Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wednesday Jan 18 Ag News

Ag PhD Soils Clinic Feb 22 in West Point

Free Ag PhD Soils Clinic hosted by Hefty Seed West Point is Wednesday, February 22nd at the Nielsen Center in West Point. Anyone involved in ag should be at this event. Starts at 9:30 in the morning and goes until 3pm. Walk-ins welcome but RSVP’s encouraged. Free lunch. Offering the best agronomic advice and this is the time to get your questions answered. 

FREE Ag PhD Soils Clinic
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
9:30 AM to 3:00 PM
Nielsen Center
200 Anna Stalp Ave
West Point, NE 68788

– Lunch will be provided, so please RSVP.  Call 402-372-9900. 

2017 NeATA Conference, Feb. 1-2 in Lincoln, NE

The Nebraska Agricultural Technologies Association (new website at will be hosting their annual 2-day conference on Wednesday February 1st and Thursday, February 2nd in Lincoln, NE. The conference is held at the Nebraska Innovation Campus Conference Center located at 2021 Transformation Drive. The Nebraska Agricultural Technologies Association (NeATA) is a network for all stakeholders to share applied and on-farm research experiences and gain knowledge from each other related to current and emerging technologies in agriculture. The NeATA Board encourages farmers, Ag retailers, government/university employees and others to attend the two-day conference that runs from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm on Wednesday February 1st, and 8:00 am to 4:00 pm on Thursday February 2nd.

On Wednesday, a full-day symposium on aerial imagery in agriculture will feature 6 speakers, both from private industry and governmental agencies, discussing satellite, plane, and UAV platforms for capturing imagery. One featured speaker is Rick Mueller, Head of Spatial Analysis Research at USDA-NASS. The symposium will finish up with a panel discussion with all 6 speakers.  Attendees are encouraged to take the setup tours of the new Food Processing Center and Greenhouse Innovation Center between 4:00 and 5:00 pm before leaving for the evening.

On Thursday, Dave Varner, Nebraska Extension Associate Dean & Director, will start the day at 8:00 talking about the history and future of NeATA and Nebraska Extension related to Ag technologies. Attendees will then be able to pick 4 sessions out of the 16 breakout sessions available (view full program online at  Speakers are split into 4 rooms each with focused areas including: Soil management, water management, data management, and machinery and hardware. Over lunch, UNL Chancellor Ronnie Green will welcome the crowd and Jeremy Wilson with Crop IMS will discuss Ag Data Issues and The Agricultural Data Coalition. The closing keynote speaker at 3:00 pm will be Lisa Prassack, AgriFood Innovation Expert and Data Strategy Consultant, discuss Assembling the Precision Agriculture Puzzle for Farm Profit.

To register for one or both days visit  To get more information about the upcoming Nebraska Agricultural Technologies Association Conference on February 1st and 2nd in Lincoln NE, visit the association’s new website at

Biodiesel industry honors year of achievements, industry growth

The biodiesel industry saw record market growth in 2016 and this year’s National Biodiesel Board industry awards highlight champions who have had a major impact on the use of biodiesel. Clean air champions, policy drivers, fleet vehicle influencers, and lifetime biodiesel advocates were all honored this week during the National Biodiesel Conference and Expo.

“The biodiesel industry has seen record growth over the last decade which means the fuel is reaching more markets than ever before,” said Kent Engelbrecht, chairman of the National Biodiesel Board. “As we continue to grow it becomes increasingly important that we tell our industry’s story of being an American-made, clean burning, advanced biofuel. We are proud to recognize these individuals and organizations for going above and beyond to advance this industry that benefits American consumers so much.”

NBB recognizes the 2017 “Eye on Biodiesel” award winners this week. The honorees are:

Climate Leader Award – Costa Constantinides – New York City Council Member
New York City has been a leader on biodiesel and clean air issues, taking a giant leap forward in 2016. In September, the New York City Council voted overwhelmingly to pass INT. 642-A, led by Council Member Costa Constantinides, that creates a fuel standard for heating oil that includes increasing amounts of biodiesel over time. The measure grows the amount of biodiesel in heating oil in the City from the current two percent level to five percent October 1, 2017. The blend level then moves to 10 percent in 2025, 15 percent in 2030, and 20 percent in 2034.

Constantinides has long been a champion of improving air quality in the city and recognizes policies that reduce the fossil fuel content of heating oil and increase the use of cleaner-burning, renewable energy will pay dividends from a health perspective. Constantinides represents the New York City Council's 22nd District, and serves as the chair of the City Council's Environmental Protection Committee.

It is estimated that the increase from a two percent biodiesel blend to a five percent blend in the City would reduce the emissions equivalent to taking 45,000 cars off the road with the increase to 20 percent the equivalent of removing more than a quarter of a million cars.

National Energy Leadership Award – Gov. Terry Branstad

The state of Iowa is a national leader in clean energy production and is the number one biodiesel producing state in the country, thanks in large part to strong leadership within the state. Last year saw a host of new and renewed policies supporting the biodiesel industry in Iowa. In 2016, Governor Branstad rallied support for, and signed legislation, that extended the Biodiesel Production Credit through 2024, extended and expanded the Biodiesel Promotion Retail Tax Credit, also through 2024, and secured another year of funding for the state’s successful biodiesel and ethanol blender pump program, the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program. All of which will keep Iowa at the forefront of biodiesel production and use, driving growth in rural economies, economic development, and cleaner air for Iowans.

Additionally, the governor has provided critical national leadership through his service on the Governor’s Biofuels Coalition. These efforts have a major impact on the national energy landscape as more American-made, environmentally friendly, advanced biofuels like biodiesel make their way into the marketplace.

Industry Partnership Award – The Illinois Soybean Association Checkoff Program and the American Lung Association in Illinois for the B20 Club
Together, the two organizations have created a unique and impactful program in Illinois called the B20 Club. This program is focused on raising the profile of exemplary fleets that use B20 in any type of diesel engine. Members range from municipalities to school buses to over-the-road trucking companies. Sharing their success stories with other fleet managers and decision makers has had a significant impact on those who have been hesitant to use B20 for reasons ranging from economics to engine warranty questions. The B20 Club showcases real stories of how, when, and why members began using B20, what their experiences have been since the switch, and provides peer support for fleet managers and other decision makers who are considering B20 for their own fleets. The efforts of the club have provided confidence in biodiesel and a platform for showcasing successful biodiesel user stories in the media, to decision makers, and the general public.

Influence Award – Ron Flowers – Greater Washington, DC Clean Cities
Ronald “Ron” Flowers is the Executive Director of the Greater Washington, D.C. Region Clean Cities Coalition, a post he has held since 2010. To the biodiesel industry, Ron is a well-connected and respected voice of wisdom with more than 45 years of service in the public and private sector. Ron has worked closely with the National Biodiesel Board as well as the National Biodiesel Foundation, resulting in the use of thousands of gallons of B20 blends. His knowledge of fuels and fleets was instrumental in transforming the nation’s capital region from a community of biodiesel naysayers to biodiesel believers. He has been instrumental in the DC Government, Smithsonian Institution, American University and many others switching to biodiesel. With Ron at their side, many of these fleet staff not only switched their own fleets but became champions of biodiesel who mentor their peers to join them in reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil and improving air quality with biodiesel.

FFA Members Return from Educational, Cultural Experience in South Africa

During the past two weeks, 75 FFA members visited South Africa for a 12-day educational and cultural experience.

Members participated in the 2017 International Leadership Seminar for State Officers (ILSSO) as an annual, international opportunity through the National FFA Organization. The seminar allows FFA members to experience foreign culture, learn about international agriculture and become more knowledgeable on the global marketplace.

Seventy-five past and present state FFA officers representing 20 states left the United States on Jan. 4. The group traveled throughout five of South Africa’s nine provinces while surveying the agricultural landscape. FFA officers met with government and U.S. Embassy officials to learn about U.S. and South African trade relations; toured crop and livestock operations; met with business and industry leaders; and explored a private game reserve that is home to lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and buffalo. The group also met with fruit exporters, olive oil producers and more.

“This seminar exposes students to culture and food production practices beyond what they are accustomed to in the United States,” said Shane Jacques, education specialist with the National FFA Organization. “Our hope is that through a structured experience like ILSSO, these students will see that study abroad opportunities or global internships and careers are not only attainable, but essential to providing a sustainable talent pipeline for agriculture and feeding the world.” Jacques added that, on average, nine out of 10 students who participate in the program admit that they would be receptive to living and working abroad as a result of this experience.

Prior to departing the United States, the students completed eight weeks of online coursework related to cross-cultural adaptability. The program was made possible by corporate sponsors Bunge North America and John Deere.

 Students shared their experience throughout their trip on Twitter and Instagram. To see a recap of their adventures, visit:

Those students who participated in the trip were: Foster Thompson of Jonesboro, Ark.; Mariah Alvarez of Sebring, Fla.; Hunter Burnsed of Macclenny, Fla.; Anna Conrad of Dover, Fla.; William Jameson of Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.; Emily Little of Sebring, Fla.; Catharin MacFarlane of Deltona, Fla.; Mason Taylor of Cottondale, Fla.; Brett Vorheis of Ocoee, Fla.; Faith Gilman of Commerce, Ga.; Angel Rewis of Fargo, Ga.; Cully Forsyth of Charles City, Iowa; Zach Hamilton of Bryant, Iowa; Zach Hoffman of Creston, Iowa; Chase Kusel of Belle Plaine, Iowa; Blake Lineweaver of Milford, Iowa; Zach Becker of Amboy, Ill.; J.C. Campbell of Little York, Ill.; Corrine Harding of Trivoli, Ill.; Paxton Morse of Eldorado, Ill.; Cody Suddeth of Steward, Ill.; Katelyn Bohnenblust of Clay Center, Kan.; Jacob Grinstead of Hutchinson, Kan.; Grace Luebcke of Marysville, Kan.; Elizabeth Meyer of Tampa, Kan.; Trenton Smedley of Thayer, Kan.; Clara Wicoff of Iola, Kan.; James Clay Ballinger of McKee, Ky.; Ben Pinkston of Salvisa, Ky.; Bayli Quick of Saline, La.; Jessica Corazza of Clarksburg, Md.; Evelyn Etchison of Woodsboro, Md.; Amanda Farmer of Frederick, Md.: Ellie Grossnickle of Myersville, Md.; Nicole Michol of Hampstead, Md.; Kelcey Trewin of Freeland, Md.; Josephine Forbush of Byron, Mich.; Loren King of Burr Oak, Mich.; Mariah Daninger of Forest Lake, Minn.; Clay Newton of Echo, Minn.; Rebekka Paskewitz of Browerville, Minn.; Joe Ramstad of Forest Lake, Minn; Katie Rogers of Worthington, Minn.; Spencer Wolter of Windom, Minn.; Kayla Mercer of Walnut, Miss.; Gabrielle Simpson of Tupelo, Miss.; Manuel Acosta of Bayard, Neb.; Christy Cooper of Waverly, Neb.; Cheyenne Gerlach of De Witt, Neb.; Kaitlyn Hanvey of Center, Neb.; Halle Ramsey of Sidney, Neb.; Collin Swedberg of North Platte, Neb.; Nicholas Taylor of Nickerson, Neb.; Josh Loew of Newport, N.J.; Morgan Rutar of Stewartsville, N.J.; Renee Stillwell of Cream Ridge, N.J.; Jeremy Posluszny of Cream Ridge, N.J.; Erin Langdale of Warwick, N.Y.; Kameron Rinehart of Jeffersonville, Ohio; Trisha Seckel of Caledonia, Ohio; Shea Booster of Bend, Ore.; Liberty Greenlund of Wasco, Ore.; Hailee Patterson of Imbler, Ore.; Bryson Price of Oakland, Ore.; Raymond Seal of Joseph, Ore.; Zanden Unger of Dallas, Ore.; Mackenzie Clark of Cedar Grove, Tenn.; Ally Clark of Decatur, Tenn.; Taylor Curtis of McEwen, Tenn.; Sam Daniel of Covington, Tenn.; Allison Parker of Gallatin, Tenn.; Dalton Teel of Lebanon, Tenn.; Megan Gould of Castle Rock, Wash.; Luke Moore of Garfield, Wash.; and Andrew Hauser of Eglon, W.Va.

The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 649,355 student members who belong to one of 7,859 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization is also supported by 225,891 alumni members in 1,934 alumni chapters throughout the U.S.

FSBC Successful Ibotta Mobile Commerce Campaign

A successful campaign to drive nationwide sales of fresh beef at retail has resulted in the confirmed movement of more than 270,000 units of fresh ground beef in less than two weeks. Today, the Federation of State Beef Councils of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association approved an additional $300,000 to extend the partnership with the mobile rebates app Ibotta through the Super Bowl, giving consumers more reasons to purchase great tasting beef.

Ibotta is a consumer mobile app that has a subscriber rate of 19 million mostly-millennial consumers and growing. Consumers who download the app can browse the grocery category for rebates on fresh beef products, unlock the rebates and after reviewing educational information about beef buy the items at any grocery store nationwide to get cash back through Ibotta. Beef only pays for verified sales.

Initial results from the first few weeks of the campaign have been impressive. Nearly half of the redemption budget was exhausted in the first weekend. As of Jan. 16, more than 700,000 users unlocked ground beef rebates demonstrating the strong consumer demand for beef. Redemption rates for beef have been 35 percent, far surpassing the Ibotta average rate of 22 percent and delivering more than 14 million brand impressions for beef system-wide. In addition to increasing sales, more than 700,000 consumers received educational messaging about beef as a part of the campaign. These educational opportunities were delivered in the form of a beef recipe or an in-app task that helps consumers better understand nutritional benefits of beef.

“We have seen tremendous success from the initial thrust of our campaign, so this additional investment makes sense,” according to Steve Hanson, a beef producer from Elsie, Neb., and chairman of the Federation of State Beef Councils. “State beef council partners agree with the Executive Committee that this move to further boost consumer retail beef sales is the right move at the right time.”

In addition to the national campaign, many state beef councils contributed additional funding to promote the campaign to consumers in their markets. Through in-app media tiles, email newsletters and social media engagement, state partners helped drive traffic to the app and create broader visibility of lower beef prices for 2017.

“The Ibotta campaign is a tremendous opportunity to connect with a highly engaged community of shoppers at that critical time for purchase inspiration,” said Patti Brumbach, executive director for the Washington State Beef Commission. “Through partners like Ibotta, the beef community is helping revolutionize how beef is marketed to today’s consumer and transforming the shopping experience.”

The $300,000 in funding approved today is in addition to an initial $300,000 Federation reserve allocation directed toward the Ibotta program last November, with the expectation that it will double the confirmed units of beef sold. The initial investment was part of a $940,000 package for both international and domestic beef sales-enhancement efforts during a time of high protein production that is putting significant pressures on the cattle market.

Another ‘Midnight’ Regulation Dumped On Farmers

In another poke in the eye to agriculture, the Obama administration tomorrow will issue a regulation that adds animal welfare standards to the nation’s organic food production law. The National Pork Producers Council will work with the Trump administration and Congress to repeal yet another “midnight” regulation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s amendment to the Organic Food Production Act of 1990 would strictly dictate how organic producers must raise livestock and poultry, including during transport and slaughter, and specify, without scientific justification, which common practices are allowed and prohibited in organic livestock and poultry production, thereby eliminating producers’ discretion to make sound decisions about animal care. It also would establish unreasonable indoor and outdoor space requirements for animals. The regulation was cleared by the Office of Management and Budget Wednesday, the last step before becoming final.

“This parting gift from Agriculture Secretary [Tom] Vilsack is not welcomed,” said NPPC President John Weber, a pork producer from Dysart, Iowa. “This unnecessary, unscientific midnight regulation won’t win him any friends in the agriculture community he’s apparently joining. (Vilsack, whose last day at USDA was Friday, is taking over the Dairy Export Council.)

“This is precisely the type of executive branch overreach that Congress will reign in through regulatory reform,” Weber said.

NPPC, which in July submitted comments in opposition to the regulation, said the welfare standards are not based on science and are outside the scope of the organic food production law, which limits consideration of livestock as organic to feeding and medication practices. Additionally, the organization pointed out, animal welfare is not unique to organic production.

“Animal production practices have nothing to do with the concept of ‘organic,’” Weber said. “These new standards will present serious challenges to livestock producers and add complexity to the organic certification process, creating significant barriers to existing and new organic producers.

“The standards seem to be based on public perception – or USDA’s understanding of that perception – of what good animal welfare is and don’t reflect a consensus by experts in animal welfare and handling,” he added. “The inclusion of animal welfare requirements into the organic food production law is no different than requiring that all farmers wear bib overalls or paint their barns red in deference to public sentiment.”

Some of the standards even could jeopardize animal and public health, said NPPC in its comments to USDA. The provision on outdoor access, for example, is in conflict with best management practices to prevent swine diseases that pose a threat to animal and human health.

The organization also pointed out that livestock industry-driven animal care and handling standards, such as ones included in the National Pork Board’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus program, already exist and that such programs can more rapidly accommodate new practices and procedures that promote animal health and welfare than a federal regulation can. Many of the programs already are available to organic producers.

Administration Pushes Forward with Organic Marketing Rule

NCBA President Tracy Brunner released the following statement in response to the USDA Agriculture Marketing Service’s Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices final rule:

“The Obama Administration has bowed to the whims and demands of animal activists rather than talking to the industry as a whole to see what is best for the program and for consumers. This rule sends a clear signal that an activist agenda is more important to the outgoing Administration than any true attempt to clarify a consumer’s perception of what ‘organic’ means.

“NOP is a marketing program, not an animal health, welfare, or safety program and certainly not a place to set animal welfare requirements. Cattlemen and women have worked diligently over the past 30 years to develop and improve animal care and handling standards through the Beef Quality Assurance Program, which is continuously reviewed and updated as new science becomes available.”

Initial Assessment of Biotech Regulatory Documents Pleases NCGA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration published documents today addressing the pre-market regulatory oversight of biotechnology-based agricultural tools. The National Corn Growers Association is pleased that the agency has included input given by NCGA and others throughout the rule-making process while focusing on the importance of science-based regulations.

Corn farmers have a strong interest in the availability of new technologies to enhance the sustainability, productivity and competitiveness of U.S. agriculture. Agriculture biotechnology and next generation breeding techniques allow growers to increase yields while decreasing inputs. Meeting demand, improving processes and minimizing environmental impacts are what make modern corn production a dynamic industry. The documents published indicate that, in large part, federal agencies agree with the basis of our stance and strive to create a more efficient regulatory process allowing growers greater access to new products.

NCGA continues working to fully analyze the implications and impacts of these documents with awareness of the importance of the balance of access to technology and markets.

NGFA emphasizes importance of engaging with trading partners as USDA proposes new biotech regulatory review policies

In response to today's release of proposals regarding the U.S. government's pre-market regulatory oversight of genetically engineered plants, the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) emphasized the importance of working to achieve consistent regulatory policies globally for products of the latest plant breeding methods to avoid costly disruptions in international trade.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published several documents related to the pre-market regulatory oversight of genetically engineered plants and plants and animals derived from certain newer precision breeding techniques, commonly known as genome editing. The NGFA still is reviewing in detail the USDA's pre-published proposed rule on the "Importation, Interstate Movement, and Release into the Environment of Certain Genetically Engineered Organisms," as well as a companion proposal and guidance document issued by FDA.

The NGFA said given the global nature of agriculture and the importance of trade to the economic well-being of farmers, ranchers and the nation as a whole, consistent regulatory policies among governments for products of the latest plant breeding methods, such as gene editing, are needed so that trade in U.S. commodities, research collaborations and global seed movement are not hindered or disrupted.

"It is critical that the U.S. government actively engage with our trading partners around the world, and secure alignment in regulatory approaches with U.S. trading partners before these regulations are finalized and take effect," the NGFA noted.

USDA's proposal recognizes that some applications of gene editing result in plant varieties that are essentially equivalent to varieties developed through more traditional breeding methods, and proposes to exclude such traits from pre-market regulatory review.

The NGFA also noted that consumer education about the safety of these products should be a top priority. 

"It will be imperative that the U.S. government and the seed industry, technology providers and the value chain explain the scientific basis and rationale for this regulatory approach to consumers to facilitate understanding and acceptance of these technologies and their commercial application in the marketplace," the NGFA stated.

Fertilizer Prices Continue to Drift

According to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN for the second week of January 2017, fertilizer price trends continue to be stuck in a narrow price range. For the first time in recent weeks, however, more fertilizers are now trending slightly higher than lower.

Five of the eight major fertilizers edged higher although none by any substantial amount. Potash averaged $320/ton, urea $338/ton, anhydrous $467/ton, UAN28 $222/ton and UAN32 $258/ton.

The remaining three fertilizers were slightly lower but none of these moves to the low side were that significant. DAP averaged $432/ton, MAP $441/ton and 10-34-0 $437/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.37/lb.N, anhydrous $0.29/lb.N, UAN28 $0.40/lb.N and UAN32 $0.40/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are lower compared to a year earlier and should offer relief to many farm budgets this season. All fertilizers are now double digits lower.

Urea remains down 11%, DAP is 13% less expensive, MAP is 15% lower and potash is 18% less expensive versus the same time a year ago. Both UAN28 and UAN32 are now 19% lower while anhydrous is 20% less expensive and 10-34-0 is 24% lower compared to a year prior.

Wholesale Choice Beef Prices Falling Faster Than Retail

Retail and wholesale food prices often move closely together. When wholesale prices rise, retail prices typically follow. The price of choice beef in wholesale and retail markets moved upward in 2014 and most of 2015.

Wholesale prices increased from roughly $3 per pound to nearly $4 per pound by mid-2015. As wholesale prices rose, retail prices followed, moving from just over $5 per pound in January 2014 to a peak of $6.41 in June 2015.

Both prices decreased in 2016, with the wholesale price falling below $3 in late 2016.

While retail prices dropped also, they fell at a slower rate. As a result, the ratio of retail to wholesale prices has increased to above 2 to 1, 20 percent higher than the ratio in June 2015 when both prices were highest.

This highlights an aspect of the interplay between wholesale and retail prices, in which retail prices respond slower when wholesale prices decline compared to when prices increase.

Hay Acres Revision Cause Outlook Prices to Edge Upward

Katelyn McCullock, Economist, American Farm Bureau Federation

The USDA NASS annual crop production report showed significant revisions to the hay acres harvested in 2016.  Changes from the October crop report indicated a 7% (1.2 million) reduction in the number of alfalfa acres harvested and a 4% (1.5 million) reduction in all other hay acres harvested.  Final acres showed South Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa having more than 200 thousand acres taken out of alfalfa production.  North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Missouri, Kentucky, all had declines of 100 thousand acres or more in other hay acreage declines. New alfalfa seedlings for the 2017/18 marketing year are also continuing the long term trend downward, posting an 11% year over year decrease.

Despite large acreage revisions, December 1 hay stocks moved up slightly relative to last year by 1%, and production was unchanged from last year.  Pasture and range conditions were excellent this year and very few problem areas in the plains region required supplemental feeding during the warm months.  High numbers of wheat acres and low cost of gain also contributed to ample wheat grazing opportunities over the winter.  Both of these factors allowed hay prices to continue to slip from last year's prices.  Alfalfa prices have averaged nearly $30 per ton below last year's price over this marketing year.  Other hay prices have been even to slightly lower, averaging $2 per ton lower.

Alfalfa and other hay prices have posted year over year declines since the 2012/2013 marketing year, but still remain above the historical long term average prior to that drought year.  If disappearance remains light for the second half of this winter, alfalfa prices are expected to post another year over year decline in prices, while other hay prices are expected to be even.  The loss or continued loss of hay acres to other crops make it unlikely this short term trend of price declines will continue.  In the 2000's alfalfa prices averaged $115 per ton annually, a figure prices have not seen since 2009/10.  Other hay prices averaged $91 per ton over that same decade, an annual average season price not seen since 2005/06.  Hay stocks are also much lower than they have been in previous decades. December 1 hay stocks 2001-2010 averaged about 105 million tons, compared to 2011-2016, averaging 92 million tons.  Tighter supplies mean drought or poor pasture and range conditions can aggressively move prices upward.  Cattle feeders and dairymen alike should expect hay prices to average higher, but still are very much dependent on regional weather events. 

CWT Assists with 272,000 Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 2 requests for export assistance from member cooperatives. These member cooperatives have contracts to sell 51,809 pounds (24 metric tons) of Cheddar cheese, and 220,462 pounds (100 metric tons) of butter to customers in Asia and the Middle East. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from January through April 2017.

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

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

New CFI Approach Provides Insights for Food and Ag to Earn Trust

A new research approach from The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) identifies influential consumer groups and the motivations that not only dictate food trends, but drive conversations that impact the decisions of others as they make choices at the grocery store or form opinions about the products, processes, people and brands that define today’s food system.

For the past 10 years, CFI has conducted annual consumer trust research to better understand public opinion and how to engage with consumers to earn trust. In the first-of-its-kind consumer research, the 2016 survey used an innovative research methodology called digital ethnography. It can help those in food and agriculture more effectively engage and balance the conversation as it provides much deeper insights into influencers including unspoken motivations, values, top-of-mind issues, emotional triggers, preferred social channels and sources, behaviors and trusted brands.

The research goes beyond surveying what people say they do to demonstrating what they are actually doing.

“We’re currently in the midst of a shift in the marketplace where the culture and conversation around conventional food, particularly online, is changing as consum­ers navigate which foods to adopt, moderate or abandon,” said Charlie Arnot, CFI CEO. “Digital ethnography identifies influencers who shape those trends.”

Digital ethnography pinpoints why consumers form beliefs and develop behaviors around food, and the why speaks to what they value, said Arnot.

“That’s important because the CFI consumer trust model shows that communicating with values is three-to-five times more important to earning trust than simply communicating facts and science,” he said.

“Better understanding why consumers make their food decisions and what they value in their food choices helps companies be more responsive to consumer needs. CFI’s latest research will help food companies do a better job of communicating what’s most important to consumers and the values we share,” said Leigh Horner, vice president, communications and CSR at The Hershey Company.

Of the five Consumer Types identified in the research, one of particular interest to the food system is Providers?, the largest group representing a third of the U.S. population.

“Providers? never feel quite good enough,” said Arnot. “And the last thing they want is to be seen as a neglectful parent or to be caught snoozing when some­thing new is known about the foods they buy for their family. To ease the anxi­ety, they look to other Consumer Types for guidance.” 

This influence is why more Americans are flocking toward various attributes of food that they consider evolved and that signify prog­ress, Arnot said. “We see that in the demand for food less processed, simpler labels and labels that indicate the product is 'free from everything from gluten to GMOs.”

“Understanding consumer attitudes toward food and how those attitudes influence the conversation allows food companies to more effectively talk with consumers. Consumers want to feel good about the products they buy for themselves and their families and want easy access to balanced, useful information to know they are making the right choices,” said Horner. “These insights will help food companies build trust by meeting consumers’ expectations for transparency and engaging in a meaningful conversation about the food they buy.”

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tuesday January 17 Ag News

10 Auctioneers Move on to WLAC from West Point qualifier
West Point Livestock hosted the final of three regional qualifying events for the 2017 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship (WLAC) Monday.  A total of 26 contestants competed for a top 10 placing, granting them a spot in the 2017 WLAC at Public Auction Yards in Billings, Montana.  The reigning World Livestock Auctioneer Champion, Andy White, served as the event emcee.

Here are the results of Monday's qualifying event...
Champion: Lander Nicodemus, Cheyenne, Wyo.;
Reserve Champion: Mike Godberson, Pawnee, Okla.;
Runner Up Champion: Dan Koupal, Dante, S.D.;
Top Rookie: Cody Lowderman, Macomb, Ill.;

Others that qualified for the finals in Billings include...
Neil Bouray, Superior, Neb.;
Albert Carroll, Downeyville, ON;
Lance Cochran, Medford, Okla.;
Brian Little, Wann, Okla.;
Blake McDaniel, Tallassee, Ala.;
and Jared Miller, Leon, Iowa

The qualifying event was a live sale where the contestants auctioned cattle to actual bidders in the seats. Contestants were judged on the clarity of their auction chant; vocal quality; and their ability to catch bids and conduct the sale. Judges are livestock market owners and managers from across the United States.


Iowa’s Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) Commissioners, along with conservation partner agencies, met for the annual Conservation Partnership Day held at the Capitol in Des Moines on Tuesday, January 17.

Focusing on “Our Water, Our Land, Our People,” this year’s event included displays highlighting conservation efforts in each of the nine Conservation Districts of Iowa (CDI) regions across the state.  Displays highlighted how funds are used for technical assistance, watershed projects, wetlands, cost share, urban and agricultural conservation practices and more.

Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey visited with the Commissioners and viewing displays.

The annual event is coordinated through partnership of the Conservation Districts of Iowa and the State Soil Conservation Committee.

Vilsack to Take Helm of U.S. Dairy Export Council

The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) today announced that former U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will join the organization as president and CEO, effective Feb. 1, 2017. USDEC is a non-profit, independent organization that seeks to enhance the global demand for U.S. dairy products and ingredients.

"Growing the global market for U.S. dairy products is essential to the future of the dairy industry and America's dairy farmers. I've spent my career in public service as a tireless advocate for farmers and American agriculture and can think of no better way to continue this service than by leading the U.S. Dairy Export Council," said Vilsack. "I look forward to partnering with the dynamic team at USDEC as well as agriculture, food industry and key stakeholders at home and abroad to advance the council's mission and strengthen trust in American dairy."

As president and CEO, Vilsack will provide strategic leadership and oversight of USDEC's global promotional and research activities, regulatory affairs and trade policy initiatives. This includes working with industry leaders to develop a long-term vision for building sales and consumer trust in U.S. dairy. Together with the USDEC board, he will create strategies to successfully achieve the shared vision. He will serve as the organization's primary spokesperson and ambassador to a host of global and domestic stakeholders.

"The global dairy market is more competitive today than ever. Ambitious trade agreements, reasonable labeling and product standards, and other issues are vital to the growth of America's dairy industry," noted Thomas Gallagher, CEO of Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), the umbrella organization that represents the broad interests of U.S. dairy and founded USDEC in 1995. "Secretary Vilsack's impressive record of leadership and his proven ability to manage complex issues, combined with his breadth and depth of industry knowledge, made him the preeminent choice to take the helm of USDEC. I look forward to working with him."

USDEC routinely partners with other dairy industry groups such as the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Milk Producers Federation to address the needs of its members, which include producers, processors and cooperatives, ingredient suppliers and export traders. An important component of Vilsack's role will be working with and through these organizations to achieve results on behalf of the value chain.

"Secretary Vilsack is a proven leader on global issues ranging from child nutrition and food security to biotechnology and sustainable agriculture. He shares the dairy community's commitment to advancing responsible solutions to global challenges and collaboration across the industry," said Paul Rovey, USDEC Chairman and Arizona dairy farmer.

Vilsack will succeed Tom Suber, who served as president of USDEC since its founding in 1995, and retired at the end of 2016. Under Suber's leadership, global U.S. dairy exports showed significant growth, rising from the equivalent of roughly 5 percent of U.S. milk production to a high of 15.5 percent.

"We thank Tom Suber for his tremendous contributions to the growth of U.S. dairy exports and elevating U.S. dairy's position globally. He leaves an impressive legacy at USDEC," noted DMI's Gallagher.

USDEC has more than 100 dairy industry, dairy exporter and affiliated entity members. Its work is supported by staff across the United States and internationally in Mexico, South America, Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

Cattlemen Call on U.S. Senate to Confirm Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association today sent a letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works expressing strong support for the nomination of Scott Pruitt to be Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and called for his swift confirmation.

“As Oklahoma’s Attorney General, Mr. Pruitt led the fight to bring common sense back to environmental regulation and he was an unrivaled defender of private property rights,” NCBA’s President, Tracy Brunner, said in the letter. “In fact, in 2015 the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association honored Mr. Pruitt with its Distinguished Service Award for his dedication to those principles.”

Decisions made by EPA impact America’s hundreds of thousands of cattle producers every day. NCBA’s top priority at EPA is stopping its “waters of the United States” rule, which the group says is so broad that it would give federal agencies jurisdiction over all types of features, including dry features, including ditches, swales, gullies, and mudflats. NCBA has sued EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to block the rule, and is calling on Congress and the incoming Administration to kill the regulation. NCBA last Friday hailed the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to grant a cert petition for the industry coalition lawsuit challenging EPA on the rule.

NCBA directly represents more than 30,000 American cattle producers as members, and through state affiliates represents 175,000 of America’s farmers and ranchers who help provide the safest and most abundant food supply in the world.

Pig Farmers Very Aware of and Complying with New Antibiotic Rules

U.S. pig farmers are not only well aware of new federal rules for on-farm antibiotic use, but already are complying. In a survey conducted by the National Pork Board in November, 95 percent of pig farmers surveyed said that they were ready to be fully compliant by the time the rules took effect on Jan. 1, 2017.

“The pork industry worked toward the Jan. 1 implementation date for nearly two years. There was a concern that some producers would not make changes until after the date of implementation, but that does not seem to be the case,” said Jan Archer, National Pork Board president and a pig farmer from Goldsboro, North Carolina. “Pig farmers are committed to the substantive changes regarding antibiotic use, and many discontinued using antibiotics for growth promotion years ago, while also reviewing swine medical treatment uses of antibiotics as well.”

One of the key changes to the new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules is that medically important antibiotics could no longer be used for growth promotion. Today, human medically important antibiotics can only be used to treat sick animals or to prevent disease and/or control it.

Archer added that a key hurdle in complying with new FDA rules is ensuring that every pig farmer has a defined and ongoing client relationship with a veterinarian. That can be a challenge in remote areas of the country where the nearest veterinarian could be hundreds of miles away. Last month the Pork Checkoff announced a partnership with Global Vetlink of Ames, Iowa, to offer a veterinarian locator tool, which is available at

“Complying with the new rules is critical to maintaining consumer trust in the high quality and safety of pork produced in the U.S.,” Archer said. “The two key elements are having an established veterinarian-client-patient relationship and ensuring that antibiotics are administered under the guidance of a veterinarian. To do so without veterinarian oversight is now illegal.”

In addition to information about antibiotic use changes, the National Pork Board’s annual November survey was designed to take the pulse of U.S. pork production. The survey showed that for the seventh consecutive year, pork producer support for the Pork Checkoff increased and is now at a record 91 percent – up 1 percent from the 2015 survey. Meanwhile, opposition to the Checkoff remains at a record low 4 percent. These results are the most positive in the history of the survey.

Other highlights included:
-    Right direction/wrong track: 76 percent of producers – a full three out of four – said that the industry is heading “in the right direction,” improving from the previous year’s score of 70 percent. Of those surveyed, 19 percent feel the industry is “on the wrong track.” This improvement in optimism is encouraging despite the market supply pressure many are feeling with lower prices for pigs.
-    The biggest challenge facing producers is “too many rules/regulations.” In previous years, the main challenge was viewed as “managing hog health and disease.” That previously No. 1 concern fell to No. 4 this year, a significant drop.
-    Single most important request: Producers’ No. 1 request of the Checkoff is to educate consumers on pork production and the industry. This was followed closely by advertising and promoting pork and opening new markets.

“America’s pig farmers understand that growing domestic and export demand for pork is critical, but it all starts with building trust,” Archer said. “This survey bears out that it begins with educating consumers about how pigs are raised, pork’s safety and its nutritional value.”

In response to specific questions about the National Pork Board’s strategic plan implemented early in 2015, the awareness and importance of each goal remains strong. On a 10-point scale:
-    Build Consumer Trust rated a mean score of 8.91 (a decrease from 9.04 in 2015).
-    Grow Consumer Demand rated a mean score of 8.70 (an increase from 8.63 in 2015).
-    Drive Sustainable Production rated a mean score of 8.18 (an increase from 7.96 in 2015).

“Clearly, the implementation of the strategic plan is aligned with the concerns, interests and thoughts of producers,” Archer said. “Pig farmers tell us that their investment in the Pork Checkoff is at work, with 17 defined objectives directly supporting each of the three goals.”

General Motors Announces 20 for B20 in its Diesel Vehicle Lineup

General Motors is taking bold steps to expand the U.S. diesel vehicle market beyond its traditional stronghold in full-size pickups, and providing more options than ever before for customers to reap the additional benefits of fueling up with B20 biodiesel blends, America’s Advanced Biofuel. With eight new diesel vehicle options hitting the roadways in 2017 – 2018, General Motors now offers a full line-up of twenty different diesel models, from passenger cars, to pickups and SUVs, to commercial vans and low cab forward trucks - all of which are approved for use with B20.

John Schwegman, Director of Commercial Product and Medium Duty Product for General Motors, delivered the welcome news to an enthusiastic crowd at the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo today in San Diego.

“Diesel propulsion deserves wider consideration by fleet managers across the country,” Schwegman said.  “With biodiesel production and retail distribution expanding, and so many proven benefits, we believe more fleets will embrace the technology as part of their sustainability plans. If our diesel customers fueled exclusively with biodiesel, we estimate that consumption of petroleum-based fuels would be reduced by hundreds of million gallons annually.”

GM’s announcement, along with additional new diesel model introductions this year, sends a strong signal that diesel remains an important option for meeting the current and future needs of U.S. drivers. Including 2017 and 2018 models, Chevrolet and GMC will offer one of the largest portfolios of vehicles capable of running on B20, a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent ultra-low sulfur diesel.

GM Fleet’s B20 Capable Options Include:
    Chevrolet Express full-size vans (Cargo, Passenger, Cutaway)
    Chevrolet Low Cab Forward commercial truck
    Chevrolet Colorado mid-size pickup
    Chevrolet Silverado (2500HD, 3500HD, Chassis Cab) pickups
    Chevrolet Equinox crossover vehicle
    Chevrolet Cruze (Sedan, Hatchback) passenger cars
    GMC Savana (Cargo, Passenger, Cutaway) full-size vans
    GMC Sierra (2500HD, 3500HD, Chassis Cab) pickups
    GMC Canyon mid-size pickup
    GMC Terrain crossover vehicle
    In 2018, Chevrolet will add a fifth diesel-powered truck line: a new Class 4/5 conventional cab truck being developed jointly with Navistar.

Donnell Rehagen, CEO of the National Biodiesel, welcomed the news from GM by stating, “General Motors is a shining example of a company that is getting it right by continuing to invest in new technology diesel engines to meet consumer demands for powerful, clean and fuel-efficient vehicles capable of running on clean, renewable B20 biodiesel blends.  We applaud GM for its efforts, and look forward to partnering with you in your continued support for biodiesel as your diesel vehicle product line continues to expand.”

Automakers Fuel the U.S. Market With More Biodiesel Capable Diesel Vehicle Models

U.S. auto manufacturers have introduced a record number of new biodiesel capable diesel vehicle options for consumers as the push for increased fuel efficiency, performance, and sustainability in America’s transportation sector grows. Despite a challenging marketplace, automakers and fleets remain bullish on new diesel engines that lower carbon emissions by increasing fuel economy over their gasoline counterparts—and that can provide even further benefits when powered by clean, low carbon biodiesel blends.

“Biodiesel is a renewable, domestically produced fueling option that amplifies the already substantial benefits of new technology diesel vehicles,” said Steve Howell, Senior Technical Advisor for the National Biodiesel Board. “NBB and the U.S. biodiesel industry remain committed to working closely with our partners in the auto and engine manufacturing community to ensure that the high quality biodiesel fuel of today and tomorrow will continue to provide OEMs, fleets, and consumers with a reliable, fit-for-purpose fuel that keeps pace with the nation’s increasing demands for cleaner, more efficient, and sustainable modes of transportation.”

Several automakers’ new 2017 diesel models are being featured this week at the San Diego Convention Center as part of the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo. The Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase event is presented by NBB and General Motors Fleet.  General Motors is bringing an industry-leading lineup of 20 different diesel vehicle options to market in the 2017-2018 model year, setting records by approving all 20 models for use with B20, a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent ultra-low sulfur diesel.  One of GM’s flagship models, the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado HD pickup with a 6.6L Duramax® turbo diesel engine, is on proud display in the vehicle showcase, and will be joined on the roadways this year by additional GM diesel model offerings in the car, truck, van and compact SUV categories.

Ford Motor Company is also showcasing one of its new 2017 B20 capable pickups this week with the Ford F-250 Super Duty powered by its 6.7L Power Stroke® turbo diesel V8 engine. And Ford just announced it is adding a new 3.0L Power Stroke® turbo diesel engine option to its popular Ford F-150 for 2018, joining the Ford F-Series Super Duty and Ford Transit in the company’s diesel lineup.

Rounding out the pickup options featured in the Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase event is Nissan’s answer to the “Every Duty® Truck”, the 2017 Nissan Titan XD powered by a Cummins® 5.0L V8 turbo diesel engine.

The important off-road equipment market is also represented in the Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase this week by long-time biodiesel supporter John Deere, featuring its best-selling utility tractor in the San Diego area, the John Deere 5045E with a PowerTech® turbocharged diesel engine approved for use with B20 biodiesel blends.  John Deere was one of the first original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to get involved with biodiesel, approving B5 biodiesel blends for use in its engines in 2001. It was also one of the first off-highway equipment manufacturers to factory fill biodiesel blends in North America. Since then, John Deere has continued to conduct biodiesel research and perform lab and field tests using biodiesel fuel, and now supports up to B20 or higher biodiesel blends in its equipment.

Customers from coast to coast have used B20 successfully in virtually every make and model diesel engine, and the vast majority of new diesel engines now have full OEM support for B20 with no vehicle modifications required. Yet in the ever-increasing drive to cut carbon and lower CO2 emissions, forward looking fleets and users are investigating higher biodiesel blends to maximize the reduction in their carbon footprint.  To address the interest, another vehicle showcase participant, Optimus Technologies, has begun to manufacture biodiesel conversion systems that enable vehicles to run up to B100—even in the coldest climates.  With its simple heated fuel system approach, Optimus could potentially provide fleets an easy and cost effective way to use pure B100 biodiesel in their existing vehicles and reduce carbon by 80 percent at a fraction of the cost of conversion to other fuel alternatives being considered, like compressed natural gas.

Biofuels Champ Richard Childress Makes NASCAR Hall of Fame

This week, Growth Energy will join racing fans across the country to celebrate the induction of NASCAR’s 2017 Hall of Fame honorees, including racing legend Richard Childress, a longtime champion for ethanol-based fuels.

 “Richard Childress purchased his first racecar for $20 dollars at the age of 17 and has been making automotive history ever since,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “In fact, he helped introduce the sport to ethanol, demonstrating time and again the performance benefits of higher-octane, homegrown fuels. We could not be more excited to join loyal fans across the country in celebrating his recognition by the Hall of Fame.”

 Childress, who also serves as a Board member at Growth Energy, got his start in 1969 and earned 76 top-10 finishes in 285 races before handing over driving duties to Dale Earnhardt in 1981. He later founded Richard Childress Racing, a 12-time NASCAR championship-winning organization that continues to drive innovation in the sport.

 In 2011, Childress was among the leaders who helped launch the NASCAR Green initiative, which included a switch to Sunoco Green E15, a 21st century fuel containing 15 percent American ethanol. Since then, NASCAR has surpassed 10 million miles on the fuel. E15 is also available off-the-track, and American consumers have driven more than 500 million miles on the blend, reducing emissions, saving money, and boosting engine performance. 

 “I congratulate Richard on this historic achievement and all those victories still yet to come,” added Skor. “His career is a tribute to American ingenuity and perseverance, and we’re proud to count him as a friend.”

USDA Collecting Data on Dairy Sector

Representatives of the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service are in the process of visiting dairy farms across the nation this month to collect data for the final phase of the 2016 Agricultural Resource Management Survey.

The survey is an annual program that gathers in-depth information on production practices, costs and financial well-being of American farm families. ARMS targets select commodities on a rotational basis. This year, the survey places additional focus on corn, and conventional and organic dairy sectors.

The results of the 2016 ARMS will help USDA and other policymakers analyze the impacts of the new Dairy Margin Protection Program, introduced in the Agricultural Act of 2014. With operational costs driving structural changes within the dairy industry, this new program aims to help dairy producers when milk prices drop and feed prices remain high. USDA launched the program in 2015, making the current survey crucial to measuring its initial effects.

All dairy farmers selected to participate in the 2016 ARMS will be notified by a mailed postcard. After that, trained enumerators will make appointments and visit the participating farms to gather the information through personal interviews. These visits will begin in late January and will continue through early April.

The last time ARMS focused on the dairy sector was in 2010 and focused only on the conventional dairy sector. This will also be the first time ARMS will include additional focus on the organic dairy production.

Early Riser Sessions Reward Commodity Classic Early Birds

At Commodity Classic, the early bird catches some great education thanks to a great line-up of Early Riser Sessions.

Early Riser sessions begin each day at 7:00 a.m.  They are eye-opening presentations on market trends, ag issues and other important topics. 

Early Riser Sessions kick off the morning of Thursday, March 2 with “The Great 2017 Grain Marketing Debate” sponsored by Corn+Soybean Digest and Farm Futures Magazine, Penton Agriculture and Channel Seed.  The session features Bryce Knorr, senior market analyst for Farm Futures; Ed Usset, contributing editor to Corn+Soybean Digest and author of Grain Marketing is Simple; and Matt Bennett, grain marketing consultant for Channel Seed.  This session could be crucial in figuring out ways to maneuver in a market filled with uncertainty.

A live taping of U.S. Farm Report, the nation’s longest-running, syndicated agriculture news program is the Early Riser session for Friday, March 3, sponsored by Farm Journal Media.  Attendees can be part of the live audience as host Tyne Morgan and a panel of commodity traders and analysts debate market trends, futures and important ag issues.  Panelists will include Chip Flory of Pro Farmer, Ted Siefried of Zaner Ag Hedge, and Bob Utterback of Utterback Marketing.

On Saturday, March 4, there are two concurrent Early Riser Sessions.  Advance Trading, Inc. presents “What Would Make Someone Invest in Your Farm?”, in which presenter Tommy Grisafi outlines what is needed to stay in business and pass the farm on to the next generation. 

The other Saturday session, sponsored by Commodity Classic, is entitled “Piles to Files:  Weed Through Your Paperwork.”  Lori Firsdon, owner of Forte Organizers, will share strategies to reduce paper clutter and organize your office paperwork for quick and easy reference and retrieval.

“Early Riser sessions really bring out the crowds at Commodity Classic,” said Kevin Ross, an Iowa farmer and co-chair of the 2017 Commodity Classic. “These sessions are real eye-openers and are well worth setting the alarm a few minutes early.  We even reward your early start with complimentary coffee and pastries!”

Education is a hallmark of Commodity Classic.  Early Riser sessions are just part of the wide range of educational sessions which also includes Learning Centers, What’s New Sessions, Mini What’s New Sessions, the AG CONNECT Main Stage and the General Session.  Commodity Classic also features a huge trade show, entertainment and the opportunity to network with thousands of America’s best farmers.

Detailed information on educational sessions and the entire Commodity Classic schedule are available at

 NFU Statement on Trump Transition Team Deal with Bayer

 President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team announced today that it has struck a deal with Bayer AG, committing the German agricultural input company to investing $8 billion towards research and development should the company be permitted to acquire competitor Monsanto Co.

In response to the announcement, National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson released the following statement:

“Today’s announcement that President-elect Trump's transition team has struck a deal with Bayer and Monsanto is deeply disturbing if it leads to an approval of the Bayer-Monsanto acquisition by the incoming Trump Administration.

“Family farmers and rural communities came out in droves to support President-elect Trump and his campaign messaging of fighting the power structure, putting a stop to corporate mega mergers, and standing up for the little guy.

"The touted benefits of these deals pale in comparison to the adverse effects family farmers and ranchers will face with continued mergers in the agriculture sector. Corporate consolidation in agriculture leads to less competition and choice in the marketplace and higher input costs for family farmers and ranchers.

"We strongly urge the President-elect reject the notion that corporate consolidation benefits family farmers and rural America by putting an end to the endless string of mergers in agriculture."

Precision Planting Launches SmartFirmer™ for Organic Matter and Furrow Environment Sensing

Precision Planting is launching SmartFirmer™, a seed firmer with unprecedented sensing capability that will allow farmers to not only map row by row organic matter, soil moisture, and furrow residue, but also to perform on-the-go control of planting population or hybrid based on organic matter measurement.  Compatibility with Climate FieldViewTM makes SmartFirmer data viewable on the industry-leading digital agriculture platform.

In any field, there are multiple yield environments that are determined by soil type, organic matter, topography, drainage, and dozens of other attributes.  To better manage these yield environments, the SmartFirmer high definition organic matter map will be a key input for developing precise prescriptions for planting population, seed hybrid, and fertility applications.  Alternatively, farmers could allow SmartFirmer to simply control seeding based on the real-time organic matter measurement and the corresponding population or hybrid selected by the farmer or their trusted advisor.

Soil moisture is a critical component for seed germination and uniform plant emergence, and ultimately crop yield.  SmartFirmer will give farmers row-by-row visibility to soil moisture in the seed furrow, allowing farmers to choose the right planting depth as soil conditions change.

In-furrow crop residue has well-known negative impacts on seed germination and growth.  SmartFirmer will allow farmers to measure the quantity of in-furrow residue and adjust row cleaners accordingly, thus ensuring residue won’t limit seed moisture uptake or transmit disease.

SmartFirmer will be compatible with 20/20 SeedSenseTM SRM systems with quick-attach Keeton firmer brackets. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Monday January 16 Ag News

2017 NE Extension Beef Feedlot Roundtable
February 9: West Point, Nielsen Community Center

Please plan to participate in this meeting at a location nearest you. Topics and speakers were chosen to benefit feedlot managers, owners, employees, and allied industry. Sponsors include the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension and Nebraska Beef Council. 

12:30—1:00 Registration
1:00 Introduction and Welcome - Local Extension Personnel
1:15 Effects of Environment on Bovine Respiratory Disease - Brian Vander Ley, Great Plains Veterinary Educational Cener
2:00 Marketing fat cattle options and what the fed cattle exchange entails -Steve Sunderman, Producer; Nebraska Cattlemen Committee Co-chair
2:45 Break -Sponsored by the Nebraska Beef Council
3:00 Livestock and Climate Change– Facts and Fiction -Frank Mitloehner, University of California-Davis (via remote connection)
3:45 UNL Feedlot Research Update -Matt Luebbe, UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center
-Galen Erickson, UNL Animal Science Industry Updates
4:15 Beef Quality Assurance– Feedlot Assessments -Rob Eirich, UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center
4:30 Nebraska Beef Council- Doug Straight, Nebraska Beef Council
4:45 Adjourn
5:00 Optional: Beef Quality Assurance Training -Rob Eirich, UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center (Additional cost for BQA training. For more information please contact Rob at 308-631-2311 or e-mail

Pre-registration ($20 for pre-registration, $30 at the door) for the Roundtable is due by Wednesday, February 1st 2017.   Please pre-register by phone, fax, e-mail, or mail. Checks can be made out to “UNL” .  Return completed registration form to: Matt Luebbe, Panhandle Research and Extension
4502 Ave. I Scottsbluff, NE 69361 - Phone: 308-632-1260 Fax: 308-632-1365 - E-mail:  Or contact Larry Howard in the Cuming County Extension office at 402-372-6006. 

Sixth Annual Innovative Youth Corn Challenge 

Do you enjoy being outside? Learning new things about crops? Are you considering a career involving crops, insects, diseases, soils, water or more? Do you want to help figure out how to feed the world’s growing population sustainably?

Innovative Youth Corn Challenge

Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Corn Board are offering the sixth Innovative Youth Corn Challenge contest. This contest, open to 4-H members (age 10 and older as of January 1) or FFA members (in-school members), guides participants through all aspects of corn production and explores agricultural careers related to corn production.

As a team (two or more participants), youth will be challenged to implement a production practice different than normal and determine whether they increased their yield. Economics and sustainability of the practice also will be considered. Yields, cropping history, and production information will be collected in the Corn Yield Challenge management summary.

Cash prizes and plaques will be given to the first, second, and third place teams. First place will receive $1,000, second place will receive $500, and third place will receive $250. Sustainability, crop scouting, and “extra mile” awards also will be given, each worth $150.    

To participate in 2017, youth must complete and return an entry form by March 15 to the Fillmore County Extension Office, 1340 G St.,Geneva, NE 68361. Forms can be downloaded here or at

For more information, contact one of these Nebraska Extension educators:
    Brandy VanDeWalle at
    Aaron Nygren at
    Amy Timmerman at

Preparing for Farm Loan Renewal Time

Tina Barrett - Executive Director of Nebraska Farm Business Inc.

Shortly before Christmas, I was watching a Christmas movie with my family about a farm family who was in jeopardy of losing the operation if they didn’t come up with the required payments by January 2. You can guess, as well as I did, that it was a Christmas miracle and the necessary funds were found on Christmas Eve. While the story was predictable, it made me wish the struggles of the real farm economy could be fixed in less than two hours, with no family arguments and the only unknown being how it would be solved, not if.

The reality is that some operations are going to be faced with the real issue of foreclosure this year.  Others will need to look hard at restructuring debt, switching lenders, making major changes to their operation and/or living, and maybe even selling off excess assets.  So how can you make your operation be the best it can be through a stressful renewal season?  Here are a few things to consider before you go into your renewal appointment:

    Be prepared.  Come into your renewal appointment with a plan.  Have detailed estimate of your costs for the coming year, a cash flow that makes sense and is grounded in reality (no $7 corn sales), and include reasonable spending for family living. If your cash flow shows significant changes from previous years, come with an explanation. For example:  “My family living is down 20% from last year. We have a monthly budget and a commitment from our family to stick to it. We will send monthly accountability reports to show we are serious.” If you just reduced family living to make the cash flow work without a plan on how to make that change actually work, it’s not believable.

    Be honest.  Being honest with yourself is just as important as being honest with your lender. Take a hard look at your operation and figure out WHY your operation is having a tough time at renewal. It isn’t just because commodity prices are down. If that were the case, every operation would be experiencing this stress and they are not. So what’s different about your operation?  What costs have changed in the past five to six years? Where can you make different choices about your costs?

    Be accountable. This is YOUR farm operation. YOU get to make the choices about how the money is spent. Many times I hear, “We just don’t have a choice on how much we spend.” The reality is you make choices every day. You can choose a different seed variety or a different seed vendor (or any other input). You can choose to operate older equipment instead of having the latest and greatest technology. You can choose between buying a $60,000 family vehicle or a $30,000 one. You may have to make unpleasant choices, but they are still your choices to make. The choice of whether or not a bank continues to finance you may not ultimately be yours, but the choices that led to that decision were yours.

Being ready for your appointment may only be half the battle, but it will show you have a commitment to turning your operation around.

When a Farm Operation Loan is Denied

If your bank does deny continued funding, there are other options to consider.

-    Your current bank is not the only one who can finance your operation.  You can go back to the “drawing board,” get even more organized and prepared, and try another bank or two.

-    If you are unable to obtain credit elsewhere, you may qualify for a loan from the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). The funding for these loans can change from year to year and is set by the government so there may be first come-first served access to these loans. More information about these loans can be found at:

-    Consider liquidating some assets.  It may seem like you can’t operate without ALL of your equipment, but it may be a good time to rent some of those larger assets such as a combine or have your harvest done by a custom harvester. If you sell some equipment so you can retire debt, you may be able to put yourself into a position where you can service the remaining debt while continuing to farm. You also may need to liquidate some land to keep going. Don’t forget to hold back some proceeds for income taxes.

-    Bankruptcy may be a word that comes back into normal conversation. Our office is preparing to dust off old books and take classes to prepare for potential questions from farmers hoping to avoid or best navigate through the potential reality of bankruptcy.  While avoiding bankruptcy will be ideal, the laws exist for a reason and may be a good tool for you to use so your operation can continue.  Unfortunately, bankruptcy is complicated and the services of a good attorney and accountant will be necessary to complete the process.

Seek Expertise and Engage Your Support Network

Regardless of the outcome, going through a stressful renewal is tough on everyone. I don’t know a single lender who got into the business with the goal of putting farmers out of business and I don’t know a single farmer who wanted their business to end with a liquidation.

Using your management team is going to be important. It may seem silly to be paying professional fees when you are trying to cut costs, but many of these issues are very complex and require detailed expertise.

It is also stressful for your family. Consider professional counseling to protect those relationships, your marriage, and your mental health. Talking about financial struggles is never fun, but keeping it to yourself could cause even bigger consequences.

Several sources of assistance are readily available to you.
-    Nebraska Extension has developed a team of educators trained to help producers improve their financial literacy. For more information, contact your local extension educator.
-    The State of Nebraska also has the Farm/Ranch Hotline ready to provide immediate help. Call 1-800-464-0258 to find financial, legal and counseling services and referrals. The schedule of

For more information on farm financial management, see farm management information in, published by Nebraska Extension, and on the Department of Agricultural Economics website.

The author, Tina Barrett, is executive director of Nebraska Farm Business, Inc. and a program manager in the UNL Department of Agricultural Economics.

BQA Producer Forum Open to All Cattle Producers

Attention all dairymen, cattle farmers and ranchers:  The Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Producer Forum will be held Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017 from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in Nashville, Tenn., during the Annual Cattle Industry Convention. The forum is open to all cattle producers and BQA stakeholders.

This is a time for cattle producers to have their voices heard about the checkoff-funded BQA program and where it’s headed in the future.

“This is where the grassroots ‘rubber meets the road’,” says Dan Kniffen, BQA Advisory Board chair. “As we work to shape the program into what’s best for producers and the beef industry as a whole, your input is highly encouraged and appreciated at this critical time."

During the forum, producers will hear updates on current programs and resources, meet the BQA program staff and leaders, and have an opportunity for engagement and discussion.

Major Accomplishments are Fueling Biodiesel’s Future At the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo

From the streets of New York City to the surf of the California Coast, big things are happening to fuel biodiesel’s future. So it’s no surprise enthusiasts of America’s Advanced Biofuel are excited to converge this week in San Diego at the industry’s largest gathering of producers, distributors and fans.

San Diego residents are invited to join the action free-of-charge when the 14th Annual National Biodiesel Conference & Expo kicks off in earnest Tuesday. The day opens with an overview of the industry at the conference’s General Session, which is followed by numerous breakout sessions where experts will present on the latest trends in the industry. Local fans will be particularly interested in the discussion in the session, “California’s Thriving Low Carbon Markets.”

“The General Session is one event attendees won’t want to miss,” said Donnell Rehagen, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board, which produces the annual conference. “Not only will they get presentations on what’s been accomplished and what’s expected ahead, we are looking forward to a very special announcement from General Motors that will be exciting news for biodiesel fans everywhere.

“Plus we all will be treated to a keynote address from master negotiator Chris Voss,” Rehagen added. “Chris has used his many years of experience as an FBI agent in international crisis and high stakes negotiations to develop a unique program and team that applies globally-proven techniques to the business world. This is a great opportunity for everyone to learn from an expert that can make us all better at what we do in business and in life.”

Attendees will also enjoy the Biodiesel Vehicle Showcase that kicks off Tuesday in the Expo Hall. There they will find the latest biodiesel-capable vehicles, technologies and special announcements on what to expect in the future.

Throughout the week, attendees will have an opportunity to learn more about the exciting developments for the biodiesel industry that have occurred in the past calendar year. Thanks to new legislation, New York City residents will see the amount of biodiesel used in place of conventional heating oil gradually grow over the coming years. In fact, the amount of biodiesel used for home heating oil there is expected to skyrocket from 50 million gallons last year to 200 million gallons by 2034.

And in Oregon, residents there have followed California’s lead and instituted their own Low Carbon Fuel Standard, which means more clean-burning biodiesel being substituted for petroleum diesel. Not to be outdone, California last year took it to another level by extending the state’s targets for carbon emissions reductions to 2030. Biodiesel and renewable diesel are leading credit generators under the low carbon fuel standard and their presence will continue growing with the expansion of this landmark policy.

Beyond the victories in individual states and municipalities, much of the discussion this week will center on what the new Congress and Administration will mean for the biodiesel industry in general and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) specifically. The RFS is the program signed into law under the George W. Bush administration with bipartisan support in Congress that guarantees minimum levels of biodiesel and other alternative fuels are blended into the nations fuel supply.

“There’s no question this is an interesting time for biodiesel and our industry,” Rehagen said. “Like so many others we are eager to see what the coming months and the Trump Administration will mean for renewable energy, for tax reform and for the RFS.  Biodiesel is one of the few truly bi-partisan issues and we are confident our new Congress and new leadership will continue to support a smart solution that is working for America on so many levels.”

FARM Version 3.0 Launched Jan. 1

The new FARM Animal Care Version 3.0 went into effect on Jan. 1, 2017. This latest version of FARM includes new documents and guidelines to update and strengthen the program, which now enjoys the support of companies marketing 98% of the nation’s milk supply. These requirements include a signed Veterinary-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR) form, a signed Dairy Cattle Care and Ethics agreement, FARM training in basic stockmanship by all employees, and the phaseout of tail docking.

Revisions to the FARM Program occur every three years and are based on input from farmers, veterinarians and others involved in the FARM Program’s Technical Writing Group, NMPF’s Animal Health and Wellbeing Committee, and recommendations received through a public comment period. The revision process began in May 2015. The NMPF Board of Directors approved the changes at its board meeting last March.

FARM Animal Care is one silo within the broader National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program, alongside the Antibiotic Resistance and the new Environmental Stewardship components. A complete summary of the Version 3.0 updates can be found on the FARM website...

 CWT-Assisted Export Sales Contracts Total 7.8 Million Pounds in December

Cooperatives Working Together assisted member cooperatives in winning 48 contracts to export 4.75 million pounds of American-type cheeses and 3.03 million pounds of butter in the holiday-shortened month of December. The products will go to customers in Asia, Central America, the Middle East, North Africa, and Oceania, and will be shipped from December 2016 through March 2017.

The contracts captured in December raise the 2016 CWT-assisted sales totals to 50.32 million pounds of American-type cheese, 12.13 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) and 21.32 million pounds of whole milk powder destined for customers in 23 countries on five continents. The sales are the equivalent of 892.91 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis. Totals are adjusted for cancellations received during the month.

Assisting CWT member cooperatives gain and maintain world market share through the Export Assistance program expands the long-term demand for U.S. dairy products and the U.S. farm milk that produces them. This increases demand which positively impacts all U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

Vilsack Resigns Early as Ag Secretary

Friday was Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack's last day as head of the USDA. He resigned his position a week before tenure.

In a blog post, he says, "I have been honored to serve my country. I will always love the people I worked with at USDA and the people we work for."

The Agriculture Secretary position is now vacant, the last to be filled by the Trump Administration. Many names have been tossed around but none have stuck.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he's talked to Vice-President Elect Mike Pence and didn't get an answer.

He says he can't give an update nor can he get an update, "I've suggested several times to this team that they take a real hard look at Iowa secretary of agriculture Bill Northey but there doesn't seem to be any indication out there. I imagine over a period since the election, I've seen almost a dozen names pop up. Never one has popped up a second time."

Grassley adds he's talked to Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee Pat Roberts who also hasn't gotten an update.

NCBA/PLC Support Confirmation of Rep. Zinke for Secretary of Interior

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council released the following statements today in support of the confirmation of Congressman Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) for the Secretary of Interior:

“During his tenure in the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Zinke has consistently advocated for our western communities, economies, and ranchers,” said Tracy Brunner, NCBA president. “He has demanded transparency and the inclusion of stakeholders when it comes to land management decisions, and has a strong understanding of the challenges that come with stewarding the West.”

Western ranchers own approximately 120 million acres of the most productive private land in the West and manage nearly 250 million acres of public land. Ranchers who hold grazing permits on public land do vital work that benefits public land including the improvement of water sources, improvement of wildlife habitat, and maintaining the open space that Americans enjoy, yet are often targeted by outside interest groups.

“For too long, ranchers have been marginalized and overlooked during planning processes and the benefits they provide to public rangelands, wildlife and natural resources have gone unrecognized,” said Dave Eliason, PLC president. “The current leadership of the Department of Interior refuses to stand up for the very people who have invested their time and livelihoods into the management and improvement of public lands. Having a Secretary of Interior who understands public lands, and who values true cooperation with stakeholders is in the best interest of all Americans. We are excited for Representative Zinke to refocus the agency’s efforts to their core mission, and to have someone in this role that understands the unique challenges we face in the West.”

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Friday January 13 Ag News

Nebraska’s Presence Guided National Issues at the American Farm Bureau Convention

Nebraska voting delegates at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) 98th annual meeting approved resolutions that will provide the organization with authority from its grassroots members to push Congress toward the goal line on issues, like protecting crop insurance in the next farm bill, making the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) more flexible, and revamping the regulatory process that has been unworkable for the past eight years under the Obama administration, Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation (NFBF) President Steve Nelson said Jan. 13.

“Securing victories on those issues is critical to our competitiveness as individual farmers and ranchers, and Nebraska agriculture will find more success locally and abroad,” Nelson said.

On the Farm Bill front, delegates reaffirmed their strong support for maintaining and looking at crop insurance products for all commodities, not just for the typical corn and soybean farmers, but for livestock and aquaculture.

“The delegates laid out a set of principles highlighting our very clear support for crop insurance and commodity programs as top priorities,” Jordan Dux, NFBF’s director of National Affairs said. Dux sits on a AFBF Farm Bill Task Force. “Congress will begin to have field hearings on the Farm Bill soon since it expires in 2018.” We probably won’t see big changes, more fine tuning to programs like ARC (Agriculture Risk Coverage) and PLC (Price Loss Coverage). But you may see some changes on the dairy side to the MPP (Margin Protection Program) and the new cotton program. Anything we can do to provide producers with risk management tools will be important,” Dux said.

On other issues, AFBF delegates adopted Nebraska’s resolution to support telemedicine as an option for veterinarians to make animal health diagnoses. This, in turn, would allow some flexibility for producers and veterinarians as they work to be in compliance with the new VFD, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2017.  The VFD final rule outlines the process for authorizing use of VFD drugs (animal drugs intended for use in animal feed that require the supervision of a licensed veterinarian) and provides veterinarians in all states with a framework for authorizing the use of medically important antimicrobials in feed when needed for specific animal health purposes.

“Our Nebraska delegates offered language to change the definition of the vet/client/patient relationship, allowing for the use of telemedicine. For example, if a veterinarian has a good working relationship with a producer it doesn’t require him to come on the farm to physically see the animal before offering a course of treatment. We hope this provides another option for producers and vets who are still trying to wrap their arms around these new requirements” Nelson said.

The delegates also approved a special resolution urging Congress to enact swift, meaningful, and strongly bipartisan regulatory reform. The resolution, comes in the wake of the introduction of bills in Congress that would pare back the rapid growth of oppressive regulation and government overreach by agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Delegates called on the federal government to adhere to a series of principles, including:
•           the use of sound science;
•           consideration of costs and benefits to stakeholders;
•           transparency in federal agencies and departments;
•           reduction of abuses of the court settlement process;
•           limiting deference granted by courts to agencies’ interpretation of law;
•           prohibiting agency misuse of social media to lobby the public in support of proposals;
•           greater congressional oversight of agencies;
•           congressional approval of major rules;
•           a minimum comment period for rules; and
•           reform of the Equal Access to Justice Act.

Delegates also affirmed their support for Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as the nominee for administrator of the EPA.

NE Corn Board to Meet

The Nebraska Corn Board will hold its next meeting on Wednesday, January 25, 2017 at The Cornhusker Marriott, located at 333 South 13th Street in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The Board will meet jointly with the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, however, the Board will not conduct any regular board business at this meeting.

The Board will conduct a subsequent meeting and address regular board business on March 16, 2017 at Embassy Suites, located at 1040 P Street in Lincoln, Nebraska. The Board will also meet on March 17, 2017 at UNL East Campus to hear proposed research projects.

These meetings are open to the public, providing the opportunity for public comment. A copy of the agendas are available by writing the Nebraska Corn Board, PO Box 95107, Lincoln, NE 68509, emailing or calling 402/471-2676.

Nebraska Soybean Board Seeks Leaders to Represent Nebraska Soybean Farmers

This year, the Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) will be seeking soybean farmers to serve on the Board
of Directors and to represent fellow soybean farmers and the industry.

How does the Election Work?

The election is conducted by mail-in ballot in July for District 5 and 7. Soybean farmers who reside in counties that are up for election in 2017 will receive ballots and candidate information regarding NSB’s election process via direct mail. The At-Large position on the Nebraska Soybean Board is open to all soybean farmers in Nebraska and will be elected by the NSB Directors at the July Board meeting.

What are the 2017 Election Districts and Counties?

The election districts and counties are:
District 5: Counties of Cass, Johnson, Lancaster, Nemaha, Otoe, Pawnee and Richardson.
District 7: Counties of Adams, Buffalo, Clay, Franklin, Hall, Kearney, Nuckolls and Webster
At-Large: All counties in Nebraska

Who Can Be a Candidate for the NSB seats or the At-Large Position on the Board?

· Be a resident of Nebraska
· Be a resident of the district in which the election is being held
· Be a soybean farmer in Nebraska for at least the previous 5 years
· Be 21 years of age or older
· Have submitted a NSB candidacy petition

To apply for Candidacy in District 5 and 7 or the At-Large Position you must:

· Obtain a NSB Candidacy Petition by contacting NSB’s executive director, Victor Bohuslavsky, at 402-432-5720.
· Complete the petition and collect the signatures of 50 soybean farmers in their district
· Return such petition to the NSB office on or before April 15, 2017.

Roles and Responsibilities of Soybean Board Member Representative:

· Attend every NSB meeting – 8 day fiscal year commitment.
· Attend/participate in other educational events sponsored by the Nebraska Soybean Checkoff, in your district.
· Receive no salary but are reimbursed for expenses incurred while carrying out board business.
· Serve a three-year term that would begin October 1, 2017.

Areas of Focus for the Soybean Industry:

As an elected representative to NSB, you will help guide the Nebraska soybean industry in the areas of research, education, domestic and foreign markets, including new uses for soybeans and soybean products.

If you have questions regarding the election process, please contact NSB’s executive director, Victor Bohuslavsky, at 402-432-5720. For more information about the Nebraska soybean checkoff, visit

March 1, 2017 Deadline for Soybean Farmers Interested in United Soybean Board Nominations

The Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) is looking for soybean farmers interested in filling one of Nebraska's four director positions with the United Soybean Board (USB), for a three-year term.

USB is made up of 73 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of animal utilization, human utilization, industrial utilization, industry relations, market access and supply. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff. 

Any farmer interested in applying needs to meet the following criteria:
1. Be involved in a farming operation that raises soybeans
2. Be a resident of Nebraska
3. Be at least 21 years of age

To be considered for the national leadership position, interested farmers need to submit a USDA Background Information Form before the March 1, 2017 deadline, to obtain this form, contact Victor Bohuslavsky at the Nebraska Soybean Board office at 402-432-5720.

The NSB Board of Directors will submit to the U.S. Department of Agriculture a "first preferred choice nominee" and "second preferred choice alternate" for the open positions. The Secretary of Agriculture will make the final appointments. The USDA has a policy that membership on USDA boards and committees is open to all individuals without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation and marital or family status. The chosen individual will begin serving a three-year term in December 2017. Each individual appointed is eligible to serve a total of three consecutive terms.

For more information about the United Soybean Board, visit

USDA Rural Development Nebraska State Director Maxine Moul Retires

Maxine Moul announced today she is retiring as the Nebraska USDA Rural Development State Director, effective January 20, 2017.

"I am proud of our accomplishments during the Obama administration. We worked to transform USDA Rural Development into a more effective agency that strives daily to improve the quality of life of rural Nebraska.”  Moul added, “This agency is well positioned to continue to provide important services to rural residents in Nebraska, with a strong staff of competent, experienced employees.”

On June 29, 2009, Moul was appointed to the position of State Director for USDA Rural Development by President Barack Obama.  In this position she managed a staff providing more than 40 housing, business, electric, telecommunications, water and wastewater and community facility programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities.  During that time, Moul and her staff managed a grant, loan and loan guarantee housing portfolio of $853 million and made new investments of nearly $2 billion that positively impacted communities across rural Nebraska.

“I have enjoyed this job tremendously,” said Moul.  “I won’t forget meeting homeowners moving into their first home with a USDA loan, helping residents of communities who have clean healthy water piped to their home for the first time in their lives, or the business owners we helped to expand their operations.  I will cherish those memories and forever value the opportunity given to me to help our rural communities.”

During her tenure, Moul was an avid supporter of the programs offered by USDA Rural Development. The Nebraska Single Family Housing program helped 10,235 rural Nebraska families obtain nearly $920 million in guaranteed and direct loans. The Agency’s energy efficiency programs helped rural businesses, farmers and ranchers save on energy costs, through 1,431 in loans and grants totaling $18.3 million.  An additional $16.8 million was expended to support and ensure an expanding production of advanced biofuels.  Two regions of the state, in Northeast and Southeast Nebraska engaged in the USDA Stronger Economies Together program to help them map their future, post-recession.

“USDA Rural Development always excelled at financing infrastructure and during the last eight years we continued that important work.  We financed more than 130 water and wastewater projects that secured cleaner water service to tens of thousands of Nebraskans.  Many community hospitals, community centers and libraries received grants and loans from USDA. We made historic upgrades to rural energy services and expanded broadband services across the state,” said Moul.

The Multi-Family Housing (MFH) program provides financing to develop rental housing in rural areas for persons with very-low, low and moderate incomes.  Funds are also available to construct a new facility or to rehabilitate Rural Development financed apartments or convert existing buildings into apartments.  Nebraska has 195 rental complexes financed through Rural Development that provide 3,139 affordable rental units.

Moul was no stranger to the state’s highways and byways as she visited Nebraska rural communities from Falls City to Chadron during her time at USDA. She began working on community and economic development 45 years ago, when she and her husband, Francis, bought the Syracuse, Nebraska Journal-Democrat newspaper.  As a public servant, she was Nebraska’s Lt. Governor, Director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and a founder of the Nebraska Community Foundation.

President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.

Hall Returns to ISU Extension and Outreach as Dairy Specialist

Fred M. Hall, an Iowa State graduate, is returning to the university as a dairy specialist. He will cover the northwest portion of the state with his office based out of Sioux County.

Hall rejoins the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach staff, having served as the Chickasaw County education director from 2005-09. In his current position Hall will be responsible for working with dairy farmers throughout the northwest region while also developing youth dairy programming.

“Over the years I have specialized in non-traditional programs that meet the needs of citizens, from resource management and disaster response to new enterprise development. Each program will be driven by the needs of producers,” said Hall.

Hall has worked for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Services since 2009 as a county agent serving Tarrant, Williamson and Wichita counties. Hall’s duties included coordinating programming being done in those counties while also working to develop programming, awareness and the impact of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

While in Texas, Hall served on regional livestock and livestock mentoring program development committees, the Earth-Kind Living development committee, the 4-H photography publication committee while helping judge district dairy and horse shows. He was also on the originating board of the Texas Master Bee Keeper certification program. Additionally, Hall served on the Central Texas Animal Issues Committee, several FFA advisory boards and the research animal treatment review board at Midwestern State University. He also contributes to the eXtension dairy, bee and horticulture programs.

He has experience as a journalist as the president of Stone County Publishing Company and editor of the Stone County Republican and Marionville Journal weekly newspapers, developing the only weekly newspaper farm section in southwest Missouri. Hall was also the managing editor of the Michigan/Indiana Holstein News, the fifth-largest purebred dairy publication in the United States at the time.

Hall is a graduate of Iowa State, holding a degree in dairy science.

CHS reports $209.2 million first quarter earnings for fiscal 2017

CHS Inc. (NASDAQ: CHSCP), the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, today reported net income of $209.2 million for the first quarter of its 2017 fiscal year.

Earnings for the period (Sept. 1 – Nov. 30, 2016) declined 22 percent from the same period of fiscal 2016. The decrease was primarily attributed to lower pretax earnings in the company's Energy and Foods segments along with Corporate and Other. These declines were partially offset by increased pretax earnings in the CHS Ag segment as well as earnings from the new Nitrogen Production segment.

"We've been in business for nearly nine decades, so we've experienced these types of cycles before," said CHS President and Chief Executive Officer Carl Casale. "Although it's not possible to predict how long the current down cycle in the ag and energy industries will continue, we'll navigate through this period by continuing to run our businesses efficiently and effectively, by maintaining a strong balance sheet and by ensuring we serve our owners' and customers' needs in all we do."

The CHS Energy segment generated a pretax income of $70.0 million for the first three months of the 2017 fiscal year, compared to $192.9 million for the same period in 2016, representing a decline of 64 percent. This reduction is primarily due to the down cycle in the energy sector and significantly reduced refining margins for the company's two refineries. In addition, earnings for the company's transportation business declined while the lubricants business remained flat and propane earnings increased from the same period a year ago.

The CHS Ag segment, which includes its domestic and global grain and crop nutrients businesses, renewable fuels, local retail operations and processing and food ingredients, generated income of $109.2 million, an increase of 58 percent over the same period a year ago. Grain marketing earnings increased as a result of increased grain margins. Earnings from renewable fuels marketing and production operations increased as a result of higher ethanol sales margins. The wholesale crop nutrients business increased mainly due to increased margins. Country operations earnings increased because of increased grain volumes and other income, which was partially offset by loan loss reserves. CHS processing and food ingredients businesses experienced decreased earnings due to the sale of an international location and lower margins in the domestic soybean crushing business. These reductions were partially offset by higher margins in the canola crushing and soybean refining businesses.

The Nitrogen Production segment generated income of $27.0 million before taxes during the first three months of the fiscal year. This increase in income was primarily driven by a gain of $29.1 million associated with an embedded derivative asset established due to the terms of our strategic investment in CF Industries Nitrogen, LLC ("CF Nitrogen"). There are no comparable results in the prior year as this segment represents our investment in CF Nitrogen, which occurred in February 2016.

First quarter results for the Foods segment, which was previously reported as a component of Corporate and Other, generated pretax earnings of $10.6 million during the first quarter of 2017. This represents a decrease of $7.7 million compared to the same period the year before. This segment consists solely of our equity investment in Ventura Foods, LLC.

Corporate and Other generated pretax earnings of $8.8 million during the first quarter of fiscal 2017, compared to $9.4 million during the same time period the previous year. This segment primarily represents the company's equity investment in the Ardent Mills, LLC wheat milling joint venture and Business Solutions operations. 

CHS New Leader Forum helps young producers enhance skills

More than 100 young producers learned more about how they can play a crucial role in helping agriculture and the cooperative system thrive during the CHS New Leaders Forum held in conjunction with the CHS Annual Meeting.

Participants representing 12 states and Canada were nominated by their local cooperative to participate in the program held Nov. 29 - Dec. 2, 2016.  During the event, attendees explored more about the cooperative system, cooperative board leadership and succession planning.  The group also developed advocacy skills by participating in discussions on the issues and challenges facing cooperatives, agriculture and rural America.

 “It was interesting to learn the economic side of agriculture from the CHS perspective,” says Max Hart, loan officer, Black River Country Bank, Black River Falls, Wis. “Agriculture economics is so international and CHS is involved in all of it. I enjoyed learning how it applied back to me and my farm.”

The New Leaders Forum also featured networking events with fellow producers, the CHS Board of Directors, management and employees.

“The workshops were informative, but I enjoyed the networking and learning about the diversity of farming the most,” says Hart. “In Wisconsin, we think of corn, beans, cows and alfalfa. It’s important to step back and realize the different aspects of farming.  It’s all important and interesting to learn about.”

Supreme Court To Hear Waters of the U.S. Case

The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to consider whether jurisdiction rests with the federal district or appellate courts to hear a lawsuit brought by the National Pork Producers Council and dozens of other agricultural organizations, businesses and municipalities against a Clean Water Act rule that would give the government broad jurisdiction over land and water.

The Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which took effect Aug. 28, 2015, was proposed in April 2014 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to clarify the agencies’ authority over various waters. That jurisdiction – based on several U.S. Supreme Court decisions – had included “navigable” waters and waters with a significant hydrologic connection to navigable waters. But the regulation broadened that to include, among other water bodies, upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams such as the kind farmers use for drainage and irrigation. It also covered lands adjacent to such waters.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati in October 2015 issued a stay on implementation of the regulation pending disposition of numerous lawsuits filed in U.S. district courts around the country. Last year, however, the 6th Circuit consolidated the suits under its jurisdiction. NPPC and other groups in November submitted briefs to the appellate court, arguing that the agencies promulgated the WOTUS rule without following federal rulemaking procedures, the regulation is arbitrary and capricious or contrary to law and the agencies exceeded their authority under the Clean Water Act and the U.S. Constitution. (With just days left in the administration, the Obama EPA today filed its brief in defense of the rule with the 6th Circuit.)

“The WOTUS rule is vague, overbroad and fails to let regulated parties know when their conduct violates the law,” said NPPC President John Weber, a pork producer from Dysart, Iowa. “We all want clean water, but this regulation is a big land grab that promotes growth of government and allows activists to extort and micromanage all kinds of farming and business activities.”

In their brief to the appellate court, NPPC and the other groups said EPA and the Corps of Engineers failed to reopen the public comment period after making fundamental changes to the proposed rule and withheld until after the comment period closed the scientific report on which the rule rested. The agencies also refused to conduct required economic and environmental analyses, engaged in a propaganda campaign to promote the rule and rebuke its critics and illegally lobbied against congressional efforts to stop implementation of the rule.

Supreme Court Agrees to take EPA WOTUS Rule

Scott Yager, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association environmental counsel, today released the following statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to grant the cert petition for the industry coalition lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency on its “waters of the United States” rule:

“The Supreme Court’s decision to hear our appeal is a victory for America’s cattle producers and all private property owners across the country. It shows that the Court has a continued interest in private property rights and we look forward to oral arguments this spring.”

Fischer Applauds SCOTUS Decision to Take Up WOTUS Jurisdiction Dispute

Today, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, released the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s decision to take up the dispute over which courts have jurisdiction to hear challenges to the Obama administration's “Waters of the U.S.” or WOTUS rule:

“I’m encouraged that the Supreme Court will explore the dubious legality of the WOTUS rule. This is good news. From the very beginning, this rule’s shocking federal overreach and potential harmful effects on Nebraska families have caused serious anxiety. I will continue to pursue policies that will scrap this rule altogether for the sake of all Nebraskans.”

Earlier this week, Senator Fischer and Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced a Senate resolution that expresses the need to vacate the WOTUS rule. The resolution signifies the senators’ intent to continue working to roll back the harmful rule once the new administration takes office.

Regarding Sen. Fischer, Sen. Ernst, Resolution on EPA “Waters of the U.S.” Rule

Statement by Steve Nelson, President, NE Farm Bureau

"We greatly appreciate the ongoing efforts of Sen. Fischer to eliminate EPA’s “Waters of the U.S.” Rule. Today’s introduction of a resolution by Sen. Fischer and Sen. Ernst to force EPA to withdraw or vacate this far reaching federal regulation is welcomed news to Nebraska farmers, ranchers, and other landowners.

“Even though the federal Sixth Circuit court issued a stay in 2015 immediately blocking implementation of this EPA power grab, we will not rest until this rule is withdrawn and this issue is put to rest.”


The House Thursday passed a bill that would improve protections for farmers and ranchers (and others) who use the futures markets to manage risk, legislation backed by numerous agricultural groups, which this week urged lawmakers to approve the “Commodity End-User Relief Act” (H.R. 238). The measure includes provisions that would:

-    Codify customer protections to help prevent another MF Global situation. The commodities brokerage firm, which comingled customer and company funds, went bankrupt in 2011 and couldn’t repay customers.
-    Provide a permanent solution to the residual interest problem that would have put customer funds at risk – and potentially driven farmers, ranchers and small hedgers out of futures markets – by forcing them to put more of their money into hedge accounts.
-    Relief from burdensome and technologically unfeasible recordkeeping requirements in commodity markets.
-    Require the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to conduct a study and issue a rule before reducing the de minimis threshold for swap dealer registration to make sure doing so would not harm market liquidity and end-user access to markets.
-    Confirm the intent of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that anticipatory hedging is considered bona fide hedging activity.

House Advances CFTC Reauthorization Bill

This week, the House of Representatives passed legislation to reauthorize the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) on a 239-182 vote.  The Commodity End-User Relief Act (H.R. 238) includes a number of important provisions, including customer protections intended to help prevent another MF Global situation, relief from infeasible recordkeeping requirements in commodity markets, and other provisions that are beneficial to agriculture.  Earlier in the week, the National Association of Wheat Growers sent a letter to Congressional offices with a number of other agricultural associations urging Members of Congress to support the reauthorization bill.  The legislation will now head to the Senate for consideration. 

House Approves Regulatory Reform Bill

The US House earlier this week passed Farm Bureau-supported legislation that would ensure transparency and accountability by regulatory agencies, reaffirm congressional intent in rulemaking and strengthen the public’s right to know. As approved by lawmakers, the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017 (H.R. 5) included an amendment offered by Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) that would limit a federal agency from lobbying for its own rulemaking.

On Jan. 8, more than 1,500 Farm Bureau members contacted their legislators in support of the regulatory reform bill and the Peterson amendment after American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall issued a call to action during his opening address at the organization’s 2017 Annual Convention & IDEAg Trade Show.

The legislation now goes to the Senate.

USDA Expands Grasslands Conservation Program to Small-Scale Livestock Producers

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini today announced that USDA will accept over 300,000 acres in 43 states that were offered by producers during the recent ranking period for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grasslands enrollment with emphasis placed on small-scale livestock operations. Through the voluntary CRP Grasslands program, grasslands threatened by development or conversion to row crops are maintained as livestock grazing areas, while providing important conservation benefits. Approximately 200,000 of the accepted acres were offered by small-scale livestock operations.

“Producers of all sizes are interested in USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program,” said Dolcini. “This latest round of CRP Grasslands enrollment, where much of the acreage comes from small-scale livestock operations, shows that our nation’s family farmers and ranchers can have a big impact on environmental conservation.”

The most recent ranking period closed on Dec. 16, 2016, and included for the first time a CRP Grasslands practice specifically tailored for small-scale livestock grazing operations to encourage broader participation. Under this ranking period and for future periods, small-scale livestock operations with 100 or fewer head of grazing cows (or the equivalent) can submit applications to enroll up to 200 acres of grasslands per farm. Larger operations may still make offers through the normal process. USDA met its goal of 200,000 acres under this small-scale initiative. The new practice for small-scale livestock grazing operations encourages greater diversity geographically and in all types of livestock operations. Visit to view the complete list of acres accepted by state.

Participants in CRP Grasslands establish or maintain long-term, resource-conserving grasses and other plant species to control soil erosion, improve water quality and develop wildlife habitat on marginally productive agricultural lands. CRP Grasslands participants can use the land for livestock production (e.g. grazing or producing hay), while following their conservation and grazing plans in order to maintain the cover. A goal of CRP Grasslands is to minimize conversion of grasslands either to row crops or to non-agricultural uses. Participants can receive annual payments of up to 75 percent of the grazing value of the land and up to 50 percent of the cost of cover practices like cross-fencing to support rotational grazing or improving pasture cover to benefit pollinators or other wildlife.

USDA selects offers for enrollment based on six ranking factors: (1) current and future use, (2) new farmer/rancher or underserved producer involvement, (3) maximum grassland preservation, (4) vegetative cover, (5) environmental factors, and (6) pollinator habitat. Offers not selected in a ranking period are rolled over into the next ranking period.

Small livestock operations or other farming and ranching operations interested in participating in CRP Grasslands should contact their local FSA office. To find your local FSA office, visit To learn more about FSA’s conservation programs, visit

World Food Prices Drop for Five Consecutive Years

World food prices fell for a fifth straight year in 2016 as losses in cereals, meat and dairy outweighed rises in sugar and vegetable oils, the United Nations food agency said on Thursday. Reuters reports that prices remained stable in December from the month before, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) main food price index, which has edged up steadily after hitting a seven-year low in January.

The full year 2016 logged a 1.5 percent annual drop in the index, which measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar.

December's reading of 171.8 points versus 171.9 points in November resulted from strong gains in vegetable oils and dairy largely offseting falls in sugar and meat, the FAO said.

Cereal prices steadily declined during the year, ending 39 percent below their 2011 peak.

Vegetable oil prices reached their highest since July 2014 in December. Palm oil rose on low global inventory levels and tight supplies, while soy oil quotations were boosted by the prospect of rising use for biodiesel in North and South America.

Beef On Hand at NBC4 Health & Fitness Expo

Beef Checkoff staff was on hand during the nation’s largest, best-attended health & fitness expo in Washington D.C., Jan. 7-8.

Hundreds of consumers from the Northeast started the New Year on a healthful note, thanks to a partnership between the national beef checkoff and the Kentucky and Virginia beef councils.

Those attending the 24th NBC4 Health & Fitness Expo were invited to participate in a variety of activities in the beef checkoff booth. Participants captured fun memories at the #BeefHealthy photo booth and tested their beef-nutrition knowledge with Beef Spin Wheel Trivia, and were awarded beef jerky for participating.

Beef Checkoff Executive Chef Dave Zino demonstrated the checkoff’s “Four-Way Slow Cooker Shredded Beef” recipe on the Healthy Cooking 4 You Stage. Chef Zino talked about beef’s versatility in batch cooking, which is of interest to many millennial consumers. Nearly 100 participants watched the demo and taste-tested the results.

While visiting the booth, consumers had the chance to enter to win a steakhouse gift card by participating in an educational survey. Of those polled, 95 percent said they were “more likely” or “just as likely” to serve beef over other proteins after interacting with the checkoff; 88 percent of survey entrants also had a favorable opinion about beef.

Events such as this allow the checkoff to engage directly with consumers, including millennials, to highlight beef’s taste and nutritional benefits, as well as cooking techniques. Checkoff-funded research in the Northeast shows that consumers are not confident in their abilities to pair the correct cut of beef with the appropriate cooking method. Interacting face-to-face with them helps get their cooking questions answered.

EPA Expands Registration of Enlist Duo® Herbicide to 34 States

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has expanded the geography for application of Enlist Duo® herbicide from 15 to 34 states. This means Enlist Duo can be applied to Enlist™ corn and soybeans on the majority of U.S. corn and soybean acres, once all necessary state registrations are received.

The EPA also has registered Enlist Duo herbicide for use on Enlist cotton.

The Enlist weed control system allows growers to use Enlist Duo herbicide — a combination of glyphosate and new 2,4-D choline. This gives growers more flexibility and better performance in their weed control programs. In the United States, more than 90 million acres are infested with resistant and hard-to-control weeds. Growers are searching for solutions that are effective and easy to use.

“With the Enlist system, weeds no longer have the upper hand,” says John Chase, Enlist™ commercial leader. “Growers can use multiple modes of action that deliver proven results, controlling even glyphosate-resistant weeds in the field.”

Enlist Duo controls tough weeds and features Colex-D® technology, which provides four key benefits to growers:
-    Minimized potential for physical drift: Compared with a tank mix of traditional 2,4-D and glyphosate, Enlist Duo® herbicide with Colex-D technology reduces physical drift by up to 90 percent when applied with a low-drift nozzle.
-    Near-zero volatility: With new 2,4-D choline, volatility is reduced by 96 percent compared with 2,4-D ester.
-    Low odor      
-    Improved handling characteristics

The EPA registration means corn, soybean and cotton growers can take advantage of this new formulation to handle their tough weeds and limit the potential for off-target herbicide movement, once necessary state registrations are received.

Effective, on-target applications please growers

Missouri grower Josh Turner saw firsthand how effective Enlist Duo is on the most difficult weeds on his farm.

“We got excellent weed control, even of tough-to-control weeds,” Turner says. “I didn’t notice any off-target movement. There was no damage to any crops directly next to the Enlist field. There was no evidence at all of any drift or anything affecting those plants.”

Looking forward to 2017

Dow AgroSciences is fully prepared to launch Enlist corn and Enlist soybeans upon receipt of pending import approvals. The Enlist cotton trait will be available this spring in a number of high-yielding PhytoGen® brand varieties.