Thursday, April 28, 2016

Thursday April 28 Ag News


      University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor-Elect Ronnie Green announced today he has appointed Marjorie Kostelnik to the post of interim senior vice chancellor for academic affairs and Ron Yoder to the position of interim vice chancellor of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

      The appointments, which are pending approval by the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, will begin May 9 and will fill the two leadership positions Green previously held before he was named the university's next leader.

       "As we work to build UNL's new leadership team, it is critically important that capable, engaged and enthusiastic leaders work together to maintain the university's palpable momentum," said Green, who was appointed chancellor-elect on April 6 and who will assume the role of head of the university on May 8, pending board approval. "Marjorie and Ron are highly respected and trusted academic leaders with accomplished administrative track records at UNL. I look forward to working together with these two exceptional interim leaders in our two chief academic officer positions in the immediate months ahead."

      Kostelnik is currently dean of UNL's College of Education and Human Sciences. She has been at the university since 2000, when she was hired as dean of the College of Human Resources and Family Sciences; in 2003, it partnered with Teachers College to become the College of Education and Human Sciences.

      The senior vice chancellor for academic affairs is UNL's chief academic officer and is the responsible authority in the absence of the chancellor. The Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor is charged with helping the university achieve excellence across all areas of the academic enterprise through oversight of undergraduate teaching and learning; graduate mentoring; faculty development, promotion and tenure; resource allocation; strategic planning; and the development of innovative academic initiatives that will be recognized as unique signature strengths.

      The senior vice chancellor's office also is responsible for the administration, coordination and development of general policies and functions for academic programs.

      Kostelnik earned a bachelor's degree in child development from the University of Pittsburgh and worked with Head Start before earning master's and doctoral degrees in human development and family studies from Pennsylvania State University. She was on faculty at Michigan State University for 22 years as program supervisor of the Child Development Laboratories and chair of the Department of Family and Child Ecology. She has taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels and her research focuses on early childhood education and community coalition building; she was vice president of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, chair for the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance, a consortium of universities engaged in distance education, and is currently chair of the Educare of Lincoln Partners Board. She recently served on a yearlong Institute of Medicine and National Research Council panel on transforming the workforce for children birth through age 8.

       "I am pleased to serve the university in this way and to help the new administration begin its work," Kostelnik said. "I look forward to working with Chancellor-Elect Green, the deans, faculty, staff and the entire UNL community to advance our academic mission and build on our many strengths.  I am eager to listen, learn and collaborate in support of the chancellor-elect's vision."

      Beth Doll, associate dean in the College of Education and Human Sciences, will be the college's interim dean during Kostelnik's tenure in academic affairs.

      Yoder has been at UNL since 2004 and is currently associate vice chancellor at IANR, the multi-division UNL institute that focuses on agriculture and natural resources. Teaching occurs through the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, research through the Agricultural Research Division and extension education through Nebraska Extension.

      As part of the appointment, Yoder also will serve as interim vice president for agriculture and natural resources with the NU system, where he will oversee the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, the Daugherty Global Water for Food Institute and the Rural Futures Institute.

      Yoder's research focus is in the areas of agricultural water management, measurement and estimation of evapotranspiration and land use impacts on water quality. His more than 30 years of experience in agricultural water management includes extensive field research and work in Brazil, Zambia and China.

      He has worked for the University of Wyoming, for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service in Colorado and Washington and for the University of Tennessee. He is a fellow and past president of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers and a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering.

      Yoder earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Drexel University, a master's degree in agricultural engineering from Clemson University and a doctoral degree in agricultural engineering from Colorado State University.

       "I am excited to continue building on the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources' clear momentum," Yoder said. "With our excellent team of educators and researchers across the state and with the support of our stakeholders, our research, teaching and extension work contributes significantly to the well-being of Nebraska and Nebraskans."

    Green said the university would open an international search for both positions beginning on May 16 with intent to have the new leaders in place by January 2017.


The value of egg production in Nebraska during 2015 was $281 million, up $40.5 million from the $241 million in 2014, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Egg production in 2015 was estimated at 2.29 billion eggs, down 569 million from the previous year. Average number of layers for 2015 at 7.70 million was down 1.77 million from one year ago.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Do you need to grow more hay for next winter?  One way to get that extra hay might be to fertilize your hay meadows this spring.  There’s still time.

               Hay meadows respond well to fertilizer.  But, be sure to use the types and amounts of fertilizer that work best for the plants in your hay meadow.  For example, do you have much clover or other legumes in your hay meadow?  Then fertilize with phosphorus.  A soil test can tell you how much phosphorus to use; usually 20 to 40 pounds per acre will stimulate legume growth nicely in most hay meadows.  These legumes then will help supply some nitrogen to the grasses in your meadow, and the hay you cut from this meadow will yield more and contain more protein than straight grass hay.

               Maybe your meadow already is green and growing well with cool-season grasses like bluegrass, brome, timothy, or wheatgrasses that head out in late May or June.  Nitrogen can increase yield from this meadow, but it must be applied very soon or it will be too late for this year.  The rate to apply declines as we go from east to west — use about 80 pounds of nitrogen per acre in eastern Nebraska but only 30 to 40 pounds in the Panhandle.

               Warm-season grass meadows will soon start to green up, too.  Like cool-season grasses, recommended nitrogen rates decline from 60 pounds in eastern Nebraska to 30 pounds out west.  But be patient.  Do not fertilize quite yet.  Wait until mid- to late May before fertilizing your warm-season grass meadows.

               Good meadow moisture this year plus the right fertilizer can increase hay yields from most meadows.  With low hay carryover, this may be a good year for you to increase your meadow yields.

Witt Joins ISU Extension and Outreach as Field Agronomist

Michael Witt has been hired to join Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s crops team as a field agronomist the university announced today. Witt will be working in Audubon, Crawford, Guthrie, Harrison and Shelby counties.

Witt will also provide assistance to three Iowa State University Research and Demonstration Farms, providing agronomic crop, plot and on-farm trial support in Boone, Castana and Greenfield.

“Growing up in north central Iowa, I have always had great respect for the work that Iowa State Extension and Outreach personnel do in bringing education and learning opportunities to all Iowans,” Witt said. “I look forward to working with people across my region and the state to bring the new and exciting educational opportunities to their local communities.”

Witt, who holds a Bachelor of Agriculture Education degree from Iowa State University and is pursuing a master’s in Agronomy, has an extensive and diverse background in agriculture.

“Mike is an Iowa State alum with a varied background that includes industry research and on-farm demonstrations,” said Erin Hodgson, associate professor and extension entomologist and crops team leader at Iowa State University. “He is a great addition to the crops team and we look forward to him helping continue to grow ISU Extension and Outreach.”

Witt spent 11 years at DuPont Pioneer, working as a part of the field program management team. Witt’s primary areas of emphasis were inbred discovery and hybrid evaluation, proprietary herbicide development and molecular corn evaluation.

He served as a testing site lead at Beck’s Superior Hybrids for one year, working on the company’s maize and soybean yield testing program with his duties encompassing territory in Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri.

Iowa Cattle Industry Convention replaced by regional BeefMeets

For the past several years, the Iowa Cattle Industry Convention has offered cattlemen in Iowa a chance to learn about the latest advancements in the cattle industry, develop policy for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and network with other producers. This year, in an effort to provide those opportunities to more cattle producers across the state, the Iowa Cattle Industry Convention has been transformed into Regional BeefMeets.

BeefMeets will take the education, policy-development, tradeshow and networking outside of the Des Moines and into the four quadrants of Iowa. Centrally located BeefMeets will be held in Spencer, Independence, Atlantic and Riverside, making it easier for producers from all areas of the state to attend the events.

Topics & Speakers

This year’s BeefMeets, held in late June, will include educational sessions aimed at increasing profitability in the current agriculture economy. Sessions on replacement selection, finances, efficiency, and labor will help producers improve their farm management and their bottom line.

Eldon McAfee, attorney at Brick Gentry, will be the keynote speaker, focusing on the legal climate in Iowa and how it affects agriculture. From the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit to nuisance lawsuits and attorney general referrals, producers need to be up to speed on the legal threats to their livelihoods.

Policy Development

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association develops its policies and priorities based on the input of its 10,000 members across the state. Each BeefMeet will include a session where cattlemen can voice their opinion and share their concerns. Feedback received during these sessions will help guide the association for the next year.

Cattlemen will also have an opportunity to hear more about the proposed state beef checkoff during a question and answer session with Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and Iowa Beef Industry Council leaders.

Tradeshow & Networking

A tradeshow will be held at all four events and the day’s schedule will allow for plenty of time to check out the products and visit with the vendors. The day will end with a fun social, complete with some tasty beef to cap off the day.

Who should attend?

EVERYONE in the cattle industry! These events will provide education for every sector of the industry, a chance to get to know cattlemen and industry partners, fun and good food!

What’s the cost?

BeefMeets only cost $25 for ICA members and $50 for non-members. (Membership is $75 annually and may be paid at any time.) Students are free.  Prices go up $10 after June 13.

When and Where?

Clay County Regional Events Center, Spencer, IA
Wednesday, June 22, 2016, 8:30 – 5:00 with social following       

Heartland Acres Agribition Center, Independence, IA
Thursday, June 23, 2016, 8:30 – 5:00 with social following

Cass County Community Center, Atlantic, IA
Tuesday, June 28, 2016, 8:30 – 5:00 with social following

Riverside Casino & Golf Resort, Riverside, IA
Wednesday, June 29, 2016, 8:30 – 5:00 with social following

More details at

AFIA Supports UC-Davis Mitloehner's White Paper - Livestock GHG Emissions Small

The American Feed Industry Association is pleased to support University of California, Davis, Professor Frank Mitloehner, Ph.D., on the release of his white paper, "Livestock's Contributions to Climate Change: Facts and Fiction." The document dissects animal agriculture and other areas that produce greenhouse gas emissions, with the consensus that the livestock industry is not a driving force in climate change.

"Efficiencies in U.S. livestock agriculture have lowered this industry's combined greenhouse gas emissions to a historic low of about four percent of the nation's total," said Mitloehner. "Furthering recent advances will be paramount to satisfy a growing global demand for animal protein without depleting natural resources."

"With Frank's expertise and years of research, I am glad he is able to provide sound, science-based information to consumers," said AFIA President and CEO Joel G. Newman.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the livestock industry accounts for 4.2 percent of the U.S. GHG emissions. Energy production and transportation are the largest contributors, together equaling more than half of the total U.S. GHG emissions.

In perspective, if Americans practiced "Meatless Mondays" there would only be a 0.6 percent decrease in U.S. GHG emissions. However, replacing incandescent lightbulbs with Energy Star bulbs would be twice as effective--1.2 percent.

USDA Meat Animals Production, Disposition, and Income 2015 Summary

Total 2015 production of cattle and calves and hogs and pigs for the United States totaled 76.6 billion pounds, up 6 percent from 2014. Production increased 3 percent for cattle and calves and 9 percent for hogs and pigs.

Total 2015 cash receipts from marketings of meat animals decreased 8 percent to $99.3 billion. Cattle and calves accounted for 79 percent of this total and hogs and pigs accounted for 21 percent.

The 2015 gross income from cattle and calves and hogs and pigs for the United States totaled $99.9 billion, down 8 percent from 2014. Gross income decreased 4 percent for cattle and calves and 21 percent for hogs and pigs from previous year's gross income.

Cattle and Calves: Cash receipts from marketings of cattle and calves decreased 4 percent from $81.5 billion in 2014 to $78.2 billion in 2015. All cattle and calf marketings totaled 52.4 billion pounds in 2015, down 1 percent from 2014.

Hogs and Pigs: Cash receipts from hogs and pigs totaled $21.0 billion during 2015, down 21 percent from 2014. Marketings totaled 36.2 billion pounds in 2015, up 9 percent from 2014.

USDA Milk Production, Disposition, and Income 2015 Summary

Milk production increased 1.3 percent in 2015 to 209 billion pounds. The rate per cow, at 22,393 pounds, was 134 pounds above 2014. The annual average number of milk cows on farms was 9.32 million head, up 60,000 head from 2014.

Cash receipts from marketings of milk during 2015 totaled $35.7 billion, 27.6 percent lower than 2014. Producer returns averaged $17.21 per hundredweight, 28.5 percent below 2014. Marketings totaled 207.7 billion pounds, 1.3 percent above 2014. Marketings include whole milk sold to plants and dealers and milk sold directly to consumers.

An estimated 969million pounds of milk were used on farms where produced, 0.5 percent more than 2014. Calves were fed 91 percent of this milk, with the remainder consumed in producer households.

Senate Committee Releases Draft WRDA Bill

(from the American Soybean Assoc. newsletter)

The Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee this week released a draft two-year Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) reauthorization bill, scheduled for mark-up on April 28.  Following an overdue comprehensive act in 2014, Congress is attempting to return to the regular order of reauthorizing the WRDA every two years.

The 2016 WRDA released by the EPW Committee authorizes 25 critical Army Corps projects. These projects, which have completed reports of the Chief of Engineers, will strengthen infrastructure, maintain navigation routes for waterways commerce and restore ecosystems.

The bill also provides investment in drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, including funds to respond to the drinking water crisis in Flint, Mich. and other similar communities across the country facing drinking water contamination.

Of particular interest to the soybean industry, is the authorization of projects to improve ports and inland waterways. The bill builds on the reforms in the 2014 WRRDA to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) by clarifying the targets for increased HMTF funding.

The bill authorizes critical flood control and coastal protection projects across the country, including system-wide flood protection in the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, rebuilding levees in Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina and Texas and providing hurricane protection in Louisiana.

The bill does not adjust the threshold for major rehabilitation as recommended by the Capital Development Plan and the Waterways Council.

IGC Sees Modest Soybean Production Hit from Argentina Floods

The International Grains Council on Thursday cut its forecast for global soybean production in 2015-16, following flooding in Argentina, but said output will remain near record levels.

The London-based IGC said the soybean crop will come to 318 million metric tons, 5 million tons less than it had predicted in March.

Despite the damage caused in heavy rain in Argentina, which caused a rally in prices across the grains and oilseeds markets, the harvest will be just 2 mt smaller than the previous year's record.

Looking ahead to 2016-17, the IGC lifted its monthly forecast for total grains' production by 9 mt to around 2.01 billion tons, roughly in line with 2015-16.

"Beneficial weather is improving the outlook for wheat, including in the E.U. and Russia, while maize forecasts are raised for a number of countries," it said.

The IGC lifted its grain consumption forecast by 3 mt to 2 billion tons, up from 1.99 billion in 2015-16.

Grain trade volumes are forecast at 315 mt in 2016-17, up 1 mt from last month's forecast but down from 323 mt in 2015-16. That reflects reduced shipments to China, where political reforms are expected to increase consumption of home-grown grain.

Rain Continues To Hurt Argentine Soy

Rain continued across the key soybean-producing parts of Argentina over the past week, exacerbating the damage caused by the remarkably heavy precipitation since the start of April.

With three-quarters of the crop still in the fields, the excessive rain when the soybeans are already mature, waiting for harvest, has reduced yields and sharply cut quality across large portions of big-producing provinces like Cordoba, Entre Rios and Santa Fe, as well as parts of Buenos Aires.

The rain damage prompted Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange to last week lower its soybean view from 60 million metric tons to 56 mmt, while Rosario Cereals Exchange dropped its figure to 57 mmt.

In a report Thursday, the Buenos Aires exchange reported a loss of one million hectares (2.47 million acres) due to the rain and warned of a serious risk that further losses will be registered.

Rain fell strongest over the last week in central-east Cordoba, central and southern Santa Fe and northern Buenos Aires, which delayed harvesting.

Fieldwork moved forward 7.8 percentage points last week to reach 24.2% complete, said the exchange. That's well back on the 61.8% registered at the same point last year.

The rain during the harvest period is causing rotting pods, sprouting and reduced grain weight, as well as greater losses during harvesting.

Corn has not been that seriously affected by the wet weather because we are in the spell between first- and second-crop harvesting for the most part.

The Buenos Aires exchange maintains its corn-crop forecast at 25.0 mmt.

Heed This Advice on Anaplasmosis

It is difficult to quantify the risk of anaplasmosis in any given herd in any given time of year, but when an outbreak occurs, it can result in devastating consequences for a cow/calf herd.

Anaplasmosis is most commonly caused by Anaplasma marginale, a microorganism that invades red blood cells and causes severe anemia. Transmitted through the blood, the main culprits in spreading the disease include biting flies or ticks or infected blood transferred on contaminated needles or other equipment. The disease can result in death, aborted calves, bull infertility, weight loss and diminished milk production as well as additional treatment expenses. The risk for disease increases when mixing noninfected cattle with those that carry the disease or when environmental conditions favor increased activity of biting flies or ticks.

“Anaplasmosis is sporadic, not all factors that cause outbreaks in a herd are known but when they occur, consequences can be significant,” said Daniel Scruggs, DVM, managing veterinarian with Zoetis.

Anaplasmosis causes special concern for cow/calf producers since mature animals have higher susceptibility to the disease than younger animals. Cows in the late stage of pregnancy and those nursing calves have particularly high death loss.

Signs of anaplasmosis can include:
·         Orange-yellow coloration of the mucous membranes
·         Thin, watery blood
·         Slow, reluctant to move or short of breath cattle
·         Aggressive behavior shortly before death
·         Sudden, unexplained death of adult cattle
·         Abortions

One of the most commonly used and predictable methods of controlling anaplasmosis includes incorporating a feed-grade chlortetracycline, such as AUREOMYCIN®, in the animal’s feed or mineral supplements. In endemic regions where ticks and flies remain active all year, AUREOMYCIN administration can occur year-round in feed or minerals. In other areas, producers often focus on late spring through fall, the time of highest transmission.

“It’s really a factor of diligence in making sure cattle are protected,” Dr. Scruggs said. “With spring-calving herds, the bulls are out during the spring and summer vector season. When bulls are experiencing an acute infection of anaplasmosis, and they become anemic or dead, they’re not good at settling cows. Whether a producer is running a spring-calving or fall-calving herd, there’s never a good time to go to sleep on anaplasmosis control.”

Producers should consult with their feed or mineral supplier to ensure their mineral mix containing AUREOMYCIN delivers adequate levels for their herds’ needs.

Adding AUREOMYCIN offers one of several measures producers can take. Preventive measures include:
·         Implementing fly and tick control to help reduce transmission
·         Changing needles and disinfecting instruments between cattle when working cows and bulls
·         Consulting your veterinarian early for diagnostics on unexplained death seen in adult cows or bulls

“If you believe you can control anaplasmosis by just controlling flies, ticks and horseflies, you probably believe in the Easter Bunny, too,” Dr. Scruggs said. “It’s important to keep anaplasmosis control top of mind to help avoid unnecessary surprises and run a healthy, profitable cattle operation.”

Bunge Earnings Top Views Though Revenue Continues Slide

Bunge Ltd. on Thursday reported its earnings easily topped expectations, but it posted a steeper-than-anticipated slide in revenue, dragged by weakness in its core agribusiness and nearly all other segments.

"In the first quarter, our agribusiness team managed markets, margins, and logistics very well in a challenging environment," Chief Executive Soren Schroder said. Over all, results were better than expected and "we feel confident about growing earnings in 2016," he said.

Like other companies in the agriculture space, Bunge has grappled with softer commodity prices and weaker global demand.

Bunge, one of the world's largest traders and processors of agricultural commodities, saw poor profit results all but one of its business segments in the latest quarter.

In its core agribusiness division, earnings dropped 15%. Profit from edible oil edged 2% lower while milling products and sugar and bioenergy plunged 21% and 24%, respectively. Meanwhile, fertilizer swung to a profit.

Over all, the company reported a profit of $235 million, or $1.54 a share, down from $263 million, or $1.67 a share, a year earlier. Adjusted earnings fell to $1.41 a share from $1.58 a year earlier.

Revenue dropped 17% to $8.92 billion.

AGCO Reports Lower Sales, Earnings During First Quarter

AGCO reported net sales of approximately $1.6 billion for the first quarter of 2016, a decrease of approximately 8.4% compared to net sales of approximately $1.7 billion for the first quarter of 2015.

Reported net income was $0.09 per share for the first quarter of 2016 and adjusted net income, excluding restructuring and other infrequent expenses, was $0.11 per share. These results compare to reported net income of $0.34 per share and adjusted net income, excluding restructuring and other infrequent expenses, of $0.43 per share for the first quarter of 2015.

Excluding unfavorable currency translation impacts of approximately 5.2%, net sales in the first quarter of 2016 decreased approximately 3.2% compared to the first quarter of 2015.

Lower industry demand for farm equipment across all regions is expected to continue to negatively impact AGCO's sales and earnings for the remainder of 2016.

AGCO's 2016 net sales are expected to reach $7.0 billion. Gross and operating margins are expected to be below 2015 levels due to the negative impact of lower sales and production volumes, a weaker sales mix and increased investment in product development.

Syngenta geneticist contributes ag insights at Conference on World Affairs

Earlier this month, industry leaders and luminaries convened at University of Colorado’s 68th annual Conference on World Affairs to discuss and reflect on some of the most pressing matters in society today. Contributing insights on the significance of agriculture and biotechnology advances was Joseph Byrum, Ph.D., MBA, PMP, head of soybean seeds and traits R&D at Syngenta.

Throughout the five-day conference, Byrum drew upon his extensive background in plant genetics to help bring context and credibility to discussions on various topics, including technology, environmental health, and the benefits of leveraging big data and crowdsourcing in research initiatives.

“Agriculture continues to represent one of the most impactful and emotional areas of global significance, and it is increasingly important for the ag industry to provide transparency and science-based facts regarding biotechnology,” said Byrum, who leads global soybean breeding, trait research and product development efforts at Syngenta. “The Conference on World Affairs provided an ideal forum for this dialogue, and it was an honor to exchange ideas with such a distinguished group of thinkers.”

The annual conference is renowned for bringing together global experts representing a diverse cross-section of humanity—from artists and musicians to business leaders and social workers—to discuss, as the conference theme implies, “everything conceivable.” 

Among Byrum’s notable industry contributions include serving as the chief architect of a Syngenta initiative that resulted in the development of analytics tools that help plant breeders develop highly productive seeds more efficiently and strategically than ever before. This initiative was awarded the 2015 Franz Edelman prize, in recognition of excellence in operations research and the management sciences. Byrum’s contributions to making plant breeding more efficient—and ultimately delivering improved genetics and trait technologies to soybean growers—reflect Syngenta’s commitment to helping growers produce crops to feed the growing population in an economically and environmentally sustainable way.

This engagement marks Byrum’s first appearance at the conference, held April 4‒8 in Boulder. The event was organized by student and community volunteers, and featured 200 diverse panels, plenaries and performances.

Wednesday April 27 Ag News


    Sally Rockey, executive director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, said advances in agricultural research have played a significant role in improving life expectancy and quality of life and will be critical to feeding the world's growing population.

    Rockey, who has devoted her career to improving people's lives through research, delivered the final Heuermann Lecture of the 2015-16 season April 26 at Nebraska Innovation Campus.

    According to Rockey, controlling foodborne pathogens and the growth of nutritious foods have been critical in improving people's lives.

    "At least 50 percent of our increased life expectancy is due to agriculture," she said.

    Rockey said that with the introduction of new technologies, science is advancing at a pace never before seen. To meet the demands of feeding a growing population, she said it's critical for research to keep up with advances in science.

    To drive research in food and agriculture, Rockey is developing partnerships between the public and private sectors. This type of partnership offers incentives for both sides to engage, including direct access to important research for the private sector and the opportunity to address real-world problems for the public sector. The result is research that can be transferred quickly to the economy.

    "The outcomes of precompetitive research have the potential to positively impact all parties equally," Rockey said. "It allows resources and data to be readily shared."

    How that data is shared is another area of focus of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. There are a lot of differences in opinion in the agricultural industry, Rockey said. Scientists tend to believe the public doesn't agree with their way of thinking because they don't have enough information on a given topic, she said. Therefore, they continue to share more data, which does not resonate with the public or convince them to change their minds.

    "There's a great disconnect between scientists and the public," Rockey said.

    The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research is looking at ways to better work with the public to understand how this disconnect can be diminished in agriculture. Major focus areas of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, such as water for food, food for health, soil health and plant phenotyping align with the foundation's priorities and the two are working closely together in these areas.

    The lecture was the closing keynote of the seventh annual Water for Food Global Conference, which focused on the powerful impact of public-private partnerships in water for food research, technology and product development. The international conference was organized by the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska.

    Heuermann Lectures in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources are possible through a gift from B. Keith and Norma Heuermann of Phillips. The Heuermanns are longtime university supporters with a strong commitment to Nebraska's production agriculture, natural resources, rural areas and people. Lectures stream live at and are archived there soon afterward. They also air on NET2 World at a later date.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Wet, muddy pastures require special grazing techniques.

               As your spring grazing season begins, pastures often are soft and wet.  Grazing can quickly get these pastures muddy and damaged by hoof traffic.

               Use special grazing techniques to limit damage in soft, muddy pastures.  The worst thing you can do is graze a pasture for several days until it’s all torn up and then move to a new area.  Trampling that occurs repeatedly over several days greatly weakens plants; doing this across a wide area can reduce production for months, even years.

               In contrast, pastures muddied up by grazing only briefly usually recover quickly.  Maybe not as fast as when the ground is solid, but fast enough to minimize yield or stand loss.

               Take advantage of this rapid recovery by moving animals frequently, at least once a day, to a new area.  If this involves walking animals long distances, it might be better to subdivide pastures with temporary electric fences so you don’t increase trampling during the moving process.  This also can increase the number of new areas to move into.  Fencing supplies you use around corn stalks during winter should work well for this temporary use.  Once the ground firms up you can return to your normal grazing rotation.

               Another option is to graze all your cattle together in one small area until the ground gets solid again, feeding hay if needed.  This protects most of your pasture acres from trampling losses.  But it can virtually destroy the area grazed and need reseeding.  This may be a small price to pay, though, to protect the rest of your acres.

               Don’t let mud and trampling ruin your pastures.  Temporary grazing adjustments can save grass now and for the future.

Animal Health Vaccine Opportunities Expand with AgriLabs® Acquisitions

Today, AgriLabs®, the largest U.S. animal health marketing and distribution business, announced that it has entered into the vaccine manufacturing business with a new USDA-licensed facility in Lincoln, Nebraska. AgriLabs has also acquired Lincoln-based Antelope Valley Bios and Benchmark Biolabs, and Benchmark’s ownership interest of VaxLiant®. With these moves, AgriLabs, along with its new business subsidiaries, now offers complete concept-to-commercialization services for vaccines used in swine, cattle, poultry and other species.

“By adding state-of-the-art manufacturing capabilities to our U.S. marketing and sales operations, we can deliver more value to veterinarians and producers both domestically and worldwide,” said Steve Schram, AgriLabs chief executive officer, at a ribbon-cutting event that included several state and city officials. “With the need for alternatives to antibiotics, vaccines are critical to the long term health and efficiency of food animal production,” Schram said.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts applauded the actions by AgriLabs. “This announcement positions Nebraska for great opportunities in agriculture and bioscience,” Gov. Ricketts said. “We appreciate the confidence that AgriLabs has in our state’s bioscience research and manufacturing sectors, and its willingness to expand its investment in employees and facilities in these highly regarded areas.”

Schram said the expertise of the staff at both Benchmark and Antelope Valley Bios are critical to the research and design and manufacturing functions of the AgriLabs expanded business model. “This is the R&D team and the vaccine manufacturing plant involved in making the first foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) vaccine for cattle which was developed without using a live FMD virus. They also produced the first USDA-approved plant-derived vaccines,” he said.

The swine market will be the first target for the new facilities, with a focus on custom-made vaccines. “Practically speaking, our Lincoln facilities and our relationships will allow us to deliver to veterinarians and producers better vaccines quickly, safely and affordably. We also have a platform that will enable the rapid development of vaccines that work,” said Sean O’Hare, executive vice president of AgriLabs.

AgriLabs’ three fully owned subsidiaries in Lincoln – Antelope Valley Bios, Benchmark Biolabs and VaxLiant – will continue to operate as stand-alone business entities.

“This means customers of each company will see no change in how they currently do business with them,” Schram said. “However, an important benefit is that customers – whether small or large – now can have access to experts and other resources. So, whether people are looking for global expertise in securing regulatory licenses for vaccines, or wanting to purchase innovative vaccines that improve animal health, we can help.”

NCTA buckles up new tradition

Aggie students from the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis won’t be sporting class rings from their alma mater any time soon.

When these graduates leave campus after two years of academic studies and collegiate teamwork, they can head home wearing a western belt buckle engraved with their name, year, and major.

“Become the Tradition” was unveiled recently at the inaugural NCTA Buckle Ceremony for 28 students, faculty, staff and alumni who ordered a customized belt buckle.

The campus is starting a new tradition.

Last fall, NCTA’s recruiting coordinator Tina Smith was brainstorming with her husband and NCTA professor Doug Smith about offering a symbolic keepsake for NCTA graduates.

They wanted something representative of the ag college; symbolic and customized for student pride in their alma mater.

“We thought about a class ring but a belt buckle seemed more appropriate for our students,” Tina Smith said.

Students in all divisions of NCTA are purchasing the buckles. This spring, several purchasers are majors from animal science, agriculture education, agronomy, agribusiness or veterinary technology.

“The buckles are absolutely gorgeous” said Haley Rogers of Lexington, who graduates on May 5, and will continue on for a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“All the hard work throughout these last two years sure has paid off,” Rogers told friends. “I will wear this buckle with pride and remember all the memories I have made here at NCTA.”

Orders will be processed each spring semester. More details will be available late fall at

Iowa Swine Day showcases nationally recognized speakers on topics of vital interest to the pork industry

Join Iowa State University, the Iowa Pork Industry Center and the Iowa Pork Producers Association in celebrating the 5th anniversary of Iowa Swine Day. Iowa Swine Day is an industry-focused event with a very high quality program designed specifically for the pork industry. 

Scheduled for Thursday, June 30, on the Iowa State University campus in Ames, the morning plenary session features nationally recognized speakers addressing topics of urgent interest.

During the morning plenary session, national experts will address up-to-the minute issues in pork production. 

Dr. Peter Davies, a professor of veterinary medicine at the University of Minnesota whose findings have been published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, will discuss how antibiotic use in animal agriculture impacts human health.

Sean McMahon, Executive Director of the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance, will describe the increasing pace and scale of farmer-driven efforts to improve water quality in today’s highly charged atmosphere. 

The ever-popular Joe Kerns, a risk management specialist whose firm Kerns and Associates works with livestock producers and suppliers in 13 states, will delve into financial prospects for pork producers in in the coming year in the context of the larger U.S. economy.

Sandra Vijn, Director of Food Sustainability with the World Wildlife Fund will address the issue of sustainability in future pork production.

There will also be concurrent afternoon sessions on topics such as the new regulations governing swine feed and emerging technologies that will become available in the future to control serious diseases in swine. Other sessions will address housing topics and the latest research from Iowa State University.

Iowa Swine Day 2016 will be held from 9:00 am until 4:35 pm on Thursday, June 30 in the Scheman building on the Iowa State University campus.  Registration will begin at 7:30 a.m.  Lunch and refreshments are included in the registration fee, which is $60 until midnight, June 17, and then increases to $80. Students of all ages may register at no cost until June 17th, paying $45 thereafter.  To register and view the full program, visit our website at

Pre-World Pork Expo Tours Provide Insight into U.S. Ag

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is offering two tours prior to the 2016 World Pork Expo that provide unique insights into U.S. agriculture. Set for June 6-7, the two-day tour will travel to locations in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa, showcasing commercial hog systems, farm equipment production and agricultural shipping channels. The one-day tour on June 7 will highlight agricultural businesses in central Iowa, with a look at modern swine production and food marketing, feed grain research and product development. The tours include transportation and meals on tour days, as well as free admission to World Pork Expo, June 8-10, featuring the world’s largest pork-specific trade show.

“This year’s pre-World Pork Expo tours follow the long tradition of providing visitors with a snapshot of U.S. agriculture’s diversity from on-farm hog production to product research and development to equipment manufacturing and shipping,” says Greg Thornton, tour organizer for NPPC. “While the tours are open to anyone, they are particularly informative for international visitors and can make their time at World Pork Expo even more meaningful.”

The Two-day Tour

The two-day tour, underwritten by the Illinois Soybean Association, travels through Iowa and into Illinois and Indiana. Participants can board the bus in Des Moines on Sunday, June 5, or can meet the group at Holiday Inn Express in Chicago, on Monday, June 6. The tour will venture into Indiana to visit Fair Oaks Farms, home of The Pig Adventure for a view of modern pork production. Participants will dine on site at the Farmhouse Restaurant. The overnight stop will take place at Jumer’s Hotel and Casino. On day two, the tour heads to the John Deere Harvester Works in East Moline, Illinois, and a new, state-of-the art JBS feedmill and a modern wean-to-finish barn managed by JBS. Participants also will get an up-close look at grain export activities during a barge trip down the Mississippi River. The tour bus will return to Des Moines for dinner on the evening of June 7.

Cost for the two-day tour is U.S. $450 per person, which includes bus transportation, lodging on June 6, meals on tour days and World Pork Expo admission.

The One-day Tour

The one-day tour takes place on Tuesday, June 7, and will focus on agricultural businesses in Central Iowa. The tour will begin and end the day in Des Moines. This action-packed trip will include a look at crop and feed segments related to pork production with a stop at the DuPont Pioneer Research & Development Center. A visit to a modern wean-to-finish barn and a new, state-of-the art feedmill owned by JBS, followed by a stop at a Hy-Vee grocery store for perspective on the U.S. retail food sector and dinner at the iconic Machine Shed Restaurant completes the day’s events.

The cost for this one-day tour is U.S. $150 per person, which includes bus transportation, meals on the tour, as well as free admission to World Pork Expo.

“These pre-Expo tours are a great way to get a sense of what U.S., and more specifically Iowa, agriculture is like. It provides participants with an up close and personal look, with opportunities to ask questions,” says John Weber, NPPC president and Iowa pork producer. “Then tour participants can spend the following days at World Pork Expo for a look at the latest pork production technologies, products and services, as well as hearing leading experts discuss research and production tips during the numerous seminars offered.”

Space is limited

Both tours have limited space, so interested individuals should go to and register as soon as possible. Once there, select “Attendees” on the blue registration button. Then, scroll down to "Industry Tours." The website will provide updated details about the tours, as well as a schedule of Expo activities and general registration information. The site also offers information about room availability at official World Pork Expo hotels, answers to Frequently Asked Questions and other helpful tips about traveling to World Pork Expo.

Other ways to get the most up-to-date information is to connect with World Pork Expo on Facebook and follow Expo on Twitter (@NPPCWPX, #WPX16)

The 2016 World Pork Expo takes place June 8-10, at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. Highlights include more than 310,000 square feet of commercial exhibits from hundreds of companies throughout the world. Trade show hours run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 8, and Thursday, June 9, and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, June 10. Swine breeding stock sales will take place on Saturday, June 11, from 8 a.m. until they are completed (at approximately noon).

Fertilizer Prices Steady Again

Fertilizer prices continued to hold fairly steady for the second week in a row, according to retailers contacted by DTN during the third week of April.

As was the case last week, four fertilizers were higher priced while the other four fertilizers were lower priced compared to last month.

None of the fertilizer prices changed by any consequence. DAP averaged $477/ton, MAP $502/ton, anhydrous $588/ton and UAN32 $322/ton.

The remaining four fertilizers were down a small amount compared to the month earlier. Potash averaged $366/ton, urea $388/ton, 10-34-0 $561/ton and UAN28 $274/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, urea averaged $0.42/lb.N, anhydrous $0.36/lb.N, UAN28 $0.49/lb.N and UAN32 $0.50/lb.N.

Fertilizer prices tracked by DTN appear to have bottomed in late February. For example, average anhydrous prices have climbed more than $50/ton since then. But at the moment, all fertilizers remain double-digits lower in price compared to a year earlier.

UAN32 is 13% lower while both urea and 10-34-0 are 14% less expensive from a year ago. In addition, DAP and MAP are both 16% lower, anhydrous and UAN28 are 17% less expensive and potash is 26% lower.

Ethanol Stocks, Output Declined Week-ended April 22

The Energy Information Administration released data today showing ethanol inventories and domestic production declined during the week-ended April 22 while implied demand increased.

The data showed inventories fell about 400,000 bbl or 1.9% to 21.6 million bbl for the week profiled, with year-over-year surplus at 800,000 bbl or 4.4%.

Plant production fell 12,000 bpd or 1.3% last week to 927,000 bpd while 0.76% lower year-over-year.

Blender inputs, a proxy for ethanol demand, increased by 25,000 bpd or 2.8% to 918,000 bpd for the week, while up 4.9% year-over-year.

Farmers and Ranchers Need Government Support, Not Opposition, Farm Bureau Tells Congress

Low commodity prices, tightening credit, expensive land and rising costs for expenses such as seed and fertilizer will lead to financial losses for many farmers and ranchers this year, Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert, Jr. told a House subcommittee today.

Testifying on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation and the Illinois Farm Bureau, Guebert encouraged Congress to help farm and ranch families endure what observers agree will be a difficult year. He said Illinois farmers who produce row crops have been hit hard along with the rest of the farm economy.

"Over the last 18 months we have seen our working capital erode over 25 percent," Guebert said. "Our equity is fading into the sunset. Indexed to inflation, the economic return for Illinois farmers after accounting for family expenses is currently at its lowest level since 1972. All of this has proven to be a very steep learning curve for a new generation of younger and less experienced farmers who entered the business when times were better."

The emergence of global food markets in recent years has made already volatile commodity markets even less stable than before.

"Commodity prices used to be more predictable," Guebert said. "They were primarily influenced by regional and national factors. Just in the past two weeks we've seen a $1.30 a bushel increase in soybean prices because of rain during harvest in Brazil, and then overnight on April 22 a drop of 22 cents a bushel. Farmers and ranchers are price takers, whether on the input or commodity side of the equation."

Many government programs have helped farm families, but others have hindered the wellbeing of those who raise the food, fuel and fiber Americans depend on every day, Guebert said.

On the positive side:
-    Congressional agriculture leaders have protected the farm bill's safety net and risk management tools to help farmers and ranchers cope with market volatility.
-    Congress has bolstered the farm economy by supporting significant transportation projects to improve major waterways and make driver licensing more practical and easier to comply with.
-    The Environmental Protection Agency has taken a flexible approach on licensing dicamba herbicide formulations.
-    The President's Task Force on Pollinators has recognized that beekeepers and farmers need one another and allowed them to work together to preserve pollinators rather than imposing a solution from the outside.

Unfortunately, not all government actions have been so benign:
-    Proponents of mandatory labeling for products that include genetically modified ingredients have pushed their anti-science agenda in Congress to the detriment of farmers and consumers alike.
-    The nation's H-2A visa program for agricultural workers remains inefficient and impractical for most farmers.
-    Compliance with the Affordable Care Act remains confusing and difficult for small seasonal employers such as farmers and ranchers.
-    EPA is increasingly restricting pesticides and herbicides without proper scientific evidence for its positions.
-    The U.S. Forest Service recently proposed that ranchers surrender their water rights in exchange for the ability to graze on federal lands. The USFS later withdrew the proposal, but this remains a topic of discussion among environmental groups.

"The world population will continue to grow," Guebert told lawmakers. "American farmers have proven time and time again we produce the food, fiber and fuel the world needs. Please don't restrict, limit or constrain our ability to provide what consumers around the world need."

Senate Judiciary Approves Cattle Price Collapse Investigation

In response to R-CALF USA's January request, the Senate Judiciary Committee last week requested the Comptroller General of the United States to use his agency, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), to initiate an investigation into the 2015 cattle price collapse.

In a letter signed by the chairman and ranking member of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), respectively, along with the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights, Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), respectively, the GAO is asked to investigate the cause of the sudden 15.1 percent drop in fed cattle prices that occurred during the latter half of 2015.

"We are pleased the Judiciary Committee agrees that the evidence we provided regarding the dysfunctionality of our fed cattle market warrants a careful investigation into the current structure of our industry and our industry's susceptibility to anticompetitive practices," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.

The Judiciary Committee's letter specifically requested the GAO to conduct "a review of the structure of the market and of any possible anticompetitive conduct."

According to the agency's Website, the GAO is an independent, nonpartisan agency often called the 'government watchdog' because it investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. The Comptroller General of the United States, who heads the GAO, is appointed to a 15-year term by the President. Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2010.

"This is our last best chance to stop the chickenization of our cattle industry," said Bullard, referring to the vertically integrated structure of the U.S. chicken industry that is under the complete control of large, corporate meatpackers.

"We don't want our cattle industry to follow the chicken industry's path and the only way to reverse our present trajectory towards it is to defend and protect competition in our cattle markets," he added.

In 2010 the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Justice held joint hearings across the country during which both agencies indicated they would begin protecting competition in livestock markets by enforcing antitrust laws and the Packers and Stockyards Act, which prohibits anticompetitive conduct. However, no such actions have been initiated by either agency.

160+ Farm and Food Groups Ask Congress to Reject TPP, Stand Up for Independent Farmers and Ranchers

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has become a divisive issue in the nation’s capital, and criticism intensified after 161 food, farm, faith and rural organizations sent a letter to Capitol Hill today, urging lawmakers to reject the trade pact.

“The main beneficiaries of the TPP are the companies that buy, process and ship raw agricultural commodities, not the farmers who face real risks from rising import competition. TPP imports will compete against U.S. farmers who are facing declining farm prices that are projected to stay low for years,” the organizations wrote.

The White House has promoted the TPP as an export-boon for farmers to generate support for the agreement, but past trade agreements have not always delivered on export promises, the letter noted. For example, the United States’ total combined exports of corn, soybeans and wheat have remained steady at about 100 million metric tons for the last 30 years despite a raft of free trade agreements since the mid-1990s.

“Trade deals do not just add new export markets – the flow of trade goes both ways – and the U.S. has committed to allowing significantly greater market access to imports under the TPP,” the groups explained. Especially “alarming” to the organizations is the agreement’s complete lack of enforceable provisions against currency manipulation, a substantial cause of America’s debilitating $531 billion trade imbalance.

“In its current form, the TPP sets to bankroll global business rather than foster local economies. It fails to address our alarming trade deficit and other serious issues that will be passed on to the family farmer, the everyday consumer and the American worker,” said Roger Johnson, president of National Farmers Union, one of the letter’s signers. “NFU understands this trade agreement is not a good deal for our nearly 200,000 family farm and ranch members.”

The TPP poses particular risks for cattle producers. In 2015, the United States imported nearly 2.3 billion pounds of beef from TPP partners but only exported about 1.2 billion pounds. The TPP will increase beef and cattle imports at a time when domestic cattle prices are plummeting.

“The TPP rolls out the red carpet for foreign cattle imports to undercut American family ranchers,” said Mabel Dobbs, a rancher from Weiser, Idaho, on behalf of the Western Organization of Resource Councils. “We will face the added challenge of competing with cheap, unregulated and un-inspected imported beef. Like failed trade deals of the past, the beneficiaries of this agreement are the multi-national meatpackers at the expense of family farmers and ranchers.”

The TPP also covers important agricultural policy areas such as investment, procurement, labeling, food safety, animal health and crop disease. The stringent rules and dispute system under the TPP make it easier to successfully challenge and overturn domestic laws, as happened last year to country of origin meat labels.

“The TPP will add to the rising tide of imported food that is already overwhelming U.S. farmers, eaters and border inspectors,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “Trade deals like the TPP make U.S. farm and food policy subservient to foreign trade tribunals that put global commerce ahead of the needs of American farmers and consumers.”

The letter was introduced at a press teleconference with House Agriculture Committee Member Rep. Rick Nolan, NFU President Roger Johnson, Auburn University agricultural economist Professor C. Robert Taylor and independent rancher and Rocky Mountain Farmers Union member Steve Nein.

EPA Lengthens Comment Period on Dicamba

The Environmental Protection Agency has extended the public comment period on dicamba formulations to be used with Monsanto's new Xtend herbicide trait technology to May 31. That means growers can plant the technology, but will not have a dicamba herbicide available in time to use during the 2016 season.

Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer and many other licensees commercialized dicamba-tolerant soybeans for the first time this spring. Farmers have already taken delivery and in some cases planted Roundup Ready 2 Xtend (RR2X) soybeans. Companies have informed DTN that they are working with growers to exchange product upon request. Growers are urged to work with their seed dealers if they wish to swap seed.

"We do not expect dicamba to be available for in-crop use in 2016," said Monsanto spokesman John Combest. That means any use of a dicamba herbicide on RR2X soybeans in-season during 2016 before final labels are approved by EPA and state officials would be a violation of law.

After the comment period closes, EPA will review all of the comments and reach a final decision, which the agency expects to issue in late summer or early fall 2016.

Growers can still use glyphosate (Roundup) since the RR2X system also contains that trait, but weeds have become increasingly resistant to glyphosate.

Intellectual Property Report Details U.S. Trade Representative's Global Initiatives to Defend
Rights of Common Food Name Users

A report issued by the U.S. Trade Representative's Office today outlined the Administration's broad scope of activities aimed at combating the abuse of geographical indications (GIs) threatening the use of common food names.

USTR's annual Special 301 report touted the extensive efforts in numerous countries and forums that the Administration has undertaken to stem the European Union's efforts to use GIs to erect barriers to U.S. exports.

"Protecting the right to use generic food names is increasingly important to U.S. food and beverage companies," said Jaime Castaneda, executive director of the Consortium for Common Food Names, an international alliance dedicated to preserving rights to use common food names. "Producers around the world continue to grapple with the harmful effects of the EU's overly broad approach to GIs and the impact this policy has already had in numerous markets."

"USTR's robust defense of common food name users - and the rights of buyers to maintain a variety of sources for common food categories - is particularly valuable at this point in time when the EU is seeking to replicate here in the U.S. market its harmful pattern of using its FTAs to impose GI policies aimed at restricting trade and competition," stated Castaneda. "The GI provisions in TPP are a strong step in the right direction toward bringing more transparency and balance to the process of GI evaluations in various countries."

Castaneda said CCFN will continue working with USTR on GIs and called on governments around the world to stop the illegal confiscation of generic names. "We look forward to partnering with USTR to use the tools in TPP, as well as direct engagement with key markets, to preserve access for common food name products," he said. "With the help of USTR and the cooperation of other governments, we can make real progress toward a more equitable system of considering and approving geographical indications across the globe," he said.

BASF launches Grow Smart™ University

BASF announced the launch of a new online educational resource, Grow Smart™ University, which connects growers and industry professionals with agronomic and agribusiness content. Grow Smart University offers an extensive library of farm management information, making it easier and faster to find helpful materials.

“Growers face increasingly complex situations in farming, and many look to the Web for answers,” said Paul Leeland, Product Manager, BASF. “Grow Smart University helps provide necessary educational resources to make informed decisions.”

Content is available in videos, e-books, industry expert webinars, educational modules and flashcards to accommodate a variety of learning-style preferences. All materials are categorized by topic, allowing visitors to delve deep into a variety of subjects. Crop-specific courses cover best practices from seed to harvest, while courses on general agricultural principles focus on whole issues, such as plant health or agribusiness. New content is uploaded regularly to keep visitors abreast of new issues and technologies in the industry.

“Grow Smart University is a tool as flexible as the growers who use it,” Leeland said. “By having on-demand access to education, growers can operate on their own schedule to learn about new developments and tools to help their operation.”

BASF’s Grow Smart approach helps growers get the most out of every acre by combining the best partnerships, resources and risk-reduction tools to build customized plans focused on individual operations. With teamwork at its core, Grow Smart is a better way to do business.

Gain access to Grow Smart University by logging in at

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tuesday April 26 Ag News

Calving Distribution Key to Reproductive Success
Steve Tonn, Beef Systems Extension Educator, Washington County

It’s only natural as the season shifts to spring to focus on the immediate tasks at hand such as processing calves and cows, moving cattle to summer pasture, and planting corn and soybeans.  However, before we take on the spring and summer workload, take one more look at your calving records as a way to measure and improve herd management.

Kris Ringwall, North Dakota State University Extension Beef Specialist, stresses using your calving distribution table as a management tool.  Here are some of his comments.  Analyzing how many calves are born during the calving season can provide valuable insight into the reproductive performance of your cow herd.  But when those calves are born in the calving season is just as important.  Count the number of cows that calved within 21 days from when the third mature cow calved.  After that, check the number that calved the next 21 days and the next 21 days.  Keep counting until you get to the end of the calving book.

Why?  The no. 1 indicator that cows within your cattle operation fit your production system is timely reproduction.  In other words, they calve on time.

The type of cattle operation is not important, nor is when the calving season is set.  What is important is that at least 60% of the mature cows expected to calve do so within 21 days of the start of the calving season. 

The calving distribution table allows a producer to follow how cows are calving within the calving season, as well as the percentage that are calving within 21 days, 42 days, 63 days , 84 days or later within the herd.  These percentages can be compared with the benchmarks for overall herd evaluation or utilized to follow how individual cows calf within the herd. 

The North Dakota Beef Cattle Improvement Association members enrolled in the Cow Herd Appraisal Performance Software (CHAPS) program average 62% of their calves born in the first 21 days of the calving season; 86% by day 42 and 95% by day 63.  These are benchmarks to compare your herd too.

If you don’t have the CHAPS program, the calculations are easy to figure directly from the calving book.  Simply count the total number of mature cows that calved and note the number on a separate sheet of paper.  Then go down the calving book and highlight or circle the third mature cow that calved. Disregard the first calving heifers. Then count down 21 days from when the third mature cow calved and draw a line there, as well as at 42 days, 63 days, 84 days, etc.

By counting the number of cows within each segment of the calving book and dividing by the total number of mature cows that calved, the percentage of cows calving at 21, 42, 63, 84, etc. days is calculated.  The first calf heifers are not included in these calculations because oftentimes the bull turnout dates are quite different from those of the mature cows.

How many of your calves are born after 63 days?  84 days?  University research at the University of Nebraska and South Dakota State University shows that cows calving in the first 21 days of the calving season have a lifetime production advantage of nearly two calves over cows calving later in the calving season.  Late calvers tend to always be late calving cows.  Those late calving cows are costing you money.  A goal to strive for is to have each cow have a calf every 365 days.  That means you need a calving season no longer than 82 days at the maximum.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation PAC Names ‘Friends of Agriculture’

Rep. Adrian Smith has been named a ‘Friend of Agriculture’ by NFBF-PAC, Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation’s political action committee. Smith is a candidate for re-election to represent Nebraska’s 3rd Congressional District.

“Congressman Smith has a thorough knowledge of Nebraska agriculture and how it is affected by federal policies and regulations. He has supported many initiatives that have directly benefited Nebraska agriculture,” said Mark McHargue of Central City, chairman of NFBF-PAC and first vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau.

Smith has been an advocate for agriculture and shares Farm Bureau’s philosophy on numerous issues affecting the well-being of farm and ranch families.

“Congressman Smith believes science and facts, not rhetoric, should drive policy on issues such as regulation of GMO products and responsible use of antibiotics in producing livestock. He also understands the importance of moving Nebraska agriculture products and other Nebraska goods into the international marketplace through trade agreements, which are vital to the long-term prosperity of Nebraska,” said McHargue. “He’s also well positioned to promote trade initiatives as a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means.”

According to McHargue, Smith also recognizes how excessive regulation hurts Nebraska’s farm and ranch families.

“Adrian has been a leader on common sense approaches to regulatory oversight, while working to reign in the long arms of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other federal regulatory efforts handed down by Washington bureaucrats that create unnecessary red tape for Nebraskans. He led the effort in the House of Representatives to repeal EPA’s Waters of the U.S. Rule (WOTUS) which is one of the largest abuses of executive power in modern history,” said McHargue. “We are pleased to count Congressman Smith among those receiving our ‘Friend of Agriculture’ designation.”

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry has been named a “Friend of Agriculture” by NFBF-PAC, Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation’s political action committee. Fortenberry is a candidate for re-election to represent Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District.

“Congressman Fortenberry has been a strong proponent of biofuels and renewable energy production. He has also supported value-added agricultural opportunities and new food markets,” said Mark McHargue of Central City, chairman of NFBF-PAC and first vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau.

“As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Fortenberry has played an important role in working to restore fiscal sanity back to Washington, while at the same time protecting certain aspects of the federal budget that are important to Nebraska's farm and ranch families,” McHargue said.

According to McHargue, Fortenberry has a strong grasp of agriculture within his district.

“The 1st Congressional District is diverse in its constituency. Rep. Fortenberry understands the importance of agriculture to the district and the state. From his work on pushing for a sound federal budget to his work to keep regulatory agencies in check, Congressman Fortenberry has truly worked hard for Nebraska's farm and ranch families,” McHargue said.

Rep. Brad Ashford has been named a ‘Friend of Agriculture’ by NFBF-PAC, Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation’s political action committee. Ashford is a candidate for re-election to represent Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District.

“Agriculture is the backbone of Nebraska and it’s also crucial to Omaha’s economic vitality through the large number of agribusinesses that call Omaha home. Congressman Ashford understands this and has worked hard on behalf of farmers and all the citizens of the district,” said Mark McHargue of Central City, chairman of NFBF-PAC and first vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau.

Ashford received the designation based on consideration of his record of supporting small businesses and promoting economic growth.

“He’s stood with farmers and ranchers in opposing efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to greatly expand their regulatory control over farms and ranches. Congressman Ashford has also been a strong advocate for growing international trade opportunities and moving Nebraska products, including agriculture products, into those markets by supporting key trade agreements,” said McHargue. “We’re glad to include Ashford among those receiving the ‘Friend of Agriculture’ designation.”

The ‘Friend of Agriculture’ designation is given to selected candidates for public office based on their commitment to and positions on agricultural issues, qualifications and previous experience, communication abilities and their ability to represent their district.

Conservation Compliance Required for USDA Farm Programs, Crop Insurance

As springtime arrives, the USDA reminds producers to keep conservation compliance in mind before making any major land use changes on their farming or ranching operations. Being out of compliance could put USDA conservation program benefits and federal crop insurance premium subsidies in jeopardy.

Conservation compliance refers to the USDA requirement that highly erodible land be farmed in a manner that minimizes soil erosion. This may include practicing no-till or planting cover crops.

Conservation compliance also prohibits the conversion of wetlands or planting agricultural commodities on a converted wetland. Converting a wetland may include removal of trees, installing new drainage, or modifying existing drainage areas.

Craig Derickson, state conservationist with the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) says, "We want producers to visit their local USDA Service Center before making any big land use changes on their farm or ranch. There are requirements producers need to follow to remain eligible for USDA benefits."

Dan Steinkruger, director of the USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) says, "It is especially important that farmers who are breaking out new land, or conducting other types of land improvement activities, timely file an AD-1026 form with FSA. Once the AD-1026 is filed, the producer's planned land activities can be evaluated, and highly erodible land and wetland determinations can be made. The producer can then work with NRCS to assist with conservation planning to help ensure compliance with conservation requirements."

The Agricultural Act of 2014 - commonly called the Farm Bill - continues the requirement that producers adhere to conservation compliance guidelines in order to be eligible for most programs administered by USDA's Farm Service Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. This includes the new price and revenue protection programs, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the Livestock Disaster Assistance Programs and Marketing Assistance Loans implemented by FSA. It also includes conservation programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) administered by NRCS.

The 2014 Farm Bill also extended conservation compliance as an eligibility requirement for federal crop insurance premium subsidies, which may account for approximately 60% of a producer's overall premium cost. When a producer is determined to be in violation of conservation compliance rules, it not only causes ineligibility for USDA program benefits on the farm in violation, but also on all other farms in which that producer has an interest. The result can be a very significant monetary impact on that producer and his or her farming operation.

According to Steinkruger, it's important for producers to work closely with their local NRCS and FSA offices. Producers should review and understand existing highly erodible land (HEL) and wetland (W) determinations on FSA maps and visit with NRCS regarding what steps are required to ensure that an approved conservation plan is being applied.

With the current market conditions, farm program benefits are an increasingly important part of most producers' bottom line. "Now more than ever, it's critical for conservation compliance to be a strategic part of each producer's operation to ensure eligibility not only for FSA and NRCS programs, but also for crop insurance premium subsidies," Steinkruger noted.

Derickson said, "Staff at the USDA Service Center will work one-on-one with producers to ensure any new farming operations will protect natural resources and the sustainability of their farm, and don't put their USDA farm program benefits at risk."


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today reminded eligible farm owners that the deadline to apply for the 2016 Century and Heritage Farm Program is June 1, 2016.  The program recognizes families that have owned their farm for 100 years in the case of Century Farms and 150 years for Heritage Farms.

“The application deadline for families with a Century or Heritage is quickly approaching and I hope those with an eligible farm will take the time to apply,” Northey said.  “This program is a great way to highlight the deep history and strong heritage of agriculture in our state.”

Farm families with a century or heritage farm must submit an application to the Department no later than June 1, 2016 to qualify for recognition at the Iowa State Fair this year.

Applications are available on the Department’s website at by clicking on the Century Farm or Heritage Farm link under “Hot Topics.”

Applications may also be requested from Becky Lorenz, Coordinator of the Century and Heritage Farm Program via phone at 515-281-3645, email at or by writing to Century or Heritage Farms Program, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Henry A. Wallace Building, 502 E. 9th St., Des Moines, IA 50319.

The program is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.  The ceremony to recognize the 2016 Century and Heritage Farms is scheduled to be held at the Iowa State Fair on Thursday, August 18th in the Pioneer Livestock Pavilion.

This is the 40th anniversary of the Century Farm program, which was started in 1976 as part of the Nation’s Bicentennial Celebration.  To date more than 18,600 farms from across the state have received this recognition.  The Heritage Farm program was started in 2006, on the 30th anniversary of the Century Farm program, and 837 farms have been recognized.

Last year 366 Century Farms and 101 Heritage Farms were recognized.

New Holland Sponsors Awards for NCBA Recruitment

The Kansas Livestock Association and the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association each earned use of a piece of equipment from New Holland for their outstanding efforts to recruit new members to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Each of these NCBA affiliates will get its choice of a one-year lease on a New Holland Roll-Belt™ 560 Specialty Crop round baler or a one-year lease on a New Holland T6 175 tractor. The organizations received their awards at the NCBA’s Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., April 12-14.

“New Holland appreciates the work of state affiliates to help strengthen the grassroots membership and give the cattle industry a louder voice,” said Mark Lowrey, New Holland Regional Market Specialist.

The Kansas Livestock Association automatically earned one of these leases for recruiting the most NCBA members for the contest period, which lasted from Jan. 1 through March 31. Also in the top five state affiliates for NCBA membership recruitment were: Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, California Cattlemen’s Association, and Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association.

Colorado Cattlemen’s Association was the winner of the drawing of the 16 qualifying affiliates, which included: Arizona Cattle Feeders Association, California Cattlemen's Association, Colorado Cattlemen's Association, Colorado Livestock Association, Hawaii Cattlemen's Council, Illinois Beef Association, Kansas Livestock Association, Michigan Cattlemen's Association, Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association, Nebraska Cattlemen, Ohio Cattlemen's Association, Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Utah Cattlemen's Association, Virginia Cattlemen’s Association, Washington Cattle Feeders Association and Wisconsin Cattlemen's Association.

“It was great to see so many cattle producers in D.C for the Legislative Conference, visiting with their legislators on behalf of cattlemen and women throughout the country,” said Lowrey. “These producers and the NCBA affiliates are important to the success of NCBA and the beef industry. New Holland is proud of the opportunity to reward these affiliates for their continued support of NCBA membership programs by awarding affiliates for their recruitment work.”

Establishing and maintaining good fly control for pasture cattle

Cliff Willms, Ph.D., Beef Nutritionist

Flies are a nuisance!  Nobody like flies.  But many of us in the cattle business think of them as just that – a nuisance.  We don’t realize the economic impact that the lack of fly control has on cattle performance.

It is estimated by experts that the economic losses from inadequate fly control for cattle are greater than respiratory disease and coccidiosis losses combined.  That seems hard to believe until one considers that flies can affect cattle over an entire summer and early fall.  Then it makes sense.  When we think of health issues with cattle, we often think about the acute symptoms of respiratory disease or coccidiosis and treat the cattle immediately.  The loss of performance is often short term.  However, with flies it is the long term exposure that causes the larger performance losses, even though the cattle may appear healthy, and makes flies the larger economic loss.

Good fly control is an essential element of good animal husbandry.  In an era where humane treatment of farm animals and their well-being is on the public conscience, one cannot ignore fly control.  Attitudes suggesting, “That’s what tails are for” are not appropriate in today’s culture. 

For pasture cattle, the horn fly, Haematobia irritans, is the most economically important fly.  Both the male and female horn flies are blood suckers.  They have a very efficient cutting and digging mechanism that delivers painful bites.  Imagine a chewing syringe needle or turning a needle with a burr on it.  I can’t stand just a few mosquito bites – imagine what a cow puts up with!

This biting action and blood sucking causes all sorts of negative behaviors.  You see kicking, stomping, head slinging, tail swishing, and cattle grouping up rather than spreading out and grazing.   When cows do what they were created to do, they spread out and graze grass primarily in the morning and evening.  In the middle of the day, they lie down in the shade when content from eating their fill and chew their cud.  Full of forage and relaxed, they produce milk and their calves grow optimally.  They can’t do that when fighting flies.  

The issue is maintaining good fly control.  The means used should be effective, economical, environmentally friendly, safe, and fit one’s management scheme.  How one gets the job done is personal preference.  Discussing every option in an integrated pest management program is beyond the scope of this article.  The remainder of this article will focus on feed through products and management for pasture cattle.

As a nutritionist, the “corner post” of building a sound nutritional program starts with being rigorous about using an excellent mineral all year long and managing the intake to target levels.  Naturally, it seems that a feed through fly control product fits nicely with a cattleman committed to good mineral nutrition for his/her cows.    

Cattlemen have options when choosing a feed through fly control product:
-    Altosid® or methoprene is also known as an IGR (Insect Growth Regulator).  It is a growth hormone specific to flies that prevents the development of pupae into harmful adult horn flies.  There is no known resistance, it is not toxic to mammals, will not wash out of manure, and there is no withdrawal for meat or milk.
-    Rabon® is an older product (organophosphate) that was used heavily several years ago and still used today.  It is effective on face flies, horn flies, stable flies and house flies.
-    ClariFly® is a newer product available for pasture cattle.  It is usually used more in confinement situations rather than pasture cattle.  ClariFly® prevents house, stable, face, and horn flies from developing in and emerging from manure by disrupting the development of the exoskeleton of insects.  Hence, it is not toxic to mammals. 

The key to the success of all feed through fly control products is to manage mineral intake.  If the cattle eat the mineral, the fly control product will be in the manure and you will see good control.  Managing mineral intake is something you want to do anyway to get the most effective nutrition from your mineral purchases.

Here are some tips on management of granular or loose minerals containing a fly control product:
-    Location and number of feeding stations must be adjusted to control intake.  Placement of mineral feeders relative to water, cow paths, shade, and loafing areas is critical.  Moving a mineral feeder 50 yards can make a big difference.  When mineral is close to water, a cow can wash her palate and make multiple trips to the mineral feeder and consumption will be higher.  Move the feeder farther from the water and intake will decrease.
-    To decrease intake, add additional salt.  Most granular minerals include a nutritional level of salt, but added salt may be needed to regulate intake.  If you add salt, always mix the salt with the mineral containing the fly control product.  Offering salt and mineral side by side may give the overall average intake desired, but during fly season, one will quickly figure out that some cows eat only salt some days and not the mineral, hence fly control is compromised.  This is a huge issue that is the cause of many producers being dissatisfied with results.
-    Placing mineral in a mineral feeder that is on the ground will encourage intake and placing mineral in a bunk up off the ground will decrease intake.
-    With pastures with running creeks and streams where there are multiple watering stations, make sure to have multiple mineral feeding stations to insure adequate intake. 
-    Make sure all minerals and supplements contain the fly control product of choice.  A few years ago, a cowman lost fly control and couldn’t figure out what the problem was.  He was offering protein blocks without fly control as well as a mineral with fly control.  The cows did not need the protein with the quality of grass they had and I asked him to remove the protein blocks and in 2 weeks, the fly population was under control.

Since intake management is the biggest issue with getting optimal fly control from a feed through product, I prefer to use CRYSTALYX® IGR MAX™.  Research has shown that cows frequent a low moisture molasses based mineral block more often and consume it more consistently than a granular mineral.  One can put out several CRYSTALYX® barrels at a time and spread them throughout the pasture.  The CRYSTALYX® Low Moisture Blocks are weather resistant and purchasing a mineral feeder is not necessary.

Another huge key to satisfaction with using a feed through fly control product is feeding it long enough into the fall.  Be sure to feed past a hard freeze!  This will reduce the carryover of eggs and you will be happier with the results next year than you were with the first year.  In fact, I am more concerned about a producer feeding the fly control product long enough into the fall than I am with how soon they get started in the spring.

The biggest objection many producers have to using a feed through fly control product is concern that since their neighbor does not use it, they fear that they will not have good fly control.  However, that is not a concern.  The horn fly, the fly of primary concern in pasture cattle, is a small fly and does not travel far.  In fact, the horn fly lives its entire life on the host animal.  It jumps off to lay its eggs in fresh manure and jumps back on the host animal.  I have witnessed this phenomenon myself when collecting fecal samples.  I have further witnessed several situations where cattle in the neighboring pasture were not on a fly control product and we had excellent control.

If you have not used a feed through fly control product, I encourage you to do so.  It is a good management practice in an integrated pest management program that has proven to produce a good return on investment.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Monday April 25 Crop Progress + Ag News


For the week ending April 24, 2016, temperatures averaged two to four degrees above normal in eastern areas, but near normal elsewhere, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Rainfall amounts of one to three inches were common across the eastern third of the State while western areas remained mostly dry. Corn planting was slow as producers waited for soils to dry from rains that have covered most of the State over the last two weeks. Pastures and winter wheat were responding to the improved soil moisture supplies. There were 2.6 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 1 percent very short, 8 short, 79 adequate, and 12 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 1 percent very short, 11 short, 83 adequate, and 5 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn planted was at 16 percent, near 13 last year, but ahead of 11 for the five-year average. Emerged was at 1 percent, ahead of 0 last year, but equal to average.

Sorghum planted was at 1 percent, equal to both last year and average.

Winter wheat condition rated 0 percent very poor, 4 poor, 36 fair, 50 good, and 10 excellent. Winter wheat jointed was at 56 percent, well ahead of 14 last year and 19 average.

Oats planted was at 85 percent, behind 92 last year, but ahead of 80 average. Emerged was at 54 percent, behind 63 last year but ahead of 41 average.

Livestock Report:

Cattle and calf conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 0 poor, 10 fair, 75 good, and 15 excellent. Calving was 90 percent complete, near 88 last year and 89 average. Cattle and calf death loss rated 1 percent heavy, 68 average, and 31 light.

Sheep and lamb conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 0 poor, 10 fair, 84 good, and 6 excellent. Sheep and lamb death loss rated 0 percent heavy, 75 average, and 25 light.

Hay and roughage supplies rated 0 percent very short, 5 short, 91 adequate, and 4 surplus.

Stock water supplies rated 1 percent very short, 4 short, 92 adequate, and 3 surplus.

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

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

Access the U.S. Drought Monitor at:


Rain slowed planting progress in much of Iowa during the week ending April 24, 2016, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Statewide there were 3.6 days suitable for fieldwork. Other activities for the week included tillage, anhydrous applications, and planting preparations.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 5 percent short, 89 percent adequate and 6 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 0 percent very short, 3 percent short, 90 percent adequate and 7 percent surplus.

Forty percent of the corn acreage has been planted, 6 days ahead of last year and 11 days ahead of the 5-year average. Farmers in north central, central, and southeast Iowa have already planted over half their corn crop. Ninety-two percent of the State’s oat crop has been planted, one week ahead of last year and more than 2 weeks ahead of average. Oats emerged reached 40 percent, moving ahead of average for the first time this year. There were scattered reports of soybeans being planted.

Pasture condition rated 61 percent good to excellent, with pastures described as green and growing. Livestock conditions were reported as good, although some feedlots were back to muddy conditions due to the rain.


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

A very slow moving storm system brought rain to far western Iowa on Sunday (17th) night and finally exited the state on Thursday (21st) afternoon. Heaviest rains with this system fell over far western Iowa, particularly on Wednesday (20th). Dry weather prevailed statewide on Friday (22nd) and Saturday (23rd) before showers and thunderstorms moved into western Iowa Sunday (24th) morning. Thunderstorms also redeveloped over the west one-half of Iowa late Sunday afternoon and evening, a few of which brought hail and high winds. However, this last round of storms came too late to be reflected in this reporting week’s statistics. Weekly rain totals varied from only 0.05 inches at Marion to 3.88 inches at Kennebec in Monona County. There was a statewide average of 1.07 inches of rain for the week, slightly above the normal for the period of 0.89 inches. Monday (18th) was the warmest day of the reporting week across eastern Iowa and Sunday (24th) was the warmest over the west. In between these two very warm days, the remainder of the week brought temperatures near to slightly above seasonal normals. Temperature extremes for the week varied from highs of 83 degrees at Muscatine on Monday (18th) and 84 degrees at Glenwood on Sunday (24th) while Mason City recorded the lowest temperature at 35 degrees on Saturday (23rd) morning. Temperatures for the week as a whole averaged 6.1 degrees above normal. Soil temperatures at the four inch depth were mostly averaging in the upper fifties across Iowa as of Sunday (24th).

USDA Weekly Crop Progress - Most Progress Numbers Lean Bearish

The nation's farmers are wasting no time getting into the field this planting season with 30% of the corn already planted as of April 24, according to USDA's latest weekly Crop Progress report. That's well ahead of last year and the five-year average of 16%.

Corn is 5% emerged, compared to 2% last year and a five-year average of 4%.

Soybean planting is 3% complete, compared to 2% last year and a five-year average of 2%. 

Spring wheat is 42% planted and 8% emerged, compared with 50% and 8% last year and 28% and 7% on average. 

Winter wheat is 26% headed, compared to 12% last week, 25% last year and 24% on average. Winter wheat condition improved slightly at to 59% good to excellent compared to 57% last week.

Cotton is 10% planted, compared to 7% last week, 9% last year and a 13% average. Rice is 62% planted and 38% emerged, compared to 48% and 19% last week, 37% and 23% last year, and 45% and 29% on average.

Sorghum is 20% planted compared to 16% last week, 23% last year and a 24% average. Oats are 71% planted and 41% emerged, compared to 56% and 30% last week, 68% and 40% last year and 57% and 40% averages. Barley is 45% planted and 15% emerged, compared to 33% and NA last week, 52% and 15% last year, and 36% and 9% averages.

Silage Conference: What to Grow and How to Store and Price It 

An abundance of new information on an age-old feed has led extension specialists from Iowa State University and University of Nebraska—Lincoln to offer a one-day Silage for Beef Cattle Conference June 17. conference for cattle producers, nutrition consultants and extension personnel. The conference will capitalize on the resurgence of silage in beef diets, said Galen Erickson, beef feedlot extension specialist with UNL.

“Corn silage appears to be very economical in beef growing and finishing situations, and we know many people use it,” he said. “If it is going to be used, however, it’s important to know the specifics about types, storage and pricing, and this conference will tackle all those issues.”

The speaker lineup includes university experts from UNL, Iowa State, and Kansas State University (KSU), and from program sponsor Lallemand Animal Nutrition. The agenda features eight presentation sessions and a panel discussion, and will be held at the August N. Christenson Research and Education Building at the UNL Agricultural Research and Development Center (ARDC) near Mead, NE. The conference is approved for 5 CEUs from the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS).

The conference begins with registration at 8:15 a.m., will adjourn by 4 p.m. and is free for those preregistered by Monday, June 13. Otherwise, the fee is $30. The conference brochure has agenda information, directions to the location, contacts for more information and a fillable registration form in pdf format.

“Because we know there’s a great deal of interest in this topic, and we know not everyone can travel to attend this conference, we’re also offering a web viewing option for the entire day available to people with internet access from anywhere around the world,” Erickson said. “In addition to this streaming option, we plan to capture shorter segments that highlight the take-home points and provide them after the conference, and we’ll provide a proceedings of all the material presented during the day.”

UNL and ISU have provided joint beef nutrition programming for years, and working together to offer this conference was a logical choice, said Dan Loy, Iowa Beef Center director at Iowa State.

 “This is a great opportunity for us to bring current research information to the cattle industry in Nebraska, Iowa and beyond,” Loy said. “Offering both an on-site location and an online streaming opportunity increases the reach of this information to a national and international audience.”

Erickson said Lallemand Animal Nutrition approached the team about working with them to sponsor a meeting focused on silage, and its financial support makes it possible for preregistered attendees to do so at no cost.

Erickson said it’s important for producers to understand how to select proper hybrids for silage, know when to put up silage and know how to store silage to minimize shrink.

 “Optimizing both the amount fed and silage in combination with which other ingredients is critical in determining whether silage is an economical choice,” Erickson said. “This conference will provide that information, as well as tools for pricing silage.”

 The conference speakers, their affiliation and presentation topics follow:
    Bob Charley, Lallemand Animal Nutrition, “Corn Silage Fermentation Process”
    Keith Bolsen, KSU, “Silage Safety, Shrink, and Methods to Control Losses”
    Renato Schmidt, Lallemand Animal Nutrition, “Impact of Silage Inoculant”
    Jim MacDonald, UNL, “Optimizing Corn Silage Harvest for Quality and Yield”
    Dan Loy, Iowa State, “Evaluation of Silages, and What a Feed Test Means for Good vs. Bad Silage”
    Andrea Watson, UNL, “Use of Corn Silage in Growing Programs and Protein Considerations”
    Erickson and Henry Hilscher, UNL, “Feeding Programs for Silage, Silage Hybrid, and Harvest Time Impact on Performance”
    Terry Klopfenstein and Hilscher, UNL, “Economics of Silage Use and Proper Pricing”

For more information, contact Erickson at 402-472-6402 or Loy at 515-294-1058.

Reservoir Evaluation Project identifies possible benefits of 10 potential sites

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) recently received a report from their Reservoir Evaluation Project.  The purpose of the project was to evaluate ten potential reservoir sites in northeast Nebraska.  The sites have been identified as providing possible benefits including flood control, recreation, stream flow augmentation, recharge, and water quality.  Through the evaluation process, the LENRD has obtained more information about each site, which will allow them to expand studies in some areas, if desired.

LENRD General Manager, Mike Sousek, said, “This was simply a study comparing ideas against other ideas, not a proposal to build any particular structure.”  He continued, “We partnered with 3 downstream NRDs and looked at a much larger area than we usually do because of the nature of some of the benefits that may be realized to downstream stakeholders.  These financial partners also saved local taxpayers from paying for the full cost of the evaluation.”

The LENRD has 12 responsibilities given to them by the State.  The goal of the evaluation was to identify what each structure could potentially do to meet those responsibilities.  The responsibilities can be found on the district’s website:

Sousek said, “In an attempt to keep local control the LENRD must explore ideas.  If the district isn’t going to actively manage groundwater, the decisions that will be forced upon this district in the future will be made by those who live outside the district.  Change is happening, we have the opportunity to create the change that we want, or accept the changes that are handed down to us.”

He added, “We encourage interested parties to please attend our meetings and learn about the issues the district is facing.  As the demand for water continues to increase, this district will become involved with long-term sustainability issues, not just for our district, but for eastern Nebraska.  We are all in this together and the LENRD will need to participate in this effort.  The LENRD does have opportunities to capture water and recharge aquifers or use it for stream augmentation, capturing it when it is not needed and using it when the demand is present.  This study will help the board in determining what projects are best suited to meet our goals and help them decide where is the best place to spend tax dollars to protect the overall water system we all depend on.”

The next meeting of the LENRD Board of Directors is Thursday, April 28th at 7:30 p.m. in the Lifelong Learning Center on the campus of Northeast Community College in Norfolk.  The board meetings are open to the public.

For more information and a full report of the evaluation project, visit the district’s website:


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Looking for something to do during rainy days or downtime?  Preseason maintenance of hay equipment now might save you time and money in a couple weeks.

               Hay equipment needs proper maintenance to perform well.  Preseason maintenance also can help prevent costly downtime when delays can be very costly.   Let's briefly review some important maintenance steps.

               First off, inspect, lubricate, and service all power driven areas such as belts, bearings, chains, and gears.  Set tension on belts and chains as well.  For sicklebar headers, check, sharpen, or replace cutterbar sections and adjust wear plates, hold-down clips, and guards.  Make sure your cutterbar has proper knife register.  On disc mowers, replace knives and rotate or replace worn turtles over the knives.

               Conditioning rollers often are overlooked.  Look for uneven wear and adjust the roll gap, roll timing, and roll pressure for your crop.

               On round balers, inspect belts, chains, and slats or rollers frequently for wear.  Trim frayed edges and repair belts as needed to maintain uniform tension.  When not in use, keep belts clean and release belt tension.

               Rectangular balers need plunger knife clearance and plunger alignment checked.  Also inspect the tying mechanism and adjust it as needed.  Pick-up teeth on balers and on rakes frequently are broken or bent.  Replace defective teeth and adjust height if necessary.

               Also, be sure you have replacement parts on hand of frequently broken or replaced items.  And most important of all, review your owners manual to identify recommended maintenance procedures and proper settings.

               Take a little time now and you will reduce down time later.

Farm Lending Activity Remains Robust

By Nathan Kauffman, Assistant Vice President and Omaha Branch Executive

Farm income remained suppressed in the first quarter of 2016, keeping farm lending activity high. Although non-real estate farm loan volumes declined modestly from a year ago, the number of loans originated increased slightly and the volume of loans remained near record highs. Large loans used to finance operating expenses remained the primary driver of demand for non-real estate loans. Although returns at agricultural banks generally remained strong, delinquency rates on farm loans ticked up, and loan repayment rates dipped, as persistently weak profit margins in the farm sector continued to intensify the challenge of maintaining adequate cash flow.

Section A – First Quarter Survey of Terms of Bank Lending to Farmers

Agricultural lending activity remained strong in the first quarter of 2016. The national Survey of Terms of Bank Lending to Farmers, conducted the first full week of February, indicated the total volume of non-real estate farm loans originated in the quarter declined 13 percent from a year ago. However, the total volume of lending in the first quarter was the sixth highest since 2000, and more than 20 percent higher than the average of the past 15 years. Moreover, despite a modest decline in the volume of farm loans, the number of farm loans originated for non-real estate purposes increased 4 percent from a year ago.

The volume of large non-real estate farm loans continued to have a significant effect on changes in farm lending. In the first quarter, loans larger than $100,000 accounted for 77 percent of the total volume of non-real estate farm loans, up from 72 percent in 2011 and 67 percent in 2006. The increasing share of large loans could be due to persistently high input costs or farm expansion, but may also indicate producers have become increasingly dependent on financing amid tighter profit margins in the farm sector.

Alongside a rising share of large farm loans and weaker farm income, the composition of collateral tied to large farm loans also has shifted somewhat. In the first quarter, farm real estate accounted for 22 percent of collateral on non-real estate loans larger than $250,000, up from 13 percent two years ago. In contrast, farm real estate used as collateral on loans less than $250,000 consistently has hovered near 10 percent. As farm incomes have softened, the increasing use of farm real estate as collateral may indicate that bankers have sought to improve their borrowing base and exposure to risk from reduced cash flow.

Interest rates on non-real estate farm loans also inched up in the first quarter. Interest rates for operating expenses and feeder livestock, which accounted for nearly 75 percent of non-real estate loan volume, increased slightly, but were similar to previous years. Interest rates for other livestock and farm machinery increased 52 and 34 basis points, respectively. Some of the increase in interest rates can be attributed to the high percentage of variable interest rate loans (nearly 68 percent) reacting to minor market movements. However, some of the increase also may be attributed to banks’ risk pricing methods on loans for depreciable intermediate assets in a lean farm economy.

Section B - Fourth Quarter Call Report

In the fourth quarter of 2015, total farm debt at commercial banks continued to rise, but at a somewhat slower pace. Specifically, the level of outstanding debt in the farm sector increased about 7 percent from the previous year, marking the 18th consecutive quarter of increased farm debt financed by commercial banks. However, the year-over-year increase in the fourth quarter was smaller than in the prior four quarters.

Farm lending trended higher during years of strong farm income, but lending also has increased in recent years as income has softened. For example, farm debt rose nearly 15 percent from the first quarter of 2012 to the fourth quarter of 2013 when farm income was near historical highs. Nevertheless, farm debt since the first quarter of 2014 has expanded about 20 percent even as income has dropped sharply. The increase in debt in both environments suggests the current amount of outstanding farm debt at commercial banks represents both capital purchases made during periods of optimistic growth and, more recently, debt to cover short-term financing needs as profit margins have narrowed.

Despite the increased lending activity, the performance of agricultural banks softened in the fourth quarter even as other small banks became slightly more profitable. Returns on assets, a typical bank performance measure, dipped below 1 percent at agricultural banks for the first time since 2010. Additionally, the difference between return on assets at agricultural banks and the same measure at other small banks has narrowed significantly.

The narrower gap between returns at agricultural banks and other small banks was consistent with recent trends in delinquency rates on farm loans. In the fourth quarter, delinquency rates on both farm real estate loans and farm non-real estate loans edged up whereas delinquency rates on all loans, agricultural loans included, trended lower. Despite the recent uptick in delinquencies on farm loans, delinquency rates remained well below the average of the past 15 years. Nevertheless, a persistently weak farm economy may force a greater number of highly leveraged producers into default, putting further pressure on profits for banks with a portfolio concentrated in agriculture.

Section C – Fourth Quarter Regional Agricultural Data

Consistent with fourth quarter call report data, Federal Reserve surveys of agricultural credit conditions generally pointed to strong demand for non-real estate farm loans. Of the surveys conducted in districts with prominent agricultural sectors, only the Dallas district reported a decrease in demand for non-real estate farm loans in the fourth quarter. The Minneapolis and Chicago districts, which generally have higher shares of crop production relative to livestock production, recorded the highest and second highest increases in fourth quarter loan demand since 1991. Similarly, loan demand in the Kansas City district increased for the 10th consecutive quarter and in 11 of the last 15 quarters in the St. Louis district.

Demand for loan renewals and extensions also increased in the fourth quarter. The surveys of each reporting district showed sharp increases in demand for loan renewals and extensions, while repayment rates continued to weaken. The increase in loan renewals and extensions, and softer repayment rates, most likely were due to reduced cash flow and short-term liquidity as some borrowers also sought to restructure existing loans.

The weakening farm economy continued to weigh on farmland values and cash rents in the fourth quarter. The value of nonirrigated cropland in most states within the Federal Reserve districts of Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City and Minneapolis declined slightly. However, nonirrigated cropland values in Oklahoma, Texas and southern Wisconsin increased, but only slightly. Cash rental rates for farmland also declined in the Dallas, Kansas City and Minneapolis districts as profit margins remained weak.


The pace of farm lending in the first quarter remained relatively brisk. Agricultural credit conditions deteriorated somewhat as repayment rates declined and delinquency rates picked up slightly alongside reduced farm income. Banks appeared to be taking proactive measures to reduce risk by increasing the amount of farm real estate used to collateralize large non-real estate loans and raising interest rates slightly. Though farmland values have remained relatively strong, a poor outlook for cash flow could continue to pressure a larger share of farm borrowers in the coming year, particularly those most highly leveraged.

ARS Lincoln Research Leads to Whiter Wheat

Getting rid of gray discoloring in foods such as fresh noodles, breads, and refrigerated biscuits is now possible, thanks to a new white hard wheat breeding line developed by USDA scientists in Lincoln.

Plant geneticist Robert Graybosch, research leader at the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Grain, Forage, and Bioenergy Research Unit in Lincoln, developed a wheat that has no polyphenol oxidase—an enzyme present in all plants that causes discoloring. The enzyme causes browning in sliced apples, black spots in cut avocados, and dark marks on banana peels.

“A lot of U.S. white wheats still have high levels of polyphenol oxidase,” Graybosch says. “To have a successful white wheat for both the export market and the domestic market, milling companies want low or no polyphenol oxidase.”

Graybosch, who has a joint appointment as an adjunct professor in the UNL Department of Agronomy and Horticulture,  has been studying the polyphenol oxidase trait in wheat for the last 15 years, investigating numerous samples of white wheat. Collaborating with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and Montana State University, in 2000 Graybosch screened more than 3,000 wheat lines for polyphenol oxidase and then mated wheats with different forms of the genes that produced this enzyme.

The new wheat line, 070R1074, was developed by crossing two Australian wheats entered into the ARS National Small Grains Collection in the 1930s.

“For 70 years, these two Australian wheats have been in the germplasm collection with this trait of interest and economic importance that the milling industry and exporters need and want,” Graybosch said. “This demonstrates the value of this diversified wheat collection. You don’t always know what you have until you do something with it.”

In their research, Graybosch and his colleagues discovered naturally occurring genetic mutations in the new wheat line, which resulted in nearly complete loss of polyphenol oxidase activity.

The newly developed line used to charaterize the gene and enzyme activity is a spring wheat and not suitable for cultivation in Nebraska, where winter wheat is grown.

"We are working to introgress the trait into winter wheat backgrounds, and have the first winter wheats for selection in the field at the ARDC near Mead," Graybosch said.

Although some low-polyphenol oxidase hard winter white wheats have already been developed, many U.S. white wheats still have high levels of polyphenol oxidase, according to Graybosch. High polyphenol oxidase levels make U.S. producers less competitive in domestic and export markets.

In Asia, hard white wheat is popular for making products such as fresh noodles, and white whole grain breads are gaining favor in the United States. To be competitive, U.S. milling companies need wheats with low or no polyphenol oxidase.
Partial funding of this research was made possible through a grant from the Nebraska Wheat Board.

Read more about this work in the April 2016 issue of AgResearch, an online magazine about USDA Research. ARS is USDA’s principal intramural scientific research agency.

Trans-Pacific Partnership: New Opportunities for U.S. Agriculture in Vietnam

Secretary Vilsack traveled to Vietnam today to meet with his counterparts from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Ministry of Industry and Trade, among others, to discuss the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.

Vietnam remains one of the fastest-growing markets for U.S. food and agricultural products, with U.S. exports totaling $2.3 billion in 2015. That's a 357 percent increase from 2007, the year Vietnam joined the World Trade Organization (WTO). Vietnam now ranks as the United States' 11th-largest agricultural export market, with top products including cotton, tree nuts, soybeans, and dairy.

Vietnam is a member of the ASEAN Free Trade Zone and has concluded free trade agreements with a number of other countries, including key U.S. competitors such as Australia, Chile, Korea, and New Zealand. In addition to being part of the TPP, Vietnam is in the process of negotiating agreements with China, the European Union, Hong Kong, and Israel. In these negotiations, Vietnam has agreed to tariff reductions on many agricultural products, potentially putting U.S. exporters at a disadvantage.

Vietnam's average tariff on agricultural products is 16 percent, while the average U.S. tariff is five percent. Under the TPP, Vietnam will reduce and eventually eliminate tariffs across a broad range of food and agricultural products, helping put U.S. exports on a level playing field and giving the United States a leg up on non-TPP competitors. In addition to addressing tariffs, the TPP agreement also addresses non-tariff trade barriers, including sanitary and phytosanitary measures.

Livestock Products

Beef: The United States exported $32.3 million of beef and beef products to Vietnam in 2015. Under the TPP agreement, all of Vietnam's tariffs on beef and beef products, currently as high as 34 percent, will be eliminated in 3-8 years. Tariffs on fresh and frozen beef muscle cuts will be eliminated in three years.

Dairy: In 2015, the United States exported $168 million of dairy products to Vietnam, more than three times the value a decade ago. All of Vietnam's tariffs on dairy products, currently as high as 20 percent, will be eliminated within five years. Tariffs on cheese, milk powder, and whey will be eliminated immediately.

Pork: The United States exported $3.8 million of pork and pork products to Vietnam in 2015. As a large consumer of pork, Vietnam provides significant potential for U.S. exporters. Under the TPP agreement, Vietnam will eliminate tariffs on pork and pork products, currently as high as 30 percent, in 5-10 years. Tariffs on frozen cuts and shoulders will be eliminated in eight years and on preserved pork, fresh pork cuts and shoulders, and fresh and frozen carcasses in 10 years.

Poultry and Eggs: The United States exported nearly $100 million of poultry and poultry products to Vietnam in 2015. Vietnam's tariffs on poultry and poultry meat, currently as high as 40 percent, will be eliminated within 13 years. This includes tariffs on frozen chicken cuts and offal, which will be eliminated in 11 years. Vietnam will eliminate in-quota tariffs for eggs within its WTO tariff-rate quota (TRQ) in six years. According to Vietnam's WTO commitments, this TRQ will continue to grow in perpetuity by five percent per year.

Horticultural Products

Fruit: The United States exported $58.6 million in fresh fruit to Vietnam in 2015. Under the TPP agreement, Vietnam's tariffs on fresh fruits, which are currently as high as 30 percent, will be eliminated within four years.

The United States exported $24.2 million of processed fruit products, including juices, to Vietnam in 2015. Under the TPP agreement, Vietnam's tariffs on processed fruit products, currently as high as 40 percent, will be eliminated within eight years.

Tree Nuts: The United States exported more than $274 million of tree nuts to Vietnam in 2015. Vietnam's tariffs on tree nuts, currently as high as 35 percent, will be eliminated in 3-6 years.

Vegetables and Pulses: The United States exported $4 million of fresh and processed vegetables (excluding potatoes) to Vietnam in 2015. Vietnam will eliminate tariffs on all fresh and processed vegetables, currently as high as 40 percent, in 11 years or less, with tariffs on many products eliminated immediately.

Potatoes: The United States exported $5.1 million of potatoes and potato products to Vietnam in 2015. Under the TPP agreement, Vietnam will eliminate tariffs on all potatoes and potato products, currently as high as 34 percent, within six years. It will eliminate the 13-percent tariff on frozen French fries in four years.

Grains and Oilseeds

Barley: The United States did not export barley to Vietnam in 2015. Under the TPP agreement, Vietnam's tariff on barley will be locked in at zero percent and its 15-percent tariff on milled barley will be eliminated in four years.

Corn: The United States exported $190 million of corn and corn products to Vietnam in 2015. Under the TPP, all of Vietnam's tariffs on corn and corn products, currently as high as 30 percent, will be eliminated in 4-7 years.

Peanuts: The United States exported $24 million of peanuts and peanut products to Vietnam in 2015. Under the TPP agreement, Vietnam's tariffs on peanuts and peanut products, currently as high as 30 percent, will be eliminated within eight years.

Rice: The United States exported $140,000 of rice and rice products to Vietnam in 2015. Under the TPP, Vietnam will immediately eliminate its current 40-percent tariff on rice and will eliminate tariffs on rice products, currently as high as 35 percent, within eight years.

Soybeans: The United States exported more than $407 million of soybeans and soybean products to Vietnam in 2015. The current duty-free access for soybeans will continue under the TPP. Vietnam's tariffs on soybean products, currently as high as 33 percent, will be eliminated in 3-11 years.

Wheat: The United States exported roughly $67 million of wheat and wheat products to Vietnam in 2015. Vietnam's tariffs on wheat and wheat products, currently as high as 35 percent, will be eliminated within four years.

Other Products

Cotton: Vietnam was the United States' second-largest cotton market in 2015, with exports reaching a record $624 million. Vietnam's large and growing textiles industry offers significant opportunities for U.S. cotton exporters. Under the TPP agreement, all of Vietnam's tariffs on cotton, currently as high as 10 percent, will be eliminated within four years.

Processed Food: In 2015, the United States exported $467 million of processed food to Vietnam. Under the TPP agreement, nearly all of Vietnam's tariffs on processed products, currently as high as 55 percent, will be eliminated within 12 years. Tariffs on products such as cookies, crackers, biscuits, breads, and starches will be eliminated in eight years.

Tobacco: Vietnam will eliminate all tariffs on tobacco, which are currently as high as 135 percent. For manufactured tobacco products, Vietnam will eliminate tariffs in 16 years. For unmanufactured tobacco, Vietnam will create a 500-ton transitional tariff rate quota (TRQ) that will grow by five percent each year, with in-quota tariff rates eliminated in 11 years and out-of-quota tariff rates eliminated in 21 years.

CWT Assists with 7.8 Million Pounds of Cheese and Whole Milk Powder Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 12 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Michigan Milk Producers Association, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold) and Tillamook County Creamery Association who have contracts to sell 2.465 million pounds (1,118 metric tons) of Cheddar and Gouda cheese and 5.307 million pounds (2,407 metric tons) of whole milk powder to customers in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and South America. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from April through October 2016.

So far this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives who have contracts to sell 17.108 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 7.716 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) and 20.203 million pounds of whole milk powder to fifteen countries on five continents. The sales are the equivalent of 479.003 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

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

Dairy Groups Thank Senators for Urging Action on Agricultural Issues in Trade Agreement with Europe

The dairy industry today praised a bipartisan group of 26 senators for urging U.S. negotiators to address the needs of agriculture – including key dairy issues – in any free trade agreement with the European Union.

In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, the senators noted that the United States’ share of the European agricultural import market is shrinking due to both tariff and non-tariff trade barriers.

“A final [trade] agreement that does not include a strong framework for agriculture could have a negative impact on Congressional support for this deal,” the senators said.

Among other agricultural issues, the letter singled out the need to address restrictive certification requirements on U.S. dairy exports, as well as the EU’s efforts to capture the sole use of food names long considered generic in this country. Decades after parmesan, feta and asiago became household favorites in the United States, Europe now argues these names can only appear on cheeses produced in Italy and Greece, blocking U.S. sales of the products to the EU and increasingly affecting sales to various foreign markets. In addition, the EU is seeking a leg up on U.S. food competitors by insisting that the U.S. government shoulder the costs to enforce protection for hundreds of EU geographical indications in the U.S. domestic market.

The senators cited two earlier letters that urged negotiators to oppose European restrictions on the use of common food names. The EU’s actions are undermining both current free trade agreements and those under negotiations, they said. They added that the concerns cited in those letters had not been addressed so far in negotiations over the U.S.-EU trade agreement, known officially as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP).

Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, thanked the senators for highlighting the need to address agriculture concerns, and especially dairy issues, in the T-TIP negotiations.

“In 2015, we had a record $12 billion agricultural trade deficit with Europe, due largely to barriers erected specifically to limit exports of dairy foods and other U.S. farm products,” Mulhern said. “Any successful European free trade agreement must break down those barriers. The U.S. needs to soundly reject the EU’s desire to impose new barriers to competition around the world and to create taxpayer-funded advantages for its producers in our market. We should be using T-TIP to level the playing field.”

Tom Suber, president of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, said that the opportunity to grow dairy exports and re-balance the two-way trade deficit should be a top priority in T-TIP negotiations going forward. “U.S. negotiators should not conclude a trade agreement with the Europeans without addressing the serious European trade barriers facing the U.S. dairy industry, including both restrictive certification requirements and restrictions on generic cheese names,” he said.

“Names like feta and parmesan belong to everyone, not just a small group of producers in Europe,” added Connie Tipton, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association. “The EU’s bid to gain exclusive rights to these names is totally unjustified, and the Senate letter is right to include this issue as one that must be addressed in any free trade agreement with the Europeans.”

Both the United States and the European Union have pledged to conclude T-TIP negotiations this year. All three dairy organizations are very concerned that these critical dairy issues will not be appropriately resolved within that timeline.