Tuesday, May 26, 2015

May 26 Crop Progress & Condition Reports - NE - IA - US


For the week ending May 24, 2015, cloudy, wet conditions hampered spring planting activities with an inch or more of rainfall common in the western half of the State, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Temperatures were again cool, and averaged six to eight degrees below normal. The wet conditions have been favorable for disease development in southeastern wheat fields, with some producers applying fungicide. Sunshine and warmer conditions were needed to dry soils and boost corn and soybean development. Alfalfa harvest has been slow due to the wet conditions. Pastures continued to improve. There were 2.7 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 5 percent very short, 9 short, 69 adequate, and 17 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 6 percent very short, 17 short, 66 adequate, and 11 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn condition rated 1 percent very poor, 6 poor, 32 fair, 54 good, and 7 excellent. Planted was at 92 percent, near 96 for both last year and the five-year average. Emerged was at 73 percent, near 70 last year, but ahead of 67 average.

Soybeans planted was at 59 percent, behind 85 last year and 73 average. Emerged was at 22 percent, behind 38 last year and 31 average.

Winter wheat condition rated 14 percent very poor, 18 poor, 32 fair, 34 good, and 2 excellent. Winter wheat jointed rated 95 percent complete, ahead of 79 last year and 83 average. Headed was at 40 percent, ahead of 26 last year and 29 average.

Oats condition rated 3 percent very poor, 8 poor, 27 fair, 59 good, and 3 excellent. Jointed was at 53 percent, well ahead of 25 last year. Headed was at 2 percent, near 5 last year, but behind 7 average.

Sorghum planted was at 50 percent, near 53 last year and ahead of 41 average. Emerged was at 16 percent, ahead of 12 last year and 11 average.

Alfalfa condition rated 1 percent very poor, 6 poor, 25 fair, 58 good, and 10 excellent. First cutting was at 11 percent, near 9 last year, but behind 20 average.

Livestock, Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 4 percent very poor, 8 poor, 29 fair, 53 good, and 6 excellent.  Stock water supplies rated 3 percent very short, 8 short, 83 adequate, and 6 surplus.

Access the National publication for Crop Progress and Condition tables at:

Access the High Plains Region Climate Center for Temperature and Precipitation Maps at:

Access the U.S. Drought Monitor at:


Wet conditions continued, delaying planting and allowing only 2.8 days suitable for fieldwork statewide during the week ending May 24, 2015, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Cattle producers had concerns about muddy feedlots while crop farmers experienced spraying delays. Farmers are evaluating the need to replant corn in low-lying areas.

Topsoil moisture levels increased to 0 percent very short, 3 percent short, 74 percent adequate and 23 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 1 percent very short, 7 percent short, 79 percent adequate and 13 percent surplus. Only southeast Iowa had any topsoil reported as being very short on moisture. Southwest Iowa had the highest subsoil moisture rating at 99 adequate to surplus.

Ninety-six percent of the corn crop has been planted, 1 day ahead of last year, and 3 days ahead of the 5-year average. Southwest Iowa remains well behind the other districts with just 81 percent planted, while northwest, north central and central Iowa are virtually complete. Corn
emerged reached 81 percent, 6 days ahead of last year and 4 days ahead of normal. The first corn condition rating of the season was 0 percent very poor, 1 percent poor, 20 percent fair, 63 percent good, and 16 percent excellent.

Soybean planting reached 70 percent complete, behind last year’s pace for the first time this year. Thirty-two percent of the soybean crop has emerged, slightly ahead of last year and normal. With emergence nearly complete, oat conditions improved slightly with 82 percent good to excellent.

The first cutting of alfalfa hay advanced to 11 percent completed. Hay conditions improved slightly to 81 percent good to excellent. Pasture condition also improved to 74 percent good to excellent. Muddy conditions in pastures and feedlots have stressed livestock in some areas.


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today commented on the Iowa Crops and Weather report released by the USDA National Agricultural Statistical Service.  The report is released weekly from April through October.

“Planting progress continues, but the wet weather has slowed it considerably from the record pace at the start of the season.  Much of the state remains at or ahead of the five-year average, but the Southwest part of the state has been challenged by wet conditions and as a result planting has lagged behind.  Farmers across the state are anxious to finish planting and move on to spraying and other field work,” Northey said


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

The past reporting week began with unseasonably cool weather prevailing from Monday (18th) through Friday(22nd). Daytime high temperatures were only in the mid-forties over parts of northern Iowa on Monday andWednesday. Afternoon temperatures climbed into the seventies over most of the state on Thursday and Fridaywhile overnight lows remained unseasonably low. Temperatures edged slightly above normal across most of thestate over the weekend. Temperature extremes ranged from a Thursday morning low of 33 degrees at Belle Plaineto a Sunday (24th) afternoon high of 81 degrees at Donnellson. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged6.5 degrees below normal. Meanwhile, there was scattered light rain on Sunday (17th) with some isolated higheramounts over parts of north central Iowa. Dry weather prevailed in most areas on Monday and Tuesday withlight rain over much of Iowa on Wednesday. All of Iowa was dry on Thursday while light rain fell across farwestern areas of the state on Friday and Saturday. Rain fell over all of Iowa on Sunday (24th) to close out thereporting week, but with some of this rain coming too late to be reflected in this week’s report. Weekly rain totalsvaried from only 0.03 inches at Cresco and Marquette to 1.71 inches at Britt and 1.55 inches at Mount Ayr. Thestatewide average precipitation was 0.45 inches while normal for the week is 1.05 inches.

USDA Weekly Crop Progress Report

The nation's corn crop was rated 74% good to excellent as of May 24, according to USDA's weekly Crop Progress and Condition report released Tuesday. This was the first week condition ratings on corn were reported this growing season.  Ninety-two percent of corn is planted and 74% emerged nationwide, compared to 85% and 56% last week and 88% and 62% five-year averages.

Soybeans are 61% planted and 32% emerged, compared to 45% and 13% last week and averages of 55% and 25%.

Spring wheat is 96% planted and 80% emerged compared to 94% and 67% last week and 79% and 54% averages. Spring wheat condition improved to 69% good to excellent compared to 65% last week.

Winter wheat is 77% headed compared to 68% last week and a 67% average. Winter wheat condition held steady at 45% good to excellent.

Cotton is 47% planted, compared to 35% last week and 61% on average. Continual rains and flooding in Texas and Oklahoma may be affecting progress in those states. Rice is 93% planted and 82% emerged, compared to 89% and 70% last week and 92% and 77% on average. Rice condition held steady at 66% good to excellent.

Sorghum is 41% planted compared to 38% last week and 46% on average. Oats are 91% emerged and 26% headed, compared to 83% emerged last week and 79% and 30% on average. Oat condition ratings fell slightly to 8% very poor to poor compared to 6% last week. Seventy percent of the crop is now rated good to excellent compared to 73% last week. Barley is 86% emerged compared to 72% last week and a 55% average. Condition improved to 74% good to excellent compared to 64% last week.

Tuesday May 26 Ag News

Farm Calendar:  June 14 - Northeast Nebraska Cattlemen's Steak Fry - 6:00 p.m. - Pender Legion

Nebraska Cattlemen Midyear Meeting Set for June 10 - 11

Nebraska Cattlemen Midyear Meeting activities will be held this year in Friend on June 10 and in York on June 11. NC members and all producers are encouraged to participate.

The annual event begins at 8:00 a.m. Wednesday, June 10 with a NC Board of Directors Meeting at the Pour House in Friend.

The NC Midyear Golf Tournament begins at 11:00 at the Friend Country Club. The annual golf event is sold out and a waiting list is being maintained.

Non-golfers are invited to the NC Midyear Area Attractions Tour that will begin at 11:00 a.m. Stops on the tour will include Beaver Creek Products, one of the newest businesses in York and a real success story around the beef industry.  Beaver Creek started production in 2014 using beef packing by-products and is helping to add value to the animals of the beef industry. Another stop will be the Mennonite Heritage Museum. It is located just north of Henderson and gives a step back in time to view the lives of the 35 Mennonite families from Holland and Russia as they moved and settled in the area. The tour will also visit Ely Farms near Grafton, a retail and wholesale food distributor of home-grown crops and value added food products. A fourth tour stop will be at Klute Steel Fabrication of Bradshaw. The firm fabricates structural steel items for the electrical transmission industry. Tour attendees will also visit Advance Agri Direct Cancrete Waterers in York. Cancrete specializes in creating some of the toughest most durable Livestock Waterers on the market.

The NC Midyear Welcome Reception begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Pour House in Friend. Attendees will enjoy a great steak dinner while visiting with fellow cattlemen at the Pour House, a unique wine and craft beer venue located beneath the Historic Warren Opera House in downtown Friend.

All Thursday events will be held at Holthus Convention Center in York. Registration opens at 7:00 a.m. and the first committee meetings begin at 8:00 a.m.: Animal Health & Nutrition  Committee and Taxation Committee. They will be followed at 10:15 a.m. by the Marketing & Commerce Committee and Education Committee meetings. The NC Foundation Lunch will begin at 12:30 and the second set of committee meetings will begin at 2:00 p.m.: Brand & Property Rights Committee and Natural Resources & Environment Committee.

The NC Midyear General Session will be held at 4:00 p.m. Speakers include Scott Yager, Environmental Counsel for the NCBA and representatives from the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center. Special keynote speaker will be University of Nebraska Director of Athletics, Shawn Eichorst.

Midyear sponsors are critical to the success of the event and the list of companies and individuals supporting NC this way will be posted on the NC website.

Anyone interested in more information can access details online at www.nebraskacattlemen.org or call the NC office at (402) 475-2333.

NC Participates at U.S. MEF Board Meeting

Nebraska Cattlemen President Dave McCracken attended the U.S. MEF Board of Directors meeting last week Wednesday and Thursday in San Antonio.

Three topics garnered the most attention among participants. First, the rapid progress of Trade Promotion Authority legislation in Congress had participants collaborating on maintaining and enhancing support among Senators and Representatives. There is strong and broad support for TPA among livestock and grain producers and marketers.

Second, legislation to repeal country of origin labeling similarly attracted strong support. The clear consensus, McCracken said, is that retaliatory tariffs by Canada and Mexico on a wide range of ag products will inflict a huge cost upon producers and marketers if COOL is not repealed.

Third, growing international trade in meat products is prompting discussion about how U.S. producers and marketers can satisfy importer demand for product traceability. An alternative to animal ID being discussed is branded product verification.

NC Nominations Committee to Select NC Rep for USMEF Meetings

The NC Board voted at its April meeting to add an ex-officio member. During the NC Convention in December, the Nominations Committee will recommend to the Board a person to serve a 4-year term on NC’s Board as its representative to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. The term will begin in January 2016. For more information contact NC at (402) 475-2333 or nc@necattlemen.org.

Nebraska Farmers Union Brings Country Support for COOL to Washington, DC

Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) sent two of their state leaders to Washington, DC this past week as a part of the National Farmers Union (NFU) targeted Spring Fly-In on Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) to show the strong support that family farmers and ranchers from across the country have for COOL.

The message from NeFU President John Hansen and NeFU Secretary Mike Sarchet of Minatare joined sixty other local and state Farmers Union officers from 27 states to ask their elected officials in Congress to allow the World Trade Organization (WTO) process to conclude their established process without interference from Congress.

“Family farmers and ranchers as well as consumers continue to strongly support COOL.  U.S. consumers want to know where the food they are buying for their families came from.  U.S. family farmers and rancher food producers want to be able to identify and differentiate their own food products in their own domestic marketplace just as their competitors do in 70 countries of the world that have some sort of mandatory COOL,” said John Hansen, NeFU president.  “We need to remember that the WTO decision did not outlaw COOL.  It did say the U.S. would need to make changes, not repeal the law altogether.”

The Farmers Union delegation met with both Nebraska Senators and all three Congressmen to ask them to allow the WTO process to continue forward.  While Canada has made ever changing claims as to damages they have incurred from COOL, they are not entitled to any more damages than they can prove.  “There is a lot of difference between what you can say in a press release and what you can prove in an international court of arbitration,” said Mike Sarchet, NeFU Secretary from Minatare.  “We want the process to go forward so that the negotiations can go forward.  We know one thing for sure, if the shoe was on the other foot, the Canadian government would be dragging the process out as long as it possibly could, as they should if they thought their interests were at risk.”

Based on the recent study done by C. Robert Taylor at Auburn, the economic collapse of 2008, not COOL caused a decrease in Canadian cattle exports to the U.S. as U.S. consumers tightened their pocketbooks and ate less beef.  The study will make it difficult for Canada to prove that COOL has caused real economic harm to their agriculture sector.  Canada is not entitled to any damages unless they can prove them.

“While the recent WTO decision was disappointing, it is clear there is still a path forward for U.S. COOL,” said Hansen. “If 70 countries around the world can figure out how to implement mandatory COOL and be WTO compliant, we know the U.S. can figure out a way to implement COOL too.  If the House Agriculture Committee wanted to be helpful, they would help find a way to implement COOL in a fashion that is WTO compliant.  Instead, they chose to insert itself in the middle of the WTO process in an inappropriate and unprecedented fashion with the 38-6 passage of H.R. 2393 that would repeal COOL.  That effort breaks faith with U.S. consumers, U.S. food producers, and Congress that has passed COOL multiple times before,” Hansen concluded.

Countdown: Top 7 Reasons Why Weed Management Fails

Amit Jhala, UNL Extension Weeds Specialist

There are a number of reasons why weed management may be a problem with the weather conditions we are experiencing this year.  Many of these are discussed in the following article.

No. 7. User did not read the label.
A herbicide label is a legal document. It is a violation of federal law to not follow the herbicide label's direction. Reading the herbicide label is important for successful weed management and to protect you, your family, and the environment. The label contains legally binding information — approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — on how much herbicide to use for optimal weed control, how to handle the product, and when, where and how it should be applied. The label also lists all the weeds controlled or suppressed by the herbicide product. Often growers may not carefully read the label and then apply a herbicide that isn't labeled to control the predominant weed in the field. This is how weed management programs fail.

No. 6. The herbicide barrier was disrupted or moved.
This can happen when crop residue containing the herbicide is moved, such as by trash whippers, row cleaners, fertilizer units, planters or the wind. Crop residue can reduce weed pressure. We have observed where the soil disruption of using a physical marker inadvertently planted weed seed; the only weeds in the field were where the marker ran.

No. 5. Incorporation was not timely.
Timely herbicide application is critical for optimum weed control. Residual pre-emergence herbicides must be applied before crop and/or weed emergence. Additionally, moisture is needed to activate residual herbicides. Therefore, if irrigation or rain events do not occur within 10 days of residual herbicide application, a light tillage is necessary to incorporate the herbicide into the soil to activate it. If weeds have germinated and emerged before the herbicide incorporation and activation, your residual herbicide program will fail.

No. 4. Too much rainfall and/or irrigation.
The variability of weather is a major cause of unreliable herbicide performance resulting in either inadequate control of weeds or crop damage. For example, excess rainfall after residual herbicide application increases the likelihood of herbicide leaching and off-target movement. Additionally, the increased microbial activity of moist soil degrades herbicides more rapidly compared to dry soil.

No. 3. Application equipment did not do a uniform job.
This can be due to inaccurate sprayer calibration, wind, sprayer speed, using the wrong nozzle type, inappropriate pressure for the nozzle used, or not enough overlap in the spray pattern. We recommend 100% overlap so the pattern from one nozzle ends under the next nozzle tip. Other causes include boom bounce and a boom that's either too high or too low or uneven pressure along the spray boom. Nonuniformity can also be caused by using a spray volume (gallons per acre) that's incorrect for the herbicide being applied.

No. 2. Herbicide rate did not match soil type, weed pressure and/or tillage practices.
Soil type is an important consideration when selecting residual herbicide application rates. Most residual herbicide rates vary based on soil type and organic matter content. For example, if the soil is sandy loam with less than 1% organic matter content, a lower herbicide rate is required than if it were a silty-clay loam soil with more than 2% organic matter. For example, Zidua, a residual soybean herbicide, should be applied at 1.5 to 2.1 oz/acre if the soil is sandy loam (< 1% organic matter); if the soil is a silty clay loam (>2% organic matter), the rate can be increased to 2 to 3.5 oz/acre.

If weed pressure (density) is high, consider using a labeled herbicide application rate on the high end if soil type permits. It is also important to include more than 15 gallons per acre spray volume to improve coverage in dense weed areas. Under no-till production practices, weed control is primarily through herbicides. No-till growers should consider applying preplant burndown herbicides if a field has a history of early emerging weeds such as giant ragweed and kochia. A weed control program can fail if soil type, weed pressure, and tillage practices are not considered before planning.

No. 1.  Weeds are present or about ready to emerge before the herbicide is applied and activated.
Soil residual herbicides must be applied before the crop and weeds emerge. If they are applied after weeds emerge, your herbicide program will fail. Timing of herbicide application is critical with respect to weed emergence. If wet weather or a busy schedule do not permit application of residual pre-emergence herbicides before crop emergence, there are several residual herbicides registered in corn and soybean that be applied after crop emergence. (See these CropWatch articles for Corn and Soybean herbicide options.) They should be tank-mixed with foliar active, post-emergence herbicides to control existing weeds.

Iowa's April Egg, Layer Numbers Show Start of H5N2 Toll

Iowa Egg production during April 2015 was 1.30 billion eggs, down 8 percent from last month, and down 4 percent from last year, according to the latest Chickens and Eggs report from USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The average number of all layers on hand during April 2015 was 56.1 million, down 6 percent from March, and down 5 percent from last year. Eggs per 100 layers for April were 2,319, down 2 percent from March, but up 1 percent from last year.

In April, avian influenza affected a number of Iowa flocks. Losses resulting from the disease are reflected in these estimates. The June 22 Chicken and Egg report will reflect average inventory for the month of May.

Additional information about the current avian influenza situation in the United States is available at www.usda.gov/avian_influenza.html.


The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is responding to two probable cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Adair and Webster counties.  With the new announcements, Iowa now has 66 cases of the disease in the state. The Department has quarantined the premises and once the presence of the disease is confirmed, all birds on the property will be humanely euthanized to prevent the spread of the disease.

Adair 1 – Commercial laying operation with an estimated 975,000 birds that has experienced increased mortality.  Initial testing showed it positive for H5 avian influenza.  Additional confirmatory testing is pending from the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames.

Webster 1 – Commercial laying operation with an estimated 160,000 birds that has experienced increased mortality.  Initial testing showed it positive for H5 avian influenza.  Additional confirmatory testing is pending from the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames.

As the Department receives final confirmations of the disease updated information will be posted to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s website at www.iowaagriculture.gov/avianinfluenza.asp.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Incident Response team in Iowa reported that 35 loads of biological materials were transported over the weekend to the Cherokee County Landfill and Recycling Center.  The team anticipates that the large incinerator will begin processing materials this week.

“This marks an encouraging step forward in the response, providing an additional method and location for the disposal of large numbers of affected poultry,” said Dr. Ken Angel, current Incident Commander of the USDA response in Iowa.  After incineration at the landfill, the resulting ash will be deposited there.

Several safe methods are available to dispose of the poultry carcasses including composting, onsite burial, incineration, rendering, and landfilling, each with benefits and limitations. USDA and its State partners evaluate those methods based on factors such as the size of the flock, space requirements, associated costs, local conditions, and regulations.  Some euthanized poultry are being composted, buried, or incinerated on-site at Iowa poultry premises when appropriate.  In addition to the incinerator site in Cherokee County, two landfills have agreed to landfill remains under criteria set by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

USDA has more than 1500 staff and contractors helping respond to the avian influenza situation in Iowa.  To date, depopulation has been completed on all previously announced turkey sites.  Composting of turkeys is still ongoing.  Also, 19.1 million commercial layers and pullets have been euthanized as of May 25.

Vilsack Meets with Iowa Officials to Discuss Avian Flu

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, along with Dr. Kevin Petersburg of the USDA 's Animal and Poultry Health Inspection Service (APHIS), invited key Iowa leaders-Iowa Governor Terry E. Branstad and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey-to join them in a face-to-face meeting with a diverse group of farmers and related industry leaders severely affected by the avian influenza outbreak.

The meeting on Friday at the Iowa Poultry Association in Urbandale, Iowa demonstrated the depth of concern and joint commitment regarding the avian influenza (AI) outbreak. Iowa is the state considered hardest hit with an estimated 27 million chickens, turkeys and ducks infected by avian influenza since April. Considered the worst outbreak of avian influenza on record, four states, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska, have declared states of emergency.

The federal and state leaders met with 15 producers and supply chain organizations related to egg-laying hens, chickens and turkeys, underscoring their determination to find solutions for farmers and impacted communities.

The Iowa Poultry Association, Iowa Egg Council and Iowa Turkey Federation, through their Executive Directors Randy Olson and Gretta Irwin, expressed appreciation for this cohesiveness to swiftly, rigorously and comprehensively address, curtail and recover from the disease in Iowa. Beyond the long-term impact to farmers, another consequence has been hundreds of related layoffs taking place in rural Iowa.

Representatives in the meeting explained to the federal and state officials the scope of their losses, the ripple effect it will have on the economy, and how certain markets could be lost permanently.

NCGA Applauds USDA for Timely, Positive Review of New Technology Targeting Corn Rootworm

The National Corn Growers Association is encouraged by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's positive initial review, released late Friday, of Monsanto 87411, a product utilizing RNAi technology to combat corn rootworm pressure. The initial reports, which indicated the product does not pose either a plant pest or environmental risk, are a first step toward getting this critical technology to market in a quick and safe fashion.

"We applaud the USDA for moving this new mode of action closer to availability to farmers," said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair John Linder, a farmer from Ohio. "As insect pressures continue to grow, a new tool such as this will enable us to better combat pests while growing a healthy, abundant corn crop."

USDA has suggested deregulation of this product based upon the positive results of this draft environmental assessment and plant pest risk assessment, thus helping ensure safety while also moving forward in an expeditious manner.

Survey: Poor Roads Raise Brazilian Grain Costs by 30%

The poor state of Brazil's roads increases grain transport costs by R$3.8 billion ($1.2 billion) each year, which accounts for 30% of total costs, according to research released by the Brazilian Transport Confederation (CNT).

Eighty-six percent of losses are concentrated in the shipment of soybeans and corn.

Costs are so high because grain trucks have to travel 1,000 miles or more from many Center-West producing regions to southern and southeastern ports.

These losses, which seem extremely high, are due to the need to use extra fuel, the accelerated wear on trucks and the high percentage of accidents.

According to a survey of grain transporters, some 85.8% said bad roads were a grave or very grave problem.

CNT found 63.4% of grain-carrying roads to have deficiencies in paving, signaling or in construction.

Low efficiency of port equipment was a grave or very grave problem for 100% of users, while insufficient drafts were a grave or very grave problem for 80%, said the survey. Brazil's ports are ranked 122nd in the World Economic Forum's competiveness ranking, while the U.S. is ranked 12th.

Brazil has been working to improve its grain logistics in recent years, most notably through the northern export corridors from the Cerrado grains fields to Amazon ports. But the survey is a reminder of how much there is to be done.

In order to make up for its grain logistics deficiencies, Brazil would have to invest R$195 billion ($62 billion), estimated CNT. In 2014, only R$15.8 billion ($5.1 billion) was invested.

Vilsack Statement on Senate Passage of Trade Promotion Authority

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today released the following statement regarding Senate passage of Trade Promotion Authority legislation:

"Today the Senate helped move America closer to securing responsible agreements that open markets for America's farmers, ranchers and agribusiness and create jobs and improve wages across the country. Over 70 organizations representing America's farmers and ranchers, and past secretaries of agriculture in both parties dating back to the Carter Administration all support trade promotion authority because export sales are vital for U.S. agriculture. Last year, agricultural exports totaled more than $150 billion and for many of our products, foreign markets represent half or more of total sales. Those exports supported approximately 1 million U.S. jobs last year. The economy is strengthened and better paying jobs are created in rural America and communities throughout the country by the additional economic activity that flows from expanded farm and food businesses.

"Standing still is not an option. Our farmers and ranchers face exorbitant tariffs and others barriers in important foreign markets, and if we do not act to maintain and gain market share in these places, our competitors will. U.S. agriculture's interests are best served by ensuring America is at the table with strong negotiating authority."

Statement by Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau President, Regarding Senate Passage of Trade Promotion Authority

“Action by the Senate to pass Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is a critical step toward expanding trade opportunities for Nebraska agriculture commodities and agriculture products. As we’ve stated on many occasions, Nebraska farm and ranch families have become increasingly dependent on agriculture trade to boost commodity prices and farm income. The United States’ ability to be a partner and player in international trade is directly tied to the passage of TPA.”

“We thank U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer and U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse for their votes in support of TPA. It is our hope the House will take swift action to follow the Senate in advancing TPA legislation, as trade is not just important to farmers and ranchers, but to Nebraska’s overall economy and Nebraska jobs that are tied to both agriculture and manufacturing.”

Note:    Trade Promotion Authority allows Congress to work with the President to set negotiating objectives, however, it ensure that long-negotiated trade agreements are not subject to numerous Congressional amendments and conditions that must then be taken back and forth to the negotiating table. 

Statement by Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation, Regarding Senate Passage Of Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities And Accountability Act of 2015

“The U.S. leads the world in agricultural exports thanks to the hard work and ingenuity of American farmers and ranchers. Creating new partnerships and expanding access to international markets will drive us forward in the global marketplace.

“The Senate’s bipartisan passage of trade promotion authority legislation today brings us a step closer to completing ambitious trade negotiations around the world. Congressional support is critical to breaking down trade barriers and completing ambitious new trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. TPA streamlines negotiations and strengthens our position at the bargaining table. We urge the House now to act swiftly in passing trade promotion authority to protect the future of agricultural trade.

“The American Farm Bureau applauds Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) for their leadership on the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015. And we thank Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for his leadership on and commitment to moving trade forward.”

House Urged To Act After Senate Passes TPA

The National Pork Producers Council is urging the House to move quickly to approve Trade Promotion Authority legislation after the Senate passed it Friday night.

TPA defines objectives and priorities for trade agreements the United States negotiates and establishes consultation and notification requirements for the president to follow throughout the negotiation process. Once trade negotiators finalize a deal, Congress gets to review it and vote yes or no – without amendments – on it. Congress has granted TPA to every president since 1974, with the most recent law being approved in August 2002 and expiring June 30, 2007.

“We applaud the Senate for approving TPA, which is imperative for finalizing free trade agreements that boost U.S. exports and create U.S. jobs,” said NPPC President Dr. Ron Prestage, a veterinarian and pork producer from Camden, S.C. “Now we need the House to pass it so that one of the most significant regional trade deals ever can be concluded.”

Prestage referred to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade talks among the United States and 11 Pacific Rim countries. Negotiations on the TPP, which Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes estimates would generate more than 10,000 U.S. agricultural jobs, are in their final stages.

“U.S. trade negotiators will have the leverage they need to close the TPP negotiations once TPA is approved,” he said. “And the U.S. pork industry needs TPP to continue growing our exports.”

Since 1989 – the year the United States began using bilateral and regional trade agreements to open foreign markets – U.S. pork exports have increased 1,550 percent in value and 1,268 percent in volume. The United States shipped more than $6.6 billion of pork to foreign destinations in 2014. The U.S. pork industry ships more pork to the 20 nations with which the United States has Free Trade Agreements than to the rest of the world combined.

Failure to pass TPA, noted Prestage, would send a signal to the world that the United States is turning its back on the Asia-Pacific region – the fastest growing area in the world – and allowing other countries to write the rules for international trade.

"The U.S. pork industry, U.S. agriculture, indeed the entire U.S. economy needs TPA, and we need it now,” Prestage said. “NPPC urges the House to move quickly to pass it.”

Despite Challenges, U.S. Meat Industry Remains Optimistic about International Markets

While U.S. meat exports face imposing challenges in 2015, this hasn’t dampened the industry’s enthusiasm for international marketing. This was the prevailing theme throughout the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Board of Directors Meeting, which concluded Friday in San Antonio, Texas.

“The mood is very positive, despite all the challenges we have faced in the first few months of this year,” said USMEF Chair Leann Saunders. “We heard a lot this week about the large volume of protein that’s going to be entering the market in the next 10 years, and our members know the international markets are essential to their ability to move that protein into the value-added marketplace.”

Red meat exports endured a difficult first quarter in 2015, slowed by West Coast port congestion, intense competition in key markets and a very strong U.S. dollar. But Saunders said USMEF members are still confident in their investments in international marketing for beef, pork and lamb.

“They are definitely in this for the long haul and understand this is not a sprint, but a marathon,” she said. “It’s really been a pleasure to interact with USMEF members this week and see the positive outlook they have for the future of our industry.”

The opening speaker at USMEF’s closing business session was Al Almanza, deputy under secretary for food safety at USDA.

“What you all do at USMEF is so, so important for United States trade, our relationships with other countries and the ability of those countries to gain access to the safest meat and poultry supply in the world,” Almanza said. “Your work is evidence of a strong international commitment to science-based food safety policies that protect public health and facilitate trade.”

Almanza provided status reports on a number of issues that have recently interrupted U.S. meat exports, including delisting of pork plants by China. He noted that USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) staff members have prepared detailed responses on each establishment for review by Chinese regulators, documented the corrective actions taken, and asked that the plants be reinstated immediately based on FSIS’s review.

Almanza also discussed disruptions at the U.S.-Mexico border that have resulted in delisting of some U.S. plants. He said USDA is working with Mexican officials to develop protocols allowing them to work together to avoid these situations in the future.

Almanza was also asked about efforts to improve market access for U.S. lamb, which is currently shut out of several key markets due to restrictions dating back to the detection of BSE in the United States. He responded that USDA expects to see progress on this issue within the next two months.

In an industry perspectives panel discussion, representatives of the beef, pork and lamb industries shared their thoughts on the importance of red meat exports to producers, as well as the challenges faced by their respective industries. Panelists were Cattlemen’s Beef Board CEO Polly Ruhland, National Pork Board CEO Chris Hodges and Greg Ahart, vice president of sales for Superior Farms and a member of the American Lamb Board.

Ahart noted that the lamb industry has recently stepped up its efforts to increase exports, and values the work performed by USMEF.

“USMEF staff has been amazing to work with,” said Ahart. “The Middle East chef training program, the promotional materials made available and retail promotions in Mexico have all been a tremendous help.”

Unlike U.S. beef and pork, the U.S lamb industry isn’t focused on growing international markets, Ahart explained. Right now it’s all about simply getting access to markets.

“The cow that stole Christmas also stole Japan from the U.S. lamb industry,” Ahart said. “As beef trade was restored into Japan, lamb was not.”

Hodges explained the impact of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) and how the pork industry is dealing with it. PEDV caused the pig crop to drop dramatically in 2014, while the breeding herd surged because the outbreak led producers to think they would need more sows to maintain their level of production.

“The other thing that happened was that we had record profits in 2014, which led to expansion,” Hodges said. “Kind of odd, isn’t it? We had the worst disease in history, and we walked out of 2014 with profits we had never seen before. Welcome to the pork industry.”

Increased U.S. pork production requires an emphasis on increasing pork exports, Hodges said.

“If our production is going to go up 6 to 7 percent, exports are going to be very important, because Americans can’t consume that much pork,” Hodges said.

He also pointed out that the West Coast port backlog hurt the pork export business, especially to key markets like Japan, which is a tremendous market for U.S. chilled pork.

Ruhland said the beef industry has been challenged by the decline in the cattle herd because the beef checkoff is assessed per head, not by pounds or value produced.

“But at the same time, the foreign marketing budget has increased,” she said. “We realize in the beef industry that we have to operate in the global community in order to retain the sustainability, particularly the economic sustainability of U.S. beef producers. The global community is becoming even more important to beef as we move forward and as we rebuild herd.”

When it comes to international marketing, it’s important for the beef industry not to put all its eggs in one basket, Ruhland added.

“In the long term, we need to balance our portfolio internationally,” she said “We must have a good mix of emerging markets, mature markets and a product mix that allows us to be balanced.”

Ruhland said the beef industry has a strong belief in partnerships, whether with retailers, foodservice providers or others in the supply chain, but its most important partnership is with consumers – both domestically and globally.

“Consumers are where it all ends. They drive the purchasing, so we need to listen to their needs worldwide.”

The USMEF Board of Directors approved one new resolution at Friday’s business session, which related to trade with Cuba. While the resumption of diplomatic relations has raised expectations about expanded agricultural trade opportunities in Cuba, USDA program funding and checkoff funding cannot be utilized for any market research or promotional activities. The USMEF resolution encourages member organizations that favor expanded trade with Cuba to advocate for a change in this policy.

“USMEF is not a lobbying organization, but we are hopeful that agricultural associations that do have a strong lobbying presence will work in favor of this policy change,” Saunders explained. “This would help put USMEF in a better position to examine the Cuban market and assist companies interested in exporting beef, pork or lamb to Cuba.”

Highlighting Thursday’s agenda in San Antonio was a panel discussion on the role of branded products in the international markets. Branded beef and pork products are expected to make up a larger portion of the export business in coming years, as more and more consumers in international markets want information on where their food comes from and the story behind its production.

“In the Japanese market, it’s all about the story – where does our beef come from?” said Jay Theiler, executive director of marketing for Agri Beef, a diversified beef and pork company based in Boise, Idaho. “You have to have a story behind your product, and you have to take that story to your customers.”

Agri Beef exports to 26 countries under names such as Snake River Farms, St. Helens Beef, Double R Ranch and Rancho Elora. Theiler said the company considers itself a “house of brands” rather than a “branded house.”

“We are really focused on segmenting the market for different opportunities,” he explained. “We try to figure out how to be different and tell a story that sets us apart from our competition.”

Such an approach is important in a market like Japan, where a consumer can find roughly 400 brands of pork and more than 300 brands of beef, noted Takemichi Yamashoji, USMEF’s senior marketing director in Japan.

“Branded beef and branded pork are very important in Japan because of that competition,” Yamashoji said. “Whatever is unique or special about your beef or pork needs to be highlighted.”

Andrew Brooks, vice president of marketing for Certified Hereford Beef, echoed these sentiments and shared an interesting story from when the company first became a member of USMEF.

“I remember that the email went out at 4:00 p.m. and by the next morning we had more than 50 emails from importers and companies from around the world, saying, ‘Welcome to USMEF, we want to get more information about your brand, we want to know more about your producers,’” Brown recalled. “We got emails saying ‘I want to hear more about what you have that is unique and different.’ It really opened doors for us.”

USDA Sneaks Beef Import Approvals from Brazil and Argentina

Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter

“As has become a common practice by the Obama administration, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) transmitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget over a federal holiday weekend two major final rules that would open up imports of fresh beef products from Brazil and Argentina, hoping that no one was paying attention. These final rules were sent to OMB on Friday, May 22 but not posted on its website until Saturday, May 23.

“What is significant about these two final rules is that they would relax a longstanding ban by APHIS from allowing fresh beef imports from countries that have a history of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in their animal herds. The U.S. has not had a case of FMD in cattle since 1929. Food & Water Watch and number of livestock groups have already expressed their opposition to this relaxation of the FMD policy.

“In addition, Brazil and Argentina have a checkered food safety history with the meat products that they are already eligible to export to the U.S. USDA has been forced to suspend imports from these two countries over the past decade for food safety violations and for violating inspection standards.

“These new final rules come on the heels of the World Trade Organization ruling that found USDA‘s country of origin labeling regulations to be impediments to free trade.  Consequently, consumers may not know at the meat counter whether the products they buy come from countries that have had a history of animal health and, or food safety problems.

“Food & Water Watch will continue to express its opposition to these final rules at OMB.”

 CWT Assists with 1.3 Million Pounds of Cheese and Whole Milk Powder

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 7 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Michigan Milk Producers, and Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold), who have contracts to sell 553.360 pounds (251 metric tons) of Cheddar, and Monterey Jack cheese, and 749,572 pounds (340 metric tons) of whole milk powder to customers in Asia, the Middle East, and South America. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from May through November 2015.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives who have contracts to sell 31.475 million pounds of cheese, 26.482 million pounds of butter, and 20.071 million pounds of whole milk powder to twenty eight countries on five continents. The amounts of Cheese, Butter and Whole Milk Powder in these sales contracts represent the equivalent of 1.033 billion pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

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

Mitsubishi, Mahindra Enter Strategic Partnership in Ag Machinery

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, and Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., part of the Mahindra Group headquartered in Mumbai, India, entered into a strategic partnership in the agricultural machinery field. Under the definitive agreement, Mahindra will invest $25 million for acquiring a 33% voting stake in MHI subsidiary Mitsubishi Agricultural Machinery Co. Ltd. through fresh issue of common shares and Class A shares of MAM. The deal is expected to close by October 1, with the new funding to be used to increase MAM's capital base.

The agreement was signed by Kazuaki Kimura, president and CEO, MHI Machinery, Equipment & Infrastructure, Katsumi Tottori, president, MAM and Rajesh Jejurikar, President & Chief Executive (Farm Equipment & Two Wheeler), M&M.

This deal reaffirms Mahindra's commitment to the North American market by formalizing its relationship with Mitsubishi, which has supplied tractors to Mahindra USA for the past 12 years.

Mahindra is part of the $16.5 billion Mahindra Group's Automotive and Farm Sector. Mitsubishi Agricultural Machinery is a full range agri-machinery company producing and selling tractors, combine harvesters, rice transplanters and other agri-machinery.

USDA Seeks Applications for Grants to Help Socially-Disadvantaged Producers

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is now accepting applications to provide technical assistance to socially-disadvantaged groups in rural areas.

"These grants will help socially-disadvantaged business owners develop the tools and skills they need to grow their enterprises and succeed at creating jobs and expanding economic opportunities in rural areas," Vilsack said. "American agriculture is becoming increasingly diverse in many ways, with more minorities and women seeking to enter the field, as well as greater diversity in the age of farmers, the size of operations, in production methods, and in the types of crops being grown. All of these forms of diversity help strengthen U.S. agriculture for the future."

Funding will be made available through USDA's Socially-Disadvantaged Groups Grant Program (formerly the Small, Socially-Disadvantaged Producer Grant Program), which assists organizations that provide technical assistance to socially-disadvantaged groups in rural areas. Examples of technical assistance are conducting feasibility studies, developing business and strategic plans, and providing leadership training.

USDA plans to make up to $3 million in grants available. The maximum award under this notice is $175,000. More information on how to apply can be found on page 28937 of the May 20 Federal Register. Applications submitted by mail must be postmarked by July 20, 2015. Electronic applications must be submitted at www.grants.gov no later than midnight Eastern Time July 14, 2015.

Eligible applicants include groups of cooperatives, cooperative development centers and individual cooperatives that serve socially-disadvantaged groups. The cooperatives or centers can be located in any area, but the groups assisted must be located in an eligible rural area. Also, the majority of the governing body of the organization must be compromised of individuals who are members of socially-disadvantaged groups.

USDA Rural Development is encouraging applications for projects in census tracts with poverty rates of 20 percent or higher. All grants are awarded through a national competition.

Friday, May 22, 2015

UPDATE: US Senate Passes TPA - May 22, 2015

Fischer Applauds Senate Passage of Trade Promotion Bill

The U.S. Senate voted in favor of bipartisan trade legislation this evening. U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a vocal proponent of free trade, voted for the bill, which will generate greater opportunities for American farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers. This legislation will allow producers to capture new markets and reach more consumers worldwide. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senator Fischer released the following statement Friday evening:

“Our nation has an enormous opportunity to open new markets, increase productivity, and create jobs through strong free-trade agreements. Today, the Senate passed bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority legislation ensuring that the United States will have a strong voice at the negotiating table. It also ensures that the unsung heroes of the American dinner table – including Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers, food processors, and their families – will be able to offer their products to the world.”

Nebraska leads the way in progress as a top producer and exporter of agriculture and manufacturing products. In 2013, Nebraska exported $7.3 billion in products tied to the agriculture and processing industries. Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) provides opportunities for Nebraskans, allowing them to tap into new markets and reach more consumers around the world.

TPA is an important trade tool that effectively combines Congress’s authority to regulate foreign commerce alongside the president’s authority to negotiate treaties. It reinforces the role of Congress to set negotiation priorities and requires the president to consult extensively with legislators throughout the entire process.

Through TPA, the United States will be able to complete the trade negotiations currently underway. This trade tool will provide American negotiators with the credibility they need to conclude trade agreements.

Corn Growers Praise Senate for Passing Trade Promotion Authority

The National Corn Growers Association today praised the Senate for passing the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA-2015) and urged the House of Representatives to quickly pass the bill.

“Thank you to the senators who voted in favor of Trade Promotion Authority,” said Chip Bowling, a Maryland farmer and president of NCGA. “This legislation is critical to removing trade barriers, expanding our access to global markets, and ensuring farmers get the best possible trade agreements.”

“America’s farmers and ranchers are counting on the House of Representatives to step up and pass this important legislation as soon as possible.”

Senate Passes TPA Legislation

Friday night, the full Senate passed Trade Promotion Authority legislation (S. 995) by a bi-partisan vote of 62 to 37. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President and Chugwater, Wyoming cattleman, Philip Ellis made the following statement upon passage:

“This vote by the Senate is a clear indication of the support that exists nationwide for future free trade agreements. The U.S. market is already one of the most open markets in the world, and to continue to grow demand for U.S. beef, we must continue to negotiate tariff elimination worldwide. I urge the House to follow the lead of the Senate and pass Trade Promotion Authority legislation.”

Dairy Groups Praise Senate Passage of TPA, Call for Quick House Action

The National Milk Producers Federation and U.S. Dairy Export Council tonight commended the Senate for approving new Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation. They urged members of the House of Representatives to quickly pass their own TPA legislation.

“Trade promotion authority is crucial to concluding trade agreements that will open foreign markets to more U.S. dairy products,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “In the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations in particular, having TPA in place is essential to increase pressure on Japan and Canada to extend their best offers.”

USDEC President Tom Suber added, “Knowing that a trade agreement will be considered by Congress under Trade Promotion Authority paves the way to press our negotiating partners to make their best offers on the most sensitive issues. Clearly, dairy exports fall into that category, and the U.S. needs all the tools it can muster to get the best possible deal.”

The two organizations said TPA will increase congressional influence over trade negotiations and lead to agreements that are better for both the country and the dairy industry. They urged the House to take up TPA legislation soon after returning from the Memorial Day recess.

TPA, which expired in 2007, is important to the U.S. dairy industry because the United States now exports the equivalent of one-seventh of its milk production.

Following Senate Success, ASA Calls on House to Take Up and Pass TPA

The American Soybean Association (ASA) called on the House of Representatives today to take up and pass legislation to empower the Obama Administration to negotiate international trade agreements. The call follows the Senate's passage of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act, which extends Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to the White House, and more specifically to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), as the Administration looks to finalize trade agreements with countries along the Pacific Rim in the coming months and with Europe in the near future. ASA President and Texas farmer Wade Cowan issued the following statement, in which he underscored the need for quick approval of TPA:

“The Senate took the first step today to ensure that the success of American farmers in international markets can continue. For the past fifteen years, soybean farmers have been the leading ambassadors for American agriculture overseas, in large part due to the ability of USTR to craft agreements that maximize access for our products in markets around the world. Since 2007, however, our ability to maintain this role has been hampered by the absence of Trade Promotion Authority. In that time, despite valiant efforts by USTR, we haven’t been able to be as aggressive in crafting new agreements as our competitors in South America, which have caught up and, in some cases, eclipsed us.

“But today’s vote has changed that. We’re a step away from equipping our negotiators with the tools they need to fully represent the interests of American soybean farmers. We thank Chairman Hatch and Ranking Member Wyden for their persistence on this bill, and we look forward to Chairman Ryan’s efforts in the House. It is imperative that House members recognize the potential of trade agreements to contribute to the success of the American economy in general, and our farm economy in particular. We call on all members of the House to support TPA when it comes to the floor in June, and we look forward to getting back to business overseas.”

Friday May 22 Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.50 million cattle on feed on May 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 2 percent from last year. This is the highest May 1 inventory since the data series began in 1994.Placements during April totaled 390,000 head, down 7 percent from 2014.  Fed cattle marketings for the month of April totaled 405,000 head, down 2 percent from last year.  Other disappearance during April totaled 15,000 head, unchanged from last year.


Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in Iowa for all feedlots totaled 1,280,000 on May 1, 2015 according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. The inventory is down 2 percent from April 1, 2015, but up 2 percent from May 1, 2014. Feedlots with a capacity greater than 1,000 head had 660,000 head on feed, down 1 percent from last month but unchanged from last year. Feedlots with a capacity less than 1,000 head had 620,000 head on feed, down 2 percent from last month but up 5 percent from last year.

Placements during April totaled 118,000 head, a decrease of 21 percent from last month and 10 percent from last year.  Feedlots with a capacity greater than 1,000 head placed 63,000 head, down 30 percent from last month and down 9 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity less than 1,000 head placed 55,000 head. This is down 8 percent from last month and down 11 percent from last year.

Marketings for April were 138,000 head, up 1 percent from last month but down 2 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity greater than 1,000 head marketed 72,000 head, down 9 percent from last month and down 5 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity less than 1,000 head marketed 66,000 head, up 16 percent from last month and up 2 percent from last year. Other disappearance totaled 5,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed

Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.6 million head on May 1, 2015. The inventory was 1 percent above May 1, 2014.

Placements in feedlots during April totaled 1.55 million, 5 percent below 2014. Net placements were 1.48 million head. During April, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 320,000, 600-699 pounds were 240,000, 700-799 pounds were 348,000, and 800 pounds and greater were 640,000.

Marketings of fed cattle during April totaled 1.64 million, 8 percent below 2014. April marketings are the lowest since the series began in 1996.  Other disappearance totaled 66,000 during April, 20 percent below 2014.


The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) in conjunction with the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed preliminary testing shows the presence of a third case of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza (HPAI) in Dixon County. The third farm (referred to as Dixon 3) is within a mile of the initial farm (referred to as Dixon 1) identified last week and is owned by the same operator.

Dixon 3 is a flock of 500,000 pullets (young hens). Dixon 1 and Dixon 2, announced last week, collectively have 3.5 million laying hens.

“These farms are in close proximity to each other so this finding, while unfortunate, is not unexpected,” said NDA Director Greg Ibach. “We continue to receive great support from our federal, state and local partners, as well as from the operator, as we work to control the spread of the virus.”

All three sites are under quarantine, a perimeter has been established around each facility, and the birds are being depopulated. Under the USDA protocol, NDA is visiting all locations that have poultry within a 6.2 mile radius of Dixon 3 to conduct testing. Due to the proximity of Dixon 3 to the other facilities, the 6.2 mile radius overlaps significantly.

The preliminary positive test at Dixon 3 is expected to be confirmed by officials at a federal laboratory sometime over the holiday weekend, but Ibach said response teams in Dixon County already are working at Dixon 3 to address the HPAI finding.

Gov. Pete Ricketts last week issued a state emergency declaration to provide NDA and other state agencies with appropriate resources to address the HPAI situation.

The Centers for Disease Control considers the risk to people from HPAI H5 infections to be low. Proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 degrees kills the virus. Dixon 1 and 2 are egg laying facilities and therefore the chickens are not consumed, and the eggs from these facilities are processed and go through pasteurization, eliminating product consumption risk.

Ibach is asking Nebraska poultry producers, large and small, to follow strict biosecurity measures on their farms and to monitor their flocks for symptoms of the virus and notify NDA immediately if they suspect any problems. All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard enthusiasts, should prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to state/federal officials, either through NDA by calling 1-877-800-4080 or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.

As part of the existing USDA avian influenza response plans, federal and state partners as well as industry are following these five basic steps: 1) Quarantine – restricting movement of poultry and poultry-moving equipment into and out of the control area; 2) Eradicate – humanely euthanizing the affected flock(s); 3) Monitor region – testing wild and domestic birds in a broad area around the quarantine area; 4) Disinfect – kills the virus in the affected flock locations; and 5) Test – confirming that the poultry farm is AI virus-free.

Additional information on HPAI can be found online at www.nda.nebraska.gov. Information is available for producers and the general public.

No-till, Cover Crops, and Grazing Bus Tour June 18 & 19

Paul Jasa, UNL Extension Engineer

Nebraska Extension will be conducting a two-day No-till, Cover Crops, and Grazing Bus Tour on Thursday and Friday, June 18 and 19.  The tour will depart from and return to Beatrice, Nebraska and visit several producers in southeast Nebraska and northeast Kansas.  The bus tour is part of our Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund grant project for No-till and Soil Health Education and our Nebraska Extension No-till Educational Program.  We appreciate the support of the Nebraska Environmental Trust.

Brief details are below and the attached file contains a short summary about each of the featured producers.  Please register by filling out the attached registration form and mailing it to me with your check (payable to the “University of Nebraska—Lincoln”) by Wednesday, June 10.  Registration is limited to the first 50 people, with preference given to Nebraskans as we near the deadline.  No e-mail or phone registrations will be accepted and sorry, no credit cards.  No refund if cancelling after June 10.

Since we are using our Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund No-till and Soil Health Education grant and some Nebraska Extension funds to help keep the cost low, the registration fee is slightly higher for attendees from outside of Nebraska and slightly higher for those wanting a single room.  Thank you for your understanding.  The fee is $50 for Nebraska residents/producers and $200 for attendees from outside of Nebraska, based on double occupancy.  There is an extra charge of $50 for those requesting a single room.  If you have a roommate preference, please indicate that on your registration form.  The fee includes motorcoach travel, lodging, and all meals.  You are responsible for snacks, other motel charges, and any “adult” drinks.

The itinerary is (times may be adjusted):

Thursday, June 18
7:30 a.m.  Leave Gage County Fairgrounds, Beatrice, NE  (Parking on the Fairgrounds is available at no charge.)
8:30-10:30 a.m.  Steve Wiese, near Crete, NE  (pivot irrigated forage crops with no-till corn double cropped for silage, beef drylot on-site)
11:30 a.m.  Lunch in Fairbury, NE
2:00-4:30 p.m.  Josh Lloyd, Oakhill, KS  (continuous dryland no-tiller with several crops, double crops, cover crops, cattle, and grazing)
About 5:15 p.m.  Break near Junction City, KS
7:00 p.m.  Supper and motel in Emporia, KS

Friday, June 19
7:45 a.m.  Leave motel
8:00-10:30 a.m.  Gail Fuller, Emporia, KS  (no-tiller with numerous crops, cover crops and grazing forages, several livestock species, and intensive grazing)
11:30 a.m.  Lunch in Osage City, KS
1:00-3:30 p.m.  Keith & Ben Thompson, Osage City, KS  (no-tillers with several crops, cover crops and grazing forages, cattle, and intensive grazing)
About 5:00 p.m.  Break near Wamego, KS
7:00 p.m.  Arrive Beatrice, NE

This will be a nice tour of established no-till, diverse crop rotations, cover crops, and livestock grazing systems.  Join us for an educational and informational tour where some of the best learning comes from the networking with other attendees on the bus (or over a beer in the evenings).  A full information packet will be e-mailed to those who register.  

Groundwater Levels Rise 1.42 Feet on the Average in the Upper Big Blue NRD

During March-April 2015, the NRD measured 513 observation wells throughout the District and then averaged the data of all these wells.  Observation wells are measured in the spring of each year, allowing the water table to rebound from the previous irrigation season.  The observation wells measured are equally distributed geographically throughout the District to provide an accurate profile of the District average.

Overall, the spring 2015 average measurement for the groundwater level change shows a rise of 1.42 feet from last spring.  The findings show that the spring 2015 average groundwater level is 2.35 feet above the “Allocation Trigger”.  As a result, there will be no allocation restrictions for the 2016 irrigation season.  However, flow meters must still be installed on all wells by January 1, 2016.

The District goal is to hold the average groundwater level to above the 1978 level.  In 2005, the District average groundwater level reached the “Reporting Trigger” initiating groundwater users to report annual groundwater use to the District and to certify their irrigated acres.  If the District average level falls below the 1978 level (“Allocation Trigger”), groundwater allocation will begin. 

Nebraska Soybean Board Launches Sizzle of Summer Sweepstakes

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer grilling season and the Nebraska Soybean Board is celebrating with the Sizzle of Summer Sweepstakes. Nebraskans can enter to win prizes all summer at TasteoftheTailgate.com. Visitors to the website will find videos with summer grilling tips by Nebraska experts as well as recipes to try at home.

The giveaways begin after Memorial Day with up to $250 in Omaha Steaks gift cards. For Independence Day, the Sizzle of Summer Sweepstakes winner gets a Weber grill. The grand prize is an end-of-summer cookout party provided by Phat Jack’s BBQ of Lincoln.

The Sizzle of Summer Sweepstakes is open to Nebraska residents and limited to one entry per household. To enter, visit TasteoftheTailgate.com.

Use American Ethanol-Blended Fuel to Lessen the Burden of Gasoline Costs this Summer

It’s that time of year again. Summer is quickly approaching and gasoline prices are once again climbing. Although gas prices are lower starting off this summer’s driving season compared to last year’s, gas prices have been on the rise.  Thankfully, there is a solution to help lessen the burden on drivers’ pocket books, and that solution is American Ethanol.

The rise of gas prices in the busy summer months can have a big impact on consumers’ summer plans. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) projection for the April-through-September summer driving season year is on average $2.45/gallon. However, AAA, has the current national average at $2.73, which is the highest price for gasoline since December. American Ethanol-blended fuel lowers gas prices and saves the average American household over $1,000 on their gas bill annually.

“As Nebraskans gear up for their summer travel and recreational plans, the choice to use American Ethanol at the pump is the easy one,” said Kim Clark, Director of Biofuels Development at the Nebraska Corn Board. “American Ethanol-blended fuels provide a wealth of benefits for consumers. It is cost-effective, American-made, renewable, and better for our environment and consumer health.”

Compared with oil, American Ethanol-blended fuel burns cleaner and improves air quality. When drivers use American Ethanol, they’re improving air quality and reducing the causes of asthma, heart disease, and lung cancer not only for themselves but also their children and grandchildren. American Ethanol lowers the level of toxic, cancer-causing emissions in vehicle exhaust—reducing air pollution, improving human health, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

American Ethanol also gives Nebraskans a choice when they go to fill up with gas. Those choices aren’t limited to the lower price of their gas bill, but also the chance to choose a domestic, clean-burning fuel that fuels our state’s economy as well. Drivers with a flex fuel vehicle (FFV) have the choice to use any American Ethanol fuel blend up to 85 percent ethanol (E85)—a blend of 85 percent American Ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. The EPA has also approved that non-flex fuel vehicle owners with automobiles manufactured in model year 2001 and newer, can use E15. Additionally, small engine owners can successfully use American Ethanol-blended fuels up to 10 percent (E10) for their marine watercraft and small engines, such as lawn mowers.

“Consumers and professional drivers alike can appreciate the power and performance that American Ethanol-blended fuels offer while also recognizing the money saving benefits the fuel provides,” said Jon Holzfaster, a farmer from Paxton, Nebraska, Director on the Nebraska Corn Board and chairman of National Corn Growers Association’s NASCAR Advisory Committee. “NASCAR has proven the power and durability of American Ethanol and as consumers you can witness the health and cost savings.”


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               The moisture content of hay when it is baled influences yield, quality, and storability of the hay.  Preservatives can help us get it right.

               When hay is baled too dry, leaves fall off of stems to the ground, reducing both quality and yield.  Unfortunately, hay baled too wet can get moldy, overheat, or even catch fire.  So we have a narrow moisture range that results in good hay that keeps well.

               Hay can be baled a bit wetter if a preservative like propionic acid is applied as it’s baled.  To get good results from preservatives, though, it helps to know how it works and what it can and can not do.

               Baled hay naturally contains millions of bacteria and mold fungi.  As they consume hay nutrients, these microbes produce heat.  The duration and intensity of this heat determines the amount of damage the hay receives.

               This heat also forces moisture out of the bale, something we often call “going through a sweat”.  Usually, hay gets dry enough that the microbes soon die or go dormant.  But when too much moisture is present, heating becomes excessive, mold develops, or both.

               Preservatives kill many of the microbes so less heat is produced.

This gives hay time to dry out naturally, without the “sweat”.  But as it dries the preservative also vaporizes and disappears.  If we stack bales tightly into storage soon after baling or fail to allow drying to occur in other ways, the remaining microbes eventually produce the mold and heat we wanted to avoid.  Also, if rain, high humidity, or other sources moisten the hay later, microbial activity can redevelop since the protection from preservatives lasts only a short time.

               Preservatives can help make good hay at higher moisture levels but correct management is needed to keep that hay in good shape.


With the cost of crops and land increasing, many landowners are concerned with expanding cropland production on their property. However, landowner Regg Swanson had a different idea in mind. Instead of cutting down trees and pushing aside other obstacles interfering with growing crops, Swanson is planting more windbreaks in order to encourage the formation of a wildlife habitat.

Swanson lives in Tennessee, but is a native Nebraskan, an avid hunter and soil conservationist. He has a passion for wildlife and enjoys visiting his piece of land in northeast Nebraska. During those visits, he noticed the population of pheasants on his land was decreasing significantly. Being familiar with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through former projects, Swanson contacted District Conservationist Tyler Specht in the Hartington NRCS field office to find a solution to spur population growth.

Specht said, “It is a rarity to have a project that is focused on wildlife habitat. When we have the opportunity, they are fun to work on.” 

In the past, Swanson and his father had worked with the NRCS to put land into CRP, the Conservation Reserve Program. Because of the success they saw on their property, Regg Swanson decided to continue the program by transitioning more acres to CRP. Through this program, Swanson received seed for 10.1 acres of filter strips, 30.7 acres of habitat buffers, and 70.9 acres of tall grass prairie habitat.

Because the property has sandy soil, Specht’s team wanted to find a way to slow down erosion and provide a healthy habitat for wildlife. Swanson and the local NRCS office worked together to design and establish three windbreaks to add to the two already installed. In total, 1,811 trees were planted on 5.6 acres of land. The Lewis and Clark Natural Resources District cost shared the purchasing, planting, and mulching of the trees.  Ongoing technical assistance is being provided to Swanson’s land throughout the life of the project to ensure it is maintained at its highest potential. “Tyler was exceedingly helpful in guiding me to choose my methods,” Swanson stated.

When discussing how the implemented programs influenced Swanson’s property, Specht mentioned that the improvements were a “good fit for his land.” In fact, thanks to the help of Specht and his team, wind erosion is no longer visible on this property. This has not only affected Swanson’s land, but has significantly reduced soil erosion in the downstream wetlands. The pheasant population is also seeing positive reactions from the NRCS programs. Swanson mentioned that there is “not a lot of habitat in the area. The project drew pheasants to that pocket of land, and I have seen the number grow.”

After the grass and trees were planted in 2008, Swanson has kept a close eye on the property. “You have to continue to work with the land,” he said.  To help improve the stand of grass and keep unwanted trees from encroaching, in April of 2014, Swanson collaborated with his neighbor to perform a prescribed burn. According to Swanson, the burn went “better than expected” and the outcome turned out very well.

When discussing the improvements he has seen on his property, Swanson stated, “Just like anything else, you have to be engaged to be successful or else you will lose the beauty of what you are trying to enhance. Hopefully others can do something similar to improve their properties,” Swanson stated when looking back at his success working with the NRCS.

To learn more about CRP or other programs that the NRCS offers, contact your local field office, or access the website at www.ne.nrcs.usda.gov.


The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is responding to a probable case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Pocahontas County.  With this new announcement, Iowa now has 64 cases of the disease in the state. The Department has quarantined the premise and once the presence of the disease is confirmed, all birds on the property will be humanely euthanized to prevent the spread of the disease.

Pocahontas 3 – Turkey farm with an estimated 21,000 birds that has experienced increased mortality.  Initial testing showed it positive for H5 avian influenza.  Additional confirmatory testing is pending from the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames.

Wal-Mart Pressures Meat Suppliers

(AP) -- Wal-Mart, the nation's largest food retailer, is urging its thousands of U.S. suppliers to curb the use of antibiotics in farm animals and improve treatment of them.

That means asking meat producers, eggs suppliers and others to use antibiotics only for disease prevention or treatment, not to fatten their animals, a common industry practice. The guidelines also aim to get suppliers to stop using sow gestation crates and other housing that lacks sufficient space.

They're also being asked to avoid painful procedures like de-horning or castration without proper pain management.

Wal-Mart wants suppliers to provide it with an annual report and publicly report their progress on their own websites.

Wal-Mart is facing pressure from shoppers who want to know more about how their food is produced.

NPPC On Walmart Commitment To Responsible Farming

Ron Prestage President, National Pork Producers Council

The National Pork Producers Council applauds Walmart’s commitment, announced today, to sustainable and responsible farming, which America’s pork producers make every day. By using antibiotics responsibly and providing humane and compassionate care for their animals, pork producers ensure animal health and well-being and a safe, wholesome food supply. Walmart’s recognition of that proves that America’s farmers, not extreme animal activist groups, should be setting food policy.

The U.S. pork industry’s long-standing training and certification programs have worked to ensure that farmers and veterinarians use antibiotics responsibly, protecting the efficacy and availability of antibiotics for therapeutic and disease prevention purposes for the health and safety of animals and the food supply.

The Judicious Use Guidelines of the American Veterinary Medical Association and of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians and the Responsible Use of Antibiotics Guidelines in the pork industry’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus program are closely aligned, and NPPC supports their incorporation into every farmer’s daily practices. Additionally, the pork industry is adopting changes included in FDA Guidance 213, which is restricting the use in food animals of medically important antibiotics, as well as the agency’s Veterinary Feed Directive. The industry also is working with USDA and FDA to best accomplish meaningful reporting of antibiotics use data.

America’s hog farmers are committed to producing safe, affordable and healthful foods for consumers and using industry practices that have been designed with input from veterinarians and other animal-care experts to provide humane and compassionate care for their pigs at every stage of life.

West Coast Port Agreement Ratified

Just this week, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) voted overwhelmingly in favor of a new labor contract with dockworkers. And today, representatives from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) agreed to ratify the new agreement, officially ending what has turned into an 11-month-long disagreement. The final provisions of the contract, reached in February of this year, improved the arbitration process and streamlined healthcare benefits for effected workers. Conditions of the contract will be retroactive to July 1, 2014, and continue through June 30, 2019. 

Extended contract negotiations between the PMA and the ILWU became aggressive in late 2014, leading to disruptions in maritime commerce for 29 major West Coast ports that together see roughly $1 trillion worth of goods each year. The conflict has directly resulted in a shift away from Western ports in favor of cheaper alternatives in the past few months. According to The Journal of Commerce, in April alone, activity at East and Gulf Coast ports grew 12% and 20%, respectively, while West Coast port activity declined 4%. Resolution between the PMA and ILWU will help bring West Coast ports back to full capacity in the years to 2019 and drive some lost shipping demand back to Western ports.

Nevertheless, West Coast ports have consistently experienced systematic operational disruptions during years when labor agreements are negotiated (e.g. 2002, 2008, and now 2014), so some exporters and importers may seek alternative shipping routes to avoid supply chain disruption when this contract inevitably expires in 2019. In the meantime, companies that rely on goods imported to the West Coast will see shipping costs drop and inventories rise in the coming months, likely decreasing demand for alternative shipping methods, such as air cargo transportation services, national trucking services and local freight trucking services, and softening the price of imported goods in the Western region.

Deere Profit Falls as Equipment Sales Drop

Deere & Co. said its profit dropped 30% in the latest quarter, blaming weak conditions in the global farm economy that continue to affect the agricultural sector.

The results, however, were much better than feared, and Chief Executive Samuel Allen called the results "noteworthy in light of the weak conditions that continue to affect the global agricultural sector."

The Illinois company, which is the world's sales leader in farm equipment, bumped up its projection for net income for the year ending in October--now expecting $1.9 billion, up from its February prediction of $1.8 billion. The forecast includes a 4% currency-related hit to equipment sales.

Deere is facing the added hurdle of a severe slump in farm machinery demand that started last year after a nearly decade of elevated sales fueled by record-high prices for corn and soybeans. Falling crop prices, weakening overseas sales and the curtailment of U.S. tax incentives have dampened demand for farm equipment, particularly for large models in the U.S. and Canada where Deere dominates the market.

The company said Friday that it expects equipment sales to decline about 19% this year and 17% in the current quarter.

That compares with a 20% drop in the latest quarter, with sales in the U.S. and Canada off 14% and sales elsewhere down 28%. Currency effects shaved 10% off international sales, the company said. Operating profit from agriculture and turf plunged 48% to $639 million.

Deere has aggressively scaled back equipment production and slashed costs to align the company with lower demand. Deere last month said it plans to lay off 910 workers at plants in Iowa and Illinois after announcing in August that more than 1,000 jobs would be cut.

In Deere's construction equipment business, which has been helping to offset the company's weak farm machinery segment, sales rose 2% from a year earlier to $1.6 billion. Operating profit from the business grew 43% to $189 million.

Revenue from financial services increased 14% to $653 million. Operating profit in the segment rose 16% to $265 million.

In all, for the quarter ended April 30, the company reported a profit of $690.5 million, or $2.03 a share, down from a year-earlier profit of $980.7 million, or $2.65 a share.

Revenue slid 18% to $8.2 billion. Equipment operations sales dropped 20% to $7.4 billion.

Cattle on Feed + Cold Storage Report - May 22, 2015

United States Cattle on Feed Up 1 Percent
Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.6 million head on May 1, 2015. The inventory was 1 percent above May 1, 2014.

Placements in feedlots during April totaled 1.55 million, 5 percent below 2014. Net placements were 1.48 million head. During April, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 320,000, 600-699 pounds were 240,000, 700-799 pounds were 348,000, and 800 pounds and greater were 640,000.

Marketings of fed cattle during April totaled 1.64 million, 8 percent below 2014. April marketings are the lowest since the series began in 1996.  Other disappearance totaled 66,000 during April, 20 percent below 2014.

Cattle on Feed 
(1,000 hd - as of 5/1/15 - % of May'14)
Colorado ............:                     900                 96       
Iowa ..................:                      660                100     
Kansas ...............:                   2,060               102      
Nebraska ...........:                   2,500               102     
Texas .................:                   2,410                99       

Cattle Placed        (1,000 hd - Apr'15 - % of Apr'14)
Colorado ............:                     145              112     
Iowa ..................:                       63                91        
Kansas ...............:                     315               97        
Nebraska ...........:                     390               93       
Texas .................:                     385               92      

Cattle Marketed
     (1,000 hd - Apr'15 - % of Apr'14)
Colorado ............:                     120              92     
Iowa ..................:                       72               95      
Kansas ...............:                     355               92         
Nebraska ...........:                     405               98    
Texas .................:                     435               91      

USDA Cold Storage Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers at the end of April were up 2 percent from the previous month and up 20 percent from last year, according to USDA's Cold Storage Report released Friday morning. Total pounds of beef in freezers were down 1 percent from the previous month but up 18 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were up 4 percent from the previous month and up 20 percent
from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were up 3 percent from last month but down 16 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on April 30, 2015 were up 6 percent from the previous month and up 21 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were up 2 percent from the previous month and up 31 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 14 percent from last month and up 5 percent from April 30, 2014.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on April 30, 2015 were up 1 percent from the previous month and up 4 percent from April 30, 2014.  Butter stocks were up 25 percent from last month and up 23 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks were down 7 percent from last month and down 3 percent from a year ago.  Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 7 percent from last month but up 3 percent from a year ago.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thursday May 21 Ag News

Nebraska farm, ranch tourism liability bill passes

(AP) _ Farmers and ranchers who open their property to tourists could be shielded from certain lawsuits under a bill passed by Nebraska lawmakers.

The Legislature gave the measure final approval on Thursday with a 46-0 vote.

Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala has said he introduced it to promote rural tourism and give farmers and ranchers another potential revenue source without the fear of lawsuits.

The bill is aimed at sites such as working farms and ranches, hiking trails, lakes and hunting and bird-watching areas. It also could apply to hayrack or boat rides, vineyard tours and haunted houses.

A 2012 Nebraska Tourism Commission report found that liability and insurance concerns were a major roadblock to the tourism industry's growth in the state.

Nebraska Cattlemen Applauds Legislature Approving LB 623 Driver's License Bill

Today, the Nebraska Legislature approved LB 623 on a 34 to 9 vote and it provides immigrants with deferred action for childhood arrival (DACA) status the opportunity to obtain Nebraska driver’s licenses.

The bill was a Nebraska Cattlemen priority bill the group helped write. NC policy supports comprehensive immigration reform to ensure a thriving employee base for beef cattle producers.

“Nebraska Cattlemen appreciates the support of everyone who helped get this common sense measure passed,” said NC President Dave McCracken. “The broad base of other groups in favor of LB 623 was a testament to the positive impact its passage will have statewide. The approved legislation will help provide for a strong employee base in rural Nebraska.”

Also, Nebraska Cattlemen is grateful to the Senators who voted to support the bill. Each of their votes was essential and NC commends those who played key roles in championing the bill to final passage: Senators Baker, Bolz, Campbell, Chambers, Coash, Cook, Crawford, Davis, Ebke, Friesen, Garrett, Gloor, Haar, Hadley, Hansen, Harr, Howard, Hughes, Johnson, Kolowski, Kolterman, Krist, Kuehn, McCollister, Mello, Morfeld, Nordquist, Pansing Brooks, Schumacher, Seiler, Smith, Stinner, Sullivan and Williams.

NC especially acknowledges Senator Jeremy Nordquist for introducing the bill and Senator John McCollister for prioritizing it.

Personal property tax break for Nebraska businesses passes

(AP) _ Nebraska farmers and business owners could get a property tax exemption under a bill passed by lawmakers.

Senators voted 47-0 on Thursday to give final approval to an exemption for personal business property.

The measure by Sen. Mike Gloor of Grand Island would allow business owners to exempt the first $10,000 worth of tangible property used in their operations, for an average tax savings of $162. The bill would apply to farm equipment such as irrigation pivots and tractors, and business equipment such as rail cars, pipelines and factory machines.

The bill would cost the state an estimated $19.6 million a year in lost revenue. It now heads to Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Late Planting Provisions for Crop Insurance

Monte Vandeveer, Nebraska Extension Educator

The frequent and sizable rains seen recently across eastern Nebraska have kept some Nebraska growers from completing their corn plantings.  Although 85% of Nebraska's corn acres had been planted as of May 17, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service report, plantings are lagging in some areas.  The crop insurance "final planting date" for corn in Nebraska is approaching, and those with unplanted wet fields may find it difficult to beat this deadline.

The final planting date for crop insurance is the last day to plant an insured crop and still receive the full level of insurance coverage. For corn across the entire state of Nebraska in 2015, this date is Monday, May 25. For soybean, it's June 10. (See RMA final planting dates for all covered crops.)

Terms to Know

-    Final planting date for corn is the last day to plant an insured crop and still receive the full level of insurance coverage. This year for Nebraska corn it's May 25.
-    The late planting period for corn in Nebraska is 20 days after the final planting date.


Acres that haven't been planted by the final planting date can be handled in one of the following ways.

    Plant the insured crop during the late planting period, and insurance coverage will be provided. The late planting period for corn in Nebraska is 20 days after the final planting date. The production guarantee is reduced 1% per day for each day that planting is delayed after the final planting date.
    Plant the insured crop after the late planting period has ended if you have been prevented from planting during the late planting period, and insurance coverage will be provided. The insurance guarantee will be 60% of the original production guarantee.
    Acreage that was prevented from being planted due to an insured cause of loss can be left idle and receive a full prevented planting payment, also equal to 60% of the original production guarantee.
    Plant a cover crop during or after the end of the late planting period and receive a full prevented planting payment as long as it is not hayed or grazed before November 1.   The cover crop cannot be harvested for grain or seed at any time.
    Plant another crop (second crop) after the late planting period (if also prevented from planting through the late planting period), and receive a prevented planting payment equal to 35% of the prevented planting guarantee.

For example, consider a grower with a dryland corn APH yield of 150 bushels per acre who has signed up for Revenue Protection coverage with a 75% coverage level.  Using the spring projected price of $4.15/bushel, this grower would have a production guarantee of 112.5 bushels per acre and a revenue guarantee per acre of $467 (= 150 bu./acre x 75% x $4.15/bu.).  An acre of corn planted five days after the final planting date, for example, would have its production guarantee reduced 5% (1% for each late day), meaning the revenue guarantee would decline 5% from $467 to $444.

Reporting Affected Acres

An insured grower must report separately
 -   the dates and number of all acres planted on or before the final planting date;
 -   acreage planted per day (including the date) during the late planting period; and
 -   the dates and number of acres planted after the late planting period.

Growers need to check with their insurance agents for details on these reporting requirements.

Prevented Planting Payments
For land that could not be planted by the final planting date due to an insured cause of loss during the insurance period, a prevented planting payment may be available for those acres which remain unplanted for the entire late planting period.  The size of the prevented planting payment depends on whether a second crop is planted after the late planting period ends.  In addition, to qualify for a prevented planting payment, the unplanted acreage must be at least 20 acres or 20% of the crop acreage in the insured unit, whichever is less.

A prevented planting payment is calculated as 60% of the production guarantee for eligible timely planted acres.  There is an option to purchase an additional 5-10% more coverage if done so by the sales closing date.  No harvest price adjustment is used for replant or prevented planting payments.

A reduced prevented planting payment is made if the acreage in question is planted to a second crop after the late planting period ends.  This reduced amount is 35% of the original prevented planting payment.  Selecting this option also affects the premium and the APH yield history.  The premium is reduced to 35% of the original premium, and the producer must accept a lower yield in their yield history, calculated as 60% of their original APH average for those acres receiving the reduced payment.

If any other crop is planted on the acreage in question during the late planting period, no prevented planting payment will be made.

As always, check your plans with your crop insurance agents to ensure compliance with the coverage and to determine expected payments, reporting requirements, and other details.

Rural Mainstreet Economy Slows: Almost One in Five Bankers Reported Negative Impacts from Bird Flu

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

Overall: The Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI), which ranges between 0 and 100, climbed to 49.0 from 46.0 in April.

“The stronger U.S. dollar continues to be a drag on the Rural Mainstreet economy. The strong U.S. dollar has made U.S. goods, especially agriculture and energy products, less competitively priced abroad. This has dampened farm income and the Rural Mainstreet economy," said Ernie Goss, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University's Heider College of Business.

Nebraska: The Nebraska RMI for May increased to 47.8 from 45.7 in April. The state’s farmland-price index slipped to 39.0 from 39.4 in April. Nebraska’s new-hiring index grew to 57.6 from April’s 53.1.

Iowa: The May RMI for Iowa advanced to 52.1 from April’s 45.4. Iowa’s farmland-price index for May climbed to 52.3 from April’s 42.1. Iowa’s new-hiring index for May jumped to 62.9 from April’s 55.7.

Farming and ranching: The farmland and ranchland-price index for May climbed to 39.7 from April’s 33.4. “However, this is the 18th straight month the index has moved below growth neutral. But according to banker comments, there is great deal of variation across the region with many areas continuing to experience strong demand for farmland with little deterioration in farmland prices,” said Goss.

The May farm equipment-sales index fell to a record low of 12.5 from 15.6 in April. The index has been below growth neutral for 22 straight months. “With farm income expected to decline for a second straight year, farmers remain very cautious regarding the purchase of agricultural equipment,” said Goss.

This month, bank CEOs were asked to identify the greatest economic challenge to banking operations over the next five years. Approximately, 45.8 percent of the bank CEOs named rising regulatory costs as the top threat to their bank’s profitability. More than one in five, or 20.8 percent, indicated growing competition from Farm Credit and credit unions represented the greatest threat over the next five years.

Approximately 10.4 percent and 8.3 percent identified slow growth and farm foreclosures, respectively, as the number one challenge to their bank’s profitability over the next five years. The remaining 14.9 percent named other factors challenging their operating income over the next five years.

“We asked bankers about the fallout from the avian flu outbreak. Almost one in five of the bankers, or 18.7 percent, reported negative impacts from the outbreak. However, almost one-half, or 48.9, expect negative impacts from the bird flu if it should spread to their area,” said Goss.

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

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

National Drought Summary for May 19, 2015

Nearly coast-to-coast storminess reduced drought’s footprint across the nation’s mid-section but triggered lowland flooding from the southeastern Plains and the western Gulf Coast region into the mid-South. Farther east, however, only light showers, if any, dampened the eastern U.S., except for some briefly heavy rain in the northern Mid-Atlantic region. In the Northeast, where little precipitation has fallen during the spring, another mostly dry week raised concerns about a lack of soil moisture and declining streamflows. Meanwhile, cool, wet weather in the upper Midwest provided much-needed moisture, following a period of rapid planting progress. In fact, below-normal temperatures dominated much of the country, with widespread freezes noted across the north-central U.S. from May 18-20. Elsewhere, broadly unsettled weather prevailed in the West, with the heaviest precipitation falling across the northern Intermountain region and the central and southern Rockies. The Western precipitation boosted topsoil moisture, aided winter grains, and reduced irrigation requirements. Beneficial showers dampened parts of California and Nevada, but failed to dent the Far West’s serious hydrological drought.

Great Plains

Frenetic weather led to further reductions in drought coverage. Late-season snow briefly blanketed several areas, including parts of North Dakota on May 17-18 and western Nebraska on May 19-20. Farther south, multiple rounds of heavy showers and locally severe thunderstorms led to flooding, particularly across the southeastern Plains. Several gauging points, including the Red River near DeKalb, Texas, and the Poteau River near Panama, Oklahoma, climbed to their highest levels since May 1990. The Red River near DeKalb rose 4.51 feet above flood stage on May 13, while the Poteau River near Panama surged 14.54 feet above flood stage on May 12. By May 20, cumulative storage in Texas’ reservoirs climbed to 24.78 million acre-feet (78.5% of capacity)—the highest in more than 4 years. Only a month ago, Texas’ storage was 22.53 million acre-feet, or 71.4% of capacity. Six months ago, on November 20, 2014, storage stood at just 19.43 million acre-feet, 62.0% of capacity.

Midwestern and Great Lakes States

Significant rainfall pushed as far east as the upper Mississippi Valley but tapered to light showers east of the Mississippi River. As a result, substantial improvements in areas affected by dryness and drought were limited to the upper Midwest. St. Cloud, Minnesota, received 5.19 inches of rain during the first 18 days of May, followed by consecutive freezes (30 and 31°F, respectively) on May 19-20.

Record Pork Production for April

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.02 billion pounds in April, up 1 percent from the 3.98 billion pounds produced in April 2014.

By State  (million pounds, % of Apr '14)
Nebraska .....:         581.1             99      
Iowa ............:         598.7            108      
Kansas .........:         409.5             96      

Beef production, at 1.93 billion pounds, was 6 percent below the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.38 million head, down 8 percent from April 2014. The average live weight was up 32 pounds from the previous year, at 1,338 pounds.

Veal production totaled 6.6 million pounds, 21 percent below April a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 35,400 head, down 27 percent from April 2014. The average live weight was up 24 pounds from last year, at 318 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.07 billion pounds, up 8 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 9.68 million head, up 9 percent from April 2014. The average live weight was down 3 pounds from the previous year, at 284 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 13.6 million pounds, was down 10 percent from April 2014. Sheep slaughter totaled 198,200 head, 11 percent below last year. The average live weight was 138 pounds, up 1 pound from April a year ago.

January to April 2015 commercial red meat production was 15.9 billion pounds, up 1 percent from 2014. Accumulated beef production was down 4 percent from last year, veal was down 23 percent, pork was up 7 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 2 percent.

Iowa farm equipment company to close plants, eliminate jobs

(AP) _ A farm equipment manufacturer in Sioux City is shutting down its two plants, eliminating more than 50 jobs in the area.

The Sioux City Journal reports (http://bit.ly/1Ai0NSC ) Soo Tractor, which has been doing business as Radius Steel Fabrication, will shut down production at its two Sioux City plants between the end of May and the end of June.

It's unclear why the company, founded more than 70 years ago, is shutting down the plants. Its chairman, Allen Mahaney, died in February at age 77.

The newspaper reports the company will host a job fair May 29 for displaced workers such as welders, machinists and laser cutters.


The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is responding to a probable case of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Buena Vista County.  With this new announcement, Iowa now has 63 cases of the disease in the state. The Department has quarantined the premise and once the presence of the disease is confirmed, all birds on the property will be humanely euthanized to prevent the spread of the disease.

Buena Vista 17 – Commercial laying operation that has experienced increased mortality.  An estimate on the number of birds is still pending.  Initial testing showed it positive for H5 avian influenza.  Additional confirmatory testing is pending from the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames.


Fairs, livestock auctions, swap meet and exotic sales will not include birds

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship today announced an order to cancel all live bird exhibitions at county fairs, the Iowa State Fair, and other gatherings of birds due to avian influenza. The Department’s order begins immediately, is effective through the end of 2015, and also prohibits live birds from being sold at livestock auction markets, swap meets and exotic sales.

Iowa has over 25 million birds and more than 60 farms impacted by H5N2 highly-pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). The purpose of the Department’s directive is to minimize the risk of potential further spread of the virus to other poultry.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Iowa Department of Public Health consider the risk to the public related to HPAI H5 infections to be very low.  No human infections of the virus have ever been detected and there is no food safety risk for consumers.

“We are asking producers and bird owners to increase their biosecurity measures and we feel this is a needed step to further minimize the risk of spreading the virus,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey.  "The scale of this outbreak has been unprecedented, so we think it is important we take every possible step to limit the chance that this disease will spread any further."

Officials with the Department have spoken with leadership from the Iowa State Fair and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach this week to discuss the situation.

“We have been working in conjunction with our state veterinarian to monitor the situation,” said Gary Slater, Iowa State Fair CEO/Manager. “We strive to provide safe and healthy competition for all the animals at our State Fair and know this decision was made in the best interest of our exhibitors and our poultry industry.”

“Iowa State University Extension and Outreach 4-H's priority is youth and their learning experiences," said Mike Anderson, Extension 4-H State Livestock Specialist and State Fair 4-H Livestock Superintendent. "Some 4-H'ers will be disappointed that they won't be able to exhibit their poultry projects at fairs this summer, but we're exploring alternate learning opportunities to offer them at fairs and will share more details as plans develop. This is a great example to the public, fair-goers, and the consumer that the animal health, animal well-being and the safety of the poultry industry is at the forefront of our young people’s practices. Through our annual Food Safety and Quality Assurance curriculum, we have educated youth for many years on these and other topics such as biosecurity and the potential for diseases to spread.  The education and learning practices are being put into action in the real world."

The Iowa Turkey Federation and Iowa Poultry Association both recommended that bird exhibitions be cancelled this year due to avian influenza.  Iowa leads the nation in egg production and is in the top ten in turkey production.

USMEF Board Meeting Underway in San Antonio

The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Board of Directors Meeting kicked off in San Antonio, Texas, Wednesday afternoon. USMEF Chair Leann Saunders opened the event by providing members with an update on “Project 40” – a USMEF Executive Committee initiative designed to build on nearly 40 years of success and make USMEF a stronger organization going forward.

Saunders noted that feedback received during a comprehensive survey of the USMEF membership and other interviews conducted as part of Project 40 has been overwhelmingly positive. However, some areas were identified in which members feel the organization could be more proactive and strive for improvement.

“I want you to know that the volunteer leadership and staff of USMEF take these recommendations very seriously,” Saunders said. “USMEF is not a complacent organization. We are always striving for excellence, and will work collectively to move toward positive change. USMEF has achieved a high level of member satisfaction, yet we are always looking to continuously improve.”

CattleFax CEO Randy Blach was Wednesday’s keynote speaker, providing attendees with an informative and enlightening look at the current state of global protein demand, production and trade. He opened with a favorable update on spring planting progress.

“The past few years we’ve put more corn into production and gotten through a tough drought situation, and we’re now producing record-large corn crops,” he said. “And this spring, 85 percent of the corn crop is in the ground. We’re off to a great start, headed for a big corn crop. And on the soybean side we have a similar situation, with huge growth in our soybean output.

“For those of you who are (corn and soybean) producers, I’m not going to pull any punches – we’re going to be at break-even pricing for the next several years. We had great run in our farming operations from 2005 through 2012 or 2013, but now we’re in a period of much, much narrower margins.”

Blach explained that one of the most effective ways of restoring healthier margins to the U.S. farming sector is to expand international sales of high-quality protein, essentially exporting more corn and soybeans in a value-added form. But he emphasized that the global marketplace for red meat is fiercely competitive, so it is important to reduce trade barriers that limit market access for U.S. suppliers and increase their costs.

“That’s why the discussion we are having here today is so critical,” he said. “We have to improve our level of access to international markets for U.S. beef and pork, and it needs to be a high priority.”

Blach also noted that herd expansion has finally gained traction among U.S. cattle producers.

“Heifers are going back into the cow herd,” he explained, “The herd is growing at a rapid pace – and it needed to. If we didn’t respond as an industry to this economic signal to grow the nation’s cow herd, beef would have moved from the center of the plate to the edge of the plate.”

Blach also cautioned beef and pork producers about the potential impact of avian influenza, which has caused the U.S. poultry industry to lose access to some international markets. He noted that the number of birds lost to the disease will not come close to offsetting the upward trend in poultry production, meaning that there will likely be surplus of poultry confined to the domestic market over the next several months.

USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng also spoke to attendees Wednesday, addressing many of the current challenges facing U.S. beef, pork and lamb exports. He noted that the West Coast port congestion that slowed exports earlier this year has been largely resolved, but the industry is still feeling some impact. Competitors – especially European pork suppliers and exporters of Australian beef whose price advantage was already buoyed by weakened currencies – were quick to capitalize on this situation in key Asian markets. He also discussed recently implemented free trade agreements that have altered the competitive landscape in several of these markets, lowering tariff rates for beef and pork supplied by several competitors.

Seng challenged the industry to be more proactive in addressing potential market access barriers related to foreign animal diseases, noting that U.S. exports are still held back to some degree by the BSE case detected in December 2003.

“My suggestion would be that we reach out to the governments of these countries that we’re exporting 80 percent of our products to – that’s probably six or seven governments – and have a conversation about these issues,” Seng said. “Not with our hair on fire, not when we have a crisis – that’s not a good time to talk. But these countries need our product, and we need to have access to them. So what can we do to ensure that we don’t have a repeat of what happened with BSE?”

Seng noted that USMEF is well-known for its market development efforts, which have been successful in expanding demand for U.S. red meat in many countries and regions across the world. But he explained that competition is now so intense that traditional market development models may no longer suffice in many of these markets.

“Market development and looking for new markets – those are still important strategies,” Seng said. “But that takes a lot of time and resources, for returns that are not always what we might hope for. I would say that the key strategy USMEF is invoking today is displacement. We have to displace the competition, because that’s exactly what our competition is trying to do to us.”

Wednesday’s general session concluded with a panel discussion in which USMEF representatives from Mexico, the Caribbean and the ASEAN region provided an inside look at marketing strategies designed to add value to underutilized cuts of U.S. beef, pork and lamb. The panel offered insights into the markets to which these cuts are targeted, how they are prepared and the methods used to bring them to the attention of chefs, retailers, distributors and consumers.

One example provided by Elizabeth Wunderlich, USMEF Caribbean representative, is promotion of U.S. lamb belly, which is designed to capitalize on the popularity of pork belly and gain exposure for the high-quality attributes of American lamb.

USMEF ASEAN Director Sabrina Yin explained that cuts such as the beef hind shank are gaining popularity in her region – often being cut into cubes for stew, sliced thin for stir-fry or braised and presented as cold meat slices. Beef short plate, which has been commonly used in stews and soups, is now being touted for use in stir-fry dishes.

Yin said the new approaches for these beef cuts are promoted at chef demonstrations and at trade shows.

“We are also creating market opportunities through promotions in retail and the hotel and restaurant industries,” she said. “We provide importers and their customers with fact sheets on these U.S. beef cuts and give them new menu ideas.”

German Navarette, USMEF-Mexico corporate chef, has launched efforts in Mexico to educate chefs and other foodservice professionals about new methods of preparing beef brisket. In Mexico, brisket has traditionally been cubed or chopped in small pieces for stocks and stews, Navarette explained. But he is familiarizing chefs with slower cooking methods that allow them to work with whole and sliced briskets.

Pork shoulder was often given the same treatment in Mexico, but chefs are now encouraged to prepare pork shoulder in new and innovative ways.

Prior to Wednesday’s launch of the USMEF Board of Directors Meeting, USMEF hosted an informational session for members representing the Texas Beef Council, Texas Farm Bureau, Texas Cattle Feeders Association and the Texas and Southwest Cattle Raisers Association, as well as other meat and livestock industry guests from the San Antonio area.

USMEF staff provided updates on opportunities and challenges in several key international markets, and offered examples of how support from these Texas-based organizations is being used to expand demand for U.S. red meat.

“USMEF certainly appreciates the excellent support we receive from the state of Texas,” Seng said. “There is a lot of history here dating all the way back to the founding of the organization, and many industry leaders who have been active in USMEF for decades.”

Thursday’s Board of Directors Meeting agenda features a panel discussion on the role of branded products in international markets, followed by meetings of USMEF’s standing committees: the Pork and Allied Industries Committee, Beef and Allied Industries Committee, Exporter Committee and the Feedgrain and Oilseed Caucus.

World Pork Expo seminars provide the most up-to-date information

World Pork Expo is the place to get the most up-to-date information related to pork production, business management and new technologies. More than a dozen seminars scheduled for Wednesday, June 3, and Thursday, June 4, are included in the price of admission to the 2015 World Pork Expo. Brought to you by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), this year’s Expo will take place June 3-5 in the Varied Industries Building on the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa.

"To me, the most important activity for pork producers at World Pork Expo is the educational seminars," says Ron Prestage, D.V.M., NPPC president and South Carolina pork producer. "The exchange of ideas and information is invaluable. The seminars cover such a wide range of topics that all types of producers can capitalize on new insights they can take back home."

Business seminars feature innovative technologies

The business seminars get underway at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, June 3, with Harrisvaccines offering a look at how rapid-responding vaccines can be used for emerging diseases. Swine-health experts from the United States and the Philippines will join Harrisvaccine researchers to discuss the latest research on RNA particle prescription vaccines and porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv).

From 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Purina Animal Nutrition will present “Challenge Accepted: Conquer your Mount Everest,” an interactive seminar featuring strategies for powering through challenges. Lance Fox, a veterinarian who has climbed Mount Everest, and others will share practical approaches to setting goals, developing actionable plans and empowering employees.

Rounding out the business seminars on Thursday, June 4, the United Soybean Board will present two, one-hour sessions titled “Biodiesel Works: Fueling Swine Profitability” at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The speaker will talk about how the use of animal fat in biodiesel has added $150 million in revenue to market hogs, and how the increased demand for soy-based biodiesel affects the supply of soybean meal.

PORK Academy offers more seminar options

A longstanding attraction at World Pork Expo, PORK Academy takes place on both Wednesday and Thursday of Expo. Presented by the Pork Checkoff, PORK Academy will feature experts from across the country talking about timely matters like regulatory changes in antibiotic use, a PEDv update and the Common Swine Industry Audit. Other presentations will zero in on sow lifetime productivity, mitigating seasonal losses and additional management topics.

Among its many attractions, World Pork Expo features the world’s largest pork-specific trade show, which will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 3, and Thursday, June 4, as well as from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, June 5. The record-setting World Pork Expo Junior National begins Tuesday, June 2, and is expected to involve nearly 750 youth from 24 states. Additional information is available at worldpork.org, and by connecting with World Pork Expo on Facebook, following Expo on Twitter (@NPPCWPX, #WPX15), and downloading the free mobile app by searching for “World Pork” in the Apple Store, Android Market or Blackberry’s App World.

USDA Reminds Farmers to Certify Conservation Compliance by June 1 Deadline

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds farmers to file a Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation Certification form (AD-1026) with their local USDA Service Center by June 1, 2015. The 2014 Farm Bill requires producers to have the form on file in order to remain eligible, or to become eligible for crop insurance premium support.

Many farmers already have a certification form on file since it’s required for participation in most USDA programs including marketing assistance loans, farm storage facility loans and disaster assistance. However, farmers who only participate in the federal crop insurance program must now file a certification form to receive crop insurance premium support. These producers might include specialty crop farmers who may not participate in other USDA programs.

“USDA is making every effort possible to get the word out about this new Farm Bill provision,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We’ve deployed a variety of informational documents and online resources including fact sheets, frequently asked questions and brochures to help farmers understand what they need to do. We’ve also conducted informational meetings and training sessions for nearly 6,000 stakeholders across the country. We want to make sure that those who are required to act do so by the June 1 deadline. We want all eligible producers to be able to maintain their ability to protect their operations with affordable crop insurance.”

USDA has conducted extensive outreach over the past year, especially to producers who only participate in the federal crop insurance program and may be subject to conservation compliance for the first time. Along with the outreach done by crop insurance agents and companies, USDA efforts have included letters, postcards, phone calls, producer meetings and interaction with stakeholder groups to help them reach their members. While there are procedures in place to correct good faith errors and omissions on certification forms, the deadline cannot be waived or extended and a form must be filed by June 1.

The Highly Erodible Land Conservation and Wetland Conservation Certification form AD-1026 is available at local USDA Service Centers or online at www.fsa.usda.gov/AD1026form.When a farmer completes this form, USDA’s Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service staff will identify any additional actions that may be required for compliance with highly erodible land and wetland provisions. USDA’s Risk Management Agency, through the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, manages the federal crop insurance program.

White Sorghum: Developing a Niche Market in Japan’s Food Industry

The U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC’s) office in Japan recently held a sorghum food tasting event attended by more than 80 food industry reporters, food bloggers and food industry sorghum users who were able to try new sorghum-based dishes and encouraged to share their experiences with their readers.

While Japan’s outstanding sales and accumulated exports of U.S. sorghum totaled only 104,000 metric tons (4 million bushels) as of May 14 for the 2014/2015 marketing year - and only a portion of that is being used for food products - the Council believes Japan’s health-oriented consumers are a promising audience for food products made from U.S. sorghum.

“White sorghum offers many benefits as a food product,” said USGC Director in Japan Tommy Hamamoto. “It is a gluten-free food that has low-oil absorption. These characteristics are important to Japanese consumers who are willing to pay a premium for high-quality foods.”

Also during this event, Erica Angyal, a health icon who is popular among Japanese women, and Chef Tsukuda, who works at the hotel where the event took place, held short discussions about the health benefits of foods made with sorghum.

“This event is important as it kicks off the sorghum food fair that runs for two months,” Hamamoto said. “One restaurant alone is expected to serve 16 sorghum dishes in its buffet. We believe at the end of this event more than 10,000 people will have tried a dish with sorghum in it.”

The entire event was documented in a promotional video that will be shared on social media by the Japan office and provided to the host hotel and attendees for their use as well.

This program is one example of USGC efforts to promote sorghum to the Japanese food industry. The Council’s office in Japan will continue this effort through attending food shows and other outreach.

“Right now the market for white sorghum in the Japanese food industry is relatively small, but in three to five years, we expect Japanese end-users, processers, food industries and consumers will learn the value and benefits of using U.S. sorghum as a food ingredient and begin to commercialize health-oriented food products that use U.S. sorghum,” Hamamoto said. “Until then, the Council will continues its efforts to develop this niche market.”

Senate Ag Committee Approves Grain Standards Act Reauthorization Bill

(from NAWG newsletter)

Today the Senate Agriculture Committee marked up and unanimously approved bipartisan legislation offered by Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to reauthorize the Grain Standards Act (GSA). In addition to reauthorizing the GSA for five years, the legislation includes several important provisions to ensure transparency and predictability in the export grain inspection system. The text of the bill can be viewed here.

Some changes are intended to prevent future disruptions in export inspection services like what occurred last summer at the Port of Vancouver. Specifically, the legislation would require that for any State-delegated agency that intends to temporarily cease inspection services, that agency must provide 72 hours notice to USDA’s Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS).  USDA would then be required to immediately take the actions needed to address the disruption and resume inspection services. USDA would also be required to report to Congress within 24 hours of the disruption on the actions needed to enable inspections to resume. Additionally, the legislation would require USDA to report to Congress regarding last year’s disruption, including information about the port facility, the security situation, and any policy changes made by USDA to prevent similar future disruptions.

State delegated agencies would be able to retain their authority under this legislation. However, USDA would be required to establish a certification process and require delegated agencies to be recertified every five years. The certification process would include an official 30-day public comment period. The bill also restricts the use of private entities for inspections of grain for export.

The legislation would also require a report to Congress on the barriers that U.S. grain producers face in exporting grain to countries that do not provide an official grade, or provide only the lowest designation, for U.S. grain. This provision is particularly relevant given Canada’s treatment of U.S. wheat where it receives only feed quality designation, no matter the quality. The provision in the bill would require an analysis of the possibility that such treatment is inconsistent with the country’s trade obligations.

The House Agriculture Committee has also approved its own reauthorization bill. The next step is floor consideration in both the House of Representatives and Senate.

U.S. Grains Council, Growth Energy and RFA Participate in Exploratory Market Development Mission to Japan

Representatives of Growth Energy, the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) traveled to Tokyo this week to follow up on an industry market assessment of the potential to export U.S. ethanol to Japan. Over the next two years, the government of Japan will be undertaking a full review of its national energy policies, including biofuels, potentially opening up opportunities for additional ethanol exports there.

“The team came away with a much greater understanding of the current Japanese requirements and market conditions pertaining to ethanol and began the implementation of a strategy to help ensure that U.S. ethanol receives fair market access under the future energy policy that will be adopted when the current policy expires in 2017,” said Jim Miller, chief economist and vice president of Growth Energy.

In addition to meeting with U.S. Grains Council staff located in Tokyo and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) officials, the team also met with Japanese officials from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry; the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; and Japanese Diet member Arata Takebe.

"The United States exported 900 million gallons of ethanol in 2014, supporting both U.S. farmers and the ethanol industry. We know that, going forward, ethanol exports have the potential to grow and become equally beneficial for our customers overseas," said Tom Sleight, president and CEO of the U.S. Grains Council. "USGC, Growth and RFA are committed to launching initiatives in 2015 and 2016 to build demand for U.S. ethanol and address barriers to ongoing imports."

“Japan represents a unique and exciting opportunity for U.S. ethanol exports. However, the opening of markets and trade partnerships don’t happen overnight. This trip provided our team with valuable insight and made great first steps to keep ethanol at the forefront of the discussion in Japan,” said RFA’s director of regulatory affairs Kelly Davis. “The team will continue examining the requirements of the Japanese sustainability standards, looking for ways to overcome infrastructure concerns and compiling data responding to some of the misinformation government officials still hold regarding renewable fuels.”

In 2014, the United States exported a very limited amount of ethanol for industrial uses to Japan. The U.S. ethanol industry believes there is room to open this market for fuel uses, prompting significant additional imports.

Dairy Groups Praise Diplomatic Struggle against Additional Restrictions on Common Food Names

The dairy industry today praised U.S. representatives to a key international meeting for leading the fight against treaty changes that could seriously impair the ability of companies worldwide to use generic food terms in export markets. Among those potentially affected are U.S. dairy producers and processors relying on numerous generic cheese names.

The National Milk Producers Federation, the U.S. Dairy Export Council and the International Dairy Foods Association jointly thanked the U.S. delegation to the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Diplomatic Conference on the Lisbon Agreement for calling attention to the treaty changes. They also praised the U.S. diplomats for leading a coalition of countries in criticizing the lack of an inclusive WIPO process as well as the negative costs the agreement will likely impose on taxpayers, farmers and companies in other countries.

The three organizations urged the U.S. Trade Representative to evaluate the degree to which countries’ actions under the agreement are likely to violate World Trade Organization obligations and called on Congress to examine the deeply troubling side-lining of a majority of WIPO members in the development of an agreement with global ramifications.

WIPO is a United Nations agency charged with developing a balanced international intellectual property system. It concluded two weeks of talks in Geneva today that both expanded the Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin to include geographical indications and expanded the protections granted under the international registry of protected terms.

Geographical indications limit who can use certain product terms or names to those in a particular geographic area. GIs have been widely abused in recent years by European interests seeking to restrict competition from the United States and other non-European countries.

During the two-week diplomatic conference in Geneva, the United States led a 12-nation coalition in opposing the Lisbon Agreement changes and in urging equal participation rights for all WIPO members in considering the changes. In a radical departure from multiple precedents, WIPO chose to permit Lisbon Agreement members to deny meaningful participation to the majority of WIPO members.

Despite this power grab, the U.S. and its allies used the conference to draw attention to the agreement’s failure to adequately safeguard both trade and intellectual property rights. Dairy groups urged continued international collaboration in opposing misuse of geographical indications.

“The treaty and its proposed changes are clearly aimed at preventing competitors such as dairy producers and processors in the United States and other non-European countries from using names in international trade that they have used for decades,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “We appreciate and commend the extensive work the office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, along with the departments of State and Agriculture, have put into opposing these changes and in decrying WIPO’s refusal to allow all members to have a full say in the outcome of this agreement.”

USDEC President Tom Suber added, “WIPO’s decision to force non-Lisbon members into second-class status at this conference strips the resulting outcome of its legitimacy as an international agreement. It’s clear that this agreement is an effort to promote the interests of GI holders at the expense of generic users, rather than trying to balance both those concerns in good faith. It is clear to us that there are serious WTO consistency problems with the approach Lisbon members have decided to pursue and we ask USTR to carefully examine how to address these trade commitment violations.”

IDFA President and CEO Connie Tipton agreed, noting that “with U.S. leadership, international collaboration on these crucial issues can continue in a variety of forums. Countries have a right to enter into treaties to address their own goals, but this should not come at the expense of other countries’ exports, nor their rights to fully participate in treaties having international impacts.”

U.S. Wheat Growers Call for Equal Trade in Canada

Yesterday, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) jointly called for improvements in Canada’s treatment of U.S. wheat classes in a letter to Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Gerry Ritz, and Canadian Minister of International Trade, Ed Fast.  While there has been positive collaboration between the two countries on wheat policy, the recent WTO Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) decision concerning the labeling of meat highlights Canada’s inconsistency on the issue of treatment of foreign agricultural products.

The United States is routinely Canada’s top wheat export market and allows wheat grown in Canada to be graded and traded the same as U.S. wheat in the market. Yet, the Canada Grains Act and Varietal Registration System (VRS) denies U.S. producers that same courtesy. Instead, all foreign grown grain is automatically downgraded under Canada’s official grading system to the lowest designation, regardless of whether the wheat is an approved Canadian variety or of high quality.

“Our concerns about the unfair regulatory environment that U.S. wheat faces in Canada closely parallel the arguments Canada successfully made in its WTO complaint against U.S. country-of-origin labeling (COOL) requirements,” states the letter signed by USW Chairman Roy Motter and NAWG President Brett Blankenship. “Specifically, the WTO Appellate Body found that the COOL measure was ‘inconsistent with Article 2.1 of the TBT Agreement because it accords less favourable treatment to imported livestock than to like domestic livestock.’ It is readily apparent to us that Canada’s treatment of imported wheat is less favorable than that of domestic wheat through its grading system.”

The two organizations propose that giving the market the freedom to determine origin segregation’s value — rather than mandating foreign grain labeling — not only increases benefits for both sides of the border, but also continues to strengthen the relationship between the two countries, further laying the foundation for a long-term, mutually profitable trade environment.

Trials Show When It Pays for Farmers to Invest in Inputs

When disease threatens yields this season, farmers have reliable data to help them decide if and when a certain treatment will benefit their potential bottom-line profits. Key insights from the 2014 Answer Plot® Program by WinField show that fungicide applications increased yield and improved late-season plant health for most CROPLAN® corn and soybeans in 2014.

In 2014, corn fungicide trials spanned 28 locations with 91 percent of the sites showing an average yield response of 5.2 bushels per acre. Results also showed that even when disease was not present, some genetic types responded favorably to fungicide.

Discovering ROI Potential

Disease can greatly reduce yields, and disease stress intensifies when soybeans are planted in the same field for two or more years. “Even though some varieties have built-in tolerance to certain diseases, they are not immune to yield loss under heavy disease pressure,” said Kevin Eye, vice president of agronomy and product development, WinField.

For example, in soybean trials, 82 percent of Answer Plot® Program locations had a positive yield response by adding fungicide. One trial comparison between two corn hybrids with different genetic backgrounds showed a 5-bushel-per-acre yield variation in response to fungicide. “Knowing how each hybrid will respond to treatment can help farmers decide when they will receive the greatest return potential on their fungicide spray investment.”

Additional Management Insights

Other key insights identified during analysis of 2014 Answer Plot® data also presented significant financial implications for farmers across the country, including:

·       Starter fertilizer provides a hedge against environmental stress at planting. In 37 corn trial locations, 77 percent of sites with cold temperatures at planting had a nearly 3-bushel-per-acre yield advantage with starter fertilizer that included 10-34-0 plus Ultra-Che™ Zn 9% plant nutrients.

·       Tissue sampling helps identify when it’s beneficial to make plant nutrient applications. Answer Plot® data showed that up to 23 percent more sites had a positive yield response when tissue sampling showed a manganese deficiency compared to sites that had sufficient manganese.

·       High management practices help increase quality and yield with new CROPLAN® spring wheat. Trial results showed that higher levels of management such as using seed treatments, fungicide applications, higher populations and increased nitrogen helped new wheat varieties yield an average of 8.3 bushels per acre higher than traditional management practices.

Helping Identify Opportunities

In its 17th year of operation, the Answer Plot® Program has become one of the industry’s premier research and demonstration programs. Following rigorous protocols and strict analytic standards, Answer Plot® data is evaluated at local, regional and national levels, distilling millions of useful data points to help bolster return on investment potential. Information from the program helps fuel cutting-edge ag technology tools from WinField and customized recommendations for each field.

With nearly 200 Answer Plot® locations nationwide, farmers get a firsthand look at how products and management practices work in all types of conditions. Answer Plot® events include demonstrations and advice from WinField agronomists on local crop production issues, including pest management, plant nutrition and more.