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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
Wednesday May 5 Ag News

Ricketts Proclaims “Beef Month” & Highlights Beef Passport Dining Program

This morning, Governor Pete Ricketts proclaimed May as “Beef Month” in Nebraska at Misty’s Steakhouse in downtown Lincoln.  He was joined by Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Steve Wellman, Nebraska Beef Council Chairman George Cooksley, and Nebraska Cattlemen President William Rhea III.  At the ceremony, the Governor encouraged Nebraskans to take part in the 2021 Good Life Good Steaks Beef Passport program organized by the Nebraska Beef Council.

“Nebraska has long been known as the Beef State,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “Our cattle industry grows Nebraska by generating over $10 billion in cash receipts each year.  The new Beef Passport program gives Nebraskans the opportunity to support our ranchers by dining on delicious cuts of Nebraska beef.”

Through the Beef Passport program, Nebraskans can qualify for prize drawings by dining at 41 participating restaurants across the state that serve premium Nebraska beef.  Diners will receive a stamp on their passport for each restaurant they visit.  Stamps can be collected now through September 7, 2021.  To order a passport, see a list of participating restaurants, and get information on program rules and prizes, go to

“The beef community is the heart of Nebraska,” said William H. Rhea III, President of the Nebraska Cattlemen.  “With a continued focus on conservation and care, Nebraska farmers and ranchers are laser focused on enriching the land and caring for their animals.  The Beef State is an unmatched leader in delivering high-quality beef to those who love it, with the best people in the business each step along the way.  On behalf of Nebraska Cattlemen members, we thank Governor Ricketts for once again declaring May as ‘Beef Month’ and hope everyone celebrates with beef today—and every day.”

Nebraska ranks first in the nation for commercial cattle slaughter, second for beef exports, and second for all cattle on feed.  In 2019, beef was Nebraska’s number two agricultural export behind soybeans.  Nebraska has 22 million acres of rangeland and pastureland, about half of which are in the Sandhills.

Quarterly webinar will cover cash rental rates, landlord-tenant issues and drought concerns across Nebraska

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Department of Agricultural Economics will continue its live webinar series, Land Management Quarterly, on May 17 at noon.

Since 2019, the series has offered management advice and insight for Nebraska landowners, agricultural producers and others with interest in crop or grazing land along with related properties across the state.

The May 17 webinar will cover 2021 cash rental rates and land values in Nebraska, critical communication issues between landlords and tenants and address growing drought concerns across the state. The presentation will also include an “ask the experts” session, offering participants the chance to get live 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.

“Rising drought concerns and higher commodity prices over the last month have placed an immense amount of uncertainty on those involved with agricultural land,” Jansen said. “This webinar will address this uncertainty when developing equitable cash rents and considerations for developing an effective lease arrangement that accounts for drought conditions.”

2021 Land Management Quarterly webinar dates are:
    May 17, noon
    Aug. 16, noon
    Nov. 15, noon

Registration is free at Questions may be submitted on the site ahead of time. The recording will be available the following day, along with recordings from the entire series.

Smith, Fischbach Lead Over 130 House Colleagues In Opposing Stepped-Up Basis Repeal and Capital Gains Death Tax

Representatives Adrian Smith (R-NE) and Michelle Fischbach (R-MN) today led more than 130 of their House of Representatives colleagues in sending a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy opposing the Biden Administration’s proposal to repeal stepped-up basis from the tax code and require payment of capital gains taxes at death.

“Small businesses, farms, and ranches are the lifeblood of America, creating jobs and economic opportunity across our country,” said Rep. Smith. “Protecting stepped-up basis across generations and ensuring capital gains taxes are only collected upon the sale of an asset are vital to ensuring local, family-owned businesses remain local, family-owned businesses, supporting and creating jobs in their home communities. Our focus should be on tax policies which encourage small businesses to create jobs; not on punitive taxes which could force families out of business.”

“President Biden’s plan to eliminate stepped-up basis and assess capital gains taxes at death would be devastating for the agricultural economy and would have a disproportionate effect on rural districts like the one I represent,” said Rep. Fischbach. “Without a step-up in basis, the next generation of farmers and ranchers will absorb massive tax increases just to continue their family farm. I cannot and will not support a tax plan that pads the federal coffers at the expense of America’s farmers, and I urge President Biden and House Democrats to reconsider his proposal.”

“America’s farmers and ranchers rely on the stepped-up basis tax provision to pass their farms on to their children,” said Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Eliminating it could force families to take out costly loans or sell their land bit by bit just to pay the taxes. We urge Congress to leave the stepped-up basis tax provision untouched to ensure a lifetime of hard work and sacrifice helps the next generation of farmers to thrive.”

“Nebraska’s farm and ranch families truly appreciate the efforts of Congressman Smith, Congresswoman Fischbach, and the over 130 members of the House who signed onto this important letter clearly stating their support for continuing stepped-up basis,” said Mark McHargue, President of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation. “The elimination of this important tax provision is simply another attempt to make death a taxable event. No farmer, rancher, business owner, or family should be forced to sell parts of their business or any asset just to pay the federal government. We believe this sends a powerful message to all of those in Washington who are pushing for tax increases that will harm family farms, ranches, and businesses which provide jobs and support Nebraska communities.”

“Minnesota Farm Bureau greatly appreciates Representatives Fischbach and Smith’s leadership on raising concerns with any attempt to repeal stepped up basis and taxing capital gains at death,” said Kevin Paap, President of the Minnesota Farm Bureau. “Eliminating the stepped-up basis would lead to more consolidation of agriculture and several family-owned farms would be forced out of business because of the increased tax liability. Stepped-up basis helps pass family farms on to the next generation and should be preserved.”

“ASA has long advocated for needed improvements to infrastructure vital to agriculture’s success in the years ahead,” said Kevin Scott, President of the American Soybean Association and farmer from South Dakota. “Yet, progress cannot come at the very expense of those trying to abettor our American economy—the farmers who work every day to assure our crops stay competitive on the global market.  We have grave concerns over elimination of stepped up basis or any changes to the basis process that are not thoughtful as to the real repercussions on our U.S. farm families.”

“Repealing stepped-up basis is not a free lunch for those looking to generate tax revenue and would have significant consequences in the multifamily marketplace,” said Doug Bibby, President of the National Multifamily Housing Council. “Absent stepped-up basis, heirs could inherit an apartment property with a small amount basis and possibly sizeable debt. If they are taxed immediately, the resulting depreciation recapture and capital gains taxes could exceed their ability to pay without selling the asset. Even if funds to pay tax are available, heirs may have little left over to invest in and maintain the property, which could negatively impact the available affordable housing stock.”

Under current law, when a home, small business, or farm is passed on to the next generation, our tax code allows for stepped-up basis, ensuring the inheritor is only responsible for the increased value of an asset from the time they acquired it and not for gains which benefited a previous generation. The tax code also recognizes the only appropriate time to tax capital gains is upon the sale of an asset, as any effort to tax unrealized gains would necessitate the sale of assets which would otherwise continue to be utilized to create jobs and economic opportunity.


Connor Biehler, Beef Systems Asst. Extension Educator

This spring as the grass continues to green up yearling cattle will find their way to the pastures of the great plains for summer grazing. Cattle are stocked on grass pasture this time of year due to its additional nutritive quality that equates to gains prior to entering the feedlot. One economically justifiable way to make stocker cattle more efficient on grass is by administering implants. Utilization of implants in stocker cattle can increase average daily gain by 5-20%, improve feed efficiency by 5-15%, and improve lean tissue deposition by 5-12%.

            Implants are natural or synthetic hormones released into the blood that increase growth hormone secretion in cattle. Naturally occurring hormones include estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone, whereas synthetic hormones are analogs of the natural hormones with greater activity. Depending upon brand and product, implants vary in dosage level and payout period (lifespan of active ingredient). The potency of an implant must correlate with the energy level of the diet. High potency implants should be used for cattle on high energy, feedlot diets. Stocker cattle on grass are not consuming the energy content that is equivalent to the greater dosages of high-potency implants, thus do not require high dosage implants.

Implant strategies should be selected based on potency – for terminal cattle on grass, only use implants that are approved for grazing cattle. Multiple brands and varieties that contain active ingredients either singularly or in various combinations are available on the market. The proper implant should be tailored to the production goals of the cattle. Spring green-up through the summer provides sufficient energy to support protein deposition for the increasing gains that would be expected from a moderately-potent implant. Meaning that a lower potency implant may not offer the best return on your dollar when forage quality is at its highest early in the summer. Adversely, later in the summer, or in years with moderate to severe drought conditions, nutrient intake may decline due to quality of forage, and a moderately-potent implant could lack the capability to function to its fullest abilities.

            The payout for common implants compatible for stocker cattle is usually around 100 days, although some can payout much longer. Summer grazing usually lasts around 120 days. If cattle are implanted when they are processed going onto summer pasture, there will be about a 20-day period where the implant is no longer paying out. Forage quality and quantity are decreasing at this time so one option for producers would be to not re-implant when quality and quantity of forage begin to dwindle because cattle are not going to meet the nutrient requirements for the implants to be as efficient as they possibly could be. The cost of implanting along with the time and effort it takes to gather the cattle might not be worthwhile when weighing the options.    

For more information on Nebraska Beef Extension or implanting cattle on grass pasture reach me at my office (402) 624-8007 or follow my twitter page @BigRedBeefTalk for more information on Nebraska Beef Extension.

Record-Breaking Performance for U.S. Beef and Pork Exports in March

U.S. red meat exports ended the first quarter on a very high note, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), with March beef and pork exports each posting the highest monthly value on record. Pork exports and shipments of beef muscle cuts also set new volume records in March.

Beef exports totaled 124,808 metric tons (mt) in March, up 8% from a year ago and the second largest of the post-BSE era. Export value broke the $800 million mark for the first time at $801.9 million, up 14% year-over-year. Beef muscle cut exports set new monthly records for both volume (98,986 mt, up 13% from a year ago) and value ($718.3 million, up 17%). For the first quarter, beef exports pulled even with last year's pace at 333,348 mt, valued at $2.12 billion. For beef muscle cuts, first quarter exports increased 4% to 262,914 mt, valued at $1.9 billion (up 5%).

March highlights for U.S. beef included record exports to China, Honduras and the Philippines and strong results in South Korea, Chile and Colombia.

March pork exports were record-large at 294,724 mt, up 1% from last year's strong total, and set a new value record at $794.9 million (up 4%). Pork muscle cuts also set new monthly records for both volume (247,660 mt, up 2% from a year ago) and value $689.2 million (up 4%). For the first quarter, pork exports were 7% below last year's pace in both volume (782,620 mt) and value ($2.07 billion). Pork muscle cuts followed a similar trend at 659,420 mt (down 7%), valued at $1.79 billion (down 8%).

March pork exports were led by strong performances in Japan, Mexico, the Philippines and Central America, including new records in Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Exports were also record-large to the Dominican Republic for the second consecutive month.

"It's very gratifying to see such an outstanding breakout month for U.S. beef and pork exports," said USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. "Exports were off to a respectable start in 2021, considering the logistical and labor challenges the industry is facing and ongoing restrictions on the foodservice sector in many key markets. While these obstacles are not totally behind us, the March results show the situation is improving and the export totals better reflect the strong level of global demand for U.S. red meat."

While muscle cuts certainly drove March export growth, Halstrom was also encouraged by a rebound in shipments of beef and pork variety meat.

"The tight labor situation at the plant level has been especially hard on variety meat volumes," Halstrom said. "But March variety meat exports matched last year's performance for pork and were the largest of 2021 on the beef side. It's important that the capture rate for variety meat continues to improve, as this is a critical component of the export product mix."

March exports of U.S. lamb were up 54% from a year ago to 1,089 mt, valued at $1.5 million (up 22%). For the first quarter, export volume increased 64% from a year ago to 3,268 mt, but value was down 4% at $4.3 million. Lamb variety meat exports were led by strong demand in Mexico, while lamb muscle cuts increased to the Dominican Republic, Bermuda and Canada.

Lawmakers Seek Level Playing Field for U.S. Pork Producers in Vietnam

More than 70 U.S. lawmakers sent a letter today to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai seeking her support for enhanced Vietnamese market access for U.S. pork. Vietnam represents a tremendous opportunity for U.S. pork exports, and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) appreciates the tremendous support for one of its top trade priorities.

“We thank the lawmakers, led by Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Darin LaHood (R-Ill.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.) and Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), for their support in recognizing the importance of the Vietnamese market to U.S. pork producers,” said NPPC President Jen Sorenson, communications director for Iowa Select Farms in West Des Moines, Iowa. “Vietnam represents a significant opportunity for U.S. hog farmers, yet we’re hamstrung by unjustified tariff and non-tariff barriers, allowing global competitors to take advantage of the supply shortfall.”

Vietnam’s domestic pork production industry is struggling with African swine fever, yet unwarranted tariff and non-tariff barriers restrict the United States from supplying this major pork-consuming nation with affordable, high-quality pork, explained the letter to Tai. “Domestic pork producers need a level playing field to compete in this critical market, particularly after being devastated by trade retaliation and the global pandemic,” the letter noted.

Last year, Vietnam took an initial step forward in addressing the U.S. pork tariff disadvantage when, from July-December 2020, it temporarily reduced its Most Favored Nation tariff rates from 15 percent to 10 percent for frozen U.S. pork products. As a result, U.S. pork exports doubled during that timeframe, compared to the first half of the year. “The surge in exports during the tariff reprieve, coupled with Vietnam’s growing population and cultural preference for high-quality pork, demonstrates that the United States is barely scratching the surface of its export potential to Vietnam,” the letter added.

Premier Cattle Industry Education Experience Heading to Tennessee

Tune in to Tennessee for the 28th annual Cattlemen’s College, Aug. 9-10, which kicks off the 2021 Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show in Nashville, Tenn. Cattlemen’s College, sponsored by Zoetis, brings thought-provoking, stimulating sessions that can help generate better returns for operations.

“We’ve designed Cattlemen’s College with the producer in mind and have created the best education experience available based on past attendee feedback,” said Josh White, executive director of producer education & sustainability with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “Our goal is to offer a variety of topics and feature the best speakers, providing great value for producers.”

The event includes two days of learning, idea sharing and networking. In addition to Monday’s “producer’s choice” sessions which provide a preview of Tuesday’s educational experience, risk management is the headlining topic. Sessions will focus on the basics of business risk and tools and resources available for producers as well as a deep dive into Livestock Risk Protection and diversification.

The Zoetis Demonstration Arena features a live animal genomics demonstration where tradition collides with innovation and genetic insights are envisioned to help better inform decisions to enhance production efficiency throughout the beef supply chain. Monday concludes with an evening reception offering an opportunity for everyone to gather with friends and reconnect.

This year’s event features cutting-edge topics and top industry leaders such as Tuesday’s keynote speaker, Dr. Jayson Lusk from Purdue University who will discuss industry impacts from COVID-19 and keeping beef at the center of the plate. There will be 18 sessions and six educational tracks to choose from including making better decisions for better outcomes, cattle breeding & selection, maintaining a healthy herd, practical nutrition, sustainability and hot topics such as preparing for activist threats.

More than 1,000 people attend this popular event each year, but for those not attending the Cattle Industry Convention in person, a new virtual option of Cattlemen’s College will be available for 2021, combining selected live sessions and recordings for participants to view at home. Whether participating in person or experiencing the event virtually, all sessions will be recorded and available for registered attendees to watch at any time in the future.

Registration begins June 1, 2021. Look for the Education Package, which offers the best value. For more information, visit  

“Make plans to arrive early in Tennessee and kick off your convention experience with Cattlemen’s College, we can’t wait to see you there,” said White.

Fertilizer Prices Stall

While prices for all eight of the major fertilizers were higher at the end of April compared to a month earlier, none were significantly higher, which DTN designates as 5% or more. It's the second week in a row prices showed more muted moves higher after several months of rising sharply.

For the fourth week of April 2021, DAP had an average price of $629/ton, MAP $703/ton and potash $433/ton, about a 1% increase in prices. Urea, at $513/ton, and 10-34-0, at $613/ton, were each up 2%. The average retail price of UAN28 increased 3% to $350/ton, while anhydrous and UAN32 were each up 4%, at $710/ton and $391/ton, respectively.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.56/lb.N, anhydrous $0.43/lb.N, UAN28 $0.62/lb.N and UAN32 $0.61/lb.N.

With retail fertilizer prices moving higher over recent months, all fertilizers are now higher in price from a year ago.  Potash is now 17% more expensive, 10-34-0 is 31% higher, urea is 33% more expensive, UAN32 40% higher, anhydrous is 44% more expensive, UAN28 is 48% higher, DAP is 52% more expensive and MAP 62% is higher compared to last year.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 4/30/2021

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending April 30, ethanol production expanded 0.7%, or 7,000 barrels per day (b/d), to 952,000 b/d, equivalent to 39.98 million gallons daily. Production was 59.2% above the same week last year when the effects of the pandemic were reflected but was 8.1% below the same week in 2019. The four-week average ethanol production rate declined 0.6% to 945,000 b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 14.49 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks saw the first upturn in seven weeks, growing 3.6% to 20.4 million barrels. However, this is 20.2% below a year-ago and 9.0% below this time in 2019. Inventories built across all regions.

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, ticked down 0.1% to 8.86 million b/d (135.89 bg annualized). Gasoline demand was 33.0% above a year ago but was 3.9% below the same week in 2019.

Conversely, refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol increased 0.8% to 887,000 b/d, equivalent to 13.60 bg annualized. This was 49.1% above a year ago but was 3.5% below 2019.

There were zero imports of ethanol recorded for the twentieth consecutive week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of March 2021.)

New Analysis from DOE Researchers Confirms Ethanol’s Low-Carbon Benefits

The carbon footprint of corn ethanol shrunk by 23% between 2005 and 2019 as farmers and ethanol producers adopted new technologies and improved efficiency, according to a new analysis published in the academic journal Biofuels Bioproducts and Biorefining by scientists at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. By 2019, the researchers found, corn ethanol was reducing lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by 44-52% compared to gasoline.

The researchers also determined that corn ethanol alone reduced transportation-related GHG emissions by nearly 550 million metric tons between 2005 and 2019. These findings are consistent with other research published earlier this year, which found corn ethanol offers an average GHG savings of 46% and the use of all biofuels (i.e., ethanol, renewable diesel, biodiesel, biogas, etc.) between 2008 and 2020 reduced GHG emissions by 980 million metric tons.

“Our study shows that while the corn ethanol industry has experienced significant volume expansion, it has reduced the GHG intensity of corn ethanol through improved US corn farming and ethanol biorefinery operations. Corn yield has increased, and chemical and energy use intensities of corn farming have decreased. In ethanol biorefineries, ethanol yield has increased, and energy use has decreased significantly,” according to the researchers. “Biofuels, including corn ethanol, can play a critical role in the U.S. desire for deep decarbonization of its economy.”

Commenting on the new research, RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper said, “This new study from the experts at Argonne National Laboratory adds to a growing body of scientific evidence that proves today’s corn ethanol is playing a major role in decarbonizing our nation’s transportation fuels and combatting climate change. The researchers found that modern corn ethanol cuts GHG emissions by half compared to gasoline and underscored that the contribution of land-use change to total emissions is estimated to be relatively small, based on real-world experience and empirical data, compared to the levels that had been theorized toward the beginning of the timeframe examined. Continuous improvements in farming and biofuel production technology have helped establish ethanol as a true low-carbon fuel that is available here and now to clean up our nation’s liquid fuels. And, as acknowledged by these researchers, those improvements will continue; with the adoption of new and emerging technologies, we expect corn ethanol can be a net carbon-neutral or carbon-negative fuel by the end of this decade.

"We encourage the White House and Environmental Protection Agency to consider the findings of this study as they examine policy and regulatory opportunities for reducing carbon pollution. We also urge EPA to incorporate the Argonne results and other recent research as the agency considers updating its 12-year old GHG analysis of ethanol and other renewable fuels.”

The Argonne researchers attribute the improvement in corn ethanol’s GHG performance to efficiency gains in every phase of the fuel’s production lifecycle between 2005 and 2019, including:
    A 15% increase in corn yield per acre;
    A 7% reduction in nitrogen fertilizer use per bushel of corn;
    An 18% reduction in potash fertilizer user per bushel of corn;
    A 14% reduction per bushel in farming energy use;
    A 6.5% increase in ethanol yield; and
    A 24% reduction in ethanol plant energy use.

“The reduction in the 58 gCO2e/MJ CI of corn ethanol in 2005 to 45 g/MJ in 2019 (plus the LUC value of 7.4 g/MJ) provides significant GHG emission reductions compared to the CI of 93 gCO2e/MJ for the US average petroleum gasoline blendstock,” the study concludes.

ACE Commends Argonne Scientists for Providing Further Evidence Demonstrating Why Ethanol Must Be Part of the Climate Solution

Today, the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) welcomed more scientifically credible evidence provided by Department of Energy Argonne National Lab scientists that explicitly states, “Corn ethanol plays an important role in enhancing energy security and the rural economy while contributing to decarbonizing the transportation sector in the USA.”

The new study shows a significant decrease in carbon intensity (CI) from 58 to 45 gCO2e/MJ of corn ethanol (a 23 percent reduction) over the past 15 years — from 2005 to 2019 — thanks to improvements occurring in corn farming and within ethanol facilities. The displacement of gasoline by corn ethanol on an energy‐equivalent basis from 2005 to 2019 has resulted in a cumulative greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction of 544 MMT CO2e, according to the researchers. The analysis finds that “ethanol plants have reduced ethanol production emissions by 30 percent (or 11 gCO2e/MJ) over the 15‐year period, mainly by reducing the energy inputs per unit of ethanol produced. Corn farming reduced chemical and energy input intensities, which contributes to a 17 percent reduction in farming‐related emissions (4.9 gCO2e/MJ).”

Further, the study authors note that “there has been a growing interest in further reducing the overall CI of crop‐based biofuels by cutting down the GHG emissions of biofuel feedstock, which correlates significantly with agronomic practices and chemical and energy inputs in individual farms. Proposals are being made about incentivizing low‐carbon biofuel feedstocks in U.S. fuel regulatory programs to promote sustainable farming practices. This will offer further opportunities to advance the sustainability of farming and reduce biofuel CIs.”

ACE CEO Brian Jennings responded to the study findings in the following statement:

“ACE commends the scientists who contributed to this important research regarding the low carbon benefits of corn ethanol. The evidence is mounting that agriculture and ethanol can and should be part of the solution to significantly reduce GHG emissions, both in the immediate future and long term.

“When modelers provide credit for soil carbon sequestration, corn ethanol will approach net-negative emissions territory. Further, with the adoption of carbon capture and sequestration, ethanol will be the only transportation energy source that can credibly say it has the ability to reach net-negative carbon intensity in the future.”

RFA Hails EPA’s Decision to Cooperate with GAO on Small Refinery Exemption Investigation

The Renewable Fuels Association today praised the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its decision to provide requested information to the Government Accountability Office related to small refinery exemptions under the Renewable Fuel Standard. In today’s Federal Register, EPA announced it will provide the GAO with “…all documents, information, and data related to all small refinery exemption petitions received by EPA from the start of the RFS program through the present.”

In 2019, then-Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-IA) and 11 other members of the House Biofuels Caucus formally requested that GAO investigate the previous administration’s secretive process for reviewing and deciding small refinery exemption petitions. GAO announced in January 2020 that it would conduct the requested investigation, and in May 2020 the organization asked EPA to provide information related to small refinery exemptions. However, EPA under the previous administration refused to turn over the requested information to GAO, despite three separate requests.

“Today’s announcement that EPA will cooperate with the GAO investigation is a win for transparency and accountability,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “We applaud the new leadership at EPA for providing the requested information to GAO, and we thank Administrator Regan for taking another important step toward restoring the integrity of the RFS program. RFA also is grateful to the bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by former Rep. Abby Finkenauer and Rep. Cindy Axne, who requested this investigation nearly two years ago and wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Ethanol producers look forward to the results of GAO’s investigation and believe it will shine much-needed light on the previous EPA’s dark and secretive management of the exemption program.”

Cooper also noted that RFA sued the previous administration’s EPA for its failure to properly respond to Freedom of Information Act requests filed by RFA and others. RFA’s FOIA requests sought agency records regarding small refinery exemptions—similar to those now being provided to GAO.

On the legislative front this year, the RFS Integrity Act, H.R. 1113, sponsored by Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN) and the CLEAN Future Act, H.R. 1512, sponsored by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), each includes provisions that set a deadline for annual submission of petitions to extend small refinery exemptions and increase transparency by making certain information from those petitions subject to public disclosure.  

During Days of Advocacy, Farmers Union Members Advocate Immediate Climate Action

As climate change poses an increasingly serious threat to farmers’ livelihoods and global food security, a group of National Farmers Union (NFU) members will be discussing meaningful legislative solutions with their elected representatives.

“Farmers are no stranger to big challenges, but climate change is the biggest, most complex test the agriculture sector has ever confronted. We all need to work swiftly, boldly, and cooperatively to rein in this crisis – a fact that an ever-growing contingent of legislators and administration officials is coming to realize,” said NFU President Rob Larew. “While we’re really encouraged by the strong, bipartisan support for climate action, we want to ensure these efforts take farmers’ unique needs and interests into account. That’s why these meetings are so critical; after hearing directly from farmers about their experiences, our lawmakers will be better positioned to develop effective climate policy.”

During virtual meetings with members of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees this week and next, participating Farmers Union members will push for voluntary, incentive-based programs and market initiatives that help operations of all types and sizes implement climate-friendly practices and install on-farm renewable energy systems. To ensure such programs are executed smoothly, they will also promote robust funding for technical assistance. Read the full list of policy recommendations here. Additionally, participants and other Farmers Union members will sit down with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials to learn more about the administration’s climate initiatives.

“Between sequestering carbon in the soil, reducing on-farm greenhouse gas emissions, and producing renewable energy, there is a lot that farmers are already doing to mitigate and adapt to climate change,” Larew said. “There’s even more they could be doing, but these practices are often time, money, and skill intensive. The policies we’re advocating this week are intended to help eliminate those barriers and make climate-smart agriculture as accessible as possible.”

The attendees of these days of advocacy sit on NFU’s Climate Change Policy Advisory Panel (CCPAP), through which they advise the organization’s climate-related legislative work, educational programming, outreach, and communications. Other Farmers Union members will have an opportunity to contribute by calling or writing letters to their legislators.

DMC Margin Rises in March


The March margin under the federal Dairy Margin Coverage Program rose $0.24/cwt above February’s to $6.46/cwt, with forecast for future margin’s indicating that February may have been the year’s low.

The March U.S. average all-milk price was $17.40/cwt, $0.30/cwt higher than in February, while the DMC March calculated feed cost was just $0.06/cwt higher than February’s. On a per hundredweight of milk basis, a higher corn price in March was almost entirely offset by a lower cost of soybean meal. The March payment for $9.50/cwt DMC program coverage is $3.04/cwt. On an annualized basis, the DMC program will have already paid the equivalent of $2.17/cwt for coverage at $9.50/cwt during the first quarter of 2021 alone.

Current futures prices indicate that the DMC program margins going forward may remain below $9.50/cwt until late summer, as rising milk prices compete with higher costs for corn and hay. USDA reported that 164.7 billion pounds of production history, or 79.4 percent of the total, was enrolled in the 2021 DMC program, with an estimated $223 million in payments for disbursement as of April 19.

CWT-Assisted Dairy Product Export Sales Top 10 Million Pounds in April
In April, CWT members secured 46 contracts to sell 2.7 million pounds of American-type cheese, 1.1 million pounds of butter, 3.4 million pounds of anhydrous milkfat (AMF), 2.3 million pounds of whole milk powder (WMP), and 1.1 million pounds of cream cheese. These products are going to customers in Asia, Central and South America, the Middle East, North Africa, and Oceania. They will be shipped April through September 2021.

These sales bring the total 2021 CWT-assisted dairy product exports to 14.5 million pounds of cheese, 9.9 million pounds of butter, 7.1 million pounds of anhydrous milkfat, 15.7 million pounds of whole milk powder, and 5.5 million pounds of cream cheese. Member cooperatives have captured sales contracts that will move overseas the equivalent of 706.8 million pounds of milk in 2021.

As dairy farmers work to recover from a challenging 2020, doing what is necessary to strengthen and maintain milk prices is a must. The key for both dairy farmers and dairy cooperatives in 2021 is dairy exports. CWT provides a means to move domestic dairy products to overseas markets by helping to overcome certain disadvantages such as the domestic/global price gap and shipping costs.

Dairy Farmers to Seek Emergency USDA Hearing on Class I Mover Reform

NMPF’s Board of Directors voted April 23 to request an emergency USDA hearing on a Federal Milk Marketing Order proposal to restore fairness for farmers in the Class I fluid milk price mover. The endorsement of the board, which represents dairy farmers and cooperatives nationwide, followed approval April 16 from the organization’s Executive Committee.

The NMPF plan would ensure that farmers recover lost revenue and establish more equitable distribution of risk among dairy farmers and processors. The current mover, adopted in the 2018 farm bill, was intended to be revenue neutral while facilitating increased price risk management by fluid milk bottlers. But the new Class I mover contributed to disorderly marketing conditions last year during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and cost dairy farmers over $725 million in lost income.

NMPF’s proposal would help recoup the lost revenue and ensure that neither farmers nor processors are disproportionately impacted by future significant price disruptions.

    “As the COVID-19 experience has shown, market stresses can shift the mover in ways that affect dairy farmers much more than processors. This was not the intent of the Class I mover formula negotiated within the industry,” said Randy Mooney, the dairy farmer chairman of NMPF’s Board of Directors. “The current mover was explicitly developed to be a revenue-neutral solution to the concerns of fluid milk processors about hedging their price risk, with equity among market participants a stated goal.

    “Dairy farmers were pleased with the previous method of determining Class I prices and had no need to change it, but we tried to accommodate the concerns of fluid processors for better risk management. Unfortunately, the severe imbalances we’ve seen in the past year plainly show that a modified approach is necessary. We will urge USDA to adopt our plan to restore equity and create more orderly marketing conditions,” Mooney said.

While the current Class I mover was designed to improve the ability of fluid milk handlers to hedge milk prices using the futures market, it was also expected to be revenue-neutral compared to the formula it replaced. But that has not been the case. The significant gaps between Class III and IV prices that developed during the pandemic exposed dairy farmers to losses that were not experienced by processors, showing the need for a formula that better accounts for disorderly market conditions.

NMPF’s proposal would modify the current Class I mover, which adds $0.74/cwt to the monthly average of Classes III and IV, by adjusting this amount every two years based on conditions over the prior 24 months, with the current mover remaining the floor. NMPF’s request will be to limit the hearing specifically to proposed changes to the mover, after which USDA would have 30 days to issue an action plan that would determine whether USDA would act on an emergency basis​. NMPF plans to formally submit its proposal to USDA this month.

FFAR Grant Builds Supply Chains for Environmentally Beneficial Crops

Summer crops such as wheat, rice and corn can be profitable for farmers, but post-harvest farmland is unproductive for several months during the off season. This farmland can accumulate a variety of water-related challenges, including soil nutrient loss and erosion and precipitation runoff. However, continuous living cover crops can prevent these challenges. The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) is awarding a $1,997,454 grant to the University of Minnesota to develop models for sustainable supply chains that create markets for crops farmers can grow between seasons.

“While popular cover crops can be used as food or as inputs in other products, there may not be large markets for these crops,” explained FFAR Executive Director Dr. Sally Rockey. “FFAR hopes to increase the use of cover crops – and reap the environmental benefits – by creating a sustainable market with consistent buyers for these crops.”

Planting continuous living cover crops, such as intermediate wheatgrass, winter camelina, pennycress, winter barley and hybrid hazelnut, has several environmental benefits. These perennials—which do not require replanting—and winter-hardy annual crops decrease fertilizer runoff to surface and groundwater and increase farmland’s ability to absorb and hold rainfall. Croplands that better retain water can reduce soil erosion and prevent downstream flooding of cities and infrastructure. However, farmers are often hesitant to plant these crops because most are not widely used commercially, making farming and supply chain logistics risky or cost prohibitive.

“By preserving soil health and improving water management, continuous living cover crops are already valuable to growers,” said Dr. Jeff Rosichan, director of FFAR’s Crops of the Future Collaborative. “In addition to these environmental benefits, this research will provide growers with greater financial incentives to use continuous living cover crops.”

University of Minnesota researchers, led by Dr. Nicholas Jordan, are working with cross-sector partners to develop and scale sustainable supply chains for several cover crops. Sustainable supply chains link on-farm crop production to end-use markets in economically, environmentally and socially beneficial ways. Researchers are running six regional pilot projects to determine appropriate crops for various sites and growing conditions. This research is examining potential markets, water management needs and other environmental and social benefits of perennials and cover crops. The multilevel strategy will lead to larger supply and demand systems for a wider adoption of the crops.

The project involves engagement between growers, end-user companies, water-management and environmental stakeholders and others. The planning process is identifying how to integrate production with post-production supply chain infrastructure and will connect farmers with private-sector firms interested in purchasing continuous living cover crops for commercial use.

“Robust supply chains that link supply to demand are key to farmers’ adoption of continuous living cover crops and to realizing the environmental and economic benefits that these crops offer,” said Dr. Jordan. “We are deeply grateful for the opportunity to research new supply-chain development strategies for these crops.”

Matching funds are being provided by Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, Cargill, Friends of the Mississippi River, Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, McKnight Foundation, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, NORI, Pipeline Foods, The Land Institute and Walton Family Foundation for a total $3,997,423 investment.

Tuesday May 4 Ag News

Eating Healthy during Planting Season
Hannah Guenther, Extension Educator, Cuming County

Planting season is here! Eating healthy during this season is a challenge for many reasons, including the lack of time to sit down for a meal, the issue of dining in a field and stress leading to less healthy eating patterns. Food in the Field is a FREE online nutrition education program created to help farmers and their families make healthy eating choices during harvest and planting. To register and get started, go to or contact Hannah Guenther at or call 402-372-6006.

NSP Reminds Drivers to Stay Alert with Ag Implements on the Move

Nebraska’s planting season is underway, and the Nebraska State Patrol advises all motorists to watch for agricultural implements on Nebraska’s roadways.

“Our ag producers across Nebraska do exceptional work to feed America year-in and year-out,” said Colonel John Bolduc, Superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol. “As they get back into the field for the planting season, we encourage all drivers to keep an eye out for ag implements and large equipment as they travel from field to field.”

Nebraska drivers are reminded that it is legal for farm machinery to travel from field to field on public roads, other than Nebraska’s interstates. Drivers should remember that this equipment often travels at slow speeds and their size may limit the operator’s ability to see other vehicles on the road. Motorists should only pass in legal passing zones and when it is safe to do so.

“From season to season, we know that the work of Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers never stops,” said Captain Dan Doggett, Commander of the NSP Carrier Enforcement Division. “All Nebraskans can take pride in the work they do. We can all work together to keep our roads safe and help ensure that Nebraska’s number-one industry remains strong.”

Drivers should be alert and use extra caution on roadways that may be a route of travel for ag machinery. With the potential combination of fast-moving vehicles and slow-moving farm equipment, it is critical that drivers avoid distractions and pay attention to the road.

Ag producers are also encouraged to voluntarily comply with traffic safety laws, display warning signs on machinery, use flashing yellow caution lights when traveling, and be aware of vehicles that may be attempting to pass.

Legislature Fails to Advance School Funding Reform Bill, LB 454

Statement by Mark McHargue, President, NE Farm Bureau

“We are extremely disappointed in the Legislature’s failure to advance LB 454. Today’s action is a missed opportunity for the Legislature to start down the path of reforming how we fund schools in Nebraska. There’s a clear inequity in our current funding system when 159 of the 243 school districts in our state receive no state equalization aid. The fact that the state takes on the bulk of responsibility for funding education for some students, while doing little to nothing to support others is a failure of our state. This bill could have served as the foundation for a scalable approach to doing more to fulfill the state’s obligation to fund K-12 education across Nebraska to the benefit of all Nebraska students and taxpayers. I want to thank the 23 senators who supported LB 454, particularly Sen. Friesen and Sen. Briese, for their leadership on this bill. This issue isn’t going away. We will continue to work with the Legislature to find senators who are willing take on one of our state’s most pressing issues.”


– Todd Whitney, NE Extension

Weeds can be a major alfalfa problem especially new spring seeded fields. Roundup Ready® alfalfa varieties help overcome these weeds issues; but Roundup® isn’t the only good herbicide option for alfalfa.

Many weeds grow faster than alfalfa; thus, robbing seedlings of moisture, nutrients, and light. Left uncontrolled; weeds can cause thin stands, weak plants, and lower yields.

For broadleaf weeds, mowing may be an option while the alfalfa is growing slowly. Adjust mowing height so several leaves remain on the alfalfa seedlings after clipping to aid alfalfa regrowth.

However, herbicide weed control may still be your best option especially if mower clippings may likely smother young alfalfa seedlings. Therefore, now may be a good time to control escape broadleaf weeds using herbicides in your new or established alfalfa fields.

Our Nebraska Extension “Guide for Weeds, Disease and Insect” publication, EC130, provides weed response control ratings for various herbicides. Post-emergent weed control products include: Buctril®; Raptor®; Select®; Prowl H²O®; Warrant®; Arrow® and Butyrac®.

There are several products available for broadleaf or grassy weed control in established alfalfa including: Aim®; Chateau®; Gramoxone®; Karmex®; Metribuzin®; Prowl H²O®; MCPA Amine®; and Velpar®. These products are most effective when preferably applied before weeds reach 4 inch heights.

Roundup may make it easier to control weeds in seedling alfalfa. But using these other herbicides correctly can also provide clean alfalfa fields.

As always, read and follow label directions for application rates and conditions.

 LEAD Fellowship Applications sought for Group 40

The Nebraska Leadership Education Action Development (LEAD) Program seeks applicants from leaders in the state’s agricultural sector.   

Traditionally held in-person across state, national and international campuses throughout a two year-program, programming was paused for a year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Nebraska LEAD is accepting applications for its 40th cohort until June 15th. LEAD 40 will attend monthly three-day seminars across Nebraska, as well as participate in a national and international study/travel seminar. The cohort will be trained in developing leadership skills through communication to serve as leaders for Nebraska’s future generations in agriculture.  

“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.  

LEAD 40 participants are also exposed to topics including agricultural markets, advances to healthcare, finance, agricultural policy, marketing, nuclear energy, economics, natural resources, societal issues global perspectives and technology related to the heart of Nebraska’s economy – agriculture.  

To apply, email the Nebraska LEAD Program office at and visit

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 University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources and in cooperation with Nebraska colleges and universities, business and industry.  

Wortmann retires after decades of work in sub-saharan Africa and Nebraska

Charles Wortmann, University of Nebraska–Lincoln agronomy and horticulture professor and Nebraska Extension soil and nutrient management specialist, will retire May 31 after a 20-year career at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. A virtual retirement reception will be held May 13 from 2 to 3 p.m., CDT, via Zoom. Friends and colleagues can leave a note or photo memory in the online guestbook.

A native of Hartington, Nebraska, Wortmann’s prestigious career has focused on improving nutrient management, soil conservation and the environmental integrity of crop production systems in sub-Saharan Africa and Nebraska.

Human and institutional enhancement for research and Extension on smallholder agriculture in Africa has been Wortmann’s career priority. He has spent over 35 years working on improving soil fertility and soil conservation in Sub-Saharan Africa. His collaborative work with researchers, Extension specialists, multi-national research networks and farm advisors in planning, designing and implementing information exchange has strengthened the expertise needed for leadership in providing sustainable solutions for African farmers.

“His success and significant impact on two continents, in highly different cropping environments, is unique. His work has made distinct differences for crop producers from Nebraska to Rwanda,” said Richard Ferguson, professor of agronomy and horticulture and Vice Chancellor of Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture.

Wortmann graduated from Nebraska in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in agronomy. He then moved to Tanzania when he received a 3-year contract to work as an agriculturist to help improve crop production and upgrade dairy production. With no previous experience in tropical agriculture, Wortmann said he had a lot to learn about the many nutritional, disease and insect pests challenges of tropical agriculture. The Merck Veterinary Manual was one especially valuable information source. The very severe financial constraints of smallholder farmers added to the challenge.

He spent the first months in Africa in language school learning Swahili, in which he is fluent.

Because of the many issues with the soil in Africa, Wortmann returned to Nebraska to complete a master’s degree in soil science advised by the late Robert Olson, professor of agronomy and soil fertility specialist.

After finishing a master’s degree in 1979, Wortmann worked as an independent crop consultant, walking in corn and soybean fields every day.

“It was a great learning experience, but that one opportunity was enough for me,” Wortmann said. “Luckily an opportunity came up to return to Tanzania for 3 more years.”

His next position was working on a World Bank funded project for two years as an advisor with the Agricultural Extension service in Tanzania.

“The work was very hard at that time because the economy was very bad that even getting fuel was difficult,” Wortmann said.

He returned to Nebraska to obtain a doctoral degree in crop science working on sorghum breeding with emeritus professors of agronomy David Andrews and Jerry Eastin. Wortmann completed his degree in 1987.

Next he returned to Africa to work for CIAT, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, in cropping systems agronomy and soil management. Based in Uganda and focusing mostly on dry bean production systems, Wortmann worked with national research and extension programs in 11 countries with very different environments that required unique cropping systems to grow the many different crops.

In 2001, Wortmann was hired by Nebraska for a position in soil fertility management research and Extension after the family returned to Nebraska so their kids could attend high school in the United States.

While his primary responsibility was to work for the improvement of Nebraska crop production, he was soon able to get funding to continue with collaborative work in Africa. Wortmann and Martha Mamo, department head and John E. Weaver Professor of Agronomy and Horticulture, Robert B. Daugherty Global Water for Food Fellow and African Scientific Institute Fellow, received a grant in 2002 with USAID International Sorghum and Millet Collaborative Research Support Program to support a five-country sorghum research network in eastern Africa. This collaboration continued until 2012 and resulted in improved crop and soil management practices on sorghum production in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda. The work focused on appropriate targeting and use of fertilizers, reduced tillage and tie-ridge tillage, and planting patterns for increased productivity together with improved soil and water conservation. The project achieved great impact in improved fertilizer use, seed variety adoption and reduced tillage through training workshops, on-farm trials and demos, field days and facilitation of input supply and markets.

“Charles Wortmann‘s extensive agricultural research and extension experiences were key to the success of the USAID INTSORMIL program. This collaboration has continued to help cultivate linkages with partners in eastern Africa,” Mamo said.

Wortmann was instrumental in developing and implementing the 13-nation network, later extended to 15 countries, for Optimized Fertilizer Recommendations in Africa for 14 food crops. OFRA provided a scientific basis for nutrient management in Africa to target small-scale farmer’s use of precious fertilizer to get the highest profits possible. This research network of about 50 research teams resulted in numerous publications and resources including a book in multiple languages that is now used as a training reference for extension workers who engage with ORFA extension programs.

“Most farmers are very poor and need high profit from their investments in fertilizer use. Use of the fertilizer use decision tools developed for 72 recommendation zones enables the crop-nutrient-rate choices for maximization of farmer’s profit gained from their investment,” Wortmann said.

“Despite the challenge of both funding and implementing an applied, field-oriented research effort in SSA, Dr. Wortmann has established a well-funded program, a prolific publication record, and a large number of ex-students who are now highly regarded soil scientists and agronomists in SSA.

“Most important, his work has resulted in improved soil management and conservation, and the education of thousands of farmers and hundreds of farm advisors in SSA on these topics,” said Kenneth Cassman, emeritus Robert B. Daugherty Professor of Agronomy.

Wortmann’s research and Extension contributions in Nebraska in advanced crop-soil management and natural resource protection are also numerous. His efforts to improve nutrient recommendations and management for Nebraska crops, including efficient utilization of manure resources, has led to the adoption of improved practices in fertilizer use recommendations including crop reside nutrient value and reducing nitrogen leaching into ground water.

His most recent study with the 23 Natural Resources Districts in 2020 looked at the supply of essential nutrients and liming supply from irrigation across the state. The supplies are sufficient to greatly affect fertilizer and lime use decisions. The results, guidelines for testing of water and using the information were reported to farmers and other stakeholders in 28 Extension events.

“When Dr. Wortmann retires, most Nebraskans involved with growing crops or utilizing manure will not realize how reliant they have been on the research and Extension tools that he has produced over his career at the University of Nebraska,” said Charles Shapiro, emeritus professor of agronomy.

“Dr. Wortmann has a hand in all the soil nutrient recommendations we use. He has contributed to manure management in many ways, and his graduate students are located worldwide, making impacts of their own.”

But the defining feature of Wortmann’s contributions to agricultural development in sub-Saharan Africa is that so many of his ex-students and collaborators are currently active and at the forefront of integrated nutrient management in Africa. Many of his Nebraska graduate students were international students who returned to their home country better equipped to solve important challenges. He has also advised many other students who studied at African universities and has contributed to the education of thousands of African farmers and farm advisors.

Wortmann has received numerous awards throughout his career. He is most proud of receiving the American Society of Agronomy International Agronomy Award in 2018 and Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy in 2011. He has also been nominated for Soil Science Society Fellow and the International Soil Science Society Award.

“Dr. Wortmann is the only colleague I would ‘suspend’ my retirement to nominate for Tri-Society awards,” Shapiro said.

Wortmann’s passion for agriculture and Africa will keep him busy post-retirement. He plans to volunteer in Africa, working for the sake of agriculture and continue collaborating in research, advising graduate students and writing.


When a meteorologist says that a chilly day in May was 12 degrees lower than normal, the normal being referenced is typically from the official 30-year U.S. Climate Normals. Updated every decade, the Normals are based on 30-year averages of climate observations recorded at thousands of weather stations across the country.

On May 4, the 1991-2020 U.S. Climate Normals are being released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). In conjunction, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s High Plains Regional Climate Center is publishing a new tool that allows users to examine what normal looks like relative to longer or shorter timeframes than the most recent 30 years.

Rezaul Mahmood, director of the climate center based in the university’s School of Natural Resources, said the NCEI asked the climate center to develop the Custom Climatology Tool, which now allows users to examine average monthly and annual temperature measurements over customizable periods of time.

For anyone who works with climate data, the release of the new U.S. Climate Normals is a major event, Mahmood said. It tells the story of a changing climate. “Normal” 30-year temperature cycles have grown warmer over time. “Normal” annual precipitation has increased, too. As an NOAA news release about the U.S. Climate Normals states, global warming is affecting the upward trajectory of the new normals. The Custom Climatology Tool allows people to look at what normal used to be with available weather station data from as far back as 1961.

“NCEI was getting requests, and we would get them, too, from stakeholders and users who would say: ‘The 30-year normal is fine, but I want to do a 10-year average or a seven-year average. I should be able to pick any time and go from there.’ So that motivated NCEI to talk to us and ask if we could build that,” Mahmood said.

Mahmood said the tool allows users to dive into decades’ worth of data in a manageable way. Someone interested in how temperatures in Lincoln differ this May from the Mays of their childhood, for instance, can search weather station data collected at the Lincoln Airport and set parameters that develop averages based on five years, a decade, 30 years or any number they prefer. The U.S. Climate Normals inform all kinds of operational decisions across a number of industries, Mahmood said, from when to plant crops in Nebraska to how much freight gets loaded on a Mississippi River barge. Users of the Custom Climatology Tool can gain additional context, he said, and satisfy human curiosity about their surroundings in the process.

“We always get curious about the weather,” he said. “‘OK, today is hot, but how hot is it? I’m thinking it is very hot, but maybe it’s not very hot.’ It’s linked to our life.”

The Custom Climatology Tool, which was developed in collaboration with NCEI staff, is available on the High Plains Regional Climate Center website at Climate center programmers Warren Pettee and Willaim Sorensen developed the tool with help from regional climatologist Natalie Umphlett and applied climatologist Crystal Stiles.

Naig: ‘Farmers can use state cost share funds to add soil health and water quality practices to their fields’

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced that farmers and landowners can sign up now for state cost share funds to help adopt soil health and water quality practices. The funding can be used for in-field management practices, including planting cover crops, transitioning acres to no-till/strip-till soil management, or applying a nitrification inhibitor.

“2020 was a record year for engagement in the state’s conservation cost-share programs, yet we still have a lot of work to do to reach our soil health and water quality goals,” said Secretary Naig. “I encourage all farmers and landowners to look for opportunities to add soil health and water quality practices to their fields. This program is a great way to help you get started.”

Farmers who are planting cover crops for the first time are eligible for $25 per acre through the cost share fund. Farmers who have already experienced the benefits of using cover crops and are continuing the practice can receive $15 per acre. Producers transitioning acres to no-till or strip-till are eligible for $10 per acre, and may receive $3 per acre for applying fall fertilizer using a nitrapyrin nitrification inhibitor.

Cost share funding through the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is limited to 160 acres per farmer or landowner. The funds will be made available in July, but farmers can start submitting applications immediately through their local Soil and Water Conservation District offices. Farmers are encouraged to call their Soil and Water Conservation District offices to inquire about additional cost-share funds available through other sources.

With farmers stewarding more than two million acres of cover crops across the state, Iowa continues to be a conservation leader. Last fall, over 3,500 farmers and landowners enrolled in the cost share program funded through the Water Quality Initiative. More than 387,000 acres of cover crops, 11,000 acres of no-till/strip-till and 6,000 acres of nitrification inhibitors were enrolled in the program in 2020. An estimated $12.7 million of private funding was invested to match the $6.8 million contributed by the state. To learn more about the soil health and water quality projects underway around Iowa, visit

IRFA to EPA Administrator Regan: Not just a transition, biofuels are the net carbon negative fuel of the future

Today as part of his trip to Iowa, U.S. EPA Administrator Michael Regan toured Lincolnway Energy, an ethanol plant near Nevada, and led a roundtable discussion of Iowa farmers and biofuel producers.

In response to his visit, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw made the following statement:

“We appreciate Administrator Regan came to Iowa to learn more about biofuels and the important role biofuels will play in America’s clean energy future. Today Mr. Regan heard a loud and clear message: biofuels are way more than a transition fuel; biofuels are the net-carbon-negative fuel of the future. Improved production practices at both the farm and plant levels combined with carbon sequestration technologies preparing to be deployed can make biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel net carbon negative over the next decade. That’s something that wind and solar can never achieve. Any plan to significantly reduce carbon emissions over the next decade must include biofuels and it is our hope after his visit today Administrator Regan will confidently carry that message back to policy makers in D.C.”

ICGA President Addresses Biofuels and Carbon with EPA Administrator Regan and USDA Secretary Vilsack

Today, Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) President Carl Jardon represented corn farmers at an in-person, on-farm meeting with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. The following is a statement from Jardon.

“ICGA thanks EPA Administrator Regan and Secretary Vilsack for prioritizing this Iowa farm visit and providing the opportunity to speak about advancements in farming practices that are driving lower carbon biofuels. Carbon sequestration is a top federal policy priority for ICGA members as incentivizing farmers’ voluntary improvements in ag production practices and opportunities to credit soil carbon sequestration will continue to lower the carbon footprint of biofuels. Biofuels like ethanol are an immediate, effective, and affordable pathway for agriculture and rural America to help combat climate change. ICGA looks forward to working with the Biden Administration and appreciates Administrator Regan’s and Secretary Vilsack’s continued support and leadership on multiple topics as Iowa corn farmers seek to expand ethanol’s share of the fuel tank and accelerate carbon reduction in the transportation and agriculture sectors today.”

New Composting Publication Offers Practical Steps for Livestock Producers

Composting has long been an option for livestock mortality disposal. It generally can be done on farm, requires little in the way of equipment and additional supplies, and the end product may be used to enhance soil fertility.

Although composting has not been standard operating procedure on many farms due to other established processes, some new or potential situation changes have led to renewed interest in composting. Whether you’re interested in reducing or eliminating rendering truck stops on-site or are working on an overall biosecurity plan for your operation, composting now could be on your radar.

A new publication from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the Iowa Pork Industry Center can help provide the information needed.

Dave Stender, swine specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, is one of the authors. While the publication is written for beginners, anyone who wants to learn more about issues, options and steps can benefit.

“Two primary worries about composting are odor and leachate, which is the water that has percolated through a solid,” he said. “Both of these are easily addressed by selecting and managing appropriate co-compost materials.”

The publication outlines how to set up the base for the compost, cover the carcass to shed rain, and choose the co-compost material that will act as a biofilter to stop any adverse odors.

Download the publication "Field Tips for Successful Composting" at no charge from the Iowa State Extension Store

The Iowa Pork Industry Center was established in 1994 as a coordinated effort of the colleges of Agriculture (now Agriculture and Life Sciences) and Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State. Its mission is to promote efficient pork production technologies in Iowa, maintain Iowa's pork industry leadership and strengthen rural development efforts. IPIC focuses its efforts on programs that are integral and complementary to ISU Extension and Outreach. Through IPIC, Iowa producers receive accurate and timely information to make their operations more efficient and profitable.

 For more information, Stender can be reached at 712-261-0225 or

Milestone Reached as Gevo Breaks Ground on Renewable Natural Gas Project in Northwest Iowa

Gevo, Inc. (NASDAQ: GEVO), announced today that it has officially broken ground on the Renewable Natural Gas (“RNG”) Project, located in Northwest Iowa, which will generate RNG captured from dairy cow manure.

“Breaking ground on this project is an exciting step in bringing Gevo’s Net-Zero strategy closer to life,” said Dr. Patrick Gruber, CEO of Gevo. “Upon completion of the project in 2022, the digesters are anticipated to generate approximately 355,000 MMBtu of RNG per year and reduce significant quantities of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from being released into the atmosphere. After the methane is extracted from the processed manure, the remaining solids will be returned to the farmers as soil nutrients for use as fertilizer. This will allow the farmers to reduce their raw manure application, which will improve odor, water quality and nutrient management practices.”

ARM Program Publishes 2021 Drug Residue Prevention Manual

The National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program published its 2021 Milk & Dairy Beef Drug Residue Prevention Reference Manual and accompanying pocket guide, an on-farm educational tool that promotes best management practices for administering treatment to dairy cattle. The annual publication also provides a comprehensive list of FDA-approved drugs for use in cattle with their associated milk and meat withdrawal times, along with milk and urine screening test information. The pocket guide offers a quick reference to these informational charts in a small, laminated, ring-bound booklet.

“The U.S. dairy industry is committed to antibiotic stewardship and appropriate use of all medications used for our dairy cattle,” says Karen Jordan, DVM, chair of the NMPF Animal Health and Well-Being Committee. “The Drug Residue Prevention Manual has helped dairy farmers make educated choices when working with their veterinarians to care for their animals for more than 30 years.”

When dairy animals get sick or injured and treatment is necessary, producers and veterinarians use antibiotics and other drugs prudently. The manual serves as a resource for producers and veterinarians, and includes information on:
    Residue prevention best practices
    Record keeping and herd health
    Drug administration
    Culling of animals
    Residue testing
    Drug classes
    Approved drugs and screening tests

“Collaborating with veterinarians and dairy professionals to advance the responsible use of antibiotics and preserve animal health and welfare is at the core of our partnership with the FARM program,” says Mike Lormore DVM, MS, MBA, head of U.S. cattle technical services at Zoetis.

The FARM Program is grateful for Zoetis’s partnership. Their sponsorship supports the development of on-farm resource development for U.S. dairy farmers, such as the manual.

The dairy industry is committed to producing the highest quality, safe, abundant, and affordable milk and dairy beef. All medications must be used appropriately under veterinary guidance to prevent residues from occurring in milk and dairy beef.

USDA Seeks Nominees for the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is seeking nominees for 12 dairy producer seats on the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board.  Nominations are due May 31, 2021. Appointed members will serve three-year terms beginning Nov. 1, 2021, and ending Oct. 31, 2024.

USDA is seeking nominees for:
    One seat for Region 1 (Alaska, Oregon and Washington)
    Two seats for Region 2 (California and Hawaii)
    One seat for Region 4 (Arkansas, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas)
    One seat for Region 5 (Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota)
    Two seats for Region 6 (Wisconsin)
    One seat for Region 7 (Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska)

    One seat for Region 8 (Idaho)
    One seat for Region 9 (Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia)
    One seat for Region 11 (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania)
    One seat for Region 12 (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont)

Nominees must be dairy producers in the region for which they are nominated. The 37-member board consists of 36 dairy producers from 12 regions and one dairy importer. Nomination forms are available on the AMS National Dairy Promotion and Research Board webpage. For more information, contact Jill Hoover at (202) 720-1069 or

The board is industry-funded and supports the research, marketing and promotion of dairy products.

AMS policy is that the diversity of the board should reflect the diversity of its industries in terms of the experience of members, methods of production and distribution, marketing strategies, and other distinguishing factors that will bring different perspectives and ideas to the table. When submitting nominations, the industry must consider the diversity of the population served and the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the members to serve a diverse population.

Since 1966, Congress has authorized the development of industry-funded research and promotion boards to provide a framework for agricultural industries to pool their resources and combine efforts to develop new markets, strengthen existing markets and conduct important research and promotion activities. AMS provides oversight of 22 boards, paid for by industry assessments, which helps ensure fiscal accountability and program integrity.

USDA Dairy Products March 2021 Production Highlights

Total cheese output (excluding cottage cheese) was 1.18 billion pounds, 4.8 percent above March 2020 and 12.6 percent above February 2021.  Italian type cheese production totaled 503 million pounds, 3.6 percent above March 2020 and 13.5 percent above February 2021.  American type cheese production totaled 479 million pounds, 7.3 percent above March 2020 and 12.4 percent above February 2021.  Butter production was 199 million pounds, 0.6 percent below March 2020 but 6.8 percent above February 2021.

Dry milk products (comparisons in percentage with March 2020)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 198 million pounds, up 14.1 percent.
Skim milk powder - 38.3 million pounds, down 31.4 percent.

Whey products (comparisons in percentage with March 2020)
Dry whey, total - 84.3 million pounds, up 0.9 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 101 million pounds, up 6.8 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 46.0 million pounds, up 14.7 percent.

Frozen products (comparisons in percentage with March 2020)
Ice cream, regular (hard) - 69.1 million gallons, up 7.5 percent.
Ice cream, lowfat (total) - 43.1 million gallons, up 0.6 percent.
Sherbet (hard) - 2.56 million gallons, down 5.8 percent.
Frozen yogurt (total) - 3.18 million gallons, down 11.9 percent.

National Beef Checkoff Petition Committee Seeks Assistance from Beef Checkoff Board and USDA

Leaders of the National Beef Checkoff Petition Committee sent a letter last week to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board (Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB)) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) seeking their assistance in offering more U.S. cattle producers the opportunity to sign the petition for a referendum of the beef checkoff program. There has not been a referendum of the mandatory National Beef Checkoff Program in 35 years.

Addressed to CBB chair Hugh Sanburg, and the USDA official that oversees the government-controlled national beef checkoff program, Kahl Sesker, the letter asks the two officials to share their electronic databases of persons whose contact information the CBB and USDA have captured through their Web-based platforms as well as the database the CBB and USDA uses to conduct their annual producer attitude survey.

Two of the leaders of the National Beef Checkoff Petition Committee, Bryan Hanson, President of the South Dakota Livestock Auction Markets Association, and Steve Stratford, Owner of Stratford Angus, wrote that the contact information in the databases of checkoff-paying cattle producers possessed by the CBB and USDA would be used to ensure that every cattle producer is afforded the opportunity to ask for a referendum through the petition process.

Hanson and Stratford stated that when the databases are provided, “We could then send each person in those databases a petition, affording them the opportunity to sign and return.”

The letter identifies three databases the CBB and USDA control that would be “instrumental in providing untold numbers of United States cattle producers the opportunity to exercise their right and privilege to sign a USDA-authorized petition for the purpose of asking for a referendum of their Beef Checkoff Program.”

Those databases include contact information for cattle producers who receive the CBB/USDA newsletter The Drive, the electronic sign-up the CBB/USDA maintains on their beef checkoff program website to receive questions and comments from cattle producers, and the list of producers from which they solicit information about producers’ attitudes in the checkoff’s annual producer attitude survey.

The National Beef Checkoff Petition Committee’s webpage at currently has about 7,750 signed petitions and committee leaders indicate thousands of hard-copy petitions have also been received through the mail. The USDA has stated that 88,269 cattle producers must sign the petition in order for a producer-initiated referendum to be held.

The committee leaders said the CBB and USDA’s databases likely include enough names to ensure that the required number of cattle producers are offered the opportunity to sign the USDA-authorized petition, which will give producers the first opportunity in 35 years to vote on the future of the mandatory National Beef Checkoff Program.

NBB Requests Meeting with EPA Administrator Regan

Today, the National Biodiesel Board sent a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, asking for an opportunity to present the findings of a new study, "Assessment of Health Benefits from Using Biodiesel as a Transportation Fuel and Residential Heating Oil." The study from Trinity Consultants quantifies the public health benefits and resulting economic savings of using 100% biodiesel in U.S. communities near heavy transportation corridors -- an emerging area of concern for the Environmental Protection Agency.

"We believe that including biodiesel and renewable diesel in the administration's plans to address carbon is fully consistent with your agency's focus on environmental justice," writes Kurt Kovarik, NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs.

"We appreciate Administrator Regan's commitment to ensuring that biofuels play a role in achieving the nation's carbon reduction goals," Kovarik adds. "While the Biden administration has not yet explicitly included biofuels in the American Jobs Plan or the Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Accord, we believe it should. We would like the opportunity to show Administrator Regan how biodiesel and renewable diesel can support EPA's goals to address climate change and environmental justice issues."

NBB's newly published study shows that switching to 100% biodiesel for home heating oil and transportation could annually bring the 13 communities studied:
    340 fewer premature deaths.
    46,000 fewer lost workdays.
    $3 billion in avoided health care costs.
    203,000 fewer or lessened asthma attacks for communities near heavy-duty transportation corridors.
    17,000 fewer lung problems for communities that rely primarily on oil for home heating.

Additionally, the switch would bring a 45% reduction in cancer risk for communities near heavy-duty transportation corridors and an 86% reduction in cancer risk for communities that rely primarily on oil for home heating.

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.

U.S. Ethanol Exports Rebound on Near-Record Shipments to China; U.S. DDGS Exports Also Higher
Ann Lewis, Senior Analyst, Renewable Fuels Assoc.

American exports of ethanol accelerated in March to 133.0 million gallons (mg), the second-largest volume in a year and up 31% from February’s dip. Exports to China spiked from 4.7 mg to 48.3 mg for the country’s second-largest monthly imports of American ethanol on record (and narrowly missing the April 2016 high). Similarly, shipments to Canada accelerated by 85% to a four-month high of 34.2 mg, and India’s imports were up 13% over February to 16.8 mg. These three countries received three-fourths of all ethanol shipped in March. Other substantial markets include South Korea (7.1 mg, -67%), Brazil (5.3 mg, -32%), the Philippines (4.6 mg, -5%), and Peru (4.5 mg, +3%). Total U.S. ethanol exports for the first three months of the year totaled 399.3 mg, or 18% less than last year at this time.
For the third consecutive month, the U.S. did not log any meaningful volumes of foreign ethanol imports (6,160 gallons shipped from Canada in March). This marks the smallest volume of total first quarter imports in four years.
U.S. exports of dried distillers grains (DDGS)—the animal feed co-product generated by dry-mill ethanol plants—rebounded by 13% in March to 882,553 metric tons (mt). Two-thirds of U.S. exports were destined for five markets, with the remaining volumes distributed among 31 countries. Shipments to Mexico rebuilt following a sizeable slump in February with 174,928 mt crossing the border. This is equivalent to 20% of total U.S. exports in March and a 42% increase over the prior month. Shipments to Vietnam nearly doubled to a seven-month high of 130,985 mt. Exports to South Korea of 100,771 mt were 24% higher and Turkey’s imports of 84,787 mt saw an 88% improvement. Indonesia imported 80,822 mt, a slight (0.5%) decline from February. Other larger trade partners include Thailand (54,151 mt), Canada (36,827 mt), Japan (28,417 mt), Colombia (25,640 mt), and Morocco (23,331 mt). Total DDGS exports for Q1 2021 totaled 2.58 million mt, which tracks 6% behind last year.

Listening Session for Beginning Farmers on Impacts of COVID-19

On Thursday, May 6th from 1:30-3:30 pm EST, the Farm Service Agency and the Agricultural Marketing Service will host a virtual listening session with beginning farmers and ranchers to hear how COVID-19 has impacted their farming operations—from market disruptions to supply chain issues.

Beginning farmers and ranchers are invited to share their experiences in navigating USDA’s resources for assistance, discuss how their businesses have been impacted, and share how they are adapting their operations. USDA will use insights from this session to inform discussions about outreach strategies, programmatic needs, technical assistance, and accessible program delivery.

AMS and Farm Production and Conservation Leadership as well as USDA’s National Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coordinator will provide relevant program updates.

Register Here - Zoom (  

Seaboard Seeks to Delay Court Decision Limiting Slaughter Speeds

U.S. pork processor Seaboard Foods wants to pursue a 10-1/2-month delay to a federal court decision that would force it to slow the speed of hog slaughtering at a massive Oklahoma pork plant, according to court documents.

The second-biggest U.S. pig producer seeks to intervene in the line speed case after a federal judge ruled against a Trump administration policy allowing pork plants to run slaughter line speeds as fast as they want, as long as they prevent fecal contamination and minimize bacteria, reports Reuters.

As the first U.S. pork company to invest in machinery to run line speeds faster under the rule, Seaboard stands to lose from the decision. The Biden administration has sought to emphasize worker safety and is not expected to challenge the court.

Seaboard sped up its Guymon, Oklahoma, facility last year. Workers told Reuters the faster line speeds increased injuries at the plant.

A lawsuit brought against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union had challenged the 2019 rule over concerns about worker safety.

A judge in U.S. District Court in Minnesota invalidated the rule on March 31 but stayed the decision for 90 days to give companies and the Biden administration time to adapt.

Seaboard said in court filings on Friday it will need 313 days more to clear out excess hogs from its production process if the company is required to revert to slower processing speeds.

Koch Agronomic Services Completes Acquisition of Compass Minerals' North American Micronutrient Assets

Koch Agronomic Services, LLC (Koch) completed its acquisition of Compass Minerals' (NYSE: CMP) North American micronutrient assets, the global intellectual property rights, with trademarks and patents and certain other assets associated with Wolf Trax®, Rocket Seeds® and Hydro Bullet™ product platforms.

In early April 2021, Koch announced the agreement to purchase Compass Minerals' North American micronutrient assets to further Koch's commitment to help growers around the world improve nutrient efficiency, utilization and uptake.

"The agreement with Compass Minerals is consistent with Koch's vision of providing our customers with innovative solutions focused on plant nutrition," said Steve Coulter, senior vice president of Koch. "We are excited to offer these products in conjunction with our current portfolio of nitrogen efficiency solutions to help growers across the globe meet their operational goals."

Koch will continue efforts to develop and introduce innovative solutions for agriculture. These efforts align with Koch's objective of growing from a leader in nitrogen efficiency to a leader as a nutrient efficiency solutions provider that offers products designed to allow every pound of nutrient to be more efficient than it is today.

"We look forward to fully integrating the products into our existing portfolio, along with the addition of new team members to better support new customers and geographies," said Coulter. "The Koch team will focus on delivering the entire portfolio of Koch products to new and current customers."

Monday May 3 Crop Progress + Ag News


For the week ending May 2, 2021, there were 6.1 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 7% very short, 23% short, 68% adequate, and 2% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 11% very short, 26% short, 62% adequate, and 1% surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn planted was 42%, behind 55% last year, but ahead of 36% for the five-year average. Emerged was 2%, behind 8% last year, and near 5% average.

Soybeans planted was 20%, behind 29% last year, but ahead of 12% average.

Winter wheat condition rated 6% very poor, 12% poor, 40% fair, 39% good, and 3% excellent.

Sorghum planted was 1%, behind 6% last year, and near 2% average.

Oats planted was 92%, ahead of 86% last year and 80% average. Emerged was 73%, well ahead of 53% last year and 50% average.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 6% very poor, 16% poor, 37% fair, 37% good, and 4% excellent.


 Planting of corn and soybean crops accelerated during the week ending May 2, 2021 according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Statewide there were 6.3 days suitable for fieldwork for the week due to limited precipitation. Other field activities such as applying anhydrous and dry fertilizer were sporadic, due to strong winds.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 17% very short, 38% short, 45% adequate and 0% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 14% very short, 44% short, 42% adequate and 0% surplus. Dry conditions are a concern.

Iowa farmers were able to plant almost half of the State’s expected corn crop during the week ending May 2 for a total of 69% planted, 9 days ahead of the 5-year average. With the week’s warmer temperatures, there were scattered reports of corn emerged.

Iowa farmers planted over one-third of the expected soybean crop during the week ending May 2 for a total of 43% planted, 12 days ahead of normal.

Ninety-five percent of Iowa’s expected oat crop has been planted, 2 days ahead of last year and 10 days ahead of the 5-year average. Statewide 51% of the oat crop has emerged, 3 days ahead of average.

Pasture condition rated 41% good to excellent. Reports were received of slow growth due to lack of moisture. No livestock problems were reported.

Corn Planting Progress Jumps 29 Percentage Points

After trailing the five-year average pace the previous week, corn planting jumped back to well ahead of normal last week as farmers took advantage of the much warmer weather to return to fieldwork with a vengeance, according to USDA NASS' weekly Crop Progress report released Monday.

Corn planting progress jumped a whopping 29 percentage points last week to reach 46% complete as of Sunday, May 2. That is slightly behind last year's pace at the same time of 48% but is 10 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 36%. It's also a significant turnaround from last Monday's report when corn planting was 3 percentage points behind average.  Meanwhile, corn emergence continued to run slightly behind normal, at 8% as of Sunday compared to the five-year average of 9%.

The warmer weather last week also allowed soybean planting to accelerate. NASS estimated that 24% of the crop was planted as of Sunday, up 16 percentage points from the previous week and 13 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 11%. In last week's report, soybean planting was 3 percentage points ahead of average.

Development of winter wheat, however, trails the normal pace. Winter wheat heading was estimated at 27% as of Sunday, 7 percentage points behind the five-year average of 34%.  Winter wheat condition fell again slightly to 48% good to excellent as of Sunday, down 1 percentage point from 49% the previous week and below last year's rating of 55%.

Spring wheat planting remains well ahead of normal last week, at 49% complete as of Sunday, 17 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 32%. Spring wheat emerged was estimated at 14%, also ahead of the five-year average of 10%.

Sorghum was 20% planted, up just 1 percentage point from the previous week. Cotton planting was 16% complete, equal to the five-year average. Rice was 64% planted, and 38% of the crop had emerged.  Oats were 72% planted as of Sunday, and emergence was at 47%.

NE Grain & Feed Association Elects to Dissolve

Industry advocacy evolves with global economy as the Nebraska Grain and Feed Association (NEGFA) culminates 125 years of service to Nebraska’s commercial grain and animal feed manufacturing businesses. Throughout the 125 years, the Association represented and served as a home for Nebraska’s lumber, livestock, and ethanol businesses before each industry evolved and formed its own association.

Over the past four years, the Association has been on a journey of re-establishing itself, reflecting on its accomplishments, and investigating how it could best evolve to meet the needs of a changing industry today and in the future.

Surveys, member visits, discussions with like groups, and many board brainstorming and evaluation discussions resulted in a decision. On March 10, 2021, the Board of Directors voted to dissolve the Nebraska Grain and Feed Association.

The Board of Directors supports dissolving the Association so that agribusiness resources can be better utilized where they are needed the most and to best allow member businesses to be involved in national and international conversations and educational opportunities within the regulatory and policy world.

“This was a very difficult decision,” said NEGFA Board of Directors President Scott Sterkel. “The Association has explored many options and exhausted our resources, always coming back to the same conclusion. With decreased member involvement and lack of funds, we do not have the ability to serve our membership in a capacity that benefits them.”

Members were asked to attend a virtual Special Member Meeting April 22, 2021, to hear from the Board the timeline, process, and highlights of strategic plans discussed for the Association that ended with the Board’s decision to dissolve. Members were able to provide feedback and concerns at this meeting. Staff and board members also took calls from stakeholders during the time between the Board’s vote and the Special Member Meeting.

The Board believes dissolution will help align members’ resources with interests to best serve the businesses in a world that continues to evolve.

Renewable Fuels Month spotlights benefits of homegrown fuel options

As temperatures begin to rise and schools dismiss for the school year, families may soon be hitting the road to enjoy summer vacations. The month of May typically kicks off the summer driving season, and it’s also a time to celebrate Nebraska’s biofuel industries through Renewable Fuels Month. Since 2006, the acting Nebraska governor has dedicated one month out of each year to recognize the importance of renewable biofuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel.

Nationally, Nebraska ranks No. 2 in ethanol production with 25 ethanol plants across the state. The industry employs over 1,400 Nebraskans in rural areas of the state. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, ethanol is currently blended in over 95% of the nation’s fuel supply. A healthy ethanol sector boosts Nebraska’s corn and livestock industries and adds to a thriving state economy.

“As a corn and cattle farmer, ethanol is vital to my farming operation,” said David Bruntz, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board (NCB) and farmer from Friend. “In Nebraska, 31% of our state’s corn is used in ethanol production. From the production of ethanol, we also get distillers grains, a protein-rich livestock feed for my cattle. For every bushel of corn used for ethanol, we’re able to get a cleaner-burning fuel and co-products for our value-added livestock industries.”

Each year, Nebraska’s ethanol industry produces nearly 2.1 billion gallons of ethanol, which are used locally, domestically and abroad. While ethanol supports the state’s agricultural industry and rural economies, it also benefits consumers in numerable ways.

“By using ethanol blends, consumers are really improving our environment and enhancing their engine performance all while saving money,” said Jan tenBensel, chairman of the Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB) and farmer from Cambridge. “Ethanol is a fuel made from plants, which makes it renewable, unlike petroleum. It’s cleaner-burning and reduces the emissions of cancer-causing chemicals into the atmosphere from the tailpipe. Ethanol is also a natural octane booster, which supports overall engine performance. You would think a fuel like this would cost more, but it’s actually less expensive at the pumps.”

As environmental issues continue to spark national discussions, both ethanol and biodiesel are well-suited to combat global warming and promote cleaner air. Ethanol blends can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 43% compared to regular gasoline, and biodiesel can reduce lifecycle emissions by 86% compared to petroleum-based diesel fuel.

Like ethanol, the biodiesel industry works synergistically with Nebraska’s livestock sector. A healthy biodiesel industry provides nearly $58.5 million dollars a year in aggregate benefits to beef and pork producers due to decreased meal expenses and the use of inedible tallow and white grease as a biodiesel feedstock. An estimated 7.86 billion pounds of soybean oil went to biodiesel production in 2019-’20.

“Farmers are always looking for ways to maximize overall efficiency and productivity, and the same holds true for our biofuel industries” said Eugene Goering, chairman of the Nebraska Soybean Board and farmer from Columbus. “Science and technology continue to improve, so we’re able to produce even better fuels while reducing our overall environmental impact.”

Renewable Fuels Month kicked off with the Lincoln Marathon/Half Marathon on May 2. For the third year in a row, NCB and NEB joined forces to promote ethanol to runners and spectators from all over the United States. Later in the month, Gov. Pete Ricketts will sign an official proclamation declaring May as Renewable Fuels Month in Nebraska. Additionally, several ethanol pump promotions will be held across the state. For times and locations, visit

“We’re really excited about Renewable Fuels Month as we work to share the benefits of biofuels with our state and its people,” said Tony Leiding, president of Renewable Fuels Nebraska. “I encourage everyone to help us celebrate throughout the month and continue to use higher ethanol blends throughout the summer driving season.”

Throughout May, follow the Nebraska Corn Board, the Nebraska Ethanol Board, Renewable Fuels Nebraska and the Nebraska Soybean Board on social media to keep up to date with current promotions and social media contests.

NPPD urges: “Look up and around for power lines”

Spring is slowly creeping along, which means farmers and ranchers are gearing up for planting season. On the flip side, Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) urges caution in the fields when it comes to power lines and large farm equipment.

“We encourage the farming community to look up and around for powerlines,” said Scott Walz, NPPD Distribution and Transmission Maintenance Manager. “A year ago, we had a rash of contacts between equipment, primarily boom sprayers and power lines, during planting season. The contacts caused numerous power outages and fortunately no loss of life. Nevertheless, contact by with any equipment with a power line has the potential to damage the electronics in the unit.”

Walz recommends that after moving large equipment into the field, operators should review where the power lines are in relationship to their equipment. “After determining where the overhead lines are and making any adjustments to the equipment, in the case of boom sprayer, you can start to unrack the unit,” Walz pointed out. When operators complete their work, they should double-check the lines before re-racking the equipment.

“We want to keep the lights on,” Walz added, “but most importantly, we want farmers and their crews to go home safe every day.”

Contact with a powerline or even being within a few feet of the line with a piece of equipment can result in a dangerous, potentially fatal, situation. The first thing to do after making contact, or if a line falls on the equipment, is to call 911 and remain inside the vehicle as the line may still be energized. Law enforcement can contact NPPD or one of the many rural public power districts who will safely remove the lines and stabilize the situation.

In the event an individual is forced to leave the vehicle, jump as far away as possible from the equipment, making sure no body part touches the equipment and the ground at the same time. It is crucial to land standing with both feet together. The individual should then shuffle their feet, making sure to never break contact with the ground or cause separation between the feet. Do not attempt to return to the equipment and always wait for emergency responders and the power utility to respond.

Spring Safety Tips:
• Each day review all farm activities and work practices that will take place around power lines and remind all workers to take precautions. Start each morning by planning the day’s work during a tailgate safety meeting.
• Know what jobs will happen near power lines and have a plan to keep the assigned workers safe.
• Know the location of power lines, and when setting up the farm equipment, be at least 20 feet away from them.
• Contact your local public power provider if you feel a safe distance cannot be achieved.
• Be aware of increased height when loading and transporting larger modern tractors with higher antennas.
• Never attempt to raise or move a power line to clear a path. If power lines near your property have sagged over time, call your public power utility to repair them.
• Contact your local public power provider if you feel a safe distance cannot be achieved.
• Be aware of increased height when loading and transporting larger modern tractors with higher antennas.
• Never attempt to raise or move a power line to clear a path. If power lines near your property have sagged over time, call your public power utility to repair them.

For more information, check out the spring  safety video on NPPD’s YouTube page.


– Jerry Volesky, NE Extension

Did you have musk thistles last year?  If so, I’m sure you’ll have them again this spring.  And even through you may have done some herbicide control last fall, there are always those that may have been missed.  

This warmer spring weather and recent moisture probably has you anxious to get into the field for planting.  Don’t forget, though, that this also a very good time to control musk thistles.  And I’ll also bet that you can get into your pastures to spray at least one or two days sooner than you can get into row crop fields to plant.

The current short rosette growth form in the spring is the ideal stage for controlling these plants.  That means spray herbicides soon, while your musk thistle plants still are in that rosette form, and very few plants will live to send up flowering stalks.

Several herbicides are effective and recommended for musk thistle control.  Some popular herbicides include Milestone, GrazonNext, and Gunslinger P+D.  These herbicides will help control other difficult weeds like common mullein as well.

Other herbicides that can control musk thistles in pastures this spring include Chaparral, Cimarron, and Curtail.  A tank mix of dicamba and 2,4-D also works very well.  No matter which weed killer you use, though, be sure to read and follow label instructions, and be especially sure to spray on time.

All these herbicides will work for you this spring if you spray soon, before musk thistles bolt and send up their flowering stalks.  After flowering, though, the shovel is about the only method remaining to control thistles this year.

NeFU Foundation Announces “Give to Lincoln” Contributions Will Support The Nebraska Rural Response Hotline

Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) Foundation announced their “Give to Lincoln” contributions this year will once again be used to directly support the operation of the “Nebraska Rural Response Hotline”.

All contributions are tax deductible and a portion of the contributions raised will be matched by “Give to Lincoln”. Last year, a record setting $2,729 in contributions were received, and “Give to Lincoln” added $210.28 to support the Hotline. NeFU Foundation serves as the fiscal agent for the Hotline.

NeFU along with Nebraska Grange, Nebraska Women Involved in Farm Economics, and members of the church community came together to form the Nebraska Rural Response Hotline in 1984 in response to the farm crisis of the 1980’s. The Nebraska Rural Response Council sponsors and oversees the Hotline. The Hotline is administered by the Farm and Ranch Project of Legal Aid of Nebraska at their Bancroft office. Legal Aid of Nebraska has staffed the Hotline since 1984, and augments Hotline services with their own programs.

The Hotline is a national leader in the services it provides to farm, ranch, and rural families in their time of need. The services include food, financial and bookkeeping assistance, legal counseling and services, and free $75 per hour mental health vouchers with an ag knowledgeable professional counselor. In 2020, the Hotline provided a record setting 3,346 mental health vouchers. When people call 800-464-0258, help is but a phone call away. In 2020, the Hotline received 4,550 calls.

“Give to Lincoln” Link:
NeFU Foundation link:

John Hansen, who serves as the Secretary for both the Farm Crisis Council and NeFU Foundation said, “Our Nebraska Rural Response Hotline is a true lifeline and blessing for rural families in crisis. Thanks to our partners we are able to help get rural families in crisis get the help they need. This is a truly unique, Nebraska nice effort. Contributions of all sizes are put to good use. Thanks for your consideration.”

Agricultural Land Management Quarterly Webinar Series

The Department of Agricultural Economics' Agricultural Land Management Quarterly webinar series offers management advice and insight for Nebraska landowners, agricultural producers and others with an interest in agricultural land. The webinars will conclude with an “Ask the Experts” session where participants can get answers to their land or lease questions.

Presenters: Jim Jansen & Allan Vyhnalek

Upcoming Webinars: Spring 2021

May 17, Noon CT

Recent Trends in Nebraska Cash Rental Rates

Trends in cash rent for 2020 across Nebraska; financial implications for changes in land values and cash rents Proper communication and decision-making for agricultural land, improving communication between landlords, tenants and family members; ask the experts.

Register here:  

Corn Farmers Launch Campaign to Open Minds, Share Sustainability Story in Washington

This Saturday, key public policy influencers in our nation’s capital met the corn farmers of America’s Heartland in their homes, at the airport, and even while listening to their favorite podcasts as the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) launched a campaign highlighting their incredible sustainability story. By reaching “Inside the Beltway,” this campaign, made possible by a collaboration with state associations and highlighting the authentic stories of corn farmers, is designed to open doors and build trust by highlighting the role farmers play in combatting today’s most pressing environmental issues.

“Even in 2021, corn farming remains, at its heart, a family operation rooted in the earth,” said John Linder, NCGA President and a farmer from Ohio. “In many cases, such as mine, this vocation goes back multiple generations. America’s family farmers take great pride in the past, but we are working to build a future with healthy soil, clean air and clean water. Whether you live in D.C. or Edison, work in Congress or a tractor cab, we care about the future of our families and want the best for them. Working together, corn farmers can break down the barriers that stand between us and our goals for tomorrow.”

This campaign, created by National Corn Growers Association and its state affiliates in collaboration, supports ongoing work in Washington to build relationships based on our many common shared values with authentic stories and backed up by facts.

"We have a great story - but it has to be told. Through this campaign, we put real faces on today's family farmers to showcase the environmental advances being made in the industry and share the excitement around innovation in ag," said Linder.

March Oilseed Crushings, Production, Consumption and Stocks

Soybeans crushed for crude oil was 5.65 million tons (188 million bushels) in March 2021, compared with 4.93 million tons (164 million bushels) in February 2021 and 5.76 million tons (192 million bushels) in March 2020. Crude oil produced was 2.22 billion pounds up 15 percent from February 2021 and up 1 percent from March 2020. Soybean once refined oil production at 1.76 billion pounds during March 2021 increased 22 percent from February 2021 and increased 10 percent from March 2020.

March Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production

Total corn consumed for alcohol and other uses was 473 million bushels in March 2021. Total corn consumption was up 25 percent from February 2021 and up 1 percent from March 2020. March 2021 usage included 91.1 percent for alcohol and 8.9 percent for other purposes. Corn consumed for beverage alcohol totaled 3.72 million bushels, up 35 percent from February 2021 but down 8 percent from March 2020. Corn for fuel alcohol, at 420 million bushels, was up 26 percent from February 2021 and up 2 percent from March 2020. Corn consumed in March 2021 for dry milling fuel production and wet milling fuel production was 91.5 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively.

Dry mill co-product production of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) was 1.80 million tons during March 2021, up 28 percent from February 2021 and up 9 percent from March 2020. Distillers wet grains (DWG) 65 percent or more moisture was 1.11 million tons in March 2021, up 26 percent from February 2021 but down 12 percent from March 2020.

Wet mill corn gluten feed production was 266,308 tons during March 2021, up 22 percent from February 2021 but down 9 percent from March 2020. Wet corn gluten feed 40 to 60 percent moisture was 206,831 tons in March 2021, up 22 percent from February 2021 but down 6 percent from March 2020.

Q1 Flour Milling Products

All wheat ground for flour during the first quarter 2021 was 225 million bushels, down 3 percent from the fourth quarter 2020 grind of 231 million bushels and down 4 percent from the first quarter 2020 grind of 233 million bushels. First quarter 2021 total flour production was 104 million hundredweight, down 3 percent from the fourth quarter 2020 and down 4 percent from the first quarter 2020. Whole wheat flour production, at 4.83 million hundredweight during the first quarter 2021, accounted for 5 percent of the total flour production. Millfeed production from wheat in the first quarter 2021 was 1.63 million tons. The daily 24-hour milling capacity of wheat flour during the first quarter 2021 was 1.59 million hundredweight.

Flour Milling Products 2020 Summary

All wheat ground for flour in 2020 was 918 million bushels, up 1 percent from 2019. The total flour production was 426 million hundredweight, up 1 percent from 2019. Total whole wheat flour production in 2020 was 20.1 million hundredweight, down 10 percent from 2019.

Feeder Cattle Adjust to Limited Fed Cattle Opportunities and Higher Feeding Costs

Stephen R. Koontz, Dept of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Colorado State University

Futures price for most the live cattle and feeder cattle contract have shown substantial weakness through much of April 2021. Optimism from late in the winter and early in the spring is being replaced by realism that it is going to take another 2-3 months to work through the large front-loaded fed animal inventories, that fed animal slaughter is at capacity, and that costs of gain are now substantially higher than the past several years. Futures prices now reflect more the conditions that the underlaying cash market has been showing since the beginning of the year. The cash market has been much less optimistic than the futures market – although the futures have changed over the prior month.

Fed cattle slaughter has been persistently high for much of the year and Saturday slaughter has been routinely over 60 thousand head. Combined fed steer and heifer slaughter has been just short of 525 thousand head per week. And it is likely that this is a reasonable maximum that the packing industry can process. Packer margins are strong but there is little incentive to pay more for fed cattle when plants are operating six days per week. There is little to no possibility to process more cattle regardless of the incentive to do so. There are a lot of historical relationships that are irrelevant when the packing industry is essentially at capacity. Market-ready inventories need to be reduced. This appears to be happening in that the last Cattle on Feed report communicated drops in both cattle on feed over 120 and 150 days. But supplies will likely be abundant into late summer.

The other market event complicating feeder cattle and calf market outlook is the substantial rally in feed prices. The corn futures market increased $2 per bushel between August of last year and mid-January. The July contract held steady at about $5.25 until the Prospective Planting report surprises. Since the end of March, the contract has increased an additional $1.50. This market is clearly rationing old crop among users of corn. The formula cost of gain for cattle this summer is well above $1 per pound. The feeding margin between OCT live, JUL corn, and MAY feeders is breakeven – the details depending on the basis. If live cattle have little upside and the corn market continues to ration old crop, then it is feeder cattle that have to adjust. While margin calls are uncomfortable, forward pricing in a rallying spring feeder cattle market again proves to be a smart perspective.

EPA Asks Court to Vacate Trump Administration’s Last-Minute Refinery Exemptions

The Renewable Fuels Association today welcomed news that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has filed a motion in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit asking the court to vacate and remand three last-minute small refinery exemptions granted to Sinclair by the previous administration.
According to EPA’s April 30 filing, the agency under the previous administration failed to properly analyze the waiver petitions submitted by Sinclair. The filing says the Trump administration’s EPA “…granted exemption extensions that EPA now believes are ‘outside the scope of the EPA’s statutory authority.’”
Commenting on the news, RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper said, “We strongly support EPA’s request for vacatur and remand of these three midnight-hour exemptions that were handed out to Sinclair in the waning moments of the Trump administration. If allowed to stand, these improperly granted exemptions would have erased demand for another 260 million gallons of low-carbon renewable fuels, undermining the rural communities that depend on a strong RFS. We are greatly encouraged by EPA’s actions, which are consistent with President Biden’s commitment to stem the tide of unwarranted refinery exemptions and put the RFS back on track.”

With less than 24 hours remaining before the inauguration of President Joe Biden, EPA on January 19 announced that three small refinery exemptions had been issued to unidentified refineries, letting those facilities out of their Renewable Fuel Standard compliance obligations for 2018 and 2019.
As noted in EPA’s brief, RFA immediately filed a petition for review and an emergency motion to stay the effectiveness of the exemptions in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, even though the identity of the refineries was unknown at the time. On January 21, the D.C. Circuit granted the administrative stay requested by RFA. Sinclair later confirmed that its Wyoming refineries were the recipients of all three exemptions, and the proceedings then moved to the Tenth Circuit.
In its April 30 filing, EPA said the previous administration “…did not analyze determinative legal questions regarding whether Sinclair’s refineries qualified to receive extensions of the small refinery exemption under controlling case law established by this Court in Renewable Fuels Association v. EPA…, and there is substantial uncertainty whether, if EPA performed such an analysis, it could grant the petitions submitted by Sinclair.”
Notably, EPA’s brief underscores that Sinclair has already retired the RINs necessary to demonstrate compliance with its 2018 and 2019 RFS obligations. Thus, vacating the three exemptions, as requested by EPA, would preserve stability in the marketplace “…by ensuring that the RINs that Sinclair already retired to demonstrate its small refineries’ compliance with their 2018 and 2019 compliance obligations remain retired.”

Growth Energy Welcomes EPA’s Moves to Vacate Last-Minute SREs

Today, Growth Energy welcomed news that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) filed a motion in the D.C. Circuit to vacate three last-minute SREs issued on January 19, 2021 and to remand to EPA for further consideration:

“EPA is addressing the previous administration’s mishandling of the SRE program, including the midnight-hour grants of three SREs to Sinclair. We are hopeful that EPA will continue to rein in the SRE program to achieve its limited purpose and ensure that the RFS advances the biofuels industry today and in the years to come,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor.

NMPF Offers Dairy Industry Support to Ambassador Tai on Expanding Agricultural Markets

In a meeting today with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, and NMPF’s Chairman Randy Mooney offered to closely collaborate with Ambassador Tai and the entire Biden Administration on trade in order to strengthen the health of the U.S. dairy industry to allow for further expansion of the hundreds of thousands of dairy-reliant jobs across the country.  

“From farmers to farm workers, dairy manufacturers, milk haulers, and port workers – all these are just some of the Americans that are increasingly reliant on dairy exports for their prosperity,” Mulhern said. “Expanding access for Made-In-America dairy products and eliminating the non-tariff trade barriers that impede them is fundamental to supporting the U.S. dairy industry and the millions more who depend on a robust dairy supply chain.”  

In the meeting with Ambassador Tai, Mulhern emphasized the need for new market opportunities, noting in particular the importance of enforcement of existing trade agreements such as ensuring Canada meets its trade obligations; countering European Union attempts to misuse common food names through inappropriate geographical indication rules; engaging with Mexico to ensure a normal flow of trade; and concluding new market expanding trade agreements.

“We’re grateful to Ambassador Tai for taking the time to meet with us and discuss a few of the trade-related issues on the minds of America’s dairy farmers,” said Mulhern. “Our industry is an agricultural leader in improving sustainability, promoting high animal care standards, and providing high quality products. Together with the U.S. Dairy Export Council we’re eager to work closely with the Ambassador and her team to meet growing global dairy demand with sustainably produced American dairy products.”

Leaders for hire: Land O'Lakes, Inc. unveils American Connection Corps

Land O’Lakes, Inc. today announced the formation of a new program for leaders aimed at a boots-on-the-ground effort to boost local internet connectivity and the benefits it provides. The program, the American Connection Corps, will be led in conjunction with Lead for America (LFA) and funded through the support of Heartland Forward and 19 additional partner organizations. Applications open today for a two-year, full-time paid fellowship. Fifty Fellows will serve in local public-serving institutions in their hometowns and will be empowered to serve as community leaders focused specifically on connectivity.

“Millions of families are operating day-to-day with a lack of basic infrastructure -- adequate broadband access -- that has become a necessity in today’s world and, frankly, a fundamental right. Action cannot wait,” said Beth Ford, Land O’Lakes, Inc. president and chief executive officer. “Through our years-long work on broadband advocacy and conversations with our farmers, our customers and so many others, we’ve seen and heard firsthand how critical digital infrastructure is to the success of communities and businesses across America. From everyday life to prospering in a global economy, investing and focusing on this issue now will pay dividends.”

Through their proven Homecomers model, LFA will run the American Connection Corps as a separate track under their broad Fellows program. LFA will select, train and place leaders in two-year, full-time paid fellowships with local institutions (e.g. local governments, nonprofits, community foundations) to tackle tough challenges facing the community, strengthen their hometown's civic infrastructure and join a new generation of transformational community leaders.

"Our work has shown that we can change the narrative that success means leaving home for good, and instead that leaders can create meaningful impact in their hometowns," commented Benya Kraus, co-founder of LFA.

"We are excited to put true grassroots – person-to-person outreach -- in communities across the heartland to connect their residents to high-speed internet and ensure everyone can enjoy full access to essential online services,” said Angie Cooper, chief program officer for Heartland Forward, a leading partner on the American Connection Corps initiative.

Ford continued, “This program would not be happening without the support of organizations joining with us; I’m so grateful to these partners who also recognize that together, we can take bold steps now to help solve these challenges, to help create the future and to benefit us all in our ever-connected world.”

The American Connection Corps is launching with funding from 20 partner organizations, including: Heartland Forward, CoBank, Tractor Supply Company, Microsoft, Mayo Clinic, Ariel Investments, Scoular, CHS, Zoetis, Tillamook, Accenture, University of Minnesota, the American Farm Bureau Federation, Midwest Dairy, Purdue University, Partners for Education, CentraCare, Common Sense Media and University of Illinois Extension.

Individuals interested in applying for the program are encouraged to visit Lead for America’s website and select the American Connection Corps track. The deadline to apply is May 15, 2021. The inaugural class of Fellows will be announced in early June 2021.

 USDA Announces May 2021 Lending Rates for Agricultural Producers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced loan interest rates for May 2021, which are effective May 3. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) loans provide important access to capital to help agricultural producers start or expand their farming operation, purchase equipment and storage structures, or meet cash flow needs.

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 May 2021 are as follows:
    Farm Operating Loans (Direct): 1.750%
    Farm Ownership Loans (Direct): 3.250%
    Farm Ownership Loans (Direct, Joint Financing): 2.500%
    Farm Ownership Loans (Down Payment): 1.500%
    Emergency Loan (Amount of Actual Loss): 2.750%

FSA also offers guaranteed loans through commercial lenders at rates set by those lenders.

Commodity and Storage Facility Loans
Additionally, FSA provides low-interest financing to producers to build or upgrade on-farm storage facilities and purchase handling equipment and 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 are administered by FSA.

    Commodity Loans (less than one year disbursed): 1.125%
    Farm Storage Facility Loans:
        Three-year loan terms: 0.375%
        Five-year loan terms: 0. 875%
        Seven-year loan terms: 1.375%
        Ten-year loan terms: 1.625%
        Twelve-year loan terms: 1.750%
    Sugar Storage Facility Loans (15 years): 2.000%

Disaster Support
FSA also reminds rural communities, farmers and ranchers, families and small businesses affected by the year’s winter storms, drought, and other natural disasters that USDA has programs that provide assistance. USDA staff in the regional, state and county offices are prepared with a variety of program flexibilities and other assistance to residents, agricultural producers and impacted communities. Many programs are available without an official disaster designation, including several risk management and disaster assistance options.

Pandemic Support
Through September 1, 2021, FSA’s Disaster Set-Aside provision is available to direct loan borrowers who have been impacted by the pandemic. This enables an upcoming annual installment to be set aside for the year and added to the final installment. For annual operating loans, the loan maturity date may be extended up to twelve months in order to set aside the installment. This provision is normally used in the wake of natural disasters, and a second Disaster Set-Aside may be available for direct loan borrowers who already have a DSA in place on a loan due to another designated natural disaster.

Producers can explore available options on all FSA loan options at or by contacting your local USDA Service Center.

AGCO Power’s multi-million investment in engine manufacturing progresses

AGCO, a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment and solutions, initiated an investment program worth over 100 million euros in 2019 to strengthen the manufacturing capabilities of AGCO Power, an AGCO subsidiary in Linnavuori, Finland and AGCO’s global engine product portfolio.

A new and expanded assembly plant and a logistics center were constructed in record time at the Linnavuori plant, both of which help AGCO Power modernize and streamline their engine manufacturing process.

“Despite a tight schedule and the global COVID-19 pandemic, the investment project has progressed as planned. The investments at the Linnavuori plant enable a more efficient and streamlined production process. Upgrades such as the automated logistics center and state-of-the-art robotics support improved quality, cleanliness and work ergonomics. In addition, the investment paves way for the launch of production of a new engine family by the end of 2022,” says Mr. Juha Tervala, CEO of AGCO Power.

Part of the investment was a multi-million euro overhaul to the plant’s machining line. Once fully operational, the 100% automated machining line enables flexible manufacturing of components in-house, reducing costs and increasing control over the production process.

“The successful completion of the project makes AGCO Power’s position in the global powertrain market better than ever. The new engine product family that is being developed will serve AGCO brands (Valtra, Fendt and Massey Ferguson) more effectively and offer future solutions to customers in the off-road machinery market,” Mr. Tervala continues.

AGCO Power operates globally and manufactures engines at four plants: Linnavuori, Changzhou, China, Mogi das Cruzes, Brazil, and General Rodriguez, Argentina, with an overall capacity of over 100,000 engines per year. In 2022, AGCO Power turns 80 years old, and the company will mark the anniversary with the completion of the plant expansion and the launch of a new, state-of-the-art engine family.

More information about AGCO Power is available at

Friday April 30 Ag News

 Nebraska corn farmers to invest nearly $2.2 billion to plant 9.9 million acres

Corn planting season has begun in Nebraska, and farmers are expected to invest nearly $2.2 billion into this year’s crop.

Nebraska corn farmers will plant 9.9 million acres of corn in 2021 according to the latest Prospective Plantings report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). If these planting estimates hold up, Nebraska corn farmers will invest nearly $2.2 billion dollars into the state’s economy over a two-month period. This amount is a result of inputs, such as seed, fuel and fertilizer, but does not include land costs, labor or equipment. Despite the seemingly high investments now, the full economic impact will be realized over time.

“Agriculture is an industry filled with risk and heavily reliant on Mother Nature,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board (NCB). “Despite the uncertainty, Nebraska’s farmers are passionate about producing an abundant supply of food, fuel and fiber, which shows through their yearly investments during the planting season. The economic impact of agriculture to Nebraska is substantial. It’s truly our No. 1 industry.”

Farmers in Nebraska historically begin to plant their corn in mid-April and try to finish by mid-May. However, weather often dictates when farmers can plant. The latest Crop Progress report issued by the USDA (released April 26, 2021), showed Nebraska farmers are 6% completed with corn planting, which is behind where the state was at this time last year (17%), and behind the five-year average (15%).

“The planting season got off to a fairly slow start, but recent favorable weather will help accelerate overall progress,” said David Bruntz, chairman of NCB and farmer from Friend. “This is a busy time for farmers, so please be cautious if you’re driving on rural roads over the next several weeks. There will be lots of machinery moving from field to field, and it’s important to take a second for safety.”

Nationally, farmers are estimated to plant nearly 91.1 million acres of corn in 2021, which is up less than 1% from last year. For more crop progress information throughout the year, follow the Nebraska Corn Board on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Webinar to cover USDA ag assistance programs CFAP 2, ARP

A webinar on agricultural assistance available to producers through USDA programs will be presented at noon on Thursday by Nebraska Extension and the USDA Farm Service Agency Nebraska State Office.

Farmers and ranchers may have heard of the Pandemic Assistance for Producers Initiative (PAP), the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) and the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). All have been in the news, but what do they mean for Nebraska’s producers?

The webinar will provide an overview of each program and give direction for farmers and ranchers regarding the current open application period for CFAP 2 at FSA offices across the state. It will be presented by Brad Lubben, extension policy specialist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Cathy Anderson, production and compliance section chief with the Nebraska FSA State Office.

The webinar is part of a weekly series produced by the Farm and Ranch Management team in the university’s Department of Agricultural Economics. Registration is free at

Pandemic Assistance for Producers

The Farm Service Agency reopened signup for CFAP 2 on April 5, for a period of at least 60 days, to producers of commodities marketed in 2020 who faced disruptions due to COVID-19.

The American Rescue Plan includes provisions for USDA to pay up to 120% of loan balances, as of Jan. 1, 2021, for FSA Direct and Guaranteed Farm Loans and Farm Storage Facility Loans debt relief to any socially disadvantaged producers with a qualifying loan from FSA.

More information about USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers is available at

Fencing and Grazing Clinic Offers Technology, Tours and Tools

The Fencing and Grazing Clinic, organized and hosted by the Iowa Beef Center, the Department of Animal Science at Iowa State University, and the Beef Teaching Farm at Iowa State University, is set for June 17 at the Beef Teaching Farm in Ames.

A variety of topics, speakers and learning opportunities make this clinic a “must-attend” for anyone who works with cattle, grazing and fencing in their operations.

“Attendees of this one-day event will learn about considerations for a grazing plan, tour the Iowa State University Beef Teaching Farm and participate in a fencing demonstration led by Gallagher on permanent and temporary fencing,” said Erika Lundy, beef specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. “Fencing laws, Iowa State research updates and interaction with an experienced grazier producer panel also are on the agenda.”  

Beef teaching farm manager David Bruene said participants will be able to see and ask about methods being tried on the farm for extending the grazing season and controlling cow costs.

“We’ve been experimenting with cover crops, annual forages, paddock renovation and swath grazing,” Bruene said. “The on-farm component allows us to showcase some of what we’re doing, and producers can learn from our successes and mistakes.”

Participants will be split into two groups to allow for easier hands-on demonstrations and small group discussions during both the classroom and in-field settings. The clinic will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and includes a meal prepared by the Story County Cattlemen. The event flyer offers a quick look at topics, date, time and location, and sponsor listing.

There is no cost to attend; however, all registration must be done online on the event website at

Organizers are prioritizing the health and safety of Iowans and are following the most current federal, state, local and university COVID-19 guidelines. Participants are required to wear a face covering when in the presence of others and unable to maintain a six-foot physical distance.

For more information about IBC, visit To learn more about this event, Lundy can be reached at 641-745-5902 or Reynolds is available at

Northeast NE Cattlemen Steak Fry

June 13 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm    

Tickets $40

Date:    June 13
Time:    6:00 pm - 9:00 pm

    Wayne Co Fairgrounds, Wayne, NE United States  

NBB Asks USDA to Support Biodiesel in Pilot Programs, Climate Smart Agriculture

Yesterday, the National Biodiesel Board filed comments in response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's requests for public input on the Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad and a Rural Energy Pilot Program. NBB recommends that USDA leverage existing programs and create new pilot programs to support harvesting annual oil seed cover crops, update the lifecycle analysis of biodiesel, and expand biodiesel education.

"NBB appreciates the recognition that biofuels are part of the solution to address the climate crisis, and with the right incentives and market demand biodiesel is ready now to achieve the goals laid out in the Executive Order," writes Kurt Kovarik, NBB''s Vice President of Federal Affairs, in the comments.

"Biodiesel reduces carbon on average by 74%, and it cuts particulate matter and other criteria pollutants in both transportation and home heating," Kovarik added. "Biodiesel and renewable diesel are the most widely available advanced biofuels today; they've helped the nation reduce carbon for the past decade or more. And we appreciate USDA's continued recognition that they deserve a seat at the table as the nation addresses climate change over the coming decades."

NBB's recommendations on Tackling the Climate Crisis include:
    Under NCRS, allow harvesting of oilseed cover crops that produce low-carbon-intensity feedstocks.
    Conduct an up-to-date analysis of lifecycle emissions for soybean-oil-based biodiesel.
    Recognize biodiesel's ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and criteria pollutants such as particulate matter as the agency incorporates environmental justice considerations.
    Seek permanent funding for the Biodiesel Education Program, the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program, and the Advanced Biofuels Payment Program.

NBB's recommendations on the Rural Energy Pilot Program include:
    Expand this pilot program beyond distributed power to include biodiesel, renewable diesel, and Bioheat® fuel.
    Provide grants to fully fund feasibility studies and business planning based on project merits and anticipated outcomes for both distributed power and biofuel related projects.
    Offer grants to fund education to create sustainable pilot outcomes.
    Modify or broaden the rural eligibility definition.

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.

Land O’Lakes, Inc. delivers strong results for first quarter 2021

Land O’Lakes, Inc. today reported net sales of $3.9 billion and net earnings of $136 million for the first quarter ending March 31, 2021, compared to net sales of $3.8 billion and net earnings of $37 million in 2020. Each business unit delivered strong results and increased net earnings compared to the prior year.

“The operating environment and fundamentals are strong in each business segment,” said Beth Ford, president and CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “The Ag sector is bolstered with our agronomic leadership in Winfield United, rising grain prices, and farmers investing in their crops in preparation for spring planting, and is well-positioned to take advantage of the most favorable market environment since 2014. As businesses continue to re-open in 2021, the marketplace for Dairy Foods Foodservice is rebounding rapidly. Animal Nutrition has also seen continued growth in the lifestyle segment as people continue to invest in their animals.”

Net sales across the company were up 4% compared to the prior year with volume growth in each of the core business segments. Dairy Foods earnings were higher due to continued volume strength in Retail and improved margins in the Global Dairy Ingredients business. Crop Inputs earnings improved due to higher volumes and favorable product mix in Crop Protection Products, in advance of spring planting. Animal Nutrition earnings were also higher for the quarter due to volume growth in both Lifestyle and Livestock Feed. Improved performance more than offset the impact of higher supply chain costs across the portfolio. 2021 first quarter performance was the strongest of the past decade for the farmer-owned cooperative.

U.S. Trade Representative Calls Out EU GI Abuses and Impacts on U.S. Exporters  

The Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN), National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) today commended Ambassador Katherine Tai and U.S. Trade Representative Office staff, as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other administration partners, for reaffirming in its Special 301 Report the U.S. government’s commitment to tackling continued European Union (EU) misuse of legitimate geographical indications (GI) protections.

USTR’s Special 301 Report, an annual publication tallying global challenges pertaining to intellectual property issues, called out the EU’s policy of blocking fair competition through the pursuit of geographical indications restricting the use of common food and beverage terms, which erect barriers to trade in products relying on common food names. “As part of its trade agreement negotiations, the EU pressures trading partners to prevent all producers, other than in certain EU regions, from using certain product names, such as fontina, gorgonzola, parmesan, asiago, or feta. This is despite the fact that these terms are the common names for products produced in countries around the world.”

“USTR has accurately diagnosed the problem. Now the task before the U.S. is to take the necessary steps to effectively curb this scourge to U.S. food and agricultural producers,” said CCFN Executive Director Jaime Castaneda. “The EU’s GI policy is intentionally barring competition from a host of other suppliers that all simply seek a level playing field including small and medium-sized family-owned companies, farmer-owned cooperatives, producers in developing countries and other actors throughout the supply chain that bear the brunt of these harmful restrictions. The U.S. must build on past advances to pursue a more proactive and effective path to combating the misuse of GIs by establishing concrete market access protections for the use of widely used terms.”

“Last year over 170 members of Congress urged an expansion of the trade toolkit the U.S. deploys to deal with geographical indications that block the use of common food names,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “It’s time to put that into practice and secure affirmative protections for the key common terms on which U.S. cheesemakers and other food producers rely. We look forward to working closely with USTR to achieve those gains to keep doors around the world open to made-in-America products.”

“U.S. dairy farmers and processors are counting on the U.S. government to have their back and defend their rights to cultivate opportunities around the world,” said Krysta Harden, President and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. “Our industry produces great products here at home and then works hard to market them overseas. To be as successful as possible, however, they count on strong U.S. government support to head off and combat unfair trade barriers such as geographical indications that ban the use of generic cheese terms. We want to partner with USTR to help bring the right policy tools to bear to make headway on this thorny issue.”  

CCFN filed extensive comments with USTR outlining GI-related developments, foreign governments’ roles in driving those policies and the impacts on U.S. farmers and food producers. NMPF and USDEC also submitted comments supporting CCFN’s global overview and the need for a more robust U.S. trade policy approach to tackling GI abuses.

USDA Seeks Nominees for the American Egg Board

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is seeking nominees to fill nine member and nine alternate member vacancies on the American Egg Board. Appointed members will serve a two-year term beginning March 2022 and ending March 2024. The deadline for nominations is July 1, 2021.

Any egg producers owning 75,000 or more laying hens may be nominated by a certified eligible operation. USDA will select appointees from the nominated producers.

Nomination forms, a list of the three areas and the certified eligible operations within each area are available on the AMS American Egg Board webpage. Due to reapportionment of the American Egg Board, the geographic areas were decreased from six regions to three regions. The number of members and alternates have stayed the same.

The American Egg Board is composed of 18 members and 18 alternates and administers the egg research and promotion program authorized by the Egg Research and Consumer Information Act of 1974. For more information, contact Craig Shackelford at (470) 315-4246 or

AMS policy is that the diversity of the board should reflect the diversity of their industries in experience of members, methods of production and distribution, marketing strategies, and other distinguishing factors that will bring different perspectives and ideas to the table. When submitting nominations, the industry must consider the diversity of the population served and the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the members to serve a diverse population.

Thursday April 29 Ag News

 UNL Dept of Ag Economics Farm & Ranch Management Webinar Series Continues....

Economic Recovery in U.S. Agriculture

Thursday, May 13, 11:30 a.m. CDT
Nathan Kauffman, Omaha Branch Executive, Vice President and Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
On the verge of disaster one year ago, many segments of the U.S. agricultural economy have rebounded to new heights. Supported by robust global demand, reopening economies, and tight supplies, the prices of major U.S. crops have touched their highest level in nearly a decade. Although significant risks remain, the outlook for U.S. agriculture in the months ahead is strong.

Benchmarking and Profitability for Beef Operations

Thursday, May 20, noon
Randy Saner, Extension Educator, Nebraska Extension
Matt Stockton, Associate Professor, UNL Agricultural Economics
Benchmarking a cow-calf operation by comparing it to other similar operations, can give producers a tool to look at ways they can improve their business. This webinar will look at 31 commercial beef cow-calf operations with 100 or more cows. The information comes from the 2019 FINBIN database maintained by the University of Minnesota for the states of Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. We will discuss what key factors makes a beef operation profitable according to this benchmarking data.

Register for either webinar at

State Revenue Projections Continuing to Grow

Statement by Mark McHargue, President, NE Farm Bureau

In response to the Nebraska Economic Forecasting Advisory Board’s revised revenue projections for the current year and the next biennium, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue said “We are encouraged by continued growth in state revenues, indicating that Nebraska’s economy is strong. Nebraska’s strong tax revenues continue to give the state the opportunity to deliver more property tax relief and provide better access to high speed broadband in rural Nebraska.”


– Brad Schick, NE Extension Educator

If you have wetlands, creek bottoms, or just wet areas in pastures, you probably have some reed canarygrass. It is often the first perennial grass to green up in the spring.  
Reed canarygrass is a high-producing cool-season grass that thrives in wetter conditions in addition to well-drained soils. As the plant matures, palatability decreases rapidly so grazing it can be a challenge.
Reed canarygrass contains alkaloids which are unpalatable chemical compounds. Reed canarygrass also has a very thick stem which contributes to livestock preferring other plants to eat.
However, if cattle are turned out on it very early it is good forage that they will eat. Reed canarygrass should be grazed before it is 10 inches tall and grazed down quickly to about three to four inches before moving to the next area to graze reed canarygrass. Once growth reaches almost 10 inches again, livestock can be put back on and will graze it. The nutritional quality of the forage is also high at this young growth stage.  
This method does require some time and labor, but it is early forage and can be palatable if grazed in rapid rotation. Haying is also an option when it is still short, but spring dry-down can be challenging.
Reed canarygrass can be a good grass to graze, but it will likely take some practice and time to get it right.

Future Leaders in Agriculture Scholarship Winners Announced

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association is pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 Future Leaders in Agriculture Scholarship Program (FLAGship Program). After reviewing the applications and much deliberation, the NeCGA Grower Services Committee chose five applicants to each receive a $2,000 scholarship. The awardees are listed below, along with their intended secondary school and degree program:
Blaine Bonifas, Aurora (UNL, Agronomy)
Jason Kettelhake, Tecumseh (Concordia University, Agribusiness)
Ellen Wanek, Aurora (UNL, Pre-Vet)
Gage Groeteke, Primrose (UNL, Political Science)
Cassandra Pieper, Howells (Wayne State College, Pre-Medicine)

To be eligible for this scholarship, students must be a member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association or the son/daughter of an NeCGA member. They must be a senior in high school or college freshman who is continuing their education in Nebraska. Three of the five scholarships are set aside for students who are pursuing a degree in an agriculture related field. Two scholarships are open to students pursuing a degree outside of agriculture.

“I want to congratulate each student who was chosen to receive a scholarship. The applications this year were impressive and choosing only five was difficult. We hope that this scholarship is a bright spot in what was a challenging year for students across the state. We are excited to see how these young people advocate for agriculture in the future,” said Michael Dibbern, chairman of the Grower Services Committee.

2020 NE Poultry Production and Value

The value of egg production in Nebraska during 2020 was $153 million, up $22.9 million from $130 million in 2019, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Egg production in 2020 was estimated at 2.43 billion eggs, down 226.3 million from the previous year. Average number of layers for 2020 at 8.57 million was down 303,000 from 2019.

Value of U.S. Production and Sales Down 11 Percent

The combined value of production from broilers, eggs, turkeys, and the value of sales from chickens in 2020 was $35.5 billion, down 11 percent from $40.0 billion in 2019. Of the combined total, 61 percent was from broilers, 24 percent from eggs, 15 percent from turkeys, and less than 1 percent from chickens.

Value of all egg production in 2020 was $8.66 billion, up 18 percent from $7.33 billion in 2019. Egg production totaled 112 billion eggs, down 1 percent from 113 billion eggs produced in 2019.

The value of broilers produced during 2020 was $21.7 billion, down 23 percent from 2019. The total number of broilers produced in 2020 was 9.22 billion, up slightly from 2019. The total amount of live weight broilers produced in 2020 was 59.4 billion pounds, up 2 percent from 2019.

The value of sales from chickens (excluding broilers) in 2020 was $18.8 million, down 50 percent from $37.6 million a year ago. The number of chickens sold in 2020 totaled 185 million, down 1 from the total sold during the previous year.

The value of turkeys produced during 2020 was $5.19 billion, up 20 percent from the $4.32 billion the previous year. The total number of turkeys raised in 2020 was 224 million, down 2 percent from 2019. Turkey production in 2020 totaled 7.32 billion pounds, down 2 percent from the 7.47 billion pounds produced in 2019.

USDA:  Milk Production, Disposition, and Income 2020 Summary

Milk production increased 2.2 percent in 2020 to 223 billion pounds. The rate per cow, at 23,777 pounds, was 382 pounds above 2019. The annual average number of milk cows on farms was 9.39 million head, up 51,000 head from 2019.

Cash receipts from marketings of milk during 2020 totaled $40.5 billion, up slightly from 2019. Producer returns averaged $18.25 per hundredweight, 2.1 percent below 2019. Marketings totaled 222.1 billion pounds, 2.2 percent above 2019. Marketings include whole milk sold to plants and dealers and milk sold directly to consumers.

2020 Milk Marketed (million pounds)  -  Cash Receipts from marketings

Nebraska .....:                  1,453.0                 -                     $264,446,000
Iowa ............:                  5,356.0                 -                    $1,044,420,000    

An estimated 1.09 billion pounds of milk were used on farms where produced, 6.2 percent more than 2019. Calves were fed 92 percent of this milk, with the remainder consumed in producer households.

USDA Meat Animals Production, Disposition, and Income 2020 Summary

Total 2020 production of cattle and calves and hogs and pigs for the United States totaled 86.0 billion pounds, down 1 percent from 2019. Production increased 2 percent for cattle and calves but decreased 3 percent for hogs and pigs.

Cattle and Calves: Cash receipts from marketings of cattle and calves decreased 5 percent, from $66.3 billion in 2019 to $63.1 billion in 2020. All cattle and calf marketings totaled 59.0 billion pounds in 2020, up 1 percent from 2019.

Cattle & Calves - Cash Receipts by State

Nebraska ...:  $9,645,347,000
Iowa ..........:  $3,785,760,000

Hogs and Pigs: Cash receipts from hogs and pigs totaled $19.2 billion during 2020, down 12 percent from 2019. Marketings totaled 41.9 billion pounds in 2020, down 3 percent from 2019.

Hogs & Pigs - Cash Receipts by State

Nebraska ...:    $755,968,000 
Iowa ..........:   $9,645,347,000

Total 2020 cash receipts from marketings of meat animals decreased 7 percent to $82.3 billion. Cattle and calves accounted for 77 percent of this total and hogs and pigs accounted for 23 percent.

The 2020 gross income from cattle and calves and hogs and pigs for the United States totaled $82.7 billion, down 7 percent from 2019. Gross income decreased 5 percent for cattle and calves and decreased 12 percent for hogs and pigs from previous year's gross income.

“May Beef Month” highlights Iowa’s beef cattle industry

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association thanks Gov. Kim Reynolds for proclaiming May as “Beef Month” in Iowa. Each year, roughly 20,000 beef cattle operations generate more than $6 billion of economic activity in the state.

During “Beef Month,” the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association invites producers and consumers across the state to join our efforts in sharing how beef contributes to a healthy diet. Iowa’s cattlemen work hard to feed a growing population, while stewarding our land and natural resources. The value of beef reaches far beyond your plate.   

WHEREAS, Iowa is a major beef producing state with more than 3.6 million head of cattle as of January 1, 2021; and

WHEREAS, the beef cattle industry generates approximately $6 billion of economic activity in the state; and  

WHEREAS, today’s beef is a naturally nutrient-rich food providing protein, iron, zinc, and B-vitamins with more than 30 beef cuts that meet the government’s definition for “lean”; and

WHEREAS, cattle producers are the original stewards of the land, working to improve productivity by conserving and making optimum use of natural resources; and  

WHEREAS, Iowa is a leader in the export of value-added agriculture products, shipping high-quality Iowa beef to other countries around the world; and  

WHEREAS, there is an ever-increasing need for better understanding of the benefits that the beef cattle industry provides to all Iowans:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Kim Reynolds, Governor of the State of Iowa, do hereby proclaim the month of May 2021 as
  -  BEEF MONTH  -   

in Iowa, and urge all citizens to appreciate the contributions the beef cattle industry continues to provide our state.

Sharing Rural Roads with Farm Equipment Requires Patience and Caution

Favorable weather in the forecast has farm equipment and motorists back on Iowa’s roadways, and with that combination comes the need for patience and caution.

“Every year there are thousands of collisions between motor vehicles and farm machinery on our rural roads,” said Steven Freeman, professor in agricultural and biosystems engineering at Iowa State University.

The most common incidents occur when an approaching motorist hits a farm vehicle from behind or when a passing motorist hits a farm vehicle that is attempting to make a wide left turn, according to Freeman, who authored a handy guide called “Sharing Rural Roads.”

Additional information is also available in the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach publication “Safely Sharing the Road with Farm Vehicles.”

Freeman provides tips for both rural motorists and also for farmers. He said it takes a combined effort to keep Iowa’s roadways safe.

His advice for everyone is to remember that they share the roadway with others, to always drive defensively, and also make sure all vehicles and equipment are properly marked, and that operator intentions are clearly communicated.

“It requires everyone if we are going to make the roads safer,” he said. “Motorists need to slow down and be patient, and farmers need to make sure their equipment is marked and their intentions are recognized.”

Freeman said motorists need to remember that farm equipment is usually slow moving – especially when it is marked with a Slow Moving Vehicle sign. Farmers who veer to the right of a roadway may actually be preparing to make a left-hand turn. If possible, farmers and motorists should try to make eye contact when turning or preparing to pass, and both should be cautious about making any assumptions.

Tips for the rural driver

    Be prepared for farm vehicles. Farm vehicles travel significantly slower than automobiles. You may only have a few seconds to react and slow down before overtaking a farm vehicle. Be prepared to slow down and follow; you may not have room to pass.
    Slow down and keep your distance. Don’t assume that the farmer can pull over and let you pass. Shoulder conditions may make it unsafe for the farmer to pull heavy equipment to the side of the road.
    Be sure of the farmer’s intentions before passing. Don’t assume that a farm vehicle is turning right or pulling over to let you pass if it pulls to the right side of the road. A farmer may have to swing right in order to make a left turn. Wait until you know what the farmer is planning to do.
    Be patient and enjoy the scenery if you find yourself following a farm vehicle. Even if you have to follow a farm vehicle for a couple of miles, it will only take a few minutes of your time.
    Be especially alert in the evenings; farmers are returning from the fields and dusk makes farm vehicles more difficult to see.

Tips for the farmer

    Only allow licensed, or appropriately trained, operators to take farm machinery onto the road. Youth who are able to operate machinery in the field may not be able to deal safely with traffic and other road hazards.
    Make sure farm machinery is equipped with the lighting and marking safety devices recommended by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers and required by state and local laws. Be sure to remind all  operators to use the appropriate hazard lights and turn signals when traveling on roads.
    Minimize total vehicle width and secure equipment in the transport position before entering roadways.
    Watch for approaching traffic and vehicles trying to pass. If possible, pull over and let traffic pass safely, but be alert for roadside hazards.
    Obey all traffic laws and signs.
    Signal intentions to motorists and avoid sudden or unexpected maneuvers.
    Exercise additional care when entering roadways, approaching unsigned or “blind” intersections, crossing narrow bridges, going around sharp corners or going over hills.

Ranch Group Warns of Too Many Black Swan Events

Leaders of R-CALF USA are warning that the three Black Swan events their cattle markets suffered in less than two years are accelerating their industry’s trajectory towards vertical integration, not unlike the current state of both the packer-controlled hog and poultry industries.

A Black Swan event is defined as an unpredictable or unforeseen event, typically one with extreme consequences.

R-CALF USA Region III Director Brett Kenzy, who backgrounds and feeds cattle in south central South Dakota, said Black Swan events in the cattle industry occur when the cattle market goes in the opposite direction that market fundamentals would dictate.

“In less than two years, the fed cattle market took nose dives in response to major wholesale beef rallies. The first followed the August 2019 Tyson plant fire, the second followed the March 2020 outset of the pandemic, and the third is happening right now with boxed beef surging to $280 per cwt while fed cattle prices are falling,” Kenzy said.

R-CALF USA Region VII Director Eric Nelson, a cattle feeder in western Iowa, agrees. “Cattle prices plummeted in the face of each of those boxed beef rallies and those three events were distinctly marked by lower volumes in the negotiated fed cattle market, higher volumes of captive supplies held by packers, skyrocketing packer margins, and an industry undecided as to what, if anything, to do about it.”

R-CALF USA charted the course of those three Black Swan events in a slide presentation titled “Three Black Swans,” showing the relationships between wholesale beef prices and cattle prices, and the relationship between packer margins and negotiated cash volumes. In addition, the slides show captive supply volumes in relation to cattle prices, and the relationship between surges in monthly beef imports and cattle price declines.

Kenzy said while other groups appear uncertain as to how to respond to these irrational market moves, his group has a definite plan.       

“This is urgent. There’s no reason cattle producers shouldn’t be enjoying the benefits of higher wholesale prices, strong exports, and incredible beef demand. The only reason we’re not benefiting is because our cash market is too thin to establish competitive cattle prices and we can’t showcase our superior beef with a country-of-origin label,” he said adding, “and to top it off, we’ve paid to have this dysfunctional marketplace through the government mandated beef checkoff program.”

Nelson said producers must do three things right away:  1) go to and sign the petition for a beef checkoff referendum, 2) call their congressional members to tell them to pass the Grassley/Tester bill (S.949) to revive the industry’s price discovery market, and 3) tell their congressional members that they must immediately restore mandatory country of origin labeling for beef.

Both Kenzy and Nelson agree that rising corn prices added to their already dysfunctional cattle market will likely lead to lower feeder cattle prices for cow/calf producers and more red ink for cattle feeders.

“Cattle produces have contributed about all they can to bolster beef packer profits and now Congress must act quickly to restore competition to our industry – before it’s too late,” Nelson concluded.

USGC, FGIS Collaboration Helps Instill Global Buyers’ Confidence In U.S. Grains

A transparent and reliable understanding of the grain inspection process is essential to global markets and a critical reason the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) works so closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Federal Grain Inspection Service (USDA's FGIS) to demonstrate to overseas buyers that the quality of U.S. grains delivered is the quality promised.

For 2020/2021, U.S. grain exports of corn, barley and sorghum are projected to break the all-time grain export record. Marketing year 2019/2020 exports totaled roughly 101.2 million metric tons, equivalent to 4.1 billion bushels, the sixth-best export marketing year of all time.

"One of our main goals is for end-users and importers of feed grains and co-products to understand how the U.S. export system works so they can feel confident about procuring them from the U.S.," said Ana Ballesteros, USGC marketing director in Latin America. "A well-informed customer will set clear expectations and improve its procurement-related processes when they understand how things are done at origin."

Congress created FGIS in 1976 to manage the national grain inspection system established in 1916. Today, FGIS facilitates quality standards, handling practices, weighing and inspection services. It ensures U.S. grains products and co-products are graded and accurately labeled for sale in international markets.

Among other things, FGIS provides recommendations for equipment and procedures necessary to effectively sample grain. Through specialized programming, importers can interact with FGIS staff with support from the Council. Recent FGIS workshops have included grain sampling methods in Latin America and Southeast Asia.

"Better processes contribute to overall efficiency, and if our customers are more efficient, we will be contributing to their performance and future growth. We want growing industries that can continue demanding more feed grains and co-products," Ballesteros said.

Customized programs allow the Council to reinforce its engagement with end-users and importers of corn and corn co-products and, at the same time, provide them with relevant information to strengthen their understanding of the U.S. export system.

“In Southeast Asia, we like to market the ‘total package’ when customers choose U.S. origin. A big component of this added value is the technical servicing we are able to provide through FGIS programs. No other origin is able to provide the support, training and information the U.S. provides through cooperators like USGC and government partners like FGIS,” said Caleb Wurth, USGC assistant regional director of Southeast Asia.

FGIS also works with USGC and consultants to conduct the annual USGC Export Cargo Corn Quality Report. FGIS provides USGC with samples taken directly from its sampling during the grading process on official inspection from export shipments. This allows the USGC Export Cargo Corn Quality Report to be extremely accurate.

"USGC has worked with FGIS - including some individuals personally - for decades to explain how central the grading and inspection process is to U.S. grain exports, which helps us establish trust in the product we are selling and the U.S. as a long-term, reliable supplier. This work is a central part of our long-term market development efforts for both established and new customers," said Cary Sifferath, USGC senior director of global programs.

Researchers find increased use of biodiesel saves lives, results in cost savings

A new study from Trinity Consultants demonstrates that switching to biodiesel results in a multitude of benefits at the neighborhood level, including significant health benefits such as decreased cancer risk, fewer premature deaths and reduced asthma attacks.

The study, sponsored by the National Biodiesel Board with support from the Nebraska Soybean Board, South Dakota Soybean Research & Promotion Council, California Advanced Biofuels Alliance, Iowa Soybean Board and the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board, used well established EPA air dispersion modeling tools coupled with health risk assessments and benefit valuations to assess the public health benefits and resulting economic savings of converting from petroleum-based diesel to 100% biodiesel, known as B100, in 13 sites and communities in the U.S. exposed to high rates of petroleum diesel pollution. Biodiesel is a readily available, low-carbon, renewable fuel made from a diverse mix of resources such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats.

"We have always known that biodiesel offers a better and cleaner alternative to petroleum diesel," National Biodiesel Board CEO Donnell Rehagen said. "This study quantifies the health benefits and shows that by using renewable fuels like biodiesel and renewable diesel, we are bringing positive change to people's lives, the nation's health and the economy."

Researchers found that switching to 100% biodiesel for home heating oil and transportation would annually bring the 13 communities studied:
    340 fewer premature deaths.
    46,000 fewer lost workdays.
    $3 billion in avoided health care costs.

In the transportation sector, benefits included a potential 45% reduction in cancer risk when heavy-duty trucks such as semis use B100 and 203,000 fewer or lessened asthma attacks.

When Bioheat® fuel made from 100% biodiesel is used in place of petroleum heating oil, the study found an 86% reduced cancer risk and 17,000 fewer lung problems.

The study also considered the economic cost of premature deaths, asthma cases, reduced activity due to poor health, and work impacted due to sick days. For example, researchers found the communities surrounding the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach would avoid about $1.69 billion in health costs due to improved air quality in the form of reduced premature deaths and health care costs and increased productivity.

As these numbers represent findings from just 13 sites and communities, they are truly the tip of the iceberg. Rehagen noted that B100 can achieve these benefits by reducing pollution from markets that are hardest to decarbonize: heavy-duty transportation and residential heating.

 “Saving lives by reducing the health impacts of transportation and home heating fuels is a priority, and biodiesel is widely available today to achieve that goal,” he said. “These immediate and substantial emissions and health benefits can and should be an important part in any state, regional or national climate program as our nation moves toward decarbonization through advanced alternative fuels like biodiesel and renewable diesel. The immediacy of these potential health benefits, especially for disadvantaged communities, is even more critical when one considers the years it will take for states to pursue deep electrification and other decarbonization strategies.”

The study was conducted by Trinity Consultants, which has over 40 years of experience conducting air dispersion modeling and related health risk assessments, among its many areas of expertise. Trinity operates 69 offices internationally and has performed air dispersion modeling for industrial facilities, utilities and government agencies.

RFA to USDA: Ethanol Fuels Climate-Smart Agriculture, Energizes Rural Communities

In separate comment letters submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Renewable Fuels Association explained how expanded ethanol production and use can support the administration’s “climate-smart” agriculture goals and encouraged USDA to use the Rural Energy Pilot Program to support research into the use of ethanol for low-carbon power generation.

“The renewable fuels industry has been a leader in the effort to transition away from fossil fuels, and fuels like ethanol have already prevented hundreds of millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere,” RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper said. “These renewable fuels provide a solid foundation upon which to build a low-carbon future for our nation and world.”

In response to USDA’s request for information regarding the role for “climate-smart agriculture” and biofuels in combatting climate change, RFA offered the following recommendations, among others:
    As directed by Congress, USDA should actively coordinate and consult with EPA on implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard, especially with regard to the analyses and studies required as part of the process to establish RFS volumes in 2023 and beyond.
    USDA should continue to look for opportunities to assist fuel retailers and marketers who wish to install infrastructure suitable for distributing higher biofuel blends.
    The Department should redouble efforts to ensure its fleet of vehicles, which includes a large number of flex-fuel vehicles, is consistently fueled with low-carbon ethanol blends.
    USDA should support technology- and feedstock-neutral policy approaches to reducing GHG emissions from the transportation sector.
    In consultation with DOE and EPA, USDA should take a leadership role in ensuring the administration has current data, appropriate modeling tools, and an accurate understanding of the lifecycle carbon impacts of producing and using biofuels.

In separate comments to USDA responding to the Department’s request for comments on its Rural Energy Pilot Program, RFA highlighted that, with continued research and development, ethanol could also serve as an excellent low-carbon, low-cost feedstock for power generation. Natural gas turbine power plants have traditionally used diesel as a backup fuel, Cooper wrote, but ethanol can be used instead. Indeed, ethanol is already being used outside the United States as a power generation fuel. In addition to lowering GHG emissions, the use of ethanol for stationary power generation would improve air quality and reduce water consumption.

However, the use of ethanol for power generation needs further testing and development, Cooper said, making ethanol-to-electricity a strong candidate for this USDA program. “Despite the considerable potential for the use of ethanol in power generation, there is groundwork that needs to be done before adoption can take place in the U.S,” RFA’s comments concluded. “This makes ethanol-based power generation a good fit with the Rural Energy Pilot Program, as proper funding can kickstart this potentially large new market.”

ACE Recommends USDA Establish Framework to Reward Farmers, Biofuel Facilities for Carbon Cutting Contributions in its Climate Strategy

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) encouraged the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help establish a protocol for biofuel producers and farmers to easily document the carbon intensity benefits of changes in agricultural practices in comments submitted today regarding USDA’s climate strategy for President Biden’s Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. As USDA contemplates the role it will play to advance climate-smart agriculture, ACE CEO Brian Jennings’ comments urge USDA develop a commonsense framework to verify practices that sequester carbon in the soil so farmers and ethanol producers can reap the rewards in future low carbon fuel standard markets.

ACE’s comments detail the opportunity farmers and biofuel producers hold today to help meet the ambitious climate goals set forth by the Biden administration and the critical role USDA could play to help validate farm-level carbon credits for biofuels. “The U.S. will not achieve the ambitious climate goals unless steps are taken to reward farmers and biofuel producers for their ability to be part of the climate solution,” the comments stated.

The written comments highlight that today’s corn ethanol meets the definition of an advanced biofuel with its ability to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50 percent compared to gasoline. “In other words, we do not need to wait for so-called next generation crops or biofuels, or electric vehicles (EVs) and an entirely new supply chain to support them, to immediately begin tackling climate change.”

Further, the gold standard tool for determining lifecycle GHG emissions of transportation fuels, the GREET model, will be updated soon to account for further adoption of climate-smart farming practices, which would credit corn ethanol for GHG emissions reductions between 60 and 70 percent compared to gasoline. In fact, ACE commented, ethanol is the only transportation fuel that can reach net-negative carbon intensity through carbon capture and sequestration and continued advancements within ethanol facilities and on-farm practices in how biofuel crops are grown.

“The sooner USDA helps validate the role farm-level practices can have in further reducing corn ethanol’s carbon footprint, the sooner the U.S. can begin making good on ambitions to reduce GHG emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.”

Soil carbon models and the GREET model could be used by regulators such as the California Air Resources Board (CARB) today to assign credits for climate-smart farming practices that help reduce the overall carbon intensity of corn ethanol. However, there is a double-standard because CARB chooses not to rely on trusted models to provide farm-level carbon credits for biofuels, but willingly uses models to assign carbon penalties, such as land use change, to biofuels. ACE’s comments offer recommendations for USDA to ensure farmer access to low carbon fuel markets.

Stingless Wasps Defend Ash Trees and Battle the Emerald Ash Borer

For years ash trees had been declining and dying in southeast Michigan for no apparent reason. Then in 2002, the Michigan Department of Agriculture discovered why—it was a small wood-boring beetle called emerald ash borer (EAB). Soon after it was detected, USDA’s Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) program sent PPQ and Forest Service scientists to China to look for EAB’s natural enemies in its native range. They found three wasp species (parasitoids) attacking EAB eggs and larvae, and brought them back to study—hopeful that at least one species could be safely released as a biological control (biocontrol) against the pest.

Biocontrol is a practical pest management tool that uses pests’ natural enemies to suppress or reduce pest populations. It is cost-effective and environmentally sound, reduces the use of conventional pesticides, and is self-sustaining once biocontrol agents establish their populations.

Fast forward to 2021. PPQ’s EAB biological control staff rear four stingless wasp species that are EAB natural enemies. Three attack EAB’s larvae, and one attacks its eggs. The staff produce the wasps year-round and keep them in cold storage until spring. In mid-May, the staff will begin to ship wasps to our program cooperators—State departments of agriculture, Native American tribes, universities, and environmental groups—for release.

“This release season we will send multiple shipments of one or more species to 150 release sites in EAB-infested states,” said Supervisory Entomologist Ben Slager, who manages PPQ’s EAB biocontrol rearing facility. “All four wasp species are amazing EAB hunters; however, researchers know the most about how effectively Tetrastichus attacks and kills EAB larvae, spreads, and protects ash sapling and young trees."

Tetrastichus are comparable in size to an average mosquito. They hunt by feeling vibrations from EAB larvae feeding under the bark. They use their ovipositor to pierce through the bark and lay multiple eggs inside the larvae. Their eggs hatch, feed, and eventually kill the EAB larvae as the wasps complete their lifecycle and bore out of the tree ready to attack EAB larvae.

Since the start of the biocontrol program, PPQ has released about 8 million wasps in 30 EAB-infested States. We have successfully recovered wasp offspring in 22 States, demonstrating that the wasps are reproducing, becoming established in the areas where they were released, and—more importantly—attacking and killing EAB.

EAB parasitoids are showing promise in several States, especially in terms of protecting young ash saplings from EAB. In 2019, USDA scientists teamed up with researchers from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, to study the effects of EAB biocontrol in Michigan and several northeastern states. They found that the wasps were killing 20 percent to 80 percent of EAB in ash trees up to 8 inches in diameter. Their study documented that more EAB were being attacked by wasps, fewer EABs were attacking ash trees, and the ash trees were regenerating.

“In January 2021, PPQ removed the Federal domestic EAB quarantine regulations so we could devote our resources to biocontrol,” Slager said. “I’m happy to say the biocontrol results from the field have been encouraging, but we certainly have a lot more work ahead of us.”

Wednesday April 28 Ag News

– Ben Beckman, NE Extension
Those looking to get grass or alfalfa seed into the ground this spring are doing so now.  Before you fill up the drill and head out to plant, remember to prep the seedbed first!
When doing a planting of alfalfa or grass, seedbed preparation often plays a big role in germination success. Instead of just pulling into your field and planting, first get off your tractor and walk across the field.  As you walk, look back at your footprints.  Do you sink in more deeply than the soles of your shoes or boots?  If so, your seedbed may be too soft.
Another technique is to bring to the field a seedbed testing kit.  Now, most folks also call this kit a basketball, but a basketball tests seedbeds better than any other tool I know.  Try to bounce the basketball in your field.  It should be easy to bounce that basketball on a firm seedbed.  If you can't bounce the ball easily, don't plant yet.  Firm that seedbed even more with a flat harrow, a roller, or maybe even irrigate.
Why so much effort for a seedbed?  Well, when small seeds germinate their first roots must come into immediate contact with moisture and nutrients in the soil if those seedlings are to survive and grow rapidly.  Loose seedbeds can have up to 50 percent dead airspace in the seeding zone.  First roots that emerge into that dead airspace often do not live, and your stand will suffer.  A firm seedbed reduces this dead airspace, which helps you get thicker stands that develop more rapidly.
Do you want better, faster developing grass and alfalfa stands with less risk of failure?  A firm seedbed is your first step.


Two University of Nebraska–Lincoln engineering students have been awarded a Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for their invention designed to keep grain farmers safe.

Seniors Ben Johnson, an electrical engineering major from Aurora, and Zane Zents, a computer engineering major from Omaha, pitched the plan for their product, Grain Weevil, for the national award. They were chosen alongside three other undergraduate teams and four graduate winners. They will receive a $10,000 prize.

The Grain Weevil is a small robot designed to maintain grain, eliminating the need for farmers to enter bins, which can be dangerous and even fatal.

The idea for the Grain Weevil came from a conversation between Johnson’s father, Chad, and an Aurora farmer. Ben Johnson was an underclassman at the time and had just completed his first major robotics project. Chad Johnson was talking about it with one of his friends from church.  

“We showed him this robot and he said, ‘Hey, if you can build that robot, you could build me a robot to stay out of the grain bin,’” Chad Johnson said.

With the idea in place, the Johnsons got to work. Ben brought in his friend and former roommate Zents, who is also a computer science and mathematics major at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, to round out their skill set. After two years of trials and hundreds of hours of work, they finished the robot.

The latest version of the Grain Weevil is a 30-pound remote-controlled robot that uses augers and gravity to level grain and redistribute it throughout the bin. It can be transported by backpack and is waterproof and dustproof. If it is accidentally buried, it can dig itself out of up to 5 feet of grain.  

Receiving the Lemelson-MIT award has shown Johnson and Zents that their idea has been accepted by some of the best and brightest minds in the STEM world. After graduation, the two plan to work on the Grain Weevil full-time in hopes of bringing it to farmers across America.

The pair are passionate about their product — and grateful that the Lemelson-MIT judges saw that fire.

“We're trying to keep farmers safe. We're trying to keep our neighbors — our communities — from getting hurt,” Zents said. “I think they saw that passion, they saw the message and they let us succeed.”

USDA Farm Service Agency to Present on CFAP 2, Pandemic Assistance Program During May 6 Webinar

Nebraska USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) will provide an overview of assistance available through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) during a webinar scheduled for Thursday, May 6. The webinar is part of the University of Nebraska Lincoln’s Farm and Ranch Management series. It will begin at 12 p.m. CT, and those interested in listening can register at

Nebraska FSA Production and Compliance Programs Chief Cathy Anderson and Nebraska Extension Policy Specialist Brad Lubben will combine to provide an overview of CFAP 2 as a part of the Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative (PAP). Both have been announced recently.

“FSA has a role in parts of the Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative and recently began implementing updates to CFAP as part of PAP,” said Nebraska FSA Acting State Executive Director Tim Divis. “This includes reopening the CFAP 2 application period to reinforce the opportunity for all eligible farmers and ranchers to apply for this assistance.”

Persons with disabilities who require accommodations to attend or participate in the webinar should contact the Nebraska FSA State Office at (402) 437-5581 or Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339, or email by Monday, May 3.

Iowa Farm & Biofuel Leaders Call for Progress on E15

Iowa’s top biofuel and farm advocates today urge Iowa lawmakers to approve H.F. 859, legislation to ensure all Iowans can benefit from access to E15 at the pump by 2028. The following joint statement was issued by Growth Energy, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Ethanol Producers Association, and POET:

“Every Iowa driver should have the freedom to choose E15, which will provide fuel savings and is made from corn harvested on Iowa farms. We enthusiastically support the work of Governor Reynolds and the Legislature to get Iowa on the road to E15.

“E15 is already popular with consumers, compatible with today’s infrastructure, and saves motorists an average of five cents per gallon in Iowa. Expanding E15 across the state will grow corn markets by 23 million bushels, inject $140 million into the state’s economy, and save Iowa motorists an additional $72 million each year. Now is the time to act, and we’re counting on Iowa lawmakers to lead the nation by ensuring access to E15 statewide.

“We hope leaders will vote to advance this important legislation, which has strong bipartisan support in the Iowa House thanks to the leadership of Rep. Lee Hein and other biofuel champions. We urge House and Senate leaders to move quickly to send this bill to Governor Reynolds, who has made this legislation a top priority.”

Can Small Grain, Soybean Relay Intercropping Be Successful in Iowa?

Succeeding with small grain, soybean relay intercropping in Iowa is the topic of an Iowa Learning Farms webinar at noon on Wednesday, May 5.

Small grain, soybean relay intercropping is the next step after using small grains for cover crops. Mark Licht, assistant professor in agronomy and cropping systems specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, will explain this practice and its benefits.

Relay intercropping is a way to extend active plant growth after corn and before soybean to achieve soil health and nutrient loss reduction benefits similar to soybean. Growth of the small grain crop is extended through seed production to also provide economic value, which is a missed opportunity when small grains are used solely as a cover crop.  

Small grain seed production can be used for livestock feed rations and niche food markets. While soybean and wheat production considered individually may be slightly lower compared to optimized sole crop production, a relay intercropping system results in greater land use equivalency.

“Relay intercropping is a system that has potential to be used across Iowa in an effort to diversify and provide resiliency to cropping systems,” said Licht. “While relay intercropping can be riskier, using a relay intercropping system can diversify farm income while providing soil health and nutrient loss reduction benefits.”

Licht’s research focuses on corn and soybean production systems and ways to incorporate conservation practices into those systems.

Webinar Access Instructions
To participate in the live webinar, shortly before noon on May 5:
    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.

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.

Virtual Forage Field Day to Feature Annuals

Annual forages can provide flexibility when managing forage supply, whether filling forage production gaps or serving as a primary forage source.

Learn more about annual forages and integrating them into a cropping rotation in a virtual field day set for June 3 beginning at 8:30 a.m., hosted by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

"We’ve seen an interest from producers wanting to integrate both cool and warm season annual forages into their farming operation," said Erika Lundy, beef specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. "However, many questions still remain regarding which forage species is best for a given situation or farm goal as well as their nutritional value and yield potential."

The event will highlight a research project evaluating different cool-season annual forage species in terms of forage nutritional value, yield potential and practical considerations for integrating annual forages into cropping rotations. To learn more about this project and what's been learned, plan to attend this virtual field day, which will feature a tour of the annual forage plots at outlying Iowa State University research farms.

There is no cost to participate and the field day is open to all. However, preregistration is required prior to the event. To register, go to Once registered, participants will receive a confirmation email with the link to join, which will be provided through Zoom. If you don't have this app on your computer or device, you'll want to download and install it for the best quality.

Participants may join through their web browser, mobile phone or tablet and will need to download a free app prior to joining. Participants should join the webinar 10 minutes in advance to ensure connections and software are working correctly.

For more information, questions, or if you need assistance with registration contact Iowa Beef Center at or 515-294-BEFF (2333).

Funding for this project provided is by the Iowa Nutrient Research Center.

The Zoom download is available through the App Store for iOS devices and through Google Play for Android

Fertilizer Price Increases Slow After Months of Sharp Gains

Retail fertilizer prices continued to increase the third week of April 2021, albeit at a slower pace, according to sellers surveyed by DTN.  While all eight of the major fertilizers were higher compared to a month earlier, no fertilizers were significantly higher, which DTN designates as 5% or more. Increases fell between 1% and 4%.

UAN28 and UAN32 increased the most, about 4% each. UAN28 cost an average of $348 per ton, while UAN32 was $391/ton.  Anhydrous increased 3% to $707/ton.  With 2% increases, urea had an average price of $510/ton, while 10-34-0 was $612/ton.  DAP had an average price of $627/ton, MAP $703/ton and potash $432/ton, an increase of 1% over last month.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.55/lb.N, anhydrous $0.43/lb.N, UAN28 $0.62/lb.N and UAN32 $0.61/lb.N.

With retail fertilizer prices moving higher over recent months, all fertilizers are now higher in price from a year ago. Potash is now 17% more expensive, 10-34-0 is 31% higher, urea is 32% more expensive, UAN32 40% higher, anhydrous is 44% more expensive, UAN28 is 47% higher, DAP is 53% more expensive and MAP 62% is higher compared to last year.

USDA Improves Livestock Crop Insurance Policies with New Options

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is updating livestock insurance policies to improve options for producers and to create additional opportunities for producers to participate. USDA’s Risk Management Agency’s (RMA) updates to the Dairy Revenue Protection (DRP) and Livestock Gross Margin (LGM) policies will be effective for the 2022 and succeeding crop years.

“We are always looking for ways to improve the insurance program and coverage for our producers,” said RMA Acting Administrator Richard Flournoy. “We strongly feel that these updates will benefit producers and their dairy and livestock operations in the years to come.”

Updates to DRP

DRP has been RMA’s most successful livestock product. In just its second year, it covered about 30% of milk production. It provided critical protection against unexpected decreases in prices, due to COVID and other causes, paying around $478 million to dairy producers.

The changes for the 2022 crop year include:
    Ensuring the Class Pricing Option remains available for purchase even when either the Class III or Class IV milk price is not published.
    Relaxing records requirements by allowing monthly total pounds of milk and milk components (butterfat and protein) to be acceptable records instead of daily.
    Modifying weekend sales period to end on Sunday at 9 a.m. Central Time.

Updates to LGM

LGM is available for cattle, dairy, and swine producers and provides protection against loss of gross margin (market value of livestock minus feed costs). The LGM programs have also seen an increase in participation over the last year. The total insured livestock and livestock products increased approximately 103% from 2019 to 2020.

The changes for the 2022 crop year include allowing producers to purchase coverage on a weekly basis instead of monthly, which will allow producers to be more effective at managing the risks to their operations.

Additional Opportunities

In addition to DRP and LGM, another insurance options for livestock producers is Livestock Risk Protection (LRP), which is available for feeder cattle, fed cattle, and swine. It provides protection against declining market prices. Recent changes, which include increased head limits and additional subsidy increases, have resulted in a 1,000%-plus increase in program participation compared to the 2020 crop year.

Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents. A list of crop insurance agents is available online using the RMA Agent Locator. Learn more about crop insurance and the modern farm safety net at

The American Families Plan Honors America’s Family Farms

The American Families Plan includes critical tax reform to ensure that the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes in order to finance essential investments in workers and families, including childcare, nutrition, higher education and more. One of those reforms is a change in the way capital gains are treated in our tax system so that, for people making over $1 million, the tax system no longer favors income from wealth over income from work. The plan won’t raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year.

Part of this plan to make sure the wealthy pay their fair share is a proposal to close the “stepped-up basis” loophole for wealthy estates so that enormous fortunes do not completely escape taxation. Under the proposal, unrealized capital gains (those that have never been previously taxed) are taxed at death above $2 million in gains per couple. But this won’t affect family farms that stay in the family.

    Under this proposal, estimates indicate more than 98% of farm estates will not owe any tax at transfer, provided the farm stays in the family. The tax the remaining less than 2% would owe, would be on their non-farm assets.

The President recognizes the importance of agriculture and family farms to the American economy and way of life. He also recognizes the risks and economic challenges unique to agriculture, family farms and ranching operations across America. The Biden Administration is committed to American agriculture, family farms, ranches and the rural way of life. The American Families Plan protects family farms and ranches in two key ways:
    No capital gains taxes at death for family farms. This plan includes a special protection for family-owned farms and businesses. It defers any tax liability on family farms as long as the farm remains family-owned and operated. No tax is due if the farm stays in the family. No one should have to sell a family farm they inherit to pay taxes and the President’s tax reform guarantees that.
    $2 million exclusion from increased capital gains for all married couples. This plan also excludes the first $2 million of gains per couple ($2.5 million if the farm also includes the family home) from capital gains tax and heirs continue to get step up in basis on those first $2 million in gains. If an heir decides to sell the family farm, the first $2 million in gains is tax free.

How the President’s Capital Gains Reforms Affect Family Farms:

    A married couple with $900,000 of farm gains and $200,000 of non-farm gains passes the farm onto their children. No capital gains taxes are owed, even if they sell the farm because the $1.1 million in gains are below the $2 million per-couple exemption.
    A married couple with $3.0 million of farm gains and $250,000 of non-farm housing gains passes the farm onto their children. No taxes due as long as the children keep the family farm.

The President’s capital gains reforms are a key part of building a tax code that rewards work, and not wealth. The American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan are once-in-a-generation investments in our nation’s future. The American Jobs Plan will create millions of good jobs, rebuild our country’s physical infrastructure and workforce, and spark innovation and manufacturing here at home. The American Families Plan invests $1.8 trillion in our children and our families—helping families cover the basic expenses that so many struggle with now, lowering health insurance premiums, cutting child poverty, and producing a larger, more productive, and healthier workforce in the years ahead. Together, these plans reinvest in the future of American families, American workers, and the American economy.

NCBA Stands Ready to Fight for Sound Tax Policy  

In his American Families Plan, President Biden targets several provisions of the tax code to raise approximately $1.5 trillion in revenue over the next 10 years. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) has long advocated for sound tax policy for rural America.

"Family-owned cattle operations, no matter the size, are the backbone and economic drivers of rural economies across the U.S. Preserving long-standing tax provisions such as stepped-up basis and like-kind exchanges is critical when considering the financial viability of farms and ranches, as well as the ability for the next generation of producers to carry on the family business and conserve the land that has been in their family for generations," said Danielle Beck, NCBA Senior Executive Director of Government Affairs.

The American Families Plan would repeal the deferral of gain for real estate like-kind exchanges for gains greater than $500,000 and eliminate stepped-up basis for gains in excess of $1 million ($2.5 million per couple “when combined with existing real estate exemptions”) and tax said gains on any property not donated to charity. According to the plan, the reform will be designed “with protections so that family-owned businesses and farms will not have to pay taxes when given to heirs who continue to run the business.”

“When considering how to offset the cost of a comprehensive infrastructure package, it is essential that Congress preserve sound tax policies for family-owned agricultural operations. We are committed to holding Members of Congress accountable for legislation that will not adversely impact the viability of farm and ranch businesses, or the next generation's ability to continue to sustainably produce an abundant food supply,” Beck said.

“To be clear, we firmly believe that it would be irresponsible to pay for an infrastructure bill on the backs of farmers and ranchers and with that, counterintuitive with this Administration's conservation agenda. These provisions in the tax code are a determining factor in whether farmers and ranchers access to land is maintained for generations to come, or if that land is fragmented and further threatened by conversion and development, or paved over outright for strip malls and shopping centers,” Beck continued.  

NCBA stands ready to work on both sides of the aisle to ensure that Members of Congress understand the needs of cattle producers in regard to tax policy. We are looking forward to continued conversations with lawmakers through extensive grassroots engagement.

NAWG President Responds to Joint Session Speech

Tonight, President Joseph Biden delivered his remarks before a Joint Session of Congress. NAWG CEO Chandler Goule provided the following statement in response:

 “While the President addressed many issues of importance to the American people, we are eager to hear more about agricultural-related policies, specifically how we can improve farm program delivery and advance a trade agenda that ensures a level playing field for wheat growers. However, what our farmers saw in President Biden’s American Families Plan earlier today includes changes in the stepped-up basis, which raised a lot of questions in wheat country.

“We understand the American Families Plan’s goal is to target the ultra-wealthy and corporations who are able to evade taxes. However, farmers have several concerns about how changes to stepped-up basis and higher capital gains taxes on inherited assets could negatively impact families looking to pass along the farm to the next generation. Although the President’s plan says these reforms will be designed with protection in mind for family-owned businesses and farms, we want more details about how this would be achieved.

 “The new administration plans to address climate-related issues by implementing environmentally-friendly practices. Last week, NAWG launched the new Special Climate and Sustainability Committee. The committee will work together to review wheat sustainable practices that benefit farmers in diverse climates and guide the development of NAWG policy priorities on climate policy. With the committee’s recommendations, NAWG will continue to work with Congress to educate the Hill on the progressive and sustainable tactics farmers practice every day.

 “As the Administration considers a new approach on the world stage, let’s make sure that we continue to work on trade deals that develop, maintain, and expand international markets that keep American wheat producers in a strong position.

“NAWG looks forward to continuing to work with the Administration on ways to improve the livelihood of the American wheat farmer.”

Biden Outlines Priorities for Economic Recovery, Immigration Reform, and Climate Action During Congressional Address

During his first joint address to Congress, President Joe Biden tonight highlighted the progress the United States has made on pandemic recovery and laid out his strategy to create additional jobs and lift more families out of poverty. The linchpin of that strategy is the American Families Plan, a comprehensive package that would invest $1.8 trillion in education, childcare, nutrition assistance, and paid leave.

A longtime advocate of strengthening the nutrition safety net, National Farmers Union (NFU) was heartened by the president’s attention to food insecurity, especially in light of the added challenges caused by the pandemic. “Though the issue of hunger has received a lot of attention over the past year, it certainly isn’t a new problem, and it won’t just disappear when the pandemic ends,” said NFU President Rob Larew. “Fortunately, we already have a safety net to catch families when money is tight – but it isn’t strong or wide enough to support everyone who needs help. President Biden’s bid to expand free school meals and summer EBT is an important step towards reinforcing our existing system so that it can accommodate all Americans experiencing food insecurity.”

To offset the cost of the plan, President Biden is proposing an array of tax reforms, including the elimination of stepped-up basis. In an overview, the White House promised that such a change would “be designed with protections so that family-owned businesses and farms will not have to pay taxes when given to heirs who continue to run the business.”

Larew indicated that he had reservations about the pay-for provisions and sought more information. “While we support many of the recommendations in the American Families Plan, we have questions about how these tax proposals will impact our farms and ranches,” he said. “The devil is in the details.”

President Biden also emphasized the necessity for immigration reform, asking Congress to offer undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship by passing his U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021. Under the bill, farm workers would be fast-tracked for naturalization and would be granted greater protections.

NFU expressed its approval of the bill when it was first released in January, saying that it balances the interests of businesses with those of workers, and has continued to promote practical, compassionate immigration policy in the intermediate months. “We’re pleased that President Biden has kept immigration reform among his top priorities,” said Larew. “It’s very clear that our farm labor system is falling short; it is not providing a steady stream of qualified workers for agricultural employers, nor is it offering necessary protections or a clear future for agricultural workers. Because the U.S. Citizenship Act seeks to meet both parties’ needs, it would go a long way towards building the farm labor system we all deserve.”

In addition to economic recovery and immigration reform, climate leadership was a focus of the address. Included on the president’s list of recommendations for action was incentivizing climate-smart agricultural practices, an approach backed by NFU and many other farm groups. “Farmers know that they can be part of the climate solution, and we’re glad to have an ally in the White House who recognizes that potential,” Larew stated. “We hope these statements of support are followed by immediate and aggressive action from both Congress and the administration to provide farmers with the tools they need to respond to this crisis.”

Dates Announced for Export Exchange 2022

A joint statement from U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Ryan LeGrand, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President Geoff Cooper regarding the Export Exchange 2022, Oct. 12-14, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota:

“COVID dictated we cancel Export Exchange in 2020, and sadly, we have officially canceled it once again for 2021. However, we are excited to offer Export Exchange in 2022. This premier event allows overseas attendees the opportunity to build relationships with U.S. suppliers of distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), corn, sorghum, barley and other commodities, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in grain sales. We look forward to addressing issues facing U.S. exports, including market dynamics, trade policy, risk management and other timely topics as we educate global buyers and build awareness of U.S. grains and co-products.”

Export Exchange, the biennial event co-sponsored by the Council, RFA and Growth Energy, is expected to bring together 200 international buyers and end-users of coarse grains and co-products, including DDGS, with approximately 300 U.S. suppliers and agribusiness representatives.

More information will be distributed in the coming months to members of the grains industries and will be made available online at

Weekly Ethanol Production for 4/23/2021

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending April 23, ethanol production ticked up 0.4%, or 4,000 barrels per day (b/d), to 945,000 b/d, equivalent to 39.69 million gallons daily. Production was 76.0% above the same week last year when the effects of the pandemic were reflected but was 7.7% below the same week in 2019. The four-week average ethanol production rate declined 0.5% to 951,000 b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 14.58 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks tightened by 3.5% to 19.7 million barrels, the lowest volume since October. This is 25.1% below a year-ago and 13.0% below this time in 2019. Inventories drew down across all regions except the West Coast (PADD 5).

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, decreased 2.5% to 8.88 million b/d (136.08 bg annualized). Gasoline demand was 51.5% above a year ago but was 3.8% below the same week in 2019.

Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol eased by 1.1% to 880,000 b/d, equivalent to 13.49 bg annualized. This was 50.9% above a year ago but was 5.2% below 2019.

There were zero imports of ethanol recorded for the nineteenth consecutive week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of February 2021.)

Ag exporters seek remedy for shipping crisis

As the container shipping crisis continues its crippling effect on U.S. exporters, the Specialty Soya and Grains Alliance joined nearly 300 agricultural and forest product associations and companies – including several SSGA members – this week in signing on to a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, urging immediate intervention to remedy the situation.

“We need action now,” the letter states, “not additional studies.”

SSGA agrees, as U.S. exporters and their access to foreign markets must be protected.

The letter requests that the Department of Transportation assist the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) “in expediting its enforcement options” and “consider its existing authorities” to determine how it can assist U.S. exporters and the ag producers they serve in their transportation needs.

For more than six months, U.S. ag exporters, including SSGA members who supply Identity Preserved soya and specialty grains for food manufacture, have suffered under unreasonable practices by ocean carriers. These practices include the declining of U.S. agricultural and other exports in favor of sending empty containers back overseas in order to keep up with the massive demand for consumer imports.

The imbalance has caused congestion, delays and even cancelation at the ports, and carriers have failed to provide accurate notice of arrival, departure and loading times. Carriers have also imposed unreasonable, punitive financial penalties on exporters, who, through no fault of their own, have missed loading windows. This is in violation of detention and demurrage guidelines set forth by the FMC. SSGA and other associations have previously supported FMC’s investigation into these practices.

It has been estimated that $1.5 billion in ag exports has been lost during this crisis, which has come on the heels of a pandemic that has also severely injured the market.

With no sign of the crisis letting up in the immediate future, SSGA is hopeful that Secretary Buttigieg will act upon this increasingly dire situation. Our members, allies and partners at the Agriculture Transportation Coalition have specific measures to propose and are requesting the opportunity to present them.

ADM Reports First Quarter Earnings of $1.22 per Share, $1.39 per Share on an Adjusted Basis

    Q1 net earnings of $689 million; adjusted net earnings of $783 million
    Adjusted segment operating profit up 86 percent year over year
    Calendar year outlook for 2021 substantially improved; expect significant EPS growth and another record year

ADM (NYSE: ADM) today reported financial results for the quarter ended March 31, 2021.

“ADM delivered an outstanding first quarter, building on our great 2020 performance. As expected, we achieved strong earnings spanning all three of our businesses, and a sixth consecutive quarter of year-over-year adjusted operating profit growth,” said Chairman and CEO Juan Luciano.

“Our team executed well across the board, as we continued to find new and innovative ways to meet the evolving needs of our customers. We are seeing clear, favorable demand trends for many of our products, and we expect that pattern to continue as vaccine rollouts accelerate and restrictions ease.

“We are also moving into the next phase of our strategic transformation, which will sharpen our focus on two key pillars — Productivity and Innovation — to enhance our capabilities to deliver outstanding execution, serve customer needs, and power growth and profitability.

“Taking all of these factors into account, our outlook today is even more optimistic than what we shared at the beginning of the year. We expect significant year-over-year growth in earnings across all three of our businesses in 2021, and continued sustainable growth in the years to come.”

Quarterly Results of Operations

Ag Services & Oilseeds achieved a record Q1, with operating profits 84 percent higher year over year.

    Ag Services results were significantly higher versus the first quarter of 2020. In North America, great execution helped capitalize on strong Chinese demand, resulting in an outstanding performance. South American origination results were down significantly due to lower farmer selling versus the prior year. Lower margins, including impacts from the slightly delayed harvest and higher freight costs, also affected South American results. Results for the quarter were impacted by approximately $75 million in negative timing effects related to ocean freight positions; those impacts will reverse in the coming quarters.

    Crushing delivered its best quarter ever, as the business leveraged its diversified global footprint to capture strong execution margins in both soybean and softseed crushing, driven by robust vegetable oil demand and tight soybean stocks. Net timing impacts for the quarter were minimal.

    Refined Products and Other results were higher year over year. While overall volumes were down due to pandemic impacts, margins were stronger in both North America and EMEAI refined oils. Global biodiesel results were lower year over year.

    Equity earnings from Wilmar were lower versus the prior-year period.

Carbohydrate Solutions results were significantly higher than the prior-year period.

    Starches and Sweeteners, including ethanol production from our wet mills, achieved significantly higher results. The business managed risk exceptionally well, capitalizing on rising prices in the ethanol complex and favorable co-product values in an industry environment of improving margins and falling inventories. Corn oil results were significantly higher than the previous year, which had been impacted by substantial mark-to-market effects. In general, though demand for sweeteners and flour by the foodservice sector remained below the prior year, there were signs of acceleration in March.

    Vantage Corn Processors results were substantially higher, driven by improved margins on the distribution of fuel ethanol and strong performance in USP-grade industrial alcohol.

Nutrition delivered solid year-over-year operating profit growth.

    Human Nutrition results were significantly higher than the prior-year quarter. Flavors had an exceptional quarter, driven by strong sales across various market segments, especially beverages. Favorable product mix in North America, improved margins in EMEAI, and accelerated income from a customer agreement also contributed to results, partially offset by certain specific expenses. Specialty Ingredients results were lower, primarily driven by demand factors, including the effect of pantry loading in the previous-year quarter and shifts in demand for texturants. Health and Wellness had a strong start to the year, with robust demand driving higher results in probiotics and fibers.

    Animal Nutrition results were lower versus the first quarter of 2020, driven primarily by lower demand and higher input costs as a result of pandemic effects, primarily in South America. This was partially offset by favorable results in amino acids, driven by improved product mix.

Other Business results were lower than the prior-year period, driven by lower Captive Insurance underwriting results, partially offset by more favorable ADMIS earnings.

USDA Hosts First-Ever Virtual Fair on Food Waste Reduction Innovations and Leaders

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today that it will host the first-ever Food Loss and Waste Innovation Fair on May 26 (12 - 4 p.m. ET), to showcase USDA investments and business leadership in reducing food loss and waste throughout the food system.

“In the U.S., more than one-third of all available food goes uneaten through food loss or waste,” said USDA Food Loss and Waste Liaison Jean Buzby. “USDA is proud to highlight public and private leaders who are transforming the food system and combatting food loss and waste.”

The Innovation Fair will present businesses and research teams that have received USDA funding to research or commercialize cutting-edge food loss and waste solutions. Additionally, several USDA agencies – such as the Agricultural Research Service and the Food Safety and Inspection Service – will discuss their food loss and waste activities in research, measurement, education, funding, and outreach. Other presenters include several U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champions, businesses that have committed to reducing food loss and waste in their operations by 50 percent by 2030. The 2030 Champions initiative is co-led by USDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Among the presenters:

Lake County, Illinois received a USDA grant for a pilot community compost project. Activities include conducting a compost-to-farmland demonstration study, engaging community gardeners through education and outreach, and reducing and diverting food waste from landfills.

En Solución (Austin, Texas) was funded by a USDA Small Business Innovation Research grant to develop and deploy a sanitizer made from ozone nanobubbles to wash harvested produce. This technology has great potential to increase food safety and extend produce shelf life.

ReGrained (San Francisco, California) collaborated with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service to develop patent-pending technology to dry and process brewers grains into healthy, high-quality flours, transforming food waste into value-added – and tasty – products.

Sodexo, a global food service and facilities management corporation, will highlight their change management and operational engagement strategy to cut food waste in half by 2025 to reach their 2030 Champions target early.

This free, virtual event will feature virtual booths where visitors can learn about state-of-the-art solutions from business, government, and academic innovators. Attendees can text chat with representatives and other guests, watch videos, and download reports and other materials. Register today.

The USDA Food Loss and Waste Innovation Fair is among the individual and collective efforts of USDA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to work towards the national goal of reducing food loss and waste by 50 percent by 2030. Learn more about USDA, EPA, and FDA programs and resources to reduce food loss and waste.

CME Group Widens Daily Price Limits for Grains Starting May 2

Daily price limits for Chicago Board of Trade grain and soy futures will expand in May following a routine half-yearly review, CME Group Inc, parent of the exchange, announced last week.

The new limits go into effect on May 2, for trades dated May 3, CME Group said, potentially increasing volatility.

The wider daily limits follow the exchange operator's move on March 15 to expand speculative position limits, raising the number of CBOT futures contracts that non-commercial traders can hold.

CBOT corn, soybean and wheat futures have been trading at the highest prices in nearly a decade, buoyed by tightening global grain supplies.

For corn futures, the daily limit will move to 40 cents per bushel, from the current 25 cents. Limits for CBOT soft red winter wheat futures and K.C. hard red winter wheat futures will rise to 45 cents, from 40 cents.

For soybeans, the daily limit will widen to $1 per bushel, from 70 cents currently. The limit for soymeal futures will expand to $30 per short ton, from $25, and the soyoil limit will rise to 3.5 cents per pound, from 2.5 cents.

Daily limits will widen for oats, rough rice and other CBOT grain futures contracts, as well as lumber futures.

Tuesday April 27 Ag News

 Dairy farmer groups propose Class III Plus for better milk pricing

Four Midwestern dairy groups today announced a Federal Milk Marketing Orders proposal aimed at creating long-term stability in fluid milk pricing and reducing the likelihood of negative producer price differentials that cut into farmers’ revenue last year during the pandemic.

The proposal from the Dairy Business Association (DBA), Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, Minnesota Milk and Nebraska State Dairy Association comes after the groups began studying options early this year. They said the proposal, which they’re calling “Class III Plus,” aims to build upon the current pricing system, recent proposals by dairy cooperatives, and dairy farmer petitions to define a better Class I pricing system.
“Our proposal looks to the future. It would make lasting changes to the milk pricing system that will limit negative PPDs in the future and the possible negative effects from future crises,” DBA President Amy Penterman, a Wisconsin dairy farmer, said.

The Class III Plus proposal would, among other things, tie the Class I (fluid) skim milk price to the Class III (cheese) skim milk price plus an adjuster and do away with advanced pricing, a cause of the negative PPDs last year. The proposal is also revenue-neutral, therefore more equitable among farmers, processors and customers.

The recent call by cooperatives within the National Milk Producers Federation for an emergency FMMO hearing includes a proposal that improves a few components of the current pricing structure, but largely focuses on the short term and revenue that farmers did not earn in 2020, the four groups said.
They said Class III Plus provides a way for farmers to recoup, over the next four years, some of the revenue they might have missed out on in 2020, and also creates stability going forward, including protection from negative PPDs and better risk management ability.
“Cooperatives in our area have long called for a focus on Class III issues,” Lucas Sjostrom, executive director of Minnesota Milk, said. “While those are unfortunately outside the scope of (NMPF’s) hearing request, keeping Class I milk the highest in most scenarios will keep Class III plants in the pool, and provide more orderly marketing for all FMMOs. This is a win for customers, a win for farmers and a win for processors.”

Kris Bousquet, executive director of the Nebraska State Dairy Association, said dairy farmers in his state are “extremely concerned” about the status of the Federal Milk Marketing Orders and how the current structure negatively impacts their milk price.

“The Nebraska State Dairy Association’s priorities while working on this proposal  were that we wanted the pricing structure to be fair to all, and to bring back the farmers’ ability to forward contract. Our joint proposal does just that and is the best path forward for the Nebraska dairy industry,” Bousquet said.

More about Class III Plus:
    Improves risk management and hedging for dairy farmers and processors
    Stops the disassociation of advanced pricing that can cause negative producer price differentials
    Does not increase prices to customers in the long term
    Focuses on being a long-term fix to several existing milk pricing problems, and not just correcting issues of the past 24 months
    Ties Class III (cheese) pricing to Class I (fluid) pricing, which would reduce the need for Class III plants to depool and the negative impact that can have on prices.
    Keeps PPDs positive more often in more marketing orders than the current pricing system
    Utilizes three years of data to annually update Class I skim milk price adjusters to limit any one-year shocks, but also takes into account the changing nature of milk processing

The groups also said NMPF’s proposal would likely result in requests for additional FMMO hearings and more changes just two years from now, causing further disruption and potentially jeopardizing the entire order system.

“We want to make sure that if a hearing is granted, the result will be lasting, beneficial changes to the pricing formula,” Edge President Brody Stapel, who farms in Wisconsin, said. “Federal Milk Marketing Orders need to be reformed, but an extremely limited hearing now, which NMPF is seeking, would destabilize the system rather than solve fundamental issues, which is our ultimate goal.”

 Senators Fischer, Klobuchar Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Advance Precision Ag Technology

U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement after introducing legislation to support the advancement of Internet of Things (IoT) technology for precision agriculture:

“Precision agriculture systems gather important sensor data that can help ag producers do their jobs. However, unreliable signal connectivity or power can restrict Nebraska farmers and ranchers from reliably using this new technology. My new legislation will ensure that research and development consider the unique circumstances facing rural and ag communities,” said Senator Fischer.

“America’s economic well-being depends on the health of our farmlands. This legislation will support agricultural research and help develop new technologies related to farming and ranching. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan bill with Senator Fischer, and I will continue pushing for policies to strengthen rural communities nationwide,” said Senator Klobuchar.

“CropX is very happy to support this effort to advance the adoption of IoT for rural America, including programs to assist rural students pursuing STEM degrees through distance learning. We know from public and private research that adoption of advanced sensor technology in agriculture is lagging behind other industries, affecting not only growers’ ability to compete globally, but also efforts by growers to improve soil health and produce crops in the most sustainable way possible. We commend Senator Fischer’s work to promote advanced technology for on-farm use and are very happy to support this bill,” said John Vikupitz, President of CropX.

“Precision technologies will play an increasingly important role in the continued success of Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers. Increased federal investments in research that will advance precision agriculture is good for our farmers and ranchers and good for Nebraska, where one in four jobs is tied to agriculture. I commend Sen. Fischer for introducing this important legislation,” said Mike Boehm, NU vice president and Harlan Vice Chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at UNL.

“I am excited to support Senator Fisher’s bill to promote R&D efforts in precision agriculture technologies. Reducing barriers for technologies to enter rural areas is an important objective to allow innovation to grow in America’s farms and livestock industries. Initiatives such as this help to expedite the development of new technologies that will improve productivity and create a more sustainable future,” said Brian Schupbach, Cofounder of Quantified Ag; Merck Animal Health Intelligence.

“Lindsay supports further investment to support our rural farmers who rely on connected technology to improve efficiency and productivity. Water is a precious resource, and we should take every opportunity to implement the tools needed to improve data reliability in rural areas, supporting increased yields and water conservation,” said Randy Wood, Lindsay Corporation’s President and CEO.

More information about the legislation:
The bill would encourage National Science Foundation (NSF) support for research on advanced sensing systems for rural and agricultural areas, specifically taking into account rural and agricultural environments where there often is unreliable signal connectivity or power. This can affect how connected Internet of Things technologies operate in these settings.

Additionally, this legislation:
    Expands the definition of “advanced technology” for NSF’s Advanced Technical Education (ATE) Program to ensure the inclusion of agriculture-related technology.

    Updates language in NSF’s associate degree programs in STEM fields to consider applications that incorporate distance learning into the curriculum. This would provide additional flexibility for students in rural areas or those who work on a farm or ranch.

    Directs the Government Accountability Office to produce a report that provides a technology assessment of precision agriculture innovations, as well as reviews all existing federal programs that support precision agriculture.

Senator Fischer has been a leader on advancing IoT technology. Last year, the Senate passed her bipartisan DIGIT Act, which became law. That legislation convenes a working group of federal entities and private sector experts to facilitate the growth of IoT, particularly in key sectors such as agriculture, transportation, and health care.

Irrigation Innovation Consortium Funds Three Water for Food Faculty Fellow Projects

The Irrigation Innovation Consortium (IIC) recently announced funding for seven research projects in 2021, three of which are led by Faculty Fellows of the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute (DWFI). The IIC is a university and industry collaboration that accelerates the development and adoption of water- and energy-efficient irrigation technology. DWFI and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln jointly are a founding member of the consortium and DWFI Director of Research Christopher Neale serves on its Executive Committee.
“The IIC brings together university and industry partners to accelerate the development and adoption of new irrigation technologies,” said Neale. “The IIC is a great partner in helping DWFI achieve its mission of global food security without compromising the use of water to meet other vital needs.”
Projects selected include:

Towards Pivot Automation with Proximal Sensing for Maize and Soybean in the Great Plains

    Goal: Developing thresholds that trigger irrigation events configured for the sub-humid climate of the eastern Great Plains, evaluating an existing patented system, evaluating the accuracy of irrigation sensors and comparing crop health and water stress of maize and soybean.
    Principal Investigator: Derek Heeren, DWFI Faculty Fellow, Associate Professor, University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL)
    Co-Principal Investigators: Christopher M. U. Neale, Director of Research, DWFI; Yufeng Ge, DWFI Faculty Fellow, Associate Professor, UNL; Geng Bai, Research Assistant Professor, UNL
    Collaborators: Nate Dorsey, Manager of Agriculture Technology, Valmont Industries; Susan O’Shaughnessy, Research Agricultural Engineer, USDA ARS; Wayne E. Woldt, DWFI Faculty Fellow, Associate Professor, UNL; John A. Kastl, Senior Director of Innovation and Intellectual Property, Valmont Industries; Daran Rudnick, DWFI Faculty Fellow, Assistant Professor, UNL; Steven R. Evett, Research Soil Scientist, USDA ARS; Trenton Franz, DWFI Faculty Fellow, Associate Professor, UNL; Sandeep Bhatti, Ph.D. Student, UNL; Steve R. Melvin, Extension Educator, Nebraska Extension; Troy Ingram, Assistant Extension Educator, Nebraska Extension
    Industry Partner: Valmont
    Location: Nebraska
    Budget: $50,061.00 (Total investment, with match: $113,355.00)
    Cash Match: $57,994.00
    In-Kind Match: $5,300.00
Improved irrigation scheduling combining soil water supply and atmospheric evaporative demand

    Goal: Quantify and compare the water efficiency (i.e. yield per applied irrigation) of the SDD algorithm vs. other common irrigation practices at two study sites in Nebraska using randomized trial with three replicates
    Principal Investigator: Trenton Franz, DWFI Faculty Fellow, Associate Professor, UNL
    Industry Partners: Aspiring Universe Corporation, Arable Labs, Inc., HydroInnova LLC, Corteva, PlanetLabs Inc., UNL, Biological Systems Engineering and School of Natural Resources
    Project Team Co-Investigators: Derek Heeren, DWFI Faculty Fellow, Associate Professor, UNL; Daran Rudnick, DWFI Faculty Fellow, Assistant Professor, UNL
    Team Members: Sibo Wang, Chief Research Officer, Aspiring Universe Corporation; Loreli Carranza, Field Scientist, Arable Labs, Inc; Darin Desilets, Owner, HydroInnova LLC; Justin Gibson, Data Scientist, Corteva; Rasmus Houborg, Principal Geospatial Fusion Engineer/Scientist, PlanetLabs Inc; Olufemi Abimbola, Postdoctoral Associate, UNL
    Subcontractor: Aspiring Universe Corporation
    Advisor: Kaiyu Guan, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
    Location: Nebraska
    Budget: $83,333.33 (Total investment, with match: $257,777.33)

Connecting Field-Scale Performance to Watershed Health: The Added Power of Sharing Data

    Goal: Improving algorithms that estimate water delivery through the growing season using electrical power consumption data for systems that experience static or dynamic aquifer levels through the growing season and communicating the results to irrigators and water managers. The information generated from this research is providing irrigators and watershed managers knowledge of real-time water use to support optimal data-based management decisions.
    Principal Investigator: Dayle McDermitt, DWFI Faculty Fellow, Adjunct Professor, UNL, Nebraska Water Balance Alliance (NEWBA)
    Project Team Members: Billy Tiller, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, GiSC; Mark Cox, Chief Technical Officer, GiSC; Amy Harsch, Project Facilitator, NEWBA; Jim Schneider, Senior Scientist/Groundwater, Olsson; Erin Haacker, Assistant Professor of Hydrology, UNL; Bradley Dowell, Graduate Student, UNL.
    Industry Partners: Grower Information Services Cooperative (GiSC), NEWBA, Olsson, Midwest Electric, Dawson Public Power, Paulman Farms, Twin Platte Natural Resource District, UNL, Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences
    Location: Nebraska
    Budget: $113,083.33 (Total investment, with match: $256,983.51)
    Cash Match: $102,950.18
    In-Kind Match: $40,950.00
Launched in 2018 with a $5 million contribution from the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR), the IIC leverages public-private partnerships to maximize impacts from investment in irrigation research. By 2023, with matching support for every FFAR dollar, an investment of at least $10 million will have supported IIC-related projects and activities. This year, the consortium awarded a total of $533,126 in FFAR funding to selected projects. Through collaboration with partnering institutions and industry, these teams are bringing an additional $979,424 in match to support their innovative research and outreach efforts.
As freshwater resources become ever more precious globally, research in irrigation technology is critically needed to optimize systems and maximize efficiency. Water use efficiency is necessary to ensure resiliency in agricultural and landscape systems. Through the consortium, industry and the public sector co-develop, test, prototype and improve equipment, technology and decision-support systems. IIC-funded research is equipping today’s turf managers, farmers, and water district managers with cutting-edge, more user-friendly tools and technologies that have the potential to transform how water is used and managed in the future.
“We believe that a growing network and increased collaboration is necessary for innovation,” said Tim Martin, Executive Director of IIC.
Projects were selected through a competitive review process that weighed and prioritized projects according to their innovation, scientific merit, inter-institutional collaboration, outreach plans, and potential for impact.  


– Jerry Volesky, NE Extension
The time for turn-out to our primary summer pastures is coming soon.  A couple of important questions are what date to turn-out, and which pastures should be first?
For mixed cool- and warm-season native grass pastures, it is important to allow the cool-season grasses to reach at least a 3-leaf stage.  Initial grass growth in the spring comes from energy reserves stored in the roots and crowns of the grass plant. Grazing too soon could cause a depletion of those reserves and reduce production because there was not enough leaf area present to adequately begin producing energy from photosynthesis.
We must also remember that the amount of growth at a specific date can vary each year based on spring temperatures and precipitation.  When the potential for drought is present, delaying turn-out and continuing to feed hay is recommended.  This will allow the grass plants to maximize growth given the current soil moisture conditions, and result in greater season-long production.
When grazing multiple native grass pastures in a rotation, it is beneficial to change the sequence or order of grazing for the set of pastures. This change in the time of grazing each year benefits the overall health and vigor of the grasses. For producers that have both native range and introduced grass pasture such as smooth bromegrass or crested wheatgrass, grazing the introduced grass pastures first is a great approach to use that resource and allows for a later turn-out on the native pastures.

As lawmakers debate bills, Center offers recommendations to strengthen food access

Across the country, states have been increasingly innovative in finding ways to integrate the goals of eliminating hunger and strengthening local food systems, according to a white paper released today by the Center for Rural Affairs.

“Hunger and the Local Economy: Integrated State-Level Approaches to Food Access,” authored by Nathan Beacom, senior policy associate for the Center, explores the role of local grocery stores, gives examples of state policies designed to make food more accessible, and offers recommendations to lawmakers on ways to address the broader causes of food access and food insecurity in rural areas.

“Food access policy can also be an economic development policy; these goals work hand in hand,” Beacom said. “A strong local food system means more employment, better jobs, a stronger economy, and more access. This kind of win-win policy addresses the immediate needs, as well as the underlying causes of food insecurity.”

The paper’s release comes as the Nebraska Legislature prepares for second-round debate on Legislative Bill (LB) 108, which could come as early as tomorrow, Wednesday, April 28. The bill, introduced by Sen. John McCollister, seeks to fix a flaw known as the “cliff effect” in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“More and more we find that when a SNAP recipient gets a raise at work, that increased income is not enough to offset their loss in SNAP benefits,” Beacom said. “LB 108 allows people to taper off their benefits until they make enough to replace them.. This bill is especially important to rural communities, where food insecurity is higher than urban areas, and where grocers and farmers markets rely on SNAP income.”

Two other bills addressing improvements to the state’s food system are also being debated this session.

LB 324 would provide small meat lockers with resources to grow their businesses and make it easier for people to get meat directly from a farmer, and LB 396 would establish a statewide network to support the growth of farm to school programs. Both bills were introduced by Sen. Tom Brandt.

The white paper is available at

Statement by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on the Intent to Nominate Jennifer Lester Moffitt to Serve as Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs

“Jenny Moffitt’s nomination to serve as Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs demonstrates that USDA is committed to putting the perspective of our producers at the heart of what we do. Jenny currently serves as the Undersecretary at the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and previously served as Deputy Secretary for the agency. Prior to her time with CDFA, Jenny spent 10 years as Managing Director at Dixon Ridge Farms, her family’s organic walnut farm and processing operation in Solano County, California. Jenny says that growing up and working on the farm solidified the importance of taking care of the land and the people who farm it. If confirmed, Jenny will join a mission area that is focused on facilitating the domestic and international marketing of U.S. agricultural products, ensuring the health and care of animals and plants, and setting national and international standards – all tasks that she is well suited to take on. With her guidance and leadership, USDA will help to build more robust and resilient local and regional food systems that support new, fairer market opportunities for American producers and food companies. She will be a welcomed addition to a growing USDA team.”

USDA Dairy Products 2020 Production Summary

Total number of dairy product production plants, all types
Nebraska ......:             7 (2019)  -  7 (2020)   
Iowa .............:            23 (2019) - 26 (2020)   
United States.:      1,270 (2019)  - 1,242 (2020)

Total cheese production in 2020, excluding cottage cheeses, was 13.3 billion pounds, 0.9 percent above 2019 production. Wisconsin was the leading State with 25.6 percent of the production.

Iowa cheese production
2020 - 355,222,000 lbs. from 14 processing plants
2019 - 333,932,000 lbs. from 11 processing plants

Italian varieties, with 5.63 billion pounds was 0.8 percent below 2019 production and accounted for 42.4 percent of total cheese in 2020. Mozzarella accounted for 79.1 percent of the Italian production followed by Parmesan with 7.4 percent and Provolone with 6.5 percent. Wisconsin was the leading State in Italian cheese production with 29.3 percent of the production.

American type cheese production was 5.34 billion pounds, 2.0 percent above 2019 and accounted for 40.3 percent of total cheese in 2020. Wisconsin was the leading State in American type cheese production with 19.9 percent of the production.

Butter production in the United States during 2020 totaled 2.15 billion pounds, 7.6 percent above 2019. California was the leading state in Butter production with 31.1 percent of the production.

Butter Production, Central States: (Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin)
2020 - 833,801,000 lbs. in 35 production plants
2019 - 772,745,000 lbs. in 33 production plants

Dry milk powders (2020 United States production, comparisons in percentage with 2019)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 1.99 billion pounds, up 7.6 percent.
Skim milk powders - 695 million pounds, up 21.4 percent.

Whey products (2020 United States production, comparisons in percentage with 2019)
Dry whey, total - 951 million pounds, down 2.7 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 1.10 billion pounds, down 10.1 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 478 million pounds, down 2.7 percent.

Frozen products (2020 United States production, comparisons in percentage with 2019)
Ice cream, Regular (total) - 914 million gallons, up 3.9 percent.
Ice cream, Lowfat (total) - 482 million gallons, up 1.8 percent.
Sherbet (total) - 37.6 million gallons, down 15.4 percent.
Frozen Yogurt (total) - 35.5 million gallons, down 37.7 percent. 

FFAR Grant Examines Carbon Farming Effect on Soil Health

Agriculture is often seen as a climate change contributor; however, it can also be a natural climate change solution. Employing carbon farming techniques, a broad set of agricultural practices that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it for long periods of time in soil, can reduce carbon emissions from agriculture. The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a $616,178 Seeding Solutions grant to Point Blue Conservation Science (Point Blue) to develop a multifaceted project that optimizes soil health management practices on rangelands in California. Mad Agriculture and Colorado State University both provided matching funds for a $1,281,584 total investment.

Common agricultural practices like driving a tractor, tilling the soil, and using fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides result in the release of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. However, through sustainable farming techniques, carbon can be stored long term in the soil, a process referred to as carbon sequestration. Employing carbon farm practices can further improve soil health and environmental health by increasing carbon sequestration.

Knowledge gaps about commonly recommended management practices make it difficult to quantify how the carbon farm process affects carbon levels. Providing additional information about this process will help resource managers and policymakers prioritize programs and funding.

“Carbon farming provides significant benefits to the ecosystem; however, we don’t know enough about how to most efficiently implement it,” said FFAR Executive Director Dr. Sally Rockey. “This research is providing much-needed knowledge on the best soil management practices to pull more carbon from the atmosphere.”

Point Blue researchers, led by Dr. Chelsea Carey, are developing standardized protocols that can be used with existing soil health programs to track how soil health and carbon sequestration change in response to carbon farming practices over time.

Along with collaborators at Colorado State University and Mad Agriculture, Dr. Carey and her team are generating data from carbon farm planning practices and building an evidence base to establish carbon farming as a proven and scalable model for advancing climate action. Researchers are measuring how above and below ground carbon changes over a 15-to-20-year period when carbon farming practices are used on rangelands. This data will then be used to evaluate predictive models that support planning tools, such as COMET-Planner, which helps farmers and ranchers estimate carbon sequestration.

According to Dr. Carey, “The team will be asking questions like: how much carbon is sequestered with these practices, and how fast does this occur? Is the carbon likely to stay in the soil long enough to make a difference for climate change mitigation? And what are the associated benefits to soil fertility?”

“We see a lot of opportunity with the current momentum in California around natural and working lands stewardship,” said Carey. “We’re excited to support these efforts by engaging our network of partners including ranchers, other scientists and agency staff to conduct science and support ecological monitoring that’s both relevant and impactful.”  

USDA Agency and Company Partner to Explore Personal Care Products from Hemp

Expanding the market for hemp seed oil is the goal of a new cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) involving Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and the Midwest Bioprocessing Center (MBC), a Peoria, Illinois-based firm specializing in organic chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing.

At the heart of the 24-month agreement is a patented process that a team of chemists with the ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR) in Peoria developed, called “bio-catalysis.” In short, it involves using enzymes and heat rather than harsh chemicals and solvents to catalyze reactions that bind natural antioxidants like ferulic acid to lipids in soybean and other vegetable oils.

In prior research, the team used the process to create a class of compounds called feruloyl soy glycerides (FSGs) from soybean oil. These were subsequently licensed and commercialized for use as ingredients in skin- and personal-care products because of the ultraviolet (UV) absorbance and antioxidant properties that they offered.

Now, under the cooperative agreement with MBC, the team will explore creating similar ferulic-acid-based ingredients from bio-catalyzed hemp seed oil, potentially broadening the market for this commodity from an estimated 90,000 U.S. acres of industrial hemp, a type of Cannabis sativa that was legalized under the Farm Bill of 2018.

Hemp seed oil today is popularly used in cannabidiol-containing products for perceived health benefits. However, like soy or corn oil, hemp oil also contains a variety of nutrients, fatty acids (including omega-3 fatty acids) and bioactive compounds that can be transformed into specialty chemicals offering useful new properties.

Toward that end, the ARS-MBC team will focus on bio-catalyzing hemp oil to make “cosmeceuticals”—skin-care ingredients that perform specific functions, like protecting skin from UV light, retaining moisture, or stabilizing other active ingredients used in skin-care formulations.

“Collaborating with industry partners like MBC, which has expertise in enzymology and the infrastructure for scale-up, is critical to exploring expanded uses for our original technology,” said Compton, with the ARS center’s Renewable Technologies Research Unit in Peoria.

The research unit is one of seven comprising the NCAUR that collectively specialize in researching value-added uses for agricultural commodities as well as the byproducts of their manufacture into other processed goods.   

The NCAUR has also played a lead role in devising sustainable approaches to processing these commodities with an eye towards expanding economic opportunities for growers of both established crops like corn, wheat and soybean, as well as emerging ones, like cuphea and industrial hemp.

In addition to opening the door to the cosmetics and personal care markets, NCAUR scientists are researching ways to better process hemp into fuels, lubricants and adhesives, as well as functional food ingredients and fiber products.

Loveland Products C2 Technology Plays Critical Role in Nutrient Management

As the prices of key crop production nutrients continues to rise, Loveland Products’ C2 Technology products, a proprietary product line of Nutrien Ag Solutions,  are playing a critical role in helping producers manage nutrients while getting the most out of nutritional inputs.

Nutritional solutions powered by C2 Technology from Loveland Products unlock the power of a grower’s soil, and are an effective way to maximize the benefit of nutritional applications. C2 Technology is a unique nutrient management platform that drives nutrient-use efficiency and, at the same time, improves soil health. It is a library of substances containing various carbon compounds, including carbohydrates, which boost biological activity in the soil. In addition, those compounds improve the soil’s ability to hold both water and nutrients.

“We have seen  the prices for key nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen rise significantly over the past six months,” reports Joe Vaillancourt, Product Marketing Manager with Loveland Products. “Maximizing  the efficacy of these nutrients to make sure they are available for plant uptake is important both from an economic and environmental perspective. Choosing fertilizers that are powered by C2 Technology ensures plants will get the optimum benefit from those nutrients.”

How C2 Technology Works
•    Unique carbon components in C2 technology drive chemical and biological activity in the soil and promote better soil structure.
•    Proprietary extraction methods produce customized extractions of carbon-based compounds that meet the specific needs of each nutrient with which they are combined.
•    The carbohydrates in C2 Technology act as a food source for beneficial soil microbes.
•    These carbohydrates also assist in complexing nutrients, so they are more available to plants.
•     Nutrients in the various products powered by C2 Technology are combined with carbon and carbohydrates to form protected nutrients. This process results in increased fertilizer efficiency and reduced soil tie-up.
•    This complexing of nutrients also enables flexibility in application.

Loveland Products produces a wide array of fertilizer products powered by C2 Technology, which are available only at Nutrien Ag Solutions retail locations across the U.S.

No matter what challenges a grower faces in the field, Loveland Products makes a fertilizer powered by C2 Technology that can effectively deliver nutrition and improve the health of their soil. Research shows that use of C2 Technology leads to improved soil health and productivity. By using products built with C2 Technology, growers will leave the soil healthier than when they began farming it.

Monday April 26 Crop Progress + Ag News


For the week ending April 25, 2021, there were 5.3 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 6% very short, 18% short, 73% adequate, and 3% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 9% very short, 27% short, 62% adequate, and 2% surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn planted was 6%, behind 17% last year and 15% for the five-year average.

Soybeans planted was 3%, near 7% last year, and equal to average.

Winter wheat condition rated 6% very poor, 13% poor, 41% fair, 38% good, and 2% excellent.

Oats planted was 86%, ahead of 74% last year and 68% average. Emerged was 41%, ahead of 35% last year and 34% average.

Iowa Crop Progress & Condition

 Below normal temperatures during the week ending April 25, 2021 delayed planting for some farmers but as the weekend neared, planting accelerated according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Statewide there were 5.6 days suitable for fieldwork during the week. Field activities for the week included applying anhydrous and dry fertilizer, tilling fields and planting.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 6% very short, 28% short, 64% adequate and 2% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 10% very short, 35% short, 54% adequate and 1% surplus.

Despite hesitancy due to cold soil temps, 20% of Iowa’s corn crop has been planted, one day behind the 5-year average.

Some farmers chose to plant soybeans with 6% of the crop planted, 3 days ahead of normal.

Eighty-three percent of Iowa’s expected oat crop has been planted, 3 days ahead of last year and 6 days ahead of the 5-year average. Statewide 29% of the oat crop has emerged, 3 days ahead of average.

Pasture condition rated 45% good to excellent. Calving is reportedly going well. Despite pasture and hay being slow to grow, cattle are on pastures.

U.S. Corn Planting Falls Behind Average Pace; Soybean Planting Pulls Ahead of Normal

Colder weather across much of the U.S. last week slowed fieldwork and caused nationwide corn planting progress to fall below the average pace, according to USDA NASS' weekly Crop Progress report released Monday.

As of Sunday, April 25, farmers had planted an estimated 17% of intended corn acres, slipping to 3 percentage points behind the five-year average of 20%, according to NASS. Until then, corn planting had been running equal to slightly ahead of normal.  Corn emergence was also slightly behind normal, at 3% as of Sunday compared to the five-year average of 4%.

The colder weather appeared to have less of an impact on soybean planting last week, with that crop's planting progress moving further ahead of normal. NASS estimated that 8% of the crop was planted as of Sunday, 3 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 5%. In last week's report, soybean planting was just 1 percentage point ahead of normal.

Development of winter wheat, on the other hand, continued to lag the normal pace. Winter wheat heading was estimated at 17% as of Sunday, 3 percentage points behind 20% last year and 6 percentage points behind the five-year average of 23%.  Winter wheat condition fell to 49% good to excellent as of Sunday, down 4 percentage points from 53% the previous week and below last year's rating of 54%.

Spring wheat planting continued to run ahead of normal, at 28% complete as of Sunday, 9 percentage points ahead of the five-year average of 19%. Spring wheat emerged was estimated at 7%, also ahead of the five-year average of 5%.

Sorghum was 19% planted. Cotton planting was 12% complete. Rice was 47% planted, and 26% of the crop had emerged.  Oats were 59% planted as of April 25, and emergence was at 37%.


Evaluating the Performance of Kernza® Perennial Grain in Eastern Nebraska

Andrea Basche – Assistant Professor in Cropping Systems

A research project is underway to evaluate the performance of intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium), registered by The Land Institute under the trade name Kernza®, as a potential cash grain crop for Nebraska producers. There are a small number of Nebraska growers working with this new crop, and the following results represent the first coordinated research effort in the state.

Kernza® is a low-input perennial grain with opportunity for use as a dual-use crop. It is a cool-season grass originating in Eurasia, studied by scientists at the Land Institute for several decades. Over the selection cycles, plant breeders continue to improve characteristics such as grain size and disease resistance. The project was designed to continue developing alternative cash crop opportunities for Nebraska producers looking to increase the net return and sustainability of their operations. It has been supported by faculty, students and technicians.

The team launched its collaboration with The Land Institute in 2018 with the planting of a variety trial on East Campus in Lincoln, Nebraska. This experiment is in its third year, with two years of harvest data for nine different Kernza® varieties: four from The Land Institute and five from the University of Minnesota.

Overall, crop performance was equivalent to or greater than most other participating locations, including the greatest seed yield in year one relative to any of the varieties at any of the sites. Grain yields in some, but not all, varieties increased in year two. Kernza® grain yields are known to decline in successive years, and the variety trial experiment will continue into years three and four to test performance in this environment relative to other locations. Overall, we found that this is promising initial data to demonstrate that the crop performs well in eastern Nebraska.

What are the Benefits of Kernza® Perennial Grain?

In the Nebraska experiments, the crop required limited management, with annual spring fertilizer application of approximately 60 lbs of nitrogen and herbicide applications during the first spring to control winter annual weeds. No herbicides have been applied since the establishment year due to weed suppression occurring from the Kernza® stand.

From a dual-use perspective, experiments in Minnesota demonstrated that defoliation (removal of leaves via hay harvest, burning or grazing) in both fall and spring increased grain yields relative to no defoliation, particularly in the first two years. They additionally note the increased revenue from harvesting Kernza® for both straw and hay. In Wisconsin, researchers found forage nutritive value of Kernza® suitable for beef and dairy cows, as well as growing heifers. All of this suggests potential for Kernza to support crop and livestock producers in the state.

What is Next for Kernza® Perennial Grain Research in Nebraska?

Nebraska researchers are a part of USDA-funded initiative with an overall goal of expanding the research, education, commercialization and policy innovations required to scale up Kernza® use in the United States. This project will support two new field experiments planted in 2021: one will evaluate nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium application rates and timing, as well as environmental performance including soil and water impacts relative to a corn-soybean crop rotation, and a second will evaluate advanced Kernza® genetic lines managed with narrower and wider row spacing. Both experiments will be replicated at several different locations including Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio.

Gov. Pete Ricketts Signs Nebraska’s Next Two-Year Budget into Law

Statement by Mark McHargue, President, NE Farm Bureau

“We thank state senators for passing and Gov. Pete Ricketts for signing a state budget that delivers significant property tax relief, one of Nebraska Farm Bureau’s top priorities. Nebraska Farm Bureau members urged lawmakers and the governor to support a budget that builds upon the property tax relief that the Legislature enacted last year with the passage of LB 1107. LB 1107 enacted a new refundable income tax credit based on property taxes paid to schools of which Nebraskans were able to claim for the first time this tax season Putting tax money back in the hands of hardworking Nebraskans is the best way to help our state’s families and communities. We are grateful to state lawmakers and Gov. Ricketts for listening to Nebraskans and continuing to work to provide much needed tax relief.”

Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. Brand Launches Sustainability Campaign

The Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. brand, managed by National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s (NCBA), a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, launched a new beef campaign highlighting real beef farmers and ranchers. Consumers will be invited to learn more about how cattle farmers and ranchers around the country are employing sustainable practices to care for the land and produce high-quality beef.   

Recent scientific research funded by the Beef Checkoff shows that due to decades of continuous improvement efforts on farms and ranches around the country, the U.S. is the leader in sustainable beef production. In fact, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, greenhouse gas from beef cattle only represents 2% of emissions in the U.S. Additionally, 90% of what cattle eat is forage and plant leftovers that people can’t eat.

With this strong foundation of scientific and consumer market research, NCBA took the opportunity to develop a fully integrated campaign that will target consumer, influencer, media and supply chain audiences. The campaign will come to life in a variety of ways, including:
    New Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. advertising that will run on social media, YouTube and connected TV with a new video series highlighting how beef farmers and ranchers around the country are implementing land-conserving, award-winning environmental efforts
    An interactive map on that will be featured in the new ads and invite consumers to meet beef farmers and ranchers from each state
    A series of interviews showcasing sustainability from farm to table on local TV and radio stations across the country
    Influencer partnerships bringing chefs and cattle producers together for a collaborative and educational video series
    Content partnerships and sustainability story placements in publications, from the national level to the local level, across the country

“Beef farmers and ranchers have been caring for the land and environment for generations and will continue to do so,” said Clay Burtrum, 2021 Federation Division Chair. “Consumers want to know more about where their food comes from and as sustainability becomes a focus for consumers, it’s important for us to tell our story as effectively as possible and this campaign does just that.”

According to market research, only 24% of consumers say they are knowledgeable about how cattle are raised for food. This sustainability campaign aims to address that by introducing consumers to farmers and ranchers across the country and showcasing the many efforts underway to help sustain and improve the land for generations to come. Consumers will also be introduced to the Environmental Stewardship Award Program and the Beef Quality Assurance Program as further evidence of steps taken by the industry to adhere to the highest standards.

For more information on the U.S. cattle industry and beef sustainability, visit or  

NCBA Members Put “Boots On The Hill” During 2021 Legislative Conference

Over 300 NCBA members put “Boots on the Hill” during NCBA’s 2021 Virtual Legislative Conference held April 18-21. While there weren’t any cowboy boots and cowboy hats seen roaming the halls of the Capitol, this year members from across the country participated in meetings with their Members of Congress and agency officials through virtual platforms.

“Growing up as part of the cattle industry, I have a deep-rooted appreciation for the important work that cattle producers do each and every day,” said Dawn Caldwell, an NCBA member from Edgar, Nebraska.

NCBA members across the country share a similar passion. In conjunction with Earth Week, Legislative Conference gave members the opportunity to engage with lawmakers and share the positive impact the cattle industry has in the realm of sustainability — environmentally, economically, and socially.

“Cattle producers across the country play a critical role in ensuring a safe, sustainable, and abundant food supply. This week I have valued the opportunity to engage with decision-makers in Washington D.C. and share the story of the industry. The decisions being made by lawmakers have real impacts on the ability of producers across the country to have successful operations for generations to come. I am thankful to be a member of NCBA, and greatly appreciate their ability to facilitate meetings with federal agency leadership,” Caldwell said.

Throughout the week, in addition to meeting with Members of Congress from over 30 states, members participated in meetings with agency representatives within the Department of Transportation, Department of Agriculture, Department of the Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

University-developed US animal disease ID system receives Tyson support

A national cattle identification system that was first developed at Kansas State University has received a big boost of support from one of the country's largest food companies.

Tyson Fresh Meats, a subsidiary of Tyson Foods Inc., is backing U.S. CattleTrace, a system that uses ear tags with ultrahigh frequency technologies to establish a national animal disease traceability system.

The system was first tested in 2018 as a pilot project led by K-State, the Kansas Livestock Association, the Kansas Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and individual producers.

At the time, university researchers were interested in developing a system to help safeguard Kansas' $17 billion cattle industry. The idea was to garner support among producers, who would attach ear tags with ultrahigh frequency chips. As cattle moved through the production system, researchers could collect data on their locations and movements on computers located centrally in Manhattan.

In the case of disease outbreak, knowing the movements of a given group of cattle — and what herds they may have interacted with — is a big advantage to keeping the entire industry from facing a shutdown. Having information on the movement of cattle herds would mean that only a small segment of animals would need to be isolated.

Tyson's support is a key indicator that the system is gaining momentum nationally. Located in Springdale, Arkansas, Tyson Foods Inc. is the world's second-largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef and pork. Its fresh meats division operates six beef plants across the United States.

"Attracting investments from outside Manhattan represents one way K-State is working to build economic prosperity in the community, region and state," said Beth Montelone, K-State interim vice president for research. "Tyson's support of this successful system that was developed at K-State demonstrates the university's commitment to fulfilling our land-grant mission to improve quality of life for all through education, research and outreach."

CattleTrace directly supports the beef cattle ranching and farming sector, which is the top employer in Kansas with the highest financial output.  

"K-State's partnership in increasing economic development in the greater Manhattan region is a tremendous asset," said Jason Smith, president and CEO of the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce. "This new support for the beef industry in Kansas and potential for future industry attraction in this sector are excellent indicators for job growth in the region."

"Animal health and disease traceability are critical issues for the meat industry and we're hopeful our involvement will help advance industry efforts to implement this program across the country," said Shane Miller, group president of Tyson Fresh Meats, in a news release from Tyson. "We believe CattleTrace can help to reduce the risk that animal disease poses to the U.S. cattle supply, while also protecting our industry's access to important export markets, which can quickly be compromised in the event of an animal health issue."

Brandon Depenbusch, the vice president of cattle operations at Innovative Livestock Services Inc. near Great Bend, was closely involved in the 2018 pilot project to test an animal disease identification system in Kansas.

"As leaders in the cattle industry, we are excited to see Tyson Fresh Meats' commitment to animal health and disease traceability in the United States," said Depenbusch, who now is chair of the U.S. CattleTrace board of directors. "We've heard from stakeholders across the country that in order for a producer-led system to succeed, buy-in amongst all sectors is needed. This commitment from a leader in beef processing shows that no matter where we come from in the cattle industry, we are all working towards a common goal of protecting our nation's herd and the highest quality, most sustainable beef product in the world."

Cattle on Feed

Matthew Diersen, Risk & Business Management Specialist, South Dakota State University

The Cattle on Feed report released last Friday showed a stark contrast to a year ago. The expectations were for sharply higher placements and higher marketings following the COVID-19 disruptions in the latter part of March of 2020. The actual placements and marketings were slightly below the trade expectations, and the resulting on-feed total of 11.9 million head was slightly below the trade expectation also. The futures market response was positive despite corn being higher.

Texas stands out a little as not having quite as strong of an increase in inventory on-feed as the other largest feedlot sates. The weight breakdown is hard to decipher; or there does not seem to be any major pattern standing out. The heifer mix on feed is up slightly from a year ago and down slightly from last quarter. As an indicator it is probably not subject to the same swing as the placement total. However, it is not sending a strong signal as to expansion nor contraction.

The feed situation continues to be disruptive. Beginning next week there will again be weekly pasture and range conditions available – giving a glimpse into the ability to achieve gains away from grains. Mid-May also brings a look at the ending hay stocks situation. Corn prices continue to increase, both for old crop and new crop. The May-December price spread has widened to over $1.00 per bushel again. However, as the overall levels have increased the opposite has happened to feeder cattle prices. While all feeder cattle prices have fallen recently, the nearby futures prices are at a sharp discount to the deferred months. This shows up in the gross feeding margins (or cattle crush calculations) as the nearby margins have been widening out and the deferred margins have stayed in a wide range in recent weeks. In other words, feedlots have seen feeder cattle futures prices decline by more than corn futures prices have increased.

Managing risk in this setting may involve trying to hedge some combination of live cattle, feeder cattle and corn. The corn market has seen a very sharp increase in prices and in the implied volatility. During quiet periods, the volatility will range from 25-30 percent for corn. This last week it has been 35-40 percent. The implication is to drive up the cost of buying call options on corn. Feedlots may also try to pass on that cost by bidding less for feeder cattle. The implied volatility for feeder cattle itself is also higher, but not to the extent observed in the corn market. Thus, feedlots may still find call options on feeder cattle to be reasonably priced. However, corn or other feed prices will still be a source of risk. For output prices, feedlots looking to sell live cattle will find the volatility has increased for the nearby months, but it remains low for deferred months. Those with feeder cattle to sell face a short-run challenge, but those that can delay selling may be able to capture a rebound in price or improved returns buy looking at non-corn inputs.

Biofuels Coalition Readies for Oral Arguments in Supreme Court

In oral arguments scheduled for Tuesday morning, four agriculture and biofuel organizations will argue that the U.S. Supreme Court should affirm a unanimous 2020 decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, which held that only small refineries that have remained continuously exempt from obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard are eligible for future extensions of the compliance exemption.

The four organizations comprising the Biofuels Coalition—the Renewable Fuels Association, the National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, and the American Coalition for Ethanol—will share time during Tuesday’s oral arguments with the U.S. Department of Justice, which will be representing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EPA announced in February that it supports the Tenth Circuit’s decision.

“EPA had exceeded its authority by creating new exemptions when the statute only authorizes the agency to extend the temporary, time-limited exemption that Congress provided to small refineries. Because none of the three refineries involved in this case still had that exemption, there was nothing for EPA to extend,” the coalition noted. “The Tenth Circuit Court’s ruling is consistent with the Clean Air Act, congressional intent, and the purpose of the RFS. We will continue to stand up for the farmers and renewable fuel producers across the country whose livelihoods have been harmed by abuse of the refinery exemption program. We look forward to presenting our arguments before the Supreme Court, and we believe the Tenth Circuit decision should be affirmed.”

While the statute does allow EPA to grant exemption extensions to small refineries that can prove compliance with the RFS will cause “disproportionate economic harm,” the coalition underscored in its March 24 brief that the exemption was clearly meant to be a temporary allowance only. The statute only authorizes continuous extensions of the temporary exemption that Congress granted to all small refineries at the start of the RFS program; once a refiner comes into compliance with the RFS, they no longer are eligible to receive an exemption.

The Many Shades of Cattle Lameness
Russ Daly – Professor, SDSU Extension Veterinarian, State Public Health Veterinarian

Lameness in cattle is a commonly encountered condition stemming from pain in one or more limbs, which affects not only how the animal moves, but their productivity as well.

Cattle producers understand that lameness is a condition that varies greatly among individual animals. There is a wide gradation of clinical signs, with some animals exhibiting obvious “dead” lameness, while other cases of lameness almost escape detection.

Subtle Cases of Lameness

Let’s start with the trickiest scenario first: subtle cases of lameness. Large animals, especially cattle and sheep, are prey animals by nature. It is not in their natural instincts to easily reveal any weakness, illness or injury to a predator (people can be viewed as predators), and lameness certainly qualifies in this regard. Therefore, animals with even relatively severe musculoskeletal conditions may mask lameness rather well until the condition deteriorates. This poses challenges for producers who wish to detect and treat cases of lameness in their early stages. Additionally, certain conditions that affect the feet and limbs may be rather subtle at first. In fact, researchers, partly in order to quantify lameness and partly because lameness conditions they study may be quite subtle, sometimes resort to technology, such as pressure-sensitive pads that detect minor changes in gait or weight-bearing when the animals walk across them.

Common Symptoms

Of course, these high-tech instruments are not readily found in cattle operations today, so experienced and careful observation becomes important. One of the first observable clinical changes in a lame animal occurs when the animal’s stride is shortened. For example, the normal gait of a calf is that of long strides, with the frontward motion of the rear leg and foot being placed very close to where the same-side front hoof was planted. When an animal is lame in one limb, that limb tends to have a shorter stride than normal. Zinpro Corporation has produced a website that illustrates this well.

Another subtle indication of lameness is observed, not in the limbs, but rather the head of the animal. When the animal plants a painful foot (especially a painful front foot), the animal’s head is often observed to “bob” upward, a distinct difference from a normal gait in which the head stays more or less level to the ground during walking.

As animals become more severely affected and more painful, these signs of shortened stride, head bobbing and arching of the back become more pronounced to the point where an animal will avoid bearing weight on the affected limb.

In the worst cases, the animal will refuse to touch the limb to the ground and will prefer to walk three-legged. This typically means there is a severe problem: an extremely painful situation, a fracture or a dislocation.

Possible Causes

Regardless of the cause, we can assume that animals who exhibit any of the clinical signs described above have one root cause in common—pain. In essentially all causes of lameness, the animal’s gaits are affected, because it is too painful to move in a normal fashion. This pain can arise from anywhere in the affected limb, and the causes are numerous. Pain may arise from an injury to the hoof (a crack or a nail extending into the sensitive part of the hoof wall); a sprain or strain of ligaments, tendons, or joint structures; a soft-tissue injury or infection (such as hoof rot); or a fracture or dislocation of a bone or joint.

As injuries or infections progress from acute to chronic, it is possible that the pain experienced by an animal may dull somewhat due to increased scarring and healing, or potentially due to adaptation by the animal. And it is very common for an animal to “forget” about a painful condition when a stressful situation arises and adrenaline kicks in, for example when an animal flees from a perceived threat. Such animals are in danger of inflicting more damage upon themselves and the handler in such cases.

In Summary

Animal caregivers should recognize that any case of lameness represents a painful condition, and one that should be addressed by proper supportive care and treatment when the first opportunity arises. These interventions are much more effective when the following signs of lameness can be detected early:
Shortened stride
Head bobbing
Arched back
Obvious limp or three-legged gait

Enhancing early detection of lameness through careful observation and using techniques, such as locomotion scoring, will enable more timely and effective interventions, which will pay off with positive impacts on cattle well-being, health and overall profitability of the herd.

NGFA, ag shippers partner with railroads on food safety initiative

The National Grain and Feed Association and a coalition of agricultural shippers including the North American Millers Association, National Oilseed Processors Association, Pet Food Institute, and American Bakers Association today announced a partnership with the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and Railinc to give shippers greater visibility into the recent commodities carried by covered hopper cars. This new resource will provide shippers with essential information to maintain the highest food safety standards and help prevent potential cross-contact with food allergens.

“Thanks to funding and leadership provided by AAR and Railinc, agricultural shippers will have access to a reliable resource to obtain information on the last three loads hauled in railcars, which is crucial to food safety and regulatory compliance,” said NGFA President and CEO Mike Seyfert. “NGFA also is grateful to the operational and technical experts representing industry users on a joint working group that was engaged at the outset in designing this new resource to ensure it has the functionality companies need.”

“This partnership means that agricultural shippers – and ultimately families at the grocery store – can have greater confidence in their products’ safety,” said AAR President and CEO Ian Jefferies. “As long-time, valued customers, railroads are proud to partner on this innovative solution and look forward to fully implementing the program.”

The new online portal will allow agricultural shippers to better identify the last contents hauled in a particular rail car to continue to ensure the highest food safety standards are met and to comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s food sanitary transportation rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The secure, searchable user interface being developed by Railinc will rely on the company’s unique industry knowledge and management of critical industry systems that track nearly all the equipment in the North American rail fleet and the commodities transported.

This partnership between AAR, Railinc and the working group demonstrates the shared commitment by shippers, loaders, and carriers to strengthening the safety, reliability and efficiency of the U.S food supply. The portal is expected to launch in late 2021.

American Agri-Women Warn Colorado Citizens Against Initiative 16

American Agri-Women (AAW) President Karolyn Zurn warns voters, “Colorado Initiative 16 is deceiving the Voters to Advance an Anti-Meat Agenda.”

Signatures will be gathered by an extremist anti-agriculture, animal rights group to place their proposed “ Initiative 16” on the Colorado 2022 November ballot.

If passed, Initiative 16, also known as “Protect Animals from Unnecessary Suffering and Exploitation", would impose unrealistic mandates for animal agriculture that are designed with the intent to reduce meat and dairy production. But the animals covered in this Initiative include dogs, cats, horses, livestock, police working dogs and horses, service animals, fish, and poultry.

The emotionally charged hook to deceive Colorado voters into passing this Initiative is its claim to ban beasteality, or sexual acts with animals, which is already illegal in Colorado.

Janell Reid, a 3rd generation Colorado cattle rancher stated, “Behind a great deal of misinformation and deception, Initiative 16 would eliminate husbandry practices which would result in the complete elimination of livestock breeding, ranching, and animal agriculture in Colorado. Practices which ensure the health and safety of both people and animals would be redefined as “cruelty” by this agenda-driven lie known as Initiative 16.”

Mindy Patterson, Animal Welfare Chair for American Agri-woman and President of The Cavalry Group stated, “Initiative 16 is being promoted in a way that will intentionally mislead voters by playing on their emotions through the use of pictures and video taken vastly out of context.”  She adds, “Initiative 16 is a recipe for starvation as it will tighten the noose on food producers across the state of Colorado and force them out of business.”

The strategy of the groups behind Initiative 16 is following a pattern established by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) passing so-called “anti-cruelty” regulations through the ballot initiative process in other states; all at the expense of fewer farms and ranches, fewer farmers and ranchers, higher food prices, and a growing concern of a domestic food shortage.

As American Agri-Women we #STANDUPSPEAKOUT4AG and are an ongoing “Voice for Truth About Agriculture.”

Friday April 23 Cattle on Feed + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.58 million cattle on feed on April 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 8% from last year. Placements during March totaled 440,000 head, up 16% from 2020. Fed cattle marketings for the month of March totaled 455,000 head, down 4% from last year. Other disappearance during March totaled 15,000 head, unchanged 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 630,000 head on April 1, 2021, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was unchanged from March, and unchanged from April 1, 2020. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head had 540,000 head on feed, unchanged from last month but down 10% from last year. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in all Iowa feedlots totaled 1,170,000 head, unchanged from last month but down 5% from last year.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during March totaled 112,000 head, up 1% from February and up 62% from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head placed 68,000 head, up 113% from February and up 19% from last year. Placements for all feedlots in Iowa totaled 180,000 head, up 26% from February and up 43% from last year.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during March totaled 109,000 head, up 10% from February and up 4% from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head marketed 65,000 head, up 20% from February but down 19% from last year. Marketings for all feedlots in Iowa were 174,000 head, up 14% from February but down 6% from last year. Other disappearance from all feedlots in Iowa totaled 6,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Up 5 Percent

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 11.9 million head on April 1, 2021. The inventory was 5 percent above April 1, 2020. This is the second highest April 1 inventory since the series began in 1996. The inventory included 7.41 million steers and steer calves, up 5 percent from the previous year. This group accounted for 62 percent of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 4.49 million head, up 7 percent from 2020.

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

Colorado .......:               1,060          110                
Iowa .............:                  630            100             
Kansas ..........:                2,480          108               
Nebraska ......:                2,580          108              
Texas ............:                2,870          104             

Placements in feedlots during March totaled 2.00 million head, 28 percent above 2020. Net placements were 1.94 million head. During March, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 405,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 325,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 510,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 522,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 175,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 60,000 head.

Placements by State  (1,000 hd  -  % March '20)

Colorado .......:                    180             133              
Iowa .............:                     112             162                   
Kansas ..........:                     490             142                   
Nebraska ......:                     440             116                 
Texas ............:                     465             133             

Marketings of fed cattle during March totaled 2.04 million head, 1 percent above 2020. Marketings were the second highest for March since the series began in 1996.

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

Colorado .......:                   215               98             
Iowa .............:                   109               104              
Kansas ..........:                   470               111             
Nebraska ......:                   455                96             
Texas ............:                   455                99             

Protecting natural resources for future generations is LENRD’s focus

High levels of nitrate in our groundwater pose challenges for our future.  One of the responsibilities of the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) is the development, management, utilization, and conservation of groundwater.

At the LENRD’s April board meeting, the members heard a report on visualizing and assessing nitrogen contamination in northeast Nebraska.  The report was given by Jordan Shields, PhD student in the University of Nebraska Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department.  The purpose of his project is to leverage existing tools and data to improve scientific understanding of nitrate contamination in the Lower Elkhorn NRD by focusing his research efforts on data digitization and incorporation of data into models, maps, and graphs.

LENRD Assistant Manager, Brian Bruckner, said, “We appreciate the research that Jordan is doing and look forward to working with him on this project.  This report was the first of several updates that will be given by Jordan, with each update providing a view of the project as new information is integrated into the database.”

The LENRD recently launched a website, bringing to light the concerns that are plaguing northeast Nebraska.  Visit to find out more about the rising levels of nitrate across the LENRD’s 15-county district and the steps that are being taken to address the environmental and health issues associated with this problem.

Also, during the meeting, the board approved the Urban Recreation Area Development and Urban Conservation Program applications for 2021.  The communities and schools receiving grant funding this year include:  Carroll, Concord, Emerson, Hadar, Madison, Pierce, Randolph, Wakefield, Woodland Park, Uehling, and Norfolk Public Schools.

LENRD Projects Manager, Curt Becker, said, “We look forward to partnering with these communities to complete their urban recreation and conservation projects.  If you have a project in need of funding, keep this program in mind for next year.  Application packets are mailed out in January throughout our 15-county district.”

The board reviewed a bid to update the electrical panels at the campground at Maskenthine Lake, north of Stanton.  This electrical improvement was delayed from last year due to the parts not being available during the pandemic.  The bid from JP Electric of Dodge was approved and the work will be completed this summer.

The LENRD recently opened their Maskenthine Lake and Maple Creek Recreation Areas to online reservations.  Reservations can be made 30 days in advance of arrival at

LENRD Recreation Area Superintendent, Leonard Boryca, said, “We’re excited to try the online reservation system.  It will be beneficial for those traveling from a distance or wanting to book something in advance.”  Boryca added, “There will still be a few sites available at each park as first-come, first-served.”

In other action the board authorized staff to issue notices of violation to farm owners or operators who are out of compliance with the Phase 2 and 3 Groundwater Management Area reporting requirements in Pierce and Madison Counties.  LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, said, “These notifications will only be utilized as necessary, and will not curtail the proactive measures of district staff to work cooperatively with producers to get the reports completed.”

To learn more about the 12 responsibilities of Nebraska’s NRDs and how your local district can work with you and your community to protect your natural resources, visit and sign up for our monthly emails.  The next board of directors meeting will be Thursday, May 27th at the LENRD office in Norfolk at 7:30 p.m.

Lower Elkhorn NRD promotes Arbor Day with end-of-season tree sales

J. Sterling Morton first proposed Arbor Day as a tree planting holiday in 1872 at a meeting of the Nebraska State Board of Agriculture.  On the first Arbor Day, prizes were offered to counties and to individuals for properly planting the largest number of trees.  It was claimed that more than 1 million trees were planted in Nebraska on that day.  Morton’s home in Nebraska City, Arbor Lodge and Arbor Day Farm, is a State Historical Park, which includes an arboretum and extensive landscaped grounds, managed by the National Arbor Day Foundation.  In Nebraska, Arbor Day is traditionally celebrated on the last Friday in April.  The 149th Anniversary of Arbor Day will be celebrated on Friday, April 30th.

Since Nebraska is the birth state of Arbor Day, it’s only appropriate that the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) promotes tree-planting programs each year.  The LENRD will have tree seedlings available for purchase next Friday in celebration of Arbor Day, at the Maskenthine Lake Recreation Area, north of Stanton.  From Norfolk, the lake is located 10 miles east on highway 275 and then 2 miles south on Ridge Road.  Signs will direct you to the LENRD Tree Distribution Center (approximately 2 miles north of Stanton).  The Center will be open from 8 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. on Arbor Day.  Seedlings must be purchased in bundles of 25.

Todd Stewart, LENRD Natural Resources Technician, said, “We’ll be cleaning out the cooler on Arbor Day, quantities are limited, but there’s still enough variety if you’re looking for trees or shrubs to fill in your windbreak.”  Stewart added, “Trees provide shade and wind protection for people and livestock.  They add value and beauty to your property while saving money on your heating and cooling costs.  Plant trees to protect your property and the future.  Our parents did it for us, and we should return the favor for future generations.”

Contact the LENRD office if you have questions about the trees or if you need further assistance.  A list of trees available for purchase will be listed on the LENRD’s website:

Extension webinar to cover USDA NASS cattle reports

An upcoming Nebraska Extension webinar will provide an in-depth look at cattle reports produced by the USDA National Agricultural Statistical Service, including Cattle on Feed and Cattle Inventory surveys. It will be held Thursday, from noon to 1 p.m.

The Cattle on Feed report, which provides estimates of the number of cattle being fed a ration of grain, silage, hay and/or protein supplements for the slaughter market that are expected to grade select or better. Cattle Inventory reports are issued in January and July. They provide estimates of the number of breeding animals for beef and milk production as well as the number of heifers being held for breeding herd replacement. Estimates of cattle and calves being raised for meat production are also included, along with the number of calves born during the previous year.

The webinar will cover methodologies, content and how the reports can be beneficial to producers.

It will be presented by Nick Streff, director of the USDA NASS northern Plains Regional Field Office in Lincoln. Streff oversees data collection, analysis and publication of NASS estimates for North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas. He will be joined by Elliott Dennis, assistant professor of livestock marketing in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Department of Agricultural Economics.

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

Registration is free at

UNL Dept of Ag Econ Webinar Series Continues

Agricultural Assistance Through PAP, ARP, and CFAP: What Are These and Why Should Farmers, Ranchers Care?
Brad Lubben, Nebraska Extension Policy Specialist
Cathy Anderson, Nebraska USDA Farm Service Agency Production and Compliance Section Chief

Farmers and ranchers may have heard of the Pandemic Assistance for Producers Initiative, the American Rescue Act Plan and the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. All have been in the news, but what do each of them mean for Nebraska’s producers? UNL’s Brad Lubben along with the Nebraska USDA Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Cathy Anderson will provide an overview of each and give direction for farmers and ranchers regarding the current open application period for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) 2 at FSA offices across the state.

This webinar is set for Thursday May 6th at 12 noon, and should last about an hour.  Register and get more information at

Nebraska Extension crop management diagnostic clinic courses available online

Nebraska Extension is bringing growers and agribusiness professionals a new way to keep up to date with research-based information in crop management and production.  For the first time, the popular, long-running Crop Management Diagnostic Clinics are offered via an e-learning online option.

Bringing the clinics online provides a convenient, self-paced opportunity to earn Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) continuing education credits from the comfort of the home, office or possibly even the tractor cab. University of Nebraska Extension Educator Emeritus Keith Glewen noted “this is an excellent opportunity for growers and industry agronomist at their convenience, to pick and choose topics to view as a means to enhance their knowledge level on specific topics.”  

The sessions were recorded at the Crop Management Diagnostic Clinic site at the Eastern Nebraska Research, Extension and Education Center.  The clinic site includes crop growth and development at a range of vegetative/reproductive growth stages for corn and soybeans.

Presentations, plot tours, and activities of the traditional clinics were professionally filmed for the Midwest Soil Health Clinic and the Midwest Corn and Soybean Crop Management Diagnostic Clinics.  Learn from the unbiased expertise of university experts and plot demonstrations.   

The clinics are divided into 16 courses, making it convenient to choose subject matter and CCA credits categories. CCA credits are available for those who view the presentations and complete the accompanying review and feedback questions.  A certificate of completion is provided at the conclusion of this course.

Soils courses include:  Soil Physical Properties; Soil Biological Properties; Soil Health Properties; Cover Crops/Soil Health; and Nutrient Management.

Corn courses focus on crop management and pest management.  Topics include:  Agronomy Cultural Practices; Genetics/Production; Insect Damage; Plant Pathology; Soil Fertility; and IPM for Successful Weed Management.

Soybean courses focus on crop management, nutrient management, and pest management.  Topics include:  Cultural Practices; Genetics/Agronomics; Insect Management; Plant Pathology; Soil Fertility;  IPM for Successful Weed Management; and Irrigation.

Registration and course descriptions and details available online. Fees for the courses range from $15-$45. Questions, contact Aaron Nygren, Nebraska Extension educator at 402-624-8030.  

Nebraska Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Training – Wahoo

May 19 @ 9:00 am - 11:00 pm    

RSVP to Connor Biehler
Beef Systems Asst. Extension Educator
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Eastern Nebraska Research & Extension Center
Office: (402) 624-8007
Cell: (402) 413-8557

IA Beef Checkoff Hosts Nutrition Communications Workshop for Dietetic Graduate Students

The Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC) recently hosted a nutrition communications workshop for dietetic graduate students enrolled in the University of Iowa’s Master of Clinical Nutrition Program. The training provided an opportunity for professional development in nutrition and media communications and highlighted beef’s role in a healthy diet.

Connecting dietetic graduate students with credible beef industry information and resources is extremely important as many will soon be graduating and entering the workforce as registered dietitians. “Dietitians are a trusted source for nutrition and health information,” said Rochelle Gilman, RDN, Director of Nutrition and Health for IBIC. “The purpose of the beef checkoff’s outreach to health professionals is to provide credentialed health professionals, like dietitians, accurate information about beef’s nutrition and the role beef can have in a healthy diet.”

Topics covered in the training included how to develop clear, concise and compelling nutrition messages. Attendees also participated in a hands-on group activity to develop and deliver beef nutrition messages, using a variety of media platforms. The nutrition communication training was conducted by Melissa Joy Dobbins, MS, RDN, CDE, and host of Sound Bites Podcast.

In addition, Iowa County beef farmer, Pat Blomme, highlighted how cattle are cared for on their family farm so students could gain a deeper understanding of modern day beef production. Rochelle Gilman, RDN, LD, and Director of Nutrition and Health for IBIC, provided a beef nutrition overview showcasing new beef nutrition research in heart healthy diets and the new Dietary Guidelines for birth to 24 months.

“The beef nutrition overview provided students with excellent talking points for beef’s role in a healthy diet and equipped them with answers to client’s specific questions regarding beef,” reported Laurie Kroymann, MBA, RDN, LD, and Program Director for the Master of Clinical Nutrition Program at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. “The communication training was valuable and timely pending their graduation and entrance into new careers. The graduate students commented afterwards that they feel well-prepared and confident to share their nutrition message through many forms of media communication.”

A pre- and post- survey was given to participants with results showcasing a positive change in attitudes and knowledge about beef’s nutritional benefits, reporting they will be recommending beef as often as other proteins in their future careers.

The nutrition communication training workshop for the dietetic interns was funded by the Iowa State Beef Checkoff Program. For more information, visit

ISU Virtual Crop Scouting School Now Available

The 2021 Virtual Crop Scout School is now available and is free to the general public. The scout school consists of 22 webinars from crop protection specialists at 11 Midwest universities and is offered through the Crop Protection Network.

Crop scouts, farmers and other users can choose from a variety of diverse subjects to help them become more knowledgeable on crop scouting. Topics are split into digestible bits so crop scouts can interact with subject matter in a way that best suits their time and interest. Specialists with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will present.

Crop scouting is an important part of integrated pest management that can help farmers obtain higher yields and increased profit per acre. Scouting gives farmers and agronomists a "heads-up" about what is happening in the field, allowing preemptive action and appropriate management decisions to be applied. The field scout gathers information on the crop condition of a field, which can help in discerning which of the various management tools to use.

Scouting crop fields on a regular basis can help to determine emerging crop problems and inform management decisions.

“The Virtual Crop Scout School is coming on the heels of a new web book on crop scouting released by CPN earlier this year,” said Daren Mueller, associate professor in plant pathology and microbiology and extension specialist at Iowa State University. “Crop scouting can do a lot to bring greater yields to farmers’ fields.”

CPN has partnered with universities across the Midwest to provide the webinars. This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Crop Protection and Pest Management Program through the North Central IPM Center (2018-70006-28883).

CPN is a multi-state and international partnership of university and provincial extension specialists, and public and private professionals that provides unbiased, research-based information. CPN’s goal is to communicate relevant information to farmers and agricultural personnel to help with decisions related to protecting field crops.

Register for the crop school online For more information contact

Sukup Manufacturing Acquires Global Fabrication

Sukup Manufacturing Co. announced it is acquiring certain assets of Global Fabrication, Inc., a full service fabrication facility located in Hampton, Iowa. This expansion will allow Sukup to double its manufacturing capacity for cat walks, towers, and other structural products while maintaining a commitment to employment in North Central Iowa.

The existing facility is approximately 70,000-square feet. Sukup is currently accepting applications for immediate hires at this location, and plans to have the facility fully operational by April 2021.

Steve Sukup, president and CEO of Sukup Manufacturing, said, "This is the second facility expansion Sukup has announced in 2021, and we believe this investment in our manufacturing facilities is a positive sign of continued growth as a company. Ultimately, our goal is to create products that help farmers feed and fuel the world, and this additional space and personnel is necessary to meet demand. One of our top priorities in this acquisition is to retain many of Global Fab's current employees. We look forward to a smooth transition, and adding manufacturing capacity for our material handling products."

"Sukup is a trusted employer in North Central Iowa," said Todd Hall of Global Fabrication. "We appreciate Steve Sukup's leadership through this process, and are confident the employee transition will go smoothly. It's great to know that Global Fab will be part of Sukup's positive impact on the agriculture industry moving forward."

NCP, Inc., acting as exclusive financial advisor, and BrownWinick, acting as legal counsel, advised Sukup on the transaction.

Learn about Pheasant Nesting in Iowa's Ag-Dominated Landscape

Research being done on where pheasants nest and how to better manage those areas for optimal nesting is the topic of an Iowa Learning Farms webinar April 28 at noon.

During the webinar, Taylor Shirley, a graduate research assistant at Iowa State University, will discuss findings from a recent study conducted by Iowa State on pheasant nesting in southeastern Iowa. Shirley will explore where pheasants choose to nest, what characteristics make an area optimal for nesting, and how areas can be managed to better meet the needs of nesting pheasants.

“Agriculture is a big part of Iowa’s landscape and many farmers and landowners are implementing practices to improve water and soil health. Many people also enjoy seeing pheasants and hope to bring populations up to the numbers we once had,” said Shirley. “In this presentation, we’ll explore how agronomic practices like cover crops may help meet these goals.”

Shirley’s research focuses on the intersection of agriculture and wildlife conservation by exploring how cover crops may provide nesting cover for pheasants in Iowa.

To participate in the live webinar, shortly before noon on April 28:
    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 with 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.

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.

Dairy Farmers to Seek Emergency USDA Hearing on Class I Mover Reform

The National Milk Producers Federation’s Board of Directors voted today to request an emergency USDA hearing on a Federal Milk Marketing Order proposal to restore fairness for farmers in the Class I fluid milk price mover. The endorsement of the board, which represents dairy farmers and cooperatives nationwide, follows approval from the organization’s Executive Committee last week.

The NMPF plan would ensure that farmers recover lost revenue and establish more equitable distribution of risk among dairy farmers and processors. The current mover was adopted in the 2018 farm bill and intended to be revenue neutral while facilitating increased price risk management by fluid milk bottlers. But the new Class I mover contributed to disorderly marketing conditions last year during the height of the pandemic and cost dairy farmers over $725 million in lost income. NMPF’s proposal would help recoup the lost revenue and ensure that neither farmers nor processors are disproportionately harmed by future significant price disruptions.

“As the COVID-19 experience has shown, market stresses can shift the mover in ways that affect dairy farmers much more than processors. This was not the intent of the Class I mover formula negotiated within the industry,” said Randy Mooney, the dairy farmer chairman of NMPF’s Board of Directors. “The current mover was explicitly developed to be a revenue-neutral solution to the concerns of fluid milk processors about hedging their price risk, with equity among market participants a stated goal.

“Dairy farmers were pleased with the previous method of determining Class I prices and had no need to change it, but we tried to accommodate the concerns of fluid processors for better risk management. Unfortunately, the severe imbalances we’ve seen in the past year plainly show that a modified approach is necessary. We will urge USDA to adopt our plan to restore equity and create more orderly marketing conditions,” Mooney said.

While the current Class I mover was designed to improve the ability of fluid milk handlers to hedge milk prices using the futures market, it was also expected to be revenue-neutral compared to the formula it replaced. But that has not been the case. The significant gaps between Class III and IV prices that developed during the pandemic exposed dairy farmers to losses that were not experienced by processors, showing the need for a formula that better accounts for disorderly market conditions.

NMPF’s proposal would modify the current Class I mover, which adds $0.74/cwt to the monthly average of Classes III and IV, by adjusting this amount every two years based on conditions over the prior 24 months, with the current mover remaining the floor. NMPF’s request will be to limit the hearing specifically to proposed changes to the mover, after which USDA would have 30 days to issue an action plan that would determine whether USDA would act on an emergency basis.

NPPC Newsletter

In comments before a House Appropriations Subcommittee budget hearing on Wednesday, EPA Administrator Michael Regan pledged not to return to the Obama administration’s definition of the U.S. Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. “We don’t have any intention of going back to the original Obama Waters of the U.S. verbatim,” Regan said. In remarks to Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), Regan said the agency plans to have “a stakeholder engagement process” with agriculture and environmental groups to craft the WOTUS rule in a balanced way. “We’ve learned lessons from both [versions of the rule], we’ve seen complexities in both and we’ve determined that both rules did not necessarily listen to the will of the people,” Regan added.

Under the Obama administration in 2015, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a new WOTUS rule that gave EPA broad jurisdiction over U.S. waters to include upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams. The WOTUS rule was immediately challenged in court and subject to several preliminary injunctions. The Trump administration repealed the 2015 rule in 2019 and in June 2020, replaced it with the new Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR).  

ADM Opening New Protein Plant-based Lab in Singapore

ADM celebrated the opening of its new cutting-edge, plant-based innovation lab, located in ADM's Biopolis research hub in Singapore.  The lab will develop next-level, on-trend and nutritious products to meet growing food and beverage demand in the Asia-Pacific region.

"ADM is a pioneer in plant-based nutrition innovation, and this new facility will enhance our ability to meet rapidly growing consumer demand in the Asia-Pacific region and bring exciting new products and solutions to the market," said Leo Liu, ADM president, Asia-Pacific. "Protein continues to be a focus for consumers who are experimenting with plant-based options to meet their health and nutrition, sustainability, and convenience preferences, and with Asia being home to 60% of the world's population, Singapore is a critical hub of innovation and growth around plant-based alternatives.

The facility will help ADM deliver advanced customer solutions in the area while also creating jobs and offering development opportunities for young talent in the Asia-Pacific region.

Launching Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate

At President Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate on April 23, 2021, the United States and United Arab Emirates, with endorsement from the United Kingdom’s COP 26 Presidency, and with support from Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Israel, Singapore, and Uruguay, announced plans to launch the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate). The goal of AIM for Climate, which will be advanced at the UN Food Systems Summit in September 2021 and launched at COP26 in November 2021, is to increase and accelerate global innovation research and development (R&D) on agriculture and food systems in support of climate action.

Once officially launched, AIM for Climate will catalyze greater investment in agricultural R&D and innovation to help to raise global ambition and underpin more rapid and transformative climate action in all countries, including by enabling science-based and data-driven decision and policy-making. Investments in agricultural innovation and R&D can enhance existing approaches and deliver new ways to sustainably increase agricultural productivity, improve livelihoods, conserve nature and biodiversity, and adapt and build resilience to climate change, all while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sequestering carbon.

“The United States is proud to be pioneering the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate initiative along with the United Arab Emirates and several other supportive partners. I was impressed by the ingenuity being applied to food and climate challenges during my recent trip to the UAE, and know that we all stand to benefit by sharing best practices and raising innovation ambition when it comes to climate-smart agriculture. AIM for Climate can serve as a unique platform for cooperation among many countries on these shared challenges,” said U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.

“I am pleased to see the United States co-leading the creation of the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate initiative. The goal of the initiative is important, to accelerate global agricultural innovation through increased research and development, as it highlights agriculture, science-based solutions to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Together we can address our shared climate challenges and the U.S. Department of Agriculture looks forward to working with others to advance the AIM for Climate initiative,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

The world’s growing population is increasingly dependent on vulnerable food production as the climate crisis undermines longstanding agricultural practices – threatening to damage the sector and keep millions of people in poverty. Innovative climate-smart technologies and approaches are urgently required to improve food security and drive economic growth.

By COP26, AIM for Climate will:
    Demonstrate collective commitment to investment in agricultural innovation and R&D for climate-smart food systems by its participants over the next five years;
    Outline a framework to discuss and promote priorities across international and national levels of innovation, in order to amplify participants’ investments; and
    Identify chief scientists as key focal points for international cooperation on climate-related agricultural R&D, drawing on their unique insights and equities across governmental bodies.

AIM for Climate will focus on, and promote coordination between, three main investment channels:
    Scientific breakthroughs via basic agricultural research through national-level government agricultural R&D and academic research institutions;
    Public and private applied innovation and R&D for development through support to international research centers, institutions, and laboratory networks;
    Development and deployment of practical, actionable research and information to producers and other market participants, utilizing national agricultural research extension systems.

The innovation and R&D areas targeted through AIM for Climate will include: sustainable productivity improvements; land, water, carbon, and other input use efficiency; resilient crop and livestock production; enhanced digital tools; and inclusive, equitable and sustainable food systems.

AIM for Climate underscores the Biden-Harris Administration’s strengthened commitment to the agricultural sector and will help to deliver jobs and economic growth alongside climate change mitigation and adaptation benefits.

Thursday April 22 Ag News

 Farm Progress Announces a Much-Anticipated Return to Live Events

Farm Progress will return to live events with the two can’t-miss farm shows of the year; Farm Progress Show in Decatur, IL, August 31 – September 2, 2021 and Husker Harvest Days in Grand Island, NE, September 14-16, 2021.

A survey conducted by Readex Research revealed growing confidence and positivity among prior attendees, indicating 84% of past show attendees will attend in-person or plan to attend if scheduling allows.

The industry has not convened since early 2020, therefore groundbreaking product introductions and technological advances have yet to be seen in-person in over 18 months. The first opportunity for the ag market to experience these new products live will be at the Farm Progress Show and Husker Harvest Days events.

Eric Kahle of exhibiting company Unverferth noted, “The past year has placed unprecedented challenges on the agricultural and trade show industries. The Unverferth team is excited to be getting back to an in-person Farm Progress Show this year in Decatur, IL and also at Husker Harvest Days in Grand Island, NE. We are expecting both this year’s Farm Progress Show and Husker Harvest Days to be great events, and Unverferth is eager to be there!”

The entire Farm Progress team is working to ensure that the agriculture community can reconnect in meaningful and safe ways when returning in-person to these highly-anticipated annual events. The All Secure Guidelines, a transparent and vetted industry-wide collection of health and safety policies, will provide direction during the upcoming shows, ensuring the health and safety of all attendees and exhibitors.

Chase Brown, a Central Illinois Farmer captures the energy and anticipation around these upcoming events during a recent conversation with Farm Progress staff, “It’s exciting to get out to see and touch the newest equipment, but also to interact with not only exhibitors but fellow farmers."

Nebraska Beef Ambassador Contest

The Nebraska Beef Ambassador Contest provides an opportunity for youth to become spokespersons and future leaders in the beef industry. If public speaking or industry advocacy is your thing, you should compete.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021
1:00 pm CDT
Fremont City Auditorium
925 North Broad St, Fremont

The Competition – Both division of contestants will compete in two different areas.
Media Interview – Contestants will participate in a mock media interview. The interviewer will have pre-determined questions to ask each contestant with the option to ask follow-up questions to extrapolate additional knowledge or clarify a point. A panel of judges will observe the interaction for: knowledge, articulation, poise and the contestant’s ability to “tell the Beef Production Story” and present the industry in a positive light. Scoring will be done by the judges only. The contestants should be well-versed in all areas of beef production and the beef industry relating to consumers. Special attention should be paid to all current industry issues.

Issue Response – Each contestant will be provided with a current beef industry topic. Contestants will be given time to write article and submit via email by the deadline. The article will be judged for accuracy, message, and ability to send the correct message for the industry.
    Senior division to write 200-250 words.
    Collegiate division to write between 500-550 words.

Beef Advocacy Training – Contestants will participate in a beef advocacy training workshop on June 9.
    Resources to increase your beef industry knowledge
    Catch up on current events
    Develop your beef story
    Help you engage with consumers
    Develop a network to stay connected

More details here:  

For more information or to register for the contest, email or call 402-450-0223.
Registration deadline: Friday, June 4, 2021

CLAAS Receives 2021 Business Excellence Award

CLAAS was recently recognized by the Omaha Chamber of Commerce with the 2021 Business Excellence Award in Leadership. The award comes as part of an annual tradition recognizing area organizations in each of four categories: Leadership, Innovation, Philanthropy and Sustained Excellence. The Omaha Chamber of Commerce noted CLAAS’ commitment to training and education as one of the primary reasons for its recognition.

“CLAAS is serious about solutions to the workforce shortage. Not only are they volunteer advisors with schools and educators, but they also serve volunteer roles on three professional coalitions all focusing on workforce issues,” said the Greater Omaha Chamber.

CLAAS has partnered with Dream It Do It and P4K to offer programs to disadvantaged kids, teaching them real life work skills. The company also signed up for Legacy student interns – offering great jobs for bright students from disadvantaged areas in Omaha. But CLAAS’ commitment to local youth doesn’t end there – they also built a first-class training center for apprentices to learn and practice their skills. In both programs, CLAAS pays 100% of the tuition and books, as well as the apprentices while they’re in school, labs and on-the-job training.

“As a long-term business resident of Nebraska, we couldn’t be more thrilled to accept this award from the Greater Omaha Chamber,” says Deb Franklin, Vice President of Human Resources for CLAAS North America. “We share the Chamber's mission of cultivating leadership and collaboration in our community and creating new opportunities for our region's workforce. We are grateful to be able to make an impact in our community through our commitment to creating new jobs and developing talent.”

More than 70 companies were nominated for this year’s awards, with just 25 businesses identified as award recipients. Winners of the award are recognized as trailblazers who go above and beyond every day, as stated by Greater Omaha Chamber.

Fischer Applauds Agriculture Committee Markup of Legislation Helping Farmers Enter Carbon Credit Markets

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement after the committee advanced the Growing Climate Solutions Act (GCSA).  This legislation, of which Senator Fischer is an original cosponsor, would create a certification program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help farmers and ranchers voluntarily enter carbon credit markets.

“Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers are good stewards of our land and effective conservationists. This legislation will help them build on the work they are already doing by ensuring they can voluntarily enter into carbon credit markets. I am pleased to see that the Agriculture Committee has advanced this legislation which will further enable ag producers to be part of the climate solution.”

The GCSA, led by led by Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Ranking Member John Boozman (R-Ark.), and Senator Mike Braun (R-Ind.), creates a certification process at USDA to help solve technical entry barriers to farmer and rancher participation in carbon credit markets.

USDA would certify third party liaisons to help producers monetize sustainable practices. These liaisons would help producers voluntarily enter carbon credit markets and provide information on practices that capture carbon, reduce emissions, improve soil health, and make operations more sustainable.


All layers in Nebraska during March 2021 totaled 8.32 million, down from 8.49 million the previous year, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Nebraska egg production during March totaled 211 million eggs, down from 212 million in 2020. March egg production per 100 layers was 2,532 eggs, compared to 2,499 eggs in 2020.

Iowa egg production during March 2021 was 1.25 billion eggs, up 11% from last month but down 10% from a year ago, according to the latest Chickens and Eggs report from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The average number of all layers on hand during March 2021 was 48.4 million, down slightly from last month and down 13% from the same month last year. Eggs per 100 layers for March were 2,585, up 11% from last month and up 4% from last March.

March Egg Production Down Slightly

United States egg production totaled 9.54 billion during March 2021, down slightly from last year. Production included 8.25 billion table eggs, and 1.29 billion hatching eggs, of which 1.21 billion were broiler-type and 82.8 million were egg-type. The average number of layers during March 2021 totaled 393 million, down 1 percent from last year. March egg production per 100 layers was 2,427 eggs, up 1 percent from March 2020.
Total layers in the United States on April 1, 2021 totaled 392 million, down 1 percent from last year. The 392 million layers consisted of 326 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 63.6 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs, and 3.09 million layers producing egg-type hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on April 1, 2021, averaged 78.8 eggs per 100 layers, up 1 percent from April 1, 2020.

Egg-Type Chicks Hatched Up 11 Percent

Egg-type chicks hatched during March 2021 totaled 62.3 million, up 11 percent from March 2020. Eggs in incubators totaled 55.7 million on April 1, 2021, down 3 percent from a year ago.  Domestic placements of egg-type pullet chicks for future hatchery supply flocks by leading breeders totaled 327 thousand during March 2021, up 2 percent from March 2020.

Broiler-Type Chicks Hatched Down 2 Percent

Broiler-type chicks hatched during March 2021 totaled 842 million, down 2 percent from March 2020. Eggs in incubators totaled 717 million on April 1, 2021, up 4 percent from a year ago.  Leading breeders placed 8.23 million broiler-type pullet chicks for future domestic hatchery supply flocks during March 2021, down 4 percent from March 2020.

Record High Red Meat and Beef Production in March

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 5.05 billion pounds in March, up 1 percent from the 5.00 billion pounds produced in March 2020.

Beef production, at 2.48 billion pounds, was 3 percent above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 3.01 million head, up 3 percent from March 2020. The average live weight was up 4 pounds from the previous year, at 1,372 pounds.

Veal production totaled 4.9 million pounds, 15 percent below March a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 31,600 head, down 27 percent from March 2020. The average live weight was up 34 pounds from last year, at 266 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.55 billion pounds, down 1 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 11.7 million head, down 2 percent from March 2020. The average live weight was up 3 pounds from the previous year, at 291 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 13.9 million pounds, was up 13 percent from March 2020. Sheep slaughter totaled 213,700 head, 14 percent above last year. The average live weight was 130 pounds, down 1 pound from March a year ago.

By State (million lbs  -  % March '20)

Nebraska .......:     692.9             98       
Iowa ..............:     787.4             98       
Kansas ...........:     547.1            104       

January to March 2021 commercial red meat production was 14.2 billion pounds, down 1 percent from 2020. Accumulated beef production was down 1 percent from last year, veal was down 18 percent, pork was down 2 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was up 1 percent.

USDA Cold Storage March 2021 Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers on March 31, 2021 were down 6 percent from the previous month and down 17 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were down 6 percent from the previous month and down 4 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were down 7 percent from the previous month and down 27 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were down 6 percent from last month and down 55 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on March 31, 2021 were up slightly from the previous month but down 17 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were down 4 percent from the previous month and down 20 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 9 percent from last month but down 10 percent from March 31, 2020.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on March 31, 2021 were up 2 percent from the previous month and up 7 percent from March 31, 2020. Butter stocks were up slightly from last month and up 15 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks on March 31, 2021 were down 10 percent from last month and down 17 percent from a year ago.  Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 10 percent from last month but up 1 percent from a year ago.

Renewable Fuels Inclusion in U.S. Climate Plan is Good; Larger Role Warranted

President Biden’s plan for re-entering the Paris climate agreement includes low-carbon renewable fuels as a strategy for helping to achieve a 50-52% economy-wide reduction in net greenhouse gas pollution by 2030. The following is a statement from Renewable Fuels President and CEO Geoff Cooper:

“We are pleased to see the inclusion of renewable fuels in President Biden’s plan for reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and we agree that efforts to deploy larger volumes of ‘very low carbon’ renewable fuels should be a key component of our nation’s commitment to reduce emissions from the transportation sector under the Paris Agreement. However, renewable fuels can do far more than decarbonize aviation and other off-road markets. Just since 2008, nearly 1 billion metric tons of GHG emissions have been prevented from entering the atmosphere due to the increased use of renewable fuels to meet Renewable Fuel Standard obligations. In addition, recent research by scientists affiliated with Harvard, Tufts, and MIT shows that today’s average corn ethanol is reducing GHG emissions by almost 50% compared to gasoline. And with the adoption of carbon capture and sequestration, carbon-efficient feedstock production practices, and other new technologies, corn ethanol can be a ‘net-zero,’ carbon-neutral fuel by the end of the decade.

“As recognized by President Biden, achieving a 50% GHG reduction economy-wide by 2030 will take a portfolio approach that capitalizes on a broad and diverse array of low-carbon technologies, and that should include ethanol and other biofuels. We look forward to receiving more details and information regarding the role renewable fuels are expected to play in the Biden administration’s nationally determined contribution that will be submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.”

Growth Energy Statement on President Biden's New Climate Emissions Target

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor released the following statement in reaction to President Biden's new emissions reduction target under the Paris climate agreement:

"Growth Energy applauds President Biden for setting an ambitious new decarbonization target for the United States as part of its commitment to the Paris Agreement. We look forward to working with the Biden-Harris Administration to ensure low-carbon biofuels, like ethanol, are an integral part of efforts to address climate change, reduce transportation sector emissions, improve air quality, and create jobs in rural America.

"Plant-based biofuels, like ethanol, have long been a key part of the nation’s strategy to reduce carbon emissions. Since 2007, ethanol has been responsible for cumulative carbon dioxide savings of 600 million metric tons in the U.S., or the equivalent of removing 130 million cars from the road, roughly half of our nation’s fleet. In addition, the biofuels industry employs more than 360,000 hard-working Americans across the country and especially in rural America. As the U.S. takes steps to address the growing climate crisis, meet our international climate goals, improve public health outcomes, and grow the clean energy economy, biofuels are an essential part of the solution."

ACE Statement on Renewable Fuels’ Role in the U.S. Nationally Determined Contribution Under the Paris Agreement

Today, U.S. President Joe Biden announced a 50-52 percent emissions reduction target from 2005 levels by 2030 as the U.S.’s new Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement with reference to low carbon renewable fuels as part of the strategy to tackle climate change and meet the country’s commitment under the pact. American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings issued the following statement:

“Renewable fuels like ethanol are a significant part of the solution to climate change and should be part of U.S. commitments to contribute to global emissions reductions under the Paris Agreement. The mention of renewable fuels is welcome in President Biden’s plan to reduce GHGs. Today’s corn ethanol is next generation or advanced biofuel based on its ability to reduce GHGs by 50 percent compared to gasoline. In fact, ethanol is the only transportation energy source that can reach net-negative carbon intensity through carbon capture and sequestration and continued advancements within ethanol facilities and on-farm practices in how biofuel crops are grown. Other countries have initiated national ethanol policies as part of their countries’ global initiatives to decarbonize transportation fuels, and U.S. biofuel producers are ready to play a larger role in meeting these targets here and around the world.”

 Sulfoxaflor Update

ASA Newsletter

On April 22, ASA and several other grower groups filed an amicus curiae brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals opposing vacatur of the registration for the insecticide sulfoxaflor. In July 2019, EPA re-registered sulfoxaflor for use in soybeans for controlling aphids and suppressing stink bugs and, in addition, for controlling various pests in other crops. This re-registration follows a 2013 registration of the chemistry that was vacated by the Ninth Circuit Court in 2015 following a lawsuit by environmental groups contending that EPA did not sufficiently establish that sulfoxaflor would not harm pollinators.

Following the 2019 re-registration, the same groups that brough the lawsuit against the former sulfoxaflor registration filed a new lawsuit against the second registration, claiming that EPA failed to fulfill its Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and Endangered Species Act (ESA) obligations in the new registration. However, as part of its briefing in the case, EPA acknowledged an error in its ESA analysis and motioned for the Court to permit the Agency to remand the registration without vacatur to address the error – a request the Court has denied to date. The grower amicus highlights numerous economic and environmental harms that would arise if the Court were to vacate the new registration, including removing the only tool some crops have available to combat certain pests, as well as removing an important rotational chemistry other crops need to mitigate insect resistance pressures.

Sulfoxaflor is a Group 4C, narrow-spectrum insecticide that primarily targets sap-feeding insects. One of the significant benefits of sulfoxaflor is its effectiveness against a narrow spectrum of insect pests, leaving pollinators, biocontrol insects, and other non-target species unaffected. It has been especially valuable for cotton, sorghum, and citrus crops, all or which received emergency use authorizations over the past several years for controlling lygus bugs, aphids, and psyllids.

Joining American Soybean Association in the brief are American Farm Bureau Federation; American Sugarbeet Growers Association; Florida Citrus Mutual; Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association; National Alfalfa and Forage Alliance; National Corn Growers Association; National Cotton Council; National Potato Council; and the National Sorghum Producers.


ASA Urges Administration, Congress to Keep GPS Working

American Soybean Assoc.

On the anniversary of the Federal Communications Commission’s Ligado Order, ASA and other ag, transportation and technology industries are urging the Biden administration and members of Congress to step in to protect GPS reliability.

The order, which went into effect one year ago today, allows Ligado Networks to establish a wireless network that will threaten the reception capability of hundreds of millions of GPS devices and growers’ abilities to use GPS technology in their operations. Because growers heavily rely upon navigation systems and precision technology, the prospect of GPS units not working is critical to every single soybean farmer.

ASA supports a dependable and free public GPS signal and opposes the use of bandwidth by any company that would compromise the effectiveness of GPS technology for farmers. The letters sent today build on ASA’s previous advocacy, urging the administration and Congress to work with the FCC to ultimately set aside the Ligado Order and also to highlight some of the most high-profile actions taken in opposition to the order over the past year.

Last October, ASA and others encouraged the Senate Transportation Committee to work with the FCC to set aside its decision, emphasizing how its interference could harm industries that rely on the many different L-band satellite services and threaten the safety of most Americans.

Also that month, ASA Director Jim Kukowski (MN) and other ag industry leaders joined House Agriculture Committee members to discuss the order threatening to derail precision agriculture, which Kukowski noted is leading one of the greatest technological advances on the farm in decades.

ASA joins leading ag organizations, along with groups in the equipment manufacturer, airline and weather industries, in opposing the order and urging a reversal of the FCC’s Ligado decision.

Innovative Soy-Biobased Dust Suppressant Helps Clear Air and Deters Respiratory Issues

A new soy-based dust suppressant is now available for roads, construction sites, farms and more, offering a sustainable choice for rural, urban and business communities to improve air quality for people, pets, livestock and crops. A newly released video shows how this innovation can help reduce dust on rural gravel roads near farms nationwide.

BioBlend Renewable Resources’ EPIC EL dust suppressant is the latest industrial use product to enter the market after having received research funding from the United Soybean Board and North Dakota Soybean Council. With soy checkoff support, a North Dakota State University (NDSU) research engineer created the base chemistry that BioBlend is commercializing. BioBlend Renewable Resources will begin marketing EPIC EL nationwide in April 2021 after finalizing a license agreement with the NDSU Research Foundation. EPIC EL is made from soybean oil as well as glycerin, a coproduct of biodiesel production.

“The soybean checkoff is driving demand for U.S. soy through innovative and sustainable industrial use products,” said Dan Farney, United Soybean Board Chair and soybean farmer from Morton, Illinois. “A long-lasting soy-biobased dust suppressant is a natural choice for farmers, county engineers and government agencies, as well as businesses in rural and urban areas, to improve air quality, traffic safety and sustainability.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as the American Lung Association has recognized the importance of dust control due to its negative implications on the respiratory system.

“Short and long-term exposure to air pollutants, such as dust, is associated with a number of adverse health impacts. For instance, short-term exposure to air pollutants can negatively impact lung function and exacerbate preexisting conditions like asthma and heart disease,” said Bailey Arnold, senior manager of clean air initiatives with the American Lung Association. “Long-term exposure to air pollutants is also associated with chronic bronchitis, reduced lung function, increased morbidity and mortality rates for lung cancer and heart disease, and heightened susceptibility and mortality to infectious diseases, such as COVID-19.”

Because EPIC EL is an odorless water-soluble product, it also offers environmental benefits compared to the salt-based mixtures commonly used to control dust that trigger concerns about soil leaching and equipment corrosion. Use of soybean oil qualifies BioBlend’s EPIC EL for federal procurement under the USDA BioPreferred Program.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, 35% of the nation’s roads, more than 1.3 million miles, are unpaved. Dust created by vehicles traveling on these roads equates to about one ton of lost gravel per vehicle per year. Maintenance is a major budget item. In North Dakota, about 66% of local roadway budgets are spent on the state’s 60,000 miles of gravel roads. A single piece of equipment used to blade these roads costs more than $250,000.

Not only does less dust equate to better economic value in gravel preservation, but it also means safer roadways and potentially fewer car accidents because of better visibility.

“When we look at vehicles going down the road, and we see dust going up, that dust is about a ton of material per vehicle per year per mile that we lose,” said Dale Heglund, North Dakota State University’s Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute (UGPTI), and North Dakota Local Technical Assistance Program (NDLTAP) director. “It goes onto the crops. It goes into the homes. It goes off the roadway, and we have to replenish it. When you use products like EPIC EL dust suppressant that hold that surface together, we're not only improving the safety of the roadway, but we're improving the gravel preservation. We're keeping it in place. The investment that we made stays there longer.”

Visit, or to learn more.

NMPF Supports Labeling Integrity Through DAIRY PRIDE Act

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) commended Representatives Peter Welch (D-VT) and Mike Simpson (R-ID) and Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and James Risch (R-ID) today for reintroducing the DAIRY PRIDE Act, a bill that would bring clear, accurate labeling information for consumers and end harmful mislabeling of dairy foods by peddlers of plant-based products. The legislation requires the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to enforce its own existing standards of identity on imitation dairy products after decades of inaction.

The DAIRY PRIDE Act directs FDA to follow its own rules and establish an agency approach for enforcement of existing dairy standards of identity.

“NMPF thanks Representatives Welch and Simpson and Senators Baldwin and Risch for reintroducing the bipartisan DAIRY PRIDE Act in both the House and Senate, yet one more example of their ongoing leadership working to ensure FDA does its job,” said Jim Mulhern, NMPF president and CEO. “FDA is responsible for the integrity and safety of our nation’s food, medicine, and medical devices, and it’s crucial that it enforce its own standards and requirements. Without enforcement, we are left open to the potential for questionable products, deceptive practices, and, in cases such as mislabeled plant-based products that masquerade as having nutritional benefits similar to dairy’s, negative effects to our health.”

Standards of identity legally define what constitutes a specific food or food product, requiring the food product to carry certain qualities. When enforced, these legal standards protect consumers by helping to ensure the integrity of their food. Standards also create a common understanding of what a food product is, helping consumers make informed choices.

FDA’s lack of enforcement of dairy standards of identity has led to consumer misunderstanding of the nutrients – or lack thereof – in imitation dairy products. An IPSOS survey conducted in 2018, for example, found that 73% of consumers surveyed believe that almond-based beverages have as much or more protein per serving than milk. In reality, milk has up to eight times as much protein. A follow-up survey found that roughly 50 percent of consumers mistakenly believe that the main ingredient in a plant-based beverage is the plant itself. Such drinks are actually mostly flavored water.

Medical groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics are voicing concerns over the harm this confusion is having on public health as misinformed consumers unintentionally choose less nutritious products for themselves and their families.

Congress has also shown a growing concern for FDA’s failure to enforce. In early 2020, the House held a hearing on the agency’s lack of enforcement. Then late last year Congress included in the report accompanying the FDA funding bill for FY 2021 a statement of concern and directive to FDA regarding enforcing dairy standards of identity.

“The reintroduction of the DAIRY PRIDE Act helps NMPF and consumers continue to move forward toward solving this critical public health and fairness issue,” Mulhern said.

April 2021 Dairy Market Report Now Available

Domestic dairy-product use is increasing with signs that the country is making another run at moving on from the COVID-19 pandemic, with growing ranks of the vaccinated, gradual recovery of food service and staged resumption of in-person schooling raising milk-price forecasts for later this year. But these positive developments are in a race with new virus variants and premature relaxation of behavioral measures to protect against transmission. Internationally, U.S. dairy exports surged in February, while dairy imports have dropped to multi-year lows as a percentage of domestic milk solids production.

Still, milk prices remain well below a year ago, and payments under the Dairy Margin Coverage Program remain significant. Rising demand isn’t keeping pace with milk production, and stocks of major dairy products are rising, making higher prices more the product of hope for brighter days than of market fundamentals, making effective risk management crucial.


Conservation Advances Must Do No Harm

The American Farm Bureau Federation calls on the administration to act responsibly in conservation efforts. Specifically, President Biden’s goal to conserve at least 30% of our lands and waters by 2030, commonly referred to as “30x30,” is raising questions. Three key requests are outlined in a letter to President Biden: that the administration provide clarity on the initiative; that the effort recognizes voluntary conservation efforts already underway; and that the administration seeks input from farmers and ranchers.

“This ‘30x30’ goal has received a great deal of attention in farming and ranching communities across the country,” wrote AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “America’s agriculturalists are asking whether their good work will be recognized by the administration. They have voluntarily enrolled more than 140 million acres of private land into federal and non-federal conservation programs – a land mass larger than the size of New York and California combined. Any discussion about conservation must begin with the recognition that farmers and ranchers are leaders in this space and have been for decades.”

More than 800 million acres of land are also being conserved under state and federal ownership. Multiple-use federal lands, as well as actively managed and working lands, should be recognized for their conservation and open space benefits.

The letter continues, “The concerns of farmers and ranchers are escalating regarding the intent of the 30x30 goal, the definition of conservation, and the metrics for defining success, among other things. We urge you to move swiftly to provide clarity about your intentions for the initiative, and when you do so, it will be important for you to invite public comment because farmers and ranchers are leaders in conservation and deserve to have their voices heard.”

Agriculture Resilience Act a Thoughtful, Nuanced Approach to Climate Action

On Earth Day, Representative Chellie Pingree and Senator Martin Heinrich introduced the Agriculture Resilience Act (ARA), which sets a number of environmental targets for the agriculture sector to reach by 2040, including net zero greenhouse gas emissions. In order to reach those goals, the legislation would bolster climate research and outreach, increase investments in on-farm energy production, reduce food waste, and support farming practices that build soil health and sequester carbon.

Climate change continues to be a top concern for National Farmers Union (NFU) members, who last month urged legislators “to take immediate and concrete steps aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing the resilience of the land and its people, facilitating ecosystems services market development, and holistically addressing climate change.” Because the ARA would make progress on many of those points, the organization endorsed the bill when it was first released last year and maintains support upon its reintroduction, as NFU President Rob Larew stated today:

“The urgency of the climate crisis cannot be overstated. We have a very small window to rein in this threat and ensure a bright future for our planet and everything that calls it home.

“While the window is still open, we must take every possible opportunity to adapt to our changing climate and limit its impact. One key piece of the puzzle is the agriculture sector, which can not only work to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions, but it can also offset other sectors’ emissions by sequestering carbon in the soil – a fact that the Agriculture Resilience Act recognizes and seeks to put into action. This thoughtful and nuanced bill would strategically further climate initiatives across USDA programs in an effort to provide farmers with the tools, resources, and assistance they need to implement climate-smart practices. We thank Representative Pingree and Senator Heinrich for their leadership on this issue and look forward to continued collaboration on the development and implementation of solutions.”

NCGA Supports Reintroduction of Senate Climate Policy Legislation

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) applauds the bipartisan reintroduction of the Growing Climate Solutions Act, sponsored by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.). The bill passed out of the Senate Ag Committee this morning. The bipartisan legislation addresses the potential for agriculture to serve as a critical climate solution by making it easier for producers to participate in climate-smart practices, navigate carbon markets and earn extra income through carbon sequestration.

“NCGA thanks the Senators for their leadership and recognition of agriculture’s role as a solution to solving climate change,” said NCGA President John Linder. “Corn farmers continue to be leaders in this space and are always adopting practices that improve the quality of the soil, water, and air around our farms. We look forward to working together on this legislation and others that support voluntary, market and incentive-based policies.”

The Growing Climate Solutions Act would ensure agricultural producers and forest owners of all sizes looking to enter the carbon market for the first time have access to reliable information, qualified technical service providers and third-party verifiers. In addition, the bill establishes a robust USDA advisory council composed of farmers, scientists and other climate stakeholders.

Sens. Stabenow and Braun were joined by 34 co-sponsors of the bill. NCGA is one of 60 agricultural and environmental organizations in support of the bill.

Growth Energy Supports U.S. Senate's Growing Climate Solutions Act

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor released the following statement in support of the Growing Climate Solutions Act, which was passed out of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry today. The Growing Climate Solutions Act would break down barriers for farmers and foresters interested in participating in carbon markets.

“Today, on Earth Day, we applaud Senators Stabenow, Braun, Graham, and Whitehouse and the broad and bipartisan list of co-sponsors for their leadership on the Growing Climate Solutions Act. Our ag communities are already eager to play a large role in reducing emissions nationwide and soil carbon sequestration expands this participation in our nation’s climate change strategy. The Growing Climate Solutions Act rightly rewards farmers for climate-smart practices and provides important guidelines for success.”

BeSure! This Growing Season

Spring has sprung and the growing season is upon us! This Earth Day, the National Corn Growers Association is celebrating the third annual national campaign to promote pollinator health best management practices through BeSure!.

“Making sure farmers have access to the best and most up-to-date information is why NCGA has been a part of the BeSure! campaign from the beginning,” said NCGA Director of Biotechnology and Crop Inputs Nicole Hasheider. “With planting season underway across the country, it’s a great time for farmers to again consider how they can help protect important pollinators around their fields.”

The benefits of neonicotinoid seed treatments in protecting corn seeds from early-season pests are well documented. But farmers and applicators can protect both their crop and pollinators and other wildlife by following a few simple guidelines.

For Growers:
    Follow directions on the label for appropriate storage, use and disposal practices.
    When planting treated seed, use advanced seed flow lubricants that minimize dust.
    Additionally, when planting treated seed, eliminate flowering plants and weeds in and around the field prior to planting. For foliar applications, ensure that sprays are directed away from any flowering plants, follow established buffer zones, and calibrate equipment to minimize spray drift.
    Before making an application, be aware of any honeybees and hives near the field and communicate with neighboring beekeepers prior to treatment.
    Remove and properly dispose of all treated seed. Keep all treated seed out of commodity grain channels.

For Applicators:
    Comply with all regulations when using registered pesticide products and ensure proper employee training prior to application.
    Apply best management practices when using treated seed, soil drenches or foliar sprays to minimize dust or spray drift. Establish written protocols using best practices to ensure high-quality seed treatment, foliar or field application.
    Adopt stewardship documentation for the full life cycle of seed treatment products.
    Properly discard any unused product, rinse water or seed treatment by following the label disposal instructions to minimize any potential environmental impact.
    Ensure that all required and pertinent neonicotinoid treatment information, consistent with the product label, is conveyed to customers.

To learn more about best management practices to protect both crops and pollinators while handling neonicotinoid products, visit BeSure!, powered by the Growing Matters coalition and in conjunction with the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), the National Pesticide Safety Education Center (NPSEC), the National Corn Growers Association, the American Soybean Association, CropLife America and the Agricultural Retailers Association.

'Always Earth Day for U.S. Soy' as Farmers Lead Sustainability & Conservation Efforts

With climate in focus and public interest in environmental footprints taking a front seat, leaders worldwide are driving discussions on innovative ways to reduce emissions, save resources, and put the planet first—and many are asking, “How can agriculture be part of the solution?”

This Earth Day, we recognize how U.S. soy growers are leading when it comes to climate change solutions. Throughout the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) 100-year history, soybean farmers have taken steps to improve soil health, reduce runoff, improve water quality, and improve habitats for pollinators and other wildlife. Good stewardship, new technology, and innovative best practices allow U.S. soybean farmers to grow more food on less land using fewer resources.

“Every day is Earth Day in the agriculture industry,” said ASA President Kevin Scott, a soybean grower from South Dakota. “This planet is not only our home, but also a farmer’s office. U.S. soy growers are committed to doing more with less to contribute to the sustainability of our environment, society and economy. We continue to look toward innovative technology, partnerships, and policy to pave the way as leaders in sustainability. With the right support, like the reintroduced bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act, our growers can further cut their emissions and benefit from climate-smart practices that store more carbon in soil and trees. Farmers naturally have a strong sense of stewardship.”

The future of climate health depends on agriculture’s help, and U.S. soy farmers are taking the lead in innovative solutions by:

Fueling the Biodiesel Industry. Soybeans are a key ingredient in biodiesel, a clean-burning alternative fuel that’s reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality and reducing hydrocarbon emissions. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, biodiesel reduces lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 86% compared to petroleum diesel fuel and creates 5.4 units of energy for every energy unit required to produce the fuel. Also, since soy meal can be used for animal protein while the oil can be used for alternative fuel, less of the bean is wasted and no additional land is needed for biodiesel production.

Using Precisely Enough Resources. U.S. soy growers are using precision agriculture and other new technologies like GPS, mapping and crop or soil sensors to conserve water and protect our soil and crop nutrients. This approach leverages information technology to ensure crops and soil receive exactly what they need for optimal health and productivity.

Cutting Emissions with Soy-based Products. Hundreds of soy-based products—asphalt, turf, cosmetics, seat cushions, car tires, even flip flops and sneakers—reduce reliance on petroleum-based products, curbing dependence on foreign oil and reducing GHG emissions.

Relying on Sound Science. Innovative biotechnology solutions decrease inputs needed to control weeds, insects, and other pests.

By 2025, U.S. soybean farmers are on track to:
• Reduce land use impact by 10%
• Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10%
• Reduce soil erosion by 25%
• Increase energy use efficiency by 10%

While soybean farmers have long been dedicated to implementing conservation practices, they continue to hone their practices, experiment with emerging technology, and set new goals. And, ASA rewards their best practices through grants, scholarships and knowledge-sharing networks that foster collaboration and recognize valuable on-farm practices.

ASA’s annual Conservation Legacy Awards recognize farm management practices of U.S. soybean farmers who are both environmentally friendly and profitable. The CLAs shine a light on the most progressive farmers, those who have truly embraced innovative conservation practices on their farms—like this year’s winners who are using wind and solar energy to power their operation, transitioning to strip-till and incorporating cover crops, leading by example in soil and water health, and continuing a long family legacy in conservation measures to improve sustainability on the farm.

As part of an ongoing partnership with the Walton Family Foundation, ASA awards farmers grant money to cost-share implementation of new conservation improvements to their farms.

This past year, the grant supported northeast Arkansas farmers Brad Doyle and Joyce Berger Doyle in their efforts to find cover crop solutions for Arkansas hardpan soils. It also helped the Hammer Kavazanjian family farm install a unique edge-of-field phosphorus removal from tile water system to improve water quality and benefit Wisconsin lakes and streams. And, it allowed the Winsor family farm to add drip tape irrigation to boost water use efficiency while delivering nutrients in the root zone to improve plant growth, water quality and cut fertility costs.

As consumer demand for sustainability grows both domestically and abroad, the U.S. soy industry continues making strides. ASA, along with the United Soybean Export Council (USSEC), is a founding partner of the Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP), which verifies and documents sustainable production on a national scale throughout the U.S. and demonstrates soy’s commitment to sustainability, thus increasing appeal of global customers of U.S. soy—America's #1 ag export.

Conservation and sustainability remain top priorities as U.S. soybean farmers lead the way to preserving the Earth’s resources for the future of farming and generations to come. Find out more in the Sustainability and Conservation section of

Wednesday April 21 Ag News

 Switzer Ranch Receives Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award

Switzer Ranch of Loup County has been selected as the recipient of the 2021 Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award®.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the prestigious award recognizes farmers, ranchers and forestland owners who inspire others with their dedication to land, water and wildlife habitat resources in their care.

In Nebraska, the award is presented annually by Sand County Foundation, American Farmland Trust, Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN), Cargill and the Nebraska Environmental Trust.   

Bruce and Sue Ann Switzer along with their children, Sarah Sortum and Adam Switzer, own and operate Switzer Ranch. They were announced as the recipients by Governor Pete Ricketts in advance of Earth Day. The Switzers will be presented with the $10,000 award during a ceremony honoring them later this year.

“As Nebraska agriculture continues its excellent work in balancing the need for clean air, water, and managing wildlife habitat with the demand for economically sustainable food production, it is inspiring to know the Switzer family has been doing it for generations,” said Steve Martin, Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN) Executive Director. “They manage their ranch in a way which benefits the cattle, bird habitat, and agri-tourism all at the same time.”

“Cargill understands sustainable beef starts on the ranch. The Switzer family dovetails productive ranch practices to benefit the prairie bird population and their business, making them sustainable into the future” said Sammy Renteria, general manager of Cargill in Schuyler. “We salute their devotion to productive ranching while providing quality habitat for wildlife in Loup County and Taylor.”

“The Switzer Ranch has demonstrated how an active ranch can diversify and be successful at raising cattle, involve multi-generations, protect wildlife, improve grazing and habitat, and operate a thriving tourism business,” said Mark Brohman, Nebraska Environmental Trust Executive Director. “Sarah and her family have grown Calamus Outfitters into a premier nature-based operation that showcases central Nebraska to the world and is very deserving of the Leopold Conservation Award.”

“As the national sponsor for Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award, American Farmland Trust celebrates the hard work and dedication of the Nebraska recipient,” said John Piotti, AFT President and CEO. “At AFT we believe that conservation in agriculture requires a focus on the land, the practices and the people and this award recognizes the integral role of all three.”

“Recipients of this award are real life examples of conservation-minded agriculture,” said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer. “These hard-working families are essential to our environment, food system and rural economy.”

Last year, Nebraska landowners were encouraged to apply (or be nominated) for the award. Applications were reviewed by an independent panel of agricultural and conservation leaders.

The 2020 recipient was Ed and Leta Olson of Craig, Nebraska.   

The Leopold Conservation Award in Nebraska is made possible thanks to the generous contributions from American Farmland Trust, Cargill, Nebraska Environmental Trust, Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska, Sand County Foundation, Farm Credit Services of America, Audubon Nebraska, Lyle Sittler Memorial Fund, McDonald’s, Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Nebraska Game and Parks, Nebraska Land Trust, Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, Sandhills Task Force, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, World Wildlife Fund - Northern Great Plains, and Green Cover Seed.

In his influential 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage, which he called “an evolutionary possibility and an ecological necessity.”

Sand County Foundation presents the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 22 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. For more information on the award, visit

ABOUT THE Switzer Ranch

Sarah Sortum and Adam Switzer are siblings and fourth-generation ranchers committed to the stewardship of Switzer Ranch.

They express a land ethic passed down from their parents, Bruce and Sue Ann Switzer, by implementing agricultural conservation practices and connecting others with nature.

In addition to custom grazing beef cattle on 12,000 acres of native prairie, the Switzer family also operates a nature-based tourism business. Calamus Outfitters offers lodging, event space, river float trips, and eco-tours of the Sandhills.

“Our focus really started to shift from being solely a cow-calf operation to being an operation (with) biodiversity goals about 12 years ago,” Sarah said.

To accomplish these goals the Switzers used the ecological processes that helped shape the Great Plains: fire and grazing. A huge motivator for the family was the rapidly disappearing habitat of native prairie grouse.

“At the time, we didn’t realize the plight that grassland birds were in,” she recalls. “If this is their last stronghold, we have got to step up and make sure we provide what they need to survive.”

With assistance from Audubon Nebraska and the World Wildlife Fund, the Switzers learned about bird counting, bird behavior, and other details about the greater prairie-chicken and sharp-tailed grouse. They realized small changes to their ranch management plans could make a big difference for these resident birds that don’t migrate elsewhere.

The Switzers located (and documented with GPS technology) the birds’ breeding grounds on the ranch. This helped prioritize which areas to target for removal of invasive species that threaten bird habitat. With a lifespan of about five years for the prairie chicken, the Switzers wanted to be sure they quickly focused on the right pockets of the ranch.

“A lot can happen in five years, as far as damaging a whole generation of birds,” Sarah said.

The Switzers received cost-share from the Sandhills Task Force and Nebraska Game and Parks for invasive tree removal and prescribed burns. With support from local Natural Resources Conservation Service staff, they installed wildlife-friendly fencing, added wildlife escape ramps in their watering tanks, and implemented bird and wildlife-friendly haying practices. Land along the Calamus River was placed in a conservation easement with The Nature Conservancy.  

The Switzers have met the biodiversity goals they set out to achieve 12 years ago with the use of fire and rotational grazing. They showed that ranchers can create bird and wildlife habitat, while improving water quality, soil health and root systems in the environmentally-sensitive Sandhills.

Not only did their efforts lead to an uptick in bird watchers visiting the ranch, but when Audubon Nebraska designated the ranch as an Important Bird Area, it was among the first private properties in Nebraska with that designation.

Always looking to connect others to the importance of grassland bird habitat, the Switzers even played host to a fun and educational Prairie Chicken Festival.

Resiliency is defined on some ranches as the conservation of natural resources. For others it’s ensuring future economic viability. At Switzer Ranch these attributes go hand in hand.

Ricketts & Fellow Governors Stand Up to President Biden’s Radical 30 x 30 Plan

This week, Governor Pete Ricketts and 14 other Governors submitted a joint letter to President Biden regarding his executive order on the climate issued January 27, 2021.  The President’s executive order set a goal of restricting “at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030” (30 x 30).  Currently, about 97% of land in Nebraska is privately owned.

In their letter, the Governors reminded the Biden-Harris Administration that it lacks the authority to pursue the President’s 30 x 30 goal.  “[We] are not aware of any constitutional or statutory authority for the President, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or any other federal agency to set aside and permanently conserve 30 percent of all land and water in the United States,” they wrote.  “Nowhere in the laws of our nation is the authority delegated by Congress to the President or executive agencies to unilaterally change the policies governing land use in America.”

The Governors warned that pursuing the President’s 30 x 30 plan would violate property rights and hurt the economy.  “Obtaining the 30 percent goal from state or private lands would require your Administration to condemn or otherwise severely limit the current productive uses of such lands, infringing on the private property rights of our citizens and significantly harming our economies.”

The Governors also called on President Biden to be transparent about how he intends to achieve his goal.  “Two months have passed since the announcement of the new program and neither the states nor the American people have been provided with any information regarding the meaning, objectives, or implementation of the 30 x 30 program including the fundamental question of what lands will be vulnerable for increased restrictions or condemnation.”  In their letter, the Governors submitted specific questions for the President to answer to provide greater clarity about the 30 x 30 program.

Collectively, the Governors asserted the duty and prerogative of states to manage their own lands and waters for the well-being of their citizens—free from federal interference.  “It is...our responsibility to ensure that certain federal lands, and all state lands, are being productively used by our citizens to provide the food, fiber, energy and minerals our nation needs for a robust economy and our national defense.  It is precisely because we depend on our lands to be available for future generations to enjoy and use [that], without greater input into this initiative, we must resist implementation of the 30 x 30 program.”

Managing an Ever-complex Farming Operation: 7 Types of Waste

Austin Duerfeldt, Extension Educator and Agricultural Systems Economist

One common comment I get when talking to different producers is their desire to know how other operations succeed. Some operations can handle a vast quantity of acres, but no matter the size, we all face the same constraint of hours in a day. My comment to those wishing to increase profitability is that there are ways to do just that without adding more cattle or acres. Working to reduce waste within an operation is essential for efficiency. Once you are efficient at your current level, you will be more profitable and can handle future growth.

In Lean Six Sigma, a process improvement strategy, there are seven identified types of waste. Waste is recognized as anything that does not add value to the operation. In commercial industries, this is viewed as things that customers are not willing to pay for. For agricultural purposes, I view this as a task that does not increase our opportunity to make more profit. Here are the seven types of wastes to watch for in your operation.
    Transportation – Transportation is any unnecessary movement of commodities or livestock. To give an example of this, consider a corn production operation. Harvesting corn could require numerous transportation points: the combine, the grain cart, tractor-trailer, auger into the storage bin, auger out of storage bin and then a final tractor-trailer to the elevator for sale. The waste is looking at this process and trying to find ways to reduce it. Grain will be damaged during each transportation instance, so reducing this will help avoid docs at the elevator and reduce the time/man-hours spent on each bushel of grain.
    Inventory – Inventory for agriculture is a bit tricky. In general, having liquid capital wrapped up in raw materials waiting for use is a waste. Numerous items could be earning you a return. The problematic part is that agriculture tends to have some nuances that must be accounted for. Prepaid expenses are helpful for both discount purposes and tax purposes. The key is to take advantage of favorable prices while maintaining a level for use that is reasonable. You also need to account for the shelf life of the products being purchased.
    Motion – Motion is similar to transportation, but we are looking at machinery and operators' movement. Moving machinery from farm to farm is expensive, not just in the respects of monetary costs, but also in time. Wear and tear on equipment as well as operator fatigue are issues with moving equipment constantly. Looking for opportunities to perform like-kind exchanges for ground closer to your main operation is one solution. Another factor to consider is being more efficient in travel. How much equipment is genuinely needed at a given location to accomplish the job? Also, are you leaving a job half-finished? Recording each time you move equipment to a farm and back on a year-long summary sheet will help you visualize the situation and what might be done to make the process more efficient.
    Waiting – Waiting is created when one process in a series of processes is slow. Sticking with the grain examples, think of filling a tractor-trailer from a grain bin site. One of the bins has a 6-inch unloading auger while the other bin has a 10-inch one. If the elevator does not change, how many loads per day can you get out of the 6-inch versus the 10-inch? You could also look at this from the perspective of harvest. When harvesting soybeans, how many truck drivers do you need per combine? Are there ways to reduce a truck driver's wait time?
    Over-production – This is a challenging concept. In the commercial industry, it is looking at customer demand for guidance. For agriculture, we look at the futures price. The issue is the future price is ever-changing, and the goals and targets set at planting might be overvalued or undervalued come harvest. Regardless, the bottom line is the goal is to maximize profitability.
    Over-processing – For agriculture, this can be looked at in many forms. On a more commercial scale, the size of a chicken matters to consumers. Larger chickens tend not to be desirable. In this situation, adding additional pounds onto the bird would be a waste. This can be the same with some field processes. For some areas, no-till and tilled ground produce the same and have similar weed control situations. Elevators do not differentiate corn grown in no-till vs. tilled ground, so does the additional cost of tilling make sense?
    Defects – Defects are issues with quality that are found to be unacceptable in the marketplace. Similar to inventory, this can be tricky to describe. Looking at corn, the easy thing to point to would be the areas a commercial elevator will doc your commodity. Moisture, in this case, would be an example of a defect. Looking at the storage and harvesting practices and reworking where necessary will minimize exposure here.

These seven areas of waste can be looked at and result in additional profit or time if corrected. While not every farm can purchase ground or rent additional acres, we all can be more efficient in what we do have. One suggestion on approaching this is to have a non-farm member observe some of the processes and ask questions about why things are done in specific ways. You will find that they will become puzzled with some of your responses as they ask questions during particular processes. Those instances are areas to consider looking into to see if there are other solutions.


– Todd Whitney, NE Extension Educator
Have you selected herbicides for your corn, soybeans, and other crops? For livestock producers, this is a reminder to double check herbicide labels before finalizing your plans to grow / hay or graze annual forages and cover crops following corn or soybeans.
Forage annual cover crops such as millets and sorghums may be nice complements to your corn and soybean cropping rotations; however, their intended use as a forage can bring frustrations due to herbicide limitations.
Many forages, especially legumes, are impacted by herbicide carryover such as atrazine. Often, perennial grasses and alfalfa also are sensitive to herbicide carryover.
Most herbicides list crop rotation intervals or waiting time from the chemical was applied until when the next crops can be safely planted. Note that haying and grazing interval times are different than crop rotation intervals; and usually require longer waiting periods.
So, if the next forage or cover crop being grown following the corn and soybeans may be used for hay or forage, read the cover crops and grazing restrictions herbicide label sections before making your final herbicides selection.
Our Nebraska Extension “Guide for Weeds, Diseases and Insect” publication, EC130, provides comparison table references for many specific forages and cover crops regarding waiting times. These required label monthly intervals from herbicide application to forage usage can range from zero to over 10. So, it is important to read and follow all label provisions.
If the forage cover crop species that you intend to plant is not listed on the label; you must follow the rotation restrictions listed for “other crops.”

Center for Rural Affairs applauds reintroduction of Growing Climate Solutions Act

The Center for Rural Affairs applauds the reintroduction of the Growing Climate Solutions Act. The legislation was reintroduced by its original sponsors for the 117th Congress.

“Carbon payment programs offer a financial opportunity for farmers implementing important conservation on their farms,” said Kayla Bergman, senior policy associate for the Center of Rural Affairs. “While there has been growing excitement for these programs, standardization and verification is necessary.”

Bergman commends the bipartisan leadership on this bill, including Sens. Deb Fischer (R-NE), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) for joining their colleagues, Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Mike Braun (R-IN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Sheldon Whitehouse, (D-RI) in cosponsorship of this legislation.

“The large group of bipartisan legislators sponsoring this bill, including senators from our heartland states, demonstrates the support for America’s farmers scaling up their conservation efforts to address climate change,” Bergman said.

The Growing Climate Solutions Act will establish a certification program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture for private parties who work with producers to receive payments for carbon sequestration.

In addition to bringing legitimacy to carbon trading, Bergman said the legislation would make the enrollment process less cumbersome. The program has already generated interest among farmers and companies, she said.

“This legislation solidifies the important role agriculture plays in addressing climate change by providing a good path forward for carbon markets,” Bergman said.

Communicating With Farmers Under Stress

Free webinar Wednesday, May 5, 10:00 - 11:30 am CDT
Register Here:

Nebraska Extension, in partnership with Michigan State University Extension, offers a free online webinar, “Communicating With Farmers Under Stress.". This workshop is beneficial 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. In addition to being helpful for working with farmers and ranchers, the workshop educates participants about managing stress in their own lives and teaches how stressors can affect physical health and relationships with family or coworkers. For more information, contact Nebraska Extension Educators Brandy VanDeWalle, or Susan Harris,

Growth Energy Thanks Senators Klobuchar and Fischer for Fighting for the Renewable Fuel Standard

Today, Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) led 10 Senators in sending a bipartisan letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asking Administrator Michael Regan to restore integrity to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and reject pandemic-driven requests to waive or reduce renewable volume obligations (RVOs). Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor released the following statement thanking the senators:

“We’re grateful for Senators Klobuchar’s and Fischer’s leadership in underscoring to EPA that restoring integrity to the RFS will assist in the economic recovery of rural America and help the Administration reach its climate goals. EPA should not give in to oil refiners’ claims that renewable volume obligations should be reduced because of COVID-driven demand reductions when EPA itself just recently told the Supreme Court that ‘...creating incentives for market participants to replace petroleum fuels with renewable fuels is a core purpose of the RFS.’

“We are continuing to work with Administrator Regan, the Biden Administration, and our biofuels champions in Congress to ensure the RFS is followed as Congress intended.”

Join NFU for an Earth Day Conversation

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges we've ever faced, both as an industry and as a species. If left unchecked, it could threaten farmers' livelihoods, rural economies, and global food security.

It sounds dire – and it is. But there are reasons to be optimistic about the future.

Every link in the food supply chain, from farm to fork, can play a role in climate mitigation and adaptation by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, producing renewable energy, and sequestering carbon.

During a free webinar on Earth Day, ranchers, restauranteurs, and processors will discuss how they're working together to protect ourselves and our planet from climate change.

This event will be held tomorrow, April 22, at 3:30 pm ET.

Meet Our Speakers
Rob Larew, President, National Farmers Union
Rob was elected National Farmers Union’s 15th president during the organization’s 118th anniversary convention in 2020. Rob, who was raised on a West Virginia dairy farm, previously served as NFU’s Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Communications. Prior to his employment with NFU, he served over 22 years in Congress and USDA, most recently as the staff director of the House Agriculture Committee.

Hannah Bernhardt, Rancher, Medicine Creek Farm, Minnesota
After growing up on a corn and soybean farm in Southern Minnesota and training with a number of farms and sustainable agriculture organizations, Hannah and her family started Medicine Creek Farm in Finlayson, Minnesota, where they raise pigs, cattle, and lambs. They use management-intensive rotational grazing practices to fulfill their mission to "raise healthy animals on healthy soils to feed healthy communities."

Ryan Goodman, Rancher, Croissant Red Angus, Colorado
Ryan has been involved in the cattle industry his entire life, growing up on a progressive cow/calf and stocker cattle operation in Arkansas. Since then, he expanded his focus to operations across the country, gaining knowledge about other sectors of cattle production from the cow/calf to the feeder phase. Ryan now ranches in Colorado and works with farmers to help them share their stories about agriculture and how food is raised.

Andy Shaw, CEO, Cypress Valley Meat Company & Natural State Processing
Andy started Cypress Valley Meat in Vilonia, Arkansas in 2010. Then, in 2016, he collaborated with Grass Roots Farmer Cooperative to form Natural State Processing, which is one of only 14 independent, inspected Poultry Processing Facilities in the U.S.. Andy has been aggressive in growing Cypress Valley Meat Company and has landed accounts with major retailers and farmers.

Anthony Myint, Director of Partnerships, Zero Foodprint
Anthony Myint works to mobilize the restaurant industry to support healthy soil as a solution to the climate crisis. He is also a chef and has co-founded many restaurants and restaurant-adjacent projects, including Mission Street Food, Mission Chinese Food, Mission Cantina, Mission Burger, Lt. Waffle, Commonwealth, and The Perennial. Anthony was nominated for a James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurateur in 2019 and won the Basque Culinary World Prize for 2019-20.

Agriculturists are Leaders in Making The Earth A Better Place

Farmers and Ranchers are true conservationists that protect our land, water and air. Agriculture inspires people from the awe of new life, the picturesque sunsets, the clamor of a family meal in the field during harvest, to seeing something through from start to finish. In communities, rural and urban, large or small, agriculture has a way of giving back. Private individuals and agriculture organization, including American Agri-Women (AAW), donate food, scholarships, grants, and resources to make an impact. Why? Because agriculture highly regards the Earth and all the resources it provides.

Renewable fuels like ethanol (corn-based) and biodiesel (soy-based) are grown on farms here in the U.S., therefore decreasing our Nation’s need for foreign oil dependence and reducing pollution in our bigger cities.

American Agri-Women have many members that are also board members for their state commodity organizations.

Technology in agriculture has advanced leaps and bounds over a short period of time. It has allowed for decreased seed costs, less chemical and fertilizer usage, lower fuel consumption, improvements in animal genetics, and overall animal welfare.

Farmers and ranchers are continually improving soil, water, and air resources with sustainable practices and have long been leading the way in caring for our environment. Voluntarily using conservation plans to address resource concerns on their land demonstrates their commitment to protecting the environment for future generations, not just on Earth Day, but every day.

It’s an important fact to point out that farms and ranches are multi-generational and equally proud. With that, comes the responsibility to ensure the land is left better than it was received for children and grandchildren. Running a farm or ranch is more than a way of life, it is also a family’s business and income. Success and profitability of any business comes with good management and taking care of your tools, resources, and employees; this is no different when it comes to farms and ranches.

Agriculture provides jobs for roughly 1 in 12 people in the U.S. That’s a considerable amount of people making a direct impact on changing the world. Together, we are doing it better and more efficiently than ever before. It doesn’t matter the role we have in agriculture; what matters is that we continue to do the best we can to improve our communities, which makes our Earth a better place. #STANDUPSPEAKOUT4AG

Weekly Ethanol Production for 4/16/2021

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending April 16, ethanol production remained level with the prior week at 941,000 b/d, equivalent to 39.52 million gallons daily. Production was 67.1% above the same week last year when the effects of the pandemic were reflected but was 10.2% below the same week in 2019. The four-week average ethanol production rate increased 0.5% to 956,000 b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 14.66 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks thinned by 0.3% to a 22-week low of 20.4 million barrels, which was 26.2% below a year-ago and 10.1% below this time in 2019. Inventories drew down across all regions except the Gulf Coast (PADD 3) and Rocky Mountains (PADD 4).

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, increased 1.8% to 9.10 million b/d (139.56 bg annualized). Gasoline demand was 71.4% above a year ago but was 3.2% below the same week in 2019.

Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol were consistent with the prior week at 890,000 b/d, equivalent to 13.64 bg annualized. This was 70.2% above a year ago but was 4.1% below 2019.

There were zero imports of ethanol recorded for the eighteenth consecutive week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of February 2021.)

Anhydrous Price Hits $700 Per Ton for First Time Since 2015

The upward momentum in fertilizer prices appeared to level off this week. The average retail price of all eight major fertilizers increased; however, none were up a significant amount, which DTN considers a price move of 5% or more.  This is the first week since the beginning of February that no fertilizer's price was up by double-digit percentage points.

For the second week of April 2021, the average retail prices of anhydrous, UAN28 and UAN32 increased by 4%. Anhydrous had an average price of $700/ton, UAN28 $345/ton and UAN32 $387/ton.  One interesting note was the anhydrous price at $700/ton. The last time it was this high was the fifth week of June 2015. The price that week was $705/ton.

Urea prices increased 3% to $509/ton, while 10-34-0 increased 2% to an average price of $609/ton.  DAP had an average price of $624/ton, MAP $702/ton and potash $432/ton. All represented a 1% increase.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.55/lb.N, anhydrous $0.43/lb.N, UAN28 $0.62/lb.N and UAN32 $0.60/lb.N.

With retail fertilizer prices moving higher over recent months, all fertilizers are now higher in price from a year ago.

Potash is now 17% more expensive, 10-34-0 is 30% higher, urea is 33% more expensive, UAN32 39% higher, anhydrous is 42% more expensive, UAN28 is 46% higher, DAP is 52% more expensive and MAP 62% is higher compared to last year.

USDA Expands and Renews Conservation Reserve Program in Effort to Boost Enrollment and Address Climate Change

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that USDA will open enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) with higher payment rates, new incentives, and a more targeted focus on the program’s role in climate change mitigation. Additionally, USDA is announcing investments in partnerships to increase climate-smart agriculture, including $330 million in 85 Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) projects and $25 million for On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials. Secretary Vilsack made the announcement today at the White House National Climate Task Force meeting to demonstrate USDA’s commitment to putting American agriculture and forestry at the center of climate-smart solutions to address climate change.

The Biden-Harris Administration is working to leverage USDA conservation programs for climate mitigation, including continuing to invest in innovation partnership programs like RCPP and On-Farm Trials as well as strengthening programs like CRP to enhance their impacts.

“Sometimes the best solutions are right in front of you. With CRP, the United States has one of the world’s most successful voluntary conservation programs. We need to invest in CRP and let it do what it does best—preserve topsoil, sequester carbon, and reduce the impacts of climate change,” said Vilsack. “We also recognize that we can’t do it alone. At the White House Climate Leaders Summit this week, we will engage leaders from all around the world to partner with us on addressing climate change. Here at home, we’re working in partnership with producers and local organizations through USDA programs to bring new voices and communities to the table to help combat climate change.”

Conservation Reserve Program

USDA’s goal is to enroll up to 4 million new acres in CRP by raising rental payment rates and expanding the number of incentivized environmental practices allowed under the program. CRP is one of the world’s largest voluntary conservation programs with a long track record of preserving topsoil, sequestering carbon, and reducing nitrogen runoff, as well providing healthy habitat for wildlife.

CRP is a powerful tool when it comes to climate mitigation, and acres currently enrolled in the program mitigate more than 12 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). If USDA reaches its goal of enrolling an additional 4 million acres into the program, it will mitigate an additional 3 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent and prevent 90 million pounds of nitrogen and 33 million tons of sediment from running into our waterways each year.

“We want to make sure CRP continues to be a valuable and effective conservation resource for our producers for decades to come,” said Vilsack. “USDA will continue to find new and creative ways of putting producers and landowners at the center of climate-smart practices that generate revenue and benefit our planet.”

CRP’s long-term goal is to establish valuable land cover to help improve water quality, improve soil health and carbon sequestration, prevent soil erosion, and reduce loss of wildlife habitat. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers a number of signups, including the general signup and continuous signup, which are both open now, as well as a CRP Grasslands and pilot programs focused on soil health and clean water.

New Climate-Smart Practice Incentive

To target the program on climate change mitigation, FSA is introducing a new Climate-Smart Practice Incentive for CRP general and continuous signups that aims to increase carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Climate-Smart CRP practices include establishment of trees and permanent grasses, development of wildlife habitat, and wetland restoration. The Climate-Smart Practice Incentive is annual, and the amount is based on the benefits of each practice type.

Higher Rental Rates and New Incentives

In 2021, CRP is capped at 25 million acres, and currently 20.8 million acres are enrolled. Furthermore, the cap will gradually increase to 27 million acres by 2023. To help increase producer interest and enrollment, FSA is:
    Adjusting soil rental rates. This enables additional flexibility for rate adjustments, including a possible increase in rates where appropriate.
    Increasing payments for Practice Incentives from 20% to 50%. This incentive for continuous CRP practices is based on the cost of establishment and is in addition to cost share payments.
    Increasing payments for water quality practices. Rates are increasing from 10% to 20% for certain water quality benefiting practices available through the CRP continuous signup, such as grassed waterways, riparian buffers, and filter strips.
    Establishing a CRP Grassland minimum rental rate. This benefits more than 1,300 counties with rates currently below the minimum.

Enhanced Natural Resource Benefits

To boost impacts for natural resources, FSA is:
    Moving State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) practices to the CRP continuous signup. Unlike the general signup, producers can sign up year-round for the continuous signup and be eligible for additional incentives.
    Establishing National Grassland Priority Zones. This aims to increase enrollment of grasslands in migratory corridors and environmentally sensitive areas.
    Making Highly Erodible Land Initiative (HELI) practices available in both the general and continuous signups.

Expanding Prairie Pothole Soil Health and Watershed Programs

CRP has two pilot programs ― the Soil Health and Income Protection Program (SHIPP) and the Clean Lakes, Estuaries and Rivers 30-year contracts (CLEAR30).
    For SHIPP, which is a short-term option (3, 4, or 5-year contracts) for farmers to plant cover on less productive agricultural lands, FSA will hold a 2021 signup in the Prairie Pothole states.
    The CLEAR30 pilot, a long-term option through CRP, will be expanded from the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay pilot regions to nationwide.

Increasing Technical Assistance Capacity to Establish Robust Mechanisms for Measurement, Monitoring, Reporting and Verification of Soil Carbon

USDA technical assistance through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is critical to enable producers to plan and implement appropriate conservation practices for their needs. Under this initiative, NRCS will also initiate a soil sampling protocol to help establish a baseline for soil carbon on land enrolled in CRP. To ensure increased enrollment and support for producers, USDA is increasing NRCS technical assistance capacity for CRP by $140 million.

Additionally, in order to better target the program toward climate outcomes, USDA will invest $10 million in the CRP Monitoring, Assessment and Evaluation (MAE) program to measure and monitor the soil carbon and climate resilience impacts of conservation practices over the life of new CRP contracts. This will enable the agency to further refine the program and practices to provide producers tools for increased climate resilience.

Partnership Programs Contribute to Priorities

In addition to changes to CRP, Secretary Vilsack also announced significant investments for climate-smart policies. First, NRCS is investing $330 million in 85 locally driven, public-private partnerships under the Regional Conservation Partnership Program to address climate change and other natural resources challenges. NRCS will announce more details on the RCPP project selections on April 26.

Second, NRCS is investing $25 million in proposals for On-Farm Trials, which are part of the Conservation Innovation Grants program. NRCS is seeking proposals through June 21. Project priorities include climate-smart agricultural solutions and soil health practices.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is engaged in a whole-of-government effort to combat the climate crisis and conserve and protect our nation’s lands, biodiversity, and natural resources including our soil, air and water. Through conservation practices and partnerships, USDA aims to enhance economic growth and create new streams of income for farmers, ranchers, producers and private foresters. Successfully meeting these challenges will require USDA and our agencies to pursue a coordinated approach alongside USDA stakeholders, including state, local, and tribal governments.

NGFA prioritizes targeting environmentally sensitive land within the Conservation Reserve Program

NGFA President and CEO Mike Seyfert made the following statement regarding USDA’s announcement to expand Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acreage with an emphasis on climate-smart solutions.

"NGFA looks forward to working with Congress and the Biden administration on promoting working lands conservation programs as climate-smart solutions that keep U.S. agriculture competitive. The NGFA believes CRP should be targeted at the most environmentally sensitive portions of farms, and avoid enrollment of whole farms or large tracts of productive farmland. Programs that drastically increase acreage idling in the United States send market signals to competitors to plant more acres, resulting in negative climate and environmental impacts. We look forward to hearing additional details from USDA and working with the department to ensure this acreage is targeted for the most substantial environmental benefits while preserving U.S. agricultural productivity and competitiveness."


Milk production in Nebraska during the January-March 2021 quarter totaled 360 million pounds, down 2% from the January-March quarter last year, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. The average number of milk cows was 59,000 head, unchanged from the same period last year.

January-March Milk Production up 1.0 Percent

Milk production in the United States during the January - March quarter totaled 56.7 billion pounds, up 1.0 percent from the January - March quarter last year. The average number of milk cows in the United States during the quarter was 9.46 million head, 29,000 head more than the October - December quarter, and 80,000 head more than the same period last year.

IOWA:  Milk production in Iowa during March 2021 totaled 474 million pounds, up 3% from the previous March according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report. The average number of milk cows during March, at 224,000 head, was the same as last month but 5,000 more than March 2020. Monthly production per cow averaged 2,115 pounds, up 5 pounds from last March.

March Milk Production up 2.0 Percent

Milk production in the 24 major States during March totaled 18.8 billion pounds, up 2.0 percent from March 2020. February revised production, at 16.9 billion pounds, was down 1.1 percent from February 2020. However, production was 2.5 percent above last year after adjusting for the leap year. The February revision represented an increase of 36 million pounds or 0.2 percent from last month's preliminary production estimate.  Production per cow in the 24 major States averaged 2,104 pounds for March, 19 pounds above March 2020. The number of milk cows on farms in the 24 major States was 8.95 million head, 93,000 head more than March 2020, and 7,000 head more than February 2021.

Record High Red Meat Production for 2020

Total red meat production for the United States totaled 55.8 billion pounds in 2020, 1 percent higher than the previous year. Red meat includes beef, veal, pork, and lamb and mutton. Red meat production in commercial plants totaled 55.7 billion pounds. On-farm slaughter totaled 94.3 million pounds.

Beef production totaled 27.2 billion pounds, up slightly from the previous year. Veal production totaled 69.3 million pounds, down 13 percent from last year. Pork production, at 28.3 billion pounds, was 2 percent above the previous year. Lamb and mutton production totaled 143 million pounds, down 7 percent from 2019.

Commercial cattle slaughter during 2020 totaled 32.8 million head, down 2 percent from 2019, with federal inspection comprising 98.1 percent of the total. The average live weight was 1,373 pounds, up 29 pounds from a year ago. Steers comprised 49.3 percent of the total federally inspected cattle slaughter, heifers 29.4 percent, dairy cows 9.5 percent, other cows 10.2 percent, and bulls 1.6 percent.

Commercial calf slaughter totaled 456,400 head, 22 percent lower than a year ago with 97.9 percent under federal inspection. The average live weight was 245 pounds, up 24 pounds from a year earlier.

Commercial hog slaughter totaled 132 million head, 1 percent higher than 2019 with 99.4 percent of the hogs slaughtered under federal inspection. The average live weight was up 4 pounds from last year, at 289 pounds. Barrows and gilts comprised 97.2 percent of the total federally inspected hog slaughter.

Commercial sheep and lamb slaughter, at 2.23 million head, was down 4 percent from the previous year with federal inspection comprising 85.1 percent of the total. The average live weight was down 3 pounds from 2019 at 125 pounds. Lambs and yearlings comprised 94.0 percent of the total federally inspected sheep slaughter.

By State   (million lbs - 2020 total - 2019 total)

Nebraska ......:   7,922.8  -  8,289.2
Iowa .............:   8,960.4  -  8,624.0

There were 858 plants slaughtering under federal inspection on January 1, 2021 compared with 835 last year. Of these, 683 plants slaughtered at least one head of cattle during 2020 with the 13 largest plants slaughtering 54 percent of the total cattle killed. Hogs were slaughtered at 621 plants, with the 14 largest plants accounting for 58 percent of the total. For calves, 3 of the 172 plants accounted for 55 percent of the total and 1 of the 522 plants that slaughtered sheep or lambs in 2020 comprised 20 percent of the total head.    

Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and Texas accounted for 49 percent of the United States commercial red meat production in 2020, unchanged from 2019.

Legislation Would Encourage More Veterinarians to Practice in Rural Areas

A newly introduced bill backed by the American Farm Bureau Federation would help bring more veterinarians to rural areas.

“Timely veterinary care is key to maintaining the health of our nation’s poultry flocks and dairy and livestock herds. However, a shortage of animal care professionals in many rural areas is putting farm animals at risk, jeopardizing the farms and ranches that care for them, and impacting the stability of our food supply,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said in a letter to the sponsors of the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act (H.R. 2447), Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wis,), Adrian Smith (R-Neb.), Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) and Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.).

Administered by USDA, the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program may repay part of student loan debt each year in exchange for up to three years of service in a designated veterinary shortage area. The new legislation would expand the number of awards to qualifying veterinarians by exempting the loan amount from the 37% federal withholding tax.

ASA/WISHH, Kansas State University, Cambodian Partners Create New Tools for Soy-based Fish Feeds

ASA’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) Program, Kansas State University (KSU) and other partners have collaborated to produce new fish feeding and growth charts. These vital new tools will assist Cambodian fish farmers in their transition from homemade feeds based on rice bran and wild fish to pelleted soy-based feeds manufactured in Cambodian feed mills.

Commercialization of Aquaculture for Sustainable Trade (CAST) – Cambodia is ASA/WISHH’s USDA-funded Food for Progress project that benefits from KSU’s expertise and work with the Center of Excellence on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Nutrition (CE SAIN) at the Royal University of Agriculture (RUA). KSU also is the lead for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification (SIIL).

The CE SAIN, funded through the SIIL at KSU, provides training for the CAST project. Due to both USDA and USAID investments, there is a collaboration between these organizations to promote aquaculture opportunities in Cambodia.

“These feed and growth charts for each species will enable Cambodian farmers to transition to soy-based feeds and be more certain of turning a profit,” said global aquaculture expert Karen Veverica, a consultant for CE SAIN on the CAST project. “Both charts will provide a practical tool that can be valuable, not only for fish famers across Cambodia, but for the feed companies as well.”

For decades, most Cambodian fish farmers have made their own fish feed from rice bran and wild-caught fish. The practice has led to overfishing, and a resulting rise in the price of the wild-caught fish. The homemade feed is also very low in protein so farmers are used to pouring large amounts of feed daily into ponds. As farmers transition to factory-made feeds, these feeds are more nutrient-dense, and therefore, less is needed to achieve the same growth. However, the price of factory-made feed is higher on a per kg basis. If farmers continue to feed the same amounts, they will lose money and go back to using the wild-caught fish. Therefore, CAST partners developed a feeding and growth chart for two species of fish in Cambodia, the climbing perch and the hybrid catfish.

These feed charts will assist the farmers in knowing what size and type of feed to use and how much to feed as the fish continue to grow. As a result, CAST is developing a market for soybean meal to be used in Cambodian fish diets.

KSU collaborates with Cambodian researchers, policymakers, donors and aquaculture industry representatives who participate in CE SAIN’s initiatives. With USAID funding, KSU has established the Agricultural Technology Park in Kampong Thom and Battambang provinces, which provides a demonstration site for current and future fish farmers of Cambodia. An additional demonstration pond is located at RUA in Phnom Penh.

In addition to the benefits these feed and growth charts will provide fish farmers, it is also a great opportunity for the young technicians to collect valuable data on water quality variables that can be used in future training programs. The technicians will gain understanding of how water quality such as dissolved oxygen, pH and ammonia change over the production cycle. The agricultural technology parks provide tremendous hands-on learning experiences.

Lyda Hok, the director of CE SAIN and faculty member at RUA said, “Not only is this a great tool for the Cambodian fish farmers to use to enhance their feeding techniques and fish diets, but the research with this CAST project is an excellent training opportunity for technicians, and it offers an invaluable learning experience.”

A USDA-funded project, CAST is designed to accelerate production of high-demand fish species for the Cambodian market and develop a lasting aquaculture industry. CAST strengthens local production of high-quality feed and fish. Through CAST, Cambodia’s private sector and universities work closely with U.S. soybean growers and businesses, as well as academic and non-governmental organizations.

USDA Invests $21.7M in Research Innovations to Improve Soil Health and Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will invest at least $21.7 million in several key programs to help agricultural producers manage the impacts of climate change on their lands and production. NIFA awarded $6.3 million for 14 Soil Health grants and $5.4 million for seven Signals in the Soil grants through its Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). NIFA also is investing at least $10 million this year in a new AFRI program area priority called, “Extension, Education, and USDA Climate Hub Partnerships,” to train the next generation of agriculturalists and foresters to incorporate climate change research into their management practices.

This is the first in a series of announcements by USDA this week to underscore the Department’s renewed commitment to addressing climate change through adaptation and mitigation with climate-smart tools for farmers, ranchers, producers and foresters.

“USDA is committed to working alongside American producers, rural businesses and landowners to help them lead the way on addressing climate change, using the best USDA data and science to help improve their practices and spur new market opportunities,” said Vilsack.

Some projects funded from the Soil Health AFRI priority area include: Northern Arizona University’s project, “Pelletized Fire Mosses to Enhance Soil Health After High Severity Forest Fire,” for a new and effective way to boost soil health and promote the recovery of burned ecosystems. South Dakota State University’s project, “Flower Fields and Soils: The Impacts of Native Perennial Monoculture Plots on Soil Health,” aimed at improving the sustainability of agricultural production and evaluating new agricultural practices to improve soil health.

Some projects funded from the AFRI Signals in the Soil interagency program with the National Science Foundation include: University of New Hampshire’s project, “Novel Soil Frost Sensing Systems for Tracking Freeze-Thaw Cycles,” to develop, test and deploy wireless sensors and a ground-penetrating radar system for continuous measurements of soil frost. This is important because seasonal soil freeze and thaw impacts half the southern region and can affect permafrost, agroecosystems, urban ecosystems, and the interface between humans and the environment. Georgia State University’s project, “A Novel Large-Scale Radon Measurement Wireless Testbed for Spatio-Temporal Study of Radon in Surficial Soil,” will develop a real-time radon measurement test with a wireless sensor network to be deployed around the north-eastern suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia –­­ a metro area of 6 million residents with known high-potential for radon exposure. This is important because exposure to radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer, according to the World Health Organization.

“By combining NIFA and National Science Foundation resources, the Signals in the Soil program fosters collaboration among a broad set of researchers to fund the most innovative and high-impact projects where multiple disciplines converge to produce novel soil sensing systems,” said NIFA director Dr. Carrie Castille.

More on USDA Climate Hubs

The projects funded in this priority area within the AFRI Foundational and Applied Science RFA will strengthen and broaden the impacts of USDA’s Climate Hubs through the Cooperative Extension Service. The partnerships between Cooperative Extension and the Climate Hubs Program that are built through this investment will help to ensure producers have information needed to plan for changing climate conditions and to consider climate-friendly farming practices.

USDA's Climate Hubs are a unique collaboration across the Department's agencies. They are led by Agricultural Research Service and Forest Service directors located at 10 regional locations, with contributions from other USDA agencies including the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the Risk Management Agency. The Climate Hubs link USDA research and program agencies in their region with the delivery of timely and authoritative tools and information to agricultural producers and professionals.

“USDA seeks to improve our understanding of the physical connections, biogeochemical interactions, and processes between the soil, the environment and climate change,” Dr. Castille said. “These efforts will lead to new tools, practices, techniques and innovations for improving soil health and demonstrate USDA’s commitment to address climate change.”

To learn more about NIFA, visit our website

USDA Seeks Comments on Food System Supply Chains in Response to President Biden’s Executive Order to Support Resilient, Diverse, Secure Supply Chains

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking comments on a Department-wide effort to improve and reimagine the supply chains for the production, processing and distribution of agricultural commodities and food products. USDA is taking this action in response to Executive Order 14017, America’s Supply Chains, signed by President Biden on Feb. 24, 2021. The request for comments is published today in the Federal Register and the comment period will close on May 21, 2021.

The comments received will help USDA assess the critical factors, risks, and strategies needed to support resilient, diverse, and secure supply chains and ensure U.S. economic prosperity, national security, and nutrition security for all Americans. Such supply chains are needed to address conditions that can reduce critical processing and infrastructure capacity and the availability and integrity of critical goods, products, and services. Identifying food system supply chain-bottlenecks and vulnerabilities also may provide valuable insights into the competitive and fair markets landscape, effects on local and regional producers and processors, and equitable access to food and economic opportunity across diverse communities. USDA will use the comments to prepare a report required by Executive Order 14017.

“We have an opportunity to take the lessons we’ve learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and apply those to transforming our nation’s food system from the inside out, including our supply chains,” said Vilsack. “USDA plans to tackle this supply chain assessment holistically – looking across a full range of risks and opportunities. From elevating the importance of local and regional food systems, to addressing the needs of socially disadvantaged and small to mid-size producers, to supporting sustainable practices to advance resilience and competitiveness, this top to bottom assessment will position USDA to make long-term, transformative changes for economic, national, and nutritional security.”

In addition to asking about the agricultural supply chain, USDA is interested in comments about how to target pandemic-related stimulus relief programs and spending authorized by Congress in the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) toward long term, systemic change that results in food supply chain resiliency. In particular, the request for comment seeks input on—
    bolstering local and regional food systems,
    developing new market opportunities (including for value-added agriculture and products),
    creating fairer and more competitive markets,
    meeting the needs of the agricultural workforce,
    supporting and promoting consumers’ nutrition security, particularly for low-income populations,
    addressing the needs of socially disadvantaged and small to mid-sized producers, and
    advancing efforts in other ways to transform the food system.

USDA is undertaking this effort to strengthen U.S. competitiveness with attention to our farmers, ranchers, producers, food processors, and other important links in the food supply chain. Under Secretary Vilsack’s leadership, USDA is helping to accelerate a transformation of our food system. Goals of this transformation include a fairer, more competitive, and transparent system where a greater share of the food dollar goes to those growing, harvesting, and preparing our food and one that promotes and strengthens the overall health and well-being of people, our land and water, and our economy. Growing consolidation in food and agriculture, the general health of our population, a growing climate crisis, and the need to ensure racial justice and equity are important factors to take into consideration as USDA looks at strengthening food and agricultural supply chains.

The deadline for comments is May 21, 2021. More information about how to submit comments in is available in the Notice.

Tuesday April 20 Ag News

– Ben Beckman, NE Extension Educator

Most plantings of alfalfa begin with a conventionally tilled and prepared seedbed.  While no one can predict the weather, those wanting to minimize moisture loss during planting may consider a no-till option.
Fields with low levels of crop residue remaining from last year and the always present need to conserve soil moisture, might make no-till a good option for establish alfalfa this spring.
There are some obvious advantages to seeding no-till, like fuel and time savings due to fewer trips across the field.  In addition, you reduce soil erosion by retaining crop residues rather than tilling them under.  No-till also conserves soil moisture, which may be the best reason of all this spring.  Also, due to lack of tillage the seedbed is good and firm for rapid seedling emergence.  Finally, no-till will limit the number of new weed seeds near the soil surface.
Disadvantages to no-till include relying solely on clipping or post-emerge herbicides for weed control.  Fortunately, we have good post-emerge herbicides available to control most weed problems.  Another problem is ridges from prior row crops that can interfere with uniform seeding as well as make fields rough for future haying operations.  And finally, some drills do not work well for no-till seeding so equipment might limit your options.
If you can do it, though, no-till alfalfa is worth trying.  It works really well in bean stubble and almost as well in small grain stubble.  No-till is a bit more difficult in corn and milo stubble, especially if there is much row ridging.  Be sure to kill any early weeds with Roundup® or Gramoxone® before planting.  And last but not least, use a drill that places seed about one-half inch deep and then covers seed with soil using a good press wheel.
Try no-till alfalfa.  It could be very effective this year.

Ricketts Proclaims “Rodeo Week” in Nebraska

On Monday, Governor Pete Ricketts proclaimed Rodeo Week in Nebraska while on horseback in front of the Governor’s Residence in Lincoln.  Following the Governor’s proclamation, he was joined for a horseback ride by University of Nebraska President Ted Carter and members of the University of Nebraska Rodeo Association.

This week, the University of Nebraska Rodeo Association is hosting the 2021 Nebraska Cornhusker College Rodeo on Friday and Saturday (April 23-24) at the Lancaster Event Center.  The Governor encouraged Nebraskans to attend.  He also highlighted other notable rodeos scheduled to take place this summer in Nebraska.  They include:
·       The Nebraska High School Finals Rodeo, June 17-19 in Hastings.
·       The 2021 National High School Finals Rodeo, July 18-24 in Lincoln.
·       Nebraska’s Big Rodeo, July 28-31 in Burwell.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Nebraska’s Big Rodeo, which Nebraska Tourism honored as the state’s “Outstanding In-Person Event” of 2020.

 CASNR announces Change Maker Incoming Student Scholarship Recipients

The College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has selected eight incoming CASNR students to receive Change Maker scholarships for the 2021-22 academic year.  

In its second year, the CASNR Change Maker Scholarship Competition invites prospective students to submit a quick-pitch video outlining a plan to address important worldwide issues related to food, energy, water and other societal issues. Winners receive mentoring and other support to help make their big idea a reality during their time in CASNR.  

A committee comprised of Emeriti faculty, CASNR faculty, staff and students have selected the following individuals to receive 2021-22 scholarships:
    Ava Barajas, agribusiness; Clovis, Calif.
    Jack Bunch, forensic science; Irvine, Calif.
    Emily Eilers, agricultural and environmental sciences communication; Wayne, Neb.
    Claire Klein, insect science; Los Angeles, Calif.
    Mackenzie Sudbeck, pre-veterinary medicine; Wynot, Neb.
    Isabella Villanueva, environmental studies; Lincoln, Neb.
    Kade Wiese, agribusiness; Columbus, Neb.
    Kaden Wykert, animal science; Sutherland, Neb.  

The winning students were selected from applicants across Nebraska and the United States. In addition, the winning students will compete for the People’s Choice Change Maker Award with the winner receiving a $1,000 textbook scholarship. Change Maker videos will be posted on the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Facebook page ( beginning on April 26 with the People’s Choice winner determined by the most “likes” received by April 30.  

“CASNR is blown away by the innovation and creativity all applicants have shown us during the competition. These students are enthusiastic about making a change and dedicated to their education. We are extremely excited for them to make their big ideas a reality in our college,” said CASNR Dean Tiffany Heng-Moss.

Livestock Producers Can Track Their Costs and Insurance Options

Newly updated resources from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach are available to help livestock producers track their cost of production and work through price insurance options.

The “Livestock Enterprise Budgets for Iowa” and “Livestock Risk Insurance Plans for Cattle Producers” are both available in the April edition of Ag Decision Maker.

The “enterprise budgets” publication provides estimates of production costs for common livestock produced in Iowa, using estimates that reflect average or above-average levels of management and expected input and output prices for 2021.

Producers are encouraged to enter their own costs for items like feed, labor, facilities, equipment and transportation. The publication helps producers understand and identify fixed costs (those that occur regardless of the level of production) and variable costs (those that vary according to the level of production).

Each of the eleven livestock enterprise budgets has a coordinating Decision Tool for producers to enter their own information or they can start with the same inputs as the ISU budget and make adjustments.

“We’ve set these budgets up so producers can insert their own on-farm numbers,” said Tim Christensen, farm management specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. “The more accurate the input numbers are, the more accurate the numbers will be for each operation.”

The goal is to help producers think critically about the different costs and opportunities associated with each species, while providing different scenarios of what could happen throughout the year.

The publication on livestock insurance covers two programs administered through the farm bill, known as Livestock Risk Protection and Livestock Gross Margin.

The LRP program provides protection against price declines, while the LGM program provides protection against loss of gross margin (market value of livestock minus feed costs).

“Both programs are great ways for livestock producers to have some risk management protection against adverse price movements,” Christensen said.

The article provides an update on recent changes, which includes a higher level of subsidy available, and the ability to pay premiums at the end of the insurance period, instead of upfront.

Both products are available to producers of all sizes and must be purchased through an authorized insurance agent.

A Decision Tool comparing coverage levels for covered livestock species under the Livestock Revenue Protection program has also been updated.

This month’s Ag Decision Maker also includes a look at the “push-n-pull” factors supporting hog prices, written by Lee Schulz, associate professor in economics and livestock economist at Iowa State University.

'Thank You to Ottumwa' Emphasizes Community

On Friday, April 16, the Ottumwa community was the focus of a “Thank You” celebration from Iowa's pig farmers for the support shown to those who work in bringing food from farm to table.
“Lifting spirits on challenging days and providing inspiration to help others clear the hurdles in front of them are ways you have touched the hearts of farmers,” said local pig farmer Heidi Vittetoe. “The way you make people feel matters. And as we've gone through the pandemic, the Ottumwa community made us feel like part of a team."

Vittetoe noted the great efforts that JBS Pork in Ottumwa made to keep people safe, while keeping the plant open for the people who work there and for the farmers who sell their pigs there.

Ottumwa Mayor Tom Lazio also noted that the past year helped everyone realize who the essential workers were: from moms and dads who stayed home with children as schools closed, to those who work behind the scenes to keep the city functioning, such as those at the waste water treatment plant. He also gave credit to those that kept manufacturing at work in Ottumwa, as well as the police and fire departments. "We may be 'Iowa Nice'," he said, but we're also Iowa hard-working."

TJ Heller of Greater Ottumwa Partners in Progress noted that "during times of trial, people either give up or push through to greatness. Ottumwa businesses did the latter, and moved to the future by 'calling audibles' that led to sharing staff to help other businesses and developing technology so they had a stronger virtual presence."
As part of their “Thank You” celebration, the Iowa pork producers donated $500 of pork to the Food Bank of Iowa, which provides food assistance in the Ottumwa area. The pork producers also provided pork coupons to local grocery stores for consumers to use, and pork thank-you baskets to local first responders.
The day wrapped up with a giveaway at the Bridge View Center parking lot of nearly 5000 pounds of pork to Ottumwa-area residents. That giveaway equals almost 20,000 meals or servings of pork. Families each received a four-to-five-pound pork loin, and through the assistance of the police and fire departments, 1,000 vehicles moved through the lot in record time.
The past 12 months have reminded us about the importance of community when times are challenging and uncertain. Uncertainty and challenges are still ahead. “It matters that we all work together in keeping people safe as our work continues to feed your families, neighbors, and others,” Vittetoe said.

Lazio echoed that thought, noting "It takes a healthy community to get through what we have this past year."

Managing Cattle Grazing Distribution: It’s Not As Simple As It Sounds

Grazing is an agricultural term to describe the natural behavior of cattle moving across pastures and rangelands as they consume different plants. Surprisingly, grazing cattle are selective about where and which plants they will eat, and land managers consider grazing distribution an essential factor in deciding how to manage their herds, including how to prevent overgrazing for conserving biodiversity of the land.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) collaborated with various universities and the Long-Term Agroecosystem Research (LTAR) network to examine the influence of topography on grazing distribution that can inform land managers in the selection of efficient grazing strategies.

Livestock managers desire information on several factors affecting grazing distribution before implementing land management strategies. With this in mind, researchers at USDA-ARS completed a cross-site collaboration study with university-operated experiment stations and four LTAR funded sites, with the primary goal of determining how factors like landscape topography and water availability affect cattle grazing distribution. The data collected at all sites creates a benchmark for understanding how environment can drive the spatial patterns of animal use in pastures under several management practices and across numerous ecosystems covering arid, semiarid, and sub-tropical environments.

The study collected data from seven rangeland sites in Florida, Nebraska, New Mexico, Colorado, and Idaho and used collars equipped with global positioning system (GPS) technology to measure cattle movement and activity. This technology was successfully used in prior studies completed by scientists David J. Augustine and Justin D. Derner, from the Rangeland Resources and Systems Research Unit, at Fort Collins, CO and Cheyenne, WY.

"The information collected from the GPS-collars allowed us to develop a broad-scale analysis of how topography in these seven rangeland sites in North America determines livestock grazing distribution," said E.J. Raynor, Research Associate Ecologist within the Rangeland Resources & Systems Research Unit at Fort Collins, CO at the time of study and currently with the Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research Unit in University Park, PA. "By studying how livestock grazing occurs on different parts of the landscape like flat plains, lowlands, open slopes, and upland, we developed models that can be used to predict distribution of grazing cattle. One observation from these models is cattle prefer to graze low-lying locations in drier regions and more elevated locations in wetter regions, where flooding likely reduces selection." The USDA-ARS LTAR Grazinglands working group of scientists is optimistic that this study will set the stage for similar collaborative efforts, including plant community composition, forage production, and livestock weight gains to provide insights into sustainable livestock management strategies across diverse rangeland ecosystems.

CRES: Growing Climate Solutions Act is Free-Market Win for Farmers, Businesses, the Climate

Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES) today applauded reintroduction of the Growing Climate Solutions Act (GCSA) for the 117th Congress by its original sponsors Senators Mike Braun (R-IN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and a bipartisan group of senators—including the U.S. Senate Minority Whip John Thune (SD) and U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee Ranking Member John Boozman (AR) and Republican Senators Bill Cassidy (LA), Susan Collins (ME), Mike Crapo (ID), Joni Ernst (IA), Deb Fischer (NE), Chuck Grassley (IA), Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS), Cynthia Lummis (WY), Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Todd Young (IN).

In response to today’s bill introduction, CRES Executive Director Heather Reams offered the following statement:

“When our farmers, ranchers, and foresters go the extra mile to help reduce America’s carbon footprint, they should be rewarded, not penalized. The Growing Climate Solutions Act is exciting because it would allow valuable carbon credits to be harvested along with any crops farmed using climate-friendly practices. By normalizing how those credits can be sold on voluntary carbon credit markets, the GCSA also makes it easy for farms of all shapes and sizes to connect with and sell these credits to the scores of American companies and utilities that have committed to going carbon neutral but can’t do it alone.

“The GCSA is a free-market win for agriculture producers, businesses, and the climate; it is a solution that helps restore the environment without heavy-handed government mandates or driving up the cost of food and energy production.

“America’s farmers, ranchers and foresters have been environmental stewards for generations but have largely been left out of the climate conversation—despite the serious consequences our changing climate can have on their livelihood. I commend Senators Braun, Stabenow, Graham and Whitehouse for their continued leadership on this legislation and for prioritizing commonsense clean energy and climate policy. The support for this legislation by a large, bipartisan group of senators—especially those hailing from the Midwest and across the Heartland—is a testament to the positive impact this bill will have on the men and women who give so much to feed, fuel and clothe us all.”

This January, CRES released the results of a national survey of more than 1,050 registered voters that gauged support for various climate change and clean energy proposals and concepts. The survey revealed that 74% of voters approve of financial incentives for agricultural producers to increase sustainable farming practices with 77% of voters supporting the creation of a voluntary carbon market for farmers.

NMPF Lauds Progress on Bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act, Welcomes Conservation Proposals

The National Milk Producers Federation today applauded bipartisan work that’s being done on legislation that would bolster the many conservation and environmental efforts dairy producers are leading as they continue their everyday stewardship of air, land, and water resources.

This week, Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) reintroduced their bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act. This important legislation creates a USDA certification program that would permit the Department to informally endorse technical service providers that can help farmers implement environmental stewardship practices that may generate carbon credits. The legislation, if passed, would be invaluable for dairy farmers seeking to achieve the sector’s goal to achieve carbon neutrality or better by 2050 through dairy’s Net Zero Initiative.

“We commend Chairwoman Stabenow and Senator Braun for continuing their bipartisan leadership on the Growing Climate Solutions Act, which would encourage greater farmer participation in environmental markets,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “This legislation will enhance the proactive, sustainable initiatives dairy farmers are expanding as our sector strives to achieve carbon neutrality.”

The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee held a hearing on the Growing Climate Solutions Act last June. NMPF submitted written testimony in support of the measure on behalf of Mulhern and Environmental Issues Committee Chair Mike McCloskey.

NMPF additionally commended the efforts of House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA), who last Friday put forward several measures to adapt farm bill conservation programs to help address climate change by: allowing private sector funding to meet conservation program demand; emphasizing soil health and increasing funding for Conservation Innovation Trials; and incentivizing the adoption of precision agriculture systems.

“We thank Ranking Member Thompson for furthering the conversation on climate and sustainability by putting forward several proposals for discussion,” said Mulhern. “We agree that farm bill conservation programs can be vital to helping producers reduce their environmental footprint, and we look forward to more closely examining this suite of legislation and other proposals that may be introduced in the coming weeks.”

Growing Climate Solutions Act Improves Credibility of Carbon Markets, NFU Says

In the midst of Earth Week, Senators Debbie Stabenow, Mike Braun, Lindsey Graham, and Sheldon Whitehouse reintroduced the Growing Climate Solutions Act, which aims to provide certainty to farmers and ranchers seeking compensation for climate-smart agricultural practices through carbon markets.

To achieve this end, the bill would create a certification program for third-party verifiers and technical service providers that help farmers earn carbon credits to ensure they have the appropriate expertise. Information about those providers will be available to farmers via an online portal. Additionally, the bill would establish an advisory committee composed of farmers, industry experts, scientists, and representatives from private markets to make recommendations to Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on how they can further strengthen the credibility of carbon markets and facilitate farmers’ participation.

When the bill was first introduced last year, National Farmers Union (NFU) endorsed it, saying it was “an important step toward strong and comprehensive climate policy.” In a statement today, NFU President Rob Larew reiterated the organization’s support:

“Climate change is one of the greatest tests we have ever faced. To protect ourselves and our planet from this existential threat, we must leave no stone unturned ­­– including agriculture, which holds immense promise when it comes to mitigation and adaptation. Through the implementation of climate-smart practices, family farmers and ranchers can not only reduce their operations’ climate impact, but they can also offset other sectors’ emissions by sequestering atmospheric carbon in their soil.

“Recognizing that potential, a patchwork of carbon markets has sprung up to incentivize and reward such practices. However, there is currently no formal oversight of these markets or uniformity among them for criteria, payment rates, or measurement, which can make selecting the right one a confusing and overwhelming process. By creating a certification program, the Growing Climate Solutions Act would bring much-needed clarity and certainty to this burgeoning sector, thus making it easier for farmers to obtain the financial resources they need to invest in climate solutions. We welcome and support this important initiative and will continue working with the committee to leverage agriculture in our fight against the climate crisis.”

Bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act Makes it Easier for Farmers, Ranchers and Forest Owners to Benefit from Voluntary Carbon Markets

The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA) applauds the bipartisan re-introduction of the Growing Climate Solutions Act and thanks Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) for sponsoring the bill. The act establishes a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) technical assistance and certification program to assist producers and forest owners seeking to participate in voluntary carbon markets. Sens. Stabenow and Braun are joined by 34 cosponsors of the bill, including Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member John Boozman (R-Ark.) and 12 other committee members, demonstrating that bipartisan, common ground can be found on climate policies.

Climate change directly impacts the farmers, ranchers and forest owners who rely on a healthy environment to produce food and forest products. The Growing Climate Solutions Act would ensure agricultural producers and forest owners of all sizes looking to enter the carbon market for the first time have access to reliable information, qualified technical service providers and third-party verifiers. In addition, the bill establishes a robust USDA advisory council composed of farmers, scientists and other climate stakeholders. FACA would like to recognize Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Boozman for their work together to ensure producer representation on the advisory council.

FACA, consisting of almost 70 agriculture, food, forestry and environmental organizations, is built on guiding principles that stress federal climate policy must be built upon voluntary, incentive-based programs and market-driven opportunities, promote resilience and adaptation in rural communities, and be grounded in scientific evidence. In addition, climate solutions must be strongly bipartisan and accommodate the diverse needs of producers and landowners, regardless of size, geographic region or commodity.

FACA members developed more than 40 joint recommendations to guide the development of federal climate policy, including an endorsement of the Growing Climate Solutions Act introduced last Congress. Download the recommendations and see a full list of member organizations at

Repealing Stepped-Up Basis Tax Provision Will Eliminate Thousands of Jobs, Take Billions Out of Economy Annually, New Study Finds

A new report released today by EY finds that repealing the step-up in basis tax provision would damage the gross domestic product (GDP) and significantly decrease job creation. The study was conducted for the Family Business Estate Tax Coalition, which includes almost 60 organizations representing family-owned businesses.  

The EY study found middle-class, family-owned businesses would be particularly hard hit by the repeal. Currently, when someone inherits assets, they aren’t taxed on the appreciation that happened before they inherited them. If family-owned farms, small businesses or manufacturers are forced to pay capital gains accrued by the prior owner, they would likely face large tax bills that put the future of their business at risk.   

According to the study’s findings, repealing the step-up in basis would result in:  
          80,000 fewer jobs in each of the first ten years;  
          100,000 fewer jobs each year thereafter; and
         A $32 reduction in workers’ wages  for every $100 raised by taxing capital gains at death.

It would also reduce GDP relative to the U.S. economy in 2021, by approximately:
          $10 billion annually;
          $100 billion over 10 years.

“Repealing stepped-up basis is not a free lunch for those looking to generate tax revenue and would have significant consequences in the multifamily marketplace,” said Doug Bibby, President of the National Multifamily Housing Council. “Absent stepped-up basis, heirs could inherit an apartment property with a small amount basis and possibly sizeable debt. If they are taxed immediately, the resulting depreciation recapture and capital gains taxes could exceed their ability to pay without selling the asset. Even if funds to pay tax are available, heirs may have little left over to invest in and maintain the property, which could negatively impact the available affordable housing stock.”

“Farmers and ranchers have been able to pass their farms on to the next generation thanks to the stepped-up basis tax provision,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “The value of many farms is tied up in land and equipment and most farmers don’t have large amounts of money on-hand to pay capital gains taxes. They could be forced to sell the farm or take out costly loans just to pay capital gains taxes. Eliminating the stepped-up basis isn’t a tax on the rich - it’s a tax on the middle class. We urge President Biden to remain true to his word that he won’t increase taxes on hardworking, middle-class Americans.”

Chris Netram, Vice President of Tax & Domestic Economic Policy, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) said, “Stepped-up basis protects family-owned manufacturers from significant tax bills when businesses are passed on to the next generation. As this report shows, repealing step-up could have a dramatic impact on small manufacturers across the country, potentially requiring families to liquidate businesses, leverage assets, or lay off employees to cover the tax hit. The NAM encourages Congress and the administration to keep in place this important policy for families across the country rather than increasing taxes on their job creating businesses.”  

NCBA Backed Study Proves Stepped-Up Basis Repeal Would Be Detrimental to Farms and Ranches

Today, the Family Business Estate Tax Coalition (FBETC) released an EY study quantifying the impact a repeal of stepped-up basis would have on family businesses. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) has long advocated for the preservation of this long-standing provision of the U.S. tax code, as well as other sound tax policies for rural America, and has been an active supporter of this study.

“The EY study sheds light on the facts that we at NCBA—among others in the agricultural community—have long known. Simply put, the repeal of stepped-up basis would have catastrophic impacts on the ability of farmers and ranchers to transfer their operations to the next generation,” said NCBA Senior Executive Director of Government Affairs Danielle Beck.

The EY study found that family-owned businesses and the local economies they support would be hit hardest by a repeal. To reveal the impact stepped-up basis repeal would have on family-owned farms and ranches, EY developed a case-study based on a theoretical family-owned cow-calf operation. In this scenario—one where the stepped-up basis is no longer a tool for family-owned business to utilize when generational transfer occurs — gains are taxed at death and would result in an immediate one-time tax liability equivalent to 280 percent of the farm’s annual income.

“NCBA continues to advocate for tax policy that allows the next generation of agricultural producers to have the economic tools to be successful. Repealing stepped-up basis would adversely impact farmers and ranchers across the country. In fact, while this provision has been identified as a potential revenue raiser for government spending—it would be irresponsible to place that burden on family-owned businesses, and multi-generational agricultural operations in particular,” said Beck.

Based on the analysis of the EY study — this tax increase, whether via tax at death or carryover of basis, will have negative impacts on family-owned businesses, U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), and job creation both in the immediate and long term. Repeal of stepped-up basis would impose a tax burden on top of the existing estate tax regime, further compounding these negative impacts.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency is currently accepting new and modified CFAP 2 applications

USDA is implementing updates to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) for producers of agricultural commodities marketed in 2020 who faced market disruptions due to COVID-19. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced an expansion of CFAP on March 24, 2021. This is part of a larger effort to reach a greater share of farming operations and improve USDA pandemic assistance.

In 2020, did you own/produce any of the following?
    Livestock (cattle, pigs, sheep/wool, broilers/pullets, eggs and more)
    Row or specialty crops (including aquaculture, nursery, and more)

If so, you may be eligible for financial assistance through CFAP 2. The CFAP 2 signup period has reopened as part of USDA’s new Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. Note: Participation in CFAP 1 is NOT required for assistance through CFAP 2.

To learn more, visit, contact our call center at 877-508-8364, or contact your local FSA office.

Updated Sustainability Impact Report highlights continued commitment and improvement

Today, the Animal Agriculture Alliance released its updated “Sustainability Impact Report” in celebration of Earth Day and the animal agriculture community’s commitment to continuous improvement in environmental stewardship, animal care, responsible antibiotic use, food safety and nutrition. To access the report, go to

The 33-page report covers nine sectors of animal agriculture: dairy, beef, veal, pork, chicken, turkey, egg, sheep and aquaculture. “Earth Day is a great opportunity to appreciate our planet and our environment, but for farmers and ranchers, every day is like Earth Day,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. “As showcased in our updated Sustainability Impact Report, the animal agriculture community continues to make advancements in ongoing efforts to reduce its environmental footprint while continuing to safely, efficiently and affordably produce the nutrients our bodies need to function and feel our best.”

The report contains valuable insights into animal agriculture’s dedication to continuous improvement, including the following environmental stewardship highlights:
    Agriculture accounts for roughly 10 percent of U.S. GHG emissions while livestock production is only 4 percent.
    The dairy community contributes less than 2 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions while supplying the protein requirements of 169 million people, calcium requirements of 254 million people, and energy requirements of 71.2 million people.
    The beef community, through continued sustainability efforts and improved resource use, has reduced emissions per pound of beef produced by more than 40 percent while also producing more than 66 percent more beef per animal between 1961 and 2018.
    Pig farmers are continually decreasing their carbon footprint through the adoption of renewable energy sources and some farms are now carbon neutral or negative.
    Over 95 percent of poultry litter is recycled and reused as organic fertilizer to grow crops.
    More than 40 percent of ingredients used in animal feed are recycled byproducts from other industries.

Sessions at the Alliance’s 2021 Virtual Summit will address many of the topics presented in the Sustainability Impact Report, highlighting ways to position animal agriculture as a path forward to climate neutrality, discuss animal protein in a sustainable food system, and more! Preconference webinars start Wednesday, April 28 and will be held each business day leading up to the main event set for May 5 and 6.

Monday April 19 Ag News


For the week ending April 18, 2021, there were 4.6 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 4% very short, 15% short, 77% adequate, and 4% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 5% very short, 28% short, 65% adequate, and 2% surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn planted was 2%, equal to last year, and near 4% for the five-year average.

Winter wheat condition rated 5% very poor, 12% poor, 40% fair, 40% good, and 3% excellent.

Oats planted was 70%, ahead of 51% last year and 52% average. Emerged was 26%, ahead of 14% last year and 16% average.


 Snow and abnormally low temperatures meant farmers were not planting row crops for most of the week ending April 18, 2021, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Statewide there were 4.7 days suitable for fieldwork during the week. Field activities for the week included applying anhydrous and dry fertilizer, spreading manure, tilling fields and planting.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 6% very short, 23% short, 67% adequate and 4% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 10% very short, 32% short, 54% adequate and 4% surplus.
Although most Iowa farmers continued to wait for warmer temperatures, 4% of Iowa’s corn crop has been planted.

Nearly two-thirds of Iowa’s expected oat crop has been planted, 5 days ahead of last year and 6 days ahead of the 5-year average. Statewide 12% of the oat crop has emerged, 2 days ahead of average.

There were scattered reports of soybeans planted.

Pasture condition rated 47% good to excellent. Some cattle have already been moved to pasture.

Despite Colder Weather, Corn, Soybean Planting Plows Ahead

Despite the return of more winterlike weather across parts of the country, U.S. farmers continued to plow ahead with corn and soybean planting last week, according to USDA NASS' weekly Crop Progress report released Monday.

As of Sunday, April 18, farmers had planted an estimated 8% of intended corn acres. That was 2 percentage points ahead of last year's 6% and equal to the five-year average, according to NASS.  Two percent of corn had emerged as of Sunday, above the five-year average of 1% emerged for this time of year.

In its first national soybean planting report of the year, NASS estimated that 3% of the intended soybean crop had been planted by week's end, slightly above 2% for both last year and the five-year average.

Spring wheat planting was also running ahead of normal, at 19% complete as of Sunday, well ahead of 7% at the same time last year and 12% for the five-year average.

Development of winter wheat, on the other hand, was running behind normal. Winter wheat heading was estimated at 10% as of Sunday, behind 13% last year and 4 percentage points behind the five-year average of 14%.  For the third week in a row, winter wheat condition held steady at 53% good to excellent, which is below last year's 57% good-to-excellent rating at the same time.

Sorghum was 15% planted. Cotton planting was 11% complete. Rice was 33% planted, and 16% of the crop had emerged.  Oats were 50% planted as of April 18, and emergence was at 16%.



The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) Stewardship Week is one of the largest national programs to promote natural resource conservation. Celebrated annually since 1955 between the last Sunday in April and the first Sunday in May, the NACD Stewardship Week reminds us of our individual responsibilities to care for natural resources.

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) is a member of the NACD and partners with them in celebrating Stewardship Week.  This year we celebrate from April 25 - May 2, focusing on the theme “Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities.”  The LENRD’s mission is to improve the quality of life for the citizens across all or parts of the district’s 15-counties, working together to protect our natural resources for future.

“Educating the public about the importance of our connection to our natural resources in our daily lives is an essential part of what conservation districts advocate for in their communities,” said NACD President Michael Crowder. “Trees and forests are critical to providing clean air and water, healthy soil, shade, abundant wildlife habitat, jobs and valuable products we use every day.”

The LENRD can assist you in learning more about trees and the species native to your area.  The LENRD can also provide insight on tree planting, care, and maintenance as well as information on how to protect trees from invasive species.

“Local conservation districts have a long-standing history of working with state and private forest owners in helping promote and safeguard our nation’s forested lands,” Crowder said.

Free, downloadable Stewardship Week resources celebrating the theme “Healthy Forests, Healthy Communities” are available on NACD’s website at

For more information about Stewardship Week and conservation practices, contact the LENRD office in Norfolk at 402-371-7313 or

UNMC, Nebraska Extension announce June statewide tractor safety course for teens

Teens 14 or 15 years of age who work on farms, or others who are interested in learning about safe farming practices, are encouraged to register for this summer’s tractor safety training course, sponsored by the University of Nebraska Extension and the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health.  

The course will be held in early June at five sites across Nebraska.

Students will complete the first day of the course online. After successfully completing the online course and testing, the required driving test will be offered in-person, with COVID-19 safety precautions, at five locations across Nebraska June 7-11.

Federal law prohibits children under 16 years of age from using certain equipment on a farm unless their parents or legal guardians own the farm. However, certification received through the course grants an exemption to the law allowing 14- and 15-year-olds to drive a tractor and do field work with certain mechanized equipment.

Susan Harris, University of Nebraska Extension educator, said a common cause of agricultural-related injuries and deaths in Nebraska is overturned tractors and all-terrain vehicles. The course is designed to train students how to avoid such incidents, as well as many other farm and ranch hazards.  

The online course will cover the required elements of the National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program, including quizzes which students must pass to attend the driving portion of training. Once a student is registered, they will be sent a training manual, course paperwork and a link to the online course.  

The onsite driving training and exam will include a driving test, equipment operation and ATV safety lessons. Students must demonstrate competence in hitching and unhitching equipment and driving a tractor and trailer. Instructors also will offer education about safe behaviors and laws for ATVs, utility-task vehicles and other off-road vehicles.  

Due to COVID-19, the number of students on-site will be limited. Students and instructors are  required to wear a mask, which will be provided, at all times during instruction and driving, as well as maintain proper social distance. Equipment, steering wheels, control knobs and hitches will be disinfected before and after each student completes testing. Students who have had a fever or persistent cough within 10 days of testing will be required to reschedule their driving test. Additional driving tests may be added later in the summer to accommodate students who are unable to attend the scheduled training.  

Course istructors are members of the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health - Aaron Yoder, PhD, Ellen Duysen and Risto Rautiainen, PhD - and Nebraska Extension educators  - Troy Ingram, Randy Saner and John Thomas.  

Cost of the hybrid course is $40 and includes educational materials, the online learning link and supplies. More information and registration can be found at under “Educational Programs,” then click “Tractor Safety” or contact the appropriate contact below.  

Driving dates, Nebraska locations and site coordinator contact information is below.
June 7 – Akrs Equipment, 49110 US Hwy 20 in O’Neill; contact Debra Walnofer, 402.336.2760,   
June 8 – Legacy of the Plains Museum, 2930 Old Oregon Trail #8500 in Gering; contact Stacy Brown, 308.632.1480,
June 9 - West Central Research & Extension Center, 402 West State Farm Rd., North Platte; contact Randy Saner or Vicki Neidhardt 308.532.2683,
June 10 – Hall County Extension, 3180 W. Hwy 34, Grand Island; contact Crystal Beissenherz, 308.385.5088,   
June 11 – Cass County Fairgrounds, 8420 144th St., Weeping Water; contact Sandy Prall, 402.267.2205,

Extension is a division of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln cooperating with counties and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


– Jerry Volesky, NE Extension
Have you noticed any winter injury to your alfalfa fields or maybe you have some older stands that are thin?
Maximizing tonnage from every inch of rain your alfalfa hay fields receive this year may be necessary.  Unfortunately, alfalfa uses quite a bit of water for each ton of hay, especially as temperatures rise.  So, it is critical to get as much tonnage out of first cutting as possible, before summer heat sets in.  One way to boost first cutting hay yield from thin, or winter damaged alfalfa stands is to drill cereals like oats, spring triticale, or spring barley into those stands.  Depending on the thickness of the alfalfa stand, drill 30 to 60 pounds per acre directly into your existing stand as soon as possible.  Try to get the seed about one inch deep.  These cereals will use spring moisture very efficiently to add tonnage to your first cutting.
Where the alfalfa is thick, you may not get much, but in thin spots these cereals should fill in rapidly.  These spring cereals will have rapid growth in late May and early June, so cutting your hay a little later than usual will help you get the most yield benefit from this addition.
Getting the most out of each inch of moisture could be especially important this year.  Using cereals is one way to do it.

Budget Templates Updated for Sheep and Goat Enterprises

Glennis McClure, NE Extension Educator

Enterprise budget templates were recently updated for producers’ use to estimate sheep and goat revenue and expenses and consider projected breakeven scenarios. Using a west central Nebraska representative sheep flock with 250 ewes and a 70 head meat goat herd, the budgets are prepared for producers to use as guides when entering their own information using an Excel spreadsheet format.  

The Nebraska Sheep and Goat Producers Association members and the Nebraska Meat Goat Producers provided production information for the sample budget templates. Three sheep budgets using similar size flocks reflect various practices of selling all lambs at weaning, selling part of the lamb crop at weaning, and finishing the rest or finishing all the lambs raised.  In both the goat and sheep budgets, the template allows for varying how the sheep or goats are sold, either on a live weight or carcass weight basis.

Production Figures and Practices
Producers raising sheep and goats often operate diversified farms or ranches with other crop and/or livestock enterprises, however some producers have off-farm jobs and raise their sheep or goats on small farms or ranches with sheep or goats as a key enterprise. Sheep can often be added to a cattle operation, one ewe per cow, without changing the stalking rate due to the differences in forage preferences as sheep prefer forbs while cattle prefer grasses.  Goats prefer browse plants and can be added at one goat per cow.  If you have a lot of browse, goats may be a better enterprise than sheep.  If you have more forbs, sheep might be the better choice.  Goats can be used to clean areas of brush and woody plants.  They will eat cedars when forced in the summer, or in the winter when nothing green is available.  In some cases, producers will add sheep and goats to their cattle operation.  When they add both species, they will need to adjust the stocking rate.

Both for sheep and goats, typical lambing time across much of Nebraska is in the spring.  Birthing rates run around 140% (1.4 lambs per ewe), while 150% birthing rate is typical of goats, as both ewes and does often have twins or multiple births. Death loss is figured for lambs at 4.8 to 8.7% pre-weaning and for baby goats (kids) 11% death loss before they are weaned.  If they are kept and fed, then post-weaning death rate of 3% was figured for the lambs and kids before being sold as finished animals.

Producers in Nebraska reported a mix of practices in either raising their own ewes as replacements or buying breeding ewes for breeding stock replacements. In the sample budgets, all replacement ewes and does are shown as purchased. The main difference in an enterprise budget designed for raising its own breeding stock is adding the feed cost in for the growth to reproductive age. A 6% death loss for the breeding ewes and a cull rate of 10.6%, require 40 replacement ewes to be purchased each year to maintain the herd at 250 ewes. In the case of the meat goat budget, a 7% death loss for the breeding does annually and a 7% cull rate for the year was used.

Feed, Hay, and Pasture
With any livestock enterprise, feed costs are a major expense and should be carefully estimated. Prices for the various feed items entered in the ‘Production Parameters’ worksheet of the budget templates carry over to the ‘Variable Expense’ worksheet and the feed expense section where quantity fed amounts per animal are entered.  It is important to value feed and hay raised as well as purchased feed and supplements that are used by the breeding stock, pre-weaned, and post-weaned lambs and kids being grown to finishing weight.

Both owned and rented pasture ground should also be valued.  A producer who owns pasture and hay ground should consider the value being fed and utilized by the sheep or goat enterprises.  If the hay or pasture weren’t used in the livestock operation, what would its production and/or rental value be if someone else paid to use it?  In other words, this is the opportunity cost that should be charged as an expense toward the livestock enterprise. Individual producers may enter an opportunity cost or cash rental rate for their land use for the sheep or goat enterprises in lieu of animal unit month (AUM) values in their budgets. It is important to not duplicate the pasture expense by entering a fair market value for the AUMs in the feed area of the budget and also enter a land rental expense in the fixed cost section.

Summary Budget
The ‘Summary Budget’ worksheet summarizes total revenue and expenses from the various budget worksheets. The summary budget provides a total net revenue calculation and a net return per ewe. In addition, breakeven price calculations for weaned lambs and finished lambs on a live weight and carcass weight basis are provided.  The total projected sheep or goat sales by weight are figured with estimated sale prices entered in the revenue worksheet.  Other worksheets in the template that feed totals to the ‘Summary Budget’ worksheet, include variable or direct expenses, fixed expenses and overhead.  A real estate and property tax expense worksheet and a non-farm revenue worksheet were added based on requests made by the producers providing input into this project.   

ICON Continues to Support Tax Reform Through LR-11CA & LB-133 the “Nebraska EPIC Consumption Tax Act”.

In this Nebraska Legislative session a Constitutional Amendment (CA), LR-11CA, was introduced by Senator Erdman. This is a resolution for the “Nebraska EPIC Consumption Tax Act”.  LR-11CA advanced out of committee and will go on to be passed with our help. When passed, most State taxes will be eliminated and a consumption tax will take their place.

ICON Directors present at their last meeting voted unanimously to support LR-11CA, Nebraska Constitutional Amendment, and LB-133, the “Nebraska EPIC Consumption Tax Act”. EPIC is an acronym for “Eliminating Property, Income, Corporate” taxes. Simply speaking, business related transactions and purchases are not taxed. Anything purchased, or services not business related, are to be taxed.

To review LB-133 visit: Section 6 within LB-133 defines Ten Nebraska Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. Here are two important rights:

Right # One: “The citizens of Nebraska are entitled to a fair and just tax system, one which favors neither the poor nor the rich, neither rural dwellers nor urban dwellers, neither business owners nor laborers, and that is no respecter of race, religion, creed or sex;”

Right # Eight:  “Those citizens and legal residents of the State of Nebraska living at or below the federal poverty rate shall be absolved of making any positive net contribution to the consumption tax revenue of this state;”

In other words, this “Nebraska EPIC Consumption Tax Act” aims to treat all Nebraskan’s fairly, regardless of their person, status or wealth and makes concessions for the poor.

The ICON Directors also voted to help fund the Consumption Tax drive by individual donations and getting the word and information out. Funds raised by “TRUE Nebraskans” 35% Tax Rebate fund drive in 2019 & 2020 (which was halted due to Covid), have been donated to this Consumption Tax drive. However, more funding is needed.

ICON President, Jim Dinklage, states “As a long time property tax payer in Nebraska and ICON President, I strongly urge you to go to for further information.

USDA Officials Will Visit Ord, Nebraska to Highlight Renewable Energy Infrastructure in Recognition of Earth Day

USDA Rural Development officials, alongside local, state, and federal partners, will visit Ord, Nebrasak at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 22, 2021, to celebrate renewable energy infrastructure improvements for Scratchtown Brewing Company, LLC in recognition of Earth Day.

USDA will emphasize how several partnerships, including a $14,529 Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant from USDA allowed Scratchtown Brewing Company to install a 24 kilowatt rooftop solar array and save nearly $3,300 a year in electricity costs.

Scratchtown Brewing Company owner Caleb Pollard, USDA officials and other local officials  will highlight the environmental and business benefits of renewable energy and the resources available to help offset the costs of purchase and installation. The day will conclude with a presentation at the local Ord High School.

This event is free and open to the public.


K-State study finds reduction in milk production among anaplasmosis-infected cattle

Researchers at the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine have published new data suggesting a negative effect on a dairy cow's milk production because of bovine anaplasmosis, a globally widespread livestock disease.

The article, "Assessment of within-herd seroprevalence of Anaplasma marginale antibodies and association with decreased milk production in an Iowa dairy herd," co-authored by Andrew Curtis, a doctoral student in physiology, and Hans Coetzee, professor and head of the anatomy and physiology department, appears in the April issue of Applied Animal Science.

The researchers specifically found that 38% of the animals in the herd tested positive for bovine anaplasmosis, which is linked to significant production losses in cattle in the United States.

"Anaplasmosis has been a large part of my doctoral research," Curtis said. "I was fortunate to be able to revisit a dataset collected in Iowa from 2008-2011 while working on my dissertation. Although the original survey was completed a few years ago, the impact of anaplasmosis on dairy cattle and milk production has remained poorly defined in the literature. We recognized the opportunity to describe the relationship that appears to exist between anti-Anaplasma marginale antibodies and dairy production."

"This study demonstrates the need for careful monitoring for anaplasmosis infection across various geographic regions and especially in open herds not having rigorous diagnostic testing protocols," said David K. Beede, editor-in-chief of Applied Animal Science. "Poor biosecurity practices, such as failure to quarantine just-purchased animals or reusing hypodermic needles among animals for routine treatments, are risk factors."

Cows that tested positive for the Anaplasma marginale antibodies produced significantly less milk than cows that tested negative. The authors concluded that by managing risks connected with new additions to a herd and by eliminating circumstances that may support disease transmission, production and herd health at the facility could have been safeguarded.

"This is an important finding, as it demonstrates the need for further study of the effects of Anaplasma marginale in dairy settings," Coetzee said. "The survey results also indicate that freedom from bovine anaplasmosis cannot be assumed for an entire geographic region."

Caused by the hemobacterium Anaplasma marginale, the clinical signs of the disease, which can be fatal, may include anemia, icterus, fever, weight loss, abortion, lethargy and lack of appetite. Anaplasmosis can be spread through ticks, horseflies and blood-contaminated objects, as well as through the placenta from cow to calf during pregnancy.

Curtis is currently working with a set of calves to test for an implantable vaccine platform that has previously been used against bovine anaplasmosis.

"This is a similar platform to one that our research group used to deliver an anaplasmosis vaccine in the past," Curtis said. "As research continues, we hope to have success with the implantable vaccine platform and prove its ability to deliver a variety of antigens — including, perhaps, a future anaplasmosis vaccine — over an extended period of time."

The authors were supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Summer and Fall Cattle Markets

Josh Maples, Extension Economist, Mississippi State University

Weekly live cattle cash prices have remained relatively strong amid the market setting discussed in this newsletter last week. The continued rally in the cutout suggests strong beef demand in the near-term. Similarly, feeder cattle prices have been stronger in many regions over the past few weeks. However, there is more uncertainty in the summer and fall months for both live and feeder cattle prices.

Cattle futures prices declined over the past week and a half after rallying at the end of March and into early April. The June live cattle contract closed above $125 on April 7th but has since posted eight consecutive days of declines and closed below $119 in trading today. The summer and fall month contracts experienced larger declines than the winter and spring 2022 contracts. Feeder cattle futures have also been on a decline over the past few weeks. The May contract closed today about $10 lower than on April 7th. Similarly, the fall contracts are back into the low to mid $150s after spending a few days above $160.

The next cattle on feed report is set for release this Friday and is likely to contain some eye-popping year-over-year comparisons as the March 2021 data will be positioned against March 2020 data when covid disruptions were in full effect and placements were very low. While placements are nearly certain to be higher than a year ago, just how much higher is the big question. Very large placement totals in March 2021 could lead to larger than expected totals of market-ready live cattle this summer. The recent declines in summer month live futures may be reacting to this possibility.

Grain prices continue to be elevated and will likely remain a headwind to market rallies for feeder cattle. While still very early in the year, the recent prospective plantings report did not suggest significant declines in corn prices this year. Currently, one would have to look all the way to the September 2022 to find a corn futures contract trading below $5 per bushel.

Drought and pasture conditions are the biggest concern, especially for regions facing exceptional drought. Drought conditions are widespread in the western U.S. with Southwestern states facing large swaths of D4 “Exceptional drought.” Conditions are similar in much of Colorado, Utah and surrounding states. Drought conditions in the Northern Plains have worsened and are leading to difficult herd liquidation decisions for many producers. Whether the drought conditions expand or recede over the next few weeks will be important to forage conditions throughout the Great Plains region.

Despite the recent declines in futures prices, there remains cautious optimism in cattle markets this year. The expectation of tightening supplies and a strong beef demand profile provide some optimism for stronger markets this year. However, there are still many factors to watch closely.

IRFA, ICGA, and IFBF Submit Comments to EPA on E15 Labeling and Underground Storage Tank Compatibility

Today, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA), Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), and Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) jointly submitted regulatory comments to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan expressing the urgency of EPA’s proposed rulemaking for E15 Fuel Dispenser Labeling and Compatibility with Underground Storage Tanks. Together the Iowa agricultural organizations released the following statement:

“Iowa leads the nation in both corn and ethanol production and growing the market for E15 is crucial to our state’s economic, agricultural, energy and environmental future. Regulatory changes have the potential to accelerate the commercial expansion of E15, which is the most immediate, available, and affordable path to carbon reduction in the transportation sector. While the proposed rule is a good start, the bottom line is that it does not go far enough. We want to help elevate it by knocking down unnecessary regulatory barriers that would prevent E15 commercial growth and stifle carbon reduction as a result.  We thank EPA for its consideration of our recommendations, and we stand ready to work with the Agency and the Biden Administration on this and other climate solutions going forward.”

Among the key items addressed in the comments, ICGA, IFBF, and IRFA recommended that EPA’s E15 label requirement be modernized and modified in a manner that is simple, informational, and factual, while eliminating language and elements that are speculative, confusing, or threatening. Additionally, the groups called on EPA to revise its regulations to clarify that all existing underground storage tank equipment is “deemed compatible” with ethanol blends up to E15.

Growth Energy Calls on EPA to Fix E15 Labeling and Infrastructure

Today, Growth Energy submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calling for a fix to outdated and confusing E15 labeling and to ensure retail stations’ existing tank systems can accommodate the storage of E15 and higher gasoline-ethanol blends. The association notes in its comments:  

“Growth Energy supports modification of the E15 label requirement to increase clarity and ensure it adequately advises consumers of appropriate uses of the fuel, while not unnecessarily dissuading the vast majority of consumers whose vehicles can refuel with E15.... In addition, Growth Energy strongly supports EPA’s proposal to modify the underground storage tank (UST) compatibility requirements applicable to E15 and other fuel blends.  

“There is ample support that a wide variety of fuel storage equipment, including USTs and related piping, may store E15 if it is suitable for use with E10.  Removing unnecessary impediments to retailers’ use of such existing equipment is imperative to providing E15 equal footing in the fuels marketplace.”

After submitting comments, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor made the following statement:

“As our nation faces the challenges of climate change, it’s imperative that EPA act immediately to support greater access to cleaner renewable fuel blends for all Americans. E15 and higher ethanol blended fuels will deliver immediate benefits for our environment and are a critical piece of our nation’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions.  

“Clearing hurdles to the sale of E15 and growing markets of biofuels would also provide an economic lifeline for rural communities as they continue to rebuild in the wake of COVID-19. Between the economic and environmental benefits, fixing E15 labeling and infrastructure is a win-win for America.”

EPA announced its proposed rulemaking on January 19, 2021, allowing for three months of public comments on its proposal to either modify or remove the label and modify the United Storage Tanks (UST) regulations to grant certain allowances for compatibility demonstration for storage of ethanol blends.  

NCGA Submits Comments to EPA on E15 Fuel Dispenser Labeling and Underground Storage Tanks

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) today submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule to update fuel pump labeling for E15 and improve the process for retailers to demonstrate compatibility of their equipment so they can offer higher ethanol blends.

“As producers of the primary feedstock for ethanol, corn growers support expanding availability of higher ethanol blends such as E15, an immediate, available, and affordable solution to lowering carbon emissions in transportation,” NCGA President John Linder wrote in the organization’s comments. “Finalizing this proposal will remove additional barriers to retailers offering E15 and provide an immediate fuel decarbonization opportunity.”

Updating EPA’s fuel pump label and supporting compliance demonstration for underground storage tanks (USTs) will benefit both consumers and retailers. NCGA’s comments urged EPA to adopt proposed updates to the E15 label and make further revisions to the label statement to keep it fact-based and avoid speculation and confusion.

“NCGA believes the E15 label must clearly and factually inform consumers which vehicles E15 is safe and approved for use in and identify the limited engines in which E15 is not approved for use. Because more than 95 percent of light duty vehicles on the road today are 2001 and newer and can use E15, the label should inform consumers that E15 is safe for use in their vehicles,” stated Linder. “EPA is not only proposing changes to E15 fuel labeling requirements but is also seeking input to revise and streamline methods for retailers demonstrating UST equipment compatibility.  As NCGA’s comments noted, equipment compatibility has not been an issue for retailers because an extensive amount of equipment is fully compatible with E15 and higher blends, but demonstrating compatibility has been an issue.  Through NCGA and state corn grower associations, farmers have invested their resources in support of biofuels infrastructure.

“We appreciate EPA’s proposals to expand options for UST owners and operators to meet compatibility requirements and the forward-looking proposal for new UST systems and replacement equipment and components to be compatible with up to 100 percent ethanol, cost-effectively future-proofing UST investments for changing fuel markets and new, low carbon fuel choices.

“We urge EPA to expand the allowances for already compatible equipment to do more to make compatibility demonstration less burdensome for retailers that want to offer consumers greater choice and value and meet the objective of allowing E15 use with existing compatible infrastructure. Listing these tanks and piping is a good first step, but EPA must ensure the greatest possible extent of equipment known to be compatible is included in the final rule,” the submitted comments went on the say.

ACE Supports EPA’s Proposed Changes to Update Unnecessary E15 Warning Labels and Fuel Equipment Compatibility Rules

In comments submitted today, the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty utilized his fuel retailing expertise to share feedback on the proposed rule E15 Fuel Dispenser Labeling and Compatibility With Underground Storage Tanks that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in the final days of the Trump administration. Specifically, the rule co-proposes EPA either modify the E15 label or remove the label requirement entirely. Further, EPA proposes to modify the underground storage tank (UST) regulations which offer paths that would make it easier for station owners to demonstrate compatibility with E15 and possibly higher ethanol blends in the future.

EPA’s proposed changes to compatibility rules would make it easier for station owners and operators to store and sell E15 using existing equipment, and changes to E15 label requirements could reduce consumer confusion and resistance to trying E15. Finalizing this rule is an important step to treat E15 like other fuels. “The proposed rule removes unnecessarily harsh restrictions that were put in place as a response to misinformation-based fear created by carefully crafted and heavily promoted anti-ethanol myths, which have been “busted” by more than 10 years of E15 use with retailers reporting no damage claims, and no increase in releases from UST systems,” Lamberty wrote.

E15 Label Changes
EPA’s proposed adjustments to make the E15 label less alarming would be an improvement but ACE prefers EPA remove the outdated E15 label altogether, which also eliminates the need for the E15 survey which has already established E15 as a consistently blended fuel. However, EPA’s request seeking comment on other government entities requiring their own E15 labels is strongly opposed by ACE. “Allowing state and local government labels would be seen by those with considerable resources as permission to lobby for anti-ethanol labels at every government level,” the comments stated. “It would create confusion and doubt for motorists traveling between states and would do the opposite of what EPA hopes to accomplish.”

UST Compatibility
In ACE’s comments, Lamberty noted that EPA’s compatibility standards wouldn’t change, they’d simply allow station owner and operators simpler, logical methods to show their infrastructure is compatible. EPA’s changes provide recognition that tanks and piping with secondary containment and monitoring of the interstitial space are already compatible with E15, citing ACE’s Flex Check E15 compatibility tool, which could save fuel marketers billions of dollars compared to fictional estimated costs from ethanol opponents. And, while current UL listings for USTs storing and selling gasoline and ethanol blends already cover blends up to 100 percent ethanol, EPA’s proposed requirement for new UST systems and replacements to be compatible with ethanol blends up to 100 percent, provides an added visible assurance to station owners and operators of compatibility with higher ethanol blends, including E85.

Ethanol Emergency Response Webinars This Week

The Renewable Fuels Association is offering two four-hour-long webinars this week, led by a nationally accredited and professional instructor with an extensive background in emergency management, firefighting and hazardous materials response, and offered in partnership with TRANSCAER and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

The goal of these webinars is for attendees to gain a full ethanol and ethanol-blended fuel emergency response training experience that can be used immediately in the field. The training program will include the following elements: ethanol and ethanol-blended fuels, chemical and physical characteristics of ethanol and hydrocarbon fuels, transportation and transfer, storage and dispensing locations, fire-fighting foam principles, general health and safety considerations, and storage and pre-planning considerations.

The sessions will take place this week from 8 a.m. to noon CDT Wednesday, April 21, and noon to 4 p.m. CDT Thursday, April 22. Certificates of Participation will be awarded to all registered attendees once the webinar has been completed. Click here for more information and to register...

TRANSCAER is a voluntary national outreach effort that focuses on assisting communities to prepare for and to respond to a possible hazardous materials transportation incident. The acronym stands for Transportation Community Awareness and Emergency Response.

Many Ranch Groups Send Letter to USTR & USDA Seeking Relief from USMCA

In anticipation of a soon-to-be-held summit between U.S. Trade Ambassador Katherine Tai and her counterparts within the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), 18 national, state, and regional cattle and ranch associations sent a letter today seeking immediate relief from that agreement.

The letter addressed to Ambassador Tai and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack states that the USMCA, “more than any other multilateral free trade agreement,” has “severely weakened” the United States’ live cattle supply chain and the rural communities it supports.

Included in the letter are two charts, one showing that during the past seven years the United States imported from Mexico and Canada about two and one-half times the value of beef and cattle that it exports, importing over $4.4 billion worth of beef and cattle but only exporting less than $2 billion of the same commodities.

The second chart depicts quantity-based USMCA trade and shows the U.S. imported about three and one-half times the quantity of beef and cattle that it exported.

The ranch groups acknowledge that the USMCA is working well for multinational meatpackers, processors and importers who benefit greatly from sourcing more and more foreign cattle and unlabeled beef from Mexico and Canada. But they argue those benefits for the few are causing irreparable harm to America’s family farm and ranch cattle producers who “cannot be expected to prosper” unless relief from the USMCA is granted.

The letter also describes how multinational corporations exploited domestic cattle producers by importing tens of thousands of slaughter-ready cattle from Canada while simultaneously depriving U.S. cattle producers access to their own markets following the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ranch groups concluded by urging the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and Secretary Vilsack “to take decisive action to rebalance the untenable cattle and beef trade imbalance memorialized under the USMCA. At the very least, and as a first step, we urge you to take steps to assist America’s cattle farmers and ranchers by giving them the ability to compete in their own domestic market by differentiating their USA-produced beef from foreign beef and beef from foreign cattle.”

Enhanced Bayer Carbon Program Offers Growers New Opportunities in 2021 and Beyond

Building on the success of the Bayer Carbon Program launched last summer, the company announced today enhancements to the program, providing new opportunities for U.S. growers to participate for the 2021-22 program season.

Highlights include a significant geographic expansion, nearly doubling the number of states where growers are eligible to participate. For the first time, growers who have previously adopted some climate-smart farming practices also may be able to enroll those acres in the program.

The Bayer Carbon Program takes a farmer-centric approach by offering growers simplicity, certainty and flexibility. By paying U.S. farmers for implementing climate-smart farming methods such as strip- or no-till and cover crops, which help sequester carbon in the soil, farmers receive guaranteed payments and are rewarded for how they produce, not just what they produce.

“Farmers are at the center of the solution when it comes to helping sequester carbon and addressing climate change,” said Jackie Applegate, President of Crop Science, North America. “By enabling farmers to benefit in a simple and transparent way, Bayer is uniquely positioned to help growers capture value created by these sustainable farming practices.”

The streamlined approach has become a hallmark of Bayer’s program. It offers certainty and pays growers for the verified practices farmers adopt on each enrolled acre, without growers having to decipher the amount of carbon they generate.

“Through our Carbon Advisory Panel and meetings with growers, we’ve heard from farmers that they appreciate the simplicity of the program, which allows them to focus on what they do best – raise a crop,” said Leo Bastos, Head of Carbon Business Model. “We are excited to build on the success of the program’s first year and offer even more growers the chance to participate in the program. This is just the beginning. We’re continually exploring new ways and opportunities to help deliver added benefits to farmers.”

In addition to generating additional revenue, participating in initiatives like the Bayer Carbon Program and implementing climate-smart farming practices may provide farmers with important benefits such as the potential for improved soil health that can result in increased yields and profitability of farmers’ operations.

Enhancements for the 2021-2022 program season include eligibility for growers who have adopted strip- or no-till or cover crops on fields on or after January 1, 2012.

In addition to the nine states that were part of the program’s first year, new states where growers are now eligible to participate include: Wisconsin, South Dakota, Nebraska, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Maryland and Delaware.

For a complete list of eligible geographies, to learn more or enroll in the 2021 Bayer Carbon Program, please visit

Weekend Ag News Round-up - April 18

 USDA grant supports ag production technology

A University of Nebraska-Lincoln project to support next-generation framework for variable-rate technology, which allows for optimal application of fertilizer and other crop inputs based on soil and crop variations in production agriculture, has received support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  

The $935,560 USDA grant comes from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.  

Variable-rate technology is key to addressing variations in soil makeup, temperature and other variables. Using variable-rate technology can help maximize yield and profit, while minimizing the agricultural inputs or footprints on the environment in agricultural production. Yeyin Shi, assistant professor and agricultural information systems engineering in UNL’s department of biological systems engineering, is leading the cyber physical systems, networking and physical processes enabling the project.

Variable rate fertilizer applications began in the late 1980s, and university research continued during that time with machinery development and field testing. The variable rate application improved the efficiency of farm inputs, maintained or improved crop yield and quality, and protected water quality. Historically, variable rate guidance was based off of triangulation from radio beacons, and GPS technology has improved significantly since then. Today, advanced technology also provides time management, digital farm records and traceability of crop production.  

Shi specializes in advanced technology and methodologies to generate, extract, manage and utilize useful data to increase efficiency, quality and sustainability in agricultural production. Shi and her team will integrate stress sensing, networking and data-driven modeling with classic plant and soil biophysical principles and well-recognized management practices, to provide a scalable framework for the real-time in-season variable-rate water and nitrogen applications.

The team plans to utilize the massive amount of data generated in daily agricultural production into a training process for model self-improving, while keeping the farmers' privacy and computational efficiency in mind.  

The new framework will be put to the test at the Eastern Nebraska Research, Extension, and Education Center (ENREEC) near Mead, and a commercial field at Paulman’s Farm near North Platte.  

Other Nebraska faculty participating in the grant as co-principal investigators are Yufeng Ge, Daran Rudnick, and Joe Luck in the department of biological systems engineering; Kuan Zhang in electrical and computer engineering, Laila Puntel within agronomy and horticulture, and Yuzhen Zhou from statistics.  

Promoting Beef From Nebraska Overseas

Amelia Breinig - Nebraska Department of Agriculture

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) has, in the first quarter of 2021, pursued several events to promote beef from Nebraska. With the ability to travel still sidelined, NDA has partnered with allies such as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) to carry out promotional and educational events.

United Tastes – Vietnam March 18, 2021 - On March 18th, the United States Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam held “United Tastes,” an in-person event highlighting U.S. agriculture and U.S. products. The event was open for media as well as invited guests in the food and beverage sector of Vietnam and kicked off a broader marketing campaign to highlight high quality U.S. food. NDA, with the help of in-country USMEF representatives, reserved a beef sponsorship spot at the event to showcase beef from Nebraska for display and taste. Approximately 40-50 people attended this event with more engaging online and via social media.

Beef from Nebraska: “Pasture to Plate” – Taiwan March 29, 2021   On March 29th, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture hosted a virtual event entitled, “Beef from Nebraska: Pasture to Plate.” The purpose of this event was to educate on and promote beef from Nebraska and connect and reconnect with local importers, retailers and restaurants in Taiwan. NDA partnered with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Denver, Colorado at the inception of this event and then received assistance and support from the in-country representation for USMEF as well as the Agricultural Trade Office at the American Institute of Taiwan.

During the event, USMEF provided an update for the Taiwanese market, Beef Council member Jeff Rudolph and his daughter Jessie provided remarks from a producer and feeder perspective and Dr. Chris Calkins of UNL gave a presentation to the group on quality beef from Nebraska. Finally, NDA provided more information on packers and process in Nebraska and necessary contacts for purchasing. Throughout the event there were approximately 20-25 guests that logged on.

Nebraska – Vietnam Agriculture Discussion April 6, 2021 - On April 6th, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture in partnership with the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi hosted a virtual event highlighting the agriculture relationship between Nebraska and Vietnam. This event was focused on Nebraska agriculture as a whole and consisted of government officials from Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and Vietnam agriculture companies as well as buyers and importers. Pre-recorded remarks by Governor Pete Ricketts were played and U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink, a native Nebraskan, also spoke. NDA was pleased to have Beef Council Executive Director, Ann Marie Bosshamer participate to provide a perspective on beef from Nebraska to the audience. Approximately 50-60 guests logged on to this event.

Heifer Development

Connor Biehler, Beef Systems Asst. Extension Educator

Developing replacement heifers is a long and costly process that can potentially become even more expensive if heifers must be culled from the herd for various reasons. This makes it vital to ensure any work put into developing heifers provides them with longevity to remain productive in the herd for years to come. Often, producers have invested so much in heifers through parturition of their first calf, they decide to backoff on development post-calving, setting them up for failure to get bred again. Since heifers are still growing at this stage themselves, it is paramount to not get behind on meeting nutrient requirements through the lactational phase. On the other end of the spectrum, heifers should not be over fed to the point of over-depositing fat in their mammary system, as this will later impair milk production. Developing heifers to maintain an average daily gain of ~1-1.5 pounds should be adequate to allow proper growth without wasting feed and adding too much condition.  

If purchasing heifers, attempt to learn their vaccination history. If this information is unavailable be sure to administer a modified live viral vaccination no less than 30 days prior to breeding or go the safer route by using a “killed” vaccine. The response to an adequate vaccination protocol is enhanced in cattle that are in appropriate body condition and on a sufficient mineral program. The postpartum interval to first estrus is longer in first-calf heifers than mature cows. Setting heifers up to calve a few weeks before the rest of the older cow herd reduces the risk of reproductive failure leading up to their second breeding season.

After the heifers have calved, do not take your foot off the gas, and let them coast through lactation, continue to provide them with the necessities that will allow them to remain successful. Take care of heifers in breed back phase – if not all the hard work and monetary value associated with developing heifers is washed away if she cannot get bred and must be culled. You do not want to have to play “catch up” to add condition as this is costly and negatively impacts the next generation.

For more information on Nebraska Beef Extension or selection of heifer development reach me at my office (402)624-8007 or follow my twitter page @BigRedBeefTalk for more information on Nebraska Beef Extension.

The Economic Viability of Winter Wheat

NE Extension Webinar: Thursday, April 22, noon CDT
With: Cody Creech, Dryland Systems Cropping Specialist, Nebraska Extension; Dave Petersen, Area Claims Manager, Rural Community Insurance Services; and Cory Walters, Associate Professor and Grain Economist, UNL Agricultural Economics.

Wheat is just emerging from dormancy and growers are getting their first look at how the crop faired through the winter months. Wheat fields planted behind fallow emerged in the fall and have established well. Depleted soil water and dry conditions has slowed wheat emergence in fields that have been continuously cropped.

Register at

Free Farm and Ag Law Clinics Set for May

Free legal and financial clinics are being offered for farmers and ranchers across the state in May 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, May 5
    Wednesday, May 12
    Wednesday, May 19
    Wednesday, May 26

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.

Beef Improvement Federation Meeting Set for June 22-25

For the first time in two years, the Beef Improvement Federation’s annual meeting and research symposium will be held in person. Dan Loy, Iowa Beef Center director and beef specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, said Iowa State University faculty and staff are excited to host this year’s event, set for June 22-25 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines.

Beef event graphic.“We’ve been working for nearly two years on the program, speakers, tours and logistics of this great event,” Loy said. “Especially because COVID forced the in-person aspect to be withdrawn in 2020, we know people are ready to gather for timely and useful information from experts and to learn about the Iowa beef industry through tours.”

The symposium features two-and-a-half days of educational programming and a full day of tours, with a special young producer symposium during the first afternoon.

General sessions are set for Wednesday and Thursday mornings, and panel discussions on a variety of beef production and genetic improvement topics begin late each morning and continue through those afternoons.

Following the second full day’s sessions, participants will attend an evening social and dinner at the Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center on the Iowa State campus in Ames.

“We’re looking forward to hosting the group and showing them the facility,” Loy said. “It will be a great ending to the day’s events.”

Registration is open and hotel information is now available on the symposium website
    Early registration (May 14 deadline) is $345; $125 for students.
    Full registration (May 15 and after) is $395; $145 for students.

Tours: $45, East Tour capacity is 52; West Tour capacity is 40.

ASA, Ag and Conservation Orgs to NRCS: Protect Mechanical Harvesting of Cover Crops

Last Thursday, the American Soybean Association and other agricultural and conservation organizations commented on the Natural Resources Conservation Services’ (NRCS) proposed revisions to the Cover Crop Conservation Practice Standard code 340. NRCS is proposing to stop allowing mechanical harvesting of a cover crop for forage while still allowing for grazing without providing any conservation-based reason for this change.

In the comments, the groups argue that NRCS no longer allowing mechanical harvesting of cover crops will slow cover crop adoption, cause grower confusion over the connection between cover crops and crop insurance, increase costs for growers and lead to confusion over what is considered a cover crop. Cover crops are a critical working lands conservation practice, and significant progress has been made in recent years in cover crop adoption. The comments highlighted the group's concern that NRCS’ proposed change will slow that momentum.

Statement by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on the Nomination of Robert Bonnie to Serve as Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation

“I am grateful to President Biden for announcing his intent to nominate Robert Bonnie to serve as Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation with the Department of Agriculture. Robert currently serves as Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor for Climate at USDA. He led the USDA Transition Team for the President-Elect and Vice President-Elect. And he served in the Obama-Biden Administration as Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment as well as my Senior Advisor for the Environment and Climate. He is one of the nation’s foremost authorities and leaders on working lands approaches to conservation and incentive-based climate and conservation practices for farmers, ranchers, foresters and landowners. Under Robert’s steady hand, America’s farmers, ranchers, producers and landowners will see renewed focus on building and maintaining markets at home and abroad and preparing our food and agricultural community to lead the world in climate-smart agricultural practices. Robert will be committed to working with U.S. farmers and landowners to help feed Americans and the world and make climate smart practices work for them in a market-oriented way—a way that creates new streams of income, a cleaner energy future and a biobased manufacturing revolution.”


Prior to joining USDA, Bonnie was at Duke University, first as a Rubenstein Fellow and later as an Executive in Residence at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions working on conservation and environmental issues in rural America. In 2020, he also worked with the Bipartisan Policy Center on its Farm and Forest Carbon Solutions Initiative.

Previously, Bonnie was vice president for land conservation for the Environmental Defense Fund where he focused on developing incentives to reward farmers, ranchers and forest owners for stewardship activities on private lands. At EDF, he helped develop the Safe Harbor program and other incentive-based approaches to endangered species conservation. Bonnie has master’s degrees in forestry and environmental management from Duke University. He grew up on a farm in Kentucky and now lives in Virginia.

 Soy Growers Support Bonnie Nomination for FPAC

ASA is pleased with President Biden’s announcement that he will nominate Robert Bonnie to oversee USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC) mission area as Under Secretary.

FPAC is significant to agriculture and includes the Farm Service Agency, which manages commodity programs and the Conservation Reserve Program; the Risk Management Agency, which administers crop insurance; and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which manages conservation programs other than CRP.

Kevin Scott, soybean farmer from Valley Springs, South Dakota, and ASA President said, “Bonnie has a solid background, having overseen NRCS under the Obama Administration and most recently serving as Secretary Vilsack’s chief climate adviser. We have appreciated his public service in support of agriculture, and we respect Bonnie’s accessibility and responsiveness to us as farmers. Just recently, he joined ASA virtually for a conversation during our March board meetings, and we’ve consistently seen this willingness on his part to connect with farmers. We look forward to working with him in this new role after his confirmation.”

Thursday April 15 Ag News

 Rural Mainstreet on Strong Growth Path: Farmland Prices Expanding Rapidly
For the fifth straight month, 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.         

Overall: The overall index for April slipped to a still healthy 69.0 from a record high 71.9 in March.  The index ranges between 0 and 100 with a reading of 50.0 representing growth neutral.  Approximately, 37.9% of bank CEOs reported that their local economy expanded between March and April.  

“Strong growth in grain prices, the Federal Reserve’s record-low interest rates, and growing exports have underpinned the Rural Mainstreet Economy. 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.  

Fully 100% of bank CEOs indicated that export markets were important, or very important, to their local economy.

Farming and ranching: For a seventh straight month, the farmland price index advanced above growth neutral. The April reading climbed to 78.6, its highest level since 2012, and up from 71.9 in March.  This is first time since 2013 that Creighton’s survey has recorded seven straight months of farmland prices above growth neutral.

Bankers reported that approximately 9.1% of farmland sales over past six months have gone to nonfarmer investors.   

The April farm equipment-sales index rose to 67.5, its highest level since 2013, and up from March’s very strong 63.5. After 86 straight months of readings below growth neutral, farm equipment sales bounced into growth territory for the last five months.    

Below are the state reports:

Nebraska: The Nebraska RMI for April slipped to77.1 from March’s 78.8. The state’s farmland-price index rocketed to 82.6 from last month’s 76.1. Nebraska’s new-hiring index declined to 67.5 from 78.4 in March.  Despite recent solid job gains, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicate that Nebraska’s Rural Mainstreet nonfarm employment remains more than 800 jobs, or 0.3%, below its pre-COVID-19 level.

Iowa: The April RMI for Iowa decreased to 69.8 from March’s 71.6. Iowa’s farmland-price index rose to 78.6 from 72.4 in March. Iowa’s new-hiring index for April fell to 63.5 from 72.7 in March. Despite recent solid job gains, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicate that Iowa’s Rural Mainstreet nonfarm employment remains more than 27,000 jobs, or 4.2%, below its pre-COVID-19 level.

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 and launched in January 2006.

Nebraska Ribfest Returns to Lincoln This August

The long-loved, famous Nebraska Ribfest is set to return to Lincoln after a 2-year hiatus. New this year, it will occur at the Lancaster Event Center (LEC) Fairgrounds August 5–7 2021 as part of the Lancaster County Super Fair’s ten-day 150th anniversary, July 29–August 7.

The LEC Fairgrounds team has partnered with Nebraska Pork Producers Association to bring Nebraska Ribfest back to the community. Nationally recognized BBQ vendors will be competing August 5–7 to show off their best delicacies, with the champion awarded on the afternoon of Saturday, August 7. Live local bands will be showcased nightly, with a DJ host every afternoon. Full list of participating BBQ vendors will be available June 1 at

“The Nebraska Pork Producers Association is beyond excited to see the return of a Ribfest to Lincoln. We are always thrilled when opportunities arise for consumers to enjoy the high-quality pork we are so proud to produce!” said Nebraska Pork Producers Association President Shana Beattie, “We look forward to supporting the Lancaster County Super Fair with their effort to revive this fan-favorite event.”

Also new this year, admission to Nebraska Ribfest will be completely free beyond the normal fair gate fees. Free fair gate admission tickets will be available at U-Stop Lincoln locations from June 1–Aug 7, while supplies last. Other fair gate ticket sponsor locations will be shared on as they become available.  Otherwise, fair gate admission is $3/person/entry. Parking is $5/vehicle.

BBQ vendors will be serving the public on Thursday, August 5 from 5-11pm and Fri-Sat Aug 6–7 from 1-11pm in the Attraction Zone on the north side of the fairgrounds. Full-service liquor bar and ample seating will be available in the adjacent beer garden and shade tent.

In addition to enjoying world-class BBQ offerings not available in the area year-round, visitors of all ages will be steps away from other free and low-cost fair entertainment:
• NEW Aussie Kingdom – USA’s ONLY traveling Australian wildlife show (All 10 days)
• Thousands of animal and static entries inside the pavilions (July 29–Aug 1)
• Demolition Derby* (Friday)
• Fast Track Dirt Drags* (Saturday)
• NEW Summer Flea Market* (Thursday - Saturday)
• NEW Lancaster Cornhole Tourney (Friday, Saturday)
*extra ticket required

Make plans now for your family trip or date night to Nebraska Ribfest and see what else is new at the Super Fair at or follow on social media @SuperFairLNK.

This Week's Drought Summary

Last week’s storm system brought heavy rain and thunderstorms to much of the central and eastern U.S., bringing drought condition improvements to parts of the Midwest and eastern Plains. Meanwhile, warm, dry conditions persisted in the West and New England, resulting in deteriorating conditions. Parts of the Southwest are now experiencing record levels of dryness for the last 12 months. In New England, year-to-date precipitation ranks in the top 10 driest on record.


Widespread precipitation across the Midwest led to broad improvements to drought across the region, erasing moisture deficits and improving soil moisture and streamflow. Locally heavy totals (more than 2 inches) led to a two-category improvement in western Minnesota. These short-term gains also finally chipped away at the D3 (exceptional drought) area in northwestern Iowa that had been in place since October 2020. Cooperative Extension notes that tile lines are running again and water is standing in roadside ditches. Soil moisture has also started to rebound.

High Plains

The High Plains generally saw cooler than normal temperatures and widespread precipitation over the last week. Locally heavy amounts of rainfall (more than 2 inches) helped erase long moisture deficits in eastern South Dakota and southeastern North Dakota, resulting in improvements to moderate drought. In the remainder of the region, precipitation wasn’t enough to prevent worsening conditions. Moderate drought (D1) expanded in South Dakota and extreme drought (D3) expanded in both North and South Dakota to reflect the growing moisture deficits and its effect on soil moisture. Agricultural field reports indicate planters are being idled, except in the southeastern corner of the state, and cattle are being culled.

Looking Ahead

The National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center forecast for the next five days (April 15-19) shows slow moving storm systems affecting large parts of the Lower 48. This storm is expected to bring cold temperatures and late season snows across the Northern Plains, Central Rockies and Northern Great Basin. In the Southwest, dry weather combined with gusty winds is expected to persist, leading to an elevated fire risk. In contrast, the Lower Mississippi Valley and eastern Gulf Coast states are expected to see heavy rainfall. Moving into next week, the Climate Prediction Center six to 10 day outlook (valid April 19-23) favors above normal temperatures across the West, Northeast and Southeast. Below normal temperatures are most likely across the Great Plains, Midwest and Mississippi Valley. Below normal precipitation is expected across much of the country with the exception of the Southern High Plains, Florida and New England.

Fischer’s HAULS Act Gains Support in Congress

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the following statement today after additional Senate cosponsors signed on to her Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety (HAULS) Act, and bipartisan companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives:

“I am pleased to see my bipartisan legislation gaining momentum in both chambers of Congress. Ag and livestock haulers play an important role transporting food and fuel across America. The HAULS Act will ensure that these haulers can do their critical jobs safely and efficiently.”

Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) have joined as cosponsors to the Senate HAULS Act, bringing the bipartisan bill to 16 cosponsors. A House companion was introduced by Representatives John Rose (R-Tenn.) and Darren Soto (D-Fla.)

The legislation would:
    Eliminate the requirement that ag and livestock hours-of-service (HOS) exemptions only apply during state designated planting and harvesting seasons
    Amend and clarify the definition of “agricultural commodities” based on feedback provided by agriculture and livestock organizations
    Authorize a 150 air-mile exemption from HOS requirements on the destination side of a haul for ag and livestock haulers
Support for the HAULS Act:
“Nebraska plays an integral role in the U.S. beef production chain as a leading state for commercial cattle slaughter, all cattle on feed, commercial red meat production, and livestock cash receipts. Unfortunately, current federal regulations fail to account for the intricacies involved with hauling live animals. The HAULS Act would help mitigate situations where a hauler is forced to choose between compliance with federal law or the health and welfare of the livestock on board. Nebraska Cattlemen sincerely thanks Senator Deb Fischer for her commitment to delivering needed regulatory flexibility for livestock haulers by helping facilitate longer hauls that are inherent to cattle production in our state,” said William H. Rhea III, President of Nebraska Cattlemen.

“Farmers and ranchers must be able to get their crops and livestock to market efficiently and safely. The HAULS Act modernizes trucking regulations to meet the needs of our members. I applaud Senator Fischer for her leadership on this important issue and look forward to working with her to get the HAULS Act enacted into law,” said Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau.

“We thank Sen. Fischer for reintroducing the HAULS Act to provide much needed regulatory relief to our nation’s farmers, ranchers, and agriculture haulers. The efficient transport of livestock is critical to the agriculture sector and to the welfare of our livestock animals. Sen. Fischer has been a long-time champion of common-sense approaches to transportation rules and regulations. The HAULS Act reflects this common-sense approach by updating oversight of livestock transport to provide flexibility and better reflect the unique challenges that exist in hauling live animals. We stand ready to work with Sen. Fischer to enact this important legislation,” said Mark McHargue, President of the Nebraska Farm Bureau.

“By expanding the agricultural exemption to trucking hours-of-service rules, Sen. Fischer’s HAULS Act of 2021 would greatly increase the rules’ usefulness for agricultural haulers across the country. Moreover, the bill’s addition of feed ingredients would clarify that agricultural products, such as soybean meal and distillers grains, are eligible for the agricultural exemption and create more certainty in the trucking rules.   NGFA commends Sen. Fischer for her leadership, and urges that her bill be incorporated into a reauthorization of the FAST Act,” said Mike Seyfert, President and CEO of the National Grain and Feed Association.

“One year after COVID-19 began to disrupt daily life across the country, U.S. cattle producers continue to prove each day that they are committed to keeping grocery stores stocked with beef. Livestock haulers are a critical component of the beef supply chain and flexibility in livestock hauling regulations remains vital. NCBA strongly supports this effort, and thanks Sen. Fischer, Sen. Tester, Sen. Wicker, and Sen. Tina Smith for their bipartisan leadership on the issue. Congress must provide livestock haulers with the flexibility they need to maintain the highest level of safety on the roads, transport livestock humanely, and ensure beef remains available to consumers,” said Jerry Bohn, President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

“AFTC supports Senator Fischer in her reintroduction of the HAULS Act. The Senator’s tireless work on this important issue shows her deep understanding of the need for flexibility within the agriculture community. This legislation takes great strides in clarifying those covered under the exemption, while eliminating unnecessary restrictions on seasonality. Since the inception of the exemption in 1995, agriculture has evolved and this exemption has continued to evolve with it. We are grateful that we have a champion that understands, so well, an industry that feeds and clothes those around the world,” said Jon Samson, Executive Director of the Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference.

“The LMA appreciates Sen. Fischer’s continued work on livestock transportation, which has been further advanced by the reintroduction of the HAULS Act. LMA member markets and the farmers and ranchers they serve need a long-term and meaningful solution to the lack of flexibility in this space. The HAULS Act goes a long way toward achieving that flexibility,” said Jara Settles, Livestock Marketing Association General Counsel and VP of Risk Mitigation.

“The Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety (HAULS) Act of 2021 couldn’t be re-introduced at a more needed time. The bill provides clarity with the addition of feed ingredients, such as soybean meal and distillers grains, to the agricultural products definition. Clarity keeps the transport of agricultural products moving when there are unforeseen bottlenecks with from Mother Nature and ‘Acts of God’ such as Nebraska’s 2019 floods, the pandemic, and the most recent utterly cold temperatures experienced in the Midwest halting some animal feed manufacturing. A stable and consistent food supply is needed by all and this bill helps better meet that need.  The Nebraska Grain and Feed Association supports these changes and thanks Senator Fischer’s leadership on this important food and transportation bill,” said Kristi Block, Executive Vice President of Nebraska Grain and Feed Association.

Single Week U.S. Sorghum Sales Shatter Previous Records

U.S. Department of Agriculture data issued this morning show U.S. sorghum exports the previous week were a record breaking 33.9 million bushels, topping the previous record by more than 10 million bushels, which took place in August 2020. The top destination was China.

In addition to record-breaking exports, new sales commitments were 33.8 million bushels, predominantly purchased by China. The previous record for weekly sorghum sales was 32 million bushels, also in August 2020.

“U.S. sorghum exports continue to signal very strong demand for our crop, and new purchases at this level only reaffirm that,” National Sorghum Producers CEO Tim Lust said. “The size of shipments reported this last week is equivalent to the size of approximately 10-12 Panamax vessels.”

New crop purchases of U.S. sorghum for this point in marketing year are also at a record level, reaching 40 million bushels this past week—a 264 percent increase from the previous record set in 2014. These new crop purchases are significant, particularly in the wake of a + $5 Dec 2021 Chicago Board of Trade price.

“This is the strongest new crop demand we have ever seen at this time in the season,” Lust said. “Availability is so scarce that the sorghum crop being planted now is being marketed at the same time, and farmers have not even started planting in Kansas yet. This sends a strong demand signal to U.S. sorghum producers from our international customers, and we look forward to getting the 2021 crop in the ground.”

ACE Urges for a Technology-Neutral Approach to Infrastructure and Incentives for E15-E85 and Flexible Fuel Vehicles

As Congress considers infrastructure legislation, American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings urges lawmakers to take a technology-neutral approach when making investments to accelerate the nation’s transition to clean energy in the transportation sector and provides recommendations for ways Congress can spend a small fraction of the proposed $174 billion currently being discussed in support of the electric vehicle (EV) supply chain by capitalizing on ethanol’s ability to make near-and-long-term reductions in greenhouse (GHG) emissions.

In letters sent today to House and Senate leaders, along with key committee chairs and ranking members, Jennings pointed out that electric-only vehicles are just 0.3 percent of total vehicles, meaning 99.7 percent of vehicles in the U.S. use liquid fuel. “The bottom line is there are hundreds of millions more people driving vehicles capable of using clean fuels such as E15 and E85 today than any other alternative, and that will be the case for a very long time,” the letter stated. “If Congress wants to achieve immediate climate benefits from clean energy infrastructure, it should provide incentives for retailers to sell E15 and E85 and for automakers to resume the production of FFVs [flex fuel vehicles].”

The letter also cited how corn ethanol can achieve just as meaningful if not greater GHG reductions than EVs, with reference to research published from Harvard and Tufts that indicates average corn ethanol lifecycle GHG emissions are 50 percent cleaner than gasoline. “Further, ethanol is the only transportation energy source that can reach net-negative carbon intensity through continued advancements within ethanol facilities and on-farm practices in how biofuel crops are grown. As a result, ethanol provides near-term and long-term climate benefits,” Jennings wrote.

Jennings shared several ways Congress can unleash ethanol’s ability to rapidly decarbonize transportation fuel in the overall infrastructure package, some of which have zero cost for U.S. taxpayers or relate to clearing outdated roadblocks that currently restrict market access for clean fuels such as E15 and E85.

The recommendations include providing incentives for automakers to resume the production of FFVs and/or consumers to purchase them, support for E15 and E85 market access through the Renewable Fuel Infrastructure Investment and Market Expansion Act and/or modifying and extending the existing Alternative Refueling Property Credit, codifying Reid vapor pressure parity for all ethanol-gasoline blends greater than 10 percent, including the Adopt GREET Act, supporting funding for projects to help ethanol producers capture and sequester carbon, removing barriers to mid-level blends such as E30, and more.

Preliminary Agenda Announced For 2021 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo

This week, Ethanol Producer Magazine announced the preliminary agenda for the 2021 International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo (FEW) taking place July 13-15, 2021 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa.

This year’s agenda includes two new co-located events: Biodiesel & Renewable Diesel Summit and National Biomass Summit & Expo, along with two pre-conference events: Low Carbon Efficiency Summit and Ethanol 101.

“We were thrilled with the response our speaking community had to our call for abstracts and presentation ideas,” said program developer, Tim Portz. “We were able to organize an agenda that not only provided a comprehensive overview of the technical aspects of fuel ethanol production, but also complete strong agendas for the Biodiesel & Renewable Diesel Summit and National Biomass Summit. Together these programs will offer the most comprehensive agenda in bioenergy in 2021.”

The program includes nearly 150 presentations across multiple consecutive tracks:
    Track 1: Production & Operations
    Track 2: Leadership & Financial Management
    Track 3: Coproducts & Product Diversification
    Track 4: Infrastructure & Market Development
    Biodiesel & Renewable Diesel Summit
    National Biomass Summit

“Because of its proximity to a large number of ethanol production facilities, attendees have suggested we move the FEW to Des Moines,” says John Nelson, vice president of operations at BBI International. “This year provided an opportunity for us to make the move and the feedback we have received from exhibitors and sponsors has been extremely positive. Also, the large number of abstracts submitted is a strong indicator that moving to Des Moines is a step in the right direction.”

The event registration is free to all producers of ethanol, advanced biofuels, biodiesel, renewable diesel, biomass power & thermal, RNG, biogas, as well as wood pellets and other densified biomass.

The agenda for all events co-located with the FEW can be viewed online

Register for Part Three of the NCBA Grazing Series Webinar

Grazing Tools of the Trade
April 22th, 2021 @ 7:00 p.m. Central

Join this webinar to learn about successful approaches to incorporating grazing tools into your operation. Experts will take a deep dive into grazing technology and share real world examples of how you can add these tools to your grazing system. Speakers Dr. Corriher-Olson, a forage specialist from Texas A&M, Coby Buck, the U.S. Account Manager for AgriWebb, and Jon Griggs, 2017 Environmental Stewardship Award winner and manager of Maggie Creek Ranch, will each share their unique perspectives and tech tools that will optimize your grazing season.

Click to Get Registered Today...  

Comments Extended on Proposed Conservation Practice Standards

USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Wednesday announced it will extend the deadline for public comment on proposed revisions to 23 national conservation practice standards through a posting in the Federal Register. The proposed revisions were published March 9 with comments originally due April 8. Comments will now be due April 22.

NRCS is encouraging agricultural producers, landowners, organizations, Tribes and others that use its conservation practices to comment on these revised conservation practice standards. NRCS will use public comments to further enhance its conservation practice standards. The proposed revisions to the 23 conservation practice standards are available on the Federal Register at Comments can be made through or by mail or hand delivery.

"By extending the deadline as requested by customers, we hope to collect as much input as possible to ensure that the standards used to carry out these 23 specific conservation practices are relevant to local agricultural, forestry and natural resource needs," said NRCS Acting Chief Terry Cosby.

The 2018 Farm Bill required NRCS to review all 169 existing national conservation practices to seek opportunities to increase flexibility and incorporate new technologies to help the nation's farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners better protect natural resources on their working lands. In 2020, 57 conservation practice standards were updated after public review and are available on NRCS's conservation practices offer guidelines for planning, installing, operating and maintaining conservation practices nationwide.

U.S. Dairy Applauds USDA Work to Implement New Dairy Donation Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced yesterday that it will soon implement the $400 million Dairy Donation Program established by Congress in December 2020. The department provided details on program participation to dairy processors and cooperatives to ensure donations of nutritious dairy products continue to make their way to Americans struggling with hunger while USDA finalizes the program.

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) today issued the following statements applauding USDA’s work:

“NMPF worked closely with Congress to enact the Dairy Donation Program (DDP) in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. This important program will help dairy farmers and the cooperatives they own to continue to do what they do best – feed people. Dairy stakeholders are eager to expand their partnership efforts with food banks and other distributors to provide a variety of nutritious dairy products to food insecure households who have faced uniquely difficult challenges throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, as hunger has risen significantly during the last year. We commend USDA for prioritizing implementation of the DDP and look forward to continue working with the Department, the food bank community and all involved to make the program a success,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO, NMPF.

“IDFA applauds USDA for advancing the Dairy Donation Program (DDP), which will facilitate the donation of fresh, nutritious dairy products to nonprofit organizations helping Americans currently struggling with hunger and nutrition issues. The U.S. dairy industry stepped up throughout the pandemic to partner with and aid non-profits, charities, and other organizations working to combat our nation’s hunger issues that were exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. This new program will help ensure persons in need continue to receive assistance and the unique combination of essential nutrients that only dairy products can provide. IDFA appreciates the department’s work to ensure dairy donations continue during this crucial time of need in our country. We will continue to work with the department to ensure the program works efficiently for dairy processors and cooperatives and the nonprofit organizations serving our nation’s food insecure families,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., president and CEO, IDFA.

New SHP Business Case Showcases the Impact of Cover Crops on Erosion Control

In a new business case from Soil Health Partnership, Missouri farmers Tim and Trent Gottman share how building soil health through reduced tillage and cover crops has been critical to reducing erosion on their Missouri farm. By keeping the soil in place, they hold onto valuable nutrients and help protect nearby waterways.

It was in the mid-2000s when Tim says he first started noticing a significant change in weather patterns. Rainfall events seemed more frequent and more extreme in the spring, pushing planting dates back later and later. Over years of watching his soils wash away, he and his brother Trent worked toward strategically approaching erosion control in a way that was financially feasible for their farm.

“I don’t want to be the guy that stands in the shop every time we get a big rain and go, ‘Well…’ and just shrug my shoulders,” Tim said. “It seemed to me we needed to start adopting practices where, when that happens, you haven’t lost all your fertility, you haven’t lost all your soil – you stand to live another day. We had to do something to slow this water from running off.”

So, in 2014, they invested in a Salford® vertical tillage tool and began using cover crops. Along the way, every decision he and his brother made was driven by a singular vision.

“Our goals [with soil health] have always been around reducing erosion. And we believe that, as the soil structure improves, the price tag will be worth it.”

The business case details the Gottmans’ approach to cover crop planning and implementation, as well as data from two different research trials: 1) an Edge of Field Water Quality Monitoring Program study in partnership with Missouri Corn, Missouri Soy and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, and 2) a Soil Health Partnership cover crop trial.

About his decision to collaborate on projects like these, Tim said, “Any time we can show that farmers are trying to be stewards of the land and doing what we can to keep these nutrients from running off, then we can have a positive voice.”

Wednesday April 14 Ag News

 2021 Introductory Field Crop Scout Training May 11th
Aaron Nygren, NE Extension Educator, Colfax County

I am pleased to announce our first Nebraska Extension Crop Management Diagnostic Clinic offering for 2021, Introductory Level Field Crop Scout Training, which will be held virtually on May 11th. As many of you are likely aware, Keith Glewen retired after 45 years of service to UNL this January, so for now I have taken on an interim role coordinating the CMDC clinic offerings this year. We are still working on finalizing the offerings for the rest of the summer so stay tuned for more information on our August clinics.

The introductory training course is for summer employees working in the agricultural industry, as well as corn and soybean growers wanting to learn how to better manage corn and soybean pests. The training is designed for entry-level scouts who are working for crop consultants, industry agronomists or farm service centers in Nebraska and neighboring states. The training course is also ideal for growers who scout their own fields or are interested in improving productivity, as well as for students employed by agribusinesses.

Topics include:
    Understanding Corn & Soybean Growth & Development
    Crop Diseases & Quiz
    Identifying Weeds - Plant Morphology, Using a Key to Identify Weed Seedlings
    Corn & Soybean Insect Scouting, Identification, Management
    Nutrient Deficiencies in Corn & Soybeans

Presenters include:
    Aaron Nygren, Nebraska Extension Educator
    Jenny Rees, Nebraska Extension Educator
    Tamra Jackson-Ziems, Nebraska Extension Plant Pathologist
    Christopher Proctor, Nebraska Extension Educator
    Justin McMechan, Nebraska Extension Cropping Systems and Crop Protection Specialist
    Julie Peterson, Nebraska Extension Entomologist
    Kyle Koch, Nebraska Extension Insect Diagnostician

The course will be offered remotely via Zoom from 8:55 a.m. till 5:10 p.m. Training will include interactive components to keep participants engaged and learning. Participants will receive instructions on downloading free versions of materials being used prior to the field crop scout training session.

The training fee is $50. Paid pre-registration is required in order to obtain access to the remote training and to receive Certified Crop Advisor credits with a total of 7.5 credits applied for with 6 pest management, 1 crop management, and .5 fertility/nutrient management.

Registration closes on May 11 at 8 a.m. Register online at: or e-mail

For more information, email Aaron Nygren at or call (402)624-8030.  Visit to learn about training opportunities available through Nebraska Extension’s Crop Management Diagnostic Clinics and related training.

Avoiding Injury from Seed Corn Maggot

Thomas Hunt - NE Extension Entomologist

In the past few years, we have received several reports of injury from seed corn maggot that has reduced stands of Nebraska soybeans. The greatest risk for seed corn maggot injury is when a green manure or animal manure is incorporated just before planting. The female flies are attracted to lay eggs on sites with decaying organic matter. The seed corn maggot will also feed on germinating crop seeds and can reduce seedling vigor and, if abundant enough, reduce plant stands. In many cases this year, recently killed cover crops may have attracted seed corn maggot to lay eggs in the affected fields.

The following University of Minnesota recommendations can help minimize injury from seed corn maggots.
-    Delay planting until soil temperatures promote rapid seed germination.
-    Avoid planting for at least two weeks after fresh organic materials have been incorporated into soil.
-    Degree-day models can guide decisions about adjusting planting date to avoid periods with high larval abundance. Seed corn maggot development is estimated using a base temperature of 39°F (3.9°C) for the degree-day calculation.
-    Avoid planting during peak fly emergence. For the first three generations this occurs when 354, 1,080 and 1,800-degree days have accumulated, respectively since Jan. 1.

Use of a labeled insecticidal seed treatment on corn or soybeans should provide adequate protection against seed corn maggot, except when there are high densities of these insects. Growers not using insecticidal seed treatments can modify their planting dates to minimize injury from these insects by monitoring growing degree days. There are several generations of seed corn maggots in Nebraska.

Removal of Japan Quota on U.S. Beef are Among Nebraska Farm Bureau Asks of New U.S. Trade Representative

Nebraska Farm Bureau is urging United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai to push for the elimination of Japan’s quota system, which limits the amount of U.S. beef that can enter the country. In correspondence to the newly confirmed U.S. Trade Representative, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue identified numerous areas where Tai could act to boost markets for Nebraska farm and ranch families.

“Japan is a major market for Nebraska beef. Nebraska exports to Japan alone exceeded $362 million in 2020. Yet, we continue to struggle with Japan’s quota system that triggers additional tariffs on U.S. beef exports. One of the best things Trade Representative Tai could do for our state would be to work for the elimination of Japan’s beef quota,” said McHargue.

In addition to the quota issue, McHargue encouraged Tai to focus on three general trade areas including action to address the ongoing trade concerns with China, expanding international marketing opportunities, and supporting efforts to restore the integrity of the World Trade Organization through needed reforms.

“Enforcement of the current U.S.-China Phase One trade agreement is critical to agriculture. With the agreement set to expire at the end of 2021, it is imperative the administration act to stabilize and normalize trade with China. To get there, we encourage the administration to work with like-minded countries in a multi-lateral approach to develop rules and institutions to address the many outstanding concerns with China,” said McHargue.

Nebraska Farm Bureau also encouraged Tai and the administration to continue previous Trump era trade negotiations with both the United Kingdom and the European Union, as well as with Kenya. McHargue highlighted the need for the U.S. to forge ahead in rejoining the Trans- Pacific Partnership, now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The CPTPP is a free trade agreement between 11 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including two of Nebraska’s largest trade partners in Canada and Mexico, as well as Japan.

“China filled the power vacuum that was created when the U.S. pulled out of the original TPP deal. China subsequently signed a significant trade agreement with many of the CPTPP countries. It’s vital the Biden administration and Trade Representative Tai start us on the path of re-entry to the CPTPP so we can regain markets and influence, while pushing back against China,” said McHargue.

The importance of a global rules-based trading system, and the need for reforms to restore the diminished role of the World Trade Organization (WTO), were also noted in the Nebraska Farm Bureau correspondence. The WTO effectively became inoperable in 2019 when President Trump held up nominations of new members to the Appellate Body which hears appeals in disputes brought by WTO members.

“The most important component of the WTO is to enforce the trade rules that are in place. Given agriculture’s reliance on international trade and the continued need for a global rules-based trading system, it is essential the Biden administration approve new members to the Appellate Body as soon as possible,” said McHargue.

Ribfest Returns to Lincoln THIS SUMMER

The Lancaster Event Center (LEC) Fairgrounds has partnered with Nebraska Pork Producers Association to bring back the long-loved, famous Nebraska Ribfest to our community August 5-7, 2021! Tons of fun for everyone to enjoy:
-    BBQ from nationally recognized teams
-    Live local bands showcased nightly
-    DJ host every afternoon
-    Shaded tent seating
-    Full bar service in the Super Fair beer garden
-    Steps away from free fair attractions & more Super Fair fun for the whole family!

New This Year

Location:  Lancaster Event Center Fairgrounds
(Part of the Lancaster County Super Fair's ten-day 150th anniversary celebration, July 29–Aug 7!)

Admission: No added entrance fee beyond fair gate fees.

Save the Date:
Thursday, August 5 - 5-11pm
Friday & Saturday, August 6 & 7 - 1-11pm
BBQ Contest winners awarded Saturday at 2pm – be sure to vote in person for your favorite!


– Ben Beckman, NE Extension Educator

The use of trade names or products does not indicate the promotion of products, these are strictly used for educational purposes. Information has been adapted from the 2021 Guide for Weed, Disease, and Insect Management in Nebraska.

Summer annual grasses are tough weeds to deal with, especially in mixed perennial systems like pasture or hay fields. Species like foxtail, sandbur, and crabgrass begin growth late, grow fast, and produce seed. In straight alfalfa stands, several herbicide options are available, but in alfalfa grass mixes, options are limited.

In mixed alfalfa/grass systems, selecting one grass species from another for control is difficult. Cultural practices are often our best bet. However, established perennials can handle some pressure from pre-emergence herbicides, though a slight yield hit can occur.  For these products to be successful, application timing is crucial.  Treat too early, and we lose residual coverage, allowing late germinating seedlings to grow.  Too late and already growing older plants may be able to survive.

Our first step, find the right pre-emergent product.  To clarify, we mean pre-weed emergence, not perennial grasses or alfalfa.  For alfalfa/grass mixes, Prowl H20® fits the bill.

Although it may be tempting to start applying right away, we need to wait. Just like our seeded crops, these weeds need a certain sustained soil temperatures to begin germination.  For crabgrass, soil temps need to be sustained at 55°F, for foxtail 60°F, and for sandbur its 65°F.  Start monitoring soil temperatures and when the appropriate threshold for the species you want to control is crossed, we can get ready to apply.  Make sure to follow the appropriate label restrictions of crop stage, pre-harvest intervals, grazing, and maximum application amounts listed.

Summer annual grasses in forage crops are not the easiest weeds to deal with, but with the right product, a bit of patience, and proper timing, it doesn’t have to be a problem we can’t control.


“Resilient” is a word frequently used when it comes to agriculture.

Crops are bred to be resilient against disease, heat, drought and other detrimental conditions.

Producers must be resilient in confronting the evolving economics of ag production, unpredictable weather and the ever-changing technology of agricultural production.

But what does it mean for a landscape to be resilient?

That is the question the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s new Center for Resilience in Agricultural Working Landscapes sets out to answer, said Craig Allen, a professor in the School of Natural Resources and director of the new center, which is up and running after being formally approved last year.

In its simplest form, resilience is the measure of how much disruption a landscape can withstand before it turns into a different kind of landscape.

Allen often uses the Sandhills, one of the largest intact grassland ecosystems in the world, to illustrate this concept. For years, the Sandhills experienced blowouts, which threatened to change the face of the landscape. As landowners put anti-erosion practices into place, blowouts have slowly become less and less of an issue. Since then, blowouts have been replaced by another issue that threatens to change the ecosystem — encroachment of eastern red cedar and other woody species.

“We try to control variability of one aspect of the system, and end up changing another aspect of the system,” Allen said. “It’s like squeezing a balloon.”

The new center will try to identify tipping points: When has a landscape changed so much that it’s past the point of no return? In addition, Allen said, the field of resilience recognizes that management decisions made on one field or in one pasture — treating a field with pesticides, for example, or failing to manage for weeds — often impacts neighboring fields and pastures.

“Increasingly, it is understood that things are connected,” Allen said. “You can’t manage individual fields. You must take a systems approach.”

Nebraska is a perfect setting for this center, Allen said. The Sandhills are a great case study and an example of a landscape that, at least in some areas, is on the edge of major change, and not only in areas where encroachment of trees threatens to turn a grassland ecosystem into a forest. Additionally, the edges of the Sandhills are slowly being converted to irrigated row crop agriculture, or developments.

The newness of the field of resilience is one of the most exciting things about the new center and the work it will do, Allen said.

“We’re all new, so we’re just figuring it out as we go,” he said.

What he does know is that the work will be highly interdisciplinary. The Center for Resilience in Agricultural Working Landscapes will work in tandem with Nebraska’s Center for Grassland Studies, the Nebraska Integrated Beef Systems program and Nebraska One Health, which studies the links among human, animal, plant and ecosystem health.

The interdisciplinary approach is evident in the research already associated with the center. A project focused on the ecology of restored prairies looks at floral resources available to native bees, the effects of mowing on plant populations, and how mature prairie restorations have changed over time. Another project looks at bats in agriculture, specifically the mismatch between bat and insect activity over agricultural fields.

A lot of the work will be outreach-based, Allen said. Producers are interested in resilience and how they can incorporate resilient practices into their own operations. Husker faculty associated with the center will use the Barta Brothers Ranch near Long Pine to test different management practices and try to determine what unanticipated consequences those practices might have on the landscape. Faculty will work with ranchers and other stakeholders to determine which management practices to study.

“Many approaches seek to maximize output under ideal conditions,” Allen said. “Resilience seeks to guarantee output under non-ideal conditions.”

For more information, visit

Benefits of Organic Farming the Topic of April 21 Webinar

Soil health and water quality benefits associated with organic farming will be the topic of the Iowa Learning Farms webinar at noon on Wednesday, April 21.

Kathleen Delate, professor and extension organic specialist in horticulture and agronomy at Iowa State University, will share research results that show greater soil and water quality benefits in organic systems with longer crop rotations, when compared to conventional corn-soybean rotations.

Small grains and perennial legume species, like alfalfa, are integral to supporting greater soil microbial populations and aggregate stability. Certified organic production requires the use of slower-release forms of nitrogen, which are associated with less nitrate loading and improved water quality.

“Returns have (frequently) been negative in conventional row crop farming in recent years; alternatives that consist of longer crop rotations with lower inputs and improved soil and water quality need to be explored,” said Delate, who is responsible for research, extension and teaching in organic agriculture at Iowa State University. “Give organics a go. You might be surprised to see how your soil changes and how many more pollinators and beneficial insects show up on your farm!”

Webinar access instructions

To participate in the live webinar, shortly before noon on April 21:
    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 with 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.
    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 webinar.

Nominations Open for 2021 Iowa's Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin

The breaded pork tenderloin is a sense of pride for many Iowans, and their appetite for perfection is once again needed to find the state’s juiciest, most flavorful sandwich.

Today, the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) began accepting nominations for its 19th annual Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin Contest. The winner will be named during National Pork Month in October.

The public can nominate the restaurant that serves their favorite tenderloin through June 4 at

“After nearly 20 years of this competition, past titleholders continue to tell us how life-changing the experience has been,” said Kelsey Sutter, IPPA marketing and programs director. “Please share where to find the best of the best by submitting a nomination, and help put those mouth-watering tenderloins on the map!”

The Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin Contest recognizes Iowa dining establishments that offer hand-breaded or battered pork tenderloins as a regular menu item. Nominated tenderloins must be from a restaurant that is typically open year-round with regular hours. The effects of COVID-19 on establishment hours of operation do not impact eligibility. Food trucks, concession stands, seasonal establishments, and catering businesses are not eligible.

This first round of the contest is a chance for tenderloin fans everywhere to get their top choice on IPPA’s radar. Plus, those who nominate the winning restaurant will be entered into a drawing for a $100 prize. Nominations are limited to one per person.

Following the nomination round, IPPA’s restaurant and foodservice committee will select 40 restaurants for review; that list includes the five restaurants with the most nominations from each of IPPA’s eight districts. It’s those reviews that determine which restaurants are turned over to a panel of undercover judges, who visit the contenders and score their tenderloins on the quality of the pork, taste, physical characteristics, and eating experience.

Five finalists will be named in October, with the winning restaurant receiving $500, a plaque to display in their business, and statewide publicity that will bring in new business. The runner-up is awarded $250 and a plaque from IPPA.  

Winners from the past five years (past winners are not eligible for the competition): 2020 — PrairieMoon On Main, Prairieburg; 2019 — The Pub at the Pinicon, New Hampton; 2018 — Three C’s Diner, Corning; 2017 — Grid Iron Grill, Webster City; 2016 — Nick’s, Des Moines. See the full list of past winners, dating back to 2003.

Nominations in 2020: IPPA received 4,501 nominations for 390 different establishments.

Trade Expansion, Labor Reform and Disease Prevention Among Top Issues During NPPC’s Legislative Action Conference

Expanding market access to Vietnam, visa reform to address a livestock agriculture labor shortage and foreign animal disease prevention are the focus of the National Pork Producers Council’s (NPPC) Legislative Action Conference (LAC) this week. Pork producers from across the country are gathering virtually to address these and other issues with lawmakers.

“Trade remains crucial to the continued success of the U.S. pork industry, and Vietnam represents a significant market for our producers,” said NPPC President Jen Sorenson, communications director for Iowa Select Farms in West Des Moines, Iowa. “Vietnam’s domestic pork production industry is struggling with African swine fever, yet unwarranted tariff and non-tariff barriers restrict the United States from supplying this major pork-consuming nation with affordable, high-quality pork.”

During LAC this week, NPPC members are urging lawmakers to sign a letter co-sponsored by Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Darin LaHood (R-Ill.), Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.) to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, seeking her support for enhanced Vietnamese market access for U.S. pork. A copy of the letter is available here.

Domestic pork consumption in Vietnam is greater than 2.5 million metric tons (MT) per year, more than Mexico, where the United States exported 688,252 MT, valued at $1.1 billion in 2020. Last year, U.S. pork producers only exported 25,183 MT to Vietnam, valued at $54 million.

Additionally, NPPC is advocating for meaningful labor reform. Pork producers offer jobs with good pay and benefits, but most Americans do not live near our hog farms or harvest facilities and rural populations continue to decline, causing the U.S. pork industry to be largely dependent on foreign-born workers. Unfortunately, current visa programs fail to meet the workforce needs of pork producers and other year-round livestock farmers. NPPC is urging Congress to address labor reform that both opens the H-2A visa program to year-round labor, without a cap, and provides legal status for agricultural workers already in the country.

NPPC’s members are also addressing these foreign animal disease prevention and preparedness priorities with lawmakers during this week’s LAC:
-    Full congressionally appropriated funding—$635 million—for 720 new U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture inspectors, as authorized by 2020 legislation, to keep American agriculture safe from foreign animal and plant diseases;
-    Appropriations of $30 million as authorized by Congress for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN), which provides disease surveillance and diagnostic support in cases of large-scale animal disease outbreaks.; and
-    Tighter USDA regulation for the safe importation of rescue dogs from foreign animal disease-positive countries to protect U.S. livestock.

NCBA Delivers Introduction of House Companion HAULS Act

Today, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) endorsed the Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety (HAULS) Act of 2021. Introduced in the House by Rep. Rose (R-TN-06) and Rep. Soto (D-FL-09), the bipartisan bill would deliver much-needed flexibility for livestock haulers. The House bill introduced this week is a companion to S.792, which NCBA worked to get introduced in the Senate last month.
“In times of crisis and in times of normalcy, livestock haulers are a critical part of the supply chain keeping grocery stores stocked with beef. The full year of disruption due to COVID-19 has only underscored the need for further flexibility in livestock hauling regulations,” said NCBA President Jerry Bohn. “NCBA is encouraged by the bipartisan and bicameral support for this commonsense legislation. Livestock haulers don’t need more regulatory hoops to jump through – they need the freedom and flexibility to continue transporting animals safely and humanely.”
Current hours-of-service (HOS) rules allow for 11 hours of drive time, 14 hours of on-duty time, and then require 10 consecutive hours of rest. When transporting livestock, there is a real need for further flexibility beyond the current hours-of-service. Unlike drivers moving consumer goods, livestock haulers cannot simply idle or unload their trucks when drive time hours run out without jeopardizing animal health and welfare.
“Transporting live animals is not like transporting a truckload of toilet paper — and nobody knows that better than livestock haulers. When one-size-fits-all government mandates fail to account for expertise on the ground, haulers are put in the impossible position of either complying with regulations or doing what they know is best to humanely and safely complete their haul. The HAULS Act represents a step in the right direction — an extension of a current ag exemption to existing hours-of-service regulations that preserves animal welfare as well as safety on our roads, while also making sure producers can keep our grocery stores stocked with beef,” said NCBA Executive Director of Government Affairs Allison Rivera.

This legislation is the latest of many steps NCBA has taken to win greater flexibility for livestock haulers and producers. Since the pandemic began, NCBA has successfully fought every month for a renewed emergency declaration which provides an exemption from hours-of-service for livestock haulers, while also working with Congress to maintain the ELD delay for livestock haulers until Sept. 30, 2021.

NCBA is also working with Congress to ensure that any infrastructure spending package reflects the unique needs of rural communities and agricultural producers.

The HAULS Act would add a 150 air-mile radius exemption under HOS regulations to the backend of hauls for those transporting livestock or agricultural commodities. This legislation also eliminates the seasonal harvest requirements for the agriculture HOS exemption (making the exemption available year-round in all states), and updates and clarifies the definition of an agricultural commodity.

Nitrogen Prices Continue to Climb as Other Fertilizer Price Gains Cool

Average retail fertilizer prices continued to move higher the first week of April 2021, albeit at a slower pace than in recent weeks, according to sellers surveyed by DTN. For the second week in a row, several fertilizers saw only a slight push higher.

While all eight of the major fertilizers were higher in price, only three fertilizers' prices continue to be significantly higher, which DTN designates as 5% or more.  Anhydrous and UAN28 are both 11% higher compared to last month. Anhydrous had an average price of $692 per ton while UAN28 is $341/ton.  Also considerably higher is UAN32, which was up 10% from the prior month. The liquid nitrogen's average price was $378/ton.

The remaining five fertilizers were higher once again but had price increases of 4% or less.  DAP had an average price of $618/ton, MAP $699/ton, potash $431/ton, urea $504/ton and 10-34-0 $605/ton.  

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.55/lb.N, anhydrous $0.42/lb.N, UAN28 $0.61/lb.N and UAN32 $0.59/lb.N.

With retail fertilizer prices moving higher over recent months, all fertilizers are now higher in price from a year ago. Potash is now 17% more expensive, 10-34-0 is 29% higher, urea is 32% more expensive, UAN32 36% higher, anhydrous is 41% more expensive, UAN28 is 45% higher, DAP is 51% more expensive and MAP 61% is higher compared to last year.

AFBF Statement on Abrupt Cancellation of Important Food Program

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented today on USDA’s decision to end the Farmers to Families Food Box program.

“AFBF was surprised to learn of Secretary Vilsack’s decision to end the Farmers to Families Food Box program. The pandemic had a devastating effect on farmers, ranchers and families across the country when schools, cafeterias and restaurants shut down. More than 150 million food boxes were produced and helped America’s families suffering from the hardships caused by COVID-19. The need is still there.

“America’s farmers and ranchers feed the world and we believe no one should go hungry. We look forward to continue working with Secretary Vilsack and learn how USDA plans to address the heightened need at food banks while providing a destination for the fresh, healthy food being produced by farm families across the country.”

Weekly Ethanol Production for 4/9/2021

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending April 9, ethanol production slowed by 3.5%, or 34,000 barrels per day (b/d), to 941,000 b/d, equivalent to 39.52 million gallons daily. Production was 65.1% above the same week last year when the effects of the pandemic were reflected but was 7.4% below the same week in 2019. The four-week average ethanol production rate decreased 0.7% to 951,000 b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 14.58 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks tightened by 0.6% to a 21-week low of 20.5 million barrels, which was 25.3% below a year-ago and 9.5% below this time in 2019. Inventories drew down across all regions except the East Coast (PADD 1) and West Coast (PADD 5).

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, increased 1.9% to 8.94 million b/d (137.11 bg annualized). Gasoline demand was 76.0% above a year ago but was 5.1% below the same week in 2019.

Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol grew 1.4% to a 56-week high of 890,000 b/d, equivalent to 13.64 bg annualized. This was 75.9% above a year ago but was 3.7% below 2019.

There were zero imports of ethanol recorded for the seventeenth consecutive week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of February 2021.)

Consider Corn Challenge III Informational Webinar Highlights the Benefits of the NCGA Sponsored Innovation Contest

Learn more about the Consider Corn Challenge III submission process and find out how successful winners have moved closer to commercialization by watching a recent informational webinar. Consider Corn Challenge II winner Derek Wells, CEO and founder of ExoPolymer, participated in the webinar to share his experience of the process and the benefits he’s received from participating in the Challenge.

“As we were starting our company, having that discretionary funding available was very, very helpful in the beginning,” Wells told participants. “And a little bit more important, as we evolved the company here, are the agricultural network connections in the Midwest that the corn growers provided to us. Being out here in California as a startup company, we don't have a lot of insight into all the interesting things that are happening out in the Midwest, especially with regard to fermentation capacity.”

Specific application areas being considered for this Challenge include:
    Biobased materials from novel mixes of corn-derived plastics
    Compostable plastics with high tensile strength, such as netting or packaging materials
    Heavy-duty fuels or drop-in chemicals (e.g., sustainable aviation fuel; biodiesel derived from corn glucose, bunker fuel, etc.)
    Carbon fiber
    Other high-value molecules

Submissions are due on June 3, 2021, at 4:00 PM CDT. A total prize pool of U.S. $150,000 will be split equally between one to six winners, based on the strength of competing submissions.

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.

You can learn more about the challenge here...  

Biobased Diesel Fuel Highlighted as a Low-Carbon, Proven and Available Climate Change Solution  

Low-cost, low-carbon but high greenhouse gas reducing impact describes the opportunity for using biobased diesel fuel as helping achieve climate change.  Biofuels are a ready solution for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and tackling climate change.  The virtual session April 13, 2021 hosted by the Diesel Technology Forum is now available in a recorded version for online viewing.

“Diesel is the power of work and it moves 97 percent of large Class 8 trucks and bigger applications like locomotives, marine vessels and construction equipment.  Unlike passenger cars, where there are zero-emissions options available today and consumers are warming to them, the promise of zero-emissions solutions in heavy-duty sectors is in the future.  Today, more efficient diesel engines coupled with very low carbon biobased diesel fuels like renewable diesel and biodiesel, can do quite a lot to reduce emissions immediately,” said Ezra Finkin, session organizer and moderator, and also Policy Director for the suburban Washington, DC-based Diesel Technology Forum, an educational association representing diesel engine and equipment makers, suppliers and fuels interests.

For those that believe that electrification is the only strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, this session provided important new perspectives on how to think about greenhouse gas reduction timelines and the broad suitability of biobased diesel fuels to be used immediately across wide sectors of the economy.  And, through discussion of case studies of public and private fleets in California, demonstrated the proven success of biobased diesel fuels in real-world applications.    

“The way we have been thinking of greenhouse gas emissions is not quite accurate.  What we emit today stays in the atmosphere long after it has been emitted.  Waiting for the promise of zero-emissions solutions actually makes the problem worse as it does nothing to address cumulative emissions.  When it comes to solutions to reduce emissions from the heavy-duty sector, we should rely on biobased diesel fuel to do the most to reduce these emissions today as zero-emissions solutions in some applications are planned for the future,” noted David Slade, Executive Director, Biofuel Technology and Services - Renewable Energy Group, Inc.

As policymakers move to tackle the climate change challenge on a local, regional and national level, a mix of near-term and longer-term strategies for the transportation sector are emerging.  While all-electric and zero emissions strategies may dominate headlines, it is increasingly clear that they may not be available or suitable for all sectors in the immediate future.

“Biodiesel and renewable diesel are low carbon and low-cost fuels that are helping to reduce emissions today from trucks, buses and large equipment.  Both are derived from waste feedstocks like vegetable oils and animal fats and their use does not require expensive investments in refueling or recharging infrastructure or the purchase of new trucks or engines.  Diesel engines old and new can use these fuels to deliver big benefits.  The market for these fuels has grown as the U.S. consumed about 3 billion gallons of biobased diesel fuel in 2020 and the market is set to double by 2030,” highlighted Jennifer Weaver, OEM Market Development Manager - National Biodiesel Board.

“Fleets are already adopting these very low carbon and very low-cost fuels to realize big benefits.  Relative to zero-emissions solutions, these are low-cost options available today that do not require fleets to replace trucks and engines with expensive new powertrains or rely on recharging networks.  The City of Oakland, CA since 2015 has been using renewable diesel in all of its fleet of heavy-duty trucks, equipment and generators to realize 3,400 tons of greenhouse gas emissions reduced each year.  Other trucking fleets that rely on heavy-duty diesel engines, including Titan Freight and Argent Materials, are achieving low carbon and low-cost benefits of renewable diesel fuel without sacrificing power and performance needed to get the job done.  Policies that encourage the use of low carbon fuels are technology neutral solutions that incentivize the right fuel for the right application,” noted Carrie Song, Vice President, Renewable Road Transport, North America - Neste.

The use of renewable biofuels in diesel vehicles and equipment is an effective greenhouse gas mitigation strategy that every public and private fleet should have access to right alongside other solutions.  The nature of tackling the climate challenge, its urgency and complexity, dictate that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Investments in renewable diesel and biodiesel production are expanding rapidly both from conventional biofuel producers as well as the existing petroleum refining sector, signaling a strategy of greater access to low carbon fuels nationwide that will enable more governments and private fleets viable options to meet the near-term climate challenge head-on.

USDA Provides Notice of Retroactive Reimbursements Under the Dairy Donation Program, Encourages Donation of Surplus Dairy Products

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will soon implement the Dairy Donation Program (DDP) as established in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. The program will facilitate the timely donation of dairy products to nonprofit organizations who distribute food to persons in need and prevent and minimize food waste.

Because the statute allows retroactive reimbursements of donations made before donation and distribution plans are approved, USDA is providing advance notice of the minimum provisions to be included in the program to encourage the dairy industry to process and donate surplus milk supplies as it moves through the spring surplus milk production season.

Although the DDP regulations have not yet been published, the following are the minimum key program requirements included in the statute: 1) a donation and distribution plan must be submitted and approved by USDA; 2) the reimbursement will be at least equivalent to the minimum classified value of milk used to make the donated product on the date of manufacturing; 3) records related to donating and receiving products must be maintained and available for review and/or audit; 4) eligibility is open to dairy farmer cooperatives and processors who “account to” a Federal milk marketing order (FMMO) and donate dairy products to any private or public nonprofit food distribution entity.

New Cross Clearance Offers Flexibility for Feedlot Heifer Rations

For cattle producers that are feeding heifers, a recent approval from the Food and Drug Administration now allows cattle producers to feed MGA®, Bovatec® and Aureomycin® in combination for the first time.

“This approval gives cattle producers, who are feeding MGA and Bovatec to control estrus and enhance growth in fed heifers, the flexibility to add Aureomycin to the ration if they need to control or treat a respiratory challenge,” said Martin Andersen, PhD, cattle nutritionist, Beef Strategic Technical Services, Zoetis. “It truly offers more options when it comes to heifer rations.”

The cross clearance gives cattle producers the ability to manage the health and productivity of their feedlot and replacement* heifers by incorporating Bovatec to control coccidiosis in heifers up to 800 lbs, as well as the option to add Aureomycin to treat or control respiratory disease.

For more information on feed additive solutions from Zoetis, visit or consult with your veterinarian or nutritionist.

Do not use AUREOMYCIN in calves to be processed for veal.

Caution: Federal law restricts medicated feed containing this veterinary feed directive (VFD) drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian.

Do not use BOVATEC in calves to be processed for veal. Do not allow horses or other equines access to feeds containing lasalocid, as ingestion may be fatal. Feeding undiluted or mixing errors resulting in excessive concentrations of lasalocid could be fatal to cattle and sheep.

Tuesday April 13 Ag News


Santosh Pitla, associate professor of biological systems engineering at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, can picture a future in which swarms of small autonomous robots roll through a corn or soybean field planting seeds or applying fertilizers. These highly sensitive robots could detect conditions — soil makeup and moisture, for example — across a given field and apply varying amounts of inputs across the field, tailored to the conditions.

A new $452,783 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture will fund research that could bring these robots a step closer to reality.

Pitla has been working to advance these robots, known as Unmanned Ground Vehicles, or UGVs, since he joined the Husker faculty in 2014. One challenge he has encountered in his research is how to refill seeds, chemicals and fertilizers automatically, without the need for the UGV to leave the field. Currently, UGVs and manned machines come to the edge of the field when their tanks are low for refilling.

Pitla and his team are working on a new approach for refilling UGV seed tanks using aerial robots known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Refilling seed tanks on site, using aerial robots, has the potential to improve both the efficiency and precision of UGVs, Pitla said.

“The full potential of a multi-robot system consisting of multiple small UGVs can only be realized if a practical refilling strategy for refilling seeds and other inputs can be devised,” he said.

He and his team are working to develop a framework for this system, as well as to address knowledge gaps in how UGVs and drones can work together.

Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory Engineer Rodney Rohrer and Husker faculty members Joe Luck and Yeyin Shi are also involved with the project. Work will start in July. Once the refueling system is developed, it will be tested at the Rogers Memorial Farm near Lincoln, which is operated by the Department of Biological Systems Engineering.

The project’s funding comes specifically from USDA-NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, the nation’s leading competitive grants program for agricultural sciences.


– Brad Schick, NE Extension Educator

Both haylage and baleage use the process of fermentation or ensiling to preserve forages, and require proper harvesting and storage techniques.  Do you have equipment to do the job right?

Baleage can be confused with traditional dry hay because it is still a square or round bale in appearance.  Inside, it’s hay that is higher moisture than dry hay so it is wrapped or otherwise sealed in plastic for storage. Baleage can be fermented as individual bales or in a tube/inline. Already we can see that added or changes to equipment will be need to utilize this high quality preservation technique. Haylage is wilted hay that is chopped and put into silos, bunkers, or bags.

Haylage is similar to corn silage from an equipment needs standpoint.  For baleage, the equipment changes are not too significant but need to be considered. A different baler might be needed for some producers. Wrapping equipment is cheaper than a silage chopper, but handling the bales requires different equipment than the classic bale spear or grapple, unless the inline wrapping machine does all the wrapping. When picking up bales to take to the tube wrapper, some suggest using a double spear because it will reduce the large air pocket produced by the weight of the bale on just a single spear.

Plastic maintenance is needed if holes occur by the environment or animals and plastic requires disposal after use.

Make sure before the season starts, the plastic and equipment is ready to go or lined up to be rented.


 Earth Day demonstration of new, soy-based product in Lincoln

An exciting demonstration of a new use for soybean oil is coming to the city campus at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. On April 22, 2021, also recognized as Earth Day, a soy-based asphalt rejuvenator will be applied to the roof of Brace Laboratory located at 510 Stadium Dr, Lincoln, Nebraska. The event will begin at 11:00 a.m.

The soy-based and USDA Certified Biobased Product is provided by Roof Maxx, headquartered in Westerville, Ohio. The goal of the product is to extend the life and increase durability of an existing asphalt shingle roof.

Developed by Battelle Labs, Roof Maxx is the first soy-based, roof-rejuvenating spray treatment that restores a roof’s flexibility and waterproofing protection, extending the life of a roof by up to 15 years. Due to the incorporation of soy, Roof Maxx provides a safe option for people, pets, property and the environment.

The outdoor educational demonstration will be open to the public. The event will begin with a line-up of speakers, followed by the demonstration. The demonstration will be visible from ground-level.

To further highlight Earth Day, the initiative and demonstration fits into the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Environment, Sustainability and Resilience Master Plan, released in November of 2020. Under the Energy portion of the plan, the aspiration goal works to establish the policy, governance and administrative infrastructure that results in a highly-efficient campus with net-zero CO2 emissions and net zero energy readiness by 2050.

“While this is not a product developed at UNL, Nebraska researchers are also working to find ways to add value to our state’s agricultural products through the development of renewable chemicals, polymers and fuels,” said Loren Isom, assistant director of UNL’s Industrial Ag Products Center. “Development of new bioproducts like this one can benefit Nebraska producers, businesses and the environment.”

A recent study and poster presentation by The Ohio State University speaks to the eco-friendly technology. According to the study, approximately 7 percent of U.S. roofs are replaced every year. If even 1 percent of single-family homes (about 15 percent of yearly replacements) applied a SMEE (Soy Methyl Ester Emulsion) formula like Roof Maxx instead of replacing their roof, we would avoid 5.6 billion pounds of landfill waste and 1.1 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents in emissions.

“The Nebraska Soybean Board is excited to get involved with this demonstration to highlight the power of soybean oil,” says Richard Bartek, District 3 board member on the Nebraska Soybean Board and farmer from Ithaca. “This renewable alternative unlocks another use that drives demand for soybeans and joins as one of the 1,000 soy-based products currently on the market.”

“There are many great things about Roof Maxx that it’s hard not to love,” says Jeremy Schafer, a Nebraska Roof Maxx dealer. “Being able to offer a faster, more affordable alternative to an expensive roof replacement. Our SoyFusion technology is backed by the farmers, 100% green, and offers yet another great soybean product to the market. Born and raised in Nebraska it makes me proud to know we can make an impact on our local landfill and support soybean farmers.”

This collaborative demonstration includes Roof Maxx, the Nebraska Soybean Board and the Industrial Agricultural Products Center at UNL. The application will be sponsored by Roof Maxx and the Nebraska Soybean Board, at no cost to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

How to start a food business

Have you ever thought of starting a food business? Do you have a favorite family recipe you would like to bring to the marketplace? Are you a producer considering adding value to an agricultural product, or a restaurateur or chef exploring the marketing of a house specialty?           

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Food Processing Center offers a unique, nationally recognized and program to help potential entrepreneurs start a food business. The National Food Entrepreneur Program assists individuals through all the steps of developing their products and businesses. Since inception in 1989, more than 3,000 individuals from Nebraska and throughout the country have used the services offered through the program  

Potential entrepreneurs start by attending the Recipe to Reality one-day seminar, which covers topics including market research, product development, packaging, labeling, pricing, product introduction, promotional materials, food safety, and business structure issues.  

“In one day, entrepreneurs gain valuable insight on the basics of starting a food business that could take them months or even years to research on their own,” said Jill Gifford, who manages the Food Processing Center’s food entrepreneur assistance program.  

Following the seminar, participants may choose to enter the Product to Profit phase of the program which provides a more individualized and comprehensive level of assistance.  

To receive a National Food Entrepreneur Program information packet please contact: Jill Gifford, Food Processing Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 228 Food Innovation Center, Lincoln, NE 68588-6206, phone (402) 472-2819, e-mail: More information on UNL’s Food Processing Center is online at  

Funding Available for Farmers and Ranchers to Develop Conservation Activity Plans

Applications Due June 18

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has funding available to Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers to develop Conservation Activity Plans. These plans are developed to help identify and find solutions for specific natural resource concerns on a farming operation. Applications for this year’s funding are currently being accepted at local NRCS offices through June 18.

Conservation Activity Plans are specific to certain kinds of land use such as transitioning to organic operations, grazing land, forest land, or can also address a specific resource need such a managing nutrients or to address an air quality concern.

According to Conor Ward, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program manager with NRCS, “With a Conservation Activity Plan, producers can not only have assistance in identifying resource concerns, they can then apply for financial assistance to implement the conservation practices needed to address those concerns.”

Eligible producers may apply at their local NRCS office at any time, but to be considered for this year’s funding, applications need to be submitted by June 18. If the application is accepted, payments are made directly to program participants for development of a Conservation Activity Plan.

For more information, contact your local NRCS field office, or visit

UNL Receives Recognition for Environmental Data Collection

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, released the following statement after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that UNL was chosen to serve as the High Plains Regional Climate Center.

“The work being done at UNL helps put Nebraska at the forefront of the latest scientific research. I am proud to see our university rewarded for their collection and production of critical environmental data. It’s good to see federal recognition of this important research,” said Senator Fischer.

"We are pleased to be a recipient of new funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which will help us continue the important work that we do. We are grateful to Sen. Fischer for her role in securing this funding, which directly benefits Nebraskans, the high plains region and beyond,” said Rezaul Mahmood, director of the High Plains Regional Climate Center.

“As we strive to feed a growing world, understanding our dynamic climate will become ever more important. The High Plains Regional Climate Center has been instrumental in helping producers and others access weather data and use it to drive smart decision-making. Working in tandem the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute, the National Drought Mitigation Center and the Nebraska State Climate Office, the HPRCC is helping Nebraska become a leader in this space. This funding will help advance this important work,” said Mike Boehm, NU vice president and UNL Harlan vice chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

More information:

NOAA announced that it awarded 6 universities to serve as Regional Climate Centers.  UNL was selected to again serve for 5 years as the High Plains Regional Climate Center, which coordinates the collection and production of environmental data across North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming.  UNL will receive $3,247,500 as part of this contract. Regional Climate Centers are contractor organizations to NOAA that produce and deliver environmental data, products, information, and services of 6 distinct regions of the United States.

Senator Fischer is a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees NOAA. During Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo’s nomination hearing, Senator Fischer discussed UNL’s close cooperation with NOAA.

USDA's Agricultural Research Service Honors Scientists of the Year

For her outstanding contributions to research on crop responses to global climate change, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist Lisa A. Ainsworth is the agency's Distinguished Senior Research Scientist of the Year for 2021. Ainsworth, research leader for the ARS Global Change and Photosynthesis Research Unit in Urbana, Illinois (Midwest Area), is one of many ARS researchers being honored for their scientific achievements.

Ainsworth joined the Global Change and Photosynthesis Research Unit in 2004 as a plant molecular biologist and has served as research leader since 2019. Her research aimed to find solutions for challenges affecting food production and security. Her work influenced the direction of climate change impact assessment and adaptation for federal, non-governmental organization and philanthropic efforts.

Ainsworth notably served as a lead investigator for the joint ARS and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Soybean Free Air Concentration Enrichment (SoyFACE) Global Change Research Facility. SoyFACE is one of the largest and most comprehensive Free Air Concentration Enrichment (FACE) facilities in the world for studying crop responses to atmospheric change.

ARS also named four 2021 Area Senior Research Scientists of the Year. They are—
    James R. Hagler, with ARS’s U.S. Arid Land Agricultural Research Center in Maricopa, Arizona, (Pacific West Area), for pioneering widely-used methods in studying arthropod dispersal and feeding behavior. His innovative biological control and insect dispersal research techniques have been adopted by researchers throughout the world.

    Tracy C. Leskey, with ARS’s Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, West Virginia, (Northeast Area), for her comprehensive research on the invasive brown marmorated stink bug. Her team’s research led to developing sustainable, long-term management strategies.

    Gary A. Rohrer, with ARS’s U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) in Clay Center, Nebraska (Plains Area), for his leadership and development of genomic technologies which resulted in improvements in pork production and animal well-being.

    David L. Suarez, with ARS’s Exotic & Emerging Avian Viral Diseases Research Unit in Athens, Georgia (Southeast Area), for his outstanding and sustained research on the Avian influenza virus (AIV), Newcastle disease virus (NDV) and emerging exotic diseases in poultry. His research led to the development and implementation of rapid molecular diagnostic tests for AIV and NDV in poultry. These diagnositic tests helped with eradication efforts. The unit is part of the ARS’s U.S. National Poultry Research Center.

ARS is also honoring scientists who are in the early phases of their careers. The early-career awards recognize the achievements of ARS researchers with the agency for seven years or less.

This year, the top award in this category, the Herbert L. Rothbart Outstanding Early Career Research Scientist of 2021, goes to Amanda M. Hulse-Kemp, a computational biologist at ARS’s Genomics and Bioinformatics Research Unit in Stoneville, Mississippi (Southeast Area). Hulse-Kemp is being recognized for her contributions to ARS, national and international research teams. Her work resulted in high-quality, impactful research and technology transfer.

Hulse-Kemp worked on national and international collaborative efforts to develop high-quality genome sequences for a large range of crops. Her accomplishments include researching cotton genomes which was critical for the advancement of cotton research and breeding. She also worked on developing genome sequences for coffea arabica, spinach and pepper.

ARS is honoring four other Area Early Career Research Scientists. They are—
    Anna K. Childers, with ARS’s Bee Research Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland (Northeast Area), for her scientific contributions to Ag100Pest, an ARS initiative to sequence the genomes of the top 100 agricultural pests in the U.S. Her work led to ARS and Ag100Pest being in the forefront of international insect genomics. The unit is part of the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center.

    Brittney N. Keel, with ARS’s U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) in Clay Center, Nebraska (Plains Area), for applying machine learning and novel mathmatical modeling to complex livestock genomic analyses. Significant advancements in the livestock genomics and precision agriculture fields were made as the result of Keel’s work.

    Jason Williams, with ARS’s Southwest Watershed Research Center, Tucson, Arizona (Pacific West Area), for his significant contributions to understanding and modeling the impacts of management practices on runoff and erosion processes on western rangelands. His research contributed to advances in applying the Rangeland Hydrology and Erosion and Model (RHEM) as a tool to assess and predict woodland responses to conservation practices as well as guide management decisions on these landscapes.

    Mark R. Williams, with ARS’s National Soil Erosion Research Laboratory, West Lafayette, Indiana (Midwest Area), for his significant contributions and advancements to understanding hydrology and nutrient movement in agricultural tile drained landscapes. His research led to enhancements in simulation technologies and informed policy decisions related to conservation practices.

The agency also announced its 2021 ARS Technology Transfer Award winner. This Award recognizes individuals or groups who have done outstanding work in transferring technology to the marketplace.

This year’s winner is the Sensor Based Automatic Variable Rate Irrigation Control Team. The team included researchers from ARS’s Conservation and Production Research Laboratory in Bushland, Texas; ARS’s Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland; ARS’s Coastal Plain Soil, Water and Plant Conservation Research Unit in Florence, South Carolina; ARS’s Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research Unit in Columbia, Missouri; and ARS’s Sustainable Water Management Research Unit in Stoneville, Mississippi.

To address the increasing national and global need to irrigate crops with an increasingly limited water supply, ARS researchers, along with academia, developed the Irrigation Scheduling Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (ISSCADA) system. Their multi-pronged technology development and transfer effort resulted in the patenting of the ISSCADA system.

The system automatically produced a daily prescription for variable rate irrigation (VRI) that can guide an irrigation system without human intervention. The system optimized crop yields per unit of water used. Tests for the ISSCADA system consistently showed increased yield per unit of irrigation water used for major crops including corn, cotton, potato, sorghum and soybean.

Midwest Dairy elects leadership

Allen Merrill from Parker, South Dakota, was re-elected chairman of Midwest Dairy during the organization’s annual meeting held last week in Des Moines, Iowa.

Elections for the Corporate board officer team also were held. Charles Krause, Buffalo, Minnesota, was re-elected first vice chairman; Dan Hotvedt, Decorah, Iowa, was re-elected second vice chairman; Lowell Mueller, Hooper, Nebraska, was re-elected secretary and Barb Liebenstein, Dundas, Minnesota, was re-elected treasurer.

New members elected by their divisions to the Midwest Dairy Corporate board include:
    Brent Mueller, Garden Prairie, Illinois
    Pam Bolin, Clarksville, Iowa
    Megan Herberg, St. Peter, Minnesota
    Kate McAndrews, Sauk Centre, Minnesota

Division board officers and new members are as follows:

Nebraska Division

    Chairwoman – Mary Temme, Wayne
    Vice chairwoman – Joyce Racicky, Mason City
    Secretary/Treasurer – Jodi Cast, Beaver Crossing

Iowa Division

    Chairman – Dan Hotvedt, Decorah
    Vice chairman – Lee Maassen, Maurice
    Secretary – Jonna Schutte, Monona
    Treasurer – Larry Shover, Delhi
    Jolene Duitscher, Rolfe, was seated as a new member of the Iowa Division board.

South Dakota Division
    Chairman – Jim Neugebauer, Dimock
    Vice chairwoman – Annelies Seffrood, Summit
    Secretary – Chris Fieber, Goodwin
    Treasurer – Gary Jarding, Alexandria
    Tim Den Dulk, Beresford, was seated as a new member of the South Dakota Division board.

North Dakota Division
    Chairman – Rita Mosset, Linton
    Vice chairman – Terry Entzminger, Jamestown
    Secretary – Sue Kleingartner, Gackle
    Treasurer – Lilah Krebs, Gladstone

Minnesota Division
    Chairwoman – Barb Liebenstein, Dundas
    Vice chairwoman – Kristine Spadgenske, Menahga
    Secretary – Rita Young, Plainview
    Treasurer – Suzanne Vold, Glenwood
    Joe Engelmeyer, Melrose and Shirley Hulinsky, Burtrum, were seated as new members of the Minnesota Division board.
The Minnesota Dairy Promotion Council, a quasi-governmental group with the same board members, elected the following:
    Chairman – Charles  Krause, Buffalo
    Vice chairwoman – Rita Young, Plainview
    Secretary – Karen Kasper, Owatonna
    Treasurer – Margaret Johnson, Fountain
    Executive member-at-large – Sarah Kuechle, Eden Valley

Mo-Kan Division
    Chairman – Byron Lehman, Newton, Kansas
    Vice chairman – Alex Peterson, Trenton, Missouri
    Secretary – Donna Telle, Uniontown, Missouri
    Treasurer – Curtis Steenbock, Longford, Kansas

Ozarks Division
    Chairman – Nathan Roth, Mountain Grove, Missouri
    Vice chairwoman – Marilyn Calvin, Mt. Vernon, Missouri
    Secretary – Jack Dill, Conway, Missouri
    Treasurer – Mark Fellwock, Monett, Missouri
    Craig Westfall, Halfway, Missouri, was seated as a new member of the Ozarks Division board.

Illinois Division
    Chairman – Bill Deutsch, Sycamore
    Vice chairman – David Jarden, Staunton
    Secretary – Amy Hildebrandt, South Beloit
    Treasurer – Glen Meier, Ridott
    Steve Obert, Orangeville; Bryan Henrichs, Breese; and Craig Meng, Freeburg; were seated as new members of the Illinois Division board.

Growth Energy, RFA, and NCGA Defend Year-Round E15 in Court

Today, the D.C. Circuit Court will hear oral arguments in American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, et al. vs. EPA, a case in which oil refiners challenge the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2019 rulemaking that paved the way for the year-round sale of E15. Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association, and the National Corn Growers Association will also argue in support of upholding the RVP rule in court today.  

In a joint statement, Growth Energy, RFA, and NCGA said, "Oil refiners are simply trying to reclaim more market share by blocking American drivers from year-round access to a more affordable, lower-carbon fuel at the pump. Studies have repeatedly shown that the volatility of E15 is lower than that of E10. Other recent studies find that a nationwide switch from E10 to E15 would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions -- equivalent to removing approximately 3.85 million vehicles from the road. If the refiners had their way and this rule was overturned, both volatile emissions and greenhouse gas emissions would increase. EPA’s E15 rule should be upheld because it is consistent with Congressional intent and the Clean Air Act, good for the environment, good for the rural communities that rely on a strong biofuels industry, and good for American drivers who want more options at the pump.”


In June 2019, EPA issued its final rule extending the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) volatility waiver to E15, and found that E15 is substantially similar to E10 certification fuel, allowing its introduction into commerce by fuel manufacturers without the need for a separate E15 waiver. These actions allowed for the sale of E15 fuels year-round. Oil refiners are now challenging the rulemaking in an attempt to undermine the expansion of biofuels in our nation’s fuel supply.  

On August 21, 2020, Growth Energy, RFA, and NCGA filed a brief as intervenors in the oil industry’s lawsuit against EPA’s regulation allowing year-round E15. The brief provided strong support for EPA’s position that parity in RVP regulations for E10 and E15 is consistent with the provisions of the Clean Air Act and the congressional intent behind those provisions. The organizations further pointed out that extending the volatility waiver from E10 to E15 is appropriate because the volatility of the fuel actually decreases as more ethanol is added into gasoline beyond E10.  

ACE: EPA’s Year-Round E15 Regulation Legally Defensible

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings today spoke out in support of the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2019 regulation, which finally allowed year-round E15 availability, and the industry’s efforts to defend the rule. Ahead of oral arguments in the D.C. Circuit Court regarding the lawsuit oil refiners filed to undermine the expansion of E15, Jennings issued the following statement:

“EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act holding E15 to the same gasoline volatility standards as E10 is consistent with Congressional intent and reflects the realities of today’s motor fuel market. EPA’s ruling in 2019 cut the RVP red tape allowing more retailers to add the blend to their fuel slate and offer their customers a low carbon fuel with higher octane at a lower cost. We trust the D.C. Circuit Court will see through the oil industry’s opposition to EPA’s rule as a not-so-veiled attempt to cling to their status-quo market share.”

An opinion on the litigation is likely to come in late summer.

First Quarter of 2021 Provides Much Uncertainty in Organic Soybean Market

U.S. organic soybean supplies have emerged as a significant market concern during the first quarter of 2021, according to Mercaris’ Monthly Market Update released today. The 2020/21 MY started strong out of the gate with a strong harvest domestically and significant growth from imports. However, soybean supplies have been faced with a lot of uncertainty in 2021, a situation Mercaris recognizes is still playing out.

“The organic soybean market started the marketing year with what looked like a robust supply position when you consider harvest and import numbers,” says Ryan Koory, Director of Economics for Mercaris. “A number of factors have rapidly emerged this year, creating a lot of uncertainty and challenges around U.S. organic soybean supplies.” Koory indicted that the USDA National Organics Program’s (NOP) decision to end its recognition agreement with India’s Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), the global logistical issues brought by the pandemic, and APEDA’s own crackdown on organic fraud have all added to market uncertainty.

Many organic soybean purchasers have reported struggling to secure spot deliveries since NOP’s announcement in January. Yet, overall U.S. organic soy supplies are relatively strong. Imports reached 4.8 million bushels from January to March 2021, bringing marketing year-to-date supplies to 24.9 million bushels, up 17 percent year over year.

U.S. organic soy imports slowed over the same time frame, down 7 percent year over year. Whole organic soybeans led to that decrease, with fewer imports from Argentina and Russia and total whole organic soybean imports down 51 percent year over year. Organic soybean meal, on the other hand, was up 25 percent in the same period, adding yet another variable for consideration.   

Koory added that the data and markets appear to be at odds at this point.

“Through multiple sources, Mercaris has anecdotally verified that the U.S. organic soybean market experienced significant and unexpected short supplies over the first quarter of 2021,” said Koory. “Yet, the numbers show that U.S. organic soybean supplies are not fundamentally tight. While there could be a number of challenges in the coming months, U.S. organic soy supplies they appear to be well positioned at the start of the second quarter.”

Mercaris’ full monthly report, which covers the data on organic soybeans, as well as organic and non-GMO markets for corn, oats, broilers, eggs and milk is available at

Monday April 12 Crop Progress & Ag News


For the week ending April 11, 2021, there were 4.4 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 5% very short, 15% short, 74% adequate, and 6% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 9% very short, 24% short, 65% adequate, and 2% surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Winter wheat condition rated 6% very poor, 13% poor, 38% fair, 41% good, and 2% excellent.

Oats planted was 40%, ahead of 30% last year and 33% for the five-year average. Emerged was 8%, near 4% last year and 5% average.


Measurable rainfall fell across the State which allowed Iowa farmers only 3.1 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending April 11, 2021, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Fieldwork activities included applying anhydrous and fertilizer, spreading manure, spring tillage and planting oats. There were also scattered reports of corn being planted.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 4% very short, 17% short, 69% adequate and 10% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 12% very short, 28% short, 56% adequate and 4% surplus.

Thirty-seven percent of the expected oat crop has been planted, 4 days ahead of last year and 5 days ahead of the 5-year average. Statewide, 3% of the oat crop has emerged.

Pasture condition rated 3% very poor, 11% poor, 42% fair, 40% good and 4% excellent. Pastures are greening up and starting to grow. Muddy feedlots were reported in the southern part of the state.

USDA Weekly Crop Progress Report - Corn 4% Planted

U.S. farmers had planted 4% of intended corn acreage as of Sunday, April 11, according to USDA NASS' weekly Crop Progress report released Monday.  That puts the current planting pace 1 percentage point ahead of 3% for both last year and the five-year average.

Winter wheat heading was 5%, down slightly from the five-year average of 7%. Winter wheat condition held steady at 53% good to excellent but was down from 62% a year ago.  Meanwhile, spring wheat planting was running ahead of normal, with 11% of the crop planted as of Sunday, ahead of 5% last year and ahead of the five-year average of 6%.

Sorghum was 14% planted, unchanged from last week and falling behind the five-year average of 17%. Cotton planting was 8% complete, compared to the average of 7%. Rice was 23% planted, compared to 20% last year and the average of 28%.  Oats were 39% planted as of April 11, compared to 31% last year and the average of 33%. Emergence was at 24%, compared to 24% last year and the average of 26%.


Ben Beckman, NE Extension Educator

Stocking pastures with the right number of animals is one of the cornerstones of proper grazing management.  It’s tempting to take the easy route and keep using the same rate year after year.  After all, if it’s not broke, why fix it?  But over time, could this approach do more harm than good?

While we might be aware of the importance of proper stocking, we may fail to properly adjust rates to match the current reality of our operation.  Proper stocking depends on two factors, animal intake and pasture productivity.  Changes to either of these factors, even if they take place so slowly we don’t notice, can throw the balance off.

Production can change for the worse or better.  Improving management practices like resting pastures, fertilization, or improving distribution may have actually improved production and led to understocking over time.

On the flip side, prolonged overgrazing or encroachment of invasive species like leafy spurge or cedar trees can eat away production. It is estimated that a single cedar tree with an 8-foot diameter could reduce forage production by 3 pounds.  If you had a density of 200 trees per acre, that would translate into nearly a 1/3 loss in forage production because of the effects of area coverage, moisture use, and shading.

When we look at the demand side, animal size has a direct correlation with consumption.  A 1400 lb. cow will naturally need to consume more than a 1200 lb. animal.  While this difference may seem small (5.2 lb. of air dried forage per day), this quickly adds up across the herd and over the grazing season.  Add on top of that increased demand from high milk and production genetics we’ve selected for over time and it’s safe to say the average cow today consumes more forage than its counterpart 20 years ago.

Collegiate Farm Bureau Leaders Receive Ron Hanson Scholarship

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation awarded the Ron Hanson Collegiate Leader Scholarship to two members of Collegiate Farm Bureau at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln (UNL) who are pursuing degrees from the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR).

Emily Reitz and Miranda Hornung, both juniors at CASNR, received $1,500 scholarships.

Dr. Ron Hanson, professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, established the scholarship to reward students who prioritize leadership building activities while on campus.

“The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation is proud to steward Dr. Hanson’s legacy of serving others and advancing Nebraska agriculture,” said Megahn Schafer, executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation. “A longtime Farm Bureau member, Dr. Hanson recognizes the power of grassroot volunteers, and this scholarship encourages the next generation of leaders to step up, make their voices heard, and serve their communities.”

This year’s recipients rose to the top of a strong candidate pool. Applicants were judged based on their involvement with UNL Collegiate Farm Bureau, volunteer and leadership activities, and their goals for the future.

Reitz is pursuing a degree in Agricultural Education with a minor in Animal Science. She is involved in volunteer organizations including UNL Collegiate Farm Bureau where she serves as president, Nebraska FFA Foundation, the Nebraska Human Resources Institute (NHRI), and Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee.  Reitz serves as a leadership mentor through NHRI for an eighth-grade student in the Lincoln Public School system. Upon graduation, Reitz plans to attend graduate school or law school in hopes of beginning a career as an agricultural educator or a lawyer specializing in agricultural issues.

Hornung is pursuing a degree in Agricultural Education with plans to return to a rural community in Nebraska and teach secondary education. Hornung is an active member of the UNL Collegiate Farm Bureau and currently serves as the vice president. Hornung also serves as the president of the UNL FFA Alumni Club, Ag Ed Club, and the Alpha Zeta Agricultural Honor Society. Hornung’s interests lies in connecting elementary education with agriculture where she will use the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation’s Agriculture in the Classroom Program to further her students’ knowledge of the importance of agriculture in their lives.

Nebraska FFA selects seven women for 2021-2022 State Officer Team

Seven young women from across the state were selected for the 2021-2022 Nebraska FFA State Officer Team.  The announcement was made Friday during the virtual Nebraska FFA State Convention.

State President: Ellie Wanek, Aurora FFA
State Secretary: Emma Kuss, Seward FFA
State Vice President: Jaya Nelson, Rock County FFA
State Vice President: Gracie Schneider, Cozad FFA
State Vice President: Victoria Ference, Ord FFA
State Vice President: Bailey Robinson, York FFA
State Vice President: Emily Martindale, Sandhills FFA

Senator Fischer Meets with President Biden to Discuss Infrastructure

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and the top Republican on the Surface Transportation, Maritime, Freight, and Ports Subcommittee, released the following statement after joining a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers in meeting with President Biden to discuss the spending package proposed by the White House:

“Infrastructure has always been a priority for me and it’s a critical responsibility of the federal government. For years, infrastructure bills have received overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate. However, the Biden Administration has stretched the definition of infrastructure so far, it has become unrecognizable. The package they put forth is a policy wish-list full of non-infrastructure spending with a price tag of nearly $3 trillion. I support addressing actual infrastructure segment by segment with bipartisan agreement as Congress has successfully done many times in the past.”

Cultivate ACCESS continues to impact students and educators

Since its inception in 2017, Cultivate ACCESS has become a leading force in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives within the agricultural-STEM sector.  

The Cultivate ACCESS program works to increase participation of underrepresented groups from Nebraska in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) related agricultural careers. Through a holistic mentoring and development program, high school students are engaged with current industry professionals and university students.  

"Cultivate ACCESS is innovative pathway program designed to support Nebraska students from diverse backgrounds to discover agricultural career pathway possibilities and connect with mentors to support their discovery," said CASNR Dean Tiffany Heng-Moss. "This strengthens Nebraska' capacity to be more inclusive and lead in preparing the next generation of emerging leaders in agriculture and diversity."

Comprised of faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students in CASNR, the Cultivate ACCESS leadership team’s passion for DEI in Ag-STEM was expanded during the global pandemic. While circumstances have impacted much of the operations of the Cultivate ACCESS program, the team took this opportunity to be creative, pivot, improve and further the program’s initiatives.

In the 2020-2021 cohort were two high school students who still hoped to be involved in the mentoring program. Although challenges brought on by the pandemic, they were paired with CASNR student ambassadors and career professionals. Recognizing the importance for intentional relationship-building, the leadership team emphasized training for the college ambassadors to build an effective and strong connection in an online space.  

“We have gotten to know each other better over email,” said Julia Perez, a student at Omaha South High School, who was paired with a mentor named Audrey. “Audrey and I have met up twice this semester, and it was very exciting for me because we have many things in common!”  

UNL students are typically drawn to the Cultivate ACCESS ambassador program with the opportunity to make an impact on high school students. Audrey Vcga, a senior biological systems engineering major, has similarly enjoyed getting to know her scholar, Perez, and is excited to see how she grows both academically and personally as their relationship continues.

The six ambassadors were committed to a “project-based” role, where they engage remotely in projects that will further the mission of Cultivate ACCESS. Based on their interests, they were placed into several project teams that contributed to content development for diversity and inclusion in agriculture and natural resources, expansion and connection to Rwanda, social media and marketing, and scholar support.  

“What I enjoy most about Cultivate ACCESS is the inclusive leadership practice that allows Ambassadors like myself to take part in decision-making,” said Aline Mwiza Uwashimimana, a junior integrated sciences major and Cultive ACCESS ambassador.

“I have a say in what needs to be done in my role which improves my decision-making and problem-solving skills, among others.”

Even though the program began with a desire to work with Nebraskan high school students, the leadership team has spent the past year exploring and expanding initiatives to a broader audience. The team received a new funding through the CHS Foundation, where a group of five Nebraskan high school agriculture and science educators were selected as CHS Diversity and Inclusion Fellows.  

In this online community of practice that began in March 2021, CHS Fellows will engage in a series of learning, activities and discussions that will encourage their self-development related to DEI, explore localized context of DEI at their institutions and increase awareness of Ag-STEM careers. Recognizing parallels between the work of Cultivate ACCESS and the goals of the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA) to increase participation of youth in Ag-STEM fields, an international collaboration began between the two groups to explore the creation of a similar Cultivate ACCESS program at an international location. A first group of five RICA students were just recently hired as Ambassadors to contribute to team’s efforts in Rwanda in the new project-based roles piloted by our UNL Ambassadors, and will begin engagement with UNL interns in the upcoming summer to explore both local and global extension in two locations.

“The Cultivate ACCESS Team has truly enjoyed our journey together to better understand DEI in the context of food, agriculture, and natural resources,” said Jenny Keshwani, principal investigator of Cultivate ACCESS and associate professor in biological systems engineering.

“We are thankful for the opportunities our team has received to share our knowledge and journey by leading DEI conversations with the larger IANR community.”  

The CHS Foundation, funded by charitable gifts from CHS Inc., is focused on developing a new generation of agriculture leaders for life-long success. Together, with our partners, we are igniting innovation and driving excellence in agriculture education, cultivating high impact programs for rural youth and accelerating potential for careers in agriculture. Learn more at

U.S. Corn Exports Set New Record in 2020

U.S. corn exports in February hit 6.3 million tonnes (248 million bushels) according to official census data published last week. That tops 2008's record for the month by 17% and is the largest monthly volume since July 2018.

According to Reuters, January corn exports had missed the month's all-time high by a handful of cargoes, and the December volume was the biggest in 13 years. That marked a much-needed reversal from the average export pace observed in the first quarter of 2020-21 that began on Sept. 1.

Weekly export data suggests that March shipments reached an all-time monthly record by a long shot, likely topping 9 million tonnes. The largest-ever volume is 7.75 million tonnes set in May 2018, and the March high is 6.7 million from 2017.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture sees 2020-21 corn exports at a record 66 million tonnes (2.6 billion bushels), though the agency will have a chance to update that in its monthly report on Friday, and many analysts believe the number must go up.

That expected increase, along with the record annual prediction, is largely driven by unusually strong sales to China. Through March 25, China had booked 23.2 million tonnes of U.S. corn for the 2020-21 year. The prior high for U.S. corn exports to China was 5.15 million in 2011-12.

In the first half of 2020-21, U.S. corn shipments to China reached 7.1 million tonnes, leaving a lot of work for exporters in the second half. However, export inspection data implies that the March volume to China likely topped December 2020's all-time high of 1.53 million tonnes.

U.S. corn exports last month were not huge just because of China, which is important since nearly two-thirds of all sales on the books are destined for other countries.

China accounted for roughly 19% of all corn inspected for export in March, implying more than 7 million tonnes may have been shipped to other destinations. There are only four other months on record where corn exports to countries other than China topped that mark. Non-China exports were also anomalously high in February.

CLAAS Announces Sweepstakes to Win $10,000 in Farm Diesel Fuel

At CLAAS, fuel efficiency means more than just a single feature. It’s a combination of customized solutions working together in perfect harmony. The result is a machine that helps the business-minded ag professional squeeze the most profit out of every drop of fuel. As a testament to their commitment to fuel-efficient equipment, CLAAS is giving farmers a chance to fuel their fleet for free by entering to win $10,000 in farm diesel fuel.

“Fuel efficiency is a vital part of our commitment to your farming operation,” says Daryl Theis, Head of Sales & Marketing, CLAAS. “The $10,000 farm fuel giveaway is a way for us to celebrate the CLAAS commitment to bringing the technology advancements in all of our machinery that make them the most fuel-efficient in agriculture.”

To register to win, eligible entrants can visit now through June 30, 2021, to submit their online entry form. One grand prize winner will be selected to win the $10,000 in farm diesel fuel. No purchase is necessary to enter or win.

“We encourage equipment owners to make a decision that will provide savings to their farming operation for many years into the future,” adds Theis. “CLAAS machines provide greater fuel savings in head-to-head comparisons, giving you top fuel efficiency and a better bottom line.”

CLAAS equipment stands strong, delivering engineered performance that saves fuel, time and labor, and provides you with quality outputs and brighter business solutions. To learn how you can add greater fuel efficiency to your farming operation, visit

Spring is Here

David P. Anderson, Extension Economist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

After languishing for weeks at about $114 per cwt the fed cattle market has sprung to life. Fed cattle prices hit $123-124 in more Northern regions and closed the week at $121 in the Southern Plains. From 2015-2019 the seasonal price increase has been about $6 per cwt, or 4.3 percent. Prices dipped as low as $109 in late January making this seasonal run larger than normal, so far.

Surging demand, and expectations of demand continue to drive prices higher. The Choice beef cutout ended the week of April 9th at $272 per cwt, up $20 from the week before. Select beef is in on rally also, ending the week at $264 per cwt. The Choice-Select spread is about on par with the 5 year average.

It's worth remembering that prior to the pandemic, beef demand had been on several good years of strength. A growing economy, falling unemployment, and consumer preferences trending towards higher USDA quality grade beef were building demand. 2020 did not slow beef demand, even with the increase in unemployment. The retail all fresh beef demand index scored a 119 for 2020, the best in 20 years. Now, that index is calculated using per capita consumption (we still ate beef even though much more was grocery purchases rather than restaurants) and USDA, BLS retail prices which only reflect grocery store prices, but regardless it suggests that we exit the pandemic with a strong base of beef demand.

As of this writing, we are seven weeks out from Memorial Day. This big grilling holiday kicking off Summer combined with pent-up demand from pandemic closures promises to boost prices. One macroeconomic statistic that I find interesting is Personal Savings as a Percent of Disposable Personal Income. Prior to the pandemic, since 2011, savings had averaged about 7 percent. When widespread shutdowns hit in the second quarter 2020, GDP fell 9 percent. With no place to go to spend, savings skyrocketed to 26 percent. While they have since declined to 13 percent, that is a lot of money for folks to spend to fund some pent-up demand fun. Economic reopening combined with people spending and tighter beef supplies later in the year should suggest some optimism.

Not to forget the supply side of the market, beef production in March was slightly below March of 2020, which was right before Covid shutdowns hit packing plants. As expected, for the last 6 weeks we are producing more beef than last year, and for a better comparison even more than in 2019. Steer and heifer dressed weights have not recovered from winter storm Uri and being equal to a year ago have kept production in check.

Ranch Group: Voluntary Market Reform Did Not Work

In the 4th quarter of 2020 the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) proposed a voluntary plan, called the 75% Plan to increase the volume of cash cattle purchases by the nation’s beef packers in each of the five cattle procurement regions. The plan was to take effect on January 1, 2021. This voluntary plan was initiated to avoid congressional action to mandate that packers make minimum purchases in the negotiation cash market. In particular, the bipartisan legislation filed by Senators Charles Grassley and Jon Tester in 2020 to require packers to purchase at least 50% of their cattle procurement needs in the competitive cash market.

According to R-CALF USA, the 2021 1st quarter cash volumes of negotiated cattle purchases reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reveals the plan did not work to increase the volume of negotiated trade. Instead, R-CALF USA claims the volume of the combined negotiated cash and negotiated grid purchases in the 1st quarter of 2021 were 2.2% lower than the 2020 average purchases for combined negotiated cash and negotiated grid purchases.

The ranch group also reports that the same comparison between the 1st quarter of 2021 and the average for 2020 within the five cattle procurement regions (only four of which are reported as Colorado remains dark due to USDA’s confidentiality guidelines), include: Iowa down 6.6%, Nebraska down 2.1%, Kansas down 5.9%, and Texas/Oklahoma/New Mexico up 1.2%.

“The acutely dysfunctional market experienced throughout the first quarter of 2021, marked by rapidly increasing wholesale beef prices and only minor increases in fed cattle prices is proof that incremental measures and minor tweaks are inadequate to restore robust competition to our U.S. fed cattle market,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.

“The cattle industry needs a real and immediate fix and the only meaningful solution offered to do that is Senators Grassley and Tester’s Senate Bill 949 (S.949), the spot market protection bill also known as the 50/14 bill. The cattle industry can’t wait any longer without risking a complete loss of its competitive marketing channels that are needed to sustain a competitive marketplace,” he said.

Bullard said cattle producers need to immediately contact their U.S. Senators and Representative to urge them to quickly pass S.949 to immediately restore the lost competitive forces in the U.S. cattle market.

Family Farm Action Alliance Applauds the Reintroduction of the Climate Stewardship Act

Family Farm Action Alliance applauds today’s reintroduction of the Climate Stewardship Act in both chambers of Congress by Senators Booker (D-NJ) and Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representative Spanberger (D-VA). The Act, originally introduced in September 2019 by Senator Booker and former Representative and current Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, is reminiscent of FDR’s New Deal. Stacked with sweeping provisions centering voluntary incentives for conservation, renewable energy, and local food system programs, Family Farm Action Alliance is optimistic that if enacted, this legislation would offer both immediate and long-term relief to farmers struggling to navigate a brittle, consolidated food system in a changing climate.

The Act’s introduction is part of a larger strategy: now that it has been introduced, its provisions can be included in Biden’s infrastructure package.

Family Farm Action Alliance President Joe Maxwell said: “The United States spends over 25 billion dollars a year in farm subsidies. The majority of these taxpayer dollars are going to prop up a failed industrial monoculture farm system that is simply not ecologically nor financially sustainable. It is time we invest in agriculture practices that benefit the farmer while contributing to climate change solutions. That is exactly what the Climate Stewardship Act does.”

The Farm Action team has worked closely with Senator Booker in formulating the original legislation which was filed in 2019. The reintroduced bill text contains important additions: namely the allocation of 5% of funds in most initiatives to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers and new and beginning farmers. The policy provisions show commitment to the immediate action needed to protect our natural resources, mitigate climate change, and empower farmers, ranchers, and rural communities.

The Climate Stewardship Act will:

    Plant billions of trees on a combination of federal, state, local, tribal, and non-governmental lands.

    Plant over 100 million of these trees in urban neighborhoods across America, with the priority going to low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. In addition to sequestering carbon, trees also absorb harmful air pollutants and reduce temperatures in urban areas.

    Support voluntary climate stewardship practices on over 100 million acres of farmland, reducing or off setting agricultural emissions by one-third by 2025, by:

        Providing tens of billions of dollars of supplemental funding for USDA working lands conservation programs, with new funding dedicated to stewardship practices such as rotational grazing, improved fertilizer efficiency, and planting tens of millions of new acres of cover crops.

        Enrolling 40 million acres of environmentally sensitive land in the Conservation Reserve Program to remove that land from production and instead plant species that will improve environmental health and carbon sequestration.

        More than doubling funding for agricultural research programs, including more funding for soil health demonstration trials.

        Tripling USDA funding to provide farmers with expert technical assistance on climate stewardship practices.

        Providing grant funding to tens of thousands of farmers, ranchers and rural businesses for renewable energy production, such as solar panels and wind turbines, and energy efficiency improvements.

    Invest in local and regional food systems to increase resilience in rural and urban communities.

    Restore or protect over 2 million acres of coastal wetlands by 2030 to sequester carbon emissions and reduce coastal flooding. Coastal wetlands act as an important sponge during extreme weather events with heavy rainfall. For example, although New Jersey has lost more than 40 percent of its coastal wetlands, the wetlands remaining helped prevent $625 million of property damage during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

    Reestablish the Civilian Conservation Corps to provide youth with skills and work experience in forestry and wetlands restoration, prioritizing young people from low-income communities, indigenous communities, and communities of color.

Friday April 9 Ag News

 Boehm to take part in national panel discussion on data innovation, infrastructure and climate change in ag

Mike Boehm, University of Nebraska Vice President and Vice Chancellor for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, will join several national agricultural leaders for a virtual panel discussion on April 15. The discussion is hosted by AGree, a bipartisan initiative focused on promoting policies that support farmers’ livelihoods and promote the resilience of working agricultural lands.

Boehm will join Carrie Castille, director of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture; Katie Naessens, Senior Professional Staff Member, Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee; and Deborah Atwood, Executive Director of AGree and Senior Fellow at the Meridian Institute.  

The hour-long discussion will take place from 11 a.m. to noon CST on April 15. Boehm and the other panelists will discuss the importance of data innovation and infrastructure in advancing climate-smart agricultural practices.  

“To feed a growing world by 2050, U.S. agriculture must increase production by 40 percent while decreasing agricultural inputs by half,” Boehm said. “Advances in both precision agriculture techniques and land use will be key to meeting this goal, and we have researchers all across the state doing extremely exciting work in these areas. I’m excited to discuss our research and our partnership with the state of Nebraska during this panel discussion.”

Registration for the event is free and open to the public. Register online here.  

“AGree has long championed sharpening public agriculture research,” said Deborah Atwood, AGree Executive Director and Meridian Institute Senior Fellow. “We look forward to this conversation about how bi-partisan solutions and investment can improve data systems and facilitate the research needed to address climate change.”

Nebraska Corn Takes Part in Virtual Vietnam Visit; Mexico Embassy Briefing

Earlier this week, Nebraska Corn took part in a virtual trade meeting with Vietnam led by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. As part of the virtual meeting with key buyers and partners from Vietnam, staff from Nebraska Corn relayed the excellent quality of Nebraska corn, the desire in continuing to expand relationships beyond the letters of intent signed last year, and the opportunity that ethanol can play in meeting their E10 policy.
Nebraska Corn also heard from staff at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico on key opportunities and background on trade. This included a discussion on the decree that NeCGA has continually raised concerns about, that would ban GMO corn for human consumption by 2024 in Mexico.

Beginning Shepherd Program May 1st in Pierce

The Nebraska Sheep and Goat Producers and Nebraska Extension are offering a new educational program geared toward new sheep producers.  The speakers and topics for the program are:
    Marty Stewart – Sheep Basics/Choosing Your Flock
    Rhonda McClure – All About Wool
    Ivan Rush – Feeding the Flock
    Randy Saner – Grazing a Flerd
    Rachel Gibb -Beginning Flock Health
    Michael Littlefield - Shearing Demonstration
    Sheep Producer Panel & Hoof Trimming Demonstration

The program will be held at the Pierce County Fairgrounds at the Veggie Palace/4-H Livestock area in Pierce Nebraska.  Registration will start at 8:30 am.

Pre-registration will save you $10.  To preregister contact Mellisa Nicholson at  (308) 386-8378 or

USDA grant program should provide needed support to local meat processors

The Center for Rural Affairs is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to begin implementing a much-needed grant program authorized under a stimulus package approved by Congress in December. That legislation set funding aside to improve capacity at local meat lockers, but the agency has been slow to respond.

In a letter to the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, the Center asks that applications be made available soon as possible, and that processors designated as “smaller” and “very small” receive preference.

“Many of us have changed the way we purchase and prepare our food over the past 12 months,” said Johnathan Hladik, policy director for the Center for Rural Affairs. “Families now spend more time cooking at home. We are learning that local meat provides a better and more affordable alternative to the big box store.”

While the surge in demand has created a good problem for local meat lockers, Hladik said many of the facilities simply do not have the space or equipment to keep up, leaving family farms in the growing direct sales industry without a crucial partner.

“Support for small meat processors can offer much-needed benefits to rural communities,” Hladik said. “This overdue investment will provide immediate relief today while creating new economic opportunities for the future.”

In its letter, the Center also asks USDA leadership to prioritize supporting small meat processors looking to improve and expand their infrastructure, which Hladik said is vital in addressing bottlenecks in local processing and encouraging the growth of rural economies, as well as make funding available to entrepreneurs seeking to open a new small facility.

Additionally, the Center supports USDA implementing grants of up to $500,000 to cover the costs of such expansion efforts.

As part of the legislation, Congress also tasked USDA with supporting a number of other types of facilities with this new grant program, including other food processing, distribution, seafood processing, and farmers markets. USDA has not yet announced when they will open the application period for these funds.

Preparing Iowa Veterans for Careers in Food and Agriculture

Veterans in Agriculture, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and Iowa Microloan are partnering to develop and offer integrated resources for apprenticeships, including on-the-job training and required technical instruction, mentorship and facilitated workshops for veterans.

The “Connecting Veterans to Agri-Food System Opportunities” (AgVets) program from the National Institute for Food and Agriculture builds on an existing national program for veterans who wish to explore careers in production agriculture and agri-food system supply chain businesses.

Activities will be designed to increase awareness about agriculture and agri-food supply chain career pathways for veterans returning to civilian life, including successful transitions. This grant allows for a broad range of multi-faceted learning opportunities, so each veteran can choose from career pathways in local food production, commercial agriculture or food systems industry.

Two registered apprenticeships, workshops and educational offerings will be available throughout the grant cycle. Each of the three career pathways will incorporate facilitated course instruction with curricula, resources and mentorship. One-on-one assistance will enhance each veteran’s ability to confirm unique business aspects such as financial management, whole farm and succession planning and business plan development.

As part of the program development, grant partners are holding listening sessions in April for the following audiences:
    Veterans and Beginning Farmers (potential mentees): Thursday, April 22, 1-2 p.m. Program overview and registered apprenticeship opportunities. Register at  
    Farmers and Food Businesses (potential mentors): Monday, April 19, 1-2 p.m. Program overview and mentorship opportunities. Register at
    Community College Representatives (connecting veterans to apprenticeships): Monday, April 19, 9-10 a.m. Program and apprenticeship overview. Register at

For more information about the grant or the webinars contact Beth Grabau, executive director of Iowa Veterans in Agriculture, at More information is also available on the ISU Extension and Outreach Farm, Food and Enterprise Development website

February Red Meat Exports Below Last Year, but 2021 Outlook Remains Strong

February exports of U.S. beef and pork remained below the rapid pace established in early 2020, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). However, exports were consistent with USMEF's February projections and the federation still expects 2021 beef exports to increase substantially year-over-year, while pork exports are projected to narrowly surpass the 2020 record.

Beef exports totaled 103,493 metric tons (mt) in February, down 8% from a year ago, valued at $669.5 million (down 2%). This was due mainly to a decline in variety meat exports, as beef muscle cuts were steady with last year in value at $597.9 million on a volume of 82,530 mt (down 3%). Through February, beef exports were 5% below last year's pace at 208,540 mt, valued at $1.32 billion (down 2%). Beef muscle cut exports were down 1% to 163,928 mt and steady in value at $1.18 billion. Beef exports to South Korea are off to a very strong start in 2021 and demand for U.S. beef continues to grow in China, capitalizing on access gains achieved in the U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement.

February pork exports were down 12% from a year ago at 239,240 mt, valued at $629.4 million (down 13%). For muscle cuts only, exports fell by the same percentages to 203,526 mt valued at $548 million. Through February, pork exports were 11% below last year's pace at 487,896 mt, valued at $1.27 billion (down 13%). Pork muscle cut exports were also down 11% to 411,760 mt, valued at $1.1 billion (down 14%). February pork exports set new records in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica and were very strong to the Philippines and Colombia. As anticipated, pork exports to China/Hong Kong trended lower than the enormous volumes shipped in 2020 but the region continues to be the largest destination for U.S. pork.

Fueled by larger variety meat shipments to Mexico, Canada and Hong Kong, February exports of U.S. lamb increased 142% from a year ago to 1,152 mt, with value up 19% to $1.6 million. Through February, lamb exports were up 52% from a year ago to 2,179 mt but value fell 19% to $2.8 million.

"While February exports were in line with expectations, the results don't fully reflect global demand for U.S. red meat," said Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and CEO. "Logistical challenges, including congestion at some U.S. ports, are still a significant headwind and tight labor supplies at the plant level continue to impact export volumes for certain products - including some variety meat items and labor-intensive muscle cuts."

Halstrom notes that the flow of exports through U.S. ports is showing some gradual improvement as COVID-impacted crews move closer to full strength, but remains a serious concern for the U.S. agricultural sector.

"USMEF greatly appreciates the members of Congress and ag industry representatives who have worked to bring more attention to this situation, and the efforts of maritime regulators to address shipping practices," he said.

Export demand has remained solid despite logistical challenges and other pandemic-related obstacles. Continued international demand, along with robust domestic business, contributed to stronger cutout values in the first quarter, which were up an average of 27% year-over-year for pork (nearly $90/cwt) and 4% for Choice beef ($224/cwt).

Statement by Secretary Vilsack on the President’s FY22 Discretionary Funding Request

The Biden-Harris Administration today submitted to Congress the President’s priorities for fiscal year 2022 discretionary spending. The funding request invests in the core foundations of our country’s strength and advances key U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) priorities, including economic development and growth in rural America, maintaining support for American agriculture, rebuilding scientific expertise in our agencies, aiding in an all-of-government approach to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and supporting a strong safety net to address hunger and nutrition insecurity.

“The President’s budget provides the resources to build back better, stronger, and more resilient and equitably than ever before,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This is our moment to solve big challenges by acting boldly—to close the broadband gap facing rural America; to work with farmers, ranchers and producers to transform our nation’s food system and build new markets here and abroad; to protect and manage our nation’s forests and grasslands from catastrophic wildfires; and to ensure Americans have access to healthy and nutritious food. The President’s budget commits to building back better and USDA is at heart of that historic commitment.”

The President’s FY22 discretionary request:

-    Expands Broadband Access. Rural Americans are more than 10 times likelier than urban residents to lack access to quality broadband. The discretionary request provides an increase of $65 million over the 2021 enacted level for the Rural e-Connectivity Program “Reconnect,” which provides grants and loans to deploy broadband to unserved areas. The benefits of high-speed internet will serve as an economic equalizer for rural America and the work of installing broadband will create high-paying union jobs with benefits in rural communities. This investment will build on the Coronavirus Relief Provisions provided in 2020 to support broadband infrastructure deployment to areas lacking broadband, especially rural areas.
-    Invests in Critical Research and Development Capacity for Farmers. American farmers must be able to leverage new technologies to compete in world markets, all while protecting our soil and water. The discretionary request provides $4 billion, or nearly $680 million above the 2021 enacted level, for USDA’s research, education, and outreach programs. These investments in agricultural research will advance innovation and the application of science-based and data driven agricultural decisions and practices. In addition, the discretionary request provides an increase of $161 million above the 2021 enacted level, to support a multi-agency initiative to integrate science-based tools into conservation planning in order to measure, monitor, report, and verify carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction, wildlife stewardship, and other environmental services at the farm level and on Federal lands.
-    Addresses the Growing Threat from Wildfire. Climate change is increasing the severity and frequency of wildfire seasons, transforming our Nation’s forests at an unprecedented rate, and destroying homes and businesses. The discretionary request provides nearly $1.7 billion for high-priority hazardous fuels and forest resilience projects at a scope and scale to meet the challenge we face, an increase of $476 million over the 2021 enacted level. This funding supports the Administration’s science-based approach to vegetation management at the Forest Service and the Department of the Interior to protect watersheds, wildlife habitat, and the wildland-urban interface.
-    Supports a Strong Nutrition Safety Net. The 2022 discretionary request provides $6.7 billion, more than $1 billion above the 2021 enacted level, for critical nutrition programs, including the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), to help vulnerable families put healthy food on the table and address racial disparities in maternal and child health outcomes. These funding levels will support an anticipated increase in participation in WIC and combat rising food insecurity, which has disproportionately harmed families of color.

These discretionary investments reflect only one element of the President’s broader agenda. In the coming months, the Administration will release a Budget that will build on this discretionary funding request and detail a comprehensive fiscal vision for the Nation that reinvests in America, supports future growth and prosperity, meets U.S. commitments, and does so in a fiscally sustainable way. For more information on the President’s FY22 discretionary funding request, please visit:

Thursday April 8 Ag News

 Pender FFA Advisor Rusty Bartlett Receives Award

The Nebraska FFA Foundation has awarded Mr. Rusty Bartlett, Pender FFA advisor, with the 2021 Gary Scharf Helping Hand Award.  

Bartlett, FFA advisor for the Pender FFA chapter, was nominated for the award with support by former students and community members. Mr. Bartlett is a retired military veteran. He has led several community development projects, served for his local firemen’s banquet and coached youth sports.

In her nomination, fellow community member, Wanda Kelly wrote “Mr. Bartlett is a man of faith, a devoted family man, a military veteran, a trusted neighbor, a community volunteer, a good friend. He also has been and continues to be a tireless educator, a mentor to countless students, a respected coach and the kind of individual that parents and grandparents want their children to have the privilege of having in their life.”

A former Pender student, Lexi Ostrand said “In the community, Mr. Bartlett is always the first to offer aid at any moment, especially during natural disasters like the recent floods of 2017 and 2018 and the Pilger tornadoes of 2014. He also helps to plan and execute various events within the school and community, such as the Veteran's Day program that the school puts on which holds a special place in his heart as he served in the military for 26 years.”

The Gary Scharf Helping Hand Award recognizes a Nebraska agriculture teacher or FFA advisor for what he or she has done in helping others, specifically in the school and community outside of agriculture education and FFA. As recipient of the award, Bartlett receives a plaque and $500 cash award from the Nebraska FFA Foundation.

“The Foundation Board is honored to present this award to Mr. Bartlett. He exemplifies many qualities that defined Gary Scharf’s life – commitment, self-sacrifice and genuine kindness,” says Stacey Agnew, Executive Director, Nebraska FFA Foundation.

The annual award is named for Gary Scharf, who was a victim of an Omaha mall shooting in December 2007. Scharf grew up on a family farm outside of Curtis, Nebraska and worked in the agricultural chemical industry. He made a significant contribution to Nebraska’s agricultural and FFA community through his years of service on the Nebraska FFA Foundation Board, including a year as Board President in 2002-2003.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation Announces 2021 FFA Advisors of the Year

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation selected two recipients for the FFA Advisor of the Year award. AnnaLisa Estrela from Ashland-Greenwood High School and Brian Johnson from Litchfield High School were honored on April 8 during the 2021 Nebraska FFA Virtual State Convention. The winning advisors received a plaque and a $1,000 donation to their FFA chapter.

The teachers were nominated by their own students and chosen based upon their school and community involvement, leadership development in their classroom, and ability to keep their students involved in agriculture.

“It is an honor to recognize two teachers who work each day to equip students for success,” said Megahn Schafer, executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation. “Ms. Estrela and Mr. Johnson contribute in the classroom and in their communities. Their emphasis on continual learning will serve their students as they explore college and careers related to Nebraska agriculture.”

Estrela is in her ninth year as the FFA Advisor for Ashland-Greenwood High School. Estrela ensures each student is able to reach their career goals through their Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) project. She places great emphasis on the importance of students growing their life skills while creating opportunities for achievements. In her community, Estrela is known for her extensive effort that she puts into the community and agricultural education program.

“I am honored to receive this award.  It means a lot to me that the students and community members nominated me, but it is also really comforting to know that agricultural companies are supportive of what agriculture teachers do in their classrooms and with their FFA Chapters,” Estrela said.

Johnson goes out of his way on a daily basis to make sure he puts his students in a position to succeed in life. The Litchfield FFA Chapter is active in the community and participates in community events including community clean up and teaching about farm safety during the “Bring Your Tractor to School” event where they teach elementary students about the importance of being safe around farm equipment. The chapter is also heavily involved in the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation’s Connecting Chapters program where they increase agricultural awareness, knowledge, and appreciation in their community.

“When I took over the Litchfield FFA program, my only experience with the organization was volunteering with the Broken Bow FFA chapter. My students and I have learned a lot over the past five years, and we continue to make positive changes each year. Winning this award helps to reaffirm that we are doing something right and that we are on the right track. We couldn't have gotten this far without the students buying into the program and wanting to succeed,” Johnson said.

“All of the FFA advisors nominated make a positive difference every day,” Schafer said. “They invest in the students who are the future of our great state, and we are proud to celebrate their service.”

Pillen Launches Campaign For Governor

On Wednesday, conservative farmer, businessman, and University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen announced his candidacy to be the 2022 Republican nominee for Governor of Nebraska.

"Our state is at a crossroads, and it's never been more important to have principled, conservative leadership with a vision for Nebraska's future," said Pillen. "We have to fix our broken property-tax system, grow our economy statewide, and defend our principles and our way of life. The next decade will make all the difference, and I want to help keep Nebraska great so all our kids and grandkids can prosper. I'm humbled by this opportunity to serve, and I'll work hard to make my case to every voter I can in the coming year. We're excited to get started."

In a campaign announcement video released today, Pillen discussed his roots in Nebraska agriculture and his commitment to protecting the values, freedoms, and unparalleled quality of life Nebraskans enjoy. "Nebraska represents the best of America, and this is where we make our stand," he said.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Says Property Tax Relief, Education Funding Reform, and Broadband Must Be State Budget Priorities

Nebraska Farm Bureau is urging state lawmakers to make dollars for property tax relief, school funding reform, and expanded broadband top priorities during state budget negotiations. Senators will begin the budget debate Thursday, April 8.

“It’s imperative the Legislature invest our state tax dollars in the areas that will help strengthen our state by supporting our families, businesses, and communities. That means providing tax relief, finding better ways to fund our schools, and ensuring we have infrastructure that meets our growing needs,” said Mark McHargue, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

According to McHargue, one of the most impactful things the Legislature can do in the budget is build upon the property tax relief the Legislature enacted last year with the passage of LB 1107. The measure put in place a framework whereby property tax relief for Nebraskans would grow as the state’s economy grows. The legislation provided the relief through a new refundable income tax credit based on property taxes paid to schools of which Nebraskans were able to claim for the first time this tax season.

“Putting tax money back in the hands of hardworking Nebraskans is the best way to help families and communities. The Legislature can do that by ensuring the state budget triggers additional LB 1107 tax relief for 2021. It’s imperative senators provide the greatest amount of property tax relief possible,” said McHargue.  

Reforms obligating the state to take greater responsibility for funding the education of all of Nebraska’s K-12 students is also a high priority. According to McHargue only 84 of Nebraska’s 243 school districts will receive state equalization aid for the current school year, leaving 159 school districts to be funded primarily through local property taxes. LB 454, a bill introduced by Sen. Curt Friesen of Henderson, would enact “stabilization aid”, a new form of state aid to be directed to school districts that rely heavily on property taxes for funding.  

“It’s very important the Legislature ensures dollars are available in the budget to fund this important step forward to ensure the state does more to fund the education of Nebraska students regardless of where they live or the size of their school,” said McHargue.

Nebraska Farm Bureau also backs funding a proposal by the governor to put $40 million over the next two-years toward grants for expanding broadband in the state.

“There’s no way rural Nebraska or our state will reach its full potential if we don’t expand broadband in Nebraska. It’s important to the future of our schools, telehealth, and main street businesses. It’s critical to farmers and ranchers in using precision technology that allows us to improve across the board, including minimizing our environmental footprint. It’s vital the Legislature continues to invest in broadband,” said McHargue.

Visit to encourage your senator to support these priorities.


Groundwater levels rose significantly across most of Nebraska from January 2019 to January 2020, and the state received so much precipitation over that period that a new color was added to the 2019-20 precipitation map included in the recently released 2020 Nebraska Groundwater-Level Monitoring Report.

“We ran out of blues, so we had to go to purple,” said Aaron Young, a geologist with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s School of Natural Resources and lead author of the report.

Over that period, Young said, 159 of 163 weather stations across Nebraska measured more precipitation than the 30-year normal. While most of the state was bathed one shade of blue or another to reflect bountiful totals, the purple dot was added in Cherry County, where 212% of normal precipitation fell.

The rain, snow and ice surpluses from 2019 were reflected in thousands of well measurements taken across much of Nebraska in early 2020, beneath which nearly three-quarters of the total volume of the High Plains Aquifer lies. In total, 4,970 wells were measured across Nebraska last spring, and there was an average increase of 1.58 feet in them statewide.

“An average rise of 1.58 feet statewide is pretty significant,” Young said.

Groundwater-level rises were recorded in 79% of the wells measured, with 55% of the wells recording an increase of more than a foot of water.

Many of the groundwater level decreases in the latest report were recorded in wells located near the Missouri River or in Dawson County, which is located along the Platte River. Young said that in 2019, those water levels were measured at or near the peak stage of spring flooding, meaning that even though groundwater totals remained robust in those areas when they were measured in early 2020, the measurements had nowhere to go but down.

“So, we're not actually seeing a decline,” he said. “We're just seeing a departure from extremely high levels in 2019."

Typically, the Nebraska Groundwater-Level Monitoring Report reflects measurements of over 5,000 wells. That number was slightly smaller this year in part because of flood-related access issues or pandemic-related travel restrictions put in place in early 2020, when Young typically visits about 120 well sites to record measurements by hand.

“It’s still a pretty robust map,” Young said. “There are some areas along the Platte and Missouri rivers that are missing a measurement either from spring 2019 flooding or COVID travel restrictions. That could leave some holes in an area that normally don't have a hole. But overall, it’s a pretty dense dataset.”

Other than a slight decrease in the total number of measurements collected, Young said the only other major pandemic-related difference to compiling the report was that he completed the hand-drawn maps of the state’s aquifers on his kitchen table rather than at his Hardin Hall office.

The process of completing the groundwater level map involves a combination of computer renderings that produce an initial interpolation of changes across the state’s aquifers, followed by a hand-drawn edit that corrects areas where Young knows aquifer boundaries exist, such as along the Platte River or Nebraska’s surrounding borders.

The report, created at the Conservation and Survey Division in the School of Natural Resources, was written, researched and produced by Young, Mark Burbach, Leslie Howard, Susan Lackey and Matt Joeckel. The report can be found at

All of the maps found in the 2020 Nebraska Groundwater-Level Monitoring Report, as well as data from the individual wells that were measured, can be examined on an interactive website created by CSD. The portal to the interactive site can be found at

NDA Controlled Feedlot Program

To enhance Nebraska's cattle feeding industry, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) is introducing the Approved Controlled Feedlot program.

NDA will immediately begin accepting applications from feedlots that are interested in becoming an Approved Controlled Feedlot. Enclosed, you will find information about the program as well as the application information.

One of the major advantages to becoming an Approved Controlled Feedlot is the ability to waive many of the interstate import requirements for specific diseases. Interstate individual identification requirements must still be met, in accordance with federal requirements under 9 CFR 86 as part of the Animal Disease Traceability Rule.

Feedlots that are designated by NDA as Approved Controlled Feedlots will allow the feedlot cattle to be: (a) confined to a dry lot with destination to slaughter only; or (b) moved to another controlled feedlot; or (c) moved to another destination state, while meeting the destination state's import requirements.

To become an Approved Controlled Feedlot, specific requirements will need to be met, and an inspection of the facility will need to be performed by NDA field personnel. Some of the requirements include record keeping of all cattle brought into and leaving the feedlot, maintenance and regular inspections of fence enclosures, and official individual identification of all cattle, to name a few. Approved Controlled Feedlots can also apply to be an NDA Approved Tagging Site, which is explained in another document. All the requirements will be enforced, and facilities inspected as necessary to check on compliance. Since several contagious disease requirements are waived, all cattle at an Approved Controlled Feedlot are subject to the requirements in the agreement including no allowance to be pastured or grazed.

Approved Controlled Feedlots must also have a Department of Environment and Energy permit in place. Upon successful completion of the inspection and explanation for an Approved Controlled Feedlot, a signature page will be completed by the feedlot personnel, the feedlot veterinarian, NDA and USDA. NDA does not require, but strongly recommends that Approved Controlled Feedlots develop a Secure Beef Supply plan to implement biosecurity in case of a foreign animal disease outbreak in the U.S.

Click here for more information and resources:  

CLAAS Equipment Dealership Expands Service in Northeast Nebraska

Nebraska Harvest Center has announced plans to open a new dealership just east of Columbus, NE. Construction on the new ag equipment retail location has already begun and should be ready for business as early as September of this year.

The Columbus location joins four other Nebraska Harvest Center locations in Seward, Kearney, Wayne and Ogallala.

“We are excited to expand our footprint in Nebraska,” said Paul Westbrook, Complex Manager, Nebraska Harvest Center. “Providing our customers with superior sales and service is our number one goal. With this new location, we will be able to improve response times and support for a growing number of farmers in the area who have discovered the advantages of our CLAAS long line of equipment.”

However, according to Westbrook, the new 24,000 square foot facility is secondary to the team of talented sales, parts and service technicians the location plans to hire. “With the release of this announcement, we will begin hiring for all departments.”

“Nebraska is a critical market for us and is right in our ‘back yard,’” explained Eric Raby, President and General Manager – Sales for CLAAS of America. “Our North American headquarters and combine manufacturing facility are located in Omaha, just an hour and a half from the new Columbus location. Nebraska Harvest Center has built a sterling reputation for customer service that reflects well on our company and the equipment we manufacture.”

The new dealership will be located just east of Columbus off Highway 30 at 220 Road D, in Richland, NE. For more information including construction updates and employment opportunities, be sure to visit the website

Webinar will explore carbon markets, impact on ag

Nebraska Extension will present a webinar on carbon markets and carbon banks that will explore their potential impact on Nebraska agriculture. It will be held on Thursday from noon to 1 p.m.

The Biden administration has stated a goal of achieving carbon neutrality in the U.S., through net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases, by 2050. Because agriculture can significantly increase soil carbon storage, some are experimenting with carbon offsets, where producers are paid for storing carbon.

Nebraska farmers and ranchers are becoming more curious about carbon markets, carbon offsets and carbon banking, with some producers already receiving payment offers for increasing carbon storage on their farm or ranch. This webinar will provide an introduction to carbon markets and carbon banks and look at the role that they may play in the state’s agriculture industry.

It will be led by Dave Aiken, professor and water and agricultural law specialist in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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

Registration is free at

 CASNR Week celebration slated for April 12-14

The College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will celebrate CASNR Week April 12-14. The 21st annual event celebrates the successes of all CASNR students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

“This year more than ever, we want to celebrate our entire CASNR Community,” said Meg Kester, Strategic Initiatives and Alumni Engagement Coordinator for CASNR. “CASNR Week has always been a way to highlight our college and what makes it special, but this year, we are especially thrilled to bring our community together in new ways.”  

CASNR Week Schedule:

All week
Food drive for a new East Campus Pantry. Look for donation bins across campus.  

April 12  
Cultivate Access Celebrating Diversity Difference Makers virtual event. Cultivate ACCESS invites you to a webinar on Monday, April 12 at noon. The webinar will feature CASNR community members who are leading by example in the space of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in creative ways. Participants will also brainstorm ideas for engaging on DEI topics within their spheres of influence. Register at

April 13  
CASNR Coffee Club and The Global Hub Featuring Greg Ibach. The CASNR Coffee Club and The Global Hub are teaming up to bring you a special event for CASNR Week on Tuesday, April 13in the Nebraska East Union.  
    7:30 a.m.  – 9 a.m. – Free breakfast and coffee in the Arbor Suite (open to the first 45 people who arrive – no registration required)
    9 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. – Comments and Q&A with Greg Ibach – Great Plains Room A (registration required)  

Greg Ibach is a former undersecretary with the USDA. He now serves as the Under Secretary-in-Residence at IANR. Greg will talk about his journey from the farm to working in Washington, D.C. in Great Plains Room A. The first 40 people that RSVP can attend in-person, but we will be offering his talk virtually as well. You can RSVP here:

CASNR Cool, Calm and Collected. Feeling stressed? Come to CASNR Cool, Calm and Collected on the East Campus Mall from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. to take a break, some deep breaths, and pick up your very own succulent to help you stick it out during this prickly time.  

April 14
CASNR Virtual Awards Recognition. Celebrate recipients of the Holling Teaching Awards, Nelson and Crowe Academic Advising Awards, and the von Bergen Award during this virtual awards celebration at 10 a.m. via Facebook Premier on the UNL College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Facebook page.  

CASNR Ice Cream Social. Free ice cream from 1-4 p.m. at the UNL Dairy Store.

For more information about CASNR Week, contact Meg Kester at 402-472-7909 or   

IFBF hosts niche market webinar on high tunnel and produce production

Iowa’s agricultural landscape is diverse, expanding beyond corn and soybeans into niche markets to meet consumer demands. To help spur interest in other areas of diversification, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) is hosting a niche market webinar, “Introduction to High Tunnel and Produce Production,” on Tuesday, April 13, at 1 p.m.

A high tunnel is a greenhouse constructed with large hoops covered by plastic or fabric. Crops inside a high tunnel can be planted directly into the soil or in raised beds. Because of the conditions created inside these structures, farmers can often prolong their growing season—increasing marketing opportunities.

The webinar features Iowa State University Extension Commercial Horticulture Field Specialist Joseph Hannan, who will share key considerations prior to constructing a high tunnel such as site selection and investment. He will also give insights into how to expand an existing farm through commercial fruit and vegetable production.

“Before COVID-19 hit, we saw an increase in local foods that only accelerated during the pandemic as attention turned more toward food safety. Consumers are interested in local foods and want to purchase produce and food from farmers they know and trust,” says Amanda Van Steenwyk, IFBF farm business development manager. “We’re excited to have Joe join us to showcase another innovative way for farmers to expand their farms and meet the needs of their local communities through high tunnel production.”

Those interested in this free webinar can register at

USDA Announces Upcoming Changes to the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) Rice and Soybean Tables

Starting with the May 12, 2021 release (issue No. 612), the following changes will be made to the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report:
    U.S. Soybeans and Products Supply and Use (page 15): “Biofuel” will replace “Biodiesel” in the soybean oil section, reflecting recent changes to the monthly biofuels data reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The WASDE will follow soybean oil used for biofuel as reported in the Monthly Biofuels Capacity and Feedstocks Update - Table 2C (PDF, 287 KB).
    World Soybean Meal Supply and Use (page 29): Soybean meal supply and use for China will be presented separately.
    The U.S. Rice Supply and Use table (page 14): The table will include separate categories for U.S. imports of long-grain and combined medium and short-grain rice. The addition is made due to the significant rise in U.S. imports of long-grain and medium- and short-grain rice over the past decade.

The May WASDE template will be available on the WASDE report page by April 30.

The World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report is prepared monthly by the USDA World Agricultural Outlook Board based on information from USDA and other domestic and foreign official sources. It includes forecasts for U.S. and world wheat, rice, and coarse grains (corn, barley, sorghum, and oats), oilseeds (soybeans, rapeseed, palm), and cotton. U.S. coverage is extended to sugar, meat, poultry, eggs, and milk.

The Value of Corn in the Pet Food Industry

April 11 is National Pet Day. There are many benefits to including corn in your pet’s diet, but have you ever wondered about the benefits that your cat or dog brings to the corn industry? In November a comprehensive study unpacked the $30 billion U.S. retail pet food industry, thanks to the Institute for Feed Education and Research (IFEEDER), the Pet Food Institute and the North American Renderers Association.

The study found that corn and corn gluten meal are the top two most used plant-based ingredients in pet food products. Corn is the dominant plant-based carbohydrate at 1,283,674 tons, and corn gluten meal is the dominant plant-based protein ingredient at 476,649 tons used on an annual basis. Thanks to Fido and Fluffy, the corn industry moved 1,958,061 tons of product, valued at a total of $438 million.

“Farmers and farm-product processors sell $6.9 billion worth of products to pet food manufacturers every year that are used as ingredients. Sales made by farmers and processors of farm products to pet food manufacturers stimulates further upstream economic activity, leading to the purchase of $5.3 billion of materials and services from farm suppliers providing necessary inputs such as seed, fertilizer, fuel, labor, machinery and repairs to produce high-quality products that are used as pet food ingredients,” cites the report.

Founded in 2009 by the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), IFEEDER supports critical education and research initiatives that assure consumers a safe, healthy and sustainable food supply. The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) partners with IFEEDER and the AFIA on research projects as well as feed and food industry efforts, such as the Association of American Feed Control Officials’ petition on Corn Gluten Meal and the current partnership on the U.S. Roundtable on Sustainable Beef Feed Task Force.

 “This first-of-its-kind research shows that there are nearly 550 diverse ingredients used in U.S. pets’ diets to provide complete and balanced nutrition at price points that fit shoppers’ budgets,” said Robert Cooper, IFEEDER’s executive director. “Collaborations on research like the pet food study allow us to leverage our resources and share information that helps allied organizations, like the National Corn Growers Association, amplify its outreach with decision-makers and consumer influencers, so they are more informed about how important commodities, such as corn, are in producing safe and nutritious food for both humans and their four-legged companions.”

National Dairy FARM Program and Cargill Partner to Offer Customizable Safety Review

The National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program has partnered with Cargill to launch the Actionable Safety Review, a new online tool that enables dairy farmers to identify and review opportunities to improve safety on the farm.

“Safety is top of mind for dairy owners and operators, so often they are looking for ideas on what they can do to enhance their safety management,” says Nicole Ayache, senior director of sustainability initiatives at NMPF. “That’s why we’re excited about our partnership with Cargill and the Actionable Safety Review. It covers a set of important on-farm safety topics with practical advice for addressing each one.”

Farmers filling out the Actionable Safety Review are prompted to consider their own operations and make note of their approach to specific safety topics. The tool offers recommendations and resources for farmers to follow-up on those topics. Dairy farmers who complete the safety review will receive a copy of their responses to serve as a list of farm-specific action items designed to keep employees, farmers, and families safe on the dairy.

“At Cargill, our goal is to ensure every employee returns home safely to their loved ones each day. We also strive to make this happen on the dairies that we partner with, which is where the idea for an Actionable Safety Review originated from,” says Steve Halahan, dairy focus consultant and safety advocate for Cargill. “By outlining and reviewing safety protocols on your dairy, you make a commitment to focusing on safety first for your family and employees.”

As a thank you for their time and commitment to working safely, Cargill also will provide two high-visibility, reflective safety hats to dairy farmers who use the online tool during the month of April, or while supplies last.

While China Dominates Headlines, U.S. Grains Flow Globally

Sales to China continue to vastly outpace those to other U.S. corn and sorghum markets. Yet, behind the headlines, a half-dozen other countries and several emerging markets are also proving to be strong buyers of U.S. grains.

The U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC’s) Senior Director of Global Programs Cary Sifferath recently discussed what countries are setting a strong buying pace and and how the Council is working to develop and access a variety of overseas markets for U.S. producers.

“You never know when China may change things up; just as fast as they turn the buying on, they can shut things down for political or other reasons,” Sifferath said. “So, we’re always looking for and developing new markets, whether that’s six or 12 months out or even longer-term. It’s about what can we do to create new markets five or even eight years from now, even.”

The Council works to overcome market share issues and continue to develop new markets in other locations around the world.

“Vietnam, which is already a very big corn importer globally, imports about 11 million tons of corn a year or about 433 million bushels,” Sifferath said. “Egypt is another big corn importer, about 10 million tons or 394 million bushels a year. Even in the rest of North Africa, we’ve seen Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, where we’ve worked for numerous years, come back into buying U.S. corn here lately. “

In addition to Mexico, which has been the number one U.S. corn export market for the last four years and has trade preferences under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), countries with which the United States has free trade agreements are also big buyers, according to Sifferath.

“All of the markets in the CAFTA-DR - the Central America Free Trade Agreement plus the Dominican Republic – are strong buyers this year. You’re looking at Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua, plus the Dominican Republic. I cluster that whole Central America market together. It’s a very significant market, worth about 4-to-4.5 million tons, or about 158 to 177 million bushels.

“Peru, where we also have a free trade agreement, used to be a top-five market for us. It kind of dropped off over the last year and this year, in part because Peru has been hit very hard by COVID-19, although they’re starting to come back from that now,” Sifferath added.

While trade dynamics change from year to year and markets fluctuate, the Council continues to look for ways to fulfill its mission of developing markets, enabling trade and improving lives across a diverse set of buyers.

CoBank Quarterly: U.S. Economy Gathers Momentum, Policy Decisions Will Reshape the Future  
Infrastructure plan would have far-reaching impacts on rural industries

The U.S. economy continues to outperform expectations as stimulus funds are fueling robust consumer spending. Consensus forecasts point to 7% GDP growth for 2021, the fastest rate of expansion since 1984. Inflation is inevitable, however, as the 2020 price declines will widen year-over-year inflation over the next two quarters, and new upward price pressure should push headline inflation above 3%.

The transition to a less COVID-restricted world has begun. But for the economy and rural industries, there will be no going back to pre-COVID conditions. A transformed policy environment and awakened commodity markets are making way for a whole new operating environment, according to the new Quarterly report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange.

“The policy focus in Washington is shifting from crisis management to building for the future,” said Dan Kowalski, vice president of CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange division. “And the outcome of the president’s infrastructure plan will have substantial implications for rural water, power and broadband providers. Hundreds of billions of dollars in funding would reshape these industries and intensify the current focus on climate resilience and social equity.”

The cyclical turn in grain pricing, driven by strong demand and tight stocks, continued during the first quarter of 2021 and has picked up further gains ahead of spring planting. Accumulated grain exports to China have been very strong. While the backdrop for the grain and oilseed complex is positive, there are issues worth monitoring that could result in price volatility in the coming months. A recent surge of African Swine Fever (ASF) in Asian countries could temporarily slow soybean demand.

Farm supply retailers are positioned to benefit from an exceptionally strong spring agronomy season, outpacing fall and spring 2020. Financially strong U.S. crop farmers should increase spending given a 3.1% increase in planted corn, soybean and wheat acres. Fertilizer prices rose 42% during Q1 and are now 96% above the trough level in May 2020. While much of the Midwest Corn Belt is free of drought, some areas of concern surfaced in late March.

The U.S. fuel ethanol sector has recovered, with production running near 90% of pre-COVID levels. The industry is adapting to new short-term and long-term realities, including changes in driving and work habits, policy directives on ethanol and fossil fuels and increased adoption of electric vehicles. Operating margins averaged near $0.10/gallon but rose sharply in March to above $0.25/gallon as fuel ethanol prices rose and natural gas prices fell.

U.S. chicken prices started 2021 on a high note, climbing over 20% in the first quarter. These prices offset the double-digit rate of feed cost inflation and brought spot margins well into positive territory. The counts of eggs set and chick placements are a leading indication that chicken production will remain at current levels, so chicken prices continue to look strong through the summer. Expected increases in vacation and business travel this summer will boost food service sales, benefiting the chicken sector.

U.S. beef demand has been incredibly strong in the first quarter despite the challenges in foodservice and the away-from-home dining sector. Strong demand and expectations for limited supply growth in the back half of 2021 have driven up cattle futures. The USDA expects beef production to decline by 3.5% in the second half of 2021, which has helped lift cattle prices nearly 15% above year-ago levels. Packer margins remain elevated, but producers are expected to realize better margins in the second half of 2021.

Strong first quarter demand for pork, coupled with indications of limited supply growth, has lifted hog sector profitability to levels not seen in many years. Concerns over feed and other cost inflation has taken a back seat to optimism for another year of strong pork exports and robust domestic demand as U.S. consumer behavior slowly returns to normal. China has slowed its hog herd rebuilding due to increased ASF cases this winter, helping drive the positive outlook for the remainder of the year.

The pace of U.S. dairy exports started 2021 on a weaker note as exporters continue to struggle with trade logistics, specifically with the scarcity of containers, port congestion and rising transportation costs. Cheese and butter stocks continued their rapid ascent, climbing 5.4% and 16.8% year-over-year respectively, for February. U.S. milk production rose in January and again in February, giving dairy processors ample milk supplies for processing. Cow numbers in February reached the highest level in 30 years following months of ongoing expansion.

Combined cotton and rice planted acreage is expected to fall for the third consecutive year in the U.S. according to USDA’s latest projections, as acres shift out of pima cotton and all classes of rice. The surge in upland cotton prices has blunted losses in its acreage. Last year’s rally in refined sugarbeet prices also forestalled losses in sugarbeet acreage. The recovery in U.S. foodservice demand remains an unknown for both rice and sugar, while China remains critical for U.S. cotton demand.

Tree nut exports reached an all-time high with the peak shipping now drawing to a close. However, container shortages and port constraints are estimated to have delayed U.S. tree nut export shipments 10%-20% in the opening months of the year. The lack of movement could potentially translate into higher-than-expected tree nut inventories at the end of the marketing season. Drought conditions in California are raising concerns of limited water allocations in the forthcoming growing season.

February’s polar vortex refocused attention on deficiencies in U.S. power, energy and water infrastructure, and how it is affected by climate change. Widespread failures in energy systems tend to negatively impact water systems. Consequently, any climate mitigation program in the U.S. must account for water and energy system dependencies. President Biden, delivering on his “Build Back Better” platform promise, has announced the American Jobs Plan — a $2 trillion infrastructure and economic modernization bill, which includes a major focus on climate change.

The recently enacted American Rescue Plan Act included $20 billion for broadband availability and affordability and the American Jobs Plan includes $100 billion to bridge the digital divide. Details are not finalized, but President Biden wants to prioritize funding for nonprofits, cooperatives and local governments. The ultimate outcome of the infrastructure plan will have substantial implications for rural water, power and broadband providers.

Koch Agronomic Services Acquires Compass Minerals' North American Micronutrient Assets

Koch Agronomic Services, LLC (Koch) reached agreement with Compass Minerals (NYSE: CMP) to purchase Compass Minerals' North American micronutrient assets, the global intellectual property rights, with trademarks and patents, and certain other assets associated with the Wolf Trax®, Rocket Seeds® and Hydro Bullet™ product platforms.

Through the acquisition of the micronutrient assets, Koch, a global leader in nitrogen management additives, will expand its ability to help growers across the world improve efficiency, utilization, and uptake of nutrients beyond nitrogen.

"At Koch, we strive to provide solutions to make every ton of nutrient applied more efficient than it is today, and this agreement allows us to offer a platform of innovative, efficiency solutions complementary to our existing products," said Steve Coulter, senior vice president of Koch. "We are excited to enter the micronutrient business with three product lines that fit our customers' desire to improve distribution of micronutrients across the field in conjunction with dry fertilizers, as seed treatments and as foliar applications."

Koch currently markets and distributes a proven portfolio of enhanced efficiency fertilizer products in more than 55 countries and looks forward to continuing the growth and innovation of the micronutrient product portfolio.  

"Compass Minerals has been proud to grow the Wolf Trax product line and introduce both Rocket Seeds and Hydro Bullet into the specialty plant nutrition market," said Kevin S. Crutchfield, Compass Minerals president and CEO. "We're excited to see how these three innovative micronutrient product lines can continue to develop in the hands of a strong sector leader like Koch."

The transaction is expected to close in April 2021, subject to customary closing conditions.

Wednesday April 7 Ag News

 Irrigation Well Water in Nebraska: Nutrient Concentrations and Other Properties
Charles Wortmann - Extension Soil and Nutrient Management Specialist

The EC 3052 titled “Irrigation Well Water in Nebraska: Nutrient Concentrations and Other Properties” has been published by UNL Extension and is available for free download. This EC reports the results of a survey conducted in 2020 with the cooperation of all 23 Natural Resources Districts and the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy. It involved analysis of samples from 642 irrigation wells. The results are reported in 21 maps and additional figures and tables.

Nutrients and liming effect applied are reported as concentrations and as pounds applied in 10 acre-inches which is then compared to the nutrients removed in the harvest of corn grain. The liming effect from irrigation is compared to amount of lime needed to neutralize the acidity produced by the application of 200 lb of fertilizer-nitrogen.

Statewide highlights include the percent of irrigation wells with a supply in 10 ac-in in excess of removal in 200 bu/ac of corn grain is:
    100% for calcium and chloride
    93% for magnesium
    73% for sulfur
    20% for potassium
    16% for manganese or molybdenum
    7% for boron
    <2% for zinc, copper, and iron
    0% for phosphorus; and
    the liming effect exceeds acidification due to 200 lb fertilizer-N for 70% of wells.

Most of the remaining wells supply sufficient nutrients and liming effect to help maintain soil fertility and reduce the amount of fertilizer and lime application that is ultimately needed. None of the sampled wells had a high sodium problem and <0.5% had a salinity concentration. Water hardness was high enough with some wells that it might reduce the effectiveness of chemigation and cause formation of concretions on nozzles and pipes.

There is much variation between wells, so the testing of irrigation water for the supply of essential nutrients and liming effect is advised for each well or group of similar wells. This may only need to be done just once every 15 years, but is advised to help optimize nutrient and soil management.

Carbon Markets & Carbon Banks: What do they mean for Nebraska agriculture?

Nebraska farmers and ranchers are becoming more curious about carbon markets, carbon offsets and carbon banking – and some producers are receiving offers for payment now for increasing carbon storage on their farm or ranch. During a webinar on April 15th at noon, Dave Aiken, UNL Agricultural Economics professor and water and agricultural law specialist, will be introducing us to carbon markets and carbon banks and how they may affect Nebraska producers.

Register here:  

Extension record-keeping course for farmers and ranchers set for June

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 Thursdays beginning June 3, from 10 a.m. to noon CDT, each day.

Participants should plan on attending each of the four workshop dates — June 3, 10, 17 and 24. The course requires participants to have an internet connection.

This course is designed to help farmers and ranchers understand their current financial position and how big decisions like large purchases, new leases or changes in production will affect their bottom line. Participants will work through the financial statements of a case study farm, watching pre-recorded videos, completing assignments, and participating in video chats. Upon completion of this program, participants will have a better understanding of how financial records can be used to make decisions and confidently discuss their financial position with their family, business partners, and lenders.

The course fee is $20 per participant and class size is limited to 20 people. Register online at Registration closes May 27.

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.


- Todd Whitney, NE Extension  

Preliminary Nebraska Farm Real Estate Market survey pasture rental rates are now posted on our Nebraska Extension Ag Economic website:  The full final report is expected in early June.
Although higher crop grain prices have likely increased cropland rental agreements 6% compared to last year; average grazing land and hayland market values will likely increase 3% to 5%.  
Unlike crop ground leases, which begin on March 1st, handshake or verbal pasture leases are typically for a five-month grazing season. Since the lease is only in effect for that time, the lease is terminated at the end of the grazing season.  
Written pasture rental agreements are strongly recommended over handshakes and verbal leases; and, establishing fair rates are important although at times challenging.  Variables such as grassland quality; pasture location; fence maintenance; water, management responsibilities; and individual relationships…all influence individual pasture rental rates.
According to this year’s survey, the average monthly rent being paid to graze a cow-calf pair this season is lowest in the Western Panhandle, at just over thirty-nine dollars per month per cow-calf pair.  The highest average rate is in the Northern District at sixty-three dollars per month with the central region around fifty-nine dollars per month.  Projecting these rates over a five-month grazing period, it will cost an average of $195 to $315 dollars to graze a cow-calf pair for the summer in Nebraska. Remember that these are only averages.
 Pastures are a major resource for farmers, ranchers and our Nebraska cattle industry;
and pasture rental is a critical factor in the financial well-being of both landlords and tenants.  Knowing what others are paying for rental rates may help you negotiate a fair rate for yours.

CHS Reports Fiscal 2021 Second-Quarter Results

CHS Inc., the nation's leading agribusiness cooperative, today released results for its fiscal second quarter ended Feb. 28, 2021. The company reported a net loss of $38.2 million versus net income of $125.4 million in the same quarter in fiscal 2020. Significant year-over-year earnings increases in Ag and Nitrogen Production segments and Corporate and Other businesses were offset primarily by ongoing COVID-19 pandemic-related impacts in Energy.

"Improved trade relations between the United States and foreign trade partners combined with our operating efficiency initiatives led to record grain and oilseed volume increases and continued price gains, significantly improving our Ag segment earnings over the prior year," said Jay Debertin, president and CEO of CHS Inc. "Additionally, favorable growing conditions and overall strength in agriculture, helped drive demand for crop inputs, including crop nutrients and crop protection products and services.

"Our Energy segment, while showing improvement over the previous quarter, continues to experience unfavorable refined fuels market conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic and exceptionally higher costs for renewable energy credits. These factors resulted in volume and margin declines that significantly reduced earnings compared to the prior year."

Fiscal 2021 second-quarter results reflect:
    Revenues of $8.3 billion versus $6.6 billion in fiscal 2020 second quarter, a 26.1% increase.
    Energy segment impacts that include:
        Continued low refining margins stemming from COVID-19-impacts on global energy demand.
        Exceptionally high costs of renewable energy credits, which decreased margins.
        Decreased propane margins and volumes due to warm winter weather conditions across the CHS trade territory during most of the fiscal 2021 second quarter.
        Modest improvements over fiscal 2021 first quarter as volumes and margins began to rebound.
    Ag segment impacts that include:
        Favorable weather conditions and improved relations between the U.S. and foreign trade partners, including China, that increased volumes of grain and oilseed commodities as well as feed and farm supplies.
        Higher margins for certain agricultural products, including processing and food ingredients, which improved because of soybean crush strength.
    Enterprisewide initiatives that include:
        Focused cost-reduction initiatives launched in fiscal 2021 that helped reduce marketing, general and administrative costs.
        COVID-19-related working arrangements and increased hygiene and infection-control processes to mitigate risk and support business continuity – all CHS operations were deemed to be essential infrastructure industries by federal and state governments.

For the six-month period ending Feb. 28, 2021, CHS reported net income of $31.4 million versus $303.3 million for the same period in fiscal 2020. Revenues for the first six months of fiscal 2021 rose to $17.0 billion, a $2.8 billion, or 19.8%, increase from $14.2 billion in the same period the previous year.

"I am encouraged by the resilience of our employees and their commitment to owners in what continues to be a challenging operating environment," said Debertin. "We are cautiously optimistic about the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and other progress being made in response to the pandemic in the U.S. and around the world and the potential impact on our domestic and global businesses.

"As we look ahead to the second half of fiscal 2021, we remain committed to protecting the financial health of CHS, adding efficiency throughout our enterprise to benefit owners and customers, and caring for those who depend on us as we continue creating connections to empower agriculture."

NPPC Applauds the Philippines’ Decision to Import More Pork

To combat rising pork prices and stabilize supplies, the Philippine government announced today it will provide more market access for pork imports. Securing better access to the Philippines market has been a top, long-term trade priority for the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).

“Since 2019, the Philippines has been battling African swine fever (ASF), and as a result, domestic production has declined, supplies have tightened, and pork prices have spiked,” said NPPC President Jen Sorenson, communications director for Iowa Select Farms in West Des Moines, Iowa. “While we are saddened by the spread of ASF in the Philippines, we appreciate the opportunity to send more high-quality U.S. pork to ease the shortage and the spike in prices.”

Under today’s announcement, beginning April 7, tariffs for imported pork under the increased minimum access volume (MAV) of 404,210 metric tons (MT) would be reduced from 30 percent to five percent for the next three months, and then 10 percent thereafter. Tariffs for imported pork above the MAV would be reduced from 40 percent to 15 percent for the next three months, and then increase to 20 percent thereafter. The reductions would be in effect for one year.

This announcement comes on the heels of NPPC’s meeting with the Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Manuel Romualdez. NPPC has been pressing both the U.S. and Philippines governments to lower pork import tariffs since ASF outbreaks began in the Philippines.

From January-December 2020, the U.S. exported 49,660 MT of pork worth $121 million to the country. The expanded market access is expected to generate significantly more U.S. pork exports to the country. With a population of 109 million and pork as the preferred protein of choice, pork consumption will continue to increase as the economy grows.

The Asia-Pacific region is the fastest growing economic region of the world with significant opportunities for U.S. pork exports. NPPC will continue to advocate for the United States to rejoin the CPTPP trade agreement.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 4/2/2021

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending April 2, ethanol production rose 1.0%, or 10,000 barrels per day (b/d), to 975,000 b/d, equivalent to 40.95 million gallons daily. Production was 45.1% above the same week last year when the effects of the pandemic were reflected but was 2.7% below the same week in 2019. The four-week average ethanol production rate increased 0.9% to 958,000 b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 14.69 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks thinned by 2.2% to a 20-week low of 20.6 million barrels, which was 23.8% below a year-ago and 11.0% below this time in 2019. Inventories dropped across all regions except the Gulf Coast (PADD 3). Notably, West Coast (PADD 5) stocks declined to the lowest level since April 2014.

The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, declined 1.2% to 8.78 million b/d (134.61 bg annualized). Gasoline demand was 73.4% above a year ago but was 10.5% below the same week in 2019.

Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol eased by 0.5% to 878,000 b/d, equivalent to 13.46 bg annualized. This was 74.9% above a year ago but was 4.5% below 2019.

There were zero imports of ethanol recorded for the sixteenth consecutive week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of February 2021.)

U.S. Ethanol Exports Slow to Five-Month Low Following Surge in January

Ann Lewis, Senior Analyst, Renewable Fuels Assoc.
American ethanol shipments eased 38% in February after January’s volume set a record high for the month. Exports were 101.7 million gallons (mg), with half destined for just three countries. However, exports spiked to South Korea, up 120% (11.9 mg) to 21.8 mg. This is the largest volume imported in more than two years and was a sufficient boost to make South Korea our top market in February. Exports to Canada remained steady at 18.5 mg, while India’s imports dropped 76% (40.4 mg) to 12.8 mg. U.S. ethanol exports to other larger markets softened as well, including Brazil (7.8 mg, -55%), Nigeria (5.0 mg, -44%), Colombia (4.9 mg, -51%), the Philippines (4.9 mg, -64%), and China (4.7 mg, -79%).
For the second consecutive month, the U.S. did not log foreign ethanol imports.
U.S. exports of dried distillers grains (DDGS)—the animal feed co-product generated by dry-mill ethanol plants—shifted 15% lower in February to 779,324 metric tons (mt) and came in 9% below year-ago levels. Exports were down across the board among our top markets, with volumes to Mexico down a third from January to a five-month low of 123,096 mt. Shipments also moderated to Indonesia (81,198 mt, -8%), South Korea (81,019 mt, -23%), and Vietnam (65,563 mt, -25%). Other larger trade partners were Ireland (48,477 mt), Turkey (45,006 mt), Japan (41,340 mt), and Egypt (38,431 mt).

Prices of All Fertilizers Continue Higher

Retail fertilizer prices continued to rise the last week of March 2021, according to sellers surveyed by DTN. But for the first time in many weeks, some fertilizers moved just slightly higher instead of considerably higher.  While all eight of the major fertilizer were again higher, only five fertilizers moved significantly higher, which DTN designates as 5% or more.

Continuing to lead the way to the high side was UAN28, which was again up 34% from last month and had an average price of $340 per ton. UAN32 was 24% more expensive compared to the prior month and had an average price of $377/ton.  Anhydrous was up 22% compared to last month and had an average price of $685/ton.  

10-34-0 was 7% higher compared to the prior month and had average price of $599/ton.  Urea was 6% more expensive than the prior month and had an average price of $502/ton. Urea was above the $500/ton level for the first time since the first week of November 2014 when the price was at $500/ton.  The remaining three fertilizers were higher again, but these fertilizers saw just slight price increases.  MAP had an average price of $697/ton, potash at $429/ton and DAP $618/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.55/lb.N, anhydrous $0.42/lb.N, UAN28 $0.61/lb.N and UAN32 $0.59/lb.N.

With retail fertilizer prices moving higher over recent months, all fertilizers are now higher in price from a year ago.  Potash is now 16% more expensive, 10-34-0 is 28% higher, urea is 31% more expensive, UAN32 36% higher, anhydrous is 39% more expensive, UAN28 is 44% higher, DAP is 52% more expensive and MAP 61% is higher compared to last year.

ASA & AFBF: Stepping on Stepped-up Basis Has Big Consequences

Any change in capital gains tax policy that eliminates or scales back stepped-up basis could result in a massive tax burden on the agricultural sector according to new analysis by the American Soybean Association and the American Farm Bureau Federation.

To minimize the impact of burdensome capital gains taxes, farmers and ranchers use stepped-up basis, which provides a reset for the asset value basis during intergenerational transfers. The magnitude of the tax burden that would be felt if basis is taken away or reduced would likely significantly exceed the annual income generated by the assets, something that has soy and other American farmers concerned.

Kevin Scott, soybean farmer from Valley Springs, South Dakota, and president of ASA said, “What people may not realize is that it could take years of returns to equal the amount of the tax if stepped-up basis is reduced, or worse, eliminated. If we inherit farmland without the step-up to level the playing field for paying capital gains, there is a significant cost to sell the land, which throws off the market for not just farmers but for everyone.”

“The value of farms is tied up in land and equipment, and many hardworking farmers struggle just to make ends meet,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Eliminating stepped-up basis would make passing the family farm to the next generation much more difficult when the capital gains taxes would exceed a farm’s net income in many cases and require years to pay-off. We urge lawmakers to leave stepped-up basis intact to ensure farmers can continue feeding America’s families.”

Scott Gerlt, ASA economist, and John Newton, Farm Bureau chief economist, explain in a joint article released April 7 that heirs facing higher taxes would incur steep costs after bringing the land to market, thereby increasing costs for everyone else in the marketplace. And, if an estate is passed on with debt, it may not be possible for the family to meet the tax obligation. Gerlt and Newton in their analysis offer perspective across the U.S. and give real examples of the damage stepped-up basis changes could cause. Bottom line: Eliminating stepped-up basis to generate more federal income risks the livelihood of America’s family farms and the economic sustainability of these family operations long into the future.

Farm Bureau Supports Preserving Family Farms Act of 2021

AFBF President Zippy Duvall today commented on the introduction of a bill to help more farm families continue their livelihoods after the death of a loved one.

“Estate taxes can have devastating consequences on family farms. The special use valuation is an important tool to help farmers and ranchers navigate the difficult process of estate planning. Next-generation farmers and ranchers should be able to pay based on the actual use of the land, rather than its potential value as commercial property such as an office or warehouse. AFBF is grateful Representatives Panetta and Walorski introduced the Preserving Family Farms Act of 2021, which will help more farm and ranch businesses transition to the next generation. We call on Congress to pass this legislation.”


The Preserving Family Farms Act of 2021, sponsored by Reps. Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) and Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), modernizes the special use valuation provision of the estate tax. This valuation allows property to be appraised as farmland rather than its commercial development value when determining estate taxes.

Farm and ranch families who choose to use the special use valuation commit to continue operating their farm or ranch business for 10 years. If they stop farming or ranching, sell the farm or ranch outside of the family, or change the use of their property, they must repay the forgiven estate taxes.

NCBA Delivers Preserving Family Farms Act: A Permanent Solution to a Generational Issue

The Preserving Family Farms Act of 2021 was introduced by U.S. Representatives Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) and Jackie Walorski (IN-2). NCBA has long supported efforts to reduce undue tax burden on farmers and ranchers. This bipartisan legislation to expand IRS Code Section 2032A would allow cattle producers to take advantage of the Special Use Valuation and protect family-owned businesses from the devastating impact of the federal estate tax, commonly referred to as the Death Tax.

“We thank Representatives Panetta and Walorski for their leadership and dedication to protecting future generations of agricultural producers through the introduction of the Preserving Family Farms Act of 2021,” said Jerry Bohn, NCBA president.

The Preserving Family Farms Act increases the maximum amount allowed under the Section 2032A exemption from $750,000 to $11 million (indexed for inflation), thus reviving a critically important tool in the toolbox for farm and ranch families across the U.S. If enacted, this legislation will provide a permanent solution to an issue that has long plagued our nation’s cattle producers.

“America’s farmers and ranchers deserve certainty in the tax code overall, and they need certainty especially when it comes to the estate tax. Without it, transition planning for the next generation of producers is nearly impossible,” Bohn said.


In the Tax Reform Act of 1976, Congress recognized the disproportionate burden of the Death Tax on agricultural producers and created Section 2032A as a way to help farmers keep their farms. However, the benefits of Special Use Valuations have been stymied over the years as the cap on deductions has failed to keep pace with the rising value of farmland.

While the current 2032A reduction is 55 percent higher than the value established two decades ago, USDA estimates that cropland values have increased by 223 percent. Agricultural land values – including on-farm buildings – have also risen dramatically, increasing by 241 percent during this same period. Due to the rapid inflation of farmland values, the 2032A deduction is no longer aligned with the needs of modern agriculture – nor does it accomplish Congress’ intended goal of providing meaningful protection to those producers who are most vulnerable to the estate tax.

Beef Checkoff: Who’s Who & How It Works

Greg Hanes, CEO, Cattlemen’s Beef Board

Beef. It seems like the kind of commodity that would be simple, straightforward, easy to understand. Except…it’s not. The industry’s long history of organizational splits, reinventions, mergers and aliases — along with the fact that many association names sound similar — is enough to make anybody’s head spin. Even folks from other commodities agree that the beef world is complex, and so is its Checkoff.

For three and a half decades, the Beef Checkoff has existed to promote beef, but unless you are actively engaged in the program, you may not fully understand its management and oversight. Those duties are clearly assigned to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion & Research Board (aka, Cattlemen’s Beef Board/CBB) by the Beef Promotion and Research Act. Even with completely separate boards, staffs and offices, two common misperceptions remain: the belief that the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) oversees the Checkoff — and that CBB and NCBA are one and the same. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The 1985 Farm Bill created the CBB to administer the Beef Checkoff program. Through the dollar-a-head assessment on the sale of all cattle and equivalent amount on imported beef and beef products, each year the CBB funds promotion, research and education proposals presented to the Beef Promotion Operating Committee (BPOC) by established, national, non-profit beef or cattle industry-governed organizations. Once a proposal is approved by the BPOC, the organization becomes a Checkoff “contractor” and conducts the work according to guidelines and program evaluations that ensure proposal objectives are met.

By law, absolutely no Checkoff funds can be used for policy or lobbying efforts. That said, the Beef Checkoff’s largest contractor, NCBA, does have a policy division. So, how does that work? Through closely monitored processes and a “firewall” that keeps policy work and Checkoff-funded work separate.   

As a trade association representing U.S. cattle producers, NCBA is like a coin with two sides. One side, the Policy Division, works to advance the political interests of its members. Any discussion of NCBA and policy is valid, but that’s NCBA’s Policy Division at play and has nothing to do with the CBB or Checkoff.

The other side of NCBA is qualified to contract with the BPOC to conduct Checkoff promotion, research and education work as an established, national, non-profit beef or cattle industry governed organization. To be clear, it is not the organization’s policy side that competes in this arena.
Just like any other Checkoff contractor, NCBA must adhere to all rules and processes, and its contract work is managed by the CBB. Each year, it must submit Authorization Requests (program proposals) that fully outline the project work it wants to do. It must file progress reports, quarterly oversight evaluations and regular reviews. It can only receive Checkoff dollars on a cost-recovery basis, which means it pays expenses up front and is only reimbursed after the CBB reviews invoices and documentation proving the money was spent appropriately and within the parameters of the Authorization Request. A dedicated compliance officer ensures all provisions of the Act and the Order are followed, that the “firewall” is maintained and that no Checkoff funds are used for policy or lobbying.

For the current fiscal year, the Beef Checkoff has nine contractors:
• American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture (AFBFA)*
• Cattlemen’s Beef Board, which manages the Producer Communications program
• Foundation for Meat & Poultry Research and Education (FMPRE)
• Meat Importers Council of America (MICA)
• National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA)*
• National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA)
• North American Meat Institute (NAMI)*
• U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA)*
• U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF)
*Denotes organization with separate policy division; however, no Beef Checkoff funds support policy or lobbying efforts.

So, in a nutshell, the CBB oversees operation of the Beef Checkoff and its contractors, including NCBA. The “beef world” is definitely not uncomplicated, but each organization that does Beef Checkoff-funded work on behalf of producers has a unique area of expertise. In the end, it all contributes to a great big, coordinated effort to drive demand for beef.

USDA Seeks Nominees for the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is seeking nominees for the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board. Nominations are due June 6, 2021, for 32 producer and three importer seats. Appointed members will serve three-year terms beginning February 2022 and ending February 2025.

Vacancies for producer and importer member positions are available in Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Mid-Atlantic Unit (South Carolina and West Virginia), Northeast Unit (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont), Southwest Unit (California and Nevada) and Importer Unit.

Any beef producer in the United States who owns cattle or any importer that imports cattle or beef may be nominated. Producers and importers must be nominated by a USDA certified producer organization and submit a completed application. USDA will select appointees from the nominated producers and importers.

Nomination forms and a list of certified producer organizations in each state or unit are available on the AMS Cattlemen’s Beef Board webpage.

Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985 and is composed of 101 members representing 34 separate states, four units of geographically grouped states, and one importer unit.

For more information, contact Kahl Sesker at (202) 253-8253 or

AMS policy is that the diversity of the board should reflect the diversity of their industries in experience of members, methods of production and distribution, marketing strategies, and other distinguishing factors that will bring different perspectives and ideas to the table. When submitting nominations, the industry must consider the diversity of the population served and the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the members to serve a diverse population.

Since 1966, Congress has authorized industry-funded research and promotion boards to provide a framework for agricultural industries to pool resources and combine efforts to develop new markets, strengthen existing markets and conduct important research and promotion activities. AMS provides oversight to 22 boards. The oversight ensures fiscal accountability and program integrity and is paid for by industry assessments.

ICASA Seeks Research to Improve Antibiotic Stewardship in Pigs and Beef Cattle

The International Consortium for Antimicrobial Stewardship in Agriculture (ICASA), one of the largest public-private partnerships focused on antibiotic stewardship in animal agriculture, is issuing two separate calls for research concepts, one to improve detection, treatment and prevention of infectious lameness in pigs and the other to develop new diagnostic methods and technologies that facilitate antibiotic traceability across the beef and pork supply chains. Matching funds are optional for this program.

Mycoplasma hyosynoviae is an organism prevalent in swine herds that can invade the joints and may lead to swelling and lameness. The condition is a major driver of antibiotic use in pigs but is difficult to diagnose by standard laboratory methods. The ICASA Swine Health Working Group is soliciting concepts related to the development of novel diagnostic protocols and procedures to better detect pigs that are infected with M. hyosynoviae, to conduct epidemiological studies, and/or evaluate standard therapeutic strategies that enhance the judicious use of antibiotics for this condition.

Separately, the ICASA Technologies Working Group is seeking projects related to early disease detection, pathogen control or elimination and antibiotic use traceability in beef cattle and pigs. Several states and municipalities require grocers to report numeric data on antibiotic use for meat products. However, producers and suppliers of these products do not have a straightforward method to collect antibiotic use data across their entire supply chains. Additionally, it is unclear how to incentivize the adoption of antibiotic traceability technologies by smaller-scale producers, given the additional time and cost involved in adoption of these tools. ICASA is supporting the development of technologies that may improve antibiotic traceability and economic cost/benefit analyses that consider trade-offs to implementation from multiple perspectives.

“These two calls for research concepts underscore the need for bold research that improves animal health and welfare while supporting farmer profitability,” said the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research’s (FFAR) Advanced Animal Systems Scientific Program Director Dr. Tim Kurt. “The tools, technologies and strategies resulting from ICASA-funded research have the potential for real world impact from producer to consumer.”

Full application details for both opportunities are available on FFAR’s website. Applicants must submit their letter of intent by May 12, 2021. Applications will be reviewed by ICASA participants and will be evaluated on a variety of factors including potential for supply chain implementation, potential for impact, likelihood for successful completion, originality, key personnel qualifications and strength of partnerships.

FFAR created ICASA in 2019 to facilitate research that promotes the judicious use of antibiotics, advances animal health and welfare and increases transparency in food production practices. ICASA improves antibiotic stewardship by building cross-sector partnerships among participants representing all stages of the US livestock supply chain.

Farmers Seek Bigger Voice In Addressing Global Food System Issues

In its ongoing effort to ensure that the voice of U.S. farmers, ranchers and forestland owners is being heard in food system discussions that are continuously taking place on the world stage, Solutions from the Land (SfL) and a group of collaborating agricultural organizations this week held a "dialogue" for producers, who shared their experiences, insight and recommendations in anticipation UN Food Systems Summit (FSS) expected to be held this fall.

Those who actually work the land and forests have been woefully underrepresented in the global negotiations, a shortfall that SfL has been working to overcome. Perhaps the clearest and most-important result of the dialogue was evidence that the farmer voice is essential in development of food and agriculture policy.

Food-system success is inseparable from farmer success. Farmers make the investments and bear the risks of each year’s production. They are directly responsible for food products and are often the ones affected by hunger and malnutrition worldwide. These points lead to a singular conclusion: farmer success equals food system success.

The dialogue, a virtual event, drew together a wide cross section of producers whose work together underlined the importance of building a worldwide coalition of farmer voices that must be heard at the FSS. The participants discussed topics to be considered under an FSS "action track" - "Boost Nature Positive Production at Sufficient Scale." (The track is one of five laid out for the global summit, the date of which has yet to be set.)

This fall's food summit will be the first in 25 years, and stakeholders across the globe are weighing in with their suggestions for changes to our food systems, heightening the need for farmers, ranchers and forestland owners to make their voices heard now and often,

Specifically, the action track under the focus of Tuesday's discussion aims to deepen understanding among global negotiators of the constraints and opportunities facing farmers and enterprises along the food value chain. The track is also designed to support food system governance that better realigns the incentives that can enhance productivity, improve resilience, reduce food losses, mitigate climate change and address other global challenges.

Within those parameters, dialogue participants offered personal recommendations aimed at optimizing the use of environmental resources in food production, processing and distribution, all in a way that reduces the loss of biodiversity, pollution, water use, soil degradation and greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. The event offered the experience for growers to learn from each other on ways to improve efficiency and provide stability to our food system.

Discussion Tuesday also included 24 proposed "solutions" offered by the FSS Action Track 3 team that could bring greater stability to the global food system, divided among three functions: protect, manage and restore. For example, in the "protect" column was a call to achieve a just transition to sustainable agriculture through policy reform and public support. Among the recommendations under the "manage" header is a call for the adoption of regenerative agricultural practices for resilient landscapes at scale. Included in the proposals in the "restore" column is a measure that calls for the revival of grassland, shrublands and savannahs through extensive livestock-based feeding systems.

Another key takeaway from Tuesday's dialogue is that operations must be profitable for ag lands to deliver on food security and contribute to other sustainable development goals, like restoring clean water, producing clean energy and stemming climate change. Dialogue participants also called for increased investment in agricultural research, the promotion of innovation and technology pathways that are key to continuing improvements, and the reform of conflicting regulations that present a significant barrier to food systems security.

The event also underscored the reality that growers can learn from each other, sharing ways to improve efficiency and other means to attain sustainability.

Farmers face accusations of environmental degradation, yet they are the vanguard of adapting the holistic "circle of life" to modern agriculture. In Tuesday's dialogue, several farmers shared personal experiences of meetings with environmental regulators that ended with their better understanding the need for regulation and regulators understanding how to work with farmers rather than against them.

The dialogue drew American farmers who believe that their innovation – and their collaborative approach to change – can translate to other farmers and other cultures around the world. SfL appreciated the opportunity to facilitate this timely discussion and invites farmers and livestock producers across the globe to join us in advancing pragmatic solutions from the land.

Groups Urge Regulation of Genetically Engineered Animals Stay with FDA not USDA

This week, thirteen national advocacy groups concerned about public health, environment, and animal welfare urged key federal agencies to maintain regulatory authority over genetically engineered  food animals within the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In response to a Trump U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposal to withdraw most of the FDA’s regulatory authority over genetically engineered animals, including fish, and transfer that authority to USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the groups sent letters to U.S. Health and Human Services Department (HHS) Secretary Becerra and USDA Secretary Vilsack urging them to maintain authority of genetically engineered animals within FDA.

“Despite concerns that FDA still needs to develop final regulations on genetically engineered animals, FDA possesses the scientific and administrative capacities to regulate these animals better than USDA,” said Jaydee Hanson, policy director at the Center for Food Safety. “President Biden has said that his Administration will be science-based. Leaving genetically engineered animal regulation to the FDA is the science-based approach here.”

USDA’s administrative action took the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)—signed on January 13, 2021, by former USDA Secretary Perdue and HHS Assistant Secretary for Health, Dr. Brett Giroir—and was subsequently posted on the APHIS website. However, although HHS did sign the MOU, the MOU has not been posted on FDA’s website, which means that the MOU is not currently in effect, as it states, “This agreement will become effective when signed by both parties and made publicly available on the USDA and FDA websites.”

FDA’s inaction signaled the last-minute effort by Secretary Perdue to deregulate genetically engineered animals was rejected by the FDA Commissioner. On January 11, FDA Commissioner Hahn told HHS leadership that he refused to sign the MOU, according to Politico, “amid concerns about its legality and the potential health repercussions of relaxing oversight of certain genetically altered products.” One senior administration official told POLITICO that the White House was behind the sudden push for approval. Career FDA lawyers opposed the MOU, but were overruled by HHS’ political appointees. The MOU is part and parcel of other Trump administrative initiatives to weaken FDA’s authority to protect public health.

The groups behind the letters share Commissioner Hahn’s concerns and are urging HHS Secretary Becerra to ask Secretary Vilsack to instruct USDA officials to remove the MOU from the APHIS website, since it is not in effect. Additionally, the groups are urging Secretary Becerra to order the HHS Office of the General Counsel to evaluate the legality of the MOU in the context of FDA’s statutory authorities and scientific capacity to regulate and conduct pre-market and post-market risk assessment of genetically engineered animals and fish.

“Genetically engineered animals are a significant new threat to our food system. With the GMO salmon company AquaBounty looking for buyers, the FDA must urgently strengthen its regulations to fully evaluate GMO animals for public health and environmental safety,” said Dana Perls, program manager for Friends of the Earth’s emerging tech program. “Handing authority over to the USDA will dilute the already-weak GMO animal regulations and exacerbate harm to farmers and the environment.”

Secretary Perdue, in announcing the MOU, repeated meat industry arguments that FDA’s safety-oriented regulatory approach impedes rapid commercialization of genetically engineered animals. The industry demands, in the words of the National Pork Producers Council, “regulatory certainty” to expedite investment in and commercialization of GE animals, especially swine. However, reassigning regulatory authority to an agency avid to market genetically engineered animal products worldwide is very likely to compromise the scientific integrity of the risk assessment of these animals.

“USDA must not encroach on the FDA’s clear authority and competence to conduct risk assessments on the processes of genetic engineering applied to agricultural animals and fish,” said Dr. Steve Suppan, policy analyst at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. “If importing country authorities believe that USDA has usurped FDA authority over genetically engineered animals, the reputation and sales of U.S. agricultural exporters will likely suffer. “

The thirteen groups that signed the letters are Center for Food Safety, A Greener World, American Anti-Vivisection Society, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Animal Welfare Institute, Food and Water Watch, Food Animal Concerns Trust, Friends of the Earth, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, International Center for Technology Assessment, National Family Farm Coalition, Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, and World Animal Protection.

Tuesday April 6 Ag News

 Nebraska Farm Bureau Details Concerns, Seeks Answers on 30x30 Climate Executive Order

Nebraska Farm Bureau is pushing the Biden administration for answers regarding how the president will implement a Jan. 27, 2021 executive order setting a goal of conserving at least 30 percent of lands and waters by 2030 (30x30). The 30x30 order contained few details, in turn raising numerous questions and concerns from farmers, ranchers, and other landowners. Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue detailed Farm Bureau member concerns and urged the administration to provide clarity in an April 5 letter to the president.

“Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers remain committed to caring for our environment and utilizing science-based conservation practices. If the administration plans to implement 30x30 by placing additional limits on what farm and ranch families can do with their property, we stand ready to stop it,” said McHargue.

The purchase and expansion of public lands by the government, the use of conservation easements to restrict land use in perpetuity, and the expansion of federal control over private property were among the concerns McHargue detailed in the letter on behalf of Nebraska Farm Bureau members. Concerns about the lack of details in the executive order were only further fueled by the inability or unwillingness of new U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to answer questions about the 30x30 proposal during her confirmation hearing.

“Farm Bureau has a long and distinct history of supporting private property rights and opposing expansion of federal government reach over our nation’s farms and ranches. Healthy land, air, and water are the lifeblood of our rural communities. Nebraska farmers and ranchers work hard to preserve our natural resources for future generations. It’s imperative the administration not only provide clarity as to how they plan to move forward, but it’s vital they make sure that those who will be impacted have a seat at the table to voice what will and won’t work,” said McHargue.

Visit to urge the president to provide clarity on 30x30.



- Jerry Volesky, NE Extension
Pastures are starting to green-up.  That is usually a good sign, except when most of the green is coming from weeds.  
In warm-season grass pastures, an abundance of early weeds will remove moisture that could be used for grass growth later on and they remove valuable nutrients from the soil.  Early weeds also can develop so much growth that they can shade, smother, and reduce early growth of your summer pasture grasses.
Herbicides like glyphosate and imazapic (Plateau®) as well as prescribed burning can control many early weeds, but I think another method actually is better — grazing.  Heavy, pre-season grazing costs you nothing.  In fact, you get some feed from these weeds while herbicides or burning would only kill and remove growth.  Plus, this early pasture might be especially valuable if it gets your cattle out of mud or saves you from feeding expensive hay this spring.
For mixed cool- and warm-season grass pastures, early flash grazing also can be used, but we do want to be a little more cautious as to not overgraze any desirable cool-season grasses.  In areas where cheatgrass or downy brome is a problem, grazing at strategic windows, such as during the cheatgrass elongation phase right before seed set, appears to be the best time to apply grazing.  Grazing at this time matches diet preference by grazing animals with the cheatgrass growth period and limits over use on perennial coo-season grasses growing at the same time. Targeted grazing is a long-term management option that can utilize cheatgrass as a forage resource and limit the potential seed proliferation within a system.
While early flash grazing of some pastures will not completely eliminate all the weeds, it can actually make for some pretty timely and valuable pasture.

Deadline extension, lower match for Value-Added Producer Grants announced

The Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG), a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program available directly to farmers and ranchers, has received a major funding increase, a lower match requirement, and an application extension.

Applications are now due April 29 for those applying online and must be postmarked by May 4 for anyone applying by mail.

Planning grants of up to $75,000 help pay for feasibility studies and business planning that support future financing and business development. Working Capital grants fund up to $250,000 to cover marketing and product development costs. Projects requesting more than $50,000 require a previous feasibility study and business plan to verify viability of the product.

“This versatile grant program is available to individual farmers and ranchers, as well as groups of producers,” said Trenton Buhr, policy associate for the Center for Rural Affairs. “Applicants must develop new products or expand existing markets for value-added products and produce at least 50 percent of the raw agricultural product they plan to add value to.”

Funding for VAPG was increased to $76 million when coronavirus relief legislation was passed by Congress in December.  The first round of applications will compete for $35 million, at a 10% cash match. Those whose application scored well, but did not receive a grant in the first round, will be asked to apply again for the remaining $41 million. This second round will require applicants to demonstrate they can supply a 100% match, or 1-to-1, which can be a combination of cash and in-kind contributions.

“Now is the ideal time to apply for this grant,” Buhr said. “The additional funding greatly increases an applicant’s chances of success. It also comes at a reduced cost to applicants.”

For more information or to get application materials, contact your state USDA Rural Development office. A list of offices can be found at


Nebraska Extension’s Native American Coalition, in partnership with the Nebraska Water Center, is hosting its inaugural Tribal Water and Food Sustainability Summit April 14-15.

The summit, which will be held via Zoom, is geared toward University of Nebraska–Lincoln faculty but is open to anyone interested in learning about the following topics:
> Tribal worldviews and relationships with water and the earth;
> Tribal youth programs focused on food and water sustainability;
> Creating relationships between tribal water and earth protectors and university faculty.

Adult tribal leaders will present on the first day of the conference, with youth tribal leaders presenting on the second day. Information on Husker conservation programs will be presented both days. Registration is free.

Nebraska Extension Tribal Educator Ted Hibbeler said he hopes the event — the first the Native American Coalition has held since its founding earlier this year — helps strengthen relationships between Nebraska Extension and tribal communities in Nebraska.

“The Native American Coalition was imagined to build bridges between tribal and non-tribal communities; to facilitate community development and leadership in Native communities; and to bring Native American traditional worldviews, languages, cultures and histories to the University of Nebraska and non-tribal communities,” Hibbeler said. “This event is a starting point for that.”

For more information on the coalition, to view the full conference schedule or to register, visit  

Early Planting Is Possible as Soils Continue to Warm

A warm start to April is giving farmers an opportunity for an early start in the fields. How much to do now depends on where you farm and your level of risk assessment.

According to the April 5 soil temperature map provided by the Iowa Environmental Mesonet, nearly all counties in Iowa are at 50 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer – the minimum for planting corn.

However, agronomists with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach say it’s still early, both in terms of the optimum planting window and the risk for spring frost.

Historically, the optimum planting window for Iowa corn has been April 11 to May 18, with a shorter window in the northern part of the state compared to the south. And the risk for a heavy frost (temperature below 28 F) remains above the 50th percentile until about mid-April.

“It looks like we’re setting up for a beautiful planting season, much like we had last year, but we’re still early for the planting timeframe that is considered ‘maximum yield potential’ for Iowa,” said Meaghan Anderson, field agronomist with ISU Extension and Outreach.

Although soil temperature at planting is important, agronomists advise that the soil temperature should remain at 50 F or trend upward after planting, to prevent cold injury to the seed. A cold rain after planting, with freezing temperatures, can be especially damaging.

Mark Licht, assistant professor in agronomy and cropping systems specialist for ISU Extension and Outreach, said producers might be better tending to other field tasks before putting seed in the ground. He said crop insurance will not cover a replant until April 11, and there is still plenty of time for planting.

“I think it’s safe to say we are not out of the woods on receiving low temperatures in the 30s or even below yet,” Licht said. “Last year northern Iowa had a frost on May 5. And I can remember many of the last 10 years have had frosts the last week of April or first week of May.”

Licht shared his advice in an April 1 blog post on the Integrated Crop Management website, where updates will be provided throughout the growing season.

As for soybean, Licht said he considers “early planting” to be any time between April 11-25, with “ultra-early” being anything before April 11.

Planting soybean before April 25 can result in higher yields, but the yield potential is not consistent from year to year. He said it is more important to make sure soybean is planted before May 20, to avoid late planting yield declines.

“Planting early ensures you will not be planting late, but it does not mean that you will not experience damage or have to replant,” Licht said.

Farmers will face risk no matter when they decide to plant, but a good start to the season, like most Iowans are seeing now, is always favorable. Prices for corn and soybean are also up from past years, adding more optimism to the start of this year’s crop.

NIFA Invests $15.5 Million in Cyberinformatics to Boost Ag Production

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) invested a total of $15M in two key programs awarded through its Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Food and Agriculture Cyberinformatics and Tools (FACT). NIFA awarded 18 Food and Agriculture Cyberinformatics Tools grants totaling $10.4 million to initiate research on big data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and predictive technologies needed to keep U.S. agriculture on the leading edge of food and agricultural production. NIFA also invested $5.1 million for 12 Nanotechnology for Agricultural and Food Systems grants to support nanotechnology-based solutions that improve food production, nutrition, sustainable agriculture and food safety.

"Big data and artificial intelligence will increasingly play a vital role in the future of agricultural technologies and innovation," said NIFA Director Carrie Castille. "As we work to enhance farmer profitability and agricultural sustainability and realize precision nutrition for consumers, these technologies will keep research and development moving at a rapid pace to provide the tools needed for success."

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln will receive funding for its project, "FACT-AI: Cyberinformatic Tools for Exploring and Validating Sow Posture and Piglet Activity."

Example projects funded from the 18 Food and Agriculture Cyberinformatics Tools grants include University of Idaho's project, "Harnessing Artificial Intelligence For Implementing Integrated Pest Management In Small-Grain Production Systems." This project will develop an AI-based decision support system for identifying pests in wheat-based production systems. U.S. Ignite, Inc.'s project, "Platforms for Advanced Wireless: Research Rural Platform," will form a public-private partnership to support creating four at-scale experimental platforms for advancing fundamental wireless research to enable rural broadband to benefit customers in rural communities, and to attract and retain skilled networking jobs in the local community.

Some projects funded from the 12 Nanotechnology for Agricultural and Food Systems grants include: Montana State University's project, "Transforming Wood into High-Performance Engineering Material with Cellulose Nanocrystals," to help add value and expand the use of wood, help forest farmers generate additional revenue, and create a new stream of jobs in rural America. Michigan State University's project, "Fully Printed Electronics and Energy Devices via Low-dimensional Nanomaterials for Smart Packaging," will develop a low-cost, wireless smart packaging system based on fully printed self-powered, sensor-based, radio-frequency identification tags to monitor food quality and safety from packaging, transportation, storage, and distribution to retail along the food supply chain.

Auburn University's project, "Cellulose Nanocrystals: A Versatile Platform for the Detection of Allergens and Emerging Contaminants," is focused on developing cellulose nanocrystals as a versatile platform for rapid, low-cost, multiplexed detection of food allergens and emerging contaminants in water and food.

NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education, and extension across the nation to make transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges. NIFA supports initiatives that ensure the long-term viability of agriculture and applies an integrated approach to ensure that groundbreaking discoveries in agriculture-related sciences and technologies reach the people who can put them into practice. In FY2020, NIFA's total investment was $1.95 billion.

Study Confirms US Beef Industry is the Most Sustainable in the World

A research paper released Monday confirmed U.S. beef production is the most sustainable production system in the world, a fact long understood by America’s cattle producers, who between the 1960s and 2018, reduced the carbon footprint of the industry by 40 percent while producing 66 percent more beef.
“We already know a growing global population will require and demand high-quality food, which means we need ruminant animals, like beef cattle, to help make more protein with fewer resources,” said NCBA president and Kansas cattleman, Jerry Bohn. “Cattle generate more protein for the human food supply than would exist without them because their unique digestive system allows them to convert human-inedible plants, like grass, into high-quality protein.”
Although the study’s abstract disingenuously advocates for decreased beef consumption, the paper itself repeatedly points out that the advantages of the U.S. cattle and beef production model far outweigh the impacts. The U.S. has been a global leader with the lowest emissions intensity in the world for the past 25 years, producing just 2 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, or 0.5 percent of global GHG emissions.
The study examined livestock lifecycle assessments (LCAs) from across the globe to reach its conclusions and pointed out that there is significant room for improvement of global livestock production practices. While it laid out many opportunities for improvement, it also recognized the work already done by the U.S. cattle industry to become the leader in sustainable beef production. Thanks to early adoption of innovative grazing practices combined with advances in cattle breeding and nutrition, U.S. producers have already employed many of the suggested practices that the study suggests employing around the world.
While the content of the study repeatedly confirms the U.S. as the leader in sustainable beef and cattle production, NCBA was disappointed to see a statement in the abstract that advocated for a reduction in beef consumption. This statement is not only unfounded but is inappropriate to include in a summary of work that consistently validates American conservation and management practices. Cattle production protects open space, guards against catastrophic wildfire, and protects wildlife habitat across the country. Those benefits, and the practices that underpin them in the United States, further confirm the country’s role as a global leader.  
“Beef and cattle production is a critical part of our country’s identity as a global leader in sustainable beef production, but also in our long-held principle that economic, environmental, and community-based sustainability will result in widespread benefits,” said Bohn. “U.S. farmers and ranchers are the best in the world when it comes to producing safe, wholesome and sustainable high-quality beef for American families, and doing it with the smallest possible footprint and we’re committed to continuing on that path of improvement.”

2020/21 Sorghum Quality Report Released By U.S. Grains Council

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) has published its 2020/2021 Sorghum Quality Report and for the second year in a row, U.S. sorghum was, on average, graded above necessary requirements for U.S. No. 1.

Protein content in sorghum was up eight percent year over year, with readings coming in at 11.2 percent, almost a full percentage point jump above last year’s content.

“Protein content in sorghum is really what can set it apart from other coarse grains,” said Reece Cannady, USGC manager of global trade. “When evaluating sorghum in animal diets, it’s important to consider the value of this protein, particularly when every percentage point of protein is so precious with rapidly rising costs.”

The report, funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA’s FAS) Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program, provides international customers and other interested parties accurate, unbiased information about the 2020 U.S. sorghum crop.

To generate the report’s findings, a total of 108 samples were collected from 13 participating elevators located in Texas, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota between Sept. 30, 2020 and Feb. 23, 2021 and were analyzed by the Amarillo Grain Exchange and the Cereal Quality Lab at Texas A&M University. Scientists there calculated averages and standard deviations for each quality factor tested and reported results for the U.S. aggregate.

Total sorghum damage came in at just 0.0 percent in the aggregate, and broken kernel and foreign material (BNFM) was only 1.6 percent, both similar to last year’s results, highlighting how hard the grain is and how well it holds up during handling and storage.

For the second year in a row, 100 percent of the samples tested undetectable for tannins.

“A common misconception is that if sorghum is red, it has tannins in it, since that is the case in other major sorghum producing regions like Argentina, Africa and Australia,” Cannady said. “But, in the U.S., we grow a non-tannin red variety. Nutrient absorption can be problematic with high-tannin varieties, essentially depleting the value of the grain, so using a low-tannin, U.S.-grown seed yields great results in animal diets.”

This report is the second in a row completed since the 2016/2017 sorghum crop. The Council plans to roll out the information through webinar distribution around the world to all sorghum consumers and it will be a part of the Chinese corn export cargo report rollout in the near future.

“This report is helping fulfill the Council’s mission to provide the latest information for end-users around the world interested in understanding how U.S. sorghum differs from other varieties,” Cannady said. “We hope the 2020/2021 Sorghum Quality Report provides valuable information about the quality of U.S. sorghum and shows our valued trade partners that the United States is a trusted supplier.”

Drone Operators Cautioned to Not Disrupt Low-Flying Ag Aircraft

As the nation enters the upcoming growing season in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the National Agricultural Aviation Association is asking all Unmanned Aircraft System operators to be extra mindful of low-flying manned agricultural aircraft operations.

"The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) declared crop input services to be an essential service during the pandemic." NAAA CEO Andrew Moore said. "Aerial applicators are inputting nutrients, seeds and crop protection products to crops that will become consumers' food and fiber supply. We cannot afford even a small disruption in the nation's food supply chain during this critical time,"

"Agricultural aviators perform applications on 28% of cropland nationwide, and their work cannot be delayed because of an unidentified UAS not yielding to them, as is required by law."

Agricultural aviators fly as low as 10 feet off the ground, meaning they share airspace with UAVs that are limited to flying no more than 400 feet above ground level. For this reason, NAAA is asking UAV operators to do everything they can to avoid ag aircraft doing important, low-level work.

CommonGround Webinar Series Offers Insight, Connection

While volunteers from across the country have not been able to meet in person nationally, CommonGround continues to offer opportunities to learn more and hone skills online through a second online training series. This series of three webinars, which launched last week, builds upon the series of learning and networking opportunities offered online over the summer of 2020.

The first session welcomed new volunteers to incredible work being done by more than 200 farm women like them across the country. Through state associations' support and hard work, these women serve as resources for consumers who have questions about how their food is grown.

Additional sessions are planned for April 21 and May 19, featuring Roxi Beck of the Center for Food Integrity to update the pandemic’s impact on consumer food trends and a social storytelling workshop on May 19.

Sharing their personal stories, the volunteers who make up this grassroots movement foster conversations based on shared values that help moms off the farm discover that they can feel good about the food they feed their families. America’s farm families provide an amazing array of options, but honest questions are understandable with so many competing claims. By serving as resources, these women have shared their unique understanding of important topics, such as the difference between organic and conventional crops and how ranchers care for their animals, more than a billion times since 2010.

House Members Hold Meeting with Federal Maritime Commission on Shipping Delays Impacting Ag Sector

House Agriculture Committee Members Rep. Jim Costa (Chair of Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture) and Rep. Dusty Johnson (Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture), with Rep. Salud Carbajal (Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation)  and Rep. Bob Gibbs (Ranking Member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation), released the following statement in response to a meeting with the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) Chairman Dan Maffei and Commissioner Rebecca Dye on their efforts to mitigate ongoing shipping delays impacting American farmers, ranchers, and agriculture sector:

“We appreciate Chairman Maffei and Commissioner Dye for taking the time to provide these important updates to us and look forward to continuing to work with them to ensure that these shipping delays are ended expediently. As Chairs and Ranking Members of Subcommittees closely following the direct impacts of this situation, we are committed to resolving this issue in a timely manner and making sure that America’s farmers and ranchers can compete on the global stage. We will continue to follow this issue and look forward to a bipartisan dialogue between Congress and the Federal Maritime Commission.”

This meeting comes after a March 9th bipartisan letter sent to the FMC over mounting concern over reports that certain vessel-operating common carriers (VOCCs) are declining to ship U.S. agricultural commodity exports.

Growth Energy Calls on Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb to Veto Attack on E15

Today, Growth Energy sent a letter to Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb urging him to veto SB 303, legislation intended to destroy demand for E15, a fuel blend with 15 percent ethanol.

“Make no mistake, SB 303 was designed to stall new competition at the fuel pump and prevent more consumers from saving three to 10 cents per gallon on a lower-carbon, higher-octane fuel blend,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “In the wake of COVID-19, the last thing Indiana’s economy needs is an assault on ethanol producers and our farm suppliers across the entire state. If the governor allows this anti-E15 bill to become law, Indiana farm families are going to be reminded of it every time they fill up at the pump.”

According to the letter, “SB 303 seeks to limit sales of E15, a 15 percent ethanol fuel blend, by mandating unnecessary warning labels on E15 fuel dispensers that serve only to confuse consumers and add completely unnecessary redundancy to already burdensome federal labeling requirements. This legislation also muddies key regulations in a manipulative attempt to obstruct additional retailers from offering E15.”

4 Tips for stopping mastitis in wet weather

Juan Rodrigo Pedraza, DVM, Dairy Technical Services, Zoetis

Don’t let the old adage “April showers bring May flowers” become “April showers bring May mastitis” on your dairy. Dealing with seasonally wet weather can create environmental mastitis challenges if you aren’t using best management practices. Let me share four key focus areas that can help set you up for success during wet weather.

    Provide clean, dry bedding. While facility type can have a significant influence on how you protect against wet weather, keeping bedding clean and dry is a best practice, because mastitis pathogens can thrive in wet bedding. I suggest increasing the number of times you add new bedding during rainy seasons in order to keep it dry. If you are concerned about having enough additional bedding materials, consider reducing the amount of material you put on at each opportunity. For example: If you normally put four inches of sand on a bed once a week, consider putting one inch of sand on every other day. This will allow you to maintain the dryness of the bed with the same amount of material.

    Test your waste management. Wet weather can really be a litmus test for how good your waste management is. It is important to make sure alleyways are clean so cows are not dragging manure back into stalls. This also will help keep their feet clean and prevent contaminating the udder. Remember, cleaning the back of the stall is a must — someone must rake stalls when cows are away for milking and make sure the alley is clean. Additionally, if your cows are in dry lots, pay close attention to the areas that are undercover — animals may be congregating there and creating a very muddy area as well as increasing the risk of udder injuries due to crowding. Daily pen management is crucial to provide cow comfort and keep dry lots clean.

    Watch out for heat stress. Just because the weather is wet doesn’t mean it’s cold, and heat and dampness can be a perfect environment to increase infection risk. Heat-stressed cows have depressed immunity. If the udder is exposed to bacteria due to muddy conditions, a heat-stressed cow may not be able to fight off the infection.

    Fine-tune your vaccination protocol. Coliform mastitis vaccinations, such as Enviracor® J-5, can help reduce the effects of environmental mastitis. While you may typically administer the vaccine during the dry period, it is worth revisiting your vaccination protocol with your veterinarian to account for increased pressure from environmental pathogens.

Finally, if you are facing increased infections due to wet weather, remember that Spectramast® LC (ceftiofur hydrochloride) Sterile Suspension is a broad spectrum antibiotic labeled for the treatment of clinical mastitis associated with coagulase-negative staphylococci, Streptococcus dysgalactiae, and Escherichia coli and the treatment of diagnosed subclinical mastitis associated with coagulase-negative staphylococci and Streptococcus dysgalactiae.

Your Zoetis representative and your herd veterinarian can help you learn more about treatments as well as determine a proper wet-weather mitigation plan for your dairy.  

New tool empowers corn farmers with custom prescription seeding rates

Golden Harvest® corn farmers now have access to the Seeding Rate Selector, a digital tool that helps farmers estimate the most economical seeding rate for individual hybrids and yield environments. The Seeding Rate Selector is another example of Golden Harvest's commitment to delivering data-driven solutions to farmers.

"Golden Harvest makes an extensive investment in agronomic research, and this tool is an example of how we bring our data and research to life to benefit our farmers," said Bruce Battles, technical agronomy manager at Syngenta Seeds. "The Seeding Rate Selector will help farmers act upon the data we've gathered by creating customized prescription seeding rates for specific hybrids in their specific environments."

Seeding rate calculations are based on two or more years of data per hybrid, collected at 70 or more trial locations each year. Trialing across many environments increases the ability to predict how individual corn hybrids should be spaced and managed.

The free, easily accessible Seeding Rate Selector allows farmers to enter several variables, including hybrid, input costs and yield goal, to determine the optimal seeding rate per acre. Insights from the tool enable farmers to enhance return on investment potential by identifying opportunities where yields might be negatively impacted by over- or underseeding.

"Farmers shouldn't have to guess at what their seeding rate should be," said Battles. "All fields and hybrids are different, and a generic seeding rate recommendation in a seed guide isn't sufficient. The Seeding Rate Selector takes this into consideration, providing farmers with specific rate prescriptions so that they can have the best experience with our products in relation to their local conditions."

Golden Harvest Seed Advisors can help fine-tune seeding rate estimates even further and build planter seeding rate scripts within the E-Luminate® digital agronomy platform. To learn more about the Golden Harvest corn Seeding Rate Selector and develop a customized prescription seeding rate, contact a Golden Harvest Seed Advisor or visit

As Grain Costs Rise, Corteva Agriscience Advises Cattle Producers Look to Their Pastures

Grain prices are projected to remain high this year. While this boon to crop producers is putting pressure on livestock feeders, the upswing presents an opportunity for savvy cattle grazers.

“Rising corn and soybean prices, along with drought-tightened hay inventories and market uncertainty, are giving cattle producers ample incentive to maximize pasture production this grazing season,” said Jeff Clark, Market Development Specialist at Corteva Agriscience. “Growing more, high-quality grazed forages presents an excellent cost-containment strategy. For 2021, it could pay off on the income side of the ledger, too.”

With market factors signaling continued support for grain prices, many ag economists point to opportunities to add pounds in the pasture this grazing season. For cattle feeders, buying heavier weaned calves and feeding less high-priced grain enhances profit potential. That likely means increased demand for heavier weaned calves and a chance for grazers to capitalize.

“Ensuring your grazing acres are at peak production is a good place to start,” Clark said. “Growing more grass and managing it well can help you ramp up per-acre beef production. Whether that’s through improved daily weight gains or by extending the grazing season, it’s hard to go wrong with lower-cost gains on pasture.”

Start Fast, Finish Strong

Season-long success in the pasture starts early and continues through the summer. It’s not a turn-’em-out-and-forget-it enterprise, Clark says. He offers several tips that can help maximize pasture productivity:
    Evaluate last year’s successes and challenges and adjust grazing plans accordingly.
    Scout early and often. Catch small problems, like thistle patches, before they become larger headaches.
    Don’t forget soil fertility. Fertilizing according to soil test and experience can increase forage quality.
    Control broadleaf weeds early to increase grass production and utilization.
    Go gentle on drought-stressed areas. Overgrazing through over stocking and grazing length will prolong drought recovery.

“Annual and biennial broadleaf weeds can green up even before pasture grasses. Once growing, weeds steal moisture, nutrients and sunlight,” Clark said. “Catching weeds early gives pasture grasses a competitive advantage.”

Early in the season means when weeds are small and growing. They’re easier to cover and control, and they haven’t robbed much from the grass yet. If weather or spring workloads conspire against early spraying, treatments — and their forage-boosting benefits — can continue into summer. Just remember to adjust herbicide rates accordingly, Clark said.

Using a residual product, such as DuraCor® herbicide, early in the season stops that first weed flush 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.

“Remember: Every day grazed is money in your pocket,” Clark said. “That rings especially true this grazing season.”

Monday April 5 Crop Progress + Ag News


For the week ending April 4, 2021, there were 5.7 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 5% very short, 19% short, 74% adequate, and 2% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 9% very short, 24% short, 66% adequate, and 1% surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Winter wheat condition rated 5% very poor, 12% poor, 43% fair, 38% good, and 2% excellent.

Oats planted was 18%, ahead of 12% last year, and near 17% for the five-year average. Emerged
was 2%, equal to last year, and near 1% average.


 Warm and dry days allowed Iowa farmers 4.3 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending April 4, 2021, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Fieldwork activities included applying anhydrous and fertilizer, spreading manure and planting oats.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 8% very short, 25% short, 64% adequate and 3% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 12% very short, 29% short, 56% adequate and 3% surplus.
Twelve percent of the expected oat crop has been planted, 3 days ahead of last year and 4 days ahead of the 5-year average.

Pastures have started to green. Livestock conditions were generally good and producers report calving is going well.

First Crop Progress Report of Season Shows Winter Wheat Conditions Below Last Year

U.S. winter wheat is starting off the 2021 growing season with a good-to-excellent condition rating below last year, according to USDA NASS' first weekly Crop Progress report released Monday.  For the week ended April 4, 2021, winter wheat was rated 53% in good-to-excellent condition, down from 62% at the same time last year. Sixteen percent of the crop was rated poor to very poor, up from 9% at the same time last year.

Nationwide, corn planting reached 2% as of Sunday, equal to both last year and the five-year average pace.

Spring wheat planting was estimated at 3%, the same as last year and near the five-year average of 2%. Sorghum was 14% planted, compared to 15% last year and a five-year average of 14%.

Cotton planting was 6% complete, compared to 7% last year and an average of 5%. Rice was 14% planted, compared to 16% last year and an average of 18%.  Oats were 23% planted as of April 4, compared to 26% last year and an average of 28%. Emergence was at 18%, compared to 24% last year and an average of 25%.

Also notable in this week's report is nationwide soil moisture conditions this spring compared to last spring. In the lower 48 states, 65% of topsoil moisture was rated adequate to surplus. That is down 27 percentage points from 92% adequate to surplus at the same time last year. Subsoil moisture condition was rated 64% adequate to surplus, also down 27 percentage points from 91% last year.

Mead Town Hall: Concerned Locals, State Environmental & Ag Groups Host Discussion on AltEn Ethanol Plant Pollution

An in-person and virtual town hall meeting to discuss community concerns with the AltEn ethanol plant pollution, cleanup, health and environmental impacts, moderated by former Nebraska State Sen. Al Davis and featuring local impacted residents, state scientists and an attorney will be held on Monday, April 12 at 7:00 p.m. at the Mead Covenant Church, and also offer participation in the Q&A session online, with questions submitted via Facebook or email.

WHAT: Town Hall Meeting in Mead, Nebraska (In-Person & Online Video)
TOPIC: AltEn ethanol plant and community concerns re: ongoing contamination, cleanup, health & environmental impacts
WHEN: Monday, April 12, 7:00 p.m. CT
WHERE: Mead Covenant Church, 1540 County Rd 10, Mead, NE 68041

*We are asking all in-person attendees to wear a mask and practice social distancing inside the church during the town hall event, which is open to the public.

WHO: Former Nebraska State Senator Al Davis (Moderator)
Jody Weible: Local Mead resident within a mile of the AltEn plant, who has experienced health issues, and petitioned state and federal regulators to investigate AltEn pollution; also a former 24-year member of the Mead City Planning Commission.

Paula A. Dyas: Lives just north of Mead, and is a Senior Scientist at Merck Animal Health; solicited a sample of AltEn's soil conditioner for testing after her dogs became violently ill after consuming it.

Leesa Zalesky: Lives near Wahoo, NE, and is a retired investigative journalist and author with 25 years of experience covering the agricultural industry.

Janece Molhoff: Resident of Ashland and former City Council member who initiated a wellhead protection program. Previously completed a water quality study for League of Women Voters that identified gaps in safeguards for Nebraska water.

Dr. Judy Wu-Smart: Assistant Professor of Entomology, University of Nebraska; manager of UNL Bee Lab at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead, where every hive deployed since 2017 has collapsed — a total of 36 hives, each containing 40,000-60,000 bees.

Dr. John Schalles: Professor of Biology at Creighton University, who uses remote sensing and geospatial analyses to assess water quality and the health of inland and coastal waters and wetland ecosystems, and teaches courses in aquatic science, remote sensing, toxicology, and zoology.

Dave Domina: Attorney with Domina Law Group, who has represented Nebraskans, landowners, and cattlemen in matters including class action lawsuits, product liability, wrongful death and serious injury, and a wide variety of complex commercial cases.
Mead Town Hall Local Sponsors:
Concerned Citizens of Mead
Nebraska Sierra Club
Bold Nebraska
Nebraska Conservation Voters
League of Women Voters of Nebraska
Nebraska Wildlife Federation
Wachiska Audubon
GC Resolve
Nebraska Communities United
Nebraska Farmers Union
Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light
Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska
Nebraska State Grange


Spring Agronomy Talks Highlight Innovative Ag Systems, Research

Throughout the month of April, topics such as herbicide resistance, plant breeding technology and pasture productivity will be discussed by speakers during the Agronomy and Horticulture Spring 2021 Online Seminar Series. Seminars begin at 3:30 p.m. via Zoom here

Recordings of earlier seminars in Spring 2021, as well as seminars from previous years, are also available in the Agronomy and Horticulture archives.

Remaining Spring Seminars

April 9 — Research @ Scale: Developing Crop Science Products Through Innovative Science and Modern Data Architecture with Ruth Wagner, head of Data Science and Analytics at Bayer Crop Science, St. Louis, Missouri

Bayer is a life science company and a global leader in health care and nutrition whose products support efforts to overcome the major challenges presented by a growing and aging global population. As the industry leader, Bayer Crop Science has a role in helping the world meet the growing challenges and demand for agricultural. In this talk, Drs. Ruth Wagner, Linda Rymarquis and Ian Davis will share how scientific innovations like gene editing and data infrastructure are shaping our Plant Biotechnology R&D pipeline.

Note: This presentation video will not be posted to the website.

April 16 — Management of Herbicide-Resistant Weeds: Challenges and Opportunities with Rodrigo Werle, assistant professor and Extension Cropping Systems weed scientist, agronomy, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Herbicide-resistant weeds represent a major threat to sustainability and profitability of row crop production systems in the U.S. Midwest and beyond. Werle will discuss ongoing research efforts in Wisconsin to provide growers and decision influencers with research-based information to be more effective and sustainable integrated weed management systems.

April 23 — From Plant Proteins and Metabolites to Protein Networks and Metabolic Pathways with Sophie Alvarez, research associate professor, agronomy and horticulture, director of the Proteomics and Metabolomics Facility, Nebraska Center for Biotechnology, University of Nebraska

Proteomics and metabolomics are two of the “omics” technologies that are still underrepresented in plant biology despite their well-recognized value to crop science. With the help of examples, this talk will show how using these approaches contribute to advancing our understanding of plant coping strategies and defense mechanisms when they are under stress.

April 30 — Expanding the Breeding Toolbox to Develop Soybean Cultivars with Asheesh Singh, professor, 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

The soybean breeding program at Iowa State University, through an interdisciplinary effort, is developing strategies and building tools to improve the breeding pipeline. This presentation will explore few emerging technologies and data analytics developed or utilized in our program to study plant traits, and describe their application in phenotyping and cultivar development.

May 7 — Increasing Pasture Productivity and Quality to Support Grazing Livestock with John A. Guretzky, associate professor and Grassland Systems ecologist, agronomy and horticulture, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

This seminar will describe the structure and function of cool-season grass pastures in the Midwest including those dominated by perennials and seeded with annuals. Strategies and knowledge gaps to enhancing pasture productivity and quality through cultivar introductions, interseeding, and planting of simple to complex mixtures will be emphasized.

2021 Nebraska Cover Crop and Soil Health Conference Presentations Available Online  

The 2021 Nebraska Cover Crop and Soil Health Conference presentations are now available online at:

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
    Cover Crop Panel - discussion with growers, landowners, and consultants

The conference was held in February and is sponsored by Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Soybean Board.  Nearly 300 people participated online and another 41 attended the webcast at Beatrice, Central City, Hastings, Holdrege, North Platte, Syracuse, and York.

Nebraska Water Center works with partners to enhance water knowledge

The Nebraska Water Center (NWC) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has collaborated with partners across Nebraska since its founding in 1964. Examples include extension research to benefit individual producers, equipping budding water professionals with employable skills and engaging Nebraskans around water issues through tours, conferences, presentations and publications. Key to this work is a strong relationship with Nebraska’s state agencies.

For years, NWC has organized a brown bag lunch series that provides a stage for Nebraska faculty and researchers to share their work with professionals who manage the state’s water resources. This spring, NWC and the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) are partnering for a virtual series showcasing the university’s deep well of water and natural resources experts.

The series – held every other Thursday at noon via Zoom – continues April 15 with Jodi Delozier, a doctoral candidate in Nebraska’s School of Natural Resources. Delozier and her advisor, Dr. Mark Burbach, recently published a paper based on her PhD research. The paper, “Boundary Spanning: Its Role in Trust Development between Stakeholders in Integrated Water Resource Management,” explores the role of trust in managing complex water challenges and is the focal point of her brown bag presentation.

“As natural resource challenges become more intense, state and federal agencies are searching for strategies to develop better working relationships with local organizations, community members, and citizens,” said Delozier.

“Our research has found that boundary spanners play an important role in creating conditions that encourage trust building, thus increasing the opportunity for greater cross-disciplinary collaboration and an exchange of knowledge between stakeholders.”

Boundary spanners reach across organizational borders to build interconnections that help manage complex problems, inform policy and share knowledge. In his role as NDEE’s Water Quality Assessment Section Supervisor, Ryan Chapman spans boundaries between agencies, academia and citizens to elevate water quality. He also coordinates his agency’s participation in the brown bag series.

“NDEE has a long history of collaboration, and I am delighted that we are able to continue building relationships through this series. These partnerships help make it possible for Nebraskans to live, work, and enjoy a healthier environment,” said Chapman.

Upcoming brown bags include:
    April 29 with Dr. Javed Iqbal on “Nutrient Management to Improve Crop Production and Environmental Performance in Nebraska
    May 13 with Dr. Jesse Bell on “Water, Climate and Health in Nebraska”
    May 27 with Carla McCullough on “Watershed Science Education”
    June 10 with Balkissa Ouattara on “Age-adjusted Pediatric Cancers Incidence Related to Nitrate Concentration Measured through Citizen Science in Nebraska Watersheds”

Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board Issues Statement on the National Ag Statistic Survey 2021 Projected Planting Report

On Wednesday, March 31, the National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) released the report on 2021 Prospective Plantings. The report, based on survey responses from agricultural producers, indicates a significant increase in sorghum acres planned for Nebraska in 2021.

          In 2020, Nebraska’s sorghum acres totaled 195 thousand acres. Per the NASS report, Nebraska will see an increase of 105 thousand acres, bringing total acres planted for grain sorghum to 300 thousand acres; Up 54% from the previous year. This increase is largely due to rallying market prices for sorghum. Many bids in the state for 2021 crop are $1 per bushel or more over corn, and even higher in states adjacent to Nebraska. The price of corn is used as a benchmark reference point for sorghum, since sorghum is not traded on the Chicago Board of Trade.

          It is notable that demand for sorghum in the domestic and international markets continues to grow. Much demand for sorghum in 2020 went unmet due to lower supply, which contributed to the rise in the sorghum price.

          “We are pleased to see an increase in sorghum acres projected for the 2021 growing season,” stated Nate Blum, Executive Director of the Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board. “Additional acres of sorghum in Nebraska mean additional opportunities for increased on-farm revenues and water, wildlife, and soil conservation. Many new producers should note that research shows an average 8% increase in corn yields when following sorghum in rotation.”  Blum continued, “Nebraska’s new and returning sorghum producers should know that the Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board is committed to continuing our work to develop value-added domestic and international markets on their behalf. Additionally, Nebraska Sorghum has multiple resources available to producers throughout the growing season and on-demand at”

'Thank You to Denison' Emphasizes Community

It’s time to celebrate community.  On Monday, April 5, the Denison community was the focus of a “Thank You” celebration from Iowa's pig farmers for the support shown to those who work in bringing food from farm to table.
“Lifting spirits on challenging days and providing inspiration to help others clear the hurdles in front of them are ways you have touched the hearts of farmers,” said the president of the Iowa Pork Producers, Dennis Liljedahl of Essex. “The way you make people feel matters. And the Denison community showed up to support every segment of the food supply chain - farmers, plant workers, and those working in grocery stores and restaurants. Thank you.”
As part of their “Thank You” celebration, the Iowa pork producers donated $500 to the local Temporary Aid Program (TAP), which is a food pantry in Denison that works to alleviate hunger. The pork producers also provided pork coupons seven local grocery stores for consumers to use, and pork thank-you baskets to local first responders.
The day wrapped up with a giveaway of nearly 6000 pounds of pork to Denison-area residents. That giveaway equals almost 24,000 meals or servings of pork. This took place in a drive-through event at the United Presbyterian Church in Denison. Families each received a four-to-five-pound pork loin, and a package of bacon. The pork was made available through donations from both Smithfield Foods and Quality Food Processors.
Brian Rank, the hog procurement business manager at Smithfield’s Denison plant, said the company owes a debt of gratitude to the farmers and food workers who kept working this past year to make sure there was food to put on the table for everyone. "Feeding the hungry is a cornerstone of Smithfield's work," he said, pointing out that the company provided $1.6 million in charitable donations in Iowa this past year, and providing pork donation to provide 220 million pork servings across the nation.
Eric Kohler, the general manager of Quality Food Processors, expressed his appreciation not only to pig farmers, but to the Denison and other surrounding communities for their support. "We just do bacon, and there was great demand for it this past year," he said. The company processed 90 million pounds of bacon in 2020 and its goal is to produce 110 million pounds in 2021.

"Our business is reliant on those farmers and food workers who are working every day to help fight against hunger," Kohler said.
The past 12 months have reminded us about the importance of community when times are challenging and uncertain. Uncertainty and challenges are still ahead. “It matters that we all work together in keeping people safe as our work continues to feed your families, neighbors, and others,” Liljedahl said.

IPPA will hold similar Thank You events in Ottumwa, Sioux City and Storm Lake. A Thank You event was also held in Waterloo on March 23 and in Marshalltown on March 31.

The Potential for Corn and the Animal Ag Sector Through Next-Generation DDGS

Opportunities for new corn fractionation technologies at dry mills create value by further separating out the various components of corn to allow differential utilization of the subsequent product streams. Feed rations and specific ingredients for animals can be optimized by separating corn into its most valuable components.

Dried Distillers Grains with Solubles (DDGs) are a co-product of the ethanol production process and used 1.075 billion bushels of corn in 2020. DDGs are a valuable feed ingredient for cattle, swine, poultry, and aquaculture as they are rich in the protein, fat, minerals, yeast, and vitamin that animals need.

DDGs were never initially engineered, as they were an accidental discovery derived from the ethanol manufacturing process. As these next generation DDGs products become increasingly competitive in their nutritional composition, ethanol manufacturers have the opportunity to diversify their portfolio, plugging into newly created revenue sources. If an ethanol plant is experiencing a lull in liquid fuel demand, they could offset this loss or risk by continuing to produce specialized feed products for livestock, poultry and aquaculture producers as well as the pet food industry. This heightened level of confidence and corn demand consistency at a local ethanol plant could translate to additional dollars back on the farm.

Cattle are a very important customer of DDGs, accounting for nearly 80 percent of consumption, with 50 percent attributed to beef cattle and 30 percent attributed to dairy cattle. Approximately 40 million metric tons of DDGs are produced annually. DDGs are nutritionist tested and farmer approved. “We use modified distillers in our grower and finisher diets,” said Clark Price, a corn grower and cattle producer from Washburn, North Dakota. “Depending on the price of the product, we use it as an energy source first, which at 20-to-40 percent in the ration, provides us with all of the protein requirements also. The modified distillers also work as a ration conditioner which binds the ration together and eliminates cattle sorting as well as a rumen conditioner due to its bypass protein.”

NMPF:  DMC Margin Falls Further in February

February’s margin under the Dairy Margin Coverage program dropped $0.92/cwt below January’s to $6.22/cwt. Of that decline, $0.40/cwt was due to a lower milk price, which was $17.10/cwt for the month, while the rest was generated by a higher feed cost calculation, almost all due to a higher price for corn that was slightly offset by a lower soybean meal price. The February payment for $9.50/cwt DMC program coverage is therefore $3.28/cwt.

Current futures prices indicate that the February margin may be the lowest for the year, and that the margins going forward should rise above $9.50/cwt sometime around mid-year.

First Quarter 2021 CWT-Assisted Export Sales Top 42 Million Pounds of Product

In the first three months of 2021, CWT assisted member cooperatives in securing 218 contracts to sell 11.8 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 8.8 million pounds of butter, 3.6 million pounds of anhydrous milkfat (AMF), 13.5 million pounds of whole milk powder and 4.4 million pounds of cream cheese. The milk equivalent of these 2021 contracts is 540 million pounds on a milkfat basis. The product is going to over 100 customers in 26 countries around the world. All the product will be delivered in 2021.

The year-to-date totals include March contracts for 3.7 million pounds of cheese, 1.5 million pounds of butter, 1.6 million pounds of AMF, 7 million pounds of whole milk powder and 901,691 pounds of cream cheese.

Assisting CWT member cooperatives gain and maintain world market share through the Export Assistance program expands the demand for U.S. dairy products. 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.

FARM to Resume On-Farm Evaluations; Adds Animal Care Task Force Members

The National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program plans to resume program on-farm evaluation activity on Sept 1, while reinstating deadlines nationwide. FARM also approved nominations for new Animal Care Task Force members.

Effective Sept. 1, evaluation and corrective action plan deadlines will be reinstated and all recommendations to forego on-farm activities related to the FARM Program will be rescinded. Also, program cycles are now extended to June 30, 2024, for all program areas (Animal Care 4.0, Environmental Stewardship 2.0 and Workforce Development 1.0). Resources for evaluators can be found on the new Evaluators and Trainer page on the FARM website in addition to events, training information, and FAQs.

Meanwhile, the NMPF Animal Health and Well-Being (AHWB) Committee approved nominations for the FARM Animal Care Task Force members who will serve as FARM Animal Care Version 5.0 discussions commence. Stakeholders across the U.S. dairy industry nominated the new members to fill existing vacancies on the task force, formerly called the Technical Writing Group.

The task force now consists of five farmers of varying operation size and geography, five representatives from co-ops and processors, four veterinarians, four academics, and one representative from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

Friday April 2 Ag News

 Nebraska Corn Growers Association Thanks State’s Attorney General for Support in Amicus Brief

The Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) issued a statement of appreciation for the state’s attorney general after signing on to an amicus brief supporting the nation’s ethanol industry. Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson signed the brief which sided with the Renewable Fuels Association, the National Corn Growers Association, the American Coalition for Ethanol and the National Farmers Union, which urged the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in January 2020 to strike down exemptions improperly issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“We were extremely pleased with the Tenth Circuit’s decision in January of 2020,” said Andy Jobman, president of NeCGA and farmer from Gothenburg. “The last few years have been tough for the ethanol industry as the EPA had continually eroded the Renewable Fuels Standard through excessive refinery waivers, but the Tenth Circuit finally got it right. We trust the Supreme Court will agree, and we are appreciative of Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson for his support in bringing this issue to a close once and for all.”

Nebraska Attorney General Peterson and Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller led an effort in filing an amicus curiae brief, which received broad support from major corn and ethanol producing states. Other states signing onto the brief included Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, South Dakota and Virginia.

Extension plans webinar on proposed changes to capital gains

A webinar covering proposed tax changes to capital gains and the potential impact on agriculture will be presented by Nebraska Extension on Thursday April 8th at noon.

Lawmakers have recently proposed new tax regulations on unrealized capital gains at death as well as the roll back of step-up basis on capital gains. The webinar will look at what these and other proposed changes may mean for farmers and ranchers who are passing their operations on to the next generation.

Panelists will include Katie Samples Dean, a Bridgeport attorney specializing in agricultural law, and Paul Neiffer, a Certified Public Accountant with CliftonLarsonAllen in Washington. It will be hosted by Jessica Groskopf, agricultural economist with Nebraska Extension.

The webinar is presented as part of the Agricultural Economics Extension Farm and Ranch Management weekly series.  Registration is free at

Ag Carbon Offsets and the Carbon Bank

President Biden wants the U.S. to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, including agriculture. Carbon neutrality means achieving net zero emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from burning fossil fuels. Because agriculture can significantly increase soil carbon storage, some are experimenting with carbon offsets, where producers are paid for e.g. converting to no till, or for using methane digesters to generate electricity from manure.

What practices hold the greatest potential? What's the difference between voluntary and regulatory carbon markets? Where does farming fit in?  Nebraska Extension will host a  webinar on this topic will be held at noon CDT on April 15. Registration coming soon to

Webinar on Federal Milk Marketing Order Education and Reform Impacts April 13 at 12 P.M.

Join Minnesota Milk, Wisconsin Dairy Business Association and the University of Minnesota's Marin Bozic in talking about the current state of Federal Milk Marketing Orders, what happened to PPDs in 2020, and Reform Impacts.

ADM Statement on Resumption of Dry Mill Ethanol Production

Executives at ADM Thursday released the following statement:

“We’ve been carefully monitoring a wide variety of industry ethanol conditions, and in recent weeks, we’ve seen consistent signs pointing to accelerating demand for domestic ethanol. Inventories across the industry are steadily coming down, China is importing volumes, we continue to expect driving miles to increase as the pace of vaccinations accelerates, and the EPA’s support of a strong Renewable Fuel Standard is helping drive great blending economics. Based on these multiple factors, we are confident in increasing demand for ethanol, and in order to meet that demand, we are planning to restart production at our Vantage Corn Processors dry mills in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Columbus, Nebraska.

“We plan to begin corn grind immediately, with initial ethanol deliveries for customers by mid-April and ramping up to full rates by late spring, to meet the demands of the spring and summer driving season. We’re pleased to welcome back our Cedar Rapids and Columbus colleagues, and we’re excited about the prospects for these facilities as ethanol demand increases and as we continue to expand the range of innovative, alternative products we make from corn.

“In addition, with the restart of our dry mills, we will continue with the discussions with the interested parties regarding these assets.”

Telling Denison "Thank You"

On Monday, April 5, the Denison community will be the focus of a “Thank You” celebration from Iowa pig farmers.
At an early afternoon event organized by the Iowa Pork Producers Association, IPPA president Dennis Liljedahl of Essex will say thank you to the local community for its support through the past year.  He will be joined by Mayor Pam Soseman; food pantry representatives; Smithfield Foods & Quality Food Processors representatives, Chamber and Development Council of Crawford County representatives, and other pig farmers.   

Following the 1 p.m. event, pork products will be delivered to first responders in Denison, and pork coupons will be distributed to individuals in Denison grocery stores.  Smithfield has donated 1,000 four-to-five-pound fresh pork loins to pass out between 4pm and 6pm, or until the supply runs out. One-pound of pork creates four servings of protein.

Thank You events will be held in other locations this Spring. The other communities are Ottumwa, Sioux City and Storm Lake. An event was held at Waterloo last week and at Marshalltown on March 31.

Even Amidst Pandemic, Iowa E15 Sales Surge to New Record in 2020

Sales of E15 (gasoline containing 15% ethanol) jumped 24% and set a new record in Iowa in 2020, despite the pandemic-related drop in overall fuel consumption, according to data released this week by the Iowa Department of Revenue. Meanwhile, E15 and E85 flex fuel data from two other states show that 2020 sales volumes generally held steady, even as COVID-19 crushed overall fuel demand.

“The recent state-level data on E15 and flex fuel consumption offers great news for consumers, ethanol producers, and anyone else who cares about cleaner air and lower prices at the pump,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper.

Iowa retailers sold 60.59 million gallons of E15 in 2020, up from 48.96 million gallons in 2019 and more than double the 2017 volume of E15 sales.
E15 sales grew in Iowa despite a 14.3% drop in the state’s overall motor gasoline consumption from 2019 levels. The plunge in Iowa gasoline demand mirrored the national trend, which saw a 13.5% reduction in 2020 compared to 2019.

Similarly, recent data from the Minnesota Department of Commerce show 2020 E15 sales in the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” nearly held steady with 2019 sales levels, despite the pandemic. Minnesota E15 sales were 93.46 million gallons, down just 4% from 97.40 million gallons in 2019.

On the west coast, sales of E85 flex fuel showed similar resiliency in 2020. Data from the California Air Resources Board show 40.37 million gallons of E85 were sold in the Golden State in 2020, down just 0.6% from the 40.6 million gallons sold in 2019. In contrast, California’s overall gasoline consumption fell 18.5% in 2020. RFA noted that E85 is an increasingly popular option for complying with California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, allowing fuel suppliers to generate surplus carbon credits under the program.

While California, Iowa, and Minnesota are the only states for which reliable government data on sales of E15 and flex fuels is currently available, RFA said similar trends likely occurred across the United States.

“While overall fuel consumption plummeted in 2020 due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, sales of E15 and flex fuels like E85 continued to grow or hold steady,” Cooper said. “These trends prove that consumers are actively seeking out lower-carbon, lower-cost fuels at the pump and that the expansion of retail infrastructure facilitated by USDA’s Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) is working. During the pandemic, higher blends of ethanol have not only helped American families save money on fuel purchases, but they have also reduced carbon emissions and harmful tailpipe pollution. With more Americans expected to return to the roadways this summer, we expect growth in the consumption of E15 and flex fuels to accelerate. Over the longer term, additional funding for programs such as HBIIP should be included in any infrastructure plans being considered in Washington, so that lower-carbon fuels can be made readily available to the 260 million liquid-fueled vehicles registered in the Unites States today.”

In addition to growing consumer demand for cleaner, greener fuels, Cooper pointed out that sales of higher ethanol blends benefited from the fact that no new refinery exemptions were granted under the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2020 and the market for RFS compliance credits (“RINs”) finally perked up in the second half of the year.

Women Landowners Are the Focus of New Outreach Project

Owning nearly half of the farmland in Iowa, women landowners play an influential role in decisions that impact agriculture and natural resources.

To better understand this demographic, a team of specialists with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is beginning a three-year project to study the needs, challenges and opportunities of women landowners.

The project is called “Enhancing Conservation, Access and Generational Transition of Iowa Farmland through Women Landowners” and is being funded through a $300,000 grant by the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

According to the 2017 Iowa Farmland Ownership and Tenure survey, 47% of all acres and 55% of all leased acres in Iowa were owned by women. In addition, most owners were over the age of 65 and 13% of female farmland owners in Iowa were over 80.

Madeline Schultz, program manager for the farm management team’s women in ag program with ISU Extension and Outreach and the project’s lead, said the disconnect between ownership and operator can sometimes lead to a disconnect with land-based decision making, whether that’s with leasing, conservation, farmland transition or a combination.

Her goal with the project is to bring women landowners together to help answer their questions.

“There’s a great opportunity for women to learn more about farmland ownership and we’re happy to be a part of this initiative,” said Schultz. “We also have some gaps in our knowledge of what women farmland owners need to help them manage their land, so we’re hoping to learn from them.”

Wendong Zhang, assistant professor and extension economist at Iowa State, said the goal is to empower women landowners to make well-informed decisions on the land they own.

Zhang is a team member for the project and a lead organizer of the 2017 farmland ownership survey. He said the group will work on research and extension focused on developing better farm management materials for women.

“We recognize that women landowners, especially senior landowners, are increasingly important in terms of land holdings,” said Zhang. “However, when you look at our extension programming, they are often missing.”

The first part of the project will consist of collecting more data and analytics about women farm ownership. From there, the team will assemble area meetings of women landowners and stakeholders, to discuss and gather concerns. Lastly, the team will hold online and face-to-face workshops to deliver information and resources that improve women’s knowledge of land ownership.

Specific goals include the use of equitable leases and other economic incentives to increase conservation and land access for beginning farmers, adoption of soil and water conservation practices, and the implementation of efficient plans to transition farmland to the next generation of Iowa farm owners.

A survey will be sent to known women landowners in June, and those interested in participating can contact Madeline Schultz at 515-294-0588 or The grant portion of the project began Jan. 15, 2021, and will conclude Jan. 14, 2024.

Other team members include Jamie Benning, assistant director for agriculture and natural resources with ISU Extension and Outreach; Melissa O’ Rourke, farm management specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach; Lisa Scarbrough, communications specialist for the women in ag program at Iowa State; and Kristine Tidgren, director of the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation at Iowa State and holder of the Leonard Dolezal Professorship in Agricultural Law.

Smokin' Butt Barbeque Wins 2021 Pulled Pork Madness

Two neighbors who’ve spent more than a decade perfecting their barbecue are this year’s Pulled Pork Madness winners. Their restaurant, Smokin’ Butt Barbeque in Davenport, Iowa, received the most votes in the social media contest, presented by the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA).

Pulled Pork Madness, in its fourth year, seeks to find Iowa’s best pulled pork sandwich. The contest follows a bracket-style narrowing process that mimics the NCAA’s college basketball tournament.

Last month, 544 pork fans nominated 65 Iowa restaurants as contenders for the top honor. The two restaurants with the most votes in each of IPPA’s eight districts made up the starting “Sweet 16” bracket. Voters then decided which advanced to the “Elite Eight,” “Final Four,” and championship round, which wrapped up April 1.

Smokin’ Butt came out just ahead of Timber Ridge Country Market & Cattle Company in Osceola.

“This means a lot,” said Billy Sheredy, co-owner of Smokin’ Butt. “We’re pretty confident that we have a good product, but when you’re in a competition like this, and it takes you all the way to the end, it truly lets you know that you’re putting out something really good.”

Smokin’ Butt is known for—and named after—its slow-smoked pulled pork. While the meat comes from a shoulder cut, many Americans refer to it as “pork butt.”

Pulled pork is the No. 1 seller at Smokin’ Butt, where the meat is coated with the restaurant’s own dry rub recipe, then cooked low and slow over hickory wood—at about 190 degrees for 19 to 22 hours.

The lengthy process is “the trick” to moist, tender pork, Sheredy said. Plus, the butts are simply pulled apart rather than shredded. That keeps chunks of the meat’s bark, the dark and flavorful crust that forms during cooking, intact.

According to Sheredy, each sandwich is “overloaded” with 6 to 8 ounces of pork on a white bun, and Smokin’ Butt’s signature barbecue sauces are available on the side. Pork also is sold in 1-pound quantities, for to-go orders or as part of a Family Meal Deal. In addition, pulled pork tops off nachos and Smokin’ Butt’s “Award Winning Mac -n- Cheese.”

The restaurant, open Fridays and Saturdays, sells about 400 pounds of pulled pork each week from its location inside the Red Hawk Golf & Learning Center.

Smokin’ Butt is a “second full-time job” for Sheredy, and the main job for his partner Rick Willows, a former pig farmer. The two started doing backyard barbecue competitions after becoming neighbors in 2008. That led to participating in events sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society.

They eventually began bottling their own barbecue sauce, now sold at many Hy-Vee and Fareway stores in eastern Iowa, and later expanded into the catering business, as well as making appearances at fairs and festivals. The restaurant opened in November 2019.

“This contest always reveals the best of the best in both pulled pork and loyal customers,” said Hannah Spurr, IPPA’s consumer outreach director. “As the state bounces back from COVID-19 closures, we encourage barbecue lovers everywhere to support this year’s ‘Sweet 16’ and so many other restaurants serving mouthwatering Iowa pork!”

Along with bragging rights, Smokin’ Butt will receive $250 and a Pulled Pork Madness plaque.

If you go:
Location: Smokin’ Butt Barbeque
6364 Northwest Blvd. (inside Red Hawk Golf & Learning Center)
Davenport, IA 52806
Hours: Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Phone: (563) 345-7227

Full list of the 2021 Pulled Pork Madness restaurants that competed in the bracket rounds:
    The Roadhouse, Orange City
    The Lunchbox, Spencer
    Double M Catering & Sandwich Shop, Emmetsburg
    Smokin' Grumps Barbecue, Rockwell City
    Whiskey Road Tavern & Grill
    Starbeck's Smokehouse, both in Cedar Falls
    Backwoods Bar and Grill, McGregor
    1st & Main, Dubuque
    Junction Cafe, Bedford
    Bordenaro's Meat Market, Carroll
    Timber Ridge Country Market & Cattle Company, Osceola
    UNRVLD Barbecue Bar, West Des Moines
    DSmokin' J's Barbecue, Lynnville
    Legends American Grill, Marshalltown
    Smilee's Ice Cream & More, De Witt
    Smokin' Butt Barbeque, Davenport

Past winners are Whatcha Smokin? BBQ + Brew in Luther (2020); Warehouse Barbecue Co. + Brewhouse in Ottumwa (2019); and Moo’s BBQ in Newton (2018).

Iowa Corn Water Bottle Filling Station Giveaway

Iowa Corn is spreading the word that farmers care about the water we share here in Iowa. Farmers are part of your communities, and we want to give back to you and your students. Iowa Corn is awarding nine (9) different schools across the state a water bottle filling station. There will be one water bottle filling station awarded per crop reporting district.

After the selection process is complete, Iowa Corn will work with the winning schools for installation of the water bottle filling stations over the summer to be completed by August 15, 2021. Iowa Corn will be part of the first week of the school year by donating Iowa Corn water bottles and signage for the filling station, and organizing a day for the Iowa Corn Mobile Education Center to be at the schools for students to enjoy. Farmers and media may be invited to attend the events.

Each nomination must be an Iowa community school district to apply. Applications are due May 31, 2021, and winners will be announced by June 10, 2021. One water filling station per district/community from each Iowa crop reporting district will win to equal nine Iowa schools ranging from elementary to high school. Anyone can fill out the application to nominate a school in the community.

Click the link to access the application to nominate your school: Iowa Corn Water Bottle Filling Station Application.  

USDA Recognizes 5 Million Acres Enrolled in Conservation Easements

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and private landowners have partnered to protect more than 5 million acres of wetlands, grasslands, and prime farmland — an area the size of New Jersey. Since October, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has enrolled 110,000 acres in new conservation easements, bringing USDA to this important conservation milestone.

“USDA is committed to partnering with our nation’s farmers, ranchers, and private landowners to conserve our nation’s natural resources for future generations and deliver conservation and recreational benefits to rural America,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We celebrate their efforts in helping us protect sensitive lands, create jobs, expand access to the outdoors, and help tackle climate change. We look forward to building on these partnerships.”

NRCS has offered conservation easements through the Farm Bill for 28 years, through programs like the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), which helps landowners​, land trusts, and other entities protect, restore, and enhance wetlands, grasslands, and working farms and ranches through conservation easements. These programs benefit participants and the American public by creating cleaner air, water, and open spaces.

Wetland Easements
Wetland easements — totaling over 2.8 million acres nationwide — improve water quality by filtering sediments and chemicals, reducing flooding, recharging groundwater, protecting biological diversity, and providing opportunities for educational, scientific, and undeveloped recreational activities.

Wetland easements are also crucial to wildlife, and are credited for the recovery of the Louisiana black bear in 2019 and the Oregon chub in 2015. Whooping cranes rely on wetland easements on their cross-country treks and for raising young. Also, the wet meadows of sagebrush country are an oasis for wildlife like sage grouse.

Agricultural Land Easements
Agricultural land easements protect the long-term viability of the nation’s food supply by preventing conversion of productive working lands to non-agricultural uses. These easements have been crucial to protecting rangelands and farmsteads from urban encroachment, ensuring the most productive lands remain working lands.

Agricultural land easements, including grassland easements, total more than 1.9 million acres.

Carbon Sequestration and Easements
Easements also can be used to protect floodplains and forests, providing public benefits, including carbon sequestration, water quality, historic preservation, wildlife habitat, and protection of open space. Easements have contributed to the restoration of the Southeast’s unique, but rare longleaf pine forests, and to the protection of animals like the Greater Sage-Grouse.

Working with private landowners to preserve and restore wetlands, grasslands, forests and farmlands is integral to USDA’s efforts to build resiliency and reduce the impacts of climate change across the nation. Easements protect sensitive lands from development in perpetuity, and landowners can partner with NRCS to implement voluntary climate-smart management practices that maximize the amount of carbon sequestered from the atmosphere and stored in soils or plant biomass across these landscapes.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is engaged in a whole-of-government effort to combat the climate crisis and conserve and protect our nation’s lands, biodiversity and natural resources including our soil, air and water. Through conservation practices and partnerships, USDA aims to enhance economic growth and create new income streams for farmers, ranchers, producers and private foresters. Successfully meeting these challenges will require USDA to pursue a coordinated approach alongside stakeholders, including State, local and Tribal governments.

Enroll in Easements
Farmers, ranchers and private foresters looking to enroll farmland, grasslands, or wetlands in a conservation easement may submit proposals to the NRCS state office to acquire conservation easements on eligible land. To enroll land through wetland reserve easements, landowners should contact their local USDA Service Center.

USDA Accepting Nominations for NSIIC Board

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service is seeking nominees for one producer position and one expert in finance and management to serve three-year terms on the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center Board of Directors.
The American Sheep Industry Association is a recognized by USDA as a Certified Nominating Organization to submit nominations. USDA selects appointees from candidates nominated by a CNO – an organization with a principal interest in the production of sheep in the United States and whose membership consists primarily of active domestic sheep producers.
The sheep producer director and director with finance and management emphasis are currently served by Leo Tammi of Virginia and Burton Pfliger of North Dakota. ASI is looking to submit two nominations for each position. Applications for nomination must be submitted to ASI Executive Director Peter Orwick at by April 23.
The board of directors comprises seven voting members and two non-voting members. Voting members include four active American sheep producers, two members with expertise in finance and management and one member with expertise in lamb or wool product marketing. Non-voting members include USDA’s under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs and under secretary for research, education and economics.
The National Sheep Industry Improvement Center was established as part of the 2008 Farm Bill and administers a grant program designed to improve the infrastructure of the American sheep industry by strengthening and enhancing the production and marketing of sheep and sheep products.

USGC Participates In United Tastes Kickoff In Vietnam To Promote U.S. Sorghum

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) participated in a “United Tastes” event in Ho Chi Minh City last month, supporting a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) project led by its Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) to promote U.S. agricultural and food products in Vietnam including, for the first time, U.S. food sorghum.

With pandemic-related restrictions eased, the Council, representing its partner the United Sorghum Checkoff Program (USCP), was able to share the benefits of U.S. food sorghum with 73 in-person participants including members of the media, chefs, food importers and retailers.

“The USGC Southeast Asia Office strives to continually add value with our members and not shy away from exploring new markets. With the help of the United Sorghum Checkoff Program, we conducted our first-ever food sorghum promotion program in Vietnam,” said Caleb Wurth, USGC assistant director for Southeast Asia. “We learned a lot and created a foundation for future opportunities for U.S. sorghum farmers, processors and exporters in the country.”

The United Tastes initiative aims to connect, educate and inspire Vietnamese consumers relative to high-value, high-quality, safe and healthy U.S. products. U.S. sorghum is high in dietary fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals important for the human body and is naturally gluten free and low in fat.

The Council’s booth featured a popular Vietnamese chef preparing two dishes that attendees could sample – sorghum pasta and sorghum mixed with salmon – both of which were hits with participants.

Vietnam is one of the fastest growing economies in Asia. According to USDA, agricultural exports to the country have increased by 40 percent in value over the last five years to reach $3.7 billion, making it the seventh-largest overseas market for U.S. agricultural and related products.

After nearly five years of collaborative efforts by the Council, the U.S. sorghum industry, USDA and regulators in Vietnam, in May 2020, a pest risk assessment was approved by both USDA and Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), opening the door for U.S. feed and food sorghum to flow into the country for high-value uses.

Official approval from USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) coupled with Vietnam’s pest risk assessment approval opened the door for Vietnam’s Plant Protection Division to issue import licenses when Vietnamese importers request one for sorghum.

“The United Tastes event builds on this positive movement and is a tremendous example of the strong relationship and cooperation between FAS and the entire U.S. cooperator family to promote U.S. products abroad,” Wurth said. “As the Vietnamese population moves up the income ladder, so does its desire for diverse, nutritious, imported food that’s also delicious, and we want them to know how U.S. sorghum can satisfy that demand.”


Celebrating The 15-Year Anniversary Of The U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement

In 2004, in the early days of free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations between the United States and Morocco, the Council was also engaged in discussions about long-term growth opportunities for the Moroccan poultry industry. The Council soon partnered with FISA, the Moroccan poultry association, to build demand, with the support of the U.S.-Morocco FTA.

Morocco is the United States' first and only free trade agreement (FTA) partner on the African continent and an example of the growth potential possible with a combination of strong trade policy and long-term market development.

In the time since, the agreement has created tremendous opportunities for U.S. agriculture by reducing market barriers and stimulating growth in Moroccan industries that import agricultural products from the United States. Total U.S. exports to Morocco reached $1.2 billion in 2020, compared to $35 million in 2005 before FTA implementation.

Before the agreement, corn imports by Morocco were small, hindered by an import duty on corn reaching as high as 85 percent at one point. As a result, the poultry industry was highly fragmented, poultry consumption was low and dairy and beef sectors struggled to keep up with the demand for milk and beef products.

USGC has been committed to developing the markets in Morocco since 1995 when it first began working to expand the poultry industry through the formation of a producer association, FISA, to represent the poultry and feed value chain. In the intervening years, the Council partnered with FISA to advocate to the Moroccan government on a host of issues that would allow the industry to grow and develop in a stable and transparent environment. The Council also partnered with FISA to provide technical support to industry members to promote poultry industry development.

Since FISA’s formation and later through the FTA implementation, corn imports by Morocco have grown from 450,000 metric tons per year (17.7 million bushels) to 3 million metric tons (118.1 million bushels) per year. Additionally, per capita consumption levels of poultry meat have grown more than three-fold from 6 kg per capita in 1995 to 22 kg per capita in 2020.

The FTA and the evolution of the poultry and feed industries also allowed the Council to introduce new feed grains to the market beyond a reliance on corn. These include U.S. distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS), corn gluten feed (CGF), corn gluten meal (CGM), barley and sorghum. Introduction of a variety of feed grains to the Moroccan feed industry has created more depth and flexibility for the Moroccan industry and has benefitted a wider range of U.S. producers.

“The U.S. has free trade agreements with only 20 countries. These countries traditionally account for 50 percent of U.S. grains in all forms (GIAF) exports on an annual basis," said Ryan LeGrand, USGC president and CEO. "This highlights the importance of these trade agreements and how the Council can build successful programs around the market access that they create.

"Working to defend and expand markets allows the Council to do what it does best – capture short-term opportunities and build long-term demand for U.S. coarse grains and co-products.”

The Council has also worked extensively with the Moroccan beef and dairy sectors over the past 20 years. Recently, one of the Council’s partners, COPAG, a dairy cooperative, imported 1,750 pregnant Holstein heifers from the United States. In fact, over the past 10 years, COPAG has imported more than $205 million of U.S. agricultural products (corn, soybean meal, DDGS, corn gluten feed, livestock, dairy semen and soyhulls), averaging $20 million of imports annually.

“This example alone shows how investments the Council made 20 years ago continue to pay off for Council members and U.S. agriculture as a whole,” LeGrand said.

Now, 15 years after its implementation, the benefits of the FTA are expected to continue to grow, and the Council continues to take innovative steps to expand the market and increase demand for U.S. grains in Morocco and across the rest of Africa - one example of how the Council lives by its mission of developing markets, enabling trade and improving lives.

Register for Part Two of the NCBA Grazing Series Webinar!

Forages - Stretching Your Grazing Resources
April 8th, 2021 @ 7:00 p.m. Central

Join this webinar to hear from experts, Johnny Rogers, North Carolina State University Amazing Grazing Program Coordinator and Luke Wilson, Market Development Manager for Barenbrug USA, and learn how to utilize forages and stretch your grazing season. They will present applicable principles and strategies that will help create long-term success for your grazing system and make the best decisions on forage types.  Click to Get Registered Today!

USDA Seeks Four Nominees for National Organic Standards Board

Deadline for Nominations: June 1, 2021

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), a 15-member volunteer advisory board appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture, considers public comments and makes recommendations on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances; and other topics involved in organic agriculture. Congress designed the Board to make sure that a broad range of industry perspectives are represented.

USDA seeks nominations of qualified individuals for four open seats on the NOSB. Each member serves a five-year term and represents specific sectors of the organic community. Current openings for positions beginning January 2022 include:
    One individual who owns or operates an organic farming operation or an employee of such individual.
    One individual with expertise in areas of environmental protection and resource conservation.
    One individual who represents public interest or consumer interest groups.
    One individual with expertise in the fields of toxicology, ecology, or biochemistry.

Working to include voices from historically underserved communities involved in organic agriculture is important to the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service and National Organic Program. We encourage applications from traditionally underrepresented individuals, organizations, and businesses to reflect the diversity of this industry. This includes qualified individuals regardless of race, color, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion, disability status, protected veteran status or any other characteristic protected by law.

Qualified candidates may also apply to be considered for future unexpected vacancies in any of the seven categories representing the scope of the organic community.

Thursday April 1 Ag News

CCPPD Plants Seeds of Caution around Power Lines

As farmers make plans to return to their fields for spring planting, Cuming County Public Power District urges farm workers to be particularly alert to the dangers of working near overhead power lines.  Electricity is one of the most overlooked, yet deadly hazards of working on a farm.  According to the National Safety Council, farmers are at an increased risk for electrocution and electric shock injury compared to non-farmers.  In fact, 3.6 percent of youth under the age of 20 who work and/or live around farms are killed each year from electrocution.  CCPPD urges workers to evaluate farm activities and work practices and to share that information with others – an activity that doesn’t take a lot of time but can literally save lives.  By following a few safety rules, these tragic accidents can be prevented.  Start by making sure everyone knows to maintain a minimum 10-foot clearance from the lines.

“The minimum 10-foot distance is a 360-degree rule – below, to the side and above lines,” says Willy Anderson, Safety Director at Cuming County PPD.  “Many farm electrical accidents involving power lines happen when loading or preparing to transport equipment to fields, or while performing maintenance or repairs on farm machinery near lines.  It can be difficult to estimate distance and sometimes a power line is closer than it looks.  A spotter or someone with a broader view can help.”

The most common source of electric shocks come from operating machinery such as large tractors with front loaders, portable grain augers, fold-up cultivators, sprayers with large booms, moving grain elevators and any equipment with an antenna.  Handling long items such as irrigation pipe, ladders and rods also pose the risk of contact with power lines.  Coming too close to a power line while working is dangerous because electricity can arc, or “jump,” to conducting material or objects.

Be aware of increased height when loading and transporting tractors on trailer beds. Many tractors are now equipped with radios and communications systems that have very tall antennas extending from the cab that could make contact with power lines. Avoid raising the arms of planters, cultivators or truck beds near power lines and never attempt to raise or move a power line to clear a path.

Remember, non-metallic materials such as lumber, tree limbs, tires, ropes and hay will conduct electricity depending on dampness, dust and dirt contamination.  Do not try to clear storm-damage debris and limbs near power lines or fallen lines.

Overhead electric wires aren't the only electrical contact that can result in a serious incident. Pole guy wires, used to stabilize utility poles, are grounded.  However, when one of the guy wires is broken it can cause an electric current disruption. This can make those neutral wires anything but harmless. If you hit a guy wire and break it, call CCPPD to fix it. Don't do it yourself. When dealing with electrical poles and wires, always call CCPPD.

Even the best laid plans often go awry and CCPPD wants farm workers to be prepared if their equipment does come in contact with power lines.  

“It’s almost always best to stay in the cab and call for help,” Anderson said.  “If the power line is energized and you step outside, your body becomes the path to the ground and electrocution is the result.  Even if a line has landed on the ground, there is still potential for the area to be energized.  Warn others who may be nearby to stay away and wait until the electric utility arrives to make sure power to the line is cut off.”

Cuming County Public Power District does provide solutions for leaving the cab if necessary, as in the case of fire or electrical fire.

“In that scenario, the proper action is to jump – not step – with both feet hitting the ground at the same time,” Anderson said.   “Do not allow any part of your body to touch the equipment and the ground at the same time. Hop to safety, keeping both feet together as you leave the area.”

Once you get away from the equipment, never attempt to get back on or even touch the equipment. Many electrocutions occur when operators try to return to the equipment before the power has been shut off.

Managers should make sure workers are educated on these precautions and danger areas need to be thoroughly identified and labeled.  Call CCPPD or your local utility to measure line height-- no one should attempt this on their own without professional assistance.  Designate preplanned routes that avoid hazard areas and educate other workers on their location.

Farmers may want to consider moving or burying power lines around buildings or busy pathways where many farm activities take place. If planning a new out-building or farm structure, contact CCPPD for information on minimum safe clearances from overhead and underground power lines. And if you plan to dig beyond normal tilling, activities such as deep-ripping or sub-soiling, call 811 to mark underground utilities first.

For more electrical safety information, visit  or call the CCPPD office at 402-372-2463.

New FARM Animal Care Guide will help dairies prepare

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension and South Dakota State University Extension have partnered to create a resource binder for dairy producers to prepare for the National Dairy FARM (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) Animal Care Program Version 4.

Created by the National Milk Producers Federation in partnership with Dairy Management Inc., the National Dairy FARM Program works with all U.S. dairy farmers, co-ops and processors to demonstrate to dairy customers and consumers that the dairy industry is taking the very best care of cows and the environment, producing safe, wholesome milk and adhering to the highest standards of workforce development.

The purpose of the FARM Animal Care resource guide is to help dairy farms of all sizes prepare for the FARM Animal Care evaluation.

“We knew there was a need for this resource binder. Dairy producers have reached out to us asking how they can prepare for the FARM Animal Care Program evaluation,” said Kim Clark, Extension Dairy Educator at UNL.  

“We wanted to help producers better prepare for and feel confident with the evaluation.”

The resource guide includes resources, tools and standard operating procedures, which can be used to meet each animal care standard set by the National Dairy FARM Program. The binder is divided into sections by topic. Each topic includes a summary sheet to meet that specific standard.

A standard operating procedure template also accompanies each topic with the intent that it can be completed with each dairy farm’s step-by-step processes to meet that standard, or the dairy can develop their own document to meet each standard.

Clark says completing the information in the resource binder does not guarantee each standard is met; it’s only the first step. The FARM Animal Care Evaluator will determine if each standard is met by reviewing documentation and making observations. However, the dairy will be prepared with all the necessary documentation for each standard when the binder is complete.

“Dairy farms of all sizes will benefit from this resource binder,” says Heidi Carroll, SDSU Extension Livestock Stewardship Field Specialist and South Dakota Beef Quality Assurance Coordinator.

“We want to meet the needs of dairy producers and provide them with the resources to make continuous improvement. This binder is a comprehensive package that processors and field representatives can offer to dairy farms, and it improves communication and clarity about the animal care standards.”

Resource binders can be purchased for $45 plus shipping. Binders can be purchased at the SDSU Bookstore and will be shipped within one to two weeks of ordering. Producers are encouraged to purchase binders now, as FARM Animal Care Evaluators are beginning to return to farms to conduct evaluations and follow-up on any prior evaluation’s corrective actions. Before placing an order for your dairy, farms are encouraged to reach out to their cooperative or FARM evaluator to ensure a copy has not already been purchased for them.

For questions about this resource binder, contact Heidi Carroll at or Kim Clark at

For more information about the National Dairy FARM Animal Care Program, visit

Selecting Replacement Heifers

Connor Biehler, Beef Systems Asst. Extension Educator

Every year, cow-calf producers make decisions to either buy or keep heifers for the purpose of replacing older or unproductive cull cows. The number of heifers retained or bought can fluctuate based on things such as drought or market prices of feeder cattle and feed commodities, but usually averages around 15-20% of the total herd. The main purpose of replacement heifers is to eliminate thinner cows that are no longer getting bred in a timely fashion and interchange them with younger, more productive females that can generate greater profits over a longer period of time.

Selection of replacements should fall right in line with specific goals of an operation. Replacement females should not be selected on one trait such as a specific phenotype. Similarly, to selecting sires, producers should optimize balance and not attempt to maximize specific traits in females. Most times when a single, specific phenotype is desired and bred for over multiple generations, it ends up causing unintended consequences. For example, if a producer selects for high milk production, it will cause an increase in nutrient requirements prompting a higher feed bill. For every positive action there is an associative negative action, so be sure to not “put all your eggs in one basket” per se.    

There are numerous mindsets when it comes to selecting replacement heifers, but a few things that should be considered in all scenarios include:  
-    Select for low input heifers who possess traits associated with longevity.
-     Evaluate reproductive tract scores. Work with a veterinarian to identify heifers that have narrow pelvises and might have difficulty calving.
-    Select heifers that are older and quicker to reach puberty not just, bigger. Heifers that are born early from the first cycle puts greater emphasis on inherited fertility while allowing for a tight calving interval.
-    Evaluate feet and leg structure and overall conformation. Any problems observed as weanling will only be exacerbated with age and size.  

For more information on Nebraska Beef Extension or selection of replacement heifers reach me at my office (402)624-8007 or follow my twitter page @BigRedBeefTalk for more information on Nebraska Beef Extension.

Ranking places UNL at 21st nationally, 55th worldwide, for Ag and forestry programs

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is home to one of the top agriculture and forestry programs in the world, according to the 2021 QS World University Rankings by Subject. UNL ranks 21st among U.S. Ag and forestry programs and 55th worldwide, according to the rankings, which were released earlier this month.

“Nebraska is the epicenter of agriculture in the United States, a leader in ag innovation and a partner for agricultural and natural resources research taking place all around the world,” said Mike Boehm, NU vice president and Harlan Vice Chancellor of UNL’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “I’m proud of UNL’s longstanding reputation as a leader in agricultural and forestry programs, and I’m excited about the momentum we’re building when it comes to research, teaching and outreach.”

Nebraska is an ideal agricultural laboratory. It is a world leader in agricultural innovation and food production, and the third largest agricultural economy in the United States. It is also home to seven climate zones, which mirror growing conditions in regions throughout the world. Nebraska researchers are at any time working on approximately 300 research projects throughout the state. Because many research faculty members also hold teaching or extension appointments, exciting new discoveries move quickly from the field or laboratory into the classroom and across Nebraska.

UNL’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources graduated its second-largest class its nearly 150-year history in 2020. Also in 2020, the college welcomed its first cohort of Change Maker scholarship recipients. The college’s goal with this program was to hear from students around the world who dare to dream big and do the extraordinary to address local and global issues such as food security, sustainability and water use. Students selected as Change Makers receive a scholarship, are partnered with mentors, are provided the opportunity to make their big ideas a reality, and are connected through a learning community.

“We strive to prepare students to tackle the big challenges facing our growing world,” said Tiffany Heng-Moss, CASNR dean. “CASNR undergraduate programs prepare today's students for tomorrow's greatest local, state, and global challenges around food, energy, water, and societal systems. Our students are inspired to take their development beyond the classroom and make their mark on the world.”

The QS World University Rankings by Subject evaluates institutions based on four metrics: academic reputation; employer reputation; citations per paper; scholarly productivity and impact.

The QS World University Rankings by Subject are prepared by Quacquarelli Symonds, a leading global higher education company.

CHS Expands E15 Availability Through Additional Terminals

CHS Inc., the nation's leading agribusiness cooperative, will expand access to higher ethanol blend fuels by offering E15 through 10 additional fuel terminals starting in April.

CHS is registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as an E15 manufacturer and sells E15 as an approved grade of fuel through its Cenex brand retail locations.

CHS plans to offer E15 at the following Nustar terminals: North Platte, Neb.; Geneva, Neb.; Council Bluffs, Iowa; Milford, Iowa; Rock Rapids, Iowa; Sioux Falls, S.D.; Yankton, S.D.; Wolsey, S.D.; Salina, Kan.; and Concordia, Kan.. CHS has offered E15 through its McFarland, Wis., terminal since January 2021.

"As the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative, expanding options for ethanol blended fuel is important for our Cenex brand retailers and our farmer-owners," says Akhtar Hussain, director of refined fuels marketing, CHS. "CHS has always been committed to offering ethanol blended flexible fuels throughout its network of 1,450 Cenex brand retail facilities. Expanding access of Cenex brand E15 at these select terminals further demonstrates that commitment."

To make E15 more accessible, CHS has removed barriers for its Cenex brand retail locations by establishing an EPA-approved misfueling mitigation plan and establishing E15 as a qualifying grade of fuel. CHS also owns two EPA-approved ethanol plants in Rochelle and Annawan, Ill.

"CHS is the only refiner that has an EPA-approved misfueling mitigation plan covering an entire retail network. This partnership with Nustar allows us to offer higher ethanol blends in a broader geography across the Cenex retail network," says Hussain.

Iowa's Beef Industry Rolls Out Cattlemen Care Campaign

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association (ICA) and Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC) are launching a Cattlemen Care Campaign as a way to highlight the value of beef production in our local communities across the state.  

On March 19, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation declaring the month of April “Meat on the Table Month,” in support of Iowa livestock producers. Gov. Reynolds calls upon Iowans to purchase meat from our many meat and poultry processors or retailers.  

Modern beef production is among the most complex food systems in the world. Cattlemen continually invest time, energy, and resources to further develop their management and marketing skills. Working together, each segment of the beef supply chain aims to enrich the environment through responsible use of natural resources—not just for today, but also for the future. The result is a delicious and nutritious source of protein we can all feel confident in serving family and friends.

Throughout the months of April and May, the Iowa Beef Industry Headquarters invites beef producers and consumers across the state to join our effort in sharing how beef contributes to a healthy diet, and how Iowa’s cattlemen work hard to feed a growing population, while being conscious caretakers of land and resources. We’ll also highlight the integral role local restaurants and food service providers play in helping Iowans celebrate life milestones and cherished memories over exceptional beef entrees. The final pillar of the campaign will focus on cattlemen giving back to their communities.   Beef production today represents time honored traditions with integration of the world’s most advanced technology, resulting in a premium beef product Iowans can celebrate.

We encourage Iowans to join us in sharing the benefits of beef and beef production throughout the months of April and May. 

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig to Speak on Conservation

Iowa Learning Farms and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will host a webinar on Wednesday, April 7 at noon with Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig.

Naig will discuss conservation, water quality and his vision for Iowa during the webinar. He also will discuss the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and explain how Iowans are working to meet the nitrogen and phosphorus loss reductions outlined in the strategy.

"This is a great opportunity to learn more about the state of conservation and water quality efforts in Iowa, including successes and challenges,” said Hilary Pierce, extension outreach specialist with Iowa Learning Farms. “We encourage people to watch the webinar live, so that they can submit their questions to Secretary Naig."

Webinar Access Instructions
To participate in the live webinar, shortly before noon on April 7:
    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 also will be recorded and archived on the ILF website, so that it can be watched at any time. Archived webinars are available at

Webinar participants will be able to submit questions for Secretary Naig during the webinar through the Zoom software.

USDA Grain Crushings and Co-Products February Production

Total corn consumed for alcohol and other uses was 376 million bushels in February 2021. Total corn consumption was down 19 percent from January 2021 and down 22 percent from February 2020. February 2021 usage included 91.0 percent for alcohol and 9.0 percent for other purposes. Corn consumed for beverage alcohol totaled 2.76 million bushels, down 16 percent from January 2021 but up 5 percent from February 2020. Corn for fuel alcohol, at 333 million bushels, was down 20 percent from January 2021 and down 23 percent from February 2020. Corn consumed in February 2021 for dry milling fuel production and wet milling fuel production was 90.9 percent and 9.1 percent, respectively.

Dry mill co-product production of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) was 1.41 million tons during February 2021, down 20 percent from January 2021 and down 23 percent from February 2020. Distillers wet grains (DWG) 65 percent or more moisture was 885,932 tons in February 2021, down 15 percent from January 2021 and down 31 percent from February 2020.

Wet mill corn gluten feed production was 217,605 tons during February 2021, down 23 percent from January 2021 and down 23 percent from February 2020. Wet corn gluten feed 40 to 60 percent moisture was 169,005 tons in February 2021, down 21 percent from January 2021 and down 22 percent from February 2020.


Soybeans crushed for crude oil was 4.93 million tons (164 million bushels) in February 2021, compared with 5.90 million tons (197 million bushels) in January 2021 and 5.26 million tons (175 million bushels) in February 2020. Crude oil produced was 1.93 billion pounds down 16 percent from January 2021 and down 3 percent from February 2020. Soybean once refined oil production at 1.44 billion pounds during February 2021 decreased 9 percent from January 2021 but increased 1 percent from February 2020.

Number of Grain Bin Entrapments Fell Last Year

A minimum of 35 grain-related entrapments were documented in 2020 in an annual report released in mid-March by the Agricultural Safety and Health Program at Purdue University. Of those, 20 cases ended in fatalities, and 15 were non-fatal.

The number represents a 7.9% decrease from the 38 entrapment cases reported in 2019.

The 35 entrapments documented in 2020 were higher than a running five-year average (31.0 cases per year and was the sixth highest of the past six years.

Nevertheless, the five-year average continues to drop from its peak of 40.4 in 2011.

Of the 2020 entrapments, 57% ended in a fatality, a rate higher than the five year-average.

The state with the most number of grain entrapments in 2020 was Illinois with 10 cases.

Illinois was followed by North Dakota (5), Minnesota (4), Indiana (3), and South Dakota (3).

Overall, entrapments were documented in 11 states, the majority of them in the Midwest.

Finding Funding for New Uses of Corn — A CUTC Special Session

The National Corn Growers Association is pleased to announce a special session of the Corn Utilization and Technology Conference (CUTC) focused on funding for research, development, and commercialization of new uses for corn.  This special session will bring together a panel of experts from both the public and private sectors to discuss funding across the RD&C spectrum from bench level to financing new capital at existing facilities. This free online event is scheduled for 10:00-11:30 Central Time on Thursday, May 13, 2021.

“One of the key aspects of CUTC is to build a community of researchers and other stakeholders who are focused on new technology.  COVID limited our ability to bring this group together, so this session is a good opportunity to have an informational program that is of interest to our entire CUTC audience and keep this community engaged and cohesive,” said Randy DeSutter, Chair of the Sustainable Ag Research Action Team.

Funding is an essential component of innovation at every stage, and the panelists are uniquely suited to address a broad range of funding aspects.  Drs. Valerie Reed and Tim Conner will describe programs at the Department of Energy and the USDA.  Mr. McAfee and Mr. May will provide insights on funding mechanisms in the private sector and how to apply them to  fund business growth and other needs successfully.

“We are very excited to have panelists of such high caliber and think that our audience will be able to learn a great deal regarding funding innovative projects to extend uses for corn,” said DeSutter.

NCGA would like to thank our sponsors, Fluid Quip, Indiana Corn Marketing Council, ITOCHU, Kansas Corn Commission, Minnesota Corn Growers Association and Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association whose funding has helped make this effort possible.

Additional information, including how to register for the program, can be found at

U.S. Dairy Products February 2021 Production Highlights

Total cheese output (excluding cottage cheese) was 1.04 billion pounds, 1.1 percent above February 2020 but 8.1 percent below January 2021. Italian type cheese production totaled 444 million pounds, 0.9 percent below February 2020 and 7.6 percent below January 2021.  American type cheese production totaled 425 million pounds, 1.6 percent above February 2020 but 10.3 percent below January 2021. Butter production was 186 million pounds, 1.3 percent below February 2020 and 11.5 percent below January 2021.

Dry milk products (comparisons in percentage with February 2020)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 186 million pounds, up 17.1 percent.
Skim milk powder - 29.6 million pounds, down 23.0 percent.

Whey products (comparisons in percentage with February 2020)
Dry whey, total - 77.0 million pounds, up 0.7 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 84.2 million pounds, down 3.7 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 37.4 million pounds, up 5.0 percent.

Frozen products (comparisons in percentage with February 2020)
Ice cream, regular (hard) - 55.0 million gallons, up 4.7 percent.
Ice cream, lowfat (total) - 34.1 million gallons, up 2.6 percent.
Sherbet (hard) - 2.61 million gallons, down 13.8 percent.
Frozen yogurt (total) - 4.26 million gallons, up 2.5 percent.

USDA Announces April 2021 Lending Rates for Agricultural Producers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced loan interest rates for April 2021, which are effective April 1. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) loans provide important access to capital to help agricultural producers start or expand their farming operation, purchase equipment and storage structures, or meet cash flow needs.

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 April 2021 are as follows:
    Farm Operating Loans (Direct): 1.500%
    Farm Ownership Loans (Direct): 2.875%
    Farm Ownership Loans (Direct, Joint Financing): 2.500%
    Farm Ownership Loans (Down Payment): 1.500%
    Emergency Loan (Amount of Actual Loss): 2.500%

FSA also offers guaranteed loans through commercial lenders at rates set by those lenders.

Commodity and Storage Facility Loans
Additionally, FSA provides low-interest financing to producers to build or upgrade on-farm storage facilities and purchase handling equipment and 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 are administered by FSA.
    Commodity Loans (less than one year disbursed): 1.125%
    Farm Storage Facility Loans:
        Three-year loan terms: 0.250%
        Five-year loan terms: 0.750%
        Seven-year loan terms: 1.250%
        Ten-year loan terms: 1.500%
        Twelve-year loan terms: 1.750%

FSA also reminds rural communities, farmers and ranchers, families and small businesses affected by the recent winter storms that USDA has programs that provide assistance. USDA staff in the regional, state and county offices are prepared with a variety of program flexibilities and other assistance to residents, agricultural producers and impacted communities. Many programs are available without an official disaster designation, including several risk management and disaster assistance options.

New X Series manure spreaders and 9016-HD high dump cart offer hard-working features and benefits.

Operators trust Art’s Way Manufacturing equipment to live up to its tagline: How Work Gets Done. That’s why the company is constantly evolving its products to be stronger, smarter and more efficient. New enhancements on Art’s Way X Series manure spreaders and the 9016-HD high dump cart were designed for intuitive operation and built for powerful performance.

X Series manure spreaders
Operators who do the tough jobs want to make sure they’re done right the first time. Recent improvements to Art’s Way X Series manure spreaders help them do just that. Top features include:
1. ISOBUS-compatible rate control system: Gives operators real-time control to adjust application rates and gate height on the go. The exclusive system by Raven Industries Inc. makes it easy to produce readouts, which are designed to fulfill the increasing need for application documentation.
2. Choice of box sizes: Ranges from 500 to 900 cubic feet heaped capacity to meet the needs of a variety of operations. The X500 has a single axle, straight sides and a single apron drive gearbox. The X700 and X900 have tandem axles, dual drive gearboxes and flared sides.
3. Unique vertical beater placement: Sends out a consistent spread behind the machine, reducing the chance of clumps or dead spots when hauling load. The vertical beaters are removable, making it possible to haul forage, silage, snow, compost and hay by simply removing eight bolts and disengaging the driveline.
4. Flared sides: Provide a base for the bucket and a lower loading height. They also deliver extra capacity and prevent spillage compared to competitive spreaders with straight sides.
5. Dependable protection: Peace of mind comes with the X Series with its limited lifetime apron chain warranty. This plan with will repair or replace any defective link or section at no cost for the original purchaser.

“Our X Series manure spreaders are built tough to handle just about anything,” said Art’s Way Engineer Izac Roberts. “These time-tested machines have seen some pretty serious upgrades to offer the edge when it matters most. And if that isn’t enough, we have a limited lifetime warranty on important components, like our apron chain.”

9016-HD high dump cart
The Art’s Way 9016-HD high dump cart can be pulled along a harvester to collect forage, peanuts, sugar beets, corn, soybeans, hemp and more, making it ideal for any operation. Top features include:
1. Lift capacity: Lifts and unload 40,000 lb. — 10,000 lb. over the competition. The massive undercarriage and counterweight establish a wide-stance stability eliminating worry in the unloading process. Adjustable axles ensure proper weight distribution.
2. Versatility: Converts from a right to left dumping machine in a matter of hours. The optional weigh scale system allows operators to easily monitor their load.
3. Exterior frame: Eliminates the chance of materials getting stuck inside the smooth interior.
4. Maneuverability: Provides accessibility where semi-truck hauling is sometimes impossible thanks to two-wheel design. It’s hitch rotation allows for smooth transport to conquer rough terrain and flotation tires help prevent soil compaction.

These robust, industrial features benefit operators. “The new 9016-HD is our biggest one yet, with a capacity of 40,000 pounds. For comparison, our nearest competitor only has a 30,000-pound capacity,” said CEO David King. “And with frame on the outside, there’s no ‘ribcage’ on the inside to trap materials. The result is a reliable, versatile, high-performing powerhouse.”

AGCO and EZ-Drops to Bring Y-Logic Premium Nutrient Delivery System to RoGator Application Sprayers

AGCO Corporation (NYSE: AGCO), a global leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of agricultural machinery and precision ag technology, announced today a strategic collaboration between its AGCO Parts division and Kirkland, IL-based EZ-Drops. The agreement provides AGCO’s RoGator® dealers in North America exclusive parts access to Y-Logic™, a new dealer-installed premium nutrient delivery system by EZ-Drops for the RoGator LiquidLogic® and legacy liquid systems.

RoGator self-propelled sprayers are used by many North American farmers and custom applicators for highly accurate and efficient fertilizer application, as they implement innovative ways to stretch their fertilizer dollars to make every drop count. "Excess nitrogen negatively affects both the environment and farm profitability. One of the simplest ways to reduce nitrogen without sacrificing yield is to move nitrogen application closer to the time crops need it,” says Darren Goebel, director of Global Agronomy and Farm Solutions at AGCO.

The new nutrient application system with patent-pending quick-attach, pivot-mounts by EZ-Drops is now available at AGCO RoGator dealers for all factory boom sizes up to 120 feet, and all row widths regardless of how nozzle boom spacing is configured. “RoGator is a highly-customizable platform for the farmer and custom applicator, and it’s innovative aftermarket solutions like Y-Logic by EZ-Drops that allow our customers to extract maximum value out of their machine to apply product to the field in the most efficient way possible.” says Nick Scates, parts marketing specialist for Application Equipment at AGCO Parts.

Y-Logic’s efficiencies extend beyond its agronomic benefits and also include easy installation and removal capabilities, which are designed to save operators valuable time. “Y-Logic’s ease of use and accuracy is the new industry standard. This premium system is light weight, folds from the cab, is self-guided by the crop, and the heavy-duty stainless-steel breakaway spring and hydraulic fittings, along with high-wear tips make it durable,” says Andy Blackmer, EZ-Drops co-founder.

When it comes to the performance of the system, it stays on target so well that the manufacturer recommends using half the drops that other systems call for. “We are crop-guided, because our flexible, yet rigid, distribution tubes at the bottom put gentle pressure on the crop and deliver nutrients on target to the base of the plant,” says Jeff Heinsohn, the company’s other co-founder. Because of this, the system is lighter, doesn’t weigh the boom down, and allows for a full boom installation on a system as wide as 120 feet.

Goebel confirms that Y-Logic’s capabilities align with the overall value provided by the RoGator application system: “In-season nitrogen application with Y-Logic by EZ-Drops puts nitrogen where it is needed, when it is needed, maximizing crop yield and minimizing losses to the environment."

Farmobile Awarded U.S. Patent for Farm Data Collection and Exchange System

Farmobile LLC, Agriculture’s Independent Data Company™, today announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has issued  U.S. Patent No. 10,963,825, entitled “Farming Data Collection and Exchange System.”

The patent is directed to a cloud-based farming data collection and exchange system capable of capturing, processing and sharing machine-generated data while being used for farming operations, such as fertilizing, planting, spraying or harvesting crops on a field. The patented online system includes a relay device installed in the farming vehicle that automatically receives, stores and processes detailed machine and agricultural data captured by the machine during farming operations.

The patented technology enables real-time collection, tracking, monitoring, sharing and monetizing of critically important farming operation data. As described in the patent, this includes activities such as: how much seed, fertilizer, water and pesticide were used on a particular field; how often the field was treated with a particular chemical; which parts of the field were left untreated; the weather conditions during the farming operation; the equipment used to perform the farming operation; the equipment settings activated and/or deactivated during the farming operation; and which field was treated during the farming operation. The patent claims priority back to the 2013 patent application filed by co-founders and inventors Jason G. Tatge, Heath Garret Gerlock and Randall Thomas Nuss. The patent expires Sept. 22, 2034.

“This latest patent is similar to a patent we have in Canada. It further strengthens the position of our ag data innovations in the U.S. market and re-affirms our ability to unlock the data farmers need to create more value for their farms and, more broadly, the future of the ag-food ecosystem,” said Farmobile CEO Jason Tatge. “When we’re able to leverage high-integrity data as a system-of-record, we not only empower our customers to make better decisions, we help them find additional revenue-generating opportunities with those data sets. For example, as carbon credits become more of a regulatory focus, our customers will be able to use these interoperable data sets to recoup costs based on the sustainability of their operations.”

In addition to this U.S. patent, Farmobile’s patent portfolio continues to grow. In 2020, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office issued the Canadian Patent No. 3076652 (“Distributed Transaction-Based Security and Tracking of Machine and Agronomic Data”) and, in 2019, the USPTO issued U.S. Patent No. 10,491,608 (“Distributed Transaction-Based Security and Tracking of Agricultural Machine and Agronomic Data”) to Farmobile. These patents granted Farmobile the exclusive right to use blockchain (distributed ledger technologies) in Canada and the United States, respectively, to track electronic agricultural data sets through associated exchange transactions.

“We’ll continue to push the boundaries of how data technology can transform agriculture,” said Farmobile Chief Technology Officer Chris Schibi. “When we speak with farmers, ag retailers, agronomists and other ag-food partners, we are consistently seeking ways to help the industry adopt interoperability standards to improve information sharing and operations across third party aggregation systems. With each new patent, Farmobile helps the industry establish a foundation of high-quality, ground-truthed data.”

For more information about Farmobile and the benefits and values of a collect-share-monetize farm data strategy, visit