Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wednesday November 26 Ag News

Training offered for Producers, Agricultural Stakeholders on Dec. 8 in Fremont

An accidental radiological release training is being offered for grain and livestock producers and agricultural stakeholders in Dodge County. The free training is Dec. 8 at the Dodge County Extension Office. It will be held from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

An accidental radiological release from Omaha Public Power District’s Fort Calhoun Station is unlikely. In the event a radiological release occurred, the agriculture sector in Dodge County would be greatly affected. State and Federal governments may take actions such as stop orders against feed and water or require quarantine of livestock and agricultural products.

Dodge County is within the ingestion exposure pathway Emergency Planning Zone (EPZ), which has a radius of about 50 miles from the Fort Calhoun reactor site. Released radiation can travel 50 miles or more. Predetermined protective action plans are in place for Dodge County that are designed to avoid or reduce potential ingestion of radioactive materials.

The curriculum for the training will be presented by Bill Pook, Region 5/6 Director for Emergency Management and Homeland Security, and the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). Topics covered will include nuclear power plants and radiological basics, ingestion pathways, protective actions, federal capabilities, and state assistance.

It is the first time this training is being offered in Dodge County. In recent years, trainings have been held in the 10-mile radius from the power station. “Understanding how Dodge County, especially the agriculture sector, can be affected by an accidental radiological release is important,” said Ashley Mueller, Disaster Education Coordinator for Nebraska Extension. “The training will provide participants with information that can be applied to any disastrous event. It’s necessary to be informed and know the actions that will be taken by local, state, and even federal officials in times of crisis.”

Added Pook, “Events from Fukishima [Japan] to the Missouri River flooding have shown us the potential risk factors surrounding nuclear power plants. This awareness training program is worthwhile.”

The training will also be held in Burt and Washington counties in December.

Light refreshments will be served. RSVPs are encouraged; contact Bill at 727-2785. The Dodge County Extension Office is located at 1206 W. 23rd Street in Fremont.



NEBRASKA AGRICULTURAL PRICES


Preliminary prices received by farmers for winter wheatfor November 2014 averaged $5.30 per bushel, an increase of 12 cents from the October priceaccording to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The preliminary November corn price, at $3.50 per bushel, decreased 12 cents from the previous month.

The preliminary November sorghum price averaged $6.70 per cwt, an increase of 63 cents from October.

The preliminary November soybean price, at $9.90 per bushel, was up 36 cents from last month.

The November alfalfa hay price, at $96.00 per ton, was down $1.00 from October. The other hay price, at $79.00 per ton, was down $4.00 from October.

Oat and dry edible bean prices were withheld to avoid disclosing data for individual operations.



IOWA AGRICULTURAL PRICES


The preliminary November 2014 average price received by farmers for corn in Iowa was $3.50 per bushel according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Agricultural Prices report. This is down $0.12 from the October full month price, and $0.93 lower than November 2013.

The preliminary November 2014 average price received by farmers for soybeans, at $10.00 per bushel, was equal to the October full month price, and $2.70 lower than the November 2013 price.

The preliminary November oat price was $3.20 per bushel, down $0.19 from October, and $0.98 below November 2013. This is the lowest oat price since August 2011.

All hay prices in Iowa averaged $144.00 per ton in November, up $13.00 from the October price, but $38.00 per ton less than November 2013. Alfalfa hay prices fell $40.00 per ton from one year ago, to $153.00 and other hay prices were $26.00 per ton lower than last year, at $104.00. All three categories of hay prices increased from last month by a combined average of $6.33 per ton.

The preliminary November average price was $24.50 per cwt for milk, down $1.20 from October, but $2.50 per cwt above one year ago.



USDA:  Prices Received Index Increased 2 Points 


The preliminary November Prices Received Index (Agricultural Production), at 101 percent, based on 2011=100, increased 2 points (2.0 percent) from October. The Prices Received Index includes crop and livestock production. At 80, the November Crop Production Index is unchanged. At 134, the Livestock Production Index decreased 2 points (1.5 percent). Producers received higher prices for eggs, cattle, lettuce, and soybeans and lower prices for hogs, milk, apples, and broilers. In addition to prices, the overall index is also affected by the seasonal change based on a 3-year average mix of commodities producers sell. Increased monthly movement of corn, cattle, milk, and cotton offset the decreased marketing of soybeans, grapes, potatoes, and wheat.

The preliminary Prices Received Index is up 2 points (2.0 percent) from November 2013. The Food Commodities Index, at 119, increased 7 points (6.3 percent) from last month and 10 points (9.2 percent) from November 2013.

All crops: The November 2014 index, at 80, is unchanged from October but is 11 percent lower than November 2013. The index increase for vegetable & melon production more than offset the index decrease for oilseeds & grains.

Food grains: The November 2014 index, at 88, is 4.8 percent higher than the previous month but 12 percent below a year ago. The November price for all wheat, at $5.96 per bushel, is up 25 cents from October but down 89 cents from November 2013.

Feed grains: The index for November 2014, at 60, is unchanged from last month but 18 percent below a year ago. The corn price, at $3.57 per bushel, is up 1 cent from last month but 80 cents less than November 2013. Sorghum grain, at $6.60 per cwt, is 35 cents above October but 78 cents below November last year.

Oilseeds: The November 2014 index, at 80, is unchanged from October but 20 percent lower than November 2013. The soybean price, at $10.10 per bushel, increased 13 cents from October but is $2.60 less than November 2013.

Other crops: The index for November 2014, at 86, is down 7.5 percent from last month and 6.5 percent below November 2013. The all hay price, at $164 per ton, is down $9.00 from October and $4.00 from last November. The price for upland cotton, at 65.2 cents per pound, is up 1.2 cents from October but down 10.7 cents from last November.

Livestock & products.: The November 2014 index, at 134, is 1.5 percent below last month but up 20 percent from November 2013. Compared with a year ago, prices are higher for cattle, calves, broilers, milk, market eggs, hogs, and turkeys.

Meat animals: The index for November 2014, at 139, is down 1.4 percent from last month but 26 percent higher than last year. The November hog price, at $66.70 per cwt, is down $10.30 from October but $3.10 higher than a year ago. The November beef cattle price of $166 per cwt is up $5.00 from last month and $36.00 higher than November 2013.

Dairy: The November 2014 index, at 116, is down 6.5 percent from October but 8.4 percent higher than November last year. The November all milk price of $23.40 per cwt is down $1.50 from last month but up $1.80 from November 2013.

Poultry & eggs: The index for November 2014, at 140, is up 3.7 percent from October and 15 percent above a year ago. The November market egg price, at $1.37 per dozen, increased 43.6 cents from October and is 21.0 cents above November 2013. The November broiler price, at 64.0 cents per pound, is down 2.0 cents from October but is 8.0 cents above a year ago. The November turkey price, at 77.8 cents per pound, is down 4.4 cents from last month but up 12.2 cents from a year earlier.

Prices Paid Index Down 1 Point

The preliminary November Prices Paid Index for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates (PPITW), at 110 percent (2011=100), is down 1 point (-0.9 percent) from October, but 4 points (3.8 percent) above November 2013. Lower prices in November for complete feeds, concentrates, other services, and hay & forages more than offset higher prices for mixed fertilizer, nitrogen, trucks, and feed grains.



PEDv Likely to Flare Up Again


A Swine Team expert with the University of Wisconsin-Extension says Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus infections may have slackened over the summer, but that doesn't mean producers should loosen their biosecurity efforts. Lyssa Seefeldt notes that as cooler temperatures set in, conditions become more favorable for the survival of PEDv.

"As we saw in the fall of 2013 through early spring of 2014, we will likely see PEDv cases rising again," Seefeldt notes. "Not all PEDv news is bad, though. Considerable research has be conducted in regards to PEDv since its detection in the U.S. in April of 2013."

Preliminary research from two universities have shown some important data in how PEDv survives in the environment. Iowa State University has shown that the PED virus can potentially be inactivated in trailers scraped of manure by heating to 160 degrees for 10 minutes or leaving the trailer unused at room temperature for seven days.

Another manure study came out of the University of Minnesota, which tracked PEDv survivability in manure pits and found that the virus is capable of surviving at least 14 days at 77 degrees and more than 28 days at around 40 degrees.

Signs of PEDv include vomiting, severe diarrhea, dehydration, loss of appetite. The virus appears to be more severe in young pigs.

Meanwhile, animal health officials say the best way to prevent the virus from spreading is to follow proper biosecurity practices on your farm and know the feed ingredients and their origin when feeding pigs.



NCF Accepting Applications for Beef Industry Scholarship


Applications for 2015-16 beef industry scholarships sponsored by the CME Group are now being accepted. Ten scholarships of $1,500 each will be awarded to outstanding students pursuing careers in the beef industry.

Students studying education, communication, production, research or other areas related to the beef industry should consider applying for the scholarship. Applicants must be a graduating high school senior or full-time undergraduate student enrolled at a two or four year college.

The National Cattlemen’s Foundation administers the program. Applicants for the 2015-16 scholarship will be required to write a one page letter expressing future career goals related to the beef industry. They also must write a 750 word essay describing an issue in the beef industry and offering solutions to this problem.

Applications should be submitted by Dec. 19, 2014 and sent to National Cattlemen’s Foundation, 9110 E. Nichols Ave., Suite 300, Centennial, CO 80112. The winning recipients will be announced on Jan. 15, 2015.

For more information visit www.nationalcattlemensfoundation.org.



Ethanol Stocks Fall; Demand Up


The Energy Information Administration on Wednesday reported that ethanol supply in the United States were drawn down again last week despite rising domestic production and demand.

Total ethanol stocks declined 200,000 barrels (bbl) to 17.1 million bbl during the week-ended Nov. 21, a four-week low, but remains 2.1 million bbl, or 13.6%, above the inventory level seen a year earlier.

Plant production jumped 12,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 1.2%, last week to 982,000 bpd, the highest since EIA started keeping records in the summer of 2010, while up 5.6% year-over-year. Four-week average output was up 4.6% against year prior.

Blender inputs, a proxy for ethanol demand, rose 20,000 bbl or 2.3% to 874,000 bpd, the highest input rate since the week-ended Oct. 24, while up 37,000 bbl, or 4.4%, on year-over-year basis. During the four weeks ended Nov. 21, ethanol inputs by refiners and blenders averaged 0.7% more than during the comparable year-ago period.



ASA/WISHH Open Office in Ghana to Support Region Activities


The American Soybean Association’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (ASA/WISHH) program opened a field office in Accra, Ghana to support WISHH’s activities in sub-Saharan Africa on Nov. 14, 2014. The office will serve as a regional hub for current and future programming.

WISHH’s Regional Manager for Africa Josh Neiderman relocated to Accra during the first week of November. The office hosted representatives from USAPEEC’s International Poultry Development Program (UIPDP) and USDA’s Regional Agricultural Counselor Kurt Seifarth for meetings concerning the development of the poultry and feed sectors in Ghana shortly after opening.

Support for the regional office comes from various stakeholders, including USDA and several Qualified State Soybean Boards.



Cheaper Not To Plant Second-Crop Corn In Brazil?


Planting a second crop of corn after the current soybean crop is not economically viable in many parts of Brazil this season based on current prices, according to a report released by the Brazilian Agriculture Confederation (CNA).

Farmers in areas further away from ports and the meat industry in the south may be better off not double cropping soybeans this year, according to CNA analysis.

Across nearly all of Brazil, planting a single crop of soybeans was the best option last year, according to data compiled by the Center for Advanced Studies into Applied Economics (Cepea).

In Sorriso, a top-producing district in center-north Mato Grosso, total average costs for double cropping were R$3,986.71 per hectare ($640.50 per acre), while average gross revenue was R$3,737.46 per hectare. In contrast, soybean planting alone cost an average of R$2,591.33 per hectare and resulted in average revenues of R$2,729.41.

And with corn prices still depressed, the outlook is little better next year.

However, analysts don't believe second-crop corn planting will fall dramatically in 2015.

The main reason is agronomic. It is now generally accepted that farmers should plant cover crops after soybeans. That being the case, farmers might as well plant corn as it is about the only second crop they stand a chance of making some money from.

However, farmers will likely reduce fertilizer applications and opt for less expensive seeds, which will make production much more reliant on good rainfall



Hormel Foods Achieves Record Fourth Quarter And Full Year Results

Hormel Foods Corporation this week reported record performance for the fiscal year 2014 fourth quarter and full year.  All comparisons are to the fourth quarter or full year of fiscal 2013.

Fourth Quarter

- Record diluted EPS of $0.63, up 9 percent from $0.58 per share
- Segment operating profit increased 9 percent
- Record dollar sales of $2.5 billion, increased 9 percent; volume up 3 percent
- Grocery Products operating profit down 21 percent; volume down 5 percent; dollar sales down 3 percent
- Refrigerated Foods operating profit up 10 percent; volume up 1 percent; dollar sales up 9 percent
- Jennie-O Turkey Store operating profit up 45 percent; volume up 7 percent; dollar sales up 11 percent
- Specialty Foods operating profit down 14 percent; volume up 15 percent (volume down 7 percent excluding sales of CytoSport Holdings, Inc. (“CytoSport”) products); dollar sales up 31 percent (dollar sales down 4 percent excluding sales of CytoSport products); CytoSport acquisition-related charges, including transaction costs and inventory adjustment to fair market value, were approximately $9.3 million
- International & Other operating profit up 3 percent; volume up 6 percent; dollar sales up 13 percent

The company reported fiscal 2014 fourth quarter net earnings of $171.3 million, up 9 percent from net earnings of $157.3 million a year earlier. Diluted earnings per share for the quarter were $0.63, up 9 percent compared to $0.58 last year.  Sales for the quarter were $2.5 billion, up 9 percent from the same period in fiscal 2013.

Fiscal Year

- Record diluted EPS of $2.23, up 14 percent from diluted EPS of $1.95
- Segment operating profit up 16 percent
- Record dollar sales of $9.3 billion, up 6 percent; volume up 1 percent
- Grocery Products operating profit down 9 percent; volume up 3 percent (volume down 3 percent excluding incremental sales of SKIPPY® products); dollar sales up 3 percent (dollar sales down 2 percent excluding incremental sales of SKIPPY® products)
- Refrigerated Foods operating profit up 45 percent; volume flat; dollar sales up 9 percent
- Jennie-O Turkey Store operating profit up 23 percent; volume flat; dollar sales up 4 percent
- Specialty Foods operating profit down 20 percent; volume down 5 percent (volume down 10 percent excluding sales of CytoSport products); dollar sales down 3 percent (dollar sales down 11 percent excluding sales of CytoSport products)
- International & Other operating profit up 19 percent; volume up 15 percent (volume up 5 percent excluding incremental sales of SKIPPY® products); dollar sales up 19 percent (dollar sales up 10 percent excluding incremental sales of SKIPPY® products)

For the year ended October 26, 2014, net earnings were a record $602.7 million, up 15 percent from net earnings of $526.2 million last year.  Diluted net earnings per share were $2.23, up 14 percent from diluted net earnings per share of $1.95 last year.  Sales for the year ended October 26, 2014, totaled a record $9.3 billion, up 6 percent from last year.



Hormel Foods Announces 49th Consecutive Increase to Annual Dividend


The Board of Directors of Hormel Foods Corporation, a multinational marketer of consumer-branded food and meat products, today announced a 25 percent increase to the annual dividend to shareholders, marking the 49th consecutive annual dividend increase.

The annual dividend on the common stock of the corporation was raised to $1.00 per share from $.80 per share.

The Board of Directors authorized the first quarterly dividend of twenty-five cents (25¢) a share to be paid on Feb. 17, 2015, to stockholders of record at the close of business on Jan. 20, 2015.

The Feb. 17 payment will be the 346th consecutive quarterly dividend paid by the company. Since becoming a public company in 1928, Hormel Foods Corporation has paid a regular quarterly dividend without interruption.



Sharing Success: Hormel Foods Distributes Annual Profit Sharing


A record amount of nearly $17.4 million distributed in the 76th consecutive year of the program

Hormel Foods Corporation (NYSE:HRL) today distributed its annual profit sharing of nearly $17.4 million to eligible hourly and salaried employees during this 76th annual Thanksgiving Eve Day tradition.

“Six consecutive years of attaining record earnings is due to our hard-working employees and their commitment to delivering trusted, high-quality products to our consumers,” said Jeffrey M. Ettinger, chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer at Hormel Foods. “We are proud to share the success of our company with our team.”

Hormel Foods, a multinational marketer of consumer-branded food and meat products, continues to be among an elite group in the industry for retaining its profit sharing plan. The program was started by Jay C. Hormel in 1938 and is voluntarily paid at the discretion of the company’s Board of Directors.



John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum Opens Doors December 2nd


The John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum in Waterloo, Iowa opens its doors to the public December 2nd with a focus on engaging visitors in the history of tractor and engine design and manufacturing at John Deere, especially in Iowa's Cedar Valley.

Deere said the December launch will be followed by a grand opening celebration to be held in spring 2015.

"Tractors and engines have been and continue to be important to John Deere's success," said Dawn Hendershot, Project Manager. "We are pleased to share the history of these products as part of our overall story as a technology leader and quality manufacturer."

Located on the original site of the Waterloo Tractor Works, museum exhibits highlight the rich history and dynamic growth of the tractor business at John Deere, the world's largest provider of agricultural equipment.

"Throughout its history, John Deere has remained focused on the success of customers whose work is linked to the land," Hendershot said. "For 177 years, Deere has endured various economic cycles and this museum is a tribute to the resilience of John Deere employees and customers to weather both the good times and the bad."

Nearly four years in the making, the John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum joins various other company attractions in the Midwest, including the John Deere Historic Site in Grand Detour, Illinois and the John Deere Pavilion in Moline, Illinois.

The John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum is open to visitors Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults ages 13-61 and $4 for seniors, active duty military, John Deere employees and retirees. Children ages 12 and under accompanied by an adult can enjoy the museum for free. For more information about tours and the museum email WaterlooTractor&EngineMuseum@JohnDeere.com or call 319-292-6126.



Deere Announces Fourth-Quarter Earnings of $649 Million


Net income attributable to Deere & Company was $649.2 million, or $1.83 per share, for the fourth quarter ended October 31, compared with $806.8 million, or $2.11 per share, for the same period of 2013. For fiscal 2014, net income attributable to Deere & Company was $3.162 billion, or $8.63 per share, compared with $3.537 billion, or $9.09 per share, in 2013.

Worldwide net sales and revenues decreased 5 percent, to $8.965 billion, for the fourth quarter and were down 5 percent, to $36.067 billion, for the full year. Net sales of the equipment operations were $8.043 billion for the quarter and $32.961 billion for the year, compared with $8.624 billion and $34.998 billion for the same periods in 2013.

"John Deere has completed another year of solid performance in spite of weaker conditions in the global farm sector, which caused sales and earnings to decline from the record totals of 2013," said Samuel R. Allen, chairman and chief executive officer. "The slowdown has been most pronounced in the sale of large farm machinery, including many of our most profitable models. Nevertheless, our success managing costs and assets and establishing a broad-based business lineup has allowed us to deliver strong results and remain in a sound financial condition."

Further, Allen noted that the company produced healthy levels of cash flow for the year, much of which was returned to investors in the form of dividends and share repurchases. Dividends and buybacks in 2014 totaled a record $3.5 billion.

Summary of Operations

Net sales of the worldwide equipment operations declined 7 percent for the quarter and decreased 6 percent for the year compared with the same periods in 2013. Sales included price realization of 1 percent for the quarter and 2 percent for the full year. Additionally, sales included an unfavorable currency-translation effect of 1 percent for the quarter and for the year. Equipment net sales in the United States and Canada decreased 10 percent for the quarter and 8 percent for the year. Outside the U.S. and Canada, net sales were down 2 percent for the quarter and down 3 percent for the year, with unfavorable currency-translation effects of 2 percent and 1 percent for these periods.

Deere's equipment operations reported operating profit of $910 million for the quarter and $4.297 billion for the full year, compared with $1.114 billion and $5.058 billion in 2013. The decline for the quarter was due primarily to the impact of a less favorable product mix, lower shipment and production volumes, higher production costs primarily related to engine emission programs, increased warranty costs and an impairment charge for the China operations. The year's decline was due primarily to the impact of lower shipment and production volumes, a less favorable product mix, the unfavorable effects of foreign-currency exchange and higher production costs primarily related to engine emission programs. Declines for both periods were partially offset by price realization. Last year's results also were affected by impairment charges for the John Deere Landscapes and John Deere Water operations.

Net income of the company's equipment operations was $488 million for the fourth quarter and $2.548 billion for the year, compared with $650 million and $2.974 billion in 2013.

Financial services reported net income attributable to Deere & Company of $172.2 million for the quarter and $624.5 million for the year compared with $157.1 million and $565.0 million in 2013. The improvement for both periods was due to growth in the credit portfolio, partially offset by lower crop insurance margins, higher selling, administrative and general expenses and a higher provision for credit losses. Additionally, yearly results benefited from a more favorable effective tax rate.

Company Outlook & Summary

Company equipment sales are projected to decrease about 15 percent for fiscal 2015 and to be down about 21 percent for the first quarter compared with year-ago periods. For fiscal 2015, net income attributable to Deere & Company is anticipated to be about $1.9 billion.

"Even with a significant decline in sales and a continued pullback in the global agricultural sector, John Deere expects to remain solidly profitable in 2015," Allen said. "The company's earnings forecast reflects the impact of our efforts to establish a more resilient business model and it represents a level of performance much better than we've seen in prior downturns."

Longer term, the company's future continues to hold great promise, Allen said. "Global trends based on population growth and rising living standards remain intact and are largely unaffected by periodic swings in the farm economy. At the same time, Deere's plans for serving a larger global customer base are making good progress. As a result, we are confident the company is positioned to earn solid returns throughout the business cycle and to realize substantial benefits from the world’s growing need for food, shelter and infrastructure in the years ahead."

Equipment Division Performance

    Agriculture & Turf. Sales fell 13 percent for the quarter and 9 percent for the full year due largely to lower shipment volumes, the previously announced sales of the company's landscapes and water operations, and the unfavorable effects of currency translation. Partially offsetting these factors was price realization for both the quarter and year.

    Operating profit was $682 million for the quarter and $3.649 billion for the year, compared with $996 million and $4.680 billion in 2013. Lower results for the quarter were driven primarily by lower shipment and production volumes, a less favorable product mix, higher production costs primarily related to engine emission programs, increased warranty costs and an impairment charge for China operations. The full-year decrease was driven mainly by lower shipment and production volumes, a less favorable product mix, the unfavorable effects of foreign-currency exchange and higher production costs primarily related to engine emission programs. Declines for both periods were partially offset by price realization. As noted, last year also was affected by impairment charges for the landscapes and water operations.

Market Conditions & Outlook

    Agriculture & Turf. Deere's worldwide sales of agriculture and turf equipment are forecast to decrease by about 20 percent for fiscal-year 2015 as a result of weaker conditions in the global farm economy. Lower commodity prices and falling farm incomes are putting pressure on demand for agricultural machinery, especially for larger models. Conditions are more positive in the U.S. livestock sector, providing support to the sale of smaller sizes of equipment. Based on these factors, industry sales for agricultural machinery in the U.S. and Canada are forecast to be down 25 to 30 percent for 2015.



Pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey

On Wednesday, November 26, 2014, President Obama will pardon the National Thanksgiving Turkey in a ceremony at the White House.  The President will celebrate the 67th anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation, reflect upon the time-honored traditions of Thanksgiving, and wish American families a warm, safe, and healthy holiday.

The President will pardon Cheese and his alternate Mac, both 20-week old, approximately 48-pound Turkeys. The names of turkeys were chosen from submissions by Ohio students and Morven Park visitors.  This year, the American public once again decided which of the two turkeys – Mac or Cheese – would become the 2014 National Thanksgiving Turkey by casting a vote for #TeamMac or #TeamCheese on Twitter.

National Turkey Federation Chairman Gary Cooper of Ft. Recovery, Ohio, his wife Cheryl, and seven members of the Cooper family will be in attendance at today’s ceremony. Cooper’s son, Cole, raised and selected the turkeys that will be presented to President Obama. Both of the birds were raised antibiotic-free.

After the pardoning, the turkeys will travel to their permanent home at Morven Park’s “Turkey Hill,” the historic turkey farm located at the home of former Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis (1918-1922) in Leesburg, Virginia.  The National Thanksgiving Turkey and its alternate will be on display for visitors at Morven Park’s Turkey Hill.

Jaindl’s Turkey Farm in Orefield, Pennsylvania, presented the First Family with two dressed turkeys that will be donated to a local area food bank.



Tuesday November 25 Ag News

Animal Scientist Funston Gets Regional Extension Award

            Nebraska Extension beef cattle reproduction specialist Rick Funston has been honored for his beef and heifer management work.

            Funston won the 2014 Regional Excellence in Extension award for the North Central Region from Cooperative Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

            Funston, also a professor in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Department of Animal Science, is based at the West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte.

            Funston's research and extension work have helped provide ranchers new market options and reduced feed costs. He has been a leader in the concept of fetal programming, a concept in the livestock industry based on the notion that the nutrient status of gestating cows has various long-term implications on their offspring.

            UNL studies by Funston and colleagues reported on cows that were either supplemented or not supplemented during the last third of gestation. He found that heifer calves born to a herd fed 28 percent protein distillers-based supplement had a heavier adjusted 205-day weight, pre-breeding weight, weight at pregnancy diagnosis and higher pregnancy rate.

            Funston also reported an increase in calf weaning weights from supplemented cows. Heifer progeny from supplemented cows reached puberty earlier and tended to have a higher pregnancy rate compared to heifer progeny from non-supplemented cows. Results from these studies suggest the idea that cow nutrition during late gestation does affect the overall performance of heifer progeny.

            Funston joins five other Nebraska Extension professionals in winning this prestigious award (two more than any other state). "We are extremely proud of the excellence and value that people like Rick Funston bring to our Extension clientele," said Chuck Hibberd, dean and director of Nebraska Extension.

            Extension and the USDA's NIFA present annual Excellence in Extension Awards to honor visionary leadership and diversity in educational programming. Robert Kallenbach from the University of Missouri received the National Excellence in Extension Award and Cesar Asuaje from the University of Florida received the National Extension Diversity Award.

            Regional Excellence in Extension recipients are presented in five regions, including the North Central Region that includes Nebraska.



Nebraska Has the Resources in Place for Solid Livestock Expansion, A-FAN Shareholders Told


There has never been a better time for animal agriculture in Nebraska, according to featured speakers at the annual stakeholders meeting of the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (A-FAN) on November 24th. 
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Nebraska Corn Board Director Kelly Brunkhorst opened up the meeting discussing the importance of Nebraska’s Golden Triangle, which is the combination of resources: corn, soybeans and bio-fuels, that can be used to open the gate of opportunity for expansion of livestock production. 

Willow Holoubek, Executive Director of A-FAN, presented an overview of the work that the organization has accomplished during the past year.  The organization has focused on livestock development issues  and helping rural communities become more economically viable through growing animal agriculture in their areas.

“Unlocking the Gate of Opportunity with Livestock” was the theme of the keynote address by Dr. Kate Brooks, an extension livestock economist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  Dr. Brooks, an expert in the economics of meat and livestock production, began her presentation explaining that the tools like the “Golden Triangle” are in place for expansion of animal agriculture in Nebraska. “We have water, land, corn, soybeans, and distiller grains, available,” she said.  She shared statistics about beef, pork and dairy production over the last 20 years.  Looking at where we have been, and being able to look at current global trends about the consumption of protein, Dr. Brooks predicts that Nebraska will see growth in livestock production.   

Dr. Brooks also explained that it is important on a personal level for producers to ask themselves if they have the knowledge, the management, the land and the money to expand their operations.  She reminded the audience that “Nebraska has the tools in place for expansion, but it is a personal decision.”

Ben Rice, of Prairieland Dairy, said he “was interested in the statistics shared by Dr. Brooks, showing how we have increased the amount of milk produced by each cow, despite the fact that Nebraska has fewer dairy cows than in the past.  These are numbers that I will take back and share with others in the industry,” he added.

Lisa Lunz, soybean farmer from Wakefield, said the meeting “was a good reminder that livestock expansion is important for the economy of our state.  We need to expand in order to keep our communities viable.”   

Prairieland’s Rice agreed, saying that “opening the gates of opportunities is possible if we work together as an industry. As we learned today, Nebraska has the resources to thrive.”

Following the presentations, attendee’s enjoyed a buffet lunch sponsored by the Nebraska Soybean Board.  The left-over food from the buffet was donated to Matt Talbot’s Kitchen & Outreach.  



Farmland from Academy Award-Winning Director James Moll Now Available via On-Demand Digital Platforms

Academy Award®-winning filmmaker James Moll's feature length documentary, Farmland, is now available for rent and purchase via On Demand platforms - providing more people with the opportunity to view the film from their own homes and digital devices. The film's move to digital platforms takes place this month, following a successful four-week run on Hulu.com and Hulu Plus. 

Farmland is available for digital download via iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Blockbuster On Demand, Sony PlayStation, Vudu.com, Xbox and YouTube. The cost to download and own the film ranges from $14.99 to $19.99 for high definition and $12.99 to $14.99 for standard definition format. Online rental will cost approximately $4.99 to $7.99 for high definition and $3.99 to $6.99 for standard definition format.

Farmland will also be available to traditional satellite and cable television subscribers via their respective Video-on-Demand or Pay-per-View platforms in December 2014. DirecTV and DISH subscribers will have access to Farmland through their Video-on-Demand or Pay-per-View channels beginning on December 2. The film is also being made available to companies that deliver Video-on-Demand (VOD) or Pay-per-View (PPV) content to ATT U-Verse, Verizon Fios, Comcast, Cox Communications and Time Warner Cable. Viewers are encouraged to check their local VOD/PPV channels on their respective cable and satellite television providers for details.

During its theatrical debut this year, Farmland was shown in more than 170 theaters across the country including Regal Cinemas, Marcus Theatres, Carmike Cinemas, Landmark Theatres, and many key independent theaters.



Net Irrigate Combats Copper Theft and Unveils WireRat® 4.0 Technology

The leader in copper theft alarm solutions updates its latest technology

Net Irrigate, a manufacturer of Wireless Agricultural Irrigation Monitoring (WAIM) technology, is excited to announce WireRat® 4.0, an update to its WireRat technology that offers pivot owners new benefits like the ability to self-test the system and increased battery performance. Since its release in 2011, WireRat technology has become the agriculture industry’s best selling alarm solution for copper theft on center pivot irrigation systems and additional agriculture equipment.

WireRat technology offers farmers the ability to better protect the valuable copper wire on their pivot irrigation systems and other equipment by immediately sending alerts to your phone when a span cable is cut. The technology works seamlessly with all brands of center pivots and requires no external power. New for the WireRat 4.0 is the ability to self-test by simulating span cable cuts without causing any damage to your equipment. Every month the system will auto-test the copper wire, ensuring the alarm is not compromised during the off season.

“In the past, the only absolute way to test the alarm would be by actually disconnecting conductors or cutting wire,” says Edward DeSalle, CEO of Net Irrigate. “The new WireRat technology reduces the risk of the alarm becoming inadvertently disarmed due to pivot maintenance and eliminates the need for physical testing, saving farmers valuable time.”

WireRat 4.0 also includes increased battery performance, with a battery pack design that can last up to seven years with average pivot usage, representing a 40 percent increase over the previous version.

"Farmers are extraordinarily busy people with plenty to worry about,” says Scott Young, service technician at Chester Inc. Ag Systems in North Judson, Ind. “A copper theft alarm system that auto tests itself and lasts for multiple years undoubtedly will create peace of mind for farmers, especially in the off season. The WireRat 4.0 technology definitely helps combat the copper theft problem that continues to plague agriculture."

In addition to the ability to self-test and increased battery performance, the new technology now also operates globally, with the ability to deliver voice, email and text notifications to recipients in more than 170 countries.

Net Irrigate is currently accepting orders for WireRat 4.0 enabled devices. For more information on WireRat 4.0, visit http://www.netirrigate.com/.  Net Irrigate will also be at the Nebraska Power Farming Show in booth #1011 on Dec 9-11 at the Lancaster Event Center in Lincoln. 



Farm Sector Profitability Expected To Weaken in 2014


Net farm income is forecast to be $96.9 billion in 2014, down over 21 percent from 2013’s estimate of $122.8 billion. The 2014 forecast would be the lowest since 2010, but would remain $16 billion above the previous 10-year average. Offsetting changes in crop and livestock receipts leaves higher expenses as the main driver of changes in 2014 net farm income from 2013. Net cash income is forecast at $108.2 billion, down over 19 percent from the 2013 estimate. Net cash income is projected to decline less than net farm income primarily because it reflects the sale of carryover stocks from 2013.

Crop receipts are expected to decrease by $27.2 billion (12.3 percent) in 2014, led by a projected $10.5-billion decline in corn receipts and a $7.9-billion decline in soybean receipts. Livestock receipts are forecast to increase by $25.7 billion (14 percent) in 2014 largely due to anticipated record prices for beef cattle and milk. The elimination of direct payments under the Agricultural Act of 2014 results in only a projected 4-percent decline in government payments due to offsetting supplemental and ad hoc disaster assistance payments related to drought.  Total production expenses are forecast to increase $19.8 billion in 2014 extending the upward movement in expenses that has occurred over the past 5 years.

The rate of growth in farm assets is forecast to diminish in 2014 (2.4 percent) compared to recent years. The slowdown in growth is a result of lower net income leading to less capital investment, and moderation in the growth of farmland values. Farm sector debt is expected to increase 3.1 percent increasing more than assets for the first time since 2009. Most of the anticipated increase in debt is for nonreal estate loans with lower income spurring demand for operating funds. Despite the anticipated higher debt, the historically low levels of debt relative to assets and equity reaffirm the sector’s strong financial position.

Slight Decline Is Forecast for Median Farm Household Income in 2014

Median total farm household income is forecast to decrease slightly in 2014, to $70,564, down from $71,697 in 2013. Given the broad USDA definition of a farm, many farms are not profitable even in the best farm income years. The median farm income forecast for 2014, at -$1,682, is down slightly from the 2013 estimate of -$1,141. Most farm households earn all of their income from off-farm sources—median off-farm income is projected to increase 3.7 percent in 2014 to $64,825. (Note: Because they are based on unique distributions, median total income will generally not equal the sum of median off-farm and median farm income.) See more financial statistics for farm operator households.



NCBA's Cattlemen's College Lineup Set for Feb. 3-4 in San Antonio


The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Cattlemen’s College, now celebrating its 22nd year, has established a reputation as one of the most thorough cattle producer education programs in the nation. Sponsored by Zoetis, the 2015 edition of Cattlemen’s College offers a wide range of informative, hands-on educational workshops designed for cattle operations of every size and sector.

The program will be held Feb. 3-4, 2015, in San Antonio, Texas, headlining the first day of activities at the 2015 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show. Early registration for Cattlemen’s College and the convention ends Jan. 9, 2015.

Cattlemen’s College workshops include an outstanding lineup of industry experts during the course of two jam-packed days. On Tuesday, Feb. 3, participants will first hear from Gary Smith, Keith Belk, Daryl Tatum and Dale Woerner on “Feeding to Increase the Quality, Consistency, and Competitiveness from Market Cows.” This first hands-on class will help attendees improve the beef from market cows, identify production practices and learn value concepts from feedlot to retail.

On Tuesday evening, Cattlemen’s College participants will be treated to a Texas BBQ Welcome Reception sponsored by Zoetis. The reception will be an opportunity to visit with fellow cattlemen as well as the afternoon’s speakers.

Starting Wednesday morning at 7:00 am, Cattlemen’s College classes begin with a keynote address by Scott Neal, Senior VP, Produce, Meat and Seafood for Walmart. Neal will address how Walmart perceives increasing beef prices, expanding exports, increased focus on sustainability, world-wide growth and how today’s Walmart customers view beef.

Following Neal’s address, classes focusing on rebuilding the herd, the future of beef production, and many other valuable topics will be held, concluding with lunch session, with legendary farm broadcaster Max Armstrong. Armstrong will talk about how in his view from nearly forty years as a broadcaster, it’s a great time to be in the beef business.

“Cattlemen’s College gives producers an opportunity to hear from some of the leading experts in topics that impact their cattle operations every day, as well as the chance to interact with those experts and ask questions,” said NCBA President and Texas cattleman Bob McCan. “Many of the presenters are legends in the beef industry, and the wide variety of classes offers something for every producer. We highly encourage cattlemen and women to take advantage of this informative and educational program."

Cattlemen’s College registration information, as well as a complete schedule for the 2015 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show are available online at www.beefusa.org.



NCBA Environmental Stewardship Award Calls for Entries


Celebrating its 25th year, the Environmental Stewardship Award Program has opened its nomination season for 2015 award. Established in 1991 by the National Cattlemen’s Foundation and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the program has recognized the outstanding stewardship practices and conservation achievements of U.S. cattle producers for more than two decades. Regional and national award winners are honored for their commitment to protecting the environment and improving fish and wildlife habitat while operating profitable cattle businesses.

Seven regional winners and one national winner are selected annually by a committee of representatives from universities, conservation organizations, federal and state agencies, and cattle producers. The nominees compete for regional awards based on their state of residency, and these seven regional winners then compete for the national award. Candidates are judged on management of water, wildlife, vegetation, soil, as well as the nominee’s leadership and the sustainability of his or her business as a whole.

“Environmental stewardship and conservation have long been the focus of America’s foremost land stewards: farmers and ranchers,” said Texas cattleman and NCBA President Bob McCan. “Now in its 25th year, the ESAP program has recognized the outstanding accomplishments of cattle producers across the country and has encouraged producers to try new techniques.”

Any individual, group or organization is eligible to nominate one individual or business who raises or feeds cattle. Past nominees are eligible and encouraged to resubmit their application; previous winners may not reapply. Along with a completed application, the applicant must submit one nomination letter and three letters of recommendation highlighting the nominee’s leadership in conservation.

The program is sponsored by Dow AgroSciences; the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; the National Cattlemen’s Foundation; and NCBA.

Applications for the 2015 ESAP award are due Mar. 6, 2015. For more information and a complete application packet, visit www.environmentalstewardship.org.



Farmers Still Judging Fertilizer Plans


Retail fertilizer prices continue to move very little, according to retailers tracked by DTN for the third week of November. Fairly steady fertilizer prices have been a feature of the market for several months now and farmers are still assessing how to handle their 2015 growing season fertilizer needs.

Five of the eight major fertilizers had slightly lower prices compared to a month earlier, while the remaining three were up a bit. No fertilizer price moved any significant amount.

DAP, MAP, urea, UAN28 and UAN32 were all just slightly lower in price compared to the previous month. DAP had an average price of $576/ton, MAP $595/ton, urea $493/ton, UAN28 $322/ton and UAN32 $366/ton.

Potash, 10-34-0, and anhydrous were higher in price compared to a month earlier, but again these moves were fairly small. Potash had an average price of $479/ton, 10-34-0 $560/ton and anhydrous $709/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.54/lb.N, anhydrous $0.43/lb.N, UAN28 $0.58/lb.N and UAN32 $0.57/lb.N.

Three of the eight major fertilizers are now double digits higher in price compared to November of 2014, all while commodity prices are significantly lower from a year ago. Urea is up 13% compared to a year earlier, followed by DAP which is 12% more expensive and anhydrous is up 10%.

In addition, 10-34-0 is up 8%, while MAP is 7% more expensive, and both UAN28 and UAN32 are 1% higher from last year.

Potash remains the only nutrient which is still lower compared to retail prices from a year ago. Potash is 1% less expensive compared to 2013.



Remember: Scholarships for College Ag Students Available


This holiday weekend, invest time applying for the opportunity to save money on next year's college tuition. The National Corn Growers Association and BASF Corporation are accepting applications for five $1,000 scholarships to be awarded to undergraduate and graduate students pursuing a degree in an agriculture-related field during the 2015-16 school year.

"NCGA understands that to remain successful as an industry we must focus on education and keeping our best and brightest interested in ag," said Tom Haag, chairman of NCGA's Grower Services Action Team. "This program is an important component of NCGA's commitment to fostering youth in agriculture and to the future of our rural communities.  It is an investment in not only their future but also our own."

Applicants for the NCGA William C. Berg Academic Excellence in Agriculture Scholarship Program must be entering at least their second undergraduate year or any year of graduate study, and they or a parent or legal guardian must be an NCGA member. Scholarship applications must be postmarked on or before December 12, 2014.

Scholarship recipients will be selected in early 2015. Recipients and a parent or guardian will enjoy travel and lodging to attend the 2015 Commodity Classic in Phoenix, Ariz. to be recognized at the NCGA Banquet and have the opportunity to learn more about modern agriculture.



New Studies Reveal Best Disinfectants and Methods for Inactivating PEDV in Hog Trailers


A new paper from Iowa State University offers pork producers first-time insights on how various disinfectants and disinfection techniques work while also verifying existing knowledge about ways to battle Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV).

The four-study summary provides details of how individual aspects of trailer sanitation programs were evaluated, including thermo-assisted drying and decontamination (TADD) systems, along with multiple disinfectants. The research, led by Drs. Derald Holtkamp and Paul Thomas, identified disinfectants that may work well against PEDV even when feces is present.

The study also verified previous methods of combatting the virus. Specifically, PEDV in the presence of feces was inactivated by heating to 160°F (71°C) for 10 minutes or by maintaining room temperature at 68°F (20°C) for at least 7 days. No other combinations of time and temperature evaluated were shown to be effective at inactivating PEDV.

To learn more about these studies, including the disinfectant information, click to view the practical summary or the full study online at www.pork.org



Pig Barns Prep for More than Frigid Temperatures This Winter


Last year as Jack Frost nipped across the United States, the swine industry saw an immense spike in Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) cases. With the absence of summer heat and dry conditions to keep the virus at bay, the disease spread through barns across 31 states. Now with a renewed focus on biosecurity measures and nutritional management, the industry hopes to reverse this costly trend and avoid another surge in PEDv infections.

“As an industry, our focus needs to be on making sure our animals are prepared for anything that may come their way this season,” said Russell Gilliam, U.S. swine business manager for Alltech. “However, the winter does bring some additional challenges that producers need to be aware of in order to protect their pigs.”

While there are many facets of pig production that need to be set up and continually monitored to properly shield pigs from exposure to viruses and diseases this winter, Gilliam recommends swine producers concentrate on these five production areas:

    Herd flow – With potential risks for re-infection or spreading of the virus, it is essential to make sure there are proper check points for identifying infected animals and separating them from the rest of the herd. For example, conduct proper observance of the quarantine of replacement breeding stock with test and release procedures.

    Cleanliness – Severe cold temperatures make it extremely difficult to wash, clean and disinfect. Ensure all areas are completely clean and dry before exposing them to new pigs.

    Transportation – Animals coming in and going out are at risk for exposure by the transportation vehicles the operation is using. Guarantee their rides are completely clean and are from trusted sources that understand your biosecurity protocols.

    Employees – Examine foot traffic and implement proper bioesecurity measures for employees to reduce risk as employees can often work in different barns and, in some cases, for different producers. Reduce/restrict points of entry to breeding facilities.

    Nutrition – Animal performance is often dependent on feed quality and the performance of the feed itself. Include technologies in the feed that reduce the risk of pathogens and build immunity.

“Understanding the risk posed this winter is only part of the battle. The industry is more prepared than we were, but we can’t get complacent,” Gilliam said. “We need to keep improving methods for protecting our animals.

For more information on how to prepare barns this winter, contact your local Alltech representative or visit Alltech.com.



CWT Assists with 47,179 Pounds of Cheese Export Sales


Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 2 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America and Tillamook County Creamery Association to sell 47,179 pounds (21 metric tons) of Cheddar cheese in Asia and the Middle East. The product will be delivered December 2014.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives in selling 99.150 million pounds of cheese, 53.591 million pounds of butter and 56.729 million pounds of whole milk powder to 45 countries on six continents. These sales are the equivalent of 2.535 billion pounds of milk on a milkfat basis. Numbers are adjusted for cancellations.

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.



USDA Food Safety Tips for Cooking Thanksgiving Turkeys


Thanksgiving is the largest meal many cooks prepare each year. Getting it just right, especially the turkey, brings a fair amount of pressure whether or not a host is experienced with roasting one. The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing food safety recommendations on how to properly prepare a turkey to make sure yours is both delicious and safe to serve.

“Unsafe handling and undercooking of your turkey can lead to serious foodborne illness, explains Maria Malagon, Director of Food Safety Education with USDA FSIS. “Turkeys may contain Salmonella and Campylobacter, harmful pathogens that are only destroyed by properly preparing and cooking a turkey.”

Consumers should follow certain steps to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. According to Ms. Malagon, “those handling and cooking Thanksgiving meals should be aware of the resources available to them and the measures they can take to keep food safe.”

Steps to follow before cooking a turkey:

    Read labels carefully. Temperature labels show if the bird is fresh or frozen. If you plan to serve a fresh turkey, purchase it no more than two days before Thanksgiving.
    Purchase two thermometers: a refrigerator thermometer to ensure the turkey is stored at 40 °F or slightly below and a food thermometer to make sure the cooked turkey reaches a safe 165 °F.
    Thaw the turkey by using the microwave, the cold water method, or the refrigerator. The refrigerator method is USDA recommended.

Steps to follow when cooking a turkey:

    Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before touching any food to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness.
    Do not wash the turkey. This only spreads pathogens onto kitchen surfaces. The only way to kill bacteria that causes foodborne illness is to fully cook the turkey.
    Keep raw turkey separated from all other foods at all times.
    Use separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils when handling raw turkey to avoid cross-contamination. Wash items that have touched raw meat with warm soap and water, or place them in a dishwasher.
    Cook the turkey until it reaches 165 °F, as measured by a food thermometer. Check the turkey’s temperature by inserting the thermometer in three places: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the thigh, and the innermost part of the wing.

Steps to follow when consuming leftover Thanksgiving food:

    Refrigerate leftovers within two hours to prevent bacteria from growing on the food.
    Store leftovers in shallow pans or containers to decrease cooling time. This prevents the food from spending too much time at unsafe temperatures (between 40 °F to 140 °F).
    Do not store stuffing inside a leftover turkey. Remove the stuffing from the turkey, and refrigerate the stuffing and the meat separately.
    Avoid consuming leftovers that have been left in the refrigerator for longer than 3 or 4 days (next Tuesday to be exact). Use the freezer to store leftovers for longer periods of time.
    Keep leftovers in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs if the food is traveling home with a guest who lives more than two hours away.

Consumers with more food safety questions can visit FoodSafety.gov to learn more about how to safely select, thaw and prepare a turkey. They may also call the USDA Food Safety Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live with a food safety specialist at AskKaren.gov, available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, in English or Spanish.

FSIS will provide Thanksgiving food safety information during November on Twitter, @USDAFoodSafety, and on Facebook, at Facebook.com/FoodSafety.gov.

Consumers needing help on Thanksgiving Day may contact the USDA Food Safety Hotline from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern Time.



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

November 24 Crop and Harvest Progress Report - NE - IA - US

NEBRASKA CROP PROGRESS AND CONDITION

For  the week  ending November  23,  2014,  cold,  but  dry  conditions allowed  final  harvest  activities  to  move  ahead,  according  to  the  USDA’s  National  Agricultural  Statistics Service.  Temperatures averaged 8  to 12 degrees below normal across eastern areas.  Snow was beginning  to melt as temperatures warmed toward the weekend.  Producers continued to move livestock onto stalk fields for grazing.  There were 5.6 days  suitable  for  fieldwork. Topsoil moisture  supplies  rated 8 percent very  short, 31 short,  60  adequate,  and  1  surplus.  Subsoil  moisture  supplies  rated  9  percent  very  short,  28  short, 62 adequate, and 1 surplus.
 
Field Crops Report:

Winter wheat conditions rated 0 very poor, 2 poor, 29 fair, 60 good, and 9 excellent. 

Corn harvested was 96 percent, near 95 last year and 92 for the five-year average.

Sorghum harvested was 97 percent, near 99 last year and 93 average.
 
Livestock,  Pasture  and  Range  Report: 

Pasture  and  range  conditions  rated  4  percent  very  poor,  5  poor,  32 fair, 55 good, and 4 excellent.  Stock water supplies rated 1 percent very short, 7 short, 91 adequate, and 1 surplus. 

This  is  the  last weekly Crop Progress  and Condition  report  for  the  2014  growing  season. We would  like  to extend  our  appreciation  to  the  dedicated  county  FSA  and  extension  staff  who  supplied  the  necessary information for  these reports. For December  through March, we will  issue monthly reports. The first monthly report (December) will be issued January 5, 2015. Weekly reports will begin April 6th for the 2015 season.
 



Access the National publication for Crop Progress and Condition tables at:  http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/nass/CropProg//2010s/2014/CropProg-11-24-2014.txt.

Access  the  High  Plains  Region  Climate  Center  for  Temperature  and  Precipitation  Maps  at: http://www.hprcc.unl.edu/maps/current/index.php?action=update_region&state=NE&region=HPRCC.

Access the U.S. Drought Monitor at: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?NE.



IOWA CROP PROGRESS AND HARVEST REPORT


Cold  temperatures and snow halted most activities early  in  the week, but  rising  temperatures  as  the weekend neared allowed  Iowa  farmers 3.7  days  suitable  for  fieldwork  during  the week  ending November 23,  2014,  according  to  the  USDA,  National  Agricultural  Statistics Service.    Some  tile  and  terrace  work  continued  despite  the  colder temperatures,  while  warmer  weather  over  the  weekend  allowed  for  corn harvest, fall tillage, and fertilizer applications.

Topsoil moisture  levels  rated  0 percent  very  short,  5 percent  short, 90 percent  adequate,  and 5 percent  surplus.   Subsoil moisture  levels rated  1 percent  very  short,  7 percent  short,  85 percent  adequate,  and 7 percent surplus.

Ninety-six percent  of  Iowa’s  corn  acreage  was  harvested,  equal  to 2013 but 2 days ahead of the five-year average.  Corn harvest in south central  Iowa  continued  to  trail  behind  the  rest of  the State with only 85 percent  complete.  Isolated  corn  fields  still  remain  to be harvested throughout the rest of the State. 

Soybean harvest was nearly complete with 99 percent of the acreage harvested.  

Grain movement from farm to elevator was rated 37 percent moderate to heavy, dropping 11 percentage points from the previous week.  Off-farm  grain  storage  availability  was  rated  at  93 percent  adequate  to surplus.  On-farm grain storage availability was 97 percent adequate to surplus.

Hay  and  roughage  supplies were  estimated  at 97 percent  adequate  to surplus.    Cold  and  snowy  conditions  tested  livestock,  and  some farmers have started to feed hay.



IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY

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


Very  cold  and  mostly  dry  weather  prevailed  through  Friday  (21st) across  Iowa.     Much warmer weather, with  some  light  rain,  arrived Friday night.         Temperatures  remained below  freezing across all of Iowa  until  early  on  Wednesday  (19th)  when  temperatures  briefly climbed above 32 degrees over extreme western Iowa.   Temperatures on Friday (21st) climbed above freezing over the southwest one-half of the state and climbed well above freezing statewide on Saturday (22nd) and  through most of Sunday  (23rd).     At Des Moines a  streak of 252 consecutive  hours  with  temperatures  below  freezing  ended  at  noon Friday  (21st).      This  streak  was  48  hours  longer  than  previously experienced  during  137  years  of  November  weather  records  at  Des Moines (old record was recorded for  the  last 204 hours of November 1985).     Temperature extremes varied  from a Friday morning  low of minus 6 degrees at Stanley  (Buchanan County)  to Saturday afternoon highs  of  57 degrees  at  numerous  southeastern  Iowa  locations.  Temperatures  for  the week  as  a whole  averaged  14.6 degrees  below normal.     Soils were  frozen  to  a depth of 5  to 9  inches  as of Friday (21st)  but were  completely  thawed  in many  areas  by  Sunday  (23rd).   Snow  flurries  were  common  each  day  from  Sunday  (16th)  through Thursday  (20th).      Dry  weather  prevailed  on  Friday  with  light  rain falling across the southeast one-half of Iowa Friday night into Saturday morning.   Donnellson reported the most precipitation with 0.37 inches of rain while much of the northwest one-half of the state recorded only trace  amounts.      The  statewide  average  precipitation  was  only  0.03 inches  while  normal  for  the  week  is  0.45  inches.      Heavier precipitation  fell  after  the  cut-off  for  this  week’s  report  on  Sunday (23rd) with rain amounts over an inch across east central and southeast Iowa while  snow accumulated  late Sunday night  across  the northeast one-half of the state.



USDA Weekly Crop Progress - Last Report of Season


With the nation's corn crop 94% harvested and the soybean crop 97% harvested, USDA issued its last weekly Crop Progress report for 2014.  Corn was 94% harvested as of Nov. 23, USDA reported, compared to 89% last week and a 92% five-year average. Soybeans were 97% harvested, compared to 94% and a 98% five-year average.

The winter wheat crop is planted and 92% emerged. That compares to 87% last week and an 89% five-year average. Winter wheat condition worsened slightly in the last week, falling to 58% good to excellent compared to 60% last week.



Dryness Still a Concern for Brazil Soy


Brazilian farmers had planted 76% of their 2014-15 soybean crop as of Friday, representing progress of some 13 percentage points compared with a week before and only slightly behind progress seen last year when 79% was harvested at the same time, AgRural, a local farm consultancy, reported Monday.

But while sufficient rain has fallen over the last four weeks for farmers to plant quickly in the Center-West and Southeast and make up for the month-long delays caused by a dry October, precipitation remains irregular across most of the soybean belt.

The lack of blanket rains, combined with high temperatures, has not only hindered the development of some crops, it has fostered caterpillar populations. The situation is not yet critical but must be watched, said AgRural in its weekly crop report.

Soybean planting is almost complete in Mato Grosso, the No. 1 producing state, at 93%. Planting is now only three percentage points behind that registered at the same point last year. In the south of the state, it hasn't rained for a few days but soil moisture remains good. In the top-producing mid-north, crops are looking healthy.

Mato Grosso do Sul had planted 95% of its crop. Soybeans in the north of the state are developing well, but the lack of rain in the south could become an issue if precipitation forecast for this week doesn't fall.

In Goias, the crop was 81% planted, up 14 percentage points on last week but still behind the 93% registered at the same point last year. The lack of rain is worrying farmers there, although losses have yet to be registered. The presence of Helicoverpa caterpillars has been noted in several areas.

Hot dry weather and caterpillars are also stressing farmers in Parana, where planting moved forward a relatively slow eight points last week to reach 84% complete.



UNL 2015 Crop Production Clinics in January
High Impact Training for Ag Professionals

University of Nebraska-Lincoln crop production and pest management specialists will be crossing the state in January to provide the latest research-based information and recommendations for the 2015 crop season. Topics will cover soil fertility; soil water and irrigation; insect, disease and weed management; cropping systems; and agribusiness management and marketing. The agenda for each program will be posted to the CPC website in December. While specific topics may vary from eastern to western Nebraska sites, the following topics are a sample:
-    Corn Yield Forecasts for Nebraska and the Corn Belt
-    Herbicide-Resistant Weed Update and Management
-    Managing Goss's Wilt
-    Pest-Resistant Crops: A Perspective from Game Theory
-    Dry Bean Production Practices and New Varieties (Gering)
-    Nutrient Management Update; Solvita/Haney Soil Tests
-    Effects of Baling and Grazing on Soil Properties
-    Checkup for Pivot Efficiency
-    Use of Climate Information for Agricultural Decisions
-    Cover Crops: What we Know and Don't Know
-    On-Farm Research: Reliable Data to Drive Decisions
-    How to Control Crop Input Costs and Land Lease Update

Registration and Credit

Online registration is required for these clinics to provide for meals and materials. Register at agronomy.unl.edu/cpc. Cost for pre-registrations by 3 p.m. the day before the clinic is $65. Online preregistration includes the 2015 Guide for Weed Management in Nebraska, the 2015 Crop Production Clinic proceedings with further information on the topics being discussed, a meal, and refreshments. On-site registration is $80.   Check-in is from 8:00 to 8:30 a.m. followed by sessions from 8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m.

CCA credits will be available (maximum of six per day) in these areas:
-    Crop production (2)
-    Nutrient management (1)
-    Integrated Pest Management (6)
-    Water Management (1)
-    Professional Development (2)

Pesticide applicator recertification training will be available in these categories:
-    Commercial/noncommercial in ag plant, demonstration/research, and regulatory
-    Private applicator

Schedule

Tuesday, Jan. 6 — Gering, Gering Civic Center, 1050 M St.
Wednesday, Jan. 7 — North Platte, Sandhills Convention Center, 2102 S. Jeffers
Thursday, Jan. 8 — Hastings, Adams County Fairgrounds, 947 S. Baltimore
Tuesday, Jan. 13 — Kearney, Younes Conference Center, 416 W. Talmadge Road
Wednesday, Jan. 14 — York, Holthus Convention Center, 3130 Holen Ave.
Thursday, Jan. 15 — Beatrice, Beatrice Country Club, 1301 Oak St.
Tuesday, Jan. 20 — Atkinson, Atkinson Community Center, 206 W. 5th St.
Wednesday, Jan. 21 — Norfolk, Lifelong Learning Center, NECC 601 E. Benjamin Ave.
Thursday, Jan. 22 — UNL ARDC, Ithaca, Saunders County Extension Office, 1071 County Road G,



VESICULAR STOMATITIS DIAGNOSED IN WHEELER COUNTY NEBRASKA


According to State Veterinarian Dr. Dennis Hughes, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) has confirmed a diagnosis of Vesicular Stomatitis (VS) in cattle on two farms in Wheeler County.  Livestock on both farms have been placed under quarantine.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and NDA veterinarians submitted samples from the infected cattle to a USDA laboratory on Friday with final test results confirmed late yesterday.  The positive diagnosis makes Nebraska the third state to have VS this year following Texas and Colorado. 

“Vesicular Stomatitis is typically transmitted via biting insects and midges.  With our recent hard freezes in Nebraska, we are cautiously optimistic we won’t see the disease spreading as rapidly as we would expect in warmer weather,” said Dr. Hughes.  “Our team is working to determine the source of the disease, and because the disease also can be transmitted by nose to nose contact, we are taking all appropriate measures to protect surrounding livestock herds from the disease.”

VS can cause blisters and sores in the mouth and on the tongue, muzzle, teats or hooves of horses, cattle, swine, sheep, goats and a number of other animals.  Adult cattle will typically recover in 10-15 days after the onset of symptoms.

NDA urges producers with animals that might be experiencing these symptoms to contact their veterinarian immediately. 

According to Hughes, the positive diagnosis might trigger animal import regulations in other states so producers moving livestock from Nebraska into another state are encouraged to contact the destination state’s State Veterinarian’s office to learn about specific import requirements.

The USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has information about VS available online at: http://tinyurl.com/pnr38ee



ASA Announces 2015 Class of ASA DuPont Young Leaders


The 31st class of ASA DuPont Young Leaders began their leadership journey at DuPont Pioneer headquarters in Johnston, Iowa, last week.

The Johnston training session was the first phase of a program designed to identify new and aspiring leaders and provide them with opportunities to enhance their skills and network with other growers. Representatives from 23 states and Canada participated in training that included educational and skill-building components.

“The ASA DuPont Young Leader Program has had a tremendous impact on not only ASA but the entire agricultural industry,” said Ray Gaesser (Iowa), ASA President. “By identifying new and aspiring agricultural leaders and then providing them with training that enhances their leadership skills and grows their peer network, the Young Leader program strengthens our industry and allows us to work more collaboratively in our local, state and national organizations. The participants in this year’s class are impressive; they are extremely knowledgeable, talented and passionate about agriculture.”

The 2015 class of ASA DuPont Young Leaders are: Kyle Bridgeforth, Ala.; James Bisswanger, Ark.; Dave McEachren, Canada; Nick Wurl, Ill. Adam & Hannah Steen, Ind.; Morey & Rhonda Hill, Iowa; Andrew & LaVell Winsor, Kan.; Andrew & Jenny Alford, Ky.; Brennan & Serena Gilkison, Ky.; Odis Hill, La.; Matthew Doss & Stephanie Francis, Mich.; Aaron Yaggie, Minn.; Ryan and Wendy Wondercheck, Minn.; John Mark Looney, Miss.; Bill Hayen, Mo.; Amanda Fairley, (Fairbury) Neb.; Brent & Brenda Svoboda; (Pender) Neb.; Brad Macauley, N.Y.; Christopher & Cherish Naylor, N.C.; Jarred Billadeau N.D.; Dan & Cindy Sturgill, Ohio; Cliff & Hailey Barron, S.C.; Antron Williams, S.C.; Brandon Wipf, S.D., John Dodson & Kristi Kosman, Tenn.; Chase & Jessica Ann Hickman; Tex.; Glenn Dye, Va.; and Brad & Nicole Kremer, Wis. Also pictured, ASA President Ray Gaesser, Iowa and First Vice President Wade Cowan, Tex.

“Agriculture faces many challenges and opportunities as American farmers work to help meet the growing global demand for food,” said Randy Wanke, senior manager of Industry Relations, DuPont Pioneer. “We are proud to support the young leader program, which is developing the future growers needed to capture those opportunities and meet those challenges.”



Iowa Leaders Call for More Clarity After EPA's RFS Delay


The Iowa Corn Growers Association said Friday's announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) amounts to another non-decision on a high-priority issue that impacts Iowa farmers and America's economy.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Friday announced that it will not be finalizing the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes before the end of the year. The Renewable Fuel Standard, enacted by Congress in 2005 and updated in 2007, requires oil companies to provide consumers access to renewable fuels, like ethanol, on a volume-based percentage, compared to petroleum-based products.

"Last year, EPA proposed changing the methodology for calculating the RFS, even though Congress had put very clear instructions into the law," said Iowa Corn Growers Association President Jerry Mohr, of Eldridge. Mohr said the positive part about EPA's latest announcement is that it leaves the 2013 methodology for calculating the RFS in place.

The Iowa and National Corn Growers Associations had opposed EPA's efforts to the proposed 2014 changes in methodology, because the changes would have restricted consumers' access to choosing ethanol at the pump.

"EPA's latest announcement shows that even they knew their 2014 proposal was unworkable. But it also creates more uncertainty for Iowa corn farmers and those who produce essential renewable fuels like ethanol from corn," Mohr said. "At a time when Iowa farmers are producing back-to-back record corn crops, we need EPA to uphold the law passed by Congress, to increase access to clean, renewable fuels like ethanol and reduce America's dependence on foreign oil," he said.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) said of the decision, "The Environmental Protection Agency threw the biofuels industry into chaos and confusion when it proposed lowering 2014 renewable fuel requirements from what we enacted into law. Now, the EPA will allow the uncertainty it created to linger on, saying 2015 is the soonest it will announce the amount of renewable fuel that is required to be blended and used in 2014. The EPA went astray when it gave credence to the notion there is some arbitrary limit to biofuels' potential in our fuel supply. That is a wrong interpretation of the Renewable Fuel Standard, and the EPA must now issue renewable fuel requirements that meet the purpose and intent of the RFS to boost energy security and jobs while reducing fossil fuel use."

Members of the Iowa Corn Growers Association have championed grassroots support for the RFS, communicating with elected officials, regulators, and policy makers across the country, and rallying thousands of letters of support to the Administration and members of Congress from Iowa corn farmers.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said, "It is good news that the EPA has withdrawn the misguided rule they proposed last year and responded to the thousands of public comments opposing their efforts to undermine the RFS. Unfortunately, the ongoing uncertainty continues to hurt the entire renewable fuels industry.

"The past year has been an exciting time in the renewable fuels industry with the first commercial scale cellulosic ethanol plants coming online," added Northey. "However, we have missed opportunities for even more growth in the industry due to the uncertainty created by EPA's initial RFS proposal. Hopefully the withdrawal of this rule signals a larger change in course within EPA where they will be less adversarial and more responsive to the concerns of rural America."

Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a joint statement after receiving the news from EPA.

"We're pleased the Environmental Protection Agency and the Obama Administration halted their ill-advised proposed rule for the time being, but unfortunately, this decision only creates more uncertainty," said Branstad. "Across the nation, renewable fuels have helped spark economic development, create jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and increase consumer choice. While we would have liked to see the Environmental Protection Agency commit to a robust Renewable Fuel Standard for the long-term, we received a clear signal through this process that America supports renewable fuels and our state's work to produce high-quality biofuels."

"Though we were hoping for the certainty of a robust Renewable Fuel Standard, we're pleased the Environmental Protection Agency backed away from their initial proposal," said Reynolds. "We'll continue fighting for Iowa farmers and consumers who value a choice at the pump and Americans who seek energy independence through safe, reliable and renewable energy."



USDA Disaster Assistance to Help Thousands of Honeybee, Livestock and Farm-Raised Fish Producers


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA today announced that nearly 2,500 applicants will receive disaster assistance through the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) for losses suffered from Oct. 1, 2011, through Sept. 30, 2013.

The program, re-authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides disaster relief to livestock, honeybee, and farm-raised fish producers not covered by other agricultural disaster assistance programs. Eligible losses may include excessive heat or winds, flooding, blizzards, hail, wildfires, lightning strikes, volcanic eruptions, and diseases, or in the case of honeybees, losses due to colony collapse disorder. Beekeepers, most of whom suffered honeybee colony losses, represent more than half of ELAP recipients.

"As promised, we're making sure that thousands of producers who suffered through two and a half difficult years without Farm Bill assistance, are getting some relief," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Once the Farm Bill was restored, not only did we implement the disaster assistance programs in record time, we're issuing payments less than three months after the enrollment deadline. The funds will hopefully help producers with some of the financial losses they sustained during that time."

The Farm Bill caps ELAP disaster funding at $20 million per federal fiscal year. To accommodate the number of requests, which exceeded funds available for each of the affected years, payments will be reduced to ensure that all eligible applicants receive a prorated share of assistance.



Booklet from NMPF Covers Your Dairy Data Needs


What has 53 tables, 20 graphs and tells you almost anything you need to know about milk production, dairy product production and sales and dairy exports and imports?

The answer is the 2014 edition of Dairy Data Highlights, the National Milk Producers Federation’s handy, pocket-sized booklet including national and state milk and dairy production data from the 1970s through 2012 or 2013.

Dairy Data Highlights has been published annually by NMPF for more than 60 years. A must for anyone involved in milk production, it is available to NMPF member cooperatives and associate members for $7.50 a copy, or $5 for orders of more than 10 copies. For nonmembers, the cost is $10 for single copies or $7.50 for bulk orders. An order form is available on the NMPF website.

All aspects of milk and dairy products production are covered, as well as producer, wholesale and retail milk and dairy product prices; federal milk marketing orders; sales and consumption data for milk and dairy products, and comparative information for U.S. dairy imports and exports.

New this year is a table showing historical monthly income-over-feed cost margins, as defined by the 2014 farm bill for the new Margin Protection Program. The table goes back to January 2000. With two accompanying line graphs, it is a timely addition for producers now making participation decisions on the new federal dairy safety net program.

Also in the booklet:

·         National milk production data going back to 1925
·         Cow numbers, farms and herd size data going back to 1950
·         Milk production and prices, production-per-cow, cow numbers and dairy herd by state, with comparative data from earlier years
·         Class III, manufacturing grade and all-milk wholesale prices by year from 1965
·         Annual wholesale prices for butter, cheddar cheese, and nonfat dry milk from 1975
·         The share of commercial sales by product, including milk, butter, cheese, frozen products and nonfat dry milk from 1970
·         Annual production and per-capital consumption of key cheese, butter and frozen products from 1970
·         Annual exports of milk, butter, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and nonfat dry milk by region and country
·         A short glossary of dairy industry terms and useful conversion factors for milk and dairy products

For more information, or to order the 2014 edition of Dairy Data Highlights, visit the nmpf.org web site. 



Switching to soybeans?  Make sure fields are ready after continuous corn


Thinking about putting soybeans back into your rotation next season? If you’ve been following a corn-on-corn cropping strategy in recent years, plan ahead to make sure your fields are ready for the switch to soybeans.

Andrew Ferrel, Mycogen Seeds agronomist, recommends four steps for successfully rotating to soybeans.

    Start with a clean field. Corn crop residue can take a significant amount of time to break down, creating a barrier for young soybean seedlings, especially in reduced-till or no-till situations. These conditions tend to keep springtime soils cool and wet longer, creating a favorable environment for early season fungal pathogens.

“Soybean yields can be highly affected by poor emergence and early vigor,” Ferrel says. “It is important to get soybeans off to a good start with an even and well-established stand. In some cases, light tillage of heavy corn residue may be needed to create a clean seedbed for good seed-to-soil contact.”

    Head off emergence issues. Many factors can compromise seedling emergence, including insect pressure and seedling diseases. Under these conditions, Ferrel recommends a seed treatment to help promote a strong stand, and thus, earlier canopy closure and improved yield potential.

There are several seed treatments in the marketplace, many containing fungicides and insecticides in one product, Ferrel notes. “The combination products are often worth the minimal added expense to provide extra protection for soybean seedlings, especially when planting in less-than-ideal conditions,” he says. Consult with your local agronomist or seed supplier for seed treatments appropriate for your area.

    Consider soil inoculants. Years of corn-after-corn production can reduce populations of Bradyrhizobium japonicum, the soil bacteria that fix nitrogen (N) for soybeans. Fields that have been out of soybean rotation four or more years could benefit from an inoculant to ensure proper nodulation and prevent the need for supplemental N applications.

“Inoculants generally are very inexpensive relative to other crop inputs, and they are worth the investment in such cases,” Ferrel says.

    Watch nutrient levels. Corn is responsible for significant removal of key soil nutrients, particularly N, phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Corn’s high affinity for N means that growers must apply high rates of fertilizer each year to achieve desired yield. These N applications can result in rapid changes in soil pH. Before planting soybeans into these fields, take soil tests, paying special attention to P and K and soil pH levels, and adjust for soybean needs.

“As you plan for 2015, assess your fields and determine which are best-suited for soybean production,” Ferrel says. “Your trusted agronomic adviser can help you select varieties with the greatest yield potential after continuous corn. Additional agronomic resources are available on Mycogen.com.”



AGCO Reduces Work Force at Minnesota Plant


On the heels of some shift realignments and a reduction in its temporary workforce earlier this year, AGCO Jackson, Minnesota, Operations last week cut 43 employees from its workforce campus-wide. The cuts represent less than 4% of AGCO Jackson's workforce, according to Eric Fisher, director of operations for the southwest Minnesota facility. Still, Fisher said they have more employees today than they did in 2011,when major expansions were under way on the Jackson campus.

"Our employment is at 1,100 right now on the Jackson campus," Fisher said. "If you go back to the summer of 2011, we were at 856 employees. "We've still seen tremendous growth from 2011 to this point in time."

Fisher attributed the staffing reductions to the agriculture economy, which has seen commodity prices - particularly in corn and soybeans - drop dramatically in 2014, reports Prairie Business.

The AGCO Jackson campus manufactures Terragator and Rogator application equipment, as well as Challenger and Massey Ferguson track and high-horsepower wheeled tractors.

The Jackson campus underwent a $17 million expansion, completed in June 2012, to include manufacturing space onsite for the production of Massey Ferguson tractors and the addition of an Intivity Center to welcome visitors to the plant.



Friday, November 21, 2014

November 21 Cattle on Feed + Ag News

NEBRASKA CATTLE ON FEED UP 3 PERCENT

LINCOLN, NE November 21, 2014 -- Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head,contained 2.45 million cattle on feed on November 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 3 percent from last year.Placements during October totaled 660,000 head, up 5 percent from 2013.Fed cattle marketings for the month of October totaled 430,000 head, down 3 percent from last year.Other disappearance during October totaled 20,000 head, up 5,000 head from last year.



IOWA CATTLE ON FEED DOWN 8% FROM LAST YEAR


Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in Iowa for all feedlots totaled 1,065,000 on November 1, 2014, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Iowa Field Office. The inventory is up 3 percent from October 1, 2014, but down 8 percent from November 1, 2013. Feedlots with a capacity greater than 1,000 head had 590,000 head on feed, up 5 percent from last month but unchanged from last year. Feedlots with a capacity less than 1,000 head had 475,000 head on feed, up 1 percent from last month but down 17 percent from last year. This marks the lowest November 1 inventory for feedlots with less than 1,000 head capacity since records began in 1999.

Placements during October totaled 207,000 head, an increase of 8 percent from last month but down 24 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity greater than 1,000 head placed 132,000 head, up 33 percent from last month and up 1 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity less than 1,000 head placed 75,000 head. This is down 19 percent from last month and down 47 percent from last year. This marks the lowest October placements for feedlots with less than 1,000 head capacity since records began in 1999.

Marketings for October were 166,000 head, down 19 percent from last month and down 11 percent from last year.  Feedlots with a capacity greater than 1,000 head marketed 100,000 head, down 12 percent from last month but up 12 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity less than 1,000 head marketed 66,000 head, down 27 percent from last month and down 33 percent from last year. This marks the lowest October marketings for feedlots with less than 1,000 head capacity since 2006. Other disappearance totaled 6,000 head.



United States Cattle on Feed Up Slightly

   
Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.6 million head on November 1, 2014. The inventory was slightly above November 1, 2013.

Placements in feedlots during October totaled 2.36 million, 1 percent below 2013. Net placements were 2.26 million head. During October, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 690,000, 600-699 pounds were 570,000, 700-799 pounds were 462,000, and 800 pounds and greater were 635,000. For the month of October, placements are the second lowest since the series began in 1996.

Marketings of fed cattle during October totaled 1.69 million, 8 percent below 2013. October marketings are the lowest since the series began in 1996.  Other disappearance totaled 97,000 during October, 28 percent above 2013.



Number of Cattle on Feed on 1,000+ Capacity Feedlots by Month - States and US:  2013 and 2014
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  :                 :                 :              November 1, 2014             
                  :                 :                 :--------------------------------------------
       State      :November 1, 2013 : October 1, 2014 :              :  Percent of  :  Percent of 
                  :                 :                 :    Number    :previous year :previous month
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  :     --------------- 1,000 head --------------          ----- percent ----     
Arizona ..........:        270               252              250           93             99     
California .......:        495               415              420           85            101     
Colorado .........:        950               840              900           95            107     
Idaho ............:        220               205              220          100            107     
Iowa .............:        590               560              590          100            105     
Kansas ...........:      2,050             2,010            2,080          101            103     
Minnesota ........:        117               114              132          113            116     
Nebraska .........:      2,370             2,240            2,450          103            109     
Oklahoma .........:        270               245              260           96            106     
South Dakota .....:        200               190              230          115            121     
Texas ............:      2,520             2,470            2,550          101            103     
Washington .......:        203               212              226          111            107     
Other States .....:        330               305              325           98            107        
United States ....:     10,585            10,058           10,633          100            106     
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


# of Cattle Placed on Feed on 1,000+ Capacity Feedlots by Month-States and US: 2013 and 2014
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  :              :              :            During October 2014            
                  :    During    :    During    :--------------------------------------------
       State      : October 2013 :September 2014:              :  Percent of  :  Percent of 
                  :              :              :    Number    :previous year :previous month
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  :    ------------ 1,000 head -----------           ----- percent ----     
Arizona ..........:       28             20             22            79            110     
California .......:       55             43             53            96            123     
Colorado .........:      230            200            210            91            105     
Idaho ............:       56             64             61           109             95     
Iowa .............:      131             99            132           101            133     
Kansas ...........:      470            400            420            89            105     
Minnesota ........:       25             20             30           120            150     
Nebraska .........:      630            520            660           105            127     
Oklahoma .........:       65             55             60            92            109     
South Dakota .....:       59             50             84           142            168     
Texas ............:      520            445            520           100            117     
Washington .......:       59             46             51            86            111     
Other States .....:       50             45             54           108            120     
United States ....:    2,378          2,007          2,357            99            117     
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Number of Cattle Marketed on 1,000+ Capacity Feedlots by Month - States and US: 2013 and 2014
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  :              :              :            During October 2014            
                  :    During    :    During    :--------------------------------------------
       State      : October 2013 :September 2014:              :  Percent of  :  Percent of 
                  :              :              :    Number    :previous year :previous month
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  :    ------------ 1,000 head -----------           ----- percent ----     
Arizona ..........:       25             24             21            84             88     
California .......:       50             38             40            80            105     
Colorado .........:      145            155            145           100             94     
Idaho ............:       45             38             45           100            118     
Iowa .............:       89            114            100           112             88     
Kansas ...........:      400            325            320            80             98     
Minnesota ........:       10             18             11           110             61     
Nebraska .........:      445            400            430            97            108     
Oklahoma .........:       78             54             43            55             80     
South Dakota .....:       38             42             43           113            102     
Texas ............:      430            410            420            98            102     
Washington .......:       39             32             35            90            109     
Other States .....:       33             33             32            97             97     
United States ....:    1,827          1,683          1,685            92            100     
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



USDA Cold Storage Highlights


Total red meat supplies in freezers were down 2 percent from the previous month and down 9 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were up slightly from the previous month but down 15 percent from last year.  Frozen pork supplies were down 4 percent from the previous month and down
7 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were down 18 percent from last month but up 5 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on October 31, 2014 were down 5 percent from the previous month and down 9 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were up 5 percent from the previous month but down 9 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were down 19 percent from last month and down 10 percent from October 31, 2013.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on October 31, 2014 were down 3 percent from the previous month and down 4 percent from October 31, 2013.  Butter stocks were down 5 percent from last month and down 24 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks were up 13 percent from last month and up 2 percent from a year ago.  Total frozen vegetable stocks were up 5 percent from last month and up 3 percent from a year ago.



NE Dept. of Natural Resources Director Resigns


Director Brian Dunnigan of the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources resigned on Thursday. Director Dunnigan was appointed by Governor Heineman to the position in 2008 after serving in the Department for over 30 years. Director Dunnigan said, “It has been a great privilege to serve the citizens of the state and I will miss all of the wonderful people that I have worked with across the state.”

The Department has broad water management authorities, including floodplain management, interstate water management, permitting, and dam safety. During his tenure, Director Dunnigan was able to provide a strong foundation to support effective water management activities across the state by engaging local partners.

Director Dunnigan’s early days as director found him wrestling with key interstate water matters in the Republican River and Platte River basins. His leadership was instrumental in resolving those critical interstate water matters and improving the overall resilience of Nebraskans to respond to extreme droughts and floods. Through the course of Director Dunnigan’s tenure with the Department the disputes of the Republican River Compact have been stabilized and a new path of collaboration with the state of Kansas has been opened. Nebraska has also established a successful plan to implement the requirements of the federal endangered species program in the Platte River Basin. His 25 years of expertise in developing Nebraska’s framework for flood management also allowed for improved floodplain mapping and effective and efficient support in providing timely warnings to those individuals at high risk during flooding events.

Director Dunnigan said, “I certainly appreciate all of the relationships that I have developed over the years and believe that Nebraska is well poised to proactively address our state’s future water needs.”



Nebraska Soybean Day and Machinery Expo Offers 2015 Growing Season Information


            The 2014 Nebraska Soybean Day and Machinery Expo Dec. 18 will assist soybean producers in planning for next year's growing season.

            The expo, 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., will be in the pavilion at the Saunders County Fairgrounds in Wahoo, said Keith Glewen, Nebraska Extension educator.

            The expo opens with coffee, doughnuts and the opportunity to view equipment and exhibitor booths. Speakers start at 9 a.m.

            Presenters include University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers and specialists, Nebraska Soybean Board representatives, soybean growers and private industry representatives.

            Ed Usset, a well-known grain marketing specialist from the University of Minnesota, will present a different approach to grain marketing that focuses on eliminating mistakes in “Five Common Mistakes in Grain Marketing.”  Bryce Anderson, DTN ag meteorologist and analyst, will examine the recent trends in historic-strength weather events as he presents, “Are Weather Extremes the New Normal?”  Nebraska Extension policy specialist Brad Lubben will provide perspectives on how to navigate choices in the new farm bill. And Lowell Sandell, field market development specialist, Valent U.S.A., will look at approaches for combatting glyphosate-resistant weeds in “Fighting the War on Waterhemp, Palmer Amaranth and Marestail."

            The expo also will include an update on the Nebraska Soybean Checkoff and association information.

            Producers will be able to visit with representatives from seed, herbicide, fertilizer and equipment companies and view new farm equipment during a 30-minute break at 10 a.m.

            The Saunders County Soybean Growers Organization requests that each participant donate one or more cans of nonperishable food to the food pantry.

            Complimentary noon lunch will be served.

            Registration is available the day of the expo at the door. For more information about the program or exhibitor information, call (800) 529-8030 or e-mail kglewen1@unl.edu.

            This program is sponsored by UNL Extension in the university's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Nebraska Soybean Board, Saunders County Soybean Growers Organization and private industry.  There is no registration fee.



EPA Delays Renewable Fuels Standard Announcement


This morning the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it would not finalize the 2014 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) this year.

According to the statement released by the EPA, the agency will set the final 2014 volume standard in 2015, and get back on schedule to propose the 2015 and 2016 blending volumes.

"Finalization of the 2014 standards rule has been significantly delayed,” the EPA said in a statement. “Due to this delay, and given ongoing consideration of the issues presented by the commenters, the EPA is not in a position to finalize the 2014 RFS standards rule before the end of the year.”

Originally, the EPA proposed rulemaking to establish 2014 Renewable Fuel Standards Nov. 29, 2013. The proposal led to controversy and comments, which expressed concerns regarding the proposal’s ability to ensure continued progress toward achieving the volumes of renewable fuel targeted by the statute.

“Changes proposed by the EPA in renewable fuel volume requirements for 2014 are not consistent with current law or legislative history,” said Todd Sneller, Nebraska Ethanol Board administrator. “The proposed reductions in biofuel use impede progress toward the use of more domestically-produced renewable fuels that mitigate the adverse impacts of petroleum on public health, the environment and the economy. Consumers deserve a wider variety of transportation fuel choices including E15 and E85. The RFS was intended to ensure choices are available to consumers. Oil companies have an obligation to meet these fuel standards.”

RFS supporters continue to advocate for renewable fuels, particularly cellulosic biofuels, which will reduce greenhouse gases emitted from transportation fuels and help diversify the nation’s fuel supply.



NeFBF Statement on EPA’s Delayed Action on 2014 Renewable Fuels Standard

Steve Nelson, President, Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation

“It is unfortunate and disappointing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has again delayed action in establishing standards for the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standards Program. Pushing back their decision making into 2015, as announced earlier today, only creates unwarranted uncertainty in the marketplace for renewable fuels.”

“The growth in renewable fuels have played a huge role in reducing our country’s dependence on foreign crude oil and at the same time brought new jobs and opportunities for many rural Nebraskans, through development of Nebraska’s ethanol and renewable fuels industries.”



Statement by Iowa Soybean Association President Tom Oswald

Reaction to the EPA’s decision to delay RFS ruling
Iowa Soybean Association President Tom Oswald, who farms near Cleghorn, issued the following statement concerning today’s announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency that it will delay finalizing the 2014 Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) until sometime next year.

“A delay is better than making an ill-advised decision. However, kicking the can down the road couldn’t come at a worse time for Iowa’s soybean farmers given record production and tightening margins. Inaction in Washington, D.C., has negative consequences for biodiesel producers and farmers across the state.

“The EPA’s decision creates more uncertainty in the biodiesel industry, which discourages investment and expansion. Biodiesel production in Iowa, the nation’s leader, is down as a result. That costs jobs and hurts the state’s economy.

“Soybean oil is a primary feed stock in biodiesel, and limiting markets has curtailed prices at a time when margins are already razor thin or nonexistent.”



SNOW AFFECTS WINTER GRAZING

Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist


               Snow has covered a lot of winter pasture acres for quite a few days already this winter.  How has it affected your winter grazing?

               November has been snowier and a lot colder than usual.  These early season conditions eventually can affect the ability of your cattle to get the nutrition they need from grazing corn stalks or winter pasture.

               Grazing cattle often select plant parts like corn husks and grain or grass leaves that contain higher amounts of protein or energy than do the coarser stalks and stems.  This early snow can make it difficult for them to make these selections.  So your cattle eat what they can get to easily.  Also, moisture on dead, frozen grass can leach sugars and other soluble nutrients out of the plants.  The end result may be a diet that is less nutritious than usual.  If this goes on for very long your cattle might lose weight and go out of condition.

               So – what can you do about it?  Obviously, you can’t turn on a heater to melt the snow or put nutrients back into the plants.  Instead, you need to estimate how much different your animals’ diets are from normal and provide supplements to replace those nutrients.

               This isn’t difficult.  Normally you probably supplement your cattle after they have grazed the best plant parts.  All the snow does is force you to begin a little sooner or increase the amount they receive by a small amount.

               Of course, I assume you normally supplement correctly.  If your cows usually are a bit fat following winter, maybe they don’t need the extra supplement.  But if you usually end up with cows with just enough weight to be healthy, extra supplement might be needed this year.

               That little extra might make all the difference this snowy winter.



Upper Big Blue NRD to Construct New Headquarters to Serve Public Better


In order to serve the public better and effectively manage the ever-increasing regulatory burden placed upon Nebraska’s NRDs, the Upper Big Blue NRD Board of Directors approved building a new NRD headquarters north of the York County Fairgrounds, after outgrowing the current building the NRD has been in for 32 years.

“The new facility will be a big benefit to the District,” said Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District General Manager John Turnbull.  “Right now the office is full with little room for new staff, has limited utility storage, and lacks a much needed small meeting room.  While the office is handicap accessible it could be better.  Our vehicles and equipment are in various places.  We rent cold storage space across town for spring tree sales.  Parking is a major problem, particularly for landowners conducting business and on meeting days.  Expansion of the existing building is difficult because of our location, lot size and surrounding businesses.  The new modern facility will allow the District to continue to offer the best service to the public.”

The board feels that a new building is necessary to provide for a more efficient layout and smoother work flow, while allowing for a future increase of staff.  The changing work load is due to the regulation of irrigation to ensure long-life of the aquifer and good quality water for District farmers and citizens.  The goal is to continue providing the high level of customer attention and reliable service benefiting District citizens that they are accustomed to. The Upper Big Blue NRD is dedicated to maintaining the face-to-face relationships that have been established for citizens to have personal and transparent access to local government.

The NRD has carefully worked to conserve natural resources and the management of groundwater at the local level for the benefit of all Nebraskans.  Numerous measures such as Community Hazard Mitigation plans and Wellhead Protection Areas have also been established and will continue to be maintained to ensure the safety of District citizens and their families.

The cost for the office building and maintenance/motor pool building is $4.5 million. Construction will begin in the spring of 2015 with a projected completion date of February 2016.



High Nitrate Levels in IA Rivers


(AP) -- Two rivers that supply water to 500,000 people in the Des Moines area show nitrate levels spiking to levels that make it unsafe for some to drink, a concentration experts haven't before seen in the fall that likely stems from especially wet weather in recent months.

The utility that supplies Des Moines and most of its suburbs had workers blending river water with other sources to lower the nitrate levels, but the situation may be nearing the point at which the city starts a process that costs about $7,000 a day to remove them. If that happens, the utility has threatened to sue the state.

On Friday, the nitrate level in the Des Moines River was at 12.8 parts per million and the Raccoon River was at 13.7. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires officials to inform the public about safety risks at 10 parts per million.

Iowa and other states often have problems with nitrates in the spring, when rain washes unused fertilizer from farm fields. But it's unheard of to have spikes so high in November, said Des Moines Water Works CEO Bill Stowe. Scientists believe the current problem is caused by wet weather in the late summer and fall, which sent nitrogen remaining in the soil washing downstream.

"What we're seeing are numbers late into the fall and into the early winter like we've never seen before," Stowe said.

Stowe said so far workers were keeping the drinking water at just over 8 ppm. Water above 10 ppm can be deadly to children younger than 6 months because the chemical can reduce the amount of oxygen carried in their blood. Pregnant women and adults with reduced stomach acidity are advised not to drink water above the EPA limit.

In spring 2013, nitrate levels hit all-time highs on both rivers when a wet spring washed nitrogen from fields after a severe drought. Water Works mechanically cleaned the water at a cost of $900,000 until nitrate levels subsided more than two months later. If it happens again, Stowe said the utility likely will sue, alleging the state is violating the Clean Water Act by failing to reduce the nitrogen levels in rivers.

Monitors in rivers throughout the nation show no other sites with such high nitrate levels. But the issue is especially severe in parts of Iowa given the intense farming and tiling of land. More than 2 million acres in west-central Iowa drain into the Raccoon River, most of it cropland or livestock farms. An estimated 78 percent uses man-made drainage tiles to quickly move water downstream.

Although Iowa began a voluntary program in May 2013 that encourages farmers to make changes to reduce runoff, Stowe and environmental groups argue that strategy is toothless and lacks measurable benchmarks or a timeline for improvement.

For years, environmental groups have called for the state to regulate livestock farms, much as they already do for city wastewater treatment plans, which must have permits that limit release of contaminants into rivers. They're also seeking ways to measure and limit the release of nitrates from fields where tile has been laid underground.

Iowa DNR spokesman Kevin Baskins said the state acknowledges the need to improve its waterways, but that it will take time for voluntary efforts to work. He said farmers are beginning conservation practices and government grants are giving them incentives.

"This isn't something where you just get instant results," Baskins said. "We didn't get into the kind of situation we have today in terms of excess nutrients overnight and we won't get out of it overnight."

Significantly reducing nitrogen levels likely requires slowing the flow of water into rivers by setting up wetlands or planting grasses or other cover crops on harvested fields, allowing the plants to retain water and consume excess chemicals.

"We have millions of acres on which we need to implement this stuff," said Chris Jones, an environmental scientist with the Iowa Soybean Association who has studied the Raccoon River. He said fixing the problem would cost billions of dollars.



Did You Know...   ...Beef Shorts


Did you know ...

The checkoff’s new digital-advertising campaign recently wrapped up its first full year in the marketplace, and the results are in! The campaign educated millions of consumers on beef’s superior taste, nutrition and ease-of-use – by providing them with the beef-related information that they need, when they need it. Through the checkoff’s digital campaign, many consumers now are equipped with the beef tips, techniques and recipes they need to ensure a great beef-eating experience, each and every time. The campaign had extensive reach: 733 million impressions, widespread use of the checkoff’s flagship consumer “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner.” website – with over 3.6 million page views, mass viewership of the new “No Recipe Recipe” videos – with over 5 million video ad views, and the checkoff’s highly engaging social media tools – with more than a million consumer engagements with Beef’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Did you know ...

The checkoff’s Twitter handle @Beef has been on the forefront of new technologies and has been one of the only brands to fully embrace and leverage the second screen movement – targeting consumers who utilize the internet on their laptops or smartphones while, at the same time, are watching TV. These consumers are oftentimes watching their favorite shows and are commenting and discussing them through social media, primarily Twitter. The technology that helps beef target these consumers is called “TeleContext,” a new piece of technology that only the beef checkoff uses. During this initial phase of launching TeleContext, numerous influential bloggers and celebrity chefs from the Food Network have already participated in online conversations with the @Beef handle. Plans for FY15 include expanding the list of shows that will engage the current beef community as well as drive new and potential consumers to beef checkoff recipes, tips and techniques on “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” Shows like the Biggest Loser, The Today Show and Hell’s Kitchen will be added to the list – this will grow beef’s TeleContext audience to over 2.7 million potential Twitter users!

To learn more about your beef checkoff investment, visit MyBeefCheckoff.com.



NMPF Statement on White House Executive Action on Immigration Policy

Jim Mulhern, President and Chief Executive Officer, NMPF
“The executive action announced by the White House this week will not solve the current or future needs of dairy farmers. We still need congressional action, in the form of comprehensive legislative reform of our broken immigration system. This is both an opportunity and an obligation for Congress. We need action in both the House and Senate, with support from both Republicans and Democrats, to do the job that needs to be done.

“NMPF’s focus remains the same going forward, as it has been in the past decade: we must secure a permanent fix to our broken immigration system – and that must be done by the Congress. “Regardless of the executive order announced by the White House, we must continue pressing for a long-term, meaningful solution that provides permanent relief for current workers and future labor needs. It is imperative that Congress address this issue in 2015 and resolve it, once and for all.”



EPA to Delay  Issuing 2014 Standards for the Renewable Fuel Standard Program

(from EPA advanced Federal Register notice)

Today EPA is announcing that it will not be finalizing 2014 applicable percentage standards under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program before the end of 2014. In light of this delay in issuing the 2014 RFS standards, the compliance demonstration deadline for the 2013 RFS standards will take place in 2015.  EPA will be making modifications to the EPA-Moderated Transaction System (EMTS) to ensure that Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) generated in 2012 are valid for demonstrating compliance with the 2013 applicable standard. 

On November 29, 2013, EPA published a notice of proposed rulemaking to establish the 2014 RFS
standards. The proposal has generated significant comment and controversy, particularly about how volumes should be set in light of lower gasoline consumption than had been forecast at the time that the Energy Independence and Security Act was enacted, and whether and on what basis the statutory volumes should be waived.  Most notably, commenters expressed concerns regarding the proposal’s ability to ensure continued progress towards achieving the volumes of renewable fuel targeted by the statute.  EPA has been evaluating these issues in light of the purposes of the statute and the Administration’s commitment to the goals of the statute to increase the use of renewable fuels, particularly cellulosic biofuels, which will reduce the greenhouse gases emitted from the consumption of transportation fuels and diversify the nation’s fuel supply.

Finalization of the 2014 standards rule has been significantly delayed.  Due to this delay, and given ongoing consideration of the issues presented by the commenters, EPA is not in a position to finalize the 2014 RFS standards rule before the end of the year. Accordingly, we intend to take action on the 2014 standards rule in 2015 prior to or in conjunction with action on the 2015 standards rule.



NCGA Statement Regarding EPA RFS Announcement


The following is a statement from Chip Bowling, Maryland farmer and president of the National Corn Growers Association, in response to today’s EPA announcement related to the Renewable Fuel Standard:

“Today’s announcement by EPA shows the Administration recognizes the proposed rule was inherently flawed and based on an unworkable methodology.  We will continue to work with EPA to ensure that the 2014 and 2015 renewable fuel requirements are consistent with what Congress set forth in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Congress created the RFS to help reduce our dependence on foreign oil and to provide cleaner fuel choices for consumers.  We will continue working to defend the interests of corn farmers and consumers by holding EPA accountable for implementing the law as enacted by Congress.

Corn farmers have produced a second record crop in two years—resulting in corn prices that have fallen below the cost of production in many parts of the country. Our members have been frustrated by the uncertainty and delays surrounding the RFS. When the time came for them to speak up, they did so – loudly and forcefully. Our growers and allies sent the EPA a clear signal when this proposal was first issued, with nearly 200,000 people responding to the public comment opportunity in opposition to the reduction. Nearly 10,000 farmers called the White House directly. We have never before seen so much grassroots interest in a particular issue. Our farmers will continue to raise our voices as necessary in defense of this important policy.”



ASA Reacts to EPA’s Deferral of Biodiesel RVO Number Until 2015


In response to today’s announcement from the Environmental Protection Agency that the EPA would not finalize the 2014 Required Volume Obligations (RVO) will not before the end of the year, American Soybean Association President Ray Gaesser highlighted soybean farmer concerns with EPA’s inaction on the issue.

“The continued delays create great uncertainty for the biodiesel industry and soybean farmers and limits the industry’s ability to invest and expand,” said Gaesser. “The Proposed Rule was unacceptable and would have taken biodiesel backward from the amounts produced and utilized in 2013. However, ASA believes that EPA can and should finalize a 2014 rule that sets the biomass-based diesel volumes at or above the nearly 1.8 billion gallons that were produced and consumed in the U.S. in 2013.” ASA will continue to work with the National Biodiesel Board and industry partners to secure appropriate and beneficial biodiesel RFS volume requirements from EPA and the Administration.”

In making the announcement, EPA noted that it would take action in 2015 prior to or combined with the rulemaking for the 2015 RVO standards.



Statement by Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation, Regarding Delayed Action on 2014 Renewable Fuel Standards

“Renewable fuels have been a tremendous success story for the nation by reducing our country’s dependence on foreign crude oil, reducing air pollution and providing good-paying jobs within rural America. That is why the American Farm Bureau Federation is disappointed in the Environmental Protection Agency’s notice of delay in issuing 2014 standards for the Renewable Fuel Standard Program. Rather than set 2014 standards by the end of the year, EPA has once again delayed action on the 2014 standards.

“This significant delay and inability of the EPA to set standards for the Renewable Fuel Standard Program creates unneeded uncertainty in the marketplace. Even though EPA took the appropriate course in reconsidering its proposed rule after receiving substantial pushback from rural America, Farm Bureau continues to believe that adhering to the framework of the RFS2 remains the best approach.”



RFS Announcement: A Cloud of Uncertainty with a Silver Lining


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced it is delaying finalization of the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) until 2015. Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, released the following statement:

“Deciding not to decide is not a decision. Unfortunately, the announcement today perpetuates the uncertainty that has plagued the continued evolution of biofuels production and marketing for a year. Nevertheless, the Administration has taken a major step by walking away from a proposed rule that was wrong on the law, wrong on the market impacts, wrong for innovation, and wrong for consumers.

“Moreover, it is clear that one of the reasons we find ourselves in this position is that the oil industry has steadfastly refused to make the investments in infrastructure or allow their marketers to offer higher ethanol blends like E85 or E15. In the absence of their dogged efforts to undermine the RFS, this would be far simpler for EPA.

“The monopoly-protecting talking points of the oil industry notwithstanding, the RFS has been enormously successful. It has compelled competition in motor fuel markets, lowered consumer gasoline costs, and reduced the carbon footprint of transportation fuels. We look forward to working with the Administration to assure this critically important program is implemented consistent with congressional intent, to the benefit of consumers and with the goal of advancing the evolution of biofuels production and marketing.

“Refiners will continue to resist the competition from biofuels. The RFS must be allowed to be the market forcing mechanism it was designed to be. In the end, the verdict on today’s announcement can only be made after a decision on a path forward for biofuels is identified.”



Cost of Thanksgiving Dinner Rises, Still Under $50 for 10


The American Farm Bureau Federation’s 29th annual informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $49.41, a 37-cent increase from last year’s average of $49.04.

The big ticket item – a 16-pound turkey – came in at $21.65 this year. That’s roughly $1.35 per pound, a decrease of less than 1 cent per pound, or a total of 11 cents per whole turkey, compared to 2013.

“Turkey production has been somewhat lower this year and wholesale prices are a little higher, but consumers should find an adequate supply of birds at their local grocery store,” AFBF Deputy Chief Economist John Anderson said. Some grocers may use turkeys as “loss leaders,” a common strategy deployed to entice shoppers to come through the doors and buy other popular Thanksgiving foods.

The AFBF survey shopping list includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and beverages of coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10. There is also plenty for leftovers.

Foods showing the largest increases this year were sweet potatoes, dairy products and pumpkin pie mix. Sweet potatoes came in at $3.56 for three pounds. A half pint of whipping cream was $2.00; one gallon of whole milk, $3.76; and a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix, $3.12. A one-pound relish tray of carrots and celery ($.82) and one pound of green peas ($1.55) also increased in price. A combined group of miscellaneous items, including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (butter, evaporated milk, onions, eggs, sugar and flour) rose to $3.48.

In addition to the turkey, other items that declined modestly in price included a 14-ounce package of cubed bread stuffing, $2.54; 12 ounces of fresh cranberries, $2.34; two nine-inch pie shells, $2.42; and a dozen brown-n-serve rolls, $2.17.

The average cost of the dinner has remained around $49 since 2011.

“America’s farmers and ranchers remain committed to continuously improving the way they grow food for our tables, both for everyday meals and special occasions like Thanksgiving dinner that many of us look forward to all year,” Anderson said. “We are blessed to be able to provide a special holiday meal for 10 people for about $5.00 per serving – less than the cost of most fast food meals.”

The stable average price reported this year by Farm Bureau for a classic Thanksgiving dinner tracks closely with the government’s Consumer Price Index for food eaten at home (available online at http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm), which indicates a 3-percent increase compared to a year ago.

A total of 179 volunteer shoppers checked prices at grocery stores in 35 states. Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers are asked to look for the best possible prices, without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals, such as spending $50 and receiving a free turkey.

Shoppers with an eye for bargains in all areas of the country should be able to purchase individual menu items at prices comparable to the Farm Bureau survey averages. Another option for busy families without a lot of time to cook is ready-to-eat Thanksgiving meals for up to 10 people, with all the trimmings, which are available at many supermarkets and take-out restaurants for around $50 to $75.

The AFBF survey was first conducted in 1986. While Farm Bureau does not make any scientific claims about the data, it is an informal gauge of price trends around the nation. Farm Bureau’s survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.



Checkoff Lawsuit Seeks to Uncover Why OIG Did an About-Face


In a lawsuit filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia,  Organization for Competitive Markets v. Office of Inspector General, the plaintiff alleges that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) is unlawfully withholding records regarding the agency's 2011 through 2014 investigation into the USDA-controlled national beef checkoff program.

The OIG investigation followed the 2010 discovery that the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) had misappropriated over $216,000 in beef checkoff program funds and all the USDA did at the time was ask that NCBA reimburse the checkoff program for those ill-gotten funds.

R-CALF USA is hopeful the court will order the OIG to release all the records associated with the OIG's multi-year investigation.

"Those secret records are particularly important because the OIG officially withdrew its original report that erroneously concluded that the USDA and the NCBA were operating the beef checkoff program in accordance with the law and that checkoff funds were being properly spent. The OIG later re-issued its report and stated that the facts uncovered during its investigation did not support its original conclusions," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.

The OIG's issuance of a corrected report resulted from a  May 9, 2013 complaint that R-CALF USA filed under the 2001 Data Quality Act. The complaint alleged that the OIG's initial report was a "colossal whitewash of monumental proportions," and that it misled Congress and the public because it contained significant "errors, omissions, and falsehoods."

Bullard said the OIG's action of withdrawing its original audit report from the public domain and then reissuing a substantively corrected report is unprecedented.

"The credibility and integrity of the OIG and USDA are called into question as a result of the OIG's action of making false claims that improperly exonerated USDA and the NCBA for their roles in abusing producer checkoff funds.

"After we filed our complaint under the Data Quality Act, Secretary Vilsack unexplainably defended the original, false report by the OIG stating that he had "full confidence" that OIG's audit report on USDA's oversight of the beef checkoff program was proper.

"Then, and even after the Secretary's confidence in the OIG was proven unwarranted when OIG was forced to re-issue a corrected report, USDA  Under Secretary Edward Avalos, nevertheless continued to claim the OIG audit report had exonerated both USDA and NCBA.

"In response to our request that USDA take action to address the abuses within the current beef checkoff program, Under Secretary Avalos stated unequivocally that the OIG had fully addressed all of our concerns and that there is no basis for USDA to take any further action.

"The OCM lawsuit may very well help us to finally get to the bottom of these bizarre circumstances that strongly suggest that both the USDA and the OIG are involved in a serious cover-up designed to preserve the NCBA's primary income stream, which is the tens of millions of dollars it receives each year from the beef checkoff program that is funded by mandatory assessments on independent cattle producers," Bullard concluded.