, is forecast to decrease 12 percent from 2020. When adjusted for inflation, farm sector equity and assets in 2021 are relatively unchanged from 2020.

Median Income of Farm Operator Households Forecast to Rise in 2020, Remain Flat in 2021

Total median farm household income is forecast to increase to $86,086 in 2020 and then remain relatively flat in 2021 at $86,917. That is a nominal increase of 3.6 percent (a 2.5 percent increase after inflation) between 2019 and 2020, and a 1 percent increase (a 0.9 percent decline after inflation) in 2021. The forecast rise in 2020—continued from 2019—is notable because it counters the trend from 2015 through 2018 of declining median farm household income.

Farm households typically receive income from both farm and off-farm sources. Median farm income earned by farm households is forecast to increase in 2020 to $767 from $296 in 2019, and then decline to $495 in 2021. The positive median farm income in 2019, and that forecasted for 2020 and 2021, is notable as median farm income earned by farm households was negative each year between 1996 and 2018. The increase in median farm income is partly because of increases in supplemental and ad hoc disaster assistance program payments. In 2020 and 2021, programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program, the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, and the latest COVID-19 aid package outlined in the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021, are forecast to provide financial relief to those affected by the global pandemic. As in previous years, many farm households rely on off-farm income: the median is forecast to increase in 2020, up 1.5 percent to $69,784, and to continue to rise by 2.3 percent in 2021 to $71,407, making it the highest median off-farm income since 2014. Since farm and off-farm income are not distributed identically for every farm, median total income will generally not equal the sum of median off-farm and median farm income.

Statement by Matt Herrick, Director of Communications, on Latest USDA Farm Income Forecast and December Export Data

The farm income forecast and export data released today reflect a growing need to ramp up our focus on expanding existing markets to create new opportunities for farmers, ranchers and producers at home and abroad. New market opportunities will ensure our producers are not so reliant on government support or the whims of a handful of trading partners. Ultimately, the data released today demonstrates growing export strength and a rebound in cash receipts for farmers—two positive stories owed largely to growing confidence in our economy. We need to build on that confidence moving forward by using the Department’s resources to invest in developing new income sources in local and regional food systems; to open competition and ensure fairer markets for producers of all sizes and backgrounds, including Black, Hispanic, Indigenous and other farmers of color; and to put American farmers in the lead on climate solutions that create new streams of income while leading the world in sustainably produced food. All of these elements are necessary to create a more resilient food system and stronger rural economies built to withstand a pandemic or other future disruption.

February Pork Webinar: U.S. Pork Exports and Market Update

The next Checkoff-hosted webinar for pork producers features expert insights and analysis on the 2020 year-end export data, scheduled to be released today. Analysts include Brett Stuart, economist and founding partner of Global AgriTrends, as well as Dr. Clay Eastwood from the National Pork Board.

In addition, Dr. Steve Meyer, economist with Partners for Production Agriculture, will provide a market update.  

Webinar: U.S. Pork Exports and Market Update
Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 1:30 p.m. CST
Click to Register  

Kansas Cattleman and Veteran Jerry Bohn Becomes New NCBA President

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) today concluded its virtual Winter Business Meeting with the election of Jerry Bohn, a cattle producer from Wichita, Kan., as NCBA president.

Bohn, a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, has been a part of the cattle industry his entire life. Bohn has had an expansive career in the cattle industry since his early days of custom grazing cattle with his family in Flint Hills, to his time on Kansas State University’s award-winning livestock judging team, and eventually serving 34 years as the manager of Pratt Feeders, a commercial cattle feeding operation in his home state of Kansas. He has also dedicated his time as a leader for several state-level associations, using his expertise and experiences to mentor the next generation of industry advocates.

“As I look forward to this year as NCBA president, I have immense pride for the cattle industry and our dues-paying members that help to make this the leading cattle organization representing U.S. producers,” said Bohn. “Becoming president is my greatest honor and opportunity to give back to the industry that made me who I am today and for that I am forever grateful.”

Bohn’s term as president along with a new officer team was approved by NCBA’s board of directors. Don Schiefelbein of Minnesota was named president-elect, Todd Wilkinson of South Dakota was elected vice president. Wyoming rancher Mark Eisele was elected chair of the NCBA Policy Division and Nebraska cattle producer Buck Wehrbein was elected policy vice chair. Clay Burtrum of Oklahoma and Brad Hastings of Texas were elected as chair and vice chair of the NCBA Federation Division, respectively.

"I have heard quite a few producers in the past year say if you want to get something done in Washington, D.C. in agriculture, you better do it with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, or it is not going to get done. This is the greatest testament to the grassroots power of our members and state affiliates. It is why I am so proud to represent NCBA as President and it is the reason I get up every day, ready to fight for the American producer."

NCBA Works to Improve Business Climate for Cattle Producers with 2021 Policy Priorities

Today, the executive committee of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) approved the organization’s top 2021 policy priorities with a continued focus on advocating for a business climate that increases opportunities for producer profitability.

“There is no doubt the past year has been difficult for cattle producers and it’s crucial that we work to implement sound policy and focus our attention on the legislative and regulatory areas that will give U.S. cattle producers the most added value,” said NCBA President Jerry Bohn. “I am looking forward to collaborating with volunteer leadership, state affiliates and stakeholders across the country to tackle the most pressing issues facing our industry.”

NCBA’s policy priorities for the coming year demonstrate several pressing issues facing farmers and ranchers, including:
-    Price discovery and transparency in cattle markets is a concern for NCBA members and is a priority for the organization along with ongoing COVID-19 recovery efforts.
-    NCBA will continue to ensure that all alternative plant-based or cell-grown protein products are labeled truthfully and their ingredients are fully represented.
-    NCBA is committed to protecting those in the cattle industry while strengthening the beef supply chain to meet the growing demand for U.S. beef. The removal of non-tariff barriers to increase worldwide markets for U.S. beef will also remain a priority for the organization.

NCBA remains committed to working closely with Congress and the Biden Administration to emphasize the U.S. cattle industry is the global model for sustainable beef production and its commitment to environmental stewardship, along with engaging on the regulatory policies, including the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), that promote stability and continuity for cattle producers that face uncertainty every day.

“This framework of policy priorities is one of the most important documents approved each year. It provides direction to our staff guidance for meeting the needs of our members. The focus on improving the business climate for producers hits especially close to home for me, because I was born into the cattle business and I want to do my part, defending our industry and legacy – not just for the multi-generational producers but also newer producers that might only have a few calving seasons or sale barn trips under their belts.”

USDA Extends General Signup for Conservation Reserve Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is extending the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) General Signup period, which had previously been announced as ending on Feb. 12, 2021. USDA will continue to accept offers as it takes this opportunity for the incoming Administration to evaluate ways to increase enrollment. Under the previous Administration, incentives and rental payment rates were reduced resulting in an enrollment shortfall of over 4 million acres. The program, administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provides annual rental payments for 10 to 15 years for land devoted to conservation purposes, as well as other types of payments.

Before the General CRP signup period ends, producers will have the opportunity to adjust or resubmit their offers to take advantage of planned improvements to the program.

“The Conservation Reserve Program provides a tremendous opportunity to address climate change both by retiring marginal cropland and by restoring grasslands, wetlands, and forests,” said Robert Bonnie, Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Secretary. “CRP has a 35-year track record of success beyond just climate benefits, by providing income to producers, improving water quality, reducing erosion, and supporting wildlife habitat and the hunting and fishing opportunities that go along with it. By extending this signup period, we’ll have time to evaluate and implement changes to get this neglected program back on track.”

As one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the United States, CRP provides both economic and conservation benefits by taking land out of agricultural production. Program successes include:
    Sequestering in soils and plants over 12 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), or about the same amount that the entire state of Delaware emits annually.
    Preventing more than 2 billion tons of soil from being blown away by wind erosion over the life of currently enrolled acres.
    Reducing phosphorous reaching streams by almost 85 million pounds, nitrogen by nearly 450 million pounds, and sediment by over 160 million tons in 2020 alone.
    Creating more than 2.3 million acres of restored wetlands while protecting more than 177,000 stream miles with riparian forest and grass buffers, enough to go around the world seven times.
    Establishing over a half million acres of dedicated pollinator habitat and nearly 15 million more acres of diverse plantings that provide forage for pollinators.
    Increasing populations of ducks and other game birds, prairie chickens, and such grassland songbirds as Baird’s Sparrow. CRP in the Northern Great Plains supports an estimated 8.6% of the grassland bird population.
    Increasing habitat that supports economic opportunities, such as job creation, related to hunting and fishing activities.

This signup for CRP gives producers an opportunity to enroll land for the first time or re-enroll land under existing contracts that will be expiring Sept. 30, 2021. All interested producers, including those on Indian reservations and with trust lands, are encouraged to contact their local USDA Service Center for more information.

Global U.S. Ethanol and DDGS Export Pace Slows at Year End

Ann Lewis, Senior Analyst, Renewable Fuels Assoc.
The official numbers are in and they confirm that, despite the pandemic and trade barriers, the U.S. ethanol industry exported 1.33 billion gallons in 2020—the fourth-largest volume on record.
American shipments of ethanol slowed in December by 2% to 111.3 million gallons (mg). Exports to Canada shrank 35% to 22.9 mg, equivalent to just 21% of global shipments for the month. However, exports surged to South Korea (up 89% to 12.9 mg) and China (up 45% to 12.5 mg, its largest U.S. ethanol draw since March 2018). Hong Kong entered the market essentially for first time with a hefty purchase of 10.5 mg. Shipments to Brazil fell 43% from November as the tariff rate quota expired and all shipments from the U.S. became subject to a 20% tariff. Other larger markets included Colombia (7.0 mg), the Netherlands (5.7 mg), the United Kingdom (5.6 mg), the Philippines (5.5 mg), and India (5.3 mg).
The U.S. imported 20.7 mg of ethanol from Brazil, up 7% from November.
U.S. exports of dried distillers grains (DDGS)—the animal feed co-product generated by dry-mill ethanol plants—declined 9% in December to a seven-month low of 842,738 metric tons (mt). However, U.S. exports strengthened to our largest customer, with sales to Mexico up 11% to 155,823 mt. Demand for U.S. DDGS also jumped in South Korea, rising 34% to 119,315 mt. Those markets, together with Vietnam (101,642 mt, down 21%), Indonesia (99,145 mt, up 18%), Turkey (54,956 mt, down 54%), China (43,260 mt, up 37%), Morocco (a 15-month high of 34,089 mt), and Canada (30,416 mt, down 18%), accounted for three-fourths of our export market in December. Notably, U.S. DDGS exports to Thailand dropped 56% to a 22-month low of 12,980 mt.

Despite Pandemic and Trade Barriers, U.S. Ethanol Exports Top 1.3 Billion Gallons in 2020

U.S. ethanol exports totaled 1.33 billion gallons in 2020, down 9 percent from 2019 and the lowest volume since 2016, according to official government statistics released today. Still, according to the Renewable Fuels Association, exports were a relative bright spot in 2020, as the annual volume was the fourth-highest on record and nearly one out of every 10 gallons of U.S. ethanol produced last year was exported.

“COVID-19 and protectionist trade barriers created enormous headwinds for ethanol in the international market in 2020,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “But the U.S. ethanol industry again rose to the challenge and supplied more than 1.3 billion gallons of clean, green renewable fuel to customers across the globe. American ethanol continues to play a crucial role in helping nations around the world reduce consumer fuel costs, cut harmful tailpipe pollution, and meet decarbonization commitments under the Paris climate agreement. We are especially encouraged to see that China finally re-entered the market in December, importing nearly 13 million gallons of U.S. ethanol. We enter 2021 on solid footing and the industry is optimistic about the prospects for meaningful growth in ethanol exports.”

Canada remained as the top market during 2020, receiving 326 million gallons, or almost one-quarter of the total. Shipments to Canada in 2020 were only 1.5 percent lower than the volumes exported there in 2019. Brazil received 200 million gallons of U.S. ethanol in 2020, down 40 percent from 2019 due to constant uncertainty surrounding import tariffs. India was the third-leading market, with 190 million gallons. While overall export volumes were down from 2019 levels, shipments to several key markets increased. India, the European Union, Mexico, and Nigeria all imported more U.S. ethanol in 2020 than in 2019.

 Now Accepting Applications for Valent, ASA Ag Voices of the Future Program for College Students

The American Soybean Association (ASA) is now accepting applications for the Valent Ag Voices of the Future program, which will be held July 19-22, 2021, in conjunction with the summer ASA Board meeting and Soy Issues Forum in Washington, D.C. The Ag Voices of the Future program is for students interested in improving their understanding of major agricultural policy issues, the importance of advocacy and careers that can impact agricultural policy. Class size is limited and students must be at least 18 years old to apply.

Bonus Opportunity through Agriculture Future of America
Through a partnership ASA and Valent have with collegiate organization Agriculture Future of America (AFA), two students from the 2021 Ag Voices of the Future program will also have the opportunity to win the following:
• $1,600 academic scholarship
• Complimentary registration (includes hotel stay) for the Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Leaders Conference in Nov., 2021, in Kansas City, Missouri.
• Up to $500 for reimbursement of travel expenses to the AFA Leaders Conference

Application Process

To apply for the ASA and Valent Ag Voices of the Future program, and be considered for a scholarship to the AFA Leaders Conference, students should visit the Ag Voices of the Future webpage of the ASA website, click on the green “Apply Now” button, and submit their online application by March 10. To make sure students are considered for the Ag Voices of the Future program, they should check the box that reads, “I have an interest in agriculture policy and would like to be considered for the ASA and Valent Ag Voices of the Future Program (July 19-21, in Washington, D.C.), as well as receiving an AFA Leader and Academic Scholarship.” If a student has already applied for the AFA Leaders Conference, they can still modify their application to include checking the box for the Ag Voices of the Future program.  Here's the link to register...  

Thursday February 4 Ag News

 PSC Issues important reminders for Grain Producers and Dealers

The Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC) wants to remind producers and dealers of the importance of familiarizing themselves with Nebraska Grain laws when it comes to grain dealers.

It is important for a producer/seller to ensure they are working with a grain dealer licensed to do business in the state of Nebraska. A list of grain dealers licensed in Nebraska can be found on the Grain Department page of the PSC website. If a grain dealer is not licensed in Nebraska and the producer sells grain to that dealer, the producer will have no protection under Nebraska law.

The PSC reminds grain dealers state law (§75-903.) requires them to hold a Nebraska license in order to do business with producers/sellers from Nebraska.

Under the Grain Dealer Act if a producer/seller wants to ensure their transactions with a grain dealer are covered by the grain dealer’s security posted with the PSC, they must demand payment within 15 days of completion of their contract with the dealer. Producers/sellers who choose not to demand payment within 15 days after completion of their contract will be unsecured creditors of that dealer and forfeit any protection from the grain dealer’s security.

Information for grain dealers, producers/sellers and grain warehouses can be found on the Grain Department page of the PSC website Questions can be emailed to

Ag land management webinar to explore cash rental rates, new property tax credit

The Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will continue its webinar series, “Land Management Quarterly,” on Feb. 15 at noon.

Started in 2019, the series offers management advice and insight for Nebraska landowners, agricultural producers and others interested in properly managing agricultural land.

The February episode will examine trends and methods for setting cash rents, the new property tax income credit for Nebraska, and considerations for updating agricultural rental arrangements for 2021. The interactive sessions may be attended live. They conclude with an “Ask the Experts” session, offering participants the chance to get answers to their land or lease questions.

The webinars are led by Jim Jansen and Allan Vyhnalek, who are both in the Department of Agricultural Economics. Jansen focuses on agricultural finance and land economics, as well as the direction of the annual Nebraska Farm Real Estate Market Survey and Report. Vyhnalek is a farm succession and farmland management extension educator.

“Land is one of Nebraska’s most critical assets,” said Jansen. “This webinar series will help those with a vested interest in land to better understand the financial and human forces reshaping the rural agricultural landscape.”

2021 Land Management Quarterly webinar dates are:
    Feb. 15, noon
    May 17, noon
    Aug. 16, noon
    Nov. 15, noon

Registration is free at The recording will be available the following day, along with recordings from the entire series.

Fischer Announces Committee Assignments for 117th Congress

Today, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) announced her committee assignments for the 117th Congress. She will serve on the following Senate committees:
-        Armed Services
-        Commerce, Science, and Transportation
-        Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry

-        Rules and Administration
-        Select Committee on Ethics

“Committee assignments have been announced for the 117th Congress. I will continue my work for Nebraskans on my four committees: Armed Services, Commerce, Agriculture, and Rules. I have also been appointed to the Ethics Committee by my colleagues, and I thank them for their confidence that I will serve with integrity and fairness while promoting high ethical standards in the U.S. Senate,” said Senator Fischer.

IRFA Thanks Governor Reynolds, Secretary Naig for Recognizing Biofuels’ Role in Iowa’s Economic Recovery

Today Governor Kim Reynolds released the final report from her Economic Recovery Advisory Board, which was tasked with helping chart a path forward for economic revival in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) Executive Director Monte Shaw made the following Statement:

“IRFA members are grateful to Governor Reynolds for her vision in creating the Economic Recovery Advisory Board to further spark Iowa’s economic recovery and job growth. A special thanks is also needed for Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig in light of his diligent work with the Agriculture Working Group. IRFA agrees with Governor Reynolds and Secretary Naig that biofuels play an important role in Iowa’s economy and it is a priority to work toward greater access to higher blends of biofuels offering consumers less expensive, cleaner burning fuel options at the pump. Implementing these recommendations will boost farm income, create jobs, lower consumer costs and clean the air we breathe.”

RFA Thanks Senators for Urging Swift EPA Action on Small Refinery Waivers

A bipartisan group of 15 senators is urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to take immediate action to end the abuse of small refinery exemptions and restore integrity to the Renewable Fuel Standard. In a letter to EPA Acting Administrator Jane Nishida, the senators asked the agency to review three small refinery waivers issued by the previous administration just hours before the inauguration of President Joe Biden. “If these waivers do not meet the three-part test laid out in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals then we urge you to immediately reverse them and deny the refiners’ waiver requests,” the senators wrote.

The letter also urges EPA to implement, on a nationwide basis, the Tenth Circuit Court’s decision limiting small refinery exemptions. “Because the Tenth Circuit decision is the most definitive legal pronouncement to date regarding EPA’s small refinery waiver authority, we encourage the Agency to adhere to that decision for the purposes of deciding all pending exemption petitions during the pendency of the Supreme Court’s review of the decision,” according to the letter. Finally, the letter encourages EPA to swiftly issue the proposed 2021 renewable volume obligations and move forward with a recent E15 streamlining proposal.

“We thank this bipartisan group of renewable fuel supporters for their determined efforts to put the RFS back on track and expand the market for ethanol,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “We agree with the senators that EPA must adhere to recent court decisions regarding the RFS and stay within its statutory authority. When properly implemented, the RFS is an incredibly powerful tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, slashing harmful tailpipe pollution, enhancing national energy security, and supporting the rural economy.”

Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) led the letter, which was also signed by Sens. Tina Smith (D-MN), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), John Thune (R-SD), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Roger Marshall (D-KS), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Josh Hawley (R-MO).

Senate Shows Support for Ethanol

On Wednesday, Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, led a letter signed by 13 other farm-state Senators to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to highlight the “pressing concern of restoring integrity to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and to alert you to pressing policy decisions that the Administration must make to bring regulatory certainty to the transportation fuels sector of the economy.”

Also, Wednesday, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., along with Klobuchar, reintroduced the Adopt GREET Act, legislation that would require the EPA to update its greenhouse gas modeling for ethanol and biodiesel.

“This bill will ensure EPA uses the most recent science and data to accurately measure the greenhouse gas emission reduction benefits of ethanol,” said NCGA President John Linder, president of the National Corn Growers Association. “The Department of Energy’s GREET model clearly shows ethanol is a key carbon reduction solution, resulting in significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline. Corn farmers thank Senator Thune and Senator Klobuchar for their leadership and look forward to working together to enact this legislation and take steps to advance greater use of low-carbon ethanol.”

Earlier in the week, during his Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee confirmation hearing, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack expressed his support for expanding the use of higher blends of biofuels.

"General Motors, Ford — they're not going to stop producing cars with internal combustion engines, so we need an alternative fuel source to complement electric. Over a long period of time, we're going to need both. We're going to promote biofuels octane capacity. One way to do that is to promote higher-blend biofuels used in higher-efficiency new engines,” Vilsack told the Committee.

In his confirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, EPA nominee Michael Regan pledged his support for ethanol and agriculture. “You have my commitment that we will take a look at the RFS program and we will introduce some transparency into that program,” Regan told the Committee.

NCGA appreciates the continued advocacy and support for renewable fuels from members of the U.S. Senate and looks forward to a productive relationship with both Vilsack and Regan upon their Senate confirmation.

STC releases “Top 20 Innovations for Rural Bridge Replacement and Repair”

Rural roads and bridges serve as the initial link in the overall supply chain – allowing the soybeans and grain produced on a farm to be eventually consumed by both domestic and international customers. Of the bridges in the country classified as deficient and, in many cases, subject to closures or restricted access, a significant percentage are located in rural areas.

“Our nation’s rural bridges serve as the initial step in a lengthy journey to the ultimate customer,” explains Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition (STC). “Unfortunately, the region of the country in which bridge conditions are most severe – rural areas – also happen to be the region in which available funding to improve these conditions is stagnant or on the decline. The concern remains that if this starting line for farmers is not well-maintained, soybeans and grain will not effectively reach the finish line in delivering to our customers.”

Given the significance of this need and the limited resources to address it, a potential response by bridge owners is to simply close or restrict access to existing bridges or hope federal, state, or local government will be willing and able to supply the necessary revenue. While pursuing increased investment is appropriate and closing or placing restrictions on certain rural bridges may be prudent, increased energy and attention must be devoted to addressing the cost side of the equation and making existing tax dollars stretch further.

In the effort to promote more cost-effective approaches to replacing and repairing rural bridges without compromising safety, the STC has released the report, “The Top 20 Innovations for Rural Bridge Replacement and Repair.” The report features the following ten rural bridge replacement and ten rural bridge repair innovations.  

Bridge Replacement Innovations

    Railroad Flat Car Bridges
    Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil – Integrated Bridge System (GRS-IBS)
    Vibratory H-Piling Drivers
    Buried Soil Structures
    All Steel Piers
    Galvanized H-Piling
    Press Brake Tub Girders
    Galvanized Steel Beams
    Prestressed Precast Double Tees
    Precast Inverted Tee Slab Span Bridges

Bridge Repair Innovations

    Piling Encasements
    Concrete Pier Piling Repairs
    Driving Piling through Decks
    Epoxy Deck Injections
    Deck Overlays with Type O Concrete and Plasticizers
    Deck Patching
    Thin Polymer Concrete Overlays
    Penetrating Concrete Sealers
    Spot Cleaning Painting Steel Beams
    Concrete Overlay on Adjacent Box Beams

“Many of the innovative concepts featured in this report can result in a 50% or greater cost savings for rural counties,” says Jonathan Miller, a soybean farmer from Island, Kentucky, and chairman of the Soy Transportation Coalition. “This can easily result in replacing a bridge for $100,000 to $150,000 compared to the prevailing method of $250,000 to $400,000. Farmers understand with their own operations that simply spending our way out of a problem will rarely be successful. We also need to embrace innovative ways to save our way out of a problem. This approach that works so well on the farm also applies to maintaining and improving our infrastructure.”

In order to select the featured innovative concepts, the STC assembled a group of 13 bridge engineers and experts (listed below) from the 13 states that comprise the organization. Three engineers served as principal analysts for the project with the remaining ten engineers or experts serving as advisory committee members.

The innovative concepts for bridge replacement and repair featured in the project are not an exhaustive and comprehensive catalog. Numerous other innovative concepts exist and are worthy of being explored. The goal of the principal analysts and advisory committee members was to highlight a relatable number of innovative concepts that 1.) Will provide initial or lifecycle cost savings, 2.) Have been validated by a credible engineering entity or organization, and 3.) Are accessible in a large section of rural America. The featured bridge replacement and repair concepts reflect the broad consensus of the principal analysts and advisory committee members. Readers should not assume the bridge replacement and repair concepts featured in the above list are in complete alignment with the lists of each individual principal analyst or advisory committee member.

A document highlighting the innovate bridge replacement and repair concepts, expected cost and time savings, and links to validating research can be accessed at

Principal Analysts:
    Indiana: Pat Conner, P.E. (Lead Engineer, Asset Management, Local Technical Assistance Program at Purdue University)
    Iowa: Brian Keierleber, P.E. (County Engineer, Buchanan County, Iowa; President of the National Association of County Engineers – 2017-2018)
    North Dakota: Kelly Bengtson, P.E. (Bridge and Pavement Engineer – Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute at North Dakota State University)

Advisory Committee Members:
    Illinois: Duane Ratermann, P.E. (County Engineer, Knox County, Illinois; President of the National Association of County Engineers – 2015-2016; President of the Illinois Association of County Engineers – 2019-2020)
    Kansas: Calvin Reed, P.E. (Director of Engineering and Design – Kansas Department of Transportation)
    Kentucky: Duane Campbell, P.E. (County Engineer, Boyle County, Kentucky; President of the Kentucky Association of County Engineers and Road Supervisors)
    Michigan: Dave Juntunen, P.E. (former Bridge Engineer – Michigan Department of Transportation; Bridge Management Practice Lead – The Kercher Group)
    Minnesota: Dave Conkel, P.E. (State Aid Bridge Engineer – Minnesota Department of Transportation)
    Missouri: Derin Campbell, P.E. (former County Engineer, Boone County, Missouri; Project Manager – Allstate Consultants, LLC)
    Nebraska: Josh Steelman, P.E. (Associate Professor, Civil Engineering – University of Nebraska)
    Ohio: Warren Schlatter, P.E. (County Engineer, Defiance County, Ohio)
    South Dakota: Andrew Peterson (Field Services Manager – Local Technical Assistance Program at South Dakota State University)
    Tennessee: Matt Cate, P.E. (Director, Tennessee Transportation Assistance Program – University of Tennessee)

USDA Dairy Products December 2020 Production Highlights

Total cheese output (excluding cottage cheese) was 1.13 billion pounds, 0.5 percent above December 2019 and 2.6 percent above November 2020.  Italian type cheese production totaled 485 million pounds, 0.3 percent above December 2019 and 5.9 percent above November 2020.  American type cheese production totaled 461 million pounds, 1.0 percent above December 2019 and 2.9 percent above November 2020.  Butter production was 206 million pounds, 11.8 percent above December 2019 and 18.7 percent above November 2020.

Dry milk products (comparisons in percentage with December 2019)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 205 million pounds, up 24.1 percent.
Skim milk powder - 40.9 million pounds, down 36.9 percent.

Whey products (comparisons in percentage with December 2019)
Dry whey, total - 81.7 million pounds, up 2.3 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 96.6 million pounds, up 3.2 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 43.2 million pounds, up 0.2 percent.

Frozen products (comparisons in percentage with December 2019)
Ice cream, regular (hard) - 52.4 million gallons, up 11.4 percent.
Ice cream, lowfat (total) - 29.1 million gallons, up 3.7 percent.
Sherbet (hard) - 2.76 million gallons, up 34.4 percent.
Frozen yogurt (total) - 2.83 million gallons, down 3.1 percent.

Land O’Lakes Sustainability Business Truterra Launches TruCarbon, the First Farmer-Owned Carbon Program

Truterra, LLC, the sustainability business and subsidiary of Land O’Lakes, Inc., one of America’s largest farmer-owned cooperatives, today announced the launch of TruCarbon, a transformational new carbon program that will help farmers generate and sell carbon credits to private sector buyers. TruCarbon represents the first and only farmer-owned carbon program in the U.S. that is designed to provide both the best experience for farmers and a novel approach for carbon credit buyers to incentivize change at scale.
TruCarbon offers buyers carbon credits that are created using leading soil and conservation science, and precision data and verification methods. The program offers farmers a streamlined experience, making it easier for them to develop and sell carbon credits so that they can focus on crop production and caring for the land. Through the TruterraTM Insights Engine data platform, the new TruCarbon program provides farmers and their trusted ag retailer advisors a powerful soil health planning suite of tools to help them decide what is best for their business while optimizing their fields’ carbon credit potential. TruCarbon also maximizes the value and return for farmers with premium carbon credit value.
“TruCarbon is proof positive in our belief at Land O’Lakes that farmers and agriculture solve big problems – serving as the economic engine in rural communities, feeding a growing world, and now helping to address a changing climate,” said Beth Ford, CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “TruCarbon is providing farmers new opportunities to be recognized and rewarded for their stewardship, creating new revenue opportunities for farm families as they adopt soil health practices and increasing the focus on carbon storage in crop fields. It’s through innovative approaches such as TruCarbon that our farmer cooperative system can help ensure that farmers’ businesses are profitable, our rural communities are resilient, and the land, air and water are healthy for future generations.”
TruCarbon is launching with Microsoft as its first secured buyer to purchase carbon in 2021, which will help meet the company’s ambitious commitment to be carbon negative by 2030. For this initial launch, participating farmers may receive $20 per ton of carbon with payments this summer for this first tranche of credits. Qualifying farmers may be compensated for carbon sequestration retroactively up to five years based on the soil health practices they adopted in prior growing seasons. For maximum farmer convenience, Truterra will handle soil testing and other activities designed to ensure maximum credit quality and value. Farmers can begin the information and enrollment process by visiting
“TruCarbon is like no other offering on the market because it is built with the farmer at the center, backed by the most cutting-edge technology platform on the market. That means that companies and others looking to buy trusted carbon credits can connect with farmers and support the adoption of more sustainable practices on farms across the country,” said Jason Weller, Vice President, Truterra. “We are excited to be able to bring this program to farmers through our trusted network of ag retailers, offering a competitive price and streamlined experience so that they can stay focused on farming and their stewardship.”  
“The science is clear,” said Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, CEO of the Soil Health Institute, which is collaborating with Truterra on TruCarbon metrics and soil sampling protocols. “Storing more carbon in soils not only benefits a farmer’s bottom line, but also improves water quality and helps fight climate change. Farmers who adopt soil health practices build drought resilience, reduce erosion and minimize nutrient losses. All of us at the Soil Health Institute are excited to work with Truterra on this project because it will help achieve these on-farm and environmental benefits at scale.”
Current and future carbon efforts will leverage Truterra’s best-in-class sustainability platform, the Truterra™ Insights Engine, along with agronomic expertise and the
trusted advisor network of Land O’Lakes agriculture retailers to connect and support farmers as they adopt soil health practices and generate carbon credits.  

Farmers and their ag retailers use the Truterra™ Insights Engine to measure and track their on-farm practices and model new practice changes such as cover crops and no-till based on environmental impact and profitability, so that farmers are equipped to take advantage of carbon markets and additional ecosystem services markets as they emerge.

For more information about TruCarbon and how to get involved, visit:

Beef Tenderness Research Identifies Factors Influencing Eating Quality

There is nothing like biting into a nice juicy steak where the savory flavors burst in your mouth, but if that meat is tough to chew the experience may be a disappointment.

In the case of beef, all cuts are not created equal in terms of tenderness.

To learn more, Kansas State University meat scientists, with the support of beef checkoff funding, studied three cuts of beef looking at how fat content, muscle structure and aging influence tenderness.

"There is not a single biochemical trait (tenderness contribution factor) that can be used to predict tenderness for all beef cuts," said Michael Chao, K-State meat science researcher and assistant professor in the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry.

The study focused on three cuts -- the striploin (also known as New York Strip), tri-tip and heel.

"Tenderness is very much driven by the individual cut. For example, with the striploin overall tenderness is strongly influenced by lipid (fat) content, but heel overall tenderness is largely influenced by aging time," Chao said.

With a better understanding of how each cut needs to be managed, the beef industry can pass along that information to consumers, said Chao.

For example, cuts with extensive muscle fiber shortening may be stretched while beef that has a poor aging response should not be aged, said Chao. He added that some cuts with high connective tissue need to be prepared with a moist-heat cooking method.

"It is more important than ever to find markers to assist the industry and consumers to determine the ideal tenderness management techniques to ensure a consistent eating quality of beef," Chao said.

These research results are included in the proceedings for the virtual 2021 Cattlemen's Day planned for March 5. To learn more, go to,

University Products LLC Comments on AG News America's Recent Survey Showing Preferences and Strategies to Help Ward-Off Anaplasmosis in U.S. Cattle – Including Prevention via Anaplasmosis Vaccine

University Products, LLC recently noted a survey of ranchers and farmers detailing the most-preferred strategies for helping control the spread of anaplasmosis in U.S. herds. Anaplasmosis is a blood disease carried by parasites that infects red blood cells and causes severe anemia and death, representing a major annual financial loss to ranchers and the beef industry. University Products, LLC is the maker and distributor of a bovine anaplasmosis vaccine successfully tested and deployed since 2000.

Respondents to the anaplasmosis survey fell into three main categories: 78% chose vaccination as a main strategy to deploy, 14% chose chlortetracycline (CTC) treatments, 5% chose testing, and 3% chose other. CTC is a broad-spectrum antibiotic usually given in a variety of feeding levels and is used in beef cattle, non-lactating dairy cattle, and sheep. CTC has traditionally been the medical treatment of choice, often deployed as a preventative or after cattle are already infected and begin to show signs of disease. CTC cannot be used in every cattle-producing country however, and recent antibiotic resistance, updated FDA regulations, and consumer trends in the agricultural industry are also beginning to shift producers away from consistent antibiotic use as a preventative measure.

Respondents noted the cost per head for vaccination was in the range of $7 to $9, while CTC-use was reported at $20 to $24 per head. Costs involving testing varied by lab and test used. Vaccination is clearly the most preferred and affordable strategy for a wide majority of respondents, who also stated that they preferred it for a single, important reason: it eliminated the threat of anaplasmosis in the treated animal altogether. While respondents using the other two methods continued to experience significant cattle loss, despite using CTC or testing.

The vaccine developed by Dr. Gene Luther, D.V.M., Ph.D. for University Products has already been FDA-approved for experimental use and has been widely used with almost no side effects or adverse reactions reported.

The National Institute for Animal Agriculture Announces Rebrand

The National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA), a non-profit advocating for animal agriculture, has announced a rebrand to reflect the organization’s new strategic vision to be the leading resource for the animal agriculture industry and provides value to all stakeholders involved in providing safe and healthy food for the world.

The new logo utilizes clean straight lines and features a green horizon, signifying the organization’s future thinking. In addition to a new logo, website ( and membership portal, NIAA has updated the vision, mission and guiding principles that lead the organization’s endeavors and programming. The rebrand reaffirms the commitment to producers and organizations that serve animal agriculture.

“The rebrand is more than a cosmetic update. The board has taken this opportunity to evolve our vision, mission and guiding principles to reflect the many changes we’ve seen in animal agriculture since our inception in 2000,” said Kevin Maher, NIAA Chairman of the Board. “We believe our new strategic direction will lead our organization today and into the coming decades.”

The updated mission of NIAA is to convene animal agriculture experts and allies in collaborative settings to explore, discuss, learn, and develop knowledge that fosters interdisciplinary cooperation for the improvement and continuous progress of animal agriculture.

NIAA’s Guiding Principles:
    We facilitate dialogue within the animal agriculture industry on the most relevant and emerging issues affecting animal agriculture.
    We convene the leading experts and agriculture producers to deliver science‐based, reliable, and trusted perspectives on the industry’s most challenging topics.
    We educate stakeholders and serve as a resource to support the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of animal agriculture.
    We are a resource for supply chain and thought‐leading consumers.
    We lean in on tough issues.

To learn more about the organization, membership and programming, visit

Bayer's $2B Liability Fund Deal

Bayer AG is trying again to contain its liability over claims that its popular Roundup weedkiller causes cancer, unveiling Wednesday a $2 billion proposal to pay farmers and gardeners who try to blame the company for illnesses in the future.

The German company and plaintiffs' lawyers said they would seek a U.S. District Court judge's permission for a compensation program that would pay between around $5,000 and $200,000 each to future plaintiffs who contract non-Hodgkin lymphoma after using Roundup.

Bayer has been battling litigation over Roundup's safety since acquiring Monsanto Co., the weedkiller's manufacturer, in 2018. After three California juries found in favor of sick plaintiffs, Bayer agreed last June to pay up to $9.6 billion to settle existing Roundup cases. It continues to deny any link between the product and cancer.

That deal, however, didn't prevent more plaintiffs from coming forward in the future. An earlier proposal to create a panel of scientific experts whose conclusions on Roundup's safety would bind future litigants didn't pass muster with a federal judge, and Bayer has been working with plaintiffs' lawyers since July on a revision.

The new proposed class action covers those who haven't yet hired a lawyer to pursue a Roundup claim. If approved by the court, individuals who believe Roundup caused their non-Hodgkin lymphoma can apply for a settlement from a $1.33 billion pot of money, with the offers dependent on age, health, proof of Roundup use and other factors. Those who opt out can still pursue litigation on their own, with the prospect of convincing a jury to award higher, punitive damages not available to class members. The settlement fund will last four years, with the option to extend it after that.

"It's really about options, and it's really about choice," said Elizabeth Cabraser, an attorney for the plaintiffs. "I think it's a great option that offers predictability and transparency for people who don't want to wait, who want to be compensated."

Roundup continues to be sold for commercial farming and consumer gardening use with no changes to its formulation or label. Wednesday's deal includes a proposal to place on Roundup's label a link to a website with information on the disputed science behind the safety of glyphosate, the weedkiller's active ingredient.

The Environmental Protection Agency must sign off on the change. The EPA has previously said Bayer can't include a cancer-warning label on the product because the agency concluded the science didn't back up such a claim.

Bayer told investors in November that it was setting aside another $750 million to resolve the future Roundup cases, bringing the total to the $2 billion detailed Wednesday. In addition to the compensation fund, the money will go toward health programs to help potential plaintiffs be monitored for non-Hodgkin lymphoma; grants for research on NHL treatments; a science panel that will reach nonbinding conclusions on glyphosate's safety; and fees to plaintiffs' attorneys, who will be providing some free legal services for those applying for compensation.

The company is still completing settlements with lawyers who have existing Roundup clients. In November, Bayer said it had reached deals with 88,500 of the roughly 125,000 claims in that camp.

Bayer continues to pursue appeals in the three cases that went to trial. In October, California's highest court declined to hear an appeal in the first jury verdict, though lower courts slashed the award to groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson to $20.4 million, from an initial $289.2 million.

AGCO Reports Fourth Quarter Results

AGCO, Your Agriculture Company (NYSE: AGCO), a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment and solutions, reported net sales of approximately $2.7 billion for the fourth quarter of 2020, an increase of approximately 8.1% compared to the fourth quarter of 2019. Reported net income was $1.78 per share for the fourth quarter of 2020, and adjusted net income (3) , which excludes restructuring expenses and a gain on sale of an investment, was $1.54 per share. These results compare to reported net loss of $1.17 per share and adjusted net income, which excludes non-cash impairment charges, restructuring expenses and a tax gain, of $0.94 per share for the fourth quarter of 2019. Excluding favorable currency translation impacts of approximately 1.4%, net sales in the fourth quarter of 2020 increased approximately 6.7% compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.

Net sales for the full year of 2020 were approximately $9.1 billion, which is an increase of approximately 1.2% compared to 2019. Excluding unfavorable currency translation impacts of approximately 1.8%, net sales for the full year of 2020 increased approximately 3.0% compared to 2019. For the full year of 2020, reported net income was $5.65 per share, and adjusted net income (3) , which excludes non-cash impairment charges, restructuring expenses and a gain on sale of an investment, was $5.61 per share. These results compare to reported net income of $1.63 per share and adjusted net income, which excludes non-cash impairment charges, restructuring expenses and certain tax charges and gains, of $4.44 per share for 2019.

Fourth Quarter Highlights

    Reported fourth quarter regional sales results (1) : Europe/Middle East (“EME”) 13.7%, North America (10.2)%, South America 21.1%, Asia/Pacific/Africa (“APA”) 2.1%
    Constant currency fourth quarter regional sales results (1)(2)(3) : EME 7.7%, North America (10.3)%, South America 52.7%, APA (3.8)%
    Fourth quarter regional operating margin performance: EME 11.9%, North America 2.0%, South America 5.9%, APA 10.6%
    Full-year adjusted operating margins (3) improved to 7.0% in 2020 compared to 5.9% in 2019
    Generated approximately $896.5 million in cash flow from operations and approximately $626.6 million in free cash flow (3) in 2020
    Full-year earnings forecast for 2021 in a range from $7.00 to $7.25 per share
(1) As compared to fourth quarter 2019.
(2) Excludes currency translation impact.
(3) See reconciliation of Non-GAAP measures in appendix.

“The AGCO team delivered strong operational results leveraging improving markets to produce sales and earnings growth in the fourth quarter,” stated Eric Hansotia, AGCO’s Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our focused execution allowed us to overcome supply chain difficulties and maintain production levels, while reducing company and dealer inventories, which contributed to significant cash flow generation. I would like to thank all our employees for their extraordinary efforts to support our dealers and customers under challenging conditions. Our improved results allowed us to maintain our investments in premium technology, sustainable smart farming solutions and enhanced digital capabilities. AGCO’s exceptional product line continues to be well-received by our customers as evidenced by a strong year-end order board. Looking forward to 2021, we are forecasting sales and earnings growth as industry conditions trend positively and we position AGCO for future success.”

Wednesday February 3 Ag News

 Center for Rural Affairs, local processors testify in support of meat processing bill

Mike Boell and Anna Zeleny take a lot of pride in the role the Oakland Meat Processing Plant plays in their community and the surrounding area.

When COVID-19 hit, facilities like theirs saw an influx of new customers as work at larger packing plants in the region slowed or halted. With those customers came new challenges.

On Tuesday, Boell, who owns the plant, and Zeleny joined Center for Rural Affairs Policy Director Johnathan Hladik in Lincoln to testify before the Nebraska Legislature’s Agriculture Committee in support of a bill that would provide much-needed support for producers, processors, and consumers affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Legislative Bill (LB) 324, introduced by Sen. Tom Brandt, District 32, makes it easier for consumers to buy meat directly from producers or processors. It also creates the Independent Processor Assistance Program, which provides a roadmap for increasing local processing capacity and expanding market access for small producers.

“The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted our food supply,” Brandt said. “Outbreaks have impeded work at many regional packing plants and when these plants reduce line speed, backing up finished livestock on the farm, beef and pork producers turn to local processors to fill the void. This has created a bottleneck at every local meat locker in the state. They simply do not have the capacity or equipment to keep up with demand.”

Zeleny said the bill will not only help their business grow, but also meet the challenges they face, including an increase in consumers who are learning people don’t have to raise their own beef or even know a farmer to get access to a good product.

“We aren’t asking for this bill to pass so we can get our meat over to Walmart,” Zeleny said. “We are asking for this bill to be passed for our small farmers with one or 20 cattle at home in the backyard, or the farmer that butchers beef for his family.”
The bill also assists producers who, before the pandemic, typically scheduled locker dates four to six weeks in advance, but now are facing wait times between 20 and 24 months.

In his testimony, Hladik addressed the section of the bill that allows Nebraska-based livestock producers to make multiple shares of an animal or herd of animals available for consumer purchase in a safe and responsible manner, allowing the consumer to become part owner of the animal under state and federal law and the producer and consumer to do business under the custom exemption established in the Federal Meat Inspection Act.

“What we have now is a food supply emergency that is significantly hurting our direct-to-consumer industry, a lot of our producers, and a lot of our processors,” he said. “So, if you are going to be nimble and you're going to be quick and help address that, custom exempt, we believe is the pivot point. That is the best way we can let private enterprise solve that problem.”

Hladik said the legislation is consistent with state and federal law.

LB 324 is modeled after legislation enacted recently in Wyoming that excludes from regulation meat procured by consumers through animal-share arrangements under Wyoming’s state and federal meat inspection program. Under Nebraska’s bill, the producer must live in the state, register with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, and document all animal share sales and report them annually to the department.

Boell understands there are questions about safety, but just as larger facilities go through inspection, he said, so does his.

“I feel like we put out a real good product,” he said. “We’ve never had a foodborne illness. I don’t see safety as an issue.”

Hladik said the growth in demand is a tremendous opportunity for processor and producer alike, and the creation of the Independent Processor Assistance Program also offers a solution by making assistance available for expansion, modification, or construction of buildings; efficient packaging, processing, and storage equipment; technology to improve logistics or enable e-commerce; and educational or workforce training programs.

“LB 324 is a chance for the processor to grow their business, creating jobs and activity on Main Street,” he said. “It enables the producer to grow a premium product for a new market, earning more than what the regional packing plants can offer. We simply cannot afford to miss this opportunity.”

The bill also has the support of the Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Pork Producers, Nebraska Farmers Union, Clear Creek Organics, McLean Beef, Nebraska Farm Bureau, and Nebraska Food Council, as well as 19 senators who signed on as co-sponsors.

New extension land link program connects land seekers with retiring landowners

A new Nebraska Extension program will work to connect new and beginning farmers and ranchers with retiring landowners who are interested in transitioning their land to a new owner.  

Nebraska Land Link is now accepting applications from interested land seekers and landowners, with the goal of providing land access using lease agreements, lease-to-own arrangements, buy-sell arrangements or other creative methods that are mutually beneficial for both parties.  

Access to land continues to be one of the most difficult challenges facing new farmers, according to Allan Vyhnalek, an extension educator for farm and ranch succession who will manage the Nebraska Land Link program.

“The high cost of land, livestock and equipment makes it difficult for beginning farmers to purchase these capital assets,” Vyhnalek said. “And many landowners who are asset-rich and cash-poor need to earn income for retirement from their land, equipment and livestock, while transitioning away from the labor and management of their operation.”  

Vyhnalek also pointed out that, when a traditional multi-generational farm or ranch exists, it can be easier to develop a plan that transitions the assets and management of the operation from one generation to the next. However, when a farmer or rancher does not have a child who wishes to actively take over the operation, the path to retirement is less clear.  

After an interested land seeker or landowner applies to Nebraska Land Link, the application will be vetted by extension personnel, who will guide participants through the process of finding a match and provide educational support along the way. Landowners will have opportunities to interview and review applications submitted by land seekers, to screen for shared values, skills and interests.  

The program is administered by the extension Farm and Ranch Management team in the university’s Department of Agricultural Economics. Enrollment applications and information about the program can be found at It is open to operations of any size and is free for Nebraskans. For people located outside of the state, a fee of $30 for land seekers and $50 for landowners will be applied.   

This material is based upon work supported by USDA-NIFA under Award Number 2020-70017-32735.

Finalists Named in Nebraska Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Discussion Meet

Four finalists in the Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) Discussion Meet contest have been named after competing in preliminary rounds during the 2021 Young Farmers and Ranchers Conference held Jan. 29-30 in Kearney.

Lance Atwater of Ary, Sean Krebs of Clearwater, Erin Norman of Crawford, and Clay Patton of Lexington advanced to the final round of the Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) YF&R Discussion Meet to be held at the next NEFB Annual Convention, Dec. 5-7, 2021.

Rather than debating, contestants work to develop a solution to a problem being discussed, building on each other’s contributions. Competitors in the annual contest must be prepared to speak on any number of agriculture-related topics; the selected question is announced a short time prior to the contest round. Finalists received the top scores of contestants after competing in two rounds of the discussion meet at the YF&R Conference.

Atwater is an Adams/Webster County Farm Bureau member who grows yellow corn, popcorn, soybeans, non-GMO white corn, and has a small cow/calf operation. He currently serves on the NEFB Board of Directors as the Youth At-Large representative. Atwater lives on the family farm with his wife, Krystal, and son Ryker.

Krebs is an Antelope County Farm Bureau member and a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, majoring in Agriculture Engineering. He grows popcorn, field corn, and soybeans on his family farm, as well as raising cow/calf pairs.

Norman is a Dawes County Farm Bureau member and serves on the YF&R Committee. She is a teacher at Chadron State College and is a registered dietician. Norman lives on the family ranch with her husband, Luke, and their five children, Ada, Ben, Claire, Axel, and Ethan.

Patton is a Dawson County Farm Bureau member. He is the Market Anchor for the Rural Radio Network at KRVN and his wife, Janell, is a vet tech in their community. They live on a small acreage where they raise hay and goats.

Grant Dahlgren of Bertrand and Chase Hoffschneider of Burwell were named alternates.

Finalists received a $50 prize and a chance to compete for $500 and an all-expenses paid trip to compete in the American Farm Bureau Discussion Meet in Atlanta, Ga. in January 2022. Farm Bureau members between the ages of 18 and 35 are eligible to compete in the Young Farmers and Ranchers Discussion Meet. For more information, visit

Iowa Farm Bureau's 'Grow Your Future Award' winners announced during virtual Young Farmer Conference

James Holz and Bill Frederick of Greene County, the entrepreneurs behind Iowa Cover Crop, took home $7,500 as the first-place winners of Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s (IFBF) second annual Grow Your Future Award, held Jan. 30, during the 2021 virtual Young Farmer Conference.

The Grow Your Future Award is designed to promote and highlight the innovations of young people in agriculture, ages 18-35, with businesses in niche markets, agritourism, ag services or specialty products; it provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs to pitch their business and compete for cash prizes to expand their business.

Iowa Cover Crop offers farmers “conservation with convenience,” serving as a full-service cover crop business providing farmers consultation and the information needed to improve soil health and water quality on their farms.  Holz and Frederick have seen the environmental benefits of cover crops and help farmers choose the best cover crop options for their farm, sharing their experiences and conservation success stories along the way.      

“The Grow Your Future Award and IFBF’s Young Farmer program presented us a great opportunity to showcase our business and network with other young farmer entrepreneurs with the same passion for rural vitality,” Holz said.  “The experience and connections made were truly valuable, both personally and professionally, and I highly encourage other young farmers with a business vision to enter the competition next year.”

Delaware County Farm Bureau members Shae Pesek and Anna Hankins of Over the Mood Farm and Flowers took home a $5,000 second-place prize to grow their small business specializing in producing high quality flowers, meat, eggs and produce for their community.  In just its second year, Over the Moon Farm and Flowers continues to grow its customer list while sharing the story of agriculture with local consumers.  With the prize money from the contest, Pesek and Hankins aim to grow the business and the local economy, while proving an example for other young women farmers with an entrepreneurial spirit and vision.

Ray Schmidt, a Story County Farm Bureau member and owner of Farm Story Meats, earned $2,500 for third place.  Schmidt’s direct-to-consumer meat business focuses on the growing consumer demand for convenience and transparency.  Schmidt’s customers select customized boxed bundles of meats delivered right to their front door, along with stories about the farmers who raised the food.  Farm Story Meats provides consumers the transparency and information they desire regarding how and where their food was raised.

“Innovation and entrepreneurship play a huge role in agriculture, and these young farmer award winners reflect that through the diversity of their businesses,” says Amanda Van Steenwyk, IFBF farm business development manager. “Iowa Farm Bureau is proud to highlight those who seek alternative paths to growing our state’s agricultural heritage, and we hope these entrepreneurs can inspire others to try something new and capitalize on growing consumer trends.”

Last fall, young entrepreneurs submitted contest applications and a short video introducing themselves and their business, the impact of the business on the local community and future goals.  Ten finalists were selected from the applications and public voting during the IFBF Annual Meeting narrowed the field to six.  The top six entrepreneurs from the voting round competed in a virtual “pitch-off” during the IFBF Young Farmer Conference to showcase their innovative business vision.    

“Farmers have faced an in­credible amount of adversity this year with unforeseen challenges and hardship, but it hasn’t discouraged our will to find new ways to persevere,” said Craig Hill, IFBF president.  “This award elevates those young Iowa farmers who are innovating and seeking alternative paths in agriculture to provide for their families and offer their local communities something unique. All contestants should be extremely proud of their businesses and place within Iowa agriculture, and to show our pride in these young farmers, Iowa Farm Bureau has proudly provided the top three Grow Your Future award winners recognition and monetary awards to help elevate their brand and hard work.”

To learn more about the IFBF Young Farmer program and the Grow Your Future Award, go to   

Learn How Perennial Biomass and Prairie Can Be Used for Renewable Natural Gas

Iowa Learning Farms is hosting a free virtual field day discussing the utilization of perennial biomass and prairie for renewable natural gas generation using digesters on Thursday, Feb. 18, at 1 p.m. CST. Join for a live discussion with Matt Helmers, Iowa Nutrient Research Center director, and Dan Ciolkosz, Penn State Agricultural and Biological Engineering associate research professor.

Helmers is also a professor in agricultural and biosystems engineering and extension agricultural engineering specialist at Iowa State University.

The virtual field day is presented in partnership with C-CHANGE – the Consortium for Cultivating Human And Naturally reGenerative Enterprises – Penn State University, Iowa Nutrient Research Center, and Conservation Learning Group (CLG).

C-CHANGE is advancing research, education and extension to support development of a new biobased value chain that is examining production of renewable natural gas through the anaerobic digestion of biomass combined with manure. The project is leveraging successful digestion of manure business models to encompass new agricultural feedstocks, more diverse products and increased value throughout the supply chain. This virtual field day will provide an introduction for growing perennial vegetation and prairie and how anaerobic digesters produce renewable natural gas.

“Perennials and prairie hold great potential to substantially reduce nitrate-N leaching,” noted Helmers on the additional benefits from increasing perennial vegetation and prairie on the landscape while providing fuel for renewable natural gas production.

"Join us to learn some of the basics of how a farm digester works,” said Ciolkosz. “This field day will help you envision what a biogas digester might look like on your farm.”

To participate in the live virtual field day at 1 p.m. CST on Feb. 4, click this URL: or visit and click “Join Live Virtual Field Day.”

Or, join from a dial-in phone line by dialing: +1-312-626-6799 or +1 646-876-9923. Meeting ID is: 914-1198-4892.

The field day will be recorded and archived on the ILF website so that it can be watched at any time.

Participants may be eligible for a Certified Crop Adviser board-approved continuing education unit. Information about how to apply to receive the CEU (if approved) will be provided at the end of the live field day.

Urea Prices Increase 10% as Five Fertilizers' Prices Jump Significantly

Average retail prices for all eight major fertilizers were higher the fourth week of January 2021, with prices for five fertilizers up a significant amount, which DTN designates as 5% or more, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.

Urea led the way to the upside and was 10% higher compared to last month with an average price of $405 per ton, a gain of $38. It also marks the first time that urea has been above the $400/ton level in two years.  Also higher was MAP, which was 8% more expensive from last month. The phosphorus fertilizer had an average price of $580/ton, up $43.  

Two fertilizers were 6% higher than last month. UAN28 had an average price of $220/ton, up $18, while 10-34-0 was at $489/ton, up $25.  DAP was 5% higher compared to last month. The phosphorus fertilizer had an average price of $500/ton, $25 more than last month. This marks the first time DAP has been at or above the $500/ton level since the third week of April 2019, when the fertilizer's price was at $504/ton.

The remaining three fertilizers were also higher, but just not as much. Potash had an average price of $379/ton, up $13; anhydrous $489/ton, up $19; and UAN32 $258/ton, up $8.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.44/lb.N, a 2-cent gain from last month; anhydrous $0.30/lb.N, unchanged; UAN28 $0.39/lb.N, unchanged; and UAN32 $0.40/lb.N, up 1 cent.

With retail fertilizer prices moving higher over recent months, most fertilizers are now higher in price from a year ago, but there are a couple exceptions. Both potash and anhydrous are now 1% more expensive, 10-34-0 is 5% higher, urea is 13% more expensive, DAP is 21% higher and MAP is 33% more expensive compared to last year.

Only two fertilizers are still lower compared to last year. UAN32 is 6% lower, while UAN28 is 7% less expensive.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 1/29/2021

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending January 29, ethanol production increased 0.3%, or 3,000 barrels per day (b/d), to 936,000 b/d—equivalent to 39.31 million gallons daily. Production remained 13.4% below the same week last year. The four-week average ethanol production rate was unchanged at 938,000 b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 14.38 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks expanded 3.0% to 24.3 million barrels, which was 3.6% above a year-ago and a 39-week high. A majority of the stocks build took place in the Gulf Coast (PADD 3), where inventories grew by 18.3%.

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, drew down 0.8% to 7.77 million b/d (119.11 bg annualized). Gasoline demand was 13.0% less than a year ago.

Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol declined 0.9% to 778,000 b/d, equivalent to 11.93 bg annualized. This was 12.4% below the year-earlier level as a result of the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were zero imports of ethanol recorded for the week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of November 2020.)

ACE Supports Legislation to Require EPA Adopt GREET Model

Today, U.S. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) reintroduced the Adopt GREET Act, which would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to update its outdated lifecycle modeling for ethanol and biodiesel, specifically by adopting the latest Argonne National Lab’s Greenhouse Gas and Regulated Emissions and Energy Use in Transportation (GREET) Model. American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings issued the following statement:

“Recent studies prove there is no silver bullet solution to decarbonize transportation fuels. Therefore, a portfolio of low carbon fuel strategies, including increasing the use of ethanol, will be required. Senator Thune’s and Senator Klobuchar’s legislation would help lay the groundwork by requiring EPA to apply the latest GREET model to more accurately account for corn ethanol’s carbon intensity when establishing regulations which could impact ethanol use in the future.

“The U.S. Department of Energy GREET model, which is widely-recognized as the gold standard tool for determining the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of transportation fuels, indicates that corn ethanol reduces greenhouse gases by 50 percent compared to gasoline. Unfortunately, EPA has disregarded this latest lifecycle science and continues to cling to a flawed and outdated model which shows corn ethanol is only 20 percent cleaner than gasoline.

“ACE board member Ron Alverson has worked with scientists in the Argonne National Lab to pursue improvements to the GREET model over the years, including updates to land use change assumptions and accounting for soil carbon sequestration and nitrogen fertilizer management. A 2018 white paper authored by Alverson was instrumental in shaping a recent report by Harvard and Tufts validating ethanol’s carbon intensity is 50 percent less than gasoline. As Alverson says, ‘the trend is ethanol’s friend,’ and ACE will continue to champion for the adoption of the best available science to help steer policy decisions made at the state and federal levels.”

The Adopt GREET Act was cosponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.).

Regan Outlines Clear Focus on Environmental Health and Engagement With All Stakeholders During Confirmation Hearing

Earlier today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator nominee Michael Regan appeared before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. During the hearing, Regan fielded a wide variety of questions from the Senate panel, balancing the urgent need for regulation around climate change, clean water and air while creating pragmatic solutions that allow businesses to operate. Regan’s work as a former EPA employee and now as the head of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality gives him a unique background that came through as he answered a diverse round of questions from the committee.  

Regan spoke to his background in agriculture and the importance of hearing from all stakeholders when evaluating environmental issues to create effective regulation. Increased transparency around EPA decisions, following science, a renewed focus on environmental justice, and the need for more funding punctuated many of Regan’s answers. His commitment to these issues coupled with the pledge to create consistent processes for businesses the EPA oversees is encouraging. During the hearing, Regan noted that U.S. farms and farmers’ needs vary depending on the crops grown, the soil structure, regional weather and more. This acknowledgment highlights the need for pesticides as one of the crop protection tools farmers and ranchers can use with a variety of farming techniques like conservation tillage and use of cover crops to continue growing healthy food for communities across the country.

“Mr. Regan has made his intentions to engage with all stakeholders a priority,“ said Chris Novak, CLA’s president and CEO. “In January, my agriculture CEO colleagues and I met with Mr. Regan to discuss the priorities we had previously shared with the Biden campaign. His understanding of, and history of working with, agriculture is an asset as his role as Administrator will require him to work on pesticide issues that impact farmers, community health professionals, and consumers. We look forward to his confirmation and to having an open dialogue on regulatory issues.”

The EPA is the federal agency that has the primary responsibility to regulate pesticides. Similar to the process for approving medicines, EPA’s career scientists review hundreds of studies before any pesticide can be registered for use in the U.S. The extensive process is why only one in 10,000 chemistries will make it from the lab to the field—a process that can take, on average, more than 11 years.

 ACE Statement on EPW Committee Confirmation Hearing with EPA Chief Nominee Regan

The Senate Environmental and Public Works (EPW) Committee held its hearing today to consider the nomination of Michael Regan to serve as the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings issued the statement below following Mr. Regan’s confirmation hearing.

“If confirmed as EPA Administrator, Mr. Regan inherits a long list of unfinished business with respect to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). We are grateful for Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Joni Ernst (R-IA) and others for raising our priorities with Mr. Regan, and we appreciate his commitments to ‘fully follow the law,’ ‘apply the latest science,’ and provide greater ‘transparency’ about the decisions EPA makes regarding ethanol and the RFS.

“We also appreciate Mr. Regan acknowledging agriculture and biofuel will have a seat at the table in climate discussions. According to the latest science, corn ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 50 percent compared to gasoline. There’s obviously a lot of emphasis on the role electric vehicles will play in our future, but most experts agree net-zero emissions by mid-century is impossible without increased reliance on low carbon fuels such as ethanol.”

Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. Partners with Chef’s Roll to Highlight the Beef Quality Assurance Program from Pasture to Plate

A series of videos developed and released through a new partnership between the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, and Chef's Roll, Inc., reached more than 1.3 million viewers in its initial launch. The videos highlight the importance of the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program for the ranchers who raise the cattle, and the chefs who serve high-quality beef to their customers.

Chef's Roll is a global network of chefs and hospitality professionals that promotes its work through programs and original content like these videos. The five videos made in partnership with the Beef. It's What's For Dinner. brand feature the pasture-to-plate relationship between ranchers and chefs across the country.

Each video follows a chef as they visit a local cattle operation to learn about how BQA practices are used to sustainably and responsibly raise high-quality beef. The beef farmer or rancher then visits the chef’s kitchen to gain an understand of how beef is prepared and featured on the chef’s menu. The experience is rounded out with a shared beef meal.

The videos showcase five unique production and restaurant styles with the following rancher-chef relationships:  
    Arizona Ranch Manager Dean Fish discusses environmental stewardship and proper cattle handling techniques, and Executive Chef Ryan Clark of Casino Del Sol presents the Cowboy Ribeye.
    Oklahoma Feedyard Manager Tom Fanning shows how the fourth-generation cattle feedyard is dedicated to quality control, and Executive Chef Kathryn Mathis of BackdoorBBQ presents her contest-winning smoked pastrami sandwich.
    Georgia Cow-Calf Farmer Kristy Arnold talks about being a third-generation owner of her farm, and Executive Chef Mark Keiser of Oak Steakhouse cooks a succulent, braised boneless beef short rib.
    Idaho Rancher Kim Brackett explains that prioritizing animal welfare is the right and only way to ensure quality beef, and Executive Chef Shawn Smith of Coynes Restaurant shares his "Butler Steak Risotto" with flatiron steak.
    California Rancher Jamie Mickelson speaks about the importance of cattle quality of life, and Chef Bob Simontacchi of Gravenstein Grill makes his Pimento Cheeseburger with aged, white cheddar.

“These videos recognize and celebrate the commitment of our cattle farmers and ranchers to Beef Quality Assurance standards, and the food industry professionals who serve their high-quality beef,” said Sarah Reece, NCBA Senior Director of Influencer Engagement. “Whether a consumer is enjoying beef in a burger, as a steak, or with pasta, our hope is that by sharing what goes into how beef is raised, consumers continue to demand the amazing flavor of beef, and the nutrients it provides.”

Released late last year, the videos garnered 658,790 views to-date.

The videos can be viewed at this link:  

Tuesday February 2 Ag News

 LENRD/NRCS Local Working Group Meetings Planned

A Local Working Group that provides advice on the priorities for many U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs will meet February 11, 2021 from 5:30pm to 7pm via Zoom.

Zoom Meeting Link can be found below and via the Lower Elkhorn NRD’s website:
For audio only, dial:  +1 301 715 8592
Meeting ID: 853 9713 8634
Passcode: 561184

The public is encouraged to attend and express their natural resource concerns. Ideas generated from the public will help the U.S. Department of Agriculture tailor their natural resource programs to meet the needs identified locally.

There is a Local Working Group in each Natural Resources District (NRD).  Membership on the Local Working Group includes Federal, State, county, Tribal or local government representatives according to Robin Sutherland, District Conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) whose agency guides the Local Working Group.

“The Local Working Group recommends to the NRCS State Conservationist how conservation programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), or Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) would be used most effectively in their area.  This recommendation can include special target areas, cost share rates on conservation programs, which conservation practices should have cost assistance, or how many dollars could be needed,” said Sutherland.  This work group allows local input into how Federal dollars are spent, she said.

Typically, Nebraska NRCS obligates anywhere between $45 million to over $75 million dollars to farmers and ranchers statewide through NRCS conservation programs.  These programs helped landowners and operators make natural resource improvements to their land, water, or wildlife.  This funding was allocated according to the priorities set by the Local Working Group.

For more information about the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the programs and services they provide, contact your local USDA Service Center or

Change of speakers for Platte Valley Cattlemen banquet

There has been a change of speakers for next Saturday’s Platte Valley Cattlemen's Banquet.  Due to a COVID exposure, University of Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos is unable to attend. In his place will be University of Nebraska President Ted Carter. It should be a very interesting and they look forward to you joining them at the Humphrey Community Center, Saturday, February 13 with the social hour beginning at 5:30 and later enjoying the band “Side Step”.

See you next Saturday!


– Ben Beckman, NE Extension Educator

Last week we looked at the impact moisture has on a hay analysis and how the dry and as received values are used to develop and feed a ration.  Today, we’ll take a look at crude protein.

Protein values in hay tests are typically reported as percent Crude Protein (CP).  This measures the nitrogen portion of the hay.   For cattle and other ruminants, protein serves two functions.  First, protein is important for a healthy population of rumen microbes.  These microorganisms aid in digesting grasses and hay that the animal alone couldn’t process.  However, a consistent source of protein is needed to maintain a functioning population.

Second, protein is important for animal maintenance and growth.  All animals will require some base level of protein to survive, but growing animals and animals with additional demands like pregnancy or lactation may require even greater amounts.

In some cases, when hay gets too hot, the nitrogen chemically bonds to carbohydrates and is unavailable for an animal to utilize effectively. This often happens when hay is stored with moisture concentration above 20% or when fermented feeds like silage are harvested below 65% moisture. When this happens, crude protein does not accurately represent the available protein.  Often, these feedstuffs are discolored and may have a sweet or tobacco-like odor.

In these cases, adding heat damaged protein or insoluble crude protein test to your analysis is recommended.  This will provide an adjusted crude protein content if more than 10% of the reported crude protein is unavailable for animal use and should be the basis used to form the rations.

Understanding protein in a diet may seem straight forward, but can have a few nuances to keep in mind.  Protein is critical for proper animal growth and maintenance, as well as healthy rumen function and, if you do find feed that was improperly stored, the damaged proteins need an additional heat damaged protein test to provide true availability.  

Study Finds Biofuels Positive Impact on Iowa Economy Remains Strong, But Reduced by Market Challenges

A new study released today finds biofuels continue to have a significant positive impact on Iowa’s economy, but recent market challenges reduced the job and household income impacts of ethanol and biodiesel production in the state.

The study, authored by John Urbanchuk of ABF Economics and commissioned by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA), found the production of ethanol and biodiesel accounts for nearly $4 billion in state GDP, supports 37,000 direct and indirect jobs, and boosts Iowa household income by $1.8 billion. All three metrics are down 20 to 25 percent compared to 2019.

“Biofuels still provide a major boost to Iowa’s economy, but quite frankly, the report is a wake-up call to redouble our efforts at the state level,” said IRFA Executive Director Monte Shaw. “Midwestern states like Iowa must be aggressive to drive local demand for biofuels in a meaningful way, thereby providing a sturdy market foundation, even as we supply the rest of the United States and markets around the world. IRFA will continue to work with Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Legislature to improve our biofuels policies and programs.”

In 2020 Iowa biodiesel production increased slightly, but the COVID-19 pandemic, trade disputes, and Renewable Fuel Standard exemption abuse led to ethanol production decreasing by half a billion gallons compared to the previous year.

“The renewable fuels industry continues to make a significant contribution to the Iowa economy in terms of job creation, household earnings, and state and local tax revenue,” stated Urbanchuk. “Further, policy and regulatory actions taken by Iowa, and other Midwestern states, to boost the use of biofuels locally will provide a buffer from the uncertainty of federal policy and export demand. By creating a larger and more stable local demand situation, Iowa can greatly enlarge the latent economic benefits of biofuels production represented by the more than 800 million gallons of unutilized ethanol production capacity and 50 million gallons of unutilized biodiesel production capacity. Putting this existing manufacturing infrastructure to work would greatly increase the GDP, household income and job benefits related to Iowa biofuels production.”

Naig Presents 2021 Renewable Fuels Marketing Awards

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig today announced that the winners of the 2021 Renewable Fuels Marketing Awards are Reif Oil Company from Burlington, Iowa, and Sapp Bros., Inc., from Omaha, Nebraska.

“I’m pleased to present the renewable fuels marketing awards to Reif Oil Company and Sapp Bros., Inc. for their efforts to add more ethanol and biodiesel pumps at convenience stores and travel centers across the state,” said Secretary Naig. “When fuel retailers invest in renewable fuels infrastructure, drivers gain access to more affordable, cleaner-burning fuels at the pump.”

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship launched the Secretary’s Ethanol and Biodiesel Marketing Awards to recognize fuel marketers that have gone above and beyond to build demand and raise awareness of the benefits of renewable fuels.

Secretary’s Ethanol Marketing Award – Reif Oil Company, Burlington, Iowa

Reif Oil Company is a family-owned and -operated small business that was founded in 1978. It sells and distributes fuel across the Midwest, including Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin. It also operates eight wholly-owned Fast Break convenience stores.

Reif Oil Company began expanding their fuel product portfolio to include high-blend ethanol products with the installation of their first E85 dispenser in 1999. Following significant capital investments to their retail infrastructure over the last several years, they now offer E85 at approximately 14 fueling positions and E15 at approximately 75 fueling positions across their company portfolio.

Reif Oil Company has participated in the Iowa Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program and was awarded $650,000 through the USDA Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program.

Reif Oil Company is an advocate for renewable fuels and helped Phillips 66 and Shell Oil embrace E15 as a standard fuel. By working collaboratively with brand partners to incorporate E15 into their product offerings, Reif Oil Company is helping expand consumer access to E15 locally. The company is also creating a roadmap for branded fuel marketers across the nation to begin offering E15.

Reif Oil Company was nominated by the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, the Iowa Corn Growers Association and FUELIowa.

Secretary’s Biodiesel Marketing Award – Sapp Bros., Inc, Omaha, Nebraska

Sapp Bros., Inc. owns 17 full-service travel centers primarily located on Interstate-80 stretching from Utah to Pennsylvania.

Sapp Bros., Inc. began investing in biodiesel in 2005. In 2011, the company started making significant infrastructure investments in biodiesel terminals throughout western Iowa. These investments have grown the company’s blended biodiesel fuel sales to 36 million gallons annually in Iowa.

Sapp Bros., Inc.’s commitment to marketing biodiesel has benefited Iowa’s biodiesel production facilities and the surrounding communities. It has also created additional markets for farmers to sell their feedstocks.

Sapp Bros., Inc. was nominated by FUELIowa and RINAlliance.

Iowa Renewable Fuels Industry

Iowa leads the nation in the production of ethanol and biodiesel. Iowa has 42 ethanol refineries capable of producing more than 4.5 billion gallons annually. In addition, Iowa has 11 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce over 400 million gallons annually.

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 $38.2 million with $220 million added in private economic activity. The grant program is managed by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

Study Shows Precision Agriculture Improves Environmental Stewardship While Increasing Yields

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), in partnership with the American Soybean Association, CropLife America, and National Corn Growers Association, released a study quantifying how widely available precision agriculture technology improves environmental stewardship while providing economic return for farmers.

Precision agriculture leverages technologies to enhance sustainability through more efficient use of critical inputs, such as land, water, fuel, fertilizer, and pesticides. Farmers who use precision agriculture equipment use less to grow more.

The study highlights how policies and technological advancements can help farmers increase these outcomes.

“We are living in a new age of agriculture, and today’s precision technology on equipment can have an enormous positive impact on farmers and the environment,” said Curt Blades, Senior Vice President of Agriculture at the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.  “One of our goals at AEM is to encourage the adoption of these technologies by more farmers, so they can all reap the benefits as we continue to focus on sustainability.”

Environmental Benefits

The study explores five key environmental benefits achieved through precision agriculture technology adoption, including:
    Yield benefit through increased efficiency
    Fertilizer reduction by more precise placement
    Pesticide reduction by more accurate application
    Fuel savings due to less overlap and better monitoring
    Water savings through more accurate sensing of needs

“Over the past 18 years, the growth in corn and soybean yields, for example, has coincided with the widespread adoption of precision agriculture technologies,” said John Linder, National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) President. “As precision agriculture technologies become more widely adopted, there is the potential for significant upward movement in yields and savings.”

Part of Climate Answer

“The reductions in greenhouse gases this study illustrates shows modern agriculture is part of the climate solution,” said Kellie Bray, CropLife America (CLA) Chief of Staff. “Fuel savings alone due to precision ag tools is the yearly equivalent of taking nearly 200,000 cars off the road, all while preventing an area equal to 4.5 Yellowstone National Parks from being added to production because of yield increases.”

Study Highlights

As precision agriculture equipment and technologies are more widely adopted it will lead to significant increases in yields and further input savings: Significant increases in yields and further input savings can be reached as precision agriculture technologies become more widely adopted:
    Productivity has increased an estimated 4% and has the potential to further increase 6 percent with broader adoption.
    Precision agriculture has improved fertilizer placement efficiency by an estimated 7 percent and has the potential to further improve an additional 14 percent.
    Herbicide use has been reduced by an estimated 9% and has the potential to further decrease 15 percent at full adoption.
    Fossil fuel use has decreased an estimated 6 percent with the potential to further decrease 16 percent.
    Water use has decreased an estimated 4 percent because of current precision agriculture adoption with the potential to further decrease 21 percent at full adoption.

Overcoming Barriers

“Soybean growers know from experience that precision agriculture contributes to both short-term and, importantly, long-term yield, environmental, and economic benefits, and this study helps quantify that progress,” says Kevin Scott, South Dakota soy grower and American Soybean Association (ASA) president. “But if we want to get to full adoption of the technology—and realize the immense industry-wide gains in yield and input savings—we still have a lot of work ahead of us.”

AEM, ASA, CLA, and NCGA are working together to advance technologies and practices that will bring pledge to work together on ideas that will bring the potential the study highlights to fruition:
    Promote policies that incentivize innovations in agricultural production
    Improve the infrastructure that makes precision agriculture possible, including wireless broadband over croplands and rangelands
    Grow farm income so producers have capital to invest in their operations
    Increase consumer communication about the environmental benefits of precision agriculture

Fischer Questions Agriculture Secretary Nominee Thomas Vilsack at Senate Confirmation Hearing

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today questioned Thomas Vilsack, President Biden’s nominee to serve as Secretary of Agriculture, during his Senate confirmation hearing:

“Agriculture is central to Nebraska’s economy, and during today’s hearing I asked Secretary Vilsack how he plans to address the challenges facing ag producers. He committed to working with me on key issues such as the lack of price discovery in cattle markets and updating beef labeling policies. I will support his nomination and work with him to provide certainty for Nebraska agriculture,” said Senator Fischer.

Last month, Senator Fischer met with Secretary Vilsack virtually to discuss the issues important to Nebraska’s ag producers.

ASA Pleased Vilsack Approved by Senate Ag Committee

The Senate Agriculture Committee Tuesday afternoon approved President Biden's nomination of Tom Vilsack to return to the helm of USDA as Secretary of Agriculture.

Kevin Scott, soy grower from South Dakota and president of the American Soybean Association commented, “We recognize the experience Vilsack brings to the role, having served as agriculture secretary eight years during the Obama administration and also as a former governor of Iowa, a significant soy and agriculture state.”

ASA is hopeful that the full Senate will swiftly confirm Vilsack’s nomination.

ACE Thanks Senate Ag Committee for Raising Biofuel Issues, Expresses Approval of Vilsack for USDA Secretary

The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry held its hearing to consider the nomination of Tom Vilsack to return to the position of U.S. Secretary of Agriculture today. American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings issued the following statement thanking biofuel senate champions for raising biofuel issues during the hearing and expressing support for Vilsack’s confirmation:

“ACE thanks Ag Committee Senators Amy Klobuchar (MN), Chuck Grassley (IA), Tina Smith (MN), John Thune (SD) and Joni Ernst (IA) for raising important biofuel questions so Secretary Vilsack could reaffirm his support for the ethanol industry during the hearing. ACE looks forward to Secretary Vilsack’s continued strong advocacy for farmers and renewable fuel producers within the Biden administration as he demonstrated in this role under President Obama.

“We particularly look forward to USDA working with EPA to help get the Renewable Fuel Standard back on track and to recognize the role ethanol is already playing to address climate change, including new research that shows the great strides the industry has made. We also appreciate Vilsack’s vocalized commitments to utilizing and increasing resources to build out infrastructure for higher ethanol blends and looking for opportunities to help ethanol producers hurt from the economic fallout of COVID-19. Finally, we agree farmers have a role to play in addressing climate change, and we intend to work with USDA to ensure systems and markets are in place to reward farmers and biofuel producers for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

NAWG Applauds Senate Panel Action on Secretary Vilsack, Calls for Quick Senate Approval

Today, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry held a confirmation hearing for President Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, and followed with a quick Committee vote this afternoon. NAWG Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Chandler Goule made the following statement in response.

“Today, Secretary Vilsack demonstrated his qualifications for the job and his vast knowledge of issues important to production agriculture. During his previous tenure as Secretary, NAWG had a great working relationship with Secretary Vilsack and his staff and look forward to him resuming his role at USDA. There are many challenges confronting wheat farmers across the country and it is critical that the incoming Administration fill the many staff vacancies at USDA. We call on the full Senate to move this nomination forward as quickly as possible.”

DMC Margin Falls in December; Payments Expected Well Into 2021

The monthly margin under the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program dropped by $3.09 per cwt in November to $8.78 per cwt in December, mostly driven by lower milk prices, generating payments to producers under the USDA’s flagship risk-management program.

The all-milk price declined by $2.80 per cwt for the month, mostly because of a substantially lower December cheese price. The DMC margin was further lowered by a $0.29 per cwt boost in the feed cost added to it. On a per hundredweight of milk basis, the higher feed cost consisted of cost increases of 19 cents, 7 cents and 3 cents for corn, soybean meal, and alfalfa hay, respectively.

The December margin will generate a payment of $0.72 per cwt for $9.50 per cwt coverage that month; for the year, average DMC payments were $0.73 per cwt per month.

Current futures prices indicate that the monthly all-milk price in 2021 won’t rise above the December level until late summer, while corn and soybean meal prices will remain above December levels at least that long. That means monthly DMC payments will remain above the 2020 average for many months to come.

CWT assists member export sales of 12.7 million pounds in January

CWT assisted member cooperatives in securing 79 contracts resulting in sales of 3 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 3.3 million pounds of butter, 985,466 pounds of anhydrous milkfat (AMF), 3 million pounds of whole milk powder, and 2.4 pounds of cream cheese. The product is going to 56 customers in 15 countries in Asia, Central America, the Middle East, North Africa, Oceania and South America. The product will be shipped during the months of January through June 2021.

These transactions will move the equivalent of 170.2 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis overseas.

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.

International Leadership Experience for Soybean Farmers Adjusted to Eight-Week Program

Most would agree that farming requires flexibility. Farmer may have to adjust to weather conditions, soil fertility, pest pressures or countless other factors. The same holds true for a new program that has been introduced by the United Soybean Board (USB) to support leadership development. The opportunity, presented by the IFYE Association through funding from USB recognizes the value an international experience can have on young leaders.

In late October, state soybean checkoff organizations were contacted about a new international leadership opportunity for soybean farmers and family members who participate in the soybean check off program. The initial announcement focused on a three-month program living in another country. Based on feedback from young soybean professionals, that has now been adjusted to eight weeks, to reduce time away from operations and better meet the needs of applicants. Research shows that in-depth international experience can have a profound influence on future leadership success.

“IFYE has added flexibility to the program timeline as outlined in the original proposal for this experience. It is much more than a visit,” said Dan Farney, USB Chair and Illinois Farmer. “The opportunity for participants to live and participate with residents, and interact with leaders and officials of another country, enhances leadership skills that last a lifetime.”

Eight individuals will be selected for this opportunity. Candidates interested in this soybean-focused leadership opportunity need to apply by completing and submitting the IFYE application. The application process and interviews will soon be concluding followed by final selections confirmed by USB. Once final selections are confirmed a teleconference orientation will begin that is slated to start in early March. Plans are for participants to depart for their host countries in June. The program will conclude after eight weeks, and will include a debriefing with the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service in Washington, D.C.  More information about the program is available on the IFYE website at under exchange programs.

USB is partnering with IFYE, formerly known as the International Farm Youth Exchange. This 72-year-old international exchange organization offers a customized international leadership experience for soybean industry young adults age 19 and above. The young leaders selected for this USB program will live with two to three host families, spend time at the U.S. Embassy for a first-hand trade relations experience with USDA Foreign Agriculture Service staff, meet with in-country government agriculture officials, agriculture leaders, and may include experiences at in-country soybean processing facilities.

Meat and Poultry Workers COVID-19 Case Rates 60 Percent Lower than General U.S. Population

New analysis of independent data show that reported new COVID-19 infection rates among meat and poultry workers are 60% lower than in the general U.S. population and two-thirds lower than case rates in the sector in May 2020.

According to data from the Food and Environment Reporting Network (FERN), the meat and poultry sector was reported to have an average of 32.64 new reported cases per 100,000 workers per day in January 2021, two-thirds lower than the average of 98.39 new reported cases per 100,000 workers per day in May 2020.

The New York Times reports that in January 2021, the average new case rate for the U.S. population climbed to 78.59 cases per 100,000 people per day, more than 11 times higher than the new case rate in May.

Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts commented:

"Meat and poultry workers are substantially less likely to be infected with COVID-19 than the general population as a result of the comprehensive protections instituted since the spring of 2020, when the pandemic’s impact on our sector peaked.

"Meat Institute members are fully committed to continuing these proven measures and moving forward to vaccinate frontline meat and poultry workers as soon as possible and many can even assist in vaccine distribution for all Americans.”

Since the Meat Institute and the United Food & Commercial Workers, America’s largest food workers union, jointly urged state governors to follow federal guidance and prioritize frontline meat and poultry workers for COVID-19 vaccination, employers have taken concrete steps to educate workers about vaccination and facilitate access to vaccines.

Organic Valley to Pioneer use of Satellite Technology to Improve Pasture Grazing

Organic Valley is launching a pilot program that uses satellite photography to measure pasture health on its dairy farms, providing its farmers with nearly real-time feedback every week to support dairy herd nutrition, protect and improve their pastures, and benefit the environment.

Organic Valley farmers divide their perennial pastures into smaller sections called paddocks, and move their herds frequently between them based on the maturity and quality of forage available. This frequent movement is known as “intensive rotational grazing,” and is a key practice within regenerative farming systems.

Organic Valley is the nation's largest organic, farmer-owned cooperative and one of the world's largest organic consumer brands. Nationwide, Organic Valley farmers manage more than 189,000 acres of pastureland.

“Rotational grazing requires farmers to measure the forage in each paddock on a regular basis, a manual and time-intensive practice,” said Wade Miller, Organic Valley senior director of farm resources. “Satellite photos measure the forage in each paddock remotely, greatly easing the farmer’s labor and time burden. Based on university trials, we expect our farmers will be able to capture at least a 20% increase in pasture utilization through the use of this technology.”

As an innovator in regenerative farming practices, Organic Valley cows spend more time grazing outside than 95% of the dairy cows in the United States. Benefits of this practice include:
    Improved pasture and soil health, greater biodiversity, improved water quality, and resource conservation.
    Pastures that pull carbon out of the air and store it in the soil and plant biomass, helping counteract climate change.
    Happier, healthier cows that spend their days with other cattle, outside in the fresh air.

“Through this pilot program, we will test the technology on a cross-section of farms nationwide in 2021, and will make it available to all Organic Valley farms in 2022,” Miller added.

Monday February 1 Ag News

Happy Nebraska 4-H Month!

Every year, Nebraska 4-H Month sees thousands of young people, parents, volunteers, and alumni come together to celebrate the many positive youth development opportunities offered by 4-H. While celebrations may look different this year, we are still looking forward to celebrating with you in new ways.

Check out the Nebraska 4-H Month virtual backgrounds and the new Nebraska 4-H - I Belong Facebook profile frame. Be sure to join Nebraska 4-H on social media and celebrate with us each Friday. Many counties are also hosting local celebrations. Contact your local Extension office for information about local celebrations!

4-H Professionals Appreciation Day
Take some time to thank your local 4-H Educators, Assistants, and Staff for all the hard work they put in throughout the year.

4-H Volunteer Appreciation Day
This is a great opportunity to thank the 4-H volunteers in your life, including 4-H Club and Project Leaders.

4-H Spirit Day
Show off your 4-H spirit by wearing green or a 4-H clover! Share your pictures on social media using #iBelong.

4-H Sponsor & Donor Day
Contact your local Extension office for a list of local sponsors or donors you can write thank you notes to.

Enrollment is OPEN

Enrollment is not required for many 4-H programs and events. However, club and independent members are required to officially enroll through 4-H Online each year. By enrolling, youth have the opportunity to participate in county fairs, the Nebraska State Fair, and additional statewide opportunities and events. Youth may enroll in specific projects which they plan to complete throughout the year.

Saunders County Livestock Ass'n Banquet

Saunders County Livestock Association Annual Meeting & Banquet
Saturday Feb. 20th, Starlite Event Center. Wahoo.
5:30p.m. social 6:30 p.m. banquet.  
LIMIT OF 400 tickets to be sold ADVANCE ONLY $25 each. NONE will be sold at the door.
For tickets contact Any Director or Dan 402-480 8778   Dave 402-840 0116 BY FEB. 15th.

 Central Valley Ag Announces Launch of CVA Elite Agronomy Products

Central Valley Ag Cooperative (CVA) is excited to announce CVA Elite, a proprietary line-up of Adjuvants, Stabilizers, Growth Promoters & Seed Treatments that will be offered for the 2021 growing season.

CVA believes that meaningful, productive change only comes by looking at challenges and opportunities from new angles and exercising curiosity. With the changing agronomy market, CVA feels there is an opportunity to deliver more value to the customers by launching a private label brand of agronomy products.

CVA Elite products will provide a more systematic approach, providing customers reliable solutions in a complex world of Adjuvants, Stabilizers, Growth Promoters & Seed Treatments.

These CVA Products include:
    Protect UREA
    Protect UAN
    Dicamba Combo
    Acidifier MSO/NIS
    Drift & Deposition
    AMS + Surfactant

CVA Elite products have been proven in the geography of CVA via field testing and are built for the dynamic growing conditions and stresses growers face each year, resulting in more profit per acre.

 “The CVA Elite line-up was built with the vision of innovative products that yield solutions for our member-owners,” said Nic McCarthy, Senior VP of Agronomy for CVA, “As agriculture is changing around us, we must lead with innovation and CVA Elite products meet the demands of our members”.  

For more information on products visit

Growers Statewide to Share On-Farm Research via In Person and Online Events

The annual Nebraska On-Farm Research Network research results update meetings will be offered in-person and online in 2021.  Farm operators and agronomists from across the state will obtain valuable crop production-related information from on-farm research projects conducted on Nebraska farms by Nebraska farmers in partnership with University of Nebraska faculty. These research projects cover products, practices, and new technologies that impact farm productivity and profitability.

The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network is a statewide, on-farm research program that addresses critical farmer production, profitability and natural resources questions. Growers take an active role in the on-farm research project sponsored by Nebraska Extension in partnership with the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, the Nebraska Corn Board, the Nebraska Soybean Checkoff, and the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission.

The February programs will provide an opportunity to hear growers who conducted on-farm research share their results from the 2020 growing season. Field length replicated treatment comparisons were completed in growers’ fields, using their equipment.

The following dates/locations are planned:

Feb. 25:
    Auburn - 4-H Building Nemaha County Fairgrounds, 816 I St., Auburn, Neb.
    Beatrice - Gage County Extension Office, 1115 West Scott, Beatrice, Neb.
    Clay Center - Clay County fairgrounds, 701 N Martin Ave, Clay Center, Neb.
    David City - David City Library, 399 N 5th St, David City, Neb.
    Wahoo - Lake Wanahoo Education Building, 655 County Road 16, East side of Lake Wanahoo, Wahoo, Neb.
    York - Cornerstone Event Center, Fairgrounds York, 2400 N. Nebraska Ave., York, Neb.
    Online option also available

Feb. 26:  
    Alliance - Knight Museum, 908 Yellowstone, Alliance, Neb.
    Clay Center - Clay County fairgrounds 701 N Martin Ave, Clay Center, Neb.
    Kearney - Buffalo County Extension Office, 1400 E. 34th (Fairgrounds), Kearney, Neb.
    Nebraska City - Kimmel Orchard Education Building, 5995 G Rd. Nebraska City, Neb.  
    Norfolk - Madison County Extension, 1305 S. 13th Street, Norfolk, Neb.
    North Platte  - West Central Research, Extension, and Education Center (WCREEC), 402 W. State Farm Road, North Platte, Neb.
    Osceola - Polk County fairgrounds, Ag Hall, 12931 N Blvd, Osceola, Neb.
    Seward - Harvest Hall, Fairgrounds Seward, 1625 Fairgrounds Circle, Seward, Neb.
    West Point - Nielsen Center - West Point, 200 Anna Stalp Ave, West Point, Neb.
    Wilber - Saline County Extension Office, 306 W 3rd Street, Wilber, Neb.
    Online option also available

Programs start 8:30 a.m. CST/7:30 a.m. MST and conclude at 12:30 p.m. CST/11:30 MST.   

Visit for registration, details and program updates.  

Pre-registration is required.  Walk-in registration will not be permitted.  Early registration is encouraged due to capacity limitations at each location. Once a location is full, it will no longer be listed as a registration option. Please pre-register for in-person training at least two days in advance for planning purposes.

In-person meetings will only be held if local and UNL directed health measures allow and if weather conditions are suitable for travel. If a meeting is cancelled, registered participants will be notified via email, phone, or text message.  

Facial coverings/masks guidelines may vary based on local directed health measures. For information about the COVID-related health measures that will be in place at each meeting, please contact the local site host.  Contact information available on the website.

For more information and general inquiries about Nebraska On-Farm Research Network, contact Laura Thompson, Nebraska On-Farm Research Network and Ag Technology Extension Educator at or 402-245-2224.


– Jerry Volesky, NE Extension

Summer annual grasses often are an important part of many hay and pasture plans.  As you select a variety to plant this coming summer, choose one with a genetic trait that improves animal nutrition.

Summer annuals like Sudangrass, cane, sorghum-sudan hybrids, forage sorghum, and millet can produce high forage yields even under dry growing conditions.  But they tend to be more stemmy and less digestible than many cattle producers prefer.  Can they be made better?

The answer is – yes.  A natural, genetic trait called BMR (or Brown Mid-Rib) has been used in numerous varieties and hybrids of summer annual grasses for many years.  This trait makes them more digestible and enables cattle to extract more energy from these forages.

It received the brown mid-rib name because the mid-rib or vein that runs down the center of each leaf has a brownish tint in summer annual grasses that have this genetic trait.  Normally this mid-rib is a cream or whitish color.

The important characteristic is how the BMR gene affects forage quality.  Grasses that have the BMR gene produce less lignin than normal plants.  Lignin is a complex compound that attaches to fiber components like cellulose in the plant and make it less digestible.  Since plants with the BMR gene produce less lignin, more of the fiber can be digested by your cattle, increasing the energy or TDN value of this forage.  Grazing studies in Texas found yearlings to have a 12% greater daily gain when grazing a BMR forage compared to a conventional forage.  In addition, animals eat more of the stems, reducing waste.

The BMR gene has little other effect on these plants, so they respond like normal plants to other management practices, like planting rate, fertilization, and harvest timing.  Give BMR forages a try and I think you will be pleased.

Trade Policy Internship Honors Nebraska Farm Bureau Leader While Supporting UNL Students

The Steve Nelson Yeutter Institute International Trade Internship Award from the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s (UNL) Clayton Yeutter Institute of International Trade and Finance honors a longtime Nebraska Farm Bureau leader, as it helps students gain valuable experience in the nation’s Capital. Applications for the internship award are now open and due February 18, 2021. More information is available at

The new internship award honors Steve Nelson, who served for nearly 20 years on the Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) board of directors and was president from 2011-2020. As president, Nelson participated in numerous trade missions including travel to Vietnam, Taiwan, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, Japan, and South Korea. Under his nine-year tenure as NEFB president, he continuously advocated for opening international markets for Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers. Nelson farms near Axtell in south central Nebraska and produces irrigated corn, hybrid seed corn, and soybeans.

“While at Nebraska Farm Bureau, Steve Nelson stressed the importance of trade in Nebraska, and providing this opportunity to young people in agriculture seems like a great way to carry on his legacy,” said Mark McHargue, newly elected president of Nebraska Farm Bureau.

"Because of Nebraska Farm Bureau's extensive involvement in the trade arena and support for agricultural youth and leadership development, we felt that this internship was a perfect match for these priorities," McHargue said. “Agriculture will benefit in the long term because youth receiving this award will learn how to influence future agricultural trade policy.”

The award will support a student interested in agricultural trade to complete a trade policy internship in Washington, D.C.

“Internships are critical for professional development and career exploration, and we are grateful for the Nebraska Farm Bureau’s partnership in honoring Steve Nelson’s service through an award that will allow a student to work in the heart of the trade policy community in Washington, D.C.,” said Jill O’Donnell, director of the Yeutter Institute. “Borrowing from the words of our namesake Clayton Yeutter, our goal is to equip students to be ‘broad and creative and global’ in their thinking, and this award will help us do just that.”

The first award recipient will be selected this spring. The award program will provide $6,000 annually for a UNL student with sophomore standing or above to intern full-time in the summer with the Washington International Trade Association (WITA) in Washington, D.C. WITA is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to providing a neutral forum for the open and robust discussion of international trade policy and related issues. The student will gain valuable exposure to and experience with trade policy issues and trade leaders in business, agriculture, law, academia, non-governmental organizations, embassies, and the U.S. Government. The award is supported by donations from the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation and a Yeutter Institute donor.

Gifts in honor of the Steve Nelson Yeutter Institute International Trade Internship Award may be directed to the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation. Donations can be made online at or mailed to Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, P.O. Box 80299 Lincoln, NE 68501.

Brand Law Changes: ICON in Favor of Legislation LB 614; Against LB 572 & LB 571

ICON actively defends Statewide Nebraska Brand Laws and opposes any changes that would take away Livestock Ownership protection.

Last year ICON successfully organized and DEFEATED TWO BILLS in the Unicameral that affect you; one was promoted by a small group of RFL’s (Registered Feedlots) calling themselves The Beef Producers (TBP). It would have eliminated the Brand Law completely, resulting in ownership verification chaos.

Another bill promoted by the Nebraska Brand Committee (NBC) was going to lower inspection fees even further for the RFLs. Both bills would have taken away security and placed more burdens on the little man -- cow-calf producers and feeders.

ICON actively participated in a Legislative Review study (LR 378) this past year as another attempt was made to improve the Brand Law.  During the meetings, ICON was given the task of protecting the interests of the Mother Cow stakeholders of Nebraska. ICON clearly and undeniably defined the focus and purpose of the Brand Law, which is “Statewide third-party ownership verification.”

In the end, it became self-evident that the goal of the NBC and TBP’s were different than ours. NBC and TBPs would like to change the Brand Law to fit their vision of the future and fix the problems between them with new legislation.

ICON’s proposals and revisions to the draft bill that resulted from LR 378 were not objected to, but neither were they incorporated. A surprise disclosure was made during the meetings by the attorney for TBP (who is also the attorney for the RFL -- Adams Land & Cattle Company/ ALCC.)

Years ago, ALCC brokered a special unapproved “no inspection” deal with past members of the Brand Committee, eliminating their already reduced costs of brand inspections on certain cattle.

NBC has now properly disallowed this invalid/illegal deal between NBC and ALCC, but ALCC is protesting. It is now in court for a second time.

The ICON Board of Directors asks their members & concerned ranchers and citizens to come to action immediately.

It is the Board’s recommendation that you contact your Senator and Brand Committee Members before Feb. 9, 2021 and voice opposition to (against) LB 572 and LB 571 which, if passed, will raise your inspection fee ceiling to $1.50 per head and Brand Renewals to $200, while lowering the RFL fees from approximately 0.35 to 0.17 per head. Plus, it will validate the “closed door sweetheart deal” with ALCC that is currently in the courts. Feel free to also contact us or your local Livestock Auction Market with your opinion.

Instead, please voice support (in favor of) LB 614 to be advanced, which will eliminate the Registered Feedlot provisions and equalize and lower fees for all.

Senator Brandt Continues to Prioritize Rural Broadband

Senator Tom Brandt of Plymouth and Legislative District 32 has continued working to address the issue of getting rural broadband to all Nebraskans. With COVID-19 and many rural Nebraskans needing faster speeds and greater bandwidth for everything from Zoom calls to telehealth to precision farming to Netflix, reliable broadband has become more important than ever. As Senator Brandt was quoted as saying in the Lincoln Journal Star’s Editorial on January 30th: “COVID really exposed a lot of weaknesses in the system, and I think everybody just wants to speed it up.”

Last session, Senator Brandt brought LB996 which passed and was signed into law by the Governor. It created the Broadband Data Improvement Program to ensure that the State of Nebraska is accurately represented in federal broadband grant programs.

This Session, Senator Brandt introduced two bills to tackle the issue. On January 15, he introduced LB460, which would enable public power to lease their dark fiber and would lift major hurdles for utilities to partner with internet providers to provide high-speed connectivity to unserved and underserved communities. On January 20th, he introduced LB600 which would expand financial resources and tools for the development of broadband infrastructure and facilities in rural areas by allowing public power districts and electric cooperatives financing authority, and by repurposing the Municipal Infrastructure Redevelopment Act for financing broadband infrastructure and facilities in rural communities.

“These bills put us well on the way to getting high-speed Internet, not just in unserved rural areas but also in underserved urban communities as well,” Senator Brandt said. “The telecoms have worked hard for twenty years to address this, and there is still a lot of work left to do in our rural areas. I’d like to see public power use its immense resources to partner with the telecoms to solve this technology problem.”

In addition to introducing these bills, Senator Brandt has co-sponsored Sen. Curt Friesen’s LB388 which was introduced at the request of the Governor. It would create the Broadband Bridge Program to allocate $40 million over two fiscal years in grants to underserved and unserved communities.

Dennis Houston, CEO of the Nebraska Rural Electric Association stated, “I believe that partnering together, putting the people of rural Nebraska ahead of profits, and eliminating red tape might ultimately be the recipe for providing connectivity to every Nebraskan. We thank Senator Brandt and the Governor for introducing legislation that strives towards this vision, and look forward to the opportunity to help facilitate better connectivity across rural Nebraska.”

“I’m happy to see so many bills from my colleagues with their sights set on rural broadband expansion,” Senator Brandt continued, “Higher internet speeds will help my constituents better compete with their counterparts in Omaha, Lincoln and other better served communities as well as weather the covid storm, and it will help to bring younger folks back to rural Nebraska which will revitalize rural communities.”

Iowa Pork Schedules Regional Conferences in February

The Iowa Pork Producers Association is inviting the state's pig farmers to attend one of four Iowa Pork Regional Conferences being held in February. The events are being held at different locations from Feb. 15 through Feb. 18.
In addition to the regional conference program that runs from 1-4:30 p.m. each day, a separate morning session from 9 a.m. to noon will provide Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) Plus training. The PQA Plus training is sponsored by IPPA and provided by Iowa State University Extension.
"The afternoon conferences include five speakers providing timely and relevant information," says Jamee Eggers, IPPA producer education director. "The farmer members of our producer education committee partnered with the Iowa Pork Information Center to select topics and identify relevant speakers."
The site selection for these meetings allows for physical distancing as required by the State of Iowa. If weather or coronavirus conditions require the cancellation of the event; the conference sessions will be recorded and made available online.
The locations of the conferences are:
    Monday, Feb. 15 - Orange City at the Sioux County Extension Office, 400 Central Ave. NW, Suite 700
    Tuesday, Feb. 16 - Osceola at the Clarke County Fairgrounds Event Center, 2070 W. McLane St, Hwy. 34
    Wednesday, Feb. 17 - Waverly at the Waverly Civic Center, 200 1st St. NE
    Thursday, Feb. 18 - Washington at the Washington County Extension Office, 2223 250th St.

 Topics and speakers for the afternoon conferences are:
    Water Quality in Pig Production - Dr. John Patience, an ISU professor of animal science, will discuss the central role of water and water quality in swine production.
    Hot Topics in Swine Health - Dr. Chris Rademacher of the Iowa Pork Industry Center will provide an update on current swine health issues and foreign animal disease preparedness activities
    Economic Issues Update - ISU Extension Livestock Economist Dr. Lee Schulz will talk about the many new economic tools for pork producers that became available or were updated in 2020
    Optimizing Your Most Valuable Resource - Valerie Duttlinger, Summitt SmartFarms, will talk about the best ways to keep yourself and your employees focused on the business goals
    Helping You Find the Right Resources - A review of decision-making tools that Iowa State University Extension Swine Specialists can provide for you to solve production problems and other issues on your pig farm.

Check-in starts 30 minutes before the start of the conference. Pre-register for the conference and/or certification training to ensure adequate materials are available to all. To pre-register, go online to, or call IPPA at (800) 372-7675 or email

Iowa Pork Industry Center Earns President's Award from IPPA

The Iowa Pork Industry Center (IPIC) at Iowa State University has been presented with the Iowa Pork Producers Association's first President's Award. The award recognizes all employees at IPIC for their work and dedication to helping Iowa's pig farmers manage through so many extraordinary challenges to the industry in 2020.
When pork processing plants closed or slowed down from March through May of 2020, many Iowa farmers were faced with decisions on how to continue caring for pigs that were ready to enter the food chain. The solutions lay in many areas of expertise.
"The team that works for IPIC assisted us with economic analysis, nutritional changes to slow hog growth when we had a breakdown in the food supply chain, suggestions for animal care during those times when farmers had to hold pigs longer than expected, while employees even provided information and resources outside of the pork industry," said Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) past president Mike Paustian of Walcott.
Those other services included the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL) providing expertise to the University of Iowa to increase the numbers of COVID-19 tests that could be run daily. The VDL had established procedures nearly a decade before to process substantially more tests of that type in a limited time period.
The IPIC is a coordinated effort of interdisciplinary programs with ISU's Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Business, Engineering and Veterinary Medicine that provides services and information to pig farmers in Iowa and many other states. IPIC also focuses its efforts in programs that are integral and complementary to work by ISU Extension and Outreach.
"The truly remarkable thing is how fast this team reacted to all the challenges," Paustian said. "Universities are not typically noted for speed, but IPIC responded to our needs and requests faster than ISU can score touchdowns!"
IPPA recognized that there were many Iowa people, businesses and organizations that stepped up in 2020 to help Iowa pig farmers address challenges and mitigate especially negative circumstances. "Our board of directors supported the creation of this special IPPA President's Award to recognize IPIC for their work," Paustian said.

Iowa Corn Announces New Director of Grower Services

Iowa Corn® is proud to announce the new Director of Grower Services, Carrie Dodds. In this position, Dodds oversees the District Field Managers and directs the team as they work towards the organization's goal to increase membership to 10,000 as well as increase awareness and support of the Iowa Corn checkoff.

“I am truly honored to lead the dedicated District Field Manager team to continue to serve the Iowa Corn farmer members and organization,” said Dodds. “Iowa Corn works tirelessly for Iowa’s farmer and I am proud to spread the word on all that Iowa Corn does for agriculture in Iowa.”

Dodds attended Northwest Missouri State and graduated with a double major in ag business and animal science with a minor in marketing.  From undergraduate, she started the Ag Leadership Graduate program at the University of Nebraska but received a job offer to manage the office of a 40,000 head feed yard in North Central Nebraska. After starting her family, the Dodds family moved to Iowa.

Dodds began her career at Iowa Corn in 2006 as the Market Development Manager where she learned her true passion was working with farmers to enhance and engage not only their operations but themselves.  In 2012, Dodds transitioned to the District 5 District Field Manager within Iowa Corn where she covered 14 counties in central Iowa.  Through her passion and dedication, Dodds has been promoted to the Director of Grower Services.  

Dodds resides in Saint Charles, Iowa with her husband Hooter and three sons (Grady 14, Beau 11, and Landry 7).

Consider Corn Challenge III Contest Looks to Establish Novel Biomaterials, Products, and Technologies Utilizing Corn

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is launching the Consider Corn Challenge III open-innovation contest, looking for participants to answer the call and submit proposals for new uses of field corn as a feedstock for producing sustainable chemicals and products with quantifiable market demand.

“Corn is an affordable, abundant, sustainably grown crop that has a myriad of uses and applications, which is why we are holding our third Consider Corn Challenge contest,” said NCGA Market Development Action Team (MDAT) Chair and Iowa farmer Bob Hemesath. “Corn’s cost as a feedstock has benefited greatly by improvements in technology, production and logistics efficiency. With society’s interest in more biobased products, we know we have the solution and that’s corn.”

Previous winners of the Consider Corn Challenge contests have scaled up to the next phase of development, received additional grant funding, entered into joint agreements, and obtained registration for state biobased production incentives.

“As a past recipient of the Consider Corn Challenge award from the NCGA, we have been able to deepen our technology base regarding the differential properties of our novel materials,” said Derek Wells with ExoPolymer. “Due to these efforts, we are currently investigating several targeted market applications and feasibility studies at scale. The CCC award also helped to put a spotlight on our innovative approach, enabling us to raise additional funding and continue our progress.  We are grateful for the recognition by the NCGA and are looking forward to further applying our technology for additional valuable uses of this important agricultural product.”

If all nine winners of the Consider Corn Challenge I & II reached full commercialization with products available in the marketplace, the potential for additional corn demand could be approximately 2.9 billion bushels.

“Corn farmers continue to take advantage of the technology that allows them to grow a bigger crop on less land with less resources per bushel, and that means there’s enough carryout available to meet the needs for food, feed, fuel and new uses,” Hemesath added. “This contest is a way to help us think outside of the box and meet the needs of our customers, who are asking for sustainable, biobased products.”

One to six winners will be selected with a total prize pool of U.S. $150,000, split equally between winners. The submission deadline is June 3, 2021, and winners will be announced in September 2021.

Learn More at

Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production

Total corn consumed for alcohol and other uses was 478 million bushels in December 2020. Total corn consumption was down less than 1 percent from November 2020 and down 10 percent from December 2019. December 2020 usage included 92.1 percent for alcohol and 7.9 percent for other purposes. Corn consumed for beverage alcohol totaled 3.72 million bushels, down 6 percent from November 2020 but up 15 percent from December 2019. Corn for fuel alcohol, at 430 million bushels, was down less than 1 percent from November 2020 and down 10 percent from December 2019. Corn consumed in December 2020 for dry milling fuel production and wet milling fuel production was 89.5 percent and 10.5 percent, respectively.

Dry mill co-product production of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) was 1.78 million tons during December 2020, down 1 percent from November 2020 and down 7 percent from December 2019. Distillers wet grains (DWG) 65 percent or more moisture was 1.04 million tons in December 2020, down 3 percent from November 2020 and down 26 percent from December 2019.

Wet mill corn gluten feed production was 309,298 tons during December 2020, up 5 percent from November 2020 and up 1 percent from December 2019. Wet corn gluten feed 40 to 60 percent moisture was 220,505 tons in December 2020, down 4 percent from November 2020 and down 14 percent from December 2019.

Fats and Oils: Oilseed Crushings, Production, Consumption and Stocks

Soybeans crushed for crude oil was 5.81 million tons (194 million bushels) in December 2020, compared with 5.73 million tons (191 million bushels) in November 2020 and 5.54 million tons (185 million bushels) in December 2019. Crude oil produced was 2.23 billion pounds up 1 percent from November 2020 and up 6 percent from December 2019. Soybean once refined oil production at 1.50 billion pounds during December 2020 decreased 1 percent from November 2020 but increased 10 percent from December 2019.

Canola seeds crushed for crude oil was 197,889 tons in December 2020, compared with 207,700 tons in November 2020 and 176,638 tons in December 2019. Canola crude oil produced was 164 million pounds, down 5 percent from November 2020 but up 12 percent from December 2019. Canola once refined oil production, at 139 million pounds during December 2020, was down 5 percent from November 2020 but up 33 percent from December 2019.

Cottonseed once refined oil production, at 42.0 million pounds during December 2020, was down 5 percent from November 2020 and down 19 percent from December 2019.

Edible tallow production was 73.2 million pounds during December 2020, down 11 percent from November 2020 and down 16 percent from December 2019. Inedible tallow production was 265 million pounds during December 2020, down 5 percent from November 2020 and down 17 percent from December 2019. Technical tallow production was 84.7 million pounds during December 2020, down 13 percent from November 2020 and down 19 percent from December 2019. Choice white grease production, at 111 million pounds during December 2020, decreased 5 percent from November 2020 and decreased 2 percent from December 2019.

Flour Milling Products Highlights

All wheat ground for flour during the fourth quarter 2020 was 231 million bushels, down 1 percent from the third quarter 2020 grind of 234 million bushels and down slightly from the fourth quarter 2019 grind of 232 million bushels. Fourth quarter 2020 total flour production was 107 million hundredweight, down 1 percent from the third quarter 2020 and down 1 percent from the fourth quarter 2019. Whole wheat flour production at 4.85 million hundredweight during the fourth quarter 2020 accounted for 5 percent of the total flour production. Millfeed production from wheat in the fourth quarter 2020 was 1.66 million tons. The daily 24-hour milling capacity of wheat flour during the fourth quarter 2020 was 1.58 million hundredweight.

Durum wheat ground for flour and semolina production during the fourth quarter of 2020 totaled 17.3 million bushels, down 1 percent from the third quarter 2020 and down 4 percent from the fourth quarter 2019. Fourth quarter 2020 durum flour and semolina production was 8.20 million hundredweight, down 1 percent from the third quarter 2020 and down 4 percent from the fourth quarter 2019. Whole wheat durum flour and semolina production was 147,000 hundredweight, up 10 percent from 134,000 hundredweight in the third quarter 2020 but down 8 percent from 160,000 hundredweight from the fourth quarter 2019. Fourth quarter durum wheat millfeed production was
116,884 tons and the daily 24-hour milling capacity for durum and semolina production was
131,730 hundredweight.

Rye ground for flour during the fourth quarter of 2020 was 474,000 bushels, up 5 percent from the third quarter 2020 and up 4 percent from the fourth quarter 2019. Rye flour production during the fourth quarter of 2020 was 216,000 hundredweight, compared to 210,000 hundredweight in the previous quarter and 214,000 hundredweight in the same quarter for the previous year. The daily 24-hour milling capacity for rye milling was 9,655 hundredweight for the fourth quarter 2020.

USDA Announces February 2021 Lending Rates for Agricultural Producers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced loan interest rates for February 2021, which are effective February 1.

Operating and Ownership Loans
FSA offers farm ownership and operating loans with favorable interest rates and terms to help eligible agricultural producers, whether multi-generational, long-time or new to the industry, obtain financing needed to start, expand or maintain a family agricultural operation. For many loan options, FSA sets aside funding for historically disadvantaged producers, including beginning, women, American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and Hispanic farmers and ranchers.

Interest rates for Operating and Ownership loans for February 2021 are as follows:
    Farm Operating Loans (Direct): 1.375%
    Farm Operating Loans (Microloan “Special Interest Rate”): 5.000%
    Farm Ownership Loans (Direct): 2.625%
    Farm Ownership Loans (Direct, Joint Financing): 2.500%
    Farm Ownership Loans (Down Payment): 1.500%
    Emergency Loan (Amount of Actual Loss): 2.375%

FSA also offers guaranteed loans through commercial lenders at rates set by those lenders.

Commodity and Storage Facility Loans
FSA provides low-interest financing to producers to build or upgrade on-farm storage facilities and purchase handling equipment. FSA also offers commodity loans that provide interim financing to help producers meet cash flow needs without having to sell their commodities when market prices are low.  Funds for these loans are provided through the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) and administered by FSA.
    Commodity Loans (less than one year disbursed): 0.125%
Farm Storage Facility Loans:
        Three-year loan terms: 0.250%
        Five-year loan terms: 0.375%
        Seven-year loan terms: 0.750%
        Ten-year loan terms: 1.000%
        Twelve-year loan terms: 1.125%

Producers can explore available options on all FSA loan options at or by contacting your local USDA Service Center.

USDA Dietary Guidelines Support Consumption of Soy Products

The Soy Nutrition Institute recently issued a summary statement about the latest USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, highlighting the inclusion of soy products in all three dietary patterns for healthy eating. The U.S.-style, vegetarian and Mediterranean-style dietary patterns recommend consumption of nutrient-dense foods and beverages throughout all stages of life. The guidelines define six core elements that make up a healthy dietary pattern — vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, protein foods and oils — and soy-based products are included in four of the six core elements: dairy, oils, vegetables, and protein foods.

“To have soybeans and soy-rich products included in something as important and influential as these guidelines is a significant step toward increasing overall demand for U.S. soybeans,” said Kevin Wilson, United Soybean Board farmer-leader from Indiana and Soy Nutrition Institute secretary/treasurer.

In the four core elements with inclusion of soy foods, soy-rich beverages and soy yogurt are the only plant-based milk alternatives in the dairy subgroup considered to be “dairy equivalent.” For oils, soybean and other vegetable oils provide essential fatty acids in a healthy dietary pattern, and the guidelines advise consuming these oils in place of oils higher in saturated fats. Because of their nutrient benefits, edamame and soybeans fall under the vegetables subgroup “beans, peas and lentils,” with that entire food subgroup counting toward a person’s recommended intake of vegetables or protein. To round off with protein foods, soy products including tofu and tempeh – and products made from soy flour, soy protein isolate, and soy concentrate – are included in the guidelines.

“This new guidance, based on an expanding body of evidence, demonstrates the versatility of soy due to its inclusion in most of the core element categories,” said Keenan McRoberts, Ph.D., vice president of science and program strategy for the United Soybean Board. “The recommendations provide data for soy checkoff use in strengthening U.S. soy’s important role in dietary nutrient supply.”

This report’s encouraging recommendation of soy in four of the six core food element groups offers an opportunity for the soy checkoff to continue to build momentum and partnerships in the food industry. Across the U.S., soybean farmers focus on being good stewards of natural resources and prioritize sustainable farming practices. To raise awareness of soy as a sustainable ingredient, the soy checkoff is bringing the sustainability of U.S. soy front and center to end-user marketing and sustainability teams. USB recently announced a pilot partnership for companies to use the Sustainably Grown U.S. Soy mark on ingredients and products made with sustainably grown U.S. soy.

“Food companies have an opportunity to promote soy’s health benefits and to inform consumers about their options to meet the recommended guidelines through ingredients and products made with sustainably grown U.S. soy,” added McRoberts.

The USDA dietary guidelines are released every five years and provide science-based advice on food and drinks that promote health and prevent disease. They are used to develop the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

Growth Energy Battles in Court to Reverse Demand Destruction

On Friday, January 29th, Growth Energy, along with others in the biofuels industry, filed an opening brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Case No. 20-1046) challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) failure to properly establish 2020 biofuel blending targets under the Renewable Fuel Standard.  
In their brief, the parties seek to ensure that the annual biofuel targets, or Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs), account for small refinery exemptions (SREs) the agency issued for past years. EPA’s current regulations factor in only future SREs, while ignoring biofuel demand destroyed by past SREs granted retroactively, totaling more than four billion gallons in recent years.
“The Trump EPA’s 2020 biofuel targets failed to account for the billions of gallons of demand lost to the agency’s mismanagement of the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “Regulators took one step forward by recognizing the future impact of oil industry handouts, but they never attempted to repair the damage that continues to weigh down hopes for a swift rural recovery. As President Biden has said, EPA waivers ‘severely cut ethanol production, costing farmers income and ethanol plant workers their jobs.’ We couldn’t agree more, and we are going to fight to restore every gallon.”
Growth and others also challenge EPA’s abuse of its waiver authority for cellulosic biofuel targets. Under the 2020 RVOs, the agency set cellulosic targets that did not account for 50 million credits carried over from past years. As a result, cellulosic targets were set at a mere 590 million gallons.
“Farmers and biofuel producers are working hard to harness clean energy from agricultural residue and corn fiber,” Skor added. “These fuels are a powerful weapon in the battle against climate change. We cannot allow our nation’s investments in low-carbon energy to be derailed by regulatory abuse.”

Statement from Growth Energy, U.S. Grains Council, and the Renewable Fuels Association on U.S. Ethanol Appeal Outcome in Peru

The Peruvian National Institute for the Defense of Free Competition and the Protection of Intellectual Property (INDECOPI) Tribunal announced on January 29, 2021 that the U.S. ethanol industry and the U.S. government won an appeal on a countervailing duty case brought against U.S. ethanol in Peru, reversing a previous decision handed down by Peruvian authorities that applied a 15-cent per gallon duty on U.S. ethanol and resulted in loss of market access in the country.

Growth Energy, the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) participated extensively in this case, arguing at hearings in both the initial investigation and the appeal in Peru on behalf of the U.S. ethanol industry.  

The following is a joint statement on the decision from:  
Emily Skor, CEO, Growth Energy
Ryan LeGrand, President and CEO, U.S. Grains Council
Geoff Cooper, President and CEO, Renewable Fuels Association

“We appreciate the thoroughness of the Competition Tribunal’s analysis, and the careful review process followed in Peru. This is a welcome development for our U.S. ethanol producers and our valued customers in Peru. 

“We are pleased that Peruvian authorities reached the right result, and we look forward to continuing our close work with Peru to further enhance our mutually beneficial trade relationship development efforts, including urging them to increase their blend rate beyond 7.8 percent. Doing so would also help Peru to meet its Paris Agreement commitments and lead to opening more global trade of ethanol.

“The U.S. ethanol industry remains focused on expanding the global use of low-carbon ethanol, reducing barriers to trade, and elevating the energy discussion, and we favor continued collaboration and cooperation with Peru and other nations that share the vision of a free and open global ethanol market.”   

Cattle Inventory Lower

Matthew Diersen, Risk & Business Management Specialist, South Dakota State University

Friday was the Cattle report, which conveyed that inventory levels are slightly lower than a year ago. There were some revisions to prior estimates, but overall the levels were in line with trade expectations. The main takeaways were the stabilization of inventories, the smaller calf crop and fewer cattle outside of feedlots. The inventory levels have increased or consolidated in the plains states, stretching from North Dakota to Texas, with levels generally lower elsewhere.

The overall inventory on January 1, 2021 was 93.6 million head. For the beef sector, the number of beef cows was down slightly while the number of beef replacement heifers was up slightly. Thus, there is no clear expansion or contraction indication. In states with the largest beef cow numbers, inventory levels are up sharply in Texas and Oklahoma, and lower in Missouri. The continuing drought conditions in the western United States would just be starting to be reflected in these numbers. Cow slaughter would be a metric to follow in the months ahead, especially following calving this spring. For the dairy sector, the opposite is happening with more cows and fewer replacements. Cow inventory levels were steady in California and Wisconsin, the states with the largest dairy cow numbers.

The overall number of cattle on feed is up slightly from a year ago. The increase is consistent with the Cattle on Feed report that had January 1 levels up among large feedlots. The Cattle report gives the levels that includes small feedlots, those with fewer than 1,000 head. The total inventory is higher among both categories. Iowa has the largest inventory in smaller feedlots. Large feedlots there have an inventory level the same as last year, but the small lots have a lower inventory level.

Nationally, the dry conditions in the western United States may have resulted in the increase in placements. At the same time, the heifer mix in feedlots is lower than a year ago, a weak indicator of herd expansion. The number of cattle grazing wheat pastures is higher than last year, consistent with lower on-feed totals in Texas and Oklahoma. Kansas, in contrast, has a higher on-feed total.

Back in July, the 2020 calf crop was estimated at 35.8 million head. The current report had the calf crop sharply lower at 35.1 million head. The smaller supply of calves would be supportive of all classes of cattle prices moving forward. In the short run the higher placements level means a smaller supply of feeder cattle outside of feedlots. This should be supportive of feeder cattle prices for the first half of 2021. The dry conditions in the western United States may result in cattle moving east. Steady beef cow and replacement totals suggest a steady calf crop in 2021, which is also supportive of price in the second half of 2021.

North American Meat Institute Statement on House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis

The North American Meat Institute (Meat Institute) today released the following statement regarding the U.S. House of Representatives Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis’ request for documents from meat and poultry companies:

“Public health guidance has varied widely around the world and across the United States throughout the pandemic, but more than $1.5 billion in comprehensive protections instituted since the spring successfully cut average case rates for meat and poultry workers five times lower in December 2020 than they were in May, while infections rocketed up by nine times for the general population in the same period,” said Sarah Little, Vice President of Communications for the Meat Institute.

“The meat and poultry industry is focused on continuing these effective protections, reaffirmed by the Biden Administration, and ensuring frontline meat and poultry workers are vaccinated as soon as possible, as employers, unions, civil rights leaders, and governments around the world agree these workers should be among the first vaccinated after healthcare workers.”

Late last month, The Biden Administration announced worker safety guidance similar to the efforts already implemented by the meat and poultry industry since the beginning of the pandemic. For more detailed information on the industry response to the Coronavirus, and tracking of positive cases associated with the industry, go here.

The North American Meat Institute is the leading voice for the meat and poultry industry.  The Meat Institute’s members process the vast majority of U.S. beef, pork, lamb, and poultry, as well as manufacture the equipment and ingredients needed to produce the safest and highest quality meat and poultry products.

National Farm Machinery Show and Championship Tractor Pull Postpones Until 2022

National Farm Machinery Show (NFMS) and Championship Tractor Pull announced scheduled events will be postponed until February 16-19, 2022. Despite initially planning to continue the shows this March, the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has led show management to make the difficult decision to postpone events until next year.

“The health and safety of our guests, exhibitors and coworkers is our highest priority and unfortunately the best way to keep them safe is to postpone the show. Postponing the National Farm Machinery Show and Championship Tractor Pull was not made lightly, but in consultation with exhibitors, pullers, sponsors, and attendees who are a valuable part of our decision-making process” said President and CEO of Kentucky Venues David S. Beck.

The National Farm Machinery Show is held annually at the Kentucky Exposition Center and is the largest indoor farm show in the country consisting of 1.2 million square feet of sold-out exhibit space. The show is a key player in the global agriculture industry featuring the most comprehensive display of equipment, services, and technology.

Held in conjunction with the farm show, Championship Tractor Pull draws more than 70,000 fans in person and online from across the globe to watch five action-packed pulls over the course of four days. Sponsored by Syngenta, the event draws the nation’s top drivers as they compete for the title of grand champion and a prize pool of over $200,000.

“We look forward to welcoming everyone back in 2022 for the 56th National Farm Machinery Show and 53rd Championship Tractor Pull with a focus on the future of agribusiness. As we strive to produce the best experience for everyone, we will take the lessons of 2020 and 2021 to plan a comprehensive show with relevant seminars and educational content alongside the latest state-of-the-art farming equipment,” said Beck.

Exhibitors and Vendors Similar to previous years, space contracted for the prior show is reserved for the same exhibitor at the next show. Exhibitors’ 2020 floor space is reserved in 2022. If you have an interest in exhibiting at the 2022 show, applications will be available online in late-April.

Championship Tractor Pull Ticket Holders Priority ticket holders’ 2020 seats are reserved for 2022. If you purchased seats for 2021, your purchase will be refunded automatically. Please contact the ticket office at 502-367-5144 or email if you want your purchase to be applied to 2022. General admission tickets go on sale in fall 2021.

For more information, visit and

FMC Corporation Collaborates with Novozymes to Co-Develop Enzyme Solutions

FMC Corporation (NYSE: FMC), a leading global agricultural sciences company, has entered into a strategic collaboration with Novozymes, the world leader in biological solutions, to research, co-develop and commercialize biological enzyme-based crop protection solutions for growers around the world.

     Collaboration between the two companies will concentrate on enzyme-based biocontrol technology for the global fungicide and insecticide markets under a multi-year global agreement. The partnership will focus on developing solutions for controlling key soybean fungal diseases such as Asian Soybean Rust (ASR), in addition to combination products with FMC’s leading diamide insecticide technology for controlling key insect pests. The companies will combine their respective R&D capabilities with FMC serving as commercial partner and Novozymes as the manufacturing partner. The partnership will leverage Novozymes’ technology to date, and FMC will help expedite and improve the success rate in identifying innovative biological crop protection products by assessing multiple classes of enzymes at the company's high throughput screening laboratory.

    “We look forward to partnering with Novozymes in bringing enzymatic technology to the crop protection market,” said Mark Douglas, FMC president and chief executive officer. “FMC is committed to delivering differentiated biological products that provide growers with science-backed solutions to help sustainably manage crops, protect yields and combat resistance. The use of enzymes in agriculture is an exciting new frontier for biologicals.”

     “We see FMC as a great partner with strong scientific and commercial capabilities – and, importantly, a clear commitment to biological solutions,” says Ester Baiget Arnau, Novozymes' president and chief executive officer. “Our partnership with FMC is part of our increased efforts to meet the need for sustainable pest control solutions for growers around the world. Together, we will develop innovative biological solutions for key market segments where FMC is an ideal commercial partner.”

     According to Novozymes and FMC, enzyme biocontrol technology is a new, differentiated tool to address significant challenges around pest management. As a stand-alone product or an integrated solution, enzymes can deliver high performance with the environmental benefits of a biological. The companies believe enzyme biocontrol technology can potentially support stand-alone products as well as play a critical role in providing comprehensive integrated pest management solutions for farmers.

     “Enzymes are a relatively untapped solution in the agricultural market,” said Dr. Bénédicte Flambard, global director of FMC Plant Health. “This unique technology will provide a high level of performance and stability that will complement synthetic chemistry. A lower cost of entry will enable use in the row crop markets where growers desire high-performing, sustainable solutions with new modes of action to combat hard-to-control diseases and pests. We are biased for new mode of action molecules, which can better control pests that are building resistance to existing products.”

     Since 2013, FMC has built a world-class biologicals business with more than 30 biological products in the market across more than 45 countries, 12 biofungicides, bioinsecticides and bionematicides in its R&D pipeline, and a dedicated biologicals research center in Denmark. The company's Accudo® biostimulant was recognized at the 2020 Crop Science Forum and Awards in the Best New Biological Product (Biostimulant) category. In 2019, Presence® and Quartzo® bionematicides received top honors in the Best New Biological Product (Biopesticide) category. FMC plans to launch four new biopesticides from its pipeline over the next four years and is actively assessing additional partnerships to develop and commercialize a diversity of new biological technologies.

AGCO Launches New Studies on Cover Crops for Carbon Management

AGCO, a global leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of agricultural machinery and solutions, is conducting agronomic research trials and field demonstrations in 2021 to help farmers successfully add soil carbon sequestration to their farming operations.

The rapidly evolving carbon credit market is a potential revenue channel for farmers in which they can also contribute to the solution for climate change alongside feeding the world’s growing population.

“Carbon sequestration’s revenue potential for farmers through carbon credits incentivizes adoption, investment, and innovation for the betterment of our climate,” said Louisa Parker-Smith, AGCO’s Global Sustainability Director. “With half of the earth’s vegetated land employed in agriculture and abundant soil carbon sequestration potential, it’s understandable that the Ag supply potential is over 30 times today’s total credit demand. However, we expect to see carbon-offset credit demand increase exponentially as surrounding markets mature and companies such as Apple and BP work towards self-imposed climate neutrality deadlines.”

“We are undertaking this research to help create a clear path for farmers to successfully harness the revenue potential and climate benefits of biologic carbon sequestration through cover cropping and other regenerative agriculture practices,” said Darren Goebel, AGCO’s Global Agronomy and Farm Solutions Director. “We are confident that these trials will demonstrate easy and cost-effective ways to add these practices into existing crop systems.”

AGCO’s Global Agronomy team is collaborating with the company’s global brands to drive research trials at the Martin Richenhagen Future Farm in Zambia, Africa, and the Swiss Future Farm in Tänikon, Switzerland, as well as several sites in the U.S. and Denmark. The studies focus on best practices for cover crop planting timing (before, during or after harvest), termination methods, species selection and tillage systems to maximize carbon stores.

Watch this video of AGCO Agronomist Jens Christian Jensen’s visit with Steffen Decker, a fourth-generation farmer at Stydinggaard near Styding, Denmark, to learn about his experience with cover cropping over the last 10 years:

The research trials are one component of AGCO’s new sustainability strategy, which includes a focus area on farm solutions for soil health and carbon capture.

“Our goal is to make regenerative agriculture attainable for farmers,” said Parker-Smith. “As part of our new strategy, we’re conducting these research trials to inform the development of new products to support soil health and carbon management. We’re committed to supporting farmers as part of the solution to the global challenge of climate change.”

Friday January 29 Cattle Inventory, Sheep & Goats, + Ag News


All cattle and calves in Nebraska as of January 1, 2021 totaled 6.85 million head, up 1% from January 1, 2020, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

All cows and heifers that had calved totaled 1.96 million head, down 1% from last year.

Beef cows totaled 1.90 million head, down 1% from last year.

Milk cows totaled 60,000 head, up 3% from January 1, 2020.

All heifers 500 pounds and over totaled 1.96 million head, up 3% from last year.

Steers weighing 500 pounds and over totaled 2.47 million head, up 4% from last year.

Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over totaled 110,000 head, down 8% from last year.

Calves under 500 pounds totaled 350,000 head, down 5% from January 1, 2020.

All cattle on feed fed for slaughter in Nebraska feedlots totaled 2.72 million head, up 5% from the previous year.

The 2020 calf crop totaled 1.75 million head, down 2% from 2019.


All cattle and calves in Iowa as of January 1, 2021, totaled 3.65 million head, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle report. This was down 200,000 head from January 1, 2020. Beef cows, at 890,000 head, were down 15,000 head from last year. Milk cow inventory was up 5,000 head to 220,000 head.

All heifers 500 pounds and over were down 7% to 800,000 head. Heifers for beef cow replacement were up 7% from 2020 to 155,000 head; heifers for milk cow replacement, at 125,000 head, were up 9% from the previous year; and all other heifers were down 13% to 520,000 head.

Steers weighing 500 pounds and over were down 7% from last year at 1.21 million head. Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over remained the same at 60,000 head. Calves under 500 pounds on January 1, 2021, totaled 470,000 head, down 8% from last year.

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 610,000 head on January 1, 2020, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was unchanged from December 1, 2020, but down 9% from January 1, 2020. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head had 560,000 head on feed, up 4% from December 1, 2020, but down 10% from January 1, 2020. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in all Iowa feedlots totaled 1,170,000 head, up 2% from December 1, 2020, but down 9% from January 1, 2020.

The 2020 calf crop was estimated at 1.03 million head, down 5% from the 2019 calf crop. Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter in all feedlots on January 1, 2021 totaled 1.17 million head, down 9% from one year ago.

January 1 Cattle Inventory Down Slightly

All cattle and calves in the United States as of January 1, 2021 totaled 93.6 million head, slightly below the 93.8 million head on January 1, 2020.

All cows and heifers that have calved, at 40.6 million head, were slightly below the 40.7 million head on January 1, 2020. Beef cows, at 31.2 million head, were down 1 percent from a year ago. Milk cows, at 9.44 million head, were up 1 percent from the previous year.

All heifers 500 pounds and over as of January 1, 2021 totaled 20.0 million head, slightly below the 20.0 million head on January 1, 2020. Beef replacement heifers, at 5.81 million head, were up slightly from a year ago. Milk replacement heifers, at 4.60 million head, were down 2 percent from the previous year. Other heifers, at 9.58 million head, were 1 percent above a year earlier.

Steers weighing 500 pounds and over as of January 1, 2021 totaled 16.6 million head, up slightly from January 1, 2020. Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over as of January 1, 2021 totaled 2.21 million head, down 1 percent from January 1, 2020.

Calves under 500 pounds as of January 1, 2021 totaled 14.2 million head, down 1 percent from January 1, 2020.

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for all feedlots totaled 14.7 million head on January 1, 2021. The inventory is up slightly from the January 1, 2020 total of 14.7 million head. Cattle on feed in feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head accounted for 81.4 percent of the total cattle on feed on January 1, 2021, down slightly from the previous year. The combined total of calves under 500 pounds and other heifers and steers over 500 pounds (outside of feedlots) at 25.7 million head, was slightly below January 1, 2020.  

Calf Crop Down 1 Percent

The 2020 calf crop in the United States was estimated at 35.1 million head, down 1 percent from the previous year's calf crop. Calves born during the first half of 2020 were estimated at 25.8 million head, down 1 percent from the first half of 2019. Calves born during the second half of 2020 were estimated at 9.39 million head, 27 percent of the total 2020 calf crop.


All inventory and calf crop estimates for July 1, 2019, January 1, 2020, and July 1, 2020 were reviewed using calf crop, official slaughter, import and export data, and the relationship of new survey information to the prior surveys. Based on the findings of this review, July 1, 2019 all cattle and calves decreased by 0.3 percent. January 1, 2020 all cattle and calves decreased by 0.7 percent and 2019 calf crop decreased by 1.3 percent. July 1, 2020 all cattle and calves decreased by 0.8 percent and 2020 calf
crop decreased by 1.9 percent.  State level estimates were reviewed and changes were made to reallocate inventory estimates to the United States total.


All sheep and lamb inventory in Nebraska on January 1, 2021 totaled 74,000 head, down 4,000 from last year, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Breeding sheep inventory totaled 61,000 head, down 6,000 from last year. Ewes one year and older totaled 50,000 head, down 5,000 from the previous year. Rams one year and older totaled 3,000, unchanged from last year. Total replacement lambs totaled 8,000 head, down 1,000 from last year.

Market sheep and lambs totaled 13,000 head, up 2,000 from last year. A total of 3,000 head were mature sheep (one year and older) while the remaining 10,000 were under one year. Market lamb weight groups were estimated as follows: 3,000 lambs were under 65 pounds; 1,800 were 65-84 pounds; 2,000 were 85-105 pounds; 3,200 were over 105 pounds.

The 2020 lamb crop totaled 65,000 head, down 6,000 from 2019. The 2020 lambing rate was 118 per 100 ewes one year and older, compared with 134 in 2019.

Sheep deaths totaled 3,000 head, down 400 from last year. Lamb deaths totaled 8,000 head, down 1,000 from last year.

Sheep and lambs slaughtered on farm totaled 1,000 head, unchanged from last year.

Shorn wool production during 2020 was 415,000 pounds, down 25,000 from 2019. Sheep and lambs shorn totaled 56,000 head, down 5,000 from 2019. Weight per fleece was 7.4 pounds, up 0.2 from 2019. The average price paid for wool sold in 2020 was $0.77 per pound, compared with $0.88 in 2019. The total value of wool produced in Nebraska was 320,000 dollars in 2020.

Milk goats and kids inventory in Nebraska totaled 3,500 head, unchanged from last year.


All sheep and lambs inventory in Iowa as of January 1, 2021, totaled 160,000 head according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Sheep and Goats report. The sheep and lambs inventory is up 9,000 head from last year. Total breeding stock, at 114,000 head, was 6% above one year ago. Market sheep and lambs increased 7% from a year ago and totaled 46,000 head. The lamb crop for 2020 increased 4% to 120,000 head. Wool production for the State was 795,000 pounds, with fleece weights averaging 5.9 pounds.

Milk goat inventory in Iowa as of January 1, 2021, was 27,000 head, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Sheep and Goats report. Iowa ranked third in total milk goats, behind only Wisconsin and California. The inventory was down 7% from January 2020. Total meat and other goat inventory was 38,000 head, an increase of 9% from the previous year.

January 1 Sheep and Lambs Inventory Down 1 Percent

All sheep and lambs inventory in the United States on January 1, 2021 totaled 5.17 million head, down 1 percent from 2020. Breeding sheep inventory at 3.78 million head on January 1, 2021, decreased 1 percent from 3.81 million head on January 1, 2020. Ewes one year old and older, at 2.96 million head, were 1 percent below last year. Market sheep and lambs on January 1, 2021 totaled 1.39 million head, unchanged from January 1, 2020. Market lambs comprised 94 percent of the total market inventory. Market sheep comprised the remaining 6 percent of total market inventory.

The 2020 lamb crop of 3.21 million head was down 1 percent from 2019. The 2020 lambing rate was 108 lambs per 100 ewes one year old and older on January 1, 2020, unchanged from 2019.

Shorn wool production in the United States during 2020 was 23.1 million pounds, down 4 percent from 2019. Sheep and lambs shorn totaled 3.28 million head, down 1 percent from 2019. The average price paid for wool sold in 2020 was $1.66 per pound for a total value of 38.4 million dollars, down 15 percent from 45.4 million dollars in 2019.

Sheep death loss during 2020 totaled 210 thousand head, down 4 percent from 2019. Lamb death loss was down 5 percent from 388 thousand head to 370 thousand head in 2020.

January 1 All Goats and Kids Inventory Down 3 Percent

All goats and kids inventory in the United States on January 1, 2021 totaled 2.58 million head, down 3 percent from 2020. Breeding goat inventory totaled 2.12 million head, down 3 percent from 2020. Does one year old and older, at 1.57 million head, were down 3 percent from last year's number. Market goats and kids totaled 465 thousand head, down 3 percent from a year ago.

Kid crop for 2020 totaled 1.66 million head for all goats, up 1 percent from 2019.

Meat and all other goats totaled 2.05 million head on January 1, 2021, down 2 percent from 2020. Milk goat inventory was 420 thousand head, down 3 percent from January 1, 2020, while Angora goats were down 10 percent, totaling  117 thousand head.

Mohair production in the United States during 2020 was 589 thousand pounds. Goats and kids clipped totaled 113 thousand head. Average weight per clip was 5.2 pounds. Mohair price was $5.07 per pound with a value of 2.99 million dollars.


Maskenthine Lake and Maple Creek campgrounds to move to online reservations this spring

No matter where you live in Nebraska, you’re never far from a public outdoor recreation area.  Many of these recreational opportunities, such as trails, lakes, parks, and wildlife areas, are built and maintained by Natural Resources Districts (NRDs).  One of the 12 responsibilities of the NRDs is the development and management of recreational park facilities.

Many NRD projects are developed for multiple purposes.  Recreational trails are built atop flood-control levees or along abandoned railroad lines.  Habitat areas and wetlands may be available to hunters and are often preserved for interpretive nature study.  Dams built for flood-control (another responsibility of the NRDs) often develop into recreational areas.  The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) has built three dams across their 15-counties for flood protection:  the Willow Creek State Recreation Area, southwest of Pierce; Maskenthine Lake, north of Stanton; and the Maple Creek Recreation Area, northwest of Leigh.

At their January meeting, the LENRD board of directors voted to approve a contract with Reserve America to begin accepting online reservations for a portion of the camping sites at Maskenthine Lake and the Maple Creek recreation areas.  LENRD Recreation Area Superintendent, Leonard Boryca, said, “By implementing the online service, we can establish a fair playing field and give everyone an opportunity to either reserve a spot or take advantage of the first-come, first-served option.  We’ve had a number of requests for this service, and we’re excited to give it a try.”  The board also approved the updated rules and regulations for the recreation areas, including the new reservation and cancellation policy.  The new reservation website will be available later this spring.

In other action, the board instructed staff to send non-compliance notification letters to well owners who have not submitted their annual groundwater use reports for all active high-capacity wells.  Flow meters are tools that provide accurate water use data for inclusion into required annual basin reports.  For producers located in a water quality management area, the meters also provide a better understanding of the nitrogen credit received from the irrigation water.  The installation of flow meters and submittal of water-use readings are requirements for the LENRD’s Groundwater Management Area which promotes the development, utilization, and conservation of groundwater, which is another responsibility of Nebraska’s NRDs.

The LENRD board & staff meet each month to develop and implement management plans to protect our natural resources for the future.  The next LENRD board meeting will be Thursday, February 25th at 7:30 p.m.  Watch for further updates and stay connected with the LENRD by subscribing to their monthly emails.

Webinar on livestock traceability to look at impact, costs for producers

A Nebraska Extension webinar, at noon on Feb. 4, will look at the amount that livestock producers are willing to pay for traceability programs.

The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has recently closed its comment period on a potential new policy on animal identification and traceability. The webinar will review this policy, how it impacts producers, how much buyers are willing to pay and how much sellers require to be compensated for a voluntary traceability program

Presenters will include Elliott Dennis, assistant professor of livestock marketing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; James Mitchell, assistant professor of livestock marketing and management, University of Arkansas; and Brian Vander Ley, assistant professor and veterinary epidemiologist, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The Extension Farm and Ranch Management team is based in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Department of Agricultural Economics. Webinars in the series are hosted every Thursday at noon and aim to assist producers and other agricultural professionals in their decision-making.

Registration is free at

Nebraska On-Farm Research Network Results Update Meetings 2021

February 25 and 26, 2021

The annual on-farm research results update meetings will be offered in-person and online in 2021! In order to comply with COVID-19 directed health measures, pre-registration will be REQUIRED for everyone attending. We encourage you to register early as each site has an attendee cap to ensure we are complying with dedensifying guidelines.

Nebraska On-Farm Research Network 2021 Annual Results Update

8:30-9:00 Attendee check-in at local facilities
9:00-9:10 Welcome!
9:10-9:30 Leveraging Precision Ag Technologies to ConductReliable On-Farm Research Studies – Dr. Joe Luck, Precision Ag Specialist
9:30-9:40  Introduction to the Nebraska On-Farm Research Results Update Book – Nathan Mueller & Laura Thompson, Extension Educators
9:40-10:45  Local on-farm research results discussions
10:45-10:55   Break
10:55-11:10  Presentation 1: Option A: Update of NRCS Soil Health Demo Farm Projects - Fernanda Krupek OR Option B: Manure and Mulch applications for Crop Production and Soil Properties - Karla Melgar Velis
11:10-11:25   Presentation 2: Option A: Sensor Based Nitrogen Management for Dryland Corn -  Samantha Teten OR Option B: Sensor Based Fertigation - Jackson Stansell
11:25-11:35   Presentation 3: Precision Nitrogen Management Project -Crop Model Based Nitrogen Management - Laura Thompson and Laila Puntel
11:35-11:45   Upcoming research opportunities
11:45-12:15   Group discussion of research topics for their area
12:15-12:25   New On-Farm Research Products
12:25-12:30   Thank you to participating farmers and recognition
12:30   Evaluation and dismissal

2021 Locations

For information about local COVID related protocols and mask requirements, please contact the host of the site you are interested in.

February 25

Beatrice | Gage County Extension Office | 1115 West Scott, Beatrice NE  
York | Cornerstone Event Center | 2400 N. Nebraska Ave., York, NE  
David City | David City Library | 399 N 5th St., David City, NE | *Masks will be required at this site  
Clay Center | Clay County Fair Grounds | 701 N Martin Ave., Clay Center, NE  
Auburn | 4-H Building at the Nemaha County Fair Grounds | 816 I St., Auburn, NE  
Wahoo | Lake Wanahoo Education Building | 655 Co Rd 16, East side of Lake Wanahoo, Wahoo, NE  
Online Only via Zoom

February 26

Norfolk | Madison County Extension Office | 1305 S. 13th Street, Norfolk, NE  
West Point | Nielsen Center | 200 Anna Stalp Ave., West Point, NE  
Wilber | Saline County Extension Office | 306 W 3rd Street, Wilber, NE  
Kearney | Buffalo County Extension Office | 1400 E. 34th (Fair Grounds), Kearney, NE  
Alliance | Knight Museum and Sandhills Center | 908 Yellowstone, Alliance, NE  
Osceola | Polk Co Fair Grounds, Ag Hall | 12931 N Blvd | *Masks will be required at this site  
Clay Center | Clay County Fair Grounds | 701 N Martin Ave., Clay Center, NE  
Seward | Harvest Hall Seward | 1625 Fairgrounds Circle, Seward, NE  
Nebraska City | Kimmel Orchard Education Building | 5995 G Rd., Nebraska City, NE  
North Platte | West Central Research, Extension, and Education Center (WCREEC) | 402 W. State Farm Road, North Platte, NE  
Online Only via Zoom

Click here for more information:  

Nebraska Cattlemen Select Priority Bills for the 2021 Legislative Session

Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) Board of Directors met this week in Kearney for their annual legislative meeting. NC’s six policy committees researched, discussed and prioritized bills, resolutions and constitutional amendments recently introduced in the Nebraska Legislature that are of interest to Nebraska beef producers.

Under close review and in accordance with NC Policy, the Board of Directors considered and took positions on 113 pieces of legislation and choose five bills and one concept as priorities for this legislative session.

Nebraska Cattlemen Animal Health and Nutrition committee prioritized LB 252 by Senator Williams. Nebraska Cattlemen considers this their Dr. Fox Bill. This bill allows producers a 30-day window to refill prescriptions while finding a veterinarian to provide a veterinarian-client-patient-relationship (VCPR) in the event their prescribing veterinarian is deceased.

The Brand and Properties Rights committee took a supportive stance and priority on LB 572 and LB 571 brought forth by Senator Halloran. LB 572 changes provision to the Livestock Brand Act and LB 571 provides for a backgrounder lot under the Livestock Brand Act. NC also took a position in opposition to LB 641 by Senator Erdman that eliminates registered feedlot provisions under the Livestock Brand Act.

Marketing and Commerce committee supports with the prioritization of efforts aimed at expanding broadband infrastructure and access to underserved areas throughout Nebraska.

Lastly, NC Education and Research Committee passed interim policy to support the development and implementation of Farm-to-table, Beef in school and similar programs that make local producer’s foods available in local schools. With the interim policy, LB 396 by Senator Brandt was prioritized. LB 396 Adopts the Nebraska Farm-to-School Program Act.

“The legislative committee had lots of good, in-depth conversation in regards to over 100 legislative measures. We were able to accomplish all that was needed to take a position on bills that were in-line with Nebraska Cattlemen policy” said Brenda Masek, Chairman of NC Legislative Committee.

For more information about a specific priority for Nebraska Cattlemen, please call the Nebraska Cattlemen office at 402.475.2333.

NeCGA Elects Officers, At-Large Directors

Members of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association gathered at the Holthus Convention Center on Thursday, January 21, for their Annual Meeting. Following the Annual Meeting, NeCGA held a regular board meeting and elected officers.

Andy Jobman of Gothenburg was elected as president. Other officers elected include Chris Grams of Upland, vice president and Dave Merrell of St. Edward, secretary. Re-elected to treasurer was Michael Dibbern of Cairo. Dan Nerud of Dorchester moved to chairman. The board is thankful to Dan Nerud for his service as president of the association and to Dan Wesely for his years of service on the executive team.

During the Annual Meeting, NeCGA delegates elected two at-large members to the board. Ethan Zoerb of Litchfield and Dan Wesely of Morse Bluff were elected to serve three-year terms.
“We are very grateful for the volunteer efforts that our grower leadership and officers give on an annual basis,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of NeCGA. “I look forward to working alongside our leadership team and board of directors in increasing opportunities for our membership in the coming year.”

Former Iowa State Extension Swine Specialist Recognized as Honorary Master Pork Producer

Tom Miller said yes to a temporary parttime position with Iowa State University Extension in December 1999, and finally said goodbye on May 8, 2020. Through his 20-plus year career as a swine extension specialist in southeast Iowa, he became a source of sound science and real-life experience to producers and others in the pork industry. His clientele ranged from farmers interested in manure management to 4-H’ers with swine projects, and every one of them benefited from their interactions with Miller.

This is a big reason why the Iowa Pork Producers Association honored him with the Honorary Master Pork Producer Award during the 2021 Iowa Pork Congress Recognition Banquet Tuesday evening.

Colin Johnson, colleague and swine specialist in southern Iowa, said Miller was a true team player in extension as he supported efforts across program disciplines of swine, farm management, agronomy, ag engineering and 4-H. Prior to becoming a swine specialist, Miller was a pork producer and well-respected for supplying SPF replacement gilts to fellow producers. He volunteered countless hours and days helping with 4-H swine shows at the county and state level, and enjoyed interactions and working relationships with the southeast Iowa extension ag team, a group of ag and natural resources specialists, county and regional extension staff.

Although Miller often joked that his extension swine specialist job helped support his farming habit, he readily admitted that helping people make a positive difference in their lives was the best part of his job.

Former Iowa Pork Industry Center director John Mabry recognized the value of Miller’s positive attitude and ability to work with almost anyone. He said Miller didn’t look for or expect personal gain; he just wanted pork producers to survive and prosper.

Current IPIC director Jason Ross worked with Miller the past few years and said this about Tom, “He was great friend and a wise counsel to many of Iowa’s pork producers and his ISU colleagues. Tom had the ability to anticipate what producers needed to know to help manage their businesses and thrive, and we were fortunate to have him as a part of our team.”

“Congratulations to Tom for a great career with extension and for choosing to work with IPIC and extension to help Iowa swine producers,” he said. “He’s been a great role model for new extension specialists.”

Risk Management Series Planned for Specialty Crop Growers

Specialty crop growers experienced a wild year in 2020, with complications from the drought, derecho and the COVID-19 pandemic.

This trio of events served as a reminder for many growers about the importance of risk management and being prepared for rapid change.

While many specialty crop growers saw increased demand in 2020, they also faced significant changes to their marketing plans and customer base. To help growers prepare for the year ahead, the Small Farm Sustainability program with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is offering a webinar series that runs through March 10.

The Specialty Crops Risk Management Webinar Series will cover a new topic each Wednesday, at noon. Topics are listed in the January edition of the “Acreage Living Newsletter” and include risk management for perennial crops and vegetable crops, food safety on the farm, Ag Decision Maker Resources, weather patterns and management tools, farm finance and more.

The goal is to help growers mitigate risk, so they can prevent loss and prepare for changes in the marketplace, according to Ajay Nair, associate professor in horticulture and extension vegetable production specialist with Iowa State.

Nair said the challenges of 2020 underscore the need to think creatively and find solutions that lessen an operation’s exposure to risk.

“Oftentimes the grower knows the risk after it hits, and we want to help them get ahead of the risk, so that if something happens, they know how to handle it,” he said.

Nair will lead the Feb. 3 session on risk management in vegetable crops. He will talk about the ways to manage weed, disease and insect pressure, and how producers can diversify their marketing and financial approach.

He said specialty crop growers should be paying attention to the type and condition of their soil, the crops they choose for the soil, the integration of crops to help manage pests, and the option of using climate-controlled structures such as high tunnels.

Other speakers will cover the types of insurance policies and options available for specialty crops, whole farm revenue protection, and the weather patterns and management tools available.

Kathleen Delate, extension organic specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach, will lead the final talk, March 10, on risk management for organic production.

Sessions are presented live, with time for question and answer. Register in advance at:

All webinars are free of charge. Sessions will also be recorded and the archive will be available on the Ag and Natural Resources Extension YouTube channel.

ASA Eyes Senate Confirmation Hearings

With Senate confirmation hearings ongoing to solidify the new administration, the American Soybean Association and other industry partners are urging swift confirmation of President Biden’s USDA secretary, EPA administrator and USTR nominees.

Up Next:

USDA secretary nominee Tom Vilsack’s hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 2. ASA welcomes Vilsack, a former two-term Iowa governor who served as Secretary of Agriculture for eight years during the Obama Administration, who has a history of supporting biodiesel and biotechnology, among other soybean farmer priorities.

EPA administrator nominee Michael Regan’s hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 3. ASA farmer-leaders appreciate Regan’s record of being a fair and effective regulator in North Carolina and welcome his nomination.

On Deck:

ASA and other ag groups this week endorsed Katharine Tai, Biden’s nominee for U.S. Trade Representative, in a letter this week urging Senate confirmation. In the letter, groups stated Tai is “eminently qualified” and specifically pointed to her track record in building bipartisan support for trade policies.

 US, EU Groups Urge Swift Tariff Removals

The American Soybean Association and several other groups are calling on the Biden Administration and European Commission to immediately remove, or at least suspend, all additional and retaliatory tariffs implemented since 2018 due to disputes over aircraft subsidies and steel and aluminum trade.

In a letter this week to President Biden and President Ursula von der Leyen, the groups underscored the economic hardships faced by their industries—from ongoing tariff uncertainty to COVID-19 impacts—and urged swiftly reestablishing a cooperative trading relationship.

“The ongoing EU-U.S. trade disputes and additional tariffs which continue to plague Trans-Atlantic trade have made a bad situation worse. With the damages we have suffered last year and are still suffering, the current situation cannot be allowed to go on any longer,” groups stated in the letter. “We believe immediate suspension of these tariffs is a necessary and fundamental action, which will provide an economic stimulus at a time when it is needed most.”


On Friday morning, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced guidance on mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace setting. Among specifics, it recommends employers implement COVID-19 prevention programs in the workplace, including wearing personal protective gear, maintaining at least six feet of distance where possible and installing barriers where physical distancing cannot be maintained.

The National Pork Proudcers Council and the U.S. pork industry are committed to worker safety in plants and on farms. Thanks to numerous prevention efforts, pork packing plants are no longer experiencing widespread COVID outbreaks. Pork processing plants are an essential part of the U.S. food supply chain, and will continue to work to ensure the most affordable, high-quality protein is delivered to consumers here at home and around the globe.

Last month, NPPC, the North American Meat Institute and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association sent letters to all 50 state governors, urging them to prioritize COVID-19 vaccinations for meat and poultry industry workers, directly after healthcare workers and other high-risk individuals.

Lawsuit Challenging FDA Approval of Novel Genetically Engineered Color Additive That Makes Impossible Burger “Bleed” Moves Forward

Yesterday, Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a legal brief in its challenge to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) 2019 approval of soy leghemoglobin (“heme”), a color additive used to make Impossible Foods’ eponymous plant-based burger, the Impossible Burger, appear to "bleed" like real meat.

The novel heme colorant is produced in genetically engineered (GE) yeast, and is modeled on a protein found in the roots of soybean. The GE heme is actually a color additive preparation that also contains over a dozen yeast proteins. Because GE heme is new to the human diet, and substantial quantities are added to the Impossible Burger, FDA should have required extensive safety testing before approving its use as a color additive, as required by law.

"FDA approved soy leghemoglobin even though it conducted none of the long-term animal studies that are needed to determine whether or not it harms human health,” said Bill Freese, science policy analyst at Center for Food Safety. “This includes studies for cancer, reproductive impairment, and other adverse effects called for by FDA’s Redbook, the Bible of food and color additive testing,” he added. “We find this to be all the more troubling because a number of potential adverse effects were detected in a short-term rat trial: disruption of reproductive cycles and reduced uterine weights in females, and biomarkers of anemia, reduced clotting ability, and kidney problems.”

The law on color additives is clear: Because they offer no substantive benefits, and add only aesthetic appeal, Congress and FDA established an extremely high bar for approval. The agency’s “convincing evidence” standard means that a color additive cannot be approved without the strongest possible evidence of safety, a higher bar than for other food additives. Despite the lack of needed safety tests, Impossible Foods’ products containing GE heme are now widely available in supermarkets across the country due to FDA’s unlawful approval of GE heme as a color additive.

“FDA’s failure to require Impossible Foods to conduct long-term tests called for in the agency’s own authoritative guidelines means it does not have ‘convincing evidence’ that this color additive, consumed by millions, is safe,” said Ryan Talbott, staff attorney at Center for Food Safety. “The approval of soy leghemoglobin must be revoked, unless and until truly convincing evidence proves it to be safe.”

While CFS like many others avidly supports plant-based eating, enthusiasm for meatless products cannot be used as an excuse to skirt food safety laws. FDA’s dereliction of duty has resulted in the premature introduction of Impossible Foods’ products containing GE heme to restaurants and supermarkets throughout the country, and highlights a troubling deregulatory trend which prioritizes corporate profit over public health and safety.

Thursday January 28 Ag News

Interested in Testing Nitrogen Stabilizers on Your Farm?
Javed Iqbal - NE Extension Nutrient Management and Water Quality Specialist
Laura Thompson - NE Extension Educator

Nitrogen fertilizer management is challenging due to several factors that influence fertilizer nitrogen once applied to the soil. One of the primary concerns is the potential of fertilizer nitrogen (N) to be lost to the environment either through ammonia (NH3) volatilization, denitrification, or nitrate (NO3) leaching, which leads to reduced nitrogen availability for the crop.  

In situations with a high potential for N loss, the use of N fertilizer stabilizers (nitrification inhibitors, urea inhibitors, slow-release coated fertilizers) may decrease the N loss while protecting the fertilizer N investment. Currently, there are several products of N fertilizer stabilizers in the market. For example, products with known efficacy for inhibiting urease activity are N-(n-butyl) thiophosphoric triamide (NBPT) and N-(n-propyl) thiophosphoric triamide (NPPT). These active ingredients are found in products with tradenames of Agrotain (NBPT) and Limus (NBPT and NPPT). There are also other products that contain NBPT, since it is no longer patent-protected. Products with known efficacy for inhibiting nitrification are dicyandiamide (DCD), nitrapyrin, and pronitradine. Nitrapyrin has long been sold as N-Serve and Instinct, and pronitradine has recently come into the market with the tradename Centuro. Nitrapyrin and DCD are not patent protected and may be found in a variety of products.  

Precision Nitrogen Management On-Farm Research Project provides opportunities to test nitrogen inhibitor products on the grower’s farms. Participation in the on-farm trial will allow growers to evaluate the effect of nitrogen fertilizer inhibitors in enhancing nitrogen efficiency and crop yield on their farm. They will work closely with Nebraska Extension to accomplish the project. All cooperating growers will receive compensation for purchasing fertilizer nitrogen inhibitors, their time, and resource commitments.   

Contact Javed Iqbal or Laura Thompson, or your local cropping systems extension educator if you are interested in testing fertilizer N inhibitors.

February 2021 Beefwatch Webinar Series Registration Now Open

The BeefWatch Webinar Series is designed to highlight management strategies in grazing, nutrition, reproduction, and economics to increase cow/calf and stocker production efficiency and profitability. Each session will feature industry experts and plenty of opportunity to interact to get your questions answered. More information about the BeefWatch Webinar Series can be found on our webpage:

Each webinar will begin at 8:00 PM Central Time. Dates are February 2, 9, 16 and 23.

The focus for this month’s webinar series is “Stocker and Yearling Management” with the following speakers and topics:

February 2, Highlights from UNL Stocker Systems Research
    Dr. Jim MacDonald, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
    When, what, and how much should you supplement stockers? Jim will discuss some of the UNL research related to management systems and supplementation of stockers/yearlings.   

February 9, Winter Rate of Gain and Market Timing in Yearling Systems
    Drs. Mary Drewnoski and Jay Parsons, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
    What winter rate of gain should you target and when is the best time to sell yearlings? Mary and Jay will discuss the economics of winter rate of gain and timing of marketing based on a look at the last 18 years of market data.  

February 16, Using Corn Residue for High-Risk Stockers: Current Experiences
    Dr. Halden Clark, Great Plains Veterinary Education Center
    Halden will discuss experiences with a 2-year pilot project grazing corn residue with high-risk stocker calves.   

February 23, How to use Stockers as a Drought Management Tool
    Logan Pribbeno, Wine Glass Ranch
    This talk will focus on a producer's perspective. Logan will talk about how stockers can fit into a system with cow-calf and how you can use stockers as a drought management tool.  

There is no cost to participate in this webinar series.  

Virtual Healthy Farms Conference to Begin Feb. 6

Plan now to attend the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society’s Virtual Healthy Farms Conference, beginning Feb. 6. Online registration is available at

The conference dates are Feb. 6, 13, 20, 27, and March 6 via ZOOM. All presentations will be followed by a live Q&A session in which all registered attendees may participate. The complete speaker list is available on the website.

Wally Graeber, treasure with NSAS said, “We have a thoughtful lineup of presenting farmers, a great online venue that will create an atmosphere of engaging learning, growing, and appreciating food and farming.”

This year's presentations will be held every Saturday Feb. 6 through March 6, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on the following themes:
·       Feb. 6: Direct Marketing in a Pandemic
·       Feb. 13: How Nebraska’s Agriculture Fits into the Global Dynamic
·       Feb. 20: Local Meat Processing
·       Feb.27: Land Access: Connecting the Generations via the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society
·       March 6: Creating A Seat at Our Table: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

The Healthy Farms Conference has been hosted by the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society for over 40 years. The conference combines farmer-to-farmer training with sessions aimed at equipping farmers, aspiring farmers, foodies, and advocates with the skills and knowledge about sustainable agriculture.

Cost to attend the full conference is $15 for students, $20 for individuals, $40 for farms/family households, and $100 for partner organizations and their staff. All registrations are accepted online by visiting the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society’s website:

 Nebraska Cover Crop and Soil Health Conference Set for Feb. 11

There are many benefits to utilizing cover crops, such as improved soil health and reduced erosion.  It’s the details of how and what to do that can present challenges. The Nebraska Cover Crop and Soil Health Conference will provide information to growers who are just getting started with cover crops and to those who are already making cover crops part of their operation.

The conference will take place on Thursday, Feb. 11 from 1:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. CST with in-person check in at 12:30 p.m.

The conference will be webcasted from the University of Nebraska Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center (ENREC) near Mead, NE to other locations. In-person attendance is not available at ENREC due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Registrants can take part online or attend at the following locations with limited seating:
    Beatrice, Southeast Community College (Academic Excellence Building), 4771 W. Scott Rd, Beatrice NE – Limit 30
    Central City, Merrick Co. Fairgrounds, Central City, NE – Limit 50
    Hastings, Adams Co. Fairgrounds, 947 S Baltimore Ave, Hastings, NE – Limit 100
    Holdrege, Phelps Co. Fairgrounds, 1308 Second Street, Holdrege, NE – Limit 50
    North Platte, University of Nebraska West Central Research and Extension Center, 402 W State Fair Road, North Platte, NE – Limit 28
    Syracuse, Kimmel Ag Expo, 198 Plum St., Syracuse, NE – Limit 50
    York, York County Fairgrounds - 4-H Bldg., York, NE - Limit 25

Topics and presenters include:  Soil Sensing and Soil Health - Kristen Veum, Research Soil Scientist at USDA-ARS Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research Unit, University of Missouri-Columbia; Optimizing Your Cover Crop ROI - Rebecca Clay, Strategic Initiatives Agronomy Coordinator at Practical Farmers of Iowa; Using Aerial Imagery to Determine Cover Crop Impacts on Cash Crop Growth and Development - Dr. Andrea Basche, Assistant Professor, Agronomy & Horticulture University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Experiences and Economics Using Cereal Rye as a Cover Crop - Chad Bell, Farmer; Pathway toward a Healthy and Resilient Soil to Achieve Optimum Productivity and Environmental Quality: Cover Crops are Key! - Jerry Hatfield, Retired Director, National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment; On-farm Research of Incorporating Cover Crop into a 3 Crop Dryland Rotation, Ken Herz, Owner/Operator of Herz Land and Cattle, and Cover Crop Panel - discussion with growers, landowners, and consultants.

Registration and details available at:

There is no fee to attend, but pre-registration is required.  Day-of, walk-in registration will not be permitted. Early registration is encouraged as capacity limitations are in place at each location. Once a location is full, it will no longer be listed as a registration option.

In-person meetings will only be held if local and UNL directed health measures allow and if road conditions are suitable for travel. If a site is cancelled, registrants will be notified via email, phone, or text message.

Facial coverings/masks guidelines may vary based on local directed health measures. For information about the COVID related health measures that will be in place at the meeting of your choosing, please contact the local site host. Contact information for each site host can be found at the web page above.

CCA credits are applied for and pending. Sponsored by Nebraska Extension, the Nebraska Soybean Board.

For more information contact: or 1-402-367-7410

USDA NRCS Local Working Group Meetings Planned Across State

Local Working Groups that provide input on the priorities for many U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs will be holding meetings across the state over the next several weeks. A list of scheduled meetings is available on the Nebraska Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) website, or by contacting your local NRCS field office.

Meetings include:
Lower Elkhorn - Lower Elkhorn NRD, Norfolk, NE - Feb. 11 - 5:30-7 p.m. via ZOOM
Lower Platte North - Lake Wahahoo Educational Building - Wahoo, NE - Feb. 18 - 1-4 p.m.
Papio - Missouri River - Blair USDA Service Center, Blair, NE - Feb. 24 -  9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Lewis & Clark - Hartington Golf Course, Hartington, NE - Feb. 25 - 12:30 p.m. w/ ZOOM option

The public is invited to attend Local Working Group meetings. Due to COVID-19, some meetings may be held virtually. Those interested in participating may reach out to local NRCS offices for information on how to join.

There is a Local Working Group in each Natural Resources District (NRD). Local Working Group members include Federal, State, county, Tribal or local government representatives. According to Jeff Vander Wilt, acting state conservationist with Nebraska NRCS, these working groups provide local input into how Federal dollars are spent.

“The Local Working Group recommends to the NRCS State Conservationist how conservation programs would be used most effectively in their area. Recommendations can include special target areas, which conservation practices should have cost assistance, or how many dollars could be needed,” said Vander Wilt.

Nebraska NRCS obligates funds to farmers and ranchers through conservation programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). These programs help landowners and operators make natural resource improvements to their land, water, or wildlife. This funding is allocated, in part, according to priorities set by Local Working Groups.

For more information about the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the programs and services they provide, visit your local USDA Service Center or

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:

Grain Sorghum Development, Utilization and Marketing Board
Klint G. Stewart, Columbus

Nebraska Potato Development Committee
Chase Engel, Mitchell
Timothy May, Imperial
Matthew R. Ward, North Platte

The following appointees are unpaid and subject to Legislative confirmation:

Nebraska Ethanol Board
Randy L. Gard, Grand Island

Nebraska Natural Resources Commission
Rick Kubat, Omaha

Thank you to the many Nebraskans that give generously of 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

Iowa Cattlemen's Association Concludes 2021 Policy Development

On January 26, Iowa cattlemen from across the state participated in a virtual Annual Meeting to adopt policy for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association in 2021. This yearly event, normally held in person as part of the Iowa Cattle Industry Leadership Summit, is the culmination of ICA’s policy development process.

“The past year presented many challenges for Iowa’s beef cattle industry. Members ‘took the bull by the horns’ and acted decisively to respond to market disruption, the Derecho, drought conditions and the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Cora Fox, ICA Director of Government Relations. “All the while, members focused on creating policy to fit the needs and future of Iowa’s beef business in 2021 and beyond.”

Over the course of seven weeks, more than 300 producer members participated in the formal policy development process. ICA hosted two virtual meetings for each of the following committees: Beef Products, Business Issues, and Cattle Production. Members reviewed expiring resolutions, drafted amendments and proposed new resolutions. Grassroots recommendations, determined by members, were presented and ratified during the Annual Meeting. In total, members reviewed more than 30 resolutions that will guide ICA’s work at the local, state and federal levels.

ICA will continue to support their mission to “Grow Iowa’s beef business through advocacy, leadership and education” in 2021 with opportunities for members to get involved. To learn more about the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, programs or upcoming events, visit

Electricity as Weed Management for the Future

The use of electricity to manage herbicide-resistant weeds is the topic of an Iowa Learning Farms webinar on Wednesday, Feb. 3 at noon.

The movement to farm more sustainably coincides with developments in technology to produce higher value agricultural products. Levi Lyle, a Washington County farmer, will explain how electricity can be used as an effective weed management tool against herbicide-resistant weeds.

With thousands of acres logged behind the wheel of his Weed Zapper implement, Lyle will share how electricity performs in crops, such as soybean, potatoes, flax, sunflowers and more. Participants will learn about how effectively electricity can terminate waterhemp, giant ragweed, marestail, burdock, foxtail, velvetleaf, thistle, bindweed, and even alfalfa and CRP brome.

“Safety features of the modern high voltage weed-zappers instill confidence in their use as a chemical alternative,” said Lyle. “Prepare to be inspired.”
Webinar Access Instructions

To participate in the live webinar, shortly before 12 p.m. CST on Feb. 3:
    Click this URL, or type this web address into your internet browser:
    Or, go to and enter meeting ID 364 284 172.
    Or, join from a dial-in phone line: Dial +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 876 9923; meeting ID 364 284 172.

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

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

Established in 2004, Iowa Learning Farms is building a culture of conservation by encouraging adoption of conservation practices. Farmers, researchers and ILF team members are working together to identify and implement the best management practices that improve water quality and soil health while remaining profitable. Partners of Iowa Learning Farms include the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Iowa Department of Natural Resources (USEPA section 319) and GROWMARK Inc.

Iowa Pork Producers Name 2021 Youth Leadership Team

Leah Marek, Riverside; Paige Dagel, Sanborn; and Reagan Gibson, Panora, are the 2021 Iowa Pork Youth Leadership Team. They were selected from the 11 young Iowans who competed for the honor earlier this week.
The Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) sponsors the contest, which includes interviews, speech presentations, and knowledge of pork and pig production. Their previous community
involvement and experience are also considered. The top female contestant is crowned pork queen, and the top remaining contestants, male or female, are named youth ambassadors.
Marek, a freshman at Iowa State University, will reign as the 2021 Iowa Pork Queen. Dagel and Gibson are Pork Ambassadors. Each receives a $4,000 scholarship and plaque noting their award. But according to their predecessors, the most valuable things they will gain are the many growth and leadership opportunities provided by these positions. Over the next year, the IPPA Youth Leadership Team will participate in public activities promoting pork and pig production, from county activities around Iowa to the Iowa State Fair and World Pork Expo.
Leah Marek
Leah Marek is the daughter of Timothy and Heather Marek of Riverside. Her family has a long history in pork production in Washington County, with a current focus on raising show pigs. Marek says she has shown pigs since she could walk. That early interest in agriculture led to her involvement with the Global Youth Institute through the World Food Prize. The combination of those interests is seen in Marek's biology and global resource systems majors at ISU.
Paige Dagel
Paige Dagel, the daughter of Paul and Stacey Dagel of Sanborn, is a freshman at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City pursuing degrees in business and public relations. Dagel says her family's diversified farm operation, including a pig nursery and finishers is the foundation of her passion for the pork industry.
She had served as the O'Brien County Pork Queen in 2020, and took the opportunity to learn about more aspects of the pork industry than what she had experience with on her farm.
Reagan Gibson
Reagan Gibson is the daughter of Jim and Karwyn Gibson of Panora, where Reagan is a senior at Panorama High School. While she hasn't made a final decision on where she will attend college, her career goal is to teach high school ag education.
Her family has a purebred swine operation where Reagan spends time learning more about that business. She is also involved with the Iowa Swine Jackpot Series Junior Board of Directors and her school's FFA chapter. She also spends time tutoring elementary students in math and reading.

Stakeholders From East, West Africa Attend USGC Corn Quality Seminars For First Time

For the first time, stakeholders in markets across East and West Africa attended a U.S. Grains Council (USGC) corn crop quality seminar this month. The virtual format permitted participation across the Middle East and Africa, including by participants in developing markets in Senegal, Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania.

“This year’s crop quality seminar series allowed the Council to expand its reach and present the findings of the 2020/2021 Corn Harvest Quality Report to participants across the African continent,” said Ramy Taieb, USGC regional director for the Middle East and Africa. “While the Sub-Saharan markets are long-term markets that do not currently import significant volumes of U.S. feed grains, the seminars in North Africa were particularly timely as the feed industry in the region just bought around 800,000 metric tons (31.5 million bushels) of U.S. corn.”

The Council conducted four seminars for customers in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region this year, each catered to the specific interests of markets represented. More than 125 grain purchasers, feed millers, poultry and livestock producers and end-users attended virtually, representing more than 18 countries.

In addition to data from the harvest quality report, the seminars featured farm operation reports from farmers in Kansas, Maryland and Michigan. These on-the-ground reports provide a unique perspective of U.S. corn production, handling and processing directly from those growing the grain. Technical presentations also discussed risk management, ocean freight and the nutritional added-value of U.S. corn and distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) in poultry and livestock diets.

“The crop quality seminars over the last two weeks offered an opportunity for attendees to learn about current quality and availability of U.S. corn and co-products for export,” Taieb said. “These seminars - whether conducted in-person or virtually - provide key insights about the U.S. corn crop that are critical for customers to make adequate purchasing decisions, especially nowadays with a tight supply outside of the United States and an increasing demand for grains all over the world.”

While East and West Africa are home to relatively small poultry industries today, these operations are rapidly growing, which is why the Council is focusing its efforts on supporting the development of poultry industries in these regions. An estimated 15 percent of the global growth in poultry demand over the next two decades is expected in Africa due to increasing population, urbanization and gains in purchasing power.

These changing consumer patterns have resulted in the emergence of large grocery retailers and fast-food chains. These dynamics have also bolstered demand for animal protein, creating significant opportunities for local poultry production to grow in tandem.

The Council is working with poultry industries across the African continent to provide technical training and practical experience necessary to address both short- and long-term production challenges. The inclusion of participants from these countries in programs like the crop quality seminars is the next step of the Council’s mission to develop markets, enable trade and improve lives in the region.

Farm Credit Statement On Rural Infrastructure Letter Sent To Biden

Farm Credit Council President and CEO Todd Van Hoose today voiced Farm Credit’s strong support for the Rebuild Rural Coalition’s letter to President Joe Biden, and he called on Congress and the Biden Administration to set aside specific funds for rural infrastructure priorities.

“Our country’s rural infrastructure requires serious and specialized investment. Farm Credit urges Congress and President Biden to dedicate 25 percent of any infrastructure funds specifically for rural communities. Investing in rural infrastructure will help our small towns and rural communities rebuild from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and provide good paying jobs to support rural families.

“Infrastructure needs in rural America are unique and require targeted solutions. And we’re talking about more than roads and bridges – though those need repair, too. Our rural communities suffer from lack of access to broadband internet, affordable healthcare, reliable electricity, clean and safe drinking water, and available and affordable housing options.

“Modernizing and expanding rural infrastructure is critical to the viability of rural communities – whether they can attract jobs and grow their economy, whether residents have access to life-saving telehealth, whether students can complete homework assignments.

“Rural infrastructure challenges also endanger our agricultural and food supply chains. We saw the significant disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The long-term success and competitiveness of America’s agricultural producers rests with their ability to easily and effectively transport their goods to markets and ports.

“Farm Credit stands ready to help rebuild rural infrastructure. It is a vital part of our mission to support rural communities and agriculture.”

CFAP Provides Lifeline to Farmers and Ranchers

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented today on the USDA suspension of CFAP payments.

“The pandemic has taken an unprecedented toll on American agriculture, and the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program has provided a lifeline for farmers and ranchers across the country. Many growers who previously did not qualify for assistance continue to suffer losses and need the help CFAP provides.

“We recognize the new administration’s desire to review important farmer and rancher assistance programs and we urge USDA to take into consideration our comments on how to improve such programs. We appreciate that CFAP applications will continue to be accepted, and we encourage the swift resumption of distribution of resources to the people who are working to keep America’s pantries stocked.”

In accordance with the White House memo, Regulatory Freeze Pending Review, USDA has suspended the processing and payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program - Additional Assistance and has halted implementation until further notice. FSA local offices will continue to accept applications during the evaluation period.

In the coming days, USDA and the Biden Administration intend to take additional steps to bring relief and support to all parts of food and agriculture during the coronavirus pandemic, including by ensuring producers have access to the capital, risk management tools, disaster assistance, and other federal resources.

Executive Orders Support Farmers' Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Efforts

In accordance with his campaign promise to aggressively address the climate crisis and create new jobs, President Joe Biden today issued several executive orders outlining actions the administration will take to cut greenhouse gas emissions, conserve natural resources, invest in renewable energy, advance environmental justice, and protect climate research.

A strong advocate of climate action, National Farmers Union (NFU) welcomed the effort, particularly provisions that will support climate-smart agricultural practices that sequester carbon in the soil and include farmers and other stakeholders in decision making. NFU President Rob Larew issued the following statement in support of the administration’s actions:

“Climate change is an immense, complex crisis with far-reaching consequences. To be successful in our fight against it, we must approach it immediately and from every angle possible – just as President Biden’s economy-wide climate plan intends to do. National Farmers Union is especially encouraged by the administration’s focus on climate-smart agriculture, whose capacity for mitigation and adaptation has been largely overlooked until recently.

“We are also pleased that President Biden has instructed the USDA to solicit input from farmers and other stakeholders as they develop and carry out climate programs; though lawmakers and administration officials are generally well-intentioned, they may not always recognize policies’ unintended consequences. By offering food producers a seat at the table, they can ensure that programs are feasible and beneficial for all parties involved.

“In the coming months, National Farmers Union will hold the administration to this promise and work with them to flesh out policies that provide farmers with the support they need to implement solutions and build resilience.”

NCBA Delivers House Introduction of Bipartisan DIRECT Act

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) today hailed the introduction of bipartisan legislation to create new opportunities for cattle producers and processors to market beef products.
Introduced by U.S. Representatives Dusty Johnson (R - At-Large, S.D.)  and Henry Cuellar (D - 28th Dist., TX), the Direct Interstate Retail Exemption for Certain Transactions (DIRECT) Act of 2021 would allow retail quantities of meat processed under state-inspection to be sold across state lines through e-commerce, providing beef producers and local processors alike with more options to market direct-to-consumers.
“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted an urgent need for our industry to expand opportunities for state-inspected meatpackers. NCBA acted quickly last year, advocating to allow more beef to be safely sold online across state lines. The DIRECT Act will allow cattle producers and smaller beef processors to more easily evolve to meet the growing demand for e-commerce sales,” said NCBA Policy Division Chair and South Dakota rancher Todd Wilkinson. “Thank you to Representatives Johnson and Cuellar for recognizing the shifts in an ever-changing market and introducing this critical legislation."

Currently, many states such as South Dakota and Texas have State Meat and Poultry Inspection (MPI) programs approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) as “at least equal to” standards set under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) and Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA). Under the existing framework however, state-inspected products can only be sold interstate if approved to do so under the Cooperative Interstate Shipping Program (CIS).
The DIRECT Act would amend the retail exemption under the FMIA and PPIA to allow processors, butchers, or other retailers to sell normal retail quantities (300 lbs. of beef, 100 lbs. of pork, 27.5 lbs. of lamb) of MPI State Inspected Meat online to consumers across state lines. Because transactions authorized under the DIRECT Act sales are direct to consumer via e-commerce, sales are traceable and can easily be recalled. The proposal also includes clear prohibitions on export, keeping our equivalency agreements with trading partners intact. The DIRECT Act will allow states operating under the CIS system to ship and label as they are currently.

Effective weed management tops considerations for maximizing soybean yield potential

Soybean growers across the U.S. have been evaluating their 2020 crop yields to make input decisions for next season. Seed selection is often made first; and with more trait options available this year, Syngenta knows growers are facing the challenge of selecting corresponding herbicides that can best protect their seeds’ full genetic yield potential.

Syngenta recently spoke to university agricultural researchers who reinforced the importance of a strong weed resistance management plan and explained the impact such a plan can have on soybean yield potential.

“Having the best crop genetics is like having the keys to a fast car,” said Sarah Lancaster, Ph.D., assistant professor and extension specialist at Kansas State University. “Agronomics and fertility are like the gas in the tank. Having weeds is like having a leak in that tank.”

A key method for maximizing yield potential is to use a combination of cultural and chemical practices to effectively manage weeds and prevent them from going to seed. This means choosing practices such as tillage and narrow-row spacing along with a full-season herbicide program that contains multiple effective sites of action.

Prashant Jha, Ph.D., associate professor and extension weed specialist at Iowa State University, suggests such an integrated strategy that combines herbicide and cultural approaches. “To delay or manage herbicide resistance, integrate some of the cultural strategies, like high seeding rates, reducing row spacing to promote early canopy closure and use of cover crops in integration with herbicide programs. Full rates of herbicides, multiple effective sites of action and a combination of soil residual herbicides are the strategies to go with.”

This year, growers have even more choices to make as new traits are available for planting. “In recent years, new traits have come to market that provide growers even more options for rotating their herbicides to new effective sites of action,” said Pete Eure, Syngenta herbicide technical lead. “The Syngenta portfolio of soybean herbicides can be used regardless of the trait system — from burndown through post-emergence. This gives growers the flexibility to choose their herbicide based on product performance and agronomic value for their specific field, all in combination with sound cultural practices.”

When developing a weed management program, growers should consider the value their inputs make on their bottom line.

“So many folks are focused on cost per acre with weed control,” said Bill Johnson, Ph.D., professor of weed science at Purdue University. “They really need to think about it in terms of cost per bushel.”

In fact, studies indicate that for every day growers are late with their herbicide application beyond the critical period, they lose as much as 1% of their soybean yield*. “There's a period of time, which we call the critical period, when the plant is most susceptible to emerged weeds in terms of yield loss,” said Clarence Swanton, Ph.D., professor emeritus at the University of Guelph, Canada. “The earlier the weeds emerge and the smaller the crop, the greater the impact.”

Eure agreed. “The way to maximize your yield potential is to have the flexibility to use the right products applied at the right time to deliver the best results locally,” he said.

Growers should also anticipate what effect the actions they take now will have on future crop yield, and minimizing herbicide resistance can be a good place to start.

“If weed management is a battle, preventing additions to the soil seed bank effectively reduces the size of the opponent’s forces, giving the farmer the upper hand,” Lancaster said.

To help win the battle against tough and resistant weeds, the Syngenta soybean portfolio includes effective premixes that complement any trait platform. Boundary® 6.5 EC, BroadAxe® XC and Prefix® herbicides each contain multiple effective sites of action with long-lasting residual to give soybeans their best shot at growing in a weed-free field. Prefix, Sequence® and Tavium® Plus VaporGrip® Technology herbicides can provide overlapping post-emergence residual control to help keep soybeans clean through canopy and beyond. Tavium, the market’s first dicamba herbicide premix, recently received a registration extension by the EPA for use on dicamba-tolerant soybeans.

Wednesday January 27 Ag News

 Farm Bureau President Says Property Tax Relief, Tax Reform Must Remain Priority for Legislature

Property tax relief and tax reform must remain a high priority for the Nebraska Legislature. That was the message delivered by Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue during recent testimony before the Legislature’s Revenue Committee. McHargue’s remarks were made while offering support for LR 22CA, a proposed constitutional amendment that would limit the amount of property taxes that could be collected by K-12 schools, counties, community colleges, and other local political subdivisions.

“The Legislature’s passage of LB 1107 last year was an important step forward in providing property tax relief, but it’s critical our elected leaders know there is still much work to be done when it comes to reducing the property tax burden on Nebraskans,” said McHargue. “From a big picture perspective, it is vital we continue to work toward reforms that better balance the way we fund state priorities like education, while enacting a tax structure that invites growth opportunities not just for farmers and ranchers, but for all Nebraskans.”

LR 22CA was introduced by Revenue Committee Chair Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn at the request of Gov. Pete Ricketts.

“We thank Sen. Linehan and Gov. Ricketts for immediately putting the property tax issue back in front of the Legislature at a time when some may believe the issue has been addressed. LR 22CA is one of several legislative measures that keeps the door open for the much-needed discussions about how we tackle this important issue,” said McHargue. “Nebraska Farm Bureau will continue to be an advocate for taxpayers, and we look forward to working with all of our elected leaders to make property tax relief and tax reform a reality.”

Extension farm and ranch record-keeping course begins March 4

The next session of “Know Your Numbers, Know Your Options,” Nebraska Extension’s four-part farm and ranch record-keeping course, will be held virtually on four consecutive Thursdays, beginning March 4, from 10 a.m. to noon Central time each day.

Participants will need an internet connection and should plan on attending each of the four workshop dates.

The course is designed to help farmers and ranchers understand their current financial position and how big decisions like large purchases, new leases or changes in production will affect their bottom line. Participants will work through the financial statements of a case study farm, watch pre-recorded videos, complete assignments and participate in video chats. Upon completion of this program, participants will have a better understanding of how financial records can be used to make decisions and confidently discuss their financial position with their family, business partners and lenders.

The course fee is $20 per participant and class size is limited to 20 people. Register online at by Feb. 25.

This course is hosted by Nebraska Extension and made possible by Annie's Project, which is supported by Farm Credit Services of America in Nebraska. This material is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2020-70017-32735.


– Ben Beckman, NE Extension Educator

Having hay tested for nutrient quality is critical in getting the most out of the feedstuffs you have.  Once the results come back, the next step is understanding what the report you receive means.
The first thing we notice on most feed or hay tests are the results are given in two different groups or columns.  One is labeled along the lines of “as received” or “as fed” and another “dry basis.”  Understanding the difference in these two columns is key to properly using the information provided when feeding.
“As received” represents the analysis of the sample as it was provided.  This is what we will use to figure out rations or how much hay animals need to be provided.  The “dry basis” is the sample after all moisture has been removed and doesn’t accurately represent the sample as it sits in the yard.
So why bother with “dry basis” if we don’t use it to figure feed amounts?  Because when it comes to comparing feeds and finding the correct ratios in a ration, we need to compare things on an equal playing field.
For example, let’s say you and I both cooked up a large amount of rice, then scooped out one cup as a comparison.  Since the volume was the same, we might assume they were equal, but if I cooked my rice with ½ cup of water to every cup of dry rice and you added 1 cup of water to every cup of dry rice, the actual end result will be different weights, densities, and nutritionally.  Comparing hay stored outside to a bale kept under a roof is not fair, so we even things out by using a dry matter comparison.
Now that we have a firm grasp on the “as received” and “dry basis” columns, we can take a look at rest of the feed report next time.


This year Central Valley Ag will host virtually via zoom a three-part series over the course of February 2-4th. Each day a brief meeting will be held from 1:00-1:30 PM where they will cover a new topic each day. Sign up to participate by using the registration links beneath each meeting below.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021 @ 1:00-1:30 PM | Marketing Plan Best Practices
    At CVA, we've worked with some of the best grain marketers over the years. Join us as Grain Specialists Caleb Pelster, James Droescher, Ross Schindler, and Rachel Steffen share best practices on how to build a successful grain marketing plan.​

Wednesday, February 3, 2021@ 1:00-1:30 PM | 2021 Market Outlook
    It's been a wild 12 months in the grain industry. Join us as Grain Sales Manager, Luke Beckman, discusses market fundamentals and provides you with ideas on how to navigate the grain markets in 2021.

Thursday, February 4, 2021 @ 1:00-1:30 PM | Big Picture Thinking
    What do the next 3-5 years have in store for agriculture? How is CVA positioning to help you take advantage of the opportunities and mitigate the risks? Join us as CVA CEO, Carl Dickinson and SVP of Agronomy, Nic McCarthy discuss the changing dynamics in global agriculture.


 Senator Fischer Stands up for Trump WOTUS Rule

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today joined 25 of her Senate colleagues in a resolution calling for the Senate not to eliminate the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which replaced the Obama-era Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule.

“The 2015 WOTUS was a massive government overreach that came at the expense of our families, communities, and businesses – which is why I long advocated for its repeal. The new, more flexible WOTUS rule has helped put Nebraskans back in charge of our state’s precious water resources. I urge my Senate colleagues and the Biden administration not to punish hard-working Americans with these burdensome regulations,” said Senator Fischer.

More information:

In 2015, the Obama Administration finalized a rule that greatly expanded the definition of federally regulated Waters of the United States for Nebraska’s agriculture and business communities. Now, President Biden signed an executive order that would roll back the Trump Administration’s executive order which began the process of rescinding Obama’s WOTUS rule and could lead to the elimination of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule released in April of 2020.

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

Market Development Team Aims to Boost Demand for Corn

Nearly 70-percent of annual corn demand is covered under the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) Market Development Action Team (MDAT) portfolio. From exports to animal agriculture to new uses of corn, the team is focused on growing and driving demand for America's corn farmers.

"This team had a lot of wins in 2020, and we will continue that momentum into our planning for 2021 and beyond," said MDAT Chair and Iowa farmer Bob Hemesath. "I look forward to leading the team and tackling the challenge that faces us -- how to grind more corn. Our team's portfolio includes initiatives like the Consider Corn Challenge, which we will be announcing details on our third open-innovation challenge soon; the Cattlemen's Education Series, a virtual program that focuses on issues that impact cattle producers such as protein and energy supplementation; and Trade School, a joint venture with the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), in which we are able to give our members the tools they need to be able to better talk to members of Congress about the importance of trade, just to name a few."

The team's 2021 priorities include increasing demand for U.S. Animal Agriculture exports; supporting research into corn and corn co-product use within animal feed; identifying new & support existing industrial uses of corn; and supporting development of trade policy that opens markets, removes trade barriers and advances international demand for corn and corn products.

Iowans Can Apply Now for 2021 Specialty Crop Block Grants

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced today that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is now accepting applications for the 2021 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. To qualify, the grants must be used to support projects that raise awareness about and increase demand for specialty crops grown in Iowa.

“Specialty crop block grants are a win-win for producers, distributors and consumers,” said Secretary Naig. “The programs they support help strengthen local distribution channels, which gives specialty crop producers more markets to sell their products, and they make it easier for consumers to buy protein and produce grown right here in Iowa.”

Eligible specialty crops include both fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.

Successful grant applications should explain how projects will improve specialty crop production through marketing and promotions, research and development, expanding availability and access to specialty crops, and addressing local, regional and national challenges confronting specialty crop producers. All projects must have an educational component. Preference will be given to projects that have the potential to significantly expand, enhance and improve production and demand.

Iowa agencies, universities, institutions, producers, industry associations and community-based organizations are eligible to apply. Single organizations, institutions and individuals are encouraged to participate as project partners. Grant applications for projects that directly benefit a particular product or generate a profit for a single organization, institution or individual will not be awarded.

Awardees may receive up to $24,000 and projects can have a duration of up to 30 months.

Proposals must be received by the Iowa Department of Agriculture on or before 4 p.m./CT on March 11, 2021. For more information, visit the Specialty Crop Block Grant program website.

The Department is establishing a review committee to help evaluate and make recommendations on the submitted grant proposals. Those interested in participating in the review committee should be knowledgeable about specialty crops and/or have grant writing or grant management experience, and be able to devote the time to complete the review process. Additional information about reviewer responsibilities, meeting dates and an application form can also be found at Applications to participate in the Review Committee are due Feb. 11, 2021 by 4 p.m./CT.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 1/22/2021

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending January 22, ethanol production decreased 1.3%, or 12,000 barrels per day (b/d), to 933,000 b/d—equivalent to 39.19 million gallons daily and a 14-week low. Production remained 9.3% below the same week last year. The four-week average ethanol production rate was unchanged at 938,000 b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 14.38 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks ticked 0.1% lower to 23.6 million barrels, which was 2.6% below a year-ago. Inventories drew down across all regions except the East Coast (PADD 1) and Rocky Mountains (PADD 4).

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, scaled back by 3.4% to 7.83 million b/d (120.08 bg annualized). Gasoline demand was 10.9% less than a year ago.

Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol rose 0.9% to 785,000 b/d, equivalent to 12.03 bg annualized. This was 10.1% below the year-earlier level as a result of the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were zero imports of ethanol recorded for the week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of November 2020.)

Urea, MAP, Anhydrous Lead Retail Fertilizer Complex Higher

Average retail prices for all eight of the major fertilizers were higher the third week of January 2021 compared to last month, according to retailers surveyed by DTN. The trend of all eight major fertilizers' prices being higher has been seen on and off again in the last couple of months.

Three of the fertilizers were up a significant amount, which DTN designates as 5% or more. Urea was up 7% compared to last month with an average price of $387 per ton. Also higher were MAP and anhydrous, which were both up 5% from last month. MAP had an average price of $563/ton, while anhydrous was at $482/ton.

Of the remaining five fertilizers, the average price of DAP, potash and 10-34-0 each increased by 4%. DAP had an average price of $493/ton, up $19/ton; potash was $379/ton, up $14/ton; and 10-34-0 was $481/ton, up $18/ton.

The average price of UAN28 was $215/ton, an increase of $5/ton from the prior month, while UAN32 was $251/ton, $1/ton more expensive than last month.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.42/lb.N, anhydrous $0.29/lb.N, UAN28 $0.38/lb.N and UAN32 $0.39/lb.N.

With retail fertilizer prices moving up over recent months, most fertilizers are now higher in price from a year ago, but there are a few exceptions. Potash is 1% more expensive, 10-34-0 is 2% higher, urea is 8% more expensive, DAP is 19% higher and MAP is 29% more expensive compared to last year.

Three fertilizers are lower. Anhydrous is 1% lower, while both UAN28 and UAN32 are 9% less expensive from last year at this time.

Registration for 2021 Special Edition Commodity Classic Now Open

Registration for the 2021 Special Edition of Commodity Classic is now open at The 2021 Commodity Classic will be delivered digitally March 2-5, 2021.

The registration fee is waived for the first 5,000 farmers, thanks to the generous support of sponsors.  All other registrants and farmers after the first 5,000 will be charged $20. The registration covers all online educational sessions and events as well as access to all archived sessions through April 30, 2021.

In October 2020, Commodity Classic announced that it was pivoting to a digital event due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 Commodity Classic, originally scheduled for San Antonio, Texas, in early March, is the Silver Anniversary of America’s largest farmer-owned, farmer-focused agricultural and educational experience.

The digital experience will focus on providing top-quality educational sessions and farmer networking opportunities that are hallmarks of Commodity Classic.  A list of educational sessions is available at—and that list will continue to grow over the next few weeks.

Attendees will have a wide variety of educational sessions from which to choose on a range of topics including soil health, grain marketing, biologicals, global weather forecasts, pest management, and stress management.

Participating companies will showcase new products, services and innovation through a variety of online presentations, educational sessions and interactive discussions. An impressive lineup of agriculture thought leaders, top-yielding farmers, agribusiness representatives, and Commodity Classic association leaders will also be featured.

To stay up to date on registration information, event schedule, speakers, educational sessions and other event details, sign up for email updates at

Premier Sponsors of the 2021 Special Edition of Commodity Classic are AGCO, Bayer, Case IH, Corteva AgriScience, John Deere and United Soybean Board/Soy Checkoff.

Champion Sponsors are BASF and Syngenta.  Key Sponsors are Kubota/Great Plains, New Holland, Pioneer, Precision Planting and Valent.

Established in 1996, Commodity Classic is presented annually by the American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Sorghum Producers and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

Court Seeks Status Report on EPA Compliance with Order on Renewable Volumes

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit today directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to submit a status report every 60 days “on its progress in complying with the court’s remand” stemming from the July 2017 ruling in Americans for Clean Energy v. EPA. The 2017 ruling required EPA to address its improper waiver of 500 million gallons of 2016 renewable fuel blending requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).  

Today’s order from the D.C. Circuit was in response to a motion filed in December 2020 by biofuel and farm organizations, in which the groups asked the court to enforce its 2017 decision by requiring EPA to fully restore the 500-million-gallons that were inappropriately waived from the 2016 RFS requirements. While the court denied the motion, the groups welcomed the court’s requirement that EPA provide status reports every 60 days on its progress in responding to the court’s decision.

The coalition, which includes Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association, National Biodiesel Board, American Coalition for Ethanol, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, and National Sorghum Producers, issued the statement following the court’s announcement today:    

“While we are disappointed by the court’s order on our motion, we are glad to see that the court is holding EPA accountable by requiring it to submit a report every 60 days on the status of the court’s remand on the improper waiver. This time of transition provides EPA the opportunity to move boldly and address prior missteps when it comes to the need for a low-carbon future for our nation’s fuel supply; adjusting quickly for the court-ordered remand would do just that. America’s biofuel producers, rural communities and farm families look forward to working with EPA and the Biden administration to make progress on restoring integrity and growth to the RFS.”  

In the July 2017 ruling in the case Americans for Clean Energy et al. v. EPA et al., the court invalidated the EPA’s improper waiver of 500 million gallons in the 2016 RVO rule and ordered EPA to revisit the rule. The court held that EPA’s interpretation of the “inadequate domestic supply” waiver provision “runs contrary to how the Renewable Fuel Program is supposed to work.” To date, EPA has failed to complete any proceedings to reconsider the 2016 RVO and has not restored the 500 million lost RIN gallons.

Growth Energy Statement on Biden Executive Order to Tackle the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, Create Jobs, and Restore Scientific Integrity Across Federal Government

Following today’s sweeping executive order focused on tackling the climate crisis at home and abroad, creating jobs, and restoring scientific integrity across federal government signed by President Biden, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor issued the following statement:

“This executive order is another reminder of how inextricably linked addressing climate change is to our economy, and we're eager to help President Biden’s administration deliver on his promise to unleash biofuels as a key solution to climate change and restore economic opportunity for rural America.

“Ethanol plays a critical role in reducing the impact of the transportation sector on climate and achieving net-zero emissions. Just this week groundbreaking research led by David MacIntosh, Chief Science Officer of Environmental Health & Engineering, Inc. (EH&E) and Adjunct Associate Professor of Environmental Health at Harvard, found that greenhouse gas emissions from corn ethanol are 46% lower than gasoline, and last week, analysis by the Rhodium Group concluded that biofuels must be in the mix if we are to attain net-zero emissions by 2050.

“Importantly, ethanol is a homegrown, ready solution now that improves air quality by replacing toxic fuel additives and dramatically reduces emissions of pollutants that most adversely impact our most vulnerable communities. We need to quickly transition to fuels that burn cleaner, pollute less, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions while brining farmers into the fold of addressing climate change and helping the rural economy. We look forward to partnering with the President and his Administration to do just that with biofuels.”

Farmer and Rancher Input is Critical for Climate Success

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall commented today on President Biden’s executive order calling on USDA to collect input from farmers and ranchers on climate-related federal programs.

“The American Farm Bureau Federation appreciates that President Biden has committed to seek input from America’s farmers and ranchers as the administration works on new climate solutions. It’s crucial that as new strategies are implemented our leaders listen to the people who will be affected the most. While the president has invited us to the table, we’d like to invite him to the table we’ve already set through the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA). Co-chaired by AFBF, FACA has outlined more than 40 recommendations to guide the development of federal climate policy. We stand ready to work with the administration on science-based, voluntary and market-driven programs. American agriculture already leads the world in climate-smart practices, but we are always looking for new ways to improve. We must ensure a healthy environment while creating income and job opportunities for rural America.”

The Executive Order outlines broad goals without details of how they will be achieved. AFBF will be closely monitoring federal implementation efforts to ensure all proposed policies and programs are responsible, fair-minded and enable farmers, ranchers and rural America to thrive.

Cattle Producers to Work with Biden Administration to Demonstrate Cattle Production is a Solution to Climate Concerns

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) today issued the following statement in response to the Executive Orders from the Biden Administration addressing climate change and sustainability in the U.S. agriculture sector:

"NCBA looks forward to working with President Biden and his Administration as they recognize the positive role agriculture plays in addressing climate concerns. U.S. cattle producers use advanced technologies, genetics and grazing management to make their herds the most sustainable in the world," said NCBA CEO Colin Woodall. "We appreciate the outreach and opportunity to provide feedback, demonstrating U.S. cattle producers are the model for global, sustainable beef production. As the administration works to carry out today’s executive orders, NCBA remains committed to ensuring that cattle producers have the resources and freedom they need to continue producing the world’s most sustainable beef."

Growth in the Number of Certified Organic Operations Continues in 2020

Farmers and consumers choose the organic option for many reasons. Our goal at the National Organic Program is to protect that choice by taking the profit out of fraud and ensuring organic integrity from farm to table, so consumers trust the organic label. One measure of that trust is continued growth in the number of farms and businesses receiving USDA organic certification.

USDA has released the annual count of certified organic operations calculated from the USDA National Organic Program - Organic INTEGRITY Database.

The number of certified organic operations worldwide grew to 45,578 in 2020 with 28,454 — more than 62 percent — located in the United States. California remains the leader domestically with more than 5,000 certified operations. The Great Lakes Region, Pacific Northwest, and Iowa continue to round out the top ten.
The federal organic regulations currently require certifiers to annually submit a set of basic facts regarding all certified operations to the Organic Integrity Database. The database also includes many optional fields, like acreage, that can aid in oversight and enforcement.

ADM Reports Fourth Quarter Earnings of $1.22 per Share, $1.21 per Share on an Adjusted Basis, Affirms Earnings Growth Expectation for 2021

-    Q4 net earnings of $687 million; adjusted net earnings of $684 million
-    Q4 adjusted EPS up 49 percent excluding prior-year impact of retroactive biodiesel tax credit
-    Full-year reported EPS of $3.15; record adjusted EPS of $3.59
-    Expect growth in operating profit and EPS in 2021

ADM today reported financial results for the quarter and fiscal year ended December 31, 2020.

“I want to thank our team, which performed exceptionally well during truly unprecedented times to deliver four straight quarters of year-over-year adjusted segment operating profit growth in 2020, along with solid returns and record full-year adjusted EPS of $3.59,” said Chairman and CEO Juan Luciano. “Around the globe, ADM colleagues demonstrated their resourcefulness, creativity and commitment by keeping our work environment safe from COVID-19, maintaining our operations and serving our customers. The team delivered on our strategic objectives, maintained a solid balance sheet, managed a wide variety of risks superbly, and showed the strength of our diversified and global value chain.

“Our Ag Services and Oilseeds team delivered outstanding results in 2020, crossing the $2 billion profit mark by capitalizing on our unparalleled and flexible global footprint to meet strong demand. With continued strong global demand for grains and oilseeds as well as meal and oils, we are confident in another outstanding performance from Ag Services & Oilseeds in 2021.

“In Carbohydrate Solutions,” Luciano continued, “the team achieved higher full-year results, demonstrating the power of our diversified product portfolio by pivoting quickly and effectively to meet incremental demand for industrial starches, retail flour and high-grade alcohol. The Carbohydrate Solutions business is well positioned to generate solid profit growth in 2021 as lockdown impacts dissipate.

“Our Nutrition business continued to harvest investments, lead in consumer growth trend areas, and partner with customers to deliver new products and solutions in 2020, driving 37 percent annual operating profit growth. Based on our current organic growth plans, we expect the Nutrition team to deliver solid revenue expansion and profit growth in 2021.

“For ADM, based on the continued delivery of drivers under our control and improving market conditions as the year progresses, we expect strong growth in segment operating profit and another record year of EPS in 2021. I am extremely proud of our team’s performance: Our momentum is strong, and our future is bright.”

USDA Temporarily Suspends Debt Collections, Foreclosures and Other Activities on Farm Loans for Several Thousand Distressed Borrowers Due to Coronavirus

Due to the national public health emergency caused by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced the temporary suspension of past-due debt collections and foreclosures for distressed borrowers under the Farm Storage Facility Loan and the Direct Farm Loan programs administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). USDA will temporarily suspend non-judicial foreclosures, debt offsets or wage garnishments, and referring foreclosures to the Department of Justice; and USDA will work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to stop judicial foreclosures and evictions on accounts that were previously referred to the Department of Justice. Additionally, USDA has extended deadlines for producers to respond to loan servicing actions, including loan deferral consideration for financially distressed and delinquent borrowers. In addition, for the Guaranteed Loan program, flexibilities have been made available to lenders to assist in servicing their customers.

Today’s announcement by USDA expands previous actions undertaken by the Department to lessen financial hardship. According to USDA data, more than 12,000 borrowers—approximately 10% of all borrowers—are eligible for the relief announced today. Overall, FSA lends to more than 129,000 farmers, ranchers and producers.

“USDA and the Biden Administration are committed to bringing relief and support to farmers, ranchers and producers of all backgrounds and financial status, including by ensuring producers have access to temporary debt relief,” said Robert Bonnie, Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Secretary. “Not only is USDA suspending the pipeline of adverse actions that can lead to foreclosure and debt collection, we are also working with the Departments of Justice and Treasury to suspend any actions already referred to the applicable Agency. Additionally, we are evaluating ways to improve and address farm related debt with the intent to keep farmers on their farms earning living expenses, providing for emergency needs, and maintaining cash flow.”

The temporary suspension is in place until further notice and is expected to continue while the national COVID-19 disaster declaration is in place.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency provides several different loans for producers, which fall under two main categories:
    Guaranteed loans are made and serviced by commercial lenders, such as banks, the Farm Credit System, credit unions and other non-traditional lenders. FSA guarantees the lender’s loan against loss, up to 95 percent.
    Direct loans are made and serviced by FSA using funds from the federal government.

The most common loan types are Farm Ownership, Farm Operating, and Farm Storage Facility Loans, with Microloans for each:
    Farm Ownership: Helps producers purchase or enlarge a farm or ranch, construct a new or improve an existing farm or ranch building, pay closing costs, and pay for soil and water conservation and protection.
    Farm Operating: Helps producers purchase livestock and equipment and pay for minor real estate repairs and annual operating expenses.
    Farm Storage Facility Loans are made directly to producers for the construction of cold or dry storage and includes handling equipment and mobile storage such as refrigerated trucks.
    Microloans: Direct Farm Ownership, Operating Loans, and Farm Storage Facility Loans have a shortened application process and reduced paperwork designed to meet the needs of smaller, non-traditional, and niche-type operations.

Contact FSA

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.

USDA Debt Relief Will Help Keep Farmers in Business

To ease mounting financial pressures, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that it will temporarily suspend past-due debt collections and foreclosures for farmers borrowing under the Farm Storage Facility Loan and the Direct Farm Loan programs while also offering flexibilities under the Guaranteed Loan Program. Additionally, the agency plans to halt foreclosures and evictions that are already underway. Approximately 12,000 farmers, representing 10 percent of Farm Service Agency borrowers, will be eligible for this assistance.

The announcement comes as a relief to National Farmers Union (NFU), which has been pushing legislators and administration officials to provide family farmers and ranchers with the support they need to withstand the added challenges caused by the pandemic. In a statement, NFU President Rob Larew lauded the action, saying that it will be particularly beneficial to beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers:

“With so many factors beyond their control, farmers know to be prepared for a bad year here and there. But it hasn’t just been just one bad year because of the pandemic – it’s been five bad years because of trade wars, climate change, and stubbornly low prices. Even the most established farmers may not have the reserves to cope with this kind of enduring financial strain – and beginning and historically underserved farmers almost certainly do not.

“As a country, we really can’t afford to lose these farmers. The agriculture industry has already experienced rapid consolidation over the last several decades, to the detriment of rural communities and national food security. The pandemic could have accelerated this trend – but fortunately, the USDA’s ongoing support will likely prevent the worst-case outcome. By suspending debt collections and foreclosures, the agency will help struggling farmers stay on their land and continue growing food for their fellow Americans.”

Tuesday January 26 Ag News

 Sumner Native Elected to Lead Pork Association

Shana Beattie of Sumner, Nebraska was elected as President of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association (NPPA) at the Annual Meeting of the Board of Directors. The NPPA Directors met on January 14, 2021 at the Holthus Conventions Center in York, Nebraska. Joining Beattie on NPPA’s leadership team are President-Elect, Jared Lierman of Beemer, and Mark Wright of Fremont as Vice President.

Shana was first elected to the NPPA board in 2016. Prior to becoming a NPPA Director, she participated in the Pork Leadership Institute (PLI), a comprehensive training program conducted jointly by the National Pork Board (NPB) and National Pork Producer Council (NPPC) designed to develop future leaders for the U.S. pork industry. She has advocated for pork producers in Washington and is an active participate in legislative and regulatory issues at the state level. She has served as a NPB and NPPC Forum delegate and has attended numerous meetings and conferences on behalf of the association.

Beattie was the recipient of the 2018 AG-Ceptional Women’s award recognizing her exceptional contributions to Agriculture. The award is presented annually during the AG-Ceptional Women’s Conference sponsored by Northeast Community College. A graduate of the University of Florida, her hobbies include gardening, cooking, baking, and volunteering with the youth in her 4-H and FFA communities. 

Beattie, her husband Bart, and four children live on a 5th generation farming operation near Sumner where she takes an active role in Beattie Family Farms. A diversified operation of crop rotation including corn, soybeans, alfalfa, a partner on a 10,000 head sow farm wean to finish swine operation and a commercial cow/calf ranching operation utilizing grasses and forage in central Nebraska.

When recently asked what she was looking forward to as NPPA President, Shana replied, “getting back to business. Our producers have never stopped doing business through this pandemic continually producing a quality product. As far as an association we have had to take a COVID break from our normal activities. We now want to focus on getting back on the road and get fact-to-face with our producers, legislative representatives, and industry partners. Additionally, we want to be able to travel so we can be involved with trade promotions meetings such as the U.S. Meat Export Federation and possibly by fall be part of an international trade mission.”

Raising Freezer Beef: Management Considerations

Adele Harty – South Dakota State University Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist

A trend that has become more prominent in recent years is for ranchers to finish a few animals and sell beef direct to the consumer. Consumers have a desire to know where their beef comes from, value the story and are seeking ranchers to purchase beef from. At the same time, ranchers have been seeking opportunities to add value to their cattle and reduce their exposure to market swings.
However, feeding and managing a grain-finished animal is different than managing a cowherd or backgrounding calves. Proper feeding and management is key to capturing extra value and in meeting customer expectations. This is part two of a four-part series for ranchers who have a small group of cattle with limited equipment who are planning to finish a few head of cattle each year. This article will address management considerations for finishing out beef cattle.

Finishing Diet

Finishing cattle on a concentrate diet doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does take additional management to ensure the health and performance of the cattle are maintained. There are some key management factors that can help ensure a successful outcome with feeding cattle. This article will address ration options, acidosis, step-up rations, feeding times and pen management for cattle fed concentrate diets to reach a finished end point.

Many variations of concentrate diets can be used to finish cattle. The ratio of concentrate to forage will impact days on feed to finish. Slaughter dates need to be considered for determining the appropriate level of concentrate to include when planning rations to ensure that projected performance coincides with projected end points and slaughter dates. No matter which locker plant you work with, most are six months to a year or more out for scheduling animals, so planning is crucial.


Maintaining a comfortable environment can make a major difference in how cattle perform. Muddy pens can be particularly a problem as even a few inches of mud reduce gains and feed efficiency. Selecting well-drained locations with wind protection reduce risk. Removing snow before it melts and providing bedding also will improve pen conditions and cattle comfort.

Acidosis Management

Management steps need to be taken to prevent acidosis. The risk for acidosis can follow a rapid increase in highly fermentable feeds in the ration, which increases rumen acidity and can ultimately result in rumen and intestinal wall damage. Depending on acidosis severity, there could be long-term negative effects on performance. A tool to help manage against acidosis is to include a feed additive that inhibits lactate-producing microbes, stimulates lactate-using bacteria or starch-engulfing protozoa. Other management strategies to prevent acidosis are to modify the ratio of forage to concentrate in the ration by increasing forage and decreasing concentrate. Additionally, processing grain less thoroughly, such as just cracking it versus grinding finer can reduce the risk of acidosis by slowing down the release of starch into the rumen environment.  

Step-up rations need to be utilized to adapt cattle to increased concentrate levels in the feed. Once a plan is made for projected time on feed and the plan for the final ratio of concentrate to forage, step-up rations can be determined to acclimate the rumen microbes to the increase in starch content and change in rumen pH to help prevent acidosis that can result if the transition is too rapid. When starting cattle on concentrate, begin with a ration that is 40% concentrate and increase the concentrate by 10% each week until the desired level is reached. For instance, in week 2 the diet would be approximately 50% concentrate and 50% roughage. It will take approximately a month to get cattle to full feed.

Feeding Frequency

Finally, feeding cattle more frequent, smaller meals can also mitigate risk. Feeding cattle multiple times per day can help stimulate intake by putting fresh feed in front of the animals which can result in improved animal performance. Depending on bunk capacity, this may be a necessity in order to get enough feed in front of the cattle for a 24-hour period. It is important to observe the bunks to determine how well cattle are cleaning up the feed and whether or not additional feed needs to be provided or needs to be decreased. Ideally you would want to have a few crumbles left, which indicates they are eating as much as they want, but not starving by the time you feed them again. If they bunk is slick every time they are fed, you probably need to increase their feed slightly. Don’t increase feed offered by more than one pound of dry matter at a time and don’t increase more often than about every three days.

Center for Rural Affairs offers zero interest recovery loans

The Center for Rural Affairs has launched a recovery loan program to help Nebraska businesses and local economies recover from the pandemic. Loans of up to $50,000 will qualify for zero percent interest through 2021, and loans of up to $250,000 are available at reduced rates.

“Small businesses in almost every industry continue to cope with the economic impact of COVID-19,” said Kim Preston, Center for Rural Affairs’ Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) director. “The Center for Rural Affairs has assisted in many ways during this last year, from payment relief to disaster recovery trainings. We know this is a difficult time for many, and we hope these specialized loans will help out.”

Loan uses can include business recovery, business growth, new business start, working capital, equipment, inventory, and real estate. Up to $2 million will be deployed to qualified borrowers.

Eligible borrowers may qualify for six months of payment relief from the Small Business Administration under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Businesses who do not receive relief through the SBA may qualify for up to 6 months of Center for Rural Affairs deferred repayment.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the Center for Rural Affairs made emergency credit available to all qualifying Nebraska small business owners with Express Loans. These loans are still available for new and returning borrowers with credit needs of $15,000 or less.

In addition, staff working remotely as much as possible continue to provide 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, based in Lyons, Nebraska, 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.


– Todd Whitney, NE Extension Educator

Our winter mid-point is Feb. 2 (Ground Hog Day), so now may be a good time to inventory your remaining hay and forage. Remember you can’t effectively manage; what you do not measure.

Do you have enough hay and forage to last the remainder of winter? Your answer may depend on the following: Will La Niña winter drought conditions continue?  How likely will open forage grazing conditions continue? Are heavy snow events predicted which could impact your forage grazing?

When making your feed management decisions, consider using ‘best case’ and ‘worst case’ scenarios. Focus on completing a thorough inventory, account for all feed resources; even counting all bales available. Calculate remaining bunker silage. Estimate forage grazing still available, and assign economic values to your remaining forage.

Compare what feed resources you have versus what your herd may need.  For example, a 200 head lactating cow herd average cow size of 1,200 pounds will need about 3.2 tons of hay per day...not accounting for waste.

Focus on making the best use of your feed resources. Would it be financially beneficial to sell your extra highest quality forage and feed the rest? If mild winter conditions continue, selling your higher value forage could generate more cash-flow toward paying taxes and land payments.

If your cows are thin, consider the opposite; sell your lower quality forage and feed your higher quality. Thin condition score cows need more protein and energy to keep from dropping body condition and maintaining their milk production.

If you need assistance managing your remaining feed resources and evaluating your hay and forage needs, Nebraska Extension educational resources are available online at CropWatch, BeefWatch and

Iowa Biofuels Industry is “Battered, But Battling”

During his state of the industry address at the 2021 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw characterizes the Iowa biofuels industry as “battered, but battling for a better future” – emphasizing the many opportunities to expand biofuels demand in the state, across the country, and around the world.

“Our industry just suffered through the triple whammy of RFS exemptions, lost export markets, and COVID demand destruction piled on top of each other,” Shaw said. “Yet, here we are. Which is what I love most about this industry. The power of biofuels to propel the rural economy is so great that the people in this industry will simply never give up. That, my friends, is the state of the Iowa biofuels industry in 2021: battered, but battling for a better future.”

Shaw touched on several federal and state battles biofuel producers currently face and encouraged them to keep up the fight. He noted that while Iowa biodiesel production was strong in 2020, Iowa ethanol production fell by half a billion gallons. He called on Iowa leaders to authorize $15 million a year for the next five years to fund Iowa’s cost-share grant program that enables retailers to update fuel infrastructure to sell higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel, entitled the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program (RFIP).

“Is this aggressive? Yes. Can it be done? Absolutely,” Shaw said. “IRFA stands ready to work with the legislature to explore ways to secure this new funding without creating shortfalls in other areas. In order for Iowa to forge a better future, this is a battle worth fighting.”

Growth Energy CEO at IRFA Summit: New Opportunities on the Horizon for Biofuels

This morning, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor delivered the keynote address at Iowa Renewable Fuels Association’s Annual Iowa Renewable Fuel Virtual Summit. In her speech, Skor reviewed the successes and challenges faced by the ethanol industry over the last year and outlined the opportunities ahead in 2021 for the biofuels industry to work with a new Administration in Washington as a key voice on President Biden’s climate initiatives and rebuilding the rural economy.

Highlights from Skor’s remarks are available below, and her full speech as prepared for delivery is available here:

On Working with the Biden Administration:
"...We look forward to working with this White House to ensure they keep those promises, and restore strength to the rural economy, while addressing our country’s climate goals. But President Biden will need to act swiftly and boldly to meet the current challenges facing rural communities.  If he is successful, it will send an unmistakable signal that we have a sincere partner in the White House.”  

On Upholding the RFS:
“...Make no mistake, we won a major battle at the end of the Trump administration against gap-year exemptions, but we haven’t yet won the war. There are still 65 small refinery exemptions sitting at the EPA...And we won’t let up until the SRE pipeline is shut down, just as the 10th Circuit Court intended...On this front, our aim remains simple – the RFS of tomorrow should be stronger and more forward-leaning than the RFS of the past...”

On Higher Blends:
 “ Last year was the worst fuel market in 30 years. Retailers across the board suspended capital investment. But E15 sites actually grew 10%.... E15 is now available at nearly 2,300 locations...And I’m excited to announce that we’ve recently formed a new partnership that is uniquely positioned to help bring E15 to consumers in untapped markets from Colorado to the Pacific. So be sure to keep an eye out for more updates later this spring...To fast-track this progress, we also helped our retail partners secure nearly $30 million in grants under USDA’s Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP)…"

Ethanol as a Climate Solution:
“... Leaders need to know what we know – there is no silver bullet to decarbonizing the transportation sector...But growing the share of renewable biofuels in our fuel supply can and will accelerate our transition to a healthier, zero-emission future and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels...”

In her remarks on ethanol’s climate benefits, Skor referenced a new report led by David MacIntosh, Chief Science Officer of Environmental Health and Engineering, Inc. (EH&E) and Adjunct Professor of Environmental Health at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, that found that greenhouse gas emissions from corn ethanol are 46% lower than gasoline, up from the estimated 39% done by previous modeling. The same report also shows a 25-fold improvement on land use change:

“An effective climate strategy must recognize the critical role biofuels play in decarbonizing our transportation sector and bring our farmers into the fold in addressing the climate crisis. It must build on the success of the RFS, increase the use of low-carbon biofuels, and expand market access for higher blends. And the modeling behind that strategy must reflect the best available science.

“The latest landmark study – published days ago by an adjunct professor at Harvard – shows ethanol’s carbon intensity score is 46 percent lower than gasoline’s and importantly shows a 25-fold improvement on land use change.”  

Harvard, Tufts, EH&E Scientists Find Corn Ethanol Reduces Carbon Emissions by Nearly 50%

A comprehensive new study by scientists from Harvard University, Tufts University and Environmental Health & Engineering Inc. shows that using corn ethanol in place of gasoline reduces greenhouse gas emissions by almost half. The “central best estimate” of corn ethanol’s carbon intensity is 46% lower than the average carbon intensity of gasoline, according to the study’s authors, with some corn ethanol in the market today achieving a 61% reduction. The study credits recent efficiency improvements and the adoption of new technologies for the steady reduction in the lifecycle carbon intensity of corn ethanol. The new study will be published in an upcoming volume of Environmental Research Letters, a well-respected academic journal.

“This new study provides further validation that ethanol is a highly effective tool that for decarbonizing liquid transportation fuels and significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector,” said Renewable Fuels Association President & CEO Geoff Cooper. “And with ethanol, we don’t have to wait and hope for technological and economic breakthroughs. It’s here today at a low cost and already has a proven track record. Ethanol can and should be allowed to do more to contribute to the fight against climate change, and that starts by breaking down the barriers to higher blends like E15, E30, and flex fuels like E85. As President Biden’s administration and the new Congress consider actions and policies to address climate change, we encourage them to examine the best available science and properly account for the critical role ethanol and other renewable fuels can play in securing immediate GHG reductions.”

Cooper pointed out that the scientists found that emissions from land-use change are only “a minor contributor” to the overall carbon footprint of corn ethanol, accounting for just 7% of total GHG emissions.

According to EH&E’s Chief Science Officer David MacIntosh, one of the study’s authors, “This research provides an up-to-date accounting of corn starch ethanol's GHG profile in comparison to that of gasoline refined from crude oil. The results of this research are timely for the scientific, public health, legislative, and business communities seeking to establish a net-zero carbon economy while addressing related technological, political and economic challenges.”

New Study Showing Corn Ethanol Reduces Carbon Emissions by Nearly 50 Percent Cites ACE Low Carbon White Paper

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings today recognized a new study published by Harvard University, Tufts University and Environmental Health & Engineering Inc. scientists as an illustration of ethanol’s carbon footprint, but reiterated there is more work to do if policy is to be done correctly.

The study cites ACE’s 2018 White Paper titled “The Case for Properly Valuing the Low Carbon Benefits of Corn Ethanol” that highlights how U.S. farmers and ethanol producers are improving efficiencies, investing in technologies, and adopting practices to dramatically reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from corn ethanol.

“The findings in this report reinforce what we have been promoting for the last several years; the greenhouse gas reduction benefits of corn ethanol have been significantly undervalued because too many regulatory bodies refuse to apply or use the latest lifecycle science,” Jennings said. “Today’s corn ethanol indeed reduces GHGs by approximately 50 percent compared to gasoline, and given improvements occurring in corn farming and within ethanol facilities, corn ethanol’s carbon footprint will continue to decline over time.”

“As elected leaders at the state and federal level look to craft new policies to tackle climate change and meet net-zero emission goals, we strongly encourage them to appreciate that corn farmers and ethanol producers are part of the solution,” Jennings added. “Agriculture and ethanol can make even more meaningful contributions to GHG reductions if new policies reward farmers for climate-smart practices and expand the use of mid-level ethanol blends.”

Report: Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Corn Ethanol 46% Lower Than Gasoline

A new report published by the Environmental Research Letters found that greenhouse gas emissions from corn ethanol are 46% lower than gasoline, up from the estimated 39% done by previous modeling. The report, led by David MacIntosh, Chief Science Officer of Environmental Health & Engineering, Inc. (EH&E) and Adjunct Professor of Environmental Health at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and consulted by dozens of experts in academia, updates ethanol’s carbon intensity score to reflect how continuous improvements in technology and practices have driven further emissions reductions in the lifecycle of ethanol and will lead to net zero renewable fuel in the future.

“In light of the United States’ renewed effort to achieve a net zero carbon economy, our research team believes this critical review is a timely contribution to establishing an accurate, common understanding of the greenhouse gas profile for corn ethanol in comparison to gasoline refined from crude oil,” said MacIntosh. “Our findings indicated that displacement of gasoline with ethanol produced from biofuels yields greater greenhouse gas benefits than are generally recognized and that prior analyses of the payback period for conversion of land to corn production should be updated.  

“We believe the results of our analysis are relevant to continued development and refinement of low carbon fuel standard programs in the US.”

EH&E’s new research further underscores the impact biofuels have on greenhouse gas emissions and the technological improvements on GHG data collection. A study done late last year found that transitioning to higher ethanol blends (from E10 to E15) would lower greenhouse gas emissions by 17.62 million tons per year, the equivalent of removing approximately 3.85 million vehicles on the road.

“The evidence proves time and time again that ethanol should play a key role in our nation’s climate goals of decarbonizing the transportation sector and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “This latest report from EH&E provides a much-needed update to ethanol’s carbon intensity score to highlight as our country, and our new Administration, make climate change a top priority moving forward.”

Study Finds Dairy Calves Benefit from Higher-Protein Starter

Dairy producers know early nutrition for young calves has far-reaching impacts, both for the long-term health and productivity of the animals and for farm profitability. With the goal of increasing not just body weight but also lean tissue gain, a new University of Illinois study finds enhanced milk replacer with high crude-protein dry starter feed is the winning combination.

"Calves fed more protein with the starter had less fat in their body weight gain, and more protein was devoted to the development of the gastrointestinal system, compared with the lower starter protein," says James Drackley, professor in the Department of Animal Sciences at Illinois and co-author on the study. "Our results say producers who are feeding calves a more aggressive amount of milk for greater rates of gain should be feeding a higher protein starter along with that."

Producers typically feed milk replacer along with a grain-based starter feed to kick-start development of the rumen ahead of forage consumption. Yet the Journal of Dairy Science study is the first to specifically examine body composition changes, versus simple body weight, in response to milk replacer and high-protein starter feed.

Understanding where the nutrients go in the body makes a big difference.

"If producers aren't providing enough protein in the starter as the calves go through the weaning process, they might be limiting development of the gastrointestinal system, which is needed to provide nutrients for the rest of the body," Drackley says.

Drackley and his co-authors started two-to-three-day-old calves on one of three experimental diets: a low rate of milk replacer + conventional starter (18% crude protein, as-fed basis); a high rate of milk replacer + conventional starter; and a high rate of milk replacer + high crude-protein starter (22% crude protein, as-fed basis). Additional protein in the high-protein starter was provided by soybean meal, compared with conventional starter, which was a mixture of wheat middlings, soybean meal, and corn, among other ingredients. The calves were weaned at six weeks of age, and were harvested at five or 10 weeks to determine body composition.

"After weaning, the weights of the digestive system and liver were greater with the higher protein starter," Drackley says. "It might be part of the reason why a slump in growth is often seen right around the time of weaning when calves are fed a conventional starter. The calves just don't have the developed digestive system to be able to keep things going as they change from the milk diet to the dry feed diet."

He adds that calves fed the higher rate of milk replacer grew more rapidly and had more lean tissue, with less fat.

"The low rate of milk replacer has been fairly standard, historically. It's designed to provide the maintenance needs and a small rate of growth, and to encourage calves to consume the dry feed at an earlier age. But research has supported the use of higher rates, so we're trying to shift the industry towards rates of milk feeding we think are more appropriate," Drackley says. "Now we have good reason to point producers to high-protein starter, as well."

The article, "Influence of starter crude protein content on growth and body composition of dairy calves in an enhanced early nutrition program," is published in the Journal of Dairy Science [DOI: 10.3168/jds.2020-19580]. Authors include Jennifer Stamey Lanier, Floyd McKeith, Nicole Janovick, Rodrigo Molano, Michael Van Amburgh, and James Drackley. Funding was provided in part by Milk Specialties Company and the Illinois Agricultural Experiment Station.

2021 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo (FEW) Moves to July

Produced by BBI International, the world’s largest ethanol event has announced new dates for a physical event in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Minneapolis, Minnesota – (January 26, 2021) – BBI International recently announced that the 2021 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo, the ethanol industry's largest conference, has been moved to July. Originally scheduled for mid-June in Minneapolis, the FEW is now rescheduled to take place July 13th through the 15th, 2021 at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“Based on the latest vaccine dissemination information and feedback we have received from our sponsors and exhibitors, BBI International’s leadership team has made the decision to reschedule the event to July to put us in the backend of the year,” said John Nelson, vice president at BBI International. “With that said, I can’t express enough how excited and eager we are to get back to a physical event and make 2021 the best FEW yet.”

The FEW will be offering four tracks of comprehensive content designed for ethanol production and will be bringing back a co-located event titled, “Biodiesel Production and Technology Summit.” Produced by Biodiesel Magazine, the co-located event is intended for biodiesel and renewable diesel producers to learn about cutting-edge process technologies, new techniques and equipment to optimize existing production, and efficiencies to save money while increasing throughput and fuel quality.

Visit to learn more.  


Greg Hanes, CEO, Cattlemen’s Beef Board

When it comes to relationships, people can be fickle. On the one hand, it’s often easier to remember a decades-old answer to “Does this shirt make me look fat?” than the kindness from the day before. On the other hand, trust grown over years can quickly be forgotten due to society’s what-have-you-done-for-me-lately mentality. Even within the beef industry, it’s tempting to view the 35-year-old Checkoff with skepticism. But if you look at the many value-added ways it serves producers’ interests, you may come away with a different perspective.

Here are just a few of the things that Beef Checkoff contractors have delivered over the past few months:

    Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner’s. “United We Steak” campaign reached more than 283 million consumers through paid advertising, social media, earned media, and influencer outreach.
    A Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. video series featured feedyard manager Tom Fanning showing Chef Kathryn Mathis how cattle are cared for at feedyards.
    Two livestream events educated more than 1,000 educators on how beef production provides an excellent context for middle school and high school science.
    Webinars hosted by nutritionist Marianne Smith Edge provided insights to Northeast dietitians about consumers during the pandemic and sustainable food systems.
    Six new blogs were posted on, including one by meat scientist Janeal Yancy, Ph.D./the University of Arkansas addressing veal and meat safety.
    Meat Demand Monitor research revealed what post-COVID vaccine consumer behavior may look like, helping the Checkoff determine the best future use of producer dollars.

    Tracking efforts revealed November beef exports were up 6% from a year ago (largest since July 19) and export values climbed 8% year over year.
    Market development programs paid dividends in November as U.S. beef exports to China were up 700% from a year ago.
    Beef export value averaged $338.43 per head of fed slaughter (Nov20); 14.8% of total beef produced in the U.S. during this time was exported, much of which was underutilized cuts not popular in the U.S.

    The Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. holiday “drool log” commercial ran more than 50 times on the Hallmark Channel last month.
    The #WienerWednesday campaign on TikTok received more than 27 million views.

    The Drive print and e-newsletter now reaches nearly 100,000 producers with details about how the Checkoff dollar drives beef demand.

    Registered dietitians, nutritionists, and nurses are advocating beef’s role in a healthy diet and affirming prepared beef’s role as a balanced protein source.
    The “Guide to Meat Processing for the Nutrition Community” helped health and nutrition experts advise about dietary needs and provided valuable details about meat consumption and processing.
    A new study showed that beef consumption is positively associated with better mental health; the companion article has been downloaded more than 50,000 times by health and nutrition experts.

    The Meat Demand Monitor issued its first-ever multi-month report providing insight into consumer purchasing behaviors, demand, and consumption during the pandemic.
    The Sustainability Research & Scientific Affairs program completed an update to its beef environmental lifecycle assessment in 2020; findings will be published in 2021.

    More than 75 Beef Quality Assurance educators attended a virtual event to learn about meat quality, biosecurity, foreign material avoidance and international trade from industry experts.
    The Veal Quality Assurance program provided U.S. veal farms with a clipboard outlining best management practices for calf health, nutrition and handling.
    At the annual Antibiotic Symposium, beef producers collaborated with veterinarians, animal health professionals and animal ag leaders on how to become better stewards of antibiotics while combating antimicrobial resistance.

So, what has the Checkoff dollar done lately? As you can see, quite a bit. And the best part? 2021 is just getting started!

To learn more about Checkoff programs, projects, and resources, visit  

Insights from global industry surveys revealed during the Alltech ONE Virtual Experience

The January session of the Alltech ONE Virtual Experience  launched on Tuesday with the 2021 Agri-Food Outlook, featuring insights supported by data from Alltech’s industry-leading surveys. The presentation, which is available on demand, highlights results from the 10th annual Alltech Global Feed Survey and the second annual Women in Food & Agriculture Survey. During the virtual session, Dr. Mark Lyons, president and CEO of Alltech, speaks with global industry experts to go beyond the numbers and explore the trends shaping the future of agri-food.

The discussion focuses on five emerging trends and includes:
“China’s Rebound” with Jonathan Forrest Wilson, President of Asia, Alltech; and Winnie Wei Jia, Director of Customer Experience, Alltech China
“A Reshaping of the Supply Chain” with Eric Glenn, Global Purchasing and Supply Chain Director, Alltech; and Kathryn Britton, Senior Director of IMI Global Operations, Where Food Comes From, Inc.
“The Inexorable Rise of E-Commerce" with Anand Ramakrishnan Iyer, Digital Marketing Manager, Alltech
“Health-Conscious Consumers” with Nikki Putnam Badding, Director, Acutia and Human Nutrition Initiatives, Alltech
“Innovation Through Empathy and Inclusion” with Bianca Martins, General Manager, Alltech Mexico

“This has been an exceptional time for the agri-food industry,” said Dr. Mark Lyons, president and CEO of Alltech. “Agriculture stood strong in the face of adversity, and the global food supply chain continues to provide one of the most basic needs for human survival. The data and insights we have gathered reflect challenges, successes and extraordinary opportunities as we chart a course for the future.”

Results from the Alltech Global Feed Survey and the Women in Food & Agriculture Survey, including graphs and maps, are available on the Alltech ONE Virtual Experience platform in conjunction with the virtual session.  

Alltech Global Feed Survey:

Now in its 10th year, the Alltech Global Feed Survey serves as an invaluable barometer for the state of animal feed production. Fortified by a decade of documentation and research, it is the strongest evaluation of compound feed production and prices in the industry and is the most complete data source of its kind.

The 2021 Alltech Global Feed Survey estimates that international feed tonnage increased by 1%, to 1,187.7 million metric tons (MMT) of feed produced last year. China saw 5% growth and reclaimed its position as the top feed-producing country, with 240 MMT. Rounding out the top 10 feed-producing countries, including tonnage and growth percentage, are the U.S. (215.9 MMT, +1%), Brazil (77.6 MMT, +10%), India (39.3 MMT, -5%), Mexico (37.9 MMT, +4%), Spain (34.8 MMT, 0%), Russia (31.3 MMT, +3%), Japan (25.2 MMT, 0%), Germany (24.9 MMT, 0%) and Argentina (22.5, +7%). Altogether, these countries account for 63% of the world’s feed production and can be viewed as an indicator of the overall trends in agriculture.

The global data, collected from more than 140 countries and more than 28,000 feed mills, indicates feed production by species as follows: broilers, 28%; pigs, 24%; layers, 14%; dairy, 11%; beef, 10%; other species, 7%; aquaculture, 4%; and pets, 2%. The predominant growth came from the broiler, pig, aqua and pet feed sectors.

Going beyond the numbers for a holistic look at the state of the industry, the survey also incorporates qualitative questions to uncover trends such as COVID-19, sustainability and antibiotic reduction.

The 2021 Alltech Global Feed Survey results, including species-specific feed production numbers, interactive graphs and maps, are available at

Women in Food & Agriculture Survey:

Alltech believes that inclusion cultivates creativity and drives innovation. Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right — it is also essential to advancing society and the global agri-food industry. To gather real-world insights into the professional landscape for women in agriculture, Alltech supported the second annual Women in Food & Agriculture (WFA) Survey in partnership with AgriBriefing and the WFA Summit. Launched in October 2020, the survey aimed to collect feedback that empowers the agri-food industry to create a more equitable workplace environment.

For meaningful change to be possible, the conversation itself must be inclusive, so the survey gathered insights from men as well as women. Responses from more than 3,200 participants representing more than 80 countries and all sectors of agriculture shed light on the current workplace environment, barriers to success and the outlook for the future. As 2020 ushered in unprecedented challenges, questions related to COVID-19 reveal its impact on the workforce specifically.

In the survey, more than a fourth (26%) of female respondents indicated that they are the primary caretakers for children or aging parents while working from home. Additionally, 21% of women working within the agri-food industry indicated that they are concerned that working from home will negatively impact their careers. Conversely, 13% of male respondents shared the same concern for their career.  

With the majority (62%) of all respondents agreeing that the industry is becoming more inclusive, there is reason to be optimistic.

To access speaker insights from the 2021 Agri-Food Outlook and explore full data results from the Alltech Global Feed Survey and the Women in Food & Agriculture Survey, visit

Yale Law School Releases Videos and Papers from Its Big Ag & Antitrust Conference

Yale Law School released presentation videos from its January 16 virtual conference titled, “Big Ag & Antitrust: Competition Policy for a Humane and Sustainable Food System.” Nearly 1,000 people registered for the conference that included a keynote address from Christopher Leonard, author of the 2014 book, The Meat Racket. Leonard’s suggestion for needed antitrust enforcement in U.S. livestock industries is to end what he called the failed “consumer welfare experiment.” Leonard explained that antitrust enforcers should cease ignoring antitrust violations based on the erroneous belief that harms to livestock producers can be offset by benefits to consumers.

Following Leonard were panelists who each presented their original papers on antitrust issues, including R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard who presented his research paper, "Chronically Besieged: The U.S. Live Cattle Industry." Bullard explained how the U.S. cattle industry’s potential for rebuilding Rural America’s economy is thwarted by an ongoing disconnect between the value of cattle and the value of beef.

Bullard presented a chart viewable in the first panel of presenters’ video showing the inverse relationship between retail beef prices paid by consumers and cattle prices paid to producers. The chart reveals that during the past three years, retail beef prices trended upward while cattle prices trended downward.

Restoring competition for beef derived exclusively from U.S. cattle with a new mandatory country of origin labeling law for beef; and restoring competition in the cattle market by passing legislation to require packers to purchase at least 50% of their cattle needs in the competitive cash market were Bullard’s two “triage” recommendations for policymakers.     

The conference was held to discuss what kinds of reforms are needed in antitrust enforcement and regulations to improve America’s food system. It was co-hosted by the Thurman Arnold Project at Yale School of Management and the Law, Ethics & Animals Program at Yale Law School.

Monday January 25 Ag News

 AGP Announces Election of Directors/Officers

Ag Processing Inc a cooperative (AGP) announced today the election of three directors to serve three-year terms on the Board. The elections took place during the 2020 AGP Annual Meeting, held virtually on January 22, 2021.

Newly elected to the Board is Rob Jacobs, General Manager of Farmers Cooperative Elevator headquartered in Ocheyedan, Iowa. Re-elected to the Board are Bruce Granquist, producer from LaBolt, South Dakota, and Larry Oltjen, producer from Robinson, Kansas.

Following the annual meeting, the AGP Board elected Lowell Wilson as Chairman of the Board of Directors. Wilson, a producer from Primghar, Iowa, has served on the Board of Directors since 1985 and held the position of Vice Chairman since 1995. Lowell Wilson has been elected Chairman of the Board of Directors of Ag Processing Inc (AGP).Wilson succeeds Brad Davis of Goldfield, Iowa, who recently retired after 27 years on the AGP Board and over 46 years of experience in the cooperative system.

“I am very honored to have been elected to serve as Chairman of AGP,” Wilson said. “We have achieved great things at AGP and I believe we will continue our success in the years ahead. I look forward to working with the Board and management in leading the cooperative to further build upon its strong business foundation. On behalf of the Board of Directors, I also want to sincerely thank and express our gratitude to Brad Davis for his leadership and service to AGP, our member/owners, and agriculture.”

The Board also elected Dean Isaacson, retired General Manager of Western-Consolidated Co-op in Holloway, Minnesota, as Vice Chairman. Chuck Schafer, General Manager of North Iowa Cooperative Elevator in Thornton, Iowa, was elected Secretary-Treasurer.

AGP ( is a leading agribusiness with primary operations as a major U.S. soybean processor/refiner producing and marketing soybean meal, refined soybean oil, and biodiesel. AGP businesses also include agricultural product trading in domestic and international markets and numerous U.S. grain elevator operations. AGP is owned by 148 local and regional cooperatives representing over 250,000 farmer-producers across the United States. Corporate headquarters are located in Omaha, NE.  

Nominations accepted for Nebraska school greenhouse award

A Nebraska school greenhouse demonstrating excellence in food production will receive the first-ever Greenhouse to Cafeteria Award later this year, presented by the Center for Rural Affairs, in collaboration with Nebraska FFA.

Nominations are currently being accepted at The deadline to apply is March 30, 2021.

In 2019, the Center for Rural Affairs began offering schools financial and technical assistance to revamp greenhouse education. The organization currently assists 10 schools.

“A goal of this program is to see year round agriculture education in schools, specifically around food cultivation,” said Justin Carter, project associate with the Center. “The ultimate end goal is to see greenhouse-grown foods supplying the cafeteria.”

While the Center strives to assist schools, staff recognizes existing programs already supply fresh food to Nebraska school lunchrooms.

“With this award, we hope to lift up these schools to show their achievements and offer an example of outstanding production education,” Carter said. “Down the road, we would like to encourage mentorship and collaboration between schools to multiply greenhouse programs across the state.”

Carter hopes to see plenty of applicants, even though instructors have a lot on their plate during this difficult time.

“We want to lay the groundwork for this program,” Justin said. “We hope these applications will help us learn more of what’s happening around the state and how we can assist schools in the wake of the pandemic.”

The project is funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm to School Grant.


For the week ending January 24, 2021, topsoil moisture supplies rated 16% very short, 44% short, 39% adequate, and 1% surplus, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 16% very short, 48% short, 35% adequate, and 1% surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Winter wheat condition rated 6% very poor, 12% poor, 48% fair, 33% good, and 1% excellent.  

The next report will be issued February 22, 2021.


Milk production in Nebraska during the October- December 2020 quarter totaled 367 million pounds, up 3% from the October-December quarter last year, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. The average number of milk cows was 60,000 head, 2,000 head more than the same period last year.

U.S. October-December Milk Production up 3.0 Percent

Milk production in the United States during the October - December quarter totaled 55.6 billion pounds, up 3.0 percent from the October - December quarter last year. The average number of milk cows in the United States during the quarter was 9.43 million head, 59,000 head more than the July - September quarter, and 81,000 head more than the same period last year.

December Milk Production up 3.2 Percent

Milk production in the 24 major States during December totaled 18.1 billion pounds, up 3.2 percent from December 2019. November revised production, at 17.3 billion pounds, was up 3.5 percent from November 2019. The November revision represented an increase of 56 million pounds or 0.3 percent from last month's preliminary production estimate.

Production per cow in the 24 major States averaged 2,027 pounds for December, 40 pounds above December 2019.

The number of milk cows on farms in the 24 major States was 8.92 million head, 107,000 head more than December 2019, and 12,000 head more than November 2020.

Milk production in Iowa during December 2020 totaled 466 million pounds, up 4% from the previous December according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report. The average number of milk cows during December, at 220,000 head, was 1,000 more than last month and 5,000 more than last year. Monthly production per cow averaged 2,120 pounds, up 40 pounds from last December.

Iowa Families Invited to Apply Now for the 2021 Century and Heritage Farm Program

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig encourages eligible farm owners to apply for the 2021 Century and Heritage Farm Program now. The program was created by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation to recognize families who have owned their farms for 100 years and 150 years, respectively.

“The Century and Heritage Farm program is a great way to recognize the strength and resiliency of Iowa’s multi-generation farm families, especially after an exceptionally challenging year,” said Secretary Naig. “I always look forward to celebrating along with the families and hearing stories about their incredible farming legacies. I am very grateful for the investments they make to protect our rich farmland and their continued commitment to our state’s agriculture community.”

To apply, download the application on the Department’s website at

Applications may also be requested from Kelley Reece, coordinator of the Century and Heritage Farm Program, at 515-281-3645 or Written requests can be mailed to Century or Heritage Farm Program, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Henry A. Wallace Building, 502 E. 9th St., Des Moines, Iowa 50319.

To be included in the 2021 Century or Heritage Farm Program completed applications must be received by the Department by June 1, 2021.

This marks the 45th anniversary of the Century Farm program, which started in 1976 as part of the Nation’s Bicentennial Celebration. To date, more than 20,000 farms from across the state have received this recognition.

This is the 15th anniversary of the Heritage Farm program; more than 1,000 farms have been recognized since this program began in 2006. To search for previous Century and Heritage Farm recipients, visit Photos from past recognition ceremonies are also available on the Century and Heritage Farm Program website.

The ceremonies recognizing the 2021 Century and Heritage Farm families will be held at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 19-20, in the Pioneer Livestock Pavilion.

USDA Cold Storage December 2020 Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers on December 31, 2020 were up 1 percent from the previous month but down 11 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were up 4 percent from the previous month and up 11 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were down 3 percent from the previous month and down 30 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were up 32 percent from last month but down 54 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on December 31, 2020 were up 1 percent from the previous month but down 10 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were down 2 percent from the previous month and down 12 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 16 percent from last month but down 4 percent from December 31, 2019.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on December 31, 2020 were up 4 percent from the previous month and up 6 percent from December 31, 2019.  Butter stocks were up 9 percent from last month and up 44 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks on December 31, 2020 were down 10 percent from last month and down 18 percent from a year ago.  Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 5 percent from last month but up 6 percent from a year ago.

Thompson Welcomes Ag GOP Committee Members Recommended by Steering Committee for the 117th Congress

Today, the Republican Steering Committee announced its recommendations of members to serve on the House Agriculture Committee. Following the announcement, Republican Leader Glenn “GT” Thompson (PA-15) issued the following statement:

“Any farm or ranch operation requires a strong and highly effective farm team, and agriculture policy is no different. I’m honored to welcome these fearless and qualified advocates to the House Agriculture Committee. The diverse expertise, backgrounds, and districts of our new and returning members will be a valuable asset as we work to restore a robust rural economy and begin crafting the next Farm Bill.”

The new Republican House Agriculture Committee Members are as follows:
Rep. Michelle Fischbach, MN
Rep. Tracey Mann, KS
Rep. Randy Feenstra, IA
Rep. Micheal Cloud, TX
Rep. Kat Cammack, FL
Rep. Barry Moore, AL
Rep. Mary Miller, IL

The following Republican Members are returning to the Committee:
Ranking Member Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, PA
Rep. Austin Scott, GA
Rep. Rick Crawford, AR
Rep. Scott DesJarlais, TN
Rep. Vicky Hartzler, MO
Rep. Doug LaMalfa, CA
Rep. Rodney Davis, IL
Rep. Rick Allen, GA
Rep. David Rouzer, NC
Rep. Trent Kelly, MS
Rep. Don Bacon, NE

Rep. Dusty Johnson, SD
Rep. Jim Baird, IN
Rep. Jim Hagedorn, MN
Rep. Chris Jacobs, NY
Rep. Troy Balderson, OH

Ogallala Aquifer Virtual Summit to Engage Stakeholders in Tackling Tough Questions

This event will be February 24-25, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. (CST). Through panels and facilitated workshops, participants will discuss and identify actionable activities and priorities that could benefit producers, communities, and this critical groundwater resource.

At 8 a.m. (CST) on February 24 and 25, producers and other water management leaders will grab their coffee cups, fire up their devices, and wade into a series of highly interactive conversations designed to tackle several tough questions faced by communities that rely on the declining Ogallala aquifer resource. For example, what on-farm, district, or state-level decisions and policies could support shifts in water management to ensure future generations will be able to continue to farm and live in the Ogallala region? What can be done so that rural communities remain vital in parts of the region where aquifer depletion means irrigated agriculture will no longer serve as much of an economic backbone in coming years or decades?

This event is being led by the USDA-NIFA Ogallala Water Coordinated Agriculture Project (OWCAP) team, along with the Kansas Water Office, Texas A&M AgriLife, and the USDA-ARS supported Ogallala Aquifer Program, and support from individuals in all eight Ogallala states. Between the pandemic, an extended period of drought, and lower commodity prices, summit organizers wondered if producers and other water management leaders would be inclined to meet virtually. Together, they assessed that the value of this event, which encourages people to meet one another and exchange a wealth of practical and technical expertise, would not be diminished if held online. In fact, more than ever, having an opportunity to help people connect and hear from one another and from producers in particular on many important dimensions of the water-dependent future of this region, seemed right and necessary. This event will serve as the capstone outreach event for OWCAP, an interdisciplinary, collaborative research and outreach project underway since 2016 involving researchers from 9 institutions based in 6 of the 8 Ogallala states.

Topics covered during the summit will include updates on projects, new programs, activities and policies that were inspired at least in part due to an earlier 8-state Ogallala summit event held in Garden City, Kansas in April of 2018. Together, participants will share their expertise and identify opportunities and gaps requiring attention, resources, and expanded collaboration within and across state lines to benefit agriculture and the region’s communities.

“The increasing depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer is one of the most daunting water problems in America. Extending and restoring the life of this resource, and, in turn, the economies and livelihoods that depend on it, will require collaboration across a diverse range of water-focused stakeholders and entities,” said Connie Owen, Director of the Kansas Water Office. “This summit will provide a unique opportunity to foster and strengthen that collaboration. It will cover emerging innovations, research, and policies as well as help identify opportunities for working together across state lines to address the water-related challenges facing this region and its communities.”

Registration for the summit costs $40; the fee for producers and students attending the 2-day event is $20. Participants from each of the eight states overlying the Ogallala aquifer will be represented: South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas. A detailed schedule of this event is available at Members of the media are invited to attend.

Census: 96 Percent of U.S. Farms Are Family-Owned

Family farms comprise 96% of all U.S. farms, account for 87% of land in farms, and 82% of the value of all agricultural products sold, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture Farm Typology report released by the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. The farm typology report primarily focuses on the "family farm," defined as any farm where the majority of the business is owned by the producer and individuals related to the producer.

The report classifies all farms into unique categories based on two criteria: who owns the operation and gross cash farm income (GCFI). GCFI includes the producer's sales of crops and livestock, fees for delivering commodities under production contracts, government payments, and farm-related income.

"Classifying America's 2 million farms to better reflect their diversity is critical to evaluating and reporting on U.S. agriculture," said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. "Typology allows us to more meaningfully explore the demographics of who is farming and ranching today as well as their impact on the economy and communities around the country."

The data show that small family farms, those farms with a GCFI of less than $350,000 per year, account for 88% of all U.S. farms, 46% of total land in farms, and 19% of the value of all agricultural products sold. Large-scale family farms (GCFI of $1 million or more) make up less than 3% of all U.S. farms but produce 43% of the value of all agricultural products. Mid-size farms (GCFI between $350,000 and $999,999) are 5% of U.S. farms and produce 20% of the value of all agricultural products.

The data also show that the number of family farms decreased by 4% (almost 80,000 farms) since 2012. Large and mid-size family farms experienced steeper declines, decreasing 13% and 8%, respectively. Small family farms experienced a smaller decline (3%).

Other key findings from the 2017 Census of Agriculture Farm Typology report include:

- Southern and New England states have the highest share of small family farms. Midwestern and Northern Plains states have the lowest share. Conversely, the share of mid-size and large-scale farms is highest in the Midwest and Northern Plains states.

- Farm specialization varies by farm size. The majority (57%) of small family farms specialize in cattle (34%) or "other crops" such as hay and forage production (23%). Over half (53%) of mid-size farms specialize in grains and oilseeds. Large-scale family farms vary more in product specialization, though they are more likely than other family farms to specialize in dairy production or specialty crops.

- Small family farms account for 45% of all direct sales to consumers, compared to 17% for mid-size family farms and 23% for large-scale family farms.

- Compared to producers on mid-size and large-scale family farms, small family farm producers are more likely to be women, age 65 or older, and report being of Hispanic origin or a race other than white. They are also more likely to be new and beginning farmers (farmed 10 years or less) and to report having military service.

Growing the Future of Agriculture through Give FFA Day

In the spring of 2020, teachers across the country found new ways to reach their students. The same is true for ag educators and FFA advisors.

As the country dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic, FFA advisors across the country found ways to continue sharing the message of agriculture and teaching the next generation of leaders. Through generous donations from FFA supporters, students and teachers across the country were able to continue to make a difference.

For more than 90 years, the organization has strived to make a difference in students’ lives. FFA knows it is growing the future generation of leaders and through their programming, students can find their path to success.

Hannah Everetts, agricultural education teacher and FFA advisor in Ohio, recognizes that it is through generous supporters that she was able to continue to share the FFA message. "Thank you for recognizing that the students in our program matter and that what we do as educators matters in our classroom,” she said. “Thank you, donors. Thank you for all that you do to support our classrooms all across the country.”

Once again, during National FFA Week, individuals will have an opportunity to step up and support FFA and agricultural education through Give FFA Day on Thursday, Feb. 25. This year, the organization has a goal of getting 1,500 donors during the 24-hour period.

FFA corporate partners will also participate in increasing contributions by matching them dollar-for-dollar on Give FFA Day. The first $25,000 donated will be matched by Carhartt, and the second $25,000 will be matched by John Deere. Other challenges will be announced throughout the day.

In addition, former FFA members and FFA alumni are encouraged to donate $19.71 in honor of the 50th anniversary of the National FFA Alumni, which was chartered in 1971.

“Thanks to our donors, we are able to help continue to build the next generation of leaders,” said Kimberly Coveney, annual fund manager of the National FFA Foundation. “Give FFA Day is an opportunity for individuals across the country to give back to an organization that is making a difference in the lives of young people while sharing the story of agriculture. Every donation counts. By coming together to give on this one day, donations of any amount are amplified.”

To prepare for Give FFA day, visit See how you can give back to the organization.

Cattle on Feed Update

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

The latest Cattle on Feed report was released this past Friday. Included in this report were placements and marketings for December 2020 and the on-feed total for January 1, 2021. The biggest surprise in the report was the nearly 1% larger placement total during December 2020 than during December 2019. Pre-report estimates were for lower placements than a year ago and the small increase was slightly outside the range of expectations. Total placements were 1.84 million head which is the 2nd largest total for December (behind 2005) since the series began in 1996.
At the state level, the biggest placement increases from December 2019 by number of head were in Iowa, Colorado, and Nebraska which were up 21,000, 15,000, and 15,000 head, respectively. Placements in TX and Oklahoma were lower than a year ago, down 30,000 and 16,000, respectively. This was the last Cattle on Feed report for the volatile 2020. A look back at the monthly placement totals for the year show a 4.1% decline in placements during calendar year 2020 as compared to 2019. This was due in part
This report also included placements by weights. Placements of heavier cattle increased in December as compared to a year ago with the exception of the greater than 1,000 pounds category. Cattle weighing 900-999 pounds were 15.8% higher compared to December 2019. Placements in the 800-899 pounds group were up 7.5% and the 700-799s pound group were up 2.9%. The under 600 pounds category and the 600-699 pounds category were down 1.1% and 4.4%, respectively.

Also included in this report was the quarterly update of cattle on feed by class. The estimates for feedlot mix on January 1, 2021 were 61.85% steers and 38.15% heifers. This is up slightly from these same estimates in October 2020 and very near the feedlot mix reported in January 2020. The percentage of heifers in the feedlot mix trended up from 2015-2019 as a result of the cattle cycle but 2020 quarterly totals were slightly lower than 2019 due in part to the feedlot disruptions in the spring and summer.
Marketings of fed cattle were up 1% which was near the pre-report expectations. This was the 2nd largest marketings total for a December since 1996, trailing only 2010. Altogether, the total number of cattle on feed on January 1 was very near year-ago levels. Looking ahead, higher feed prices are likely to impact feedlot decisions including a potential preference toward larger placements.

January 2021 Dairy Market Report Now Available

2021 has opened with a mix of bullish and bearish market indicators, as the dairy industry moves through another major surge of the coronavirus pandemic and the federal policy outlook is uncertain with a new administration and Congress in Washington.

The U.S. average all-milk price reached its peak for the 2020 calendar year in November and isn’t expected to reach similar levels until the second half of the year, at the earliest. Meanwhile, milk production continues to rise: compared with a year earlier, November U.S. milk production was 3.0 percent higher, total milk solids production was 3.3 percent higher, and total U.S. dairy cows were up by 62,000. All three were the highest rates of increase in several years.

Growth in total domestic commercial use of milk in all dairy products ticked up during September–November. Still, a temporary lull in government purchases of dairy products at the end of 2020 was accompanied by a drop in the monthly survey cheese price of more than eighty cents a pound from November to December. This took the Class III price down by $7.62 /cwt from the previous month. That development in turn reestablished a relatively normal relationship between December federal order class prices, generating mostly positive producer price differentials in the seven component pricing orders for the first time since last May.

Shipments overseas continued to be a bright spot in the dairy economy. Although slipping some in November from prior monthly pandemic levels, exports for all of 2020 remain on track to hit a record level of milk solids exported during a calendar year.

View full report here:  

Ranch Group Applauds Made in America Executive Order; Asks for m-COOL

Today, R-CALF USA sent a letter supporting President Biden’s Executive Order signed today on Made in America. The letter in its entirety states:

“Dear Mr. President:
On behalf of America’s independent cattle farmers and ranchers we applaud your “Made in America” Executive Order signed today that strengthens buy American provisions and ensures the future of America is made in America by all of America’s workers.

Please know, however, the single largest segment of American agriculture comprised of three-quarters of a million family farmers and ranchers – the U.S. live cattle industry – can neither assist you in carrying out your Order nor benefit at all from your Order. That is because the product produced from their cattle – U.S.-born, -raised, and -harvested beef – is no longer distinguishable from imported beef or beef from imported cattle following Congress’ repeal of the U.S. mandatory country of origin labeling law (m-COOL) for beef in 2015.

Therefore, until your Administration and/or Congress reinstates m-COOL law for beef, your Order as it may apply to directing American-sourced beef for federal procurement programs, including school lunches, will remain untenable and recipients of such programs will as likely as not be receiving beef sourced exclusively from foreign cattle. Even when beef is affixed with a voluntary “Product of U.S.A.” label, that label denotes only that the product has received minimal processing in the U.S., such as being unwrapped from its original package and re-wrapped in a new package.

America’s hard-working family cattle farmers and ranchers deserve the opportunity for both their government and America’s consumers to choose to purchase beef from cattle exclusively born, raised and harvested in the United States. We have drafted proposed legislation to accomplish this important goal and would be pleased to share it with you at your request.

R-CALF USA is the largest producer-only cattle trade association in the United States and we wish to work with you to ensure that America’s family-owned cattle farms and ranches can participate in building a future for America where Americans can choose to purchase American beef, an action that will strengthen America’s domestic food supply chain.”

Crappie Masters-NCGA-RFA Partnership Highlights Benefits of E10 in Marine Engines

Combating the myths that exist about the use of gasoline blended with 10-percent ethanol has been the primary goal of the partnership between Crappie Masters, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). The Crappie Masters National Tournament Trail kicked-off over the weekend with a two-day national qualifier at St. Johns River in Deland, Fla., where Robert and Tommy Sellers took home top honors and once again the winners powered their way to victory with E10 fuel.  NCGA and RFA are co-title sponsors for the fifth year in a row.

“We are looking forward to another great season being teamed up with the National Corn Growers Association and Renewable Fuels Association coming off our sixth straight year of all winners of the national tournament trail using E10 fuel in their boat,” said Crappie Masters President Mike Vallentine. “The anglers have been receptive to learning about ethanol fuel and now have full confidence after seeing nothing but positive engine performance results.”

Last year, Crappie Masters expanded their reach by starting state chapters. This structure has been expanded again this year, bringing the total number of state chapters to 16. Because of this, memberships in Crappie Masters tripled, the average age of anglers was reduced, and their social media presence was greatly expanded. The state chapters are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, north Louisiana, south Louisiana, east Mississippi, west Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, middle Tennessee, and west Tennessee.

“The expansion of Crappie Masters gives us an opportunity to reach more anglers and talk about the many benefits of corn-ethanol,” said NCGA Ethanol Action Team Chair and Iowa farmer Mark Recker. “Ethanol is an environmentally friendly fuel additive that reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent, keeping the waterways anglers’ fish clean.”

“We are excited to get back to educating boaters and anglers on the benefits of using ethanol with the new season and new state chapters,” said RFA Vice President for Industry Relations Robert White. “Winning teams have shown over the years that choosing to use a domestic, renewable, cleaner-burning fuel that helps keep our air and waterways clean is easy, and it can help bring home the trophies, too.”

Crappie Masters Television will also highlight each tournament. The weekly show can be found on the Pursuit Channel, which is on DIRECTV 604, Dish Network 393, Verizon, CenturyLink and Roku.

The next Crappie Masters National Tournament Trail event is Feb. 26-27 at Lake D’Arbonne in Farmerville, La. The 2021 Crappie Masters Tournament Trail season runs through Sept. 25.

Friday January 22 Cattle on Feed Report + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.55 million cattle on feed on January 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 4% from last year. Placements during December totaled 480,000 head, up 3% from 2019. Fed cattle marketings for the month of December totaled 450,000 head, down 4% from last year. Other disappearance during December totaled 10,000 head, down 5,000 from last year.


Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 610,000 head on January 1, 2021, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was unchanged from December 1, 2020, but down 9% from January 1, 2020.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during December 2020 totaled 93,000 head, up 13% from November 2020 and up 29% from December 2019.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during December 2020 totaled 91,000 head, up 1% from November 2020 and December 2019. Other disappearance from feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head in Iowa totaled 2,000 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 12.0 million head on January 1, 2021. The inventory was slightly above January 1, 2020. The inventory included 7.40 million steers and steer calves, up slightly from the previous year. This group accounted for 62 percent of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 4.57 million head, down slightly from 2020.

On Feed - By State  (1,000 hd - % Jan 1 '20)

Colorado .......:               1,110          102                 
Iowa .............:                 610              91             
Kansas ..........:               2,500          103              
Nebraska ......:               2,550          104             
Texas ............:               2,870           97              

Placements in feedlots during December totaled 1.84 million head, 1 percent above 2019. Placements were the second highest for January since the series began in 1996. Net placements were 1.78 million head. During December, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 460,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 435,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 425,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 317,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 110,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 95,000 head.

Placements by State (1,000 hd - % Dec '19)

Colorado .......:                155             111               
Iowa .............:                 93               129             
Kansas ..........:                440             101             
Nebraska ......:                480             103             
Texas ............:                380              93              

Marketings of fed cattle during December totaled 1.85 million head, 1 percent above 2019. Marketings were the second highest for January since the series began in 1996. Other disappearance totaled 60,000 head during December, 10 percent below 2019.

Marketings by State (1,000 hd - % Dec '19)

Colorado .......:                170           117             
Iowa .............:                  91            101               
Kansas ..........:                 425            99                 
Nebraska ......:                 450            96              
Texas ............:                 395           108              

Nebraska Corn Board welcomes Jobman as president of NeCGA

On Jan. 21, 2021, Andy Jobman, a farmer from Gothenburg, was elected as president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) following the organization’s annual meeting. The Nebraska Corn Board (NCB) congratulates Jobman on his new role, and Nebraska’s corn checkoff looks forward to working with Jobman and NeCGA for the betterment of the agricultural industry.

“Andy has been great to work with since he joined NeCGA in 2010,” said David Bruntz, chairman of NCB and farmer from Friend. “Throughout my time working with Andy, I’ve appreciated his level of engagement in various local, state and national meetings. He is always prepared and ready to tackle tough issues impacting our nation’s corn industry. He’s a great active listener and takes time to hear all viewpoints. He’ll definitely be an asset to the association throughout his term.”

Jobman will serve as president for two years before a new leader is elected, and he will then transition to chairman of the board.

NCB also thanks Dan Nerud, farmer from Dorchester, who completed his term as president of NeCGA, a position he’s held since Dec. 2018. He now serves as chairman of the board.

“It’s always exciting to welcome in new leadership, but it’s also bittersweet because we see great leaders conclude their service,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of NCB. “Working with Dan has been a pleasure over these last two years and the Nebraska Corn Board greatly appreciates his commitment to the industry. Fortunately, while he may be finishing his time as president, I know Dan will continue to be very involved in the corn industry at the local and national levels, and I know we’ll be seeking his expertise from time to time.”

Brunkhorst, who also serves as the executive director of NeCGA, encourages interested farmers to get involved with Nebraska’s corn industry by serving the checkoff or the association.


– Ben Beckman, NE Extension

If you rent or lease pasture, you know drought can cause big issues. With all of Nebraska currently experiencing drought conditions, is your lease prepared to deal with the possibility of dry conditions this summer?

Pasture leases can range from simple to complex, having a plan for adverse weather helps protect the landowner and tenant.  Without one, the landowner risks having the pasture over grazed, resulting in decreased future production and opening the door for weed issues.  The tenant runs the risk of poor cattle performance and depending on how the lease is negotiated, being taken off pasture early without a place for animals to go.

How and who decides when pasture utilization is complete and animals need to be removed is not easy, and I can’t give you a magic solution.  What I do know, is talking about it now and deciding on a framework that both parties can agree upon can save time and headache later on if conditions deteriorate.

Be sure to discuss how pasture condition and utilization will be assessed, any adjustments to grazing period length or stocking rate that low production will activate, adjustments to the rent payment, and how any insurance, disaster, or government payments will be handled.

These discussions may not be easy, but they are worth the effort.  Splitting drought risk between both landowner and tenant as much as possible is often best.  Make sure to write it down so there is no miscommunication later on.

Drought can play havoc with pasture leases, but by planning ahead and being prepared, you can be ready and avoid headaches later on.

Webinar to focus on adding value to livestock through certification programs

Nebraska Extension’s upcoming Farm and Ranch Management webinar will focus on strategies for livestock producers to add value through approved certification programs.

 Consumers are desiring more information about how their food is produced. Participation in an approved certification program is one way for producers to capture additional value at the time of sale. The webinar will review the historical financial performance of commonly used livestock programs and talk about current and future programs that producers can potentially participate in to continue to add value back to their operations.

Presenters will include Elliott Dennis, assistant professor of livestock marketing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Tom Brink, CEO of the Red Angus Association of America; and Andrew Dorn, Global Product Marketing Manager at Allflex Livestock Intelligence.

The Extension Farm and Ranch Management team is based in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Department of Agricultural Economics. Webinars in the series are hosted every Thursday at noon and aim to assist producers and other agricultural professionals in their decision-making.

Registration is free at

PRIME Class V Applications Due Next Friday

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association's PRIME Program is designed for younger or newer producers who want to increase their knowledge and improve themselves and their operations in every aspect. All sessions are focused on maximizing the long-term viability of the operation through the latest research, emerging technologies, farm management practices, and peer relationship. The experience provides relevant, current and bottom-line information that is the best the industry has to offer.

The PRIME Program consists of three 2-day sessions plus attendance at the annual meeting of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA). You can expect a time commitment of 6 to 8 days away from the farm over a 12-month period. Session locations are determined once class participants have been selected. A maximum of 12 corn farmers are selected to participate each year.

Applications should be sent to the Director of Grower Services, Morgan Wrich, at by next Friday, January 29.

Central Life Sciences Partners with Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation to Provide Scholarships to Nebraska Youth

Central Life Sciences is proud to partner with the Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation in support of Nebraska’s future agriculture leaders through the creation of a new Central Life Sciences Scholarship. This scholarship(s) will be dedicated to a Nebraska student(s) pursuing a degree in an agriculture related field of study and will be awarded in June during the Nebraska Cattlemen Midyear Meeting.

“We at Central Life Sciences are excited to support our future leaders with their educational efforts and are thrilled to be working with the Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation to make it happen” said Paul Kropp, National Account Manager for Central Life Sciences.”

“The Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation believes in the importance of a sound education for the next generation of industry leaders and appreciates the generosity of Central Life Sciences in provided funding to the Foundation in order to provide scholarships to Nebraska youth” said Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation president Mark Jagels.

Central Life Sciences, makers of Altosid® IGR feed-through fly control, is launching a program to reward scholarship dollars based on purchases of Altosid® IGR included beef products within the state of Nebraska. As a producer, you can support local students with your purchase of feed or mineral that contains the feed-through horn fly control of Altosid® IGR. For every ton purchased between January 1st and May 31st, 2021, Central Life Sciences will donate $10/ton to a scholarship fund established by the Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation.

Visit to submit proof of qualifying purchases by May 31, 2021.

 Upcoming Communicating with Farmers Under Stress webinar workshop to build farmer stress awareness

Stress seems to be prevalent in the agriculture sector, with even more concerns arising due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Nebraska Extension, in partnership with Michigan State University Extension, presents a free online webinar, “Communicating with Farmers Under Stress” on Thursday, Jan. 28 from 10 – 11:30 a.m. CDT.  This workshop is designed for individuals who work with farmers and ranchers on a regular basis, such as bank lenders, ag suppliers, educators and consultants, healthcare professionals, and anyone involved with the lives of farmers and ranchers.

Many farmers and ranchers are facing financial problems and marketing uncertainties, along with regular challenges such as production risks, farm transfer issues and more. When temporary stress turns into chronic stress, it can impact physical health and mental wellness.

Individuals may personally know farmers and ranchers who struggle with stress, anxiety, depression, burnout, indecision or suicidal thoughts. This workshop will help individuals recognize and respond when it is suspected that a farmer, rancher, or rural family member may need help.  

The workshop aims to:  
    Build awareness around potentially stressful conditions affecting some farmers and ranchers.
    Learn stress triggers, identify signs of stress, and review helpful techniques for responding.
    Learn techniques for identifying, approaching, and working with farmers who may not cope with stress effectively.
    Learn where to find additional help.

Those interested in the free online workshop can register at:  

    For more information, contact Nebraska Extension Educators Glennis McClure, or Jean Ann Fischer,

Nebraska Corn to host virtual February Forum Series

Farmers, ranchers and agricultural industry representatives across the state are invited to the first February Forum Series, offered virtually by the Nebraska Corn Board (NCB) and the Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA). These hour-long Zoom webinars will take place each Thursday throughout the month and will begin at noon central time. Each session will offer unique content relevant to the state’s corn industry.

“We’re in the midst of a season that would typically be jam-packed with a variety of winter meetings for farmers and ranchers,” said David Bruntz, chairman of NCB and farmer from Friend. “We’re excited about these February Forum webinars because they’re a good way for people to easily learn about relevant topics important to them from the comfort of their own homes.”

In each webinar event, guest speakers from national associations and agricultural trade organizations will provide updates on several topics, including international trade (Feb. 4), biofuels (Feb. 11) agricultural policy (Feb. 18) and carbon markets (Feb. 25). Presenting organizations include U.S. Grains Council, U.S. Meat Export Federation, National Corn Growers Association and Renewable Fuels Association.

“I’ve been hearing a lot of questions relating to how the new Biden Administration will impact agriculture,” said Andy Jobman, president of NeCGA and farmer from Gothenburg. “Nebraska Corn’s webinar series will be an ideal time to listen to experts in a variety of sectors lay out what they know so far and identify how agriculture can work together to achieve common goals. If you wanted to log in and listen, please do, but we also encourage active participation, and there will be time for questions at the end of each session.”

The virtual series is free of charge to attend, but people must register in advance to obtain the Zoom login information. To register, visit and click on the “February Forum Series” banner at the top of the page.


The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) is seeking proposals for projects designed to strengthen the specialty crops industry in Nebraska (i.e. fruits, vegetables, nuts, honey). NDA administers the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP), which is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The deadline for submitting proposals is Jan. 31, 2021.

“Nebraska’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program supports the research, development and marketing of specialty crops in the state,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman. “Through the years, we’ve seen many unique and creative projects that have helped producers and consumers alike. One common theme found in all the projects is that specialty crops add value and variety to Nebraska agriculture.”
For the 2021 SCBG program, NDA anticipates approximately $700,000 will be available to fund new projects. Producers, organizations and associations, as well as state and local agencies, educational groups and other specialty crops stakeholders are eligible to apply.

Last fall, several organizations in Nebraska received more than $800,000 in USDA grants. This year’s proposals will be reviewed and scored using select criteria. Applicants who make it through the first round will be asked to submit additional information. NDA and USDA will announce the projects receiving funding in the fall.

Instructions for submitting a proposal, proposal applications, performance measures and program guidelines are available on NDA’s website at All proposals should be saved as a Microsoft Word .docx file and sent electronically to by the Jan. 31 deadline.

For additional information, contact SCBG Program Manager Casey Foster at 402-471-4876, or by the email listed above. To view a comprehensive list of eligible specialty crops and examples of projects funded, visit USDA’s website at

Agronomy and Horticulture Seminar Series starts Jan. 29

The spring Agronomy and Horticulture Seminar Series begins Jan. 29 with “Management of Herbicide-resistant Palmer Amaranth in Minor and Specialty Crops Within the High Plains,” presented by University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Nevin Lawrence.  

Lawrence, assistant professor and Weed Management Specialist will present on herbicide-resistant Palmer amaranth’s recent arrival to the Panhandle of Nebraska and surrounding regions and how many of the crops grown within the region have limited herbicide options. Lawrence will review the previous five years of research and extension efforts he has undertaken to better understand Palmer amaranth, and to provide stakeholders with options to manage a difficult but increasingly common weed species.

This seminar will be streamed and recorded. The series will continue every Friday. Dates and topics are listed below.

    Feb. 5: “Oil Palm Production and Conservation of Natural Resources: Can We Get It All?,” Patricio Grassini, associate professor and cropping system specialist, Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

    Feb. 12: “Soil Health – How Management is Affecting the Pulse of Soil,” Alan Franzluebbers, USDA-ARS, Raleigh, North Carolina.

    Feb. 19: “Coexisting with Fire in Rangelands,” Victoria M. Donovan, postdoctoral research associate, Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

    Feb. 19: “People, Fire and Global Biome Divergence in the 21st Century,” Rheinhardt Scholtz, affiliate in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
    Feb. 26: “Aerial Application in the United States: Best Practices and Future Directions,” Bradley Fritz, Agricultural Engineer and Research Leader, Aerial Application Technology Research Unit, USDA-ARS, College Station, Texas.    

    Note: This presentation video will not be posted to the website.
    March 5: “Teaching Landscape Systems,” Dan Uden, assistant professor, School of Natural Resources, Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, Center for Resilience in Agricultural Working Landscapes, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

    March 12: “The Summing Up: One Person’s Life with Small Grains,” P. Stephen Baenziger, professor, Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Nebraska Wheat Growers Presidential Chair.

    March 19: “The Physiological Basis for Greater Growth and Improved Persistence of Alfalfa Fertilized with Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K),” Jeffrey J. Volenec, professor, Department of Agronomy, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana.

    March 26: “How Can Transferable Biology and Breeding Contribute to Improving Food Systems and Climate Change?,”Edward Buckler, professor, USDA-ARS, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.

    April 2: “From Plant Proteins and Metabolites to Protein Networks and Metabolic Pathways,” Sophie Alvarez, research associate professor, Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, Director of the Proteomics and Metabolomics Facility, Nebraska Center for Biotechnology, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

    April 9: Ruth Wagner, Head of Data Science & Analytics at Bayer Crop Science, St. Louis, Missouri.

Note: This presentation video will not be posted to the website.

    April 16: “Management of Herbicide-Resistant Weeds: Challenges and Opportunities,” Rodrigo Werle, assistant professor and extension cropping systems weed scientist, Department of Agronomy, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    April 23: “Increasing Pasture Productivity and Quality to Support Grazing Livestock,” John A. Guretzky, associate professor and grassland systems ecologist, Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

    April 30: “Expanding the Breeding Toolbox to Develop Soybean Cultivars,” Asheesh Singh, professor, Department of Agronomy, Bayer Chair in Soybean Breeding, Associate Chair for Discovery and Engagement, Director of Graduate Education (Plant Breeding), R.F. Baker Center for Plant Breeding, Plant Sciences Institute, Iowa State University, Ames.

 Ag Industry Leader And Grains Council Trade Policy Director Floyd Gaibler Passes Away

Floyd Gaibler, the U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC’s) longtime director of trade policy and biotechnology, passed away Jan. 21 following complications during surgery.

“Floyd was a good man who loved his work at the Council and in the agriculture community,” said USGC President and CEO Ryan LeGrand. “We are deeply saddened by his loss and grateful for the many contributions he made to our industry over a lifetime of work.”

In his role with the Council, Gaibler worked with government officials and the White House to address trade policy issues related to the export of U.S. feed grains and their co-products.

Gaibler’s service to the agricultural sector was long and devoted, spanning more than 30 years in both the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. federal government and numerous positions in the private sector.

He served as deputy undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In that capacity, he provided leadership and guidance to programs administered by the Farm Service Agency, the Commodity Credit Corporation, the Risk Management Agency and major international and food trade issues affecting the Foreign Agricultural Service.

He also worked for House Committee of Agriculture; the Agriculture Retailers Association; the International Dairy Foods Association; the National Cheese Institute/American Butter Institute; and others.

Gaibler was born and raised on the family farm in Farnam, Nebraska, and held a master’s degree and a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Nebraska.

He is survived by his wife and two children as well as relatives in Nebraska and many devoted friends and colleagues.

Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll Shows Farmers' Beliefs on Climate Change Are Shifting

Climate change is impacting Iowa agriculture and negative impacts are expected to increasingly threaten agricultural productivity in the state. There are many ways, however, that farmers and landowners can increase the resiliency of production systems, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and even capture carbon.

The 2020 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll survey explored farmers’ perspectives on climate change and ways that farmers can address its impacts on agriculture. The project is supported by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station.

“We’ve asked questions about climate change three times over the last decade, so we can now look at changes in perspectives over time,” said project director J. Arbuckle, professor and extension sociologist at Iowa State University.

According to the poll, also known as the Farm Poll, farmers’ climate change beliefs shifted substantially between 2011 and 2020. In 2020, 81% of farmers indicated that climate change is occurring, up from 68% in 2011. That number is higher than for the general public in Iowa, which recent research shows is 67%.

Half of farmers indicated that they believe that extreme weather will become more frequent in the future. Over half reported that they are concerned about the potential impacts of climate change on their farm operations; an increase from 35% in 2011. Nearly 60% agreed that they should take steps to protect the land they farm from increased precipitation.

“Farmers have experienced a lot of extreme weather since 2011, from droughts to extreme wet, and it’s likely that’s driving some of the changes in perspectives,” said Arbuckle. “Of course, farmers are closer to the weather than most folks, and that extreme weather can really make it difficult to plant, raise and harvest high-quality crops.”

Many soil and water conservation practices can help to make farm operations more resilient in the face of climate change, and the Farm Poll survey asked farmers whether they had made management changes in response to weather variability and its impacts. Most farmers reported multiple adaptation actions. The most prevalent was scouting for pests and disease, with 52% of farmers reporting a moderate or major increase in that activity. Increased use of many recommended conservation practices was common, with 43% reporting increases in use of no-till and 22% reporting an increase in use of cover crops. On the down side, 32% reported increased use of pesticides.

“Soil and water conservation practices, especially those that reduce erosion or increase organic matter and water infiltration and holding capacity, make farms more resilient,” Arbuckle said. “They protect the soil from extreme rains, and help crops cope better with dry spells.”

It is increasingly recognized that agriculture can play an important role in combating climate change. Through practices such as no-till and cover crops, carbon can be captured and stored it in the soil, reducing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide while simultaneously building soil health and resilience.

“A lot of work is going into development of programs and markets to help farmers make ‘carbon farming’ a part of their farm enterprises, so we put a question about that in the survey,” said Arbuckle. “Thirty-seven percent of farmers agreed that such initiatives should be pursued, compared to 17% who disagreed.”

The results showed that nearly half were uncertain, which Arbuckle said makes sense given that such programs are hypothetical at this point.

“To me these results signal an openness to strategies that help make individual farms more sustainable while also addressing the climate crisis,” Arbuckle said. “Iowa’s dominant cropping systems face a lot of sustainability challenges. Income from carbon capture could be a great step in several right directions.”

The most recent poll was published in December 2020 and is available online at the ISU Extension Store.

The Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll survey has been conducted since 1982, and is the longest-running survey of its kind in the nation. Questionnaires were mailed in February and March 2020, and 1,059 farmers responded to the statewide survey.

Pork Industry Forum Will be a Virtual Event

After much consideration and guidance from health officials, the Board of Directors for the National Pork Board has decided the Pork Act portion of the 2021 Pork Industry Forum, scheduled for March 3-5, 2021, will be virtual.

All pork producers and media are invited to attend the Pork Act Delegate Session. A detailed agenda and registration details will be available soon.

The 2022 Pork Industry Forum will be held in Louisville, Kentucky.

Prepare Livestock for Cold Weather

The colder temperatures of the winter season are on the way and livestock producers should make sure their animals are well cared for.

Access to clean water, ample feed and a well-maintained shelter, windbreak or facility are common requirements for all livestock during cold weather.

Chris Rademacher, extension swine veterinarian and associate director of the Iowa Pork Industry Center at Iowa State University, said the biggest thing with swine is to make sure they are warm, dry and draft-free.

This time of year is a good time to check for cracks or crevices in the doors, walls or curtains. Pigs will naturally huddle together to stay warm, but drafts can affect this behavior.

“One of the biggest objectives in modern swine housing during the winter months is to ensure that the building’s ventilation system is working properly,” said Rademacher. “In the winter season, the goal is to keep the building warm, while using the minimum amount of ventilation to exhaust the gases and excess moisture.”

Grant Dewell, extension beef veterinarian at Iowa State, said cattle are usually cold tolerant but extreme temperatures are still dangerous.

Windbreaks, extra bedding and feed are a critical strategy to ensure the cows are still maintaining a healthy body temperature. It also is beneficial to feed at a certain time of day.

Feeding cows in the late afternoon will help them get through cold overnight temperatures as rumen heat production peaks about six hours after being fed. During periods of continual cold weather cows will need approximately an extra pound of corn for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit of cold stress below 20 F.

This is also a good time to check that waterers are working correctly.

Cooler winters are sometimes favored by livestock producers, compared to volatile freeze-thaw cycles, but subzero temperatures can make for extra work, and stress on animals. Younger and thin livestock are often most susceptible, and the cold stress can cause increased issues with production, and overall animal health.

When in doubt, work with your nutritionist or veterinarian to ensure the welfare of your livestock and your operation. Additional information for cattle producers is also available in the January edition of the "Growing Beef Newsletter."

Farm, Biofuels, and Environmental Group Oppose SAFE Rule

An alliance of farm, biofuels, and environmental organizations last night filed an amicus brief in objection to the Safer Affordable Fuel Efficiency Vehicle (SAFE) Rule on the grounds that it both fails to account for toxic pollution from aromatic-laden fuel as well as ignores the important role that ethanol can play in improving fuel efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Finalized last April by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the SAFE Rule reversed an Obama-era rule that called for a 5 percent improvement in vehicle efficiency. In its place, it established a much more meager 1.5 percent increase in efficiency each year for light-duty vehicles. In the notice of proposed rulemaking, EPA requested information on octane levels and how they could be increased in accordance with the Clean Air Act, but ultimately failed to address these concerns in the final rule.

The brief, which is being led by National Farmers Union (NFU), also includes support from the Clean Fuels Development Coalition, the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition, Montana Farmers Union, North Dakota Farmers Union, Siouxland Ethanol LLC, South Dakota Farmers Union, Urban Air Initiative, and Glacial Lakes Energy.

“As written, the SAFE Rule puts the interests of oil corporations ahead of those of the renewable fuel industry, the environment, or the public at large,” said NFU President Rob Larew. “Not only will it increase the overall emissions from the U.S. transportation industry, but it will also delay and disincentivize the development and adoption of renewable fuels and cleaner, more efficient vehicles – all of which will erode air quality, contribute to climate change, worsen health outcomes, and increase fuel costs for consumers.”

In June, NFU joined a coalition of ethanol, agriculture, and public interest groups to dispute the rulemaking, filing a petition for review in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. However, in light of President Joe Biden’s recent executive order directing federal agencies to review the SAFE Rule, NFU voluntarily dismissed itself from the case. Instead, the group will redirect its resources to other pro-ethanol initiatives the incoming administration may be inclined to support. Although it is no longer a petitioner, NFU still stands in support of the remaining petitioners and shares their concerns, as is detailed in the brief.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 1/15/2021

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending January 15, ethanol production increased 0.4%, or 4,000 barrels per day (b/d), to 945,000 b/d—equivalent to 39.69 million gallons daily and a four-week high. Production remained 9.9% below the same week last year. The four-week average ethanol production rate decreased 0.8% to 938,000 b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 14.38 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks declined 0.3% to 23.6 million barrels, which was 1.7% below a year-ago. Inventories drew down across all regions except the Midwest (PADD 2) and West Coast (PADD 5).

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, jumped 7.7% higher to 8.11 million b/d (124.36 bg annualized). Gasoline demand was 6.3% less than a year ago.

Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol climbed 4.0% to 778,000 b/d, equivalent to 11.93 bg annualized. This was 10.0% below the year-earlier level as a result of the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were zero imports of ethanol recorded for the week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of November 2020.)

Dozens of Ethanol Plants Remain Idle in Early 2021

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) recently estimated that about two dozen of the 200 ethanol plants in the U.S. are idled and another two dozen have reduced their production rates.

Additionally, Scott Richman, chief economist for the RFA, noted, "The corn market started moving higher a month ago and has spiked over the past couple of days." With the higher prices of corn and the worsening impact of the pandemic on fuel consumption, ethanol plant margins turned negative in early December, he said, and had recently started to return to break-even levels when the most recent corn price spike hit. "This latest move in the corn rally will likely have a negative impact on margins," he stated.

Higher corn prices from the most recent rally and their expected negative impact on ethanol industry margins in the New Year are coming on the heels of the ethanol industry's deep downturn in 2020, Richman said. The RFA estimates that the ethanol industry had $4 billion in foregone revenues from March through November because of the coronavirus.

"The ethanol industry is quite resilient, but financial losses were substantial," he noted.

Richman said that it's a little early to know how ethanol plants are going to react to the recent spike in corn prices. Some plants try to price their corn in advance, he stated, but eventually the higher corn prices are going to work their way through the ethanol processing system and raise feedstock prices. The winter months are also a time when margins for ethanol plants are a little bit weaker because of lower fuel consumption.

Tyson Foods to Settle Price-Fixing Suit

Tyson Foods Inc. said it has agreed to pay $221.5 million to settle with plaintiff groups of poultry buyers that sued it for price-fixing claims, helping resolve a four-year legal battle over alleged collusion in the $65 billion chicken industry.

Restaurant chains, supermarket operators and food distributors have accused Tyson, the largest U.S. meat company by sales and the nation's top chicken supplier, and other major chicken companies of coordinating production and pricing to boost prices for staples such as chicken breasts, tenders and wings. Chicken suppliers have pushed back in court, pointing to economic factors they said drove poultry prices.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Tyson said it reached the settlement with plaintiffs including direct purchasers, commercial and institutional indirect purchasers and end-user consumers. It didn't admit any liability as part of the settlements and said the settlement is subject to court approval.

The settlement doesn't cover lawsuits filed separately by individual plaintiffs. Tyson, Pilgrim's Pride Corp. and other U.S. chicken suppliers still face continuing lawsuits from some of their top customers, including chicken-sandwich company Chick-fil-A Inc., supermarket operators Walmart Inc. and Kroger Co. , and food-service distributors Sysco Corp. and US Foods Holding Co.

Thursday January 21 Ag News

 Rural Mainstreet Economy Stabilizes in Growth Range: Concerns Over Loan Defaults Drops Significantly
For the third time in the past four months, the Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) climbed above growth neutral. According to the monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy, the index increased to its second highest level since January 2020.          

Overall: The overall index for January rose to 52.0 from December’s 51.6. The index ranges between 0 and 100 with a reading of 50.0 representing growth neutral.

“Recent sharp improvements in agriculture commodity prices, federal farm support payments, and Federal Reserve’s record low short-term interest rates have underpinned the Rural Mainstreet Economy in a solid and positive growth range. However, the rural economy remains well below pre-pandemic levels,” said Ernie Goss, PhD, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business.  

“Bankers reported that their biggest economic concerns for 2021 are excessive inflation and higher long-term interest rates,” said Goss.

Jim Levick, president of Nebraska State Bank in Oshkosh, Nebraska said, “I feel the economy is moving in a positive direction that can be rattled by a combination of higher taxes, higher inflation, and a return of stricter regulation.”

Farming and ranching: For a fourth straight month, the farmland price index advanced above growth neutral. The January reading climbed to 56.3, its highest level since July 2013, and was up from 55.0 in December. This is first time since 2013 that Creighton’s survey has recorded four straight months of above growth neutral farmland prices.

The January farm equipment-sales index rose to 54.5, its highest reading since April 2013, and up from 50.2 in December. After 86 straight months of readings below growth neutral, farm equipment sales bounced into growth territory for the last two months.    

“As a result of the rapidly improving farm economy, the farm Exchange Traded Fund (MOO) traded on the New York Stock Exchange has risen to a record high of $83.32,” said Goss.  

Banking: Bankers once again reported anemic loan volumes. The January loan volume index dropped to 33.9 from December’s 43.7, but up from November’s record low 25.8. The checking-deposit index soared to record high 88.0 from December’s 78.1, while the index for certificates of deposit, and other savings instruments increased to 46.0 from 42.2 in December.

“Approximately 44% of bank CEOs expect low loan demand to be the greatest issue facing their banks for 2021. This is up from 7% that recorded this as a top concern last year at this time,” reported Goss.

“One year ago, 32% of bankers indicated that rising loan defaults and bankruptcies were their greatest concern for 2020. This is significantly above the 4% of bankers that registered this as their greatest 2021 issue,” said Goss.    
However, 24% indicated that rising competition from untaxed credit unions and Farm Credit posed the greatest 2021 bank threat. This is well up from the 5% recorded last year at this time. Joseph Anglin, senior vice president and chief financial officer at Pioneer Bank & Trust in Rapid City, South Dakota, said, “We compete day-in-and-day-out with them and they simply have a 21% advantage that they can leverage over tax paying banks.”

Below are the state reports:

Nebraska: The Nebraska RMI for January expanded to 55.6 from December’s 54.2. The state’s farmland-price index declined to 56.1 from last month’s 56.2. Nebraska’s new-hiring index fell to 45.4 from 52.3 in December. Rod Cornelius, Branch President, Pinnacle Bank, Ogallala said, “Increase in grain prices - bonus for the procrastinating marketer.” Over the past 12 months, Nebraska’s Rural Mainstreet economy has lost 3.0% of its nonfarm employment compared to a 2.6% loss for urban areas of the state.   

Iowa: The January RMI for Iowa increased to 51.2 from December’s 50.2. Iowa’s farmland-price index rose to 55.9 from 54.1 in December. Iowa’s new-hiring index for January fell to 46.6 from 50.3 in December. James Brown, CEO of Hardin County Savings Bank in Eldora, reported, “Our ag customer reviews have been much better than we anticipated last fall due to improved commodity prices and insurance payments from the derecho.” Over the past 12 months, Iowa’s Rural Mainstreet economy has lost 6.0% of its nonfarm employment compared to a 4.5% loss for urban areas of the state.   

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

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

Increased nitrate levels in the groundwater could put your family’s health at risk

Is your drinking water putting your health at risk?  The maximum contaminant level of nitrate-nitrogen for drinking water is 10 parts per million (ppm), anything over that amount is not safe to drink.

Nitrate contamination can be particularly harmful to infants and children. Consuming drinking water containing high nitrate levels can limit the ability of red blood cells to absorb oxygen. This condition, defined in the health industry as methemoglobinemia or ‘blue-baby syndrome’, is one of the most acute health implications.

“I was the parent of a severely handicapped child.  Blue-baby syndrome can occur during pregnancy or during the first 6 months of a baby’s life.  It can cause developmental problems that could be with that child forever.  The lifetime of challenges that come with raising a child with disabilities can be overwhelming,” said, Dave Kathol of Norfolk.  “Imagine how quickly your life could change.  Would you be prepared to handle it, financially and emotionally?”

Birth defects in Nebraska are on the rise, and within the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) evidence indicates that these health implications are increasing at a faster rate than the rest of the state.&n