Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wednesday October 22 Ag News

Farmers and Ranchers, Ag Leaders Support Hassebrook

Chuck Hassebrook is setting the record straight on his positions on agriculture and environment.

“My opponent’s ads are flatly untrue. The truth is this: I’ve spent my whole life fighting for family farms and ranches, small businesses, and small town and rural Nebraska. I oppose and have spoken out vigorously against the EPA’s proposed Waters of the U.S. rule, and my record shows that I have helped many farmers and ranchers overcome burdensome regulations.

“I support lowering ag land valuation to reduce property tax burdens, but I am being criticized by a group funded by an Indiana oil baron for saying state property tax credits should benefit family farmers and ranchers, rather than big investors like him and Ted Turner.

“I support and have always supported agriculture exports and opposed export restrictions. I have a long track record as an advocate for hardworking farmers and ranchers, small business, and growing the economy of small town and rural Nebraska.

“The only person who has something to prove here is Pete Ricketts, who knows next to nothing about agriculture. He spent his career at his billionaire father’s Wall Street firm, not on the Main Streets of our communities,” said Hassebrook.

Much of Ricketts so called “plan for agriculture” simply states his support for existing programs that Hassebrook initiated, including the University of Nebraska’s Rural Futures Institute, Nebraska Value-Added Agriculture Program and tax incentives for beginners like the Nebraska Advantage Microenterprise Tax Credit and the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit.

Nebraska farmers, ranchers, and agricultural leaders are quick to defend Hassebrook. More than 130 of them, many of whom are Republicans, are part of the “Farmers and Ranchers for Hassebrook” group that has been an integral part of Hassebrook’s campaign.



Nebraska Farmers Union PAC Says Farm Boy Chuck Hassebrook is the Best Choice for Agriculture and Nebraska

NEBFARMPAC, the political action committee of the Nebraska Farmers Union, Nebraska’s second largest general farm organization with over 6,000 farm and ranch families announced its unanimous and enthusiastic endorsement of Chuck Hassebrook for Governor in the general election.

The NEBFARMPAC Board of Directors issued the following statement:

"Chuck Hassebrook is a farm boy who was born and raised on a farm in Platte County.  His brother Rod farms the family farm.  He understands that agriculture is a high risk low margin business that is directly impacted by adverse weather, world production issues, and violent price swings.

Chuck has been working successfully with heavily Republican rural community leaders across the state for 40 years on ways to help build their rural communities.  He is an expert on rural economic development, micro-enterprise, rural infrastructure needs, and the importance of new profitable renewable energy based markets and opportunities.  Chuck understands that the kinds of economic development strategies that work in urban communities are very different from what works in rural communities.  Chuck Hassebrook understands what it takes to make small business successful.

We think Chuck Hassebrook as Governor will be the pragmatic, hands on problem solver he has always been who is not afraid to tackle the tough problems we face today while keeping his eye on the future.”

Gale Lush of Wilcox, NEBFARMPAC President said, "Chuck Hassebrook has been a member of Nebraska Farmers Union for over 30 years.  Over that time Chuck Hassebrook has been a champion on family farm agriculture, rural development, and renewable energy issues.  His distinguished service as University of Nebraska Regent for the past 18 years, and his decades of service at the Center for Rural Affairs give him a solid track record on our issues.”

John Hansen, NEBFARMPAC Secretary said, “This fall, grain commodity prices have plunged to well below the cost of production.  With today’s cost of production at all-time highs, the financial risk to produce crops has never been greater.  When times are tough, agriculture needs someone who sits in the Governor’s chair who understands our states family farmers and ranchers, and is willing to stand up for them and with them when the going gets rough.  Chuck Hassebrook is the person who knows and understands agriculture.  He has our back.  Given the many challenges rural Nebraskans face in the days ahead, our state needs a champion for our state’s largest single industry, production agriculture. We need someone who will champion the interests of new profitable renewable energy markets for ethanol and wind energy development.”



IA Ag Chemical Dealer Meetings Provide Crop Pest and Nutrient Updates


Updates to the latest crop production products and recommendations are the focus of upcoming meetings sponsored by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. The meetings will be held Nov. 25 in Iowa City and Dec. 10 in Ames.

The meetings give agricultural input providers an opportunity to meet with ISU Extension and Outreach specialists and review current research, discuss new products and learn of new recommendations.

Both locations will feature presentations on weed, insect and crop disease management as well as soil nutrient management. Meetings are approved for 6.5 Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) credits. The meetings also offer Iowa Commercial Pesticide Applicator recertification in categories 1A, 1B, 1C and 10. Recertification is included in meeting registration. Attendance at the entire meeting is required for recertification.

Early registration is $70 if received by midnight Nov. 19 for the Iowa City meeting and midnight Dec. 4 for the Ames meeting. Late or on-site registration is $85. Visit www.aep.iastate.edu/acu for program details or to register online. For additional information contact an ISU Extension and Outreach field agronomist hosting the meeting.

   - Iowa City – Nov.25. Clarion Highlander Hotel and Conference Center, I-80 Exit 246 - Virgil Schmitt, vschmitt@iastate.edu or (563) 263-5701
    
    - Ames – Dec.10. Quality Inn and Suites Starlite Village, Dayton Avenue and 13th Street - Mark Johnson, markjohn@iastate.edu, (515) 382-6551 or Angie Rieck-Hinz, amrieck@iastate.edu, (515) 532-3453

The Ag Chemical Dealer Updates are hosted by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the departments of Agronomy, Entomology, and Plant Pathology and Microbiology.



Buyer Interest Strong, Competition Intense at SIAL Food Show in Paris


Billed as one of the largest international food shows in the world, SIAL 2014 in Paris is an outstanding venue for showcasing U.S. beef and pork. The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) participates in SIAL through support from the USDA Market Access Program (MAP).

About 150,000 participants from more than 100 countries are in attendance at the five-day event. A majority of those attending are from the European Union, but SIAL also attracts a large number of buyers and other food industry professionals from Russia, the Middle East and many Asian countries including Japan and China.

“U.S. beef and pork are strongly represented at SIAL,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF senior vice president of marketing and communications. “We have NHTC-approved suppliers here on the beef side, but we also have several pork packers in attendance and a large number of traders and purveyors as well. SIAL is an excellent opportunity for them, as the event provides access to many prospective buyers.”

These sentiments were echoed by Steve Isaf, president of Interra International and past chairman of USMEF.

“The European meat trade is going through a volatile and somewhat difficult period,” Isaf said. “Yet interest from buyers has been very strong this week. Despite a number of trade issues that make this a challenging region in which to do business, it can still deliver very solid returns for exporters.”

As USMEF has reported in recent months, U.S. beef exports to the Europe have been growing under the EU’s duty-free high-quality beef (HQB) quota. But heavy utilization of the quota by other beef-exporting countries – especially Australia and Uruguay – have both suppliers and importers concerned that the HQB quota no longer has enough capacity to accommodate current demand.

“Without question, this is a major concern here at SIAL,” said John Brook, USMEF regional director for Europe, Russia and the Middle East. “For July through September, the quarterly allocation of the HQB quota was nearly fully utilized, causing some importers to delay shipments into October. Import activity has been very heavy since the new quarter began, putting us on a pace that could cause capacity concerns to resurface as early as November.”

Europe always has a high degree of self-sufficiency in pork production, and Russia’s current ban on pork imports from the EU (in place since January, due to African swine fever) has significantly depressed the European pork market – making it an even tougher environment for imports. But Halstrom says it is important to view the market from a long-term standpoint.

“Europe is a customer of ours, but also an important competitor – especially on the pork side,” he explained. “Right now we’re seeing a lot of inexpensive European pork in both the international marketplace and within the domestic EU market, but prices and market conditions are going to normalize over time. When that time comes, it’s important for U.S. suppliers to be well-positioned to capitalize on new opportunities.”

In addition to the EU-Russia pork impasse that has now lasted nearly nine months, Russia has also been closed to most pork and beef products from the EU, the United States and Canada since early August. This week Russia also imposed a ban on beef offal and all animal fat from the EU, dampening hopes that trade relations will improve anytime soon. This is a prime topic of discussion at SIAL, because the impact extends well beyond Russia’s borders.

“Russian buyers are still very interested in U.S. pork and beef, and it’s unfortunate that we are presently unable to serve them,” Brook said. “But USMEF remains active in the Greater Russia region, where we certainly see opportunities emerging in the markets that are still open to U.S. products. Some of those countries are now exporting more meat to Russia, which can open new doors for U.S. suppliers.”

Tuesday’s activities at SIAL were highlighted by a visit to the USMEF booth by Uzra Zeya, chargĂ© d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Paris. She visited with exporters about opportunities to grow their business in France and other destinations in the region, and sampled a number of U.S. beef and pork products on display at SIAL.

Buyers from the Middle East are typically well-represented at SIAL, and Halstrom noted that this year is no exception.

“All of the major Middle Eastern destinations are represented,” he said. “Egypt has a large number of buyers present, along with the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Qatar. These are excellent growth markets for U.S. beef, but also exceptionally competitive – so SIAL provides a great opportunity to connect with prospective customers from that region.”

With more than 6,300 exhibitors participating in SIAL, competition for buyers’ attention has never been more intense. In addition to the strong showing of vendors from North and South America, Europe and Australia, Asian suppliers also have a growing presence at SIAL. For example, Japan’s Agriculture and Livestock Industries Corporation (ALIC) is exhibiting for the first time this year.

“This is part of Japan’s new focus on exporting high-value products, such as wagyu beef, to customers in Europe and other international markets,” Brook explained. “SIAL has a strong reputation for generating new business, which captures the attention of suppliers from across the world.”

Note: “NHTC-approved” refers to beef from non-hormone treated cattle, approved for export to the European Union.



USDA Cold Storage Highlights


Total red meat supplies in freezers were up 3 percent from the previous month but down 8 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were up 8 percent from the previous month but down 16 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were up slightly from the previous month but down 4 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were down 26 percent from last month but up 44 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on September 30, 2014 were down 2 percent from the previous month and down 10 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were down 2 percent from the previous month and down 9 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were down 2 percent from last month and down 10 percent from September 30, 2013.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on September 30, 2014 were down 3 percent from the previous month and down 5 percent from September 30, 2013.   Butter stocks were down 11 percent from last month and down 37 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks were down 2 percent from last month but up 1 percent from a year ago.   Total frozen vegetable stocks were up 15 percent from last month and up 6 percent from a year ago.



Survey Shows Big Data Use Increasing


A survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation shows more farmers are reaping the benefits of the latest agricultural technologies, but most remain wary of risks involved with big data collection. Fully 77.5 percent of farmers surveyed said they feared regulators and other government officials might gain access to their private information without their knowledge or permission. Nearly 76 percent of respondents said they were concerned others could use their information for commodity market speculation without their consent.

"We want to be sure that farmers' and ranchers' data are protected, and we're asking the hard questions to make sure that happens," AFBF President Bob Stallman said. "Farmers should know who owns their data and how they plan to use it. It's up to companies that collect the data to make all that clear." Farmers overwhelmingly agree: More than 81 percent believe they retain ownership of their farm data, according to Farm Bureau.

Farmers say they are getting positive results from using precision technologies that collect weather data, track seed varieties, analyze nutrient applications and map crop yields. Those surveyed indicated the use of precision technology has reduced the cost of seed, fertilizer and pesticides by an average of 15 percent, and increased crop yields by an average of 13 percent. More than half of the survey respondents who are actively farming indicated that they plan to invest in new or additional precision and data technology in the next year or two.

The survey was conducted from late July to early September. Reponses were received from 3,380 farmers.



COOL's Last Stand?

John D. Anderson, Deputy Chief Economist, American Farm Bureau Federation


On Monday, the World Trade Organization (WTO) released the report of the compliance panel reviewing the Canada/Mexico complaint against the U.S. over Country of Origin Labeling (COOL).  Given that this process has been grinding through the wheels of WTO justice for so long, a brief recapitulation of the issue is probably in order.[1]  

As a domestic policy issue, COOL originated in the 2002 Farm Bill.  Due to a lack of any kind of consensus on how COOL should be designed, though, implementation on beef and pork was delayed until revisions were made to the policy in the 2008 Farm Bill.  A COOL interim final rule was published by USDA in July 2008.  By December 2008, Canada had begun the WTO dispute settlement process by requesting a consultation with the U.S. on the issue through the WTO.  This process continued over most of the next year, with other countries - notably Mexico - formally joining the process.  In October 2009, Canada requested and was granted the establishment of a formal dispute settlement panel.  The panel was appointed by the Director-General in May 2010.  The dispute was heard over several months, and it was not until November 2011 that a report was issued.

The first dispute panel report was unfavorable to the U.S. position on COOL, finding that the rule was inconsistent with U.S. obligations under the WTO: specifically that it afforded less favorable treatment to imported livestock than to domestic and that it failed to "fulfil [sic] its legitimate objective of providing consumers with information on origin...".  On March 23, 2012 - that latest possible date at which it could do so - USDA filed a formal appeal of the panel finding.   This appeal was contested over several weeks, with an Appellate Body report issued at the end of June 2012.  The Appellate Body upheld the original panel's findings but differed significantly in their rationale for doing so.  They agreed that the COOL rule constituted a disincentive to use imported livestock due to recordkeeping and verification requirements.  However, they argued that the detrimental impact on foreign producers could be justified if it stemmed "exclusively from a legitimate regulatory distinction...".  From the Appellate Body's position, origin labeling can be a legitimate requirement.  The problem with COOL was that so little of the information collected and maintained was actually passed on to consumers; the disproportionate burden associated with imported products was not justified by the limited information conveyed.

The Appellate Body ruling at least kept the door cracked for a COOL fix; and USDA requested a "reasonable period of time" to implement such a fix.  That reasonable period was to extend to May 23, 2013.  On that date, USDA implemented a revised final rule in an attempt to address the deficiencies identified by the WTO Appellate Body. The main feature of the revision is that it would expand the COOL label to include more of the information being collected under the COOL program (the born, raised, slaughtered feature of the new labels).  It is this new final rule that has been under review by the WTO compliance panel; and it is this compliance panel's report that was issued on Monday.

The compliance panel has determined that even though the amended COOL program results in better consumer information, it imposes a "disproportionate" burden on importers as compared to domestic suppliers; therefore the amended COOL measure accords less favorable treatment to imported livestock than to US-origin products and as a result is still in violation of U.S. obligations under WTO.  Specifically, the panel found that the revised COOL rule actually increased the detrimental impact on imported livestock (as Canada alleged) because it increased the degree of segregation and the level of recordkeeping that would be required for compliance.  They further found, addressing the Appellate Body's concerns, that this detrimental impact did not rest exclusively on legitimate regulatory distinctions.  This is largely due to the fact that a large proportion of relevant meat products (e.g., anything sold through the food service trade) is exempt from COOL anyway. 

So what happens now?  Is this the end of the long and winding road for COOL?  Maybe; but probably not.  For now, the WTO compliance panel recommends that the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) request the U.S. to bring the inconsistent measure "into conformity with its obligations."  The next step in the WTO process would be adoption of the compliance panel's report at a DSB meeting.  Adoption of the report - subject to delay by a U.S. appeal - would trigger Canada and Mexico's rights to compensation or retaliation. If the U.S. files an appeal and loses once again, Canada and Mexico would be authorized to slap retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports.

Basically, then, two more important decision points remain.  First, the U.S. must decide whether or not to appeal the compliance panel's ruling.  This decision should come within the next 60 days.  An appeal will likely last the better part of a year.  If the U.S. appeals and wins, COOL stands.  If the U.S. appeals and loses (which must be considered likely in light of previous experience with the process) the U.S. will face the second decision point.  At this decision point, there are three options: 1) let COOL stand as a non-compliant program and endure whatever retaliatory measures are permitted to Canada and Mexico by the WTO, 2) repeal COOL - at least on beef and pork, or 3) replace COOL with a new labeling law that is compliant (or that will start the whole review process over again).  The first option is not likely.  Retaliatory measures can be quite broad and will therefore awaken powerful domestic constituencies to oppose COOL; this is what such measures are designed to do.  The second option is the cleanest but will obviously not appeal to those who have invested well over a decade in COOL.  It may not be easy to stand down on the issue at this point.  That leaves the third option.  But a new COOL law won't necessarily be easy to design.  COOL has always been an attempt to thread the needle between what WTO requires of compliant labeling programs and what domestic producers (and other industry stakeholders) are willing to implement in their own operations.  It is not clear that the eye of that needle has gotten any bigger in the last twelve years.  



Showers Restart Soy Planting in Brazil's Mato Grosso, Center-West


Light showers over the last four days across Mato Grosso and the rest of Brazil's Center-West has put a spring in the step of farmers, who have seen soybean planting substantially delayed over the last month amid unseasonably dry weather.

Rain started falling across the state, as well as across neighboring Goias and Mato Grosso do Sul states, on Saturday and extended into Tuesday in some areas.

The showers were light and sporadic, leaving some Mato Grosso farms dry, but precipitation of between 2/5 of an inch to 1 1/2 inches were reported elsewhere.

The atmospheric block that stopped cold fronts bringing rain to the Center-West for most of October has now been broken down and regular rainfall can be expected over the region from now on, said Marco Antonio dos Santos, meteorologist at Somar, a local weather service.

Over the weekend, more uniform rains are expected across Mato Grosso and surrounding areas, said the meteorologist.



US Ethanol Supply at 6-Week Low


Ethanol inventories in the United States fell last week for the third straight week, down to a six-week low despite a rise in plant production and a decline in demand, according to data released Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration.

Total ethanol stocks were drawn down about 400,000 barrels (bbl) to 17.9 million bbl during the week-ended Oct. 17, the lowest level of supply since the week-ended Aug. 29 when stocks totaled 17.673 million bbl.

Stocks have been drawn down since they hit an 18-month high of 18.828 bbl during the week-ended Sept. 26, but remain 2.4 million, or 15.7%, above a year ago.

Plant production increased 11,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 1.4%, last week to 896,000 bpd while largely unchanged year-over-year. Four-week average output through Oct. 17 is 1.6% higher than during the comparable year-ago period.

Blender inputs, a proxy for ethanol demand, eased 9,000 bpd, or 1.0%, to 876,000 bpd last week, while up 2.9% year-over-year. Inputs over the four weeks through Oct. 17 averaged 1.8% higher against the same four weeks year prior.



Court Tosses E15 Labeling Lawsuit


The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia tossed a lawsuit filed by industry trade groups seeking to repeal the Environmental Protection Agency labeling regulations for retail pumps for the sale of gasoline containing 15% ethanol known as E15.

The court ruled on Tuesday, Oct. 21, in a judgment that the groups, including the American Petroleum Institute and Engine Products Group, failed to establish standing because "they cannot show their members have suffered or are threatened with suffering an injury in fact that is traceable to the regulation," the court said.

The petitioners argued that the E15 labeling rule fails to satisfy the Clean Air Act, and that certain aspects are "arbitrary and capricious or an abuse of discretion."

EPG also challenged EPA's denial of its petition asking EPA to mandate the continued sale of gasoline containing 10% or less ethanol referred to as E10 in order to prevent improper fueling. EPG said E15 will damage products sold by its members for whom "E10 is suitable but E15 is not."

Sales of E15 consistent with the regulation would "therefore expose EPG members to warranty claims, product liability lawsuits, recalls and reputational injury," EPG argued.

The court said like API, EPG "failed to offer evidence connecting sales of E15 under the regulation to injuries that EPG members are sufficiently likely to suffer so as to afford it standing."

The court added in its published judgment that it "has accorded the issues full consideration and has determined that they do not warrant a published opinion."



CREW Sues EPA For Documents Regarding 2014 Renewable Fuel Standards


Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) today sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to provide documents regarding oil industry efforts to influence the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Last May, following a Reuters article describing how the Carlyle Group and Delta Airlines had lobbied members of Congress and the administration to reduce the amount of renewable fuel required to be blended into transportation fuel, CREW asked for an investigation by the EPA’s Office of Inspector General and filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records. It took months for the EPA to release even the documents the agency already had provided to Reuters, and it has yet to hand over all relevant documents.

Based on a follow-up Reuters article, CREW also has concerns that oil companies leveraged high-level political connections to convince the White House and the EPA to insert special waivers into the RFS that could potentially allow oil companies to refuse to sell biofuels.

“It certainly seems as if the administration has backtracked on its commitment to renewable fuels. The question is why. Was there a back room deal orchestrated by big oil and high ranking officials in the Obama administration?” asked CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “Even though it is nearly 2015, the renewable fuel standards for 2014 still haven’t been released. Is this to avoid potential political fallout in the mid-terms for siding with the oil industry over the biofuel industry?”

Each year, the EPA sets the RFS for how much renewable fuel must be blended into transportation fuel supplies. The most recent standards were proposed in November 2013 and were expected to be finalized last summer. For the first time since the RFS was created, the EPA proposed lowering the renewable fuel amounts. Also, earlier this month, Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) sent a letter to the White House expressing their concerns about EPA potentially inserting a waiver into the RFS, which would allow oil companies to refuse to distribute renewable fuel. Carlyle and Delta lobbied heavily for both of these modifications to the program and would benefit financially from the change. As Reuters revealed, they persuaded Reps. Robert Brady (D-PA) and Patrick Meehan (R-PA) to lobby administration officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, National Economic Council Director Ronald Minsk, and former National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling to weaken the RFS.

“Is the EPA slow-walking its release of these documents because it does not want the public to learn how political the RFS has become? The RFS should be based on sound energy policy, not politics. CREW’s lawsuit will shed light on what really went on at the EPA,” Ms. Sloan said.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org.   




Cropp: Milk Price Slide Beginning to Happen

It's been a great run, but those record high milk prices paid to farmers this year are starting to come back down. That's what Bob Cropp with the University of Wisconsin-Extension said in his monthly Dairy Situation and Outlook report. The professor emeritus says milk production has been going up and dairy exports have slowed down in recent weeks, which will trickle down to the producers' pay checks.

"Milk cow numbers only increased 2,000 head from August and were 0.6 percent higher than a year ago, but milk per cow was much higher at 3.4 percent above September a year ago," he noted in his latest assessment.

And as more product goes on the market, less of it is being shipped to customers in other countries.

"The latest dairy export report was for August showed that compared to a year ago, exports were 59 percent lower for butter, 10 percent lower for nonfat dry milk, 20 percent lower for dry whey, 36 percent lower for whey protein concentrate and 11 percent lower for lactose," Cropp said. "But, cheese was still 11 percent higher. Due to increase in world milk production and China's much lower dairy imports than earlier in the year world dairy product prices have declined substantially and are considerably lower than U.S. prices lowering U.S. exports."

As he said in recent months, Cropp explains that world dairy product prices are lower than U.S. prices, making it hard to compete against other producers in countries like New Zealand.

Looking at trends for the rest of the year, Cropp says the Class III milk price--which was $24.60 for September--will be near $23.95 for October and then falls to around $19.50 by December.

"The year will finish with cow numbers averaging about 0.4 percent higher than a year ago and milk per cow 2.1 percent higher resulting in total milk production near 206.3 billion pounds," he said. "The higher milk prices experienced and much lower feed costs than a year ago has resulted in very favorable margins for dairy producers."

For 2015, Cropp predicts that the Class III price could be around $18.25 by January and then falling into the $17s most of the year with the possibility of even being below $17 mid-summer before some strength in the fall.



Soy Growers: APH Provision a "Lifeline" for Farmers Impacted by Weather, Disasters


A new provision included in the 2014 Farm Bill has the potential to be a "lifeline" for farmers following crop losses due to severe weather events and natural disasters, according to the American Soybean Association. The Actual Production History Yield Exclusion, or APH, allows farmers to exclude yields from exceptionally bad years, such as those brought on by severe weather or natural disasters from their production history when calculating yields used to establish their crop insurance coverage.

"The rollout of the APH program is a lifesaver for soybean farmers in so many parts of the country. It quite literally means the difference between continuing to farm following disastrous years, and being forced out of business," said ASA First Vice President Wade Cowan, who farms in Brownfield, Texas, and has experienced significant drought in each of the last four growing seasons. "Weather is the single biggest external factor in soybean farming. We have no control over its effects, but with the APH program, we can better respond to its impacts."

The APH program is significant given the formula used to calculate crop insurance coverage. Producers are able to purchase coverage based on that farmer's average recent yields. Formerly, a year of bad yields due to severe weather would reduce the yield coverage levels available in future years. Under the APH program included in the Farm Bill and announced yesterday by USDA, yields can be excluded from farm actual production history when the county average yield for that crop year is at least 50 percent below the 10 previous consecutive crop years' average yield. By excluding exceptionally unusual years, a farmer's overall yield average avoids a disproportionate reduction.

The APH exclusion, according to Cowan, takes on additional significance this year, given the decline in prices for many commodities. "Without the APH program, producers who have suffered severe weather would face the double-whammy of low prices and low yield protection," Cowan said.

According to USDA, spring crops eligible for APH Yield Exclusion include corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, grain sorghum, rice, barley, canola, sunflowers, peanuts, and popcorn. Nearly three-fourths of all acres and liability in the federal crop insurance program will be covered under APH Yield Exclusion.

"Much credit should be given to the Agriculture Committees for including this provision in the Farm Bill, and then to Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and the team at USDA for rolling out this program for 2015 spring plantings," added Cowan. "The positive effects it will have for farmers, not only in the Southwest but nationwide, will be great evidence of its success."



NAWG Applauds Implementation of APH

The National Association of Wheat Growers is pleased that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) intends to move forward with the implementation of the Actual Production History (APH) adjustment for the 2015 spring-planted crops.

"On behalf of NAWG and the 22 states we represent, I thank Secretary Vilsack for working with his team to implement the APH provision for 2015 spring crops,” said Paul Penner, NAWG president and wheat grower from Hillsboro, Kan. “This provision will be another tool for wheat growers across the country to strengthen their safety net, particularly for growers who have experienced multi-year disasters. We are hopeful that USDA will continue to work on implementing this provision for our winter wheat growers this year."



Johnson Represents NCGA at White House Event on Women in Ag


National Corn Growers Association Past President Pam Johnson joined U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden at the White House Monday for the Dialogue on Women Leaders in Agriculture. More than thirty participants representing ag associations, businesses and higher education participated in the event, including the first women to lead each of the commodity organizations.

"You're the first generation of women ag leaders, but you're not the last." said Deputy Secretary Harden. "My challenge to you is to identify what you will do to bring the next generation of women along this path and beyond."

"We have a responsibility to recruit, inspire and empower current and next-generation women leaders," said Johnson. "It was such an honor to be at the White House, in the center of a very important discussion."

Attendees discussed common barriers women in the ag industry face, and shared best practices for recruitment and leadership development.

"Women play an increasingly important role on family farms, as both operators and landowners," said Johnson. "It makes good business sense to involve women of all ages in this process."

The event was sponsored by the White House Rural Council, established by President Obama in 2011 to address challenges in rural America.



Xanthion™ In-furrow fungicide from BASF receives registration


Xanthion™ In-furrow fungicide from BASF has recently received Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration for use on corn. Xanthion In-furrow fungicide will provide corn growers with an additional tool to protect their seed investment and maximize yield potential in the 2015 season.

“Xanthion In-furrow fungicide is a new tool to help growers start their season off strong,” says Justin Clark, Technical Market Specialist, BASF. “Different than other early season crop management treatments, Xanthion In-furrow fungicide provides extended residual control by forming a protective sheath around the roots. This can lead to healthier plants later in the season.”

Field research trials show Xanthion In-furrow fungicide provides more rapid emergence, extended residual control and improved seedling health than untreated crops. In research trials, corn plants treated with Xanthion In-furrow fungicide increased emergence by 5.2 percent compared to the untreated check.

Xanthion In-furrow fungicide is the first fungicide on the market to combine a chemical fungicide and a biofungicide. This combination fungicide, which contains the same active ingredients as in Headline® fungicide and Integral® biofungicide, provides two modes of action to protect growers’ seed investment by improving seedling health.

Xanthion In-furrow fungicide works by providing early, rapid and more uniform emergence and better root structure. In addition, Xanthion In-furrow fungicide helps control soilborne diseases and provides improved cold tolerance, promoting seedling health. Improved seedling health allows for increased nutrient and water uptake, maximizing yield potential.



Tuesday October 21 Ag News

Ak-Sar-Ben Carcass Results for Cuming County 4-H Exhibitors

Cuming County members placed well in the livestock carcass results that were just released from the 87th annual Ak-Sar-Ben Livestock exposition according to University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Educator in Cuming County Larry Howard.

In the Sheep contest, Kennedie Ott of Wisner placed 9th with 134 pound lamb that had a 77.72 pound carcass, 3.,91 inch loin eye area, .17 inch fat.  She also had the 42nd place carcass, both receiving purples.  Chase Ott placed 31st also receiving a purple.  Cuming County 4-H exhibitors also received four blue ribbons.

In the Beef carcass contest, Heath Schroeder of West Point placed 26th with his 1280 pound Calf Challenge Market Steer that had an 815 pound carcass, a 13.3 inch rib eye area, .35 inch fat, graded low choice and received a purple, Cuming County 4-H exhibitors also receive one blue and one white ribbon.

In the Swine contest, Anna Karnopp of Oakland placed 40th and received a purple.  Cuming County 4-H members also received five blue, nine red, and one white ribbon.

Complete results for Cuming County 4-H exhibitors are as follows:

Sheep Carcass Contest
Purple: Kennedie Ott, Wisner x2; Chase Ott, Wisner
Blue:  Tymarie Ott, Wisner x2; Chase Ott, Wisner; Kennedie Ott, Wisner

Beef Carcass Contest

Purple:  Heath Schroeder, West Point
Blue:  Emily Ludwig, Wisner
White:  Nathan Groth, Beemer

Swine Carcass Contest

Purple:  Anna Karnopp, Oakland
Blue:  Elizabeth Karnopp, Oakland; Anna Karnopp, Oakland; Kate Gnad, West Point; Megan Groth, Beemer; Jamie Plagge, West Point
Red:  Kate Gnad, West Point; Allison Guenther, West Point; Elizabeth Karnopp, Oakland; Blake Guenther, West Point x2; Tiffany Plagge, West Point; Nathan Groth, Beemer; Hunter Schroeder, West Point; Nathan Groth, Beemer
White:  Hunter Schroeder, West Point



Minimizing Storage and Feeding Losses of Round Bale Hay

Larry Howard, UNL Extension Educator, Cuming County


Storing big round hay bales by lining them up along the fence row may be easy, but it is not economical. Baled forage probably constitutes the highest percentage of winter feed cost we have invested in a cow. The production of hay uses a large amount of resources and the ration of beef cattle can be affected by the hay quality. Storing dry hay on the ground without cover is the worst possible storage technique. Results found from ranch research done in the Sandhills of Nebraska by the University of Nebraska Extension in 2005 – 2008 reported no significant nutrient changes in total dry matter pounds, pounds of crude protein or pounds of total digestible nutrients on native hay and alfalfa plots. However, visual damage losses after one year between covered and uncovered with twine or net wrap are reported at (http://go.unl.edu/49pk). Losses after two years of storage are reported at (http://go.unl.edu/okud).

There’s no one “right way” for everyone when it comes to hay storage. Producers should consider three factors in determining their optimum storage method.

1. Look at hay quality, or value. There’s a big dollar difference in a 25% loss on $120/ton of hay vs. $40/ton of hay. The better the quality, the more you’ll save putting it under storage.

2. Evaluate the likelihood of spoilage in your climate. Spoilage, or weathering, is the result of moisture getting into bales, and temperature accelerating bacterial breakdown of the cellulose. Warmer temperatures combined with moisture increase bale deterioration. Wind can also influence drying time. Moisture gets into bales in three ways: rainfall, snowmelt, and humidity. The tops of bales absorb moisture from rain and snowmelt, the bottom wicks moisture from the ground.

3. Consider the length of time bales will be exposed to weathering. First cutting forages are more susceptible than hay harvested in the fall, depending on when it’s fed. Once you’ve considered your elements, choose a storage method that best fits your needs.

Research from past studies show outdoor storage losses range from 5-35% of which can be reduced by 66% with indoor storage and be reduced by 50% with good plastic covering outdoors.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR STORAGE TECHNIQUES

Make a dense bale: It will shed more precipitation, sag less, and have less surface area to absorb moisture. By using net wrap you will reduce bale sag and maintain bale shape. In addition, net wrap makes a tight, smooth surface that will resist weathering, insects, and rodents. Store bales on a well drained location with a 4-6 inch coarse rock base that will minimize bottom spoilage. Store bales end-to-end in long lines in a northwest to southeast direction whenever possible. Space adjacent lines at least 10 feet apart. Stacking bales usually increased losses. Locate bale rows away from fences and fields and it is recommended to cover hay if keeping more than one year.



CONTROL WINTER ANNUAL WEEDS NOW

Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist


Pennycress, mustards, henbit, and downy brome may be getting started in your alfalfa.  Treat them now if you want to avoid heavy weed pressure next spring.

This has been a nice fall.  Abundant moisture and moderate temperatures have blessed many areas and much alfalfa still is green after a few overnight freezes.

I hate to spoil this pleasant scenario, but it also has been a great fall for winter annual weeds to get started in that green alfalfa.  Check your fields and you might find lots of small henbit plants or mustard rosettes or short grass seedlings of downy brome.  This robust start suggests heavy weed growth next spring.  If left uncontrolled they could grow rapidly, reducing alfalfa yield, thinning stands, and lowering forage quality.

To avoid next spring’s weed infestation, spray fields before soils freeze up.  Probably the three best herbicides to use right now are metribuzin, Sinbar, and Velpar.  All three do an excellent job of controlling pennycress, mustards, and downy brome.  Raptor might be a better choice, though, if henbit is your biggest problem.

Now you might be thinking – I can wait until early next spring to spend money on these herbicides to spray for these weeds.  And you’re right – you can wait.  The risk with this thinking, though, is that spring spraying must be done before alfalfa greens up or you will injure your alfalfa plants.  Usually, there are only a few days in spring where alfalfa is dormant, the weeds are actively growing, and it’s not too wet or windy.  Many times, fields don’t get sprayed at all or they get sprayed late and alfalfa suffers some setback.

Control weeds now in your alfalfa.  That way you won't be plagued by them next spring.



Nebraska Fence Laws and Responsibility of Landowners

Jim Jansen Cedar and Knox Counties Extension Educator
Dave Aiken, UNL Extension Agricultural Law Specialist 


Nebraska fence laws and the responsibility of landowners have evolved over time since the first established statute in 1867. According to current fence laws in Nebraska landowners are required to equally split the cost of establishing and maintaining a fence to divide their properties if either of the parties would like to establish the boundary. Landowners may also work out a mutual agreement on the cost of establishing and maintaining a fence according to their own requirements. The provisions established between the two parties in the mutual agreement may better align with their unique circumstance and serves as a better solution than other legal recourse. 

A general rule of thumb landowners in Nebraska have used to establish or maintain fence lines is to meet in the middle of the boundary and each individual looks to their right to identify their responsible portion. The part of the fence line to the individual’s right is the portion of the fence line the landowner would either establish or maintain throughout the year. 

Current fence laws define the types of fences that each party must pay equally to cover if one of the landowners would like to establish the boundary and a mutual agreement could not be reached. Landowners are encouraged to work with their neighbors when deciding the proper arrangement for establishing or maintaining a proper fence line. Other legal measures forcing the uncompliant party to cooperate may be costly and take a considerable amount of time. Seeking the services of a lawyer along with filing a court case requiring a judge to settle the dilemma significantly increase the cost of establishing a fence line.   



Iowa Corn Collegiate Advisory Team Select 20 Students from Across the State


20 Iowa college students have been named to the fourth Iowa Corn Collegiate Advisory Team (CAT). 

The Iowa Corn CAT is sponsored by the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board (ICPB).  The Iowa Corn CAT assists the ICGA and ICPB in developing programs that target and enhance Iowa Corn’s relationship with students who are pursuing careers in agricultural production and agriculture business and industries.

"The Iowa Corn Collegiate Advisory Team is a great opportunity for students to engage and connect with the agriculture industry," said Lowell Appleton, an Iowa Corn director and chair of the committee that oversees the program.   "We are looking forward to working with these talented students on programs and ideas to help promote and grow the industry."

Participants of the selected team include: 
-- Titan Immel, Adair, DMACC-Ankeny Campus
-- Will Vande Voort,New Sharon, Dordt College
-- Cole Birchmier, Story City, Ellsworth Community College
-- Tessa Otto, Murray, Graceland University
-- Angela Petersen, Cedar Falls, Hawkeye Community College
-- Nicolas Davis, Humboldt, Iowa Central Community College
-- Ashley Smeby, Klemme, Iowa State University
-- Kalli Weber, Mapleton, Iowa State University
-- Kaitlin Ihns, Wilton, Iowa State University
-- Rebecca Haugland, Solon, Iowa State University
-- Haley Banwart, West Bend, Iowa State University
-- Brogan Bulecheck, Centerville, Indian Hills Community College
-- Ben Guthrie, Hopkinton, Kirkwood Community College
-- Katie Gubbels, Laurel, Neb., Morningside College
-- Whitley Frieden, Joy, Muscatine Community College
-- Derek Counsell, Orchard, North Iowa Community College
-- Natalie Te Grootenhuis, Hospers, Northwestern College
-- Skyler Wright, Keokuk, Northeast Iowa Community College
-- Haley Vandenberg, Farmington, Southeastern Community College
-- Matt Mitchell, Indianola, Southwestern Community College

The first Iowa Corn CAT meeting will be held in November at the Iowa Corn offices in Johnston. The students were selected to the team for a one-year term.



Brannaman Back at Home with ISU Extension and Outreach


For Nancy Brannaman, it was time to come home.

The Iowa State alum had traveled the world as a Foreign Service officer with the U.S. State Department, but she and John, her husband and fellow ISU alum, felt a pull back towards life in Iowa.

And what better place to land than where she started her career in the 1980s -- with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach?

Brannaman was recently hired as ISU Extension and Outreach's director of operations, and she couldn't be happier to be home.

As director of operations, she is Extension and Outreach's chief financial officer and responsible for planning, organizing, directing and controlling Extension and Outreach operations. Four Extension and Outreach units -- Finance, Conference Planning and Management, Extension Distribution Center and Extension Information Technology -- report to her.

"I was really pleased to have an opportunity to come back to Iowa State University, back to Extension," said Brannaman, who worked as an ISU Extension and Outreach area management specialist in east-central Iowa for seven years during the 1980s. "I thoroughly enjoyed working for Extension. When I saw this opportunity to come back and work as the Director of Operations, I thought, 'This is perfect for me.' My husband and I both wanted to come back to Iowa, so here I am."

The Brannamans worked in Ukraine in the early 1990s following the breakup of the Soviet Union, and in 2000, Nancy decided she wanted to work abroad again. After passing written and oral Foreign Service exams, she was hired by the State Department, with Ukraine as her first post.

From Ukraine, they moved to Baku, Azerbaijan, capital of the former Soviet republic in the Caucasus Mountains, a moderate Muslim nation.

Brannaman called it "one of our most favorite tours," as she and her husband "traveled the country in our Ford Explorer and had a really good time learning about the history and culture of the Caucasus region."

Another former Soviet republic -- Uzbekistan -- was next on the docket. Located in central Asia, Tashkent, Uzbekistan was 10 time zones away from Washington, D.C., and very different culturally.

"It was very historic and had beautiful Islamic art," she said. "One of the early leaders of Uzbekistan made many significant contributions to algebra and astronomy, and built one of the first planetariums in the world."

Following a stateside stint in Washington where she helped support six European embassies as "the eyes, ears and feet of those embassies in Washington" it was back to Europe -- this time, Albania. She spent eight months studying Albanian with a language tutor and was responsible for management, human resources and finance while there.

She then spent another four years in Washington at the State Department working with European embassies before going abroad again to the world's newest nation, South Sudan, which declared independence from Sudan in 2011.

In Juba, South Sudan, the new nation's capital, she helped build the embassy's operations from the inside out, training and hiring a staff largely comprised of locals.

"It was a challenge because the embassy didn't have any financial systems installed," she said. "All of the work had been done (remotely) in Washington or Khartoum, Sudan. But the South Sudanese employees were tremendously hard-working and dedicated."

Following 25 years of civil war which had put a tremendous strain on the Sudanese people, the new nation's residents were eager to learn. For example, Brannaman said she trained guards in finance, human resources and purchasing and procurement.

"After 25 years of civil war there was tremendous unemployment, so many people underemployed," she said. "There were great candidates as we started our staff."

The Brannamans lived in an apartment which was fashioned from an old 20-foot wooden shipping container, fully furnished: they were allowed only 750 pounds of personal belongings. During down time, she and her husband walked the streets and markets of Juba, and never felt any more afraid or vigilant than they would in a large U.S. city.

"Americans and Westerners are welcome in South Sudan," she said. "The South Sudanese realize what a help Americans and Westerners have been in creating the country of South Sudan and helping the country get on its feet."

Still, when the new opportunity with ISU Extension and Outreach presented itself, it was impossible to turn down.

"There's just something about the friendliness, the genuineness, the helpful nature of Iowans and Midwesterners that has really kept us attached to Iowa over the years," she said.

After 14 years spent with the State Department -- much of it abroad -- the Brannamans brought their stateside life out of storage. John worked jobs concurrent with Nancy's posts, but he is still in South Sudan finishing his latest position. They collaborated on buying a house over email, and Nancy says she is waiting for the third and final load of their belongings to arrive: they were stored in warehouses in the Washington, D.C., area while they traveled.

Nancy is excited about settling in with a more stable stateside position.

In her new position, Brannaman wants to use Extension and Outreach resources to create a more efficient operation that moves forward by sharing resources.

"One of the biggest things I want to do is help create synergies," she said. "Working with all (Extension and Outreach) groups, I'll see at a high level what the needs are, what the ideas are and how to take people, expertise and talent together to do new things."



USDA to Launch New Farm Bill Program to Help Provide Relief to Farmers Affected by Severe Weather

2014 Farm Bill's APH Yield Exclusion to be Implemented for 2015 Spring Crops

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the implementation of a new Farm Bill initiative that will provide relief to farmers affected by severe weather, including drought. The Actual Production History (APH) Yield Exclusion, available nationwide for farmers of select crops starting next spring, allows eligible producers who have been hit with severe weather to receive a higher approved yield on their insurance policies through the federal crop insurance program.

Spring crops eligible for APH Yield Exclusion include corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, grain sorghum, rice, barley, canola, sunflowers, peanuts, and popcorn. Nearly three-fourths of all acres and liability in the federal crop insurance program will be covered under APH Yield Exclusion.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Risk Management Agency and Farm Service Agency staff worked hard to implement several 2014 Farm Bill programs ahead of schedule, such as the Agricultural Risk Coverage, the Price Loss Coverage, Supplemental Coverage Option and Stacked Income Protection Plan. USDA is now able to leverage data from the Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage to extract the information needed to implement APH Yield Exclusion earlier than expected.

"Key programs launched or extended as part of the 2014 Farm Bill are essential to USDA's commitment to help rural communities grow. These efforts give farmers, ranchers and their families better security as they work to ensure Americans have safe and affordable food," said Vilsack. "By getting other 2014 Farm Bill programs implemented efficiently, we are now able to offer yield exclusion for Spring 2015 crops, providing relief to farmers impacted by severe weather."

The APH Yield Exclusion allows farmers to exclude yields in exceptionally bad years (such as a year in which a natural disaster or other extreme weather occurs) from their production history when calculating yields used to establish their crop insurance coverage. The level of insurance coverage available to a farmer is based on the farmer's average recent yields. In the past, a year of particularly low yields that occurred due to severe weather beyond the farmer's control would reduce the level of insurance coverage available to the farmer in future years. By excluding unusually bad years, farmers will not have to worry that a natural disaster will reduce their insurance coverage for years to come.

Under the new Farm Bill program, yields can be excluded from farm actual production history when the county average yield for that crop year is at least 50 percent below the 10 previous consecutive crop years' average yield.

RMA will provide additional program details in December 2014.

Federal crop insurance, which is sold through private crop insurance agents, offers a variety of options that may impact coverage and premium costs. Producers are encouraged to work with their crop insurance agent to determine the coverage that best meets their risk management needs. Farmers can find a crop insurance agent in their area at: www.rma.usda.gov/tools/agent.html.



Breeding Soybeans That Can Tolerate Heat, Drought


Hot, dry conditions can wreak havoc on a field of soybeans. According to the National Center for Soybean Technology, "drought is the greatest threat to profitability."

Work underway at South Dakota State University may change that. Assistant professor Jai Rohila of the biology and microbiology department is uncovering the molecular mechanisms that lead to drought and heat tolerance. This will help breeders develop soybean varieties that can survive heat and drought.

"Ultimately our goal is to help the farmers in the field," Rohila said.

To do this, he is working with University of Minnesota soybean breeder Jim Orf, who provided Rohila with two varieties of soybeans, one that has greater tolerance to hot, dry conditions, and another that is susceptible. The project, which began in 2010, is supported by the South Dakota Soybean Research and Promotion Council.

"Drought and heat are very complicated," Rohila said, because multiple genes affect the plant’s physiological and biochemical response to environmental stressors. "I am going to build a bridge between the physiology and the gene discovery."

By comparing the two soybean varieties, Rohila and graduate student Aayudh Das hope to identify the key genes that lead to increased tolerance. Genes regulate the expression of proteins and chemical signaling pathways that determine the plant’s response to heat and lack of water.

Das has found 90 proteins that are differentially expressed during drought and heat conditions in the tolerant variety. These proteins then interact with enzymes that affect the plant’s metabolism including its ability to produce carbohydrates, lipids and various metabolites including amino acids.

A drought-stressed soybean plant, for instance, closes its pores or stomata to prevent water from escaping; however, this action has a cost--it limits the plant’s ability to take in carbon dioxide and ultimately to make the carbohydrates it needs, Das explained.

Though the researchers have more work to do, Das explained that the next step will be to see if overexpressing these enzymes can further protect the soybean plant.



Fertilizer Prices Remain in Limbo


As harvest progresses, retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN for the third week of October continue on an level trend, remaining steady with very little price movement.  DAP, MAP, potash, 10-34-0 and anhydrous were slightly higher in price compared to a month previous while urea, UAN28 and UAN32 were a little lower. Neither group featured a significant move in either direction.  DAP had an average price of $583/ton, urea $508/ton, UAN28 $326/ton and UAN32 $372/ton. MAP had an average price of $599/ton, potash $477/ton, 10-34-0 $557/ton and anhydrous $696/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.55/lb.N, anhydrous $0.42/lb.N, UAN28 $0.58/lb.N and UAN32 $0.58/lb.N.

Two of the eight major fertilizers are now double-digits higher in price compared to October 2013, all while commodity prices are significantly lower from a year ago. Urea remains up 15% compared to year earlier, followed by DAP 11% more expensive.  In addition, 10-24-0 is up 7% from a year ago, MAP and anhydrous are each up 6% and UAN28 and UAN32 are both just 1% higher.  Potash remains the only nutrient which is still lower compared to retail prices from a year ago, coming in at about 3% lower than a year ago.



Agriculture, Interior Departments partner to measure conservation impacts on water quality


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced a new partnership agreement today that will provide a clearer picture of the benefits of farmers' conservation practices on the quality of our Nation's water.  Working together, USDA's NRCS and DOI's USGS will quantify the benefits of voluntary agricultural practices at a watershed scale.  This information will strengthen the effectiveness of state and federal nutrient reduction strategies while protecting the privacy of individual farmers.  The agreement was announced at the Mississippi River Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force Meeting.

"On a voluntary basis, the agricultural community has put extensive effort into the management of nutrients and reducing runoff into waterways. This collaboration will help evaluate the impact of farmers' conservation efforts on improving water quality," said Ann Mills, USDA's deputy under secretary for Natural Resources and Environment.

Mills said when hundreds of farms take action in one watershed, it can make a difference-it can help prevent an algal bloom downstream or lessen the need for water treatment plants to treat for nitrates.

The U.S. Geological Survey will now use Natural Resources Conservation Service data on conservation work to factor into its surface water quality models, which track how rivers receive and transport nutrients from natural and human sources to downstream reservoirs and estuaries. This information will help provide a more accurate picture of the conservation systems in the watershed that contribute to water quality improvement and will provide crucial information for voluntary nutrient management strategies and watershed planning.

"This agreement will allow NRCS and USGS to combine resource management capabilities with science, and will give us the information we need to prioritize the most effective conservation strategies so that we can improve the quality of streams throughout the Mississippi River Basin," said Lori Caramanian, DOI deputy assistant secretary for Water and Science.

Working together, NRCS and USGS will develop conservation intensity data sets that reflect the value of conservation actions, but do not reveal private information about individual farms, ranches or forests. Protecting the trust relationship between NRCS and farmers and their private information protected by law is vital to the continued success of voluntary conservation on private lands.

"We know our farmers are doing great work to protect our natural resources. Our goal with this partnership is to be able to better recognize these achievements and provide conservation and water quality management communities with science-based information for improving water quality," Mills said. "Farmers invest heavily in conservation systems to improve water quality, and we want to aid their decisions with the best science and information available."

The conservation intensity products developed through the agreement will provide a uniform representation of conservation activities for use in water quality assessments at local, regional, and national scales. Water quality and land resource managers will therefore have the assurance that they are using consistent and accurate information on conservation activities and a common platform for discussing conservation benefits.



Storage May be Less Severe Than Anticipated


The large size of fall-harvested crops in the United States has raised very real concerns about the ability to readily store the record supply of crops available this year. According to a University of Illinois agricultural economist, supplies that exceed permanent storage capacity require the use of temporary storage facilities or may require delayed harvest in some circumstances. However, weather-related harvest delays to date and a rapid rate of consumption mean that overall storage issues may be less severe than feared this year.

"The supply of crops to be stored in the fall of the year consists of the inventory already in store as well as the newly harvested crops," explained Darrel Good. "The USDA's September Grain Stocks report showed the inventory of feed grains, wheat, and soybeans on Sept. 1, 2014, at 3.528 billion bushels, 422 million bushels larger than the inventory of the previous year. The October Crop Production report estimated that the corn, sorghum, and soybean harvest would total 18.806 billion bushels, 1.134 billion bushels larger than last year's harvest. The fall supply of feed grains, wheat, and soybeans is estimated to be 22.334 billion bushels, 1.556 billion bushels larger than the supply of a year earlier. The majority (62 percent) of the total year-over- year increase in supply comes from larger corn supplies."

Each year, the USDA provides an estimate of on-farm and off-farm grain storage capacity based on surveys conducted in December. Total storage capacity as of Dec. 1, 2013, was estimated at 23.44 billion bushels. "Some additional capacity has been added in 2014, but the total fall crop supply this year likely represents about 95 percent of total storage capacity," Good said. "While overall storage capacity appears to be fully adequate to handle the available crop supply, issues develop because some of that capacity is occupied by other crops and, more important, the location of available storage capacity does not always align with the location of fall-harvested crops. Still, not all of the supply has to be stored. Harvest occurs over a relatively long period of time, and crops are continually consumed."

Good said that harvest has proceeded more slowly this year than in the recent past due to wet weather in some major producing areas. As of October 12, the USDA estimated that only 24 percent of the corn acreage had been harvested, compared to the previous 5-year average of 43 percent. That average includes 2009 when only 13 percent of the acreage had been harvested as of the same date. Soybean harvest has been a little more timely but was estimated at only 40 percent complete as of October 12, compared to the previous 5-year average of 53 percent. The slower pace of harvest has allowed for more crops to be consumed as harvest progresses, reducing the overall requirement for storage space.

Based on USDA weekly export inspection estimates, Good said that the exports of feed grains, wheat, and soybeans from Sept. 1 through Oct. 16 totaled about 625 million bushels. Based on the USDA's projection of feed and residual use of corn for the 2014-15 marketing year and the recent seasonal pattern of that use, about 1.225 billion bushels of corn were likely used in that category during that same time period. Similarly, about 800 million bushels of corn were likely used for domestic food and industrial products, mostly ethanol. Feed and residual use of other feed grains and wheat was likely near only 50 million bushels as residual use of wheat is often negative during the fall quarter. Based on the National Oilseed Processor Association (NOPA) estimate of the domestic soybean crush for September and assuming a normal seasonal increase in October, about 170 million bushels of soybeans were likely processed during that time period. Based on a typical seasonal pattern, seed, feed, and residual use of soybeans was likely near 150 million bushels. Food and industrial use of wheat and feed grains other than corn would have been near 180 million bushels if use followed a typical seasonal pattern.

"In total, it is likely that consumption of feed grains, wheat, and soybeans during the period from Sept. 1 through Oct. 16 totaled about 3.2 billion bushels, or about 69.6 million bushels per day," Good said. "That pace of use continues so that nearly 16 percent of the total fall crop supply has already been consumed. That magnitude of consumption has substantially reduced the requirement for crop storage capacity, resulting in a modest strengthening of the corn and soybean basis in many areas."

Good concluded that while overall crop storage issues may be less severe than anticipated, regional issues persist. "In addition, a more rapid pace of harvest, particularly for corn, is expected to occur this week and beyond as weather conditions remain favorable over much of the production area," Good said. "A rapid pace of harvest would be expected to keep basis levels for corn and soybeans seasonally weak. A typical post-harvest recovery in basis levels, however, is expected."



US Egg Production Up 2% in September


United States egg production totaled 8.09 billion during September 2014, up 2 percent from last year. Production included 7.03 billion table eggs, and 1.06 billion hatching eggs, of which 991 million were broiler-type and 70 million were egg-type. The total number of layers during September 2014 averaged 358 million, up 2 percent from last year. September egg production per 100 layers was 2,261 eggs, down slightly from September 2013.
                  
All layers in the United States on October 1, 2014 totaled 358 million, up 2 percent from last year. The 358 million layers consisted of 303 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 52.8 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs,  and  2.97  million  layers  producing  egg-type  hatching  eggs.  Rate  of  lay  per  day  on  October  1,  2014,  averaged 75.2 eggs per 100 layers, down 1 percent from October 1, 2013.

Egg-type  chicks  hatched  during  September  2014  totaled  43.3  million,  up  4  percent  from  September  2013.  Eggs  in incubators totaled 42.8 million on October 1, 2014, up 10 percent from a year ago.

Domestic placements of egg-type pullet chicks for future hatchery supply flocks by leading breeders totaled 394 thousand during September 2014, up 46 percent from September 2013.

Broiler-type  chicks  hatched  during  September  2014  totaled  756 million,  up  1  percent  from  September  2013.  Eggs  in incubators totaled 619 million on October 1, 2014, up 3 percent from a year ago.

Leading  breeders  placed  7.25  million  broiler-type  pullet  chicks  for  future  domestic  hatchery  supply  flocks  during September 2014, up 5 percent from September 2013.

Egg  production  in  Iowa  during  September  2014  was 1.37 billion  eggs,  down  2  percent  from  last month,  but  up 4 percent from last year, according to the latest Chickens and Eggs  release  from USDA’s National Agricultural  Statistics Service. 

Iowa  layer  inventory  is  at  the  highest  point  since  records began  in  1964.  At  59.0  million  in  September,  it  is  up 1 percent  from  last  month,  and  up  3  percent  from  the 57.6 million  last year. Eggs per 100  layers  for  the month of September  were  2,317,  down  2  percent  from  2,370  last month, but up 1 percent from 2,295 last year.



Syngenta, Bunge GE Lawsuit Revived


(AP) -- A federal appeals court gave agricultural chemical-maker Syngenta Seeds hope Monday that it may be able to proceed with a lawsuit against grain storage and transportation company Bunge North America for refusing to accept one of Syngenta's genetically engineered corn varieties.

Syngenta sued Bunge in 2011, claiming it illegally refused to buy Syngenta's Viptera corn from farmers that year. Viptera is genetically engineered to control pests.

The case highlights the complications arising from genetically modified grain entering international markets; some foreign importers accept GEOs, while others do not.

China is a significant buyer of U.S. corn but has strict rules against accepting GE grain.

When Bunge made its decision not to accept Viptera "China maintained a zero tolerance policy regarding imports of corn grown from seed with genetically-modified traits China had not approved," court documents said. "Pursuant to the policy, Chinese officials could prohibit an entire shipment of corn from entering the Chinese market if the shipment contained traces of corn with an unapproved genetically-modified trait."

Rather than risk that, St. Louis-based Bunge posted signs at its Midwest businesses that said it was unable to accept Viptera.

Minnesota-based Syngenta said that caused some farmers who had purchase contracts with Bunge and who had planted Viptera corn seed to incur additional expenses "due to having to transport their harvested crops to non-Bunge warehouses, obtain non-Viptera corn to fulfill their contracts with Bunge, or buy out their contracts at a loss."

Syngenta said that as a result, it lost profits, market share and goodwill.

In 2012 U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett dismissed Syngenta's lawsuit saying some of the allegations weren't supported by the law and that Syngenta failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove other claims.

A panel of judges on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that one of Syngenta's claims, alleging Bunge made false statements about Viptera, should be sent back to Bennett for reconsideration after the U.S. Supreme Court changed the legal standard for such cases.

In a statement, Bunge said it's pleased the appeals court rejected most of Syngenta's claims and it is confident it will prevail again in district court.

The company said its decision to not accept Viptera "was a legitimate business decision made to protect our farmer customers and the export supply chain. Bunge will continue to appropriately communicate to our farmer customers regarding seed traits that lack necessary approvals for certain export destinations."



Monday, October 20, 2014

October 20 Crop Progress and Harvest Reports - NE - IA - US

NEBRASKA CROP PROGRESS - CORN HARVEST SLOW, SOYBEANS SPEED ALONG

For the week ending October 19, 2014, limited rainfall and above normal temperatures provided excellent harvest conditions, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Good progress was made on soybean harvest, while producers waited for grain moisture levels, especially in irrigated corn, to dry down further. Significant rain of an inch or more was limited to the extreme southeastern counties. Sugarbeet harvest in the west was slowed due to the warm conditions. Livestock producers began moving cattle to available stalk fields. Statewide, there were 6.6 days suitable for fieldwork.  Topsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short, 23 short, 72 adequate, and 2 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 8 percent very short, 23 short, 67 adequate, and 2 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn conditions rated 2 percent very poor, 5 poor, 18 fair, 51 good, and 24 excellent. Corn mature was 94 percent, near 91 last year and 93 average. Corn harvested was 28 percent, near 31 last year, but behind 45 average.

Soybean conditions rated 1 percent very poor, 5 poor, 19 fair, 54 good, and 21 excellent. Soybeans harvested was 69 percent, behind 77 last year and 81 average. 

Sorghum conditions rated 1 percent very poor, 5 poor, 32 fair, 40 good, and 22 excellent.  Sorghum mature was 95 percent, near 96 last year and 91 average. Sorghum harvested was 27 percent, near 31 last year and 32 average.

Dry beans harvested was 92 percent, near 93 last year and 94 average.

Alfalfa hay fourth cutting was 94 percent complete, ahead of 88 last year, but equal to the average.

Winter wheat emerged was 89 percent, ahead of 71 last year and 75 for the five-year average.

Proso millet harvested was 93 percent, ahead of 86 last year and 85 average.

Livestock, Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 5 percent very poor, 7 poor, 32 fair, 48 good, and 8 excellent.  Stock water supplies rated 1 percent very short, 5 short, 92 adequate, and 2 surplus.


Access the National publication for Crop Progress and Condition tables at:  http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/nass/CropProg//2010s/2014/CropProg-10-20-2014.txt
Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps at:  http://www.hprcc.unl.edu/maps/current/index.php?action=update_region&state=NE&region=HPRCC
Access the U.S. Drought Monitor at:  http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?NE



Iowa Crop Progress - Harvest 10-20 days behind normal pace


Fieldwork stalled early in the week due to rain, but farmers were able to harvest during the rest of the week ending October 19, 2014, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Overall there were 4.2 days suitable for fieldwork. Most farmers reported harvesting soybeans while waiting for corn to dry down in the fields. Activities for the week included fall tillage, manure and fertilizer application, biomass baling, and hauling grain.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 4 percent short, 78 percent adequate, and 18 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 1 percent very short, 5 percent short, 80 percent adequate, and 14 percent surplus. Southwest and south central Iowa were the wettest with over one-third of their topsoil in surplus condition.

Ninety-six percent of Iowa’s corn acreage was mature, 3 days behind the five-year average. Corn harvest advanced 9 percentage points to 19 percent complete, 18 days behind the normal pace. Moisture content of corn at harvest was estimated at 21 percent. Seventyseven percent of the corn crop was reported in good to excellent condition.

With almost the entire soybean crop dropping leaves or beyond, harvest reached 61 percent complete, 9 days behind normal.  Seventy-four percent of the soybean acreage was in good to excellent condition.

Grain movement from farm to elevator was rated 55 percent moderate to heavy, increasing 8 percentage points from the previous week. Offfarm grain storage availability was 92 percent adequate to surplus. On-farm grain storage availability was 87 percent adequate to surplus.

Pasture and hay have had excellent regrowth this fall with plenty of rain and cooler than normal temperatures. Pasture condition remained steady at 66 percent good to excellent, while hay and roughage supplies were estimated at 97 percent adequate to surplus. Livestock conditions were reported as ideal.



IOWA PRELIMINARY WEATHER SUMMARY

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


Light rain fell nearly statewide on Sunday (12th) with moderate to heavy rain falling across the southeast two-thirds of Iowa on Monday (13th) and into Tuesday (14th). The remainder of the week was dry excepting some scattered very light rain over the northeast on Friday (17th). Weekly rainfall amounts varied from just a trace at Spencer and Estherville to 4.61 inches at Pella. The statewide average precipitation was 1.50 inches or nearly triple the weekly normal of 0.56 inches. Temperatures were near seasonal averages for the week with cooler than normal weather on Sunday (12th) and Saturday (18th) and slightly higher than normal temperatures during the work week. Temperature extremes varied from morning lows of 28 degrees at Sheldon on Wednesday (15th) and 27 degrees at Elkader on Sunday (1 9th) to a Thursday (16th) afternoon high of 78 degrees at Sioux City. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged from 3 degrees above normal over the far northwest to two degrees below normal over the far southeast with a statewide average of 0.2 degrees above normal. Soil temperatures at the four inch depth as of Sunday (19th) were averaging in the low to mid 50’s statewide and are expected to remain in the fifties for the coming week.



USDA Weekly Crop Progress - October 20th, 2014

In an "average" year more than half the nation's corn crop would be harvested by now and about two-thirds of the soybean crop... but 2014 isn't an average year.

According to USDA's latest weekly Crop Progress report, as of Oct. 19, 31% of U.S. corn was harvested and 53% of the soybeans. That compares to 24% and 40% a week ago.

Winter wheat is 76% planted and 56% emerged, compared to 68% and 43% last week and 77% and 40% on average.



Brazil Soy Crop Just 10% Planted


Another hot, dry week in Brazil's Center-West and South-East regions put Brazil's soybean planting further behind schedule, according to AgRural, a local farm consultancy.

Up to Friday, farmers had planted 10% of the projected Brazilian crop, well behind planting at this stage last year, when 19% was in the ground, and the five-year average of 20%.

Field work moved forward just three percentage points last week as growers continue to wait for spring rains in Mato Grosso and surrounding Center-West states, which account for nearly 50% of soy production.

In the south, planting has also not gone as fast as it could due to heavy rains at the end of September and early October and then high temperatures over the last couple of weeks.

Parana, the No. 2 soy state, had planted 33% of the soybean crop up to Oct. 17, which is back from the 40% planted last year although in line with the five-year average of 33%.

The hot weather has made farmers in the region edgy, although temperatures should drop this week.

In the Center-West, Mato Grosso had planted 11% of the crop as of Friday, well back from the 30% recorded at the same stage last year. In the west of the state, isolated showers last week allowed for some planting progress and 16% had been planted there.

Similarly in Mato Grosso do Sul, some 10% had been planted as of Friday compared with 30% last year.


Monday October 20 Ag News

Corn Stalk Nitrate Tests
Charles Shapiro, CPAg, ExtensionSoil Scientist, Haskell Ag Lab


Late season stalk nitrate tests are used to assess the nitrogen status of corn plants at physiological maturity. This year may provide interesting information since we had greater than average rainfall for most of the eastern part of the state.

Reports are that nitrogen leaching may have been widespread, and some nitrogen that was intended to go on in irrigation water, may not have been applied. From my experience and sampling in research plots, stalk nitrate tests have to be viewed with other knowledge about the field and the cultural practices.

I have seen where late season nitrogen was in the plant stalks, but did not affect yield. I have also seen, mostly on sandy ground, where low stalk nitrates (below 700 ppm) did not indicate N deficiency, but effective utilization of all the nitrogen in the plant.

The best use of this test is to compare different treatments, such as a strip trial where extra nitrogen was applied sidedress. The information from the stalk nitrate test is better interpreted with yield data.



UNL Beef Outlook & Tax Mgt Wksp to be Held in O'Neill


Beef producers are invited to attend a “Beef Outlook and Tax Management” Workshop to be held at the Holt County Extension Office Meeting Room on Tuesday, October 28th from 12 Noon until 3 pm.  Major topics will deal with tax management tips to deal with above average income from both higher livestock prices, and income from the Livestock Forage Disaster Program payments.  In addition, an outlook on current prices and trends in the cattle industry will be discussed.

Speakers will include Anthony Barrett, with Nebraska Farm Business Inc, and Jim Jansen, UNL Extension Ag Economist.  The workshop will begin with a meal at noon, and will include copies of all information covered.

There will be a $10 registration fee for the program.  Please register with the Holt County Extension Office prior to the meeting for meal numbers at 402-336-2760 or to Gary Stauffer at gstauffer1@unl.edu.  Workshops will also be held at Ainsworth from 5-8 pm that evening, and at Burwell on November 3 from 11am-2 pm.



Small Scale Farming Workshop Nov. 8

Gary Lesoing, Extension Educator, Nemaha County


Interested in learning how to produce your own food or start a diversified agriculture business on your acreage or in your backyard? UNL Extension will be hosting the third installment of "Small Spaces, Big Potential": a Small Scale Farming Workshop on Saturday, November 8 in Nebraska City. The event will be at the Kimmel Education and Research Center (5985 G Road) beginning at 8:45 am and ending at 4:30 pm.

The workshop will feature presentations by local farmers and UNL Extension personnel. Breakout session topics and presenters will include:
-    The Basics of Backyard Poultry and Rabbits with Brett Kreifels, UNL Extension;
-    Aquaponics with Gregg Fripp, Whispering Roots;
-    Growing Hops with Shad Reynolds, Nebraska Hop Growers;
-    Raising Bees in Urban Areas with Tony Sandoval, Omaha Beekeepers;
-    Operating a Pumpkin Patch Enterprise with Teresa Lorensen, Bloom Where You're Planted Farm; and
-    Xeric Gardening with Nicole Stoner and John Fech, UNL Extension.

The day also will include a general session on ag restoration with Brad Kindler entitled "Cows, Oaks, & Art." Kindler, who recently returned from the Peace Corps, has been actively involved in sustainable agriculture since 2003 and is currently working at Branched Oak Farm to develop an orchard and market garden.  The day will conclude with a presentation on FSA programs for Small and Beginning Farmers by Wes Finkner, Farm Service Agency.

Pre-registration costs are $35 per individual, $50 per couple, and $10 per youth. Registration at the door will be: $45 per individual, $60 per couple, and $20 per youth. For questions or to pre-register contact the Nemaha County Extension Office (402-274-4755) or see program flyer.



42nd Anniversary of the Clean Water Act


Saturday, October 18th, is the 42nd anniversary of America’s Clean Water Act. When Congress passed this legislation, two-thirds of America’s waterways were too toxic for fishing, swimming or drinking, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“We should celebrate this anniversary, because the Clean Water Act has helped clean up our waterways ensuring that our families have clean, safe water to drink,” said John Crabtree of the Center for Rural Affairs. “We should also use this as an opportunity to examine what still needs to be done to protect clean water for our children and future generations.”

Toward that end, the EPA is collecting comments on a new proposed rule called “Waters of the U.S.,” which would clear the regulatory waters, fix loopholes in Clean Water Act enforcement, and reestablish protections of the source of our drinking water supplies, Crabtree added.

According to Crabtree, this rulemaking comes after a decade of uncertainty over the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act, following Supreme Court challenges in 2001 and 2006. The proposed rule would restore Clean Water Act protections to 20 million acres of wetlands and more than half the nation’s streams, helping preserve drinking water quality for 117 million Americans.

“The time has come to set aside political posturing and petty partisan politics, improve the Waters of the U.S., and move forward,” continued Crabtree. “We urge the White House to heed the constructive input they’ve received through the public comment process and then finalize this proposed rule to protect America’s surface waters and provide clean drinking water for all Americans.”

“The proposed Waters of the U.S. rule is a commonsense effort to protect the quality of the nation’s surface waters and provide an environment in which economically vital activities such as hunting, fishing and birding as well as farming and ranching can thrive economically while contributing to a better quality of life in rural America and safer drinking water for those of us who live here and also for our neighbors downstream,” Crabtree concluded. “We applaud President Obama for standing up for clean water by proposing this rule and urge him to finish the task.”

For more information on Waters of the U.S. rule, visit the Center for Rural Affairs website: http://www.cfra.org/Waters-of-the-US.



Iowa Comments on Federal 'Waters of the United States' Proposal


Gov. Terry E. Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Secretary Bill Northey, along with relevant state leaders, today sent a letter and submitted comments to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and Army for Civil Works Assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy on the proposed "Waters of the United States" federal rule under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

"The overriding concern of a diverse group of impacted stakeholders, including state leaders, is that the proposed rule will impose significant barriers to the advancement of innovative, state- and local-driven conservation and environmental practices that would actually advance our common goal of water quality," the letter reads. "Because the proposed rule is fatally flawed, we request that it be withdrawn and that future rulemaking be appropriately coordinated with States and relevant stakeholders. We agree that clean water requires good, clear, well-designed regulations -- unfortunately, the ones currently being proposed are not."

The letter outlines four key concerns from relevant stakeholders:
-- Disregard for states' lead role under the CWA to protect and promote water quality
-- Section 101(b) of the CWA clearly states that, "it is the policy of the Congress to recognize, preserve, and protect the primary responsibilities and rights of States to prevent, reduce, and eliminate pollution, to plan the development and use (including restoration, preservation and enhancement) of land and water resources..."

The proposed rule confuses Federal control with environmental protection. The State of Iowa believes that environmental protection is best driven locally.
-- A disconnect between content and intent
-- The Federal government's proposed approach, and the content of the proposed rule, would seriously impair advancements in water quality in the State of Iowa. As an example, too many Iowa farmers would be forced to gain Federal permits to advance water quality infrastructure projects, which would discourage agricultural producers from undertaking the very projects that would improve water quality throughout the State.

Increased uncertainty from the proposed federal rule
-- The proposed rule increases, rather than decreases uncertainty for various stakeholders. The proposed rule is more ambiguous than current law and promises to be tied up in litigation for years to come, creating uncertainty within conservation interests, industries and communities across the state.

Underestimation of costs of the burdensome proposed federal rule
-- Permitting compliance costs will siphon finite resources that would better be used to advance conservation best practices and infrastructure in Iowa's countryside. Permitting delays would also increase the costs of conservation and economic development projects. Additional costs would impact public transportation projects, renewable energy projects, electricity distribution, disaster recovery projects, mitigation projects, and so on.

-- Every day those projects are delayed has real costs that are currently unaccounted for by the Federal government. There would also be additional enforcement costs that current staffing levels at both the Federal and State levels are not positioned to meet. The rule as proposed would essentially be an unfunded mandate on State agencies tasked with CWA enforcement.

The letter concludes, "The Federal government's proposed rule seems to be more concerned with asserting Federal control over local water bodies than actually improving local water quality. Thus, we were encouraged recently by the bipartisan support in the United States House of Representatives to block the advancement of this flawed rule. Those concerns were similarly echoed in a bipartisan fashion by the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture members who unanimously called on the Federal government to withdraw the rule. We strongly urge you to listen to the consensus concerns of the States, including Iowa, and withdraw this rule."

The Director of Iowa Department of Natural Resources Chuck Gipp, Director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority Debi Durham, Director of Iowa Department of Transportation Paul Trombino III, Chair of the Iowa Utilities Board Libby Jacobs and Director of Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Mark Schouten joined Branstad, Reynolds and Northey in signing the letter.

State of Iowa leaders care deeply about water quality. Since 2011, new General Fund appropriations for water quality related initiatives have increased by 26%. In just the last two years (FY 14 and FY 15), over $50 million dollars were allocated to support water quality related state initiatives. This historic level of investment does not even include the cost-share dollars spent by farmers, landowners and communities on these efforts.


    
Giving back

Iowan reviews term on Angus board, culminating as CAB chairman


Doug Schroeder had always been around livestock. But Angus cattle and then the Junior program and finally the Certified Angus Beef ® (CAB®) brand took on special significance to the Iowan who steps down next month after a year as the brand’s Board Chairman.
“When we got married, I had some commercial cows and my wife Glenda had some registered Angus,” he says. “We sold them all and bought five registered cows as foundation for our herd. Three years later when we rented a place, we had 10 cows, and now it’s 130.”
Herd growth was steady over time near Clarence, Iowa, in “a county with one stoplight,” but expansion has reached a practical limit, even with the next generation joining in.
“We live in corn country, 50 miles from Illinois, with a lot of 25- and 30-acre pastures and some of those with two creeks,” says Schroeder, who also runs a hog operation with 4,500 annual marketings. “We have to trailer the cattle around for rotations, and that limits your scope.”
Still, he wouldn’t want to farm or raise livestock away from this spot where his great-grandfather  borrowed money from a neighbor to buy a farm and ended up buying a place for each of seven sons.
“We still farm a couple of those, and a cousin does. Family is the most important thing to us,” Schroeder says.
As their three children, Jason, Drew and Lauren, followed their parents’ footsteps into 4-H and FFA projects and then area, state and National Junior Angus Association programs, the Schroeders demonstrated their commitment. The couple served as advisors for the Iowa juniors for 13 years.
“They didn’t just show cattle,” their dad says. “They were involved in speech and quiz bowl and everything that was going on. They all received scholarships from the Foundation and the Iowa Angus Association, and today they are all involved in our operation.”
In a sense, Schroeder ran for the American Angus Association Board six years ago to give something back.
“But I never dreamed I would end up being chairman of the CAB Board,” he says. “I’m a cow-calf guy. We sell 20 to 25 bulls and 15 good cows each year, but we sell most of the calves at weaning.”
Most of those bulls go to diversified farmers who feed their steers out, and Schroeder has begun working more closely with them to track progress on carcass value.
“I really believe in CAB and know it adds so much value to our cattle,” he says. “When the feeder gets another $50 and the other grid premiums, he’s in there to bid more for those calves the next year, and then that cow-calf guy can get a better bull so it all works together.”
Looking at the brand before his time on the Board, he already got that, beyond the general notion of adding value to black hides.
“If you really look into it or want to make sure your cattle qualified for all 10 carcass specifications, the first thing that would surprise most people is how hard it is to do that if you’re not really focused on it,” Schroeder says. “And the next thing, that’s a better surprise, is what great tools we have.
“The information in our Angus database is just solid, and it cost nothing,” he adds. “That is really the best thing available to cattlemen today – not just seedstock but to all commercial guys, too. It’s let us develop the kind of genetics that are making it easier to make CAB all the time. But again, it takes focus.”
The trend toward record-high CAB acceptance rates shows the market is stimulating that focus, even as the brand encourages industry-wide relationships.
“We like the way it unites all segments,” Schroeder says. “Some of the most important work we’re doing is helping people at every step along the beef chain to understand each other and what they are all about. Then those people selling or serving beef in the big Eastern cities know the truth. They can speak from experience when somebody tries to say we’re all corporate farmers or don’t care about our animals or something.”
It’s been a rewarding tenure on the Board, but the farm and family are calling for less travel as new grandchildren represent a sixth generation who could farm the land.
“January is my favorite time of year, but not because of weather,” Schroeder says. “It’s because of the new calves. Maybe we just invested a lot in a new bull or were excited to see the first AI calves from another, and how they match up with our cows. Those bulls can make a huge difference in the direction of the herd. And of course, when you have cow families that have been proven over the years, you can’t help hoping they have heifer calves.”
Naturally, talk of young ones leads to a look down the road.
“Our goal has been to get to where we can retire from farming and have the next generation carry on as we live on our share of the herd and land. Our sons and their families are right there with us, heavily involved already, and although Lauren is in banking in Des Moines, she still owns cattle and sometimes we’ll pick her up to go to sales together.”
With prospects for Angus cattle brighter than ever, Schroeder likes the way things look for his family, herd and industry.       



NPPC Urges White House, Congress To Fix COOL Law

Following the release today of the World Trade Organization’s decision on the U.S. meat labeling law, the National Pork Producers Council urged the Obama administration and Congress to fix the law to avoid trade retaliation from Canada and Mexico.

As expected, the WTO ruled that the mandatory Country-Of-Origin Labeling (COOL) statute violates U.S. international trade obligations by discriminating against Canadian cattle and pigs and Mexican cattle. COOL requires meat to be labeled with the country where the animal from which it was derived was born, raised and slaughtered. The decision could allow the two countries to place tariffs on U.S. imports.

“The United States must avoid retaliation from Canada and Mexico,” said NPPC President Howard Hill, a veterinarian and pork producer from Cambridge, Iowa. “Retaliatory tariffs on pork would be financially devastating to U.S. pork producers.”

But, pointed out Hill, tariffs likely would be placed on a host of U.S. products, including non-agricultural ones.

As it did in a 2012 ruling on a previous version of COOL, the WTO requested that the United States bring the “inconsistent measure into conformity with its [international trade] obligations.”

NPPC opposed COOL when it was being debated by Congress as part of the 2002 Farm Bill, worked for flexibility in the labeling scheme when lawmakers said it would be part of the 2008 Farm Bill and joined with several other meat organizations in filing a lawsuit against the most recent iteration of the regulation implementing the law.

NPPC supports an approach to labeling that provides important information to consumers, complies with U.S. international trade obligations and does not undermine U.S. meat supply chains and unnecessarily raise costs.

“The United States economy can’t afford to have its products restricted, through tariffs, to its No. 1 and 2 exports markets,” Hill said. “Congress and the White House need to address this now.”



NCBA President Bob McCan on WTO U.S. COOL Decision


Statement by National Cattlemen's Beef Association President Bob McCan, Victoria, Texas, cattleman regarding the public announcement by the WTO on the U.S. Country of Origin Labeling rule:

“The announcement today by the WTO dispute panel on the U.S. Country of Origin Labeling rule brings us all one step closer to facing retaliatory tariffs from two of our largest trading partners. Our producers have already suffered discounts and faced the closure of a number of feedlots and packing plants due to the effects of this short-sighted regulation. COOL is a failed program that will soon cost not only the beef industry, but the entire U.S. economy, with no corresponding benefit to consumers or producers.

“NCBA has maintained that there is no regulatory fix to bring the COOL rule into compliance with our WTO obligations or that will satisfy our top trading partners. We look forward to working with Congress to find a permanent solution to this issue, avoiding retaliation against not only beef, but a host of U.S. products.”

Canada’s list of products for possible trade retaliation can be found here...  http://www.international.gc.ca/media_commerce/comm/news-communiques/2013/06/07a.aspx?lang=eng.   Mexico has yet to release their list of targeted products.



NFU Says USDA Can Make Any Necessary Changes Necessary to Bring COOL into Compliance with Today’s Mixed WTO Ruling


National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson said that today’s ruling by the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) can be handled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and reminded lawmakers of the strong support by the public and in rural America for the popular labeling law.

“American consumers want to know where their food comes from, and America’s family farmers and ranchers are proud to provide that information,” said Johnson. “Nothing about today’s ruling changes that rudimentary fact.”

This most recent challenge to COOL, filed by Canada and Mexico, challenges the final rule put forward by USDA and comes on the heels of an earlier WTO ruling that found the U.S. has the right to require labeling of meat products, but found fault with how the rule was implemented.

“Under the guidance of USDA, any changes to COOL to ensure full compliance with today’s decision should be able to be made administratively, while maintaining the integrity of COOL labels,” said Johnson.   

A May 2013 public opinion poll found that more than 90 percent of consumers support COOL, and feelings for the labeling law are equally strong in rural America. “We are confident that given that level of support, Congress will reject all heavy-handed attempts to make legislative changes to this important labeling law,” said Johnson.

Since its passage in 2002, COOL has been under constant attack both domestically, by the U.S. meat industry, and internationally. On each and every domestic occasion, the rulings have come down in support of COOL.

This recent ruling will likely take many months to resolve, since it will undoubtedly be appealed, and the WTO process is slow moving. Just as NFU has played an active role in legally defending this rule in U.S. courts – and has so far won every legal ruling in court – NFU will also work with USDA and U.S. Trade Representative to see that our WTO rights are protected and that we will comply with any final WTO decisions. Now is not the time to change the law. It is the time to see the WTO process through to an ultimate conclusion.



ASA Responds as WTO Issues COOL Ruling; Calls on USDA to Suspend COOL Rule

In response to this morning’s ruling from the World Trade Organization that finds the United States’ implementation of mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) for imported meat to be noncompliant with WTO rules, American Soybean Association President Ray Gaesser of Corning, Iowa, has released the following statement:

“This morning’s decision from the WTO only solidifies what we in the industry already knew to be true: that mandatory country of origin labeling in its current state is an unworkable burden on soybean farmers’ largest customers—the animal agriculture industry.

“What’s worse is that the fallout from this rule following the finding of noncompliance by WTO will include a system of retaliatory tariffs by Canada and Mexico that will, at the very least, harm our partners in the animal agriculture industry.

As producers of the nation’s leading farm export, we have a huge stake in ensuring that our trading relationships are robust and mutually beneficial. In the case of COOL, it is incumbent on us to ensure that our own nation’s policies are conducive to that goal. As part of the COOL Reform Coalition, we continue to urge Agriculture Secretary Vilsack to suspend the COOL rule indefinitely to avert a potential economic disaster not only for the American livestock industry, but also for those sectors like ours that depend so greatly on animal agriculture.”



September Milk Production up 4.1 Percent

                       
Milk production in the 23 major States during September totaled 15.5 billion pounds, up 4.1 percent from September 2013. August revised production at 16.2 billion pounds, was up 2.6 percent from August 2013. The August revision represented a decrease of 3 million pounds or less than 0.1 percent from last month's preliminary production estimate.

Production per cow in the 23 major States averaged 1,804 pounds for September, 56 pounds above September 2013. This is the highest production per cow for the month of September since the 23 State series began in 2003.
   
The number of milk cows on farms in the 23 major States was 8.59 million head, 78,000 head more than September 2013, and 4,000 head more than August 2014.

Iowa:  Milk production in Iowa during September 2014 totaled 367 million pounds, up 3 percent from September 2013 according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report. The average number of milk cows during September, at 207,000 head, was unchanged from last month, but 1,000 more than a year ago. Monthly production per cow averaged 1,775 pounds in September 2014, up 40 pounds from last September.

July - September Milk Production up 3.5 Percent

Milk production in the United States during the July - September quarter totaled 51.1 billion pounds, up 3.5 percent from the July - September quarter last year.  The average number of milk cows in the United States during the quarter was 9.27 million head, 15,000 head more than the April - June quarter, and 44,000 head more than the same period last year.

3rd Q Milk Prod by State
(million pounds, percent change from Q3 2013)
Nebraska ..:   294.0          +3.9%    
Iowa ..........:  1,147.0        +1.8%



BQA Producers Forum Open to All Checkoff Investors


Attention all dairymen, cattle farmers and ranchers:  The checkoff-funded Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Producers Forum will be held Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015 from 1-4 p.m. in San Antonio, Texas, the day prior to the Annual Cattle Industry Convention. The forum is open to all checkoff investors.

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

“This is where the grassroots ‘rubber meets the road’,” says Dr. John Maas, DVM, BQA Advisory Board Chair and 2013 national BQA Educator of the Year. “As we work to shape the program into what’s best for producers and the beef industry as a whole, your input is highly encouraged and appreciated at this critical time."

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



CWT Assists with 3.3 Million Pounds of Butter and Cheese


Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 9 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), and Tillamook County Creamery Association to sell 3.252 million pounds (1,450 metric tons) of butter (82% milkfat) and 55,116 pounds (25 metric tons) of Cheddar cheese to customers in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The product will be delivered December 2014 through April 2015.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives in selling 86.677 million pounds of cheese, 51.426 million pounds of butter and 37.847 million pounds of whole milk powder to 43 countries on six continents. These sales are the equivalent of 2.234 billion pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

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



Canadian Pacific Ends CSX Deal Talks


(AP) -- Canadian Pacific Railway has ended talks with U.S. counterpart CSX about a possible combination and plans no more discussions.
The Canadian Pacific Railway, has about 14,000 miles of track in Canada and the U.S., and is headquartered in Calgary, Alberta. CP announced it has ended talks with CSX Corp. Jacksonville, Florida-based CSX Corp. operates more than 21,000 miles of track in 23 Eastern states and two Canadian provinces. (DTN photo by Elaine Shein)

The railway operator did not say on Monday why it ended talks, but it did note in a brief statement that regulatory concerns appear to be a major deterrent for railroads considering combinations.

A CSX spokeswoman declined to comment on Canadian Pacific's statement.

Several reports had surfaced recently that CSX Corp. had rejected a merger offer from Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. Both railroads declined to comment on the deal talk, but CSX CEO Michael Ward did say last week that the Surface Transportation Board, which regulates freight rail prices, would likely take a cautious approach to consolidation because there are only six Class I railroads in the U.S. and Canada.

Jacksonville, Florida-based CSX Corp. operates more than 21,000 miles of track in 23 Eastern states and two Canadian provinces. Other large railroads include Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, BNSF and Canadian National.

Ward also said last week that past railroad mergers in the 1990s lead to poorer service after the deals as the companies worked to integrate the different railroads.

Canadian Pacific said Monday that it believed that regulatory approvals would be achievable for the right deal.

Railroad lobbyists have told Congress that the industry is struggling to keep up with a sharp increase in freight rail demand created in part by an oil fracking boom and two years of unusually bountiful harvests. Shippers have complained that widespread delays in freight rail shipments are hurting an array of industries.

Canadian Pacific said that a "pro-competition, customer-friendly" railway combination that also focuses on safety is a solution that could not be ignored on its merits by regulators. The railroad operator added that the industry's significant problems "will only worsen over time if solutions aren't put in place immediately."