Monday, October 5, 2015

October 5 Crop Progress & Condition Report - NE - IA - US


For the week ending October 4, 2015, Nebraska experienced near normal temperatures, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Most of the State received up to an inch of rain. Producers were primarily engaged in harvest activities, although progress was impeded in some areas due to wet fields. There were 5.4 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 6 percent very short, 26 short, 65 adequate, and 3 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 5 percent very short, 25 short, 68 adequate, and 2 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn condition rated 2 percent very poor, 5 poor, 19 fair, 54 good, and 20 excellent. Corn mature was at 82 percent, ahead of 75 last year, but equal to the five-year average. Harvested was at 15 percent, ahead of 10 last year, but near 24 average.

Sorghum condition rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 25 fair, 57 good, and 17 excellent. Sorghum mature was at 77 percent, ahead of 68 last year and 71 average. Harvested was at 6 percent, near 5 last year, but behind 11 average.

Soybean condition rated 1 percent very poor, 5 poor, 20 fair, 56 good, and 18 excellent. Soybeans dropping leaves was at 89 percent, equal to both last year and the average. Harvested was at 31 percent, ahead of 15 last year, but near 35 average.

Winter wheat planted was at 84 percent, near 87 last year and 80 average. Emerged was at 48 percent, behind 61 last year, but near 46 average.

Alfalfa condition rated 1 percent very poor, 4 poor, 29 fair, 54 good, and 12 excellent. Alfalfa fourth cutting was at 93 percent, ahead of 82 last year and 84 average.

Livestock, Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 3 percent very poor, 9 poor, 27 fair, 54 good, and 7 excellent. Stock water supplies rated 2 percent very short, 9 short, 87 adequate, and 2 surplus.

Access the National publication for Crop Progress and Condition tables at:

Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps at:

Access the U.S. Drought Monitor at:


Mostly dry conditions allowed Iowa farmers to harvest one-quarter of the State’s soybean crop during the week ending October 4, 2015, according the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Statewide there were 5.7 days suitable for fieldwork. Fieldwork activities for the week included cutting hay and harvesting soybeans and corn for grain. In some areas, farmers are waiting for their crops to dry down before harvesting. There were also reports of manure being spread.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 6 percent short, 86 percent adequate, and 8 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 1 percent very short, 6 percent short, 83 percent adequate and 10 percent surplus.

Ninety percent of the corn crop was mature, 8 days ahead of last year, and 3 days ahead of the 5-year average. Thirteen percent of the corn crop for grain has been harvested, 10 days ahead of last year, but 8 days behind average. Moisture content of all corn being harvested was at 21 percent, down 3 percentage points from the previous week. Corn condition rated 80 percent good to excellent.

Ninety-seven percent of soybeans were turning color or beyond, while 86 percent of soybeans were dropping leaves, 2 days ahead of normal. Thirty-two percent of the soybean crop has been harvested, one week ahead of last year, but 1 day behind average. Soybean condition rated 77 percent good to excellent.

The third cutting of alfalfa hay is 96 percent complete, 3 days ahead last year but 8 days behind the average.

Pasture condition rated 65 percent good to excellent. Livestock conditions were described as excellent, with scattered reports of calves being weaned.


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

The past reporting week began with unseasonably high temperatures with afternoon maximums in the eighties over nearly all of Iowa on Monday (28th). A cold front moved across the state late Monday and into Tuesday and was followed by below normal temperatures for the remainder of the week. Daytime highs were mostly in the sixties from Wednesday (30th) through Saturday (3rd) with afternoon readings only in the fifties over much of eastern Iowa on Sunday (4th) owing to widespread cloud cover that day. Temperature extremes ranged from Monday afternoon highs of 86 degrees at Donnellson, Lamoni, Osceola, Perry and Sidney to morning lows of 32 degrees at Estherville on both Wednesday and Thursday. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged 1.0 degrees below normal. Rain fell over all but a few far southeastern Iowa locations between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning. This was the only rain event of the week. Greatest rain amounts, mostly in the one to two inch range, fell across the central one-third of the state from Monona and Harrison County east-northeastward to Clayton and Dubuque counties. The greatest rain total was a 2.73 inch amount north of Woodbine in Harrison County while no measurable rain fell at Centerville, Keosauqua and Albia. The statewide average precipitation was 0.57 inches while normal for the week is 0.70 inches. Soil temperatures at the four inch depth as of Sunday (4th) afternoon were averaging in the mid to upper fifties statewide. However, those readings are expected to climb this coming week with warmer weather on the way.

USDA Weekly Crop Progress

The nation's corn harvest advanced to 27% complete as of Oct. 4, according to USDA's latest weekly Crop Progress and Conditions report. That's a bit behind the five-year average of 32%. Corn conditions held steady in the past week at 68%.

Soybeans are 42% harvested and 85% dropping leaves, compared to five-year averages of 32% and 83%. Soybean condition improved two percentage points to 64% good-to-excellent rating.

Winter wheat planting is 49% complete, compared to 31% last week and a 51% five-year average.

Seventy-seven percent of sorghum is mature and 43% is harvested, compared to 65% and 36% last week and five-year averages of 65% and 37%, respectively. Sorghum condition held steady.

Seventy-seven percent of the cotton crop has bolls opening, compared to 69% last week and the five-year average of 78%. Cotton is 16% harvested, compared to 11% last week and the average of 18%. Cotton condition worsened.

Rice is 78% harvested, compared to 69% last week and a five-year average of 71%.

Brazil Planting Edges Forward

Rapid progress in the southern state of Parana allowed Brazilian soybean planting to move forward to 3% complete as of Friday, Oct.2. This is about on a par with the same stage last year and the five-year average, said AgRural, a local farm consultancy.

Excellent rains over the last couple of weeks emboldened farmers in Parana to start fieldwork shortly after the planting window opened. As a result, planting was 16% complete in that state as of Friday, up from 10% last week and beating the 8% recorded at the same stage last year, said the consultancy.

Fieldwork remains slow in Mato Grosso, the No. 1 soybean state, where the early-season irregular rainfall so typical of El Nino years continues.

As of Friday, planting was 2% complete in Mato Grosso compared to 5% at the same point last year, said AgRural.

In Mato Grosso do Sul, soybean planting is 3% complete with the south receiving decent showers last week. In Goias, the planting window opened on Wednesday and 1% of fields were done as of Friday.

The good news for farmers in Mato Grosso and surrounding areas is that weather charts indicate more rain from Wednesday, with showers intensifying into next week, according to the Somar Meteorologia, a local weather service.

The arrival of a cold front in southern Brazil will cause heavy rain to fall across Parana from Wednesday, which may impede fieldwork but will be generally beneficial to the crop.

Monday October 5 Ag News

NePPA and NSB Introduce Pigmania--a Free Educational Tool for Teaching Elementary School Students

The Nebraska Pork Producers Association (NePPA) and the Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) announce a new educational tool to teach elementary school students about Nebraska’s thriving pork industry.

Entitled Pigmania, the six-lesson package is being offered at no cost to the state’s elementary school teachers by the NPPA and the NSB.

Pigmania teaches fourth- through sixth-graders the basics about pork. Lessons focus on how pork gets from the farm to their dinner tables, the high nutritional values of pork in their diets, and the many non-food uses of pig byproducts, including medicinal and surgical products. The teacher package also helps educators meet Nebraska Department of Education standards in several areas, including social studies, language arts and math. Enclosed quizzes and other activities keep students engaged in learning about pigs and pork.

Students will learn that pork is the world’s most widely eaten meat, that Nebraska is one of the leading producers of pork in the country and that pig byproducts are the source for nearly 40 drugs and pharmaceuticals. They’ll also learn that pork is one of the leanest sources of meat available, and that Nebraska soybean farmers produce much of the feed used to nourish the state’s pigs.

The NePPA and the NSB actively work together to inform Nebraskans about the importance of animal agriculture to the state’s economic health, according to Teri Zimmerman, NSB education and outreach manager.

“Our goal is to educate Nebraskans about the importance of animal agriculture to our economy,” she says. “The earlier we can tell students about pork and soybean production in the state, the better informed they will be, so they can make wise purchasing decisions for their families when they become adults.”

“It’s important that elementary school students appreciate the steps Nebraska farmers take to make sure their pigs are well taken care of so they can provide healthy, nutritious food for their dinner tables,” says Kyla Habrock, the NePPA’s youth leadership director. “Pigmania is an excellent educational package to teach these students the facts about pork.”

Other educational materials provided free to the state’s elementary schools by the Nebraska Soybean Board and the Nebraska Pork Producers Association include: a Bingo card game that teaches students about pork and soybean farming; Food For Thought, an animated video package that gives students a look at how pork is produced in Nebraska; Producers, Pigs & Pork, a series of lessons that teaches students about our food supply system, centering on pork production; and Short Snoots, Soybean Sprouts, a colorful, four-page worksheet with interactive exercises to help students understand the interdependency of pig and soybean farming in Nebraska. 

Teachers can order Pigmania at no cost at Quantities are limited, so teachers are urged to order immediately.

Harvest 2015: Yield Monitor Data Collection Tips

Joe Luck, Nebraska Extension Precision Ag Engineer

Many folks are already getting into the field for harvest this year and for those who collect yield monitor data, it’s a good time to ensure that you’re collecting accurate information.

The most important (and time consuming) aspect of collecting accurate yield data is calibration of the yield monitor system. While many operators can use calibrations stored in the display from previous years (always double check to see how well previous calibrations are performing), most will need to perform new calibrations. Remember that separate calibrations are needed for different crops (e.g., corn or soybeans) and accuracy will generally improve when calibrating for significant moisture variability for a crop (e.g., high and low moisture corn).

For each calibration, try to conduct separate loads that span the variability (high to low) that you may expect to see when harvesting fields. Generally you can change combine speed or header cut width to varying crop flow through the machine to create this variation while calibrating. In general only 3,000 lb to 6,000 lb of grain are needed for each of these loads. Harvesting a full semi-load of grain per calibration load point won’t necessarily improve your calibration accuracy.

Another common issue that often affects yield data is acceleration or deceleration while harvesting. Sometimes it’s necessary to stop quickly, but this will often contribute to over-estimating yield. Minimizing speed changes can help reduce these types of errors.

For more information on these issues see these UNL Extension publications:

-    Precision Agriculture: Best Management Practices for Collecting Accurate Yield Data and Avoid Errors During Harvest (EC2004), an overview of yield monitor errors.
-    Improving Yield Map Quality by Reducing Errors through Yield Data File Post-Processing (EC2005), information on how these errors can impact yield maps plus post-processing techniques for removing errors. (This will be available soon on the Nebraska Extension Publications website at

In the end, remember that most well-calibrated yield monitors should be able to estimate yields within 1% to 3% on a full-field basis and you’re likely to see errors exceeding 3% when looking at the sub-field scale.

A New Reason to Sample for SCN This Fall

John Wilson, NE Extension Educator
Loren Giesler, NE Extension Plant Pathologist

For years we have promoted farmers soil sampling their fields for soybean cyst nematode (SCN) in the fall after harvest. The reasons we’ve listed for sampling at this time of year have not changed. They are just as important today as they were five or ten years ago. Here’s our countdown of the “Top Five” reasons for soil sampling for SCN this fall:

5. Poor yielding fields or areas are likely fresh on your mind or evident from yield maps. These are areas where yields didn’t meet expectations and you can’t “blame” it on anything else, such as weeds, compaction, insects, soil type, herbicide injury, etc. What reinforces this is if corn yields continue to increase while soybean yields hit a plateau or even start to drop off.

4. Life is generally less hectic after harvest and you can dedicate time to taking good representative samples. Take 20-25 soil cores from the area and mix the samples together. Then take a sample from this composite sample (representing the area or field) and submit it for analysis. Sample problem areas in a field separate from normal yielding areas and compare SCN egg counts. If you don’t have yield variations and are just trying to determine if SCN is present, sample areas up to 80 acres in size.

3. You, your co-op, or your crop consultant or field scout often pull soil samples in the fall to determine fertilizer needs for the next year. When sampling for fertilizer, sample for SCN. Both need topsoil samples six to eight inches deep, making fall an opportune time to do both samples in one trip. Take a few extra cores in the field, mix them all together, and then split the sample, using half for fertilizer recommendations and half for SCN analysis.

2. The Nebraska Soybean Board promotes sampling by covering the cost of the SCN analysis. Normally there is a $20 fee for soil samples submitted to the University of Nebraska Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic for SCN analysis. Commercial labs will charge $15 to $30. If you submit five samples from your farming operation, you will receive the equivalent of $100 of checkoff dollars you have paid. Special sample bags for this free analysis are available at your local Nebraska Extension office.

So far there’s nothing too exciting or earth shaking in the first four reasons. SCN causes the most yield losses for soybean growers in Nebraska and across the U.S. These first four points all reinforce why fall is a good time to sample a field to determine if SCN is present.

The newest reason is for soybean growers who already know they have SCN in their field and have been working to manage it.

1. About 98% of the SCN-resistant soybeans varieties available to farmers all use the same source of resistance (PI88788). The reason for this is simple: It was easiest to breed in this source of resistance and still maintain yields. The downside to this is that there is a lot of variability in the genetics of the SCN in any field and no source of resistance is going to control all of the SCN present. Just like using the same herbicide, insecticide, or fungicide year after year will lead to resistance, using the same source of SCN resistance will eventually allow a portion of that SCN population to survive and reproduce on soybeans with that genetic source of resistance. That is why it is important for soybean growers to check their fields periodically (every six to seven years) to see if the SCN population is increasing or decreasing.

If your initial confirmation of SCN in a field was found in a soil sample taken in the fall after a soybean crop, six or seven years later sample that field again in the fall after a soybean crop. If the SCN population remains constant or decreases, your resistant varieties are doing their job. However, if SCN counts are higher, you will want to select a soybean variety with a different source of SCN resistance the next time you plant soybeans in that field. Your choices will be greatly reduced, but long-term it will be worth it to keep the SCN population in check in your field. It is much easier to identify low levels of SCN in the soil and keep them low than it is to let SCN populations increase, then try to bring them back down.

Registration Open for 2016 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show

Registration and housing for the 2016 Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Trade Show opens today. The 118th Annual Convention will be held in San Diego, Calif., Jan. 27-29, 2016. Advanced registration is open until Jan. 4, 2016. Convention participants will hear from industry leaders, gather insight on industry trends, enjoy an evening of stars and stripes on the USS Midway and this year’s Cowboy Concert Series will feature Martina McBride. NCBA President Philip Ellis said this convention is a must for everyone involved in the cattle industry.

“The Cattle Industry Convention is the oldest and largest, national convention in the cattle business,” Ellis said. “We look forward to another great meeting in an outstanding location. Once again, NCBA will have one of the largest trade shows in agriculture, with 350 companies exhibiting on nearly 6 acres of show floor. Between the USO show on the USS Midway and Martina McBride, our entertainment will be outstanding.”

In addition to access to all of the 2016 convention events, registrants for the full convention will receive a 50 percent off coupon for Roper and Stetson apparel and footwear at the NCBA Trade Show. To register and secure housing for the 2016 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show, visit or e-mail

 CWT Assists with 8 million Pounds of Cheese, Butter and Whole Milk Powder Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 18 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative, Michigan Milk Producers Association, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold) and Tillamook County Creamery Association who have contracts to sell 465,175 pounds (949 metric tons) of Cheddar and Gouda cheese,  6.515 million pounds (2,955 metric tons) of butter and 1.041 million pounds (472 metric tons) of whole milk powder to customers in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and South America. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from October 2015 through March 2016.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives who have contracts to sell 47.145 million pounds of cheese, 25.671 million pounds of butter and 35.556 million pounds of whole milk powder to thirty-five countries on six continents. The amounts of cheese, butter and whole milk powder in these sales contracts represent the equivalent of 1.272 billion pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

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

DFA to Close Wisconsin Dairy Plant

Dairy Farmers of America has announced plans to close its Plymouth, Wisconsin cheese plant early next year.

CEO John Stephens said Friday that despite numerous upgrades to the facility, the plant is aging and its dated infrastructure and technology is making it difficult to justify keeping the location open for business.

The move means nearly 300 people will be out of work by January. DFA plans to explore setting up a job fair to identify other local employment opportunities for displayed workers.

The Plymouth manufacturing facility has been in operation since 1954. It produces Borden Cheese and other private-label cheese products. Production will continue through mid-December.

New CAST Issue Paper Considers the Pros and Cons of Food Labels

Consumers are exposed to a barrage of food labels, and the results are mixed. While some consumers gain useful information, for others the label may as well say “certified confusing.” The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology authors of this timely issue paper provide needed clarity about the labeling controversy. They examine what is known regarding consumer reactions to process labels; they identify the legal framework for process labeling; and they provide policy recommendations that highlight the pros and cons of labels.

As stated in the paper, “Process labels can effectively bridge the informational gap between producers and consumers.” They increase consumer choices, open new markets, and help remove harmful ingredients from the food we eat. Consumers feel more connected and more able to make informed decisions.

Problems arise when process labels are subject to consumer interpretation. Are products really “healthier, safer, and more environmentally friendly”? Opinion can override credible science, and the consequences might include increased food prices and the stunting of technological advances in agriculture.

While some people call for a ban on process labels, these experts explain why that would be a bad idea. Labels can be good for consumers and producers alike, but the food industry and government officials should keep key points in mind:
-    Governments should not impose bans on process labels.
-    Mandatory labeling should occur only when science-based facts prove that the product is harmful.
-    Voluntary process labels should be encouraged if they are true and scientifically verifiable.
-    Next-generation process labels should avoid the “all or nothing syndrome” while incorporating new technology and imaginative ways to clearly inform consumers.

The adage “you are what you eat” has become “you are what you think you eat,” as consumers struggle to interpret food labels. The authors of this paper explain how producers can eliminate confusion and turn the phrase into “you are what you know you eat.” Next generation labels should be clear, science-based, and consumer friendly.

U.S. Ethanol Producers Looking at Thin 2015-16 Profit Margins

Following 18 months of record earnings, the U.S. ethanol industry has rebalanced in 2015. As energy prices collapsed in late 2014, so did ethanol prices and plant margins. However, ethanol's supply and demand has remained well balanced, and producers have maintained positive earnings, according to a new report from CoBank titled, "Ethanol Industry Rebalances." Looking ahead through 2016, the report says plant operators will face dueling positive and negative shifts in the market that are likely to result in lean, yet positive margins.

"With corn prices expected to remain relatively static, it will be the prices of distillers grains and ethanol that determine the direction of earnings," explained Dan Kowalski, the report's author, and director of CoBank's Knowledge Exchange Division. "Ethanol profitability will largely hinge on two key factors: the volatility of energy prices and the industry's ability to maintain strong export sales," said Kowalski. The report also points to the importance of sustained discipline in growing production capacity and output.

The industry will see little growth in domestic sales as a result of improving fuel efficiency in the nation's vehicles and changes to the EPA's renewable fuels blending mandate. The EPA's proposed alteration to the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) is expected to be approved later this year, and will set a floor beneath the current 10 percent blending level. However, the new policy will not incentivize retailers to sell higher ethanol-blended fuels.

"Somewhat counterbalancing the domestic picture is the potential for increased export sales," said Kowalski. "Brazil has increased its domestic ethanol blending rate to 27 percent, which has impeded its ability to supply product to foreign markets, and U.S. producers will continue to benefit as their share of world trade increases."

The report cautions foreign markets also pose a risk to ethanol producers. China, which currently imports 60 percent of U.S. distillers grains, is expected to change its grain policies to discourage the import of corn-alternative feed grains. These changes could significantly impact producers' bottom lines.

Bion Files Patent on Process to Recover Nitrogen Fertilizer from Waste

Bion Environmental Technologies, Inc. (OTC QB: BNET), a provider of advanced livestock waste treatment technology, announced that it has filed a new patent application for a process that recovers a nitrogen-rich, natural, non-synthetic fertilizer product from a livestock waste stream.

The product is produced by Bion’s next-generation livestock waste treatment technology platform without the use of chemical additives. Bion has retained consultants and is preparing a filing with the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) for product certification as a natural non-synthetic that can be used in organic production.

The fertilizer contains 12 to 15 percent nitrogen in a solid crystalline form that is water soluble and provides readily-available nitrogen. It contains none of the other salt, iron and mineral constituents of the livestock waste stream, and it is in an industry-standard form that can be precision-applied to crops using existing equipment.

Bion believes that the product has broad applications in the world of organic production, due to its high concentration of nitrogen that is readily available and water soluble. As a solid, the product can be pelletized and cost-effectively transported. Based on initial market assessments, Bion projects that the product will have market applicability in crop production, horticulture, greenhouse and hydroponic production, and potentially in the retail markets. Successful OMRI approval for the product’s use in organic crop production will provide Bion with access to a higher value market for the product than the synthetic nitrogen markets.

Craig Scott, Bion’s communications director, stated, “This product marks the first to be identified for broad commercialization as a result of our Separate and Aggregate Strategy that treats the livestock waste stream as a source of assets to be recovered and refined. We will continue to identify and develop opportunities to capture value from the waste stream in the form of commercial products, including various forms of renewable energy, fertilizer products, soil amendments, and potentially feed additives.”

Mr. Scott added, “By isolating the volatile nitrogen and incorporating it into a solid state that will be water soluble and therefore readily available, it can now be precision-applied more effectively and efficiently than broadcasting manure. Besides the economic implications for Bion, the livestock producer and the agriculture industry, this is especially important in the many watersheds in the U.S. where land-application of livestock waste contributes to excess nutrient runoff and harmful algal blooms.”

Established in 1990, Bion’s Environmental Technologies’ patented, next-generation technology provides comprehensive treatment of livestock waste that achieves substantial reductions in nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus), ammonia, greenhouse and other gases, as well as pathogens, hormones, herbicides and pesticides in the waste stream. Nutrients and renewable energy can now be recovered in the form of valuable by-products, providing substantially improved resource and operational efficiencies. For more information, see Bion’s website,

October 5 - TPP Agreement Announced

Trans-Pacific Partnership Ministers’ Statement

We, the trade ministers of Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam, are pleased to announce that we have successfully concluded the Trans-Pacific Partnership. After more than five years of intensive negotiations, we have come to an agreement that will support jobs, drive sustainable growth, foster inclusive development, and promote innovation across the Asia-Pacific region. Most importantly, the agreement achieves the goal we set forth of an ambitious, comprehensive, high standard and balanced agreement that will benefit our nation’s citizens.

TPP brings higher standards to nearly 40 percent of the global economy. In addition to liberalizing trade and investment between us, the agreement addresses the challenges our stakeholders face in the 21st century, while taking into account the diversity of our levels of development.  We expect this historic agreement to promote economic growth, support higher-paying jobs; enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness; raise living standards; reduce poverty in our countries; and to promote transparency, good governance, and strong labor and environmental protections.

To formalize the outcomes of the agreement, negotiators will continue technical work to prepare a complete text for public release, including the legal review, translation, and drafting and verification of the text.  We look forward to engaging with stakeholders on the specific features of this agreement and undergoing the domestic processes to put the agreement in place.

Statement by President Obama on the Trans-Pacific Partnership

I've spent every day of my presidency fighting to grow our economy and strengthen our middle class. That means making sure our workers have a fair shot to get ahead here at home, and a fair chance to compete around the world. My approach to trade has been guided by a unifying principle: leveling the playing field for American workers and businesses, so we can export more products stamped Made in America all over the world that support higher-paying American jobs here at home.

Over the summer, Democrats and Republicans in Congress came together to help the United States negotiate agreements for free and fair trade that would support our workers, our businesses, and our economy as a whole. When more than 95 percent of our potential customers live outside our borders, we can’t let countries like China write the rules of the global economy. We should write those rules, opening new markets to American products while setting high standards for protecting workers and preserving our environment.

That’s what the agreement reached today in Atlanta will do. Trade ministers from the 12 nations that make up the Trans-Pacific Partnership finished negotiations on an agreement that reflects America’s values and gives our workers the fair shot at success they deserve. 

This partnership levels the playing field for our farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers by eliminating more than 18,000 taxes that various countries put on our products. It includes the strongest commitments on labor and the environment of any trade agreement in history, and those commitments are enforceable, unlike in past agreements. It promotes a free and open Internet. It strengthens our strategic relationships with our partners and allies in a region that will be vital to the 21st century. It’s an agreement that puts American workers first and will help middle-class families get ahead.

Once negotiators have finalized the text of this partnership, Congress and the American people will have months to read every word before I sign it. I look forward to working with lawmakers from both parties as they consider this agreement. If we can get this agreement to my desk, then we can help our businesses sell more Made in America goods and services around the world, and we can help more American workers compete and win.

Vilsack Comments on the Agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today made the following statement following the successful conclusion of negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership:

"An agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations provides a more level playing field in trade for American farmers. The agreement would eliminate or significantly reduce tariffs on our products and deter non-science based sanitary and phytosanitary barriers that have put American agriculture at a disadvantage in TPP countries in the past. Despite these past barriers, countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership currently account for up to 42 percent of all U.S. agricultural exports, totaling $63 billion. Thanks to this agreement and its removal of unfair trade barriers, American agricultural exports to the region will expand even further, particularly exports of meat, poultry, dairy, fruits, vegetables, grains, oilseeds, cotton and processed products.

"Increased demand for American agricultural products and expanded agricultural exports as a result of this agreement will support stronger commodity prices and increase farm income. Increased exports under TPP will create more good paying export-related jobs, further strengthening the rural economy. Today, agricultural trade supports more than 1 million jobs here at home and contributes a trade surplus year after year to our nation's economy. All of this activity benefits rural communities and keeps American agriculture on the cutting edge of global commerce. The TPP agreement will contribute to the future strength of American agriculture and helps to ensure that the historic agricultural trade gains achieved under President Obama since 2009 will continue.

"The TPP agreement would not be possible without the extraordinary efforts of the negotiating team at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, assisted by the dedicated staff of USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service and the Office of the Chief Economist. I'd also like to thank the formal trade advisors and experts from agricultural commodity groups who provided valuable market information and creative proposals to better inform U.S. negotiators. Collectively, their efforts have led to a strong deal for American agriculture.

"Failing to grasp this opportunity would be a mistake: worse than just losing out on potential gains, our producers would fall behind other countries that are negotiating their own preferential arrangements in TPP countries. We are committed to working with Congress within the framework of the recently-passed Trade Promotion Authority to obtain a strong bipartisan understanding of and support for this historic trade deal that benefits farmers, ranchers, and all those who live, work and raise families in rural communities."

Nebraska Cattlemen Applauds Conclusion of Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations

The Nebraska Cattlemen is extremely pleased to learn the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations successfully concluded today in Atlanta, GA. NC President, and Friend, Nebraska cattleman Dave McCracken said this agreement will boost U.S. and Nebraska exports and eliminate trade barriers.

“U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman visited Nebraska in April. He shared his unwavering conviction for the need for TPP, which will immediately reduce tariffs and level the playing field for U.S. beef exports to these growing markets,” said McCracken. “The membership of the Nebraska Cattlemen thanks Ambassador Froman for his dedication in this negotiation. High quality beef exports from Nebraska currently equate to 2,700 head per day marketed to consumers outside the borders of the U.S. TPP is a major win not only for the Nebraska beef industry, but for all U.S. export products - growing the U.S. economy and supporting jobs and investments in agriculture and technology.”

Beef exports are currently worth over $350 per head of cattle sold in the U.S. With TPP, Nebraska Cattlemen looks forward to increased demand and growth for beef exports to the Pacific Rim. Through the partnership agreement with these 11 nations, beef producers are able to secure the best terms possible to address tariff and non-tariff trade barriers to beef exports, far surpassing what would have been possible via individual country arrangements.

NeFBF on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal

Steve Nelson, President, NE Farm Bureau

“The completion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement is welcomed news to Nebraska farm and ranch families.”

“While we are in the process of evaluating this specific agreement, we are hopeful this agreement will successfully help eliminate tariffs put on our farm products by foreign countries allowing us to significantly expand our trade opportunities with TPP partnered countries. The TPP offers tremendous opportunities as TPP member nations represent 40 percent of the world’s economy, many of which are key targets for expansion of Nebraska agriculture products.”

“International trade remains critical to Nebraska, particularly at a time when agricultural economy has softened and prices for agricultural commodities have fallen significantly over the past two years. We are hopeful this deal will bolster Nebraska’s export opportunities and help keep Nebraska’s economy strong.”

Nebraska Farmers Union Strongly Opposes Proposed Flawed TPP Over Failure to Address Currency Manipulation

John Hansen, President of Nebraska Farmers Union, a former USTR trade advisor for 14 years under Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama issued the following statement on behalf of his organization:

“The recently finalized Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will perform in a manner consistent with the other cookie cutter agreements the U.S. has agreed to since Congress approved NAFTA in 1993.  Instead of remedying the structural shortfalls in past agreements relative to currency manipulation, TPP amplifies those weaknesses.”

“Unlike when NAFTA was considered, Congress has twenty years of data to use to evaluate the U.S. trade policy performance.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division, since 1994, our nation has averaged an annual balance of trade deficit of $428.69 billion while digging a $9 trillion balance of trade cumulative deficit by ignoring the real world impacts of currency manipulation and the disparities caused by VATs (Value Added Taxes).  The 2014  U.S. trade deficit was $504.7 billion, which represents 3% of our nation’s GNP.  If we had balanced trade, our economy would be growing at twice the rate it is currently.  Not once since 1994 has the U.S. balance of trade been close to breaking even.  How bad does it have to get before Congress stops digging the trade deficit hole our country is in deeper?”

“We know what the problem is, yet USTR has failed to come to grips with the widely understood problem of currency manipulation.  The TPP is structurally similar to NAFTA, and will produce similar damage to our U.S. manufacturing, labor, and agricultural sectors.  Our nation can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to currency manipulation.  The USTR will not deal with currency manipulation as long as Congress continues to rubber stamp trade agreements that fail to deal with currency manipulation.  As a result, in the strategic economic interests of our nation, it should be rejected.”

“Agricultural interests will not be well served with this agreement.  Like all previous agreements, TPP dangles the prospect and promise of new markets is used to get everyone’s hopes up to secure ag based support, yet when the trade data comes in, food and ag imports increase at a faster rate than food and ag exports. As in most ventures, past experience is the best guide to future performance.”

Ricketts Comments on the Successful Conclusion of TPP Negotiations

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts issued a statement following the announcement of the successful conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.

“I am pleased the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations have come to a successful resolution.  Initial reports indicate the agreement will result in tariffs being eliminated or significantly reduced for a large number of our most important agricultural products from Nebraska.

“On my recent trade mission to Japan, companies expressed optimism about increasing imports from Nebraska upon the successful passage of TPP.  I look forward to reviewing agreement details and learning more about specific benefits to Nebraska.  I am hopeful the final agreement will be acceptable, so that Congress can quickly ratify it.” 

Exports are a vital component of Nebraska’s economic success, with $7.9 billion in goods exported in 2014.  According to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, 60 percent of Nebraska goods exported in 2014 were headed to TPP partners.

 Smith Statement on Conclusion of TPP Negotiations

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement today after U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman announced the conclusion of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.

“I have consistently supported efforts to achieve the best possible TPP agreement for Nebraska producers and consumers.  The next step in the process requires an extended period of public review before the President can present the trade agreement to Congress for a vote.  It is vital we take this opportunity to review the agreement in full and listen to the views of stakeholders.”

Northey on Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey issued the following statement regarding the announcement of a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement today.  An article from Agri-Pulse with more information about the agreement can be found here.

“We are still trying to understand all the details in the agreement, but any deal that reduces the tariffs faced by agriculture products will greatly benefit Iowa’s farmers.  Many of the countries that are part of the agreement need the grain and meat we produce.  The agreement will reduce trade barriers on those products and allow Iowa ag products to compete on a level playing field.  Our farmers and farm organizations have worked hard to promote trade in many of the countries that a part of TPP and as a result our state is well placed to benefit from additional market access,” Northey said.

NPPC Confident TPP Deal Good For U.S. Pork

The National Pork Producers Council expressed confidence that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement negotiators concluded in Atlanta will benefit all sectors of the U.S. economy and will provide enormous new market opportunities for high-quality American pork products.

The TPP, initiated in late 2008, is a regional trade deal that includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, which account for nearly 40 percent of global GDP.

“NPPC played an active role throughout the five-plus years of negotiations,” said association President Dr. Ron Prestage, “providing U.S. negotiators with key information on barriers we face in the 11 other TPP countries and offering guidance on outcomes that would ensure substantial new market access benefits for U.S. pork in those markets.”

Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, who said a final TPP agreement could be “the most important commercial opportunity ever for U.S. pork producers,” estimated that a good outcome for pork in the trade pact could increase U.S. pork exports over time exponentially and help create more than 10,000 U.S. jobs tied to those exports. Last year, the U.S. pork industry shipped about $4.5 billion of products to the 11 TPP nations.

U.S. trade analysts concluded that a TPP agreement that achieves the goals set by Congress and the Obama administration should help level the playing field for U.S. exports in a region that is the fastest growing in the world but where tariff and non-tariff barriers on U.S. goods are significant. It also should ensure that U.S. products are competitive in the region vis-à-vis products from non-TPP countries.

Past U.S. free trade agreements (FTAs), which have substantially reduced or eliminated trade barriers, demonstrate the importance to the U.S. pork industry of opening foreign markets, Prestage pointed out. Those deals have increased U.S. pork exports by 1,550 percent in value and 1,268 percent in volume since 1989 – the year the United States began using bilateral and regional trade agreements to open foreign markets – and now are valued at nearly $6.7 billion.

Last year, exports represented more than a quarter of total U.S. pork production and added more than $62 to the price pork producers received for each hog marketed. They also helped generate an estimated 110,000 pork-related U.S. jobs. The United States now exports more pork to its 20 FTA partners than to the rest of the world combined.

“We look forward to reviewing the full text of the TPP agreement and the schedules of market access concessions as soon as possible,” said Prestage, a veterinarian and pork producer from Camden, S.C. “We are reserving final judgment on the package until then.”

While the recently concluded agreement should be a boon to U.S. exporters to the region, the TPP has the potential to provide even greater trade benefits if and when it is opened to additional countries, such as The Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand, all of which have expressed interest in joining the Pacific Rim trade bloc.

NCBA Applauds Conclusion of Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has learned that the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations have successfully concluded today in Atlanta. NCBA President and Chugwater, Wyo., cattleman, Philip Ellis said this agreement will boost U.S. exports and eliminate trade barriers.

“While the full details of the partnership will not be released until the President presents it to Congress, cattle producers are assured this is a true 21st century agreement,” said Ellis. “The TPP will immediately reduce tariffs and level the playing field for U.S. beef exports to these growing markets. TPP is a major win not only for the beef industry, but for all U.S. export products, growing the economy while supporting jobs and investments in agriculture and technology.”

Beef exports currently add over $350 to each head of cattle sold in the U.S. With the completion of this work, NCBA looks forward to increased demand and growth for beef exports across the Pacific Rim. Through the partnership process with these 11 other nations, beef producers were able to secure the best deal possible to address tariff and non-tariff trade barriers to beef exports, surpassing individual country arrangements.

USMEF Statement on Completion of Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations

The U. S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) thanks the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and other U.S. officials for their tireless efforts to complete these complex and difficult negotiations. We look forward to examining the red meat trade provisions agreed to in Atlanta and discussing them in detail with USMEF members.

AFBF on the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Bob Stallman, AFBF President

"The Trans-Pacific Partnership has promised to open restricted markets for American business around the Pacific Rim. The American Farm Bureau Federation looks forward to reviewing the details of the agreement reached today to guarantee it fulfills that promise for the nation's farmers and ranchers."

We hope the agreement will bring a more level playing field for farmers and ranchers by reducing tariffs and removing non-science based barriers to trade. The agreement covers markets that are expected to grow rapidly for decades to come. We expect to see increased access for our agricultural products, particularly some meats.

"We commend U.S. Trade Representative Froman and Chief Agricultural Negotiator Vetter for their longstanding support and determination to reach an agreement. Now it is up to us to figure out exactly what we have and how we should work with Congress to improve international market opportunities for U.S. farmers and ranchers through the Trans-Pacific Partnership."

NCGA Statement on Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

The following is a statement from National Corn Growers Association President Chip Bowling, a farmer from Newburg, Maryland, regarding today’s announcement about the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

“NCGA is pleased that an agreement has been reached in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. We are hopeful that this agreement continues the tradition of past free trade agreements, which have had a positive impact for America’s farmers and ranchers. In the coming weeks, we will carefully examine the agreement to determine whether it is in the best interests of America’s corn farmers. The Asia-Pacific region represents 40 percent of the world’s economy, a huge opportunity for American agriculture. The United States Trade Representative has promised a high-standard, comprehensive, and meaningful trade agreement. When the full text of the agreement is released, we will review it to ensure this is the case. NCGA is committed to fair and open trade policies that give farmers greater access to markets and level the global playing field.”

American Soybean Association Welcomes Finalization of Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

Following news out of Atlanta that negotiators from the 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) nations have reached a final agreement, the American Soybean Association (ASA), which represents growers of the nation’s top agricultural export commodity, applauded the achievement and promised a careful review of the agreement’s specifics over the coming days. ASA President Wade Cowan, a farmer from Brownfield, Texas, issued the following statement:

“ASA applauds trade ministers from the 12 nations that make up the Trans-Pacific Partnership for concluding an agreement that is intended to create more opportunities, economic growth, and jobs. Over half of the soybeans produced by American farmers are exported overseas, and export markets are extremely important to our domestic livestock customers as well. This trade agreement has the potential to increase agricultural exports to new markets and to allow U.S. farmers to better compete in existing markets. From the outset of these negotiations, ASA has been supportive of a TPP that expands the access of American soybean farmers to our customers overseas. From the statements made by our negotiators, it appears that the agreement will eliminate tariffs and other market access barriers in most markets, and substantially increase access in remaining markets. We are optimistic that soybeans, soybean products, and the livestock products produced by our customers all will fare well in the TPP agreement when specific details are revealed. ASA plans to carefully read the terms of the agreement to ensure that soybean farmers as well as livestock producers, which represent a substantial market for soy products, are getting a fair deal before rendering a final judgment on the TPP agreement; everything that we’ve seen and heard thus far makes us feel very positive. ASA thanks the U.S. Trade Representative and U.S. Department of Agriculture officials who have been working tirelessly on behalf of U.S. farmer throughout the TPP process.”

Long-Running Trans-Pacific Partnership Talks Conclude: Dairy Industry to Analyze Details

The National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council noted the conclusion today of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations and thanked the U.S. negotiators for their work. NMPF and USDEC leadership and staff have attended the talks in Atlanta this week, which kicked off with a chief negotiators meeting on September 26 before shifting into a Ministerial on September 30. Both organizations have been providing input and guidance to negotiators throughout the duration of the regional trade pact.

As expected, details of the agreement were not immediately available. Transparency requirements under the Trade Promotion Authority legislation passed by Congress earlier this year, however, require the full text of the agreement to be released shortly. NMPF and USDEC will carefully review the agreement’s dairy provisions in the coming days.

The organizations expressed deep appreciation to the numerous members of Congress who have conveyed the importance of a successful dairy market access outcome during the years of negotiation, but in particular, during the closing negotiations this week.

USGC Applauds Completion of TPP Negotiations

A statement from U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Tom Sleight on completion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks, announced Monday:

"We are very pleased to hear of the overall agreement coming out of the TPP negotiations in Atlanta and appreciate the negotiators' continued work to strike a deal.

"Open, liberalized trade of goods and services is vital to the prosperity of the United States, including U.S. agriculture, and our trading partners around the world. We fundamentally believe that reducing the range of barriers to open trade will benefit not just the grain industry that we represent but also the overseas customers that we have sought to serve for more than 50 years.

"Our priorities in these talks have been focused on the broad goal of securing increased market access for U.S. grains and ethanol and ensuring that existing access remains open. That means lasting tariff relief, sanitary and phytosanitary provisions that will reduce the impact of non-tariff barriers, and meaningful global progress on the synchronous approval of biotech events.

"In 2014, the United States exported more than $6 billion in corn and corn co-products to the TPP region out of a world total of $11.4 billion. A TPP agreement is expected to increase the output of all grain exports from the United States by 11 percent.

"With these facts in mind, we look forward to working with our partners to evaluate the agreement produced by the negotiators, provide our best judgment on its merits and explain its benefits to our members that will inspire their support for the ratification process. As we dig into the details of the agreement for grains and ethanol, we do so with expectation about the huge potential of markets that offer 800 million customers with a combined GDP of $28 trillion."

U.S. Wheat Industry Comments on Conclusion of TPP Negotiations

U. S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) are pleased that negotiators have reached an agreement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

“Asia is a growing regional market and this agreement has the potential to increase economic opportunity and wheat demand even in countries where we already have duty free access,” said USW President Alan Tracy. “That is critically important because our competitors like Australia are moving ahead with bilateral agreements that eliminate tariffs on wheat imports with countries like Vietnam. The high standards in the TPP agreement should help us be more competitive and hopefully lead to even more opportunity for our wheat as new countries join TPP in the future.”

“Trade agreements are essential for U.S. wheat farmers with more than 50 percent of our crop heading overseas. Concluding TPP negotiations is a step in the right direction. My fellow farmer-leaders and I look forward to reviewing the final text and working with Congress to determine how this will impact U.S. wheat farmers,” commented NAWG President, Brett Blankenship, wheat grower from Washtucna, Wash.

USW and NAWG thank Ambassador Froman and the entire U.S. team focused on agricultural issues for their leadership and hard work in concluding these important TPP negotiations.

AFIA Applauds Completion of TPP Negotiations

The American Feed Industry Association today thanks the United States Trade Representative Michael Froman for his leadership and dedication throughout the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, a process that took more than half of a decade.

"Trade agreements, which eliminate trade barriers overseas, play a critical role in the future of the feed industry as it opens doors to new markets globally. This is particularly important as the future growth of the U.S. animal agriculture industry depends on international consumers, particularly, the growing population and middle class," said AFIA President and CEO Joel G. Newman. "TPP has the ability to ensure and create U.S. jobs, along with economically stronger rural communities."

Newman said the next step for AFIA is to review the final TPP text when it is released.

AFIA has been active in TPP and other trade agreement negotiations, including standing behind Trade Promotion Authority--signed into law in June--to make TPP and potentially the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership possible. The trade association is also a member of the Trade Benefits America Coalition, a broad-based group of more than 275 associations, businesses and agricultural groups.

NFU Vigorously Opposes TPP Without Currency Manipulation Enforcement

The following statement was released in response to the agreement finalizing the Trans-Pacific Partnership made between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations. The statement should be attributed to National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson:

“Just as we feared, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is moving forward without any meaningful language addressing one of the chief tools used by our trade competitors to ensure the playing field is never fair: currency manipulation.

“Because of this, NFU will continue to vigorously oppose this agreement and urge Congress to reject this deal as well. Gains that may have been made in the agreement to ensure fairness and equity in trade for America’s family farmers and ranchers are likely to be lost due to currency manipulation.

“Any deal that lacks tough language against currency manipulation is not worth the paper it’s written on.”

Friday, October 2, 2015

Friday October 2 Ag News

The Value of Pregnancy Checking
Steve Tonn, Nebraska Extension Educator Washington County – Beef Systems

Nationally preg checking is one of the most underutilized management practices available.  According to the 2007 National Animal Health Monitoring System report only 20% of all operations pregnancy test their cows.  Are you in the 20% that preg check or the 80% that don’t?

Checking cows for pregnancy is an essential component of reproductive efficiency.  Preg checking provides an immediate opportunity to cull subfertile females from the herd as well as taking a closer look at the late-breeders.  By increasing the pregnancy rate in your cattle, you also increase your efficiency and improve the sustainability of your operation.

The most obvious benefit of knowing which cows are open is cost savings.  With carrying costs being greater than $2 per day over the winter, there is a lot of value in getting them off the feed bill.  A second benefit is to identify the late breeders.  These cows are the least likely to breed when feed conditions are challenging and have a tendency to always be late breeders.  Keeping them in the cowherd just extends the calving season.

However, focusing only on the open cow misses part of the value of the procedure.  Using the information to manage the pregnant cows for optimum fertility can pay dividends in this high calf market.

To effectively use the data to manage cows in the dry period, there are several more pieces of information you want to collect besides cow ID and pregnancy status: cow body condition, weight if scales are available, condition of teeth if an aged cow, udder and hoof condition, any injuries, lameness or other signs of external problems like a bad eye or poor disposition and estimated days pregnant.

Pregnancy checking can be a tremendous decision making tool.  Are there thin cows that need to improve in body condition before calving?  Are they first calf heifers or older cows?  Can I group them together and feed them to gain weight?   Did my second calf heifers breed back in a timely fashion?  Are there cows that need to be marketed even though they are pregnant (late calvers, poor disposition, bad udders, etc.).  Should I fatten up my open cull cows before selling them?  What are the estimated number of calves to be born in the first 21 days of the calving season?  How many by day 42? How many by day 63?  How does this compare to last year?  Did I have adequate bull power? How can I manage my feed resources to match my calving season?

Removing open cows from the herd always pays dividends.  Additional profit can also be generated by culling lower-performance or later-calving cows.  Reproductive efficiency is the single most important factor affecting productivity and profitability, and the success of the breeding season is most affected by how cows were managed in the dry period before calving.

Economic sustainability of your operation depends on efficiently managing your cows to get an optimum return on your efforts.  Using data gathered at preg checking will help to improve production efficiency and longevity of your cow herd and can have a positive impact on calf health.

Management questions to consider:

Do you preg check your cows?
If not what is the main reason for not preg checking?
Can I afford to keep open cows through the winter?
Which factors play the biggest role in my decision to keep or cull a cow?
How does my pregnancy rate compare to last year?
How many of my second calf heifers bred back in a timely manner?
How many late calvers do I expect?
What is the cause for late calvers in my herd?
How well do I use this information to make decisions for my cow herd?

Here are some resources that you may find useful.

-        UNL Beef website:
-        UNL BeefWatch (monthly e-newsletter that you can subscribe to):
-        UNL BeefWatch Podcasts (these are more intimate chats with some of the authors of the BeefWatch articles, you can also subscribe or download them):
- livestock and agriculture blog by Lindsay, timely topics (subscribe on the webpage)


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               Corn harvest is ongoing and cows are starting to graze the stalks.  How should this grazing be managed to get the most out of them?

               Grazing corn stalks during winter has many benefits.  It can save over a dollar a day per cow compared to feeding expensive hay.

               But, the way you manage grazing of stalks by your cattle can have a big effect on its success.  For instance, maybe you want to feed as little protein supplement as possible while winter grazing.  Then you must make sure you have enough acres of corn stalks so your cattle only need to select just the higher quality plant parts to eat.  And whenever the grain and husks are gone, move to a fresh field.

               Or, maybe you use stalks just as a filler to keep cattle from bellowing while you limit feed corn, distiller’s grains, or other more nutrient dense feeds.  Then high stocking levels and unrestricted access might be best.

               Another strategy might be to stretch winter stalks as far as possible.  In that case, restricting animal access to smaller areas at a time by strip grazing until nearly all the grazable stalks are gone might be best.  Be careful, though, about forcing cows to eat the lower stalks.  They won’t get much protein or energy from lower stalks but the nitrate levels might be dangerously high.

               Whatever your strategy, consider carefully what kind of nutrition animals are getting from the stalk pasture so you neither underfeed nor overfeed expensive supplements.

               Be sure to provide salt, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin A free choice at all times.  And once all the grain is gone, cows need about half a pound per day of an all natural protein to meet nutrient needs.

               Stalk season is here.  Make wise decisions to use them best.

Nebraska Corn Urges Farmers to Take a Second for Safety During Harvest

It’s that time of the year again, the leaves are turning, the roads are busy with farm equipment and farmers are racing the unpredictable weather to get their crop out of the field. The hectic harvest season is upon us and as farmers enter the fields and travel the roads, Nebraska Corn is urging them to use extra precaution and take a second for safety.

Agriculture remains one of the more dangerous occupations in North America, but exercising caution, getting rest and being safety-minded can go a long way toward making it safer for everyone involved.

“There are a lot of moving parts at harvest time and farmers are working hard to get the crops out of the fields,” said Dave Merrell, farmer from St. Edward, Nebraska and chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Working long hours in the field or on the farm could cause a chance for error where an injury or fatality could be prevented by taking appropriate precautions or simply taking time.”

Merrell also cautioned motorists driving on rural roads during harvest. These roads see additional traffic during harvest, which increases the chances for accidents to occur between slower moving farm equipment and vehicles moving at highway speeds. Rural intersections will have heavier-than-normal travel and dusty conditions may limit visibility, as can sun glare in the morning and evening. Standing crops in the field may also block a clear view of oncoming traffic.

Nebraska Corn encourages farmers to pay special attention to the safety features of their equipment, and encourages everyone to keep an eye toward safety on the highways and byways this harvest and year round.

Some things to consider for farmers and farm workers while on the farm this fall:

    Stay alert. Take breaks to help avoid fatigue — get out of the cab and walk around every few hours. Keep your cell phone charged so you can communicate as needed with family members and employees.

    Use extra caution around PTO’s. Check that PTOs are well protected to avoid contact with clothing or people during operation. And never step over a rotating PTO—a few extra steps to walk around the tractor are worth the effort.

    Shut down before working on a machine. If the combine becomes clogged, shut off the motor, not just the header, before attempting to unplug it by hand.

    Be aware of your surroundings. Know where your co-workers and family members are at all times and always be aware of power lines that you can come in contact with while moving equipment and augers around grain bins. Visibility can be especially poor around large machinery and at night.

    Grain Bin/Handling Safety. Grain bins deserve special attention and caution when grain is being loaded and removed. Never stand on grain that is being or has been moved. Safety measures should be put in place to avoid any risk of entrapment and suffocation.

    Move Machinery Safely. Make sure your Slow Moving Vehicle emblems are in good condition and properly mounted. If you must move machinery on a roadway after dark, have all necessary working headlights and flashing front and rear warning lights. The better you can be seen the less likely you are to be hit by motorists.

    Develop Safety Rules. Have a set of safety rules for everyone to follow – and enforce them. Protective eye and ear wear is important in many situations. It is also important to equip tractors and combines with a fire extinguisher, as dry crop residue is fuel for a fire. Finally, ensure that trained family members and employees are operating powerful equipment—if kids want to be involved, give them age appropriate jobs.

“While we all recognize the excitement and fast pace of harvest, staying focused and resting regularly are two proactive steps in keeping things safe around the farm for everyone, including family members and employees helping to harvest the crop,” said Larry Mussack, farmer from Decatur, Nebraska and president of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association. “Harvest and fall field work is truly a thrill for Nebraska farmers, but please remember to be careful and take a second for safety.”

Iowa FFA Officers Take Agvocating to the Next Level

Michael Tupper, Iowa FFA Association President

Advocacy. We talk about it all the time in agriculture. It is at the core of what we do as agriculturalists; telling our stories and sharing our values with people that are 2 or 3 generations removed from the farm. From September 15th through September 18th, the 2014-2015 Iowa FFA Officer team had the chance to take agricultural advocacy to the big stage; Washington D.C.

The Iowa FFA Officer team received this experience through a program ran by the National FFA Organization called the State Officer Challenge. This program, which was made available to all States from around the country, focused on areas of government outreach, social media advocacy, community involvement, and chapter development. Officer teams had to document what they were doing throughout the year to promote not only FFA, but the agricultural industry as well. This past year, the Iowa FFA Association and the Kansas FFA Association were co-champions.

The reward for winning was a trip to Washington D.C. to meet with agricultural industry groups and representatives to discuss current agricultural issues and develop ways that FFA and agricultural education can help find solutions to these issues. The Iowa FFA Officer team found out first hand that they have an excellent team of agriculturalists going to bat for them in the Nation’s Capital. Ray Schmidt, past State Reporter, and Lee Thomsen, past State Secretary, both commented on the commitment that agriculturalist show and how that inspires them to inspire others. “Spending a few days in D.C. helped me realize the number of people advocating for the agricultural industry,” says Schmidt. “There are hundreds of people working around the clock to further the needs of agriculturalists. You don’t have to be a politician or lobbyist in Washington to make a difference. The change start at a local level. Everyone can make a difference. Do not underestimate the value of meeting with state representatives and making them aware of what matters to you.”

Thomsen agreed with Schmidt and added, “It’s easy to take for granted the work that the folks in DC are doing to support farmers at the local level – in Iowa and around the country. It was an incredible eye-opening experience to meet the people who advocate for us agriculturists on the Hill every day.”

Mike Poggemiller, past Southeast State Vice President, summed up both of their comments very easily. “Your voice matters, use it,” says a reflective Poggemiller.

Throughout the week, the officers were able to look at issues that affected not only Iowa, but global agriculture as well.

“Often times we get so caught up in our own lives and problems and forget about what is going on in the rest of the world,” says Mackenzie Lewis, past North Central State Vice President. “This week really helped open my eyes to other problems that are happening outside of Iowa. It makes me want to work to help find innovative solutions.”

Logan Bauer, past Southwest State Vice President, reflected on the importance of having individuals willing to speak on farmers’ behalf in Washington D.C. “I learned that sometimes a farmer that wears a suit and tie makes the difference that will impact our industry for our next generation of leaders,” says Bauer.

Abrah Meyer, past Iowa FFA Association State President and Iowa’s National FFA Officer Candidate this year, spoke about the importance of utilizing the specific knowledge area’s that individuals have. “We all have specific areas of knowledge and skill that we are extremely passionate about,” says Meyer. “The cool thing about agriculture is that the people involved I the industry form such a strong network. Professionals aren’t afraid to utilize the human resources around them to find answers to their questions.”

USDA Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production

Total corn consumed for alcohol and other uses was 497.1 million bushels in August 2015. Total corn consumption was down 1 percent from July 2015 but up 1 percent from June 2015. August usage included 91.4 percent for alcohol and 8.6 percent for other purposes. Corn for beverage alcohol totaled 3.13 million bushels, up 18 percent from July and up 26 percent from June. Corn for fuel alcohol, at 445.2 million bushels, was down 1 percent from July but up 1 percent from June. Corn consumed in August 2015 for dry milling fuel production and wet milling fuel production was 89.3 percent and 10.7 percent respectively.

Dry mill co-product production of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) was 1.94 million tons during August 2015, down 3 percent from July 2015 and down 2 percent from June 2015. Distillers wet grains (DWG) 65 percent or more moisture was 1.15 million tons in August 2015, up 1 percent from July 2015 and up 1 percent from June 2015.

Wet mill corn gluten feed production was 343.5 thousand tons during August 2015, up 3 percent from July 2015 and up 7 percent from June 2015. Wet corn gluten feed 40 to 60 percent moisture was 290.7 thousand tons in August 2015, down 8 percent from July 2015 and down 5 percent from June 2015.

TPP Delay in Atlanta Unacceptable for Beef Producers

Statement by NCBA President Philip Ellis regarding the ongoing Trans-Pacific Trade negotiations:

 “The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is greatly disappointed that Trade Ministers of the Trans Pacific Partnership countries have not yet reached an agreement and successfully concluded the negotiations held in Atlanta, Ga. For U.S. beef producers, every day that passes is a lost opportunity in terms of leveling the playing field with our competitors. America can no longer afford to wait another six weeks or six months in hopes of finding a better deal in something that has been negotiated for years. It is time for the United States to lead, and now is the time to conclude negotiations on TPP.

“Unfortunately, the conclusion of negotiations in Atlanta has been delayed by a handful of interests who stand to greatly benefit from TPP, but have decided instead to continue milking the system with their subsidies and protectionist measures, rather than embrace the twenty-first century principles envisioned by TPP negotiators and supporters. Just like past TPP negotiations, hopes had been high this week for conclusion of TPP, only to see talks undermined by threats of political repercussion by industries who care more about protecting their domestic interests instead of ensuring long-term sustainable economic growth through global competition. Their actions have a direct impact on industries like the U.S. beef industry, which has embraced competition and the need for a level playing field and expanded market access.

“We remain hopeful that our negotiators will immediately conclude negotiations and we will see a final TPP deal which benefits both the economic engines of commerce and rural America. We all benefit from greater market access and the competition for a growing consumer base. It is time to move forward. The clock is ticking, and the status quo is unacceptable.”


The National Pork Producers Council, along with dozens of other agricultural groups and business organizations, this week asked the Congress to extend a Dec. 31 deadline for U.S. railroads to install positive train control (PTC) technology on about 60,000 miles of the nation’s 140,000 miles of track. PTC automatically stops a train before certain incidents occur, including train-to-train collisions and derailments caused by excessive speed.

In letters to Senate and House leadership, the groups pointed out that the American Association of Railroads, the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the Federal Railroad Administration indicated that the majority of rail carriers will not meet the deadline, which was set in the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008. Failure to meet the deadline could mean millions of dollars in federal fines for rail companies, thus, likely prompting them to discontinue on the covered tracks passenger service and freight service for railcars hauling toxic-by-inhalation gas such as anhydrous ammonia.

In 2014, railroads shipped about 1.3 million tons of anhydrous ammonia, which is the most concentrated nitrogen fertilizer, as well as the basic nitrogen product used to manufacture other nitrogen fertilizers, including urea. “The inability to produce or deliver crop nutrients to farmers will negatively impact crop yields and food supply,” said the agricultural groups in their letter. They and the business organizations have asked congressional lawmakers to extend the deadline by Oct. 31.


Lack of access for U.S. pork to the Chinese market has been raised over the past few weeks, including in connection with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Washington, D.C. (The issue also was raised by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad in his meeting with Jinping last week, and U.S. Department of Agriculture officials raised the matter when they visited China a few weeks ago.)

Of immediate concern for the U.S. pork industry is getting packing plants and cold storage facilities reapproved for eligibility to export pork to China. Currently only 13 plants are approved for export to the Asian nation, representing less than half of the industry’s total slaughter capacity. NPPC has been working with USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) to get the facilities relisted. FSIS has approved for 17 U.S. establishments “corrective action plans” that should make them eligible to ship pork to China. NPPC is continuing to work with U.S. government officials to get China to fully open its market to U.S. pork.

Pork Supplies Slightly Higher in 2016

Chris Hurt, Purdue Universitty

The pork industry has largely overcome the impacts of the 2014 porcine epidemic diarrhea virus. Pork producers have been disciplined in limiting expansion after record 2014 profits.

As a result, pork supplies should be only modestly higher in 2016 and provide prices which cover all costs of production. However, there are some concerns for the longer run as global meat and poultry supplies continue to expand with a weak world income base.

The industry is rapidly leaving behind the impacts of the 2014 PED virus. The number of pigs per litter has set new quarterly highs in each of the three quarters so far this year. In the most recent summer quarter, the number of pigs per litter reached an all-time high of 10.39.

The PED virus left a deficit in market hogs a year ago, but that deficit will rapidly close by the end of this year. This can be seen in the current count of market hogs compared to year-ago levels. Pigs that were 180 pounds or larger on September 1 were up 10 percent. While 10 percent higher is a large increase, it is a reflection of the deficit of market hogs one year ago.

The number of market hogs weighing 120 to 179 pounds that will come to market in October and early November was up 8 percent, but the number of 50-to-119 pound pigs that will come to market from late November to early January was up only 3 percent. Finally the under-50 pound pigs that will be the foundation of the first quarter 2016 supplies were down modestly.

In the U.S. Department of Agriculture's September Hogs and Pigs report, producers indicated that they had expanded the breeding herd by just 1 percent. In addition they were going to decrease fall farrowings by 2 percent and winter farrowings by 1 percent.

Pork supplies are expected to be up 4 percent in the final quarter of 2015 with a combination of 5 percent more hogs and 1 percent lower weights. For 2015, pork supplies are expected to be 7 percent higher than supplies in 2014. Supplies for 2016 should be about 1 percent higher than in 2015 with the first three quarters being down one percent, unchanged, and up one percent, respectively.

Hog prices averaged near $55 per live hundredweight for the third quarter of 2015 and are expected to drop to an average in the higher-$40s in the final quarter. Prices are expected to average near $50 in the winter and then move up seasonally to the mid-$50s in the second and the third quarters of 2016. Prices in the final quarter of 2016 are anticipated to be in the mid-to-higher $40s.

For the 2015 calendar year, hog prices are expected to average about $51 on a live weight basis. Current projections for 2016 are for a similar average price. These prices are in sharp contrast to the $76 record high prices of 2014 when PED reduced pork supplies.

Costs of production in both 2015 and 2016 are expected to be similar, around $51 per hundredweight. Costs for both years are the same as the projected price, and thus at breakeven. These cost projections include costs for full depreciation and a normal rate of return for all capital and labor. Therefore, break-even means all costs are covered.

After the record profits of 2014, there has been concern that the industry would over-expand. At this point that concern has not developed with supply and demand anticipated to be in balance for the coming 12 months. This also serves as a warning to the industry to make sure that further expansion plans remain moderate.

There seem to be growing threats in the future for the meats sector. Those include continued expansion of total meat supplies into 2016 and 2017 with rapid expansion of poultry and increased beef supplies. The large drop in finished cattle prices in recent weeks suggest that retail beef prices could begin to drop this fall and provide added competition for pork. In the longer run, beef supplies will continue to expand for multiple years.

Potential weakness of meat and poultry exports is also a concern with slowing world economic growth and a strong U.S. dollar.

Feed prices will remain low for the next nine months due to strong yields for 2014 and 2015 crops and weakened exports. Animal product producers will want to take advantage of harvest price lows this fall. However, longer-term, managers need to remain aware that low feed prices are not guaranteed if weather should turn more adverse in some important growing areas.

Thursday October 1 Ag News

Gov. Ricketts' Statement on ConAgra’s Announcement

Today, Gov. Pete Ricketts issued a statement following ConAgra’s announcement that they would restructure their operations and move their world headquarters from Omaha to Chicago.

“During our conversations over the past several weeks, ConAgra’s CEO Sean Connolly told me that any changes made in Nebraska would be a part of a larger restructuring of the company to improve their operations.

“While I regret ConAgra’s decision, it is a reminder why we must continually look for new ways to ensure our tax rates and incentive programs remain competitive, and it is also why I have dedicated two trade missions to highlighting investment opportunities in our state.

“As ConAgra continues to plan for their future, we will continue to support the 1,200 ConAgra jobs that will remain in Omaha as their leadership works to turn the company around.  The Governor’s Office and the Nebraska Department of Labor stand ready to assist Nebraskans seeking reemployment due to ConAgra’s restructuring.”

Hundreds Attend the Natural Resources Districts’ 2015 Annual Conference for Latest Findings, Information, and Awards

The Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) Annual Conference was held at the Younes Conference Center in Kearney, September 28th – 29th and focused on protecting the future of Nebraska’s natural resources.  This year nearly 400 Natural Resources Districts (NRD) managers, staff, board members, conservation partners and guests received new information on many timely natural resources and agriculture subjects.

“I’m impressed with the amount of new information this year,” said Terry Martin, President of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts.  “The Annual Conference really expanded its list of topics and helped demonstrate just how far Nebraska has come in the never-ending fight to conserve our natural resources.”

Participants had a variety of educational break-out sessions to choose from.  Sessions targeted a issues including a recap on a major Niobrara River Agreement made between the NRDs, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and NPPD. This agreement will help the NRDs protect the Niobrara River for decades to come. An information session was also held on the Republican River Basin, and a session on major flooding events this year in southeast Nebraska and how the NRDs’ levees and dams functioned like they are supposed to. Other events included recognition of Hall of Fame inductees, conservation award winners and Master Conservationist’s awards.

The NARD Foundation which provides financial assistance to youth programs in natural resources and agriculture, raised more than $26,000 this year! These funds will assist in supporting more than 10 different educational programs in Nebraska to encourage kids to consider a career in natural resources.

During the Awards Banquet four individuals were inducted into the Natural Resources Hall of Fame. They include Jim and Mary Ann Wortmann, former Board members of Lewis and Clark NRD, John Turnbull, General Manager of the Upper Big Blue NRD and Jim Cook, an attorney who assisted many NRDs when they were just getting started.

“The inductees of the Natural Resources Districts Hall of Fame are people who’ve dedicated their lives to natural resources conservation and helped shape history,” said Martin.

Hall of Fame award winner categories include: Natural Resources District Board Member, Natural Resources District Employee and NRD Supporter which includes individuals outside the NRD system.

    Jim and Mary Ann Wortmann were inducted as Natural Resources District Board Members. Jim served on the NRD board for 28 years, from 1974 to 2002, and was chairman for many of those years. He also served as NARD delegate for 24 years, representing the Lewis & Clark NRD until 2002. After Jim retired, Mary Ann was elected to replace Jim on the NRD board and served in that position for 12 years, from 2002 to 2014.  She also took over responsibilities as NARD delegate for those years and was chosen as the first female president of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts, serving two terms in that capacity.

    John Turnbull was inducted as Natural Resources District Employee. John was General Manager of the Tri-Basin NRD in 1975. In 1978, he became the General Manager at the Upper Big Blue NRD and is currently in his 40th year of service at Nebraska’s NRDs. Through implementation of groundwater rules and regulations to manage the resources, the Upper Big Blue NRD in York is proud to report there has been little change in the groundwater levels even after the growth of an additional 800,000 irrigated acres during John’s successful tenure.

    Jim Cook was inducted as Natural Resources District Supporter. Jim was a key attorney at the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission from 1970 – 2000, involved with helping to establish the Natural Resources Districts’ system across Nebraska in 1972. As NRDs grew and programs such as the Groundwater Act, Chemigation Act, and Erosion and Sediment Control Act came along, Jim would develop templates that NRDs could use and he would review rules and regulations. His assistance saved NRDs thousands of dollars in legal assistance over the years.

Nebraska Association of Resources Districts award winners include:
    Director of the Year – Bill Vasey from Cozad, NE; nominated by Central Platte NRD
    Educator of the Year – Mike Kozeal, Sargent Public Schools, Sargent, NE; nominated by Lower Loup NRD
    Outstanding Grassland Award – Doug and Theresa Keller from Kimball, NE; nominated by South Platte NRD
    Outstanding Tree Planter – Steve Schumacher from Dalton, NE; nominated by South Platte NRD
    Outstanding Community Conservation – Big Indian Archers from Beatrice, NE; nominated by Lower Big Blue NRD

Omaha World-Herald and IANR Master Conservationist Award Winners include:
    Agriculture – Kermit, Janice, Alan and Cloid Smith from Eustis, NE.
    Community Winner – City of Omaha Stormwater Team, Omaha, NE.

Iowa State University Agricultural and Life Sciences Job Fair Set for Oct. 20

Iowa State University is on its way to last year’s record number of employers recruiting at Agriculture and Life Sciences Fall Career Day on Oct. 20.

The largest agricultural job fair of its kind is open to students, alumni and the public. It is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Lied Recreation Athletic Center on the Iowa State campus.

"Despite concerns with some sectors of the ag industry, we are very pleased at this point to have such a positive response to the event,” said Mike Gaul, director of career services for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “We are still three weeks out and I'm optimistic we will get close to the number of organizations (269) that were in attendance last year.”

The career fair kicks off the college’s recruitment season with hundreds of on-campus interviews in the week following the event. The office had to seek out additional space in the Memorial Union to accommodate industry demand.

“Last year, we hosted 799 interviews the day after career day and are certain to pass that number this year," Gaul said.

The popularity of the event reinforces the demand for Iowa State students throughout all sectors of agriculture, he said.

A list of the employers scheduled to participate is on the career services’ web site at:

Court Nixes Activists’ Attempt To Get Farm Data

In a victory for U.S. farmers and ranchers in their ongoing fight to protect private and sensitive personal and financial records, a U.S. District Court judge Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit brought by animal-rights and environmental activists against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the agency’s withdrawal of a proposed Clean Water Act (CWA) rule that would have required livestock and poultry operations to report information about their operations.

EPA’s proposed Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) Reporting Rule sought to have CAFOs submit to the agency operational information so it could “more effectively carry out its CAFO permitting programs on a national level and ensure that CAFOs are implementing practices to protect water quality and human health.” EPA wanted facility facts such as contact information, location of a CAFO’s production area, CWA permit status, the number and type of animals confined and the number of acres available for land application of manure. It withdrew the proposal in July 2012.

The proposed rule was prompted by a May 2010 “sweetheart” settlement agreement EPA entered with the Natural Resources Defense Council, Waterkeeper Alliance – then represented by Hannah Connor, currently an attorney for the Humane Society of the United States, which joined the most recent suit against EPA – and the Sierra Club once it became clear the agency would lose a lawsuit brought by the National Pork Producers Council over EPA’s 2008 CAFO rule. That regulation required, among other things, that large livestock operations that propose to or that might discharge into waterways obtain CWA permits. (A federal court said the clean water law requires permits only for operations that actually discharge.)

“Let’s hope this puts an end to these groups, including HSUS, trying to get information on farmers so they can file nuisance suits and otherwise harass people who are providing safe, wholesome products to domestic and international consumers,” said NPPC President Dr. Ron Prestage, a veterinarian and pork producer from Camden, S.C.

In their lawsuit, the activist groups claimed EPA’s withdrawal of the reporting rule was “arbitrary and capricious” because it lacked clear reasoning, ran counter to the evidence in the administrative record and constituted a “clear error in judgment.”

Judge Randolph Moss of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Circuit in Washington, D.C., who dismissed the suit, disagreed with the activist groups, saying the agency’s explanation for the withdrawal was “plain and coherent” and that it “adequately explained the basis for its decision.”

USDA Announces Commodity Credit Corporation Lending Rates for October 2015

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) today announced interest rates for October 2015. The CCC borrowing rate-based charge for October is 0.375 percent, unchanged from 0.375 percent in September.

The interest rate for crop year commodity loans less than one year disbursed during October is 1.375 percent, unchanged from 1.375 percent in September.

Interest rates for Farm Storage Facility Loans approved for September are as follows, 1.875 percent with seven-year loan terms, down from 2.000 percent in September; 2.125 percent with 10-year loan terms, down from 2.250 percent in September and; 2.375 percent with 12-year loan terms, up from 2.250 percent in September.

Committee Rejects Anti-Ethanol Amendment

By a vote of 7-15, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs soundly rejected an amendment offered today by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) to eliminate corn ethanol from the Renewable Fuel Standard. NCGA President Chip Bowling, a farmer from Newburg, Maryland, issued the following statement in response to the vote:

"Today, fifteen senators sent a strong message to the rest of the Senate: The RFS works. Today, America has cleaner air, greater energy independence, and stronger rural economies - all because of the Renewable Fuel Standard. Senator Toomey's amendment would have taken America backwards. His amendment would have taken away consumers' choices at the gas pump, increased our dependence on foreign oil, and left farmers and renewable fuel producers with less certainty in the energy market. The Committee was right to vote no.

"We especially want to thank Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who voiced their support for clean, renewable energy and America's rural economies at today's hearing. Their leadership is commendable. We also appreciate those Senators working behind the scenes and on the Senate floor to help secure America's commitment to renewable fuels."

The National Corn Growers Association also thanks the following senators who voted no, in opposition to the Toomey amendment: Tom Cotton (R-Ark.); Michael Crapo (R-Idaho); Mark Kirk (R-Ill.); Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.); Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.); Jon Tester (D-Mont.); Ben Sasse (R-Neb.); Dean Heller (R-Nev.); Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.); Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.); Jerry Moran (R-Kan.); Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio); Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.); Jack Reed (D-R.I.); Mike Rounds (R-S.D.).

The following Senators voted against renewable fuels and in favor of the Toomey amendment: Richard Shelby (R-Ala.); David Vitter (R-La.); Robert Menendez (D-N.J.); Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.); Tim Scott (R-S.C.); Bob Corker (R-Tenn.); Mark Warner (D-Va.).

Attempt to Kill RFS Fails with Decisive Rejection in Senate

An attempt today to gut America’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) – this country’s most successful policy reducing dependence on dirty foreign oil and combatting climate change – failed to gain traction in the Senate Banking Committee with a major rejection of 7-15 on an amendment proposed by Senator Toomey. The disastrous amendment would have eliminated a key part of the RFS and severely hurt Americans, promising to kill jobs, harm the environment, and increase our foreign oil dependence.

Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis issued the following statement, “It is no surprise that Senator Toomey’s amendment failed – it never had a chance of passing. Similar to legislation he has introduced before, it did not gain any traction and failed because this legislation only restricts consumer choice and attempts to dismantle a successful American industry that is creating jobs, improving our environment and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. The simple fact is that the RFS has bipartisan support and it has been the most successful energy legislation this nation has enacted in over 40 years.”

The Renewable Fuel Standard has spurred major economic growth in this country, generating $184.5 billion in annual economic output and creating more than 852,000 American jobs. Any further misguided attempts to destroy the RFS would only jeopardize our nation’s energy independence, national security and the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of hardworking Americans.

Fifth Annual Dairy Sustainability Awards to Highlight Difference Makers

The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy®, established under the leadership of dairy farmers, is accepting nominations for the fifth year of the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards. The awards recognize outstanding dairy farms, businesses and partnerships for socially responsible, economically viable and environmentally sound practices. Nominations are encouraged for farms, organizations and partnerships that employ sustainable practices that are making a difference.

“Sustainable practices across the supply chain — from the everyday to the breakthrough — add up to an incredible amount of positive change for communities across the country. The U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards highlight those who are leading the way,” said Barbara O’Brien, president of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. “Sharing the winners’ stories of successful collaborations and innovative practices helps other dairy farms and businesses become more sustainable while continuing to meet the needs of an ever-growing population.”

Nominations are open through Dec. 4, 2015, to all segments of the U.S. dairy value chain — from farm to table — for the following categories:
    Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability: Recognizes three farms that serve as examples of socially responsible, economically viable and environmentally sound dairy production. Successful nominees take a holistic approach to sustainability and provide replicable results that can inspire greater industrywide change.
    Outstanding Dairy Processing & Manufacturing Sustainability: Recognizes dairy processors and manufacturers whose businesses exemplify the triple bottom line of sustainability. Successful nominees have demonstrated both measurable progress and corporate commitment.
    Outstanding Achievement in Resource Stewardship: Recognizes dairy operations (both on and off the farm) that have measurable success in managing their resources with optimal efficiency and quality. Successful nominations have implemented efficiencies or innovations in areas such as energy, water and soil conservation, manure and waste management, and/or renewable energy generation.
    Outstanding Achievement in Community Partnerships: Recognizes collaborations (both on and off the farm) to improve lives and communities through their positive impacts on child health and wellness, hunger relief and/or environmental stewardship. Successful nominations will demonstrate instances where organizations collaborate with other stakeholders to develop practical and effective solutions to shared challenges and goals.

“For the last five years, the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards have brought to the forefront the commitment and care many dairy farms, companies and brands are demonstrating for our communities and our environment. Last year, we were able to recognize even more collaborations with two new categories in communities and achievements in resource stewardship,” said Paul Rovey of Rovey Dairy and chairman of Dairy Management Inc.™ “We encourage dairy farms and businesses to nominate themselves, their business partners or their neighbors so we can share more stories of success and further advance the industry’s best practices.”

Winner Benefits

The U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards have honored 30 businesses in the past four years. Help us celebrate others who are making sustainability a reality every day. The 2016 winners will receive:
    An expense-paid trip in April 2016 to the awards ceremony and dairy sustainability events
    National and local recognition of their stories and passion for sustainability
    A featured case study on to share insights and lessons learned with industry peers
    Opportunities to work with others in the industry, helping to advance sustainability

Program Details

The awards are part of the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Commitment, an industrywide effort to understand and communicate about dairy sustainability, demonstrate progress, create long-term economic growth and build consumer trust.

An independent panel of judges will evaluate all nominations based on measurable results and the potential for other dairy farms and businesses to adopt the practices; demonstrated learning, innovation and improvement; and scalability. Judges and sponsors will be announced soon.

The deadline for applications is Dec. 4, 2015. There is no fee to enter. For more information, visit

USDA Restarts Soybean Crush Reports

Soybean processors crushed 161 million bushels, or 4.38 million metric tons, of soybeans in August, according to the inaugural Fats and Oils report released by USDA on Thursday.  That's down from 172 mb (4.68 mmt) in July and 167.2 mb (4.55 mmt) in June.

The report is the first national crush report since 2011, when the U.S. Census Bureau discontinued the report due to budget constraints. USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service received funding to take over national crush reporting in early 2014 and spent much of the following years establishing contacts, developing surveys and building a baseline set of data.

NFU Hails Cooperatives and the Empowerment They Bring to Rural America

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson today hailed the nation’s many and varied cooperatives, noting that they have brought both political and economic might to family farmers, ranchers and rural America for over a century.

“Since the founding of our organization 113 years ago, Farmers Union members have demonstrated that they not only believe in and belong to cooperatives, the cooperative concept is at the very heart of who we are and how we think as an organization,” said Johnson.

Johnson noted that October is National Cooperative Month, a point on the calendar when more than 29,000 cooperatives from across the nation undertake some form of educational outreach to ensure that people better understand the cooperative business model and how it can improve life for rural Americans.  Johnson noted that cooperatives are more important than ever in rural America, given the fact that agriculture is increasingly highly concentrated on both the supply and demand sides of the equation.

“For Farmers Unions across this great nation, cooperatives are not only considered an effective business model, their founding principles go right to the heart of who we are as an organization,” said Johnson. “And honestly, they are one of the best tools we have to cope with and fight the continued economic concentration in agriculture,” he said.

Farmers Union’s roots in cooperatives go all the way back to the organization’s founding in Point, Texas, in 1902, when farmers began to see an increase in both political strength and visibility through strength in numbers.

“Our organization’s founders responded to sundry business practices that not only placed farmers and ranchers at a disadvantage, but actually pitted us against one another,” said Johnson.

After that realization, Farmers Union members went on to organize cooperatives that focused on storage warehouses, supply and marketing, purchasing, rural electric and even credit unions. Today, they’ve expanded even further, and in states like Michigan have even teamed up with public schools to provide local, nutritious food for school lunches in the “Farm to School” program. 

Johnson noted that the NFU Foundation provides cooperative education in all of its programs, and in 2012, published curriculum on cooperatives, “Cooperatives: The Business of Teamwork.”

“Cooperatives to this day remain a vital cornerstone of rural American communities, forming the nexus of the rural economy and putting their money and efforts back into their communities,” said Johnson. “As an organization, we are committed to ensure that this smart business and empowerment model continues to help bring increased strength and prosperity to rural America, and we’re delighted that the cooperative spirit is reaching further than ever into new areas and ideas,” he said.

Boelling Named VP Of Resource Development

Craig Boelling has been named vice president of resource development for the National Pork Producers Council. The position was created to focus on NPPC’s key resource development areas, including the Strategic Investment Program, Pork Alliance/Allied Industry and World Pork Expo. As vice president, Boelling will be part of the NPPC management team.

Boelling has been on staff at NPPC since late 2003, most recently as director of industry resource development. One of his first duties in his new job will be to fill that position.

“For almost 12 years, Craig has been an integral part of NPPC’s membership team, working with producers and industry partners to meet their needs,” said organization CEO Neil Dierks. “His knowledge of the pork industry and the relationships he has developed will continue to serve him well in his new position.”

Prior to joining NPPC, Boelling was with ADM Animal Health and Nutrition and with Iowa Select Farms. He is a graduate of Iowa State University, where earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science.

DEADLINE EXTENDED – NCBA and PLC Accepting Applications for Public Policy Internship

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council's government affairs office in Washington, D.C., is accepting applications for the spring 2016 public policy internship. The deadline to submit an application is Oct. 16, 2015.

NCBA Executive Director of Legislative Affairs Kristina Butts said this is a great opportunity for students with an interest in the beef industry and public policy.

“The internship gives college students the opportunity to work alongside staff on a range of issues that impact U.S. cattlemen and women,” Butts said. “The internship is designed to work closely with the lobbying team on Capitol Hill; to assist with NCBA and PLC’s regulatory efforts; and to work closely with the communications team.”

Producer-led and consumer-focused, NCBA is the nation's oldest and largest national organization representing America's cattle producers. PLC is the only organization in Washington, D.C., dedicated solely to representing cattle and sheep ranchers that utilize federal lands. The organizations work hand-in-hand on many issues, sharing office space in the heart of the nation's capital.

Summer 2015 intern Chris Pudenz said the internship has been a great experience and has him considering job opportunities in D.C. in the future.

“I’ve learned so much about policy issues that impact the beef industry in far-reaching ways: Country-of-origin labeling, the “waters of the United States” regulation, international trade agreements, the potential impact of foreign animal diseases, etc,” said Pudenz, who is a junior at Hillsdale College studying economics. “The work I do is always valued, and I know that I’m working alongside first-rate NCBA staff to help U.S. beef producers every day. Before this summer, I had no desire to work in a Congressional office, but now I’m seriously considering working on Capitol Hill after I graduate from college. I didn’t really know what to expect from this internship before I arrived in D.C., but looking back I can’t imagine having spent the summer any other way.”

The full-time internship will begin January 11, 2016 and end May 13, 2016. To apply, interested college juniors, seniors or graduate students should submit the application, college transcripts, two letters of recommendation and a resume to More information about the NCBA public policy internship is available on

USDA Dairy Products Production August 2015 Highlights

Total cheese output (excluding cottage cheese) was 974 million pounds, 3.5 percent above August 2014 but 1.7 percent below July 2015.  Italian type cheese production totaled 409 million pounds, 2.2 percent above
August 2014 but 3.8 percent below July 2015.  American type cheese production totaled 389 million pounds, 3.5 percent above August 2014 but 0.9 percent below July 2015.  Butter production was 129 million pounds, 1.2 percent below August 2014 and 3.5 percent below July 2015.

Dry milk powders (comparisons with August 2014)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 124 million pounds, up 6.7 percent.
Skim milk powders - 39.3 million pounds, down 27.2 percent.

Whey products (comparisons with August 2014)
Dry whey, total - 83.9 million pounds, up 18.1 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 88.7 million pounds, down 2.9 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 39.8 million pounds, down 11.4 percent.

Frozen products (comparisons with August 2014)
Ice cream, regular (hard) - 67.3 million gallons, down 0.8 percent.
Ice cream, lowfat (total) - 40.9 million gallons, up 14.1 percent.
Sherbet (hard) - 3.47 million gallons, up 6.1 percent.
Frozen yogurt (total) - 5.58 million gallons, down 1.3 percent.

Coey to Provide New Leadership for U.S. Wheat Associates in Chinese Market

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has hired Jeff Coey as Assistant Regional Vice President to fill the vacant position in its Hong Kong office left by Matt Weimar, who recently relocated to the regional office in Singapore as the new Regional Vice President for South Asia. Coey will manage U.S. wheat market development programs and USW’s business and government relationships in China. This includes two offices and staff located in Hong Kong and Beijing.

Coey joins USW with more than 25 years of marketing and trade facilitation experience in East Asia including industry relations and government affairs consulting, as well as demand-building branded retail campaign management. He worked in cotton merchandising in Hong Kong and China and helped set up office operations in Beijing. Most recently, Coey lectured for the master's degree program at the Hong Kong Baptist University's School of Communication covering subjects including consumer behavior, intercultural communication, writing for public relations, issues management and crisis response. 

“Jeff's experience in the private sector, commodity trading, market development and academia throughout the greater China region represent an important new asset for the U.S. wheat industry and our China interests,” said Weimar.

“China is a complex market of immense proportions and possibilities,” said USW Vice President of Overseas Operations Vince Peterson. “Jeff has the background and experience necessary to package USW's efforts in China in a productive manner that allows us to capitalize on those market opportunities.”

Fluent in Mandarin, Coey studied Chinese language and literature at Middlebury College and National Taiwan University. He holds bachelor's degrees in East Asian Studies and Chinese from the University of Kansas, as well as a Master of Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where his concentration was in international business and marketing.

 Tessenderlo Kerley, Inc. Acquires Global Hexazinone Herbicide Business Assets from DuPont Crop Protection

Tessenderlo Kerley, Inc. (TKI), a U.S. subsidiary of Tessenderlo Group, and DuPont Crop Protection today announced the sale of certain of DuPont's global Hexazinone solo product and its Hexazinone/Diuron-only mixture product business assets to TKI. The sale excludes assets in Brazil.  Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The assets to be divested by DuPont include the Velpar®, Pronone® and Advance® trademarks, formulated product registrations, formulated product registration data, customer information, supply agreements with third parties, access to certain know-how, certain Hexazinone and Diuron technical registrations and associated registration data, for each product.

Hexazinone is a broad spectrum herbicide used on crops such as alfalfa, blueberries, pineapples and sugarcane and is marketed globally under the Velpar®, Pronone® and Advance® brands.

"This acquisition is another step for the NovaSource® crop protection division of TKI to improve its position in the niche crop protection industry," said David Cassidy, group vice president for TKI. "These products enable NovaSource to add new distribution both in North America and in Asia."

NovaSource is a business unit of TKI that develops and markets crop protection products for niche agricultural markets globally.

"This agreement is another step in the execution of our DuPont Crop Protection business growth strategy," said Tim Glenn, president, DuPont Crop Protection. "This continues to enhance our focus on innovative new product offerings for our customers."

With headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona, TKI produces and markets specialty chemical solutions, including fertilizers, crop protection chemicals and process chemicals and services to diverse markets around the world. TKI operates 11 manufacturing plants in North America in addition to an extensive terminal network.