Monday, August 22, 2016

Monday August 22 Crop Progress + Ag News


For the week ending August 21, 2016, temperatures averaged two degrees below normal as cooler conditions prevailed, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Precipitation of an inch or more was limited to portions of the southern Panhandle and the eastern third of the State. Much of the State remained dry, with drought conditions in south central counties as well as the northwest. Panhandle producers continued preparations for winter wheat planting. Irrigation was active in most counties. There were 5.9 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 8 percent very short, 32 short, 58 adequate, and 2 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 7 percent very short, 30 short, 62 adequate, and 1 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn condition rated 1 percent very poor, 5 poor, 19 fair, 58 good, and 17 excellent. Corn dough was 87 percent, ahead of 81 last year, and near the five-year average of 84. Dented was 42 percent, ahead of 30 last year and 37 average.

Sorghum condition rated 0 percent very poor, 0 poor, 16 fair, 66 good, and 18 excellent. Sorghum headed was 95 percent, near 97 last year, but ahead of 88 average. Coloring was 44 percent, well ahead of 24 last year and 21 average.

Soybeans condition rated 1 percent very poor, 4 poor, 19 fair, 61 good, and 15 excellent. Soybeans setting pods was 92 percent, near 88 last year and 89 average. Dropping leaves was 2 percent, near 4 last year and 1 average.

Oats harvested was 95 percent, near 96 last year and 98 average.

Alfalfa condition rated 4 percent very poor, 4 poor, 17 fair, 62 good, and 13 excellent. Alfalfa third cutting was 86 percent, ahead of 81 last year and 78 average. Fourth cutting was 30 percent, ahead of 20 last year, and well ahead of 9 average.

Livestock, Pasture and Range Report: 

Pasture and range conditions rated 3 percent very poor, 6 poor, 24 fair, 57 good, and 10 excellent.  Stock water supplies rated 1 percent very short, 12 short, 86 adequate, and 1 surplus.


Continued precipitation, heavy in some areas of the State, resulted in 4.7 days suitable for fieldwork for the week ending August 21, 2016, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Precipitation and cooler nights benefitted grain and pod fill. Activities for the week included harvesting oats and cutting hay when ground conditions were dry enough.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 1 percent very short, 6 percent short, 85 percent adequate and 8 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 1 percent very short, 8 percent short, 84 percent adequate and 7 percent surplus. South central and southeast Iowa continue to report the lowest subsoil moisture levels in the State.

Ninety percent of the corn crop reached the dough stage or beyond, 10 days ahead of the 5-year average, with 45 percent dented or beyond, 6 days ahead of last year and 4 days ahead of normal. There were scattered reports of corn showing signs of maturity. Corn condition rated 83 percent good to excellent.

Soybeans setting pods reached 92 percent, 5 days ahead of last year and 4 days ahead of normal. Three percent of soybeans have started to turn color. Soybean condition rated 82 percent good to excellent, although there were reports of sudden death and white mold in some soybean fields.

Harvesting of oats for grain or seed was nearing completion.

The third cutting of alfalfa hay was 66 percent complete, 4 days ahead of average. Pasture condition rated 64 percent good to excellent. Livestock experienced little stress with near ideal conditions.

USDA Weekly Crop Progress

U.S. corn and soybeans continue to develop ahead of an average pace, with soybean conditions holding steady and corn condition ratings improving slightly, according to USDA's latest Crop Progress report released Monday.

The nation's corn crop was 85% in the dough stage as of Sunday, ahead of 73% last year and ahead of the five-year average of 76%. Corn dented was 40%, ahead of 21% last week, 34% last year and the five-year average of 35%. Corn condition improved slightly to 75% good to excellent, compared to 74% last week.

Soybeans were 89% setting pods, ahead of 80% last week, 85% last year and 85% for the five-year average. Soybean conditions were unchanged from the previous week at 72% good to excellent.

Spring wheat harvest was 65% complete, compared to 48% a week ago, 69% a year ago and 46% five-year average. Spring wheat condition is no longer reported.

Cotton setting bolls was reported at 92%, compared to 88% last week, 80% last year and an 89% average. Sixteen percent of cotton bolls were opening, compared to 12% last week, 13% last year and a 15% average. Cotton condition decreased slightly to 47% good to excellent, compared to 48% last week.

Rice was 97% headed, compared to 94% last week, 92% last year and a 90% average. Fifteen percent of the rice crop was harvested, compared to 13% last week, 17% last year and a 14% average. Rice condition decreased substantially to 13% very poor to poor, compared to 8% last week.

Sorghum was 89% headed, compared to 83% last week, 88% last year and 81% on average. Coloring was reported at 52%, compared to 42% last week, 45% last year and a 43% average. Twenty-nine percent of sorghum was mature, compared to 23% last week, 26% last year, and a five-year average of 28%. Sorghum condition held steady from the previous week at 65% good to excellent.

Oats were 89% harvested as of Sunday, compared to 80% last week, 87% last year and an 82% average.

Barley harvest was reported at 70% complete, compared to 55% last week, 80% last year and a 52% average. Barley condition is no longer reported.

Terminating a Verbal Farm Land Lease

Allan Vyhnalek – Extension Educator, Platte Co.

Some farm leases are not written, but are verbal "handshake" agreements. Because nothing is in writing, the parties may have different recollections of their agreement, making lease disputes more difficult to resolve. The most common legal issue associated with verbal farm leases is how a lease may legally be terminated. For both year-to-year leases and holdover leases, six months advance notice must be given to legally terminate the lease. However, the lease date (the date from which the six months is counted) is different. In contrast, the termination of a written lease is determined by the terms of the written lease.

For year-to-year leases, the Nebraska Supreme Court has ruled that the lease year begins March 1. Notice to a tenant to vacate under an oral year-to-year lease (legally referred to as a "notice to quit") must be given six months in advance of the end of the lease, or no later than August 31. For example, for the lease year beginning March 1, 2016, and ending February 28, 2017, notice from the landlord that the lease will be terminated would have to be given to (and received by) the tenant no later than August 31, 2016. The lease would then expire February 28, 2017, with the new tenant (or new buyer) able to take over the lease March 1, 2017. If, however, the notice to quit were given (or received) after August 31, 2016, the existing tenant would have the lease until February 28, 2018.

It is recommended that the farmland lease be terminated by Registered Mail™.  This means that the person receiving the letter signs for it, providing evidence that the termination notice was received. 

Pasture Lease Terminations

Handshake or verbal leases are different for pastures. The typical pasture lease is for the five-month grazing season. The lease is only in effect for that time, so the lease is terminated at the end of the grazing season; however, different lease length arrangements can be made in a written lease, and that would be followed if in effect.

Regardless of the type of lease — written, verbal, or even multiple year — the landlord should have clear communication with the tenant. By sending a termination notice before August 31, even for written leases, you can avoid any miscommunication or pitfalls.

Written Leases

In all instances, written leases would be preferred over oral or “handshake” leases. Sample leases are available in the Document Library at and can help both parties start thinking about the appropriate lease conditions for their situation. The site was developed by university extension specialists in the North Central Region.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Plastic.  Every year I emphasize this word: plastic.  Plastic is one of those things you forget how useful and valuable it can be.

               Many of you are chopping or about to chop silage.  You will invest time and money to store good feed for your livestock.  However, when you start to feed your silage you may find that the top couple feet has an off color, smells bad, or has spoiled.

               After silage has been chopped and piled and packed correctly, it still can be damaged seriously by air and moisture slowly penetrating the outer 3 to 4 feet.  Animals often eat less when fed moldy silage and can even experience health problems due to mycotoxins.  Good, well-eared silage can lose over 20 percent of its feed value from fermentation and spoilage under normal conditions.  Silage made from corn with little or no grain might have even greater losses.  This loss can be cut in half, or even less, if silage is covered well by a sheet of plastic.

               Cover freshly chopped silage with black plastic immediately after you finish filling the trench, bunker, or pile.  Then cover the plastic with something to help hold it down.  Old tires are readily available and do a good job of keeping the plastic from blowing away.  But tires only keep the plastic in contact with the silage directly under the tire.  In between the tires, air can circulate and cause some spoilage.  An even better choice would be a solid cover, something like freshly chopped forage or weeds.  Then, the entire surface of silage will be fully protected.

               You go to a lot of time and expense to make good silage.  Isn't it worth it to spend just a little bit more to protect that investment?  Cover silage with plastic – it's worth it.

Popular Ag Sack Lunch Program Returns for Seventh Year; Designed To Bring Ag Awareness to Fourth-graders and their Families

The seventh annual Ag Sack Lunch Program will be providing a free lunch and presentation to fourth-graders about the importance of Nebraska agriculture throughout the 2016-17 school year. The program is made available at no cost to schools by the Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB), the Nebraska Pork Producers Association, the Nebraska Corn Board, and the Nebraska Beef Council

Each year Nebraska’s fourth-grade students come to Lincoln to tour the State Capitol Building as part of their state-mandated curriculum. The Ag Sack Lunch Program uses these tours as an opportunity to present about the importance of agriculture to our state’s economy. The presentation also explains what crops and livestock species are raised in Nebraska. 

Letters have been sent to fourth-grade teachers at 660 elementary schools in 44 eastern Nebraska counties. Reservations for the 2016-2017 school year are limited to 5,000 students on a first-come, first-served basis. These spots fill up quickly, so teachers are urged to sign up as soon as possible—even if their State Capitol tour dates have not been finalized yet. Reservations can be placed online at

The sack lunches, donated by the four sponsoring groups, consist of Nebraska-produced food items to help students appreciate where their food comes from. They also receive a card game called “Crazy Soybean,” which includes ag facts, to take home to play with their families and friends.

While they eat their lunches, students hear a 20-minute presentation about the huge role agriculture plays in the state’s economy. The presentations are given by “Ag Ambassadors,” who are students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln trained specifically to conduct these sessions.

Sponsors are enthusiastic about how the Ag Sack Lunch Program’s message has resonated with the fourth-graders and their families.

Victor Bohuslavsky, executive director of the NSB, said, “the program has done a great job helping fourth-graders understand how important agriculture is to our state.” He also added that “we continue to hear from participating teachers how much their students learn while they enjoy their sack lunches.” 

After her class participated in the program during the 2015-16 school year, the fourth-grade teacher at Omaha’s Pinewood Elementary School praised the program on how the presentation communicated with her students. “Fabulous program,” teacher Cheri Tommes said. “The kids were able to walk away with new knowledge as well as review what we learned over the school year.
The card game gave them something to take home and tell their families about! Thank you.”

Since the inaugural offering during the 2010-11 school year, nearly 30,000 students have participated in the Ag Sack Lunch program. Teachers are urged to register their classes as soon as possible.


The fall seminar series offered by the University of Nebraska's Center for Grassland Studies will include 12 lectures on topics related to grasslands, including wildlife and grasslands, the role of soil greenhouse gas emissions in perennial grass production systems, pollinator conservation and turfgrasses, and multiple talks on beef systems and grazing management.

    The seminars are 3 to 4 p.m. most Mondays during the fall semester at the Nebraska East Union, 1705 Arbor Drive, with the exception of the Sept. 19 seminar, which will be in 150 Keim Hall, 1825 N. 38th St. The first lecture is scheduled for Aug. 29 and the last is Dec. 5, with none on Sept. 4, Oct. 17 and Nov. 7. The seminars are free and open to the public and can be taken for academic credit.

    The series features Paul Genho, this year's Frank and Margaret Leu Distinguished Lecturer, on Oct. 31. Genho, president of AgReserves Inc., will discuss 50 years of study and experience with beef systems management.

    The seminar schedule can be found at The schedule is subject to revision; any changes will be noted on the website.

    Videos of each seminar will be available a few days later. For more information, contact the center at 402-472-4101 or email

Farm Finance and Ag Law Clinics Set for September

Openings are available for one-on-one, confidential farm finance and ag law consultations being conducted across the state each month. An experienced ag law attorney and ag financial counselor will be available to address farm and ranch issues related to financial planning, estate and transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, water rights, and other relevant matters. They offer an opportunity to seek an experienced outside opinion on issues affecting your farm or ranch.

Clinic Sites and Dates

    Grand Island — Thursday, Sept. 1
    North Platte — Thursday, Sept. 8
    Fairbury — Friday, Sept. 9
    Norfolk — Friday, Sept. 16
    Lexington — Thursday, Sept. 15
    Norfolk — Friday, Sept. 16
    Norfolk — Wednesday, Sept. 28

To sign up for a clinic or to get more information, call Michelle at the Nebraska Farm Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.  The Nebraska Department of Agriculture and Legal Aid of Nebraska sponsor these clinics.

Yeutter Symposium to Focus on Japanese Trade Sept. 13

The Yeutter Symposium will be held at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on Sept. 13. Hiroyuki Ishige, chairman and CEO of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) will present a keynote address titled "Asia-Pacific Economic Integration and the Role of the United States and Japan."

Ishige's lecture will focus on the depth and speed of the economic integration in the Asia-Pacific and its importance to our national, regional and state economies. He will also discuss 21st-century Asia-Pacific trade framework, the opportunities and the challenges. The responsibilities the United States and Japan have on Asia-Pacific economic integration will also be articulated.

The event begins at 2:30 p.m. with registration and refreshments, with Ishige speaking at 3 p.m. Joining Ishige will be Clayton Yeutter, former U.S. Trade Representative and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Governor Pete Ricketts has also been invited.

Ishige's presentation will be followed by an hors d'oeuvers reception and networking at the Nebraska Innovation Campus Conference Center, 2021 Transformation Drive, Lincoln.

RSVP at or email Walk-ins also welcome. Free parking available north of the buildings. Questions? Contact Jessie Brophy at or 402-472-7080

Wright County approval of Prestage pork facility heralded by Iowa soybean farmers

Iowa Soybean Association President Wayne Fredericks offers the following perspective on today’s unanimous decision by Wright County Board of Supervisors giving the go-ahead for construction of a new pork processing facility by Prestage Foods of Iowa.

“The unanimous approval today by the Wright County Board of Supervisors of a new Prestage Foods of Iowa pork processing facility is the kind of bread-and-butter economic development that has defined Iowa’s leadership in food production for generations.

“The $240 million project will offer good paying jobs to hard-working Iowans, create new demand for Iowa-grown-and-raised pork and soybeans and boost economic development throughout north central Iowa and beyond.

“Iowa soybean farmers travel the world marketing Iowa-grown soybeans and other agricultural products. This project is in keeping with the state’s strong reputation as a leading provider of high-quality food in a location ideally suited for agriculture. Pork is the No. 1 customer of soybean farmers, and a domestic one at that. Last year, Iowa farmers harvested a record 554 million bushels of soybeans. Nearly one of every four rows of this productivity is consumed by nearly 40 million head of hogs raised annually in the state.

“As a grassroots organization led by farmers whose families have put down deep roots over many generations, we understand the unique role Iowa plays in growing food. And it stands to reason given that more than 85 percent of our state’s land area is devoted to farming, the highest percentage in the nation. We’re also home to a significant share of the world’s most productive farm ground. With these resources comes a tremendous obligation to use them productively and sustainably.

“Iowa is ideally suited to growing and processing grain and livestock and the proposed pork processing facility is a natural extension of this sustainable cycle. The Iowa Soybean Association recognizes the Wright County Supervisors for moving forward prudently and decisively. Their attention to detail and commitment to managing the project’s approval fairly and objectively is to be commended. New pig processing capacity in Iowa is a win-win for communities, farmers and everyone who relies on an economy that’s working and producing.”

63rd Annual Farm Progress Show Returns to Boone, Iowa

Farm Progress Show, the nation's greatest ag showcase, is nearly ready for visitors, the show will be held August 30, 31 and September 1 on its permanent show site in Boone, Iowa (a few minutes west of Ames) just off Hwy 30.

The annual event showcases the latest technology in agriculture, including new products to be unveiled at the show by many of the industry's largest manufacturers and suppliers.

A staple of the Farm Progress Show has always been the field demonstrations. This year is no exception with a full line up of demonstrations scheduled. The combines fire up at 11 a.m each show day. Additionally, you will see auger carts collecting grain on the go, and more. Tillage tools and other special machines will operate each day from 2 to 3 p.m. This gives visitors an opportunity to view all of the competitors in each segment running side by side.

There will also be a tillage class for tools that want to run faster to show their performance features. Most of the new tillage tools, with nearly a dozen on the market, are recommended to run at 7 to 9 miles per hour. When they are run at slower speeds, you don’t always get a true picture of how these machines work. The advent of vertical tillage has made it necessary to change the rules, and boost the longstanding speed limit on the demo field. Vertical-tillage tools can operate at their optimum speed once more traditional tillage tools have made their passes.

Another favorite attraction for Farm Progress Show visitors are the Ride ‘n Drives. This year, visitors can test drive a new truck, ATV and tractor tires. Yamaha, Ram Trucks, Michelin, Chevrolet, and Titan Tire are all participating in the Ride ‘n Drives. All Ride ‘n Drive participants will be located east of exhibit field by Tram Loading.

As in 2014 and 2015, this year’s show will also have an Annex located outside the main entrance. The Annex was created to accommodate companies who wanted to participate in the Farm Progress Show but the main exhibit field was sold out. Companies like Becks Hybrid and Iowa State University can be found in the Annex. Antique Row was also re-located to the Annex to give the antique tractor clubs more space to display vintage tractors and equipment.

Syngenta is sponsoring Syngenta Square at the Annex. It’s a place where visitors can stop for a beverage, including a range of brews from Iowa Craft Brewery members and listen to live music. A great meeting place at the end of the day!

A second Varied Industries Tent has been added this year. This new North VIT is located between Fourth and Fifth Street, in the northwest quadrant of the show exhibit area. A diverse group of twenty-six companies will be set up in the north VIT and range from high-tech exhibitors to parts services.

The 2016 Farm Progress Show takes place east of Boone, Iowa, August 30, 31 and September 1. The exhibit field is open to visitors 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday. The public is welcome. Advance tickets can be purchased on the show's website, for more event details, visit

USMEF Event Showcases Return of U.S. Beef, Pork to South Africa

Working to build a solid base in a developing market, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) matched red meat exporters with buyers during the first USMEF South Africa Seminar and Buyers Reception. Funding support for the networking and educational event, held Aug. 18 in Johannesburg, was provided by the USDA Market Access Program, the Beef Checkoff Program and the Pork Checkoff

Along with one-on-one business meetings and updates on current market conditions, USMEF staff provided technical advice and assistance to traders with an interest in putting more U.S. beef and pork in South Africa’s processing, retail and foodservice sectors. Focus was also put on food safety and the quality and consistency of U.S. red meat products, as well as the availability of U.S. beef livers, kidneys and other beef variety meats.

“This was an opportunity to not only build and establish relationships, the event also provided valuable information for buyers in South Africa and helped reacquaint them with high-quality U.S. beef and pork,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF senior vice president of marketing, who noted that those in attendance were from the South African trade, along with one buyer from Nigeria.

“South Africa’s retail market is a combination of modern supermarkets and the more traditional wholesale markets,” said Halstrom. “The degree of modern retail development in South Africa far exceeds the rest of Africa, and the pace of growth continues to be strong. The potential in retail, along with foodservice and further processing, provide promising future opportunities for U.S. beef and pork.”

Also prior to the seminar, USMEF Technical Services Manager Cheyenne McEndaffer and Monty Brown, USMEF representative in the region, traveled to Durban to meet with South African port officials. Durban was chosen because it is the highest volume port for meat imports entering the country. The goal was to better familiarize USMEF staff on the import clearance protocols. In discussions with the port officials, McEndaffer and Brown had an opportunity to learn about common documentation and labeling errors, in addition to clarification on the physical inspection and residue and microbiological sampling protocol for imported red meat products. USMEF plans to use this information to educate U.S. exporters on South Africa’s import process in order to minimize shipment delays or rejections in this new market.

"As is generally true when a market opens or reopens, exporting to South Africa is going to include a learning process for everyone involved, but continual information gathering will help clarify the process for our exporters,” McEndaffer said.

In February, South Africa reopened to U.S. pork, allowing U.S. exporters to send certain cuts of raw, frozen pork to the country for further processing at approved establishments and a narrower range of items for unrestricted sale (including retail). South Africa reopened to U.S. beef in January, with no restrictions. The South African market had previously been closed to U.S. beef since the December 2003 BSE case. It had been officially closed to U.S. pork since 2013, but prior to that time trade was very limited due to regulatory restrictions.

Having both products eligible in South Africa is adding momentum to USMEF’s market development efforts in Africa. Last September, USMEF held its first Meat Buyers Showcase and Seminar in Sub-Saharan Africa. The event, held in Ghana, attracted several U.S. export companies and more than two dozen buyers from Ghana, Benin and Nigeria.

USDA Cold Storage Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers on July 31, 2016 were up 3 percent from the previous month but down 2 percent from last year, according to USDA-NASS in the monthly Cold Storage report. Total pounds of beef in freezers were up 3 percent from the previous month and up 2 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were up 2 percent from the previous month but down 5 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were down 20 percent from last month but up 114 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on July 31, 2016 were up 2 percent from the previous month and up 7 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were up 1 percent from the previous month and up 7 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 5 percent from last month and up 7 percent from July 31, 2015.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on July 31, 2016 were up 2 percent from the previous month and up 10 percent from July 31, 2015. Total natural cheese stocks were a record high for the month of July, since the data was first recorded in 1917.  Butter stocks were up 2 percent from last month and up 31 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks were up 27 percent from last month and up 14 percent from a year ago. Total frozen fruit stocks were a record high for the month of July, since the data was first recorded in 1923.

Total frozen vegetable stocks were up 9 percent from last month and up 7 percent from a year ago. Total frozen vegetable stocks were a record high for the month of July, since the data was first recorded in 1962.


All layers in Nebraska during July 2016 totaled 9.23 million, up from 5.88 million the previous year, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.  Nebraska egg production during July totaled 230 million eggs, up from 151 million in 2015. July egg production per 100 layers was 2,492 eggs, compared to 2,569 eggs in 2015.


Iowa egg production during July 2016 was 1.25 billion eggs, up 5 percent from last month, and up 61 percent from last year, according to the latest Chickens and Eggs report from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.  The average number of all layers on hand during July 2016 was 52.1 million, up 2 percent from last month, and up 55 percent from last year. Eggs per 100 layers for July were 2,388, up 3 percent from last month, and up 4 percent from last year.

U.S. July Egg Production Up 9 Percent

United States egg production totaled 8.50 billion during July 2016, up 9 percent from last year. Production included 7.36 billion table eggs, and 1.15 billion hatching eggs, of which 1.05 billion were broiler-type and 97 million were egg-type. The total number of layers during July 2016 averaged 358 million, up 7 percent from last year. July egg production per 100 layers was 2,378 eggs, up 2 percent from July 2015.
All layers in the United States on August 1, 2016 totaled 357 million, up 7 percent from last year. The 357 million layers consisted of 299 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 54.2 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs, and 3.82 million layers producing egg-type hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on August 1, 2016, averaged 77.2 eggs per 100 layers, up 3 percent from August 1, 2015.

Egg-Type Chicks Hatched Up Slightly

Egg-type chicks hatched during July 2016 totaled 42.9 million, up slightly from July 2015. Eggs in incubators totaled 38.2 million on August 1, 2016, down 14 percent from a year ago.  Domestic placements of egg-type pullet chicks for future hatchery supply flocks by leading breeders totaled 268 thousand during July 2016, up slightly from July 2015.

Broiler-Type Chicks Hatched Up 1 Percent

Broiler-type chicks hatched during July 2016 totaled 810 million, up 1 percent from July 2015. Eggs in incubators totaled 650 million on August 1, 2016, up slightly from a year ago.  Leading breeders placed 7.96 million broiler-type pullet chicks for future domestic hatchery supply flocks during July 2016, up 7 percent from July 2015.

EU Crop Monitor Cuts Corn, Wheat Yield Forecasts on Weather Damage

The European Union's crop monitoring agency cut its yield estimates after dry weather damaged corn fields in Romania and Bulgaria and floods devastated France's wheat harvest.

Crop yields are expected to total 5.36 metric tons per hectare in 2016, down from a forecast of 5.52 tons per hectare issued in July, said Monitoring Agricultural Resources.

The forecast for soft wheat yields was reduced to 5.86 tons per hectare from 6.10, and the corn forecast was reduced to 7.23 tons per hectare from 7.42 tons.

Despite the reduction, crop yields this year will be in line with the five-year average, MARS said.

India Soybean Production to be Higher This Year

India will likely produce more soybeans this year as bountiful rains have encouraged farmers to plant more crop during the last two months, according to the head of an industry body. "With good early monsoon rainfall, we can expect a production of 9 to 10 million tons," said B.V. Mehta, head of Mumbai-based trade body, Solvent Extractors' Association. Soybean is crushed to produce soybean oil and soymeal, which is used as animal feed. India consumes nearly 18 million tons of edible oil, and 75% of this demand is met by cheap imports, especially from Malaysia and Indonesia. Farmers have planted soybean on 11.24 million hectares so far in the sowing season that began in June, up 0.3% over the past year, according to India's agriculture ministry.

World Dairy Expo® Dairy Cattle Show Announces Entry ID Requirement Change

The deadline to enter cattle for the 50th World Dairy Expo® Dairy Cattle Show is fast approaching. To avoid late fees, cattle entries must be postmarked or submitted online by midnight (CDT) on Wednesday, August 31, 2016. Entry information, a complete schedule of events, rules and other updates can be found in the Premium Book or online at

Due to a backlog in official USDA AIN 840 tags, the requirement to submit official AIN and CCIA ID at the time of animal entry has been relaxed for the 2016 show. If exhibitors do not currently have an AIN or CCIA number for their animals, they can submit entries by selecting “pending” on the paper or electronic entry form.

Although the official USDA AIN or Canadian CCIA RFID number is no longer required at the time of entry, it must be listed on the health papers with a corresponding tag placed in the animal’s ear at the time of arrival on grounds. Acceptable forms of ID include a USDA AIN 840 tag or a Canadian CCIA 124 RFID tag. Cattle who were previously tagged (and born before March 11, 2015) with a USDA 900, 982, or 985 RFID tag will be grandfathered in under ADT and are eligible to enter the WDE grounds. 

For an additional fee, online and paper entries will be accepted through September 11. Entries will continue to be accepted between September 12 and the show, via mail or onsite, with applicable late fees.

AAIS Announces New Forms and Rules Filings for Drone Insurance Coverage

American Association of Insurance Services (AAIS), the only non-for-profit national insurance advisory organization, announced new filings of Unmanned Aircraft Liability Coverage forms and rules in their Agricultural General Liability Program (AgGL), in response to consumer demand for coverage for unmanned aircraft or "drones."  AAIS also filed a new Personal & Advertising Injury Liability Aircraft Exclusion created to address new liability exposures associated with this nascent technology.

As of this release, the new AgGL Unmanned Aircraft Coverage endorsements are approved in 34 states. 

AAIS' new endorsements were created in anticipation of the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) long-awaited Final sUAS Regulations for small commercial UAS (under 55 pounds).  The new regulations were published June 21, 2016 and will become effective August 29, 2016.  The economic impact of this ruling is expected to be first felt in farm and agribusiness as it is the fastest growing commercial sector using drones.   

AAIS leads the national Property & Casualty insurance advisory industry in providing two specialized Agricultural General Liability (AgGL) products: one to meet the needs of large farms and one for commercial agricultural exposures. The AgGL program includes coverage of more than 300 expert classes, thus writing a separate commercial general liability policy is not necessary with the AAIS coverage forms.

Unmanned aircraft is expected to revolutionize American farming and agricultural operations through increased commodities production in the United States.  Drones can monitor livestock and increase crop yields by identifying specific regions of irrigation problems, insect infestations, and other exposures that previously devastated operations.  Using a specialized camera attached to the drone, infrared maps produce measurable data, photographs and valuable insights improving business production.  The soon to be effective sUAS FAA regulations allow farm/ag operations to monitor from a maximum of 400 feet.

AAIS will also soon be releasing additional forms and rules for drones, including:
-    A new Farmowners filing of Unmanned Aircraft Liability Coverage forms and rules, and new aircraft exclusions under Personal Injury and Personal & Advertising Injury Liability.
-    Unmanned Aircraft forms for Farm Umbrella (personal and commercial) as well as Agricultural Umbrella Liability (AgXL) coverage forms.

Leslie Rippley, AAIS vice president of commercial lines, farm & agribusiness, adds that AAIS recognizes the high consumer demand for drone usage in conducting farming and agricultural operations.

"As an industry leader in the farming and agriculture sector, we anticipated the need our members would have and their demand has been great," said Rippley, adding, "Thus, our first filing for Agricultural General Liability Unmanned Aircraft coverage offers large commercial farm and agricultural operations a solution tailored to their more complex exposures."

Under the new FAA rules, a person operating a small unmanned aircraft must either hold a remote pilot airman certificate with a small unmanned aircraft rating or be under the direct supervision of a person who does hold a remote pilot certificate. A licensed pilot may obtain a temporary remote pilot certificate immediately upon submission of the application.

To obtain a remote pilot certificate, a person must demonstrate aeronautical knowledge by:
-    Passing an initial aeronautical knowledge test
-    Being vetted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
-    Being at least 16 years old

Established in 1931, AAIS continues to serve the Property & Casualty insurance industry as the only national nonprofit advisory organization governed by its member companies.  AAIS offers innovative products including standardized policy forms, program rules, and loss costs for rate making for 34 lines of business, industry leadership in research and data development, and unrivaled customer service, value, and efficiency.  Over 700 insurance carriers, including some of the largest national carriers, rely on AAIS.

2016 NIAA Antibiotics Symposium Emphasis on Working Together Across Animal and Human Health

The National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) will once again host a unique gathering focused on a collaborative and continued dialogue about antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance. Not about one point of view, the 2016 NIAA hosted Antibiotics Symposium provides a setting for a thoughtful exchange of ideas for the betterment of animal and human health.

The Symposium entitled, Antibiotic Use – Working Together for Better Solutions, takes place November 1-3, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency Dulles, Herndon, Va.

All sectors of the animal food production and human/public health industries will come together around this, one of the most important topics in animal and human health today. The sixth Symposium hosted by NIAA and its partners, NIAA continues to develop the dialog on antimicrobial resistance through collaboration and cross-industry discussion.

Presenters will be from organizations such as the CDC, FDA, and USDA, along with industry leaders, retailers, processors, producers, and representatives from both human and public health. To move forward, animal agriculture must outline what appropriate use of antibiotics really means, and identify the core elements of stewardship.

Building trust, developing tools and deploying strategies will take all of us Working Together.

For more information or to register online go or contact the NIAA by calling 719-538-8843 or email

Friday, August 19, 2016

Friday August 19 Cattle on Feed + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.09 million cattle on feed on August 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was down 5 percent from last year.  Placements during July totaled 350,000 head, down 10 percent from 2015.  Cattle marketings for the month of July totaled 430,000 head, down 5 percent from last year.  Other disappearance during July totaled 10,000 head, down 5,000 from last year.


Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 600,000 head on August 1, 2016, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was down 2 percent from July 1, 2016, and down 5 percent from August 1, 2015. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head had 525,000 head on feed, down 4 percent from last month and down 3 percent from last year. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in all Iowa feedlots totaled 1,125,000 head, down 3 percent from last month and down 4 percent from last year.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during July totaled 68,000 head, an increase of 26 percent from last month but down 4 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head placed 25,000 head, down 51 percent from last month and down 4 percent from last year. Placements for all feedlots in Iowa totaled 93,000 head, down 11 percent from last month and down 4 percent from last year.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during July totaled 76,000 head, up 6 percent from last month but down 5 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head marketed 42,000 head, down 43 percent from last month and down 14 percent from last year. Marketings for all feedlots in Iowa were 118,000 head, down 19 percent from last month and down 9 percent from last year. Other disappearance from all feedlots in Iowa totaled 5,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Up 2 Percent

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.2 million head on August 1, 2016. The inventory was 2 percent above August 1, 2015.

Placements in feedlots during July totaled 1.57 million head, 2 percent above 2015. Net placements were 1.52 million head. During July, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 352,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 235,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 360,000 head, and 800 pounds and greater were 625,000 head.

Marketings of fed cattle during July totaled 1.71 million head, 1 percent below 2015. Marketings were the lowest for July since the series began in 1996.  Other disappearance totaled 50,000 head during July, 11 percent below 2015.

Cattle on Feed as of August 1, 2016

                              1,000 hd   -  % of Aug 1 '15
Colorado .......:         810           103        
Iowa .............:         600             95         
Kansas ..........:       2,110          109          
Nebraska ......:       2,090           95            
Texas ............:       2,520          103          

Cattle Placed in July 2016

                            1,000 hd   -   % of July '15
Colorado .......:       115           128          
Iowa .............:         68             96           
Kansas ..........:        445           113         
Nebraska ......:        350            90       
Texas ............:        380           104        

Cattle Marketed in July 2016

                              1,000 hd    -   % of July '15
Colorado .......:          150           120       
Iowa .............:            76             95      
Kansas ..........:           375            95     
Nebraska ......:           430            95        
Texas ............:           400           101        


The Nebraska Soybean Board held an election in July for the Director Seats in District 2, 4 and 8. Nebraska soybean farmers in those districts voted with the following results:

District 2 (Counties of Burt, Cuming, Dakota, Dixon, Stanton, Thurston and Wayne) Candidates:
Tony Johanson, Oakland, NE - Burt County – Ballot Count Total 99 – Re-elected
Lucas Miller, Randolph, NE - Wayne County – Ballot Count Total 92
The re-elected Director, Tony Johanson, will begin his second term on the board.

District 4 (Counties of Boone, Hamilton, Merrick, Nance, Platte, Polk and York) Candidates:
Eugene Goering, Columbus, NE - Platte County – Ballot Count Total 163 – Re-elected
Wayne Sackschewsky, York, NE - York County – Ballot Count Total 83
Brian Brown, Central City, NE - Merrick County – Ballot Count Total 78
The re-elected Director, Eugene Goering, will begin his second term on the board.

District 8 (Counties of Arthur, Banner, Blaine, Box Butte, Brown, Chase, Cherry, Cheyenne, Custer, Dawes, Dawson, Deuel, Dundy, Frontier, Furnas, Garden, Garfield, Gosper, Grant, Greeley, Harlan, Hayes, Hitchcock, Hooker, Howard, Keith, Keya Paha, Kimball, Lincoln, Logan, Loup, McPherson, Morrill, Perkins, Phelps, Red Willow, Rock, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan, Sherman, Sioux, Thomas, Valley and Wheeler) Candidates:
Terry Horky, Sargent, NE - Custer County – Ballot Count Total 138
Norm Lewandowski, Rockville, NE - Sherman County – Ballot Count Total 91
The re-elected Director, Terry Horky, will begin his third term on the board.

“A special thank you to all the candidates who took time out of their busy schedules to run in this year’s election. The three returning directors will continue to face the many challenges and seek opportunities that will benefit all soybean farmers in Nebraska,” said Victor Bohuslavsky, Nebraska Soybean Board executive director.

The elected directors will serve a three-year term beginning October 1, 2016 and ending September 30, 2019.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation – PAC Announces “Friend of Agriculture” Candidates

A number of candidates seeking election to the Nebraska Legislature have received the official “Friend of Agriculture” designation from NFBF-PAC, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s political action committee. The designations have been made for candidates seeking voter approval in the Nov. 8, General Election.

“We are pleased to support a number of candidates we believe possess a strong understanding of the role and importance agriculture plays in boosting not only rural communities, but also Nebraska’s overall economy and job creation across the state,” said Mark McHargue, NFBF-PAC committee chair Aug. 19.

Farm Bureau’s ”Friend of Agriculture” designation is given to selected candidates for public office based on their commitment to and positions on agricultural issues, qualifications, previous experience, communication abilities and their ability to represent their district.

“It is critical rural and urban interests work together for the betterment of Nebraska, and having people who understand that connection and are willing to work together is important to all of us,” said McHargue.

Those receiving the “Friend of Agriculture” designation include:
·         Tommy Garrett of Bellevue, seeking re-election to Legislative Dist.3
·         Justin Wayne of Omaha, seeking to represent Legislative Dist.13
·         Gregg Neuhaus of Grand Island, seeking to represent Legislative Dist.35
·         Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn, seeking to represent Legislative Dist.39
·         Tom Briese of Albion, seeking to represent Legislative Dist. 41

In addition to the newly announced “Friend of Agriculture” designees, Nebraska Farm Bureau had previously named several Legislative candidates as “Friends of Agriculture” prior to the Primary Election. Those designations will carry over into the General Election. Candidates having previously received the designation include:
·         Dan Watermeier of Syracuse, seeking re-election to Legislative Dist. 1
·         Joni Albrecht of Thurston, seeking to represent Legislative Dist. 17
·         Jim Scheer of Norfolk, seeking re-election to Legislative Dist. 19
·         Mike Hilgers of Lincoln, seeking to represent Legislative Dist. 21
·         Jerry Johnson of Wahoo, seeking re-election to Legislative Dist. 23
·         Suzanne Geist of Lincoln, seeking to represent Legislative Dist. 25
·         Bob Lammers of Kearney, seeking to represent Legislative Dist. 37
·         Al Davis of Hyannis, seeking re-election to Legislative Dist. 43
·         Steve Erdman of Bayard, seeking to represent Legislative Dist. 47

“We look forward to providing support for all of the ‘Friend of Agriculture’ candidates as they seek to represent the interests of Farm Bureau members from across the state in the Nebraska Unicameral,” said McHargue.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               What’s the secret to getting sorghums, sudans, and millets dry enough to bale?  I hear that question every year and you know what, there is no secret.

               Most summer annual forage grasses have large, coarse stems that dry slowly when cut for hay.  It is not unusual for windrows to lay in the field for two weeks and still not be dry enough to bale safely.  So it’s important to use every method known to get them dry.

               Begin by cutting when plants are only about 3 feet tall to reduce volume and have smaller stems.  It may be too late for that advice this year, however.  Also, be sure to crimp the hay as it is being cut to crack open stems and allow moisture to escape more easily.

               I like to cut high, leaving 8 to 10 inches of stubble to hold hay off the ground for faster drying and to encourage more rapid regrowth.  But, some growers prefer to cut as short as possible to slow down regrowth, hoping of get the hay dry before regrowth grows into it.

               When you first cut the hay, spread it out in as wide a swath as possible.  This exposes more of it to sunlight energy that is critical for drying.  After the exposed top surface is mostly dry start raking to turn and expose wetter portions to sunlight and wind.  Effective raking probably is more skill and art than it is science, but do your best to keep the windrow loose and fluffy.  And lay newly raked hay onto dry ground if at all possible.  It usually takes several rakings to fully dry these annual grasses.

               It is really hard to tell when the stems are dry enough to bale so it often helps to use a propionic acid-based preservative when baling to reduce the risk of mold and heat damage to the hay.

               Annual grasses are difficult to dry.  By using these steps, and with a little luck with weather, it can be done.

 ‘Local Foods for Local Tables’ 2nd Annual Conference Draws 175 to Scott Conference Center

Sam Rikkers, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administrator for the Rural Business-Cooperative Service was the featured luncheon speaker today at the ‘Local Foods for Local Tables’ 2nd annual conference at the Scott Conference Center in Omaha. The conference was hosted by Nebraska Congressman Brad Ashford with participation from USDA agencies.  Nearly 175 people attended.

“USDA is pleased to lend its support to the local foods effort. This program is a great opportunity for people to access healthy, local foods and connect with producers in their community,” Rikkers said. “The local foods movement is one strategy that USDA has used to help turn rural communities into more vibrant places where businesses can thrive.”

“Locally grown foods, from a number of area providers, are the answer to providing well balanced diets to many in our community, especially those struggling to afford and prepare healthy meals,” said Nebraska Congressman Brad Ashford.  “As a member of the Nutrition Subcommittee on Agriculture I will continue to support innovative, grassroots programs and help remove red-tape that gets in the way.  Healthy foods provide children the opportunity to learn more at school, receive a better education and grow into healthy adults who become active members of our community.”

USDA Rural Development (RD), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) all participated in the event discussing USDA resources available to help farmers in urban agriculture settings.  Focus was placed on the Local/Urban Foods Initiatives in the Greater Omaha Area including technical, financial and educational support services available through USDA agencies and partners.

Upper Big Blue NRD Board Approves Decrease in FY2017 Budget

The Upper Big Blue NRD Board of Directors approved the FY2017 Budget with a 2.19% decrease.  This is a reduction of $85,362.58 from last year’s budget.  The FY2017 Budget is $3,820,334.64.  The tax levy is 2.6 cents per $100 valuation.

According to David Eigenberg, General Manager of the Upper Big Blue NRD, “Items budgeted for FY2017 include flood control, groundwater quantity & quality protection, sustaining forestry, maintaining safe and comfortable recreation areas, and providing cost-share opportunities for best management practices in agriculture. These measures serve to protect lives, protect property, and protect the future of Nebraska’s natural resources, and enhance the quality of life that District citizens enjoy.”

A Special Public Hearing for the FY2017 Tax Request is scheduled for Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.  This hearing will take place at the Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District office located at 319 East 25th Street, York, Nebraska.  The proposed tax request for FY2017 continues to include safety measures for protecting District citizens and the delivery of quality services.

The Upper Big Blue NRD Board also approved District Rule 8: Erosion & Sediment Control revisions.  These Rule 8 revisions are reformatted to remain consistent with changes in statute passed by the Nebraska Legislature. 

July Milk Production in the United States up 1.4 Percent

Milk production in the United States during July totaled 17.9 billion pounds, Up 1.4 percent from July 2015.  Production per cow in the United States averaged 1,920 pounds for July, 23 pounds above July 2015.  The number of milk cows on farms in the United States was 9.33 million head, 18,000 head more than July 2015, and 2,000 head more than June 2016.

Milk production in Iowa during July 2016 totaled 414 million pounds, up 2.5 percent from the previous July according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report. The average number of milk cows during July, at 211,000 head, was the same as both last month and last year. Monthly production per cow averaged 1,960 pounds, up 45 pounds from last July.

CattleFax Trends+ Cow-Calf Webinar

August 31, 2016 - 6:30 p.m. CDT

Cow-calf margins have been and will continue to be under pressure as the U.S. beef cowherd has expanded recently, producers will need to continue to make adjustments in years to come to help mitigate a reduction in profitability. An upcoming free CattleFax webinar will address an outlook for the cow-calf and entire beef industry for the last half of 2016 and into 2017.

To participate in the webinar and access program details, producers and industry leaders simply need to register online....

Demand Increases For Short-Term Grain Transportation

Strong demand for grain transportation from mid-July through early August is evident due to high inspections, barge movements, and rail carloads, along with strong vessel loading activities in the U.S. Gulf.

During the last four weeks, total grain inspections from all major ports averaged 2.7 mmt, up 67 percent from the same period last year and 93 percent above the three-year average.

Weekly down-bound grain movements at Mississippi River Locks 27 near St. Louis for the past four weeks have averaged 958 thousand tons, 40 percent higher than the same period last year, and 106 percent higher than the 3-year average.

In addition, during the past 4 weeks ending August 11, an average of 54 ocean-going grain vessels were loading or waiting to be loaded in the U.S. Gulf, 39 vessels were loaded in the previous seven days, and 66 vessels were due in the next 10 days.

In the prior eight weeks ending July 14, an average of 32 vessels were either loading or waiting to load, 34 vessels loaded in the previous seven days, and 55 vessels were due in the next 10 days.

RCIS enters 2016 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour with New Parent Company Zurich and Renewed Energy

Zurich American Insurance Company (Zurich), the new parent company to Rural Community Insurance Services (RCIS) , today announced the continued tradition of sponsoring the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour. This will be the seventh year RCIS has been the exclusive crop insurance sponsor of the Crop Tour that runs from Aug. 22 – 25 in seven Midwestern states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio and South Dakota.

“We enter this year’s Crop Tour having a renewed energy with our new parent company Zurich at our side,” said Mike Day, head of RCIS. “The Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour is an opportunity to showcase how important farmers and the agriculture industry are to the American economy. Both Zurich and RCIS have strong ties with farmers throughout the U.S. and we are committed to the viability of crop insurance.”

During this year’s tour, 26 RCIS crop adjusters will be among 100 plus tour scouts out in the fields collecting field samples and analyzing corn and soybean crops in each of the state tour locations. The analysis will result in the first projections on harvest yields of the season. Corn and soybeans from the Tour’s seven states account for more than 60 percent of the total corn and soybean production in the U.S., according to RCIS data.

This year’s Tour – the first since Zurich closed on the acquisition of RCIS on March 31 – will bring RCIS leadership together with area farmers and agents giving them the opportunity to share the progress made since the global insurer reached the 100 days post close milestone.

“The transition has been a positive experience for our team members, agents and farmers,” said Day.

Since the close, RCIS has been successfully on-boarded into Zurich. They have launched initiatives to improve both the farmers’ and agents’ experiences and implemented new tools, such as Digital Signature Service for Claims, a new, timesaving service that allows farmers to sign claims without having to schedule an appointment and interrupt their farm work. For more information about RCIS and Zurich, go to

Deere Cutting Output as Farm Slump Continues

Deere & Co. said Friday it plans to cut more production of its trademark tractors and harvesters this fall in response to the continued downturn in the global farm economy.

The world's largest maker of farm equipment by sales is trimming output and laying off workers at plants in Illinois and Iowa due to weak demand in North America and big overseas markets in Europe and South America.

Falling crop prices have hit farmer incomes and made them more reluctant to buy new machinery, while Deere and its rivals also face a glut of used equipment bought during a near decadelong sales boom that ended three years ago.

Deere outlined its latest cost-cutting efforts as it reported better-than-expected fiscal third-quarter profit and raised its full-year guidance, boosting shares that were recently up 11.2% at $85.56.

The company faces its fourth year of falling sales in 2017 and plans to cut hours at the East Moline, Ill., plant that assembles harvesters by 60% from a year ago, with those at the Waterloo, Iowa, factory that builds high-horsepower tractors falling by a fifth, said Tony Huegel, Deere's director of investor relations, on a call with analysts.

The market for large tractors in the U.S. and Canada that Deere leads has been particularly weak. Industrywide retail sales so far this year are down 24% from 2015, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, a trade group.

U.S. farmers' cash receipts from major crops are forecast to drop 9% to $95.4 billion for the current growing season even as farmers are set to bring in record corn and soybean harvests, according to J.P. Morgan.

The Moline, Ill.-based company has been throttling back on production to avoid swelling inventories of new machinery at its dealers. The company reported Friday that fiscal third-quarter sales of farm equipment slipped 11% to $4.7 billion, though profit from the business rose 21% to $571 million as cost cuts boosted margins.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Thursday August 18 Ag News

CVA Welcomes Matthew Ashton as Grain SVP

Earlier this week, Carl Dickinson, CEO of Central Valley Ag announced to employees that Matthew Ashton has accepted the role of Senior Vice President of Grain, and will be joining the CVA Team beginning September 12, 2016.

“I am confident that Matthew will be an excellent match for this position and a strong asset to our Grain Division,” said Carl Dickinson, CEO of CVA. “I’m excited about this decision and look forward to seeing the contributions Matthew will make to CVA’s future.”

Matthew comes to Central Valley Ag with over 18 years of agricultural cooperative experience, his most recent experience as the CEO of Central Farmer’s Cooperative/Fremar LLC, based out of Marion, South Dakota. He is well respected throughout the grain industry and is known for his expertise, knowledge, insight and ethics. Matthew’s documented financial success and ability to grow business and sustain profitability during challenging times makes him a great fit for the vision of CVA; to be a world-class cooperative ensuring the long-term success of our employees and customers.

“I’m very appreciative for the opportunity to become a part of the CVA team,” said Ashton. “I’m excited to meet CVA patrons, board members, the management team and employees; I’m ready to continue providing the outstanding service that CVA patrons have come to expect from the grain division.” Matthew and his family look forward to relocating to York area.

NE FFA Foundation Annual Tire Auction to Include Harley-Davidson, Motorcycle, and JD Gator 

Titan Tire Corporation, a subsidiary of Titan International, Inc., will be hosting a tire auction for Nebraska FFA at Husker Harvest Days on Wednesday, September 14, 2016. In its fourth year, the 2016 auction will also include a 2005 Harley Davidson Road King Classic motorcycle and John Deere Gator.

“We take great pride in supporting the FFA and helping to benefit the next generation of growers,” says Scott Sloan, agricultural product manager at Titan International. “FFA is a great leadership program for students looking to continue in agriculture and ag business fields. If you spend any time with these kids, you can see that the future is bright for agriculture, and Titan is glad to help them along the way.”

To participate in this year’s auction:

·       Sign in at the FFA registration desk for a bid number to participate in the auction in person. Can’t make it to the sale? The auction will be streamed live on Cash, check and credit cards will be accepted.

·       Starting at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 14, participants can place bids on a selection of Titan and Goodyear Farm tires, as well as a John Deere Gator and Harley Davidson motorcycle. The highest bids win and all proceeds support Nebraska FFA members.

·       The list of tires that will be auctioned off and details on the John Deere Gator and Harley Davidson can be downloaded at

Deadline Extended: Cattlemen’s Boot Camp in Nebraska

Cattle producers, mark your calendars. A Cattlemen’s Boot Camp will be hosted Sept. 21-22 at the Animal Science Complex on the University of Nebraska’s East Campus in Lincoln, Neb.

The educational event will be hosted jointly by the American Angus Association and the University of Nebraska Lincoln (UNL), and will provide purebred and commercial cattle producers with timely information presented by academic and industry professionals.

Register online at, or download and send your application by mail before Aug. 29 to ensure you don’t miss all that this event has to offer.

“The Cattlemen’s Boot Camp workshop is a great event for cattle producers across the country,” says Jaclyn Clark, Association director of events and education. “The workshop offers industry-specific information from speakers and research that will offer insight into the beef business for both seedstock and commercial producers.”

Generously funded by the Angus Foundation, the Cattlemen’s Boot Camp is open to all cattle producers and features two days of educational speakers and workshops, and hands-on activities to help cattlemen and cattlewomen improve their herd operations. Attendees will look forward to hearing from industry professionals on a market outlook, range and crop management tips, updates on carcass trends and information on bull selection, source verification, genetic improvement, and general herd management.  A tentative schedule follows.

Wednesday, Sept. 21
12:30-1 p.m. – Registration
1 p.m. – Welcome: Brad Bennett
1:15-1:30 p.m. – Welcome: Ronnie Green
1:30-2:15 p.m. – Market Outlook: Kate Brooks
2:15-3 p.m. – Range Management: Jerry Volesky

3-3:15 p.m. – Break

3:15-4 p.m. – Cover Crops: Mary Drenowski
4-4:45 p.m. – Corn Residue: Rick Rasby
4:45-5:30 p.m. – Value-added Cuts: Gary Sullivan

5:45-6:30 p.m. – Dinner: Pete McClymont, executive vice president of Nebraska Cattlemen

6:30-7:15 p.m. – Beef Tenderness: Chris Calkins
7:15-8 p.m. – Certified Angus Beef: Larry Corah

Thursday, Sept. 22 - East Campus Union
8-8:15 a.m. – Introduction: Brad Bennett
8:15-9 a.m. – AAA Login/Member Services: Jerry Cassady
9-9:45 a.m. – Dry Lot Cows: Karla Jenkins

9:45-10 a.m. – Break

10-10:45 a.m. – Reproduction: Rick Funston
10:45-11:30 a.m. – Bull Selection: Dan Moser
11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. – Feedlot: Galen Erickson

12:15-1:15 p.m. – Lunch

1:15-2 p.m. – Source Verification: Ginette Gottswiller
2-2:45 p.m. – Angus Media/I Am Angus: Eric Grant
3 p.m. – Closing: Tom Field and ASCI Department Head

Registration is $75 per person, and includes meals and educational materials. Registration forms are due Aug. 29 and can be submitted online or mailed to Jaclyn Clark at the American Angus Association, 3201 Frederick Ave., Saint Joseph, MO 64506. Late and walk-in registrations will not be accepted.

A block of hotel rooms are reserved at the Holiday Inn located at 141 N. Ninth St. in Lincoln, Neb., for $119 plus tax until Sept. 1.

Rural Mainstreet Index Below Growth-Neutral for 12th Straight Month

The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index rose for August, but remained below growth neutral for the 12th straight month, according to the monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy.  

Overall: The index, which ranges between 0 and 100 increased to 41.1 for August from July’s weak 39.8. This month’s reading is well off the index for August 2015 when it stood at 50.0. 

“Over the past 12 months, farm prices have fallen by 11 percent, cattle prices are off by 22 percent, and grain prices are down by 20 percent.  Weak agricultural commodity prices are pushing farm income lower and sinking the overall Rural Mainstreet economy,” said Ernie Goss, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University's Heider College of Business.

Farming and ranching: The farmland and ranchland-price index for August slumped to 25.6 from 31.3 in July. This is the 33rd straight month the index has languished below growth neutral 50.0.

This month, bankers estimated, on average, farmland prices would fall by another 6.9 percent over the next 12 months. However, as in previous months, there is a great deal of variation across the region in the direction and magnitude of farmland prices, with prices growing in some portions of the region.

Bank CEOs reported an average annual cash rent per acre of $252 with almost one-fourth of bankers detailing annual cash rents exceeding $299.

The August farm equipment-sales index increased to 14.8 from 10.7 in July. “Weakness in farm income and low agricultural commodity prices continue to restrain the sale of agriculture equipment across the region,” said Goss.

Nebraska: The Nebraska RMI for August advanced to regional high of 64.5 from 51.5 in July. The state’s farmland-price index sank to 43.5 from July’s 49.3. Nebraska’s new-hiring index grew to 59.2 from 55.2 in July. Nebraska job growth over the last 12 months; Rural Mainstreet, 1.6 percent; Urban Nebraska, 1.1 percent.

Iowa: The August RMI for Iowa advanced to a strong 58.3 from July’s 51.9. Iowa’s farmland-price index for August slumped to 40.5 from 49.7 in July. Iowa’s new-hiring index for August expanded to 58.1 from July’s 55.4. Iowa job growth over the last 12 months; Rural Mainstreet, 1.1 percent; Urban Iowa, 1.7 percent.

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

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

Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska Leaders Talk Farm Economy

Missouri Department of Agriculture's Richard Fordyce and University of Missouri Extension's Dr. Scott Brown hosted a Four-State Economic Discussion with state leaders from Missouri, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska in St. Joseph, Mo. The meeting was a unique opportunity for collaboration and allowed each state to report feedback gathered from producers and agriculture finance experts in their respective states. This feedback will ultimately assist in setting outreach and policy priorities.

"Our meeting this week was both productive and unprecedented," Missouri Director of Agriculture Richard Fordyce said. "Having state department representatives and university extension leaders from each of the states all in one room resulted in key takeaways that will ensure agriculture continues to thrive."

Other state leaders in attendance included Loyd Wilson, Missouri Department of Agriculture deputy director; Rob Kallenbach, University of Missouri; John Lawrence and Chad Hart, Iowa State University; Chad Bontrager, Kansas Department of Agriculture deputy secretary; Janel Koons, Kansas State University Research and Extension; Mat Habrock, Nebraska Department of Agriculture assistant director and Dave Aiken, University of Nebraska.

"We've been told time and time again to support international trade," said Chad Bontrager, Kansas Department of Agriculture. "This meeting highlighted that need even further with the discussion around a historic supply and demand situation."

The meeting also included presentations by Sterling Liddell, Rabo AgriFinance, and James Glueck, U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

"I applaud the Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska state departments of agriculture for proactively engaging in this discussion," Glueck said. "We have a responsibility to educate folks on agriculture, when times are tough and when times are good."

Common themes that emerged from the discussion included the importance of encouraging international trade, supporting younger generations' efforts to return to the farm and helping producers recognize break-even points and profit margins.

In July 2016, Director Fordyce and department staff toured the state to listen to farmers, ranchers and community leaders about their take on the current financial situation and current opportunities and challenges facing the industry. Nearly 400 people came to discuss the latest topics in Missouri agriculture. Similar sessions were hosted by departments of agriculture and university extension offices in Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska.

Corn: It’s Everything at the Iowa State Fair This Friday

Iowa Corn is proud to sponsor Iowa Corn Day at the Iowa State Fair on Friday, August 19. This year’s activities will include:

    A family-friendly scavenger hunt where fair goers locate five stations scattered throughout the fairgrounds, take a selfie and post them to social media using #CornItsEverything. If you complete three of the five stations located throughout the fairgrounds, you will receive a free Iowa Corn t-shirt*! If you complete all five stations you can also be entered into a drawing to win a set of tickets to KISS at the Grandstands on Friday, August 19 or two tickets to the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series Football game on September 10, 2016 in Iowa City. Savenger hunt cards will be handed out at the main entrances or they will be available at the Iowa Corn booth on the Grand Concourse.

    New to the fair is the highly-interactive Iowa Corn Mobile Education trailer. The 40-foot state-of-the-art mobile display brings to life Iowa Corn’s successful “CORN: IT’S EVERYTHING” campaign. It takes visitors on a multi-media journey showing how Iowa Corn farmers conserve their land while growing corn that’s used for food, feed, fuel and the 4,000 other products made from you guessed it, corn. The outside of the trailer depicts a multi-generational farm family looking out over a cornfield. This represents the 96 percent of Iowa farms that are family-owned.

There are five main themes included in the display:

        The Iowa Corn Farmer: Includes video testimonials from farmers discussing their different production practices and explains the difference between sweet corn versus field corn.

        It’s Fuel: Discusses how homegrown ethanol is good for Iowans by reducing the cost of fuel and creating jobs in our state. It explains how ethanol is good for America by reducing our dependence on foreign oil and how it’s good for the environment by reducing greenhouse emissions. AND finally, how it’s good for the performance of our vehicles with Indy Car and NASCAR having logged several million miles using ethanol. This section also allows visitors to find out if your vehicle is E15 and E85 friendly and provides you a list of the closest stations to home or work.

        It’s Feed: Highlights the importance of the livestock industry to the sustainability of the corn industry and showcasing Iowa Corn’s many partners in the livestock sector.

        It’s Food: Includes an ask a farmer about your food video testimonials and demonstrating some of the many products made of corn.

        It’s Everything: You would be surprised the many products made from corn. This section walks you through the four side to every corn kernel including starch, fiber, protein and oil. Don’t forget to take a selfie with the many products made from corn and post it to your social media channels.

Throughout the fair, Iowa Corn will also have a presence at the Little Hands on the Farm Exhibit and on August 20 in the Ag Building.

USDA to Fund Agricultural Wetland Mitigation Banks in 10 States

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Jason Weller today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing more than $7 million to fund agricultural wetland mitigation banks in 10 Midwest and Northern Great Plain states.

The Wetland Mitigation Banking Program, created by the 2014 Farm Bill, helps states, local governments or other qualified partners develop wetland mitigation banks that restore, create, or enhance wetland ecosystems, broadening the conservation options available to farmers and ranchers so they can maintain eligibility for other USDA programs.

“Wetlands are vital and dynamic ecosystems that provide important functions—from groundwater recharge to prime wildlife habitat,” Weller said. “USDA’s new Wetland Mitigation Banking Program will ensure meaningful wetland restoration and protection on the landscape while expanding options for farmers and ranchers.”

Wetland mitigation banking uses a market-based approach to restore, create, or enhance wetlands in one place to compensate for unavoidable impacts to wetlands at another location. Banked wetland mitigation credits are made available after the restoration, creation, or enhancement of previously converted wetlands protected by a conservation easement. Wetland mitigation requires the replacement of all lost wetland functions, values, and acres.

Today’s announcement includes funding for eight new wetland mitigation banks, and will help two existing banks expand to meet the needs of agriculture operations. Below is a list of impacted states and selected projects:
    Georgia – Corblu Ecology Group, LLC
    Illinois – Magnolia Land Partners, LLC
    Iowa – Iowa Agricultural Mitigation, Inc.
    Michigan – Michigan Quality of Life Agencies (Department of Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Department of Environmental Quality)
    Minnesota – Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources
    Missouri – Minton Environmental Consultants, LLC,
    Nebraska – Westervelt Ecological Services, LLC
    North Dakota – Dakota Wetland Partners, LLC
    Ohio – North Coast Regional Council of Park Districts
    South Dakota – Dakota Wetland Partners, LLC

A complete list of the selected, multi-year projects with short descriptions is available on the wetland mitigation banking page.

This announcement follows a request for proposals earlier in 2016. USDA sought projects that would support local efforts to conserve wetlands in geographic areas where the potential for agricultural wetland conversion is high. USDA also considered the applicants’ experience with wetland mitigation banking and their ability to provide wetland credits within two years.

Animal rights activists encouraged to be more aggressive in mission to “destroy animal agriculture”

The Animal Agriculture Alliance released a report today detailing observations from the Animal Rights National Conference, hosted July 7-10 in Los Angeles, Ca. by the Farm Animal Rights Movement. According to conference organizers, more than 1,700 individuals were present at the event, described as “devoted to advancing the vision of animal rights.”

“We are alarmed by the statements animal rights movement leaders made at this conference encouraging activists to be increasingly aggressive in seeking liberation for farm animals,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. “The speakers made their end goal – ending animal agriculture and securing a vegan society – very clear. If you have a vested interest in producing, processing or selling meat, poultry, eggs and dairy, you need to read this report and understand the forces our industry is up against.”

Various conference speakers offered a consistent message – the animal rights movement is pushing for an end to the consumption of animal products, and they believe they are progressing toward that goal. “We are trying to destroy animal agriculture,” said Wayne Hsiung, Direct Action Everywhere. Television personality Simone Reyes stated, “we’re praying on emotions to push our vegan agenda,” likening animal agriculture to slavery and murder. Lisa Levinson, sustainable activism campaign manager for In Defense of Animals clearly outlined her organization’s mission: “to liberate animals” and “create vegan communities.”

Animal rights activist organizations have historically targeted large-scale, modern operations (calling them “factory farms”), but several conference speakers urged attendees to broaden their scope. Karen Davis, founder and president of United Poultry Concerns told the audience to target the industry as a whole, suggesting they “stop saying “stop factory farming” and say “stop all animal farming.”” Mike Wolf, investigations manager for Compassion Over Killing, echoed this sentiment, commenting, “Humane meat? There is no such thing.”

Activists in attendance were encouraged to amplify their efforts, with David Coman-Hidy, executive director of The Humane League, stating, “we cannot lose if we keep our eyes on the prize and are relentless in our fight for animals.” Coman-Hidy gave tips for pressuring brands and companies, telling attendees to “find a vulnerable target” and “assemble an overwhelming force to utilize from day one.” “The crueler it is, the quicker the fight is over,” he concluded.

A final concerning trend was a focus on engaging with youth and college students. “By focusing on the youth, we are able to target the age group who is trying new things,” said Jon Camp, director of outreach, Vegan Outreach. Nathan Runkle, president and founder of Mercy For Animals, said the animal rights movement is driven by the young. Vic Sjodin, Vegan Outreach, explained the reason behind making this age group a priority, stating, “People in college are questioning their values and able to make food decisions for the first time.”

Also speaking at the conference were: Alex Hershaft, president, Farm Animal Rights Movement; Michael Webermann, executive director, Farm Animal Rights Movement; Nick Cooney, vice president, Mercy For Animals and managing trustee, New Crop Capital (former spokesperson for Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty); Steve Hindi, founder and president, Showing Animals Respect and Kindness; Erica Meier, executive director, Compassion Over Killing and Paul Shapiro, Kristie Middleton, Kenny Torrella and Ken Botts – all with The Humane Society of the United States.

The 2016 Animal Rights National Conference Report, which includes personal accounts of speaker presentations and general observations, is available to Alliance members in the Resource Library on the Alliance website. The Alliance also released a report earlier this summer from the Humane Society of the United States’ Taking Action for Animals Conference which is accessible to members on the Alliance website.

USGC Welcomes U.S. Corn Back to Malaysia

Following a five-year hiatus from Malaysian shores, the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) was recently on hand to welcome back the first vessel of corn from the United States since the historic drought in 2012/2013. The vessel, which was loaded from the Pacific Northwest, was sold from one USGC member to another, destined for a consortium of several key USGC allies.

“This is an exciting opportunity,” said Kevin Roepke, USGC South and Southeast Asia regional director. “We're able to build partnerships that help this bit of trade happen, which is a big win for Malaysia and U.S. producers.”

The geared handimax, the Yasa Gulten, berthed over the weekend in Port Kelang after initially unloading in Southern Malaysia’s Pasir Gudang, immediately across from Singapore. It will ultimately venture east to Vietnam.

The vessel was seen by the industry as a “trial run” to retest U.S. quality following significant engagement from the Council to encourage readoption of U.S. grains. In particular, USGC's quality reports issued each year to offer in-depth information to customers about the current year’s crop helped alleviate objections and some nervousness about U.S. corn quality.

According to operations employees, the recently-arrived vessel came in around 1 percent higher in moisture and with similar rates of broken corn as South American origin corn. High moisture has always been a concern for U.S. origin corn in Southeast Asia because hot and humid weather conditions make even short-term storage challenging. The cargo was reportedly loaded at roughly 13.7 percent and arrived at approximately 14.7 percent, close to the threshold of 15 percent.

The Council will continue to work with Malaysian buyers to help answer additional questions as they use the corn and, in time, pave the way for future sales.

“Buyers want the best quality and we work hard to answer their questions and help them have confidence in buying from the United States,” Roepke said.

Should the market deem the quality comparable to South American-origin corn, it should signal a turning point for the Malaysian corn market, with the South American crop under pressure this year and the United States expecting an abundant harvest.

Particularly if U.S. corn comes in at the high-quality expected, the U.S. could be receiving more and more business from Malaysia and Southeast Asia in general.

The Cattle Futures Market Descends into Chaos

Wild swings in the cattle futures market have prompted some traders to call it "the meat casino."

In response, the world's largest futures exchange has refused to list new contracts, leaving ranchers with fewer tools to hedge the $10.9 billion market. CME Group Inc. said that is because trading of physical cattle has become so scant that the futures market can't get the signals it needs to set prices.

"It's madness. The market makes major moves for no reason," said Blake Albers, a cattle feeder in Wisner, Neb.

The decision to delay new contract listings is the culmination of alarms raised by the exchange and industry groups this year that problems in the physical marketplace have affected futures -- a highly unusual meltdown in a market that has attracted more speculators.

Few producers complained as cattle prices surged to record highs in 2014 and early 2015. But as prices this summer sank to five-year lows, financial strain on the industry has highlighted the extent of the problem. Revenue from cattle sales is forecast to drop 3.9% this year to $73.6 billion, after falling 5.7% in 2015, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

Live-cattle futures climbed as high as $1.4155 a pound before free-falling to $1.1580 over seven weeks this spring. That represents a more than $10,000 drop in income for a single contract. Many producers have lost money as prices tumbled to a five-year low of $1.07525 a pound this summer.

"Guys like me who have been around a long time aren't putting as many positions on," said Dan Norcini, an independent livestock-futures trader in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. "It's just not worth the risk anymore, when there's no rhyme or reason to these price swings."

Through July, futures volume fell 1.9% compared with the same period in 2015, and was down 9.7% from 2014, according to CME data.

Each futures contract represents the obligation to buy or sell 40,000 pounds, or around 35 head, of cattle. While few traders actually deliver or receive livestock, they look to the price of cattle sold at auctions and at feedlots to keep futures prices anchored to the real world. But structural changes to the way cattle are bought and sold have made it harder to see physical market prices.

For nearly a century, meatpackers and producers would haul animals to stockyards and auction barns, to physically buy and sell thousands of cattle almost daily for cash. But over time they found it inefficient and expensive to travel miles with cattle in tow to barter over pennies and nickels per pound, so many buyers and sellers gave up negotiating each day.

The number of participants negotiating prices started to decrease in the 1980s and today, only small number of cash trades -- which take place just once or twice a week -- serve as a proxy for the base price used by the rest of the industry. Most of the cattle delivered to slaughter plants today are priced using a formula that incorporates the cash market value as a base, plus or minus premiums and discounts.

"Someone sells 40 head in Iowa and it has the potential to revalue all the cattle in the nation," Mr. Albers said.

The deals that do take place between cash market buyers and sellers frequently end up being completed on Friday after the 2:05 p.m. ET close of the futures market. That means financial traders spend most of the week with limited up-to-date data.

"There is very little underlying information to use," said David Lehman, CME's managing director of commodity research. The CME has listed only one live-cattle contract since March and it is set to expire in October 2017.

The CME has formed a working group with cattlemen to discuss fixes, including ways to increase the number of cash traders. The exchange shortened trading hours for the livestock futures contracts in February to confine market activity to the daytime, when liquidity is higher, after ranchers complained that speculators had too great an impact on prices in the evening trading.

"Every aspect of the cattle futures contract is under review to see if there's a way to redesign so it's a more effective tool for risk management," Mr. Lehman said.

The failure to list contracts after October 2017 is a problem for ranchers buying calves this summer. They typically need around 18 months to grow to slaughter weight, meaning ranchers are exposed to possible price swings in the 2017 winter.

Steve Sunderman, a partner at a feedlot in Norfolk, Neb., recalls watching cattle futures prices earlier this year rise and fall by more than one cent in just 15 minutes, unprecedented leaps in a market more accustomed to daily moves of fractions of a penny. The swings made him uneasy about locking in a hedge for his cattle on a Friday, when prices had climbed over $1.15 a pound only to settle at $1.12975, thinking the market would likely climb further.

"You lose confidence in your decision," he said.

Some in the cattle industry blame high-frequency traders who can place or receive orders more quickly, and with more money, than bona fide commercial hedgers -- often located in rural ranching communities.

But CME said that opening up markets to a diverse group of investors, including hedge funds and algorithmic traders, adds liquidity to products like cattle futures, which tend to be more thinly traded than gold or oil. Just 10% of the total volume in live-cattle futures came from high-frequency trading in 2015 for which the latest data is available, the exchange said.

"We need to figure out why the cattle market can go from $1.30 in one week to $1.15, when we haven't added more cattle to the marketplace," said Ed Greiman, an Iowa farmer who sells about 100 cattle a week and is leading a cattle-marketing committee at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

The solution will have to involve addressing the level of activity in the barns and feedlots, according to cattle industry groups and the exchange.

Some producers are trying to find their own solutions. Superior Livestock Auction LLC, an Oklahoma City-based livestock-marketing firm, piloted a video auction program to broker sales of slaughter-ready animals that would mirror sales in the cash markets, showing bids and offers in the middle of the week. Interest in streaming the auction online has been so strong that it has crashed Superior's website in the most recent sales.

"The hope is to add a transparent venue for price discovery," said Jordan Levi, a cattle feeder based in Oklahoma City who spearheaded the initiative. "It's not a playground. This is U.S. agriculture, and futures should be a risk management tool."

Land O’Lakes Animal Milk Products certifies automatic calf feeder experts

Land O’Lakes Animal Milk Products Co., has invested in automatic calf feeding certification and training programs to equip its sales and service personnel with the latest information and skills to advise clients using automatic calf feeders.

“As more dairies embrace automatic calf feeders, our staff will be prepared to assist them in developing and managing a successful system and nutrition program,” says Tom Earleywine, Ph.D., director of nutritional services for Land O’Lakes Animal Milk Products Company. “Integrating an automatic calf feeder into your calf program requires a systematic approach and a higher level of management, as well as proper consideration and planning.”

Land O’Lakes Animal Milk Products, who has almost 10 years of research with automatic calf feeders, developed a training program with German-based Förster-Technik, a manufacturer of automatic calf feeders. The certification and training covers programming, operating and maintaining automatic calf feeder systems, as well as managing the nutrition systems to do what is best for calves.

“Because automatic calf feeders provide round-the-clock access to liquid nutrients, they closely mimic the feeding patterns of calves nursing their dams. This ready supply of nutrients also helps promote full potential feeding -- delivering at least 2.5 pounds of milk solids in 8 to 12 liters of water per day,” notes Earleywine. “A growing body of research shows full potential feeding of pre-weaned calves leads to better feed efficiency, lower age at first calving and higher first-lactation milk production as animals mature.”

A cornerstone of Land O’Lakes Animal Milk Products training efforts is the certification of both Land O’Lakes Animal Milk Products national account managers and Purina Animal Nutrition’s regional calf and heifer specialists. These professionals are available throughout the United States. You can find a new interactive map to contact your local representative by visiting

“Our team is here to help you at every stage – whether you are considering an automatic calf feeder or already own one, they are prepared to help you select a nutrition and management plan to match your goals,” says Earleywine.