Tag Archives: agriculture

Price movements and volatility over the past month for commodities have been striking. Figure 1, prepared by the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City, shows price changes and volatility indexes this year compared to last year for selected commodities and equity indexes. The COVID-19 pandemic, economic stoppage, consumer behavior, and underlying supply and demand conditions created a whirlwind of uncertainty and volatility in the markets. In order to get a sense of how the commodity price movements might impact Nebraska agricultural producers, estimates were calculated on how the changes in prices in March could impact revenues for Nebraska’s three largest agricultural sectors—beef cattle, corn, and soybeans.

FIGURE 1: CHANGES IN PRICES & VOLATILITY, SELECTED COMMODITIES
Source: From presentation by Nathan Kaufman, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, on webinar sponsored by FarmDoc Daily at the University of Illinois, March 27, 2020.

 

Beef Cattle: Estimates of the potential impact to Nebraska’s cattle sector were calculated borrowing approaches used by Kansas State agricultural economist Glynn Tonsor. Tonsor calculated the price changes over the past few weeks could impact the nation’s cattle sector between $7.98-$9.4 billion. Estimating impacts to the cattle sector is complicated by the different sectors in the industry (cow/calf operators, stockers, backgrounders, and feeders) and the timing of cattle sales throughout the year.

 

Informal inquiries of persons in the industry suggested 95 percent of the cows in Nebraska calve in the spring. Of the calves born, 75 percent are weaned and sold in the fall, a few are kept and sold as yearlings the following year, and the remainder backgrounded and sold in winter or early next spring. Assuming 20 percent of last year’s calf crop was held and backgrounded for sale in April and using the April feeder cattle futures contract declines between March 2 and March 25 of $6.60/cwt., results in a $49.50 per head or $17.8 million impact to these producers. Assuming a calf crop of 1.77 million head this year, with 75 percent of the calves sold in the fall, and using the declines in the October feeder cattle futures contract, equates to a potential $71.9 million impact to the sector.

 

The USDA reported 2.5 million head of cattle in the state’s feedlots as of March 1. Estimates of the impacts to the feeding sector are complicated by the fact some of the cattle in the feedlots had already been marketed, or hedged, prior to March, but some not. Additionally, the price changes in March changed the economics of cattle placed in feedlots during the month and over the remainder of the year. So, using the average decline in the April and August feeder cattle futures contracts between March 2 and March 25 of $7.56/cwt., or $105.84 per head, and assessing it against the 2.5 million head on feed on March 1 suggests an impact of $264.6 million. In total, then, the price declines in the cattle markets between March 2 and March 25 might have a $354 million impact on the state’s cattle sector.

 

Corn/Soybeans: According to data provided by the Nebraska Corn Board, 43 percent of the corn marketed during the year is sold in the months of March-September, and 36 percent is sold between October-December. For these estimates, the assumption was made soybeans are marketed similarly. To calculate the price declines, changes in the appropriate futures contracts between March 2 and 25 were used, and changes in the basis were also considered using Kansas State University crop basis maps. Using last year’s crop production numbers, and the assumptions noted above, corn and soybean producers selling 2019 production this year could see an impact of $387 million. Using assumptions of crop production levels this year, and the share of new crop production which will be sold yet this year, equates to impacts on this year’s production of $280 million. So, the total potential impact to corn and soybean producers could amount to $667 million.

 

Summary: Compared to pre-COVID prices, Nebraska’s cattle, corn, and soybean producers might see a potential impact of $1.02 billion, or 5 percent of Nebraska’s annual agricultural receipts. These estimates are simplistic and do not account expense reductions which might occur which could offset the revenue impact. For these reasons, the estimates are intended to provide a sense of the magnitude of the impacts to Nebraska’s largest industry during these uncertain times and volatile prices and not an accurate accounting. Fortunately, for some in agriculture, there is flexibility regarding the timing of sales so they might be able to seize better market opportunities over the next few months.

DENVER – March 30, 2020 – In the latest effort to address myths about beef production and nutrition, Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner., managed by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, has released a new video series, ‘Real Facts About Real Beef.’ The videos highlight real farmers and ranchers and other beef experts candidly addressing some of the most common misconceptions and questions about cattle and beef.

 

According to market research, 52 percent of people agree that they trust the people who raise cattle[i]; however, only 27 percent of people say they are knowledgeable about how cattle are raised. [ii] In a time when consumers are more removed from food production than ever, these videos deliver facts directly from the source – beef farmers and ranchers, as well as credentialed experts in the fields of sustainability, human nutrition, and more.

 

The videos in this series include:

  • Real Facts About Real Beef: Red Meat and Health – Cattle rancher and life coach, Kiah Twisselman, takes on the myth that “red meat is bad for your health” in this video. She highlights that, while there are many mixed messages on the internet about certain foods being bad or good for your health, it is ultimately important that people are eating a well-balanced diet with nutrient dense foods like lean beef.

 

  • Real Facts About Real Beef: Cattle Production and Climate Change – In this video, Carlyn Petersen, an animal biology doctoral student, is tasked with addressing the myth that “methane from cattle is the leading cause of climate change.” She tackles this myth head on with the real fact that cattle only contribute about two percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. and that the leading contributor of greenhouse gas is actually the burning of fossil fuels.

 

  • Real Facts About Real Beef: Grazing Cattle vs. Crops – Mike Williams, a cattle rancher and owner of Diamond W Cattle Company, addresses the myth that “instead of letting cattle graze all over, we could be using that land to grow crops for humans.” As a rancher in the western U.S., Williams knows best and shares how cattle largely graze on land that isn’t suitable for growing crops, and that this land actually thrives when grazed properly.

 

  • Real Facts About Real Beef: Cattle Production and the Environment  – For this video, Dr. Frank Mitloehner, a leading expert on cattle and sustainability, debunks the myth that “cattle production and farming is harmful to the environment, creating soil erosion, water pollution and poor air quality.” Dr. Mitloehner explains that, as an animal science researcher, he has found the exact opposite to be true, and that, in fact, a properly run ranch or farm will sequester carbon and promote biodiversity.

 

“’Real Facts About Real Beef’ is one more way Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. is working to help ensure consumers are informed when it comes to how beef is produced and the nutrients it delivers,” said Buck Wehrbein, federation division chair at NCBA. “These videos are a powerful way we’re able to share fact- and science-based information about beef production and nutrition with these important audiences.”

 

The ‘Real Facts About Real Beef’ videos will be promoted on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, to help address misinformation about beef production and its role in a healthy, sustainable diet. In addition to addressing the myths head on, the videos direct consumers to BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com for additional information.

 

This video series is just the latest from Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. in an effort to debunk myths about the beef industry. In mid-January, new ads, complete with the brand’s unique personality and swagger, were rolled out addressing the topics of health, sustainability and meat substitutes. The initial six-week digital media flight generated more than 35 million consumer touchpoints, reaching more than 11.6 million consumers multiple times.

In addition to these myth busting efforts, Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. is giving consumers a behind-the-scenes look at beef production with 360° virtual ranch tours. The videos take consumers on an educational journey to farms and ranches across the United States to learn how beef farmers and ranchers raise cattle to produce high-quality beef.

“As a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, we are committed to ensuring consumers, media, chefs, dietitians foodservice, retail partners and other stakeholders have the facts and information they need when it comes to the beef industry,” said Alisa Harrison, senior vice president of global marketing and research at NCBA, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff.

 

For more facts about real beef, visit www.BeefItWhatsForDinner.com.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California farms are still working to supply food to much of the United States amid the coronavirus. But some farm workers are anxious about the virus spreading among them.

Many travel in groups to fields and say employers show no regard for social distancing. Some farms are keeping workers spaced out and asking them to wear gloves and use hand sanitizer. But an industry group says the distancing measures can be inefficient and costly. If workers are sidelined by illness, it could jeopardize crop yields and disrupt the food supply.

United Farm Workers is using the moment to push for longstanding requests like removing hurdles to sick pay.

Bloomington, Ill (AgPR) — With food banks charting unknown territory in the midst of a global crisis, farmers and grain companies in the Midwest are stepping up to help feed those in need. FS GRAIN and Gold Star FS, both members of the GROWMARK System, are now accepting grain donations which will raise money for food banks across the region.

Mike Schaver, grain department manager with Gold Star FS, says he is reaching out to each customer and says donations of any number of bushels will be a blessing during these trying times.

“Here in America, we are accustomed to being the greatest agricultural nation in the world and we know that many of our neighbors’ lives and finances have been turned upside down,” adds Schaver. “Food banks across the country are trying to navigate unprecedented need while experiencing reductions in donations from the public sector, as well as traditional donations from grocery stores and restaurants.”

Customers who make a donation have the option of which local food bank their donations will be sent to. And a growing number of food banks are now participating.

“Though the reality of the COVID-19 crisis means we anticipate challenging days and weeks ahead, we’re also beyond blessed to have an extremely passionate community that always answers the call to help our neighbors in need,” said Lee Cheney, Director of Food Procurement at Northern Illinois Food Bank. “This includes our farm producers, which have always been amazing allies in our fight against hunger.”

Illinois farmer Nik Jakobs who is also a customer of Gold Star FS helped spearhead the idea within the agricultural and grain communities in the region.

“While the idea of grain donations is nothing new, it’s the fastest way farmers and the agriculture community can make an immediate impact on the food shortages caused by this pandemic,” Jakobs said. “We are the largest, most productive agricultural country on the planet. We can make a difference, and quickly.”

In the first few days since the call for donations was made, more $20,000 in donations have been committed, which equates to $160,000 in groceries for neighbors in need.

“This is just the start—we hope this catches fire and food banks across our country can benefit during this time of increased need,” Jakobs said.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, late Wednesday night issued the following statement after the Senate passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which includes relief for farmers, consumers, and rural communities.

“This health care crisis is affecting every family across the country. The relief package will provide stability for our farmers and ensure the American people have a safe and stable food supply. Our bipartisan agreement includes targeted assistance to farmers who are experiencing severe financial losses during the pandemic, including fruit and vegetable growers, dairy farmers, and local food producers.

“The bill ensures that our small towns and rural communities aren’t left behind. It provides telemedicine resources, critical support for rural hospitals, and loans to help small businesses stay afloat.

“While this bill contains critical relief, I am deeply disappointed that including additional food assistance for children, families, and seniors did not have bipartisan support. I will continue to fight to get families the help they need during this crisis.”

The CARES Act provides:

Relief for Farmers and Ranchers

  • $9.5 billion dedicated disaster fund to help farmers who are experiencing financial losses from the coronavirus crisis, including targeted support for fruit and vegetable growers, dairy and livestock farmers, and local food producers, who have been shorted from receiving emergency assistance in the past.
  • $14 billion to fund the Farm Bill’s farm safety net through the Commodity Credit Corporation.
  • Eligibility for farmers and agricultural and rural businesses to receive up to $10 million in small business interruption loans from eligible lenders, including Farm Credit institutions, through the Small Business Administration. Repayment forgiveness will be provided for funds used for payroll, rent or mortgage, and utility bills.
  • $3 million to increase capacity at the USDA Farm Service Agency to meet increased demand from farmers affected by the coronavirus crisis.

 

Assistance for Small Towns and Rural Communities

  • $1 billion available in guaranteed loans to help rural businesses weather the economic downturn.
  • $100 billion to hospitals, health care providers, and facilities, including those in rural areas.
  • $25 million for telemedicine tools to help rural patients access medical care no matter where they live.
  • $100 million for high speed internet expansion in small towns and rural communities.
  • Over $70 million to help the U.S. Forest Service serve rural communities and reduce the spread of coronavirus through personal protective equipment for first responders and cleaning of facilities.

 

Protections for Consumers and the Food Supply

  • $55 million for inspection and quarantine at our borders to protect against invasive pests and animal disease.
  • $33 million for overtime and temporary food safety inspectors to protect America’s food supply at meat processing plants.
  • $45 million to ensure quality produce and meat reaches grocery stores through increased support for the Agricultural Marketing Service.
  • $1.5 million to expedite EPA approvals of disinfectants needed to control the spread of coronavirus.

Food Access for Families

  • $15.8 billion to fund food assistance changes made in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Republicans and the Trump Administration blocked additional funding to expand benefits for children, families, and seniors.
  • $9 billion to fund child nutrition improvements made in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
  • $450 million to provide food banks with additional resources for food and distribution.
  • $100 million for food distribution in Tribal communities to provide facility improvements, equipment upgrades, and food purchases.

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

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

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

VIDEO: Gov Ricketts, Ag Leaders, and Healthcare CEOs Discuss COVID-19 Response in Nebraska | March 25, 2020

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

CURTIS, Neb. – It’s National Agriculture Week!

As I write this weekly message, it is National Ag Day across the United States and at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis.

Our 2020 observance may be muted by current events around the globe. Nonetheless, we recognize the immense contributions made by those who produce the food, fiber and fuel needed to feed the world.

NCTA is evaluating the evolving situation around COVID-19 daily. The safety of our students, faculty, staff and the greater community is our utmost concern. We will be transitioning our Spring semester toward remote learning after Spring Break, on March 30. For more information on these details, please see ncta.unl.edu

Most of our students are away on Spring Break, and our faculty and staff are working remotely or from their offices on campus.

However, agriculture production does not take a break. Hard work and responsibilities continue at the 550-acre NCTA Farm and Learning Laboratory.

Livestock at the farm, horses, and the animals or various species used for teaching programs at the NCTA Veterinary Technology program, are fed, managed and facilities maintained by employees and student workers.

Standards of care are a priority for all animals owned and managed by NCTA.

Spring calving

The NCTA cow herd is about half done with calving. The 31 head of cows are pastured in Aggieland, located immediately north of the campus.

Over the weekend, several of the Vet Tech students took their shifts in checking cows. And, student workers and fulltime staff with the NCTA “Farm Crew” are watching the animals, as well.

Students in livestock management and one of the VT classes had signed up for their calving rotations, as part of their class credits. This hands-on training is a hallmark of the NCTA experience.

Equine science

Campus horses are maintained for by Huntra Christensen, Ranch Horse Team assistant coach. With temperature swings and rain or snow, special attention is paid to a couple of geriatric horses. Like humans, older animals may need extra care for nutrition, hydration and exercise.

Animal Science and Ag Education Division Interim Chair Joanna Hergenreder reports that professors are busy preparing academic content for online platforms to begin next week.

The Ranch Horse Team’s Punchy In Pink Horse Show scheduled for April 3-5 has been canceled.

Crops program

On the crops side of the NCTA Farm, wet weather prevents any crop field activity for a while. Once conditions allow, Dr. Brad Ramsdale, agronomy professor, reports as a 100% no-till farm, we will go straight to planting.

In Crops Practicum II class, students have planned for crops on the varying sizes of ground assigned to them. Nine acres of triticale is slated to be planted in one area. Spring forage mixtures will be planted on the dryland corners of a center pivot irrigated field.

Ag Week, March 22-28

From all of us at NCTA, we appreciate the contributions of each individual to the success of our rural campus and culture, and to the daily lives of all consumers.

The Agriculture of America reports that each American farmer feeds more than 165 people. Those of us in American agriculture are producing even more food and fiber – and doing it safely and with improved technologies.

Thank an agriculture producer today, and throughout the year.

The Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service statistical reports remain on schedule amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including the March 26 Hogs and Pigs and March 31 Prospective Plantings reports.

NASS reports the agency also continues to collect data for all upcoming reports, asking farmers and ranchers to complete their surveys online, if they don’t already respond that way. To protect the health and safety of producers, partners, and employees, NASS has suspended in-person data collection at least until April 3, 2020.

NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer says, “We are making every effort to produce the U.S. crop, livestock, and economic statistics that the nation counts on, but to do that responsibly, we are following guidance to slow the spread of coronavirus.” Ensuring that responses are returned on time means little or no additional outreach is needed.

USDA says online response is faster and more convenient for producers. To respond online at agcounts.usda.gov, producers will need their unique 17-digit survey code from the questionnaire or letter received in the mail.

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

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

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

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) – Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science and member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture – sent a letter with 20 other senators to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, urging the administration to reach a U.S.-UK trade agreement that addresses the UK’s unfair barriers to U.S. food producers.

“Trade positions held by the EU that are based on antiquated and unscientific food standards should be rejected in an agreement with the UK, including those standards that block significant segments of U.S. beef, pork, dairy and poultry exports and discourage the use of biotechnology,” the senators wrote. “…Basing food standards on sound science and addressing tariff and non-tariff barriers will ensure a level playing field for U.S. farmers, ranchers and food manufacturers, while also resulting in greater access to safe and affordable food for UK consumers.”

Sens. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Mike Bruan (R-Ind.), Josh Hawley (R-Miss.), and Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) joined the letter to Ambassador Lighthizer.

The full letter is below, or click here for the signed letter. 

Ambassador Robert Lighthizer

Office of the United States Trade Representative

600 17th Street NW

Washington, DC 20508

Dear Ambassador Lighthizer,

We support the administration’s effort to negotiate a trade agreement with the United Kingdom (UK). Increasing economic commerce between our nations by reducing trade barriers, increasing investments and modernizing our trading relationship will benefit American producers and consumers.

U.S. food and agricultural producers face unfair barriers to market access in the UK largely as a result of the UK’s former membership in the European Union (EU). The UK’s decision to leave the EU offers a unique opportunity to address these trade barriers in a bilateral U.S.-UK trade agreement. In negotiations with the UK, we urge you to uphold and promote U.S. science-based food standards and work to address tariff and non-tariff barriers for U.S. agriculture.

American farmers and ranchers are committed to producing safe, nutritious, high quality food products. Our nation’s food standards and regulations are among the highest in the world as a result of being developed on the principles of sound science, data and facts. The modern food production system in the United States has led to a safe and sustainable food supply depended upon by consumers around the world.

The science-based standards met by food producers, processors and manufacturers in our country ought to be reflected in each trade agreement negotiated by the U.S., including with the UK. Trade positions held by the EU that are based on antiquated and unscientific food standards should be rejected in an agreement with the UK, including those standards that block significant segments of U.S. beef, pork, dairy and poultry exports and discourage the use of biotechnology. Commonsense reforms to geographical indications policies and safeguards regarding the use of common food names should also be included in an agreement.

We are pleased the UK’s negotiating objectives include improving trade on agricultural products as both nations stand to benefit from a trade agreement that recognizes modern food production methods. Basing food standards on sound science and addressing tariff and non-tariff barriers will ensure a level playing field for U.S. farmers, ranchers and food manufacturers, while also resulting in greater access to safe and affordable food for UK consumers.

Thank you for your continued efforts to reach a U.S.-UK trade agreement that addresses trade barriers for U.S. agriculture.