Friday, January 19, 2018

Friday January 19 Ag News

Emissions Reporting for Cattle Operations
(from Nebraska Cattlemen)

This is an update on our progress related to CERCLA and EPCRA reporting requirements for cattle producers. To recap, in April 2017, the D.C. Circuit Court determined that EPA did not have the authority to exempt agriculture from these reporting requirements, thus vacating an exemption that was on the books for 10 years.

The D.C. Circuit is expected to issue the mandate (make it official) on CERCLA reporting (air emissions) on Monday, Jan. 22.  This could take a few days before it is issued on paper, but once it's official the reporting period will be triggered.  Please hold off on reporting until you hear from NC or NCBA that the D.C. Circuit has issued the mandate.

NC is working with other state affiliates on both compliance with the mandate as well as a congressional fix.  Please know that NC and NCBA are doing all that we can to prevent this mandate from going forward.
 
Compliance Materials

When the court issues the mandate (the order that will officially vacate the exemption), NCBA will post compliance documents on its webpage. While this could happen as early as next Monday, Jan. 22nd, nothing will be official until the court actually issues the mandate on paper, which could take additional days. Upon the court issuing the mandate, NCBA will provide members with step-by-step instructions to complete the reporting process, in addition to a one-page form that may be used by producers to complete the written report requirement.

Additionally, you can access the EPA's EPCRA guidance and CERCLA compliance information by going to www.EPA.gov/animalwaste.
  
PR Campaign

On Tuesday, NCBA kicked off a Public Relations campaign to highlight the absurdity of the reporting requirement. To officially kick off the campaign, NCBA released a video to show the contrast between a true Superfund site and a cattle operation.

Additionally, NCBA has joined with other livestock associations to create a website dedicated to our grassroots campaign - FreedomToFarm.com



Smith Selected to Serve on Congressional Delegation to NAFTA Negotiations


Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) announced today he has been selected to serve on the congressional delegation traveling to NAFTA negotiations in Montreal next week, where he will meet with negotiators, government officials, and business leaders to stress the importance of the trade agreement.

“NAFTA is vital to Nebraska agriculture, and I have been focused throughout the negotiations on making the case to do no harm to the ag economy,” Smith said.  “I am pleased to have the opportunity to serve on this congressional delegation and bring Nebraska’s voice to the table in the next round of NAFTA talks.  As negotiations move forward, I will continue to lead on this crucial issue and work to strengthen the market access ag producers have achieved under NAFTA.” 

Smith serves on the Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over trade.



Nebraska Corn Board celebrates 40th anniversary in 2018


The Nebraska Corn Board is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2018. Throughout its 40-year history, the state’s corn checkoff has remained committed to its mission of promoting the value of corn by creating opportunities.

Instated in 1978 as part of the Corn Resources Act, the Nebraska corn checkoff was the first corn checkoff to be approved in the nation. The effort to pass the bill was led by Nebraska farmers – most notably members of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association.

Although this is a milestone year for the checkoff, the Board is not taking this as an opportunity to reflect on past accomplishments.

“We’ve achieved a lot throughout the corn checkoff’s 40-year history in Nebraska, but we’re not dwelling on past successes,” said Dave Merrell, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “We’re more focused on the next 40. How do we build upon our successes with ag trade? What is the next ethanol? What’s new in research and biotechnology? How do we better engage with consumers who don’t understand where their food comes from? These are the questions we’re actively working to answer.”

To kick off its 40th year, the Nebraska Corn Board is releasing a special edition of its CornsTalk newsletter, which highlights significant accomplishments, and looks to the future in areas like research, news uses, biofuels, policy, education and consumer engagement. The 16-page publication will first be released as an insert included in the February edition of the Nebraska Farmer magazine and will then be distributed to weekly and daily newspapers in the state. A redesigned website will also be released in 2018.

“Nebraska’s corn industry is a key economic driver for the state,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Over the last four decades, Nebraska has been a national leader in many sectors in agricultural production, and much of that can be attributed to our state’s farmers and the value-added corn industries that the corn checkoff has supported.”

Over 60 farmer-directors have served on the nine-member board since the Nebraska Corn Board’s inception in 1978. Board members represent eight districts across the state and one director serves as an at-large member.



Colfax County Farm Service Agency Reminds Producers to Signup for the 2018 Farm Program

 
Farmers and ranchers with base acres in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) safety net program may enroll for the 2018 crop year. Failure to enroll will result in no program benefits being earned for crop year 2018, noted Bruce Coffey County Executive Director of the Colfax County FSA office.

Since shares and ownership of a farm can change year-to-year, producers must enroll by signing a contract each program year.

The producers on a farm that are not enrolled for the 2018 enrollment period will not be eligible for financial assistance from the ARC or PLC programs for the 2018 crop should crop prices or farm revenues fall below the historical price or revenue benchmarks established by the program. Producers who made their elections in previous years must still enroll during the 2018 enrollment period.

The ARC and PLC programs were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and offer a safety net to agricultural producers when there is a substantial drop in prices or revenues for covered commodities. Covered commodities include barley, corn, grain sorghum, oats, soybeans, and wheat. For more details regarding these programs, go to www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc.

Coffey encouraged producers to call (402) 352-5200 to schedule an appointment and to update their records in the county office. For more information, producers are encouraged to visit their local FSA office. To find a local FSA office, visit http://offices.usda.gov.



NRD's Educate Hundreds at Conference on State Sustainability


The NRDs are proud to announce Governor Pete Ricketts will be kicking off the Natural Resources Districts 2018 Legislative Conference at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Lincoln, Nebraska on Tuesday, January 23rd at 8:45 am. The NRDs protect people’s lives, property and future by helping conserve the state’s natural resources and soils, preserve the water below the ground and protect our rivers, fight potential flooding, and much more. Media is invited to attend the conference to learn how the NRDs are working to create a sustainable future.

Speakers will present information Tuesday, January 23rd starting at 9:00 am and also Wednesday, January 24th from 8:30 am – Noon (Wednesday is when most presentations are scheduled). An agenda is attached.

A few important topics that affect all Nebraskans include:

    Learn about Lincoln Premium Poultry and Costco’s innovative project that will push forth environmental stewardship and best practices being implemented across the project spectrum at the Costco Poultry facility being built in Fremont. (Wed. Jan. 24, 2018, 10:20 am – 11:05 am, Room: Regents C)

    In Nebraska, thousands of miles of riparian forest have been removed, increasing damage to soil and water resources threatening communities with declining air and water quality. Find out what Nebraskans can do about this and how to increase our air quality. (Wed. Jan 24, 2018, 9:20 am – 10:05 am, Room: Regents DE)

    A variety of groups are in the process of getting the public more involved in their operations including the Nebraska Corn Growers. They have a new focus on stewardship and will answer why they believe it is the key to reaching their goals long-term. (Wed., Jan. 24, 2018, 11:10 am – 11:55 am, Room: Regents F)

Several Nebraska senators are confirmed they’ll be attending the conference. It’s being held at Embassy Suites-Lincoln at 1040 P St, Lincoln, NE. You can find parking in the parking garage at the corner of Q St. and 11th St in downtown Lincoln.



Assistance Available to Agricultural Producers through the Conservation Stewardship Program


Agricultural producers wanting to enhance current conservation efforts are encouraged to apply for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).

Through CSP, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps private landowners build their business while implementing conservation practices that help ensure the sustainability of their entire operation. NRCS plans to enroll up to 10 million acres in CSP in 2018.

While applications for CSP are accepted year round, applications must be received by March 2, 2018, to be considered for this funding period.

Through CSP, agricultural producers and forest landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like nutrient and pest management, cover crops and tree plantings– all while maintaining active agriculture production on their land. CSP also encourages the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and new management techniques such as precision agriculture applications, on-site carbon storage and planting for high carbon sequestration rate, and new soil amendments to improve water quality.

Some of these benefits of CSP include:
·       Improved cattle gains per acre;
·       Increased crop yields;
·       Decreased inputs;
·       Wildlife population improvements; and
·       Better resilience to weather extremes.

NRCS recently made several updates to the program to help producers better evaluate their conservation options and the benefits to their operations and natural resources. New methods and software for evaluating applications help producers see up front why they are or are not meeting stewardship thresholds, and allow them to pick practices and enhancements that work for their conservation objectives. These tools also enable producers to see potential payment scenarios for conservation early in the process.



NCC Hosts “Classic On The Road” Meetings


Albion Country Club, Albion, Nebraska
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Free Beef Supper & Opportunities for Cattlemen
6 pm Social Hour - 7 pm Beef Supper

The Classic On The Road meetings are for you and your family to come and enjoy a fun night with area farmers and ranchers. Plus, enjoy a FREE beef supper.

There will be displays from Purina Mills, Merck Animal Health, Alligare, Multimin 90, Platte Valley Auto, Aurora Cooperative, and Modern Woodmen Financial.

These Cornerstone sponsors will have several drawings and promotional items to be given out at this meeting.

The Nebraska Cattlemen’s Classic will be handing out the 2018 Classic Beef and Horse Catalogs. You will want to come pick up your copy of the Classic Catalog.

They are bringing the Classic Catalogs to you! Below is the complete schedule of all meetings....
Monday, January 22nd, Burwell 883 Grand Event Centre
Tuesday, January 23rd- Albion Country Club
Wednesday, January 24 - Fairfield Opera House
Thursday, January 25th - SoKol Hall, Wilber
Monday, January 29th - Ne Salt Grain, Gothenburg

Call Ronette Heinrich at 308-627-6385, to make your reservation for this fun event for you and your family! When you make your reservation, indicate the location you are attending.



Prescribed burn workshop ignites efforts to equip land stewards with tools for success


Pheasants Forever, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and Lower Elkhorn NRD will host a basic prescribed burn workshop on Tuesday, January 30. The workshop will be held at the Lifelong Learning Center in Norfolk from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Generally, individual landowners interested in prescribed fire lack necessary training or resources to achieve their goals independently. “It takes the time and coordination of many people working together to successfully and safely complete a prescribed burn” according to wildlife biologist Scott Schmidt.  For this reason, Pheasants Forever, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and other conservation partners led an effort to educate, empower, and align land stewards who share a common goal: to increase the health of the land as Mother Nature intended, with fire. Workshops equip participants with a basic understanding of how to use prescribed fire safely and effectively. Topics such as fire behavior, prescribed burning techniques, writing burn plans, equipment use, and smoke management are presented by experienced natural resource managers and wildlife biologists.

Prescribed burn associations provide “next step” opportunities to gain experience with hands-on involvement. Dan Kathol, president of the Lower Elkhorn Prescribed Burn Association, meets with members to ensure that prep work and burn plans are complete before the spring burn season. Kathol said, “We will need to combine as many burns into a single day in order to get as many burns done on a day when the weather is conducive.” In 2017, the burn association had a record 27 burns totaling 2,260 acres in northeast Nebraska.

While landowners often seek their assistance, prescribed burn associations are not a work-for-hire operation. Like any other volunteer group, success depends on members who are willing to lend their time and resources to accomplish mutually beneficial goals for everyone involved. It’s a neighbor-helping-neighbor model. Burn association members must attend a basic burn workshop and participate in at least 1-2 burns each year. A small favor to ask, considering the benefit of having access to an 81-member network and a mobile prescribed burn trailer, complete with about $28,000 worth of burn equipment.

To attend the prescribed burn workshop in Norfolk, visit the events page at www.NebraskaPF.com or call Ashley at 308-850-8395. A $10 registration fee covers the classroom training, workshop materials, and lunch. Please register by January 24, 2018.

Since 2008, a total of 118 workshops have increased prescribed fire knowledge among 2,791 attendees thanks to the collaboration of Pheasants Forever, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Nebraska Environmental Trust, and other conservation partners throughout the state.



Iowa DNR to Roll Out Manure Filing Process at Pork Congress


It's been more than a year since the Iowa DNR partnered with groups to develop a better way for farmers to file annual manure management plan updates.

The Iowa DNR introduces the project at Pork Congress, Jan. 24 and 25, in Des Moines. Attend an educational seminar at noon on Jan. 25 or stop by the DNR's booth, number 1511, to learn more.

Called the eMMP, the online application will go live early in March when DNR sends letters to livestock and poultry producers who must file annual updates to their MMPs.

Farmers and consultants can save time, effort and mileage by filing the required plans from their home, office or smart phone--instead of driving to each county office where manure will be applied. If everyone uses it, DNR estimates the online solution will save driving at least 178,000 miles per year.

Participating farmers and consultants will receive emailed reminders 60 days before the plans are due. Then they can file and pay fees for multiple plans at one time.

The eMMP frees up county staff from signing each of the 7,000-plus plans, signing corrections to those plans and storing the paper forms. Instead, counties will receive an email when plans are completed. Filing online will reduce the number of file cabinets needed to store paper records in county and DNR offices.

"It took a group effort and was sometimes challenging to meet the needs of producers, their consultants, 99 counties and the folks at DNR who process these plans," said Ted Petersen, DNR coordinator of the project. "Not everyone got exactly what they wanted, but the final product will benefit everyone."

The process is relatively simple: producers must use their secure DNR-issued PIN number to log in to a State of Iowa account, fill out the annual MMP short form online, and choose one of several options to pay annual compliance fees.

The public will continue to have access to information about the status of individual plans, statewide or county-by-county. Producers who prefer paper forms will still have that option.

For more information, see www.iowadnr.gov/emmp. While visiting the DNR's eMMP web page, subscribe to AFO eNews, a newsletter for livestock and poultry animal feeding operations, and sign up for a Feb. 28 in-depth "how-to" webinar, "Save Time and Money--File your MMP Online."

Manure management plans are required of confinement site (totally roofed) facilities with more than 500 animal units or 1,250 finishing hogs. Farmers use the MMP to plan the amount of manure that can be land applied based on nitrogen and phosphorus needs of the upcoming crop.

Every four years, producers are required to test soils for nutrient levels and update their complete MMPs. Three out of four years, they can file a simplified annual MMP short form. Starting in March, they can file the annual short form electronically.



USDA Announces Proposed Rule to Modernize Swine Inspection


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today announced its continued effort to modernize inspection systems through science-based approaches to food safety. USDA is proposing to amend the federal meat inspection regulations to establish a new voluntary inspection system for market hog slaughter establishments called the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System (NSIS), while also requiring additional pathogen sampling for all swine slaughter establishments.

The proposed rule also allows innovation and flexibility to establishments that are slaughtering market hogs. Market hogs are uniform, healthy, young animals that can be slaughtered and processed in this modernized system more efficiently and effectively with enhanced process control.

For market hog establishments that opt into NSIS, the proposed rule would increase the number of offline USDA inspection tasks, while continuing 100% FSIS carcass-by-carcass inspection. These offline inspection tasks place inspectors in areas of the production process where they can perform critical tasks that have direct impact on food safety.

“FSIS is excited to continue modernizing inspection practices, while allowing opportunities for industry to innovate and streamline food production,” said Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Carmen Rottenberg. “There is no single technology or process to address the problem of foodborne illness, but when we focus our inspections on food safety-related tasks, we better protect American families.”

In this proposal, USDA would also amend the regulations that apply to all establishments that slaughter swine. The new requirements would ensure that establishments implement measures to control enteric pathogens that can cause foodborne illness. Specifically, all swine slaughter establishments would be required to implement appropriate measures to prevent contamination throughout the entire production process in their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans, Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (Sanitation SOPs), or other prerequisite programs. The new requirements would ensure that both USDA and the establishment have the documentation they need to verify the effectiveness of these measures on an ongoing basis.

There will be a 60-day period for comment once the rule is published in the Federal Register.

To view the proposed rule and information on how to comment on the rule, visit the FSIS website at fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/c17775a2-fd1f-4c11-b9d2-5992741b0e94/2016-0017.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.



NPPC Supports New Pork Inspection Model


The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed a new pork processing inspection rule, a decision strongly supported by the National Pork Producers Council. As a result, the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) HACCP Inspection Model (HIMP) will be expanded from five current pilot locations to full-scale implementation.

“We support the USDA’s decision to advance HIMP as it introduces new pork production efficiencies while encouraging the deployment of new food safety technologies in packing plants,” said NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Illinois. “The pilot program yielded very positive results; expanding the program is another step forward in the industry’s ongoing focus on continuous improvement of food safety and cost efficiency.”

The new inspection model, subject to a 60-day comment period, assigns increased inspection responsibility to plant operators, allowing the USDA to dedicate its resources to general oversight of food safety standards and the overall inspection process. Plants can choose to adopt the HIMP model or continue operating under the current inspection system.

Maschhoff added, “The U.S. pork industry is the most competitive in the world because we have built a reputation for quality, affordability and food safety. We applaud the USDA for taking this step to strengthen our competitive position.”



Perdue Outlines USDA Services in the Event of a Government Shutdown


U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today outlined U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) services available in the event of a government shutdown.

“USDA is committed to safeguarding life and property through the critical services we provide – and should the government shut down, we will continue to do just that," said Secretary Perdue. “I am proud of each USDA employee for everything they do to benefit the farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers who depend on our services. It is their mission each day to fulfill our USDA motto, 'Do right and feed everyone.'”

While you may click HERE to view USDA’s lapse in funding plans, background information on USDA services available in the event of a government shutdown are below:

Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS):

In the event of a lapse in appropriation – among other duties listed HERE – FSIS will continue work to:
-    Ensure meat, poultry, and egg products are safe and prevent the movement or sale in commerce of any meat or poultry products which are adulterated;
-    Inspect before and after slaughter those birds and animals intended for use as food for humans and inspect the further processing of meat and poultry products;
-    Apply foreign governments’ inspection requirements and procedures to verify that products exported from the United States are safe;
-    Conduct emergency operations in connection with the voluntary recall of meat or poultry products determined to be adulterated or misbranded;
-    Conduct epidemiological investigations based on reports of food-borne health hazards and disease outbreaks;
-    Monitor allied industries to prevent uninspected, misbranded, or adulterated meat, poultry and egg products from illegally entering channels of commerce;
-    Provide pathological, microbiological, chemical, and other scientific examination of meat, poultry and egg products for disease, infection, contamination, or other types of adulteration;
-    Conduct a microbiological monitoring and surveillance program;

Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS):

In the event of a lapse in appropriation – among other duties listed HERE – APHIS will ensure:
-    Imported products do not bring pests and diseases into the U.S.;
-    In the case of a pest or disease outbreak, the appropriate emergency personnel would come back to work immediately;
-    Overseas staff that provide for national security, including the conduct of foreign relations essential to the national security or the safety of life and property, are excepted;
-    Personnel from the APHIS Emergency Management, Safety and Security Division will respond as necessary to provide technical assistance and conduct investigations for excepted and exempt activities;
-    Animal Care will have staff on call to address issues related to licensed or registered facilities (such as immediate needs related to the care or treatment of animals; capture or containment of dangerous animals, or the required confiscation of animals);
-    Biotechnology Regulatory Services will monitor the compliance call line for incidents related to genetically engineered organisms. If an incident needs follow up, the correct regulatory and investigative personnel will be called in to work;
-    Security staff will be available on a case-by-case basis to respond to security incidents and to coordinate facility access;
-    Foreign animal disease (FAD) diagnosticians and incident command system (ICS) teams will be available on a case-by-case basis to respond to FAD investigations and FAD emergencies;
-    Laboratory personnel will be available to run tests on samples associated with foreign animal disease investigations, and, at the beginning of the period, to close out pending lab tests;
-    Staffing at National Wildlife Research Center and its associated field stations to care for the animals being studied.

Food and Nutrition Service (FNS):

In the event of a lapse in appropriations – among other duties listed HERE – FNS will ensure:
-    Ongoing activities include essential Federal functions to maintain the core programs of the nutrition safety net, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Child Nutrition Programs, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC);
-        All of these programs will continue to serve eligible people through USDA’s partners (State agencies and other grantees) utilizing legally available Federal resources previously provided to them or their own resources.  All have funding available to operate through the month of February, and many have funds to continue operations through March, without additional appropriation.
-    Disaster feeding operations under the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 and the Stafford Act would remain available based on the exception to fund functions critical to health and safety;
-    The smaller discretionary programs should utilize funds already allocated and made available for operation of programs. Food already purchased for delivery to the Food Distribution programs; The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), USDA foods for Child Nutrition Programs, and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), will continue to be delivered to program operators.

Rural Development (RD):

In the event of a lapse in appropriation – among other duties listed HERE – RD will:
-    Continue its fiduciary responsibilities in accounting for and processing customers’ funds, such as loan escrow accounts, in an accurate and timely manner;
-    Ensure those individuals who hold single family housing loans from RD are able to make their monthly payments and will be held accountable to monthly mortgage payment deadlines;
-    Ensure organizations holding USDA Rural Development loans will still be able to make their payments and will be held accountable for making on-time loan payments;
-    Ensure Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands offices will continue to be open during a federal funding lapse to assist in continued disaster recovery efforts;
-        Staff at these offices will be able to conduct inspections of existing projects, and they will also be available to provide technical assistance to USDA customers.

Risk Management Agency (RMA):

In the event of a lapse in appropriations – among other duties listed HERE – RMA will ensure:
-    Crop insurance companies will continue to deliver and service the federal crop insurance program during a government shutdown; 
-    Approved Insurance Providers (AIPS) will stay open and agents and loss adjustors will be fully available;
-    Indemnity payments will continue to be made.

U.S. Forest Service (USFS):

In the event of a lapse in appropriations – among other duties listed HERE – the USFS will continue work in:
-    Emergency and Defense Preparedness;
-    Fire Suppression including fire fighters and all necessary equipment costs to protect life and property, Law Enforcement personnel and all necessary equipment costs to protect life and property, and emergency and natural disasters response or preparation (e.g., floods and avalanche control);
-    Protection of Federal lands, buildings, waterways, equipment and other property and investments owned by the United States when the suspension of such activities would cause an imminent threat to human life and property. This includes nurseries, insectaries, tree seed labs, and the minimum level of staffing to administer permits and contracts needed for protection of National Forest System lands;
-    All contracts in support of cyber security, land-based radio communications, and infrastructure operations to support key positions and essential personnel;
-    Protection of Research studies where lack of continuation measurements or maintenance would destroy or endanger validity of research findings;
-    Job Corps operations unless directed otherwise by Department of Labor.

Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS):

In the event of a lapse in appropriation – among other duties listed HERE – the following services will remain available through AMS:
-    Commodity Procurement;
-    Grading and Inspection;
-    Cotton Classing;
-    Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act Program (PACA);
-    Research and Promotion Board Oversight;
-    FGIS: Inspection and Weighing Services (user fee funded activities);
-    Farm-Bill Funded Activities.

Economic Research Service (ERS):

In the event of a lapse in appropriations – among other duties listed HERE – ERS will:
-    Ensure coordination of data calls;
-    Maintain agency Local Area Network (LAN) and Wide Area Network (WAN) systems;
-    Ensure all systems remain online and functional;
-    Require COOP team staff for both readiness activities such as maintaining operable communications as well as implementation or activation activities, and to ensure adequate communication with the USDA OpsCenter.

National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS):

In the event of a lapse in appropriations – among other duties listed HERE – NRCS will continue their work in:
-    Puerto Rico and Virgin Island Activities;
-    Emergency Watershed Protection;
-    Dam monitoring.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS):

In the event of a lapse in appropriations – among other duties listed HERE – ARS will:
-    Continue performing duties related to preserving and protecting ARS facilities, animals and critical research infrastructure.

Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS):

In the event of a lapse in appropriations – among other duties listed HERE – FAS will:
-    Support NAFTA negotiations;
-    Engage on issues pending in the World Trade Organization;
-    Operate the Commodity Credit Corporation-funded Export Credit Guarantee Program (GSM-102);
-    Maintain international offices at U.S. embassies around the world.

Farm Service Agency (FSA):

In the event of a lapse in appropriations – among other duties listed HERE – FSA will ensure:
-    All FSA local service centers and farm loan programs in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands remain active.

Office of the Chief Economist (OCE):

In the event of a lapse in appropriation – among other duties listed HERE – OCE will continue Supporting:
-    The ongoing NAFTA negotiations;
-    The China negotiations in Geneva;
-    The OECD.



USDA Announces a Near-Record Year for Farm Loans - Infusing Rural Communities with Stronger Businesses and Sounder Agricultural Economies


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) today announced another year of high activity in its farm loan programs. Hard-working farm families across the country accessed nearly $6 billion in new credit, either directly or guaranteed through commercial lenders in 2017. At year end, FSA was assisting more than 120,000 family farmers with loans totaling just over $25 billion.

“FSA loan funds have been in high demand the last few years,” said Dr. Robert Johansson, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for the Farm Production and Conservation mission area. “We provide opportunities to qualified small, beginning and underserved farmers who are unable to obtain commercial credit, to help them get started, gain access to land and grow their operations. Family farmers across America also come to us for credit when they face challenges to stay in business. We’re proud to support rural prosperity by providing credit to those who need it most.”

FSA provides a variety of loan assistance, including direct and guaranteed farm ownership loans, operating loans and even direct Microloans up to $50,000 and EZ Guarantees up to $100,000 with streamlined application processes.

More than 25,000 direct and guaranteed FSA loans went to beginning or underserved farmers and ranchers. Over 4,200 beginning farmers received direct farm ownership loans from FSA to make their first land purchase. And of the approximately 6,500 Microloans made in the last fiscal year, three-quarters (almost 4,900) went to beginning farmers, 1,000 went to women and 400 to veterans.

FSA’s direct farm loans are unique in that the agency provides technical assistance in addition to credit. Consistent with efforts to continually improve technical assistance, today FSA announced the publication of two booklets that will serve as important informational tools and resources for existing and prospective farm loan borrowers.

Your FSA Farm Loan Compass booklet was recently developed specifically for farmers and ranchers who have an existing farm loan with FSA. It provides detailed guidance outlining borrower responsibilities and the servicing options that FSA offers. It also addresses common questions borrowers may have as they navigate through loan program requirements and the financial concepts involved.

Originally published in 2012, Your Guide to FSA Farm Loans was designed for new loan customers. It provides information about the various types of farm loans available and guides new borrowers through the application process. The revised version addresses program changes and includes new loan offerings, like the popular Microloan program that was rolled out after the publication of the original Guide.

“Your FSA Farm Loan Compass” and “Your Guide to FSA Farm Loans” are available on the FSA website at www.fsa.usda.gov/dafl. Farmers and ranchers are encouraged to download and share them with others in their community who may require assistance in understanding FSA’s loans and servicing processes. For additional information about FSA farm loans, please contact your loan officer or other FSA staff at your local office. To find your local FSA office, visit http://offices.usda.gov.



NPPC URGES REAUTHORIZATION OF ANIMAL DRUG APPROVAL LAW


National Pork Producers Council Deputy Director of Science and Technology Dr. Dan Kovich this week participated in a briefing for staff of the Senate Committee on Health Education, Labor and Pensions on reauthorizing the Animal Drug User Fee Act. ADUFA provides user fees to supplement the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s rigorous and robust review of animal drugs by providing additional resources for timely reviews of new animal drug applications. The law must be reauthorized every five years. Kovich told staffers that more timely reviews ensure that pork producers and their veterinarians have expedited access to new and innovative products for pigs, which help ensure public and animal health.



Icy Rivers Slow Grain Shipments


Ice is clogging major US waterways, slowing the flow of crops out of the agricultural heartland and lowering prices for farmers. Bouts of frigid temperatures in the Midwest froze portions of the Mississippi, Illinois and Ohio rivers in recent weeks. That's prompted some grain and soybean shippers to lower prices offered as they contend with reduced capacity, while others facilities have closed altogether. Farmers delivering to a grain facility in Naples, Ill., will receive 13 cents less per bushel of soybeans, according Mike Steenhoek of the Soy Transportation Coalition, while others are forced to hold onto their crops until the rivers thaw. The USDA says that grain barge tonnage on those rivers in the first two weeks of January fell 63% from the previous year.



ADM Has Made Takeover Approach to Bunge


Archer Daniels Midland Co. has made a takeover approach to Bunge Ltd., according to people familiar with the matter, setting up a possible bidding war after Glencore PLC earlier made an overture to the agricultural powerhouse.

Details of the ADM approach are unclear and it's possible neither company would succeed in buying Bunge, which had a market value of about $9.8 billion as of Friday afternoon. ADM's valuation was $22.6 billion.

Mining conglomerate Glencore approached White Plains, N.Y.-based Bunge, which ranks among the world's largest traders and processors of crops like soybeans and corn, The Wall Street Journal reported in May. The two companies have a standstill arrangement that temporarily prevents Glencore from making a hostile bid for Bunge. It's unclear whether the expression of interest from ADM negates the standstill, which expires in coming weeks, and enables Glencore to make another move now.

Glencore has been widely expected to re-engage with Bunge once the standstill expires though it's unclear what its intentions are at present.

ADM and Bunge represent the "A" and "B" in the so-called ABCDs, the global commodity-trading companies that dominate the world-wide flow of basic foodstuffs. Minnesota-based Cargill Inc. and Louis Dreyfus Commodities, headquartered in the Netherlands, are the other two.

A deal with Bunge would represent a strategic shift for Chicago-based ADM, which competes with Bunge in the business of buying, selling and processing crops. While ADM maintains one of the world's largest agricultural trading networks, the company in recent years has prioritized investing in food ingredients and flavorings, which executives tout as more profitable and more stable than the sometimes-volatile grain industry.

A combination between ADM and Bunge would likely face stiff regulatory hurdles, given the companies' competing grain facilities, shipping terminals and processing plants.

Glencore's agricultural division has a smaller presence than ADM's and Bunge's in key crop-exporting bread baskets like the U.S. and Brazil, so a Glencore deal could face fewer such hurdles.

A deal could fortify the companies at a time when agricultural traders are struggling. A string of bumper crops in North America, South America and Eastern Europe have swelled stockpiles and pushed down agricultural commodity prices.

Ample supplies mean fewer and smaller price swings, making it harder for grain companies to make profitable trades. Low prices have also left farmers reluctant to sell crops to grain companies, with many instead choosing to stash away crops on their own farms and wait for prices to improve. And food companies that buy raw or semi-processed grain from commodity firms are placing fewer long-term orders, since prices are expected to remain low.

Bunge shares have given back their sharp gain after the Journal reported on Glencore's approach, as a result of poor earnings.

Bunge traces its roots to a Dutch firm founded in 1818. Its controlling families, the Bunges and Borns, moved the company to South America and eventually the U.S. The company went public in 2001 and rode a commodity boom that ran from 2007 to 2013.

ADM's history dates back to 1902, when Daniels Linseed Co. was founded in Minneapolis to process linseed oil. The company later changed its name to Archer Daniels Midland before listing shares on the New York Stock Exchange in 1924, later expanding into grain trading and crop processing in Europe and South America. The company runs about 500 crop-buying facilities and 250 processing plants around the world.



Thursday, January 18, 2018

Thursday January 18 Ag News

Rural Mainstreet Index Sinks for January:  Rising Farm Loan Defaults Identified as Greatest 2018 Challenge

The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index declined slightly in January from December’s weak reading, remaining below growth neutral, according to the latest monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy.  

Overall: The index, like all indices in the survey, ranges between 0 and 100 with 50.0 representing growth neutral, fell to 46.8 from 47.8 in December. Though the overall index remained below growth neutral, it is significantly higher than the reading for January 2017.

“While the overall Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) for January declined and remained below growth neutral, year-over-year indices are trending higher. Clearly, based on our recent surveys, the negatives are getting less negative,” said Ernie Goss, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business.

When asked to name the greatest 2018 economic challenge for their banks, four in 10 bankers reported that loan defaults represented the biggest challenges for the year ahead. This is well ahead of the second ranked challenge of competition from Farm Credit coming in at 15.6 percent.
Farming and ranching: The farmland and ranchland-price index for January rose to 42.2 from 39.8 in December. This is the 50th straight month the index has fallen below growth neutral 50.0.

The January farm equipment-sales index slumped to 24.4 from December’s 29.3. This marks the 53rd consecutive month the reading has dropped below growth neutral, 50.0.

Below are the state reports:

Nebraska: The Nebraska RMI for January sank to 46.3 from December’s 48.3. The state’s farmland-price index climbed to 42.1 from last month’s 35.8. Nebraska’s new-hiring index stood at a strong 60.6, up from 59.6 in November.

Iowa: The January RMI for Iowa dipped to 47.3 from 48.0 in December. Iowa’s farmland-price index for January increased to 42.4 from December’s 39.8. Iowa’s new-hiring index for January declined to 52.1 from December’s 60.0.

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

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



Two legislative bills seek to expand broadband access to rural Nebraska


Residents in many areas of rural Nebraska do not have access to high speed internet. Two legislative bills introduced today by Sen. Lynne Walz, of Fremont, seek to close the digital divide.

LB 1113 introduced by Sen. Walz and co-sponsored by Sen. Tom Briese of Albion, would make it easier for public entities to work with private companies to install fiber optic cable required for broadband internet access. Currently, there are regulations and restrictions that interfere with private companies and political subdivisions from entering into public-private partnerships in an effective and cost-efficient manner.

“The current path to public-private partnerships is cumbersome and inefficient,” said Jordan Rasmussen, policy associate with the Center for Rural Affairs. “The city of Lincoln laid conduit and then leased the space for fiber in the conduit. With the passage of this legislation, the municipality could lay and lease the fiber directly if they have a private partner in place to provide the services. This would result in a cost saving to the municipality, the service providers, and ultimately, the customer.”

The second bill, LB 1114, seeks to reinstate requirements for more detailed reporting of broadband service access. Current reporting standards allow for telecommunications services to be reported at the census block level. For many rural areas of Nebraska, the census block is the entire county.

For example, Rasmussen said residents of Taylor may have high speed access, but that doesn’t mean access spans all of Loup County.

“This enhanced reporting will provide service providers and municipalities with a more accurate depiction of where service is and is not available,” Rasmussen said. “Reporting access at the census block level leaves room for error and misallocation of funds to build out broadband services.”

The Center for Rural Affairs recognizes the opportunities of expanded rural broadband service, and has endorsed both LB 1113 and LB 1114.

“Funding opportunities and legislative changes are key to the extension of internet access to all residents,” Rasmussen said. “The ability to expand broadband access in the state’s rural communities expands social and economic opportunities for Nebraskans.”



Pork producers to discuss industry issues in Kansas City


Producer delegates from across the United States will gather in Kansas City Feb. 28 – March 2 for the annual National Pork Industry Forum.

The 15 producers who serve as members of the National Pork Board will hear directly from Pork Act Delegates appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Each year the delegates confer, vote on resolutions and advisements and provide valuable direction on the important issues facing pork producers and the industry. Delegates will learn about the aggressive promotions to grow consumer demand and plans to build consumer trust and drive sustainable production.

The theme for this year’s Pork Forum, We Care® - A Decade of Commitment, references the 10-year anniversary of the We Care ethical principles. Adopted in 2008, the ethical principles show pork producers’ commitment to producing safe food, protecting and promoting animal well-being, safeguarding natural resources, promoting public health, promoting a safe work environment and contributing to a better way of life in their communities.

“The We Care ethical principles are at the core of who we are as pig farmers,” said Terry O’Neel, president of the National Pork Board and a pig farmer from Friend, Nebraska. “They show consumers that we are committed to doing what’s right on the farm for people, pigs and the planet.”

At the meeting, Pork Act Delegates will rank eight candidates for the National Pork Board and submit the list to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for approval. The candidates, in alphabetical order, are:
    Gary Asay – Illinois
    Richard Deaton – Ohio
    Patricia Dumoulin – Illinois
    Todd Erickson – North Dakota
    Patrick FitzSimmons – Minnesota
    Bill Kessler – Missouri
    David Newman – Arkansas
    Bill Tentinger – Iowa

Prior to the annual meeting, members of the National Pork Board also will convene their March board of directors meeting. The agenda will include updates on 2018 plans to enhance pork demand, increase market opportunities, improve pork production practices and invest in research priorities.

Included on the 2018 Pork Forum agenda will be opportunities for pork producers to become certified in the pork industry’s Pork Quality Assurance® Plus program, as well as learn more about other pork industry programs. The full agenda is available at www.porkindustryforum.com.



IOWA FARMERS MARKET ASSOCIATION TO HOLD 20TH ANNUAL WINTER WORKSHOP FEBRUARY 3


The 20th Annual Iowa Farmers Market Workshop will be held on Saturday, February 3rd from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Grace Lutheran Church at 3010 52nd Street in Des Moines.

Topics to be covered will include the new FDA Produce Safety Rule, wine sampling and sales at markets, insurance needs of vendors and markets, a panel of market managers sharing successes and challenges, updates on the state’s Double Up Food Bucks Program as well as from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Bill Northey will provide the welcome at the opening of the workshop.

“It’s always an honor to help welcome the market managers, lead personnel and vendors to the workshop.  In many cases these market leaders are the face of Iowa agriculture to market goers. The Department really appreciates the work they do in organizing the state’s farmers markets and supplying locally grown fresh produce, baked goods, and other items to Iowans,” Northey said.

Again this year, the Iowa Farm Bureau will be offering free consumer market bags on a market basis. Attendees will also have the opportunity to receive training to be certified in the Farmers Market Nutrition Program.

“The Iowa Farmers Market Association is so pleased to have put on these workshops now for 20 years. These events are a great way for our statewide group to reconnect with one another.  Each workshop is unique and we cover so much during the day. We have an exciting agenda lined up for this year’s workshop,” said Iowa Farmers Market Association President Donna Brahms.

More information including the full agenda and registration form can be found on the IFMA website: http://www.iafarmersmarkets.org/ .



New Coalition Advocates for North American Free Trade Agreement Preservation and Modernization


A broad-based group of over 30 organizations representing growers, refiners, producers, transporters, retailers and consumers announced the formation of Americans for Farmers & Families (AFF), a coalition that will work to ensure President Donald Trump and Congressional leaders understand the importance of preserving and modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to America's agricultural and retail economies.

Since taking effect in 1994, the positive impacts of NAFTA extend beyond America's farming community, and have helped the food and agricultural industries to grow to support more than 43 million jobs.  But it is rural economies and communities that are among the biggest winners under NAFTA, the very same communities that powered President Trump to victory in 2016.

Under NAFTA, food and agriculture exports have more than quadrupled and account for 25 percent of American exports.  One in every 10 acres of American crops is for export to NAFTA partners.  NAFTA has fueled agriculture-related industries' growth, which in turn has been a driver in building American jobs.  Today, American food and agriculture supports more than 20 percent of the U.S. workforce and provides more manufacturing jobs than any other sector. And NAFTA has helped keep grocery prices down for all Americans.

"Farm Belt voters supported President Trump by a three-to-one margin in the last election and they are counting on President Trump to improve NAFTA in the modernization negotiations," said John Bode, president and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association and a member of AFF's leadership committee.  "It's not an exaggeration to say many farmers are still farming today because of NAFTA.  We know that President Trump has a lot of experience negotiating good deals.  We support him in updating and improving NAFTA."

NAFTA has opened markets to America's farmers, grown domestic jobs and supported $127 billion in annual economic activity.  Fruit and vegetable exports alone from the United States to Canada and Mexico have more than tripled under NAFTA.  As President Trump's negotiators are debating major changes to the agreement, we will ensure they keep a clear eye on the positive impact NAFTA has had on the American economy, job growth and wages.

"NAFTA has opened new markets to America's farmers and ranchers, and U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico have quadrupled under the agreement," said Zippy Duval, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation and a member of AFF's leadership committee.  "The current negotiations should build upon that success. Farm Bureau is pleased to work with AFF as well as Farmers for Free Trade and other collaborative efforts to engage farmers and leaders at the local, state and national levels and deliver that message to Congress and the President."

As part of this effort, AFF will be launching a robust educational campaign to highlight the positive impact NAFTA achieves for hard-working Americans and lay the groundwork for an updated trade agreement that preserves America's strong economic standing for decades to come.

"We look forward to being active participants in this discussion as we ensure the growers, producers, processors, transporters, retailers and consumers we represent have their voices heard," added Chris Novak, CEO of the National Corn Growers Association and another member of AFF's leadership committee. "This issue is simply too important for us to sit on the sidelines."

"Canada and Mexico represent the second and third largest markets for U.S. agriculture," said AFF leadership committee member Neil Dierks, CEO of the National Pork Producers Council.  "A modernized NAFTA is critical to the prosperity of rural America."

For more information on AFF, including an initial membership list, please visit https://americansforfarmersandfamilies.com/.



Soy Growers Join New Initiative to Protect & Modernize NAFTA for the 21st Century


The American Soybean Association (ASA) supports the Americans for Farmers & Families (AFF), a new coalition of growers, producers, suppliers and consumers dedicated to preserving the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

NAFTA has greatly benefited the U.S. through strong job growth, higher wages and low consumer prices, and has particularly enabled a booming agricultural and energy export economy that has upheld America’s independence. But its livelihood is at stake.

The mission of AFF is to educate policymakers on the best way to modernize NAFTA to fit America’s evolving needs. Improvements to NAFTA should be pursued by policymakers to ensure fair and balanced trade with our partners that benefits American exporters, consumers and helps create and grow American jobs.

To be an impactful voice in the debate over the future of NAFTA and change perceptions about the trade agreement, the coalition will focus on supporting the negotiations with political grasstops, coalition building and earned media campaigns in Republican-leaning states across the nation. Mobilizing a unique coalition of our industry and supporters of President Donald Trump and Republican governors, senators and members of Congress will be critical to success of the negotiations.



USSEC AND MSA ANNOUNCE SITE, DATE OF UPCOMING U.S. SOY GLOBAL TRADE EXCHANGE AND MIDWEST SPECIALTY GRAIN CONFERENCE AND TRADE SHOW


The U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and the Midwest Shippers Association (MSA) announced today that the sixth annual U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange and the 15th annual Midwest Specialty Grain Conference and Trade Show will be jointly held in Kansas City, Missouri from August 29 – 31, 2018, marking the sixth year that the two organizations will co-host this event.

USSEC CEO Jim Sutter said that USSEC’s portion of the conference is expected to draw more than 250 qualified soybean buyers from more than 50 countries.

“Kansas City offers a superb location for our joint international conference, trade show, and the global buyer / U.S. supplier meetings,” said MSA CEO Bruce Abbe. “There is a host of leading agriculture export companies located in the nearby region, and Kansas City is a center for U.S. agriculture transportation, including major intermodal rail operations going to all coasts. There will be much to do and see for our international visitors.”

This year’s event will feature a refined schedule that will spread out the trade team meetings between commodity and food soy and grain buyers and suppliers throughout two days, aimed at maximizing productive exchange meetings. Follow developments at www.grainconference.org.

Missouri ranks sixth in production of U.S. Soy. In 2016, Missouri soybean farmers harvested 271.5 million bushels on more than 5.6 million acres, worth over $2.6 billion. In 2016, Kansas ranked tenth in production of U.S. Soy with the state’s soybean farmers harvesting 192.5 million bushels on just over 4 million acres, worth $1.8  billion.

The U.S. Soybean Export Council aims to maximize the use of U.S. Soy internationally by meeting the needs of global customers that use U.S. Soy in human food and feed for poultry, livestock, and fish. The organization uses a global network of stakeholder partnerships, including soybean farmers, exporters, agribusinesses, agricultural organizations, researchers and government agencies, to accomplish that mission.

The Midwest Shippers Association is a trade association consisting of companies and producers devoted to supplying the highest quality oilseeds, grain, and grain ingredients to international and domestic customers. The organization works to find logistics and global shipping transportation solutions for the Upper Midwest region. MSA is a networking organization that brings together its member companies, international and domestic food manufacturers, and an extensive range of supply chain providers that enables the region to deliver high quality products to customers around the world.



AFBF Releases Strategic Action Goals for 2018


The American Farm Bureau Federation today released its 2018 strategic action plan goals. The goals, which identify the organization’s top public policy issues for 2018, were approved last week in Nashville by the AFBF Board of Directors following delegate action during the organization’s 99th annual convention.

The action plan goals will serve as the focus of intensive, cross-functional planning and organizational engagement by AFBF throughout 2018. The four top issues include:
-    Farm Policy: Enact a farm bill in the 115th Congress that benefits farmers and ranchers, rural communities, and food security.
-    Immigration Reform: Enact immigration reform in the 115th Congress that helps meet farmers’ and ranchers’ labor needs.
-    Regulatory Reform: Work for reform to ensure that federal rules are limited to what is necessary, are supported by science, appropriately balance costs and benefits, are clearly authorized by law, are created in a transparent manner, and allow farmers and ranchers to remain productive.
-    Trade: Defend and expand trade opportunities for U.S. agriculture.

Additional watch-list issues will be monitored for developments that warrant increased strategic planning and collaboration. These include:
-    Energy: Ensure policy that enhances the availability and affordability of energy for farmers and ranchers and encourages the growth of renewable energy production.
-    Infrastructure: Work for greater investment in rural and agricultural infrastructure, including broadband Internet access, rural roads and bridges, inland waterway locks and dams, sea ports and agricultural research.
-    Tax Reform: Continue working to eliminate the estate tax and monitor implementation of the 2017 tax reform law.

The list is not inclusive of all the issues the organization will address in 2018, as AFBF will continue to look for opportunities to implement actions compatible with the policies set forth by 353 farmer and rancher delegates from across the nation during last week’s annual convention.



American Drivers Top 3 Billion Miles Driven on E15


Today Growth Energy announces that American drivers have logged yet another billion miles on clean burning E15 in just the past three months. The total number of miles driven on E15 now sits at more than 3 billion.

“E15 is taking off with consumers wherever it’s available and rapidly becoming drivers’ go-to fuel,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “At the forefront of this incredible growth are forward-thinking retailers who have figured out that E15 is smart business, as well as consumers who have come to rely on the better value proposition E15 presents. It’s a win-win on both ends, and that means E15’s growth is only going to continue.”

Growth Energy works hand-in-hand with Prime the Pump, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping build the infrastructure and distribution of higher biofuel blends, to give more Americans the choice of E15 at the pump. We are proud to partner with leading retailers including Casey’s, Cenex, Family Express, Kum & Go, Kwik Trip, MAPCO, Minnoco, Murphy USA, Protec Fuel, QuikTrip, RaceTrac, Sheetz, and Thorntons to offer E15 to customers at more than 1,300 stations across 29 states.

“Consumers are reaching for E15 because it provides unrivaled value that benefits their engines, the environment, and their wallets. This is how the number of E15 sites has doubled in 2017 for the fourth year in a row,” Skor added.

E15 is cleaner burning and has higher octane, which makes it a smart choice for drivers who want better engine performance and lower emissions for the environment. It is approved for use in all vehicles 2001 and newer, as well as in all flex-fuel vehicles, which combined represent more than 87 percent of vehicles on the road.

For more information on biofuels, or to find your nearest E15 or E85 station, visit GetBiofuel.com.



Retail Fertilizer Trends


For the second week in a row, average retail prices for all eight major fertilizers were higher compared to a month earlier, according to DTN's survey of retailers. However, only one fertilizer was up a significant amount. As has been the case in recent weeks, anhydrous was up 10% compared to last month. The nitrogen fertilizer's average price is $479 per ton.

The remaining fertilizers were up by smaller amounts. DAP had an average price of $456/ton, MAP $491/ton, potash $346/ton, urea $352/ton, 10-34-0 $410/ton, UAN28 $220/ton and UAN32 $258/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.38/lb.N, anhydrous $0.29/lb.N, UAN28 $0.39/lb.N and UAN32 $0.40/lb.N.

All but three fertilizers are now higher compared to last year with prices pushing higher in recent weeks. Anhydrous is 3% higher, urea is 4% more expensive, DAP is 5% higher, potash is 8% more expensive and MAP is now 12% higher.

Three fertilizers are still lower in price compared to a year prior. Both UAN28 and UAN32 are 1% lower, while 10-34-0 is 6% less expensive looking back a year.



EIA: Ethanol Stocks Steady


U.S. ethanol stockpiles held steady at 22.7 million barrels (bbl) during the week-ended Jan. 12 while plant production and blending demand increased following declines the week prior, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported on Thursday, Jan. 18.  Relative to a year ago, domestic ethanol stockpiles were 1.6 million bbl, or 7.6%, higher.

cDomestic plant production increased 65,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 6.5%, to 1.061 million bpd last week. Compared with a year ago, plant output was up 7,000 bpd, or 0.7%. For the four weeks ended Jan. 12, ethanol production averaged 1.045 million bpd, up 1,000 bpd versus a year ago.

Net refiner and blender inputs, a measure for ethanol demand, climbed 61,000 bpd, or 7.7%, last week to 856,000 bpd, rebounding from a three-year low the week prior. Compared to a year ago, blending demand was up 16,000 bpd, or 1.9%. For the four-week period ended Jan. 12, blending demand averaged 863,000 bpd, up 7,000 bpd, or 0.8%, versus a year ago.



DDGS Exports Set New Record To Southeast Asia


Considerable concern surrounded the export potential for U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) following an adverse trade policy decision by Vietnam, a historic top buyer, in December 2016. Instead, other countries in the region increased DDGS purchasing, the Vietnamese market re-opened and the region set a new record at 2.3 million metric tons in DDGS imports in 2016/2017.

“Offsetting the decline in sales to Vietnam, the market for U.S. DDGS in Southeast Asia diversified significantly,” said Manuel Sanchez, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) regional director for Southeast Asia. “We lost the largest DDGS market in the region for eight months and still reached a record import volume overall.”

Following the detection of quarantine pests, the Vietnamese Plant Protection Department (PPD) issued a decision in October 2016 to temporarily suspend DDGS importation. As a result, Vietnam purchased 50 percent less U.S. DDGS in 2016/2017 at nearly 495,000 tons, compared to almost 986,000 tons the year prior.

The Vietnamese government lifted its suspension of U.S. DDGS imports in September 2017, following an intense effort by the Council, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). Thus far in the 2017/2018 marketing year (September-November 2017), Vietnam has purchased more than 213,000 tons of U.S. DDGS, a steady uptick in the market.

Elsewhere in the region, the Council continued to expand DDGS sales by providing technical expertise and support as well as connecting grain buyers and end-users with U.S. suppliers. Programs in Vietnam are targeting aquaculture and swine programs whereas activities in Indonesia and Malaysia focus on boiler and layer sectors. In the Philippines, the Council is providing information on storing and handling.

This work throughout the region is helping end-users determine how best to incorporate U.S. DDGS into their rations. Combined with one of the lowest per unit of protein cost compared to other feed ingredients in the market, the Council saw notable increases in demand for U.S. DDGS from buyers in Southeast Asia in 2016/2017.

“We saw notable year-over-year growth in both Thailand and Indonesia,” said Sanchez. “New buyers like New Zealand, Cambodia and Myanmar also made a big splash this past marketing year.”

Thailand was the fourth largest buyer of U.S. DDGS in 2016/2017, purchasing 791,000 tons. Already in the new marketing year, Thailand has purchased more than 206,000 tons, bolstered by the Council’s trade servicing and technical assistance to the country’s feed manufacturers for swine, broilers and layers sectors, among the largest in the world.

“Thailand’s growth can be directly attributed to the Council’s programs in country,” Sanchez said. Indonesia has also steadily increased imports of U.S. DDGS over the three marketing years, importing about 512,000 tons in 2016/2017. Indonesia has already purchased more than 251,000 tons of U.S. DDGS in 2017/2018.

Smaller buyers are also substantially increasing their purchases of U.S. DDGS. New Zealand more than quadrupled purchases of U.S. DDGS with 151,000 tons in 2016/2017, compared to 32,600 tons the previous marketing year. New Zealand has already purchased 50,000 tons of U.S. DDGS in 2017/2018.

“Market potential for DDGS exports to the region remains optimistic in 2017/2018,” Sanchez said. “We expect demand for U.S. DDGS strengthen as industries in these countries continue to grow and incorporate more co-products into their rations.”


 
IGC Raises 2017-18 Forecast


The International Grains Council said on Thursday that it has raised its global forecast for grain-production in 2017-18 to 2,100 million metric tons, due to better-than-expected wheat production in Russia and Argentina.

The new forecast represents an increase of 21 million tons from the forecast given in late November, but a drop from the previous season's record of 2,140 million tons, the IGC said, citing smaller planting areas and poorer average yields. Nevertheless, the IGC said that its latest forecast is the second largest on record.

The revised figure means that global grain output for 2017-18 is expected to fall 1.9% from the record.

The IGC edged up its 2016-17 monthly output forecast to 2,140 million tons in January, an increase of 6 million tons. That represents a 6.2% increase on the 2015-16 season.

Maize-production forecasts for 2017-18 rose by 14 million tons in the latest report.

The grain body increased its wheat production estimate by 8 million tons to 757 million tons.

The IGC raised its forecasts for rice by 2 million tons to 484 million tons and for soybeans by 1 million tons to 349 million tons.

While the adjustment in the IGC's maize expectations are due to a combination of a change in historical figures in China and higher-than-expected production in the European Union, the U.S., China, Nigeria and Ethiopia, a projected fall in global grain production "still represents the first contraction in five years," the body said in its report.

As for 2018-19, "a 2% fall in world wheat production is projected... and given likely firm demand, the first drawdown of stocks is predicted since 2012-13," the IGC said. "Trade is seen at a record, bolstered by growing import needs in Africa and Asia, including in India," the body added.

Wheat was last up 0.53% at $4.24 a bushel, corn was down 0.14% at $3.53 a bushel and soybeans were last up 0.43% at $9.73 a bushel.



Algeria Removes Value-Added Tax On U.S. DDGS, Corn Gluten Feed


The government of Algeria has lifted a value-added tax (VAT) on U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and corn gluten feed (CGF) for 2018, affording new opportunities this marketing year.

“The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) has been demonstrating the clear advantages of using DDGS and CGF in feed rations through activities in Algeria,” said Ramy Hadj Taieb, USGC regional director for the Middle East and North Africa. “This success was made possible thanks to efforts deployed by the Council and our various partners in Algeria.”

Algeria is the second largest corn market in North Africa, second only to Egypt. The poultry and dairy sectors are growing industries where U.S. co-products fit well into rations. However, a complex environment and government influence on the economy complicates market development efforts.

For the last two years, the Algerian government has imposed regulations and made decisions to restrict imports in order to offset the persistent drop in international oil and gas prices. That included a 17 percent VAT on both U.S. DDGS and CGF. Combined with existing import duties of 30 percent, imports of these products were simply uncompetitive with other feed ingredients.

However, thanks to work by the Council and partners in country to push for a reduction in tariffs, the Algerian government released a list of feed ingredients benefiting from an exoneration of a value-added tax until Dec. 31, 2018. The list notably includes corn, barley, DDGS and CGF, a particular success in this economical context.

“The difference of cumulated import and value-added tax tariffs has considerably narrowed, especially when compared to competing feed ingredients,” Taieb said. “This situation offers new and interesting import perspectives for U.S. co-products in Algeria as the Council continues to promote the value of U.S. DDGS and CGF in improving feed conversion rates.”

While the exemption from the value-added tax is a success, U.S. DDGS and CGF are still subject to import duties of 30 percent, compared to 5 percent for both corn and soybean meal. As a result, the Council will continue efforts to bring these import duties in line with other feed ingredients as well as to demonstrate the value of utilizing U.S. DDGS and CGF in poultry and dairy feed rations to Algerian producers.



Recombinetics and DNA Genetics Form Alliance to End Surgical Castrations of Swine by Developing Precision Breeding Technology


Recombinetics, a pioneer in gene editing solutions for animal agriculture and human health, and DNA Genetics, a swine genetics supplier, today announced an alliance to end surgical castrations by developing precision breeding technology that results in male piglets born naturally castrated. This breeding technology focuses on swine health and well-being while ensuring good meat quality.
This partnership will help evaluate, develop and commercialize the castration-free swine trait with the goal to get the technology into the hands of pork producers globally.

Male piglets used for pork production are routinely castrated to improve the quality of meat for consumers. Castration is used to avoid “boar taint”, an unpleasant odor and an unsavory taste, that affects the pork product’s marketability to consumers. Currently, castrations are performed surgically or chemically, impacting animal well-being and adding health risks to animals from potential side effects of these management interventions.

Scientists at Recombinetics developed a precision breeding method resulting in male piglets that remain in a pre-pubertal state. This approach will eliminate the need for castration, either surgical or medicinal. To determine the commercial viability of pigs bred to be castration-free, alliance researchers will evaluate findings to investigate feed efficiency, meat quality and best practices for recovery of puberty and fertility. Research is being led by Principal Investigator Tad Sonstegard, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer of Acceligen, Recombinetics’ agriculture division.

“We create technology-driven solutions that improve animal health and well-being. From producing naturally hornless cattle to now eliminating the routine castration of swine, we have a proven track record of bringing science-based solutions to benefit animal health. By partnering with industry leader DNA Genetics, we have the combined expertise to bring the castration-free trait to market and provide solutions that can benefit the entire pork industry,” said Recombinetics’ President and CEO, Tammy Lee Stanoch.

“Precision breeding includes a range of technologies that will have a strong impact on genetic improvement programs. We are pleased to be a part of furthering these technologies and increasing our understanding of precision breeding and its application in a breeding system. This specific project is an innovative use of precision breeding techniques that have the potential of improving both animal health and efficiency. We are pleased to be a part of making this technology available to the pork industry,” Tom Rathje, Chief Technical Officer, DNA Genetics.

“To support the needs of the international swine marketplace, we will continue to explore additional opportunities to deploy our technologies with key partners that support the importance of improving animal health and well-being,” said Recombinetics’ Chief Commercial and Scientific Officer, Mitch Abrahamsen, Ph.D.

On December 14, 2017, The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a $500,000 grant to Recombinetics to use new techniques to breed swine that will eliminate the need for surgical castration. Additional funding is provided by The Open Philanthropy Project. This partnership supports producers’ ability to adapt to a changing animal production landscape.



Using Antibiotics Responsibly: Stewardship Takes a Collaborative Approach


Preserving the efficacy of antibiotics so they help treat life-threatening bacterial infections in cattle takes the collaboration of you and many other experts in a One Health approach.

A One Health approach brings together leaders in human and veterinary medicine, human health professions, the food industry and public health. Leaders from across these sectors work together to create a common understanding and best set of solutions that help advance the responsible use of antibiotics, protect animal health and well-being and safeguard human health.

“We’re all working together to make sure we’re preserving antibiotics so that the response we achieve today is the same response we’ll get in 10 years in both human and animal medicine,” said Doug Hilbig, DVM, Beef Technical Services at Zoetis. “The responsibility of keeping these important resources available and effective doesn’t, and can’t, just fall to those directly caring for cattle. When animals get sick, we all have an obligation to help them regain health.”

Several organizations share positive messages about proper use of antibiotics to the nonagricultural community. For example, the Food and Drug Administration communicates about their rigorous approval process for animal health products, enforcing proper use according to labeling and imposing penalties for improper use. The U.S. Department of Agriculture shares a consumer-facing message about how they ensure safe food with routine surveillance of meat and milk.

“We’re bringing insights from our team of veterinarians who work daily with producers and veterinarians,” Dr. Hilbig said. “We spend a lot of time and effort training on the appropriate use of antibiotics because proper use according to the product label is key to helping avoid violative residues and controlling the spread of antibiotic resistance. We’re also helping monitor antimicrobial resistance so the industry can be confident the products they are using are effective.”

So, what does a One Health collaborative approach mean for your role as beef cattle producers and veterinarians in the new year and beyond? It means that you just need to keep doing everything you’re already doing right and, as experts in the industry, sharing about your efforts.

As producers, you’re already working closely with a veterinarian to find the right treatment when cattle get sick.  You’re spending time training people on the appropriate use and application of antibiotics, such as Draxxin® (tulathromycin) Injectable Solution and Excede® (ceftiofur crystalline free acid) Sterile Suspension. As veterinarians, you’re helping ensure that the right antibiotic is prescribed when medically needed and administered at the right time.

“Regardless of roles, we’re all doing everything possible so you can focus on continuing to do what you do best every day — caring for cattle and keeping them healthy,” Dr. Hilbig said. “We all have the same goals. We want to keep people healthy. We all want our families to have the healthiest food.”





Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Wednesday January 17 Ag News

Senator Briese Introduces Property Tax Relief Proposal

Senator Tom Briese of Albion announced today that he has introduced a bill that will put Nebraska on a path to reducing over-reliance on property taxes and adequately funding education in the state. Briese said, “This bill represents the culmination of a broad-based, bipartisan effort consisting of education groups and property tax interests including agricultural, residential, and commercial property taxpayers. The bill will provide the property tax relief that all hard-working Nebraskans deserve, while at the same time protecting the ability of our schools to prepare our young folks for the jobs and careers of the 21st century.”

Briese went on to say that his bill would provide immediate property tax relief, would identify the sources of revenue to fund the relief, and would provide soft caps to taxing authority to ensure long term property tax relief while protecting education. Noting Census Bureau data suggesting Nebraska is 49th in the country in the percentage of K-12 education funded with state dollars, Briese said, “For far too long, our state has relied too heavily on property taxes to fund our schools. Its time the state stepped up and funded its share of K-12.”

Finally, Briese stressed the significance of the various stakeholders and senators he anticipates backing his proposal. “Sustainable tax reform which protects education must travel a collaborative, bipartisan path. And I believe that path exists,” he said. He also stated, “Because of the many stakeholders involved, the bill was a product of much negotiation, and most likely adjustments to it will continue.” Finally, Briese noted, “I believe that Nebraskans deserve a fair and balanced tax structure. But I also recognize there is nothing we do that is more important than how we educate our children. This bill affirms both of those principles.”



Nebraska Dairy Princess Candidates Sought


The Midwest Dairy Association Nebraska Division is seeking candidates to participate in the State Dairy Princess contest scheduled for Feb. 24, 2018, location to be announced.

The 2018 Nebraska Dairy Princess will be crowned during the Nebraska Dairy Convention on Tue., Feb. 27, 2018, during the evening banquet and coronation held at the Ramada Inn in Columbus.   

The Nebraska Dairy Princess reigns for one year as the official goodwill ambassador for the state’s dairy industry, making a variety of public appearances to help consumers understand dairy products and the responsible practices used by dairy producers.

Applications need to be received by Mon., Feb. 19, 2018.

Candidates must be at least a high school junior during the current school year, be under 26 years of age, never been married and have parents, a legal guardian or a grandparent who are active within the Nebraska Dairy Industry. Candidates are judged on their communication skills, personality, general knowledge of the dairy industry and enthusiasm for dairy promotion.

The 2018 Nebraska Dairy Princess will receive a $750 scholarship from Midwest Dairy. A $250 scholarship will be awarded to the first runner-up.

For complete rules and an application form, visit the www.midwestdairy.com or contact Julie A Meier, Dairy Princess coordinator, 4005 Sandalwood Drive, Grand Island, NE 68803 or 308-390-9338, or email julie.meier@thrivent.com.



Ricketts Announces Red Willow as Newest Livestock Friendly County

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts named Red Willow County as the newest county in Nebraska, and the first one this year, to be designated a Livestock Friendly County (LFC).  The LFC program is administered by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA).  With the addition of Red Willow County, located in southwest Nebraska, 44 of the state’s 93 counties are now designated as livestock friendly.

“By requesting and receiving the state’s Livestock Friendly County designation, Red Willow County is showing a true commitment to growing Nebraska and creating more opportunities for the next generation,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Making Nebraska as livestock friendly as possible is a great way to start off the new year.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, of the $180 million Red Willow County had in agricultural receipts for the year 2012, $98 million, or 54 percent, came from livestock sales, and $82 million, or 46 percent, came from crops.

“As a livestock producer, I know firsthand how important a strong livestock sector is to supporting our grains sector,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman.  “A Livestock Friendly designation means that Red Willow County and the more than 400 farms located there support the livestock industry and are open for business.”

The LFC program was created by the Nebraska Legislature in 2003 to recognize counties that support the livestock industry and new livestock developments.  A county wishing to apply for the LFC designation must hold a public hearing, and the county board must pass a resolution to apply for the designation.  Additional information about the LFC program is available on the NDA’s website at nda.nebraska.gov or by calling 800-422-6692.



SHIC 2017 Accomplishments Reviewed and Accepted


Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) Executive Director Dr. Paul Sundberg presented the 2017 Annual Report and the Center’s accomplishments at the National Pork Board meeting on January 9, 2018. The report was accepted and the organization’s efforts to protect and enhance the health of the US swine herd by providing return on the investment made in the Center validated.

“Each year by design, the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) provides a report to National Pork Board on its progress over the last year,” said Terry O’Neel, National Pork Board president from Friend, Nebraska. “The SHIC Report was given unanimous approval. The work that SHIC has performed in 2017 brings the US pork industry closer to being prepared and having a rapid response plan in place in case of a major animal disease outbreak.

“SHIC is working on data warehouses that will provide swine disease monitoring while maintaining confidentiality for producers. Ethically, we have a responsibility to our US swine herd to monitor and protect ourselves from foreign and emerging animal diseases. It is also paramount to the economic survival of our pork industry to avoid a foreign animal disease because of the extreme importance of being able to continue exporting US pork in the global marketplace.”

Operating with transparency, and accountable to the producers who fund SHIC’s activities, the 2017 Annual Report contains detailed information on all the organization’s activities. It is available for review and comment at www.swinehealth.org.

Guided by the 2017 Plan of Work, SHIC’s resources were focused on urgent return-on-investment projects to monitor, predict, prepare, and respond to emerging diseases. SHIC compliments programs of other pork industry producer and veterinarian organizations as it acts quickly and urgently regarding swine health by providing its coordinated, valuable deliverables to investors. Among the key accomplishments are:
-    Implementation of near real-time domestic and global swine disease monitoring processes
-    Development of a communications action plan in the event of novel disease discovery
-    Launching a Rapid Response Program with a trained Rapid Response Corps to make site visits on farms with novel disease incidents
-    Funding diagnostic assistance to make sure emerging diseases won’t go undiscovered
-    Providing diagnostic tools for foreign animal diseases posing a threat
-    Maintaining the Swine Disease Matrix that prioritizes disease risks to the U.S. pork industry

Emerging diseases remain the primary concern for SHIC. These include diseases being introduced into the US, an example of which is the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PED) outbreak in 2013, or endemic diseases already present but changed in some manner with significant health and/or profitability impacts, such as Seneca Valley A which emerged in 2015.

Continuing to deliver relevant and useful tools, programs, and resources, SHIC’s 2018 Plan of Work will be set by the organization’s Board of Directors using input from the industry and appropriate follow-up to the 2017 Plan. The 2018 Plan of Work will be posted on the SHIC following the organization’s board meeting in late January.



End of Year Feed Market Information

Stephen R. Koontz, Dept of Ag and Resource Econ - Colorado State University


Last Friday saw the release of a plethora of USDA feed related reports.  Specifically relevant to cattle markets were the Crop Production 2017 Summary and the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates.  The annual crop production summary releases detailed estimates of corn harvested acres and yields.  These estimates are the result of extensive surveys of producers.  The production estimates are incorporated in the WASDE grain balance sheets.

The most recent corn yield estimate for the 2017/18 crop year is 176.6 bushels per acre.  This is better than a full bushel increase over the December estimate and is record high.  However, harvested acres were reduced 400 thousand acres so production was only increased about 25 million bushels.  Feed use estimates were revised down 25 million bushels and food, seed, and industrial use was revised up 10 million bushels.  The result is that ending stocks were increased 40 million bushels to 2.477 billion bushels and this a stock-to-use ratio of 17.1%.  Production related numbers are often revised going forward but the revisions tend to be modest and the action is now usually on the use or demand side for the remainder of the crop year.  Stocks-to-use are a modest increase on the prior crop year and will likely hold corn costs in the mid-to-low $3 per bushel.

Although, hay production information reveals a tightening market for forage.  All hay production was down 2.6% in 2017 as compared to 2016.  The largest decreases were in states most impacted by dry weather last year, including Montana and the Dakotas, and there were substantial decreases in states with some of the largest production, including California and Texas.  Missouri and Nevada showed substantial increases out of higher production states.  On farm hay stocks as of December 1 showed a 3% decline compared to the prior year and the state related information is similar.  The hard cold weather in the north and east U.S. and the warm dry weather in the southern and western U.S. will likely contribute to further declines and hay stocks and support hay prices through the rest of the winter.

What do the technical indicators for the feeder and fed cattle markets say?  All liquid feeder and live cattle contracts show an oscillating weakness since the peak in early November.  I looks as if downtrends have been established but some are a bit steep for my likings.  There is support for the nearby contracts around $130 for feeder cattle and $110 for live cattle.  But the current market is some distance from those levels.  I anticipate seasonal weakness in feeder and live cattle contracts until March or April.



Webinar Details Dangerous Trust Disconnects in Food and Agriculture


New reseach from The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) serves as a warning for several groups that are held responsible for healthy and safe food, but not trusted to ensure it, highlighting a dangerous disconnect. Food companies and government agencies, in particular, have work to do, while others enjoy a high level of trust.

This is the latest in a decade-long exploration of consumer trust in the food system by CFI. The annual research goes deep and wide to understand what’s on the minds of today’s consumers when it comes to food – how it’s produced, who’s producing it, what’s in it, how it impacts health, animals and our planet – and which sources they trust.

Examining more than 50 topics among important influencer groups, the latest results show disturbing shifts in trust in food and agriculture and significant differences in where various consumer segments source food information.

Join CFI CEO Charlie Arnot for “Shifting Food Beliefs and Trends: Insights Into Closing the Trust Gap,” Tues., Jan 23, 10 to 11 a.m. CT.  Arnot will detail disconnects, changing attitudes and trends on important food system issues, and how to engage to earn trust. Register at www.foodintegrity.org



FFA Members return from Educational, Cultural Experience in South Africa


During the past two weeks, 74 FFA members visited South Africa for a 12-day educational and cultural experience.

 Members participated in the 2018 International Leadership Seminar for State Officers (ILSSO) as an annual, international opportunity through the National FFA Organization. The seminar allows FFA members to experience a foreign culture, learn about international agriculture and become more knowledgeable on the global marketplace.

 Seventy-four past and present state FFA officers representing 24 states left the United States on Jan. 4. The group traveled throughout South Africa while surveying the agricultural landscape. FFA officers met with government and U.S. Embassy officials to learn about U.S. and South African trade relations; toured crop and livestock operations; met with business and industry leaders; and explored a private game reserve that is home to lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and buffalo. The group also met with fruit exporters, abalone producers and more.

 “We hope that through a structured experience like ILSSO, students will not only see the importance of agriculture on an international level but understand it is essential to feeding the world,” says Eric Nelson, program manager with the National FFA Organization. “This seminar exposes students to culture and food production practices beyond what they are accustomed to in the United States,” Nelson says.

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

Students shared their experience throughout their trip on Twitter and Instagram.

Those students who participated in the trip were: Ethan Angel of Glenwood, Ark.; Allison Wheatley of Clayton, Del.; Wolfgang Fry-Eastin of Plant City, Fla.; Kyle Garner of Groveland, Fla.; Kaylin Kleckner of Ocala, Fla.; Taylor Proctor of Deltona, Fla.; Mitchell Singleton of Molina, Fla.; Robert Sistrunk of Williston, Fla.; Cassandra Bond of Earlham, Iowa; Caleb Finnegan of Guthrie Center, Iowa; Carli Grau of Ankeny, Iowa; Peyton Schmitt of Birmingham, Iowa; Antonia Wallin of New Market, Iowa; Rachel Zumbach of Coggon, Iowa; Sydney Anderson of Nampa, Idaho; Randy Clements of Rexburg, Idaho; Skyler Denio of Hoxie, Kan.; John Kennedy of Soldier, Kan.; Eli Ohlde of Clyde, Kan.; Marie Reveles of Hays, Kan.; Riley Sleichter of Abilene, Kan.; Harley-Anne Hamilton of Carver, Mass.; Ashley Abuelhawa of Mt. Airy, Md.; Justin Arnold of Myersville, Md.; Cahlen Cheatham of Frederick, Md.; Autumn Lippy of Union Bridge, Md.; Mikayla Stockman of Jefferson, Md.; Lexis Trickett of Oakland, Md.; Madeline Meyer of Ionia, Mich.; Wendy Bauman of Raymond, Minn.; Katherine Benson of Staples, Minn.; Kylee Kohls of Litchfield, Minn.; Emily Pliscott of Kenyon, Minn.; Madeline Weninger of Buffalo, Minn.; William Cornelius of Nettleton, Miss.; Sheridan Johnson of Conrad, Mont.; Hailey Coufal of Howells, Neb.; Jake Judge of Atkinson, Neb.; Kelli Mashino of Spencer, Neb.; Jessica Rudolph of Gothenburg, Neb.; Isabelle Stewart of Columbus, Neb.; Brock Vetick of Lyons, Neb.; Lydia Vinton of Whitman, Neb.; Sarah Kelly, of Dorothy, N.J.; McKenna Moore of Woodstown, N.J.; Rebekah McCarty of Reserve, N.M.; Laetitia Ray of Alamo, Nev.; Ethan Keller of Sharon Springs, N.Y.; Camille Ledoux of Croghan, N.Y.; Marleigh Kerr of Swanton, Ohio; Ryan Matthews of Leesburg, Ohio; Kolesen McCoy of Springfield, Ohio; Jensen Kemble of Nyssa, Ore.; Kourtney Lehman of Baker City, Ore.; Emma Rooker of Bend, Ore.; Wade Rynearson of Union, Ore.; Gabriela Santa Cruz Enriquez of Parkdale, Ore.; Richard Wesenberg of Sutherlin, Ore.; Jaclynn Knutson of Centerville, S.D.; Andrew Streff of Salem, S.D.; Elizabeth Arwood of Johnson City, Tenn.; Erin Bacon of Dandridge, Tenn.; Kenzie Bastian of Jonesborough, Tenn.; Julia Knaggs of Gallatin, Tenn.; Mary Minatra of Rockvale, Tenn.; Alletress Shankle of Paris, Tenn.; Ahmon Watkins of Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Theresa Seibel of Roanoke, Va.; Taylor Enns of Bonney Lake, Wash.; Mollee Gray of Liberty Lake, Wash.; Sydney Klaveano of Pullman, Wash.; Kelci Scharff of Airway Heights, Wash.; Seth Smith of Tonasket, Wash.; and Alaina Smith of Red House, W. Va.



Court Documents Allege Imported Beef Mislabeled as USA Product


In court documents filed Friday, ranch groups R-CALF USA and the Cattle Producers of Washington (CPoW) reinforced their allegation that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is unlawfully helping multinational meatpackers mislabel hundreds of millions of pounds of imported beef as "Products of the USA."

In their lawsuit filed in June against the USDA and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, the groups claim the Tariff Act of 1930 requires imported beef to bear a label denoting the foreign country-of-origin of the beef all the way to the consumer, unless the beef undergoes a substantial transformation in the United States.

The Secretary disagrees, arguing in his earlier-filed court documents that imported beef is to be deemed and treated as domestic beef so long as the importing country's food safety standards are equivalent to U.S. standards. Consequently, the Secretary allows multinational meatpackers to label imported beef as "Products of the USA" even if the imported beef receives only minor processing, such as unwrapping and rewrapping the package.

Evidence submitted by the groups indicate that U.S. cattle producers received higher prices for their cattle when the origins of foreign beef was distinguished in the marketplace. Evidence attached to Friday's filing supports the groups' contention that proper enforcement of the Tariff Act would require hundreds of millions of pounds of foreign beef that can currently be labeled as "Products of the USA" to bear country-of-origin labels. This, the groups argue, would turn market forces "in favor of true domestic producers."

Friday's filing also claims the Secretary's failure to enforce the Tariff Act is flooding the U.S. market with mislabeled foreign beef that decreases the market leverage and income of U.S. cattle producers.

R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard says the Secretary's refusal to enforce the Tariff Act's labeling requirements undermines the President's longstanding "Buy American" campaign and the more recent initiative to increase agriculture output that is "Made in America," as advertised in the Secretary's recently unveiled rural task force report.

"It is disingenuous for the Administration to say it is encouraging consumers to buy American while it simultaneously directs its legal team to defend the multinational meatpackers' fraudulent practice of putting a USA label on imported beef," Bullard said.

Attorneys representing the ranch groups include lead counsel David Muraskin of Public Justice, Beth E. Terrell and Blythe H. Chandler of Terrell Marshall Law Group PLLC, and J. Dudley Butler of Butler Farm & Ranch Law Group, PLLC.