Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday July 22 Cattle on Feed + Ag News

NEBRASKA CATTLE ON FEED DOWN 4 PERCENT

Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.18 million cattle on feed on July 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was down 4 percent from last year. Placements during June totaled 365,000 head, down 3 percent from 2015. Cattle marketings for the month of June totaled 510,000 head, up 6 percent from last year. Other disappearance during June totaled 15,000 head, unchanged from last year.



IOWA CATTLE ON FEED


Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 610,000 head on July 1, 2016, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was down 3 percent from June 1, 2016, and down 5 percent from July 1, 2015. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head had 545,000 head on feed, down 4 percent from last month and last year. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in all Iowa feedlots totaled 1,155,000 head, also down 4 percent from last month and last year.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during June totaled 54,000 head, a decrease of 16 percent from last month and down 19 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head placed 51,000 head, up 16,000 head from last month and up 2,000 head from last year. Placements for all feedlots in Iowa totaled 105,000 head, up 6 percent from last month but down 9 percent from last year.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during June totaled 72,000 head, unchanged from last month but down 5 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head marketed 74,000 head, up 23 percent from last month but down 18 percent from last year. Marketings for all feedlots in Iowa were 146,000 head, up 11 percent from last month but down 12 percent from last year. Other disappearance from all feedlots in Iowa totaled 4,000 head.



United States Cattle on Feed Up 1 Percent

   
Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.4 million head on July 1, 2016. The inventory was 1 percent above July 1, 2015. The inventory included 6.87 million steers and steer calves, down 1 percent from the previous year. This group accounted for 66 percent of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 3.49 million head, up 5 percent from 2015.

Placements in feedlots during June totaled 1.53 million head, 3 percent above 2015. Net placements were 1.46 million head. During June, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 290,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 255,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 340,000 head, and 800 pounds and greater were 640,000 head.

Marketings of fed cattle during June totaled 1.91 million head, 9 percent above 2015. Other disappearance totaled 61,000 head during June, 12 percent below 2015.



Nebraska Soybean Board to Hold 2016 Soybean Management Field Days


The Nebraska Soybean Board is hosting its annual Soybean Management Field Days Aug. 9–12.

The Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) is partnering with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) Extension to provide guidance on tools and strategies to maximize soybean yields and get the best return on the market. The Field Days will offer farmers solutions based on research at UNL that has been funded by NSB.

The Field Days are taking place in four different locations throughout Nebraska: Orchard, Chapman, Cordova and Schuyler, respectively. Admission is free and includes a complimentary lunch. Each day includes one-hour presentations, rotating from 9:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. The presentations will focus on irrigation, soil fertility, grain marketing and soybean production management.

“The Field Days are designed to bring the results of NSB-funded research to farmers and address other topics of interest,” said Victor Bohuslavsky, executive director of the Nebraska Soybean Board. “Nebraska Extension educators and other experts will help soybean growers improve yields and profitability.”

At the events, there will be field tours and presentation tents, university presenters and industry consultants. Participants will learn research-based information on marketing and financial outlooks, soybean production, weed management and irrigation management. Attendees may also bring irrigation pressure regulators for testing.

Registration for the events begins at 9 a.m. each day. CCA credits are available for participants.

For more information and directions, visit http://ardc.unl.edu/soydays, or call 1-800-852-BEAN (2326).



NC Policy Passed at NCBA


Nebraska Cattlemen is pleased to announce that numerous NC policy measures passed with overwhelming consent at last week's NCBA mid-year meeting in Denver, Colorado.

Three marketing-focused resolutions that were developed during June's NC midyear meeting in Broken Bow, Nebraska were passed in NCBA's Live Cattle Marketing and International Trade Committee meeting. NC's resolution regarding price discovery in the fed cattle market was amended minimally and passed in a form concluding "NCBA (will) pursue initiatives that encourage an increase in negotiated cash trade in all major cattle feeding regions." NC's CME Live Cattle and Feeder Cattle Futures resolution was adopted with no modifications at the NCBA level, concluding "NCBA supports initiatives between cattle producers, the CME, and other market participants to increase transparency, level access to information and transactions, and foster an environment that builds confidence in the ability of the hedging community to effectively manage forward price risk using futures and options on Live Cattle and Feeder Cattle contracts." Also adopted at the NCBA level with no changes was NC's CME Live Cattle Contract Specs & Delivery Points resolution, stating in summary that "NCBA supports CME Live Cattle contract specifications that equally incentivize both short and long participation in the marketplace and the existence of numerous well designed and efficient physical delivery points to which cattle may be delivered."

In addition, a product of the work of NC's Banking and Financial Task Force and conversations with several other state affiliates, NC's resolution dealing with electronic funds transfer (EFT) and lien release regulations passed in an amended form concluding "NCBA will work with other state and national commodity organizations as well as regulatory agencies and financial institutions in an effort to clarify and standardize regulations governing transfer of title and release of liens when transactions are completed using electronic funds transfer."

Policy developed by The Nebraska Cattlemen Education committee regarding the funding of the National Beef Cattle Evaluation Consortium( NBCEC) was also forwarded to NCBA.This resolution asks for the Agriculture Research Service to make a permanent commitment to funding for this very important organization. The NBCEC has historically provided expertise in the area of Expected Progeny Differences (EPD's), and more recently has been integral in the development of enhanced EPDs, which include genomic evaluation as well. These tools are valuable for seedstock producers and commercial cattlemen alike. The NC policy was approved with only slight wording changes.



ICGA Members Take to Washington, D.C. To Inform Congressional Staff on Key Ag Issues


Iowa Corn members as well as directors of the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) convened in a particularly quiet Washington, D.C. this week as part of the National Corn Congress. This was due to Congress being on recess and the Republican National Convention – many of the Iowa delegation were not available for meetings.  Members of ICGA still had the opportunity to speak on behalf of all Iowa corn farmers to non-Iowa, non-corn states.

They spent Wednesday afternoon and part of Thursday morning meeting with Hill staffers from Vermont to Florida who cover vital topics such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the re-registration of atrazine by the EPA, and support of a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“Corn is a widely universal topic; it touches almost every area of everyone’s life,” said Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) President Bob Hemesath. “This year, we had the opportunity to talk with non-Iowa, non-corn states on the Hill and we had a lot of great conversations. I appreciate all of the offices and staffers that took the time to meet with us. It’s important that we have conversations with offices that may not support our issues or understand what it is that we really do. Iowa Corn and NCGA work hard to keep a strong voice on the Hill and while this wasn’t the traditional Corn Congress – it is still an essential part of that process.”

Action team meetings concluded on Tuesday afternoon, which led to the beginning of the 2016 Corn Congress. Wednesday morning saw two farmer-members elected to the National Corn Board. Chris Edgington from St. Ansgar, Iowa was elected for his first term and Kevin Ross from Minden, Iowa was elected for another three-year term.



‘Vote Farmer’ with Iowa Food & Family Project at Iowa State Fair


Opinions and preferences will vary when people go to the polls this November. But when it comes to providing a safe and sustainable supply of high-quality food, fuel and fiber, there’s one consensus candidate with a proven track record of results: the Iowa farmer.

Join in the celebration of great food and the people who grow it by visiting the Iowa Food & Family Project (Iowa FFP) “Vote Farmers!” exhibit during the Iowa State Fair, Aug. 11 – 21.

Located in the south atrium of the Varied Industries Building, the exhibit will feature a must-see sculpture carved from 50 tons of sand. Artists Greg and Brandi Glenn, co-owners of Sandscapes®, will create their work of art featuring farm scenes and other fun caricatures using just water, trowels, other small tools and their imagination. Sculpting the centerpiece will begin on opening day of the fair and continue for one week, standing nearly 14-feet tall when completed.

Visitors to the booth will receive a must-have woven food and farming-themed tote bag perfect for holding treasures collected during time spent at the fair. Numerous activities and prizes will provide fun for people of all ages including:

-    Register to win $500 in farm-fresh pork, beef and turkey, $250 in Hy-Vee groceries and Casey’s pizza for a year

-    Spin the Iowa FFP trivia wheel and test your knowledge of food and farming topics (and did we mention that everyone’s a winner!?)

-    Embark on a scavenger hunt throughout the fair to learn more about agriculture. “AgVenture Discovery Trail” maps are available throughout the fairgrounds and can be turned in to the Iowa FFP booth for a special prize upon completion.

-    Also, farmers will be on hand at various times throughout the fair to share their personal and first-hand knowledge of food production including a commitment to conservation, sustainability and animal care.

“Iowa farmers work from the ground up, both literally and figuratively, in an effort to provide quality food while caring for their animals, the land and their communities,” said Iowa FFP coordinator Lindsey Foss of the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA). “The exhibit will be a visual reminder of all that farmers do and provide a unique opportunity for consumers to learn about today’s farms and the food system in a fun and inviting way.”

Iowa FFP partners assisting with “Vote Farmers!” exhibit include the Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Beef Industry Council, Casey’s General Stores, ISA and the United Soybean Board.

The Iowa FFP champions the continuous improvement of Iowa’s farm families and their dedication to providing wholesome food for everyone for the purpose of building greater understanding and confidence among food-minded Iowans. It proudly sponsors Live Healthy Iowa and supports the Iowa Games and is backed by more than 30 partners including a variety of farm organizations, restaurants and retailers throughout the state.



USSEC Announces EU Approval of Three Soy Events


The U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) is pleased to announce the long awaited European Union approval of three biotech soy traits for import and processing. The three stacked events are:
-    Monsanto’s Xtend (dicamba x glyphosate MON87708 x MON89788)
-    Monsanto’s Vistive Gold (high oleic x glyphosate MON87705 x MON89788)
-    Bayer CropScience’s Balance GT (glyphosate x HPPD inhibitor FG72)

"The EU’s approval of these events is welcome news for U.S. soybean farmers," said USSEC chairman Laura Foell, a soybean grower from Schaller, Iowa. “We’re happy that we can supply our European customers with a reliable supply of safe food.”

Europe is one of the largest customers of U.S. soybean farmers with over 165 million bushels of soybeans in exports already this year.  

In 1996, U.S. growers began to adopt biotechnology on their farms.  Today, twenty years later, growers are expected to plant 94 percent of their soybean acres with biotech soybeans. The technology allows U.S. soybean farmers to produce a healthy, affordable protein source sustainably with increased yields on less land, which helps to feed a growing world population. Biotech seeds allow farmers to limit their impact on the land as they apply fewer pesticides and herbicides, along with employing sustainable practices such as no-till that helps them to achieve a better moisture content in the soil in addition to reducing erosion and cutting carbon dioxide emissions and also helps to reduce energy consumption. Biotech also reduces the amount of crops that are lost due to variables such as insects or drought, which helps keep food prices more affordable.



Three Soybean Traits Receive Long-Awaited EU Approval


According to representatives from the United States Soybean Export Council (USSEC), three biotech soybean traits have been approved by the European Union for import and processing. The three stacked events are:
·         Monsanto’s Xtend (dicamba x glyphosate MON87708 x MON89788)
·         Monsanto’s Vistive Gold (high oleic x glyphosate MON87705 x MON89788)
·         Bayer CropScience’s Balance GT (glyphosate x HPPD inhibitor FG72)

Greg Greving, a farmer from Chapman and director on the United Soybean Board, welcomed the news of the announcement. “This is very exciting news for soybean producers,” Greving said. “Europe is a large market for U.S. soybean exports, and this approval gives farmers another option to help control weeds and produce quality products that meet the needs of our customers.”

Soybean exports are an important part of the American farm economy. In 2015, U.S. soybean farmers exported 1.69 billion bushels of soybeans to foreign end users, or 43 percent of overall production. European countries represent a large market for U.S. soy, importing more than 165 million bushels already this year.

U.S. soybean farmers began to adopt biotechnology on their farms in 1996. Today, U.S. soybean farmers plant an estimated 94 percent of their acres with biotech traits. Biotechnology is an important tool for farmers, allowing them to produce a healthy, affordable protein source in a sustainable manner. Biotech seeds allow farmers to maximize yields while utilizing fewer pesticides and herbicides. The use of biotechnology, along with other best management practices such as no-till, has allowed U.S. soybean farmers to meet global demand in a more sustainable manner.

Tony Johanson, a farmer and Nebraska Soybean Board member from Oakland, said he was pleased to hear about the long-awaited announcement. “These approvals allow growers to utilize multiple platforms to combat weed pressure,” Johanson said. “Having choices benefits growers because it gives them the flexibility to choose the mode of action that works best for them and their operation.”



Soy Growers Welcome European Approval of New Biotech Traits


American Soybean Association (ASA) President and Greenwood, Del., soybean farmer Richard Wilkins welcomed news this morning out of Brussels that the European Union (EU) has approved three outstanding biotech soybean traits for import and processing. The approved traits include the Xtend dicamba-tolerant soybean and Vistive Gold high oleic soybean products from Monsanto, and the Balance GT FG72 soybean from Bayer CropScience. In a statement, Wilkins welcomed the action of the EU, while noting that improvements still are needed in the timeliness of EU approvals. The three soybean events had received positive scientific opinions from the European Food Safety Agency over a year ago, and had been waiting for final approval by the EU Commission since January.

“We are very relieved to see these three traits approved for import into the European Union, as today’s announcement represents a clearing of an important hurdle for the commercialization of these valuable products in the U.S. In Europe, the approval means that the EU’s livestock and feed industry, which is more than 70 percent dependent on imported feed, can get the high-quality protein it needs. In the U.S., American farmers need an ever-increasing range of tools to tackle the challenge of resistant weeds that now impact nearly every soy-growing state. Similarly, with the continuing move away from trans-fats in American diets, farmers need additional tools to produce soybeans that meet that market demand as well.

“With today’s announcement, we hope that we can take solid steps to ensure that the approvals of new biotech traits in our major markets continues to improvebut there is still work to be done. Given the commoditized nature of our soybeans, we simply can’t take the risk that unapproved traits make their way into the grain export stream and result in rejected shipments abroad. But the longer and more tedious that process is, the more barriers stand between soybean farmers and their productivity, and the less incentive our technology partners have to bring these new products to market.”



Soy Checkoff Sets Tone for Future Farmer Profitability


Together, the U.S. soybean industry can achieve more. That’s a key takeaway from the five-year plan the United Soybean Board (USB) put further into motion this week. Through a portfolio of programs, the national soy checkoff looks to collaborate with industry more than ever to bring solutions that will improve profit potential for U.S. soybean farmers.

The checkoff has seen successful partnerships in the past, including working with John Deere and Ford to bring new industrial uses to the market. This model of working with industry will help frame the direction of the board moving forward. It will also allow the checkoff to understand different perspectives within the industry.

“To maximize soybean farmer profitability, we can’t just wear the farmer hat. We have to look at the needs of other stakeholders in the value chain and find ways to work together so everyone wins,” says Jared Hagert, USB chair and farmer from Emerado, North Dakota. “Our end users are no longer looking for just a bulk commodity; they want quality, too. It’s time for us to start thinking beyond the bushel and working with industry to help meet the needs of those users.”

USB met this week to provide direction on key strategies that have the biggest opportunity to impact U.S. soybean farmer profitability: meal, oil and sustainability. Farmers looked at issues affecting the marketplace that U.S. soybean farmers currently operate in and what that marketplace might look like in the future. They invested checkoff dollars in programs aimed at maintaining supply, ensuring demand and addressing factors in between. 

“Our conversations continue to look for ways to add value beyond the bushel, we have discovered more opportunities to meet the needs of those purchasing our soy,” adds Hagert. “We’ve seen the need for high oleic soybeans and the oil they produce for the food industry and reacted aggressively. Now, we also have to focus on the needs of our meal customers and the sustainability demands of those purchasing meal, oil and whole U.S. soybeans.”

In addition to the work of the board, the soy checkoff also heard insights from key industry experts discussing transportation, sustainability and marketplace dynamics. Major players Syngenta and DuPont Pioneer also took the opportunity to address the board and get feedback directly from farmer-leaders who represent their customers. 

“We heard from the top minds in the industry to learn more about our key issue areas and to brainstorm ideas of ways to address them,” says Hagert. “The more we understand from industry perspectives the better our programs can be in delivering profit opportunities for U.S. soybean farmers.

Earlier this month, USB Chief Executive Officer John Becherer announced his retirement, set to take place December 2017. This week, the farmer-leaders approved a transition process and farmer team to lead the transition.



Latin American Product Showcase Continues to Pay Big Dividends for U.S. Meat Industry


Now in its sixth year, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Latin American Product Showcase has become a premier event for connecting exporters of U.S. beef, pork and lamb with buyers from Central and South America and the Caribbean. The 2016 showcase was held July 20-21 in the city where the event began – Panama City, Panama. Funding support was provided by the Nebraska Beef Council, the Indiana Soybean Alliance, the Beef Checkoff Program and the Pork Checkoff.

“For the inaugural showcase in 2011, Panama City was an excellent venue and we were able to attract a strong turnout of buyers and exporters,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF senior vice president of marketing. “But that early success really pales in comparison to what the showcase has become today. Exhibitor space sold out weeks ago, and the event just seems to gain more momentum year after year.”

This year’s event attracted 120 buyers representing 14 countries, and 42 USMEF member companies exhibiting U.S. red meat products. During the main showcase, exporters were given ample time for one-on-one meetings with buyers to discuss their specific product needs. The event also included educational sessions that provided buyers with detailed information about the positive attributes of U.S. red meat and highlighted value opportunities offered by underutilized pork and beef cuts. In addition, keynote speaker Josue Merced Reyes, president of market research firm InterEmarketing, outlined several important consumer trends impacting red meat demand.

One factor fostering recent growth in red meat exports to Latin America is the implementation of several free trade agreements – including the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) as well as bilateral agreements with Chile, Peru, Colombia and Panama. But as Halstrom explained, capitalizing on these agreements still requires strong marketing efforts that connect buyers and sellers and differentiate U.S. red meat products from the competition.

“FTAs have definitely reduced tariffs and eliminated many trade barriers, making U.S. products accessible to a much broader range of Latin American consumers,” Halstrom said. “But penetrating these markets still requires relationship building and education, as buyers in these emerging regions are hungry for information about our products and about our industry. That’s where an event like the Latin American Product Showcase really shines. It brings an entire hemisphere of buyers to one location and allows dozens of solid business contacts to be made in a very short period of time.”

This sentiment was echoed by Dean Freese of FPL Food, LLC, who participated in the showcase for the third consecutive year.

“This showcase is very effective for us, both in terms of meeting new prospects and solidifying relationships with existing customers,” Freese said. “I walked away from today’s show with many new orders and renewed some valuable contacts we developed as a result of our participation in this event.”

Sami Rizk, president of Mirasco Inc., used the showcase to spotlight beef livers, which Mirasco has successfully marketed in the Middle East as an economically priced table meat and sandwich ingredient.

“In much the same way that you see hot dog carts in U.S. cities, liver sandwiches have become a very popular street food in Egypt,” Rizk said. “So Mirasco is taking the concept that was developed in Egypt and introducing it in markets here in Latin America. We believe there are similar tastes in terms of palate, and that the sandwich application has great potential in Central and South America.”

Buyers also showed great appreciation for the showcase, as it allows them to access a wider range of product options and helps them market these products to their clientele. Abel Machin of Prime Line Meats, who supplies U.S. beef and pork to retail outlets and restaurants in Panama, said the showcase is an excellent complement to the educational seminars and other outreach efforts USMEF conducts in Central America.

“When we started in Panama about 15 years ago there were no U.S. products here, except maybe at the military bases,” Machin explained. “What we needed was to educate people about U.S. products – how to use them, and how to prepare them. USMEF has filled this need by providing great information and helping customers understand the advantages of U.S. meat.”

U.S. producers attending the Latin American Product Showcase were also pleased with their experience, and came away feeling confident that the event is effective in building demand for their products.

“My biggest takeaway is the relationships that are being built between importers and exporters, and the trust they are gaining,” said Rod Gray of Harrison, Nebraska, a rancher who serves on the Nebraska Beef Council board of directors. “I visited with several of the U.S. exporters who have participated in this showcase the past two or three years, and they are selling a lot more product as a result.”

Doug Wolf, a Lancaster, Wisconsin, pork producer who serves as chair of the National Pork Board’s International Trade Committee, was especially impressed with the level of meat industry knowledge among the buyers in attendance.

“We had an opportunity to spend some time with a few of the importers here and I have to say, they are very well-informed people,” Wolf said. “They know about U.S. pork production practices and the rules and regulations we deal with – and in the areas in which they did have questions, we were able to fill the gaps for them. Meeting them was a very rewarding and enlightening experience.”

David Lowe, who produces soybeans, corn and livestock near Dunkirk, Indiana, and serves as a director for the Indiana Soybean Alliance, also viewed the showcase as a very positive investment for U.S. agriculture.

“I was really impressed with USMEF’s organization of the program and the quality of the attendees at this event,” Lowe said. “It was also encouraging to see how excited the exhibitors are about this showcase, because it clearly creates new business opportunities for them.”



USDA Reminds Nebraska Producers of Aug. 1 Deadline to Enroll in ARC/PLC Programs


U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nebraska Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director Dan Steinkruger reminds farmers and ranchers they have until Aug. 1 to enroll in Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and/or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2016 crop year.

“Producers have already elected ARC or PLC, but they must enroll for the 2016 crop year by signing a contract before the Aug. 1 deadline to receive program benefits,” said Steinkruger. “Producers are encouraged to contact their local FSA office to schedule an appointment to enroll.”

The programs trigger financial protections for participating agricultural producers when market forces cause substantial drops in crop prices or revenues. Nationwide, more than 1.76 million farmers and ranchers are expected to sign contracts to enroll in ARC or PLC. Covered commodities under the programs include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium grain rice (which includes short grain and sweet rice), safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat.



GOP PLATFORM CRITICAL OF GMO LABELING, ‘GIPSA’ RULE, ‘WOTUS’ REGULATION, EPA


The Republican Party platform cobbled together and unveiled at the GOP presidential convention in Cleveland touches on a number of agricultural issues. Among other things, the 58-page document urges Congress to remove the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – food stamps – from the Farm Bill. More than 75 percent of Farm Bill funding goes to SNAP.

The platform also opposes mandatory labeling of foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Congress last week approved legislation requiring such labeling as a way to avoid a patchwork of 50 state GMO-labeling laws.

It also calls for a “fundamental restructuring of the regulatory process,” citing the pending “draconian” rules on the buying and selling of livestock and poultry – the so-called GIPSA Rule – from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration.

The platform calls the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule a “travesty” that will micro-manage and over regulate “puddles and ditches on farms, ranches and other privately-held property.” The document proposes eliminating EPA in its current form.

Dropped from the 2016 platform was any mention of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. A draft document urged Congress not to “rush” passage of the 12-nation TPP deal; the final platform simply states that “significant trade decisions” should not be rushed. (The 2012 GOP platform said a Republican president should finish the trade talks begun in 2008 “to open rapidly developing Asian markets to U.S. products.”)



AGRICULTURE GROUPS COMMENT ON FDA RISK ASSESSMENT ON MANURE USE


Nine agricultural groups this week submitted comments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on its proposal to conduct a risk assessment of foodborne illnesses associated with pathogens found in manure applied to land on which produce is grown. The risk assessment could lead to regulation of manure use.

The groups expressed concern that if FDA doesn’t have current and emerging scientific research and doesn’t consider existing conservation and environmental standards, its decisions on manure use could adversely affect animal agriculture. They also suggested that FDA consider including expert stakeholders from the animal agriculture community in its “summit” meeting planned for next year, which would “prove invaluable in providing a necessary perspective and informing the risk assessment.”

Click here to read the comments...  http://nppc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/FDA-Risk-Assessment-Comments-July-19-2016-Final-Submittal.pdf



June Egg Production Up 9 Percent


United States egg production totaled 8.21 billion during June 2016, up 9 percent from last year. Production included 7.10 billion table eggs, and 1.11 billion hatching eggs, of which 1.02 billion were broiler-type and 96 million were egg-type. The total number of layers during June 2016 averaged 359 million, up 8 percent from last year. June egg production per 100 layers was 2,285 eggs, up 1 percent from June 2015.
                                   
All layers in the United States on July 1, 2016 totaled 358 million, up 8 percent from last year. The 358 million layers consisted of 300 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 54.4 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs, and 3.70 million layers producing egg-type hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on July 1, 2016, averaged 76.1 eggs per 100 layers, up 1 percent from July 1, 2015.

Egg-Type Chicks Hatched Up 23 Percent

Egg-type chicks hatched during June 2016 totaled 58.1 million, up 23 percent from June 2015. Eggs in incubators totaled 44.1 million on July 1, 2016, up 1 percent from a year ago.  Domestic placements of egg-type pullet chicks for future hatchery supply flocks by leading breeders totaled 244 thousand during June 2016, down 24 percent from June 2015.

Broiler-Type Chicks Hatched Up Slightly

Broiler-type chicks hatched during June 2016 totaled 789 million, up slightly from June 2015. Eggs in incubators totaled 650 million on July 1, 2016, down slightly from a year ago.  Leading breeders placed 8.56 million broiler-type pullet chicks for future domestic hatchery supply flocks during June 2016, up 10 percent from June 2015.

NEBRASKA CHICKEN AND EGGS

All layers in Nebraska during June 2016 totaled 9.20 million, up from 6.43 million the previous year, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Nebraska egg production during June totaled 223 million eggs, up from 162 million in 2015. June egg production per 100 layers was 2,423 eggs, compared to 2,519 eggs in 2015.

Iowa egg production during June 2016 was 1.19 billion eggs, up 56 percent from last year, but down 1 percent from last month, according to the latest Chickens and Eggs report from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.  The average number of all layers on hand during June 2016 was 51.3 million, up 49 percent from last year, and up 2 percent from last month. Eggs per 100 layers for June were 2,321, up 5 percent from last year, but down 3 percent from last month.



Washington State’s Proposed Clean Air Rule Ignores Biofuels’ Climate Benefits


Washington state’s proposed Clean Air Rule (CAR) fails to recognize the climate benefits associated with biofuels and in fact penalizes their use, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) told the Washington Department of Ecology in comments submitted today. The proposed rule is inconsistent with virtually every other program designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and could have the perverse effect of reducing or eliminating the production and use of liquid biofuels in Washington state.

In an effort to address climate change, Washington state has proposed its first-ever rule to cap carbon pollution. The rule, which would take effect next year, would regulate a number of emissions, including those from biofuels. However, “the CAR proposal eschews globally accepted bioenergy carbon accounting methods out of fear that properly recognizing the carbon benefits associated with biofuels would trigger the so-called ‘poison pill’ legislative provision that would shift funding from climate-friendly transportation investments to road and highway construction projects,” according to RFA comments.

Analyses from the California Air Resources Board, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and U.S. Department of Energy show that first-generation ethanol is reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30–60 percent compared to petroleum, while second-generation ethanol can reduce GHG emissions by 80 percent or more. Washington state’s proposal fails to recognize those clean air benefits from biofuels. “The proposed CAR treats biofuels and fossil fuels identically, which sets a dangerous carbon accounting precedent with potentially far-reaching impacts,” RFA wrote in its comments. “Other GHG cap-and-trade programs exempt biofuels from a compliance obligation because it is broadly understood that bioenergy combustion emissions are ‘carbon neutral’ (i.e., the biomass recently removed an amount of atmospheric carbon through photosynthesis that is equivalent to emissions from combustion).”

Curiously, Washington state seems to understand this point, as it exempts emissions from biomass combustion in stationary sources, such as the use of woody biomass to generate electricity. “It is perplexing that this approach would be (properly) applied to stationary emissions from bioenergy production from biomass combustion, but not to emissions from liquid biofuel combustion,” RFA wrote.

“Implementing the CAR as proposed would set a perilous regulatory precedent, deter investment in the state’s biofuels market, and compel reduced consumption of low-carbon biofuels,” the comments continued. If implemented, developers of advanced biofuel technologies would avoid the Washington state market and instead shift focus on investments in California, Oregon, British Columbia and elsewhere.

“For these reasons… we strongly urge the Department of Ecology to exempt biofuels from compliance obligation in the final CAR,” RFA added.



Thursday, July 21, 2016

Thursday July 21 Ag News

 Rural Mainstreet Economy Weakens in July - Negative Cash Flows Likely for Many Crop Farmers

The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index for July fell from June’s weak reading, according to the monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy.  

Overall:
After improving for four of the last five months, the index, which ranges between 0 and 100, sank to 39.8 from 43.9 in June.  This is the 11th straight month the overall index has remained below growth neutral.

“Over the past 12 months, farm prices have fallen by 9 percent, and livestock prices are off by 16 percent. These weak agriculture commodity prices are pushing the overall Rural Mainstreet economy lower,”  said Ernie Goss, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University's Heider College of Business.

As a result of weaker farm economic conditions, bankers expect almost one in five crop farmers, or 19.5 percent, to suffer negative cash flows where cash expenses exceed cash revenues for 2016.

Farming and ranching:
The farmland and ranchland-price index for July slumped to 31.3 from 32.3 in June. This is the 32nd straight month the index has languished below growth neutral 50.0.

This month, bankers estimated, on average, farmland prices have fallen by 6 percent over the past 12 months. However, as in previous months, there is a great deal of variation across the region in the direction and magnitude of farmland prices, with prices growing in some portions of the region.

The July farm equipment-sales index sank to 10.7 from 12.8 in June. “Weakness in farm income and low agriculture commodity prices continue to restrain the sale of agriculture equipment across the region,” said Goss.

This month, bankers were asked to assess the likelihood of loan defaults in their area. On average, farm loan defaults are expected to rise by 5.4 percent over the next 12 months.  However almost one-fifth, or 18.3 percent, of bank CEOs estimate loan defaults will expand by more than 10 percent.

Nebraska:
The Nebraska RMI for July shrank to 51.5 from a regional high of 63.2 in June. The state’s farmland-price index slipped 49.3 from June’s 49.7. Nebraska’s new-hiring index declined to 55.2 from 58.8 in June. Nebraska’s job growth over the last 12 months; Rural Mainstreet, 1.5 percent; Urban Nebraska, 1.4 percent.

Iowa:
The July RMI for Iowa sank to 51.9 from June’s 59.1. Iowa’s farmland-price index for July dipped to 49.7 from 51.5 in June. Iowa’s new-hiring index for July fell to 55.4 from 59.4 in June. Iowa’s job growth over the last 12 months; Rural Mainstreet, 1.5 percent; Urban Iowa, 0.9  percent.

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

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



Nebraska Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Maintain Optimism in the Face of Tougher Economic Times


The future of agriculture relies upon the ability of young people to maintain and grow their farms and ranches. While the recent downturn in the agricultural economy could lead one to be pessimistic about the future, after a recent National Affairs visit to Washington D.C., the Nebraska Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee, continue to remain optimistic about the years ahead.

“Given the importance of agriculture to the overall health of Nebraska’s economy, it isn’t hard to see why Nebraska has successfully weathered and even prospered through the economic uncertainty of the past. Yet, recent USDA projections of an over 30 percent reduction in net farm income, as compared to 2013, along with continued tax and regulatory challenges, could signal trouble on the horizon. These continued challenges make it more important than ever for our state’s young farmers and ranchers to speak out about the challenges they face on their operations,” Steve Nelson, president of Nebraska Farm Bureau said July 21.

“Of particular concern is a 33 percent rise in operating debt since 2012. As farmers and ranchers are adding debt, they have also been drawing down financial assets, such as cash or equity. Young and new farmers and ranchers are of particular concern as their ability to handle such a downturn is significantly less than a well-established farmer or rancher,” Nelson said.

However, with great challenges comes even greater opportunities. Throughout the trip, increased agricultural trade, Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), was highlighted as a way to provide a necessary boost to the agricultural economy. Passage of TPP continues to be a Farm Bureau priority. According to analysis conducted by the American Farm Bureau (AFBF), the TPP will increase annual net farm income by $4.4 billion and increase U.S. agricultural exports by $5.3 billion per year.

“Nebraska also stands to make significant annual gains from the TPP with a $378.5 million increase in ag cash receipts and a $229.2 million boost to ag exports. According to the Nebraska Farm Bureau analysis, Cuming, Custer, Platte, Dawson, and Lincoln counties would be among the biggest winners under TPP, as those counties would each experience more than $10 million in additional cash sales of agriculture commodities per year once TPP trade protocols are fully enacted. Congress needs to pass the TPP quickly as we continue to lose market share in many of the TPP member nations each day this agreement is not in place,” Nebraska Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee Chairman Todd Reed said.

Another issue front and center during the trip was the GMO Labeling bill, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives while the group was in town. This important piece of legislation will help provide certainty to food companies who would have been unable to work through a patchwork of state GMO labeling laws.

“As with all compromises, there are pieces we like and pieces we don’t. The bill’s mandatory nature continues to be a problem for us, however we simply could not allow a system of state-based GMO labeling to occur. While not perfect, the Roberts-Stabenow compromise bill will set a national standard on GMO labeling utilizing digital disclosure technologies,” Reed said.

Those attending the National Affairs visit are:

Steve Nelson, president Nebraska Farm Bureau – Kearney/Franklin County
Todd and Julie Reed, chairman YF&R Committee – Lancaster County
Brian and Amy Gould, District 3 representative YF&R Committee - Cedar County
Matt and Elizabeth Albrecht, District 7 representative YF&R Committee - Dawson County
James and Katie Olson, District 6 representative YF&R Committee - Holt County

Besides visiting with Nebraska’s Congressional Delegation, the Nebraska Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers met with the Federal Aviation Administration to discuss recently released rules regarding the commercial use of “unmanned aircraft systems”, or “drones”, and met with CropLife America and Syngenta to discuss the latest efforts to remove the well-known product Atrazine from their toolbox of crop protection products.

“The list of challenges young farmers and ranchers face is no doubt long. However, the need for young producers to answer the call of growing food for our nation and world remains as strong as ever. Continuing to communicate our message to key decision makers is vital to the future success of our nation as well as for farm and ranch families,” Reed said.



Central Valley Ag’s 2016 Purina® Check-R-Board® Days


Central Valley Ag is announcing their 2016 Purina® Check-R-Board® Days, a customer appreciation event.  Stop by Central Valley Ag located at 445 South Main West Point, NE 68788 on Friday, August 26th for special savings on select items throughout, prize giveaways, complimentary burgers, live remote radio from 11 AM – 1 PM plus a Purina®  Animal Nutrition Specialist will be on-site to answer any questions.

Customers will also have the opportunity to enter in the national 2016 Purina® Check-R-Board® Days Sweepstakes for their chance to win a 2016 John Deere™ Gator TS, a Trip-for-Two to the Purina® Animal Nutrition Center, or Purina® Gear YETI® Tundra Cooler. See store for official rules.

“We are proud to serve the residents of our community and thank them for their continued loyalty,” Brandi Salestrom of Central Valley Ag. “We invite everyone to come celebrate our 2016 Purina® Check-R-Board® Days with us!”



Cyclists will have a chance to fuel up on lean protein at stops along the RAGBRAI route this year.


Beef is an excellent source of protein and plays a vital role in muscle repair and recovery. Beef is considered a nutrient dense and energy-packed food that can be a high powered source of nutrition for athletes participating in RAGBRAI. According to the 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines, a single 3-ounce serving of lean beef provides 10 essential nutrients in about 150 calories – including nutrients like iron, zinc and B vitamins that are critical for development and optimal health throughout life.

Riders can find beef in Fremont county at the old Randolph lumber yard. The Fremont County Cattlemen will be grilling ribeye steak sandwiches from 10 am to 4 pm on Sunday, July 24, and the Page and Fremont County Corn Growers will also be roasting sweet corn.

On Monday, the Adams County Cattlemen will be grilling at the Central Park in Corning, near the Beer Garden. They will serve ribeye steak sandwiches, ribeye wraps, and beef brats.

Washington County Cattlemen will be grilling ribeye steak sandwiches at the Washington County Fairgrounds on Friday, July 29 from 10 am to close. There will also be a potato bar and live band playing.

Brewer Family Farms of Dallas Center has teamed up with the Iowa Craft Beer Tent and will be offering beef brats at 13 stops along the route.



Record High Red Meat Production for June


Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.23 billion pounds in June, up 5 percent from the 4.02 billion pounds produced in June 2015.

Beef production, at 2.19 billion pounds, was 10 percent above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.71 million head, up 10 percent from June 2015. The average live weight was up 3 pounds from the previous year, at 1,335 pounds.

Veal production totaled 6.4 million pounds, 8 percent below June a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 37,600 head, up 7 percent from June 2015. The average live weight was down 45 pounds from last year, at 291 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.01 billion pounds, up 1 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 9.57 million head, up 1 percent from June 2015. The average live weight was down 2 pounds from the previous year, at 280 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 13.2 million pounds, was down 2 percent from June 2015. Sheep slaughter totaled 195,200 head, slightly above last year. The average live weight was 135 pounds, down 3 pounds from June a year ago.

June '16 Prod    

State                          million lbs.      % of June '15

Nebraska .....:               689.0                  114      
Iowa ............:               567.5                   98      
Kansas .........:               469.1                  108      

January to June 2016 commercial red meat production was 24.4 billion pounds, up 3 percent from 2015. Accumulated beef production was up 5 percent from last year, veal was down 7 percent, pork was up 1 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was up slightly.



June Milk Production up 1.6 Percent

                       
Milk production in the 23 major States during June totaled 16.7 billion pounds, up 1.6 percent from June 2015 according to USDA.  May revised production at 17.4 billion pounds, was up 1.2 percent from May 2015.  The May revision represented a decrease of 2 million pounds or less than 0.1 percent from last month's preliminary production estimate.

Production per cow in the 23 major States averaged 1,926 pounds for June, 26 pounds above June 2015.  This is the highest production per cow for the month of June since the 23 State series began in 2003.

The number of milk cows on farms in the 23 major States was 8.65 million head, 17,000 head more than June 2015, and 3,000 head more than May 2016.

IOWA MILK PRODUCTION

 Milk production in Iowa during June 2016 totaled 413 million pounds, up 2 percent from the previous June according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report. The average number of milk cows during June, at 211,000 head, was the same as last month but 1,000 fewer than a year ago. Monthly production per cow averaged 1,955 pounds, up 45 pounds from last June.

April-June Milk Production up 1.2 Percent

Milk production in the United States during the April  - June quarter totaled 54.4 billion pounds, up 1.2 percent from the April - June quarter last year.The average number of milk cows in the United States during the quarter was 9.33 million head, 8,000 head more than the January - March quarter, and 6,000 head more than the same period last year.

Nebraska Milk Production

Milk production in Nebraska during the April – June 2016 quarter totaled 354 million pounds, up 8 percent from the April – June 2015 quarter, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The average number of milk cows was 61,000 head, 5,000 head more than the same period last year.



ASA Continues to Press EU on Approval of Xtend Soybeans and Dicamba Use


The American Soybean Association (ASA) has continued to pressure the European Commission to provide final approval of Xtend soybeans that have been awaiting final authorization from the Commission since January.  ASA also met separately with Monsanto and companies like Pioneer, that have in-licensed the trait , to discuss each company’s planning to keep Xtend soybeans planted in 2016 out of EU export channels should EU approval be further delayed.

ASA is aware of reports of potential inappropriate and unauthorized use of dicamba over Xtend soybeans in the mid-South that reportedly caused crop injuries. Below are updates on all three issues.

Final Authorization in the European Union

While Xtend soybeans are approved for import into China and other major U.S. soy export markets, final approval in the European Union (EU) has been pending since January.  ASA has continued its pressure on the EU to provide final authorization; we hope and anticipate that final approval will be received in the next number of days.  We will keep the ASA board and states informed of developments.

Xtend Soybeans and EU Approvals

In recent weeks ASA has met separately with Monsanto and Pioneer (which was in-licensed by Monsanto to sell Xtend soybeans in 2016) to discuss the status of Xtend soybeans in the EU, and planning to keep Xtend soybeans out of EU export channels should approval be further delayed. The EU commission has communicated to government agencies and been quoted in the press on multiple occasions that the final import approval for Xtend soybeans would be completed soon. The companies are very cognizant of the need to keep unapproved biotech events out of export channels so that U.S. soy exports are not disrupted and U.S. soybean farmers do not suffer losses. The companies remain in dialogue with ASA and key industry partners, including the grain handling sector, on this important issue. Farmers are encouraged to talk with their seed dealer with any questions.

Reports of Dicamba Injury to Crops

Over the past week there have been news stories reporting on potential dicamba injury to crops, and that the Missouri, Arkansas and Tennessee Departments of Agriculture are investigating such reports.

Some Key Points:

-    ASA is aware of recent news reports of potential injury to crops from suspected dicamba herbicide use, and that appropriate state departments of agriculture are investigating such reports.
-    Susceptible crops can sustain injury from dicamba herbicides due to non-complete cleanout of spray equipment, wind drift, or volatilization in certain climatic conditions (in which the liquid turns into a vapor in certain climatic conditions and moves from its placement on a field).
-    In the case of drift or volatilization, injury to nearby susceptible crops could occur if dicamba was being used to “burn down” the weeds in a field prior to planting of a double-crop, if dicamba was being used to control weeds in nearby corn fields or other crops for which dicamba use is approved, or if dicamba was inappropriately used in an over-the-top application on a dicamba tolerant soybeans or cotton (Xtend soybeans and cotton).
-    If dicamba was sprayed by an operator on Xtend soybeans or cotton, such in-season crop use was inappropriate and unauthorized because the labels for such use still are in the process of being finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Growers were advised by ASA, Monsanto, Pioneer, BASF, and other sellers of Xtend soybeans and cotton that dicamba use was not approved for over-the-top application during the 2016 growing season.
-    Both Monsanto and BASF have developed dicamba formulations that significantly reduce volatilization and thus will help avoid any non-target crop damage.  Labels for these formulations currently are pending review by the EPA.  ASA is working with Monsanto, BASF, and EPA for approval of these labels this summer/fall so that these low-volatility dicamba formulations will be available to growers in the 2017 growing season.




New Leaders Conclude 2016 Program with Washington Meetings


A busy week of meetings focused on our nation's capital concluded the 2016 class of the NCGA DuPont New Leaders Program. Twenty-six farmers from 15 states took part in the overall program, which was generously co-sponsored by DuPont and is aimed at preparing participants to be strong advocates and leaders for today's agriculture.

"It was great to meet many of those participating in our events this week, like the action team meetings, our Corn Congress policy sessions, and visits to their members of Congress," said NCGA Chairman Martin Barbre. "These new leaders are the future of our organization, and it was inspiring to see the passion and energy these men and women bring into everything they do. We're also very grateful for DuPont's support in this growing effort."

For the participants, the week began with Monday spent in Wilmington, Del., learning about the history of DuPont and the important work the company is doing specifically in the area of crop protection. In Washington, they attended policy meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday. Completing their DC experience, the team had an opportunity to thank members of Congress and their staff for the GMO labeling vote, encourage revision of EPA's draft risk assessment of atrazine, and urge support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

This is the second plenary session of the program, which kicked off in January in Des Moines, followed by activities at the Commodity Classic convention and trade show and month webinars April through July focused on key issue areas and reports from participants on their interim activities. 2016 marks the third year of this program.

This year's overall program participants were: Jonathan and Bridget Hitchcock, Georgia; Casey and Teresa Schlichting, Iowa; Matthew DeSutter, Illinois; Sam and Stephanie Halcomb, Kentucky; Corey Pace, Kentucky; Greg Dell, Maryland; Brent and Bryce Krohn, Minnesota; Ben Storm, Minnesota; Brian Martin, Missouri; Phillip and Lindsay Sloop, North Carolina; Ben Bakko, North Dakota; Deb Gangawish, Nebraska; Joel and Jenna McAfee, Nebraska; Tyler and Whitni Drewes, Ohio; Rob Holman, Tennessee; Bert and Brittney Ring, Texas; Robert Baylor, Virginia; and Trent Jones, Virginia.



Forty Senators Call for Higher Biodiesel Targets in RFS


Forty U.S. senators from across the country Thursday called on the EPA to strengthen biodiesel volumes in the pending Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) proposal.

The senators emphasized that biodiesel and renewable diesel are leading the way in delivering Advanced Biofuels under the RFS and said the EPA should do more to encourage their growth.

“The biodiesel industry has met RFS criteria for growth, exceeding the goals that Congress envisioned when it created the RFS with bipartisan support in 2005 and supporting over 47,000 jobs,” the letter states. “To date, biodiesel and renewable diesel have delivered the majority of the advanced biofuels under the RFS. We believe it is clear that these fuels offer the best opportunity for growth in the near future.”

The letter, which can be found here, was led by Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D. It was signed by a bipartisan group of additional senators from California to Minnesota to Maine.

Biodiesel – made from a diverse mix of resources such as recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats – is the first and only EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel to reach commercial-scale production nationwide. It has made up the vast majority of Advanced Biofuel production under the RFS to date.

According to the EPA, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 57 percent to 86 percent compared with petroleum diesel.

“I think this letter reflects a growing consensus on Capitol Hill that biodiesel and renewable diesel are successfully delivering the economic and environmental benefits that Congress had in mind when it created the RFS,” said Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs at the National Biodiesel Board (NBB). “This is a success story, and hopefully this letter helps show the Obama administration and the EPA that we need to do more. We need to embrace growth in our cleanest fuels, and the EPA proposal as it stands falls short of that.”

“On behalf of biodiesel producers around the country we want to thank all the senators who signed this letter, particularly Sens. Blunt, Murray, Grassley and Heitkamp for their leadership in organizing the effort,” Steckel added.

The RFS – a bipartisan policy passed in 2005 and signed into law by President George W. Bush – requires increasing volumes of renewable fuels in the U.S. fuel stream, and specifically calls for increasing volumes of Advanced Biofuels in the coming years.

Biodiesel and renewable diesel – a similar diesel alternative – fall under the Biomass-based Diesel category of the RFS, which is an Advanced Biofuel category intended to ensure that the policy also addresses the diesel fuel market, not just gasoline. Under the law, Advanced Biofuels must reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent compared to petroleum fuels.

The EPA proposal would establish a 2.1-billion-gallon Biomass-based Diesel requirement in 2018, up only slightly from the already established 2-billion-gallon requirement for 2017. Citing unused industry capacity and data showing that Biomass-based Diesel consumption is already exceeding 2.1 billion gallons annually, the senators called for at least 2.5 billion gallons for 2018.

The additional senators signing the letter were Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Angus King (D-Maine), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jack Reed (D-R.I), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).



Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wednesday July 20 Ag News

Nebraska Agriculture Leaders Unite to Address Property Taxes, Other Key Ag Issues

 In an effort to strengthen the climate for agriculture in Nebraska, leaders of Nebraska’s agriculture organizations, representing tens of thousands of Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers, and livestock feeders, have united to identify and focus on the key issues needed to keep Nebraska agriculture strong into the future.

“As we came together to discuss what actions are needed to create a better environment for agriculture in the state, there was a clear consensus among the leaders that members are concerned about issues such as property taxes and tax reform as well as access to new technology and biotechnology. We need to have sound regulations in agriculture. The need for proactive educational and communication efforts to consumers is also vital,” said Barb Cooksley, Nebraska Cattlemen president, July 20.

Following a legislative session in which a measure to place “Right to Farm” language in the state’s constitution was initiated, but failed to advance, Nebraska ag leaders felt it important to further clarify the priorities for Nebraska agriculture. After much research and discussion, the group unanimously agreed that future efforts to enact “Right to Farm” protections should not be in the form of a constitutional amendment, but rather the group should explore opportunities to enact “Right to Farm” concepts through state statute at a time as determined by the group, given other priorities.

“We are united in our belief that protecting our member’s interests and the future of agriculture isn’t about a single ballot measure or initiative. It’s about initiating actions, policy and otherwise, that creates an environment where our members can thrive and boost local and state economies, said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president. “Our efforts are targeted to immediate challenges such as making sure high property tax burdens aren’t the reason families are pushed out of agriculture.”

Those participating in the agriculture leader work group include:
Barb Cooksley – Nebraska Cattlemen, president
Troy Stowater – Nebraska Cattlemen, president elect
Larry Mussack – Nebraska Corn Growers Association, president
Dan Wesely – Nebraska Corn Growers Association, vice-president
Steve Ebke – Nebraska Corn Growers Association
Steve Nelson – Nebraska Farm Bureau, president
Mark McHargue – Nebraska Farm Bureau, first vice-president
Russ Vering – Nebraska Pork Producers Association, president
Darin Uhlir – Nebraska Pork Producers Association, vice-president
Kevin Peterson – Nebraska Pork Producers Association, vice-president
Dennis Fujan – Nebraska Soybean Association, president
Dwaine Junck – Nebraska State Dairy Association, vice-president
Doug Temme – Nebraska State Dairy Association, past president

The agriculture leaders will continue to work together to initiate measures to address the key priorities in the coming weeks and months. 

“We are committed to working together to address the issues identified across the scope of both our crop and livestock sectors that can provide meaningful and tangible benefits to Nebraska agriculture producers,” said Nelson.



Plan to Attend Soybean Management Field Days in 2016


Ensuring continued competitiveness of U.S. soy in the global marketplace is integral as we look towards the future... for your profits as a producer AND for feeding a hungry world.

By the year 2020, the world's population is expected to exceed 8 billion people. The U.S. soybean industry can and will be a leader in food production and providing energy to sustain global economic growth.

By attending Soybean Management Field Days you are taking an important step in helping us meet the challenges of the future.

2016 Locations

The field days begin with 9 a.m. registration and conclude at 2:30 p.m. Free registration is available the day of the event. Dates, locations and directions are listed below.  
    - Tuesday, Aug. 9 - Robert Johnston Farm - near Orchard, South of 859th Rd/514 Ave. intersection
    - Wednesday, Aug. 10 - Shane Greving Farm - near Chapman, 1374 9th Rd.
    - Thursday, Aug. 11 - Eberspacher Family Farms - (Darren, Delayne and Wes Eberspacher) - near Cordova, 4754 Saltillo Rd.
    - Friday, Aug. 12 - Goff Farms -  near Schuyler - 1046 County Road H


What will you learn about?

Learn how to profitably apply the products of technology and research at the farm level.  This educational event is for you - the soybean grower and agronomic representatives supporting the soybean industry. Experts will share their knowledge and experiences as they relate to soybean production, marketing and management. Topics include:

Soybean Irrigation
•  Impact of over irrigation
•  Impact of under irrigation
•  Scheduling with sensors and ET gages
•  UNL Resources – Apps and Computer Models
**  Pressure Regulator Testing - Are your regulators old and may need to be replaced?  Bring 2 pressure regulators from each span of a  pivot  and we will test them during the day and send them back home with along with a report on their performance.

Soil Fertility, PPO Herbicide, and Conventional Soybean Studies
•  Back to the basics on Phosphorus 
•  Nitrogen management, including inoculants
•  Interaction between soil applied PPO herbicides and soybean seeding diseases
•  Weed management without glyphosate

Grain Marketing and Farm Management
•  Farm financial update
•  Moving forward in uncertain financial times
•  What is going go with this soybean market?
•  How do I know when to sell?

Soybean Production Management  Strategies Comparison
•  The role of insecticidal seed treatments in insect pest management

Sprayer Management
for Successful Weed Control in Soybeans
•  Spray particle sizes and how they affect pesticide efficacy and spray drift
•  Know your real tank size
•  Know the difference in dry and liquid ounces that are key to correct rates

More information is available here.... http://ardc.unl.edu/soydays



So, You’ve Inherited a Farm, Now What?


Anyone that owns farmland may want to participate in this seminar to be provided information and education about that ownership. Learn management strategies for this asset by attending this seminar in Lincoln at the Lancaster County Extension Office, at 9:00 a.m. August 17.

Participants can use this 2 ½ hour workshop to learn about: Am I keeping the farm, or selling it? How do I manage a farm? If leasing, what are key lease provisions? What legal considerations do I have with this decision? And, how do we manage family communications and expectations when other family is involved?

“I am contacted monthly from citizens who have had their parents pass away, and now they are managing a farm for the first time in their lives,” said Allan Vyhnalek, Extension Educator and event speaker. “They may have even grown up there, but haven’t been around for 30 or 40 years, and need to understand that farming practices and management concepts have changed.” Vyhnalek continued.
Pre-registration is requested by 2 days prior to the event. Registration fee is $20 per person or $30 per couple. Contact the Lancaster County Extension Office at 402-441-7148to register.

The program is being provided by Allan Vyhnalek, Tim Lemmons, and Jim Jansen, Extension Educators from Nebraska Extension. They provide the farm land management education for eastern Nebraska.

For more information or assistance, please contact Allan Vyhnalek, Extension Educator, Nebraska Extension in Platte County. Phone: 402-563-4901 or e-mail avyhnalek2@unl.edu   



Landlord/Tenant Cash Lease Workshop


The Landlord/Tenant Cash Lease Workshop will be offered August 18, Pinnacle Bank (east), Columbus, NE at 9:00 a.m.. It is designed to help landlords and tenants put together a lease that is right for both parties, and help maintain positive farm leasing relations.

Topics for discussion at the leasing workshop include:
- Latest information about land values and cash rental rates for the area and state;
- Lease communication, determining appropriate information sharing for both the tenant and landlord;
- Lease termination, including terminating handshake or verbal leases;
- Review of common lease provisions with emphasis on common questions about provisions
- Legal issues related to land ownership – basic ownership structures and what they mean
- Business structures/entities and how they affect ownership – quick look at how entity ownership affects legal and financial risk management
- Ownership transition
- State/federal resources for beginning farmers and ranchers
- Other topics, like irrigation systems, hay rent, pasture rental agreements, and grain bin rental will be covered as time allows.

The free workshop is sponsored by the Northcentral Risk Management Education Center. Refreshments and handouts are provided. Registration is requested. To register for the workshop, contact the Platte County Extension Office at 402-563-4901. Register by August 15, to ensure that there are enough handouts and refreshments.

The workshops have been held extensively across Nebraska for the past few years with over 3,300 attending. The vast majority of both landlords and tenants find the information to be very helpful in improving communications, setting rental terms, and learning about the use of flex lease provisions. As crop budgets tighten, it is even more important to attend and listen to the latest discussion about leasing issues.

For more information or assistance, please contact Allan Vyhnalek avyhnalek@unl.edu or call 402-563-4901.



Flexible Leases for Farmland Workshop A workshop on understanding, developing, and implementing flexible and alternative cash leases. 
  

Flexible cash leasing is not new to Nebraska or agriculture in general. These provisions, often inserted into new and existing cash leases are designed with two purposes in mind:
• Provide risk management options for those renting agricultural land
• provide potential for added rent income for those owning agricultural land

This is done by providing a means for the final rent to adjust up or down a controlled amount in response to price, yield, and income movements on the farm/ranch, state, or nationally. The objective of this program is to provide practical information and strategies in using these tools, as well as practice in crafting and analyzing your flexible lease alternatives.

Topics we will cover include:
• What are flexible and alternative leases?
• How do they adjust to changes in price and yield over time?
• What are the options available to users?
• How do you manage price and yield variable selection?
• How do you calculate what is really owed in rent?
• What should be included in calculating a flexible rent?
• How can I use software or apps to help me choose which provisions work best on my farm or ranch?

For more information or assistance, please contact Allan Vyhnalek, Extension Educator, Nebraska Extension in Platte County. Phone: 402-563-4901 or e-mail avyhnalek2@unl.edu.   



ERGOT IN PASTURES

Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist


               Ergot has been found in a few Nebraska pastures this summer.  This fungus can be toxic to cattle, horses, and other livestock so check your pastures and hay fields to see if your animals may be at risk.

               Ergot is a fungus that grows on the seed head of grasses.  Cereals like rye and wheat have been affected most often historically, but forage grasses like brome and fescue and wheatgrasses also are susceptible.  Weather like we have experienced this year – a cool, wet spring followed by hot, humid summer conditions – is ideal for ergot to develop.

               Ergot produces alkaloids that cause vasoconstriction of small arteries, which restricts blood flow to extremities like the tips of tails and ears as well as to feet and legs.  Lameness, swelling of the fetlock and hock joints, and even loss of hooves can occur.  Animals also are less able to dissipate heat so they spend more time than usual standing in shade or water.

               Ergot bodies look a lot like mouse droppings in grass seedheads.  They are blackish or dark brown or purple and shaped like a cylinder. Examine your pastures and hay fields for these ergot bodies.  An occasional one here and there shouldn’t be a problem but if they show up in most of your seedheads, remove any grazing animals.

               Ergot remains fairly stable in hay so if it is present, either destroy the hay or dilute it severely with other safe feed.  Fields can be shredded to remove seedstalks but don’t resume grazing until enough regrowth develops to restrict animals from eating the old, shredded clippings.

               Ergot toxicity is rare in our pastures but be on the lookout so it doesn’t become a problem for your animals.



Syngenta #RootedinAg Contest Finalists Announced


Syngenta announced today the five finalists in its #RootedinAg contest. These finalists, who will each receive a mini touch-screen tablet and leather case, will now compete for the grand prize – a $500 gift card, plus a $1,000 donation to the winner’s favorite local charity or civic organization. The winner also will be featured in an upcoming issue of Thrive magazine. The competition, which began in April, invited growers and other ag professionals to describe how their agricultural roots make their families and communities thrive. 

“Agriculture plays such a key role in the success of so many communities across the country,” said Wendell Calhoun, communications manager at Syngenta. “We are proud to recognize our five #RootedinAg finalists, and thank all of our readers for their participation in this year’s contest.”

The finalists are:
    Michelle Miller from Monona, Iowa

    Cale Plowman from Douds, Iowa
    Doug Rohrer from Palmyra, Pennsylvania
    William Tabb from Eupora, Mississippi
    Shelby Watson Hampton from Brandywine, Maryland

Syngenta has posted all five winning entries to the Thrive website for online voting. Judges’ scores will be added to the online voting to determine the grand prizewinner. Voting ends Sept. 15, 2016, with Syngenta announcing the winner in October.



Corn Congress Elects Five Growers to FY2017 Corn Board


Delegates attending the National Corn Growers Association's Corn Congress in Washington this morning elected five farmers to serve on the organization's Corn Board.  Taking office on Oct. 1, the start of NCGA's 2017 fiscal year, are new board members Chris Edgington of Iowa, Don Glenn of Alabama, Tom Haag of Minnesota and John Linder of Ohio. Current board member Kevin Ross of Iowa was re-elected.

"Again this year, we had an impressive slate of candidates for the Corn Board, growers who already have an extensive history of service to American agriculture," NCGA Chairman Martin Barbre, who chairs the nominating committee, said. "It inspires me to see such an interest on the part of these growers, particularly at this time when our industry faces so many challenges. I am certain they will be a valuable addition to the board and look forward to see what they do for corn farmers I the years to come."

Edgington currently serves on NCGA's Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action in addition to chairing the Iowa Corn Promotion Board. At the state level, he is also president of Rural Development Partners and a member of the board of directors of Ag Ventures Alliance. He previously co-chaired Corn Vision 2020 and chaired Golden Oval Eggs.

Also new to the Corn Board, Glenn has chaired NCGA's Production and Stewardship Action Team and Mycotoxin Task Force in addition to having served on the Ethanol Committee. At the state level, he is a past president of the Alabama Soybean and Corn Association

A 2016 graduate of the Advanced Leadership Program, Haag currently serves on NCGA's Research and Business Development Action Team and has previously chaired the Grower Services Action Team. A past president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, he serves as an appointee to the Minnesota Trade Advisory Council.

Another new Corn Board member, Linder chairs the NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team. He has previously chaired the Ohio Corn Marketing Program and as a member of the Ag Credit Co-op Board of Directors.
 
Also a current Corn Board member, Ross serves as the board liaison to the Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team and as the 2017 Commodity Classic Joint Venture Committee Co-chair. He previously chaired the Finance Committee. At the state level, he is a past president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association.

The NCGA Corn Board represents the organization on all matters while directing both policy and supervising day-to-day operations. Board members represent the federation of state organizations, supervise the affairs and activities of NCGA in partnership with the chief executive officer and implement NCGA policy established by the Corn Congress. Members also act as spokesmen for the NCGA and enhance the organization's public standing on all organizational and policy issues.



USDA's MAP, FMD Funding Drive Demand for U.S. Corn


Agricultural exports help drive the U.S. economy. For instance, exports of U.S. corn and corn products generated $74.7 billion to the U.S. economy in 2014, according to a new analysis by Informa Economics. This is why Congress every year appropriates federal funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program which supports the promotion of corn, corn products as well as value-added U.S. red meat products in international markets. These two Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) programs leverage farmers' checkoff funds and agribusiness investments to build an active outreach program in more than 50 countries.

The United States is not the world's leading agricultural exporter by accident. More than 50 years ago, National Corn Growers Association Founder Walter Goeppinger, recognized the importance of trade for U.S. agricultural commodities. Goeppinger helped form the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and worked with the FAS to open markets for U.S. corn and livestock exports. MAP and FMD cooperators, like the USGC and U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), employ staff around the world, to build and defend U.S. market share of corn and related co-products and directly foster sales opportunities for U.S. products.

"Our investments in both organizations go to creating market development programs which holds promise in creating additional demand for meat, corn, soybeans and ethanol," explained Iowa Corn Promotion Board President Mark Heckman, a corn farmer from Muscatine County, Iowa, and a member of the U.S. Grains Council Trade Policy Action Team. "The focus is on consumer promotion, educating shoppers around the world about the quality food products available to them. It’s why we do what we do."

The 2014 Farm Bill re-authorized MAP and FMD programs which are run by the FAS at USDA. From there the FAS each year awards funding to more than 60 agricultural organizations to help expand commercial export markets for U.S. products. Corn, distillers grains, beef, and pork (and a host of other ag products) all benefit from these funds. An independent study conducted in 2010 found that for every dollar invested in trade promotion overseas, $35 in economic benefits has resulted - much of which is coming back to rural communities in Iowa in the form of jobs and on farm income.



 Farmland Leasing Meetings Provide Valuable Information


With over half of Iowa’s farmland under some form of lease agreement, leasing is a key issue for the state’s tenants and landowners to understand. Because of this prominence, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has made leasing a key component to its educational efforts.

After a peak in the statewide average for cash rents on cropland acres of $270 in 2013, cash rents have been slowly declining. Even with prices down, an estimated $3.6 billion changed hands through rental agreements in 2015.

The decline in cash rent prices has not decreased to the same degree as agricultural revenues. Because of this there is increased pressure on farm operations with a large portion of their acres under a rental agreement. ISU Extension and Outreach farm management specialists provide an unbiased look at the current farm situation for all parties involved in farmland lease agreements.

ISU Extension and Outreach will hold 2016 Farmland Leasing Meeting sessions during the months of July and August across Iowa. This year’s meetings will focus on land values and cash rent trends, cost of production, methods for determining a rental rate, legislative updates regarding leases and communicating with tenants or landlords.

The 2.5 to 3-hour workshop is designed to assist landowners, farm tenants and other agri-business professionals with current issues related to farmland ownership, management and leasing arrangements. Attendees will gain a better understanding of factors driving next year’s rents such as market trends and input costs.

A 100-page workbook is provided for the programs, with resources regarding land leasing agreements such as surveys, sample written lease agreements and termination forms along with many other publications.

The leasing meetings being held across Iowa are facilitated by farm management specialists with ISU Extension and Outreach. A listing of county extension offices hosting the meetings is available on the Ag Decision Maker website.

For registration information, contact local ISU Extension and Outreach county offices. Pre-registration is encouraged as an additional $5 fee may be added if registering less than two calendar days before the meeting date.

The Ag Decision Maker leasing section also provides useful materials for negotiating leases, information on various types of leases, lease forms, and newly updated Decision Tools.

Because of leasing’s importance in the ag economy, ISU Extension and Outreach held over 80 meetings focused on farm leasing during the summer of 2015 and will do so again over the coming weeks. Over 1,800 people participated in the meetings last year. ISU Extension and Outreach online resources were also extensively used, with the ISU Cash Rent Survey having 164,234 downloads and example cash lease forms being downloaded 138,820 times.

Six months after the 2015 meetings concluded, attendees were surveyed in an effort to gain additional insight into rental markets and trends. The farm management team found that 21 percent of attendees participated to gain information for communicating with other parties involved in the rental agreement. Additionally, 95 percent said they were happy with the effectiveness of the leasing programing being done by ISU Extension and Outreach.

The data collected showed on-going satisfaction with 61 percent of respondents having attended a farmland leasing meeting in a prior year, with 44 percent attending multiple times in the past.

The survey asked for changes attendees planned to make in their lease agreements. Nearly one third – 30 percent – of respondents said they planned to decrease rent. Nine percent decided to move from an oral lease to a written lease agreement while nine percent also pledged to implement new conservation strategies.



EIA: Ethanol Supply Builds


The supply of ethanol in the United States increased during the week-ended July 15 while production from domestic plants averaged a record high at more than 1.0 million barrels per day (bpd), data released Wednesday, July 20, by the Energy Information Administration shows.

The EIA reported a 100,000-barrel (bbl) build in ethanol supply to 21.2 million bbl after showing a 500,000-bbl drawdown during the first week of July. As of July 15, ethanol inventory was 1.6 million bbl, or 8.2%, more than year prior.

The increase in available ethanol supply came alongside a 25,000 ramp-up in ethanol plant production to a 1.029 million bpd record high, which is 56,000 bpd, or 5.8%, above the comparable year-ago output rate. During the four weeks ended July 15, ethanol plant production averaged 1.005 million bpd, 27,000 bpd, or 2.8%, above the same four weeks in 2015.

Refiner and blender net inputs of ethanol increased 15,000 bpd to 934,000 bpd, 37,000 bpd, or 4.1%, above year-prior blending volume. During the four weeks ended July 15, ethanol blending activity by refiners and blenders averaged 940,000 bpd, 43,000 bpd or 4.8% above year prior.

Gasoline supplied to market increased 115,000 bpd to 9.785 million bpd during the week reviewed, and averaged 9.73 million bpd during the four weeks ended July 15, 126,000 bpd or 1.3% above year prior.



Fertilizer Prices Slip Slightly Lower


Retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN for the second week of July 2016 show prices are lower but not by significant amounts. However, DTN's last five weekly surveys have all reported price reductions.

In the latest retail survey, all eight of the major fertilizers dropped slightly in price compared to the previous month. DAP averaged $467/ton, MAP $496/ton, potash $358/ton and urea at $360/ton. 10-34-0 was at $538/ton, anhydrous $547/ton, UAN28 $266/ton and $306/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.39/lb.N, anhydrous $0.33/lb.N, UAN28 $0.48/lb.N and UAN32 $0.48/lb.N.

DTN surveys show retail fertilizers remain significantly less expensive compared to a year earlier. All fertilizers are now double digits lower.

UAN32 is 15% lower, both MAP and 10-34-0 are 16% lower while both DAP and UAN28 are 18% less expensive. Anhydrous is 21% lower, urea is 23% less expensive and potash is 27% less expensive compared to last year at this time.



Multispecies pastures show productivity, drought tolerant promise


Getting more for less is an attractive concept. But it isn’t that easy when it comes to producing more food on less land with fewer resources.

R. Howard Skinner has been researching this idea of more for less in agriculture. Skinner is a physiological plant ecologist and member of the USDA-ARS-Pasture System and Watershed Management Research Unit. He’s been looking into how to increase the amount of forage (grasses and plants that animals eat) pastures can grow. If a piece of land can produce more forage, it can feed more cows. More cows mean more beef and milk.

Cattle grazing multi-species pasture mixtures. Photo credit Steve LaMar.Previous studies suggest incorporating multiple types of plants in pastures is an effective way to increase the amount of forage. However, these studies varied in length. It hasn’t been possible to say for sure what long-term effect using multiple types of plants has on forage production. To learn more, Skinner spent nine years tracking the progress of multispecies pastures.

Skinner and his team at Pennsylvania State University Hawbecker Farm planted eight experimental paddocks. They planted four paddocks with orchard grass and white clover. Another four paddocks had a combination of chicory, orchardgrass, tall fescue, white clover, and alfalfa. When the plants reached a certain height, cows grazed in the paddocks.

The researchers collected samples of the forage before and after the cows grazed. This helped them estimate the amount of forage produced and determine what types of plants were present in the paddocks. Additionally, researchers collected soil samples to check on the plant roots and determine how much carbon was being stored in the soil.

Skinner tracked changes in the amounts of each plant species over the course of the nine years. “We expected some of the species from the more complex mixture to disappear over time,” he explains. What he didn’t expect was the continued superior performance of the five-species mixture even after some of the species disappeared. “Initially I would have thought the loss of species from the more complex mixture was a negative, but this research suggests that by improving soil conditions, specifically soil organic matter, the initial inclusion of multiple species had a long-lasting positive effect even after species differences had disappeared.”

The five-species mixture produced, on average over the nine years, 31% more forage than the two-species mixture. This could be because the five-species mixtures were also storing more carbon in the soil than the two-species mixtures.

These results are encouraging, and reach beyond mere number of forage plants. Increased forage production means more beef and milk. And increased amounts of carbon stored in the soil also means the soil can hold more water.

“The greatest challenge from climate change in the northeast probably has more to do with water availability (both too much and too little) than heat,” says Skinner. Incorporating multiple species into pastures may be able to help protect against runoff after heavy storms and against droughts during dry years.

Overall, this nine-year study supports previous findings that multispecies pastures can produce more forage, but there are still many more decade-long studies that need to be done. In the meantime, Skinner recommends researchers and land managers “select a few species with specific goals in mind,” but understand that many factors, including how the land was previously managed, will have a bearing on results.

Skinner’s research is published in Crop Science.



NMPF Supports Senate Legislation to Create Tax Incentive for Investments in Biogas and Nutrient Recovery


The National Milk Producers Federation today endorsed new Senate legislation that would help dairy farmers increase their investment in technologies that can improve water and air quality and maximize the value of nutrients.

Senate Bill 3248, introduced by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Pat Roberts (R-KS) of the Senate Finance Committee, mirrors legislation introduced by the House of Representatives in June. Like the House bill, S. 3248 will modify Section 48 of the tax code to make biogas systems and nutrient recovery technologies eligible for an already-existing 30 percent investment tax credit to cover capital costs. This needed policy change will help dairy farmers to reduce their environmental footprint, both on their farms and in their communities.

“Dairy farmers are environmentalists who realize the potential value of the nutrients they manage, but the cost of installing new technology often poses a major obstacle,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “We’re pleased that this bipartisan effort to help producers continue toward a sustainable farming future is now moving forward in both chambers.”

Dairy farmers and their industry partners continue to work to embrace the best possible environmental practices. In 2008, the dairy sector voluntarily set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from fluid milk by 25 percent by 2020, and has since undertaken several projects intended to help meet that goal.



USW Farmer Directors Install New Officers at Summer Board Meeting


The U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Board of Directors installed new officers at its annual meeting July 20, 2016, in Fargo, ND. Jason Scott of Easton, MD, was installed as Chairman, while last year’s Chairman Brian O’Toole of Crystal, ND, transitioned to Past Chairman and Chairman of the USW Budget Committee. Other officers installed included Mike Miller of Ritzville, WA, as Vice Chairman and Chris Kolstad of Ledger, MT, as Secretary-Treasurer. USW officers were elected to these one-year positions at the January 2016 Winter Wheat Conference in Washington, DC.

Jason Scott is a sixth generation wheat farmer from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where he is farm manager of Walnut Hill Farms and produces soft red winter (SRW) wheat, row crops and vegetables. He is also an Independent Sales Representative for Pioneer Hi-Bred Int'l, under the title Scott’s Seed, L.L.C.  Scott is a founding member of the Dorchester County Young Farmers, past president of the Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board and the Maryland Grain Producers Association. In 2011, he won the Maryland Young Farmers Achievement Award. In his seven years on the USW Board, Scott has represented his state and USW on two board team delegations to Africa and Europe and served as Secretary-Treasurer and Vice Chairman as well as on several USW committees. He and his wife Dr. Casey Scott have a young daughter.

Mike Miller is a fourth generation farmer who operates a dryland wheat farm and grows multiple crops on a separate, irrigated farm in east central Washington. He has served on many local, state and national boards, and is in his third term on the Washington Grain Commission and his fifth year as a USW director representing Washington. Miller is also very active in supporting wheat research and development. He and his wife, Marci, have three children.

Chris Kolstad is the fourth generation of his family to farm in Montana’s “Golden Triangle” region. He and his wife Vicki have four children, including their son Cary who is a partner in their operation. They grow hard red winter (HRW) wheat, dark northern spring wheat and durum, plus barley and dry peas. A commissioner of the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, Kolstad has represented his state on the USW board since 2012. He is also a member of the Montana Grain Growers Association and Montana Farm Bureau. His community leadership includes serving on his local school board, as treasurer of his family’s church and as a regular blood donor who has given almost 19 gallons of blood since 1972.

Brian O’Toole is the president of T.E. O'Toole Farm Seed Company. He and his wife Sara have four children and raise wheat, edible beans and sugarbeets on their northeast North Dakota farm. O'Toole is an experienced agricultural and community leader. He serves on the North Dakota Wheat Commission, on the board of the Wheat Marketing Center in Portland, OR, and is Chairman of SBARE Wheat Granting Committee. He is also past president of the North Dakota Crop Improvement and Seed Association and past president of Crystal Farmers Elevator Co-op. O’Toole has received the Young Outstanding Farmer Award, Master Farmer Award and Friends of 4-H Award. He has served as Secretary-Treasurer and Vice Chairman of USW.

Also during the USW board meeting, committees met on Monday, July 18, and Tuesday, July 19, including the Joint Biotechnology and Joint International Trade Policy committees that operate in conjunction with the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG). Official business was called to order Tuesday, July 19, and continued through Wednesday, July 20.

Reports to the board included a welcome from North Dakota Lieutenant Governor Drew Wrigley, background on local production and policy from the Agriculture Commissioner of North Dakota, Doug Goehring, and a review of market factors that could change the dynamics of the world wheat market from Mike Krueger, President of The Money Farm. The board also heard an update on trade relations with Cuba from Tyler Jameson, Legislative Assistant to Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), USW Regional Vice President Mitch Skalicky and Assistant Director of Policy Ben Conner. The farmer directors from 18 states also heard from Vance Taylor, President and General Manager of the North Dakota Mill and Elevator Association in Grand Forks, ND, about the history and output of the only state-owned milling facility in the United States.

USW's next Board meeting will be held jointly with NAWG in Denver, CO, Nov. 2 to 5, 2016.