Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday March 27 Hogs & Pigs Report + Ag News

NEBRASKA HOG INVENTORY UP 2 PERCENT

Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on March 1, 2015,was 3.05 million head, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This was up 2 percent from March 1, 2014, but down 2 percent from December 1, 2014.

Breeding hog inventory, at 420,000 head, was up 5 percent from March 1, 2014, and up 5 percent from last quarter. Market hog inventory, at 2.63 million head, was up 1 percent from last year, but down 3 percent from last quarter.

The December 2014 - February 2015 Nebraska pig crop, at 1.76 million head, was up 1 percent from 2014. Sows farrowed during the period totaled 160,000 head, down 3 percent from last year. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high 11.00 for the December - February period, compared to 10.55 last year.

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 175,000 sows during the March – May 2015 quarter, up 3 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago. Intended farrowings for June – August 2015 are 180,000 sows, up 3 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period the previous year.



Iowa Hogs and Pigs Up 5% from Last Year


On March 1, 2015, there were 20.4 million hogs and pigs on Iowa farms according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Hogs and Pigs report. The March 1 inventory was down 2 percent from December 2014 but up 5 percent from last March’s 19.5 million head.

The December 2014-February 2015 quarterly pig crop was 5.35 million head, up 3 percent from the previous quarter and 13 percent above last year. A total of 500,000 sows farrowed during this quarter.

The average pigs saved per litter was 10.70 for the DecemberFebruary quarter, matching the record pigs saved per litter from the previous two quarters.

As of March 1, producers planned to farrow 490,000 head of sows and gilts in the March-May quarter and 510,000 head during the June-August quarter.



United States Hog Inventory Up 7 Percent


United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on March 1, 2015 was 65.9 million head. This was up 7 percent from March 1, 2014, but down slightly from December 1, 2014.  Breeding inventory, at 5.98 million head, was up 2 percent from last year, and up 1 percent from the previous quarter.  Market hog inventory, at 60.0 million head, was up 8 percent from last year, but down slightly from last quarter.

The December 2014-February 2015 pig crop, at 28.8 million head, was up 9 percent from 2014. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 2.83 million head, up 2 percent from 2014. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 48 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high 10.17 for the December-February period, compared to 9.53 last year. Pigs saved per litter by size of operation ranged from 7.90 for operations with 1-99 hogs and pigs to 10.20 for operations with more than 5,000 hogs and pigs.

United States hog producers intend to have 2.87 million sows farrow during the March-May 2015 quarter, up 2 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2014, and up 2 percent from 2013. Intended farrowings for June-August 2015, at 2.93 million sows, are down 2 percent from 2014, but up 1 percent from 2013.

The total number of hogs under contract owned by operations with over 5,000 head, but raised by contractees, accounted for 46 percent of the total United States hog inventory, down from 48 percent last year.

Breeding, Market, and Total Inventory - By State (1,000 hd) as of March 1, 2015

Breeding Inv. (% of Mar '14) - Marketing Inv. (% of Mar '14) - Total (% of Mar '14)

Nebraska ....:    420       105%    -     2,630       101%    -     3,050        102% 
Iowa ...........:  1,030     102%    -    19,370      105%   -      20,400      105% 
N. Carolina ..:   890       102%    -     7,510       108%    -      8,400        108% 
Illinois ........:    490        98%     -     4,160       111%    -      4,650       109% 
Indiana .......:    280       104%    -     3,370       109%    -     3,650        109% 
Kansas ........:    175       103%    -     1,655       113%    -     1,830        112%

Sows Farrowing, Pigs per Litter, and Pig Crop - By State (1,000 hd)- Dec-Feb 2015

Sows Farrowed (%LY) - Pigs per Litter - Pig Crop (%LY) 
Nebraska ....:    160       97%    -     11.00   -    1,760      101%  
Iowa ...........:    500      104%   -    10.70    -    5,350      113%  
N. Carolina .:     440      101%   -     9.50     -    4,180      114%  
Illinois .......:     240       98%     -    10.20    -    2,448      100%  
Indiana ......:    135       113%    -    10.10    -    1,364     124%  
Kansas .......:     86        108%    -    10.00    -       860      117%  



NSP Carrier Enforcement Webinars Replace Town Hall Meetings


The Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) Carrier Enforcement Division will be changing the format for its Town Hall meetings. This year, the Carrier Enforcement Division will conduct webinars in place of previously held location meetings.

The webinars, starting on April 6 will provide information on laws pertaining to farm and commercial motor vehicles and drivers of these vehicles. Guidance will include the State of Nebraska’s adoption of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety and Hazardous Materials regulations.

“It is our goal, through this change in practice, to enhance highway safety by reaching as many operators of large trucks as possible,” said Captain Gerry Krolikowski, Commander Carrier Enforcement Division. “Through the webinars, we will provide a useful collection of information regarding regulations that are not only required, but more importantly directly related to vehicle and driver safety. ”The webinars will be divided into six topics...

1. Farm Driver
2. Farm Vehicle
3. Commercial Driver
4. Commercial Vehicle
5. Hazardous Material Farm
6. Hazardous Material Commercial

By providing six separate webinar topics, individuals will be able to choose which Webinar to participate in as opposed to sitting through an entire Town Hall meeting.

Capt. Krolikowski said “In the past our Town Hall meetings have typically taken 3-4 hours. The webinars will allow an individual to save time by selecting only the areas they are interested in.”

A link to the schedule including dates and times for the Carrier Enforcement webinar series is provided:  http://1.usa.gov/1xgLNTd



GRAZING WINTER SMALL GRAINS

Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist


               Small grains planted last fall are greening up and will soon grow rapidly in most areas.  Many fields soon will be ready to graze.  This spring, let’s make these pastures productive and safe.

               Did you look ahead and plant rye or triticale or even wheat last fall to use as early pasture this spring?  If so, you soon will be rewarded.  Many of these fields are about ready to graze.

               These small grain pastures are an extremely useful resource this spring.  They will relieve you from feeding hay, get your animals out onto clean green grass, and produce excellent gains.  They’ll also help you wait longer before turning onto your other pastures, giving them a chance to have good growth before grazing.

               To maximize grazing from small grain pastures, wait until grass is 4 to 8 inches tall before starting to graze.  Then stock heavily enough to maintain plant height between 6 and 12 inches.  To accomplish this, either adjust the number of animals according to grass growth or sub-divide the pasture into paddocks and graze rotationally.  Grass stands, soils, fertility, and moisture all will affect stocking rate, so adjust stock numbers for your conditions.  With careful management, you could have good grazing all the way to mid-June.

               One concern when grazing small grain pasture is animal death from grass tetany.  Tetany is more common in lactating cows than in dry cows or young stock.  Reduce tetany risk by feeding magnesium oxide supplements mixed with salt, molasses, or grain.  Monitor consumption carefully and adjust the mixture so cattle consume about one-quarter pound of magnesium oxide per cow each week.                                               

               Small grain pastures can be convenient and profitable.  Just use good management to optimize production and prevent livestock losses.



Whistleblower Speaks Out Against HSUS


Today HumaneWatch.org, a project of the Center for Consumer Freedom, released a video interview with a former undercover investigator for the animal liberation group Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Gestation stalls, or individual maternity pens (IMPs), are used to house pregnant pigs. IMPs provide for individual care and feeding while preventing the fighting that occurs when pregnant sows are housed in groups. Mainstream veterinary groups support maternity pens as a humane housing option. However, HSUS has been lobbying legislators to ban these gestation pens and are pressuring food companies to only source pork from farms that use group housing of sows. 

Watch the full video HERE... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQ_XJDZrzTM

According to the HSUS investigator, who worked on pork farms:
-    “When they’re not in crates, they [sows] fight each other. With gestation crates, they can’t bite each other…They’re in a safe spot.”
-    “I have to believe they [HSUS] know the pigs would prefer to be in gestation crates…but choose instead to push the anti-gestation crate legislation because of what it would do to the pig farming industry.”
-    “Objectively, HSUS should be for gestation crates if they’re honestly, truly for animal welfare.”

“Farmers, veterinarians, and animal scientists stand opposed to HSUS’s campaign against individual maternity pens—and now one of its own investigators does, too,” Will Coggin, director of research for HumaneWatch.org. “HSUS counts on manipulating an unknowing public with its propaganda, but the power of truth is demonstrated by one of HSUS’s own.”

About 200 large-animal veterinarians have signed an open letter in support of individual maternity pens. Recent HSUS attempts to ban these pens in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Vermont, New York, and New Hampshire have all failed after legislators learned the full story.

“HSUS’s real agenda is forcing farmers into costly infrastructure changes designed at putting them out of business, not helping pregnant pigs,” Coggin continued. “HSUS is an anti-meat extremist group that doesn’t speak for Americans, veterinarians, or farmers—or animals.”



USDA Extends ARC and PLC Deadlines


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today provided farm owners and producers one additional week, until April 7, 2015, to choose between Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC), the safety-net programs established by the 2014 Farm Bill. The final day to update yield history or reallocate base acres also will be April 7, 2015.

"This is an important decision for producers because these programs help farmers and ranchers protect their operations from unexpected changes in the marketplace," said Vilsack. "Nearly 98 percent of owners have already updated their yield and base acres, and 90 percent of producers have enrolled in ARC or PLC. These numbers are strong, and continue to rise. This additional week will give producers a little more time to have those final conversations, review their data, visit their local Farm Service Agency offices, and make their decisions," said Vilsack.

If no changes are made to yield history or base acres by the deadline, the farm's current yield and base acres will be used. If a program choice of ARC or PLC is not made, there will be no 2014 crop year payments for the farm and the farm will default to PLC coverage for the 2015 through 2018 crop years. Producers who have an appointment at their local FSA offices scheduled by April 7 will be able to make an election between ARC and PLC, even if their actual appointment is after April 7.

These safety-net programs provide important financial protection against unexpected changes in the marketplace. As part of the strong education and outreach campaign launched by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in September, to date more than 5 million educational postcards, in English and Spanish, have been sent to producers nationwide, and more than 5,000 events with more than 430,000 attendees, including training sessions and speaking engagements, have been conducted to educate producers on the programs. The online tools, available at www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc, which allow producers to explore how ARC or PLC coverage will affect their operation, have been presented to more than 3,400 groups.

Covered commodities under ARC and PLC include barley, canola, large and small chickpeas, corn, crambe, flaxseed, grain sorghum, lentils, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, dry peas, rapeseed, long grain rice, medium grain rice (which includes short grain and sweet rice), safflower seed, sesame, soybeans, sunflower seed and wheat. Upland cotton is no longer a covered commodity.

Producers need to contact the Farm Service Agency by April 7. To learn more, farmers can contact their local Farm Service Agency county office. To find local offices, visit http://offices.usda.gov.



USGC’s 2014 Annual Report Available Online Now


From the soaring sales of U.S. sorghum to China to launching the Tanzanian Food For Progress program to trade policy talks to Export Exchange, the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) left its mark on export markets for U.S. corn, barley, sorghum and their co-products in 2014.

These successes and more are highlighted in the Council’s 2014 annual report, which is available online at www.grains.org/annualreport2014.

“2014 was an exciting year for the Council,” said USGC Chairman Ron Gray. “It continued our work in key markets and also expanded our efforts to new places like Tanzania and a new commodity for us, ethanol.

“These exhilarating and significant projects were made possible by our vibrant, active membership base, volunteer leaders from all sectors of agriculture and our dedicated global staff. This annual report highlights this and is just one way we show our thanks at the Council.”

This annual report features highpoints from 2014 and other impressive features.

“The online annual report is a great resource for anyone involved in the global grain trade,” Gray said. “In addition to the normal report materials, readers can access an exclusive, downloadable spreadsheet containing production, demand, imports, exports and feed consumption information for more than 20 countries and regions. Everyone involved with the global grain trade should take a moment to explore www.grains.org/annualreport2014.”

A printed companion piece is being mailed to all Council members, with additional copies available at key Council meetings and trade shows. A PDF version of the printed report is also available at www.grains.org/annualreport2014 by clicking on the corresponding link in the upper-right section of any page.



CHS' William Nelson to be Inducted into Co-op Hall of Fame


William Nelson will be inducted into the Cooperative Hall of Fame in ceremonies May 6, 2015, at the National Press Club, Washington, D.C.

Induction into the Cooperative Hall of Fame is the highest honor the U.S. cooperative community bestows on those who have made genuinely heroic contributions in support of the cooperative form of enterprise.

Nelson, who is Vice President of CHS Corporate Citizenship and President of the CHS Foundation, has long been a leader in the cooperative community, championing and encouraging education, collaboration and growth of the cooperative system.



Growth Energy Supports Senators Paul and Grassley Efforts to Give Consumers Choice at the Pump


Following the introduction of S. 889, the Fuel Choice and Deregulation Act, legislation by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), which contains a provision to extend the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) volatility waiver to E15, Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, issued the following statement:

“We certainly support efforts by Senator Paul and Senator Grassley to remove a major hurdle preventing consumers the opportunity to purchase higher blends such as E15. This has been a major obstacle ever since Growth Energy led the successful effort to get E15 approved for commercial use.

“We are hopeful that Senators Paul and Grassley’s legislative efforts are successful in granting this much needed waiver to overcome the single largest regulatory hurdle to ensuring consumers have access to higher blends such as E15.”



MAIZALL Leaders Meet With U.S. Officials in Washington


Leaders from MAIZALL, the international alliance for maize, were in Washington this week for discussions with senior U.S. officials from the Department of Agriculture, State Department and Office of the U.S. Trade Representative regarding ongoing cooperation with the governments of Argentina and Brazil on market access for crops derived from biotechnology.

“MAIZALL was established because producers in the United States, Argentina and Brazil -- the three major corn exporting countries of the Americas -- recognized they shared some common concerns,” said Julius Schaaf, the Iowa farmer who serves as U.S. Grains Council past chairman and MAIZALL’s first president.

MAIZALL is a partnership of four organizations in three countries: the Council and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) in the United States, ABRAMHILO in Brazil and MAISAR in Argentina. While the three countries are vigorous competitors in world markets, producers in all three are committed to trade, modern agricultural technology and improved market access.

In their meetings this week with U.S. officials, the MAIZALL group focused especially on challenges in China and the European Union affecting producers in the corn exporting countries and on the importance of intergovernmental dialogues to encourage development of effective policies for managing low level presence (LLP) of as-yet unapproved biotech traits.

“Without workable LLP policies, farmers lose no matter where they are from,” Schaaf said. “Either we lose access to beneficial technologies that improve our economic and environmental sustainability, or we risk losing access to markets because of the presence of trace levels of an event. This serves no one’s interest.”

In 2015, MAIZALL will continue its outreach to receptive pro-technology groups in the EU. The group is also looking toward ongoing discussions with Chinese and Korean officials and will continue to advocate regulatory harmonization on biotech events among the Americas.



Pork Producers Committed To Addressing Resistance


Responding to today’s release of the White House “National Action Plan For Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria,” (see article below) the National Pork Producers Council said the U.S. pork industry is committed to continuing its efforts to use antibiotics responsibly, to support research on antibiotic resistance and to comply with recent directives related to antibiotic use from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The $1.2 billion plan’s primary purpose is to direct activities by the federal government to address antibiotic resistance, but it also is designed to guide action by public health and healthcare professionals and veterinarians “in a common effort to address urgent and serious drug-resistant threats that affect people in the U.S. and around the world.”

The pork industry supports studies and research on the epidemiology of antimicrobial resistance, as well as research on identifying alternative products or practices that will help minimize the need to use antibiotics. The industry’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA Plus) program includes principles that provide guidance on responsible antibiotic use and has on-farm assessments to measure points on veterinary oversight and FDA requirements for medical records. It also is reaching out to pork producers to build awareness of and provide information on the changes that result from FDA Guidance 213, which is eliminating for growth promotion uses of antibiotics that are important in human medicine. Additionally the FDA guidance requires veterinary oversight (VFD) of all therapeutic uses of those same antibiotics.

“Pork producers have been at the forefront of developing programs that ensure that antibiotics are being used responsibly,” said NPPC President Dr. Ron Prestage, a pork producer from Camden, S.C. “And the U.S. pork industry is committed to doing its part to help address the issue of antibiotic resistance.

“That said, antibiotics are an important tool we use to keep our animals healthy and to produce safe food, and we will continue to employ them for those purposes.”

NPPC noted that the White House plan backs the successful implementation of Guidance 213 and the VFD, the development of metrics to gauge the success of antibiotics stewardship efforts and research on alternative products and strategies to reduce the need for antibiotics. The plan also calls for the collection of more data on antibiotic use.

NPPC is committed to working with FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop appropriate metrics for measuring the success of the industry’s stewardship program. Data collection should focus on increasing the epidemiological knowledge of antibiotic resistance, be practical and representative and not be cost prohibitive, said the organization.



Obama Administration Releases National Action Plan to Combat Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria


Today, the White House released a comprehensive plan that identifies critical actions to be taken by key Federal departments and agencies to combat the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.  The National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, which was developed by the interagency Task Force for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria in response to Executive Order 13676: Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, outlines steps for implementing the National Strategy on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria and addressing the policy recommendations of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) report on Combating Antibiotic Resistance.

Antibiotics have been a critical public health tool since the discovery of penicillin in 1928, saving the lives of millions of people around the world.  The emergence of drug resistance in bacteria is undermining our ability to treat bacterial infections and perform a range of modern medical procedures, including chemotherapy, surgery, dialysis, and organ transplantation.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that drug-resistant bacteria cause 23,000 deaths and 2 million illnesses each year in the United States. Antibiotic resistance also threatens animal health, agriculture, and the economy.

The National Action Plan provides a roadmap to guide the Nation in rising to the challenge of antibiotic resistance and potentially saving thousands of lives.  The Action Plan outlines Federal activities over the next five years to enhance domestic and international capacity to prevent and contain outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant infections; maintain the efficacy of current and new antibiotics; and develop and deploy next-generation diagnostics, antibiotics, vaccines, and other therapeutics.  These activities are consistent with investments in the President’s FY 2016 Budget, which nearly doubles the amount of Federal funding for combating and preventing antibiotic resistance to more than $1.2 billion.

Implementation of the Action Plan will require the sustained, coordinated, and complementary efforts of individuals and groups around the world, including public and private sector partners, healthcare providers, healthcare leaders, veterinarians, agriculture industry leaders, manufacturers, policymakers, and patients.  Efforts carried out as part of the Action Plan will help the Federal government curb the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria with the goal of saving lives.

To provide advice, information, and recommendations regarding programs and policies intended to support and evaluate the implementation of Executive Order 13676, including the National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria and the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, the Secretary of Health and Human Services established the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (Advisory Council). HHS is currently seeking nominations of individuals who are interested in being considered for appointment to the Advisory Council.

National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

The Action Plan is organized around five goals for collaborative action by the U.S. Government, in partnership with foreign governments, individuals, and organizations aiming to strengthen healthcare, public health, veterinary medicine, agriculture, food safety, and research and manufacturing.  Aggressive action will move the nation towards major reductions in the incidence of urgent and serious drug-resistant threats.

These goals are:
·         Slow the Emergence of Resistant Bacteria and Prevent the Spread of Resistant Infections.
·         Strengthen National One-Health Surveillance Efforts to Combat Resistance,
·         Advance Development and Use of Rapid and Innovative Diagnostic Tests for Identification and Characterization of Resistant Bacteria.
·         Accelerate Basic and Applied Research and Development for New Antibiotics, Other Therapeutics, and Vaccines.
·         Improve International Collaboration and Capacities for Antibiotic Resistance Prevention, Surveillance, Control, and Antibiotic Research and Development.

Slow the Emergence of Resistant Bacteria and Prevent the Spread of Resistant Infections

Judicious use of antibiotics in healthcare and agricultural settings is essential to slow the emergence of resistance and extend the useful lifetime of effective antibiotics.  The CDC estimates that up to half of all human antibiotic use is unnecessary or inappropriate. The Action Plan includes activities to foster improvements in the appropriate use of antibiotics (i.e., antibiotic stewardship) by improving prescribing practices across all healthcare settings. , preventing the spread of drug-resistant threats in healthcare facilities and communities, and continuing to eliminate the use of medically-important antibiotics for growth promotion in animals.

By 2020, significant outcomes in this area will include:

·         Establishment of antimicrobial stewardship programs in all acute care hospitals and improved antimicrobial stewardship across all healthcare settings.

·         Reduction of inappropriate antibiotic use by 50% in outpatient settings and by 20% in inpatient settings.

·         Establishment of State Antibiotic Resistance (AR) Prevention (Protect) Programs in all 50 states to monitor regionally important multi-drug resistant organisms and provide feedback and technical assistance to health care facilities.

·         Elimination of the use of medically-important antibiotics for growth promotion in food-producing animals.

Strengthen National-Surveillance Efforts for Resistant Bacteria

The “One-Health” approach to disease surveillance for human and animal pathogens is critical to combat antibiotic resistance.  Improved detection and control of antibiotic resistance in human and animal pathogens will be achieved through a “One-Health” approach to disease surveillance that integrates data from multiple monitoring networks.  This approach will significantly increase the currently very limited data and provide high-quality information, including detailed genomic data, necessary to track resistant bacteria in diverse settings in a timely fashion.

By 2020, significant outcomes in this area will include:

·         Creation of a regional public health network—the Detect Network of AR Regional Laboratories—for resistance testing, a specimen repository for resistant bacterial strains, and a National Sequence Database of Resistant Pathogens.

·         Routine reporting of antibiotic use and resistance data to National Health Safety Network (NHSN) by 95% of Medicare-eligible hospitals, as well as by Department of Defense  and Veterans Affairs healthcare facilities.

·         Routine testing of zoonotic and animal pathogens for antibiotic susceptibility at ten to twenty National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) and Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN) member laboratories, using standardized testing methods and data sharing practices.

Advance Development and Use of Rapid and Innovative Diagnostic Tests for Identification and Characterization of Resistant Bacteria

With the support of funding agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, today’s researchers are taking advantage of new technologies to develop rapid “point-of-need” diagnostic tests that can be used during a healthcare visit to distinguish between viral and bacterial infections and identify bacterial drug susceptibilities — an innovation that could significantly reduce unnecessary antibiotic use.  The availability of new rapid diagnostic tests, combined with ongoing use of culture-based assays to identify new resistance mechanisms, will advance the detection and control of resistant bacteria.

By 2020, significant outcomes in this area will include:

·         Development and dissemination of authorized point-of-need diagnostic tests that rapidly distinguish between bacterial and viral infections.

·         Validation of diagnostic tests that rapidly determine the antibiotic resistance profiles of bacteria of public health concern.

Accelerate Basic and Applied Research and Development for New Antibiotics, Other Therapeutics, and Vaccines

Antibiotics that lose their effectiveness for treating human disease through antibiotic resistance must be replaced with new drugs; alternatives to antibiotics are also needed in veterinary medicine.  The Action Plan will boost basic scientific research, attract greater private investment, and facilitate clinical trials in order to advance the discovery and development of new antibiotics and alternative therapies to combat resistance.

By 2020, significant outcomes in this area will include:

·         Characterization of the gut microbiome—the communities of microorganisms that live within the gastrointestinal tract—of at least one animal species raised for food.  This outcome will help us understand how antibiotic treatments disrupt normal gut bacteria and how animal growth might be promoted—and bacterial diseases might be treated—without using antibiotics.

·         Advancement of at least two new antibiotic drug candidates, non-traditional therapeutics, and/or vaccines from pre-clinical testing to clinical trials for treatment or prevention of human disease.

·         Development of at least three new drug candidates or probiotic treatments as alternatives to antibiotics for promoting growth or preventing disease in animals.

·         Creation of a biopharmaceutical incubator—a consortium of academic, biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry partners—to promote innovation and increase the number of antibiotics and antibodies in the drug-development pipeline.

Improve International Collaboration and Capacities for Antibiotic Resistance Prevention, Surveillance, Control, and Antibiotic Research and Development

Antibiotic resistance is a global problem that requires global solutions.  The United States will engage with international ministries and institutions to strengthen national and international capacities to detect, monitor, analyze, and report antibiotic resistance; provide resources and incentives to spur the development of therapeutics and diagnostics for use in humans and animals; and strengthen regional networks and global partnerships that help prevent and control the emergence and spread of resistance.

By 2020, significant outcomes in this area will include:
·         Elevation of antibiotic resistance as an international priority for global health and security.

·         Enhanced capacity to identify antimicrobial resistant pathogens in more than 15 partner countries.

·         Establishment of a common U.S.-European Union (EU) system for sharing and analyzing bacterial resistance patterns for priority pathogens.

·         Development of a global database to collect harmonized quantitative data on the use of antibacterial agents in animals.

·         Development of national plans to combat antibiotic resistance and improve antibiotic stewardship in low- and middle-income countries.

·         Strengthened regulatory and supply chain systems that assure the quality, safety, and efficacy of antibiotics used in low- and middle-income countries.



Ethanol and Agriculture Groups Challenge Anti-Biofuels Effort


Ethanol and agriculture industry groups came together this week to advocate for continued funding of U.S. blender pump initiatives and U.S. export promotion efforts in a letter to the House Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Programs Committee on Appropriations. Today’s letter countered a request led by Representatives Bob Goodlatte, Peter Welch, and Jim Costa to eliminate funding for these types of forward-looking programs and calls on the subcommittee to “vehemently oppose and reject any efforts to include such limiting language in the FY 2016 Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Programs.”

The letter is signed by the Renewable Fuels Association, American Coalition for Ethanol, National Farmers Union, National Corn Growers Association, and Growth Energy.

The full letter can be found below:

The Honorable Robert Aderholt                               The Honorable Sam Farr
Chairman                                                                    Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural                         Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural
Development, FDA, and Related Programs              Development, FDA, and Related Programs
Committee on Appropriations                                   Committee on Appropriations
Washington, DC  20515                                             Washington, DC  20515

Dear Chairman Aderholt and Ranking Member Farr:

We are writing today to express our strong opposition to the inclusion of language in the Fiscal Year 2016 Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Programs Appropriation bill prohibiting the use of USDA funds for the installation of ethanol blender pumps and efforts to promote ethanol exports from the U.S.  As you know, this funding limitation was requested in a recent letter circulated by Representatives Bob Goodlatte, Peter Welch and Jim Costa.

It is important to note at the outset that there already exists a prohibition on the US Department of Agriculture using grant funds for the installation of blender pumps, which was included in the recently passed Farm Bill.  Now, in a blatant effort to shelter the oil and gas industry from any further competition from ethanol, Representatives Goodlatte, et al. are seeking to place limitations on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s efforts to help promote the consumption of American made ethanol at home and abroad; something that agency has been successfully doing with other agriculture and livestock products for decades.

USDA’s past, modest efforts to provide funding assistance to fuel retailers to upgrade their infrastructure to offer more biofuels like ethanol have helped provide some consumers greater access to low cost biofuels.  However, given the franchise structure of the retail gas industry, and the oil industry’s 100-year monopoly on the fuel market, the transition to higher volume biofuel blends has proven to be a very slow and difficult undertaking.

Not satisfied with its efforts to protect Big Oil’s control over the domestic fuel market, the Goodlatte letter seeks to strengthen the death grip on the U.S. ethanol industry by also prohibiting the USDA from expending any trade promotion resources for ethanol exports.  For the U.S. ethanol industry, exports have provided a valuable market for surplus ethanol.  As the industry continues to struggle to expand the number of gasoline stations offering E15 and E85 and thereby overcome the domestic “blendwall” erected by oil refiners, it has been the export market that has helped the U.S. ethanol industry continue to grow, innovate and stay competitive in the face of an artificially constrained market at home.  To deny the U.S ethanol industry access to these important trade promotion resources—which remain available to hundreds of other U.S. agricultural products—is simply a biased and one-sided approach that is more concerned with constraining the U.S. ethanol industry than it is with mitigating the supposed impacts of ethanol on food and livestock pricing and availability. Indeed, at least $23 million in USDA funding has been allocated in 2015 to promote exports from the U.S. livestock, dairy, and poultry industries—the very groups Goodlatte’s proposal portends to help.

While the Goodlatte letter claims that corn-based ethanol is negatively impacting American consumers, food and livestock producers, and food availability, there is ample data which shows that that is simply not the case.  Corn prices today are below the prices witnessed in 2007 when the Renewable Fuel Standard was expanded and livestock feed costs are at their lowest levels in more than five years. Not surprisingly, U.S. red meat and poultry production is projected to set new records in 2015. Worldwide, more grain is available for food and feed use than at any other time in history. Meanwhile, consumer food prices have advanced more slowly since passage of the RFS than in the 25 years prior to its enactment.

In light of the above, we ask that you vehemently oppose and reject any efforts to include such limiting language in the FY 2016 Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Programs

Sincerely,
            Growth Energy
            Renewable Fuels Association
           American Coalition for Ethanol
            National Farmers Union
            National Corn Growers Association




Australian Drought Provides Supply to a Tight Global Market


According to the latest Rabobank Beef Quarterly report, herd liquidation in Australia cannot continue at the high rates seen through 2013 and 2014, and without any global beef expansion forecast in the short term, global supplies are expected to remain tight.

“Global beef supply continues to remain tight in Q1 2015, although Australian exports remain high as drought continues,” says Rabobank Animal Protein Analyst Angus Gidley-Baird.  “Continued liquidation of the cattle herd and possible improved seasons will lead to a reduction in Australia’s beef production through 2015.”

The dry conditions in Australian cattle regions have continued into 2015. As a result, slaughter and export volumes remain high. This continues to offset some of the tight global cattle and beef supplies experienced in 2014 and forecast for 2015.

But herd liquidation in Australia cannot continue at this rate, and without any global beef expansion forecast in the short term, global supplies are expected to remain tight.

U.S. prices experienced a high degree of volatility in the early part of 2015 as a result of many factors. A slowing economy and lower pork and poultry prices are leading to a weak demand for beef and Chinese retail beef prices have been stable entering 2015 rather than following their normal upward trend.



Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thursday March 26 Ag News

Iowa Soybean Association partner gives farmers helping hand in financial management

With net farm income predicted to shrink by a third in 2015, Iowa soybean farmers are scrutinizing all aspects of their farm operations to remain competitive. To assist in their efforts, the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) is renewing its partnership with Pivot Wealth Strategies of Des Moines to provide farmers with timely insight on asset management, financial planning, and farm succession.

In a time of tightening margins, financial decisions impacting farmer profitability are taking on added importance. The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts net farm income to be $73.6 billion in 2015, down nearly 32 percent from 2014. In addition, total production expenses are expected to increase one percent.

Chris Uglum and Ben Nelson, co-founders of Pivot Wealth Strategies, value the opportunity to partner with ISA in service to soybean farmers.

“Modest declines in farm ground and the increase in production costs signal an increased debt to asset ratio,” Uglum said. “We’re hearing from farmers interested in building a plan for diversification. Having more than one ‘net worth bucket’ will make times like these less painful. While the most advantageous time to develop such a plan is when times are good, the second best option is to start one today.”

Succession planning and farm transition are also becoming increasingly important given that the average age of the Iowa farmer is nearing 58. Farmers need to have a game plan to ensure their legacy continues.

“Operating a successful farm business certainly includes making the right agronomic and marketing decisions. But increasingly, it includes being knowledgeable about money management, implications and rules,” said ISA president Tom Oswald. “Pivot has been a valuable partner since 2012 and we are excited to deepen our relationship.”

ISA’s partnership with Pivot Wealth Strategies began with the creation of “Farm Wealth Update” a bi-monthly e-newsletter providing timely expertise on issues directly impacting farm profitability and competitiveness. This year, ISA members will also have the opportunity to engage with Pivot through ISA District Advisory Council surveys and events.



Existing Rules Protect Water Quality, Says NPPC


Existing regulations on agriculture are more than adequate to maintain and improve water quality, the National Pork Producers Council said in written testimony submitted yesterday to the Senate and House agriculture committees, which recently held hearings on a proposed rule to define “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS). The organization also said that upstream waters should not be categorically covered by the regulation.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last April proposed the WOTUS rule to clarify their authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA) over various waters. Currently, that jurisdiction – based on several U.S. Supreme Court decisions – includes “navigable” waters and waters with a significant hydrologic connection to navigable waters. The WOTUS rule would broaden that to include, among other water bodies, upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams such as the kind farmers use for drainage and irrigation. It also would encompass lands adjacent to such waters.

“We all need and want more jurisdictional clarity, and we understand the need for a rule that addresses this,” said NPPC in its testimony. “But starting from the question ‘what is jurisdictional’ is functionally backward. The goal is clean water, not the forever-expansive growth of federal jurisdiction over every drop of water and all land features and activities that affect that water, merely for the sake of jurisdiction.”

The organization pointed out that pork operations already are regulated under the Clean Water Act’s Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation rule, which regulates how pork producers store, manage, handle and use manure for crop production. Additionally, farmers are adopting and updating practices to prevent or minimize storm water discharges, not only as part of caring for their fields and conducting efficient operations but under a section of the CWA. Furthermore, under the so-called Swampbuster provisions of various Farm Bills, farmers are subject to severe penalties if they drain, dredge, fill or level agricultural wetlands for the purpose of producing a commodity.

NPPC noted that while EPA has stated it doesn’t intend to impose new restrictions on agricultural non-point source discharges that now qualify for the CWA’s exemptions from permitting, under the WOTUS rule, it would make upstream features jurisdictional.

“Making upstream features with little or no resemblance to the types of waters that fit with the Clean Water Act’s aspirational goals adds no water quality value to the downstream waters that we all want to protect,” NPPC said.

According to analyses by agricultural organizations, including NPPC, and federal agencies, the WOTUS rule would encompass millions of miles of streams and adjacent lands, subjecting any activity near or on them – including, for farmers, applying fertilizers and pesticides and (potentially) planting crops – to CWA permitting. The regulation also would expose farmers to citizen lawsuits, alleging, for example, that ditches on cropland should be regulated under the CWA.



Pre-World Pork Expo tours offer a broad view of Midwest agriculture


The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is offering two tours before the 2015 World Pork Expo opens that will provide visitors a unique opportunity to gain insights into U.S. agriculture. A two-day tour, set for June 1-2, will travel to locations in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa, showcasing hog, feed, bioenergy and equipment production. The one-day tour on June 2 will provide a look at modern swine production and food marketing, as well as agricultural research and product development. Both tours include meals on tour days, along with free, three-day admission to World Pork Expo, the world’s largest pork-specific trade show.

“The pre-World Pork Expo tours are a great way to gain a broad view of the many facets of U.S. agriculture and food production,” says Greg Thornton, NPPC director of producer services. “This year’s tours will cover a lot of ground — from feed milling to hog production, and pork marketing to energy production. Participants will gain a rich perspective of Midwest agriculture at the farm and beyond.”

Get a personal view of Midwest agriculture

Participants can join the two-day tour, which is underwritten by the Illinois Soybean Association, in either Des Moines, Iowa, on Sunday, May 31, or Chicago, on Monday, June 1. Monday will feature stops in Indiana at a Co-Alliance feed mill; Bio Town Ag, a pork and beef producer with an anaerobic digester to recycle animal waste; and Fair Oaks Farms, home of the Farmhouse Restaurant and The Pig Adventure, which showcases modern pork production. Day Two includes a visit to the John Deere Harvester Works in East Moline, Illinois, and a barge trip down the Mississippi River to observe grain-export activities along this vital waterway. After touring a Cargill commercial wean-to-finish swine barn, the group will dine at the award-winning Smokey D’s BBQ in Des Moines.

The one-day Central Iowa tour on Tuesday, June 2, includes visits to Kemin Industries’ research and product-development facilities, and the DuPont Pioneer Research & Development Center. Lunch will be served at the Lucky Pig restaurant in Ogden, Iowa, which is owned and operated by pork producer Craig Christensen. Other stops include a commercial wean-to-finish hog facility, a modern Hy-Vee grocery store for a look at the U.S. retail food sector, and dinner at the Machine Shed Restaurant, which has been featured on the Travel Channel.

“These pre-Expo tours are open to anyone, but in the spirit of World Pork Expo, they are an excellent opportunity for visitors from other countries to get an up-close look at the business of agriculture from the farm gate to the consumer’s plate,” says Ron Prestage, NPPC president and Camden, South Carolina, pork producer. “Tour participants also will enjoy the exhibits and seminars at World Pork Expo as they gain further insight into the latest products and technologies pork producers use to supply the world with nutritious, high-quality pork.”

Space is limited

The fee for the one-day tour, which can accommodate up to 30 people, is US$150 per person. The cost of the two-day tour, which has a maximum capacity of 54 and includes hotel accommodations for the night of June 1, is US$450 per person.

Both tours end at the Holiday Inn Des Moines-Airport, which is the World Pork Expo international headquarters hotel. Participants in the two-day tour can choose to board the bus at the Holiday Inn Des Moines-Airport on May 31, or join the tour June 1 at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Chicago-O’Hare. Included in the tour packages are bus transportation, three meals on tour days, exhibit fees and any biosecurity apparel required to visit the hog operations. Registration also includes a three-day pass to World Pork Expo, and access to free transportation between the international headquarters hotel and Expo grounds, June 3-5.

Find more information and register for a tour

For more details and to register for these tours, go to worldpork.org and select “Attendees” on the blue registration button. Then, scroll down to "Industry Tours."

The website also has the latest details about room availability at the official Expo hotels, a schedule of activities, and answers to frequently asked questions about traveling to World Pork Expo. Regular updates are available when you connect with World Pork Expo on Facebook, follow World Pork Expo on Twitter (@NPPCWPX, #WPX15), or download the official app by searching for “World Pork” in the Apple Store, Android Market or Blackberry’s App World.

World Pork Expo takes place June 3-5 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. Hundreds of commercial exhibits will be on display from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 3, and Thursday, June 4, as well as from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, June 5. The swine breeding stock sales will take place on Saturday, June 6, from 8 a.m. until they are completed (at approximately noon).



Wheat Growers Express Concern Over IARC Glyphosate Reclassification 

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) expressed concern about the claims of a recent, stand-alone report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that moves to reclassify glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen. NAWG President Brett Blankenship, a wheat farmer from Washtucna, Wash., provided the following statement on the issue:

“I appreciate people being concerned about food safety and where their food comes from, but years of regulatory scrutiny and scientific review show the clear facts about the safety of glyphosate use in production agriculture. The use of glyphosate in wheat production is minimal, but not absent. On my own farm in Washington State, I use glyphosate well before I plant my wheat to provide a clean planting environment to give the consumer the cleanest and healthiest possible product I can provide as a farmer.

“The claims by the IARC are very troubling and are not based on any new science. More than 25 years of analysis from global regulatory bodies and the international scientific community, assessing updated data and peer-reviewed literature, has consistently provided the same evidence: the toxicity levels of glyphosate are low and glyphosate is not carcinogenic. The discrepancy between 25-years of scientific analysis and one report, which was based on a limited amount of data, cannot be ignored.

Consumers can have faith that U.S. farmers and ranchers, including wheat growers, work tirelessly to provide the safest possible food for our families and theirs. NAWG stands side-by-side with our industry partners and allies in supporting farmers’ conscientious use of glyphosate.”

Senate and House Consider Budget Resolutions

On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted its FY 2016 budget resolution on a vote of 228-199. The version of the budget resolution approved by the full House reflects the version passed by the House Budget Committee last week, but it includes an additional $2 billion for a particular Defense account.

During floor consideration, the House rejected a number of alternative budget proposals, including a proposal from the Republican Study Committee that would have called for the elimination of funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program. The final version adopted by the House does include reconciliation instructions for the Agriculture Committee to find $1 billion in reductions over 10 years in mandatory programs.

The Senate is still considering its budget resolution with amendment votes anticipated to extend through Thursday night. There were a number of amendments introduced that could impact crop insurance and the farm programs, including amendments from Senator Flake (R-AZ) that would eliminate premium subsidies on policies utilizing the Harvest Price Option, limiting premium support for producers with an AGI above $750,000, and calling for disclosure of participants in the crop insurance program; an amendment from Senator Shaheen (D-NH) that would call for a premium support cap of $50,000 annually; and an amendment from Senator Booker (D-NJ) that would call for a reduction in the AGI cap for Title 1 farm programs. NAWG is opposed to these amendments and we ask that you contact your Senate offices today (Thursday) to oppose any amendment that would undermine crop insurance or that would reopen the Farm Bill.



March 31 Deadline for Farm Bill Approaching; Extension Available in FSA Offices


With less than one week until the sign-up deadline, 77 percent of farmers have made their election into the farm bill risk management program, according to USDA Farm Services Agency officials testifying today at a hearing of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management. Ninety-four percent have completed their base acre reallocations. Farmers have until Tuesday, March 31 to update their base acres and choose between Ag Risk Coverage or Price Loss Coverage at their local FSA office.

At the hearing, FSA officials said county offices will remain flexible during program sign-up. Farmers who are unable to complete the process by the deadline are encouraged to go to their local FSA office as soon as possible (before March 31) to sign a document of their intent to enroll. This will allow the farmer to come back into the FSA office to complete the enrollment process. Producers failing to enroll in either ARC/PLC are by default enrolled in the PLC program and forfeit program benefits for 2014.

"These are important decisions that will impact farm operations for at least the next five years," said NCGA President Chip Bowling. "FSA offices are here to help with that process. If you haven't completed the enrollment process yet, and need more time, get into your local office as soon as possible and sign your intent to enroll."



Corn Sales to Western Hemisphere Surge


As of March 12, the Western Hemisphere claimed nearly 708.6 million bushels in outstanding sales and accumulated exports of U.S. corn for the 2014/2015 marketing year, 102 million bushels more than last year at the same time, the U.S. Grains Councol reported this week.

With domestic consumption of U.S. corn expected to remain flat for the current marketing year, there is an abundant supply available for export. The Western Hemisphere is a natural market due to its proximity to U.S. export channels.

Canada, Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela are generally among the top 10 export markets for U.S. corn, and the countries of Central America are generally among the top 20 export markets. New growth throughout the region is occurring due to grain availability, competitively priced U.S. corn and policies that enable open, liberalized trade of goods and services.

"The increase in sales in this region demonstrates clearly what can happen when, working together, the National Corn Growers Association advocates for trade policies which the U.S. Grains Council can then use to promote U.S. corn in export markets," said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair John Linder, a farmer from Ohio. "NCGA and USGC's synergistic relationship effectively builds exports and directly benefits farmers in the form of increased demand."

Two notable increases were in Colombia, with an increase of almost 39 million bushels, and Peru, with an increase of 28 million bushels. Both markets have free trade agreements with the United States that provide greater market access for U.S. agricultural products.

Under the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement, the United States enjoys a duty-free tariff rate quota for the first 95.7 million bushels of corn exports to Colombia in 2015. However, as of March 12, Colombia's accumulated exports and outstanding sales of U.S. corn totaled more than 122 million bushels, meaning Colombia will be importing U.S. corn outside of its TRQ this year. This highlights the vast demand for the U.S. product.

Meanwhile, Peru's appetite for U.S. corn has also exploded, reaching 71 million bushels as of March 12. The U.S.-Peru trade promotion agreement has been instrumental in boosting bilateral trade in food and agricultural products between the United States and Peru. Within the first seven days of 2015, Peru exhausted its entire TRQ of 27.9 million bushels, again highlighting the success of the U.S. FTA.

"The notable continuation of Colombia and Peru sourcing the majority of their corn from the United States is an important achievement as is U.S. market share in Central America maintaining the pace set in the 2013/2014 marketing year," said USGC Director of the Western Hemisphere Marri Carrow. 

"The Council has been involved in the region since the early 1980s, accelerating the growth of domestic meat, milk and egg production. While domestic production boosts the economy of our export customers, this growth presents U.S. farmers with the opportunity for increased profitability in the homeland. Also during this time, the Council fostered long-standing trade partnerships between key buyers and sellers in the region, which helped make this increase of U.S. corn exports to the region possible."



U.S. ethanol exports in 2014 reach highest level since 2011

(Energy Information Administration)

According to EIA monthly supply data through December 2014, which EIA released in late February, U.S. exports of fuel ethanol in 2014 reached their second-highest level at a total of 826 million gallons. This level was second only to the 1.2 billion gallons exported during 2011 and 33% more than exports of fuel ethanol in 2013. Similarly, U.S. imports of ethanol, which totaled approximately 377 million gallons during 2013, fell by 81% to a total of 73 million gallons in 2014, their lowest annual level since 2010. As a result, the United States was a net exporter of fuel ethanol for the fifth consecutive year and exported the fuel to 37 different countries in 2014.

In the United States, ethanol is primarily used as a blending component in the production of motor gasoline (mainly blended in volumes up to 10% ethanol, also known as E10). Corn is the primary feedstock of ethanol in the United States, and large corn harvests have contributed to increased ethanol production. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that the United States produced a record 14.2 billion bushels of corn in 2014, 3% higher than the previous record set in 2013.

Given the uncertainty surrounding future Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) targets and the lack of significant demand for higher ethanol blends in 2014, the growth in ethanol output had two primary outlets: it can either be blended into domestic gasoline or it can be exported. U.S. gasoline blending grew for the second consecutive year in 2014, with gasoline consumption increasing slightly from 2013 levels. As gasoline consumption increases, more ethanol is able to be used as a blendstock (as E10). Additional volumes of ethanol beyond requirements for E10 blending and relatively small volumes used in higher ethanol blends such as E85 (85% ethanol and 15% gasoline) were exported in 2014.

Canada remained the top destination for U.S. ethanol exports in 2014, receiving 336 million gallons, or about 41% of all U.S. ethanol exports. Brazil, the United Arab Emirates, and the Philippines all imported at least 50 million gallons of U.S. ethanol in 2014; 33 other countries received less than 50 million gallons each. U.S. ethanol has been a competitively priced octane booster for gasoline in foreign markets as well as an attractive option for meeting renewable fuel and greenhouse gas emissions programs standards. In addition, countries such as Canada and Brazil have ethanol blending mandates that continue to generate demand for U.S. ethanol.

Export volumes to Brazil increased by 146% in 2014 in part because of the need to meet Brazilian ethanol demand. Brazilian ethanol producers have already lost significant market share internationally over the past few years as U.S. exports have grown, in large part because of abundant U.S. corn harvests. As a result, reports state that as many as 60 Brazilian ethanol plants were temporarily closed in 2014. Brazilian ethanol producers were also hurt by a lack of U.S. ethanol import demand in 2014, driven by uncertainty surrounding future RFS targets in the United States, which have been a strong driver of U.S. demand for sugarcane ethanol from Brazil in previous years. Sugarcane ethanol, unlike corn ethanol, generally counts as an advanced biofuel under the RFS program, which includes targets for several distinct categories of biofuels.

The United States imported 73 million gallons of ethanol in 2014, a decrease of more than 81% from 2013. About 74% of U.S. imports came from Brazil, with the remaining gallons primarily from Guatemala, Canada, and the Netherlands. U.S. import demand for ethanol was driven lower primarily because of RFS targets that are not yet finalized along with strong domestic production and import quantities of biomass-based diesel, which, like sugarcane, also counts as an advanced biofuel under the RFS program. The California Low Carbon Fuel Standard, which includes incentives for increased blending of sugarcane ethanol, did little to draw in Brazilian volumes of ethanol in 2014, with slightly more than 10 million gallons entering the United States on the West Coast, down from 126 million gallons in 2013.

Given the existing ethanol production capacity coupled with the ongoing constraints for blending ethanol into domestic gasoline, the United States likely will continue to remain a strong exporter of ethanol in 2015. Ultimately, the key drivers for ethanol exports this year are the finalized levels of RFS targets for 2014 and 2015, future corn crop yields, and ethanol producer profitability. Increased exports of ethanol to Brazil in 2015 may be supported by an increase in the Brazilian ethanol blend level from 25% to 27%, which took effect in mid-March.



Pigs Gain Same with Corn-Ethanol Co-product as with Corn-Soybean Meal


Distillers dried grains with solubles, or DDGS, are increasingly common in swine diets in the United States. In recent years, different types of DDGS have come on the market.

"Ethanol plants use different procedures to produce DDGS, which results in different end products," said Hans H. Stein, a professor of animal sciences at University of Illinois.

"To produce conventional DDGS, the corn is cooked to gelatinize starch prior to fermentation. However, uncooked DDGS can also be used if specific enzymes are used to pre-digest the starch prior to fermentation. Some ethanol plants also use a different fractionation technology to produce DDGS with more protein than conventional DDGS."

Stein's team tested diets containing 30 percent conventional DDGS (DDGS-CV), high-protein distillers dried grains (HP-DDG), or uncooked DDGS (DDGS-BPX), and compared them with a corn-soybean meal basal diet. They conducted one experiment using growing pigs and another experiment using finishing pigs to determine if the stage of growth of pigs affected their utilization of the different ingredients.

Results indicated that pigs fed DDGS-CV, HP-DDG, or DDGS-BPX had no differences in average daily gain, average daily feed intake, and gain to feed ratio compared with pigs fed the basal diet. This was true for both growing and finishing pigs.

With a few exceptions, there was no difference in retention of energy, protein, or lipids between pigs fed the test ingredients. Growing pigs fed the basal diet retained more protein than pigs fed DDGS-CV or HP-DDG. Finishing pigs fed DDGS-BPX had greater lipid gain than pigs fed DDGS-CV. Net energy in DDGS-CV was greater than in HP-DDG or DDGS-BPX if fed to finishing pigs, but that was not the case if fed to growing pigs.

"Results from this study indicate that whereas there are some differences in retention of energy and nutrients among the different sources of DDGS, these differences are not of such a magnitude that they affect growth performance," said Stein. "Conventional, high-protein, or uncooked DDGS can be included at up to 30 percent in growing and finishing pig diets without a negative effect on performance."

The study, "Effects of co-products from the corn-ethanol industry on body composition, retention of protein, lipids and energy, and on the net energy of diets fed to growing or finishing pigs," was published in a recent edition of the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. It was co-authored by Nestor Gutierrez, Dong Yong Kil, Yanhong Liu, and James Pettigrew.



FAA Streamlines Rules to Speed Up Permits to Fly Drones


(AP) -- Federal aviation officials, battered by complaints that bureaucratic hurdles are preventing industry from realizing the economic benefits of drones, announced Tuesday they are streamlining rules to expedite permits to fly small, commercial unmanned aircraft.

The Federal Aviation Administration made the announcement an hour before a congressional hearing at which an Amazon.com executive complained that the agency took too long to approve a request to flight test a delivery drone. The model of drone was already obsolete when the request was finally granted last week.

Drone industry officials have complained that FAA's restrictions on testing are forcing U.S. companies to do their testing overseas and giving foreign competitors a leg up.

"We don't test it anymore. We've moved on to more advanced designs that we already are testing abroad," said Paul Misener, Amazon's vice president for global public policy at a hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science and Technology's aviation subcommittee.

Amazon submitted a new request to the FAA last Friday -- the day after the previous request was granted -- for permission to test fly a more advanced drone, Misener said. "We are hopeful that this permission will be granted quickly," he said.

The company is also asking FAA for permission "to rapidly modify our test vehicles without administrative delays associated with every change," Misener said.

By contrast, European regulators are "enthusiastically pursuing" an approach that is "eminently reasonable" and "mindful of the tremendous opportunities for innovation and economic benefits" that drones present, he said.

FAA officials have been cautious about granting permission both to companies who want to test drones for future operations like Amazon and to companies that want to use drones now. Agency officials have said their tight restrictions are necessary to prevent collisions between drones and manned aircraft, especially since drones don't show up on radar and drone operators have limited ability to "see and avoid" other aircraft.

Last year, the FAA began granting permits on a case-by-case basis to companies that want to use drones for aerial photography, to monitor crops and pipelines, and to inspect bridges, cell phone towers, oil platforms and other tall structures, among other uses. But the agency has a backlog of nearly 700 permit applications, and the list is growing.

Under the streamlined rules, the FAA will grant blanket flying permission to applicants whose drones weigh less than 55 pounds and who agree to keep flights under 200 feet, to fly only in the daytime, and to keep away from airports.

The permits FAA has granted thus far also require operators to keep drones within line of sight of operators. That severely limits the distance drones can fly and would prevent the kind of deliveries Amazon envisions.

Amazon wants to use drones weighing less than 50 pounds to deliver small packages to customers within 30 minutes or less. That would entail flying "distances of 10 miles or more, well beyond visual line of sight," Misener said.



Louis Dreyfus Remains Private


Louis Dreyfus Commodities B.V., a privately held agricultural trading firm since 1851, won't be going public.

Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, the largest shareholder and most powerful corporate board member at the family-controlled company, said Thursday she would increase her stake in the firm to 80%, dashing hopes of an initial public offering or sale of a stake. Louis-Dreyfus has steadily increased her holding since the death of her husband, Robert Louis-Dreyfus, in 2009.

"We are a long-term investor, and to be a long-term investor it's very important to have family control of the company," Louis-Dreyfus told reporters at a Paris news conference as the company reported a small increase in 2014 net profit.

The announcement settled for now any question about the company's ownership structure. Louis-Dreyfus had fueled speculation about changes because of her strong emphasis on developing the company's corporate governance and her desire that its business model and operations align more closely with those of a publicly listed business.

However, she didn't rule out the possibility that the company might seek a strategic partner to invest in the 20% still owned by other members of the Louis-Dreyfus family.

Louis-Dreyfus is also chairwoman of Louis Dreyfus Holding, which owns 85% of Louis Dreyfus Commodities. The other 15% is owned by employees.

Along with Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge and Cargill, the company dominates the global trade in agricultural commodities, which have been hurt by weak prices in recent months.

Still, Louis Dreyfus said Thursday its net profit inched higher to $648 million last year as weak commodities prices made for a difficult operating environment. The steady earnings follow a nearly 30% decline in net profit in 2013 because of the effects of a severe drought in the U.S.

"We're in a phase where the commodity cycle is slower and margins are lower and if you look at our peers, profitability is not at its peak, so it's quite a performance to be able to maintain our profit performance," said Executive Chairman Serge Schoen.

Last year, bumper crops put downward pressure on the price of agricultural commodities, leading to a 13% decline in operating results from the company's merchandising unit, which focuses in trading such products as sugar, cotton and coffee. However, companies like Louis Dreyfus also benefited from increased volumes passing through industrial and logistical assets, boosting results in the companies' value chain operations.

Shipped volumes, which the company said was a better sign of performance in a depressed price environment, rose 4% to 80 million tons. Return on equity was 14%.

"These results prove that our business model and strategy, combining processing and logistics operations with merchandising expertise, is a great recipe for success," Schoen said.

Louis Dreyfus intends to maintain its current rate of investment, planning to spend $4 billion over the next 5 years as it considers its strategic goals for the next 10 years.

Meanwhile, it has yet to find a new CEO after an attempt to hire ex-Viterra Inc. boss Mayo Schmidt fell through late last year because of a disagreement over the terms and conditions of his employment. The company said the delay in finding a new CEO hadn't affected its operations and strategy and that it will take its time to consider other possible candidates to make sure it finds someone who fits the culture.



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wednesday March 25 Ag News

Domina to Present Update on Water Law Issues & Syngenta Corn Litigation
Dave Domina and Brian Jorde, agricultural lawyers representing farmers and ranchers across Nebraska, will host a series of free informational meetings providing updates on issues critical to agricultural producers and our state's economy.   

Domina will discuss important water issues and what all corn sellers need to know about lawsuits related to Syngenta's MIR 162 and who is affected.

It is important those concerned about water issues and access to competitive markets stay informed on the latest legal challenges and opportunities.  There has also been an influx of out of state law firms chasing after Nebraska farmers recently and we want to let folks here know the facts,  not the hype, about their potential financial recovery against Syngenta and what to do.    

This informational meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 31st at 10:00am at Hilltop Lanes (1202 2nd St) in Dodge.  Domina is known for his decades of legal work successfully representing farmers, ranchers, and small businesses predominately with agricultural related issues and challenges.

More at http://www.dominalaw.com

Who:  Dave Domina and Brian Jorde of Domina Law Group
What:  Informational Meeting on Syngenta Corn Litigation & Water Update
Where:  Hilltop Lanes (1202 2nd St) in Dodge, NE
When:  Tuesday, March 31st at 10:00am




Ag Summit announcement, Newman Grove March 28th


The Newman Grove Ag Summit will be Saturday, March 28th in Newman Grove at the Fellowship Bible church located at 1011 Hale Avenue (three blocks east of the school) with Darren Hefty from AgPhD television and Dr. Al Dutcher, state climatologist, as guest speakers.  The summit begins with a breakfast from 8-9 a.m., and includes lunch at noon, with the event wrapping up at 2:15 p.m.  Area vendors will be present, there will be door prizes, and the event is free to all farmers and those involved in agriculture.



Smith Votes for Death Tax Repeal


Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement today after the House Ways and Means Committee met to consider H.R. 1105, the Death Tax Repeal Act.  This legislation, of which Smith is a cosponsor, passed the Committee and now goes to the House Floor for a vote.

“The Death Tax directly threatens many farms, ranches and small businesses, undermining the lifelong work of Nebraskans who hope to pass their livelihood on to their children and grandchildren,” Smith said.  “Considering farmers and ranchers already pay significant property taxes, the Death Tax really amounts to double taxation.  I am pleased to have the opportunity through my role on the Ways and Means Committee to support legislation which fully repeals this onerous tax.”

Smith also recently received the Benjamin Franklin Award from the 60 Plus Association in recognition of his efforts to repeal the Death Tax.



Western Iowa Coop & New Cooperative Discuss Merger


This past January was announced the start of discussions of a possible unification of two Iowa cooperatives, Western Iowa Coop based in Hornick and New Cooperative based in Fort Dodge.  Since that time, a very in depth merger study has been completed by both staffs and presented to the boards of both companies.  After a thorough review, both boards have voted unanimously to submit a merger plan to the memberships.

They have scheduled membership meetings for Thursday, March 26th, 2015 at three meeting sites; the first will be at the Blencoe Community Center at 9:00 am, the second will be at the Hornick office at 12:00 pm, and the third will be at the Pierson Community Center at 3:00 pm.  Representatives from both cooperatives will be on hand to answer any questions you may have.

All Western Iowa Coop members and customers that might have questions or concerns are encouraged to please attend one of these very informational meetings.



Soy Growers: GMO Labeling Bill would Provide Clarity with a National Non-GMO Label


The American Soybean Association (ASA) issued its firm support today for a bill introduced and referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee that would provide for a national labeling standard for non-GMO foods. The bill, brought forward by Reps. Mike Pompeo of Kansas and G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, bypasses a potentially conflicting patchwork of state laws and regulations governing the labeling of GMO and non-GMO foods, as well as multiple private sector non-GMO labeling standards, by establishing one common framework for labeling at the national level.

“We have heard loud and clear the message that consumers want to know what’s in their food, and we agree completely that this information should be easily available to them. At the retail level, though, consumers who want to choose non-GMO foods have to contend with an increasingly confused landscape of different labeling schemes with different requirements,” said Wade Cowan, ASA president and West Texas-based farmer. “This bill would end confusion for consumers over which food products do not contain biotech ingredients by establishing a national standard for non-GMO labels. That way, all of the products in the grocery store that don’t contain GMOs will have one simple, easy-to-understand label on them, and the consumer gets the information he or she is looking for.”

In addition to provisions for a national non-GMO label, the bill would also solve the problem created for consumers, farmers and retailers by the inconsistent patchwork of potential state regulations governing the labeling of GMOs.

“The bill also helps to provide consumers with greater clarity by replacing state laws and regulations that can be at odds with one another with a clear and simple national labeling standard,” added Cowan. “We know that labeling at the state level will only disrupt interstate commerce and result in increased costs to consumers since food companies would need to label products to meet potentially 50 different labeling requirements. Moreover, there is near unanimous agreement among members of Congress – including both liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans – that a patchwork of conflicting state labeling laws is unworkable and would only increase consumer costs.”

Cowan also noted that both sides of the GMO debate have more in common than many think, and that ASA is working to highlight them, rather than focus on the small number of areas that divide the two camps.

“We’ve been a part of the debate over biotechnology and GMOs for almost 20 years now, and what we’ve found is that the science on the safety of this technology is solid and unanimous. We’ve also found, however, that consumers just want to know more about what they’re eating. As consumers ourselves, we agree wholeheartedly, and think that a simple, clear label for products that don’t contain GMOs is the way to provide shoppers the clarity and information they demand.”



National Corn Growers Association urges Congress to pass the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act


The National Corn Growers Association applauded the introduction today of legislation to create a national, science-based labeling standard for foods containing genetically modified organisms and urged Congress to quickly pass the bill.

The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), will ensure that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration remains the authority on food safety and labeling in the United States.

Additionally, by establishing federal standards around a voluntary GMO-free label, this bill strikes an important balance between providing consumers choice and clarity in the grocery aisle and protecting a technology that is vital to American farmers.

“Farmers and consumers agree on the need for clear, consistent labeling. Labels should be science-based and uniform in all 50 states,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling, a farmer from Maryland. “In the absence of a national solution to GMO labeling, we risk increased food prices for American families and continued confusion in the marketplace.

“This legislation provides a common-sense solution for American consumers looking for additional information about the food they buy, while providing certainty to the farmers who produce it. We urge Congress to support it.”



NMPF Applauds Introduction of Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act


The National Milk Producers Federation today praised the introduction of legislation in the House of Representatives that would establish federal standards for the safety and labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms.

Under the bill, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, the Food and Drug Administration will set standards for companies that wish to label their products as containing or not containing GMOs. The legislation was introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC). Rep. Pompeo introduced similar legislation in the House last year.

“Rather than create a confusing patchwork of state policies, the legislation would deal with this issue at the national level,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of NMPF. “It would improve clarity in foods carrying a GMO-free label by establishing uniform rules and a national certification program for foods that have been produced without bioengineering.”

GMOs have been proven safe by nearly 2,000 studies from the leading scientific bodies in the world, including the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association. Agencies including the FDA, the U.S. Agriculture Department, the National Academy of Sciences, and the World Health Organization have found no negative health effects from consuming GMOs.

“Due to the complexity of the American food chain, state-by-state labeling is not an option,” Mulhern said. “The additional costs would be passed on to consumers, and many family-run businesses, including dairy farms, would be unable to navigate these new hurdles.”

There is no need for mandatory labeling of foods made with GMO process or ingredients, “but if food marketing companies wish to voluntarily label their products as being free of GMOs, this legislation establishes a national protocol for doing so,” Mulhern said.

Currently, up to 80 percent of the food available in the United States contains genetically modified ingredients.



NAWG Applauds Introduction of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act 


The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) applauds the introduction today of legislation that will create a national, science-based labeling standard for foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and urges Congress to quickly pass the bill.

“We are pleased by the introduction of this bipartisan legislation. A uniform standard will bring the clarity desired by the consumer while ensuring they have direct access to fact-based, accurate information about how their food is grown, which is just not possible through conflicting state-by-state labeling laws,” said Brett Blankenship, NAWG President and wheat grower from Washtucna, Wash. “It is imperative that Congress pass this legislation this year to help consumers who are looking for more clarity in labeling.”

The legislation, which will ensure that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) remains the authority on food safety and labeling standards in the United States, was introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Rep.Mike Pompeo, (R-KS), and Rep. G.K Butterfield (D-NC).

Currently, a growing patchwork of mandatory state labeling laws threatens to harm interstate commerce, drive up the price of food and increase consumer confusion.  The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act will ensure labeling decisions are established by science-based, uniform standards that are consistent in every grocery store in all 50 states.

GMOs have been proven safe by nearly 2,000 studies from the leading scientific bodies in the world, including the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association. The legislation sets uniform rules for foods carrying a GMO-Free label through a national certification program for foods that have been produced without bioengineering.



USDA abandons Farm Payment Limit Reform


This week, USDA issued their proposed rule to define what it means to be “actively engaged in farming,” and therefore eligible to receive federal farm payments.

“The purpose of revising the actively engaged definition was to make farm payment limits more effective,” said Traci Bruckner, Senior Associate at the Center for Rural Affairs. “USDA is, however, clearly more interested in defending the interests of mega-farms by preserving loose definitions that will continue to allow the nation’s largest farms to avoid meaningful payment limits.”

“This is not reform,” added Bruckner. “In 2007, while campaigning in Iowa for his first election, President Obama promised to close these loopholes, and so did Vice President Biden. But when given yet another opportunity to fulfill that promise, the White House and Secretary Vilsack took a pass, again.”

“The lack of effective payment limitations has resulted in federal farm programs financing farm consolidation and the elimination of many mid-size family farms….Barack Obama and Joe Biden will close the loopholes that allow mega farms to get around the limits by subdividing their operations into multiple paper corporations.  They will take immediate action to close the loophole by proposing regulations to limit payments to active farmers who work the land….Every President since Ronald Reagan has had the authority to close this loophole without additional action by Congress, but has failed to act." President Barack Obama, writing as a candidate for President in his rural platform - Obama-Biden: Real Leadership For Rural America

According to Bruckner, Secretary Vilsack has said since the passage of the 2014 Farm Bill that the bill ties his hands and he can not apply any new rule to farms structured solely of family members.

“We have disagreed with that premise from day one, and this rule does nothing more than say the largest and wealthiest farms structured solely of family members are not subject to this new rule or any payment limitation,” argued Bruckner.

Most of the few farms this rule would impact, those structured as non-family member operations, will surely work with an attorney to reorganize their operations to be structured solely of family members to evade any payment limitations, Bruckner concluded.



NPPC On COOL Law: U.S. Must Avoid Retaliation


In congressional testimony today, the National Pork Producers Council said the United States must address its mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) law to avoid trade retaliation from Canada and Mexico.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) last fall ruled that the U.S. meat labeling law violates U.S. international trade obligations by discriminating against Canadian cattle and pigs and Mexican cattle. COOL requires meat to be labeled with the country where the animal from which it was derived was born, raised and slaughtered.

The United States appealed that decision, and the WTO is expected to rule on it by May 18. Should the international trade body reject the appeal, Canada and Mexico would be allowed to place retaliatory tariffs on U.S. imports, including pork and beef.

“We cannot afford to have [pork] exports disrupted nor can workers in allied sectors,” NPPC President-elect John Weber, a pork producer from Dysart, Iowa, told the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture. “The loss of the Mexican and Canadian markets, valued at $2.4 billion, could cost over 16,000 non-farm jobs.”

While pork and beef almost certainly will be on the Canadian and Mexican retaliation lists, non-agricultural products also likely will be included. Canada’s preliminary retaliation list included not only fresh pork and beef but bakery goods, rice, apples, wine, maple syrup and furniture.

“Because the damage to U.S. exports will be multiplied across our economy,” said Weber, “the economic effect will greatly exceed whatever retaliation is ultimately authorized by the WTO and will hurt many Americans who had nothing to do with implementing the COOL law. Not only will innocent bystanders be harmed, the economy as a whole will suffer.

“Congress must be prepared to repeal the offending parts of the statue to bring the U.S. into compliance with WTO rules,” said Weber. “Congress should not allow retaliation against pork producers and other sectors of the U.S. economy.”



EIA: Ethanol Stocks Increase 2.4%


U.S. ethanol supplies rose nearly 500,000 barrels (bbl), or 2.4%, to a three-week high of 21.3 million bbl during the week-ended March 20 while up 36.2% compared to a year earlier, Energy Information Administration's latest data showed.

Plant production increased for the third straight week, edging up 6,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 0.6%, to 953,000 bpd while up 7.7% year-over-year.

Blender inputs, a proxy for ethanol demand, increased 3,000 bpd, or 0.3%, to 866,000 bpd last week, while up 1.0% year-over-year.

EIA also reported implied demand for motor gasoline decreased 641,000 bpd to 8.619 million bpd while down 4.3% year-over-year.



Agroconsult Raises Brazil 2014-15 Soy View to 95.8 MMT


Excellent yields across the south of Brazil and strong results in the center-west states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul prompted Agroconsult, a local farm analytics firm, to raise its 2014-15 soybean forecast to 95.8 million metric tons (mmt).

The forecast represents an 11% jump on the previous record crop produced in 2013-14 and is higher than most market numbers that sit in a range between 91 mmt and 95 mmt.

Yields would have been even higher had it not been for pressure from Asian rust over the last few weeks in Rio Grande do Sul, the No. 3 state. Still, the state will register record yields of 2,950 kg per hectare.

Dry weather did cause problems in parts of Mato Grosso, the No. 1 producing state, but crops mostly produced well, with average yields of 3,186 kg per ha, 3.7% higher than last year for the state.

Agroconsult pegs overall 2014-15 corn production at 79.4 mmt, down marginally from the 80.1 mmt produced last year.  Good summer corn yields in the south partially offset the decline in planted area. Production is pegged at 29.0 mmt, down from 31.7 mmt last year.



Growth Energy Responds to Thoughtless Appropriations Request Aimed at Undercutting Renewable Fuel Standard

In response to a letter from several members of Congress requesting that the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Programs undercut the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) by prohibiting the instillation of blender pumps and the promotion of ethanol exports, Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy, issued the following statement:

“This request stems from a flawed and inaccurate argument that has been disproven time and again that we must choose either food or fuel. The reality is that ethanol production produces both food AND fuel.

“The government is not creating an artificial market for ethanol, but the RFS is seeking to level the playing field and ensure alternatives to fossil fuels have market access so consumers are given a choice instead of a de-facto mandate to use petroleum based products. This request is neither helpful nor logical. It seeks to destroy a homegrown industry that is creating jobs, improving our environment and significantly reducing our dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels. Furthermore, it has been a boon to the rural economy, providing certainty and some of the most profitable times for American farmers. To say the RFS is not working is delusional. The RFS is one of those rare pieces of bipartisan legislation that nearly a decade later has been successful in delivering on the results it was designed to achieve, helping diversify our energy portfolio and strengthen our economic, energy and national security.

“Furthermore, in typical Washington fashion – this is unnecessary legislation, as there is already a prohibition on USDA funding blender pump grants in the 2014 Farm Bill. The sponsors of this legislation are bent on trying to alter or damage the RFS as a favor to special interests. To claim that the RFS or ethanol production is driving up the cost of food is irresponsible and nothing more than fear mongering in attempt to fool the American public as to who is really to blame for rising food prices – Big Oil and Big Food. A 2013 World Bank study demonstrated that the primary driver of increased global food costs is the rising price of energy, not higher farm commodity prices or ethanol production. It outlined how crude oil prices are responsible for more than 50 percent of the increase in food prices since 2004.

“Additionally the USDA estimates that for every dollar an American spends on food, 82 cents pays for things other than the food commodity – including labor, packaging, processing, transportation, and energy. So if the farmer is not making the money for increasing food prices, who is? The answer is simple, Big Food and its drive for excessive profits.

“This request is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt by special interests to push their agenda through Congress. This request is a waste of time and effort and should be treated as such.”



NFU Urges House Agriculture Committee to Review Recent COOL Study, Allow WTO Process to Play Out
National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson today presented the findings of a recent econometric study showing that Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) did not have a negative impact on Canadian cattle exports to the U.S. at a U.S. House Committee on Agriculture hearing. Johnson also urged the committee to wait for the WTO to rule on COOL, as Canada and Mexico cannot retaliate if no damages are found.

“The results of the recent study done on COOL by C. Robert Taylor, Ph.D., a professor at Auburn University, refute Canadian claims of economic damage to their beef exports to America,” said Johnson. “Congress should leave COOL alone and allow the WTO process to run its course.”

Johnson noted that Canada and Mexico, the two challengers to COOL at the WTO, would need to prove economic damage as a result of COOL in order to impose the trade retaliations they have been threatening through statements and visits to the offices of American lawmakers.

“Dr. Taylor’s report found that the fed cattle price basis actually declined after COOL went into effect; that COOL had no negative impact on imports of slaughter cattle; and that COOL did not significantly affect imports of feeder cattle,” said Johnson. “Congress should not listen to the overblown rhetoric and retaliatory threats made by foreign government officials and the meatpackers.”

Johnson noted that it would be highly unconventional for Congress to intervene in the WTO process until the WTO issues its final decision.

“The WTO has stated multiple times that countries have a right to label products with their country of origin and remain in compliance with WTO,” said Johnson. “We urge Congress to allow the WTO process to run its course.”



Tax Uncertainty Hurts Agricultural Investment


Congress must avoid the mistakes of 2014, when tax uncertainty delivered a harmful blow to the economy thanks to tax policies which were never clarified until the very end of the year, says Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) president Tom Giovanetti in a new publication.

In “How Tax Uncertainty Harms Economic Growth: Agricultural Investment and Section 179,” Giovanetti writes: “Tax policy has a direct impact on private sector investment, which drives economic growth. Businesses can only make decisions based on the tax rules at the time, not based on guesses about what Congress might do retroactively at the end of the year.”

One important tax preference, Section 179, encourages small- and medium-sized businesses to invest by allowing them to immediately expense capital purchases. But as Section 179 is subject to annual renewal and enormous uncertainty, it’s of limited value to those businesses it is intended to help.

Farmers in particular, whose industry is centered on mechanization, depend on Section 179 to mitigate the harm of the brutally high corporate tax rate, writes Giovanetti.

Giovanetti cites how in 2014, uncertainty about Section 179 depressed farmers’ investment in equipment and technology, and the John Deere Company then eliminated 800 jobs due to falling demand for farming equipment. “It is reasonable to link the drop in agricultural investment and the resultant job cuts to the failure of Congress to renew the higher Section 179 allowance early enough in 2014 to have its intended incentive effect,” writes Giovanetti.

Although the 114th Congress passed HR 636 in February to make the Section 179 expensing allowance permanent at $500,000, President Obama has threatened to veto the bill.

“This is no way to run a tax policy,” said Giovanetti. “There must be certainty about tax provisions designed to encourage investment, or the investment won’t take place. Fundamental tax reform that lowers the corporate rate to below 25 percent and eliminates the need for many of these tax preferences is long overdue.”

“Meanwhile, Congress should pass temporary tax preferences within the first quarter of the year in order to provide certainty and to encourage investment. Agriculture is one example of the harms to economic growth and employment that result from high tax rates and tax uncertainty.”



Monsanto Reinforces Documents on Safety of Glyphosate


Monsanto Company further addressed last week's assessment on glyphosate by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

"We are outraged with this assessment," said Dr. Robb Fraley, Monsanto's chief technology officer. "This conclusion is inconsistent with the decades of ongoing comprehensive safety reviews by the leading regulatory authorities around the world that have concluded that all labeled uses of glyphosate are safe for human health. This result was reached by selective 'cherry picking' of data and is a clear example of agenda-driven bias."

The repeated safety assessments by regulatory authorities over the last three decades have formed the foundation for the long history of safe, highly effective use of this important agricultural tool in more than 160 countries around the world.

Decisions regarding product safety and approvals for pesticides are governed by regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the European Commission, as well as independent scientific advisory bodies such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). IARC has no regulatory authority and its decision does not impact glyphosate's label, current registration or use.

"Safety is the top priority for every person who works at Monsanto. Glyphosate-based herbicides on the market meet the rigorous standards set by the regulatory and health authorities who work every day to protect human health, and we want our customers and consumers to be assured of these evaluations," Fraley added.

In contrast to the comprehensive review that regulators around the world have completed over three decades, IARC issued its classification based on a limited data review after hours of discussion at a one-week meeting. Further, IARC is one of four programs within the World Health Organization (WHO) that have reviewed the safety of glyphosate and their classification is inconsistent with the assessments of the other programs. Two of the WHO programs -- the Core Assessment Group and the International Programme on Chemical Safety -- both concluded glyphosate is not carcinogenic. The WHO Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality program concluded glyphosate does not represent a hazard to human health.