Friday, July 21, 2017

Friday July 21 Cattle on Feed Report + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.23 million cattle on feed on July 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 2 percent from last year. Placements during June totaled 425,000 head, up 16 percent from 2016. Fed cattle marketings for the month of June totaled 530,000 head, up 4 percent from last year. Other disappearance during June 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 670,000 head on July 1, 2017, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was down 1 percent from June 1, 2017, but up 10 percent from July 1, 2016. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head had 500,000 head on feed, down 9 percent from last month and down 8 percent from last year. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in all Iowa feedlots totaled 1,170,000 head, down 5 percent from last month but up 1 percent from last year.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during June totaled 72,000 head, a decrease of 15 percent from last month but up 33 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head placed 36,000 head, up 3 percent from last month, but down 29 percent from last year. Placements for all feedlots in Iowa totaled 108,000 head, down 10 percent from last month but up 3 percent from last year.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during June totaled 80,000 head, down 2 percent from last month, but up 11 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head marketed 84,000 head, up 22 percent from last month and up 14 percent from last year. Marketings for all feedlots in Iowa were 164,000 head, up 9 percent from last month and up 12 percent from last year. Other disappearance from all feedlots in Iowa totaled 4,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Up 4 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 10.8 million head on July 1, 2017. The inventory was 4 percent above July 1, 2016. The inventory included 6.96 million steers and steer calves, up 1 percent from the previous year. This group accounted for 64 percent of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 3.86 million head, up 11 percent from 2016.

Placements in feedlots during June totaled 1.77 million head, 16 percent above 2016. Net placements were 1.71 million head. During June, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 375,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 315,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 430,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 385,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 170,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 95,000 head.

Marketings of fed cattle during June totaled 1.99 million head, 4 percent above 2016. Other disappearance totaled 56,000 head during June, 8 percent below 2016.

United States All Cattle on Feed Up 6 Percent from 2015

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for all feedlots totaled 12.8 million head on July 1, 2017. The inventory was up 6 percent from the July 1, 2015 total of 12.1 million head. Cattle on feed in feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head accounted for 84.5 percent of the total cattle on feed on July 1, 2017, down 0.1 percent from 2015.

July 1 Cattle Inventory Up 4 Percent from 2015

All cattle and calves in the United States, as of July 1, 2017, totaled 103 million head. This is 4 percent above the 98.2 million head on July 1, 2015.

All cows and heifers that have calved, at 41.9 million head, are 5 percent above the 39.8 million head on July 1, 2015. Beef cows, at 32.5 million head, are up 7 percent from two years ago. Milk cows, at 9.40 million head, are up 1 percent from 2015.

All heifers 500 pounds and over, as of July 1, 2017, totaled 16.2 million head. This is 3 percent above the 15.7 million head on July 1, 2015. Beef replacement heifers, at 4.70 million head, are down 2 percent from two years ago. Milk replacement heifers, at 4.20 million head, are unchanged from 2015. Other heifers, at 7.30 million head, are 9 percent above two years earlier.

Calves under 500 pounds in the United States, as of July 1, 2017, totaled 28.0 million head. This is 5 percent above the 26.7 million head on July 1, 2015. Steers weighing 500 pounds and over totaled 14.5 million head, up 3 percent from two years ago. Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over totaled 2.00 million head, up 5 percent from 2015.

Calf Crop Up 3 Percent from 2016

The 2017 calf crop in the United States is expected to be 36.3 million head, up 3 percent from last year's calf crop and up 6 percent from 2015. Calves born during the first half of 2017 are estimated at 26.5 million head. This is up 4 percent from the first half of 2016 and 8 percent above 2015. An additional 9.80 million calves are expected to be born during the second half of 2017.

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for all feedlots totaled 12.8 million head on July 1, 2017. The inventory is up 6 percent from the July 1, 2015 total of 12.1 million head. Cattle on feed, in feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head, accounted for 84.5 percent of the total cattle on feed on July 1, 2017. This is down 0.1 percent from 2015. The combined total of calves under 500 pounds and other heifers and steers over 500 pounds (outside of feedlots) is 37.0 million head. This is 5 percent above the 35.4 million head on July 1, 2015. 


All layers in Nebraska during June 2017 totaled 8.04 million, down from 9.20 million the previous year, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Nebraska egg production during June totaled 202 million eggs, down from 223 million in 2016. June egg production per 100 layers was 2,516 eggs, compared to 2,418 eggs in 2016.


Iowa egg production during June 2017 was 1.31 billion eggs, down 3 percent from last month but up 10 percent from last year, according to the latest Chickens and Eggs report from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The average number of all layers on hand during June 2017 was 54.7 million, up 1 percent from last month and up 7 percent from last year. Eggs per 100 layers for June were 2,396, down 4 percent from last month but up 3 percent from last year.


The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) is providing information to Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers in need of assistance due to prolonged dry conditions in the state.

“The U.S. Drought Monitor has updated its drought status. In Nebraska, abnormally dry conditions in parts of the state have intensified.  The Department is receiving reports of rapidly deteriorating pasture and field conditions,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach. “In response to the worsening conditions, we are outlining several tools that are available for farmers and ranchers to utilize.”

Emergency Haying and Grazing of CRP

Several counties in Nebraska are authorized for emergency haying or grazing on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres. This is a result of U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue making the authorization available for counties in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota in D2 or greater stages of drought on the U.S. Drought Monitor. Any county in Nebraska with a border that falls within 150 miles of those D2 or greater designated drought areas in those three states are eligible for the emergency haying or grazing. A map of those counties can be found at

Landowners interested in emergency haying or grazing of CRP acres must contact their local FSA office for details on eligibility requirements and prior to taking any action on CRP acres. To find a local FSA office, go to

Haying of Roadside Right-of-Ways

The Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) authorizes permitted haying of roadside right-of-ways. Permitted haying is allowed by abutting land owners until July 31st, and open to the public for permitted haying beginning August 1st. For details on haying roadside right-of-ways and to obtain permits contact the NDOT Maintenance Office in your district.

NDA Hay Hotline

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture offers a resource for farmers and ranchers looking to buy or sell hay. The Hay & Forage Hotline can be found on the NDA website.  Sellers can post their information on the site themselves or contact NDA at 800-422-6692. The list of sellers is posted on the website and is updated on a regular basis.

Fire Suppression Efforts

On July 18th, Governor Ricketts authorized the issuance of an Emergency Proclamation relating to fire retardant materials. This proclamation will allow the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency to replenish fire retardant materials which have been partially depleted by fire suppression efforts in Nebraska and by assisting other states with wildfires which have been aided by drought conditions. The proclamation will allow the Adjutant General greater flexibility for wildfire suppression efforts.

The NDA Drought Central Website contains information on all these programs and will be continually updated with valuable resources. It can be found at

“My agency and I appreciate the proactive response by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Governor Ricketts and the resources being made available through various agencies of the State of Nebraska,” said Ibach. “NDA will continue to monitor the states drought conditions closely and provide further assistance when appropriate.”

NE Corn Board to Meet

The Nebraska Corn Board will hold its next meeting on Friday, August 25, 2017 at Embassy Suites located at 1040 P Street in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The meeting is open to the public, providing the opportunity for public comment.  The Board will conduct regular board business and hold election of officers.  The meeting is open to the public.  A copy of the agenda is available by writing the Nebraska Corn Board, PO Box 95107, Lincoln, NE  68509, sending an email to or by calling 402/471-2676.

Public event set to talk taxes and sustaining vibrant communities

A community conversation on the ongoing property tax debate is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 1. This public event, hosted by the Center for Rural Affairs, will be held at Lazy Horse Vineyards, 211 Road 20, Ohiowa, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The discussion will focus on the tax debate stemming from this year’s legislative session and the impact of proposals on local residents, schools, and governments.

Superintendent Stephen Grizzle, of Fairbury Public Schools, and Eric Kamler, farmer and Geneva City Councilman, will attend the meeting to share local perspectives on the Nebraska tax system.

“The legislative session ended without a solution or clear path forward to the property tax challenge,” said Jordan Rasmussen, policy program associate with the Center for Rural Affairs. “Yet the property tax burden continues to weigh heavily upon rural communities, from residents and farmers, to the school systems and local governments that rely on tax funding to do their work.”

Residents are invited to join the conversation on the balance among property taxes, education, and public safety cuts.

“Approaching our current tax environment can be complicated,” said Rasmussen. “Residents need to weigh in as our representatives work toward solutions that sustain the vibrant rural communities we call home.”

For more information or to RSVP, contact Henry Miller at 402.687.2100 ext. 1011 or

Farmer-Leaders Elected to Board of Directors for Iowa Corn

Iowa Corn announced today the results of the Board of Directors elections for the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) and Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB).

Those elected as ICGA Directors will continue to bring grassroots policy issues forward and be the collective voice for 7,500 corn farmer-members, lobbying on agricultural issues at the state and federal level. They include:
    District 3- Mark Mueller, Bremer County *
    District 4- Jolene Riessen, Sac County
    District 9- Roger Wuthrich, Davis County *
                                           *For those re-elected

Since 1978, Iowa corn farmers have elected their peers to serve on the ICPB to oversee the investment of funds generated by the Iowa corn checkoff. ICPB Directors will continue to promote a thriving Iowa corn industry through research into new and value-added corn uses, domestic and foreign market development and providing education about corn and corn products. These individuals include:
    District 1-Kelly Nieuwenhuis, O’Brien County *
    District 3-Greg Alber, Buchanan County *
    District 6- Pete Brecht, Linn County *
    District 9- Stan Nelson, Des Moines County​   
                                                          *For those re-elected

Both organizations are charged with creating opportunities for long-term Iowa corn grower profitability. Elected Directors will begin to serve on September 1st, 2017.

ICGA Members Take Ag Priorities to Washington, D.C. during Corn Congress

Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) farmer-leaders convened in Washington, D.C. this week with other corn farmers from across the country to advocate for key agricultural issues as part of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) Corn Congress meeting. The Iowa delegation, including ICGA directors, grassroots members, the Iowa Corn Collegiate Advisory Team (CAT) and the Iowa Corn Leadership Enhancement and Development (I-LEAD) Class 8 visited 50 Congressional offices, many of which represented areas outside the Corn Belt because it is important that all member of Congress understand the importance of American agriculture. These Capitol Hill meetings focused on:
-    Expanding consumer access to higher blends of ethanol
-    Funding for critical trade promotion and export programs (MAP and FMD)
-    Agricultural priorities for the renegotiation of NAFTA

“Corn is a widely universal topic; it touches almost every area of everyone’s life,” said Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) President Kurt Hora, a farmer from Washington. “This year, we had the opportunity to talk with non-Iowa, non-corn states on the Hill and we had a lot of great conversations. I appreciate all of the offices and staffers that took the time to meet with us on our issues. ICGA and NCGA work hard to keep a strong voice on the Hill.”

Iowa Corn farmer-leaders on Monday and Tuesday participated in NCGA Action teams to help set the direction of many key programs and activities. On Wednesday, farmers attending Corn Congress heard from Mexican Ambassador Gerónimo Gutiérrez about the prospects of modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Ambassador Gutiérrez expressed a strong desire to continue strengthening agricultural trade between the U.S. and Mexico.

In addition to meetings on the Hill, ICGA delegates debated their priorities for the upcoming Farm Bill and approved national policy resolutions. NCGA Director Bob Bowman also received recognition for his service as a retiring director of the board.

 “We’re advocating for a fully funded Farm Bill that will help meet farmers priorities with crop insurance and funding for export programs,” said Hora. “The Federal Crop Insurance programs were written in a way to provide a basic level of risk protection to help offset bad economic times and severe weather. We’re seeing its importance again this year as areas in the Midwest struggle with weather.”

Farmers gather in Ames to manage risk in a downturned ag economy

Managing costs, staying ahead of wild market swings and finding efficiency through data mining were key issues experts addressed at Iowa Farm Bureau’s fifth annual Economic Summit held yesterday in Ames.

Chad Hart, Assoc. Prof of Economics at Iowa State University, ISU, stressed the importance of farmers staying engaged in trade negotiations, because of its importance to what farmers grow and sell. “Where would soybeans be without international trade? Would we need to produce four billion bushels of beans? Keeping farmers involved in free trade agreement discussions is crucial, but not all U.S. consumers understand that.  “Take a look at meat exports. Do Americans know our biggest market for growth in meat exports is India? There has been a 2,000 percent growth in exports to them in the last two decades in beef.  India has 1.2 billion people and 80 percent are Hindu, 20 percent aren't, but that 20 percent adds up to a lot of beef.  Muslims won’t eat pork, they’ll eat beef; Hindu won’t eat beef, they’ll eat pork and everyone eats chicken,” says Hart.

Managing risk and staying optimistic through wild grain market swings will also be important for Iowa farmers in 2018.  Don Roose, president, U.S. Commodities, Inc., gave attendees the 2018 crop and livestock outlook. “This is a year when we have smaller crops and smaller demands, so it’s important to take advantage of risk management, since we have large world supplies in commodities—that is the dominant issue not the grain side.  On the livestock side, the takeaway on the cattle market is that our supplies are going to be up in the next two quarters and our demand is going to be stagnant.  So, this is the time of year where you really have to be keenly aware of the weather forecast and do some proper risk management.”

Dr. Michael Castellano, Soil Health, Cover Crops & Nutrient Management associate professor at ISU, advised farmers on the importance of soil health.  “Can we have it all: yields, soil health, and water quality? The answer is yes; there are ways we can do it.  Many great practices are reducing nitrate loads and can be custom-fitted for each farm.  Improved fertilizer management will not get us to our goal because fertilizer is not the root problem of water quality challenges, and it’s not the answer to improvement.  Improved nitrogen fertilizer management can make a very small impact, but looking at other more effective practices is what will help us progress and move toward reaching our water quality goals,” says Castellano.  “For example, edge of field practices including saturated buffers, bioreactors, wetlands, and drainage management, as well as in-field practices including cover crops like alfalfa and rye have shown the greatest percentage of nitrate load reduction, according to data compiled from the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.” 

Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s Director of Research and Commodity Services, Dave Miller, says, it’s crucial to keep farming sustainable in Iowa, since one out of every five jobs in the state comes from agriculture.  “Farmers are very engaged in improving environmental sustainability as well as economic stability of their farms, and the information they sought at this summit proves they are committed to staying nimble.

IFBF young farmer advisory committee welcomes new officers

The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) Young Farmer Advisory Committee has elected new leaders for 2017.  These officers and new district representatives will work to unite young farmers in Iowa through various programs and events, including the biggest event: the IFBF Annual Young Farmer meeting, which draws a diverse array of young farmers and agribusiness leaders together.   IFBF Young Farmer leaders elected to key positions in 2017 include:
Laura Cunningham, Floyd County, Chair
Brianne Streck, Woodbury County, Vice-Chair
Mary Beth Jackson, Mahaska County, Secretary
Hannah Johnson, Davis, Historian
Ben Pullen, Clay County, PR Chair

Laura Cunningham and her husband, Aaron, live near Nora Springs and co-own SkyView farms, a direct-market Angus cattle operation. Laura graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in ag business and works full-time in marketing for Latham Hi-Tech Seeds. Laura enjoys camping, boating on Clear Lake, refinishing furniture, running and taking day trips via airplane to see friends or family as Aaron has his pilot’s license.

“The face of Farm Bureau and agriculture is far more diverse than it’s ever been, and today being a Farm Bureau leader is about seeking opportunities that unite, not divide. As chair, I look forward to working with the committees to help guide the work they do to bring people together and plan young farmer engagement programs and events in their districts.  This is a role that means a lot to me both as a young farmer and as a woman,” said Cunningham.

“Like many I know, I have always worked hard to get my work done and on our farm, gender has never mattered. I believe it’s the same on many farms today.  I hope I can inspire other young women to lead, to help them find and embrace opportunities that exist for them in agriculture, because I know first-hand there are many who are there to cheer us on along the way.”    

Brianne Streck, her husband, Grant, and their three children live southeast of Moville. They grow corn, soybeans, hogs and currently two bucket calves. Brianne works as a grain merchandiser at Flint Hills Resources, helping farmers sell corn and purchase distillers grain. She and Grant are both 4-H volunteers, and Brianne volunteers as a superintendent at the Woodbury County Fair. She also enjoys gardening and cheering on the Cyclones.

Mary Beth Jackson and her husband, Mike, along with their three kids live near Oskaloosa where they grow corn, soybeans, cover crops and custom feed hogs. Mary Beth also has an off-farm job selling Premier Design Jewelry. She is very active in her community, serving on the advancement committee for a local Christian grade school, leading a mom’s bible study group and being an adult leader for GEMS, a club for young girls that resembles scouts but with a Christian-focused twist.

Hannah and her husband, Brett, live on part of the farm Hannah grew up on near Bloomfield. They raise commercial cow-calf pairs and club lambs which they market to 4-H and FFA members in the Midwest. Hannah works as an agriculture education teacher and FFA advisor for the Moulton-Udell Community School District.   She and Brett are both involved in coaching the Davis County 4-H and FFA livestock judging team, and they both travel during the summer judging county fairs in Iowa and Missouri. Hannah also coaches a junior high volleyball team.

Ben Pullen, his wife, Bri, and three children live on a farm outside of Spencer where they raise sheep and have recently begun direct niche-marketing with Hereford pigs. Ben works full-time as a Youth Program Specialist for Iowa State University Extension, working with 4-H, and Bri is a paraeducator.  The couple is very involved in Clay County 4-H, serving on swine and static exhibit committees.  Ben, as a former special education teacher, says education is his career, but agriculture is his passion.

Sharing the story of agriculture is a passion shared by all Young Farmer Advisory Committee members, especially since Iowa agriculture is diverse in both what is grown and who is growing it.  Forty-five percent of Iowa Farm Bureau county boards have women in leadership roles, and the average age of a county president and vice president is 42 years old. This means half of members in these leadership roles are less than the age of 42. Many are involved in the IFBF Young Farmer Program, available for Farm Bureau members ages 18-35, which provides leadership and participation opportunities to nurture the prosperity of young farmers and their families.

The program advisory committee plans various events around the state each year, including an annual statewide conference each January that brings hundreds of young farmers together.  This year’s IFBF Young Farmer conference will take place Feb. 2-3, 2018 at The Meadows Conference Center at Prairie Meadows in Altoona. 


Ten livestock haulers from Iowa, as well as several U.S. pork producers, traveled to Washington this week to meet with government officials about a pending mandate from the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that requires all commercial vehicle operators to track their hours of service with electronic logging devices after Dec. 18, 2017. The mandate is not practical for livestock transportation and could lead to animal welfare issues. The group met with Congressman Brian Babin, R-Texas, who introduced legislation this week, the “Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Extension Act of 2017,” that would delay the ELD mandate by two years, allowing the FMCSA to find a workable solution for livestock production and transportation.

Expansion in Soy Acres Drives Checkoff Investments

The U.S. soybean industry is turning a corner. This year, soy acres closed in on corn acres, narrowing the gap between the two crops. At the United Soybean Board’s (USB) July meeting, the booming supply of soy was a topic of discussion – as was the need for continued strong demand. Conversations shifted from increasing volume to maximizing value to set farmers up for long-term profitability.

As USDA reports a record high of 89.5 million planted acres, the farmer-leaders are investing checkoff dollars both inside the bean to improve the meal and oil, and beyond the bean to meet evolving end-user demands sustainably. Continuous improvement in U.S. soy keeps preference strong. In terms of soybean meal, the farmers discussed a growing interest in who is purchasing and using U.S. soy and how to meet their needs for a quality product through innovative research and measurement. For soybean oil, the farmers looked to leverage rapidly expanding technologies, including high oleic, and to also diversify the investment portfolio through industrial uses. The board also elevated the conversation on sustainability and tools to meet the needs of the future, including plant breeding innovations. This portfolio of investments helps to maximize farmer profit opportunities long term.

“U.S. soybean farmers and their checkoff are working toward the best of both worlds – quantity and quality,” says USB Chair John Motter. “Farmers need to be able to make decisions on not just how many acres, but what’s in those acres. We’re focused on getting more value per acre returned to farmers.”

It is a pivotal time for soybeans, and it’s also a momentous time for the soy checkoff. In addition to investing checkoff funds in research, promotion and marketing that look beyond the bushel, the farmer-leaders took this time to leverage the experience and expertise of USB Chief Executive Officer (CEO) John Becherer to make investments for the future and to position the checkoff for its next CEO. Becherer, who is set to retire at the end of 2017, was recognized for his contributions and 29-year service to the industry this week.

“Finding, launching and leveraging profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers is a constantly evolving mission for USB,” Becherer says. “Checkoff investments made by U.S. soybean farmers grew the value of U.S. soy over the past 25 years through innovative investments and partnerships with industry. We look forward to continuing to do so for the next 25 years to maximize value for U.S. soy and maximize profit opportunities for U.S. soybean farmers.”

Second Quarter Grain Inspections Reach Record High

In 2017, total second quarter inspections of grain (wheat, corn, and soybeans) for export from all major U.S. ports reached a record 29.8 million metric tons (mmt), according to USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA).

This amount is up 23 percent from the same period last year and 37 percent above the 5-year average.

Inspections of soybeans and wheat increased from last year, but corn inspections remained unchanged. During the second quarter, outstanding export sales of soybeans and wheat were well above the same time last year.

For the same period, outstanding export sales of corn were down from the same time last year.

For 2017/18, USDA's export projections in the July World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report are down from the previous marketing year for corn and wheat, but up for soybeans.

Second quarter grain inspections increased 57 percent in the Pacific Northwest, also reflecting a 43 percent jump in PNW rail deliveries to port.

U.S. fuel ethanol production continues to grow in 2017

Through the first six months of 2017, U.S. weekly ethanol production averaged 1.02 million barrels per day (b/d), an increase of 5% over the same period in 2016. On a weekly basis, U.S. ethanol production set a record of 1.06 million b/d in the week of January 27, 2017, and it has averaged near or above 1 million b/d in every week of 2017 except for a few weeks in April, when ethanol plants typically undergo seasonal maintenance. If ethanol production remains relatively high through the second half of the year, as EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) expects, 2017 will set a new record for annual fuel ethanol production.

Corn is the primary feedstock of ethanol in the United States, and large corn harvests have contributed to increased ethanol production in recent years. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that the United States produced a record 15.1 billion bushels of corn in the 2016–17 harvest year, 11% more than the 2015–16 harvest. Increased corn production and relatively stable corn prices have helped make increased ethanol production more profitable and less susceptible to corn price shocks that had affected ethanol profitability and output in the past.

U.S. ethanol plant capacity increased for the fourth consecutive year in 2017, reaching a nameplate capacity of approximately 15.5 billion gallons per year in January. Total ethanol production is expected to reach 1.02 million barrels per day in 2017, a rate equivalent to 15.8 billion gallons. Annual ethanol production is able to exceed capacity for two reasons: new production capacity has likely been added since the January 2017 capacity survey date, and many ethanol plants are able to operate at levels beyond their nameplate production capacity.

In the United States, ethanol is primarily used as a blending component in the production of motor gasoline and mainly blended in volumes up to 10% ethanol, also known as E10. In recent years, ethanol production increased as a result of higher Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) targets and growth in domestic motor gasoline consumption, almost all of which is now blended with 10% ethanol by volume. Demand for higher ethanol blends such as E15 and E85 remains limited.

U.S. motor gasoline consumption has grown the past four years, increasing from 8.7 million b/d in 2012 to 9.3 million b/d in 2016, resulting in an increase of 7% in additional ethanol demand by way of E10 blending that has helped to support consistent growth in ethanol production over the same period.

Exports of ethanol have also been increasing. Through the first four months of 2017, U.S. gross ethanol exports have averaged 96,000 barrels per day—40% higher than exports during the same period in 2016—and the highest level on record for that period of the year. In its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook, EIA forecasts that U.S. ethanol net exports will reach nearly 80,000 b/d in 2017, likely surpassing the previous record of 70,000 b/d set in 2011.

Through the first half of 2017, increasing ethanol production rates have outpaced domestic E10 gasoline demand and export growth, leading to elevated ethanol inventory levels at a time when they are typically falling to meet peak driving demand. As of July 14, 2017, weekly ending stocks of ethanol reached 22.1 million barrels, 5% higher than the same time last year and 13% higher than the previous five-year average. Ethanol inventories reached a record level of 23.7 million barrels for the week ending March 31, 2017.

NCGA Statement on the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act

The following is a statement from the National Corn Growers Association regarding the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act (S. 517):

“Corn farmers appreciate the work of Senator Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska) and the bipartisan Senate sponsors of the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act to advance this legislation.  While this legislation will not move to a committee markup at this time, we will continue to back efforts to remove this unnecessary roadblock to consumer choice that saves drivers money and is better for the environment.

“It is unfortunate that some have turned a focused effort to remove an outdated regulatory barrier into a referendum on a wide range of other issues unrelated to a simple question, which is whether a consumer choice barrier for three months of the year is still justified. As experts testified to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, this barrier has no environmental or economic justification. On the narrow question of whether retailers who offer consumers an approved fuel choice for 9 months out of the year should be allowed to offer that choice for all 12 months of the year, we think most agree this straightforward fix is common sense.

“Corn farmers stand behind ethanol as an American-made, renewable fuel that increases our energy independence while reducing emissions and improving air quality. We will continue working to see this barrier removed so consumers can have cleaner fuel options year-round.”

Growth Energy statement on the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor released the following statement in response to the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works’ (EPW) decision to not consider the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act (S. 517) before Congress adjourns for the August recess:

“We are disappointed the EPW committee decided not to consider the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act (S. 517) before August recess. We will continue to work with our bipartisan sponsors to enact this bill to provide drivers across the country cleaner fuel options year-round that are better for the environment and save Americans money every time they fill up the gas tank.”

National FFA Organization Names 2017 American Star Award Finalists

Today, the National FFA Organization selected 16 students from throughout the United States as finalists for its 2017 top achievement awards: American Star Farmer, American Star in Agribusiness, American Star in Agricultural Placement and American Star in Agriscience.

The American Star Awards represents the best of the best among thousands of American FFA Degree recipients. The award recognizes FFA members who have developed outstanding agricultural skills and competencies through the completion of a supervised agricultural experience (SAE) program. A required activity in FFA, an SAE allows members to learn by doing. Members can own and operate an agricultural business, intern at an agricultural business or conduct an agriculture-based scientific experiment and report the results.

Other requirements to achieve the award include demonstrating top management skills; completing key agricultural education, scholastic and leadership requirements; and earning an American FFA Degree, the organization’s highest level of student accomplishment.

The finalists include:

American Star Farmer

Joseph Arnold of the Lac qui Parle Valley FFA Chapter in Minnesota
Nickolas James Vollmer of the Merino FFA Chapter in Colorado
Jake Fanning of the Laverne FFA Chapter in Oklahoma
Mark Cavallero of the Madera FFA Chapter in California

American Star in Agribusiness

Nathan M. DeYoung of the Shenandoah FFA Chapter in Indiana
Austin D. Nordyke of the Hugoton FFA Chapter in Kansas
Audra Montgomery of the Carrington FFA Chapter in North Dakota
Shaun Wenrick of the Anna FFA Chapter in Ohio

American Star in Agricultural Placement

Matthew S. Ries of the Lomira FFA Chapter in Wisconsin
Devin Debruhl of the Shenandoah FFA Chapter in Indiana
Kellie Mae Einck of the South O’Brien FFA Chapter in Iowa
Bailey Wilson of the Pilot Point FFA Chapter in Texas

American Star in Agriscience

Chrysta Noelle Beck of the Pettisville FFA Chapter in Ohio
Elizabeth Baker-Mikesell of the Greenwood FFA Chapter in Pennsylvania
Leah Danielle Hefty of the DeKalb FFA Chapter in Indiana
Loren Gregory King of the Branch Area Career Centers FFA Chapter in Michigan

Visit for more information about the American Star Awards.

A panel of judges will interview finalists and select one winner for each award at the 90th National FFA Convention & Expo, Oct. 25-28 in Indianapolis. The four winners will be announced during an onstage ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 26.

ADM Crop Risk Services, Case IH, Elanco and Syngenta sponsor the American FFA Degree recognition program.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Thursday July 20 Ag News

Rural Mainstreet Index Experiences Biggest Fall in Almost Nine Years:
Drought Conditions Weighing on Region’s Farms

After rising to growth neutral for two straight months, the Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index fell below the 50.0 threshold for July according to the latest monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy.  

Overall: The index, which ranges between 0 and 100, tumbled to 40.7, its lowest level since November of last year, and down from 50.0 in June.

“This is the largest one-month decline we have recorded since November 2008, or in the middle of  the national recession, “said Ernie Goss, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University's Heider College of Business. “Drought conditions in portions of the region, combined with weak grain prices, negatively affected economic conditions, and the economic outlook for a large share of bank CEOs this month,”

Farming and ranching: The farmland and ranchland-price index for July sank to 36.6 from June’s 40.0. This is the 44th straight month the index has fallen below growth neutral 50.0.

This month, and in July 2016, bank CEOs were asked to project the percentage of grain farmers likely to experience negative cash flows for 2017. On average, bankers expect 15.1 percent of grain farmers to suffer negative cash flows for 2017. This is an improvement from last year when 19.1 percent anticipated negative cash flows for 2016.  

The July farm equipment-sales index fell to 20.0 from 26.2 in June. This marks the 47th consecutive month the reading has dropped below growth neutral 50.0.
Below are the state reports:

Nebraska: The Nebraska RMI for July sank to 42.1 from June’s 51.4. The state’s farmland-price index declined to 37.5 from 40.9 in June. Nebraska’s new-hiring index stood at a strong 62.5, but down from 67.4 in June.

Iowa: The July RMI for Iowa tumbled to 41.7 from 50.5 in June. Iowa’s farmland-price index for July dipped to 37.3 from 40.5 in June. Iowa’s new-hiring index for July remained healthy at 60.7, though it was down from June’s 64.3.

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. The survey is supported by a grant from Security State Bank in Ansley, Neb.

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.

ACE conference breakout sessions explore key industry issues

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) announces more details on the breakout sessions for this year’s 30th annual conference coming up Aug. 15-17 in Omaha. Prospective attendees are being urged to register online by Aug. 1 and make hotel reservations by July 25 to get the best conference rates.

The breakout sessions will be held concurrently in three rounds on the afternoon of Wednesday, Aug. 16, following the morning general session panels and keynote address from Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts. The breakout sessions reiterate this year’s conference theme of “Tested. Proven. Driven.”

“Our conference theme is Tested. Proven. Driven. which describes not just our molecule but the people of the ethanol industry as well,” said Brian Jennings, ACE executive vice president. “Time and time again, our industry (and our product) rises above the many tests and hurdles in our path.   We’re committed to the success of farmers, rural communities and to making ethanol the consumer fuel of choice.”

Breakout sessions tailored to ethanol plant boards of directors are included in the conference agenda. Kcoe Isom will lead one session providing boards of directors with a framework for understanding their roles and responsibilities. Another discussion, led by Ascendant Partners, will focus on succession planning and retention for ethanol company boards. Additionally, CPA firm Eide Bailly will cover best practices and safeguards to protect shareholders and ensure ethanol plants are protected from fraud.

New technology and efficiency improvements are other topics to be discussed during the ACE conference breakout panels. Fluid Quip Process Technologies will share opportunities for diversification in the ethanol industry. Representation from ICM Inc. will shed light on plant efficiency improvements that focus on creative solutions to move toward product diversification for long-term profitability. Christianson’s biofuels consultants will illustrate the industry’s progress by sharing trends in ethanol efficiencies using data from their biofuels benchmarking program.

Two of this year’s breakout sessions will cover retail-related subjects. A panel of two ethanol plants, Glacial Lakes Energy and Siouxland Ethanol, will provide examples of how well-executed retail promotions can successfully introduce higher ethanol blends. Also, fuel marketers Bosselman Enterprises and Husker Ag will share how ethanol producers and fuel marketers are improving the availability of competitively priced ethanol through direct marketing.

“The agenda is focused on what is being done to grow demand for ethanol here at home, through E15 and flex fuels, and around the world, based on ethanol’s octane and carbon reduction value,” Jennings said.

To learn more about the breakout sessions and conference agenda, click here...


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today reminded Iowa farmers that funds are available to help install practices focused on protecting water quality.  Practices eligible for this funding are cover crops, no-till or strip till, or using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fertilizer.

The cost share rate for first-time users of cover crops is $25 per acre, no-till or strip till are eligible for $10 per acre and farmers using a nitrapyrin nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer can receive $3 per acre. Farmers are eligible for cost share on up to 160 acres.

First-time users that apply by July 28 will be the first applications funded.  First-time users that apply after July 28 will still receive priority consideration, but funds will also be made available to farmers that have used cover crops in the past for cost share assistance at $15 per acre.

“We already have $1.8 million in applications from more than 800 farmers interested in trying a new practice on their farm to better protect water quality. However, we do have some funds available, both for first time users and those interested in trying cover crops again. I hope interested farmers will contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District soon to learn more about the assistance that is available,” Northey said.

Farmers are also encouraged to visit their local Soil and Water Conservation District office to inquire about additional opportunities for cost share funding through other programs offered at their local SWCDs.

The cost share assistance was announced on May 11.  Since then, the Governor has signed into law $10.575 million to support the Iowa Water Quality Initiative.

In the 4 years this statewide program has been available over 4,800 farmers, with participants in each of Iowa’s 99 counties, have put in nutrient reduction practices on more than 455,000 acres.  The state provided about $9.3 million in cost share funding to help farmers try a water quality practice and Iowa farmers provided more than $9.3 million of their own resources to support these water quality practices.

USDA Opens More Land for Emergency Haying and Grazing

Today, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is authorizing the use of additional Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands for emergency grazing and haying in and around portions of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota affected by severe drought. USDA is adding the ability for farmers and ranchers in these areas to hay and graze CRP wetland and buffer practices.

“We are working to immediately address the dire straits facing drought-stricken farmers and ranchers,” said Perdue. “USDA is fully considering and authorizing any federal programs or related provisions we have available to meet the immediate needs of impacted producers.”

For CRP practices previously announced, including those authorized today, Secretary Perdue is allowing this emergency action during and after the primary nesting season, where local drought conditions warrant in parts of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota that have reached D2, or “severe”, drought level or greater according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. This includes counties with any part of their border located within 150 miles of authorized counties within the three states, and may extend into Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wyoming. All emergency grazing must end Sept. 30, 2017 and emergency haying must end Aug. 31, 2017.

The Secretary said that epic dry conditions, as high as D4 in some areas, coupled with an intense heatwave have left pastures in poor or very poor condition resulting in the need for ranchers to, at best, supplement grain and hay and at worst, sell their herds.

Landowners interested in emergency haying or grazing of CRP acres should contact the Farm Service Agency (FSA) office and meet with the local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) staff to obtain a modified conservation plan to include emergency haying/grazing.  Individual conservation plans will take into consideration wildlife needs.  CRP participants are reminded that a certain percentage of fields must be left unhayed or ungrazed.

Additional information about the counties approved for emergency haying and grazing and the eligible CRP practices in this area is available at

Record Total Red Meat and Pork Production for June

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.35 billion pounds in June, up 3 percent from the 4.23 billion pounds produced in June 2016.

Beef production, at 2.28 billion pounds, was 4 percent above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.86 million head, up 6 percent from June 2016. The average live weight was down 13 pounds from the previous year, at 1,321 pounds.

Veal production totaled 6.3 million pounds, 1 percent below June a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 40,400 head, up 7 percent from June 2016. The average live weight was down 23 pounds from last year, at 268 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.05 billion pounds, up 2 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 9.87 million head, up 3 percent from June 2016.  The average live weight was down 1 pound from the previous year, at 279 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 12.4 million pounds, was down 7 percent from June 2016. Sheep slaughter totaled 188,000 head, 4 percent below last year. The average live weight was 132 pounds, down 4 pounds from June a year ago.

By State  (million pounds, - % of June '16)

Nebraska ........:         687.6            100      
Iowa ...............:         577.8            102      
Kansas ............:         499.6            106      

January to June 2017 commercial red meat production was 25.4 billion pounds, up 4 percent from 2016. Accumulated beef production was up 5 percent from last year, veal was down 2 percent, pork was up 3 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 5 percent.

NMPF Applauds Senate Appropriations Leaders on Dairy Safety Net Improvements

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) today applauded the inclusion of improvements to both the dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP) and the cotton program in the Senate Appropriations Committee mark-up of its fiscal year 2018 agricultural appropriations bill.

“We very much appreciate the leadership of Sens. Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to help address critical shortcomings in the dairy and cotton safety net programs through the agricultural appropriations bill,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “The enhancements to the dairy Margin Protection Program contained in the bill would strengthen the program and help pave the way for additional necessary improvements in the upcoming farm bill,” Mulhern said.

The appropriations bill makes two important changes to the MPP that were included in NMPF’s farm bill proposal: It would reduce premiums paid by dairy farmers for the first 5 million pounds of milk coverage in the program, as well as change the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s calculation of the actual margin from a two-month average margin to monthly.

“By making the dairy safety net program more affordable,” Mulhern said, “this legislation will ensure that more farmers have access to better protection against catastrophic losses, likes those we experienced in 2009 and 2012. While there is more work to do to make the MPP the effective safety net that it was envisioned to be, these improvements are a great start.”

Mulhern lauded the work by Cochran and Leahy – the chairman and ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, respectively – as well Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Pat Roberts (R-KS), the leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee, for their critical work on this issue. He said NMPF was pleased to work with the four principals to achieve these important improvements for dairy and cotton. “This bi-partisan collaboration is a clear affirmation of how to get important work done,” Mulhern said.

While these provisions do not resolve all the problems with the MPP, Mulhern said enacting these changes will be a major help. “NMPF will continue to work with Congress and the Administration through the farm bill process to address other problems so that the MPP can truly provide real safety net support. While the MPP remains a work in progress, this development is a major step in the right direction.”

June Milk Production up 1.7 Percent

Milk production in the 23 major States during June totaled 16.9 billion pounds, up 1.7 percent from June 2016. May revised production at 17.8 billion pounds, was up 1.9 percent from May 2016. The May revision represented an increase of 17 million pounds or 0.1 percent from last month's preliminary production estimate.

Production per cow in the 23 major States averaged 1,939 pounds for June, 13 pounds above June 2016.  This is the highest production per cow for the month of June since the 23 State series began in 2003.

The number of milk cows on farms in the 23 major States was 8.73 million head, 83,000 head more than June 2016, and 4,000 head more than May 2017.


Milk production in Iowa during June 2017 totaled 426 million pounds, up 2 percent from the previous June according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report. The average number of milk cows during June, at 217,000 head, was the same as last month and 4,000 more than last year. Monthly production per cow averaged 1,965 pounds, the same as last June.

April-June Milk Production up 1.8 Percent

Milk production in the United States during the April - June quarter totaled 55.3 billion pounds, up 1.8 percent from the April - June quarter last year.  The average number of milk cows in the United States during the quarter was 9.40 million head, 29,000 head more than the January - March quarter, and 76,000 head more than the same period last year.


Milk production in Nebraska during the April-June 2017 quarter totaled 360 million pounds, up 3 percent from the April-June quarter last year, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. The average number of milk cows was 60,000 head, unchanged from the same period last year.

NMPF Proposal to Improve H-2A for Dairy Advances Thanks to Rep. Newhouse

In a meeting today with Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern expressed appreciation on behalf of the nation’s dairy farmers for the congressman’s work to advance NMPF’s proposal to expand the H-2A farm worker visa program to include year-round employees on dairy farms.

During consideration Wednesday of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s annual funding bill, Rep. Newhouse offered an amendment that would allow farm employers to use the H-2A visa program to hire foreign workers, regardless of whether those employees are engaged in temporary or seasonal work. NMPF and leaders of its Immigration Task Force worked with Rep. Newhouse and Appropriations Committee leaders to advance the proposal so that dairy farmers can more readily use the H-2A visa program to fill their need for year-round workers. The amendment was adopted by the House Appropriations Committee with bipartisan support.

“Expanding the scope of the H-2A farm worker visa program is part of the continuing effort of NMPF and its members to find solutions to the labor challenges facing America’s dairy industry,” Mulhern said. “Dairy farmers have cows that need to be milked twice a day, every single day, yet they largely have not been able to utilize the H-2A visa program because of how the U.S. Department of Labor interprets the existing program, which restricts the visas only to the temporary and seasonal labor needs of agricultural employers,” he said.

NMPF Immigration Task Force Chairman Mike McCloskey, a Fair Oaks, Ind., dairy farmer, said the H-2A changes are an important first step to address the labor challenges facing U.S. dairy farmers. “We have been working with the administration to correct this, and now, thanks to Rep. Newhouse and many other legislators on both sides of the aisle, we have additional support to prompt the Department of Labor to expand the scope of the H-2A program beyond just seasonal jobs. This will make the H-2A program much more attractive and valuable to America’s dairy farmers.”

While the Newhouse measure has drawn criticism from some farm union organizations, NMPF believes creating an additional legal pathway for workers to connect with farm employers deserves bipartisan support. “This measure simply broadens an existing program for farm workers to recognize the unique needs of dairying,” Mulhern said. “It is critical to the vitality of the U.S. dairy industry and the fate of thousands of farm workers that our government creates and supervises a system that provides secure, legal employment. We hope the merits of this approach will surmount any opposition,” he said.

Mulhern said he was pleased that other dairy groups that have not been involved in this effort have since expressed appreciation for the NMPF-backed proposal. He said NMPF’s Immigration Task Force, which represents NMPF member co-ops and state dairy associations across the country, have been working on these issues for years, and is pleased to see progress in this effort. In addition to working with Rep. Newhouse and leaders of the House Appropriations and Judiciary committees, NMPF’s immigration efforts have involved extensive outreach to Trump Administration officials in a comprehensive effort to address the workforce needs of farm employers.

Beyond the efforts to improve the H-2A program, Mulhern said he is optimistic that NMPF’s work with the House Judiciary Committee will soon result in an agricultural visa program bill.

“This amendment is a great complement to our long relationship and work with House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte and other members of Congress to address the need for a legal, reliable supply of farm workers,” said Mulhern. “We still need broader legislation that addresses the limited labor supply available to America’s farm employers. It’s in the best interest of all parties to acknowledge the deficiencies of the current system, where many of our farm workers are not legally documented, and where many employers don’t have access to a viable guest worker program.”

He added that NMPF and its members “remain committed to a long-term solution to the crisis of farm labor shortages in rural America. We need to maintain our current workforce while creating a sensible, workable means of filling farm jobs in the future. We will continue to work with Congress and the administration toward that end.”

2017 USGC Trade Team Season In Full Swing

The 2017 U.S. Grains Council (USGC) trade team season is in full swing with more than two dozen teams from around the world scheduled to traverse U.S. farm states throughout the summer and fall.

“Trade teams provide truly unique opportunities to help familiarize our international customers with the U.S. grain export system,” said Kimberly Atkins, USGC vice president and chief operating officer. “These face-to-face interactions develop critical connections that open new markets and instill long-term trust in the United States supply chain from the farm to delivery.”

The Council’s trade teams focus on providing a complete look at the U.S. grain or ethanol value chains. As such, they have diverse itineraries that can include visits to seed technology providers, equipment manufacturers, ethanol plants, grain trading companies and transportation facilities in addition to interacting directly with U.S. corn, barley or sorghum farmers.

One such team of craft brewers from Mexico recently completed their trade team visits to Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. The brewers on the team told the Council the trip expanded not only their view of U.S. barley and malt, but also their vision for doing business with U.S. producers.

“We got to see much more about one of our basic ingredients than we ever knew before,” said Alejandro Cortés, the head brewer for Cervecería de Colima, who participated in team activities. “The trip was great in terms of focusing on different parts of barley, from breeding to agronomics and the malthouses as well.”

The ultimate goal of this knowledge gained and these relationships established is increased purchases of U.S. feed grains and co-products. But these outcomes can also build trust with government officials, policy-makers and members of the international press.

A Japanese media team focused on ethanol recently traveled to Washington, D.C., and Nebraska to demonstrate the positive impacts of corn-based ethanol. Like others, members of this trade team took what they learned home to provide better insights and information about U.S. feed grains and co-products.

“By seeing U.S. grain and export systems firsthand, the Council facilitates not only short-term sales, but also long-term, loyal customers,” Atkins said. “Showing the pride that U.S. farmers have in their crops as well as their commitment to provide a high-quality product goes a long way to growing the global grain market.”

NCGA Welcomes McKinney Nomination at USDA

The following is a statement from the National Corn Growers Association on Indiana Agriculture Director Ted McKinney’s nomination for Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a new post created under the 2014 Farm Bill.

“Congratulations to Ted McKinney on being named Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs. NCGA has long advocated for a dedicated position at USDA focused on increasing global demand for U.S. agriculture, and pushed for this in the last farm bill. We thank the Trump Administration for listening, and continuing to move that process forward. Trade is more important than ever for farmers to overcome this challenging farm economy.

“Mr. McKinney is an excellent choice to fill this new role. He has a longstanding record of service to the agriculture industry, and will be a strong advocate for U.S. agriculture on the global stage. We urge the Senate to move quickly to confirm him, so that our industry is in the best position to capitalize on increased global demand for our products.”

“We also thank the Administration for heeding our call for a full leadership team at USDA, making several appointments in the last week. We urge that process to continue. There is much work to be done, and we are eager to work together to build a stronger farm economy and move agriculture forward.”

ASA Supports McKinney, Clovis Nominations at USDA

The American Soybean Association (ASA), which represents growers of the nation’s largest agricultural export, expressed its support today for Ted McKinney to fill the newly established Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs post at USDA, and Sam Clovis as Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics.

“The U.S. exports well over half of the soybeans we produce, and agriculture is one of only a handful of business sectors in the country with a positive trade balance--$17 billion last year. That success abroad leads to success here at home, returning billions to the economy and supporting more than a million jobs. Ted McKinney is a person that understands the global nature of our business, and has represented farmers well in both the public and private sectors,” said ASA President Ron Moore, a soybean farmer from Roseville, Ill. “In his role as director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, and is his previous leadership roles within the agriculture industry, Ted has exemplified the understanding of how as American farmers our work impacts and is impacted by the world around us. ASA supports Ted’s nomination and looks to the Senate to quickly confirm him.”

McKinney’s prospective position in the newly-created Undersecretary for Trade post at USDA is one that ASA and other agriculture groups have long advocated for, including in a letter to the White House in late February.

Moore also added ASA’s support for Clovis, saying that “Dr. Clovis’ Iowa and rural Kansas roots will serve him well as the department moves to serve farmers in the fields of research and economics. Dr. Clovis understands the importance of agricultural research to farmers, our ongoing success, and the success of future generations of farmers. He also is well acquainted with the economic issues facing farmers and ranchers. We will look to Dr. Clovis to help advance USDA’s mission in these important fields.”

U.S. Wheat Organizations Applaud McKinney Nomination for USDA Post

On July 19, 2017, the Trump Administration announced a declaration of intent to nominate Ted McKinney for Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In May, the USDA created the new Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs position, as directed by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“McKinney’s leadership experience as Indiana’s Agriculture Director and longstanding background in trade make him an ideal candidate for this position,” said David Schemm, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and a wheat farmer from Sharon Springs, Kansas. “The U.S. wheat industry applauds the Administration’s choice and calls for a quick confirmation hearing in the Senate.”

Indiana Agriculture Director Ted McKinney spent over 30 years in various roles with Dow AgroSciences and Elanco, a subsidiary of Eli Lilly and Company.

“McKinney has been a champion for U.S. agriculture throughout his career and clearly understands the importance of access to foreign markets,” said Mike Miller, chairman of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and a wheat farmer from Ritzville, Wash. “We look forward to working with him and his team at USDA to expand trade opportunities for U.S. farmers.”

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Wednesday July 19 Ag News

Does High Humidity and Temperature Disrupt Corn Pollination?
Nathan Mueller, Extension Educator, Dodge County

With the high humidity and high temperatures this week, how could this impact corn pollination?  Here is a short summary and highlights from a UNL CropWatch article “How Extended High Heat Disrupts Corn Pollination” written by Tom Hoegemeyer in 2011.
-    High humidity helps reduce crop water demand which is helpful for rainfed corn
-    Corn heat stress can occur starting at about 92 degrees and higher
-    When soil moisture is sufficient, one day of 95-98 degrees has little to not impact on yields.
-    Temperatures above 95 degrees several days in a row will decrease the volume of pollen shed and pollen viability (time that pollen remains viable to fertilize silks)
-    Higher nighttime temperatures burns more sugars that were produced by the plant during photosynthesis during the day. Not ideal for yield potential.
-    Hybrids that silk early compared to pollen shed more at risk of silk desiccation from high temperatures, though less risk with high humidity.
-    Dehiscences, releasing of pollen from anthers (picture above), is triggered by the drop in humidity and a temperature increase. So when extremely humid and lack of drop in humidity in the morning can delay pollen shed until later in the day.

Other facts about corn pollination that are good to remember from Bob Nielsen at Purdue:
-    It only takes one pollen grain per silk. However, “many pollen grains may germinated on a receptive silk.”
-    “Pollen grain germination occurs within minutes after a pollen grain lands on a receptive silk.”
-    “A pollen tube develops and grows inside the silk, and fertilizes the ovule within 24 hours.”
-    “Majority of successful ovule fertilization occurs during the first 4 to 5 days after silk emergence.”
-    “Silks remain receptive to pollen grain germination up to 10 days after silk emergence,”
-    Elongation of an individual silk stops shortly after germination.

More information is available at Mueller's blog at


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Summer heat hit us hard the past few weeks.  How do these high temperatures affect different types of forage plants?

               When it suddenly turns ‘hooey boy’ hot – you know, 90 plus degrees and humidity so thick you can almost see it – cool-season plants suffer along with you and me.  Alfalfa and clovers, bromegrass, orchardgrass, fescues, needlegrasses, and wheatgrasses all struggle during hot weather.

               If you’re old enough, do you remember – before air conditioning – how drained you used to feel after spending a night when the temperature never dropped below 80?  The same thing happens to cool-season forages, resulting in very slow growth, lower forage quality as plants burn up the good nutrients, and limited recovery of root reserves after defoliation.  And if it also is dry these conditions can even become deadly.

               Warm-season grasses are just the opposite.  Millet, sudangrass, sorghums, and our native bluestems, gramas, switchgrass, and other warm-season grasses thrive when the temperature is around 90 degrees.  Their metabolism runs at peak efficiency when it is hot so they grow rapidly while maintaining reasonable forage quality and good root growth.

               Of course, this assumes these plants have adequate moisture.  Once they dry up, these grasses will overheat too, just like cool-season grasses do at lower temperatures.

               As you graze or hay, be aware of the stress weather is putting on your forage.  When it’s too hot, allow plants to recover for a longer time before next use.  And don’t expect high feed values or good animal gains when the nutritional goodies are burned right out of the plants.

               Proper expectations and management adjustments can limit the stress from stressful weather.

August learning circle dates announced for women farmer series

Women farmers and landowners are invited to attend a series of learning circles next month. The circles are led by women farmer-leaders who are supported by Center for Rural Affairs staff. The circle sessions will cover a variety of topics at each gathering.

Learning circles are peer group sessions that consider participants as the experts on their own production, farmland, and conservation needs. Information, experience, and resources are shared at each circle, allowing women to implement what they’ve learned into their own farm business or operation.

“This format provides an opportunity for women to determine what they are most interested in exploring about each topic,” said Kirstin Bailey, project organizer at Center for Rural Affairs. “We based this year’s topics on feedback from the group during last year’s circles.”

There is no charge to attend. Aspiring, beginning, experienced, and retired women farmers are all welcome. Participants can attend the whole series or select sessions. Each learning circle session will include time to ask questions and network with other women. Refreshments will be provided.

Details for each circle are as follows:
-    Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017, 9 to 11 a.m., Diversification, on-farm businesses, and season extension at Great Plains Nursery, 3074 County Rd I, Weston, Nebraska

-    Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, 9 to 11 a.m., Self-care and “Business of the business” at Common Good Farm, 17201 NW 40th St., Raymond, Nebraska

-    Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017, 2 to 5 p.m., Value-added producer grants, getting involved in conservation and policy, micro-creamery tour at Darby Springs Farm, 414 Co Rd. 15, Ceresco, Nebraska

“Women are connecting with one another in a supportive environment,” added Bailey. “The learning circles have helped to create a network that women can turn to for resources.”

For more information, visit, or contact Bailey at or 402.367.8989. This learning circle series is funded in part by a grant from USDA North Central SARE.


As members of a new federally funded bioenergy research center, two Nebraska plant scientists plan to spend the next five years working to expand the oil-producing capability of the sorghum plant.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is one of 15 institutions partnering with the University of Illinois in the $104 million Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation. Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced the new Department of Energy-funded research center July 17.

Biochemistry professor Edgar Cahoon and agronomy and horticulture professor Tom Clemente, members of the university's Center for Plant Science Innovation, will lead Nebraska's part of the project. They expect to receive slightly more than $4 million for their research during the next five years. Their goal is to genetically enhance certain sorghum species so that the stems and leaves contain more oil and less starch. If they can do that, sorghum could rival soybeans in terms of oil production per acre.

"Vegetable oil is more energy-dense than carbohydrates like starch," Cahoon explained.

One advantage of oil-producing sorghum, Clemente said, is that sorghum is a sturdy, drought-tolerant crop that can be grown on more marginal lands than other farm crops.

"The idea is that you wouldn't be displacing land now used to grow corn, soybeans and cotton," Clemente said. "You could grow sorghum on marginal lands and have all of its oil used for industrial purposes."

Illinois, Nebraska and two fellow Big Ten Institutions, the University of Wisconsin and Michigan State University, are amid Department of Energy efforts to develop and use biomass products as a sustainable energy resource. The new center at Illinois will join three previously created bioenergy research centers funded by the Department of Energy: The Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, led by Wisconsin in partnership with Michigan State; the Center for Bioenergy Innovation, led by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and the Joint BioEnergy Institute, led by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

"These centers will accelerate the development of the basic science and technological foundation needed to ensure that American industry and the American public reap the benefits of the new bio-based economy," Perry said in announcing that the Department of Energy would award $40 million to the four research centers during the 2018 fiscal year.

The Illinois-based center will focus on three general priorities – the development of high-tech feedstocks that can synthesize the molecules for bioproducts and biofuels directly in plant stems; new biologically based conversion systems to efficiently produce biodiesel, organic acids, jet fuels and other high-value molecules; and a sustainability framework to measure the project's bottom line in terms of economics and the environment.

Part of the feedstocks priority, Nebraska's research is to focus on sweet sorghum and biomass sorghum, tall plants whose leaves and stems now are used to make ethanol. Clemente and Cahoon are among researchers nationally who are investigating whether sorghum's novel chemistry and lignin content could produce high-value molecules that could replace petroleum in lubricants and plastics – even jet fuel.

Other researchers have been able to produce oil in tobacco, which has a broad leaf, but more work is needed to transfer the trait to a grassy plant like sorghum, Clemente said.

Among other center partners, the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, Iowa State University, the University of Illinois and the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville, Alabama, also will be exploring whether sorghum can be modified to produce more oil, Clemente and Cahoon said.

A key advantage is the center's laboratory-to-field-to-processing approach, Clemente said. After new plant varieties are developed in scientists' laboratories, they can be grown and processed on a pilot basis at Illinois' large-scale facilities.

Nebraska Producers Have Until Aug. 1 to Submit FSA County Committee Nominations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Acting Executive Director for Nebraska, Mike Sander, today reminded farmers and ranchers they have until Aug. 1, 2017, to nominate eligible candidates to serve on local FSA county committees.

County committees are made up of farmers and ranchers elected by other producers in their communities to guide the delivery of farm programs at the local level. Committee members play a critical role in the day-to-day operations of FSA. In Nebraska, committees consist of three to seven members and meet once a month or as needed to make important decisions on disaster and conservation programs, emergency programs, commodity price support loan programs, county office employment and other agricultural issues. Members serve three-year terms. Nationwide there are over 7,700 farmers and ranchers serving on FSA county committees.

“The August 1 deadline is quickly approaching,” said Sander. “If you know of a great candidate or want to nominate yourself to serve on your local county committee, go to your county FSA office right now and submit the nomination form. I especially encourage the nomination of beginning farmers and ranchers, as well as women and minorities. This is your opportunity to have a say in how federal programs are delivered in your county.”

To be eligible to serve on an FSA county committee, a person must participate or cooperate in an agency administered program and reside in the local administrative area where the election is being held. A complete list of eligibility requirements, more information and nomination forms are available at

All nominees must sign the nomination form FSA-669A. All nomination forms for the 2017 election must be postmarked or received in the local FSA county office by Aug. 1, 2017. Ballots will be mailed to eligible voters by Nov. 6 and are due back to the local USDA Service Centers on Dec. 4. The newly-elected county committee members will take office Jan. 1, 2018.

Corn Congress Elects Four Growers to Serve on Corn Board in FY18

Delegates attending the National Corn Growers Association's Corn Congress in Washington this morning elected four farmers to serve on the organization's Corn Board.  Taking office on Oct. 1, the start of NCGA's 2018 fiscal year, are new board members Brandon Hunnicutt of Nebraska, Gary Porter of Missouri and Kenneth Hartman of Illinois. Current board member Don Glenn of Alabama was re-elected. All four were elected to three-year terms.

"NCGA had an impressive slate of candidates for the Corn Board, with many growers who already have an extensive history of service to American agriculture," NCGA Chairman Chip Bowling, who chairs the nominating committee, said. "It encourages me to see such an interest on the part of these growers, particularly at this time when our industry faces so many challenges. I am certain they will be a valuable addition to the board and look forward to see what they do for corn farmers in the years to come."
The NCGA Corn Board represents the organization on all matters while directing both policy and supervising day-to-day operations. Board members represent the federation of state organizations, supervise the affairs and activities of NCGA in partnership with the chief executive officer and implement NCGA policy established by the Corn Congress. Members also act as spokesmen for the NCGA and enhance the organization's public standing on all organizational and policy issues.

Mexican Ambassador Addresses Corn Congress Delegation

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has benefited both the American and Mexican agriculture industries, and Mexico is optimistic about the prospects of modernizing the trade agreement, Mexican Ambassador Gerónimo Gutiérrez told more than 200 corn farmers gathered today in Washington at the National Corn Growers Association’s semiannual meeting.

“Our agricultural trade through NAFTA has been a success for all parties,” said Ambassador Gutiérrez. “The challenge is that none of us should stay in our comfort zone. If we want to achieve a win-win trade modernization, we must keep active. There is no guaranteed outcome.”

Ambassador Gutiérrez expressed a strong desire to continue strengthening agricultural trade between the U.S. and Mexico, but he also acknowledged that Mexico must keep its options open and is looking to other markets to secure his nation’s grain supply.

NCGA President Wesley Spurlock thanked the Ambassador for his remarks and echoed the importance of NAFTA to U.S. corn farmers.

“NAFTA has made the agriculture industry stronger in both the U.S. and Mexico. We thank Ambassador Gutiérrez for his remarks today, and we share his desire to protect a strong agriculture trade relationship between our countries,” said Spurlock.

“The Ambassador engaged in a productive dialogue with our farmers, who will be on Capitol Hill this week reinforcing the importance of a trade policy that strengthens existing markets such as Mexico and develops new ones to ensure U.S. agriculture keeps its global competitive edge,” said Spurlock.

Earlier this week, the Trump Administration released its NAFTA negotiating objectives ahead of modernization talks, which are scheduled to begin later this summer.

“We are encouraged that the Administration’s NAFTA objectives reflect that the Trump Administration has been listening to corn farmers and other voices in agriculture on trade,” said Spurlock. “We look forward to continuing our close collaboration with the Administration as the hard work of NAFTA modernization begins.”

Anhydrous, Urea Prices Push Lower

For the second straight week, retail fertilizer prices are showing significant movement after five months of holding mostly steady, according to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN. Prices for all eight of the major fertilizers were lower the second week of July 2017 compared to a month earlier.

As the fertilizer application season wraps up for this growing season, retail prices are beginning to decrease with lower demand.

Anhydrous is 10% lower compared to last month while urea is 5% less expensive. Anhydrous had an average price of $451 per ton while urea was at $321/ton.

The remaining six fertilizers had just slightly lower prices compared to last month. DAP had an average price of $436/ton, MAP $467/ton, potash $340/ton, 10-34-0 $431/ton, UAN28 $235/ton and UAN32 $268/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.35/lb.N, anhydrous $0.28/lb.N, UAN28 $0.42/lb.N and UAN32 $0.42/lb.N.

Prices of all retail fertilizers are lower compared to a year earlier. Five of the eight major fertilizers are double digits lower.

10-34-0 is 20% lower from a year ago while anhydrous is 17% less expensive, UAN32 is 13% lower, UAN28 is 12% less expensive and urea is 11% less expensive. DAP is 7% lower, MAP is 6% less expensive and potash is 5% lower.

Pork Checkoff Announces #RealPigFarming Student Social Forces

The Pork Checkoff has selected 12 college students to represent the #RealPigFarming Student Social Forces team this year. Candidates were selected based on their involvement in the pork industry and their strong communication skills. The team will be active from July until December. 

“Social media is ingrained in young people’s lives,” said Claire Masker, public relations director for the Pork Checkoff. “It’s easy for them to share their thoughts about an industry that they are proud to be a part of through the various social media channels available to them.”

Tori Abner - Texas A&M University - Howe, Texas
Hannah Rehder - North Dakota State University - Moorhead, Minnesota
Brooke Sieren - Iowa State University - Keota, Iowa
Edan Lambert -     Iowa State University - Orange City, Iowa
Katelyn Lowery - North Carolina State University - Clayton, North Carolina
Taylor Homann - University of Minnesota - Pipestone, Minnesota
Amy Lund - Iowa State University - Polk City, Iowa
Kristin Liepold - University of Minnesota - Okabena, Minnesota
Hunter Everett - North Carolina State University - Mebane, North Carolina
Jenna Chance -     Kansas State University - Lebanon, Indiana
Megan Anderson - The Pennsylvania State University - Schellsburg, Pennsylvania
Julia Hay - Texas A&M University - Somerset, Pennsylvania

Consumers continue to have questions about how pigs are raised, and no one knows the answers better than pork producers. The Pork Checkoff’s social media outreach program is helping real farmers share real stories with consumers through #RealPigFarming. The hashtag (#) before Real Pig Farming helps people search social media posts with the same phrase, making it easier for them to follow conversations.

"I am excited to have this opportunity to share my Real Pig Farming story with consumers searching for answers about where their pork comes from,” said Edan Lambert, one of the newly selected members of the #RealPigFarming Student Social Forces and a student at Iowa State University.

“The social forces team will be encouraged to use #RealPigFarming as advocates for the pork industry,” Masker said. “Through social forces, the students will be able to improve their communications skills and expand their professional network within the industry.”

Perdue Applauds President Trump for Selections of McKinney & Clovis for USDA Posts

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today applauded President Donald J. Trump’s declaration of intent to nominate Ted McKinney for Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs and Dr. Sam Clovis for Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics.

In May, USDA created the new position of Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs as directed by the 2014 Farm Bill.  Secretary Perdue issued the following statements:

Regarding Ted McKinney:

“For our new under secretary position emphasizing international trade, I have always said that I want someone who wakes up every morning asking how we can sell more American agricultural products in foreign markets. Ted McKinney is that person. His longstanding background in agriculture, economic development, and global issues will make him an unapologetic advocate for U.S. products in the world marketplace.”

Regarding Dr. Sam Clovis:

“Dr. Clovis was one of the first people through the door at USDA in January and has become a trusted advisor and steady hand as we continue to work for the people of agriculture. He looks at every problem with a critical eye, relying on sound science and data, and will be the facilitator and integrator we need. Dr. Clovis has served this nation proudly since he was a very young man, and I am happy he is continuing to serve.”

House Agriculture Committee Rallies Behind Updates to Rural Infrastructure

Today, the House Agriculture Committee held a hearing examining the state of infrastructure in rural America. Chairman K. Michael Conaway (TX-11), Ranking Member Collin Peterson (MN-7) and members of the committee heard from witnesses on opportunities to renew infrastructure in America’s heartland. Following the hearing, Chairman Conaway and Ranking Member Peterson made the below remarks: 

“America’s heartland deserves to be front-and-center as we look to upgrade our aging infrastructure,” said Chairman Conaway. “From rural broadband, to ag research, to transportation – rural America faces its own set of challenges and considerations and today’s hearing highlighted some of those. Take for instance producers in farm country, if they can’t get their commodities to market, it’s not just rural America that suffers, but also urban America. Our manufacturing sector depends on products produced in the heartland to create the ‘made in America’ products that create jobs and grow our economy. I applaud the president for drawing attention to this important matter and appreciate the efforts of the Rebuild Rural coalition to share rural America's story with the rest of our nation."

“A strong rural infrastructure is necessary for our rural areas to remain vital but our rural economy faces unique infrastructure challenges. It’s surprising to a lot of folks but broadband access is lacking in many of these areas. I appreciated today’s discussion on ways to expand service to rural residents,” said Ranking Member Peterson. “There are a lot of pieces to the infrastructure puzzle which is why it’s so important they work together. Access to clean water, reliable electricity, state of the art health care services and affordable housing are all necessary for farmers and ranchers to do their jobs and to maintain a certain quality of life in our rural areas. Adequate flood control is another essential infrastructure tool, especially in my area.”

Panel I Witnesses
-  Mr. Tom Halverson, President and CEO, CoBank, Washington, DC, on behalf of the Farm Credit System
-  Dr. Thomas G. Coon, Vice President, Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, on behalf of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU)
-  Mr. Rick Calhoun, Former President, Cargo Carriers, Cargill, Inc., Silver Spring, MD, on behalf of the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA)
-  Mr. Curtis Wynn, President and CEO, Roanoke Electric Cooperative, Ahoskie, NC, on behalf of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA)
-  Ms. Jennifer L. Otwell, Vice President and General Manager, Totelcom Communications, LLC, De Leon, TX, on behalf of the Rural Broadband Association (NTCA)
-  Mr. Brian E. MacManus, General Manager, East Rio Hondo Water Supply Corporation, Rio Hondo, TX, on behalf of the Texas Rural Water Association and the National Rural Water Association (NRWA)

NGFA: Invest now in nation's transportation infrastructure or fall farther behind

The United States needs to make more strategic, significant and predictable investments in the U.S. transportation infrastructure or risk having U.S. agriculture lose its competitive export advantage to foreign countries, the National Grain and Feed Association told Congress today.

"Over the last decade, I have witnessed an alarming decline in the historical competitive advantage that our transportation infrastructure has provided U.S. agriculture, and the corresponding increase in investment in critical infrastructure being made by our foreign competitors," said Rick Calhoun, former president of Cargo Carriers, Cargill Inc.'s marine operations business unit, who testified on NGFA's behalf at a hearing on rural infrastructure conducted by the House Agriculture Committee. "We welcome the critically needed renewed sense of urgency by this Congress and the Trump administration to enact an infrastructure package that includes a reliable funding mechanism to renovate our dilapidated inland waterways system, as well as to restore rural roads and bridges. Both are essential to the future vibrancy of rural communities and competitiveness of U.S. agriculture."

Historically, the United States has been blessed with a transportation system where the four major modes of transportation - truck, rail, barge and ocean-going vessels - complement and to an extent compete with one another, noted Calhoun, who chaired NGFA's Waterborne Commerce Committee. The U.S. inland waterways, which constitute the most economical, fuel efficient and environmentally friendly mode, are used to transport about two-thirds of the U.S. grains and oilseeds destined for export while U.S. ports help move more than 90 percent of those shipments. But the NGFA noted the United States is spending less on its transportation infrastructure - the lowest since World War II measured as a percentage of gross domestic product - while major foreign competitors are increasing theirs.

Calhoun said stronger federal investments in U.S. locks, dams and ports and would help chip away at the backlog of critical inland waterways projects that remain unfunded. Noting that the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund currently has a $9 billion surplus, he said Congress also should direct those funds to be spent for their intended purpose - to maintain U.S. ports and harbors, including dredging activities.

The NGFA touted as a successful public-private partnership the 50 percent funding of inland waterway locks and dams already provided by commercial users of the system, including farmers, agribusinesses and the barge and towing industry. Since 1978, the federal government has assessed a barge diesel user fee on commercial users now set at 29 cents per gallon, which is deposited into the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF) and ostensibly matched by federal appropriations. The NGFA asked legislators to consider how other beneficiaries of the inland waterways system that do not pay, such as recreational users and hydropower and flood-control recipients, could contribute financially to its modernization without imposing counterproductive lockage fees and tolling on inland waterways, which have been rejected repeatedly on a bipartisan basis by Congress dating to the Clinton administration.

"Imposing additional costs on those utilizing commercial barge transportation - on top of the 50 percent cost-share that farmers and the private sector already pays into the IWTF - would risk diverting traffic from the most efficient mode of transportation available to U.S. agriculture, further congesting U.S. highways and resulting in higher rail freight rates ultimately paid by farmers," Calhoun said.

Regarding rural bridges and roadways, the NGFA suggested that Congress explore prioritizing increases in federal funding, reclassifying rural roads and bridges to be eligible for funding, and developing a system of block grants so states and localities could prioritize road and bridge projects that they deem most important, with input from the agricultural sector and rural communities.

"The road to feeding a growing country and world population will be met by looking forward, not through the rear-view mirror," Calhoun concluded. "Let's not let just under $9 billion stand in the way of our ability to feed our country and the soon to be 9 billion people around the globe."

Next Week at the Agriculture Committee

House Committee on Agriculture advises the following committee hearing:
Renegotiating NAFTA: Opportunities for Agriculture
Full Committee – Public Hearing
Wednesday, July 26, 2017 – 10:00 a.m.
1300 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C.

Upon announcing the hearing, Chairman K. Michael Conaway (TX-11) issued the following statement:

“As the administration prepares to renegotiate NAFTA, agriculture needs to keep its foot on the gas to ensure their interests are known and reflected in the agreement. The administration has already outlined key objectives for ag, such as expanding market opportunities and tightening enforcement, and I look forward to hearing from our witnesses about opportunities to achieve the best deal possible for American agriculture.”

NCGA Statement on Sen. Inhofe’s Anti-Ethanol Floor Speech

The following is a statement from the National Corn Growers Association in response to Sen. Jim Inhofe’s (R-Oklahoma) floor speech today in opposition to S. 517, the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act.

“Senator Inhofe’s remarks, while unfortunate, are no surprise given his longtime opposition to ethanol. The nation’s corn farmers would like to assure Senator Inhofe that, despite his claims to the contrary, corn productivity has increased significantly over the past 10 years, going from an average of 150 bushels per acre in 2007 to 174.6 bushels per acre in 2016. Today’s efficient farmers produce more than enough corn to meet feed, food, and fuel needs, in an increasingly sustainable manner. Corn farmers are also proud that, based on actual corn and ethanol production experience over the past 10 years, ethanol currently results in 43 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline.

“We appreciate the efforts of Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska) and her Senate colleagues who are working to advance this bill. NCGA supports giving consumers choice, especially a choice they can make to improve the environment, enhance vehicle performance, and save money. We encourage Senators to support this straightforward red-tape removal.”

Growth Energy: E15 Bill is About Protecting Consumer Choice

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor released the following statement in response to Sen. Jim Inhofe’s (R-Okla.) floor speech today in opposition to the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act (S. 517):

“This bill is about protecting consumer choice year-round for a legal fuel that is better for the environment, improves engine performance, and saves Americans money at the pump. We stand firm that Congress should put the needs of consumers ahead of the oil industry.

“E15 is a federally approved fuel for all cars made since 2001. It boosts octane, saves consumers up to 10 cents per gallon, and improves the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and displacing toxic additives in gasoline. Consumers have recently surpassed 1 billion miles driven on the fuel, and it is now available at more than 900 retail sites across 29 states. Drivers are demanding E15, and more retailers are offering it every day.

“However, due to an outdated regulation that hasn’t been updated since 1990, gas stations are forced to restrict their sales to flex-fuel vehicles only, or remove it from sale altogether between June 1 and September 15. That means that when gas prices are at their peak, consumers are denied the choice of an affordable, cleaner option for their cars.

“A vote against this bill is a vote against consumers — it’s saying that you don’t trust consumers to make their own choices at the pump. In fact, Growth Energy released a survey showing that U.S. small engine owners are pleased with the performance of their fuel and find it easy to pick the best option, including regular unleaded blends of 10 percent ethanol (E10).

“This legislation is a common-sense fix that has bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. We applaud the bill’s champions in the Senate for keeping the focus where it needs to be — ensuring year-round consumer savings at the pump.”

Ag Workforce Coalition Praises Rep. Newhouse for Championing Farm Labor Issues in Appropriations Process

Members of the Agricultural Workforce Coalition (AWC) today praised Representative Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) for leading the effort in the appropriations process to address agriculture’s labor crisis. Two amendments--offered by Congressman Newhouse in House Appropriations Committee markups of FY 2018 government funding bills—would make reforms to the H-2A visa program in an effort to patch a broken program.

The first, offered and accepted last week during consideration of the FY 2018 Agriculture Appropriations bill, would allow ag employers to utilize Section 514 housing for both domestic and H-2A workers where the units are currently unoccupied. Section 514 provides loans to producers to buy, build or improve housing for farm workers but those admitted through H-2A are currently ineligible.

The second, considered and approved during markup of the FY 2018 Homeland Security spending bill, would amend the H-2A program to allow employers to utilize it for work that is not temporary or seasonal. This would give producers with year-round labor needs a new option as they look to fill jobs on their farms.

“As both a farmer and a former state commissioner of agriculture, Congressman Newhouse knows firsthand that the H-2A program is a bureaucratic nightmare and is currently unusable for large segments of agriculture; yet he also realizes that it is the only program available to help meet the severe labor shortages faced by farmers and ranchers across commodities and across the country,” the Coalition said. “While our ultimate goal is a permanent solution to our current and future labor needs, these two amendments would help ease some of these burdens and give farmers added flexibility. We thank Mr. Newhouse for continuing to be a champion for America’s farmers, ranchers and growers and we look forward to working to ensure these provisions are retained as the appropriations process moves forward.”

Tomi Lahren to Keynote R-CALF USA Convention

Tomi Lahren, a conservative political commentator and rising star of social media will be the keynote speaker at R-CALF USA's 18th Annual Convention to be held Aug. 25 and 26 at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel in Rapid City, S.D. Last year, BBC News stated Lahren was "bigger than Trump on Facebook." Her Facebook page has more than 4.4 million followers.

Lahren's family is from Rapid City and her uncle is a cattle rancher near Mobridge, S.D.

R-CALF USA members will host a members-only meet-and-greet with Lahren at 5:00 p.m. on August 26, which will be followed by the group's banquet. Lahren will speak after the banquet at 7:00 p.m.

Lahren's speech titled, "Making the Dinner Table American Again," is appropriate for the R-CALF USA group of American ranchers who have spent longer than a decade trying to convince defiant administrations and a stubborn Congress to require all beef to be labeled as to its country of origin.

The general public is invited to attend Lahren's 7 p.m. speech for a nominal fee of $10.00 per person. The fee must be paid in advance at or by mailing a check payable to R-CALF USA/Tomi, PO Box 30715, Billings, MT 59107.

HBO's VICE NEWS will be following Lahren at the convention as she interacts with America's ranchers.

"More than any other person, Tomi helped us to communicate to the world that the meatpacking cartel is destroying opportunities for American ranchers, which has forced about 9,000 ranchers to exit America's cattle industry each year since the mid-90s," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.

In early January, Lahren hosted R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard on her Facebook to discuss how the loss of mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) for beef was harming American ranchers and American consumers.

Lahren's 15-minute interview with Bullard attracted 725,000 Facebook viewers while her solo commentary on how the American rancher has been drop kicked by both political parties attracted an amazing 5.3 million views.

In February, Lahren hosted an encore segment about the plight of the American rancher and the loss of COOL, this time featuring Wyoming rancher Dr. Taylor Haynes, a former R-CALF USA Director and retired medical doctor. A remarkable two million people viewed Lahren's interview with Haynes.

"We are honored and grateful that Tomi has agreed to speak at our convention. She continues to help us disprove the propaganda the meatpacking cartel, which includes the check-off funded NCBA (National Cattlemen's Beef Association), uses to seek favors on Capitol Hill - favors that hurt American ranchers like repealing COOL for beef and delaying rules that protect the competitiveness of the American ranchers' cattle markets," Bullard said.

U.S. Should Enforce Trade Agreements, NFU Says

National Farmers Union (NFU) joined a number of other manufacturing and agricultural organizations to support the U.S. Department of Commerce’s decision to investigate aluminum and steel imports under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. Should the investigation determine that imports threaten national security, the administration is authorized to act to protect the U.S. domestic steel and aluminum industries.

In a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross yesterday, the group emphasized that the investigation is a “crucial opportunity to protect national security, rebuild the U.S. economy, and counter strategic economic tactics of foreign countries.”

In addition to expressing thanks, the coalition urged Secretary Ross to enforce trade rules as a means to address trade distortions, foreign government subsidies, and global overcapacity. “The U.S. manufacturing and agriculture industries have been undermined by years of public policies that failed to neutralize foreign mercantilism and enabled decay of many important U.S. industries,” noted the letter. “As a leader among nations, the U.S. has the responsibility, indeed the obligation, to revise and adjust its policies to match the needs of the modern world.”

NFU President Roger Johnson reaffirmed support for the investigation. “Full implementation of trade rules is essential to ensure trade partners meet their obligations,” Johnson said. “Agriculture has certainly benefitted from international trade and from trade enforcement actions. But too often, a fear of retaliation has led to a lack of enforcement, which ultimately hurts family farmers. For the sake of fair trade and domestic security, we should not shy away from enforcing trade agreements.”

“As the U.S. appropriately moves to reduce our enormous trade deficit, we must act with conviction, tenacity, and wisdom,” Johnson concluded.

Valent U.S.A. and ASA’s New Ag Voices of the Future Program Offers Students an Education on Ag Policy in Washington, D.C.

Eight college students from five states have completed the inaugural Ag Voices of the Future program hosted in Washington, D.C. The program, sponsored by Valent U.S.A. and the American Soybean Association (ASA), provides an opportunity for young people to improve their understanding of major policy issues that impact soybean farmers, the importance of advocacy, and careers that can shape agricultural policy. The class was held July 10-13, in conjunction with the ASA Board Meeting and Soy Issues Forum in Washington, D.C.

An application process for the program was initiated in the spring, and the following students were selected to participate in this year’s program:
• Corbin Bell, Missouri
• Kelsey Cassebaum, Alabama
• Mason Gordon, Indiana
• Evan Jackson, Kentucky
• Will Nalley, Kentucky
• William Raftis, Illinois
• Kelsey Smith, Illinois
• Abigail Steinkamp, Indiana

“More and more, regulations that impact the ag industry are being directed by legislative and regulatory leadership many generations removed from the farm,” said Jeffrey Smith, industry affairs manager for Valent. “We believe the best way to ensure sound regulation is to encourage more young leaders with a practical understanding of ag production to consider careers based in Washington, D.C. Valent appreciates the opportunity to partner with ASA to identify, develop and direct these future leaders to have a positive impact on the issues facing soybean farmers and the crop protection industry.”

The new Ag Voices of the Future program is designed to give young people, with a connection to the farm, an education on major policy issues and advocacy, and encourage these future leaders to consider careers within agriculture associations and industry, as well as government regulatory and legislative positions.

“It’s important that young people have an understanding of the important policy issues that directly impact the productivity and economic well-being of our farms and the soybean industry,” said ASA President Ron Moore, a farmer from Roseville, Ill. “ASA appreciates Valent’s support of this valuable program that helps to cultivate future voices for agriculture in Washington.”

The three-and-a-half day program was packed with activities and valuable networking opportunities including the chance to hear from ASA and Valent’s Washington representatives and a Senate Ag Committee staff member about their current positions and past career experience. The group also attended an ASA policy issues briefing, Capitol Hill visits with farmer-leaders, a visit to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a presentation from an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) representative, and a meeting at CropLife America’s office for additional education on talking with consumers about modern agriculture.

WD-40 Launches Product Line for Ag Equipment

A dusty blue-and-yellow can of WD-40 is a common sight in farm shops across the U.S. Now, the company is hoping a new lineup of specialized greases will also prove to be invaluable for keeping farm machinery in top condition.

In particular, farmers may be able to put the Superior Performance True Multi-Purpose Grease to many good uses, according to WD-40 brand manager Shannon Edwards.

"We think it's the only grease you'll ever need," she says. "It's reliable at temperatures above 650*F, it's water-resistant against rust and corrosion, and it's engineered for heavy duty applications for the farming industry."

Edwards says there are no storage concerns or restrictions, and that the grease has been tested on a broad range of farm equipment.

"It's a pretty lengthy list we go through," she says.

All products are compatible with each other, according to Edwards. They are currently available at Home Depot, with distribution efforts underway to additional automotive retailers and tractor supply stores.