Monday, January 26, 2015

Monday January 26 Ag News

2015 Beef Feedlot Roundtables at Three Locations in February

Beef feedlot managers, owners, employees and supporting industry personnel will learn the latest in feedlot nutrition, health, and economics at the 2015 Beef Feedlot Roundtables Feb. 10-12 in Bridgeport, Lexington and West Point, with remote connections to locations in Iowa and South Dakota.

The Nebraska Extension Roundtables will be offered Feb. 10 at the Prairie Winds Community Center in Bridgeport, Feb. 11 at the Holiday Inn Express in Lexington, and Feb. 12 at the Nielsen Community Center in West Point. Registration begins at 8 a.m. local time, with introduction and welcome at 8:20 by local extension personnel.

University and industry representatives will speak on feedlot economics, animal health, nutrition and management and other timely topics for feedlot operators.

Topics and presenters include:
·         Byproduct or Corn Usage in Feedlot Diets: Performance and Carcass Characteristics (Andrea Watson, UNL Animal Science)
·         Market Outlook and Rebuilding the Cow Herd (Kate Brooks, UNL Agricultural Economics)
·         Feedlot Survey Results: Labor, Marketing, and Management (Jake Birch, UNL Agribusiness Graduate Program)
·         Producer/Industry Roundtable Discussion (Moderated by local Extension personnel)
·         Beef Industry Update (Rob Eirich, UNL Extension BQA Director, and Doug Straight, Nebraska Beef Council)
·         Managing Holstein Beef: Animal Health Considerations (Dan Grooms, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, via webinar)
·         Managing Holstein Beef: Feedlot Nutrition and Technology (Dan Loy, Iowa State University)
·         Beta-agonists in Feedlot Diets (Galen Erickson, UNL Animal Science)
·         UNL Feedlot Research Update (Matt Luebbe, UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center)
·         Optional BQA Training (Rob Eirich, UNL Extension, Nebraska BQA Director)

The Nebraska Beef Council will give an update on new beef products and sponsor lunch at NE locations.

Preregistration is available by phone, fax, e-mail or mail, and requested by Feb. 3. Cost is $30 for those who preregister, and will be accepted at the door. Cost for those who have not preregistered will be $40.

For more information or a registration form, contact:  Matt Luebbe at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center, 4502 Ave. I, Scottsbluff, NE 69361, phone 308-632-1260, fax 308-632-1365 or e-mail 

Syngenta Lawsuit Info at Area Meetings

Syngenta problems are not about GMO corn. They are about telling the truth! Did Syngenta tell the truth about its Viptera hybrids? Or did it conceal the truth? When Syngenta’s top official told the group of Wall Street traders and bankers that Viptera crops could enter the export markets, was he concealing the fact that Syngenta knew China would not accept GMO seed containing the traits in Viptera?

That is what the lawsuit it will be about – truthfulness, and the damages caused by not being truthful if that turns out to be what happened.

Domina Law Group pc llo believes there is sufficient evidence to encourage clients to perfect claims and preserve rights. They intend to be active in the ongoing litigation to help ensure producers are fully and fairly paid, and that the interests of corn growers are protected by lawyers with experience, and usual practice contact, with corn growers.

An area informational meeting for corn farmers will be Tuesday, February 3rd at 10am at the Green Lantern in Decatur.  Dave Domina plans to be there to speak.  Discussion will also cover some water rights issues.  Other meetings include...

Monday February 2nd - 7:00 PM - Hartington VFW (126 E. Main St)
Thursday, February 5th - 2:00 PM - Blue Hill Community Center
Thursday, February 5th - 10:00 AM - Aunt Mary’s (111 S. 8th St)  Beatrice
Sunday, February 8th - 1:30 PM  - Doniphan Events Center

For more information, please call Graham Christensen at 402-217-5217.  You can also get information & sign up on the Domina Law website by following this link...

New faces at the Lower Elkhorn NRD

There are some new faces at the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) office in Norfolk.  Three new members have joined the district staff.  Two Land Use Certification Specialists were recently hired to assist in the certification of irrigated acres across the district.  They are Kristie Olmer of Madison and Mason Bushnell of Kearney.  A new general manager has also started with the district.  Mike Sousek of Wahoo has joined the staff, replacing former general manager, Stan Staab of Norfolk.

Kristie Olmer received degrees from Central Wyoming College and Chadron State College, where she majored in rangeland management with a livestock option.  Olmer says she is “happy to be returning to the area where she grew up and is excited to learn new things with the NRD.”

Mason Bushnell graduated from the University of Nebraska-Omaha with a major in geography.  Bushnell says he’s “excited to get to know a different part of Nebraska.”

Mike Sousek received his degree in biology from Wayne State College and recently completed his Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Nebraska-Omaha.  Sousek says “the LENRD is a great district and has so much going for it.  I’m excited to be a part of the challenges ahead of us.”  Sousek was formerly the rural water manager at the Lower Platte North NRD in Wahoo.  He and his wife, Carrie, will be moving to Norfolk soon with their three children, Ben, 8, Gabby, 2, and Robert, 1.

Along with the new staff, there are new members of the board as well.  Five new board members have taken the Oath of Office as elected officials for the LENRD.  The new members are:  Cory Beller of Norfolk;  Kurt Janke of Wayne;  Chad Korth of Meadow Grove;  Jarvis Otten of Norfolk;  and Luke Winkelbauer of Norfolk.  The new board & staff members attended their first board meetings in January.

Weather Outlook Uncertain, but Storms Could Lie Ahead

Al Dutcher, NE State Climatologist

Our meteorological winter has reached its midpoint and Nebraska has been fortunate enough to have escaped the endless string of bitter cold temperatures we experienced last winter.  There is no denying that we have experienced periods of bitter cold temperatures during the 60 plus days, but these distinct cold periods have been sandwiched between periods of warmth that were of equal or greater magnitude.

 Part of the reason for this continual swing in temperatures lies is that a weak El Nino event is ongoing and the sub-tropical jet is driving systems eastward through the extreme southern U.S.  This leaves a substantial portion of the central and northern Plains between the southern and northern jet streams when storms enter the western U.S.  When the southern jet weakens, the northern jet becomes stronger and it is much easier for Arctic air to invade the eastern half of the country.

Bitter cold temperatures during the first two weeks of November brought back memories of the 2013-14 winter when the United States was dealing with a persistently strong upper air trough (Polar vortex) over the eastern half of the country. Our precipitation events were generally in the form of Alberta Clippers that brought light snow events, except across the Panhandle where cold air damming up against the Rockies resulted in several moderate upslope snow events.

This pattern quickly broke down as the trough weakened and was replaced by an upper air ridge.  As the eastern ridge began to strengthen, the western U.S. came under the influence of an upper air trough in the Gulf of Alaska.  A series of storms pressed on shore through the third week of December, resulting in above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation for most areas between the Rocky and Appalachian mountain ranges.

There was only one significant precipitation event during this period (12/14-12/16) and it came in the form of rain for the most part.  Fortunately the stretch of warm weather preceding the event thawed out soils and allowed for substantial infiltration of this moisture into the upper soil profile. Rainfall reports across the western half of the state indicated individual locations received anywhere from 50% to over 100% of the precipitation expected during a normal winter.

Precipitation totals across the eastern half of the state weren't as generous during this storm system, with most locations receiving 75% to 150% of normal December precipitation.  An area situated from Hebron eastward to Fairbury and northward to Highway 2 reported moisture of 0.25 to 0.50 inches.

A return to cold temperatures from late December through mid-January signaled a return to the Polar Vortex pattern, but as happened in November, the pattern once again broke down and the western U.S. ridge shifted eastward, resulting in our present January thaw.  A stormy pattern appears to be developing across the western U.S., but it's uncertain as to whether this activity will eventually move eastward and impact Nebraska or pass south of the state.

The most recent Climate Prediction Center 30- and 90-day outlooks suggest that stormy weather entering the western United States will persist into spring.  The 30-day outlook suggests a sizable area from southern California through the southern Plains (including Kansas) will see above normal moisture.  The only difference in the 90-day precipitation outlook (February-April) is for an expansion northward of above normal moisture to include southwest, west central, and the southern Panhandle of Nebraska.

The temperature outlook for February contains considerable uncertainty as the CPC shows no climatological trend for Nebraska.  CPC suggests a weak tendency in the 90-day outlook for below normal temperatures across southwest and south central Nebraska, with no distinct trend indicated for the remainder of the state.

CPC data analysis of late winter and early spring climate tendencies during El Nino events indicates that colder than normal temperatures, above normal moisture, and above normal snowfall can be expected 60%-70% of the time from Kansas southward through Texas from February through April.  Nebraska sits on the northern boundary of this region.

Colder than normal temperatures, above normal moisture (including snow) occurs a little over 60% of the time for Nebraska during the March-May period, with the highest probabilities assigned to the western half of the state.  It remains to be seen whether these conditions will occur this winter, but cattle producers may want to aware that heavy, wet snows are fairly common during a majority of El Nino springs.

Alternative Fuels Documentary Comes to Omaha

After a successful showing in Lincoln, a one-time screening of "Pump" will hit the big screen at
Film Streams' Ruth Sokolof Theater Feb. 2. The 88-minute film will be shown at 7 p.m.

"Pump", which is narrated by Jason Bateman, explores America's dependence on oil and its
effect on the economy. The documentary demonstrates how biofuels like ethanol offer
consumers a cheaper, cleaner alternative to gasoline.

Following the screening, there will be a short panel discussion. David Bracht, Nebraska Energy
Office director; Doug Durante, Clean Fuels Development Coalition executive director
representing Urban Air Initiative; and Angela Tin, American Lung Association of the Upper
Midwest vice-president for environmental health, will discuss fuel choice and its impact on the
environment and public health.

"Motor vehicle emissions are a major source of environmental pollution," Tin said.  "The use of
alternative fuels, like E85, will benefit air quality and supports our mission to save lives by
improving lung health and preventing lung disease."

"Pump" is being shown nationwide on a small scale and is currently available for purchase on
iTunes. The film has received positive entertainment reviews.

Pete Lehner, executive director of Natural Resources Defense Council, said "Pump" is "a must-
see movie that jumpstarts an important conversation about the crippling costs of our oil

This event is open to the public and includes free admission and popcorn. Please reserve
tickets by emailing

"Pump" and the panel discussion are sponsored by Clean Fuels Development Coalition, Iowa Corn
Promotion Board, Midwest Renewable Energy, Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Ethanol Board, Pinnacle Bank, Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy and Urban Air Initiative.

Innovative Youth Corn Challenge 2014 Awards Ceremony Held

Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Corn Board teamed up to offer the third Innovative Youth Corn Challenge contest. This contest, open to 4-H members (age 10 & older as of Jan. 1st) or FFA members (in-school members), guided participants through all aspects of corn production, as well as agricultural careers related to corn production.

The 2014 winning team was from the Fillmore Central FFA chapter. The team with the highest percent yield increase over their local county average is the winner. In earning the $1,000 first-place award, Fillmore Central FFA tested corn-seeding rates on irrigated ground to determine the optimum rate. Their check plot of 32,000 seeds per acre yielded 253 bushels per acre, while their challenge plot, planted at 38,000, yielded 281 bushels per acre.  The Fillmore Central FFA Chapter included Adam Hoarty, Garrett Whitley, Tyler O'Conner, Logan Peppard and Aaron Poppert.

Second-place team overall was the Kornhusker Kids 4-H Club of Cuming County, earning $500 for their efforts. Team members tested two different sources of sulfur--gypsum (calcium sulfate) and ammonium sulfate. The check plot of 167 bushels per acre yielded the highest. The ammonium sulfate treatment produced 164 bushels per acre and gypsum 163 bushels per acre. The Kornhusker Kids 4-H Club included Kaleb Hasenkamp, Angela Rolf, Matthew Rolf, Levi Schiller and Payton Schiller.

Third-place team was the Eagle Hustlers 4-H Club consisting of Miles and Jace Stagemeyer, which tested a product, called Pervaide, which was developed to reduce compaction. The challenge plot yielded 213 bushels per acre, while the check plot yielded 210 bushels per acre.

As a team, youth worked with an adult mentor throughout the process. Mentors can be extension faculty, ag teachers, or other qualified agronomy professionals.

2015 Leopold Conservation Award Applications Available

In partnership with Sand County Foundation, Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) today announced the application period is open for the Nebraska 2015 Leopold Conservation Award. Leopold Conservation Award winners are recognized for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. The winner receives an Aldo Leopold crystal and a check for $10,000.
The Leopold Conservation Award is presented in honor of famed conservationist and author Aldo Leopold, who called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage.

The Leopold Conservation Award in Nebraska is made possible through the generous support of: Cargill, Farm Credit Services of America, Nebraska Cattlemen Research and Education Foundation, Nebraska Environmental Trust, Rainwater Basin Joint Venture, Sandhills Task Force, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association and World Wildlife Fund.

The Leopold Conservation Award recipient will be announced in April 2015.

Landowners may nominate themselves or others and nominations are also welcome from groups or organizations. The nomination deadline is March 1, 2015. 2015 application details can be found here or by visiting

For more information, please contact NC Vice President of Legal and Regulatory Affairs Kristen Hassebrook at 402-475-2333.

Growers Exercise Leadership Skills in Nation's Capital

Corn farmers from across the country have traveled to Washington this week to take part in the second phase of the annual leadership development programs co-sponsored by the National Corn Growers Association and Syngenta. While in town, the group will visit numerous members of the Senate and House of Representatives and get an inside look at parliamentary procedure and how lobbying works on Capitol Hill.

"For more than a quarter of a century, Leadership At Its Best has been an invaluable tool for helping corn growers become leaders at the state and national level," said Chip Bowling, NCGA's current president and a LAIB graduate himself. "In Washington, our farmers can see first-hand how decisions made here impact us back on the farm. Having a strong voice here in the capital is very important for NCGA and its farmer members."

The Leadership At Its Best class will receive briefings from NCGA staffers on the issues facing America's farmers in the coming year followed by presentations from lobbyist and Hill staffer panels explaining how the lobbying process functions in the Capitol and how to get the best result from interaction with members of Congress and their staff. They then will have the opportunity to see the process in action during a series of visits with Congressional leaders. Additionally, the group will participate in parliamentary procedure training with NCGA Parliamentarian Chris Dickey.

This year's Leadership At Its Best class includes Matt Amick (Mo.), Russell Carpenter (N.Y.), Ann Cross (Colo.), Kurtis Gregory (Mo.), Mark Heckman (Iowa), Bob Hemesath (Iowa), Noah Hultgren (Minn.), Paul Jeschke (Ill.), Andy Jobman (Neb.),  Greg Krissek (Kan.), Jon Miller (Ohio), Ted Mottaz (Ill.), Danny Nerud (Neb.), and Dennis Vennekotter (Ohio).

Phase one of Leadership At Its Best takes place in August and includes sessions on media training, public speaking, business etiquette and meeting management. Applications for Leadership At Its Best will be available in February from state and national offices.

Neonicotinoid Seed Treatments Critical for Certain Soybean Operations

In comments submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today, the American Soybean Association (ASA) disagreed with the conclusions of a recent report from EPA that calls into question the efficacy of neonicotinoid seed treatments in soybean operations.

In the association’s comments, ASA President and Brownfield, Texas, farmer Wade Cowan pointed out that “…soybean producers use neonicotinoid seed treatments where they are needed and effective, and don’t use them where not.” Cowan also argued that recent research from Mississippi showing approximately 90 percent adoption of neonicotinoid seed treatments signals that the technology does work for farmers in certain areas.

In the comments, Cowan noted that neonicotinoid seed treatment use is tailored to a very specific set of circumstances, and in those settings, that particular technology is critical, “Farmers balance the efficacy of different treatments based on their individual farms, and experience shows that farmers who purchase seed treatment for soybeans do so because it reduces or eliminates the need for application of additional inputs after the soybean seedling has emerged,” he said. “Seed treatments both protect the soybeans from insects in the soil after planting as well as protecting the seedlings as they emerge. A below-ground insect infestation has no rescue options except replanting, and in the northern growing regions, replanting is not often an option.”

“EPA must not allow political pressure to lead to restrictions on crop protection tools,” concluded Cowan. “We have appreciated EPA’s science-based decision-making in evaluating crop protection products, particularly as they are wrongly singled out as the cause of pollinator decline. We urge EPA to maintain its commitment to science in evaluating crop protection tools.”

U.S. Pork Producers ‘All In’ On TPA

With negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal hanging in the balance, the National Pork Producers Council today threw its support behind renewal of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which will enable the current administration and future ones to negotiate and close trade agreements such as the TPP.

“The U.S. pork industry is the poster child for expanded trade,” said NPPC President Howard Hill, a pork producer from Cambridge, Iowa. “As a result of trade agreements, our exports have increased 1550 percent in value and 1268 percent in volume since 1989, the year the U.S. implemented the FTA with Canada and started opening international markets for value-added agriculture products. Pork producers and U.S. agriculture are dependent on export markets, so NPPC is going to fight tooth and nail to get TPA passed.”

NPPC today sent a letter to every member of Congress, urging passage of legislation to renew TPA.

TPA defines U.S. negotiating objectives and priorities for trade agreements and establishes consultation and notification requirements for the president to follow throughout the negotiation process. Once negotiators finalize a deal, Congress gets an up or down vote – 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.

While TPA will empower U.S. trade officials to pursue and finalize a number of different trade negotiations, TPP is paramount for U.S. pork producers. The benefits from TPP are expected to far exceed the benefits that have resulted from past trade deals and will represent, according to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, “the most important commercial opportunity ever for U.S. pork producers.”

Negotiations on TPP, which includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, are drawing to a conclusion, with the latest round of talks beginning today.

“Significant progress has been made with respect to Japan’s market access offer on pork thanks to the hard work of U.S. trade officials and the strong support of the U.S. Congress,” said NPPC’s Hill. “While NPPC is reserving judgment on a final TPP agreement, we believe it is imperative that Congress approve TPA as a signal to our trading partners that the U.S. is ready to finalize an agreement that expands U.S. trade and generates U.S. jobs.”

Cattlemen Urge Renewal of Trade Promotion Authority

As trade negotiators meet again this week, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association urges the renewal of Trade Promotion Authority, legislation that gives the President authority to negotiate trade agreements with an assurance that Congress will give the final agreement only an up or down vote.

Over 12 million American jobs depend on exports, and with the renewal of TPA, valuable free trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership can move forward. NCBA President and Texas cattle producer, Bob McCan said under TPP, the U.S. beef industry could see the elimination of tariff and non-tariff trade barriers that hinder the industry’s ability to meet free market demand for beef in the Pacific Rim.

“The governments of many of our competitors are actively engaged in negotiating trade agreements with growing consumer markets around the world,” said McCan. “Unless the United States takes a similar aggressive approach to secure free trade agreements, we will lose market share; not due to the quality of our products, but because our products will be more expensive due to import tariffs. While the final terms of the agreement are still far from conclusion, TPP could give the United States a stronger foothold in the growing Asian and Pacific Rim markets.”

The multi-lateral TPP agreement is currently being negotiated by the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan, Canada and Mexico. NCBA encourages the U.S. to push for full and free market access to all TPP member countries, eliminating high tariff rates and quotas that currently limit the United States’ ability to compete for consumers.

McCan warned, however, that just as important as trade agreements are to the domestic economy, on-going west coast port labor negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association have caused a significant disruption to the transport of goods and are threatening the success and continuity of trade with international markets.

“In the face of free trade agreements that provide jobs and foster economic growth, we cannot have our products sitting on ships at dock or in trucks waiting to be loaded,” said McCan. “Supply chains across several industries have been adversely impacted due to events far beyond our control and with perishable items like beef, this is especially concerning. These labor disputes must be settled as soon as possible to resolve the current congestion issues interrupting the flow of commerce.”

Vilsack on Efforts by Agricultural Producers to Urge the Renewal of Trade Promotion Authority

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today made the following statement regarding efforts by the National Pork Producers Council, National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association to urge the renewal of Trade Promotion Authority:

"It is no surprise that agricultural producers are joining the chorus of voices calling on Congress to renew Trade Promotion Authority. The past six years were the strongest period for agricultural exports in the history of our nation, despite the fact that many other countries' markets are not as open to American products as our markets are to theirs. New trade agreements that help level the playing field for agriculture will build on the success we've seen in the agricultural economy since 2009 and help producers create more new jobs across the country. What makes the agricultural economy stronger makes our entire nation's economy stronger. It is imperative that Congress act on Trade Promotion Authority early this year."

Fiscal years 2009 to 2014 represent the strongest six years in history for U.S. agricultural trade, with U.S. agricultural product exports totaling $771.7 billion. Agricultural exports last fiscal year reached $152.5 billion, the highest level on record, and supported nearly one million jobs here at home, a substantial part of the nearly 11.3 million jobs supported by exports all across our country.

Alltech Feed Survey reports steady increase in 2014 global production

Around the world, feed producers responded to consumer demands for more protein by increasing the number of mills that produce animal feed and the amount of product they generate.  The 2015 Survey released today by Alltech revealed an estimated total of 980 million metric tons of feed produced globally, an increase of about 2 percent over the prior year.

The top 10 feed producers in the world remained the same: China, the United States, Brazil, Mexico, India, Spain, Russia, Japan, Germany and France. Some of the smaller countries saw significant jumps in productivity, including Indonesia, Turkey, Vietnam, Poland, Romania and Morocco.

China once again won the title of leading feed producer in Alltech’s annual Global Feed Tonnage Survey with 182.69 million tons manufactured throughout the country’s 9,500 feed mills; however, this is the second year the nation has reported a decline in production.

According to Aidan Connolly, chief innovation officer and director of Alltech’s Global Feed Tonnage Survey, there were many areas of ups and downs in worldwide production, impacted by both positive and negative influences such as slow markets, shifting raw feed material costs, fluctuating governance over import/export standards and animal diseases such as PEDv in pigs and bird flu in poultry.  He estimates the feed industry’s net worth at $460 billion, based on average materials prices throughout 2014.

“2015 marks the fourth consecutive year that Alltech has conducted a global feed survey analyzing feed production,” Connolly said. “This undertaking requires a significant amount of work each year, mainly because the feed industry is measured differently and in varying degrees of thoroughness from country to country. Yet, each year, better information is discovered and more is learned about how farmers around the world feed their livestock.”

The Global Feed Survey assessed the compound feed production from 130 countries in Dec. 2014 through information obtained in partnership with local feed associations and Alltech’s sales team, who visit more than 28,000 feed mills annually.

The United States and Brazil ranked second and third respectively among the countries, with the U.S. producing 172.5 million metric tons from 6,718 feed mills and Brazil generating 66 million metric tons from 1,698 feed mills.

Number five global producer India had a considerable boost in feed production, up to 29.4 million tons, a 10 percent increase over 2013, owing mainly to favorable weather conditions and improvements in farming methods and technology. Turkey, Romania, Tunisia and Bolivia were also classified as hot spots for growth and development, with each reporting a second consecutive year for increased production. When grouped in regions, Africa and Latin America saw the greatest growth in 2014, with Africa experiencing growth in all species.

When analyzed by species, poultry held its position as industry leader with a 45 percent share of the feed market at 439 million tons, despite a slight decline compared to last year’s survey. Pigs and pets saw the largest percentage of growth in 2014, pigs up to nearly 256 million tons and pets up to nearly 22 million tons. Aqua again grew, up 1.8 percent to over 41 million tons. Equine feed production saw a decline.

“Increasingly more consumers are asking questions such as: ‘How do feed animals create more nutritious food for humans?’ ‘How can a feeding program impact the environment and the availability of resources?’ and ‘How can agriculture increase efficiency and therefore, feed more people?’” Connolly said. “Answers to these questions and many others can be found by starting with an examination of the feed animals are eating worldwide.”

The Global Feed Survey outlines Alltech’s estimate of the world’s feed tonnage and trends to date and is intended to serve as an industry resource for the coming year.

 CWT Assists with 846,575 Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 4 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold), and Tillamook County Creamery Association to sell 405,651 pounds (184 metric tons) of Cheddar and Gouda cheese and 440,925 pounds (200 metric tons) of 82% butter to customers in Asia, the Middle East and Central America. The product will be delivered in February through July 2015.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives in selling 4.215 million pounds of cheese and 13.922 million pounds of butter to fourteen countries on four continents. The sales are the equivalent of 352.156 million 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 U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

Brazil Soy Harvest 3% Done, Dryness a Concern

Hot, dry conditions allowed soybean harvesting to move forward last week in the Mato Grosso and Parana, Brazil's largest soy-producing states, AgRural, a local farm consultancy, said.

Harvesting of the 2014-15 crop is now 3% complete, on a par with last year, it said.

Despite showers falling over the last week, crops in parts of Brazil's northeast, center-west and southeast still need much more rain.

Unless that rain arrives, AgRural will be forced to lower its Brazilian crop estimate of 95 million metric tons (mmt) in February, it said in a report.

In Mato Grosso, more rain would also be welcome across the state, although significant losses have not yet been recorded, said the consultancy. The harvest in the top-producing state is 7% complete.

AgWizard Simplifies Farm Financial Decisions

AgriFinance Advisors, Inc. announces the launch of AgWizard an Online Financial Advisor for
farmers. The #1 frustration farmers experience in managing their business is the complexity in
knowing when to market their grain. With today s extremely volatile commodity prices and razor
thin margins, farming without a marketing plan in place becomes even more challenging.

Now, a farmer who logs in at can gain insight and get answers to
important questions that specifically affect the farm s bottom-line, such as:
· What is my breakeven price?
· What price do I need in order to achieve my profit objective?
· Which farms are the most profitable?
· What is my return on investment for each farm?
· How much cash rent can I afford to pay on each farm?
· How does changing my crop insurance from enterprise to optional units affect my claim?

AgriFinance Advisors, Inc. is a technology-based financial planning firm helping farmers and
farmland investors make more informed decisions. Additionally, the company licenses the
AgWizard platform to ag lenders, accountants, crop insurance agents; or any agribusiness that
wants to differentiate their business and deliver added value. AgWizard will enable farm
customers/prospects to manage their finances with greater predictability and accuracy.

Information on licensing the AgWizard platform can be found at

ASA Announces Regional Winners of 2015 Conservation Legacy Awards

The American Soybean Association (ASA) is pleased to announce Steve Berger, Wellman, Iowa (Midwest Region); Mike Starkey, Brownsburg, Ind. (Northeast Region); and Jimmy Thomas, Timberlake, N.C. (South Region), as the regional winners of the 2015 Conservation Legacy Awards. Each winner will be recognized at the ASA Awards Banquet, Feb. 27, 2015, at Commodity Classic in Phoenix, Ariz., where one of them will be chosen as the national winner.

Videos featuring each of the regional conservation winners can be viewed online here.

The Conservation Legacy Awards Program is a national program designed to recognize the outstanding environmental and conservation achievement of U.S. soybean farmers. A national selection committee, composed of soybean farmers, conservationists and natural resource professionals, evaluated nominations based on each farmer’s environmental and economic program. Along with ASA, the program is co-sponsored by BASF, Monsanto, Corn & Soybean Digest magazine and the United Soybean Board/Checkoff.

One of the first conservation measures Berger remembers experiencing as a child is building terraces. He helped build 15 miles around his fourth generation farm at Dennis Berger & Son Inc., to slow down the impact of the rainfall on soil erosion. Berger farms with his mom, dad and wife on their 2,000 acre soybean and corn operation with 20,000 head swine. They’ve been heavily involved in soil conservation since the 1960s. The Bergers introduced no-till nearly 40 years ago and cover crops in the last 15. Berger approaches the farm as a business, science and an art. Berger believes that farmers must be shown conservation practices can work effectively and economically so more of them will embrace conservation voluntarily.

“It is important to have the farmer teaching, learning and working with cover crops in modern-day systems,” he said. “It is challenging in today’s farming environment to blend economics and esthetics, but is very rewarding.”

The sixth generation Starkey family farm lies in an urban area just west of the metropolitan area of Indianapolis. In addition to a dramatic reduction of commercial fertilizer, Starkey has used no-till soybeans since 1989 and introduced cover crops in 2005. He also entered in a NRCS field grant study to monitor tile and stream water.

“My legacy as a conservationist is to improve and protect the borrowed living soil that God has given us and to keep our water clean and pure as the raindrops that fall from the sky,” Starkey said.

Thomas Family Farms Inc. is a traditional, diverse North Carolina operation incorporating corn, soybeans and wheat, tobacco and swine production. There are now three generations working together at Thomas Family Farms: Pete and Levon Thomas; their sons Jimmy and Timmy; Jimmy’s wife Janine and two grandsons.

Thomas said the family incorporated a range of conservation practices into the entire operation. As they picked up new land through purchases or leases, the Thomas family implemented no-till practices on the new farms were the farmer had previously practiced conventional tillage. For the Thomas family, conservation means constant improvement.

“There will always be new generations of the family, new employees, and new technologies and new knowledge about the environment, and we have to be prepared to keep up,” Thomas said. “We will never discover that we have the perfect solution so we have to learn and make continual improvements. We are providing for ourselves and making good conservation choices, and we are educating our employees and family members to continue to seek improvements and utilize new technologies for conservation and stewardship.”

National Farmers President Reviews Market Access, Trade and Rural Issues

During his remarks to members in Nashville, Tenn. Thursday night, National Farmers President Paul Olson, Taylor, Wis., expressed his concern about falling dairy prices, along with grain price levels that, for some crops, are lower than what it costs farmers to grow them.

He spoke about how producers are in a double bind as the prices they are paid for their production trends downward in some commodities, while inputs continue their march upward.

Addressing the issue of shrinking communities in rural America in the past few decades, he underscored the point that a stronger economic footing for farmers and ranchers could have meant those communities could have remained strong.

Regarding market access for producers, he stressed that it’s becoming more difficult in some parts of the country due to increasing consolidation. And, he noted that National Farmers offers price negotiation services in dairy, grain and livestock, which can help producers improve their market positioning.

Olson also said the country could lose a generation of farmers if a sustained period of low prices were to come about. He said he greatly supports farmers producing the highest quality products for America's consumers, but producers must be paid more for those top-tier commodities.

And, he spoke briefly about the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, expressing the requirement that it assures not only free trade for the U.S., but fair trade as well.

National Farmers provides marketing and risk management services to thousands of conventional and organic grain, dairy and livestock producers in the U.S.

USDA Creates More Bird Habitat Opportunities on Irrigated Farmland

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini today announced that the Conservation Reserve Program now will encourage more bird habitats to be established in irrigated farmland regions.

Declines in upland bird populations, such as the northern bobwhite, pheasant, and prairie chicken, led to the creation of new Conservation Reserve Program features to help restore habitats for these species in these agricultural areas. Since the program’s creation in 2004, more than 240,000 acres of marginal cropland has been converted to native grasslands, spurring an increase in upland bird populations.

In recent years, however, applications for this type of habitat creation have slowed. To encourage more participation, USDA’s new policy focuses on farmland with center-pivot irrigation systems where there are circular areas of cropland with patches of land beyond the reach of irrigation. Until now, these patches – known as pivot corners – were only eligible for habitat creation when connected by a linear strip of grassland also enrolled in the program. The new policy allows producers interested in habitat creation to use disconnected pivot corners to help increase the population of upland birds.

“This is how creative thinking can strengthen the intersection of both agriculture and conservation,” said Dolcini. “By removing the program’s requirement for connecting strips, we believe more participants will convert more pivot corners into habitat. Studies suggest that the shapes of these patches, and their proximity to each other, create an attractive environment for the birds, even without the connecting strips.”

Other species that can benefit from today’s change include the mourning dove, wild turkey, several sparrows, meadowlark and bobolinks.

The Conservation Reserve Program is a voluntary program. FSA contracts with agricultural landowners so that environmentally sensitive land is not farmed but instead used for conservation. Participants establish long-term plant species that control soil erosion, sequester carbon, improve water quality, and strengthen declining wildlife populations. In return, participants receive annual rental payments between 10 and 15 years.

Interested landowners can enroll pivot corners in the Conservation Reserve Program at any time. Participants and land must meet certain eligibility requirements. Other restrictions may apply. For additional details, contact your local Farm Service Agency office at or visit the website at

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday January 23 Cattle on Feed + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.49 million cattle on feed on January 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 4 percent from last year. 

Placements during December totaled 395,000 head, down 2 percent from 2013. 

Fed cattle marketings for the month of December totaled 440,000 head, up 5 percent from last year.    This is the highest December marketings since the data series began in 1994. Other disappearance during December totaled 15,000 head, unchanged from last year.

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 10.7 million head on January 1, 2015. The inventory was 1 percent above January 1, 2014. The inventory included 6.94 million steers and steer calves, up 2 percent from the previous year. This group accounted for 65 percent of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 3.67 million head, down 2 percent from 2014.

Placements in feedlots during December totaled 1.54 million, 8 percent below 2013. Net placements were 1.47 million head. During December, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 435,000, 600-699 pounds were 375,000, 700-799 pounds were 339,000, and 800 pounds and greater were 395,000.

Marketings of fed cattle during December totaled 1.66 million, 5 percent below 2013.

No. of Cattle on Feed on 1,000+ Capacity Feedlots by Month - States and US: 2014 and 2015

                             :                        :                      :              January 1, 2015              
                             :                        :                      :---------------------------------------
       State            : Jan 1, '14    :  Dec 1, '14 :                  :   % of         :  % of 
                              :                       :                      :      No.    : last year   : last month
                              :     ---------- 1,000 head ---------          ----- percent ----     
Arizona ..........:        274               252                249            91             99     
California .......:        510               435                425            83             98     
Colorado ........:        940               930                920            98             99     
Idaho .............:        220               225                230            105            102     
Iowa ..............:        620               620                640            103            103     
Kansas ...........:      2,010             2,100            2,050          102             98     
Minnesota .....:        130               135                 137            105            101     
Nebraska .......:      2,400             2,550            2,490          104             98     
Oklahoma ......:        260               260                255             98             98     
South Dakota .:        250               245                 245             98            100     
Texas .............:      2,440             2,560            2,500          102             98     
Washington ...:        201               226                 209            104             92     
Other States ..:        335               335                  340            101            101     
United States  :     10,590            10,873         10,690          101             98     

No. of Cattle Placed on Feed, 1,000+ Capacity, by Month - States and US: 2013 and 2014

                              :                  :                  :            During Dec 2014           
                              : During   : During    :--------------------------------------
       State            : Dec '13   : Nov '14   :                 :  % of        :   %of 
                              :                  :           :    Number    : last year : last month
                              :    ------ 1,000 head -------         ----- percent ----     
Arizona ..........:       28             26             26            93            100     
California .......:       59             62             51            86             82     
Colorado ........:      150          155            130          87             84     
Idaho .............:       32             38             40           125          105     
Iowa ..............:       96            127           101          105            80     
Kansas ...........:      360            320          330          92            103     
Minnesota .....:       20             15             16            80            107     
Nebraska .......:      405           485           395          98             81     
Oklahoma ......:       43             45             36            84             80     
South Dakota .:       43             53             32            74             60     
Texas .............:      370            385          325          88             84     
Washington ...:       34              39             28            82            72     
Other States ..:       39              39             34            87             87     
United States .:    1,679       1,789       1,544          92            86     

No. of Cattle Marketed on 1,000+ Capacity Feedlots by Month - States and US: 2013 and 2014

                              :                  :                  :            During Dec 2014           
                              : During   : During    :---------------------------------------
       State            : Dec '13   : Nov '14   :                 :  % of        :   %of 
                              :                  :           :    Number    : last year : last month
                              :    ------ 1,000 head -------         ----- percent ----     
Arizona ..........:       28             19             26            93             137     
California .......:       52             43             54           104            126     
Colorado ........:      150            120         135           90             113     
Idaho .............:       36             32             34            94             106     
Iowa ..............:       84             95             80             95              84     
Kansas ...........:      385            285          370           96              130     
Minnesota .....:       11             11             13             118            118     
Nebraska .......:      420            370          440           105            119     
Oklahoma ......:       45             43             39             87              91     
South Dakota .:       30             34             30             100             88     
Texas .............:      420            360          365            87            101     
Washington ...:       37             37              42           114            114     
Other States ..:       38             26              27             71            104     
United States .:    1,736          1,475      1,655         95            112     


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               In between snow storms, frigid temperatures, and January thaws is a great time to reflect on last year’s successes and problems as well as plan ahead for next year.

               At this time of year, most of us have an abundance of new calendars for the new year – from the coop, the bank, and maybe as a gift.  Put these calendars to good use by planning next year’s forage activities now and make notes on that calendar to complete needed work on a timely basis.

               For example, order alfalfa and other seeds here in January and February to make sure you get what you want.  Then in March, remind yourself to pull any soil samples you didn’t get last fall as well as get ready to plant oats at your earliest opportunity.

               By mid-April, be sure to get alfalfa and cool-season grasses planted before corn planting begins.  This might also mean that lime and phosphorus or other fertilizers needed to be applied even earlier.  Mark it down.  Also, fertilize cool-season grass pastures by mid-April.

               When May arrives, spray your thistles right away and begin checking your alfalfa so once buds just start to form you can be ready for an early first cutting that brings a premium price.

               In late May, warm-season grass pastures can use some fertilizer, and shortly thereafter plant your summer annuals.

               Be ready by early August to prepare and plant turnips or oats for late fall, early winter grazing.  Finally, finish your year by sampling and testing all your harvested forages so you can plan and feed animals during winter to meet their needs at lowest cost.

               I’m sure you can think of many other items to add to your own calendar.  Make those notes now, and in twelve months you will smile, knowing you got all your forage work done correctly and on time.

Ranking Member Peterson Announces Democrat Membership

This week House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Colin Peterson announced the 19 democrats who will serve on the Committee in the 114th Congress. The members are:
-    Collin Peterson (MN-7)
-    David Scott (GA-13)
-    Jim Costa (CA-16)
-    Tim Walz (MN-1)
-    Marcia Fudge (OH-11)
-    Jim McGovern (MA-2)
-    Suzan DelBene (WA-1)
-    Filemon Vela (TX-34)
-    Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-1)
-    Ann Kuster (NH-2)
-    Rick Nolan (MN-8)
-    Cheri Bustos (IL-17)
-    Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18)
-    Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-1)
-    Pete Aguilar (CA-31)
-    Stacey Plaskett (VI-AL)
-    Alma Adams (NC-12)
-    Gwen Graham (FL-2)
-    Brad Ashford (NE-2)

NWF Responds to NPR Food Blog About Gluten-Free Diets

Last week, NPR’s food blog The Salt posted an article highlighting the negative externalities those who have joined the gluten-free diet craze are causing for those with celiac disease, who must avoid gluten regardless of preference. The National Wheat Foundation responded to the issue on their blog, The Word on Wheat, agreeing that the fad diet has created a stigma for both the wheat industry and the one percent of the population who suffer from celiac disease. The misinformation that has been spread about gluten has led to negative connotations about the healthiness of wheat and wheat products. In fact, modern nutritional science has proven that wheat provides essential nutrients for a person's diet, and is usually healthier than gluten-free meal options, which often add more fat, sugar and sodium to make up for the lack of consistency and taste. The full blog post can be read here...

AMPI names new leadership

Leaders of Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) have chosen to take a team approach to fill the company’s top management spot. The AMPI Board of Directors today announced it has appointed longtime employees Donn DeVelder and Sheryl Meshke as co-presidents and CEOs.

“Transitioning to a partnership is a natural decision for us because AMPI, by its very nature as a cooperative, is about teamwork,” said Steve Schlangen, chairman of the board and a dairy farmer from Albany, Minn.

“In Donn and Sheryl we have a combined half-century of service to the dairy farmer-owners of AMPI,” he said. “Their individual skills and knowledge of the company’s operations are complementary. This gives us a much broader set of experience and ideas with which to chart AMPI’s strategies for success.”

DeVelder and Meshke were executive senior vice presidents before being named acting co-presidents and CEOs in December. The move followed the resignation of Ed Welch, who had been with the dairy marketing cooperative for 31 years, and president and CEO since 2008.

“Throughout their careers with AMPI, Donn and Sheryl have demonstrated a high level of competence and cooperation, and offered a powerful and thoughtful vision for AMPI’s future,” Schlangen said.

DeVelder has spent more than 30 years with AMPI, beginning as a field representative providing on-farm consultation and assistance to the co-op’s dairy farmer-owners. He then joined the corporate staff at the cooperative’s New Ulm, Minn., office. In his position as executive senior vice president, he was responsible for fluid marketing and member services. DeVelder is a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa.

Meshke has been with AMPI for nearly 25 years. During that time she has served as vice president of public affairs and strategic planning. Following appointment as executive senior vice president, she focused on human resources and strategic initiatives aimed at strengthening the Midwest dairy cooperative’s performance and value. Meshke holds a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from South Dakota State University and a master’s degree in business from the University of St. Thomas.

AMPI is headquartered in New Ulm, Minn., and owned by 2,600 Midwest dairy farm families from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. AMPI members annually market about 5.8 billion pounds of milk, resulting in $2 billion in sales for the cooperative. AMPI owns 10 manufacturing plants and markets cheese, butter and powdered dairy products, serving foodservice, retail and food ingredient customers.

Corn Quality Information Shared Around the Globe to Build Ties With Customers

The release of the U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC’s) 2014/2015 Corn Harvest Quality Report has become a globally anticipated event. Within days of its release, the Council started presenting the annual report’s findings to customers in overseas markets to provide them the critical information they need to make informed purchases and build confidence in the quality of this year’s U.S. corn crop.

One of the first presentations of this information was in Cairo, Egypt, where USGC Regional Director of the Middle East and Africa Cary Sifferath along with USGC Marketing Manager in Egypt Hesham Hassanein presented the findings to more than 80 buyers and end-users from the region. Click here to view photos from the event.

Across the globe, in cooperation with the Taiwan Feed Industry Association (TFIA), the Council conducted a Corn Harvest Quality Report symposium in Taipei on Jan. 14.

In attendance were approximately 80 traders, feed millers, major hog and poultry producers and government officials as well as Greg Alber of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, who traveled to the meeting to share his experiences growing corn in the United States. Alber and Council staff addressed questions including the planting intentions of U.S. corn farmers in the upcoming year, production costs for corn, the decrease in crude protein of the 2014 U.S. corn crop and more.

“This symposium was very educational, informative and helpful,” said USGC Director of Taiwan Clover Chang. “This activity enhanced the relationship between U.S. producers and Taiwanese buyers of U.S. corn. It also built the local industry’s confidence in U.S. corn quality and demonstrated that the Council is a leader in the industry at providing reliable, transparent and timely market information.”

This week, the Council also wrapped up its rollouts of the report in Colombia and Japan.

Because of the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement, that country rose to be the fourth largest U.S. corn market last year. This year, U.S. corn is once again on track to capture approximately 95 percent of this 3.6 million metric ton (142 million bushel) market.

“We were able to have one-on-one meetings with the top five grain importers in the country, who collectively represent more than 70 percent of the total corn market in Colombia,” said Marri Carrow, USGC regional director for the Western Hemisphere, who took part in the Colombian rollout. “That type of interaction is critical to building their confidence and also served to reaffirm to Colombian customers the U.S. corn industry’s commitment to meeting their needs.”

In Japan, the report rollout activities were part of a Corn Outlook Conference that helps keep customers in that mature market informed and deepens ties between U.S. corn farmers and the Japanese livestock farmers who buy their product.

The harvest quality report and a second quality report that examines the impact of handling on quality, the Corn Export Cargo Quality Report, are intended to provide reliable, timely and transparent information on the quality of U.S. corn and allow industry participants to gauge quality changes over time.

The export quality report is expected to be released in March, which will complete the fourth editions in an ongoing series of reports.

Committee Hearing to Examine Freight Rail Challenges

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today announced a hearing of the full committee entitled, "Freight Rail Transportation: Enhancing Safety, Efficiency, and Commerce" on Jan. 28 at 10 a.m. ET (9:00 a.m. CT, 8:00 a.m. MT). The hearing will focus on challenges facing our nation's freight rail network created by higher demand, pending and proposed rules and regulations, and infrastructure needs. Next week's hearing continues Thune's work to improve freight rail service for ag producers and shippers and prevent future rail service disruptions from occurring.

"Rail service challenges that began over a year ago throughout South Dakota are still fresh in the minds of ag producers and those who depend on reliable freight rail service," said Thune. "As chairman, I recognize the important role the Commerce Committee has in overseeing our nation's freight rail sector and believe this hearing is key to continuing our work on improving freight rail service. I remain committed to working with shippers, the railroads, and the Surface Transportation Board to examine where things went wrong in the past and determine how we can prevent backlogs and service delays from occurring in the future. The railroads have taken some steps to address these challenges, including record investment, and I look forward to examining the state of the freight rail sector during the upcoming hearing."

Last Congress, the Commerce Committee held various rail related hearings, including a hearing on the rail service challenges facing shippers across the country, which included agriculture producers in South Dakota who struggled with access to reliable freight rail service during a record harvest. In addition, on September 17, 2014, the Commerce Committee passed the bipartisan Surface Transportation Board (STB) reform bill that Senator Thune and former Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) introduced to institute common-sense reforms regarding how the STB works and to address rate disputes and service complaints.

Dairy Situation and Outlook, January 22, 2015

Bob Cropp, Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The year 2014 will be remembered as record milk prices. The average Class III price was $22.34, $4.34 higher than 2013. The average Class IV price was $22.09, $3.04 higher than 2013, and the average U.S. All Milk Price was $23.97, $3.92 higher than 2013. But, as of now it looks like milk prices will be a lot lower this year. By last December the Class III price had declined to$17.82 after peaking at $24.60 back in September. The January Class III price will be about $16.00 and will likely decline further being in the low $14’s March through May before slowly improving and reaching the $16’s last quarter of the year. The Class IV price has declined even more. The Class IV price peaked at $23.89 last August and declined to $16.70 by December. The Class IV price will be near $13.50 in January and not reach $14 until June and recovering to the low $16’s by November. The U.S. All Milk Price peaked at $25.70 last September, had declined to $20.30 by December and will be near $17.45 in January and in the 16’s March through May and reaching the $18’s by September. If this holds milk prices will average about $7 lower than 2014. It looks like there will be payments under the Margin Protection Program at least for those producers who signed up with margin protection above the $6 level. At this time the probability that margins could actually be below $6 is quite low. But, it is early in the year and milk prices are very sensitive to rather small changes in milk production, domestic sales and dairy exports. So the year could turn out quite different than what I just described particularly for the second half of the year. There is just a lot of uncertainty when projecting milk prices six months to a year out.

The question may be what is causing milk prices to decline this far? The answer is increased milk production and lower dairy exports. Domestic sales with the exception of fluid (beverage) milk have been good and are expected to be good in 2015. But, milk production after increasing just 1.3% over a year ago January through June of last year increased 3.5% July through December finishing the year with an increase of 2.4%, the result of an average of 0.4% more cows and 2.0% more milk per cow. Dairy exports which were setting new highs for the first half of the year reaching as much as 17.7% of milk production on a total solids basis in March declined significantly during the second half of the year. Latest export data is for November. Compared to a year ago exports were down 7% for nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder, 13% for cheese, 72% for butter and 17% for dry whey. Exports as a percent of U.S. milk production declined to 14% in November. Exports declined as world milk production increased and at the same time China, the largest importer of dairy products reduced their imports significantly. The result was a decline in world dairy product prices making U.S. dairy products no longer price competitive on the world market.

Dairy product prices have taken quite a tumble bring down milk prices. CME butter which averaged $2.97 per pound last September averaged $1.74 for December and is now $1.55. CME cheddar barrel cheese which averaged $2.37 per pound last September averaged $1.56 for December and is now $1.45. CME 40-pound cheddar blocks which averaged $2.35 last September averaged $1.63 for December and are now $1.47. CME nonfat dry milk which was as high as $2.07 per pound early in 2014 is now $.9525 and Western dry whey which averaged as high as $66.8 per pound last August is now $0.48.

With much more milk dairy product production was running well above a year ago with the exception of butter. Compared to a year ago during November butter production was 4.7% lower, American cheese production 4.5% higher, total cheese production 2.9% higher and nonfat dry milk production 48.9% higher. With the decline in exports skim milk powder production was 45.5% lower.

With higher dairy product production and lower exports stocks have increased modestly. Compared to last December 31st, stocks of butter were still 12.3% lower compared to 17.0% lower on November 30th, American cheese stocks were just 0.9% higher and total cheese stocks just 0.3% higher. November 30th stocks of nonfat dry milk were 89.7% higher.

How soon and how much dairy product prices and milk prices will improve will hinge heavily on the level of milk production and improvement in dairy exports. Currently milk production continues strong. USDA’s latest milk production report estimated December milk production at 3.1% higher than a year ago, the result of 1.1% more milk cows and 2.0% more milk per cow. Texas led the increase at 9.7% by adding 30,000 more cows than last year and a strong 2.7% increase in milk per cow. Michigan’s milk production was 7.8% higher than a year ago by adding 12,000 cows and an increase of 2.5% milk per cow. Idaho had 14,000 more cows than a year ago and milk per cow was up 2.6% resulting in 3.5% more milk. California’s milk production dropped slightly below a year ago at -0.1% due to 1,000 fewer cows and no increase in milk per cow. Increases in milk production for some of the other key dairy states were: Arizona 4.5%, New York 4.1%, Pennsylvania 3.3%, Kansas 6.4%, Colorado 6.6%, Utah 8.8%, South Dakota 6.4%, Iowa 4.9%, Minnesota 2.3% and Wisconsin 3.1%. Besides California only two other states amongst the 23 reporting had less milk, Illinois – 0.6% and Oregon 0.5%. In total 20 of the 23 states had added cows over a year ago. We can expect milk production to continue to run strong at least for the first half of the year. But, with lower milk prices and lower margins the relative increase in milk production will slow as producers increase cow slaughter and not feed as aggressively for more milk per cow. But, for the year milk production may end up 2.6% higher than 2014. USDA is projection is a little higher at 2.8%.

Dairy exports for the year will likely be lower than 2014. World dairy product prices appear to have bottomed out with recent Global Dairy Trade showing some strength in prices. Milk prices are also much lower in the major exporting countries—New Zealand, Australia and the EU-28. New Zealand is also experiencing dry weather, which if it persists, will reduce their milk production in the months ahead. So the increase in world milk production will not be as high as it was in 2014. As accumulated dairy stocks are worked down dairy imports are expected to pick up the last half of the year particularly in China but at a more modest pace.

In summary, as the growth in milk production slows and dairy exports improve for the last half of the year we can expect milk prices to improve. But, unless milk production slows more than now anticipated and/or dairy exports improve more than anticipated milk prices will average much lower than 2014.

Monsanto to Build Its First Seed Plant in Russia

Monsanto plans to open its first plant in Russia in coming years, stepping up its activities in the world's fourth largest grain producer as it seeks to counter the effects of a plunging rouble. The rouble has almost halved in value against the dollar in the past year, hit by falling oil prices, a crumbling economy and political tensions, making local production more attractive.

"We have plans to increase local-produced seeds in Russia and to have a facility there," Leticia Goncalves, who heads Monsanto's operations in Europe and the Middle East, told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.

Monsanto currently operates in Russia through a network of local partners and distributors.

Goncalves declined to name them or give financial details of the firm's ongoing or future business in the country.

Last year the company said it would launch a corn seed plant in neighboring Ukraine, whose currency has also dived, with initial investments of about $140 million possibly rising to $300 million over several years.

Deere to Lay Off Over 1,000 Workers

(AP) -- Deere will lay off about 910 workers indefinitely from factories mostly in Iowa and sideline another 500 employees in Illinois until late summer, as the agricultural equipment maker continues its adjustment to demand for its products.

The Moline, Illinois, company also said Friday that it is adding 220 jobs at construction and forestry factories in Iowa. It plans to fill nearly all those positions with workers were laid off at agricultural equipment factories last year.

The latest indefinite layoffs will be centered on sites that build agricultural equipment, a core element of its business. They include 565 workers from three Waterloo, Iowa, locations; another 300 from the Des Moines Works in Ankeny, Iowa; and 45 from the Harvester Works in East Moline, Illinois.

Employees laid off until summer work at the company's seeding and cylinder factory in Moline. That location is going on an extended inventory adjustment shutdown. The company said it typically goes through a seasonal inventory adjustment around this time of year.

The layoffs will begin in early February, and most will be effective in late March.

Deere & Co. said last August that it would lay off a total of more than 1,000 workers, with those reductions coming from an Iowa tractor factory and four Midwest factories that make harvesting and other agricultural equipment.

The world's biggest farm equipment maker said last fall that it expected its farm equipment sales and profits to fall in the new fiscal year. Falling commodity prices and lower farm income have hurt companies like Deere, which employs about 29,000 people in the United States and Canada and around 60,000 globally.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thursday January 22 Ag News Update

NFB Foundation for Agriculture Distributes Tornado Disaster Relief Fund to Help Farmers and Ranchers

Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture recently distributed just over $15,000, which was collected for the Tornado Disaster Relief Fund. Farmers and ranchers from across the state that were affected by the tornados and in need of emergency and residual help, were given the opportunity to apply for funding.

The farmers and ranchers who applied for the funds were affected by tornados in Friend, Wayne and Pilger. Those receiving help from the fund are:
·         Paul and Deb Segner of Friend who farms and raise hogs  in Seward County;
·         Todd Nelson of Laurel who farms and raises cattle in Cedar County;
·         Eric Von Seggern of Von Seggern Farms in Wisner who farms in Cuming County and
·         Aaron Biermann of Biermann Farm near Wisner who farm and raise hogs in Wayne County.

“When a tornado damages a farmstead or a livestock operation, the needs of farmers and ranchers are a bit different. They need to critically assess how to save their crops and how to address the health of their livestock,” said Deanna Karmazin, executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture.

“Many of these emergency actions and needs are not directly supported by government and other non-profit disaster relief efforts, which tend to be more community based,” Karmazin said.

“We just think there are unique and extraordinary costs, like the labor involved in the clean-up of the fields and livestock facilities. The costs and unanticipated expenses of trying to get a farm business back in operation is a tremendous burden and most emergency disaster programs don’t include this type of assistance,” she said.

The funds collected for the Tornado Disaster Relief Fund targeted farmers and ranchers that need help with immediate needs and who cannot get assistance from other sources, such as government programs and have losses that are not covered by insurance.

“We are happy to provide emergency assistance for farmers and ranchers affected by the tornadoes for such things as food and clothing, prescriptions/medical supplies, feed/fence/relocation costs, vet costs, field clean-up costs, rental assistance/mortgage payment for home or business, utility and propane payments and other critical unmet needs,” Karmazin said.

Agricultural Tile Drainage Meeting in Fremont, Monday Jan. 26 from 9:45 am – Noon

Nebraska Extension in Dodge County will be providing a short meeting for area producers and landowners interested in learning about agricultural tile drainage.  The meeting will cover wetland compliance, basics of tile drainage, controlled drainage, and nitrogen management.  The meeting is set for Monday, January 26, and will be held at the Dodge County Extension Office in Fremont from 9:45 am to Noon. Pre-registration is required (limit of 40 attendees) and the meeting will cost $5 (cash or check at arrival) per attendee. Coffee and donuts will be provided.

Nathan Mueller, Extension Educator for Cropping Systems and Ag Technologies, will share information on wetland compliance.  Two guest speakers will join us via a live online connection at the Dodge County Extension Office. Chris Hay, South Dakota State University Assistant Professor & Extension Water Management Engineer, and Matt Helmers, Iowa State University Assistant Professor and Specialist for Subsurface Drainage and Water Quality, will both present for 30 to 45 minutes each on the basics of tile, controlled drainage, nitrogen management and the latest research from each of their states, South Dakota and Iowa.  Producers and landowners will have plenty of time to ask questions and discuss local issues.

For more information about the meeting and to pre-register, contact Nathan Mueller at the Nebraska Extension County Office at 727-2775 or

Platte Valley Cattlemen Banquet is Feb 21

Brett Mueller, PVC President

It’s that time of year again and the Platte Valley Cattlemen are anxiously planning our 2015 Banquet which will be held Saturday, February 21 st at Platte County Agricultural Park in Columbus. We are looking forward to an enjoyable night and another outstanding banquet.

Our annual Banquet is our major fund raiser for the year and thanks to your continued support, our organization has been able to promote our product and inform our membership of current issues and policies. In the past, your dollars have enabled us to promote “Beef Month” in May, ensure quality speakers for our monthly meetings, offer an educational tour, promote 4-H and FFA programs at the county fairs, and assist in awarding scholarships. In 2014, we were able to award three $500.00 college scholarships and with continued support, we hope to offer two (or more) again this year.

NeFBF on Gov. Ricketts Budget Recommendations

Steve Nelson, President, Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation

“We appreciate Gov. Ricketts’ strong interest in providing property tax relief to Nebraskans, including Nebraska’s farm and ranch families who have for many years carried a disproportionate share of the statewide property tax burden.”

“As we pointed out earlier this week, Nebraska farmers and ranchers now pay 30 percent of the total property taxes collected statewide and they represent less than three percent of the state’s population. The disproportionate nature of property taxes is only magnified by the fact that Nebraska farm and ranch families pay the third highest property taxes in the country.”

“The Governor’s plan to allocate $60 million dollars a year over the next two years to Nebraska’s Property Tax Credit Program, is in line with legislation introduced by Sen. Dan Watermeier; legislation Nebraska Farm Bureau has supported as a foundational piece for providing property tax relief.”

“Furthermore, the Governor’s interest in lowering the value of agricultural land for taxation purposes meets another foundational principle supported by Farm Bureau to provide tax relief. And we continue to support legislation to move in that direction as introduced by Sen. Lydia Brasch.”

“Again, we greatly appreciate the Governor’s interest in finding measures to provide property tax relief. We look forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature to use these pieces to provide meaningful tax relief for Nebraska’s farm and ranch families.”

Nebraska Ag Technology Conference Feb. 4-5

Nathan Mueller, UNL Extension Educator, Dodge County

Technology advances in precision agriculture are transforming today's farms. The 2015 Nebraska Agriculture Technology Association (NeATA) Conference  will focus on the latest products, practices, and services available to producers. The symposium registration starts at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 4 and the conference registration starts at 7 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 5.

NeATA is a grassroots agriculture-based non-profit association founded by innovative Nebraska farmers and agribusiness representatives who share a common desire to stay informed about emerging agricultural technologies.  The annual symposium and conference are co-hosted by NeATA and Nebraska Extension.

The Feb. 4 program includes two half-day symposiums on:
-    Integrated Agronomic Management Systems (Encirca, Field Scripts and ACS)
-    Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) use in Agriculture

The evening program on Feb. 4 will feature UAV technology demonstrations from the Nebraska Intelligent Mobile Unmanned Systems (NIMBUS) lab including autonomous flights and plant height determination.

The Thursday, Feb. 5, program will feature 16 breakout sessions with agribusiness and university presentations on the latest advances in ag technology. In the morning, the feature speaker, Larry Gualtney from E.I du Pont de Nemours and Company, will present "Crop Protection—Opportunities, Challenges." Over lunch,  Chuck Hibberd, dean and director of Nebraska Extension, will present "A Century of Extension."

The closing keynote speaker, John Fulton, associate professor with Food, Agriculture and Biological Engineering at The Ohio State University, will present "Trends for Enabling Data Driven Crop Production Management."  He will address
-    technology advancements and data streams being generated by technology;
-    how advancements in machinery and seed technology are converging and influencing options at the farm level; and
-    options for cloud storage and data permissions today and tomorrow.

The NeATA Conference will be held at the Mid-Town Holiday Inn in Grand Island.  For more information and to register, visit the NeATA website...

Nebraska Cattlemen Applauds Nordquist for Common Sense Immigration Initiative

Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) today applauded Senator Jeremy Nordquist’s introduction of legislation to provide immigrants with deferred action for childhood arrival (DACA) status the opportunity to obtain Nebraska driver’s licenses. NC policy supports comprehensive immigration reform to ensure a thriving employee base for beef cattle producers.

“Beef producers in Nebraska need common sense laws and policies that work for employers, employees and their families,” said NC Vice President of Regulatory and Legal Affairs Kristen Hassebrook. “While immigration reform must happen at the federal level, the State of Nebraska has the authority over driver’s licenses. We appreciate Senator Nordquist for continuing this conversation on such an important issue.”

Nebraska Cattlemen will announce legislative priorities next week after its board convenes for its annual legislative meeting in Lincoln.

Biodiesel industry honors champions, career long-achievements

The biodiesel industry is truly great because of the people in it. This is rarely more evident than this week as the National Biodiesel Board honors industry champions and those who have significantly impacted the industry during the National Biodiesel Conference and Expo in Fort Worth.

“The biodiesel industry is full of inspiring, innovative, pioneers,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board. “It takes the efforts and visionary leadership of many great people to go from next to nothing in 1993 to the fully commercialized advanced biofuel industry that we are today. I’m proud to recognize some of those tremendous leaders and their efforts today.”

NBB recognizes the 2015 “Eye on Biodiesel” award winners this week. The honorees are:

Inspiration:  Greg Anderson, Nebraska Soybean Board.

Nebraska soybean farmer, and long-time biodiesel advocate, Greg Anderson is considered by many an inspiration for his full time devotion to his fellow soybean farmers. He has served in more volunteer roles than can be named, but a few include; past chairman of the United Soybean Board, board member on the Nebraska Soybean Board, a long-time representative of NSB to the National Biodiesel Board, former NBB technical committee chair, current NBB marketing committee chair, and he was recently re-elected as NBB secretary. In August, while working on his fifth-generation family farm in Newman Grove, he suffered a near-fatal accident where he was severely burned on his head, back, arms, and hands. While his physical recovery from his painful injuries were spectacular, even more so was how incredibly positive, grateful, and upbeat he remained throughout the process. His tremendous attitude, along with his continuous selfless service to the biodiesel industry are truly inspirational.

Innovation:  Tom Butcher, Brookhaven National Laboratory.
Brookhaven National Laboratory is one of the premier US Department of Energy national laboratories and the leading technical institution for heating oil research in the world. Dr. Tom Butcher is the head of the Energy Conversion Group and has been at Brookhaven for 30 years. He has played an instrumental role in the technical research that has been done over the last six years that formed the basis for the balloting of performance specifications for six percent to 20 percent biodiesel blended into traditional heating oil as a new fuel grade in the ASTM D396 fuel oil standard. His groundbreaking work documenting the positive field experience with biodiesel blends and providing the research background were major factors in addressing questions brought up by the NORA/NBB-lead Bioheat Technical Steering Committee.

Impact:  Senator Al Franken.
U.S. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota has long been a champion for biodiesel in Washington and particularly took a leadership role last year in challenging the EPA’s initial proposal that would have weakened Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes. Sen. Franken has helped organize his Senate colleagues in holding meetings on the issue with senior Administration leaders. He has coordinated advocacy letters from members of Congress. And he has spoken out publicly to highlight biodiesel’s benefits in Minnesota and across the country as he fought for a strong RFS. Additionally, Sen. Franken has been a consistent and vocal advocate for the biodiesel tax incentive. His advocacy and leadership have been instrumental in helping to develop a policy environment in which biodiesel can continue to grow.

Influence:  Jerry Schoenfeld.
Jerry Schoenfeld of Minneapolis based Greater States Advisors has been instrumental in development, passage, and defense of landmark biodiesel legislation in Minnesota since 2000. Without the lobbying expertise and efforts on behalf of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, the state would not have the favorable biodiesel policies that it does today. Successes include a five year process that led to the first in the nation B2 statewide blend requirement passed in 2002 and implemented in 2005. In 2008 the state passed additional legislation to move to B5, which was implemented in 2009, move to B10 which was implemented in July 2014, and B20 on track to be implemented in 2018. The state of Minnesota has long been a leader in the biodiesel industry and much of that is due to these favorable policies.

Pioneer Award:  Dallas Hanks.
The biodiesel industry lost a true pioneer with the passing of Utah State University’s Dr. Dallas Hanks last June when he succumbed to cancer. For those that knew him, Dallas was a brilliant scientist, educator, humanitarian, entrepreneur, and all around good person. He spearheaded the visionary feedstock program Freeways to Fuels, was a huge supporter and contributor to NBB’s Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel program, and had a hand in numerous oilseed test plots, biodiesel laboratories, and technology start-up business at the university and around the region. The respect he had from his peers was second to none, and he has left a truly lasting legacy in the biodiesel world.

UNL DriftWatch Updated, Improved

Commercial applicators and farmers alike can benefit from recent changes to DriftWatch, an online tool to identify fields where commercial specialty or pesticide-sensitive crops are being grown. In Nebraska 70 counties have registered such areas, said Craig Romary, environmental programs specialist with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. New crop sites and beehives are being registered regularly.

"We want to encourage growers to register and applicators to check it," Romary said this week.

Personnel from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) and FieldWatch, which manages DriftWatch, have been working to make the information in DriftWatch™ as accurate and current as possible for applicators, Romary said. Many old, outdated, and inaccurate locations have been deleted and new sites are being added.

The predecessor of DriftWatch offered dots on a map to indicate sensitive areas. These could be somewhat inexact, Romary said. The new tool lets registrants use GPS coordinates and outline areas on a map to be more accurate and provide more detail. Also, user guides on FieldWatch for producers, applicators, and beekeepers offer valuable information and tips for registering and updating data.

The locator map and many site services are free, although there is a subscription for extended services such as mobile live data feeds.

Features recently added to DriftWatch include:

    Beekeepers now can choose whether their beehives appear on the public DriftWatch map or are visible only to registered applicators. This will make registering as an applicator—which is free of charge—especially important.

    A registered applicator, who is also a member of FieldWatch, can now select specific counties from multiple states for notices when new information is added to the map. Membership also allows access to real-time map data. See for more information. Registered applicators should watch for email notices directly from FieldWatch.

In addition to Nebraska, DriftWatch now features information for Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Wisconsin and Saskatchewan. More states are considering DriftWatch as well.

Food labels helpful but their claims raise skepticism, Food & Family Project study finds

A growing number of shoppers say they find food labels helpful. However, consumer confidence in the trustworthiness of most food label claims has declined during the past year and falls precipitously when provided additional information about those claims.

The findings are courtesy of the Iowa Food & Family Project’s (Iowa FFP) annual Consumer Pulse Survey conducted earlier this winter of 353 health-conscious Iowans who make the majority of their household’s food purchases. With a 4.3-percent margin of error, the poll queried participants on a variety of food and farming issues including their take on specific food labels including “natural,” “local,” “organic,” “hormone-free,” “antibiotic-free” and “GMO-free.”

When asked which consideration is most important when purchasing food, “quality” ranked first at 35 percent followed by safety (24), price (21) and “how it’s grown” (10). Respondents also gave food labels high marks, with 77 percent saying they are helpful in making food purchases, an increase of 31 percent from a year ago.

Regarding specific food labels, “local” performed best with 62 percent favorability followed by “hormone free” at 48 percent and “antibiotic free” at 43 percent. Twenty-seven percent had a favorable impression of food labeled “natural,” down 7 points from a year ago. “Organic” was preferred by just 25 percent of respondents, down 11 points from 2013 while just 22 percent found “GMO-free” as superior to food not labeled “GMO-free.”

Carol Bodensteiner, former president of CMF&Z Public Relations, was not surprised by the drop in support of organic and natural labels, speculating a decline in publicity surrounding the labels.

For a number of years, CMF&Z conducted annual surveys that gauged consumer attitudes toward a range of food and agriculture issues. Through her experience, Bodensteiner advises consumers to look beyond media hype and learn more about what labels mean.

“We’re constantly being fed information through the media and other sources,” said Bodensteiner. “Too often we as consumers have accepted the hype without knowing the background.”

This point was underscored in follow-up questions regarding the validity of popular food label claims. Preference for food labeled “hormone-free” declined by half (from 48 to 24 percent) when respondents were reminded that that all plants and animals have naturally present hormones.

Katie Olthoff and her husband Bart raise turkeys near Stanhope. Although the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) prohibits the use of added hormones in poultry, she still receives questions from her non-farming counterparts due to misconceptions on what hormones are, why hormones are used and how they are being marketed.

“These ‘hormone-free’ labels are very misleading,” says Olthoff. “These labels should really say ‘raised without added growth hormones,’ which is true of all poultry in the United States.”

Support for other food labels also declined significantly when respondents were provided additional facts about how food is grown and marketed.

For example, preference for food labeled “antibiotic-free” plummeted 16 points when poll participants learned of federal guidelines surrounding antibiotic use in livestock and poultry production. The FDA approves of farmers’ use of antibiotics for disease treatment, control and prevention in order to uphold quality standards of health, comfort and safety for the animals, and requires a mandatory withdrawal period before going to market.

Finally, respondents were re-evaluated about their overall confidence in food labels after they were provided with additional facts. The background information led to a six-percent shift in those finding food labels helpful to those who find labels confusing.

For Olthoff, the confusion is unnecessary.

“When I’m choosing food, I don’t think about its safety,” she said. “I trust that farmers and the whole food system are working the way they’re supposed to.”

For more information on the findings, and to join in food, family and farming conversations, visit

IFU Leads Coalition Asking for Changes to Pesticide Rules

The Iowa Farmers Union (IFU), along with Pesticide Action Network (PAN), today announced their request to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) to improve the reporting and response process and the agency support available to farmers who experience losses from pesticide drift.

"Pesticide drift from nearby fields is a very real problem for farmers in Iowa," says Jordan Scheibel, a diversified vegetable farmer from Grinnell, Iowa. "Not only can pesticide drift delay or cause a farm to lose its organic certification, it results in products that farmers - certified organic or not - may not be able to sell legally, safely, or in good conscience, and it exposes the farmers and their workers to potentially harmful pesticides."

Pesticide drift is a growing concern among Iowa farmers. A recent report to IDALS from the Practical Farmers of Iowa highlights dozens of reported pesticide drift violations across the state between 2008 and 2012, with fines issued in less than 20% of the cases.

Jana Linderman, President of the Iowa Farmers Union, states: "Current administrative rules designed to prevent pesticide drift and assist farmers who experience losses from drift are inadequate. We have proposed several rule changes to IDALS through a recently filed petition for rule making. We are attempting to improve the relationship between IDALS and impacted farmers when it comes to dealing with damages caused by pesticide drift."

The IFU petition for rule making requests:

-- That IDALS provide information in writing and via the IDALS website to farmers and others who have come into contact with or suffered losses from pesticide drift regarding the details of the agency process, as well as their rights and available remedies under the law;

-- That IDALS provide information on the potential financial impacts of pesticide drift as part of the certification and continuing education process for commercial pesticide applicators;

-- That IDALS maintain a public database of the evidence of financial responsibility required to be filed with the agency by certified commercial pesticide applicators;

-- That commercial pesticide applicators be required to provide IDALS with monthly reports of pesticide applications, and that spray drift incident reports involving contact with a human, sensitive crop, or bee apiary be made available in a public database;

-- That commercial pesticide applicators be required to provide notice to individuals who are on the sensitive crop or bee registries and who are within a 5-mile radius of the application site at least 48 hours prior to spraying; and

-- That the rules be updated to provide for increased fines for serious or habitual violations of the rules governing pesticide application.

"Farmers should be able to control what comes onto their farms," says Kate Mendenhall, an organizer for PAN who is a beginning farmer in northwest Iowa. "We're not only concerned about the well-documented crop damage from spray drift, but also the potential health harms to farmers, farmworkers, and rural communities."

IFU and PAN also are asking the Iowa legislature to establish an indemnity fund to improve the testing time for crops damaged by pesticide drift, to fund work to upgrade and improve the IDALS Pesticide Bureau website, and to increase the amount of insurance coverage carried by commercial pesticide applicators.

"Significant financial losses from pesticide drift can threaten the viability of family farms and put the diversity and safety of our food system at risk," notes IFU President Linderman. "The modest improvements we are seeking can provide important safeguards for family farmers who are working hard to build their businesses and provide safe and healthy food to consumers."

Beef Checkoff Launches MBA 2.0

The beef checkoff’s Masters of Beef Advocacy (MBA) program has launched MBA 2.0, an opportunity for beef and dairy producers to step up and be true leaders – 'Agvocates', if you will – for the industry and all of agriculture. Building on the success of the original MBA courses, with nearly 6,000 graduates to date, the program hinges on the importance for consumers to hear directly from those growing and delivering their food to them.

Each course, which has all new content based on consumer research about questions regarding the beef industry and end product, takes about an hour to complete and follows the beef lifecycle:

1. The Beef Community – all about the people involved in producing beef, from pasture to plate.

2. Raising Cattle on Grass – covering the cow/calf and stocker/backgrounder stages of production.

3. Life in the Feedyard – what goes into ensuring cattle receive proper care and a healthy diet in the finishing phase.

4. From Cattle to Beef – how cattle are humanely slaughtered and processed into beef products.

5. Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. – consumer information about how to properly store, handle and cook beef to ensure a safe and enjoyable eating experience.

“When I started to get asked questions from consumers and groups about how we farm and feed cattle, I was struggling to find answers that I could back up with hard facts, and it felt like I also needed to learn more about other sectors of the industry with which I had little experience,” says Joan Ruskamp, Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) member from Dodge, Neb.

“When I found out about the MBA program, I jumped at the chance to complete the courses. For me, it turned out to be a great teaching tool to help me become an informed advocate – not just for my own family’s benefit, but for the good of the entire industry.

“Since then, I have had the opportunity to talk about beef and the beef industry to everyone from neighbors and friends to large groups of activists. Remember, though, getting your MBA doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to start booking appearances as a traveling speaker,” says Ruskamp. “It also prepares you well for daily conversations that you have or hear, and it gives you the ability to share hard facts and figures that help increase confidence in our end product and our industry. While our personal stories are important in putting a face on our industry, the ability to build trust in farming and ranching – and beef – is greatly enhanced by facts versus opinions and emotions.”

Those individuals who completed the original MBA courses will remain enrolled in the program and can take the 2.0 classes to update their certificate. MBA grads then have the opportunity to join the private Facebook group where they can have interaction and dialogue about emerging industry issues.

Ruskamp and fellow Cattlemen’s Beef Board member Brenda Black of Missouri have challenged every CBB member to join them in completing MBA 2.0.

“I earned my MBA during the initial run of the program and am working on completion of the updated program with all of you who accept this challenge,” says Black. “From my experience, I can tell you that the courses are truly interesting, engaging and informative, which make the quizzes at the end of each section a breeze. And you come away with a clear and useful understanding of issues that are so important to consumers and, as a result, important for us to share with them.”

The MBA program is funded by the beef checkoff and there is no cost to participate. Sign up to start your MBA 2.0 coursework today!

For more information about your beef checkoff investment, visit

Record High Pork Production for December

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.14 billion pounds in December, up slightly from the 4.14 billion pounds produced in December 2013.

Beef production, at 2.00 billion pounds, was 2 percent below the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.44 million head, down 5 percent from December 2013. The average live weight was up 29 pounds from the previous year, at 1,363 pounds.

Veal production totaled 7.6 million pounds, 22 percent below December a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 43,000 head, down 35 percent from December 2013. The average live weight was up 51 pounds from last year, at 302 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.11 billion pounds, up 2 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 9.85 million head, up 1 percent from December 2013. The average live weight was up 3 pounds from the previous year, at 286 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 13.4 million pounds, was up 3 percent from December 2013. Sheep slaughter totaled 200,000 head, slightly above last year. The average live weight was 134 pounds, up 3 pounds from December a year ago.

January to December 2014 commercial red meat production was 47.3 billion pounds, down 4 percent from 2013. Accumulated beef production was down 6 percent from last year, veal was down 16 percent, pork was down 1 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down slightly.

State Data (million pounds, % of Dec 2013)

Nebraska ......:     624.1     -       103      
Iowa .............:     605.8     -       106      
Kansas ..........:     414.5     -       100      

USDA Cold Storage Report Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers were up 6 percent from the previous month but down 4 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were up 11 percent from the previous month and up slightly from last year. Frozen pork supplies were up 2 percent from the previous month but down 10 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were up 37 percent from last month but down 42 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on December 31, 2014 were up 2 percent from the previous month but down 3 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were up 2 percent from the previous month and up 2 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 3 percent from last month but down 19 percent from December 31, 2013.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on December 31, 2014 were down slightly from the previous month but up slightly from December 31, 2013. Butter stocks were down 2 percent from last month and down 12 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks were down 8 percent from last month and down 6 percent from a year ago.  Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 7 percent from last month and down slightly from a year ago.

December Milk Production up 3.2 Percent

Milk production in the 23 major States during December totaled 16.2 billion pounds, up 3.2 percent from December 2013. November revised production at 15.5 billion pounds, was up 3.5 percent from November 2013. The November revision represented an increase of 12 million pounds or 0.1 percent from last month's preliminary production estimate.

Production per cow in the 23 major States averaged 1,886 pounds for December, 35 pounds above December 2013. This is the highest production per cow for the month of December since the 23 State series began in 2003.    

The number of milk cows on farms in the 23 major States for December, was 8.61 million head, 107,000 head more than December 2013, and 16,000 head more than November 2014.

October - December Milk Production up 3.4 Percent

Milk production in the United States during the October - December quarter totaled 50.9 billion pounds, up 3.4 percent from the October - December quarter last year. The average number of milk cows in the United States during the quarter was 9.28 million head, 16,000 head more than the July - September quarter, and 83,000 head more than the same period last year.

State Q4 2014 Milk Prod Data (million pounds, % of Q4 2013)

Nebraska ...:          304.0          6.7    
Iowa ..........:        1,176.0          4.4    

USDA Reminds Producers of Upcoming Livestock Disaster Assistance Deadline

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reminds livestock producers that the Jan. 30, 2015, deadline to request assistance for losses suffered from Oct. 1, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2014, is fast approaching.

Applications for the Livestock Indemnity Program and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program, restored by the 2014 Farm Bill resumed in April 2014, after having expired on Sept. 30, 2011. To date, more than 556,000 applications have been approved to assist farmers and ranchers in recovering from nearly three years of natural disasters.

The Livestock Indemnity Program provides financial assistance to eligible producers for livestock deaths. Losses can be caused by adverse weather, extreme temperatures, disease, or wildfires, or due to attacks by animals reintroduced into the wild by the federal government or protected by federal law, including wolves and avian predators.

The Livestock Forage Disaster Program provides compensation to livestock producers that have suffered grazing losses due to drought or fire. Qualifying droughts are based on U.S Drought Monitor severity ratings, and qualifying fires are those occurring on rangeland managed by a federal agency and normally permitted for grazing.

To expedite applications, all producers who experienced losses are encouraged to collect records documenting their losses. Supporting documents may include livestock birth records, purchase and transportation receipts, photos and ownership records showing the number and type of livestock lost, documents listing the gallons of water transported to livestock during drought, information related to grazing land, grazing leases or federal grazing permits, and more.

Local FSA county offices can provide additional information on the types of records producers will need to apply for assistance. Producers are encouraged to contact their county office ahead of time to schedule an appointment. Producers who already have appointments don’t need to take any additional action to meet the deadline. FSA offices can be found at To learn more about these FSA disaster programs, visit

Corn Growers: Worst Possible Time to Cut the RFS

With a record corn crop and low corn prices, efforts to alter the Renewable Fuel Standard are coming at the worst possible time for America's farmers, the National Corn Growers Association said.

"Corn ending stocks - the amount above and beyond current demand - are estimated at nearly 2 billion bushels this year, thanks to two back-to-back record harvests," said NCGA President Chip Bowling, a corn farmer in Maryland. "And with corn selling at low prices, any legislative attempt to cut one of our key markets will drive prices even further below cost of production. We have a policy that works well not just for the environment and energy security - but for the rural economy. We need to support farmers, not bankrupt them."

In reference to an attempt in the Senate to attach an anti-ethanol amendment to the Keystone XL legislation, NCGA pointed out the many benefits of ethanol and the reason why it's an important part of our fuel supply.

"Corn ethanol is better for the environment than fossil fuels and has historically lowered the cost of filling our tanks by nearly a dollar," said NCGA Director of Public Policy Beth Elliott. "It has been proven that ethanol does not have an impact on the price of food. Ethanol has proven itself on the racetrack and NASCAR drivers have driven more than six million miles on the fuel. The Renewable Fuel Standard is working - creating clean, renewable, American-grown energy and good American jobs. There are many good reasons to continue this policy, and we look forward to working with the new Congress in support of it."

BQ-9000 Biodiesel Fuel Quality Program Expands Its Reach to Retailers

This week at the 2015 National Biodiesel Conference and Expo, the National Biodiesel Board announced the addition of a major new component to its

BQ-9000 fuel quality program that will help to ensure the highest biodiesel fuel quality for consumers, all the way from the production plant to the retail fuel pump.  The new BQ-9000 Retailer Program is the latest enhancement to the program that had previously provided quality certification for biodiesel producers, marketers, and testing laboratories.

The National Biodiesel Accreditation Program (NBAC), called BQ-9000®, is a cooperative and voluntary program for the accreditation of companies that produce, test, and supply biodiesel fuel. The program is a unique combination of the ASTM standard for biodiesel, ASTM D6751, and a rigorous quality systems program that includes storage, sampling, testing, blending, shipping, distribution, and fuel management practices.  BQ-9000® is open to any biodiesel manufacturer, marketer or distributor and now retailer of biodiesel and biodiesel blends, as well as third party labs who test the fuel, in the United States and Canada.

Scott Fenwick, Technical Director for the National Biodiesel Board, stated, “The National Biodiesel Accreditation Commission is pleased to release this latest program in the efforts to promote quality assurance for the biodiesel industry.  This Retail program for stores selling biodiesel and biodiesel blends to end users fills the gap on our quality management system.  Previously, the program has provided quality management for Producers, Marketers, Blenders and independent Laboratories.  This will now help to ensure fuel quality through the entire supply chain, down to the final consumer.”

Fenwick continued, “Other than the current NBAC Commissioners, the group is pleased to have worked with several large fuel retailers across the country along with engine and automobile manufacturers to help ensure that this program will help meet the needs of the industry.”

The newly announced BQ-9000 Retailer Program will now enter a 30-day comment period for National Biodiesel Board members and current BQ-9000 certified companies to review and provide comments for the betterment of the program, and then the final program will be officially released later in March for development within the industry.

Currently there are 54 Biodiesel Producers, nearly 40 Marketers and 13 Laboratories certified under the robust BQ-9000 program, with more certifications in progress.  As of the end of 2014, 92 percent of the biodiesel produced in the U.S. by National Biodiesel Board member companies came from a BQ-9000 Certified Producers.

Biodiesel Advocates to Fight for Renewable Fuels Policy in Washington, DC

Renewable fuels supporters cheered today as federal policy experts at the National Biodiesel Conference and Expo in Fort Worth urged advocates to “write their own script” for success.

Anne Steckel, National Biodiesel Board vice president of federal affairs, encouraged the biodiesel conference attendees to explain the importance of the advanced biofuel industry to the Obama Administration and Congress.

“We’re already writing our own script for 2015,” she said. “We do that by building our strengths, and redoubling our efforts across grassroots advocacy, coalition building, and public outreach – to make our case, loud, clear, and consistently.

“We do that by strengthening our collective voice – getting more members involved, and empowering you to advocate for yourselves – because we can’t do it without you,” she continued.

Steckel said a year of dysfunction and pessimism in Washington, DC, often felt like the industry was “stuck in a bad movie.”

“There was this manufactured suspense from the repeated delays in the RFS volumes, and every time we felt like the ending was coming, the directors threw in another unnecessary twist to string out the plot,” Steckel said. “And we still haven’t seen the credits roll.”

After the record year of nearly 1.8 billion gallons in 2013, the EPA initially proposed in November 2013 to hold the 2014 RFS biodiesel volume at 1.28 billion gallons. The agency subsequently withheld a final rule and has still not established 2014 volumes, even as it has signaled that it will improve the original proposal. The continued uncertainty throughout the year has left the industry in a state of limbo, although many biodiesel companies continued producing based on assurances from the Administration that RFS volumes would increase.

“It makes no sense, and unlike a weak Hollywood script, Washington’s failure to act is creating serious damage in the real world,” Steckel said.

Steckel was joined on stage by several former lawmakers whom have played important roles in advancing biodiesel and renewable fuels policy, including Sen. Byron Dorgan (SD), Rep. Kenny Hulshof (MO) and Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt.

Now President of the American Automotive Policy Council, Blunt harkened back to his time as a Naval officer to remind conference attendees of the important role biodiesel and other advanced biofuels play in U.S. national security. As he prepared for service, Blunt said, the first Gulf War erupted, with oil production a central issue of the conflict.

After the Iraq moved on Kuwait, the U.S. got involved, Blunt continued, because “our need for energy to support our economy and way of life clearly intersect with our foreign policy.”

While acknowledging recent growth domestic oil production, Blunt said, increased drilling on American shores does not make the country immune to global oil market pressures.

“Energy security is not simply more oil. More U.S. oil does not change the fact that prices are set globally based on international factors that go far beyond simple supply and demand,” Blunt explained.

“Political and economic instability in the Middle East, Russia, and China as well as controls in the supply by OPEC all impact the global price of oil. It does not change the fact that with only one fuel source, we have no options and instead remain subject to the highs and lows of the global market,” he said.

Steckel echoed Blunt’s comments and stressed the importance of codifying biodiesel’s many significant benefits into effective public policy.

“Strong biodiesel policy is something that the public supports, and that helps us as a nation achieve our collective goals for creating U.S. jobs, cleaning the air, and reducing our dangerous dependence on one global commodity – oil,” she said..

Hansen-Mueller and CHS Inc. discuss asset acquisition

CHS Inc., an energy, grains and foods company and the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative, and Hansen-Mueller Co., a Midwest-based grain merchandising and commodity trading business, today announced they have signed a letter of intent for CHS to acquire the Hansen-Mueller assets located in Oberlin and Cedar Bluffs, Kan. Upon completion of due diligence and CHS Board approval, the transaction is expected to be finalized in late April 2015.

“Investments in country elevators such as these bring tangible benefits to not only our farmer-owners, but to the rural communities where we operate our businesses,” said Lynden Johnson, executive vice president, Country Operations division of CHS. “These kinds of opportunities strengthen local resources that ultimately help our owners and other customers grow their operations.”

The facilities under review originate corn, winter wheat and milo, with the majority of production being shipped by truck to area cattle feed lots, ethanol plants and milling companies.

Formed in 1979, today Hansen-Mueller provides grain merchandising and logistics, commodity trading and feed processing products to customers across the Midwest.

Economic Downturn and Other Factors, Not COOL, Caused Decline in Live Cattle Imports to the U.S.

Contrary to arguments made by America’s trade competitors to the World Trade Organization (WTO), an economic downturn that sapped consumer demand — not Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) — caused decreased demand for cattle imports into to the U.S., according to a new study released today.

“COOL did not cause the declines in livestock exports to the United States, which largely coincided with a substantial global economic downturn that sapped demand for more expensive meat products,” notes the study, authored by C. Robert Taylor, Ph.D., an Auburn University Alfa Eminent Scholar and Professor.

Canada and Mexico challenged COOL provisions related to muscle cuts of beef at the WTO in 2008, alleging the widely popular labeling law was a trade barrier that compromised their export opportunities and market access to the United States for live cattle and hogs. The cost of implementing COOL, they argued, discouraged U.S. meatpacking and processing companies from purchasing livestock of non-U.S. origin and, as a result, reduced the prices of these livestock exports.

But after close examination of more robust data sources to assess the impact of COOL on market access, the study found:

·        COOL has not had a significant negative effect on the price paid for imported slaughter cattle relative to comparable domestic cattle. In fact, the fed cattle price basis declined after the law went into effect. “The price basis is lower in the six years since implementation of COOL than it was the preceding four years,” the study notes;

·        COOL did not negatively impact imports of slaughter cattle. “Qualitative and econometric analysis of Mandatory Price Reporting (MPR) and monthly trade and price data cast considerable doubt on assertions that COOL negatively affected imports of slaughter cattle,” says the study. Failure to recognize the effects of imported and domestic captive supplies of slaughter cattle and beef demand uncertainty, along with other factors, played a larger role in reduced import demand than acknowledged in previous studies.

·         COOL did not significantly affect imports of feeder cattle. “USDA monthly data on imports of 400-700 lb. cattle did not show COOL having a significant negative effect of imports of feeder cattle from either Canada or Mexico relative to placements in U.S. feedlots,” the study points out.

Taylor’s study differs greatly from previous studies conducted on behalf of Canadian interests in a number of ways: first, it is more detailed and exhaustive than its Canadian counterparts; second, it is based on detailed Mandatory Price Reporting (MPR) data as reported by U.S. beef packers to the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), data the Canadian studies failed to consider.

“MPR data are highly detailed, including origin, import or domestic, of cattle slaughtered in the U.S. and is thus a statistically rich and robust data set for analyzing COOL,” the study notes. “Since the MPR information comes directly from the beef packers, the MPR price and basis trends reflect actual operational slaughter costs and offer a distinct perspective from which to assess beef packers’ statements about the costs of COOL to the U.S. packing industry.”

Previous findings were submitted to WTO by Canadian interests that are “adamantly opposed to COOL and is a plaintiff in a COOL lawsuit against the USDA.” Moreover, data provided to the Canadian consultants was not publicly available. 

The study concludes that cattle exports to the U.S. are subject to a number of variables that are completely independent of the implementation of COOL. “In light of this reasoning, neither Congress nor USDA should undertake any changes to COOL based on arguments that COOL has limited Canadian and Mexican access to the U.S. market.”

“COOL is popular with consumers because they want to know where their food comes from, and it’s popular with farmers and ranchers because they’re proud to put the American label on their products,” noted National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson. “Congress needs to stay the course on COOL,” he said.

CFTC Nears New Spec Trade Rules

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission is scheduled to complete on Thursday an important step toward an expected vote on rules the regulator says aim to curb excessive speculation on the prices of raw materials and agricultural products.

The proposed rule has drawn criticism from industry groups, which contend the restrictions could hinder their ability to protect themselves against risks ranging from variation in product quality to market volatility.

The comment period on the proposed rule -- authorized by the 2010 Dodd-Frank law -- ends Thursday, capping a lengthy process. A federal court threw out the regulator's previous proposal in September 2012, highlighting the challenges to implementing restrictions on potentially opaque markets like commodities.

A spokesman for the CFTC said the comments will be reviewed by staff but said there is no time frame for a vote by the commissioners.

The Commodity Markets Council, an industry group whose members include giant agricultural firms Cargill Inc. and Archer Daniels Midland Co. as well as exchange operators such as CME Group Inc., plans to send a letter to the CFTC Thursday urging it to consider a company's future sales of raw materials -- not just current sales -- as a needed hedge and not speculation, according to a draft of the letter viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Zoetis Launches DRAXXIN® 25 to Treat Small Calves for BRD

Zoetis today announced the launch of DRAXXIN® 25 (tulathromycin injection) Injectable Solution, a lower concentration of DRAXXIN® (tulathromycin) Injectable Solution, to treat bovine respiratory disease (BRD) in suckling, dairy and veal calves.

Just like the current concentration of DRAXXIN, DRAXXIN 25 offers broad-spectrum coverage against the major causes of BRD, including Mannheimia haemolytica, Pasteurella multocida, Histophilus somni and Mycoplasma bovis. However, producers and veterinarians should note that DRAXXIN 25 has a pre-slaughter withdrawal time of 22 days, compared with the 18-day pre-slaughter time for DRAXXIN.

“The efficacy of DRAXXIN has made it a leading choice by veterinarians and producers for the treatment of BRD in larger, ruminating calves,” said Dr. Robert Lynch, senior veterinarian, Dairy Technical Services, Zoetis. “The new formulation of DRAXXIN 25 allows for more-accurate and convenient dosing for smaller calves. Producers and veterinarians can be confident they are administering the correct treatment needed.”

Effectively treat BRD so calves get a healthy start
DRAXXIN 25 and DRAXXIN both offer a convenient full course of therapy in a single dose. When administered according to the label, DRAXXIN is absorbed and distributed quickly to provide effective, single-dose therapy for BRD.

DRAXXIN 25 is available in 100 mL and 250 mL vials and may be purchased through your veterinarian or animal health retailer with a veterinarian’s prescription.

DRAXXIN label expanded for suckling and veal calves
Zoetis also announced the approval of DRAXXIN for the treatment against the major causes of BRD associated with M. haemolytica, P. multocida, H. somni and M. bovis in suckling, dairy and veal calves. Previously, DRAXXIN was approved only for use in nonlactating dairy cattle (cattle younger than 20 months of age, including dairy calves) and beef cattle.

“Through Zoetis’s efforts to obtain FDA approval to remove the veal calf restriction and include suckling calves in the DRAXXIN label, veterinarians can prescribe DRAXXIN with confidence and producers can practice responsible antibiotic use while treating BRD symptoms with a demonstrated and effective BRD treatment option for veal calves,” said Dr. Lynch.

Dr. Lynch encourages veterinarians and producers to work together to establish proper treatment protocols and review BRD management practices in their calf wellness program, including:
-    Pathogen identification
-    BRD vaccination
-    BRD symptom identification
-    Record keeping