Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thursday April 17 Ag News

Rural Mainstreet Economy for April Strengthens

After moving below growth neutral in February, the Rural Mainstreet economy has moved above the 50.0 threshold for two straight months according to today’s April survey of bank CEOs in a 10-state area.   

Overall:  The Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI), which ranges between 0 and 100, with 50.0 representing growth neutral, increased to 53.2 from 50.1 in March and 48.4 in February.

“The overall index for the Rural Mainstreet Economy indicates that the areas of the nation highly dependent on agriculture and energy are experiencing much slower growth than for the same period in 2013.  However, recent boosts to agriculture commodity prices should boost the economy in the months ahead,” said Ernie Goss, the Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University Heider College of Business.

Iowa: The April RMI for Iowa expanded to 53.5 from March’s 49.8. The farmland-price index for April advanced to 41.4 from March’s 37.6. Iowa’s new-hiring index for April rose to 61.6 from 56.3 in March.

Nebraska: For a third straight month, Nebraska’s Rural Mainstreet Index remained below growth neutral. The index improved to 53.0 from March’s 49.5. The farmland-price index for April jumped to 35.8 from March’s 27.7. Nebraska’s new-hiring index climbed to 57.1 from March’s 48.4. Due to rising regulatory costs, David Steffensmeier, president of the First Community Bank in Beemer said, “We have not stopped making owner-occupied home loans completely, but we are questioning the profitability of continuing.”

This month bankers were asked to name the biggest challenge for farmers for this year’s planting season.  Almost one-third, or 31.5 percent reported that low agriculture-commodity prices were the greatest threat to farming profitability. Approximately 27.8 named lack of adequate moisture and 27.6 indicated high input prices were the biggest challenges for crop farm operations. Another 13.0 percent indicated high cash rents represented the greatest 2014 challenge for crop farmers,”

Farming and ranching: The farmland and ranchland-price index for April increased slightly to 42.9 from March’s very weak 40.9. “This is the fifth straight month that the farmland and ranchland-price index has moved below growth neutral. With the Federal Reserve continuing to withdraw its economic stimulus, I expect rising interest rates to put even more downward pressures on farmland prices and cash rents,” said Goss.

Farm equipment sales remained below growth neutral for the 10th straight month. The April index rose to a frail 36.7 from March’s even weaker 29.3. “Agriculture equipment and implement dealers in the agriculture based areas are experiencing very weak sales to farmers in the region even as farm equipment manufacturers are experiencing positive growth due to healthy sales abroad,” said Goss.

This month bankers were also asked to estimate the breakeven price for corn production in their service area.  “Bank CEOs, on average, indicated that the break-even corn price was approximately $4.30 per bushel. This is down from a breakeven price of $4.84 recorded in our February 2013 report,” said Goss.

Banking: The loan-volume index advanced to a robust 73.1 from March’s 65.5. The checking-deposit index slipped to 65.1 from 65.5 in March, while the index for certificates of deposit and other savings instruments dipped to 42.0 from March’s 42.5. 

Hiring: Rural Mainstreet businesses continue to hire at a solid pace. The April hiring index advanced to a very healthy 64.0 from 60.0 in March. “While the farm economy slows, businesses on Rural Mainstreet continue to expand their payrolls. Despite growing job additions, Rural Mainstreet employment is still below its pre-recession level,” said Goss.

Confidence: The confidence index, which reflects expectations for the economy six months out, expanded to 54.0 from last month’s 47.3. “An improving national economy, higher agriculture commodity prices and passage of the farm bill pushed economic confidence among bankers higher for the month,” said Goss

Home and retail sales: The April home-sales index soared to 63.8 from March’s 51.8. The April retail-sales index rose to 50.0 from 49.2 in March. “Improving weather encouraged an upturn in home purchases and growth in an increase in the retail sales index.” said Goss. 

Bankers were asked if new compliance regulations have caused their bank to no longer make owner -occupied residential real estate loans. More than one-fourth, or 25.4 percent, indicated that their banks were no longer making owner-occupied residential real estate loans as a result of greater regulation.

Furthermore, many other bankers reported that they would likely cease these loans in the future. For example, Dale Leighty, CEO of the First National Bank in Las Animas, Col., reported, “We are considering discontinuing residential loans due to regulations.”

Larry Rogers of the First Bank of Utica in Utica, Neb., indicated the workload and exam requirements associated with greater regulations have become a huge time consumer. Rogers said that the rising regulations would help no one in rural Nebraska.

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

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


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               An invasion of cheatgrass, downy brome, and wild oats has exploded in many pastures this spring.  Controlling them isn’t easy.

               To successfully control winter annual grasses in pastures, you must accomplish two objectives: reduce weed seed production and improve vigor and density of the perennial grass stand.

               In pastures dominated by warm-season grasses, spray with glyphosate before warm-season grasses green-up or with Plateau after green-up to control winter annual grasses quite well.

               Cool-season pastures are a much different story.  Glyphosate can kill the desirable grasses and Plateau can greatly suppress them.  So we need to use other methods.

               About the only herbicide that might help is Gramoxone.  Spray weedy grasses when they form seedheads to kill their top growth and prevent seed formation.  Unfortunately, this also will kill top growth of the desirable perennial cool-season grasses.  But these grasses will regrow in two or three weeks, much like if they were burned.

               A more reasonable approach might be to early graze these weedy grasses as short as possible for as long as animals continue to eat them.  This probably means using temporary fences to restrict animals to a small area. Eventually the weedy grasses will become unpalatable as they try to form seedheads and mature.  Then animals must be moved to better pasture or be fed hay so desirable grasses get a chance to regrow.  During this regrowth period, mow the weedy areas whenever seedheads appear, if possible, to reduce reseeding.  Mowing several times instead of grazing is another alternative.

               Whatever approach you take, remember to allow desirable perennial grasses adequate time to grow to gain vigor and density.

5 Facts to Help Consumers Understand the Use of Antibiotics in Animal Ag

More and more consumers are interested in knowing how their food is raised. A popular question is whether they should be concerned about antibiotics in meat. Consumers often question why farmers give antibiotics to livestock and whether the meat, milk and eggs from those animals are safe to consume.

It’s important for farmers to speak up and inform consumers on the truth behind today’s agriculture. Here are five important facts to help answer that question:

• Antibiotics have been around for a while. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry more than 40 years ago.

• Healthy animals provide healthy food. Antibiotics are a critical tool to prevent, control and treat disease in animals and reduce the chance of bacterial transmission from animals to humans, according to the Animal Health Institute.

• Regulated process ensures safety. A set number of days must pass between the last antibiotic treatment and the animal entering the food supply, to ensure that any medicine has cleared the animal’s system, according to FDA and U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) regulations.

• Human health is not affected. The use of medicated feeds in food-producing animals is evaluated and regulated to prevent harmful effects on both animal and human health, says Steven Vaughn, D.V.M., director of the Office of New Animal Drug Evaluation in FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.

• Hear it from the farmer. Watch Joan Ruskamp, a cattle farmer from Dodge, Neb., share her story about antibiotic use in food animals and the responsibility that comes with raising healthy, safe beef. And be sure to share it with your social networks....  

To address these questions on an ongoing basis, the United Soybean Board and the National Corn Growers Association developed CommonGround to give farmers, particularly women, the opportunity to engage with their counterparts in cities and suburbs about where our food comes from.

No-Till Expo June 5 in Hartington

There will be a no-till expo in Hartington on June 5. This expo will include field demonstrations at the Glenn and Matt Kathol farm East of Hartington as well as speakers and a noon lunch at the VFW in Hartington.

The main focus of this expo will be no-till crop production, cover crops, and soil health. Some of the leading experts for Nebraska in the use of no-till and cover crop production will be on hand to demonstrate the value that no-till and general soil health have on your operation. These folks will also be available to answer questions you may have on no-till or the use of cover crops.

This expo will be an excellent opportunity for you visit with other producers about the impacts that no-till and cover crops have had on their operation.

Please make plans to attend the Hartington no-till expo on June 5t. If you have questions call Tyler at the Cedar County NRCS office in Hartington at 402-254-6858.

NFBF PAC Names Fortenberry, Terry, and Smith ‘Friend of Agriculture’

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry has been named a “Friend of Agriculture” by NFBF-PAC, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s political action committee. Fortenberry is a candidate for re-election to represent Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District.

“Congressman Fortenberry has been a strong proponent of biofuels and renewable energy production, including wind and biomass, and he has also supported value-added agricultural opportunities and new food markets,” said Mark McHargue of Central City, chairman of NFBF-PAC and first vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau.

“As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Jeff has played an important role in not only working to restore fiscal sanity back to Washington, while at the same time protecting certain aspects of the federal budget that are important to Nebraska's farm and ranch families,” McHargue said.

According to McHargue, Fortenberry has a strong grasp of agriculture within his district.

“The 1st Congressional District is diverse in its constituency, and Rep. Fortenberry understands the importance of agriculture to the district and the state. From his work on pushing for a sound federal budget to his work to keep regulatory agencies in check, Congressman Fortenberry has truly worked hard for Nebraska's farm and ranch families,” McHargue said.

Also, Rep. Lee Terry has been named a “Friend of Agriculture” by NFBF-PAC, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s political action committee. Terry is a candidate for re-election to represent Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District.

“Agriculture is the backbone of Nebraska and it’s also crucial to Omaha’s economic vitality through the large number of agribusiness and food companies that call Omaha home. Congressman Terry understands this and has worked hard on behalf of farmers and all the citizens of the district,” said Mark McHargue of Central City, chairman of NFBF-PAC and first vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau.

The endorsement was made based in consideration of Terry’s record of supporting small businesses and promoting economic growth, McHargue said.

“He’s worked to help keep U.S. agriculture competitive in world markets and he stood with farmers in opposing efforts by the EPA to greatly expand their regulatory control over farms and ranches. From his opposition to new methane regulations on livestock producers to his efforts to stop the expansion of the Clean Water Act, Congressman Terry has been a true advocate for Nebraska’s farm and ranch families,” said McHargue.

Farm Bureau has also appreciated Congressman Terry’s work in support of renewable energy. 

“Lee Terry has encouraged use of ethanol and other biofuels which is vitally important to Nebraska’s rural and state economy,” McHargue said.

And thirdly, on Thursday, Rep. Adrian Smith was been named a “Friend of Agriculture” by NFBF-PAC, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s political action committee. Smith is a candidate for re-election to represent Nebraska’s 3rd Congressional District.

“Congressman Smith has a thorough knowledge of Nebraska agriculture and how it is affected by federal policies and regulations. He has supported many initiatives that have directly benefited Nebraska agriculture,” said Mark McHargue of Central City, chairman of NFBF-PAC and first vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau.

Smith has worked to strengthen rural communities and open up new markets for American agriculture products.

“Smith's support of a new comprehensive farm bill, his efforts to reform our nation's outdated tax code and his support of new free trade agreements as a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, will help to create a prosperous future for Nebraska agriculture,” said McHargue.

According to McHargue, Smith also recognizes how excessive regulation hurts Nebraska’s family farmers and ranchers, McHargue said.

“Whether it’s been the long arm of EPA or OSHA's push to regulate on-farm grain storage, Adrian has been very supportive of farm and ranch interests facing heavy handed federal regulations.”

“Smith is also the co-founder and co-chair of the Modern Agriculture Caucus in the House and a co-chair of the Congressional Rural Caucus,” McHargue said.

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

NEBFARMPAC Says Dave Domina is the Best Choice for Agriculture and Nebraska

NEBFARMPAC, the political action committee of the Nebraska Farmers Union, Nebraska’s second largest general farm organization with over 6,000 farm and ranch families announced its unanimous and enthusiastic endorsement of David Domina for Senate.

The NEBFARMPAC Board of Directors issued the following statement:

“Agriculture is the largest single industry in our state. So goes agriculture, so goes Nebraska’s economy and fiscal condition. Production agriculture is heavily impacted by federal agricultural and regulatory policies and actions. It is critical that Nebraska’s next Senator be an effective advocate for our state.

David Domina presents Nebraska voters with the rare opportunity to send someone to the U.S. Senate to represent our state’s primary economic interests with an extensive background and expertise in the agricultural issues and sectors that impact family farm agriculture, our state’s largest single industry.

The two recent historic failures of Congress to re-authorize the all-important Farm Bill before it expired should serve as a wake-up call for rural states like Nebraska for the need for them to send representatives to Congress that have the ability to work well with others, solve problems, and get things done.

David Domina has expertise in ethanol and wind energy incentives and programs critical to our state. For example, Nebraska is the second leading ethanol producing state in the nation and has a huge stake in the EPA proposed regulations that would roll back the RFS (Renewable Fuel Standard) ethanol production targets for 2014. David Domina is the only United States Senatorial candidate to have cared enough about the issue to take a firm position in support of ethanol by summiting his own personally drafted comments to the EPA.

Nebraska currently has 24 active ethanol production plants in Nebraska, with a combined production capacity of over 2 billion gallons of ethanol each year. These ethanol plants represent more than $5 billion in capital investment in the state and provide direct employment for some 1,200 Nebraskans. Ethanol development is by far the most effective rural economic development strategy ever implemented in our state by virtue of its expanded tax base, good paying jobs, and additional rural incomes from both grain and livestock producers.

David Domina supports the extension of the federal Production Tax Credits for wind. Nebraska’s world class wind resources are ranked third in the nation. Wind energy is cost effective, does not emit carbon, uses no water, and brings huge capital investments into rural communities that expand local tax bases providing property tax relief to local property owners while also providing additional earned income to project landowners and good paying jobs with benefits to local communities.

David Domina is a proven champion for ag-market place reforms needed to fix the currently concentrated, non-competitive, vertically integrated agricultural markets that have failed Nebraska and U.S. livestock producers. Since 1980, the U.S. has lost 91% of its hog producers, 82% of its dairy producers, 42% of its beef producers, and 33% of its sheep producers. That is a state and national disgrace.

David Domina understands the importance of having healthy functioning ag markets that are fair, accessible, competitive and transparent so they can perform their critical function for price discovery and value allocation.

David Domina supports COOL (Country of Origin Labeling) so that food consumers have the information they need to make informed buying decision and domestic food producers can identify and differentiate their own higher quality products in their own domestic markets. If our domestic producers produce higher quality products, they are entitled to the marketplace benefits and advantages of producing better products. COOL is a win-win for meat producers and consumers.

NEBFARMPAC believes that if we are going to get more young producers started in livestock production, we must have ag and livestock markets that work as they should. David Domina understands the problems we face, and has the right set of skills and expertise to help us fix our broken ag marketing system.

“We know that Nebraska agriculture will be well served by sending David Domina to the Senate. His expertise in water and private property rights will serve our state well in the United States Senate,” said NEBFARMPAC President Gale Lush of Wilcox.

USMEF Among Organizations Receiving 2014 USDA Funds to Support Exports

More than 60 U.S. agricultural organizations focusing on expanding exports – including the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) – were awarded funds yesterday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). The funding, made available through the 2014 Farm Bill, was announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

"Now that Congress has passed the Farm Bill, USDA is moving quickly to implement our trade promotion programs to help open and expand opportunities for farmers, ranchers and small businesses and build on the past five years of record agricultural exports," said Vilsack. "These programs are an important investment in rural America. Every dollar we invest in trade promotion provides $35 in economic benefits."

A total of 62 organizations and cooperatives have been designated to receive a collective $171.9 million in Market Access Program (MAP) funds to focus on consumer promotion, including brand promotion. The funds are used extensively by organizations promoting fruits, vegetables, nuts, processed products, and bulk and intermediate commodities. USMEF is the second-largest recipient of 2014 MAP funds at $14.07 million.

FAS also allocated $24.6 million through the 2014 Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program to 22 trade organizations that focus on trade servicing and trade capacity building by helping to create, expand and maintain long-term export markets for U.S. agricultural products. USMEF received an additional $1.1 million in funding through the FMD Program.

Recipients of USDA funding are evaluated on four criteria: the experience of the cooperator, past performance record, ability to perform and industry contributions that the cooperator generates.

USMEF matches these USDA dollars with funds from the U.S. beef, pork and lamb industries as well as support from the U.S. corn and soybean industries to maintain and expand markets for U.S. red meat products. In addition, USMEF solicits investments from international partners in the markets where it operates to support direct market promotion. Over the past three years, on average, these third-party contributions (3PC) have added 104 percent in additional resources to USMEF’s total budget.

The past five years represent the strongest period for U.S. agricultural exports in the history of the United States. Farm exports in fiscal year 2013 reached a record $140.9 billion and supported 1 million jobs in the United States. U.S. red meat exports in 2013 set a new value record, topping $12.2 billion.

CommonGround Shares Why Every Day is Earth Day for America's Farmers

Today, CommonGround volunteers Katie Sawyer and Pam Selz-Pralle took the story of American farming, their story, to people across the country through a series of radio interviews. Discussing why Earth Day is every day for U.S. farmers, Sawyer and Selz-Pralle shared the exciting story of American agriculture's tradition of sustainability and stewardship.

"Earth Day shines a public spotlight on agriculture's careful stewardship of our natural resources. Farmers and ranchers across the country have the public's ear to discuss issues important to us all concerning sustainability and land use," says Selz-Pralle, who farms in Wisconsin.  "Today's consumer is eager to become more connected with their food and how it's grown or raised. That's where we CommonGround volunteers can provide a 'farm voice' to ease the concerns of wondering consumers. No one should have to fear their food or where it comes from.  Our passion and personal experiences give confidence to consumers."

Over the course of the morning, Sawyer and Selz-Pralle took part in 12 interviews, both live and taped, which will reach radio listeners in markets from Philadelphia to Seattle.

Sawyer, who farms in Kansas, noted that "many people are genuinely surprised to learn that about 96 percent of American farms are family farms. Personally, I grew up in an urban environment and, until I met my husband, I would have been surprised too. Like almost all farmers, we want to pass our grain farm and our cattle operation to the next generation. Our farm is our gift to our son and to his children down the line. We want to make sure that the soil, the air and the water provide as wonderful of a life for them as they do for us today."

"As I talk to consumers and dieticians at food shows and other events, they are continually surprised at agriculture's amazing story. They quickly ask questions and engage in honest, open dialogue with a real farmer," says Selz-Pralle.  "We have made incredible strides in sustainability and we shouldn't keep that success story a secret!  As CommonGround farm women, we tell agriculture's story, validating it with our personal innovation and farm stories. From participating in conservation programs to producing renewable energy, America's farmers have been living green, and we are getting greener every day."

Many of the stations involved in this tour aired the interviews live, but quite a few others taped the segments to run over the coming weeks. Interviews will air in: Denver, Colo.; Hartford/New Haven, Conn.; Ocala, Fla.; Boston, Mass.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Charlotte, N.C.; Buffalo, N.Y.; Cleveland, Ohio; Philadelphia, Pa.; Roanoke, Va.; Seattle, Wash.; and across the state of Kansas on regional radio.

Audio clips from these interviews will be posted to the National Corn Growers Association's website as available.

CommonGround is a grass-roots movement to foster conversation among women - on farms and in cities - about where our food comes from. The National Corn Growers Association, the United Soybean Board and their state affiliates developed CommonGround to give farm women the opportunity to engage with consumers through the use of a wide range of activities.

USSEC Co-Sponsors China Feed Amino Acids and Feed Raw Material Application Symposium

US Soybean Export Council - China co-sponsored the China Feed Amino Acids and Feed Raw Material Application Symposium (CFARIS).  The symposium was organized by China Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Academy and Beijing Boyar Agricultural Technology Co., Ltd., one of USSEC’s partners in China that helps promote U.S. soy in the feed ingredient industry.  More than 300 people including government officials, entrepreneurs, specialists, traders and purchasing managers from China and abroad attended the symposium in Beijing on March 19.

Speaking to this year’s CFARIS were representatives from China’s Ministry of Agriculture, COFCO, Adisseo, Evonik Industry, International Ingredient Corporation, CJ Group, Alltech, and China Agriculture University, among others.  USSEC Country Director – China Zhang Xiaoping presented the subject “Soy Supply and Demand in China with a Global Bumper Harvest.”  He also made comments on topics currently being debated in Chinese academic circles and in the media on agricultural biotechnology and food security strategies.  Mr. Zhang corrected several myths on biotech products and talked about the many benefits that U.S. soy growers have seen from growing biotech soybeans in terms of food security, food safety and sustainability.

Railway Issues Discussed at Public Hearing

(from NAWG newsletter)

The Surface Transportation Board (STB) held a public hearing last week to listen to rail shippers concerns about service issues in the northern plains states. Testimony was heard from many different shippers including farmers, grain handlers, chemical manufacturers and others, in addition to representatives from the Canadian Pacific (CP) and BNSF railways. Bob Wisness, President of the North Dakota Grain Growers, testified on behalf of wheat farmers, citing the lack of crop storage capacity as a major issue if the past year’s crop is not shipped before the next harvest season in a few months.

Another immediate concern brought up by several panelists was the disruption of fertilizer shipments and the adverse affect that would have on the upcoming planting season. Following the hearing, the STB issued an order to the CP and BNSF instructing them to report their plans to deliver fertilizer shipments for spring planting of U.S. crops to the STB by April 18. The STB also directed CP and BNSF to provide weekly status reports over the next six weeks, beginning April 25, regarding the delivery of fertilizer on their respective networks. These status reports will also include delivery data, by state, indicating the number of cars, shipped or received, which are billed to agricultural destinations and the number of cars placed during each prior week as well as performance versus trip plan data for fertilizer shipments.

President Obama Endorses Biotechnology in Agriculture

A personal letter from President Barack Obama to Julie Borlaug, granddaughter of Dr. Norman Borlaug, in which he clearly states his support for the use of biotechnology in agriculture, was made public this week. In the letter, sent to Ms. Borlaug following the unveiling of a statue of her grandfather in the U.S. Capitol for his lifelong dedication to fighting hunger worldwide, President Obama wrote that he shares Dr. Borlaug’s “belief that investment in enhanced biotechnology is an essential component of the solution to some of our planet's most pressing agricultural problems.” The letter represents President Obama’s clearest endorsement of biotechnology since he entered into office and comes at a time when the use of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in food has been in the news with the introduction of legislation from Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) that would establish a voluntary federal labeling standard for foods and beverages made with GMOs by affirming FDA as the nation’s authority for the use and labeling of GMO ingredients.

USDA Announces Specialty Crop Block Grant Program-Historic Farm Bill Support Available through State Departments of Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the availability of approximately $66 million in Specialty Crop Block Grants to state departments of agriculture for projects that help support specialty crop growers, including locally grown fruits and vegetables, through research, programs to increase demand, and more.

The historic support provided by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill), will strengthen rural American communities by supporting local and regional markets and improving access to fresh, healthy, and nutritious high quality products for millions of Americans. The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), is designed to enhance the markets for specialty crops like fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.

"Specialty crop block grants help sustain the livelihoods of American farmers while strengthening the rural economy" said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "These grants contribute to food safety improvements, increased access to healthy food, and new research to help growers increase profitability and sustainability."

As directed by the Farm Bill, the block grants are now allocated to U.S. States and territories based on a formula that takes into consideration both specialty crop acreage and production value. Nearly all states are seeing an increase in funds.

AMS encourages applicants to develop projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, sustain the livelihood of American farmers, and strengthen rural economies by:
    Increasing nutritional knowledge and specialty crop consumption among children and adults,
    Improving efficiency within the distribution system,
    Promoting the development of good agricultural, handling and manufacturing practices while encouraging audit cost-sharing for small farmers, packers, and processors,
    Supporting research through standard and green initiatives,
    Enhancing food safety,
    Developing new/improved seed varieties and specialty crops,
    Controlling pests and diseases,
    Creating organic and sustainable production practices,
    Establishing local and regional fresh food systems,
    Expanding access to specialty crops in underserved communities,
    Developing school and community gardens and farm-to-school programs,
    Enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crop farmers, including Native American and disadvantaged farmers.

State Department of Agriculture Available Grant Allocation FFY14

    Iowa                $ 307,610.17
    Nebraska         $ 597,375.99

Interested applicants should apply directly to their state department of agriculture. Several states have already published their requests for proposals, and the list of FY 2014 State Requests for Proposals is available on the AMS website.

For more information visit the AMS Specialty Crop Block Grant Program webpage or contact Trista Etzig via phone at (202) 690-4942 or by e-mail:

Middle East and North Africa Shifting Corn Demand to US

The U.S. Grains Council's latest statistics show outstanding sales and accumulated exports of U.S. corn to North Africa and the Middle East for the past three marketing years, which began Sept. 1, through Mid-April for each listed year. With U.S. corn returning to more normal pricing in the 2013/2014 marketing year, Egypt, Israel, Morocco and Algeria have all returned to purchasing U.S. corn. Also, Tunisia has once again begun sourcing corn from the United States.

In a little over six months of the 2013/2014 corn marketing year, U.S. corn accumulated exports and outstanding sales to North Africa and the Middle East totaled more than 2.8 million metric tons (110 million bushels) compared to 204,500 tons (8 million bushels) in the 2012/2013 marketing year and 1 million tons (40 million bushels) in marketing year 2011/2012.

The chart shows separate slices for combined exports and outstanding sales for the U.S. markets in North Africa and the Middle East. All markets have purchased more U.S. corn this year, with Egypt leading the way, followed by Saudi Arabia. Egypt alone has purchased more than 1.8 million tons (70.9 million bushels) of U.S. corn which is nearly 65 percent of the region's demand for U.S. corn.

Korean Sales Rebound (Again)

U.S. corn exports have staged a dramatic comeback in South Korea, driven by the record 2013 U.S. corn crop. Korean calendar year figures through March 31 show the United States with sales of 2.5 million tons (100 million bushels) for a market share of 48 percent, up from just 3.6 percent for the entire 2012/2013 marketing year, Sept. 1, 2012, to Aug. 31, 2013. Black Sea and South American producers trail with a 19 and 17 percent market share, respectively.

This rebound has ample precedent. Korea is a mature, sophisticated and highly price sensitive market, and the competition comes from all quarters, as Korean buyers do not hesitate to source from the Black Sea region, South America and South Africa as well as the United States. While Korean buyers and end-users often express a traditional preference for U.S. corn, price is decisive. Last year's drought-impacted results, in fact, approached the all-time low for U.S. market share in Korea of 3.1 percent which occurred in the 2002/2003 marketing year.Throughout 2013, the U.S. Grains Council provided timely market and technical information and customized trade servicing to Korean coarse grain import buyers and end-users to assure them of the U.S. long-term capacity, reliability, and commitment to the Korean market.

US Corn Exports to Middle East and North Africa Continue Upward Trend

After two consecutive years of low market share for U.S. corn exports to the Middle East and North Africa, the 2013-14 marketing year has seen a sharp rebound in U.S. corn sales and shipments to the region. From the beginning of the marketing year through April 10, outstanding sales and accumulated exports of U.S. corn to North Africa and the Middle East are more than 2.8 million metric tons (110 million bushels), up from 204,500 tons (8 million bushels) the previous year over the same time period.

Several factors underlie the resurgence, including the largest-ever U.S. corn crop in 2012, meaning an abundant supply of competitively priced U.S. corn for buyers around the world. In recent months, the on-going political strife in Ukraine has also been a factor due to higher prices for Ukrainian corn and buyer concerns about reliability in the coming months.

"In the past, proximity and resulting freight advantage of Ukraine and other Black Sea-region corn has been a major reason for eroding U.S. corn market share in the region," said Cary Sifferath, U.S. Grains Council regional director of Middle East and Africa. But the balance has shifted. "Besides the revival of the Egypt market, we've seen buyers in Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Nigeria, Israel and Saudi Arabia purchasing U.S. corn this spring," Sifferath said. "And we've seen U.S. corn being shipped to EU destinations, as well."

End of Rains Allows Argentine Soy Harvest to Resume

A welcome end to the rain across the Argentine soybean belt has allowed crops to recover and harvest efforts to accelerate, according to the Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange.

Soybean harvesting moved forward eight percentage points to reach 21.4% as of Thursday, said the exchange. But that is still 17.2 points behind last year due to the heavy rain at the start of the month.

According to the report, there have not been significant losses because of the wet weather, with problems restricted to parts of central Buenos Aires, where 5% to 10% losses were registered on some farms, and in eastern and central Entre Rios, where 3% to 5% losses were recorded.

Overall, the exchange saw no reason to alter its crop forecast of 54.5 million metric tons (mmt), which is up 12.4% on the year before.

According to the Rosario Cereals exchange, rainfall totalled a massive 36 inches in the first 100 days of 2014 in parts of northern Buenos Aires.

Apart from flooding the fields, the deluges limited access to crops. Thankfully, with the easing of the rains over the last nine days, the situation has much improved.

The damp conditions prompted Argentine farmers to leave corn in the field as they concentrated on harvesting soybeans as quickly as possible.

As a result, corn harvesting efforts moved forward just 3 percentage points over the last seven days to 19.7%, according to the Buenos Aires exchange.

Yields from early harvested corn continue to vary widely, ranging from 94 bushels to 153 bushels per acre.

Don’t Blame High Prices on Climate Change…at Least Not Yet

Alan Tracy, US Wheat President

One of the primary findings in a recently released summary report of the United Nations (U.N.) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is that there is a considerable risk to the world's food supply from continued global warming. That is no doubt a legitimate and serious concern. However, a number of news stories about the report have taken that concern a bit too far by blaming recent agricultural commodity price increases on climate change. 

Perhaps the most egregious example was an April 11 story in London's Financial Times headlined "Climate extremes inflate food prices,” by Emiko Terazono. While headlines can often be misleading, the story is even more unjustified in this case. It blames increased volatility in agricultural markets on climatic change and claims that "The frequency of agricultural shocks caused by extreme weather events has risen sharply over the past decade, and [my emphasis] the resulting surge in food commodity prices has hit ... everybody..."

Let's wait just a minute. Yes, we have had relatively high and considerably more volatile grain prices, in particular for the last half dozen years, following decades of relative price stability. But, is it because of climate change or even because of weather?

The facts do not support the author's claims. Let's look at global production of major grains during the last six years. It turns out that the world corn crop has enjoyed record production five of the last six years. Wheat and soybean production have set new records four of the last six years. Rice set new records in every one of those years. Just where is the production shortfall caused by extreme weather ... caused by climate change?! It simply does not exist. The weather is less than ideal at least somewhere in the world every year, but we have managed to produce a string of record crops. The author backs up her price assertions by citing some recent year-on-year price increases, such as for coffee, apparently unaware that coffee is simply rebounding from several years of depressed prices caused by — wait for it — overproduction. 

The other key factor affecting prices is, of course, demand. And, as you might surmise from the fact that food commodity prices have indeed been relatively high and considerably more volatile recently, demand has been at record levels. In fact, global consumption of each of those same top four grains has set a new record every one of the past six years. Now, that is newsworthy! Consumption growth for wheat and rice has roughly tracked with global population growth, while corn and soybean demand growth has been higher, reflecting the growing middle classes in developing countries and their propensity to spend more money on meat, the production of which consumes corn and soybean meal. That demand growth has boosted prices. And, from some perspectives, thankfully so, as the world's agricultural producers have responded to the price incentive by increasing production to meet global needs. The world will need to increase its investment in agricultural technology and infrastructure to keep up with that continued demand growth and to adapt to any further climate change.

The U.N. report documents the pronounced warming trend of the last three decades and evaluates risks to the planet if the trend continues as they project it will. The Financial Times author goes awry in confusing correlation (global warming and higher commodity prices occurring at about the same time) with causality. While she correctly points out that there remain serious future risks to our food production, her blaming high prices on climate change and her failure to recognize the remarkable success of agriculture in meeting the world's burgeoning needs thus far underestimates modern agriculture and is a disservice to this respected newspaper and to its readers.

Mosaic to Acquire Brazil & Paraguay ADM Businesses

The Mosaic Company signed definitive agreements with Archer Daniels Midland Company to acquire its fertilizer distribution business in Brazil and Paraguay for $350 million. The purchase price assumes the delivery of $150 million in working capital at closing.

This acquisition is expected to significantly accelerate Mosaic's previously announced growth plans in Brazil as well as replace a substantial amount of planned internal investments in that country.

Under the terms of the agreement, Mosaic would acquire four blending and warehousing facilities in Brazil, one in Paraguay and additional warehousing and logistics service capabilities.

The acquisition of ADM's fertilizer distribution business would increase Mosaic's annual distribution in the region from approximately four million metric tonnes to about six million metric tonnes of crop nutrients.

In addition to the acquisition, Mosaic is in process of completing approximately $100 million in projects including expansion of the company's port terminals, plants and production capabilities.

Syngenta First Quarter 2014: Sales $4.7 Billion

Sales in the first quarter of 2014 increased by 5 percent at constant exchange rates. The increase in reported sales was 2 percent owing to the depreciation of a number of emerging market currencies against the dollar.

Integrated sales rose by 5 percent at constant exchange rates, with volumes up 2 percent and prices 3 percent higher. In Europe, Africa and the Middle East growth of 10 percent was driven primarily by crop protection, with an early start to the season and high weed, disease and insect pressure. Growth continued in the CIS despite political instability, with price increases partly offsetting local currency depreciation. In North America, prolonged cold temperatures delayed the start to the US season across the corn belt, while drought in California reduced demand for insecticides and fungicides. Canada saw good growth with the continuing success of VIBRANCE seedcare and the expansion of canola and sugar beet seed sales.

In Latin America the pace of growth improved compared with the fourth quarter of 2013 despite dry conditions in Brazil and Argentina. High caterpillar pressure contributed to a significant increase in insecticide sales and in Venezuela business resumed following resolution of a payment delay. Sales of ELATUS progressed well in Paraguay and Bolivia; registration in Brazil was announced on February 28. In Asia Pacific, growth was strong across both developed and emerging markets. In Australasia, herbicide sales in particular benefited from distributor support for our early season offers and from rainfall in March. In China, sales of AMISTAR technology doubled with expansion on rice and vegetables; South Asia saw strong demand for both crop protection and seeds in rice.

Sales of Selective herbicides increased by 6 percent despite the delayed season in the USA. Europe saw strong growth in corn and cereals; in Latin America the greater incidence of glyphosate-resistant weeds boosted demand. In Non-selective herbicides a planned reduction in glyphosate volumes was more than offset by strong growth in GRAMOXONE. In Fungicides sales of our new SDHI product SEGURIS more than doubled, contributing to broad-based growth across Europe. Latin America saw double digit fungicides growth with increased use on cotton. The main driver of Insecticides growth was the continuing expansion of DURIVO, notably in Latin America. Increased pest pressure and the replacement of neonicotinoid chemistry drove sales of FORCE in Europe. Seedcare sales were lower partly due to the suspension of neonicotinoids, including CRUISER, for certain crops in the EU. Latin American sales were also lower on reduced corn acreage. New launches included FORTENZA in Argentina and the new biological product CLARIVA for soybean cyst nematode in the USA.

In seeds, Corn and soybean sales were unchanged, with U.S. growers delaying planting decisions. In Latin America sales reflected lower second season corn acreage in Brazil. Sales of our tropical corn germplasm in Asia Pacific continued to expand rapidly. Growth in Diverse field crops was driven by ongoing growth in the CIS; this was partly offset by lower sunflower acreage in other European countries. In Vegetables the recovery in developed markets continued with strong growth in Europe, and sales continued their growth trajectory in Latin America. Global growth in Vegetables adjusted for the divestment of Dulcinea was 9 percent.

Lawn and Garden reflected modest growth in Europe and a decline in North America due to the weather. Sales in Latin America and Asia Pacific grew strongly.

Mike Mack, chief executive officer said: "We have made a solid start to the year despite adverse weather conditions in North America. For the full year we maintain our sales growth expectation for the integrated business of 6 percent at constant exchange rates. As stated in February, lower seeds costs in 2014 will result in gross margin improvement. Research and development spend will increase and will be at the upper end of the targeted 9-10 percent of sales range. Given the depreciation of a number of emerging market currencies in the first quarter, the impact of currencies on full year EBITDA is likely to be around $100 million compared with an earlier forecast of $50 million. We continue to forecast a significant increase in free cash flow before acquisitions to around $1.5 billion."

Adverse Weather Hurts DuPont Earnings

DuPont Co. reported lower-than-expected quarterly earnings as unusually cold weather in North America delayed farmers' decisions to buy seeds and chemicals for this spring's plantings.

The agriculture and chemicals company said growth in its electronics, nutrition and industrial bioscience segments was offset in the first quarter by reduced demand for agricultural products such as herbicides. DuPont said its seed sales declined in part from lower corn plantings in the U.S., South America and Ukraine.

The Wilmington, Del., company reported a profit of $1.44 billion, or $1.54 a share, down from $3.35 billion, or $3.58 a share, last year. The year-earlier period included nearly $2 billion in earnings from the sale of the company's performance-coatings business.

Excluding unusual items, DuPont's earnings rose to $1.58 a share from $1.56. Revenue fell 2.7% to $10.1 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected per-share profit of $1.59 and revenue of $10.45 billion.

"Expectations that farmers will plant less corn this spring in North America, delayed farmer decision making in North America and reductions in herbicide sales" contributed to the pressure on earnings, Chief Financial Officer Nick Fanandakis said on a conference call with analysts.

Executives said DuPont expects to recoup some of the delayed sales from the first quarter during the second quarter, as U.S. farmers decide which crops to plant. The company affirmed its full-year earnings outlook of $4.20 to $4.55 a share.

DuPont shares were down 1% at $67.07 in midday trading. The stock is up 3.2% for the year.

A cold, soggy start to spring--following a harsh winter--has kept many U.S. farmers from completing fieldwork before they sow crops such as corn, soybeans and wheat. U.S. corn growers had planted 3% of the nation's crop as of Sunday, half the pace of the previous five years, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report this week. Plantings were behind schedule in Iowa and Illinois, the largest U.S. producers of corn and soybeans by volume..

DuPont is expected to sell less of its genetically engineered corn seeds because U.S. farmers are cutting back on plantings of the grain this spring in favor of soybeans. The Agriculture Department estimated last month that U.S. planted corn acreage will decline 4% from last year to the lowest total in four years. Corn prices fell sharply last year after growers produced a record U.S. crop, while soybean prices have held up relatively well, making the crop more attractive to farmers.

DuPont also said it has been affected by lower corn plantings in Brazil, a major rival to the U.S. in exporting the grain.

DuPont said currency pressures and political uncertainty contributed to lower sales of agricultural products in Ukraine, one of the world's largest exporters of corn and wheat. Rising tensions with Russia have fueled concerns that grain exports and production will decline in Ukraine.

"Because most of our revenue [in Ukraine] is from agriculture, our first-quarter sales were limited by the actions taken there," DuPont Chief Executive Ellen Kullman said on a conference call with reporters.

Ms. Kullman added that because the bulk of DuPont's sales in the Eastern European country occur in the first half of the year, "we're not going to meet our expectations for growth there, but still see opportunity there and are watching the situation closely."

The severe U.S. winter hurt some of DuPont's other businesses, including its performance-materials segment. The weather "temporarily impacted our manufacturing, supply chain and operating costs at several plant locations," Mr. Fanandakis said.

Overall, DuPont said adverse weather reduced per-share earnings in the first quarter by an estimated seven cents, reflecting increased operating costs, lost sales and constrained volume growth in the Americas.

DuPont last year said it plans to spin off its performance-chemicals segment, best known for materials in nonstick frying pans and house paints. The company Thursday reiterated its expectation for the spin-off to be completed by mid-2015.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wednesday April 16 Ag News

Heineman Signs Water Sustainability Bill into Law

Today, Gov. Dave Heineman signed LB 1098 into law which aims to address water management, water quality and flood control issues. The Governor was joined by State Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege, who introduced the bill in the 2014 Legislative Session, and State Sen. Mark Christensen of Imperial, who has been a legislative advocate on water issues.

“This is noteworthy water legislation pertaining to Nebraska’s long-term water utilization and planning,” said Gov. Heineman. “Water is one of Nebraska’s most important natural resources and this bill reflects our emphasis on water sustainability and water management.”

The bill creates the Water Sustainability Fund which will be used to contribute to multiple water supply management goals, assess flood control, increase efficiency of water usage, enhance water quality and comply with interstate compacts and other agreements.

“This is the most significant bill for agriculture and livestock production in my eight years in the legislature,” said Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege. “I want to thank the Governor for signing the bill, the legislature for the 48-0 vote, and the task force and Senators on that task force in an advisory capacity that worked so hard to put LB 1098 together.”

“Basin-wide planning will provide groundwater and surface water users the opportunity to find positive solutions within the Republican River Basin,” said State Sen. Christensen.

This bill would also expand the Natural Resources Commission, from 16 to 27 members. Currently, three members are appointed by the governor and 13 are elected to represent river basins across Nebraska. The commission will include a diversity of water users in our state, including groundwater and surface water irrigators, public power districts and wildlife conservation groups, as well as others involved in agriculture.

Gov. Heineman added, “Preserving and managing our water resources is important to Nebraskans, especially those who work in our number one industry – agriculture.”

On Signing of the Water Bill LB 1098

Steve Nelson, NE Farm Bureau President

“Agriculture is our number one industry and water is our lifeblood. We have a wonderful supply of water in the state of Nebraska. We must manage it in a responsible manner so we can be assured that future generations have the water they need not only for agriculture, but for domestic uses, municipalities, industrial uses, outdoor recreation and wildlife conservation. By investing in water projects, programs, activities and by setting up a mechanism to make sure those investments are done wisely, we can protect our water uses for years to come.”

“Nebraska Farm Bureau wants to thank Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege for making this bill his priority for the session and all the state senators who supported the legislation. Thank you also to Gov. Dave Heineman for making this bill a reality by signing it today (April 16).”

Heineman Seeks Applicants for Natural Resources Commission

Gov. Dave Heineman is seeking qualified candidates to the newly-expanded Natural Resources Commission. Applicants are encouraged to apply with the Governor’s Office.

Today, Gov. Heineman signed LB 1098 into law which aims to address water management, water quality and flood control issues. That law expands the Natural Resources Commission from 16 to 27 members. The commission will include a diversity of water users in our state, including outdoor recreation users, range livestock owners, public power districts and wildlife conservation groups, as well as others involved in agriculture.

There are ten areas in which applicants are being sought. Applicants must identify which area of interest they are applying for from the following:
-    Agriculture
-    Agribusiness
-    Irrigation District
-    Manufacturing Interests
-    Outdoor Recreation User
-    Public Power District
-    Public Power & Irrigation District
-    Range Livestock Owner
-    Wildlife Conservation Interests
-    A Lincoln Resident who is Interested in Water Issues

Individuals interested in applying for the Natural Resources Commission should send a resume, along with a completed application form to Kathleen Dolezal in the Governor’s Office, at P.O. Box 94848, Lincoln, NE 68509 or The application form can be completed on the Governor’s website or requested by calling the Governor’s Office. Applications will be accepted through close of business on Tuesday, May 6.

Nebraskans with questions about the position may call the Governor’s Office at (402) 471-2244 and ask for Ms. Dolezal.

Stella’s Bar & Grill Reclaims “Best Burger” Title

The Nebraska Beef Council has announced Stella’s Bar & Grill in Bellevue, NE as the winner of the fourth annual “Nebraska’s Best Burger” contest. The contest selection was made through online nominations and a panel of judges.

During the month of March, the public was asked to nominate their favorite all beef hamburger served at a Nebraska restaurant. Over 200 restaurants received nominations with the top five moving on to a second round of online voting. During the final phase of voting, a panel of judges also scored each of the burgers based on taste, appearance and proper cooking temperature. The online votes and scores from the judges were combined resulting in the Stella’s Cheeseburger being declared the overall winner. The cheeseburger is made from a 6 ½ oz fresh, never frozen ground beef patty served with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions and mayonnaise. All of the hamburgers served at Stella’s are made to order with a number of toppings available including bacon, mushrooms, a fried egg and even peanut butter.

“This was the first year that we’ve allowed past winners to be eligible in the contest,” said Adam Wegner, Director of Marketing for the Nebraska Beef Council. “Stella’s quickly surfaced to the top once again with tremendous support from the online votes and rave reviews from our panel of judges. It’s obvious they have a passion for great tasting beef and it’s their hamburgers that have created their loyal fan base.”

The Union Bar in Gering was this year’s runner-up followed by the Peppermill Restaurant in Valentine and Cellar Bar & Grill in Kearney who tied for third. Sin City Grill in Grand Island rounded out the top five. A complete list of nominated restaurants is available on

Stella’s Bar & Grill will be awarded the first place plaque and will be featured by the Nebraska Beef Council in May as part of Nebraska Beef Month.

“FFA Members Participated in Fourth Annual Agricultural Issues Academy”

FFA members across Nebraska participated in the fourth annual Agricultural Issues Academy (AIA) on April 9th as part of the 2014 Nebraska State FFA Convention held in Lincoln. AIA is a leadership-based academy that focuses on providing participants with skills needed to become spokespeople for the agriculture industry.  The day-long program exposed participants to current agricultural issues, develop communication skills, and provide an opportunity to meet with industry leaders and law makers.

“Programs like Ag Issues Academy are a great way to involve young people in the political process and encourage networking with their peers while learning about current issues facing agriculture,” said Kelsey Pope, Director of Advocacy and Outreach  for the Nebraska Corn Board and committee member for the Agricultural Issues Academy.  “This is a great opportunity for FFA members to develop communications skills through hands-on activities and help them make connections with industry leaders and law makers.”

Participants were selected from a pool of 80 qualified applicants from across Nebraska and were narrowed down by a selection committee to 30 participants.  Selected candidates were charged with a task to a research current “ag” issue of their choice and be prepared to explain the issue at the academy.

At the Agricultural Issues Academy, participants were a part of the following activities:
·        Round-robin sessions presented by experts on learning how to speak to lawmakers, preparing a successful and positive message for TV and radio, and have first-hand training for written and online communications.
·        A visit to the State Capitol, accompanied by agricultural lobbyists who introduced participants to the State Legislature, and provided an opportunity for them to meet with the senator from their home district.
·        The following day, Academy participants served as peer leaders for the state convention’s annual legislative breakfast with State Senators and other FFA members.
·        Participants were recognized and awarded pins for participating in the Academy at the Opening Session of the Nebraska State FFA Convention on Thursday morning.

The Agricultural Issues Academy is sponsored by Alliance for Agriculture in Nebraska (A-FAN), Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation, Nebraska Association of Resource Districts Foundation, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Nebraska Soybean Board, and Nebraska Pork Producers Association.

USDA Considers Mandatory Reporting for PEDV Outbreaks

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is discussing the possibility of having rules to require reporting of PEDV outbreaks with the American Association of Swine Veterinarians to improve tracking of the disease. PEDV has been difficult to track - partly because veterinarians aren't required to report instances to government officials. Association Executive Director Tom Burkgren says it's a very widely distributed disease - and at this point in the outbreak - he thinks there'd have to be really good reasons to start reporting it.

Cargill Gives $150,000 to National Pork Board for PEDV Feed Research

As the first anniversary of confirmation of the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) in the United States nears, the National Pork Board continues to build an arsenal of information based on its nearly $2 million in Pork Checkoff-funded research funded to date. This work will be aided by a decision by Cargill's Animal Nutrition and Pork Businesses to donate $150,000 for additional PEDV research directed by the National Pork Board.

"Cargill is committed to supporting research priorities related to PEDV," said Douglas Cook, director of innovation at Cargill's Provimi North America business, which includes the Akey brand, in Brookville, Ohio. "Cargill's Animal Nutrition and Pork businesses are pleased to provide the National Pork Board with funding to be used for PEDV feed-related research priorities to advance knowledge on this critical topic for everyone in the pork industry."

Paul Sundberg, National Pork Board's vice president of science and technology, said this investment is a welcome addition to the series of funding coming from groups outside of Pork Checkoff that will help further leverage Checkoff-funded research into the costly disease.

"Our main goal with this round of research is to find answers to PEDV and feed-related questions as quickly and efficiently as possible," Sundberg said. "We appreciate the funding by Cargill and will continue to collaborate with all pork industry stakeholders to get practical results for farmers to use to save their pigs."

The top research priorities for this group of projects are: 1) to investigate the effectiveness and cost of treatments that could be used to mitigate the survival of PEDV and other viruses in feeds, 2) to conduct contamination risk assessments at all steps within the feed processing and delivery chain, 3) to develop a substitute for the currently used swine bioassay procedures and 4) to continue to investigate the risk of feed systems and other pathways for pathogen entry into the U.S.

To view the National Pork Board's PEDV-related research and resources, go to

Researchers Hope New Tests Prevent Pork Industry Endemic

Pork products cost about 10 percent more than they did last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and economists expect the prices to continue rising because of diarrhea viruses currently devastating the pork industry.

That's why researchers at the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Kansas State University have developed new tests they hope will mitigate the spread of these viruses.

"Enteric disease in pigs has turned into a huge, huge problem and we're developing all kinds of new tests to address the old problems but also to address the new diseases that are just destroying everything," said Dick Hesse, director of diagnostic virology at the lab and professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology.

Hesse says there are at least three viruses with similar symptoms affecting pigs, two of which have entered the United States for the first time -- porcine epidemic diarrhea virus and delta coronavirus. Swine specialists and molecular diagnosticians at the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory have developed tests to detect which virus is infecting the pigs.

"If you know what they've been exposed to and how high the immunity is, you can make adjustments on how you treat the virus," Hesse said.

Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus has already killed an estimated 6 million pigs. The Kansas State University laboratory is one of only four in the United States with the new tests to identify these diseases. The researchers hope the tests will stop the spread of these diseases before they become endemic.

"They're management tools," Hesse said. "With enough information, you can make informed decisions and minimize the impact of the disease."

USDA Helps Open and Expand Export Markets for U.S. Agriculture through 2014 Farm Bill Programs

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) awarded funding to more than 60 U.S. agricultural organizations to help expand commercial export markets for American products. The funding was made available through the 2014 Farm Bill. USDA will begin accepting applications for 2015 export development program funding on April 17, 2014.

"Now that Congress has passed the Farm Bill, USDA is moving quickly to implement our trade promotion programs to help open and expand opportunities for farmers, ranchers, and small businesses and build on the past five years of record agricultural exports," said Vilsack. "These programs are an important investment in rural America. Every dollar we invest in trade promotion provides $35 in economic benefits."

Through the Market Access Program (MAP), FAS partners with U.S. agricultural trade associations, cooperatives, state regional trade groups and small businesses to share the costs of overseas marketing and promotional activities that help build commercial export markets for U.S. agricultural products and commodities. The program, which focuses on consumer promotion, including brand promotion for small companies and cooperatives, is used extensively by organizations promoting fruits, vegetables, nuts, processed products, and bulk and intermediate commodities. Through MAP, FAS will provide $171.8 million to 62 nonprofit organizations and cooperatives. Participants contribute an average 171-percent match for generic marketing and promotion activities and a dollar-for-dollar match for promotion of branded products by small businesses and cooperatives.

The Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program focuses on trade servicing and trade capacity building by helping to create, expand and maintain long-term export markets for U.S. agricultural products. Under FMD, FAS will allocate $24.6 million to 22 trade organizations that represent U.S. agricultural producers. FAS partners with U.S. agricultural producers and processors, who are represented by non-profit commodity or trade associations called cooperators. The organizations, which on average contribute nearly triple the amount they receive in federal resources, will conduct activities that help maintain or increase the demand for U.S. agricultural commodities overseas.

Applications for 2015 export development program funding will be accepted beginning April 17, 2014. In addition to MAP and FMD programs, eligible organizations can apply for funding through the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) Program, Quality Samples Program (QSP) and Emerging Markets Program (EMP). The TASC program funds projects that address sanitary and phytosanitary barriers that prohibit or threaten the export of U.S. specialty crops. The 2014 Farm Bill amended the program to allow participants to address technical barriers to trade regardless of whether they are related to a sanitary or phytosanitary barrier. QSP helps agricultural trade organizations provide product samples to potential importers. EMP provides funding for technical assistance activities to promote exports to emerging markets. The programs were authorized as part of the 2014 Farm Bill.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 4/11/2014

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 939,000 barrels per day (b/d)—or 39.44 million gallons daily. That is up 43,000 b/d from the week before and the highest rate of the year. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 910,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 13.95 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 16.0 million barrels. That is a 2.8% decrease from last week, but still the second-highest level in the last six weeks.

Imports of ethanol were non-existent for the week.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 361.9 million gallons daily.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 10.90%, a seven-week high.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 14.238 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 104,795 metric tons of livestock feed, 93,426 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal. Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.89 million pounds of corn oil daily.

Beef Checkoff Presents the Power of Umami at Northeast Culinary Conference

The beef checkoff, through its Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative (NEBPI), made a positive impact on the nearly 500 culinary students, chef instructors and restaurant operators at the 2014 Northeast American Culinary Federation (ACF) Conference in Providence, R.I. April 11-14.

The Northeast regional ACF conference is the largest of ACF's regional conferences in the nation. Rhode Island is one of the four states in the Northeast region that does not have a state beef council, making the checkoff’s representation vital in extending national checkoff resources in this heavily populated region of the country.

In the midst of the educational sessions at the conference, participants were able to attend sponsor break-out booths. The checkoff’s BEEFlexible recipes, cut charts and educational materials were distributed during these sessions, when participants also had the opportunity to enter the “Best of Beef” basket raffle.

The beef checkoff also sponsored one 60-minute educational session during the final day of the conference. “Beef Taste, Flavor and the Power of Umami” included a beef-tasting experience to highlight the power of umami and the magnified effect when beef is paired with other umami-containing ingredients. The checkoff’s executive chef, Dave Zino, led this tasting experience.

“The Northeast ACF regional conference gives the checkoff the opportunity to get in front of chef instructors and culinary students and provide them accurate and credible beef information,” Chef Zino said. “It amazes me how hungry they are for our research and educational materials.” After the session, one chef said: “I thought I knew a lot about beef; boy was I wrong.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tuesday April 15 Ag News

NE Real Property Value Percentage Change 2013-2014

The Nebraska Department of Revenue, Property Assessment Division, has processed  the 2014 Real Property Abstracts of Assessment  filed by the 93 Nebraska county assessors.  Preliminary analysis indicates that real property valuations have increased  12.45%  from  2013  to  2014, resulting in an increase in valuation of approximately $20.93 billion.

•  $1.99 billion (  9.5%) is attributable to newly-constructed real property.  
•  $18.94 billion (90.5%) is attributable to existing property valuation increases.
•  Total Agricultural Land Value Change was up 29.12% from 2013 to 2014

The real property value percentage change  by property type  is  based on the total property reported in each county. The real property value of individual property in each county may not be affected by the same percentage change. 

Agricultural Land Value Change by County (% change 2013-2014)

Antelope  47.50%
Boone  30.64%
Burt  16.79%
Butler  13.35%
Cass  17.38%
Cedar  25.46%
Colfax  38.88%
Cuming  27.12%
Dakota  23.71%
Dixon  35.84%
Dodge  20.76%
Douglas  20.30%
Knox  13.24%
Lancaster  0.01%
Madison  37.15%
Nance  36.18%
Otoe  16.18%
Pierce  40.99%
Platte  31.30%
Sarpy  14.42%
Saunders  14.75%
Stanton  41.54%
Thurston  37.01%
Washington  10.12%
Wayne  45.59%

Cuming County Ag Land Value Compared to other types of property 

(% change from 2013 to 2014, excluding growth)
Residential and Recreational -1.33%;  Commercial and Industrial +13.42%;  Total Real Property +19.92%

Click here for the county by county numbers across all real estate types...

Real property  valuations  are  set by the county assessors  and  are subject to  review during the statewide equalization proceedings before  the Tax Equalization and Review Commission.  Real property  valuation  change  notices will be mailed  on or before  June 1,  2014  to  real  property owners who had real property values that increased or decreased from 2013 to 2014.  

Increases to  real property  valuations  may  result in an increase  of tax revenue  for local governmental subdivisions.  If the tax rates from the previous year remain unchanged, additional property taxes  would be generated.   Local  property taxes are the product of spending and budgeting decisions made by local governments, based on their  fiscal needs. The  final budgets must be approved by September 20 of each year. Tax rates must be determined by October 15 of each year.  

Statewide Agricultural Land Valuations Double Since 2009

Steve Nelson, President, Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation

“Yesterday the Nebraska Department of Revenue’s Property Assessment Division released the real property value percentage change by property type from 2013 to 2014. As expected, agricultural land valuations again increased, this time by 29.12 percent over the previous year.”

“This increase ensures the statewide valuation of agricultural land for tax purposes will have doubled since 2009 as our estimates suggest nearly a 120 percent increase in valuation since that time. Our estimates also suggest that due to the increase, the statewide property taxes paid by farm and ranch families on agricultural land will near $1 billion in 2015.”

“As we have pointed out on many occasions the unprecedented growth in valuation on agricultural land and the associated increases in property taxes are carried by farm and ranch families who make up less than three percent of our population, but pay more than 25 percent of the property taxes collected statewide.”

“While the Legislature placing more monies into the property tax credit program in the vein of property tax relief is appreciated, the fact remains that Nebraska farmers and ranchers pay the third highest property taxes in the U.S. and will continue to do so until something is done to address this issue.”

“Nebraska Farm Bureau will continue to advocate for change to a tax system which fails to recognize that property is not the sole means of measuring wealth and unfairly relies on farmer’s and rancher’s primary production tool (land) as the basis for funding schools and local government.”

"I Believe in the Future of Ag" Campaign Another Success

With the conclusion of the 2013-14 I Believe in the Future of Ag campaign, I'm excited to announce great growth! In total, almost $428,000 was raised; almost $200,000 of that was at the local level! All $200,000 will be returned to the respective local FFA chapters this spring, along with their portion of the $24,000 matching pot.

34 chapters were recognized at the 86th Nebraska FFA Convention for raising over $1,000 in the I Believe in the Future of Ag campaign.

In addition, Stuart, Bridgeport and Bloomfield were each recognized as the top three chapters raising the most money per FFA member. Congratulations to all of our participating chapters and thank you for your support of this program.


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

Prescribed burning CRP or pasture can improve stands, prepare them for interseeding, control weeds and trees, enhance wildlife habitat, and improve forage quality.  But it must be done safely.

Fire improves many grasslands, but it can be dangerous.  Wildfires occur easily when it is hot, dry, and windy like this spring, especially if you are careless.  So if you decide to burn, do it safely.

Fire is useful on CRP or other fields that are overgrown with much dead mulch from previous years.  This mulch can smother plants and new seedlings, causing stands to get thinner.  Fire removes this mulch, enabling stands to thicken, and it improves wildlife habitat.  Fire also can reduce the invasion of woody plants like cedar trees, weeds, or cool-season grasses into warm-season grasslands.  These less desirable plants are injured or killed by a well-timed burn.  This can be especially useful in summer pastures.

Timing is important, though.  Right now is a bit too early to burn warm-season grasses.  Burning now will open up the ground for weeds to invade, soil to erode, and moisture to evaporate.  The best time to burn warm-season grasses is when they just start to grow, usually late April to early May.  Burning then will result in rapid greenup and thickening of desirable warm-season plants.

Be careful, though.  Never burn unless weather conditions, topography, and other factors enable you to control the fire.  Plus, make sure your burn is legal.  You must obtain a burn permit from your local fire chief.  And finally, never burn unless someone experienced in prescribed burning is part of your burning crew.

Fire is a valuable tool.  But like any other tool, in the wrong hands it can be dangerous.

Johanns Writes FDA on Proposed Livestock Feed Rule

U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) today wrote Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg urging FDA to exempt raw agricultural commodities, distillers grain and other byproducts from a promised revision of a proposed rule dealing with livestock feed.  As first proposed, the rule would add new requirements to producers of distillers grains – including brewers and ethanol plants – and increase the cost for livestock producers who use these byproducts.

“As currently drafted, these new requirements would be illogical and could bring a safe, mutually-beneficial system to a screeching halt,” Johanns said. “The proposal would increase costs and create massive amounts of landfill waste – without any improvements to food safety. I’m glad FDA has agreed to revisit this rule and I will continue to advocate for food safety regulations based on sound science and common sense.”

NeFU Board To NE Congressmen: Support Wind Energy Production Tax Credit and the Ethanol RFS

At their recent spring meeting, the Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) Board of Directors unanimously adopted a resolution calling on all members of Nebraska’s Congressional Delegation to actively support and advocate for inclusion and passage of the renewable energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC) that were included April 3 with bipartisan support as part of the tax extenders package as reported out by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.

“We applaud the work of the Senate Finance Committee and urge Nebraska’s U.S. Senate and House of Representative members to actively push for swift passage of this critically important policy driver for continued growth of the Nebraska and U.S. wind energy industry,” said Dan McGuire NeFU District 5 Director from Lincoln. “It’s one thing to talk about supporting renewable energy, but voting for the PTC and ITC is the real test. We need Nebraska’s entire delegation to weigh in quickly and announce their support so that the PTC and ITC extension will send the right message to investors so wind energy development can expand on the estimated 85,000 jobs it has already created. These incentives have facilitated investments of $15 billion a year into new U.S. wind farms and created orders for over 550 American factories in the supply chain according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

“Extension of the PTC and ITC is a big economic deal for Nebraska’s future wind energy development. Nebraskans need the U.S. House of Representatives to act in a positive way as soon as possible just as the Senate Finance Committee did,” said John Hansen, NeFU President. “Nebraska is estimated to have an installed capacity of just over 1,200 megawatts (MW) of wind energy by the end of 2015 based on the prior PTC that expired 12/31/2013. Nebraska has the opportunity to do so much more as a state to capture the rural economic development benefits that go hand-in-hand with the wind energy PTC and ITC. These are critical public policy tools that are essential for Nebraska to catch up to our bordering states that are outdistancing Nebraska in terms of wind energy development. Iowa and South Dakota are getting over 20% of their electric generation from wind energy because they know how to use the wind PTC and ITC. The Congressional delegations in those states weigh in and support the PTC and ITC as does the Governor’s Wind Coalition.”

“The time is now and it is critical that Nebraska’s entire Congressional delegation publicly state their support for and commitment to defend the ethanol Renewable Fuels Standards against attacks from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and anti-renewable energy activists,” said Gale Lush, NeFU District 3 Director from Wilcox. “I want to remind everyone that ethanol is an economic superstar for Nebraska’s economy. There are currently 24 active ethanol production plants in Nebraska, with a combined production capacity of over 2 billion gallons of ethanol each year, and requiring more than 700 million bushels of grain in the process. These ethanol plants represent more than $5 billion in capital investment in the state and provide direct employment for some 1,200 Nebraskans.  Nebraska ranks second in the nation in ethanol production, and is the largest ethanol producer west of the Missouri River. Geographic position, abundant ethanol supply and reliable, competitive rail transportation give Nebraska a strategic advantage in serving ethanol markets in the western U.S. And Distillers Dried Grains (DDGS) is helping Nebraska’s livestock feeding industry become the national leader.”

“It’s no wonder that over 5,000 Nebraska farmers sent comments to EPA opposing their plan to reduce the RFS target,” Vern Jantzen, NeFU Vice President from Plymouth added. “Nebraska’s ag economics professor Bruce Johnson’s analysis showed that ethanol is a key component of Nebraska’s “Golden Triangle” of corn, cattle and ethanol. Johnson reports that ethanol’s 2010 economic contribution in Nebraska included: Direct receipts of $3.4 billion with indirect (multiplier) impacts on other businesses results totaling $4.5 billion in business receipts; total direct and multiplier impacts of $928,000,000 in gross state product; direct labor income of $223 million and a total of $585 million with the multiplier; and 3,000 direct jobs and nearly 8,000 more when indirect jobs are considered. Ethanol does all of this while reducing gasoline prices at the pump for consumers by over $1.00 per gallon. We need all hands on deck to protect the ethanol RFS.  It is critical to the ongoing economic success of our state.” 

NRCS Accepts Grant Applications for Conservation Innovation Efforts

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist Craig Derickson announced today the availability of $150,000 in program funding through Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to help improve soil health in Nebraska.  Applications must be received by NRCS before the close of business on May 16, 2014.

The grant program enables NRCS to work with public and private partners to accelerate technology development and adopt promising approaches to address natural resource concerns. The natural resource concern Nebraska has chosen to place its focus on is soil health.

"This is an exciting opportunity for Nebraska. While Conservation Innovation Grants aren’t intended to fund research projects, they instead link Federal and local resources to develop and adopt innovative conservation approaches and technologies for agriculture. With soil health being critical to the health and sustainability of agriculture, NRCS is looking forward to helping advance technology and innovation in this area," said Derickson.

Nebraska CIG project proposals will need to address at least one of several soil health topics, such as the effect cover crops have on erosion, soil moisture, grazing management and the impacts of no-till vs. conventional tillage systems.

Funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the grants are awarded through a competitive process. At least 50 percent of the total cost of grant projects must come from non-federal matching funds, including cash and in-kind contributions provided by the grant recipient. CIG will fund single and multi-year projects, not to exceed 3 years (anticipated project start date of September 1, 2014). The maximum award amount for any project will not exceed $75,000 in Fiscal Year 2014.

For more on this grant opportunity, visit To apply electronically, visit

World Pork Expo June 4-6 - Des Moines, IA

Mark your calendar for the 2014 World Pork Expo, June 4-6, at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. Brought to you by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), World Pork Expo features the world’s largest pork-specific trade show, educational seminars, swine shows and sales, and so much more. 

Online registration is already open; simply go to Register early to secure the discounted admission fee of $5 for an adult (ages 12 and up), which provides entry for the entire Expo — a $10-per-person savings over the on-site fee. 

The world’s largest pork-specific trade show featuring more than 400 exhibitors from around the globe is always a highlight of Expo. You can stroll through more than 310,000 square feet of exhibit space to view the newest products, services and technologies available to pork production businesses today. The trade show is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 4, and Thursday, June 5. On Friday, June 6, trade show hours run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Free educational seminars on Wednesday and Thursday present updates on current management issues and research. Experts discuss topics from animal health and well-being to production management to legislative updates to feeding strategies and more — all designed to provide practical information to take back home. Business seminars, also scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, address a range of marketing and business strategies and present an opportunity for questions and dialogue. 

Live hogs will be on display in the swine barn from June 3-7.  

To learn more about the 2014 World Pork Expo, check out It has schedules and event details, with updates to come in the months ahead. You also will find the latest information on room availability at the official Expo hotels.

PEDv: 5,500 Cases Confirmed Across 30 States

The Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus is continuing to spread. Citing figures from the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, there were 257 more cases of PEDv confirmed last week. This brings the number of confirmed cases to more than 5,500 since PEDv was identified in U.S. swine herds since April 2013. However, the latest weekly increase is the second lowest reported since mid-January, according to Ron Plain and Scott Brown with the University of Missouri.

NAHLN reports 28 states have confirmed cases of PEDv but suggests this count is actually slightly higher.  The number of states reported to the NAHLN as having at least one confirmed case of PED now stands at 28.  Plain and Brown, like other swine veterinarians across the country, are hopeful new outbreaks will continue to decline as the weather warms.

Purdue University agricultural economist Chris Hurt explained recently that the losses attributed to PEDv was expected to be greatest in the winter, and as the weather turns warmer, these losses will decrease.  "The large losses experienced in February probably mean that losses will continue to be large into March but may lighten as the weather warms into April and the rest of spring," he said.

Early estimates put the nation's losses of piglets over the last several months to top 5 million, but this figure has since been revised downward with the USDA's March Hogs and Pigs report.

Sign-Up Begins Today for USDA Disaster Assistance Programs Restored by Farm Bill

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that starting today, eligible farmers and ranchers can sign up for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) disaster assistance programs restored by passage of the 2014 Farm Bill.

"We implemented these programs in record time and kept our commitment to begin sign-up today," said Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. "To ensure enrollment goes as smoothly as possible, dedicated staff in over 2,000 Farm Service Agency offices across the country are doing everything necessary to help producers that have suffered through two and a half difficult years with no assistance because these programs were awaiting Congressional action."

Depending on the size and type of farm or ranch operation, eligible producers can enroll in one of four programs administered by the Farm Service Agency. The Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP), and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) will provide payments to eligible producers for livestock deaths and grazing losses that have occurred since the expiration of the livestock disaster assistance programs in 2011, and including calendar years 2012, 2013, and 2014. The Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock, honeybees and farm-raised fish that have suffered losses because of disease, severe weather, blizzards and wildfires.

Enrollment also begins today for the Tree Assistance Program (TAP), which provides financial assistance to qualifying orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters.

Producers signing up for these programs are encouraged to contact their local FSA office for information on the types of records needed and to schedule an appointment. Taking these steps in advance will help producers ensure their application moves through the process as quickly as possible.

Supporting documents may include livestock birth records, purchase and transportation receipts, photos and ownership records showing the number and type of livestock lost, documents listing the gallons of water transported to livestock during drought, and more. Crop records may include purchase receipts for eligible trees, bushes, or vines, seed and fertilizer purchases, planting and production records, and documentation of labor and equipment used to plant or remove eligible trees, bushes, or vines.

Producers have three to nine months to apply depending on the program and year of the loss. Details are available from any local FSA office.  For more information, producers may review the 2014 Farm Bill Fact Sheet, and the LIP, LFP, ELAP and TAP fact sheets online, or visit any local FSA office or USDA Service Center.

Anhydrous, P Fertilizers Still Up

Retail fertilizer prices are continuing to rise, according to retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN for the second week of April 2014. This marks the eighth consecutive week all retail fertilizer prices edged higher. Besid the normal seasonal demand prior to planting, some regions of the country also are blaming rail delays for price increases.  Anhydrous jumped 8% compared to a month earlier. The nitrogen fertilizer had an average price of $675 a ton. In January, it averaged about $615 per ton.

The phosphorus fertilizers were also higher in price once again, up 5% compared to a month earlier. DAP averaged $585 a ton and MAP was at $606 a ton. This is the first time MAP has been above $600 a ton since the second week of August 2013 when it was $607 per ton.

The remaining five fertilizer prices were higher but the shift to the high side was fairly minor. Potash had an average price of $475/ton, urea $548/ton, 10-34-0 $516/ton, UAN28 $352/ton and UAN32 $398/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.60/lb.N, anhydrous $0.41/lb.N, UAN28 $0.63/lb.N and UAN32 $0.62/lb.N.

Although fertilizer prices have rebounded in recent months, five of the eight major fertilizers remain double digits lower in price compared to April 2013.  Urea is down 4%, DAP is 5% less expensive and MAP is 8% lower. UAN32 is now 11% lower while UAN28 is 13% less expensive and 10-34-0 is down 16%. Potash is 19% less expensive and anhydrous is 21% lower than a year earlier.

NCBA Awards State Partners for Outstanding Recruiting Efforts

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) awarded two state affiliates for their outstanding recruitment efforts at the 2014 Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., last week. In all, 21 states met the criteria to qualify for the award; the choice of a one-year lease for either a New Holland Roll-Belt™ 560 Specialty Crop round baler or a New Holland T6.175 tractor.

NCBA recognizes the importance of a strong partnership with its state affiliate organizations and has joined forces with New Holland Ag to recognize and reward recruiters for their outstanding efforts. Mark Lowery, Dairy and Livestock Marketing Specialist for New Holland Ag emphasized the importance of working together on behalf of the beef industry and the company’s commitment to helping strengthen all of agriculture.

“This conference highlights the strength of our state/national partnerships and showcases the importance of your NCBA membership,” said Lowery. “We are proud of the opportunity to recognize state affiliates for their continued support of NCBA membership programs, which ultimately give the cattle industry a louder voice here on Capitol Hill.”

The 21 state affiliates which reached NCBA’s recruitment goals and qualified for the drawing for a one-year lease for a New Holland tractor or baler were: Alabama Cattlemen's Association, Arizona Cattle Feeders, California Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Livestock Association, Hawaii Cattlemen’s Association, Kansas Livestock Association, Kentucky Cattlemen's Association, Louisiana Cattlemen's Association, Michigan Cattlemen's Association, Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association, Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association, New York Beef Producers' Association, Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, Pennsylvania Cattlemen's Association, Tennessee Cattlemen's Association, Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Utah Cattlemen’s Association, Virginia Cattlemen's Association, Washington Cattle Feeders and Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association.

A random drawing of qualifying states was held during the Legislative Conference and the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association will choose a one-year lease for either a New Holland Roll-Belt™ 560 Specialty Crop round baler or a New Holland T6.175 tractor to be used to support their efforts on behalf of their membership.

The top five states in NCBA membership recruitment from Jan. 1, 2014 through Mar. 31, 2014 were as follows: Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association, Kansas Livestock Association and Pennsylvania Cattlemen’s Association. Texas and Missouri were winners of these leases during the Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show in February and therefore Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association was awarded the equipment lease.

Angus Association dismisses 12 staff members

(from Leslie Smith, KNEB Farm Director)

A shakeup at the American Angus Association has resulted in staff turnover.  On Friday, American  Angus  Association Chief  Executive  Officer Bryce Schumann addressed members in a letter that is posted on the association's website.  Schumann addressed the events that resulted from a letter from staff members over the management of the association and asked for Schumann's removal.  This letter prompted a six member task force made of officers and board members to conduct staff interviews.  After a lengthy deliberation the American Angus Association sided with Schuman and six  regional  managers  and  six staff  members  were dismissed.

In the letter, Schuman says "We  are  working  with  the  remaining  staff  members  to  provide  the  Association with  assistance  through  this  transitional  period".

25x'25 Welcomes IPCC Recognition of Renewables in Mitigating Climate Change

The 25x'25 Alliance welcomes the recognition by an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change work group report released this weekend that renewable energy is a critical element necessary to curb rising global temperatures and the changes in climate that come with them.

While the full report, "Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change," will not be released until tomorrow, a summary of the report for policy makers says that global emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) have risen to unprecedented levels, despite a growing number of policies to reduce climate change, and that emissions grew more quickly between 2000 and 2010 than in each of the three previous decades.

The summary shows that carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes contributed about 78 percent of the total GHG emission increase from 1970 to 2010, with a similar percentage contribution for the period 2000-2010. But since the IPCC issued its last global assessment of climate change in 2007, the report notes - and 25x'25 has long advocated - that many renewable energy technologies have demonstrated substantial performance improvements and cost reductions, and that a growing number of renewable energy technologies have achieved level of maturity to enable deployment at significant scale.

The report shows that renewed investment in the kinds of renewable energy advocated by 25x'25 can bring about the desired outcome of limiting the global mean temperature to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Bioenergy is cited in the summary among the technologies to be pursued, noting that combining it with carbon capture technology "offers the prospect of energy supply with large-scale net negative emissions which plays an important role in many low-stabilization scenarios."

And while the report states that the sustainability of production practices and the efficiency of are issues to be considered, "bioenergy can play a critical role for mitigation."

The report is unequivocal in its assertion that reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere requires cutting back emissions from energy production and use. The 25x'25 Goal, in which America's farms, ranches and forestlands can meet 25 percent of our nation's energy needs with cleaner low- and no-carbon renewable sources - biomass, biofuels, wind energy, solar power, geothermal energy and hydropower - by 2025, will offer a major mitigation strategy to achieve the reductions in emissions called for by the IPCC.

CWT Assists with 8.4 Million Pounds of Cheese, Butter and Whole Milk Powder Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 28 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Foremost Farms, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Association, Michigan Milk Producers Association, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold), and Tillamook County Creamery Association to sell 5.340 million pounds (2,422 metric tons) of Cheddar, Gouda and Monterey Jack cheeses, 2.260 million pounds (1,025 metric tons) of 82% butter and 837,757 pounds (380 Metric tons of whole milk powder to customers in Asia, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the South Pacific. The product will be delivered April through October 2014.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives in selling 46.132 million pounds of cheese, 34.163 million pounds of butter and 4.204 million pounds of whole milk powder to 29 countries on six continents. These sales are the equivalent of 1.195 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 in the rapidly growing world dairy markets. This, in turn, positively impacts U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

Futures Traders Sue CME  Over Real-Time Data Distribution

Three futures traders have filed a lawsuit against CME Group Inc. alleging the exchange operator sold data to high-frequency traders ahead of other participants that also paid to see the data first.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in an Illinois District Court, is seeking class-action status on behalf of users that have traded futures contracts on the Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange from 2007 until April of this year.

The plaintiffs allege CME charged exchange and data fees for real-time price data, and purported that the data was sold to the users in real time. The suit further states that CME allegedly also charged high-frequency traders for the ability to see the data before others, including people who paid and continue to pay CME for seeing the same data first.

CME said the lawsuit was "devoid of any facts supporting the allegations and, even worse, demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of how our markets operate."

"The case is without merit, and we intend to defend ourselves vigorously," CME said.

High-frequency traders have been in the spotlight in recent weeks after the release of Michael Lewis's "Flash Boys," a book that focuses on traders that use dedicated data cables and specialized algorithms to trade milliseconds ahead of the rest of the market.

Cheminova Launches CERCOBIN™ Fungicide

Cheminova, Inc. today announced the introduction of CERCOBIN™ Fungicide, a broad spectrum curative and preventative systemic fungicide with both soil and foliar activity.  The active ingredient in CERCOBIN is thiophanate-methyl. As a FRAC Group 1 fungicide growers may use it alone, or as a tank mix or rotational partner, as part of a fungicide resistance management program in conjunction with strobilurin and azole fungicides.

CERCOBIN is labeled for use on dry beans, edible beans, soybeans, sugar beets, peanuts, tree nuts, pome and stone fruit, cucurbits, onions, potatoes, strawberries, fall wheat and more. Included among some of the key diseases it controls are white mold, Cercospora blight, frogeye leaf spot, Cercospora leaf spot and powdery mildew.  CERCOBIN is packaged in 2 x 2.5 gallon containers and is on sale now.

“Adding CERCOBIN to the broadening fungicide portfolio of Cheminova gives growers another option to help manage diseases.  It supports our existing fungicide portfolio of TOPGUARD®, FORTIX® and KOVERALL® as an efficacious product with another mode of action,” said Deneen Sebastian, Director of Marketing, Cheminova, Inc. “CERCOBIN is the first of three new fungicide offerings planned from Cheminova this year.”