Thursday, March 5, 2015

Wednesday March 4 Ag News

NEBRASKA FARM REAL ESTATE VALUES SLIP 3 PERCENT IN LAST YEAR

After five years of increases in Nebraska farmland values, the state average dropped 3 percent, according to preliminary findings released today by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

      The state average farmland value as of Feb. 1 was $3,210 per acre, down 3 percent from the 2014 average of $3,416. Average farmland values in six of the state's eight districts (illustrated in the accompanying state map) decreased or remained the same.

      The average land value in the southwest district increased by 4 percent to $2,055 an acre while the value in the north district increased 7 percent to $1,300.

      Average farmland values for the other six districts and the percentage decrease from 2014 were: northwest, $855 (0); northeast, $6,320 (minus-2 percent); central, $3,995 (minus-5 percent); east, $6,570 (minus-10 percent); south, $4,785 (minus-1 percent); and southeast, $5,875 (minus-5 percent).

      Generally, grazing and haying land-use categories showed increases while irrigated and dryland cropland showed smaller increases or decreases. The statewide average value for hay land increased 20 percent from 2014, the highest of any statewide land use category. The state average for non-tillable grazing land increased 12 percent; tillable grazing land increased 7 percent.

      "Land classes that support the cow-calf industry are improving or holding steady due to a strong return in that market over the last one to two years," said Jim Jansen, UNL extension educator and co-author of the Nebraska Farm Real Estate Market Developments survey. 

      The survey covers the period from Feb. 1, 2014, to Feb. 1, 2015, and is reported in the current Cornhusker Economics, written by Jansen and Roger Wilson, UNL Farm Management Budget Analyst. The article is available online at agecon.unl.edu/cornhuskereconomics. Cornhusker Economics is a publication of the UNL Department of Agricultural Economics.

      "Irrigated crop ground classes, including center pivot or gravity irrigated, did not decline as quickly in value as the dryland categories. Their yields, and similarly their revenues, are not as variable as the dryland acres," Jansen said. "That's why we're still seeing some pretty strong values there."

      The state average decrease for gravity-irrigated land was 4 percent and for center pivot-irrigated land it was 2 percent, compared with a 10 percent decrease for dryland acres with irrigation potential and a 9 percent decrease for dryland acres with no irrigation potential.

      "Bearish comments reported by survey participants indicated lower expected grain and oilseed prices led to the lower tends in dryland cropland values in Nebraska," Jansen wrote.

      The higher grazing and hay land prices may reflect the $532.5 million in federal disaster relief that Nebraska livestock growers had received as of Jan. 6 for 2012-14 forage losses because of drought.

      "These payments lessened the impact of prior losses and may have provided financial incentive to expand cattle herds and add resources to change the size or scope of an operation," Jansen said.

      Comments from survey participants indicated a bullish outlook for classes of land that support the cow-calf industry and a more varied outlook for cropland where expectations were tied to the commodities being raised on the land.

      "Pasture and cow-calf pair rental rates continued to set new records for 2015," the authors reported. Cash rental rates for pasture in all regions increased, ranging from 4 percent in the north to 34 percent in the central and southwest. Cow-calf pair rental rates across Nebraska for the upcoming five-month grazing season in 2015 average about $50 per month or $250 for the season.

      Rates based on cow-calf pairs were unchanged in the central district but increased in all other districts, with the southwest, south and southeast showing the largest increases at 35, 45 and 50 percent, respectively.

      Changes in cash rental rates for cropland ranged from an increase of 5 percent for dryland parcels in central Nebraska to a drop of 18 percent for center pivot-irrigated cropland in the southwest district, with most cropland decreasing 5 to 15 percent.

      Land managers voiced concerns about increasing property taxes at a time when commodity prices had dropped and land prices were just starting to fall off, Jansen said.

      "Folks are trying to negotiate higher rents while tenants are feeling profit margins starting to decrease due to lower commodity prices, creating a tug-of-war throughout the crop and livestock land classes," he said.

      This may be a good year for landlords and tenants to look at the benefits of flexible cash leases, Jansen said. With flexible cash leases, both parties agree to a base rental rate and an additional amount that flexes around crop yield, crop price or crop revenue (yield times price). More information is available in the UNL publication Flexible Cash Leasing of Cropland at http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/sendIt/ec862.pdf.

      Results are preliminary findings from the UNL 2015 Nebraska Farm Real Estate Market Survey. 

      Land values and rental rates presented in the report are an average of survey participants' responses by district. Actual land values and rental rates may vary depending upon the quality of the parcel and local market for an area. Preliminary land values and rental rates are subject to change as additional surveys are returned. Final results will be published in early June and will be available electronically on the Nebraska Farm Real Estate website at http://agecon.unl.edu/realestate.html.



Nebraska Farmers Union Sponsors College Students Attendance to College Conference on Cooperatives
19 agricultural students and their professors from 3 different Nebraska Colleges traveled to Minneapolis, Minnesota February 19-22 to learn about cooperatives under the guidance of Nebraska Farmers Union.  The participating colleges included Northeast Community College at Norfolk, Southeast Community College at Beatrice, and Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture at Curtis.  The College Conference on Cooperatives brought more than 150 attendees from 25 states and Puerto Rico.

The Cooperative Conference participants learned how cooperative businesses are adapting to changing environments and heard from cooperative experts from across the nation on why member-owned businesses are thriving in industries ranging from senior housing to healthcare. They also toured the CHS (Cenex Harvest States) Headquarters, housing coops, food coops, and the Mill City Flour Museum. “This is an opportunity for the cooperative community to teach young people about cooperative business principles and to show them that there are great careers in these dynamic, ethical and community-minded businesses,” said NFU President Roger Johnson.

Students heard from cooperative leaders, farmers and government experts who explained current challenges they face. Presenters ranged from members, directors, employees and managers of traditional and value-added agricultural cooperatives to representatives of housing and worker-owned co-ops, as well as consumer cooperatives such as REI outdoor goods and natural foods co-ops. These professionals offered insights on cooperative development here and abroad.

The conference evaluations revealed that 48% of the students in attendance were from farms or ranches, 17% were rural, 21% were from small towns, and the remaining 14% were urban. Picard said, “The College Cooperative Conference helps make more students aware career options and tools that can be used to create the economic opportunities needed to help our rural youth stay in their communities.   We are pleased to partner with these Nebraska colleges to help send Nebraska kids to this Conference.”

The annual College Cooperative Conference is co-sponsored by the CHS Foundation in cooperation with the National Farmers Union Foundation.  Nebraska Farmers Union was awarded a grant from the CHS Foundation to help defray the attendance costs for the Nebraska participants.



SOIL TEST NEW AND ESTABLISHED ALFALFA

Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist


               Alfalfa is a hungry crop.  Proper fertilizing in spring often is needed to feed alfalfa so it will produce profitable yields.  So what are your fertilizer plans?

               How much fertilizer should you apply to alfalfa?  With increasing fertilizer costs and strong land use competition from other crops, the only way to answer that question intelligently is to first get a soil test.  Soil tests tell you the amount of each nutrient your soil can provide to your alfalfa plants.  Then you can determine how much more fertilizer, if any, should be applied for maximum profits.

               Remember that alfalfa gets most of its nitrogen from the air if the plant roots are well-nodulated.  So usually you are just wasting money and fertilizer if you fertilize with nitrogen.  However, all other nutrients must come from the soil or from fertilizer.

               Many soils in our region provide high quantities of most nutrients.  But very few soils provide all the nutrients needed for top alfalfa yields.  So fertilizer often is needed.

               Collect soil samples as soon as frost is gone from existing alfalfa fields and also from fields you expect to plant to alfalfa this spring or next fall.  Send these samples to a lab for analyses of at least phosphorus and soil pH.  If your field is sandy, eroded, or highly weathered, also test for potassium and sulfur.

               Most important of all, use the results of these soil tests, with advice from your extension educator and fertilizer dealer, to develop an alfalfa fertilizer program designed for your conditions.  Better alfalfa profits will be the result.



 Agriculture Under Secretary Scuse Leads USDA Trade Mission to Southeast Asia March 9-13


Leaders from six state agriculture departments and 21 U.S. agribusinesses and organizations will accompany U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary Michael Scuse on a trade mission to Southeast Asia from March 9 to March 13 to expand export opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products in one of the world's fastest-growing markets.

"U.S. agricultural exports to Southeast Asia have been on the rise thanks to strong economic growth and increasing demand for high-value products in the region," said Scuse, who leads USDA's Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services mission area. "With this growth expected to continue, the region holds significant untapped market potential for U.S. exporters."

"I am especially pleased to be traveling with a broad cross-section of U.S. agricultural interests who represent every region of the country and will help me showcase the quality, variety and abundance of farm and food products produced for export by the United States," Scuse said.

Scuse noted that the majority of participating companies are small- or medium-sized enterprises and many are owned by women, minorities and veterans.

The delegation will travel to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Manila, Philippines, and will also meet with potential customers from Burma and Thailand while in Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia, the Philippines, Burma and Thailand boast a combined population of 262 million. As members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), these countries are already strong trading partners of the United States. U.S. exports of food and agricultural products to the four countries have doubled over the past five years, from $2.7 billion in fiscal year 2009 to $5.4 billion in 2014.

Mission participants include representatives from the Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia departments of agriculture, as well as the following companies and organizations:
    Bridgepathway LLC; Jericho, N.Y.
    Case New Holland; New Holland, Pa.
    Consolidated Grain and Barge Co.; Princeton, Ill.
    Crown Nut Co.; Tracy, Calif.
    Garuda International, Inc.; Exeter, Calif.
    GEMCO; New York, N.Y.
    The Ginger People; Marina, Calif.
    Global Strategy Group/Greenfield Mills; Sunrise, Fla.
    Gray & Company; Portland, Ore.
    James Farrell & Co.; Seattle, Wash.
    JM Grain; Garrison, N.D.
    Kizable Kandy, LLC; Clearwater, Fla.
    Nebraska Farm Bureau; Lincoln, Neb.

    Platinum Trading; Alexandria, Va.
    Richmond Wholesale Meats/American Custom; Richmond, Calif.
    Robinson Fresh; Miramar, Fla.
    Sun Grape Marketing; Visalia, Calif.
    United Global Trading; Dallas, Tex.
    U.S. International Foods; St. Louis, Mo.
    USA Rice Federation; Arlington, Va.
    Quirch Foods; Medley, Fla.

USDA trade missions open doors and deliver results for U.S. exporters, giving them the opportunity to forge relationships with potential customers and foreign government officials, as well as to gather market intelligence that will help them develop strategies to expand their sales in key markets overseas. The next USDA trade mission will take place June 1 to June 5, 2015, to Panama and the Dominican Republic. Visit https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USDAFAS/subscriber/new for more information or to sign up for an upcoming USDA trade mission.



AG SUPPLY CHAIN LEADERS CALL ON IOWA AG SUMMIT SPEAKERS, PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS TO SUPPORT CLEAN ENERGY FUTURE


Prominent leaders from agriculture's diverse value chain issued an open letter to policymakers and presidential hopefuls attending the first ever Iowa Ag Summit, urging them to consider Iowa's renewable energy record in wind, solar and biofuels as an example for clean energy policies for the nation.

"Iowa farmers have demonstrated they can fuel and feed the planet at the same time," said Ron Heck, an Iowa soybean and corn producer, a former president of the American Soybean Association and a founder of the 25x'25 Alliance. "We're number one in biofuels, number three in installed wind capacity, and installed our largest solar farm last year. We are harnessing homegrown energy in a manner that's good for farmers, the economy and the environment."

Notable signers to the letter, which urges "every single Iowa Ag Summit speaker to acknowledge the critical role wind, solar and biofuels play in building a strong, vibrant farming future for our nation," include the 25x'25 Alliance, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union, the American Council on Renewable Energy, the National Corn Growers Association, the American Soybean Association, the National and Iowa Biodiesel Boards, the American Solar Energy Society, CropLife America, and Windustry.

Iowa ranks near the top in the United States in production of renewable energy. 

Biofuels industries have added $13.1 billion to Iowa's economy, generated $4.1 billion in new household income, and created and supported 62,000 jobs statewide. Overall, Iowa accounts for 30 percent of total U.S. biofuels production. 

The state obtains 27 percent of its total electricity generation from wind, the largest share among states in the nation and enough to power nearly 1.5 million homes. Iowa is host to 14 active wind-related manufacturing facilities in the state, which create and sustain jobs and strengthen the economy.

According to the Farmers Electric Cooperative, its solar farm in Johnson County will generate roughly enough electricity to power 120 homes out of the 650-home service area and reduce electricity costs for ratepayers.

"As the U.S. and other world economies move to a low carbon future, policymakers need look no further than Iowa for what a vibrant clean energy future can and should look like," said Ernie Shea, Project Coordinator for the 25x'25 Alliance, a coalition united behind the goal of securing 25 percent of the nation's energy needs from renewable sources by the year 2025. "Iowa's farmers have found a way to take advantage of abundant, economical, clean sources of energy. It is my hope that as the Summit convenes, national leaders will look toward Iowa as an example of what is possible for our clean energy future."

The Summit convenes on Saturday. Several presidential hopefuls have confirmed attendance, such as former governors Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee and Rick Perry, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, New York businessman Donald Trump and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.



Aquaculture Publications a Resource for Farmers Raising and Caring for Fish


Fish producers can stay current on the areas of fish health, feeding practices, water quality and water treatment by referring to the standard operating procedures for aquaculture outlined in new Iowa State University Extension and Outreach publications. The publications are available as free downloads from the ISU Extension Online Store at https://store.extension.iastate.edu/.

“Interest in indoor recirculating aquaculture in the north central part of the United States has greatly increased in the past several years,” said D. Allen Pattillo, extension fisheries specialist. Recirculating aquaculture is when the fish tank water is filtered by mechanical and biological processes to create a highly efficient, bio-secure and environmentally friendly method of livestock production.

A USDA report on the aquaculture industry released last year showed that the number of fish farms in Iowa jumped from 21 in 2005 to 31 in 2013. “Since fish farm numbers have increased in the past few years, it was time to get fisheries knowledge in the producer’s hands,” said Pattillo.

“Aquaculture in the Midwest has grown and matured in recent years,” said Joseph Morris, professor of Natural Resource Ecology and Management and the director of the North Central Regional Aquaculture Center at Iowa State. “At the same time, people are eating more fish, and there’s a growing acceptance of fish as a source of healthy protein.”

The North Central Regional Aquaculture Center advances emerging trends in the aquaculture industry and identifies research questions that will help the industry progress. The center gathers input from aquaculture producers in 12 Midwestern states and directs federal funds to research and extension projects. The ISU Extension and Outreach Value-Added Agriculture Program and the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center have closely worked with NCRAC and provide ongoing coordination and assistance for Iowa’s developing aquaculture industry.

The aquaculture publication series was developed to help educate new and beginning farmers on critical aspects of recirculating aquaculture and to get a jump-start on business planning and management through fact sheets, standard operating procedures and records management templates.



Pork Groups Urged Congress To Pass TPA


The National Pork Producers Council and 39 state pork associations today urged Congress to approve legislation renewing Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) so that major trade deals can be finalized and implemented to help the U.S. economy. Failure to do so would allow other countries to write the rules for international trade, according to the organizations.

TPA defines U.S. negotiating objectives and priorities for trade agreements and establishes consultation and notification requirements for the president to follow throughout the negotiation process. Once trade negotiators finalize a deal, Congress gets to review it and vote yes or no – without amendments – on it. Congress has granted TPA to every president since 1974, with the most recent law being approved in August 2002 and expiring June 30, 2007.

In a letter sent today to all 535 congressional lawmakers, the pork organizations pointed to the benefits of agricultural exports, which have nearly quadrupled in value since 1989 – the year the United States began using bilateral and regional trade agreements to open foreign markets – topping a record $152.5 billion in 2014, and of pork exports, which have increased 1,550 percent in value and 1,268 percent in volume over the same period. The United States shipped more than $6.6 billion of pork to foreign destinations in 2014.

To grow pork exports, which support more than 110,000 U.S. jobs, NPPC and the state pork associations have been pressing the Obama administration to conclude a good deal in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, a 12-nation Asia-Pacific trade agreement. If approved, it would be the most significant commercial opportunity ever for U.S. pork producers, generating more than 10,000 pork industry jobs.

“But to realize the tremendous potential of TPP,” the groups said in their letter, “we need Congress to pass TPA. Once it does, it will allow nations to cut to their bottom line negotiating position in TPP.

“If Congress does not pass TPA, we will not empower our TPP negotiating partners to get to their last and best position. Instead, we will signal to the world that the United States is turning its back on the Asia-Pacific region, the fastest growing economic region in the world. And it will signal that we are willing to allow other nations to write the rules of trade,” the organizations concluded.



Registration Open for A Challenge for Tomorrow Seminar Offered by Zoetis


Registration is open for A Challenge for Tomorrow, a seminar offered at no charge by Zoetis. This special discussion about the future of food is taking place as a breakfast session during the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS) Midwest Section meeting. The session will start at 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 18, 2015, at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in Des Moines, Iowa.

This symposium is ideal for pork industry professionals who want to be more engaged in the conversation about food safety and security.

A Challenge for Tomorrow will feature Glynn Tonsor, PhD, associate professor and Extension specialist, Department of Agricultural Economics, Kansas State University. Dr. Tonsor knows the pork industry well. He grew up on a farrow-to-finish farm in Missouri before studying agribusiness and agricultural economics at Missouri State University and Kansas State University, respectively. Dr. Tonsor has studied and speaks about a variety of food industry topics, such as the meat supply chain, economics, food safety, consumer demand and technology acceptance.

“As consumers are further removed from agriculture, we need to be fully transparent, explain what we do to provide affordable, safe food and engage with them via the communication platforms they are utilizing today,” said Gloria Basse, vice president, U.S. Pork Business, Zoetis. “Zoetis is pleased to facilitate Dr. Tonsor’s message to inspire Midwest ASAS attendees to look at their actions in a new light.”

To register for A Challenge for Tomorrow, visit www.asas.org or bit.ly/AChallengeforTomorrow. You do not need to be registered for the Midwest ASAS meeting in order to attend this seminar. If you have already registered for Midwest ASAS but not A Challenge for Tomorrow, please add this seminar to your registration. For more information on the seminar, contact Cheryl O’Brien at cobrien@bader-rutter.com.



Commodity Classic Reaches New Heights in 2015


With nearly 8,000 total attendees, the 2015 Commodity Classic convention and trade show, which took place last week in Phoenix, Arizona, shattered previous records for the landmark event.

“The 2015 Commodity Classic was a terrific event for our growers and all involved,” said Commodity Classic Co-Chair Sam Butler. “We know it wasn’t just getting away from the weather for a sunnier climate. Our farmers were actively engaged in everything the landmark event had to offer, with many arriving early for policy sessions and coming to association meetings on a picture-perfect Saturday afternoon in Phoenix.”

Total attendance was 7,936, more than 600 over the previous record, 7,325, set in 2014. Other records broken were the number of growers, at 4,328 (compared to 3,874 in 2014); and the number of first-time attendees, at 1,409 (compared to 1,261 in 2014).  Additionally, the trade show featured an all-time high of 355 participating companies, representing a record 170,500 net square feet of booth space. In 2014, 301 exhibitors used 126,200 net square feet.

“The number of first-time attendees we saw at this year’s Classic was important to us,” Commodity Classic Co-Chair Bart Schott said. “It shows that growers are spreading the word about the value of the Commodity Classic experience – and that they appreciate how the world-class educational and networking opportunities help them back home.”



Regulatory Relief in Newly Introduced Bill is Welcome News for USCHI


Legislation has been introduced in the US House and Senate that would eliminate a burdensome regulation for custom harvesters and others in the agriculture industry. This regulation requires producers and agriculture professionals to obtain a hazardous material endorsement before transporting diesel fuel.

“We’ve been fighting this for 23 years,” explains Tracy Zeorian, executive secretary, US Custom Harvesters, Inc., “We can only haul up to 119 gallons of diesel fuel without a hazardous material endorsement on a Class A CDL; this is a regulation that needs to change.”

This bill has been introduced by Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Jerry Moran (R-KS). Representatives Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) are expected to introduce the companion legislation in the House. The legislation exempts farmers, ranchers and agribusiness representatives from the requirement to obtain a hazardous material endorsement when hauling 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel or less, if the diesel fuel is clearly marked.

USCHI is praising the lawmakers for introducing this legislation and hope to finally see an end to this burdensome regulation.



Ethanol Stocks Ease Off 3-Year High


The Energy Information Administration released data midmorning Wednesday showing ethanol inventories in the United States eased off a three-year high last week as domestic production fell and blending demand edged up.

Total ethanol stocks fell 100,000 barrels (bbl) to 21.5 million bbl during the week-ended Feb. 27, although up 4.9 million bbl or 29.6% from a year earlier. The weekly decline was registered in PADD 2 Midwest region, where inventories were at 7.4 million bbl.

Plant production fell for the second-week running, down 16,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 2.0%, last week to 931,000 bpd while up 4.1% year-over-year. The four-week average output rate was up 5.5% from year prior.

Blender inputs, a proxy for ethanol demand, edged up 1,000 bpd to 846,000 bpd, while unchanged on year-over-year basis. The four-week average input rate was up 2.0% from year prior.

EIA reported implied demand for motor gasoline decreased 285,000 bpd to 8.63 million bpd, although 2.6% higher than the same week last year.'



Brazil Highways Clear Wednesday


For the first time in two weeks, Brazil's highways were free of blockades, allowing the free flow of soybeans to ports, crushers and meat plants and diesel to harvesting soy farmers.

But the protests aren't over, merely suspended until next week to give President Dilma Rousseff time to respond to demands for lower diesel prices and higher base freight rates, according to trucker leaders in the south of the country.

Still, the suspension came just in time for soybean exporters as supplies of beans were running perilously low at Paranagua and Rio Grande ports.

Meanwhile, crushers and meat plants will be able to resume operations.

The Brazilian Animal Protein Association (ABPA) estimates the blockades caused around R$700 million ($234 million) in losses to the pork and poultry industry. Many plants had to suspend production and lost animals because of lack of grain and an inability to send trucks to customers.

Diesel has been reaching Mato Grosso farmers this week, allowing them to forge ahead with soybean harvest and second-crop corn planting efforts.



Dartmouth-Led Team Identifies Circadian Clock Gene That Strengthens Crop Plant


Dartmouth researchers and their colleagues have identified a circadian clock gene that helps a key crop plant to withstand extreme cold and salty conditions, which could help to develop hardier crops with improved yield. The next step is to extend these studies to corn, rice, wheat and soybean, the world’s four major crops.

The study appears in the journal PNAS. 

The circadian clock coordinates the timing of many aspects of plant growth and performance. The researchers identified a gene called GIGANTEA as responsible for natural variation in the circadian clock in Brassica rapa, a species of field mustard from which turnips, cabbages and other vegetables have been developed. Specifically, they identified the nucleotide (individual letter in the DNA encoding GIGANTEA) responsible for this alteration in circadian clock function. The researchers showed that different versions of the GIGANTEA gene affect many aspects of plant performance, including flowering timing, seedling development and resistance to environmental stresses like extreme cold and high salt.

Increases in agricultural productivity have greatly reduced the number of people worldwide without enough food, but one billion remain underfed and twice that many suffer from nutrition deficiencies. Predicted growth in population will require an estimated doubling of crop production by 2050, but yield trends for corn, rice, wheat and soybean, which currently produce nearly two-thirds of global agricultural calories, are insufficient to achieve this doubling. One strategy to increase yield is to identify genetic variation in plant regulatory networks that limit yield in order to define targets for molecular breeding. One such target is the circadian clock, which affects influences plant development in both natural and cultivated settings.

“Our results show that different forms of the GIGANTEA gene can affect many aspects of plant performance, so our findings will enable plant breeders to select for improved stress tolerance or improved flowering characteristics by deliberately choosing a specific form of the GIGANTEA gene,” says senior author Rob McClung, a professor of biological sciences at Dartmouth. “We propose that our results can be generalized to other crops: Natural variation of clock genes in general offers an attractive target for breeders to develop crops with enhanced stress tolerance and improved yield.”



McDonald's Eyes Antibiotic-Free Chicken


McDonald's Corp. said its U.S. restaurants will stop selling chicken raised with antibiotics that are important to human health, one of the biggest moves yet by a major food company to address growing concerns over antibiotic-resistant "super bugs."

McDonald's on Wednesday said it plans to make the changes over the next two years, working with its chicken suppliers, which include Tyson Foods Inc., the largest U.S. meatpacker. The world's largest restaurant chain said it would continue to permit the responsible use of antibiotics known as ionophores, which aren't used in human medicine, by its chicken suppliers.

The announcement comes just three days after Steve Easterbrook took over as McDonald's chief executive vowing significant change at the fast-food giant to reverse two years of worsening sales declines that culminated in the retirement of his predecessor, Don Thompson. Mr. Easterbrook in recent weeks has told analysts that he sees himself as an "internal activist" who plans to create a "modern, progressive burger company," and observers have been anticipating possible changes to the company's ingredients to improve consumers' views of its food.



Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Tuesday March 3 Ag News

12 Area Info Meetings Set on Syngenta Corn Lawsuit/Water Rights

Dave Domina and Brian Jorde, agricultural lawyers representing farmers and ranchers across Nebraska, will host a series of free informational meetings providing updates on issues critical to agricultural producers and our state’s economy. Domina will discuss important water issues and what all corn sellers need to know about lawsuits related to Syngenta’s MIR 162 and who is affected.

“It is important those concerned about water issues and access to competitive markets stay informed on the latest legal challenges and opportunities. There has also been an influx of out of state law firms chasing after Nebraska farmers recently and we want to let folks here know the facts, not the hype, about their potential financial recovery against Syngenta and what to do.”

This informational meeting will be held from March 6th – March 10th at Domina is known for his decades of legal work successfully representing farmers, ranchers, and small businesses predominately with agricultural related issues and challenges.

Friday, March 6th
-1:00pm Wilber American Legion (1000 S. School St).
-4:00pm Pawnee City Union Bank & Trust (514 G St).
-6:00pm Tecumseh Community Building (355 Clay) just S of Courthouse.

Saturday, March 7th
-10:00am Syracuse Inn & Suites (130 N. 30th Rd)
-1:00pm Weeping Water Gibson Hall which is the old City Auditorium (207 W. Eldora Ave).
-3:00pm Ashland Public Library (1324 Silver St).

Monday, March 9th
-10:00am North Bend Public Library (110 E. 13th St).
-2:00pm Albion Veterans Club (139 S 3rd St).
-5:00pm Neligh American Legion (115 West 3rd Street).

Tuesday, March 10th
-10:00am Creighton. Walter T. Larsen Senior Center (705 Peabody Ave).
-1:00pm Wayne City Auditorium (220 Pearl St) in North Meeting Room.
-4:00pm Jackson American Legion (Hwy 20). 

More at http://www.dominalaw.com/Investigations/Syngenta-Corn.aspx



Roundtable on sustainable American beef created; diverse participant list covers farm-to-fork


A group of U.S. beef value chain participants including producers, processors, retailers, foodservice operators, packers, allied industry and non-governmental organizations today announced the launch of the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB). The multi-stakeholder roundtable will identify sustainability indicators, establish verification methodologies, and generate field project data to test and confirm sustainability concepts for use throughout the United States. The USRSB adopts an approach whereby social, economic and environmental considerations are balanced to achieve sustainable outcomes.

"Research tells us American consumers are increasingly interested in the social, economic and environmental impacts of the beef they purchase," said Nicole Johnson-Hoffman, vice president of Cargill Value Added Meats and interim chair of USRSB. "For the first time, the entire U.S. beef value chain, including representatives who raise cattle and produce, market and sell beef, in addition to representatives from the NGO community and allied businesses, are coming together to establish metrics and criteria that will be used to benchmark the present and help measure improvements in the sustainability of American beef going forward."

USRSB's mission is to advance, support and communicate continuous improvement in U.S. beef sustainability through leadership, innovation, multi-stakeholder engagement and collaboration. Utilizing the definition for sustainable beef recently released by the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB), the USRSB will develop sustainability indicators relevant to the various beef systems in the United States, as well as a means to verify sustainable progress in a transparent manner that can be shared. Similar to GRSB, the USRSB will not mandate standards or verify the performance of individual beef value chain participants.

"Today's announcement from the United States regarding the formation of a U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef is welcome news to GRSB and our membership," stated Cameron Bruett, head of Corporate Affairs and Sustainability at JBS USA and president of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. "The United States is a world leader in beef production and will play a key role in meeting the global challenge of feeding the world in a sustainable manner that allows future generations to thrive. With the establishments of regional multi-stakeholder beef sustainability roundtables in Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Colombia and now, the United States, it is clear that the international commitment to sustainable beef enjoys tremendous momentum."

The USRSB is being directed by an interim board of directors that includes representatives from Cargill, Beef Marketing Group, Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Micro Technologies, Merck Animal Health, JBS USA, McDonald's, Walmart, World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Noble Foundation and the King Ranch® Institute for Ranch Management. Participation will be open to individual producers, producer associations, processors, retailers, foodservice operators, allied industry and civil society.

"By 2050, more than 9 billion people will consume twice as much food as we do today," said Nancy Labbe, senior program officer, World Wildlife Fund. "We are excited to be part of this important step toward balancing social, economic and environmental demands to feed a growing world while conserving natural resources, reducing waste and preserving biodiversity."

Currently, the USRSB has 43 founding members. They include: Adams Land and Cattle, LLC; AgriBeef Co.; Alabama Cattlemen's Association; Beef Cattle Institute, Kansas State University; Beef Marketing Group; Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation; Certified Angus Beef; Colorado Cattlemen's Association; Costco Wholesale Corporation; Dow AgroSciences LLC; Elanco Animal Health; Florida Cattlemen's Association; FPL Food LLC; Global Food Traceability Center; Golden State Foods; Holistic Management International; JBS USA; Kansas Livestock Association; K-COE ISOM; King Ranch® Institute for Ranch Management; Lopez Foods; McDonald's Corporation; Merck Animal Health; Micro Technologies; Minnesota Cattlemen's Association; Missouri Cattlemen's Association; National Beef Packing Co. LLC; National Cattlemen's Beef Association; National Livestock Producers Association; Nebraska Cattlemen's Association; Oregon Cattlemen's Association; Simplot Livestock Company; Sustainable Rangelands Roundtable; Texas A&M AgriLife Research; Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association; The National Grazing Lands Coalition; Texas Cattle Feeders Association; The Nature Conservancy; The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation; Tyson Foods, Inc.; Walmart; World Wildlife Fund; and Zoetis.

Membership will be open to additional founding members until June 1, 2015.

"American cattlemen and women are proud of our efforts to provide safe, affordable and sustainable beef on the plates of millions of American and global consumers every day," said John Butler, chief executive officer of the Beef Marketing Group, a cattle marketing cooperative located in Kansas and Nebraska. "We stand ready to collaborate in this effort of continuous improvement across the social, economic and environmental aspects of beef production. Working together with members of the U.S. beef value chain, American producers are eager to add the next chapter to our long-standing heritage of stewardship and great-tasting beef."

Learn more at usrsb.org.



Fourth Annual Husker Food Connection is set for April 16


The 2015 Husker Food Connection is scheduled for April 16 at the North entrance of the Student Union on the UNL City Campus. In the case of bad weather, the event will be rescheduled on a date to be announced.

The purpose of the event is to promote agriculture to urban students and help them understand how their food is produced. Lucas Fricke, A-FAN intern in charge of organizing the event, says this year’s event will focus on educating students about science in agriculture. Visitors will be able to learn what the term genetically modified means, which crops have modified seeds available, and the science behind the practice. Fricke added, “We hope to explain the science and build consumer trust in the science behind GMO technology.”

Over 2,000 city campus students attended the event last spring, and organizers anticipate similar participation this year, according to Fricke. This year the Collegiate Farm Bureau club will work together with the Husker Food Connection group to organize the event. About 30 East Campus students are expected to volunteer to staff exhibits, serve free lunches and have conversations about agriculture with the city students.

Fricke is working to secure sponsors who will include ag-related businesses and other student organizations. If you are interested in sponsoring the Husker Food Connection event, please contact Lukas at lukasf@a-fan.org.



DON’T LET NITRATES COST CATTLE LIVES

Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist


               Are you feeding cane, millet, or oat hay, or maybe corn stalk bales, to your cows this winter?  If so, don’t let high nitrate levels kill your cows or cause abortions.

               Nitrates occur naturally in all forages.  At low levels, nitrates either are converted into microbial protein by bacteria in the rumen or they are excreted.  But when nitrate concentrations get too high, they can kill cows and maybe abort calves.

               When stress affects pasture and hay production, nitrates often reach potentially toxic levels.  Some plants are more likely to be high in nitrates than others.  Annual grasses like cane, millet, oats, and even corn often have elevated nitrate levels.  So do certain weeds like pigweed, kochia, and lambsquarter.  If your hay has lots of these weeds or is an annual grass, be alert to the potential for high nitrates.

               That doesn’t mean these feeds always are toxic, nor does it mean that high-nitrate hay can’t be fed safely.  But always test these feeds for nitrates in a lab to determine how to feed them safely.

               Remember, there are many ways to feed high nitrate hay safely.  Diluting with grain or low nitrate forages is most common.  Frequent, small meals that slowly increase the amount of nitrate fed helps cattle adapt to high nitrate hay.  And make sure cattle have plenty of clean, low nitrate water at all times.

               Nitrates cause deaths most often after animals have been prevented from eating naturally for a day or more, like after a snow storm.  Avoid feeding high or even marginally high nitrate hay at this time because cattle will eat an extra large meal when very hungry.  This could create an overload of nitrates to their system, leading to death.

               More details about nitrates in forages are available in a NebGuide at your local extension office or online to help you feed safely.



USMEF Market Expo Underway in Shanghai


The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Market Expo, a market education program that allows producers and other USMEF members to observe international market development activities for U.S. pork and beef, began this week in Shanghai, China.

The tour started with an overview of USMEF’s marketing objectives in China and an explanation of several market access issues that impact U.S. meat exports into the region. This was followed by a briefing from the U.S. Agricultural Trade Office in Shanghai, which focused on the business climate in China for U.S. agricultural products and detailed the U.S. government’s efforts to expand trade between the two countries.

The group then received a presentation from Yiguo.com, a food distribution company that has emerged as one of the region’s leaders in e-commerce. Yiguo became the first company to sell food online in China in 2005, and its first online meat sales came in 2009. Today, the company offers self-operated food delivery in five of China’s major metropolitan areas and serves customers through third-party delivery companies in 48 additional cities. Yiguo’s business is expanding rapidly, especially through purchases made on smart phones. Eric Li, vice president of supply and alliance, noted that mobile purchases placed with Yiguo increased 30 percent last year, surpassing purchases made from a personal computer for the first time.

“E-commerce has just exploded in China and it’s only going to get bigger,” said Dean Meyer of Rock Rapids, Iowa, a producer of corn, soybeans, cattle and hogs who serves on the Iowa Corn Growers Association board of directors. “This can expedite movement of more U.S. meat into China because the companies engaged in e-commerce appreciate the quality and consistency of U.S. products. We already see these opportunities on the pork side, and there’s strong demand for U.S. beef if we can only gain access to the market.”

Retail visits were next on the delegation’s agenda, as they had an opportunity to view merchandising trends in two distinct supermarket settings. At Citysuper, shoppers are attracted to the store’s personal service, culinary classes and selection of specialty products. The group received a detailed tour of the Citysuper meat department and observed a U.S. pork tasting demonstration.

RT Mart attracts value-minded shoppers with a diverse inventory of food, clothing and household goods. Market Expo participants received a presentation at RT Mart’s regional headquarters in which General Manager Dick Meng explained how the company has grown to 317 locations in China, conducting about $13 billion in business last year. The USMEF delegation also visited an RT Mart retail store, where a U.S. pork tasting demonstration attracted a large crowd of interested shoppers.

The USMEF team also had an opportunity to meet with pork importers, including Shanghai Jin Hai Food Co., one of China’s largest processors of cured pork. Shanghai Zhengpu Trade Co., a pork distributor and industry leader in online merchandising, also provided the group with a company overview and a tour of its pork processing plant.

“I was very impressed with how innovative these businesses are, and the strategies they’ve developed to expand their sales,” said Karen Grant of Meadow Grove, Nebraska, who serves on the board of directors of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association. “For example, the efforts they make to attract and retain quality workers and their investment in developing new products were very interesting to me, and I’m hopeful that this leads to new opportunities for U.S. pork.”

This year’s delegation of Market Expo participants includes:
Dean Meyer
Iowa Corn Growers Association
Rock Rapids, Iowa    

Karen Grant
Nebraska Pork Producers Association
Meadow Grove, Nebraska

Richard Schrunk
Nebraska Beef Council
Emmet, Nebraska   


Chaley Harney
Montana Beef Council
Billings, Montana

Brooke Kerns
Iowa Corn Growers Association
Johnston, Iowa   

Tony Stafford
Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council
Jefferson City, Missouri

Lindsay Kuberka
USDA-FAS Office of Global Analysis
Washington, D.C.   

Yan Li
SKK International Inc.
Chicago, Illinois

Jennifer Houston, Chair
Federation of State Beef Councils
National Cattlemen's Beef Association
Sweetwater, Tennessee   

On Wednesday, March 4, the Market Expo delegation moves on to Tokyo, where similar industry visits are planned. The group will also spend a day at FoodEx, Asia’s largest food exhibition. USMEF will report on the Tokyo segment of the Market Expo later this week.



Iowa Monthy Weather and Crop Update


February brought cold temperatures averaging 6 to 15 degrees below normal according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service.  Little if any commercial fertilizer has been spread, but there have been scattered reports of manure and ethanol by-products being spread. Average snow depth for Iowa was 3 inches. As February came to a close, topsoil moisture levels rated 1 percent very short, 9 percent short, 85 percent adequate, and 5 percent surplus.  Central Iowa reported the highest moisture levels with 98 percent in adequate to surplus.

The State saw a slight slowdown in grain movement from January, with February grain movement rated 31 percent none, 43 percent light, 24 percent moderate, and 2 percent heavy. Cold weather and disappointment in spot prices were cited as reasons for light grain movement. Availability of hay and roughage supplies was 1 percent very short, 9 percent short, 80 percent adequate, and 1 0 percent surplus. Cold and dry weather resulted in some cattle operations having to feed more hay than usual. Despite cold temperatures, livestock conditions were described as near normal for the month of February. Calving and lambing were reported across much of the State with a few areas reporting losses due to extremely cold temperatures.

IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY

Provided by Harry Hillaker, State Climatologist
Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship

General Summary.
Iowa temperatures averaged 14.0° or 10.0° below normal while precipitation totaled 1.14 inches or 0.09 inches above normal. This ranks as the 10th coldest and 62nd wettest February among 143 years of records.

Temperatures.
Cold weather was the rule for most of the month as temperatures averaged above normal only for the five days from the 6 th through the 10th. The second one-half of the month was particularly cold as 7 of the final 11 days of February averaged more than twenty degrees below normal. The first very cold air mass of the month settled in on the morning of the 5 th when temperatures fell to -25° at Elkader with valley bottom temperatures falling to -23° as far south as Centerville. The winter’s lowest temperatures occurred on the last two days of the month with Stanley recording -30° on the morning of the 27th and Elkader also falling to -30° the next morning. These were both nationwide lows (lower 48 states) on both dates. Overall, temperatures fell to zero or lower on 18 days during the month. Wind chill readings fell into the minus 30s on five days during the month with Clarion reporting the lowest wind chill at -38° on the morning of the 27th. On the other extreme temperatures climbed to 51° at Keokuk on the 7th, Glenwood and Shenandoah on the 8th and at Clarinda and Shenandoah on the 25th. Temperatures for the month as a whole averaged about six degrees below normal along the western border of Iowa to about 13 degrees subnormal along the Illinois and Wisconsin borders.

Heating Degree Day Totals.
Home heating requirements, as estimated by heating degree day totals, averaged 3% less than last February (which was 1.5° colder than this February) but was 24% greater than normal. Heating degree day totals so far this season (since July 1 ) are running 8% less than last season at this time, but 4% more than normal.

Precipitation.
The bulk of the month’s precipitation fell as snow and came in two events. The largest event began on January 31 and continued into the evening of February 1. Snow fell statewide with greatest amounts falling across central and east central Iowa with amounts up to 16.0 inches at Le Claire and 14.7 inches at Madrid. A statewide average of 8.5 inches of snow fell with this storm which is the largest snow event since December 23-27, 2009. Another event on the 25th brought widespread 3 to 6 inch snow totals to the northeast one-half of Iowa but only a dusting over the southwest counties. Calmar reported the most snow with this event with 7.9 inches. Snow also fell across the southern one-third of the state on the 4th with 6.5 inches reported at Shenandoah. Monthly snowfall totals varied from 5.1 inches at Sioux City to 20.0 inches at Hampton. The statewide average snowfall was 12.6 inches or 5.8 inches above normal. This ranks as the 11 th snowiest February among 128 years of records (with three recent Februaries of 2008, 2010 and 2014 among those with more snow).



Farm Credit Services of America Announces 2014 Year-End Financial Results


Farm Credit Services of America (FCSAmerica), a financial cooperative, today announced annual net income of $536.5 million for the 2014 calendar year. This compares to $514.6 million in 2013.

Other 2014 financial highlights for FCSAmerica include:
-    An increase in loan volume of 9.3 percent to more than $22 billion;
-    A 10.5 percent increase in members’ equity to $4 billion;
-    $160 million recorded for distribution as cash-back dividends to customer-owners.

 “Our financial strength is good news for agriculture,” said Doug Stark, CEO and president of FCSAmerica. “Our cooperative serves more than 50,000 farmers and ranchers. In 2014, grain producers faced lower commodity prices and tighter margins, while some livestock sectors experienced record-high commodity prices. FCSAmerica has the financial strength to help producers on both ends of the spectrum meet their business needs, now and into the future.”

A strong 2014 also allowed the FCSAmerica Board of Directors to approve the cooperative’s 11th consecutive cash-back dividend. The record $160 million cash-back dividend brings the total amount of net earnings returned to farmers and ranchers since 2004 to nearly $1 billion.

Each year, the share of earnings retained by FCSAmerica is reinvested in the cooperative and enables additional investments in services to agricultural producers. In 2014, FCSAmerica deepened its financial commitment to young, beginning and small producers; introduced new and enhanced digital tools to help customers do business with their cooperative and manage their operations; and expanded its community involvement program to donate 6,000 hours of employee volunteer time and $2.3 million to community projects across a four-state region.



Keep Corn Particle Size in Mind to Enhance Feedlot Efficiency


Ask cattle producers how they grind corn used in their animals' diets, and the responses would likely range from fine, to medium, to coarse. Although there isn't a standard in place to determine what equates as finely ground corn compared to medium or coarsely ground, corn particle size can affect digestibility and how cattle efficiently use the grain for energy and growth.

"There is a strong relationship between smaller particle size and increased digestibility of the starch (from grain)," said Chris Reinhardt, feedlot specialist for K-State Research and Extension. "Regardless of what kind of grain, we feed it for the starch component. The more starch we can get digested, whether that be in the rumen or downstream from the rumen, improves the return on the investment in that grain."

In a recently completed study, Reinhardt sought to find the average corn particle size Midwest feedlots use in finishing cattle diets. The idea was to learn common practices in feedlots that do not use steam-flaked corn, but instead use a form of dry processing for corn, such as dry rolling or hammer milling.

Although corn prices are cheaper now compared to recent years, Reinhardt said feedlots should still consider how particle size could affect cattle performance. In addition to studying the average particle size, fecal samples from the finishing lots were also studied to determine how much of the grain was not digested. The more starch left in the feces, the less starch the animal actually got out of the grain.

Data collected from 34 feedlots from Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, Colorado and Iowa showed an average particle size of 4,300 microns, which means the average particle size had a diameter of 4.3 mm. "We would call that somewhat coarse, and yet that turned out to be the average of our entire industry," Reinhardt said. "So the industry, on average, is processing corn to a coarse particle size."

He said the diet samples not only helped determine the average particle size, but the samples also were used to examine the spread of particle sizes. While the average was just more than 4,000 microns, many samples had large and fine particles in the mix.

"Two of the feedlots used not dry rolling but dry hammer milling, which creates a much finer, smaller particle size and also a large amount of the fine particles," Reinhardt said.

Based on the survey, Reinhardt said he feels most feedlots that use the dry rolling method could crack their corn to a smaller particle size to improve grain digestion in cattle. The key is to get with a nutritionist and veterinarian and work together to determine an optimum finishing diet.

"Too fine (particle size) may actually cause more problems than it solves, such as acidosis and bloat," he said. "Yet we have a number of producers who are cracking the grain to a very coarse particle size and maybe leaving some money on the table. I understand that grain is relatively cheap right now, maybe historically cheap, but it won't be always, and frankly even when grain is cheap, we don't want to throw it away."

Reinhardt said this study has led to another study where he and other researchers purposely ground corn to 4,000, 3,000 and 2,000 microns and fed these samples to cattle to determine if performance--daily gain and feed efficiency--was affected by the particle size. Those results should be available soon.



USDA to Hold Major Pork Producers Survey in March


The USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service is in the process of contacting pork producers and contractors nationwide for the March Hogs and Pigs survey. The agency will ask farmers for detailed information on market hog and breeding stock inventories as well as farrowing intentions.

Producers who receive the questionnaire in the mail can respond via the Internet, mail or fax. Those who do not respond in one of those ways will have the opportunity for a telephone or personal interview.

Information provided by respondents is confidential by law. Bussler says by responding, producers make sure that NASS can provide timely, accurate and objective data that all sectors of the U.S. pork industry, including producers themselves, depend on to help make sound business decisions.

Survey results are published in the USDA's quarterly Hogs and Pigs report, scheduled to be released March 27.



Soy Checkoff Recognizes Market Developer, Biodiesel Board


The United Soybean Board (USB) recently awarded two of its highest honors to a market developer and an organization that have been instrumental in developing major new opportunities for U.S. soybeans that have greatly impacted the profit potential for all U.S. soybean farmers. USB gave its Outstanding Achievement Award to international aquaculture market developer Michael Cremer, Ph.D., and its Excellence in Oil Award to the National Biodiesel Board (NBB).

“The board is excited to have the opportunity to honor both Dr. Cremer and NBB and thank them for their contributions to the U.S. soy industry,” says Bob Haselwood, USB chairman and soybean farmer from Berryton, Kansas. “Both recipients have played a large role in moving our industry forward, and for that we are extremely grateful.”

Cremer, the U.S. Soybean Export Council’s international aquaculture senior program adviser, has dedicated more than 30 years to helping the U.S. soy industry realize its potential with a growing consumer of soy. Through his work in aquaculture, he helped the Asian aquaculture industry become a more sustainable industry that is using more U.S. soy every year in fish feed.

“I am deeply honored to receive this award,” says Cremer. “Working with the U.S. soybean industry has been the highlight of my career.  I have been doubly blessed, to have had one of the best aquaculture jobs in the world and to work with folks that I call both colleagues and friends.”

Biodiesel is one of the most researched renewable fuels on the market, and, as an advanced biofuel, one that is leading the way in the market. None of this would have been possible without the expertise and dedication of NBB. Checkoff-funded research shows biodiesel has added 74 cents per bushel to the price soybean farmers receive, increased domestic crush and returned value to the entire soybean industry – even those on the meal side of the equation.
“The National Biodiesel Board’s partnership with the United Soybean Board is the perfect example of teamwork that hits the ball out of the park every time,” says NBB CEO Joe Jobe. “As a key customer of U.S. soybean oil making a significant contribution to soybean profitability, we are truly honored to be recognized.”



Informa Lowers Brazil Soy Forecast


Informa Economics reduced its outlook for soybean production in Brazil due to dryness during the growing season, according to a report by the private forecaster on Tuesday.

Soybean output in the country, among the world's largest producers, will total 92.5 million metric tons, Informa said. That is lower than the firm's February forecast, but, if accurate, would be 6.4 million tons larger than last year's harvest. While the crop is projected to be a record, the firm said yield reductions were the result of lower-than-normal rainfall received by some regions while soybeans were setting and filling their pods.

"Brazil's soybean harvest is currently 26% complete, which is slightly behind average and is 10 days behind last year's 41%," Informa said in Tuesday's report, noting that the slow harvest was expected due to late planting. "In addition to the delayed crop development, a diesel shortage reportedly is a problem that is further slowing harvest in Mato Grosso."

Meanwhile, soybean production in Argentina is forecast at 58 million tons, up one million tons from last month's estimate, Informa said.

Brazil's corn crop is pegged at 72.4 million metric tons, which is 450,000 thousand tons less than the previous forecast. Argentina's production is forecast at 23.5 million tons, 500,000 tons more than the prior forecast.



Free NRCS webinar on carbon cycle, soil health, March 10


Find out how cover crops and proper grazing management can improve the carbon cycle and soil health.

Jay Fuhrer, nationally-known soil health expert and District Conservationist for USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, in Bismarck, North Dakota, presents a discussion of the carbon cycle in agricultural fields, the role of a healthy soil food web and the impact that various agricultural systems have on carbon levels in soil.

This one-hour webinar spotlights a case study on a hayland farm that follows a “no exporting policy” – a management technique in which hay that is grown is fed on the same field at some point in the year, covering all the acres during the winter feeding period. Uses of annual multi-species cover crops to rejuvenate an old pasture or hay field will also be discussed.

No pre-registration is necessary. Space is not limited. Please plan to join the webinar no more than 15 minutes early so that you can register and join in.

NRCS National Webinar, Understanding the Carbon Cycle in Agricultural Fields: A Case Study with Hayland [http://www.conservationwebinars.net/webinars/understanding-the-carbon-cycle-in-agricultural-fields-a-case-study-with-hayland]. Tuesday, March 10, 2015, 2:00 p.m., Eastern.



NAWG Officer Team Installed at Commodity Classic


Washington wheat farmer Bret Blankenship was elected as the new President of the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) at the Association’s Board of Directors meeting Thursday, February 26.

“I’m looking forward to a very productive year for NAWG and America’s wheat growers. I have high expectations for my tenure, and I hope to spend every day advancing the wheat industry into the 21st Century,” said Blankenship.

Brett and his brother, Dan, are partners in Blankenship Brothers Joint Venture on the outskirts of the famous Palouse region in southeast Washington, where they farm soft white wheat in the rolling hills above the Palouse River.

Prior to becoming a NAWG officer, Blankenship served for several years on the NAWG Board, including as chairman of the NAWG Domestic and Trade Policy Committee as NAWG prepared for the 2012 Farm Bill legislation. Brett was previously president of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers.

President Blankenship, once an aspiring pianist, has been raising wheat full-time since 1982, when he completed his studies at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., with a master’s degree in performance and literature. He lives on the family homestead with his wife, Leeann. When he’s not farming, he enjoys training horses and woodworking, and he also volunteers for the local emergency medical service.

Other NAWG officers elected and installed at the Thursday meeting include:
• Gordon Stoner, Outlook, Mont., Vice President
• David Schemm, Sharon Springs, Kans., Treasurer
• Jimmie Musick, Sentinel, Okla., Secretary
• Paul Penner, Moccasin, Mont., Immediate Past President

Members of NAWG’s Executive Committee, known as officers, commit to serve five years when they first run for the role of Secretary. The NAWG Nominating Committee and NAWG Board reaffirms their selection each year as they move into new roles on the officer team.



AGCO Launches Site for Used Ag Equipment with Certified Second Life

Growing list of equipment and dealers providing CPO program available online


AGCO Corporation (NYSE:AGCO) was one of the first leading manufacturers to stand behind its tractors, combine harvesters and other agricultural field equipment with a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program. Now, AGCO has launched a website that allows customers to shop for equipment they need among the growing list of CPO equipment that participating dealers are selling on-site and posting to the new website.

"It is important that farmers know that an ever-increasing quantity of AGCO-certified used equipment is now available from most AGCO-affiliated dealerships, and it's also important for them to know that searching for what they need is fast and easy on the new AGCO CPO website," said Eric Lescourret, AGCO director of Commercial Strategic Initiatives. "The AGCO CPO program provides cover for a wide range of equipment. It gives our customers more choices for premium used equipment with the latest technology and best features at the right price point."

With the release of the new website for finding CPO machines, AGCO has rolled out the full Certified Pre-Owned program. The program has been in development for more than a year. Starting in 2013, the AGCO CPO program was pilot-tested by 16 dealers and then rolled out to qualifying dealers in 2015. To qualify as CPO, equipment must be thoroughly inspected and reconditioned at 100 to 200 points, depending on the type of equipment.

All AGCO-certified equipment includes an AGCO Protection package. This means any piece of CPO equipment purchased will come with at least one year of comprehensive extended-service coverage that relieves CPO customers of risk from costly repairs. AGCO confidently stands behind these units because of the thorough inspection each unit must undergo. Once it has been inspected, certified, AGCO-trained dealership technicians recondition each piece of equipment as needed.

AGCO equipment available includes models from each of the following brands and product categories:
    Challenger®, Massey Ferguson® and Fendt® high-horsepower tractors
    Gleaner®, Massey Ferguson and Challenger combines
    Hesston® by Massey Ferguson and Challenger self-propelled windrowers
    Hesston® by Massey Ferguson and Challenger large square balers
    RoGator® sprayers



Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Monday March 2 Ag News

NEBRASKA CROP PROGRESS AND CONDITION

For the month of February 2015, temperatures averaged below normal across the eastern two-thirds of the State, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.  Snow cover was light as the month came to a close, allowing livestock continued access to stalk fields.Calving was underway with producers taking additional care to protect the newborn from the cold. Crop producers were focused on bookwork and preparations for spring field work. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 4 percent very short, 30 short, 66 adequate, and 0 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 8 percent very short, 26 short, 65 adequate, and 1 surplus.

Field Crops Report: Winter wheat condition rated 0 percent very poor, 3 poor, 35 fair, 57 good, and 5 excellent.

Livestock Report: Cattle and calf conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 13 fair, 73 good, and 13 excellent.  Sheep and lamb conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 0 poor, 13 fair, 76 good, and 11 excellent.  Hay and roughage supplies rated 0 percent very short, 6 short, 92 adequate, and 2 surplus.  Stock water supplies rated 0 percent very short, 8 short, 91 adequate, and 1 surplus.



RICKETTS NAMES DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY DIRECTOR


Today, Governor Pete Ricketts announced that Jim Macy of Jefferson City, Missouri would serve as the next Director of the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality. After an interview process, the Environmental Quality Council forwarded finalists to Governor Ricketts who selected Macy as the department’s new director.

From 2012 to 2014, Macy served as the Director for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Financial Assistance Center which provides funding for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects. During his tenure in this position, Macy developed and executed a plan to produce annual reports to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which had become an issue during EPA audits of the agency. He also developed and executed on a $54 million plan to address underutilization of drinking water grant and loan funds to address concerns raised by an Inspector General’s review of the program.

Previously, Macy has served in a variety of capacities throughout the Missouri Department of Natural Resources including roles as the Environmental Compliance Section Chief, the Division Director of Field Services, the Regional Director of the Kansas City Regional Office, a Soil and Water District Coordinator, and an Environmental Specialist.

Macy holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with an emphasis in Animal Science and a Master’s in Education with a focus on Vocational/Technical Education from the University of Missouri-Columbia. In 2001, Macy received the EPA National Notable Achievement Award for Outstanding RCRA Stakeholder Involvement Team of the Year.

“I look forward to working with the Ricketts administration to streamline regulatory processes,” said Jim Macy. “Like my home state, agriculture is Nebraska’s number one industry.  I look forward to working with business owners and ag producers across the state in a spirit of cooperation and collaboration.”

 “Jim has developed broad experience from a variety of assignments,” said Governor Pete Ricketts. “Whether he’s working with farmers or municipalities, his experience will aid the department as it seeks to provide fair and thoughtful programming and regulation for Nebraska’s air, land, and water resources.”

Macy will start March 9, 2015. His salary will be $120,000.



Nebraska CattleWomen to Host Beef Ambassador Contest April 3, 2015 in Kearney


The Nebraska CattleWomen will host the 2015 Nebraska Beef Ambassador Contest at 1:00 p.m. on April 3th, 2015 at the Holiday Inn/Younes Conference Center. The contest provides an opportunity for youth to become spokespersons and future leaders in the beef industry.

For more information, call Ashton Bohling at (402) 239-0936 or email ashton.bohling@apsbulldogs.org.  Registration is due by March 1st, 2015.


Other Cattlemens' Activities...........  

March 5, 2015
Cass-Otoe Affiliate Meeting
Cass County Extension Office, Weeping Water
7:00 p.m.

March 7, 2015
Knox County Cattlemen Banquet
Ohiya Casino
6:00 p.m.
March 16, 2015

March 21, 2015
Burt County Feeders Ladies' Night
Tekamah City Auditorium
6:00 p.m. Social, 6:45 p.m. Meal

March 21, 2015
Boone Nance Cattlemen Banquet & Auction
Boone County Event Center, Albion
Social 6:00 p.m., Dinner 6:30 p.m.



FISCHER TO KEYNOTE NEBRASKA LEAD BANQUET MARCH 13


U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska will be the keynote speaker at the annual Nebraska LEAD (Leadership Education/Action Development) Program recognition banquet March 13.

Fischer’s address will provide insight on leadership development while addressing the need for strong leadership at all levels during the banquet honoring Nebraska LEAD Group 33 at the Nebraska East Union on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln East Campus.

Prior to the banquet, at 4:45 p.m., the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council will conduct its annual meeting. The council will elect 2015-16 officers to its board of directors.

Social hour will begin at 5:30 p.m. followed by the 6:30 p.m. banquet. Reservations are $25 and may be made by calling the Nebraska LEAD Program office at (402) 472-6810 by March 6.

The purpose of the Nebraska LEAD Program is to prepare and motivate men and women in agriculture for more effective leadership. It is under the direction of the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council, a non-profit organization in cooperation with the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. It is supported by Nebraska colleges, universities, businesses, industries and individuals throughout the state.



SNOW OR WATER – WHAT’S THE DIF?

Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist


               Are you getting tired of winter?  Tired of hauling water or chopping ice?  Well maybe, just maybe you can let your cows eat snow once in a while for their water needs.

               Snow sometimes can be a good source of livestock water.  Research from Canada and several northern states have shown that cows can eat 30 to 40 pounds of snow per day to meet their water needs.  And some ranchers already rely on only snow to provide water on their winter pastures.

               To be successful using snow as your water source, several conditions must be met.  First off, the snow must be clean and fresh.  We’ve all heard jokes about eating yellow snow, but it’s no joke if that is what your cows are depending on.  Snow that’s crusted over, filled with dirt, or heavily trampled is not adequate.

               Second, the cows must be in good shape.  It will take body heat energy to melt the snow they eat so thin cows or sick cows should not be forced to rely on snow for water.  Lactating cows also should have a good source of liquid water.

               Make sure the cows are eating an adequate diet to provide the extra energy needed to melt that snow.  Cows that go off feed or aren’t eating enough might be having trouble getting enough water from the snow.  After all, they do need to learn how to effectively graze snow to get enough water.

               Lastly, be sure to have an alternate water source readily available.  Snow availability and snow conditions can change rapidly.

               Snow can be used as the only source of water for many livestock, saving time, money, and potentially extending grazing to remote areas or later in the season.  However, monitor intake and cow condition carefully to be successful.



Iowa State Herbicide Guide Offers Strategies to Manage Resistant Weeds


Using herbicides that differ in the ways they kill weeds goes a long way to battling herbicide resistance, according to Iowa State University agronomists.

Bob Hartzler and Mike Owen, professors of agronomy and ISU Extension and Outreach weed scientists, updated the 2015 Herbicide Guide for Iowa Corn and Soybean Production to reflect the 2014 growing season, product effectiveness and changes in industry offerings. It is available at no charge from the Extension Online Store at https://store.extension.iastate.edu/.

“In this era when herbicide resistance is spreading rapidly across the state, it is important to not only develop a weed management program that provides effective control, but also reduces the likelihood of allowing resistance to become established in fields,” Hartzler said. “To do this, you need to know the effectiveness of the individual herbicides used and the sites of action of the herbicides (herbicide group). The guide is a convenient resource to find this information.”

Waterhemp continues to be the biggest problem weed in the state and giant ragweed populations are expanding, according to the guide. Marestail/horseweed still is a major problem in the south and southwest where most of the no-tillage production is practiced. All three of these weeds have populations resistant to glyphosate and ALS inhibitor herbicides, and many of the populations have multiple resistances.

Many Iowa farmers believe they have identified pesticide resistance on the land they farm, the Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll found last year, and most are concerned that herbicide-resistant weeds and pesticide-resistant insects will become a problem. 

“Simple and convenient tactics are failing rapidly and farmers must diversify, not just the herbicides they use, but everything,” Owen said. “They also need to understand that many herbicide combinations, while advertised as effective on resistant weeds because they include multiple mechanisms of herbicide action, are not a good tactic unless the herbicides are effective on the target weeds.”

A greater diversity of tactics is needed to combat herbicide-resistant weeds. Rotation of herbicide mechanisms of action is beneficial, but inclusion of multiple effective herbicide mechanisms of action for every herbicide application is more effective, said Owen and Hartzler.

Herbicides kill plants by disrupting essential physiological processes. This normally is accomplished by the herbicide specifically binding to a single protein, referred to as the “site of action.” Herbicides in the same chemical family generally have the same site of action. The mechanism by which a herbicide kills a plant is known as its “mode of action.”

The Weed Science Society of America has developed a numerical system for identifying herbicide sites of action. Certain sites of action have multiple numbers since different herbicides may bind at different locations on the target enzyme or different enzymes in the pathway may be targeted.

Most manufacturers are including these herbicide groups (designated by “HG” followed by a number) on herbicide labels to aid development of herbicide resistance management strategies. Prepackage mixes will contain the herbicide group numbers of all active ingredients.

Varying herbicide mechanisms of action and using multiple effective herbicide mechanisms of action for every herbicide application are necessary steps, say Owen and Hartzler, but producers should include non-herbicidal tactics.

Cultural tactics such as crop rotation, narrow-row spacing and the inclusion of cover crops reduce the selection pressure on weeds placed by herbicides, according to the weed scientists. Mechanical weed control is an important option for Iowa farmers to use in the management of herbicide-resistant weeds and the benefits and risks should be evaluated to determine if mechanical tactics have a fit in specific fields.

The guide also includes their assessment of herbicide pre-mixtures; the latest research on weed management and cover crops; and a review of new genetically engineered crop traits for weed management.



ISU Extension Offers Farm Financial Planning Support


It’s safe to say that financial management for farm families is unique. Farm income can be irregular and unpredictable. Bills must be paid, livestock fed and crops tended to. Taking care of a family’s needs can add stress.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is offering Farm Financial Planning, a program providing one-on-one financial support and advice to farmers. The program includes FINPACK, a computerized analysis of the farm business. It also offers useful referrals to ISU Extension and Outreach programs and outside services such as counseling or finance management courses.

“FINPACK gives information to make more informed and profitable decisions for the future of a farm business,” said Ann Johanns, extension program specialist. “The farm financial planning program was initiated in the 1980s in response to the farm crisis. It continures to be available to give Iowans confidence with stressful issues, legal questions and financial concerns.”

Any farmer who wants to understand a complete picture of their farm financial situation, which many lenders are requiring before they will extend further credit, should consider the Farm Financial Planning program. The goal of the program is to help determine farm business needs, and whether or not future changes are desirable.

As part of the program analysis, farm business operators will see at least three in-depth FINPACK business plans and how to implement alternatives like the addition, expansion or phasing out of a livestock operation, or buying, selling or renting land. Farm Financial Planning can also help evaluate ways to correct negative cash flow and profitability problems.

A trained ISU Extension and Outreach associate meets with the family one to two times to get farm records and to discuss results of the FINPACK analysis in confidence and possible effects if changes are made. The extension associate may introduce other farm and family financial materials or information about outside sources of help.

The service is available at no charge and is funded by the Agricultural Credit School, a program of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, and the Iowa Bankers Association.

Farm Financial associates are part-time ISU Extension and Outreach employees trained in farm budgeting and financial analysis. They have farm backgrounds so they understand farming and the challenges it may bring.

For more information, contact the ISU Extension and Outreach farm management specialist in your county office at www.extension.iastate.edu/ag/farm-management-0. Or contact the Beginning Farmer Center at 877-232-1999.



Recommendations for Dietary Guidelines for Americans Released

(from CBB)

If you have been hearing news about the Recommendations for Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) being released, it might not be clear to you that these recommendations are not the actual DGA. The report from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee includes recommendations for what the DGA should include, but the DGA still must be developed and released. If you would like to join in the conversation via social media, here are some talking points on behalf of the beef checkoff:

    The good news for Americans is you can continue to enjoy the beef you love. As a rancher, I can tell you beef still belongs on my plate and you can feel confident including lean beef in your diet.

    More Americans are discovering the benefits of including lean beef in the diet.

    There is a large body of strong and consistent evidence that supports lean meats, including lean beef's, positive role in healthy diets.

    We want to help Americans continue to choose lean beef more often as a part of a healthful diet. Beef is the perfect partner to fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and whole grains.

    When it comes to meeting the protein (and meat) recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines, Americans are right on track.

    Americans are already enjoying and building healthy diets today that include lean red meat.



Brazil Truckers Continue Protest


A police crackdown on protesting Brazilian truckers Sunday led to a sharp drop in the number of roadblocks along highways Sunday.  But truckers struck back Monday morning, renewing blockades across six states, indicating the movement may not be petering out.

As Monday Morning, some 46 highways were blocked, which is down from the figures of over 100 registered last week but up from 12 on Sunday evening.

The 13-day protest against rising diesel, high tolls and falling freight rates has hurt agribusiness, particularly the soy sector. Brazil is in the middle of its soybean harvest, and the blockades have stopped the flow of beans and soymeal to ports and forced crushing and meat-processing plants to suspend operations.

Police moved in to clear highways on Sunday, but the protests still appear strong in the southernmost states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina.

It is the southern ports of Paranagua and Rio Grande, the No. 2 and No. 3 soy exit points, that are suffering most as the arrival of trucks slows to a trickle, although Paranagua will benefit Monday from the fact there is only one blockade in Parana.

Santos, the No. 1 soy port, still has ample supplies, as nearly half its soybeans arrive by rail.

Protest leaders have called for truckers to converge on Brasilia, the nation's capital, Monday to take their protest to the government's doorstep.



Brazil's Soy Harvest 29% Complete


Brazil's soybean harvest continues to lag at 29% complete as of Friday, said AgRural, a local consultancy.  Harvest efforts moved forward nine percentage points last week but are 10 points back on last year, although just four points back on the five-year average.

According to AgRural, the harvest picked up pace in the Center-West last week.

In Mato Grosso, the No. 1 soy state, exactly 50% of the crop had been collected, up 16 points on the week. At some points along the BR-163 highway, farmers had to stop fieldwork due to a lack of diesel, but the truckers' protest has yet to have a massive effect in harvesting.

Yields are varying massively in the state, In northern Mato Grosso, yields of between 43 and 54 bushels per acre are being recorded. In the south, in Campo Verde, yields of 49 bpa are the norm and, in the east, area that were hit hard by drought, around Querencia, are registering 36 bpa, said AgRural.

In the south of Brazil, the harvest is slipping further behind the regular schedule.  Parana, the No. 2 state, has harvested 33% of the crop, back from 42% at the same point last year. Delays are most pronounced in the north of the state, which was affected by dry weather.



National Survey on Cover Crops Seeks Farmer Participation


Farmers are invited to share their thoughts on cover crops - whether or not they use cover crops themselves - in a national survey, now in its third year of collecting valuable data on the increasingly popular management practice. The results, which will be released this summer, will help growers, researchers, agricultural advisors, ag retailers and policymakers more effectively address questions about cover crops and learn about best practices.

Farmers, take the online survey now... http://2014-2015covercropsurvey.questionpro.com/

Farmers who complete the questionnaire are eligible for a drawing for one of two $100 Visa gift cards. All answers are anonymous; respondents will be directed to another website at the end of the survey to enter the $100 Visa gift card drawing.

The survey is being conducted by the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) and is sponsored by USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) and Corn+Soybean Digest.

All farmers are invited to complete the survey, says Chad Watts, project manager for CTIC.

"It doesn't matter if you've planted cover crops for 40 years or if you've never worked with them before," he notes. "We want to hear from farmers with all levels of interest and experience. It's just as important to understand what might be preventing a farmer from planting cover crops as it is to understand why another grower is so excited."



NFU Salutes True Democracy in Action as Farmer and Rancher Members Drive the Future of Agriculture

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson today saluted the organization’s commitment to grassroots leadership and true democracy in action as NFU members from across the nation prepare to convene at their national convention in Wichita, Kansas, to vote on the organization’s policy and vision for the future of agriculture.

“NFU is one of the few organizations in Washington that is truly driven by its members, who meet with each other, elected officials and government agencies and then convene to discuss the organization’s overall policies and vision for policies important to family farmers and ranchers,” said Johnson.

NFU’s policy-setting process begins in late January with the meeting of the NFU Policy Committee, comprised of members, who are all considered outstanding leaders in their state/regional Farmers Union organizations and were nominated by their respective state's president to serve on the committee. Committee members meet with leaders from the White House, U.S. Department of Agriculture and key Capitol Hill staff to ensure they possess a broad working knowledge of current legislative issues and political landscape as they move to revise NFU's policy handbook.

“The meeting of the policy committee is the first part of the process, whereby chosen leaders representing a wide swath of agriculture convene to better understand and assess current NFU policy,” said Johnson. “They then discuss possible policy changes that will be brought to the voting membership during the annual convention in March.”

The second part of the process this year will take place at NFU’s 113th Anniversary Convention, March 14-17, in Wichita, Kansas. During the convention, the policy committee’s suggestions are considered and voted on, where any Farmers Union member may propose changes to the policy.

“After hearing from delegates and the membership, the policy committee submits a final copy of the suggested policy to the delegates at the convention for their consideration, amendment and adoption,” said Johnson.  “And that is American democracy in action, pure and simple,” he added.

Johnson noted that many of NFU’s key policy initiatives, like Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) were borne through such a process. “NFU members, just like farmers, ranchers and consumers across the nation, believe strongly that food should be labeled and will continue to urge Congress and the U.S. Trade Representative to “stay the course on COOL,” said Johnson. 



USDA Announces Commodity Credit Corporation Lending Rates for March 2015


The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) today announced interest rates for March 2015. The CCC borrowing rate-based charge for March is 0.250 percent, unchanged from 0.250 percent in February.

The interest rate for crop year commodity loans less than one year disbursed during March is 1.250 percent, unchanged from 1.250 percent in February.

Interest rates for Farm Storage Facility Loans approved for March are as follows, 1.750 percent with seven-year loan terms, down from 1.875 percent in February; 1.875 percent with 10-year loan terms, down from 2.000 percent in February and; 2.000 percent with 12-year loan terms, down from 2.125 percent in February.



 CWT Assists with 2.9 Million Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales


Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 11 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold), Tillamook County Creamery Association and United Dairymen of Arizona who have contracts to sell 2.477 million pounds (1,124 metric tons) of Cheddar, Gouda, and Monterey Jack cheese and 385,809 pounds (175 metric tons) of butter to customers in Asia, the Middle East, and the South Pacific. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from March through August 2015.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives who have contracts to sell 9.709 million pounds of cheese and 18.839 million pounds of butter to eighteen countries on five continents. The amounts of and butter in these sales contracts represent the equivalent of 513.481 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

Assisting CWT members through the Export Assistance program, in the long-term, helps member cooperatives gain and maintain market share, thus expanding the demand for U.S. dairy products and the U.S. farm milk that produces them. This, in turn, positively impacts U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

The amounts of cheese and related milk volumes reflect current contracts for delivery, not completed export volumes. CWT will pay export assistance to the bidders only when export and delivery of the product is verified by the submission of the required documentation.



NMPF/USDEC Endorse Trade Promotion Authority Approval for Trade Agreements


The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) today jointly urged Congress to enact new Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation, saying it is crucial to securing well-negotiated trade agreements, including a Pacific Rim pact that must open key markets to more U.S. dairy products.

In a letter to Congress, NMPF and USDEC said renewing TPA, which expired in 2007, will increase congressional influence over trade negotiations and lead to agreements that are better for both the country and the dairy industry.

“By having a clear framework for participating in the process and identified priorities that a successful agreement must address, Congress increases its influence over these agreements as they are being written,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern.

Added USDEC President Tom Suber: “TPA plays a key role in supporting a strong trade policy agenda. That is particularly important to the dairy industry, since it now exports the equivalent of one-seventh of its U.S. milk production.” Last year alone, Suber noted, the U.S. industry exported more than $7 billion in dairy products.

The dairy groups urged Congress to approve TPA, but also to become engaged in the final stages of negotiations with 11 other countries over the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“To achieve an agreement with net benefits to the U.S. dairy industry, access to the region’s most protected dairy markets – Japan and Canada – is imperative,” said Mulhern. “While some progress has been made in Japan, both of these countries need to open their markets to a full range of U.S. dairy products.”

Suber said another key issue is improving safeguards for using generic food names, including many common cheese names, in export markets. The European Union, he noted, is attempting to erect trade barriers by limiting the use of names like feta, parmesan and asiago among many others, to particular geographic areas.



Case IH Announces Certified Pre-Owned Program


Case IH, CNH Industrial Parts & Service and CNH Industrial Capital have announced a Certified Pre-Owned program aimed at giving customers the best possible warranties and financing on late model Case IH Steiger tractors, Magnum tractors and Axial-Flow combines.

The new program will assign additional warranty on units that have met the stringent CPO qualification requirements. CPO standards will include a rigorous 100+ point inspection, fluid analysis (engines, hydraulic/transmission and coolants) and genuine Case IH parts wherever any replacement is necessary.

"This program will offer used equipment customers the reliability, warranty, special financing offers and peace of mind typically found only with new equipment purchases," says Eric Weaver, Senior Director of Marketing for Case IH. "By partnering with our dealers, CNH Industrial Parts & Service and CNH Industrial Capital, we can ensure uniform quality standards, warranties, parts benefits and financing options across our network on our most popular brands."

Case IH expects its dealer network to offer the first CPO-qualified units for sale, with financing offers from CNH Industrial Capital starting March 2015.