Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday October 24 Cattle on Feed + Ag News

NEBRASKA CATTLE ON FEED UP 2 PERCENT 

Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.24 million cattle on feed on October 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 2 percent from last year.  Placements during September totaled 520,000 head, up 2 percent from 2013.   Fed cattle marketings for  the month of September  totaled 400,000 head, up 3 percent from  last year.  This is the highest September marketings since the data series began in 1994.   Other disappearance during September totaled 10,000 head, unchanged from last year.



IOWA CATTLE ON FEED DOWN 5 PERCENT


Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in Iowa for all feedlots totaled 1,030,000 on October 1, 2014, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Iowa Field Office.  The inventory is down 2 percent from September 1, 2014, and down 5 percent from October 1, 2013.  Feedlots with a capacity greater than 1,000 head had 560,000 head on feed, down 3 percent from last month but up 2 percent from last year.  Feedlots with a capacity less than 1,000 head had 470,000 head on feed unchanged from last month but down 11 percent from last year.

Placements during September totaled 192,000 head, an increase of 60 percent from last month but down 4 percent from last year.   Feedlots with a capacity greater  than 1,000 head placed  99,000 head, up 57 percent  from  last month and up 11 percent from last year.  Feedlots with a capacity less than 1,000 head placed 93,000 head. This is up 63 percent from last month but down 17 percent from last year.

Marketings for September were 204,000 head, up 43 percent from last month and up 10 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity greater  than 1,000 head marketed 114,000 head, up 43 percent from  last month and up 31 percent  from last year.   This marks Iowa’s second largest number of cattle on feed marketed for feedlots with a capacity greater than 1,000  head  in  any  month  since  records  began  in  1994.    Feedlots  with  a  capacity  less  than  1,000 head  marketed 90,000 head, up 43 percent from last month but down 8 percent from last year. Other disappearance totaled 8,000 head.



United States Cattle on Feed Down 1 Percent

   
Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.1 million head on October 1, 2014. The inventory was 1 percent below October 1, 2013. The inventory included 6.46 million steers and steer calves, up 1 percent from the previous year. This group accounted for 64 percent of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 3.55 million head, down 3 percent from 2013.

Placements in feedlots during September totaled 2.01 million, 1 percent above 2013. Net placements were 1.94 million head. During September, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 460,000, 600-699 pounds were 340,000, 700-799 pounds were 437,000, and 800 pounds and greater were 770,000. For the month of September, placements are the second lowest since the series began in 1996.

Marketings of fed cattle during September totaled 1.68 million, 1 percent below 2013. Other disappearance totaled 65,000 during September, 5 percent above 2013.


Number of Cattle on Feed on 1,000+ Capacity Feedlots by Month - States and United States: 2013 and 2014
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  :                 :                 :              October 1, 2014              
                  :                 :                 :--------------------------------------------
       State      : October 1, 2013 :September 1, 2014:              :  Percent of  :  Percent of 
                  :                 :                 :    Number    :previous year :previous month
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  :     --------------- 1,000 head --------------          ----- percent ----     
Arizona ..........:        268               257              252           94             98     
California .......:        495               415              415           84            100     
Colorado .........:        870               800              840           97            105     
Idaho ............:        210               180              205           98            114     
Iowa .............:        550               580              560          102             97     
Kansas ...........:      2,000             1,950            2,010          101            103     
Minnesota ........:        103               113              114          111            101     
Nebraska .........:      2,200             2,130            2,240          102            105     
Oklahoma .........:        285               245              245           86            100     
South Dakota .....:        180               185              190          106            103     
Texas ............:      2,450             2,450            2,470          101            101     
Washington .......:        184               199              212          115            107     
Other States .....:        315               295              305           97            103     
United States ....:     10,110             9,799           10,058           99            103     
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Number of Cattle Placed on Feed on 1,000+ Capacity Feedlots by Month - States and United States: 2013 and 2014
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  :              :              :           During September 2014           
                  :    During    :    During    :--------------------------------------------
       State      :September 2013: August 2014  :              :  Percent of  :  Percent of 
                  :              :              :    Number    :previous year :previous month
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  :    ------------ 1,000 head -----------           ----- percent ----     
Arizona ..........:       23             21             20            87             95     
California .......:       45             40             43            96            108     
Colorado .........:      190            145            200           105            138     
Idaho ............:       62             33             64           103            194     
Iowa .............:       89             63             99           111            157     
Kansas ...........:      390            410            400           103             98     
Minnesota ........:       17             15             20           118            133     
Nebraska .........:      510            425            520           102            122     
Oklahoma .........:       67             50             55            82            110     
South Dakota .....:       43             30             50           116            167     
Texas ............:      470            410            445            95            109     
Washington .......:       37             44             46           124            105     
Other States .....:       45             34             45           100            132     
United States ....:    1,988          1,720          2,007           101            117     
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Number of Cattle Marketed on 1,000+ Capacity Feedlots by Month - States and United States: 2013 and 2014
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  :              :              :           During September 2014           
                  :    During    :    During    :--------------------------------------------
       State      :September 2013: August 2014  :              :  Percent of  :  Percent of 
                  :              :              :    Number    :previous year :previous month
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  :    ------------ 1,000 head -----------           ----- percent ----     
Arizona ..........:       20             25             24           120             96     
California .......:       53             40             38            72             95     
Colorado .........:      145            150            155           107            103     
Idaho ............:       41             37             38            93            103     
Iowa .............:       87             80            114           131            143     
Kansas ...........:      355            345            325            92             94     
Minnesota ........:       14             17             18           129            106     
Nebraska .........:      390            440            400           103             91     
Oklahoma .........:       60             44             54            90            123     
South Dakota .....:       32             34             42           131            124     
Texas ............:      430            415            410            95             99     
Washington .......:       36             33             32            89             97     
Other States .....:       29             32             33           114            103     
United States ....:    1,692          1,692          1,683            99             99     
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



McClymont Headlines Washington Co Cattlemen meeting


The next Washington County Cattlemen Meeting is set for Monday, November 3rd, with social at 6pm, dinner at 7pm, and the meeting to follow.  It's all to be held at the Blair Marina in Blair. Speaker will be NE Cattlemen Executive Vice President Pete McClymont. For more info call Brian at 402-720-4734



Cornhusker Economics Outlook Meetings Cross State in November


The 10th annual Cornhusker Economics Outlook meeting series will be held at five locations across the state in November and will focus on ag outlook and management decisions for farmers and ranchers.  The annual meeting series is offered by University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension and the Department of Agricultural Economics and is available free to participants with the support of Great Western Bank along with several local sponsors.

The outlook meetings are scheduled for a concise, fast-paced discussion of this year's crop, livestock, policy, and financial outlooks. Speakers and topics will be:

-    Kate Brooks, extension livestock economist at UNL will provide outlook and analysis for beef and other livestock producers. Brook's expertise is in market analysis and production economics.  She recently led a study of livestock industry trends in Nebraska and opportunities for growth. She will discuss the excitement and uncertainty in the livestock market as well as supply and demand issues affecting  beef and pork production and marketing decisions.
    
-    Cory Walters, extension crop economist at UNL, will provide outlook and analysis for corn, soybean, and wheat producers. Walter's expertise is in crop marketing and risk management, with substantial research on crop marketing and crop insurance strategies and decisions. He will discuss the current price environment, crop insurance, and supply and demand factors influencing next year's prices.  
    
-    Brad Lubben, extension policy specialist at UNL, will provide perspectives on how to navigate choices in the new farm bill. Lubben will discuss whether to sign up for ARC or PLC and whether this is the only policy issue worth worrying about. He will discuss other farm program decisions and ag policy issues impacting producers in the year ahead.
    
-    Tina Barrett, director, Nebraska Farm Business Inc. and agricultural economics  instructor, will discuss the financial situation facing Nebraska farmers and ranchers.  Specifically, Barrett will discuss managing cost of production through a time of "minimizing losses" rather than "maximizing profits" for crop farmers and lessons to be learned from extreme profitability for livestock producers.

This outlook agenda is packaged into a 2 ½ hour format to provide producers the best available information and send them home ready to make 2015 management and marketing decisions.

Contact the local Extension office and educator to register for the meetings. Although there is no cost to participants, pre-registration is encouraged to plan for facilities, refreshments, and materials.

Beatrice
Monday, Nov. 17, 9 a.m.– Noon  CST, Gage County Fairgrounds 4-H Bldg
Contact: Paul Hay, UNL Extension Educator, Gage County, 402-223-1384, paul.hay@unl.edu

Columbus
Tuesday, Nov. 18, 9 a.m. – Noon CST,  Central Community College, 205 West Education Center
Contact: Al Vyhnalek, UNL Extension Educator, Platte County, 402-563-4901,  avyhnalek@unl.edu

Gering
Monday, Nov. 24, 9 a.m. – Noon MST, Gering Civic Center
Contact:  Jessica Johnson, UNL Extension Educator, 308-632-1247,  jjohnson@unl.edu

Curtis
Monday, Nov. 24, 5 – 8 p.m. CST, Nebraska Ag Education Center Auditorium
Contact:  Paul Clark, Assistant Professor, UNL Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, 308-367-5275, pclark4@unl.edu

Hastings
Tuesday, Nov. 25, 9 a.m. – Noon  CST, Adams County Fairgrounds
Contact: Ron Seymour, UNL Extension Educator, Adams County, 402-461-7209,  ron.seymour@unl.edu

More information about the meetings is available on Cornhusker Economics Outlook website, the UNL Department of Agricultural Economics website, or by contacting  Lubben at 402-472-2235. Register by contacting the local Extension office listed for each location.



Nebraska Agriculture Water Management Network honored for innovation


            The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture has honored the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Nebraska Agriculture Water Management Network with an Innovative Programs and Partnership Award for its groundbreaking water-management work and contributions in advancing agricultural science.

            Suat Irmak, H.W. Eberhard Distinguished Professor and a faculty fellow at the Robert B. Daughtery Water for Food Institute, and Ronnie Green, Harlan Vice Chancellor of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources and vice president of the University of Nebraska system, accepted the award at an Oct. 23 ceremony in Washington, D.C.

            Irmak leads the UNL Extension-based network, which was launched in 2005 and is made up of farmers, natural resources districts, crop consultants, irrigation districts and USDA conservation officials. The group creates and implements effective water-conservation strategies and tools on roughly 1.7 million irrigated acres of farmland in Nebraska.

            "Through research, this team has displayed outstanding innovation, teamwork, partnerships, collaboration and leadership to reduce water and energy use for crop irrigation," NIFA said in a statement.

            In its first decade, the network has transferred high-quality research and data on soil water status and crop-water use measurements to farmers and their advisers; adopted new irrigation water-management technologies to help farmers increase water-use efficiency, reduced energy consumption and protected agro-ecosystem services; developed new water, soil and crop management tools; and enhanced communication between growers, crop consultants, academics and state and federal agencies.

            "Information and strategies taught in the network are changing how producers irrigate," Green wrote in a nomination letter to NIFA.

            Green also noted the network's rapid growth and success: In 2005, 15 farmers enrolled to make use of specialized technology and equipment and to learn new strategies to conserve water and energy, such as how and when to irrigate so corn and soybean plants got the most value from moisture applied. By 2013, the network had grown to more than 1,100 Nebraska farmers managing 1.7 million acres.

            The benefits in Nebraska have been clear: Participants have reduced irrigation withdrawal by at 2.2 inches per acre, per year since 2005 -- a total of more than 1 million acre-feet of water and fuel savings of more than $50 million to date. Network core members also have reached more than 10,000 people directly through Extension, outreach, demonstration programs, field days and presentations in the last decade, he said. Now it has plans to expand to other Midwest states.

            In addition to Irmak, key network participants include UNL Southeast Research and Extension Center educators Jennifer M. Rees in Clay Center, Brandy VanDeWalle in Geneva and Gary Zoubek in York, who helped establish the network in heavily irrigated Nebraska counties. Rod DeBuhr and Dan Lininger of the Upper Big Blue Natural Resource District and Daryl Andersen of the Little Blue NRD were also major contributors to the program's success.

            "The success is owed to team participants who have earned the respect of hundreds of people implementing water-saving practices to make it work," Green said. "Consequently, Nebraska has clearly demonstrated it is serious about reducing water use while maintaining a quality product and yields."

            Other NIFA honorees on Oct. 23 included projects at Washington State University, Texas A&M University, the University of Florida and the University of California, Davis.

            "The United States … faces a demanding set of challenges as we work to feed the world," NIFA director Sonny Ramaswamy said. "These honorees are instrumental in helping NIFA find and apply solutions that ensure all people have access to a safe and nutritious food supply."



OCTOBER HAY RISKS

UNL Extension Forage Specialist Bruce Anderson


Late summer rains and moderate temperatures have produced higher than usual fall alfalfa yields.  Quite a bit has been harvested this October.  Storage can be risky, though.

Hay cut in October tends to be rich with very high quality. The fine-stemmed hay packs really tight into nice, heavy bales.

October hay also is hard to dry, however.  To get it off the field, many times it gets baled just a little too damp, especially for the extra tight, heavy bales it makes.

While high forage quality is great for feeding livestock, it also provides plentiful nutrients for microbes in the hay.  Plentiful nutrients in a tight, dense package that is a little too wet can be a recipe for disaster.

As microbes feed on nutrients in the hay, they produce heat.  In a tight, dense bale it is difficult for this heat to dissipate into the air.  The hay gets hotter and hotter, and eventually can start to burn.

The fire risk is magnified when hay is stored indoors or stacked because the heat has to travel farther before being released in the air.  Wait a couple weeks after baling for heat and moisture to evaporate before moving this kind of hay into a large pile.

If you are worried about your stacked hay, drive a steel pipe into your haystack.  If it gets too hot to handle in 30 minutes, start pulling out bales in hopes of eliminating or reducing fire damage.

Better yet is to put a thermometer down a hollow pipe or use an infrared thermometer to measure temperature directly.  Above 140 degrees is risky and hay should be moved.  At 160 degrees, hay might combust as it’s removed.  And above 180 degrees the hay is likely to burn.

Monitor your October hay.  If you catch it early enough you might prevent your hay stacks or barns from burning.



Ag in the Classroom Workshop to Provide New Tools, Networking


Agriculture in the Classroom (AITC) county coordinators and others interested in becoming involved in integrating agriculture into school curriculum are welcome to attend a new workshop hosted by The Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation (IALF) Nov. 7 in West Des Moines.

AITC is a grassroots program focused on helping students gain a greater awareness of the role that agriculture plays in our economy and society. In Iowa, programs are typically coordinated by county Farm Bureau staff and volunteers but may also include other organizations. The Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation supports Agriculture in the Classroom efforts to help expand and grow programs throughout the state.

The workshop is designed to bring staff and volunteers together from across the state to share best practices and learn from each other and review new ideas to enhance existing AITC efforts. The workshop will offer professional development and a guest speaker, Peggy Christensen a science consultant at Heartland AEA in the hopes of advancing Agriculture in the Classroom efforts.

"This is a great opportunity to network and share best practices that might help enhance other AITC efforts," said IALF executive director, Will Fett. "Incorporating agriculture into school lessons is a great way to apply concepts and it gives students terrific hands on learning experiences."

"Iowa is fortunate to have a number of terrific, well-established AITC programs," said education program manager, Cindy Hall. "We want to showcase what is happening and create opportunities to learn from each other. Participants will leave with a lot of ideas and tools that they will be able to easily put into practice."

For more information or to find out how to become involved in Agriculture in the Classroom, contact IALF at info@IowaAgLiteracy.org.

IALF serves as a central resource for educators and volunteers who want to teach Iowa's students about agriculture. The mission is to educate Iowans, with a focus on youth, regarding the breadth and global significance of agriculture. Iowa is a leading producer of agricultural products that are essential to feed a growing world population, estimated to reach more than 9 billion by 2050. IALF believes it is important for all Iowans to understand the essential role agriculture has in their lives. IALF will support existing agriculture education efforts such as FFA, 4-H and Ag in the Classroom. IALF was created through a joint effort of agricultural stakeholders, including the Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Silos and Smokestacks Foundation, DuPont Pioneer, GROWMARK, and the Iowa Beef Industry Council. For more information visit IALF online at www.IowaAgLiteracy.org, on Facebook, and Twitter.



VOTE NOW FOR THE NEXT FACES OF FARMING & RANCHING


Now, you can cast your vote for the next Faces of Farming & Ranching!  Beginning October 24 through November 2, visit the Faces of Farming & Ranching Online Voting page to learn more about each of the finalists and the work they do, including short videos highlighting their farms/ranches. From there, vote for whom you believe best exemplifies agriculture. These votes will be factored into the final decision to determine the next Faces of Farming and Ranching. 
 
THE FINALISTS

Erin Brenneman, Iowa 
Jay Hill, N.M. 
Carrie Mess, Wis. 
Thomas Titus, Ill.
Darrell Glaser, Texas 
Brian Jones, Texas 
Jessica Potter, Colo. 
Carla Wardin, Mich.
 
HOW CAN PEOPLE VOTE?

Access the Faces of Farming & Ranching Online Voting Page: 
·  From any desktop computer OR mobile device: Visit http://faces.pgtb.me/w2Sg4d
·  From any desktop computer OR mobile device:  Go to USFRA’s Facebook Page, and click on the link in the Faces of Farming and Ranching Post pinned at the top of the Timeline.
·  From any desktop computer: Go to USFRA’s Facebook Page – click on the VOTE NOW tab

Only one vote per day per email address is allowed.  Registering on Facebook is required in order to vote – to ensure all votes are legitimate and non-fraudulent. Not already a member of Facebook?  No problem – simply sign up at Facebook.com to register.  
 
FACES OF FARMING & RANCHING WINNERS ANNOUNCEMENT

A combination of public votes and USFRA judges’ scores will determine the winners, who will be announced on November 12, 2014, during a press conference at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting Convention (NAFB) in Kansas City.
 
ABOUT THE PROGRAM

Winners will serve in multiple high-visibility roles on behalf of USFRA, participating in a number of activities including national media interviews, advertising and public appearances.  Winners will receive a $15,000 stipend to help cover the costs of being away from their operations. They’ll also receive professional media/speaker training and full support from USFRA through their yearlong tenure.



Did You Know... Beef Info Shorts from the Cattlemen's Beef Board 


Did you know ... The beef checkoff will soon be launching a multi-pronged approach to beef literacy. Building on the popular educational platform www.MyAmericanFarm.org, the checkoff will launch a new Beef Heritage game, celebrating how producers care for animals, care for the land and provide quality beef products using a variety of production methods. Other platform details include a volunteer kit, containing resources to conduct beef literacy classroom visits and activities; a second My American Farm game, emphasizing nutrition and health benefits of beef products; a mobile application featuring both new beef games; and, a new Beef Ag Mag elementary school reader, targeting parents, teachers and families of young learners.

Did you know ... The beef checkoff’s Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative is proud to fuel runners at the 39th running of the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC, on Oct. 26. As a part of its sponsorship, the beef checkoff is supporting a group of 22 runners on Team BEEF from across 12 states, as well as participating in various activities throughout the weekend, such as the first timers pep rally. Runners can also stop by the beef booth at the Health and Fitness Expo, during the weekend, to learn how #BeefFuelsMCM and watch Miss Patty Melt enjoy the mascot and kids races on Saturday, Oct. 25. Follow the Team’s progress on race day with @NortheastBeef on Twitter!

Did you know ... Market insights show that older millennial parents purchase ground beef more often than whole muscle cuts of beef. New insights and inspirations were needed to make this a mainstay on their shopping lists, and increase purchase frequency. The new Ground Beef section on BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com helps to highlight the versatility and convenience of ground beef, making it the perfect mealtime option for any night of the week. The section features a variety of ground beef information, from quick and easy recipe collections to content that educates consumers on how to properly freeze and store ground beef, to step-by-step instructions on how to quickly thaw ground beef in the microwave in under five minutes.

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



Pioneer, Perdue AgriBusiness Plan to Double Acreage for the 2015 Plenish High Oleic Soybean Program 


DuPont Pioneer and Perdue AgriBusiness announced today that Perdue plans to more than double the acreage contracted for Plenish® high oleic soybeans in 2015 in geographies supplying its soybean crush facility in Salisbury, Maryland. The high oleic soybean oil produced from this program will target several markets including food service and food manufacturers looking for healthier oil alternatives with good performance.

For the 2015 growing season, Perdue Agribusiness will contract with soybean farmers in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey to grow 60,000 acres of Pioneer® brand soybeans with the Plenish® high oleic trait. In addition to helping to launch an important new technology that will expand the market for soybean oil, growers will be eligible for a Perdue-paid incentive for producing and delivering Plenish® high oleic soybeans. Similar to last year’s program, multiple delivery points will be available in contract areas. For contract information, contact your Pioneer seed representative or April Cheesman, Perdue AgriBusiness, at 866-816-7946, or april.cheesman@perdue.com.

“Soybean farmers supplying Perdue have a keen interest in finding new ways to add value to their production and in growing the region’s agricultural industry,” said Randy Minton, DuPont Pioneer business director for the Eastern region. “The solid yield performance of Plenish® soybean varieties, combined with the added profit opportunity with grain premiums, makes participation in the Perdue program an attractive decision for growers. The plan to double Plenish® soybean acres for 2015 comes at a good time, considering the challenges growers face with lower soybean prices.”

“We’re always looking for ways to bring new market opportunities to our grower customers,” said John Ade, Perdue AgriBusiness senior vice president. “By working with DuPont Pioneer on the production of Plenish® high oleic soybeans on the Eastern shore, we’re hoping to generate additional profit opportunities and long-term industry growth.  In addition, it allows our company to better serve the needs of our downstream oil customers.”

The development and commercialization of Plenish® high oleic soybean oil is a significant milestone for DuPont Pioneer efforts to bring product innovation to the soybean value chain.  It’s an important example of how biotechnology is being used to develop products with direct food industry and consumer benefit.  The oil’s improved fatty acid profile provides a soy-based trans fat alternative for food companies and foodservice operators.  Its enhanced stability provides longer frying life in restaurant applications and longer shelf life in packaged food products than standard industry oils.

From a health and nutrition perspective, Plenish® high oleic soybean oil has 0g trans fat per serving and 20 percent less saturated fat than commodity soybean oil, making it a more attractive ingredient for health conscious consumers of food products.
The high oleic soybean varieties are developed by DuPont Pioneer using its elite genetics and cutting-edge technologies. Field testing has confirmed yields on par with leading commercial products.

Plenish® high oleic soybeans are approaching completion of global de-regulation with more than 90 percent of U.S. soybean export markets now approved to accept the beans. For more information on Plenish® high oleic soybeans visit www.plenish.com.

Perdue AgriBusiness is committed to helping its customers prosper with flexible, forward-thinking solutions for agriculturally based products from a uniquely trusted name. Perdue AgriBusiness is a direct exporter of U.S. agricultural commodities through the company’s deepwater port in Chesapeake, Va. Perdue AgriBusiness merchandises grain and oilseeds, processes soybeans, blends feed ingredients, trades a wide variety of agricultural commodities and refines edible oils. With an entrepreneurial spirit, Perdue AgriBusiness ventures touch such diverse opportunities as bio-energy, organic fertilizers and specialty livestock feeds.



HSUS Launches Tip Line

(from HSUS web site)

A hotline for reporting cruelty and neglect on factory farms, at livestock auctions and in slaughter houses will empower employees at those facilities who have witnessed cruelty or other unlawful acts.

The Humane Society of the United States, which launched the hotline (1-888-209-7177), offers whistleblowers a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those who have committed acts of cruelty to farm animals.

The HSUS will work with the United Farm Workers to distribute the hotline to workers at factory farms, slaughterhouses and livestock auctions.
The hotline was launched after agribusiness interests and their legislative allies made it virtually impossible to document cruelty on factory farms in a handful of states. Those states have passed “ag gag” bills, which criminalize undercover investigations of agricultural facilities.

Animal cruelty laws vary among states, but punching, kicking and other overt acts of violence are usually illegal. Denying adequate food, water, shelter and veterinary care to animals may lead to prosecution. Hotline callers will be assured anonymity if they desire it.

“The bleak conditions endured by animals on factory farms are often made worse by overt violence and neglect,” said Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection for The HSUS. “Pigs are often beaten. Chickens are stomped on. Lame cows are left for dead. We want whistleblowers to know that help is just a phone call away.”



Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thursday October 23 Ag News

2014 Nebraska Custom Farm Rates for Harvest
Nathan Mueller, PhD - Cropping Systems & Agricultural Technologies Extension Educator - UNL Extension in Dodge County

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln conducts a survey with custom operators for each crop reporting district in Nebraska on custom farm rates by operation (harvest, hauling, etc.).  Dodge County is located in the East Ag Statistics Reporting District.

A list of the most frequently asked operation rates based on phone calls to my office include:
-    Combining Irrigated Corn  including tractor and grain cart, flat charge per acre – Most common was $35/acre and average of $35.92/acre
-    Combining Dryland Corn  including tractor and grain cart, flag charge per acre – Most common was $35/acre and average of $32.65/acre
-    Combining Soybeans in including tractor and grain cart, flag charge per acre – Most common was $30/acre and average of $35.10/acre
-    Hauling grain with grain truck, flat charge per bushel, (average distance of 13 miles) – Most common was $0.10/bu and average was $0.10/bu

Please read the full survey report of the 2014 Nebraska Farm Custom Rates – Part II... http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/live/ec826/build/ec826.pdf



Johanns Continues Fight against Administration’s Misguided Water Rule


U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R- Neb), a member of the Senate Ag Committee, this week continued his fight against the Administration’s misguided efforts to redefine federal waters under the Clean Water Act. In two separate letters, Johanns pressed for more information on the proposed rule and asked for its immediate withdrawal.

“This entire proposal has been bungled from the get-go,” said Johanns. “Farmers, ranchers and American families are rightly concerned about the consequences this rule would have on their property. They see past the Administration’s lackluster – and sometimes outright dishonest – attempts to win over the support of the public. At the end of the day, it’s yet another egregious power grab by this Administration that must be stopped in its tracks.”

A letter, authored by Republican members of the Senate Ag Committee, highlights the proposed rule’s potential impact on agriculture. In addition to asking for an agriculture-specific portion of the rule to be withdrawn and an update on its proposed implementation, the letter highlights the confusion and uncertainty the rule would bring to farmers and ranchers. 

A second letter, led by Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), calls into question the practices being used by EPA and other federal agencies in their public relations campaign on the proposed rule. The letter discusses how the Administration has been inconsistent, or even misleading the American public. As such, the letter calls on the Administration to immediately withdraw the proposal and work with stakeholders in future regulatory proceedings. 

Johanns has long been a vocal opponent of this proposal, as highlighted in a floor speech earlier this year. He previously cosponsored multiple pieces of legislation  to prevent EPA from finalizing the overreaching proposal. During the August work period, Johanns joined a coalition of Nebraska ag groups in a press conference highlighting the proposed rule’s dangers to the ag community.

EPA recently extended its comment period on this proposed rule to November 14, 2014.



Fischer Joins Letter Urging Administration to Withdraw Overreaching Clean Water Act Proposal


U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) joined a group of 24 senators in expressing concern to the Administration regarding its attempt to significantly expand federal control over water through its proposed definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS).  

In a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), the senators outlined how the proposed rule displaces state and local officials in their primary role in environmental protection and imposes restrictions and uncertainty on private property owners.  These points were recently underscored by analysis conducted by Mike Linder, who served as the director of the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) from 1999-2013.

“Water is a treasured resource in Nebraska, one that we take great care to protect,” said Senator Fischer.  “This Administration’s WOTUS proposal would jeopardize the operation of our state’s current water protection programs and the stewardship efforts of private landowners.  It is unfortunate that EPA and the Corps intend to pursue this unprecedented overreach regardless of the consequences to states and Americans’ property rights.”

Former NDEQ Director Mike Linder wrote, “This rule would impose a blanket jurisdictional determination over thousands of acres of private property.  The effect would be to impose unnecessary property restrictions and uncertainty… In addition, the federal encroachment of what is now a state delegated program runs counter to the concept of ‘cooperative federalism’ which is a tenant of federal environmental programs.”

Other senators on the letter include John Barrasso (R-Wyo.); Ted Cruz (R-Texas); Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.); Pat Roberts (R-Kan.); David Vitter (R-La.); Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.); John Cornyn (R-Texas); Jim Risch (R-Idaho); Marco Rubio; (R-Fla.); Mike Crapo (R-Idaho); Roger Wicker (R-Miss.); Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.); Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.); Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa); Roy Blunt (R-Mo.); John Boozman (R-Ark.); Mike Johanns (R-Neb.); Tim Scott (R-S.C.); Orrin Hatch (R-Utah); Jerry Moran (R-Kan.); Rand Paul (R-Ky.); Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah).



A Word on Water

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer


For well over a year, I have been discussing my concerns with the administration’s attempts to expand federal control over water in Nebraska and all across the country. A wide-ranging coalition of Nebraskans has joined forces to spread the word regarding the negative and far-reaching impacts this rule will have on the lives of all Nebraskans.

To assert greater federal control over state-owned resources, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) have proposed changing the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act. Making this definition broader – beyond “navigable” waters – will extend Washington’s regulatory reach over almost any water, from farm ditches to residential ponds.

I’ve led a number of efforts to enhance public input on the rule and have pushed for more answers directly from EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. I’m also supporting legislation to scrap the rule all together.

Most recently, I joined a group of 24 senators in a letter to EPA and the Corps outlining how the proposed rule displaces state and local officials in their primary role in environmental protection. We also discussed how the rule imposes restrictions and uncertainty on private property owners. These same points were recently underscored in an analysis conducted by Mike Linder, who served as the director of the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) from 1999-2013.

In his analysis, Linder wrote, “This rule would impose a blanket jurisdictional determination over thousands of acres of private property. The effect would be to impose unnecessary property restrictions and uncertainty… In addition, the federal encroachment of what is now a state delegated program runs counter to the concept of ‘cooperative federalism’ which is a tenant of federal environmental programs.”

Linder’s analysis focused on the negative impact the WOTUS proposal would have on Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers – dictating land practices and undermining cooperative conservation efforts. While many have been focused on the harm the rule would cause to agriculture – the backbone of Nebraska’s economy – it’s important to realize that the rule will also have a dramatic effect on many others, including road builders, home builders, manufacturers, and even cities and counties.

Omaha is a perfect example. Many Nebraskans – particularly those with rising water bills in Douglas and Sarpy counties – have closely followed news about wastewater sewer upgrades. Under their existing Clean Water Act authority, the EPA and the Corps are forcing the City of Omaha to invest in a $2 billion project to develop a “combined sewer overflow” plan.

The Public Works Director for the City of Omaha recently stated in public comments submitted to EPA and the Corps that, “Omaha has been increasing rates significantly to address this mandate, and the rates will become a burden on many citizens within the wastewater service area.”

Keep in mind that this is all under EPA’s existing authority. Now, with the proposed WOTUS rule, EPA is trying to broaden its statutory control over even more area, meaning more time and resources must be spent by state and local officials to obtain more federal permits. Omaha’s Public Works Director explained that complying with these permits “is already extremely cumbersome, time consuming, and expensive. Expanding the geographic jurisdiction of the federal government increases the likelihood that more permits would be required.”

It’s possible that, under the proposed WOTUS definition, these permits will be needed for simple, routine maintenance of Omaha’s water infrastructure. The bottom line for the residents of Sarpy and Douglas counties: another unfunded mandate by the federal government, with Nebraskans stuck footing the bill.

It’s not just Omahans – it’s all Nebraskans who will be impacted by this unprecedented federal overreach. We will all pay for the increased costs, whether it’s through our water bills or higher prices for goods and services.

Water is a treasured resource in Nebraska – one that we take great care to protect. The Obama Administration’s WOTUS proposal would only jeopardize the operation of our state’s current water protection programs and the stewardship efforts of private landowners. Thank you for taking part in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.



Nebraska and Kansas Work Together On Water Issue


An agreement reached Wednesday gives Nebraska 100 percent credit for augmentation water NRDs are pumping this year to maintain compliance with the Republican River Compact, and ensures water being stored in Harlan County Reservoir for compliance purposes won’t go to waste.

The agreement approved by the Republican River Compact Administration in Denver could be a precursor to a similar deal for 2015 and illustrates a new, positive working relationship between Kansas and Nebraska that benefits water users in both states. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and the Kansas Department of Agriculture should be commended for proactively working with Nebraska officials to navigate difficult issues and ultimately reach agreement that benefits both sides.

“The resolution approved by the RRCA allows water now being held in Harlan County Reservoir to be released to Kansas during the 2015 irrigation season when it can be beneficially used, without compromising Nebraska’s ability to maintain compact compliance,” said Jim Schneider, deputy director of the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources who chaired the RRCA meeting on Wednesday. “The ability of the states to work together in resolving these issues is a significant step forward.”

Combined, the Rock Creek Augmentation Project in Dundy County operated by the Upper Republican NRD and the NCORPE augmentation project in Lincoln County operated by the Upper Republican, Middle Republican and Lower Republican NRDs in 2014 will add approximately 63,500 acre feet of water to the Republican River system. Had the agreement approved Wednesday not been approved, Nebraska would get credit for just 37,000 acre feet.

“This agreement reflects the intent of the compact settlement, giving the appropriate credit for augmentation and allowing our downstream neighbors every opportunity to use the water that the  irrigators and taxpayers in the Basin paid to provide through the projects implemented under the settlement agreement. The agreement should provide Nebraskans assurance that water being added to streams in 2014 effectively prevented a shutdown of more than 300,000 irrigated acres in the basin this year and that we aren’t being required to do more than what we should under the agreement. The fact Kansas and Nebraska were able to reach an agreement that accomplishes this and at the same time benefits both Kansas and Nebraska water users should be commended,” said Jasper Fanning, General Manager of the Upper Republican Natural Resources District.

Had the agreement not been struck, Nebraska potentially would have been forced to release roughly 30,000 acre feet of water now stored in Harlan County reservoir for compliance purposes downstream to Kansas during fall and winter months when it couldn’t be used by irrigators, as well as passing inflows through the reservoir for the rest of the year.

Under the agreement approved Wednesday by the three states party to the compact, Kansas water users could get 20,000-25,000 acre feet next year, and the balance could be used by irrigators in the Nebraska Bostwick Irrigation District.

The agreement Wednesday comes on the heels of oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court last week regarding a special master’s recommendations that 300,000 acres of irrigated land in the Republican Basin not be permanently shut down as Kansas had requested and that Nebraska pay a penalty of $5.5 million for overuse in 2005 and 2006 instead of the approximately $80 million Kansas had sought. A final decision by the court on that matter is expected by the end of June.    



European Sustainability Mission to U.S. Extends to DC and Iowa


The U.S. Soybean Export Council hosted a delegation of European feed manufacturer representatives in the U.S. from October 6-10.  The group of six representatives toured farms on the East Coast before visiting Washington, D.C. and Iowa.

According to USSEC International Market Access Director/Greater EU & MENA Regional Director Brent Babb, who escorted the team, the mission’s aim was to showcase common U.S. conservation practices and the sustainability of U.S. soy to the European visitors.

The team consisted of:  Ruud Tijssens, European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation (FEFAC) chair and Agrifirm’s director of corporate affairs, The Netherlands; John Kelley, chief operation officer at Agricultural Industries Federation (AIC), United Kingdom; Anton Einberger, Nutreco general manager and FEFAC presidium member, Germany; Hermann Josef Baaken, director general of German Feed Association, Germany; Jorge de Saja, director, Spanish Feed Association (CESFAC), Spain; and Eddy Esselink, program manager, sustainable development, MVO (Dutch Vegetable Oil Association), The Netherlands.

Mr. Babb explained that the purpose of the mission was to show the EU team common U.S. conservation practices and to convince them U.S. farming is “sustainable.”  The concept of sustainability is very strong in the feed industry, Mr. Babb said, and FEFAC has declared that, as of 2015, 100 percent of its soybean needs must come through “certified sustainable practices.”

With sustainability in mind, USSEC took the visitors on tours of U.S. farms in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland, where they were able to see firsthand how U.S. farmers work to protect the environment through their use of conservation practices such as strip tilling.

The delegation next headed to Washington, D.C., where they met with the president of Field to Market, a multi-stakeholder conservation group for consumer goods, manufacturers and retailers; the World Wildlife Federation; the American Soybean Association (ASA); the North American Grain Export Association (NAEGA); the National Oilseed Processors Association (NOPA); staffers who worked on the farm program; the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS); and the National Resource Conservation Service.  The National Resource Conservation Service is the organization responsible for U.S. agricultural conservation and has over 2200 offices and an investment of $6 billion annually.

In Iowa, the delegation talked about the next steps that need to be taken by FEFAC’s Responsible Soy Program and the U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol.  The European team traveled to DuPont Pioneer’s corporate headquarters to discuss conservation efforts with that company’s sustainability / biotechnology team and next visited to the Iowa Soybean Association to talk about that group’s strong focus on conservation programs, highlighting key sustainability programs and partners, before visiting a local farm.

On the group’s last day, they heard a presentation from the University of Arkansas’s Dr. Marty Matlock about U.S. soy’s sustainability goals before visiting The Nature Conservancy.

The Europeans import a total of 30 million tons of soybeans per year, with about 5 to 6 million tons coming from the U.S.  A large portion of the EU’s soybean demand is currently met with imports from South America; however, Europeans are concerned about rain forests and a lack of conservation there.



CALCIUM PRODUCTS OPENS WORLD HEADQUARTERS AND R&D LAB


North America's leading producer of precision soil amendments that improve soil quality to maximize nutrient uptake and strengthen yields -- recently celebrated the grand opening of its new headquarters located at the Iowa State University Research Park. Included is a new research and development laboratory and customer support center. Company CEO Mike Hogan also announced the expansion of Calcium Product's sales force to support increased demand for its products in the US and Canada.

"Our new headquarters and R&D lab is located in the heart of the Midwest and right next door to Iowa State University, a worldwide leader in agriculture practices and soil sciences," says Hogan. "Managing soil quality is now a critical component of profitable farming as growers optimize their nutrients to maximize yields and return on their investment. Our new facilities will help us accelerate the development of more precision soil amendments that enable crops to absorb more nutrients and produce greater yields while protecting the environment at the same time."

Calcium Products' headquarters were previously located in Gilmore City, Iowa, one of its five (5) North American manufacturing and distribution facilities.

For more than 25 years, Calcium Products has been recognized as a leader in precision, high quality soil quality improvement products. These products effectively neutralize acidic soils and other soil quality issues while providing beneficial secondary nutrients for plants and grasses. The company's products are specially engineered to spread evenly in the field, break down quickly and reduce dust pollution.



USDA:  Red Meat Production Up 1 Percent From Last Year


Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 3.96 billion pounds in September, up 1 percent from the 3.94 billion pounds produced in September 2013.

Beef production, at 2.07 billion pounds, was slightly below the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.53 million head, down 3 percent from September 2013. The average live weight was up 31 pounds from the previous year, at 1,344 pounds.

Veal production totaled 7.2 million pounds, 16 percent below September a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 42,300 head, down 33 percent from September 2013. The average live weight was up 57 pounds from last year, at 291 pounds.

Pork production totaled 1.87 billion pounds, up 2 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 8.83 million head, down 2 percent from September 2013. The average live weight was up 10 pounds from the previous year, at 283 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 12.3 million pounds, was up 5 percent from September 2013. Sheep slaughter totaled 191,900 head, 4 percent above last year. The average live weight was 128 pounds, up 2 pounds from September a year ago.

January to September 2014 commercial red meat production was 35.1 billion pounds, down 4 percent from 2013. Accumulated beef production was down 6 percent from last year, veal was down 13 percent, pork was down 1 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down slightly.

By State  (million pounds, % of Sept 2013)
Nebraska ....:     628.3            104      
Iowa ...........:     531.1            104      



FARM Program Report Shows Continued Widespread Adoption of Animal Care Practices


Dairy farmers nationwide continue to demonstrate widespread adoption of industry standards that assure high-quality care for their animals, according to a report released today by the National Milk Producers Federation.

The summary report, issued annually, quantifies practices by farmers participating in the industry’s responsible care program, known as the National Dairy FARM Program (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management). A copy of the report can be found online.

“The latest report shows dairy farmers continue to demonstrate their extensive commitment to the well-being of the animals in their care through adherence to the standards in the FARM program,” said Jamie Jonker, NMPF’s vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs. The report quantifies the results of more than 12,000 dairy farm evaluations conducted during the previous three years. All the data collected by second-party evaluators who visit each of those farms is catalogued, and provides a baseline of the breadth of adoption of the program’s care practices.

For example, the report found nearly 95 percent of farms enrolled in the program train their employees to properly move animals that cannot walk, and more than 98 percent train employees to handle calves with a minimum of stress. Other findings included:
-    99 percent of farms observe animals daily to identify health issues for early treatment;
-    93 percent develop protocols with veterinarians for dealing with common diseases, calving and animals with special needs;
-    92 percent train workers to recognize the need for animals to be euthanized.

At the same time, the report found some areas still need improvement. For example, 84 percent of farms in the program have a valid veterinarian-client relationship, and 84 percent also conduct annual training in animal care for employees. However, both of these areas have shown an increase in industry adoption, up from 80 percent and 83 percent, respectively, since the first annual report two years ago.

Overall, according to the report, participation in the FARM Program increased to more than three-quarters of the nation’s milk supply, up five percentage points from the previous year.

“The report shows that dairy farmers take their animal care responsibilities very seriously,” said Jonker. “They’re performing dozens of practices each day that increase the well-being of their animals.”

Available to all U.S. dairy farmers in the United States, the FARM program is now in its fifth year. It is a voluntary, national set of guidelines designed to demonstrate farmers’ commitment to outstanding animal care and a quality milk supply. Cooperatives, milk processors, and individual producers use the program to assure consumers that the dairy foods they purchase are produced with integrity.

Participants are given training materials and are evaluated by a veterinarian or another trained professional. Evaluators provide a status report and, if necessary, recommend areas for improvement.

Each year, a nationwide sample of dairy farms in the program is randomly selected for visits from third-party “verifiers” to assure that the observations recorded by veterinarians are valid. A certified auditing company, Validus, conducts the third-party verification process.

The third annual verification of the FARM program reflects adoption of select practices as of December 2013. As of this month, more than 60 cooperatives and milk processors participate in the program, as well as dozens of individual dairy producers.

Also today, NMPF released the new 2015 edition of its safe use manual for antibiotics and other animal drugs. The Milk and Dairy Beef Drug Residue Prevention Manual permits producers to quickly review those antibiotics approved for use with dairy animals. It can also be used to educate farm managers in how to avoid drug residues in milk and meat. The manual, available online, is updated annually.

“Today, the use of antibiotics and other drugs in livestock is more intently scrutinized than ever,” said Jonker. “To maintain consumer confidence, we must show we are using these medicines properly, legally, and judiciously. This manual shows dairy farmers’ commitment to just that.”

The residue prevention manual was sponsored by Elanco Animal Health, DSM Animal Nutrition and Health, Charm Sciences, IDEXX Laboratories and Zoetis.



EIA shows Annual US Ethanol Plant Capacity DN 1.2% on Year


The Energy Information Administration released data on Thursday, Oct. 23, showing the U.S. ethanol industry began 2014 with 187 ethanol plants with annual nameplate capacity of 13.681 billion gallons, or 892,000 barrels per day.

The report shows U.S. ethanol plant capacity was reduced 10,000 bpd, or 1.2%, from the start of 2013, when annual industry capacity was 13.852 billion gallons or 903 million bpd.

The majority of those plants -- 167, or 89% -- are located in the PADD 2 Midwest region, where the majority of the nation's corn is grown. Corn is the feedstock for U.S. ethanol.



ASA Comments on Gulf Fishery Aquaculture Rule

The American Soybean Association has submitted comments to the Federal Register supporting the Fishery Management Plan developed by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.

“ASA is pleased to see this proposal move forward; we have supported efforts to develop offshore aquaculture in the Gulf for many years,” the comments state. “The promise of building this industry in the United States is unrealized: new jobs along our coasts, working waterfronts, and for soybean farmers, the opportunity to feed sustainably-produced U.S. soybeans to a growing industry here at home.”

ASA’s comments raise concerns about both the proposed permitting process as creating permits that are too short in length, at just 10 years, as well as harvest limits that fall below commercial viability. The full text of the comments is available here. The comment period closes on Monday, Oct. 27



NFU Says WTO Ruling On COOL Shows USDA Moving in Right Direction, Points Out No Need for Congressional Involvement

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson said that the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) recent ruling on Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) clearly shows U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is headed in right direction.

“This ruling demonstrates the legitimate nature of the COOL objective and finds that the current labeling rule is an improvement over the original rule, but it remains unbalanced between consumer information and production costs,” said Johnson. “This decision, as it has been issued, will likely be modified on appeal and NFU strongly urges USTR to appeal the ruling.”

Johnson moderated the panel discussion, and was also joined Danni Beer, president of U.S. Cattleman’s Association, Patrick Woodall, research director at Food & Water Watch, and Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, to discuss the details and implications of the WTO ruling.

On Monday, the WTO released the long-awaited, 200-plus page ruling that found the regulatory goal of COOL was WTO-compliant, and that the new 2013 labels provided better, more accurate information for consumers.

“The ruling gives USDA and USTR the opportunity to redefine the rule without the need for Congress to get involved,” said Johnson. “There may well be a more clear way to define ‘born, raised, slaughtered’ such that it cleans up the confusion which was in the decision.”

Johnson also offered the inclusion of value-added meat in the rule in order to make it WTO-compliant. “By rule, we could include a number of value-added meat products that heretofore, have not been included,” said Johnson. “The WTO decision says that essentially the costs side that the producers have to bear are more than the benefit side that the consumers get… To the extent that you can increase the amount of the product that is labeled, you nullify that argument.”

Johnson also discredited the economic issues raised by COOL opponents.He noted that the U.S. was heading into a recession, the U.S.-Canadian dollar exchange rate dramatically changed, and energy costs were starting to skyrocket. All of this caused a decrease in imports, not just across Canada and Mexico, but for all countries and commodities.

“There is a very strong conviction among all of us that the COOL statute needs to remain in place. The WTO, in all of the decisions that have been rendered on this case so far, have always said the law is ok. We have a right to do this.”



Global Buyers Applaud Innovation, Technology in Ag Production


Biotechnology benefits farmers and consumers worldwide, and innovation in plant science is essential to meet the world’s rapidly growing demand for food, said Dr. Howard Minigh, president and chief executive officer of CropLife International, when he presented to the nearly 500 attendees of Export Exchange 2014 on Wednesday.

Minigh addressed the crowd of international buyers and domestic traders gathered in Seattle, Washington, for the biennial conference meant to help the two constituencies build relationships to facilitate grain trade in the coming years. The event is co-sponsored by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

Since being commercially introduced in the mid-1990s, the economic benefits of plant biotechnology at the farm level have exceeded $117 billion, according to PG Economics. In 2013, 18 million farmers in 27 countries – more than 90 percent of them lower-income farmers in the developing world – planted biotech crops.

Despite the widespread adoption of this technology, it is controversial and, in some markets, unpredictable regulatory frameworks often influenced by political forces have created challenges to global trade. The timelines for approval in large importing countries are increasing, although this trend is not confined only to those who buy grain. Even the United States, which as recently as 2008 was a global leader in biotech approvals, now trails Canada, Brazil and Argentina on this measure.

“The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that the world needs to increase food production 70 percent by 2050, which means we must grow more with less,” said Ron Gray, USGC chairman. “To meet this demand, we need better technology of all types, and we also must continue to embrace trade as a path to food security. These are critical topics to discuss at meetings like Export Exchange.”

Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, stated, “Too often people forget that the ethanol industry produces more than just fuel, it also produces distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) – a high protein feedstock. Last year alone, the industry created enough DDGS to produce seven hamburgers for every single person on the planet. It’s clear that the American ethanol industry is helping both fuel and feed the world.”

With more than 200 foreign attendees representing more than 40 countries and an additional 200 U.S. attendees representing every sector of the coarse grains value chain, Export Exchange is a premiere global grain trade conference.

Those participating on Tuesday and Wednesday also heard presentations on the global supply and demand situation, economic drivers affecting the global feed grains trade, and the latest developments in shipping, financing and the policy environment.



Los Angeles City Council Votes to Explore Ban on GMO Plants


The Los Angeles City Council voted this week to move forward with a plan to ban on GMO plants within the city limits. This vote comes just two years after the voters of California rejected Proposition 37, which would have forced the labeling of GMO foods. Only a slim majority of Los Angeles voters, 52 percent, approved Proposition 37. The city ordinance, if fully drafted and passed, would be largely symbolic since it would apply to seeds and plants, not the final food products, and there is little agriculture inside Los Angeles. Click here to read the full article care of the LA Times.... http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-council-gmo-discussion-20141020-story.html.  



Novozymes increases expectations for full-year profit after strong Q3


Novozymes, the world’s largest producer of industrial enzymes, today announced its 2014 third quarter results. Organic sales increased by 8% compared with the first nine months 2013. EBIT grew by 16%, and the EBIT margin was 27.4%, when compared with the first nine months of 2013. Approximately half of the EBIT margin is due to the one-time positive impact from The BioAg Alliance, and the other half due to improved underlying earnings. As a result, expectations for full-year EBIT growth, EBIT margin, net profit growth, ROIC and free cash flow have increased.

“We continue to see a good development in our business nine months into the year, and we increase the outlook for profit and cash flow for the full year,” says Novozymes’ CEO Peder Holk Nielsen. “Innovation has been a key driver of top and bottom line, and recent currency developments are contributing positively to the outlook. Sales have been in line with expectations, and we narrow in the outlook for organic sales growth to the middle of the range. Uncertainties remain in a number of markets and in the macro environment, but our strong and diversified portfolio is broadly positioned for growth, and that is expected to prove valuable yet again.”



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.