Monday, July 21, 2014

July 21 Crop Progress & Condition Reports - NE - IA - US


For  the  week  ending  July  20,  2014,  the  State  saw  unseasonably  cool temperatures and only isolated rainfall according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.  With the dry conditions, wheat harvest was over one half complete. Also, producers in many areas started irrigating their row  crops  last week. The  number  of  days  suitable  for  fieldwork were  6.4. Topsoil moisture  supplies  rated  4 percent  very  short,  28  short,  66  adequate,  and  2  surplus.  Subsoil  moisture  supplies  rated  8 percent very short, 26 short, 65 adequate, and 1 surplus.
Field  Crops  Report:

Corn  conditions  rated  2  percent  very  poor,  5  poor,  17  fair,  52  good,  and  24  excellent.  Corn  silking  was  62 percent, ahead of 45 last year, but near 60 average. Corn dough was 8 percent, ahead of 0 last year but near  6 average

Soybean conditions rated 2 percent very poor, 5 poor, 20 fair, 54 good, and 19 excellent. Soybeans blooming was  73  percent,  ahead  of  61  last  year  and  62  average.  Soybean  setting  pods was  32  percent, well  ahead  of  11 last year and 14 average.

Winter  wheat  conditions  rated  6  percent  very  poor,  14  poor,  28  fair,  44  good,  and  8 excellent. Winter wheat mature was 84 percent, ahead of 80  last year but behind a  five year average of 87. Winter wheat harvested was 54 percent, ahead of 49 last year but behind 61 average.

Sorghum conditions rated 1 percent very poor, 2 poor, 35 fair, 42 good, and 20 excellent. Sorghum headed was 23 percent, well ahead of 4  last year and 7 average. Sorghum coloring was 4 percent, ahead of 0 for both  last year and average.

Oat  conditions  rated  3  percent  very  poor,  18  poor,  26  fair,  50  good,  and  3  excellent.  Oats  coloring  was  91 percent. Oats mature was 70 percent. Oats harvested was 31 percent, behind 60 last year and 56 average. 

Alfalfa hay conditions rated 2 percent very poor, 6 poor, 32 fair, 53 good, and 9 excellent. Alfalfa hay second cutting was  71 percent  complete, near 69  last  year  and 74  average. Alfalfa hay  third  cutting was 16 percent complete, ahead of 1 last year and 9 average.
Livestock,  Pasture  and  Range  Report: 

Pasture  and  range  conditions  rated  5  percent  very  poor,  11  poor,  30 fair, 46 good, and 8 excellent. Stock water supplies rated 1 percent very short, 7 short, 91 adequate, and 1 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:

USDA Weekly Crop Progress - Corn, Soybean Ratings Basically Unchanged

More than half the nation's corn has silked and one-fifth of the soybeans have set pods, according to USDA's latest weekly Crop Progress report.  As of July 20, 56% of the corn was silking, compared to 34% last week and a 55% five-year average. Corn condition was equal to last week with 76% of the crop rated good to excellent.

Nineteen percent of the soybeans were setting pods and 60% were blooming, compared to 41% blooming last week. Pod setting was not included on the national report last week. Soybean condition worsened just slightly, with one percentage point moving from the good category last week into the poor category this week.

Winter wheat harvest is three-quarters of the way complete, compared to 69% last week and a 75% five-year average. Spring wheat is 84% headed, compared to 69% last week and an 85% five-year average. Spring wheat conditions worsened slightly with one percentage point moving from the fair category into the very poor category.

Corn Silking - Selected States

[These 18 States planted 91% of the 2013 corn acreage]
                 :            Week ending            :          
      State      : July 20,  : July 13,  : July 20,  : 2009-2013
                 :   2013    :   2014    :   2014    :  Average 
                 :                    percent                   
Colorado ........:    26           8          25          27    
Illinois ........:    58          62          82          70    
Indiana .........:    56          42          69          61    
Iowa ............:    16          26          59          50    
Kansas ..........:    53          56          75          69    
Kentucky ........:    48          65          75          65    
Michigan ........:    38           9          32          41    
Minnesota .......:    16           5          23          43    
Missouri ........:    55          79          91          74    
Nebraska ........:    45          33          62          60    
North Carolina ..:    95          88          94          98    
North Dakota ....:    13           5          10          28    
Ohio ............:    57          14          51          54    
Pennsylvania ....:    50          12          37          52    
South Dakota ....:    28           9          30          25    
Tennessee .......:    84          78          90          91    
Texas ...........:    82          81          91          85    
Wisconsin .......:    16           5          22          31    
18 States .......:    39          34          56          55    

Corn Condition - Selected States: Week Ending July 20, 2014

[National crop conditions for selected States are weighted based on 2013
planted acreage]
      State     : Very poor :   Poor    :   Fair    :   Good    : Excellent
                :                          percent                         
Colorado .......:     2           5          25          51          17    
Illinois .......:     1           3          15          52          29    
Indiana ........:     1           4          19          53          23    
Iowa ...........:     2           5          16          52          25    
Kansas .........:     2           5          29          49          15    
Kentucky .......:     2           5          18          54          21    
Michigan .......:     1           4          14          59          22    
Minnesota ......:     2           6          28          50          14    
Missouri .......:     -           1          13          53          33    
Nebraska .......:     2           5          17          52          24    
North Carolina .:     3          11          27          47          12    
North Dakota ...:     1           4          16          59          20    
Ohio ...........:     1           4          20          52          23    
Pennsylvania ...:     1           3          15          47          34    
South Dakota ...:     2           3          17          65          13    
Tennessee ......:     1           3          18          54          24    
Texas ..........:     -           5          33          47          15    
Wisconsin ......:     1           6          17          51          25    
18 States ......:     1           4          19          54          22    
Previous week ..:     1           4          19          54          22    
Previous year ..:     3           8          26          46          17    

Soybeans Blooming - Selected States

[These 18 States planted 95% of the 2013 soybean acreage]
                :               Week ending               :            
      State     :  July 20,   :  July 13,   :  July 20,   :  2009-2013 
                :    2013     :    2014     :    2014     :   Average  
                :                        percent                       
Arkansas .......:     50            57            67            63     
Illinois .......:     47            50            69            55     
Indiana ........:     52            55            70            54     
Iowa ...........:     33            45            67            64     
Kansas .........:     33            28            44            45     
Kentucky .......:     23            31            41            45     
Louisiana ......:     81            85            90            87     
Michigan .......:     54            32            59            51     
Minnesota ......:     36            27            47            55     
Mississippi ....:     75            65            72            89     
Missouri .......:     21            30            48            37     
Nebraska .......:     61            55            73            62     
North Carolina .:     14            33            46            27     
North Dakota ...:     49            25            55            58     
Ohio ...........:     55            22            51            55     
South Dakota ...:     53            56            70            59     
Tennessee ......:     25            30            47            53     
Wisconsin ......:     28            24            46            41     
18 States ......:     43            41            60            56     

Soybeans Setting Pods - Selected States

[These 18 States planted 95% of the 2013 soybean acreage]
                :               Week ending               :            
      State     :  July 20,   :  July 13,   :  July 20,   :  2009-2013 
                :    2013     :    2014     :    2014     :   Average  
                :                        percent                       
Arkansas .......:     19             31           43            36     
Illinois .......:     10           (NA)           24            16     
Indiana ........:     10             18           32            14     
Iowa ...........:      2              6           19            18     
Kansas .........:      4              3           10             5     
Kentucky .......:      4              6           18            13     
Louisiana ......:     63             57           70            70     
Michigan .......:     13           (NA)           15            11     
Minnesota ......:      2           (NA)            7            12     
Mississippi ....:     26             30           41            65     
Missouri .......:      2           (NA)            7             7     
Nebraska .......:     11           (NA)           32            14     
North Carolina .:      5             13           23             7     
North Dakota ...:      3           (NA)            7            17     
Ohio ...........:      6           (NA)            8            11     
South Dakota ...:      4              8           15            11     
Tennessee ......:      8           (NA)           16            25     
Wisconsin ......:      -              1           10             6     
18 States ......:      7           (NA)           19            17     

Soybean Condition - Selected States: Week Ending July 20, 2014

[National crop conditions for selected States are weighted based on 2013
planted acreage]
      State     : Very poor :   Poor    :   Fair    :   Good    : Excellent
                :                          percent                         
Arkansas .......:     4          11          25          42          18    
Illinois .......:     1           3          19          56          21    
Indiana ........:     1           4          23          56          16    
Iowa ...........:     1           5          20          54          20    
Kansas .........:     -           2          31          57          10    
Kentucky .......:     1           4          18          60          17    
Louisiana ......:     2           4          15          51          28    
Michigan .......:     2           7          22          54          15    
Minnesota ......:     2           6          28          54          10    
Mississippi ....:     -           5          23          52          20    
Missouri .......:     -           3          19          60          18    
Nebraska .......:     2           5          20          54          19    
North Carolina .:     1           5          25          58          11    
North Dakota ...:     -           2          20          62          16    
Ohio ...........:     2           5          24          58          11    
South Dakota ...:     1           4          23          62          10    
Tennessee ......:     1           3          17          63          16    
Wisconsin ......:     1           4          20          51          24    
18 States ......:     1           4          22          57          16    
Previous week ..:     1           5          22          56          16    
Previous year ..:     2           6          28          51          13    

Winter Wheat Harvested - Selected States

[These 18 States harvested 86% of the 2013 winter wheat acreage]
                 :            Week ending            :          
      State      : July 20,  : July 13,  : July 20,  : 2009-2013
                 :   2013    :   2014    :   2014    :  Average 
                 :                    percent                   
Arkansas ........:    100         99          100         100   
California ......:     96         85           87          95   
Colorado ........:     71         46           68          71   
Idaho ...........:      2          4            7           2   
Illinois ........:     96         90           95          97   
Indiana .........:     92         76           92          97   
Kansas ..........:    100         90           95         100   
Michigan ........:     55          3           19          61   
Missouri ........:    100         95          100         100   
Montana .........:      1          -            5           2   
Nebraska ........:     49         31           54          61   
North Carolina ..:     89         97          100          98   
Ohio ............:     84         61           89          95   
Oklahoma ........:    100         97           98          99   
Oregon ..........:     16          6           22          14   
South Dakota ....:      3          -            4          32   
Texas ...........:    100         99          100          99   
Washington ......:      8          3           15           5   
18 States .......:     74         69           75          75   

Monday July 21 Ag News

It Is Time to Begin Scouting for Soybean Aphid
Tom Hunt, Extension Entomology Specialist

Soybean aphid colonization has been slow to start this year, however, we are beginning to get reports of soybean aphids in southwest Minnesota and a few other states.  While we have had only one report of soybean aphids in Nebraska, and it was at a very low number, this is when we generally start finding them.

Start scouting now, as populations can start late and build fast. In 2011 we monitored a soybean field in Dixon County that was almost devoid of aphids on July 22, but by August 18 was over 2000 aphids per plant in areas of the field that were left untreated.

Soybean Aphid Description

The soybean aphid is soft-bodied, light green to pale yellow, less than 1/16th inch long, and has two black-tipped cornicles (cornicles look like tailpipes) on the rear of the abdomen.  It has piercing-sucking mouthparts and typically feeds on new tissue on the undersides of leaves near the top of recently colonized soybean plants.  Later in the season aphids can be found on all parts of the plant, feeding primarily on the undersides of leaves, but also on stems and pods.

Soybean Aphid Occurrence in Nebraska

Soybean aphids have been reported in most soybean producing regions of Nebraska, although the highest and most economically damaging populations typically occur in northeast Nebraska.  It's usually mid-July before we begin to regularly find aphids, while soybeans are entering or in R3 (beginning pod stage). Nebraska aphid populations can reach economically damaging populations in late July, but most reach economically damaging populations in August, while soybeans are in the mid-reproductive stages (R4-R5).  In some years there are many fields where the aphid populations peak in late R5 (beginning seed) to early R6 (full seed). Of course, there are exceptions to any rule, so you should be watching for soybean aphid colonization and population increases.

Cool Conditions May Lead to White Mold in Soybeans

Loren Giesler, UNL Extension Plant Pathologist

Most of Nebraska's soybean crop is flowering, ranging from the early to late stages of bloom. With this week's cool temperatures, conditions are right for white mold (Sclerotinia Stem Rot) to start the infection cycle. Those growers with fields with a history of this disease should be aware that it may be more severe this year with the current weather trend. General information on Sclerotinia Stem Rot of soybean can be found in a regional Extension publication or in the Plant Disease section of CropWatch at Schlerotinia Stem Rot.

We do not typically see Sclerotina Stem Rot in Nebraska as temperatures during flowering are usually warmer than this year. Therefore, we do not have any consistent fungicide trial data to evaluate products. I recommend you look at the University of Wisconsin Fungicide Test Summary to compare treatments.

Application during bloom is critical if you're targeting Sclerotinia Stem Rot. If you're not targeting a specific soybean disease, applications are typically at the R3 stage for the added yield boost and crop health response.

Management for Sclerotinia Stem Rot is difficult, but fungicide sprays at flowering are the most effective timing if fungicides are used.  If you're considering a fungicide application to manage this disease, now is the time. Once flowers are infected, the disease will spread slowly, so stopping the initial infection is critical.


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               Ergot has been found in a few Nebraska pastures this summer.  This fungus can be toxic to cattle, horses, and other livestock so check your pastures and hay fields to see if your animals may be at risk.

               Ergot is a fungus that grows on the seed head of grasses.  Cereals like rye and wheat have been affected most often historically, but forage grasses like brome and fescue and wheatgrasses also are susceptible.  Weather like we have experienced this year – a cool, wet spring followed by hot, humid summer conditions – is ideal for ergot to develop.

               Ergot has killed several cattle in Missouri this summer.  It produces alkaloids that cause vasoconstriction of small arteries, thus restricting blood flow to extremities like the tips of tails and ears as well as to feet and legs.  Lameness, swelling of the fetlock and hock joints, and even loss of hooves can occur.  Animals also are less able to dissipate heat so they spend more time than usual standing in shade or water.

               Ergot bodies look a lot like mouse droppings in grass seedheads.  They are blackish or dark brown or purple and shaped like a cylinder. Examine your pastures and hay fields for these ergot bodies.  An occasional one here and there shouldn’t be a problem but if they show up in most of your seedheads, remove any grazing animals.

               Ergot remains fairly stable in hay so if it is present, either destroy the hay or dilute it severely with other feed.  Fields can be shredded to remove seedstalks but don’t resume grazing until enough regrowth develops to restrict animals from eating the old, shredded clippings.

               Ergot toxicity is rare in our pastures but be on the lookout so it doesn’t become a problem for your animals.


               What can you do with corn damaged severely by hail or drought or even wind?  Fortunately, there are several forage alternatives.

               The most common salvage operation for corn damaged by hail, wind, drought, or other calamities is to chop it for silage.  Don't be in a hurry, though.  Standing corn currently could be over 80 percent moisture.  The easiest way, and maybe the best way, to lower moisture content is simply wait until some stalks start to turn brown.  Waiting also allows surviving corn to continue to add tonnage.

               If waiting isn't desirable, reduce moisture by windowing the crop and allow it to wilt one-half to one full day before chopping.  You also could mix grain or chopped hay to freshly chopped corn to lower the moisture content.  It takes quite a bit of material for mixing though – about 7 bushels of grain or 350 pounds of hay to lower each ton of silage down to 70 percent moisture from an original 80 percent moisture.  That's 7 bushels grain or 350 pounds of hay for each ton of silage.

               Or, you can allow that windrowed corn to dry completely and bale it as hay.  Be sure to test it for nitrates before feeding.

               Grazing might be the easiest way to use damaged corn, and this is a good way to extend your grazing season.  You might even plant some sorghum-sudangrass or oats and turnips between rows to grow more forage for grazing if you can wait until late fall before grazing.  Be sure to introduce livestock slowly to this new forage by feeding them before turning in to reduce the chances of digestive problems.  Also, strip graze the field to reduce trampling losses and get more grazing from the corn.

               We can’t change what Mother Nature has dished out.  All we can do is make the best of a bad situation.

New Channel Seedsman Comes to Pierce County

Putting Seedsmanship at Work® into practice, Channel has hired Larry Carstens as a Channel Seedsman in the Pierce County area.

Carstens’ role will be to work proactively with local farmers to deliver expert advice, customized service and elite seed products to help improve productivity and profitability. Channel Seedsmen focus on getting to know their customers and their farms inside and out, and using that knowledge to provide in-depth, hands-on service and support every step of the way.

“We are excited to have Carstens join the Channel team,” said Channel District Sales Manager Tony Kurtenbach. “His knowledge and expertise will be a great fit for farmers looking for the service and support a Channel Seedsman can provide.”

One of Carstens’ primary responsibilities will be implementing the Channel® Field Check Up Series with local farmers. This series allows Channel Seedsmen to work with the farmer throughout the season to observe and monitor crop development.

Walking farmers’ fields allows Channel Seedsmen to diagnose issues and design custom recommendations to increase the farm’s profitability. Year-round farm visits include personal consultations through the four major growth stages: seedling, reproductive, vegetative and maturity. For more information about Channel and the Channel Seedsmanship approach, visit

Valmont Announces Second Quarter 2014 Results

Valmont Industries, Inc. a leading global provider of engineered products and services for infrastructure and mechanized irrigation equipment for agriculture, reported second quarter sales of $842.6 million compared with $878.7 million for the same period of 2013. Second quarter 2014 operating income was $104.8 million versus $144.3 million in 2013. Second quarter net income was $64.0 million versus $89.6 million in 2013, or $2.38 in diluted earnings per share compared to $3.33 in 2013. Last year's second quarter included a $4.6 million, (or 16 cents per diluted share) pre-tax gain from the disposal of a galvanizing facility in Perth, Australia.

For the first six months of 2014, sales were $1,594.3 million versus $1,698.3 million in 2013. Valmont's first half net earnings were $120.0 million, or $4.46 per diluted share, compared with 2013 first half net earnings of $167.1 million, or $6.22 per diluted share.

"Positive sales comparisons in the Engineered Infrastructure Products Segment driven by acquisition growth were more than offset by lower sales in the remaining segments," said Mogens C. Bay, Valmont's chairman and chief executive officer. "In the Irrigation Segment, sales declined in North America due to lower crop commodity prices, partly offset by increased international sales. The Coatings and Utility Support Structures Segments each posted modest sales declines. In "Other," the deconsolidation of Delta EMD late in 2013 and lower sales at our grinding media and tubing businesses led to unfavorable sales comparisons.

Sales of $213.0 million were 7% lower than 2013, due to a decline in North America. International sales rose modestly. Total volumes were comparable to last year.

Center pivot and linear move mechanized irrigation equipment and parts for agriculture in global markets.

Irrigation Segment sales fell 19% to $219.9 million, reflecting a substantial sales decline in North American markets. While last year's market remained influenced by the 2012 drought and high commodity prices, this year's outlook for a decline in North American net farm income weighed on irrigation equipment demand.

Sales increased in most international regions. Despite generally lower global crop prices, a number of international markets remain strong. On a regional basis, sales improved in Brazil, the Pacific region and the Middle East.

Operating income declined 35% to $41.4 million, but remained strong at 18.9% of segment sales. The decline was due to the lower sales levels and deleverage of both fixed factory costs and SG&A.

Farmers encouraged to watch cattle closely for heat stress

High temperatures, high humidity, solar radiation, and low-speed winds create the perfect environment for heat stress in cattle. Based on the forecast outlook for this afternoon and Tuesday, the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association is encouraging the state’s cattle producers to be prepared to make some changes that can make cattle more comfortable, especially in the southwest corner today, and the whole state on Tuesday.

“It’s best that producers plan ahead so they can take quick action if those four factors put parts of Iowa in a high risk zone,” says Matt Deppe, the CEO for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association. “Compared to other animals, cattle rely on respiration more than sweating to cool down. Wind and cool nights can help, but when temperatures and humidity are high, producers must also consider other ways to keep their livestock comfortable,” he said.

ICA is encouraging cattle producers to take advice from Iowa State University’s Extension Beef Veterinarian, Dr. Grant Dewell, DVM. Dr. Dewell recommends these protective measures:
·    Clean fresh water – consumption of water can double during extreme heat. Cattle need at least 2 gal./100 lbs/day during heat events. Additionally, make sure there is adequate room for cattle to drink, and that supply lines can provide cool water fast enough.
·    Shift to feeding a higher percentage of feed in the afternoon and consider lowering the energy content by 5%.
·    Provide shade if possible. UV radiation is many times the critical factor for livestock losses due to heat stress.
·    Ensure that there are no restrictions to air movement around cattle, such as hay storage.
·    If necessary, begin sprinkling cattle with water if signs of heat stress are evident.

Deppe says producers who start using fans or providing water sprinklers on their cattle should be prepared to use that process until more moderate temperatures return.

Cattle producers can monitor the forecasted heat stress index and find tips for cooling cattle at

Iowa Soybean Association sponsors new events, long-time favorites at state fair

The Iowa State Fair is right around the corner and the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) is doing its part to ensure that fairgoers have fun while learning about agriculture and the role soybean farmers play in helping feed and fuel Iowa, the nation and world.

The association, based in Ankeny and committed to improving the competitiveness of Iowa’s 37,000 soybean farmers, is partnering with the fair and other organizations to bring some old favorites and a few new events to the list of must-see stops:

·         Free rides on fair trams — It’s easy and safe for fairgoers to get from one end of the grounds to the other thanks to the ISA sponsorship of not only the tram tractors and carts, but also the biodiesel that fuels this popular transportation.

·         Ag magic at your fingertips — Through Rhonda Renee’s Thank A Farmer show featuring storytelling, juggling and music, spectators young and old will learn that nearly everything they touch, consume and wear has a direct connection to agriculture and a farmer.  Thirty-minute shows will be performed each day in the Christensen Farms Animal Learning Center at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m., and 4 p.m.

·         Experience fun for all ages — Inside the Ag Building, participants can learn what Iowa farmers are doing to protect Iowa’s water supply as they meander through Farmville and meet Iowa’s farmers. Fairgoers won’t want to miss ‘Farm With Us’, the new, green screen photo booth where they can become a celebrity in a flash and get a free, printed portrait.

·         Learn more about conservation — Iowa soybean farmers are excelling in environmental protection and practices and will be recognized on the morning of August 13 at the Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award ceremony to be held at the Penningroth Center.

·         Relax and play — Fun for children of all ages, Little Hands on Farm located just north of the Animal Learning Center is a place for children to learn how food is grown by participating in a variety of hands-on activities. They can also package soybeans to help feed Iowa’s pork and poultry industries.

·         Eat and enjoy —The Soyfoods Council will present two chances to experience soyfoods at the fair on August 11. The Annual Soy Salad Dressing Professional Chef Contest will be held from 10 a.m. to noon in the Ag building — stop by to test the chef’s creations! The second opportunity is a cooking demonstration and soyfoods contest judging at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. in the Elwell Building.

·         Iowa Food & Family Project exhibit – Again this year, the ISA is partnering with the Iowa Food & Family Project to feed people’s curiosity about how food is grown and the dedicated farmers who grow it. The must-see exhibit will feature activities for children and adults and is open 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily in the south atrium of the Varied Industries Building. 


The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB), announced today that it will host the first Global Conference on Sustainable Beef at the World Trade Events Center in São Paulo, Brazil, Nov. 2-5, 2014. As part of the conference, GRSB will release its long-anticipated definition of global sustainable beef and highlight exciting new developments in beef sustainability.

“GRSB is a global, multi-stakeholder organization focused on improving the sustainability of the beef value chain. We view sustainability as a journey of continuous improvement where economic, societal and environmental factors are balanced to achieve sustainable outcomes” said Cameron Bruett, president of GRSB and head of corporate affairs for JBS USA, the North American subsidiary of JBS S.A., the world’s largest meat processing company, which is headquartered in Brazil. “It is imperative that the broad spectrum of stakeholders involved in the production, processing, distribution, sale and consumption of beef, as well as civil society and allied industries, work together to develop a deeper understanding of sustainability and what it means to their sector, their operations, our society and our planet.”

The conference’s theme, “Sustainable Beef: Building a Vision for Our Future,” sets the framework for the roll-out of GRSB’s principles and criteria, which define sustainable beef and identifies the means to measure progress in the global sustainable beef chain at the national or regional levels. With speakers from around the globe, the conference will also provide a forum for regional sustainability initiatives to showcase their efforts and successes.

“There is some amazing work being done in many regions of the world, particularly in Brazil, in the areas of resource efficiency, genetic improvement, cattle sourcing and capturing efficiencies that will be shared with participants during the conference,” said Eduardo Bastos, President of the Brazilian Roundtable for Sustainable Livestock (GTPS) and Head, Government Affairs, Dow Brazil. “GTPS, as the world’s first regional roundtable on sustainable livestock, and a member of GRSB, looks forward to showcasing the tremendous progress being made in Brazil and how GTPS is making sustainable beef in Brazil a reality.”

Initiated in early 2012, GRSB is the strategic platform where leading stakeholders from the beef industry, environmental organizations and others with an interest in global beef sustainability have agreed to partner in an effort to advance continuous improvement in the global beef value chain through knowledge-sharing, leadership and the adoption of science-based approaches.

GRSB’s initial efforts have focused on collaboration with a wide group of expert stakeholders to identify the principles and criteria that should be included or addressed in an effort to ensure a more sustainable global beef value chain. This effort to define the parameters of sustainable beef has been coordinated by Ruaraidh (Rory) Petre, Executive Director, GRSB.

Petre explained that there are a broad range of ecosystems in which beef can be produced sustainably, which makes a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach an unrealistic goal.

“While a definition for sustainable beef at the global level will have directional validity, it is clear that context-specific elements, including indicators and metrics, will need to be developed at the regional or local level,” said Petre. “It is for this reason, that GRSB promotes the development of regional roundtables, similar to Brazilian Roundtable GTPS, to achieve sustainable on-the-ground improvements. GRSB seeks to influence and empower value chains to make local decisions that lead to positive change, not dictate or prescribe unachievable global standards or certifications.”

The conference will provide an in-depth discussion of those principles and criteria and how they might apply to various regions of the world.
For more information and online registration, please visit

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday July 18 Ag News

Bruce Anderson, UNL Extenison Forage Specialist

               Finally.  This week gave many of us the first good stretch of hay making weather all year. What about hay prospects the rest of the year?

               Who would have thought a few months ago that our first good long stretch of haying weather would come in July.  But that’s what happened for many of us.  Lots of hay got baled last week.  Some of that hay may have been laying in the windrow for a couple weeks waiting to get dry, and finally weather cooperated.

               Today, though, let’s look forward instead of behind.  How should we handle the rest of this haying season?

               My primary advice is to move forward with future harvests much like you planned originally.  However, if you still need some higher quality hay for young livestock or other animals with higher nutrient requirements, maybe take your next harvest a bit sooner than usual to get some better quality hay.  Also look ahead towards the projected date of your last cutting.  If it could occur during the winterizing period of mid-September to mid-October, it might be wise to adjust cutting dates to minimize the risk of winter injury.

               For those of you with hay that took weeks to dry, you probably have strips of nice looking regrowth separated by strips of nearly bare ground where windrows were smothering your alfalfa.  If that alfalfa doesn’t come back, you need to consider planting replacement fields later this summer or next spring.

               If it does regrow, be careful about when you take next cutting.  Those smothered plants are really weak.  If you harvest when the good looking plants are ready, many weakened plants might be killed.  If you want to save that field, wait until weakened plants start to bloom, even though the rest may be way too mature.

               Planning haying now could have a big impact for several years.


Milk production in Nebraska during the April-June 2014 quarter totaled 303 million pounds, up one percent from the April-June quarter last year, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The average number of milk cows was 54,000 head.  

Iowa:  Milk production  in  Iowa during May 2014  totaled 410 million pounds, up 1 percent  from May 2013 and  the highest total  since May  1972. The average number of milk cows during May, at 208,000 head, was 2,000 more than last month. Monthly production per cow averaged 1,970 pounds, the highest average since records started in 1960.

April - June US Milk Production up 1.6 Percent

Milk production in the United States during the April - June quarter totaled 52.8 billion pounds, up 1.6 percent from the April - June quarter last year. The average number of milk cows in the United States during the quarter was 9.25 million head, 39,000 head more than the January - March quarter.

June US Milk Production up 2.0 Percent

Milk production in the 23 major States during June totaled 16.2 billion pounds, up 2.0 Percent from June 2013. May revised production at 16.9 billion pounds, was up 1.6 percent from May 2013. The May revision represented an increase of 25 million pounds or 0.1 percent from last month's preliminary production estimate.  Production per cow in the 23 major States averaged 1,888 pounds for June. This is the highest production per cow for the month of June since the 23 State series began in 2003.     The number of milk cows on farms in the 23 major States was 8.57 million head, 11,000 head more than May 2014.

Bus Trip Planned for Iowa Beginning and Young Beef Producers

A two-day bus trip to various locations in Nebraska in early September will offer beginning and young Iowa beef producers unique networking and educational opportunities. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach beef program specialist Chris Clark said the trip is an organized activity of the Beginning and Young Livestock Producer Network (BYLPN) and includes visits to several operations to provide a wide variety of information, experiences, and discussions.

“We’ll have stops at several different beef operations, a packing facility and the USDA Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Nebraska,” Clark said. “Our tour guide, Jacob Mayer of Settje Agri-Services & Engineering, Inc. has been very helpful in identifying and scheduling places with different approaches and strengths, and he’ll be able to help facilitate some good discussions on the trip.”

The trip is set for Thursday and Friday, Sept. 4 and 5, with the bus departing from the Cass County Extension Office in Atlantic at 7 a.m. on Sept. 4. Additional pick-up locations may be added as necessary. The group will overnight at the Fairfield Inn & Suites, 805 Allen Dr., Grand Island, Nebraska, and return the evening of Sept. 5. A block of rooms has been reserved for Sept. 4 at the Fairfield Inn.

“Participants are responsible for their own hotel room fee and can make reservations at the Fairfield Inn & Suites by calling 308-381-8980 and asking for the group rate for Young Producers Group Block no later than Aug. 8,” Clark said. “After that date, rooms will be on an availability basis only.”

The BYLPN is a strategic initiative of ISU Extension and Outreach, with primary goals of creating regional peer groups of young and beginning livestock producers; and offering education, mentorship, and networking opportunities to participants.

“This bus trip is a fitting activity for those already involved in a BYLPN group, but people don’t need to be members of an existing group to participate,” Clark said. “We would love to see some new faces and get more people involved.”

Preregistration by Aug. 20 is required in order to ensure adequate transportation. For more information or to preregister, contact Clark by phone at 712-769-2200 or by email at or email Leann Plowman-Tibken at

Farm Credit Celebrates 98 Years of Service to Agriculture

Nearly 100 years after the U.S. Congress established Farm Credit to serve as a reliable source of credit for the nation's farmers and ranchers, the network of borrower-owned lending institutions and specialized service organizations remains a sound and vital resource for rural America. Thursday marked the cooperative networks' 98th anniversary.

"For 98 years, the Farm Credit System has served agriculture and rural America as a dedicated, reliable, competitive, customer-owned source of credit," said Mary Fritz, owner and operator of Quarter Circle JF Ranch, Inc., a dry land grain and cow-calf operation in Chester, Montana, and chair of the Farm Credit Council board of directors. "America's agricultural producers and rural communities have benefited greatly from the vision and foresight that went into establishing the Farm Credit System."

Today, about 40 percent of the dollar volume of outstanding loans to U.S. farmers and ranchers comes from Farm Credit. The federally chartered network is comprised of 82 privately owned institutions, including four wholesale banks and 78 direct lending associations that operate in every county in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

These local Farm Credit System institutions specialize in providing credit and related services to farmers, ranchers, timber harvesters and aquatic producers. In addition, the Farm Credit System provides financing for the processing and marketing activities of these borrowers, as well as to rural homeowners, certain farm-related businesses, and agricultural and public utility cooperatives.

In support of their mission of service, Farm Credit System institutions also have programs specifically focused on meeting the needs of young, beginning and small farmers and ranchers. In 2013, more than 40 percent of new loans made by Farm Credit were to small producers, those with annual gross agricultural sales of $250,000 or less.

China Makes Its Largest Weekly Purchase of U.S. Sorghum

According to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s July 17 report, China has made their largest weekly purchase since entering the market with 11.5 million bushels for the 2013/2014 marketing year and 3.5 million bushels for 2014/2015. China has now purchased a total of 161.9 million bushels of U.S. grain sorghum for the 2013/2014 marketing year, which ends Aug. 31, 2014, bringing total exports to 186.4 million bushels. In addition, China’s purchases of new crop U.S. Sorghum have reached 22.4 million bushels for 2014/2015. Total sorghum exports for the year have reached 186.4 million bushels. Germany also made a purchase of U.S. sorghum this week, their first since 2008 with 2.3 million bushels for 2013/2014 and 2.3 million bushels for 2014/2015.

RMA Seeking Input on Sweet, Biomass Sorghum Insurance Program

USDA’s Risk Management Agency sent a notice yesterday to the insurance industry stating its plans to issue a solicitation for a contract for the research and development of a crop insurance product for biomass sorghum and other sweet sorghum. This comes as a result of efforts from National Sorghum Producers to establish insurance programs for the sweet and biomass segments of the sorghum industry. In the notice, RMA says it is seeking any preparatory input from interested parties about the level of interest from the industry, availability of private insurance products covering biomass sorghum and sweet sorghum, or any other relevant issues that should be considered when carrying out the research and development for any potential program development for biomass sorghum and sweet sorghum crop residues.

USDA's Switch From Science-Based Nutrition Advice to Green Agenda Harms Americans

The naming of an "environmental nutritionist" to a top USDA nutrition post is drawing fire from the National Center for Public Policy Research's Risk Analysis Division.

In an op-ed published in Friday's Des Moines Register, "Iowan’s USDA Appointment Raises Concern," Risk Analysis Division Director Jeff Stier writes, "The appointment of Iowa's Angela Tagtow, a controversial 'environmental nutritionist' and local food activist, to head the United States Department of Agriculture's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion is causing more headaches for the agency, already facing criticism about politicization of federal nutrition advice and its consequences for public health."

Stier earlier criticized the federal Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) and its work to establish new recommendations for federal nutrition policy. Stier's concerns have been widely echoed over recent months, given the DGAC's mission creep towards environmental activism. The DGAC is meeting this week in Washington.

In that context, "the appointment of 'food crusader' Angela Tagtow to a USDA position responsible for assessing and implementing the Committee's recommendations is cause for serious concern," says Stier.

In the op-ed, Stier writes, "By using the government's official dietary guidelines as a tool to advance her well-established environmentalist agenda, Tagtow would undermine the USDA's mandate - to provide families with science-based, impartial nutrition advice. The USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services administer the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), which makes recommendations regarding the congressionally mandated Dietary Guidelines. The guidelines, currently being revised, are the basis for Federal food and nutrition programs and welfare benefits such as SNAP and educational campaigns, including MyPlate (formerly the Food Pyramid). The USDA touts them to be 'authoritative advice for people two years and older about how good dietary habits can promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases.'"

Stier writes, "According to Politico, recent DGAC meetings raised eyebrows because 'hot-button issues, such as diet and climate change' are being discussed in an unprecedented way. The committee has even dedicated one of five subcommittees to 'Food Sustainability and Safety' to discuss how the food we eat contributes to climate change, and how the government should recommend changes to our diets based on those concerns."

While Stier agrees that maintaining a food supply and environmental protection are important, he says, "these issues don't belong in discussions of healthy eating. But that hasn't stopped the DGAC from delving deeply into them over the past year. In the January meeting of the DGAC, committee member Miriam Nelson gushed about the importance of promoting foods that have the "littlest impact on the environment," and invited testimony from sustainability expert Kate Clancy, who argued it would be "perilous" not to take global climate change into account when dispensing dietary advice.

Stier's earlier criticism drew rebuke from the USDA, for being "premature." In April, a USDA spokesperson seemed to back away from the row by minimizing DGAC's role in policy-making, saying ,"the committee is still in the early stages of its work, so it is premature to guess what their recommendations might be, and even more premature to speculate about what will be included in the final dietary guidelines."

That seems to have changed, Stier notes. "But the appointment of Tagtow to the USDA office responsible for not only developing and promoting the Dietary Guidelines, but advancing prominent programs such as MyPlate, the re-vamped version of the well-known food pyramid, suggests that the agency is doubling down on raising the profile of our diet's alleged affect on the climate, and other issue that have more to do with political science, than nutritional science."

Stier slams Tagtow's firm's mission statement as code language for politically charged activism.

Her firm's goal was "to establish healthier food systems that are resilient, sustainable, ecologically sound, socially acceptable and economically viable..."

Stier points out that Tagtow has written that we should select meat and dairy products from animals that have only been fed grass diets.

In the op-ed, Stier challenges the USDA's new nutrition expert for repeating the "myth that meat is an environmentally-reckless form of protein, suggesting a plant-based diet instead. She says we should reduce our consumption of meat, lean or not, not because of any potential health benefits, but in order to 'conserve natural resources and energy.'"

Stier also debunks Tagtow's alleged economic justifications for her radical agenda. "Tagtow has suggested that Iowans could improve the state's economy by only eating food grown in the state, at least part of the year. She touted a Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture study claiming that 'if Iowans ate five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and Iowa farmers supplied that produce for three months of the year, these additional crops would add $300 million and more than 4,000 jobs to the Iowa economy.'"

"She fails to mention that in her utopian Iowa, residents wouldn't likely enjoy the benefits of staples like oranges or pineapples for those months. Nor does she consider the devastation to Iowa's agricultural community if her agro-protectionist ideals were implemented in other states. Well, now she's headed to the federal government to promote her narrow ideology."

Stier concludes, "The maxim that, in government, 'personnel is policy' is especially true here, given Tagtow's policy-making role. The priorities she's spent her career advancing are far from the consensus among mainstream nutritionists. Her appointment is a slap in the face to thousands of men and women in nutrition who daily work tirelessly and impartially to help Americans eat better. And it casts doubt over whether USDA is willing to dispense nutrition advice based on science rather than an activist agenda."

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thursday July 17 Ag News

Rural Mainstreet Index Weakens in July:  One-Third of Bankers Indicate Corn Prices Below Breakeven
After moving below growth neutral in February, the Rural Mainstreet economy has moved above the 50.0 threshold for five straight months, according to the July survey of bank CEOs in a 10-state area. However, the index has been trending lower since June 2013 when the reading stood at 60.5. 

Overall:  The Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI), which ranges between 0 and 100, with 50.0 representing growth neutral, fell to 51.8 from June’s 53.6.

Nebraska: The Nebraska RMI for July fell to 51.8 from 53.7 in June. The state’s farmland-price index for July sank to 39.2 from 41.3 in June. Nebraska’s new-hiring index decreased to 52.3 from June’s 56.5.

Iowa: The July RMI for Iowa fell to 52.9 from June’s 56.8. The state’s farmland-price index for July slumped to 48.0 from June’s 57.8. Iowa’s new-hiring index for July declined to a healthy 62.3 from June’s 73.9.

“Agriculture commodity prices have plummeted for farmers in our region. The drop has slowed growth in the region according to our survey with prices below breakeven for a significant share of agriculture producers. I expect readings to move even lower as these lower prices spill over into the broader economy in the weeks and months ahead,” said Ernie Goss, Ph.D., the Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University Heider College of Business.

Farming and ranching: The farmland and ranchland-price index for July slumped to 48.3 from June’s weak 49.1. “Much weaker crop prices are definitely taking some of the air out of agriculture land prices.  At this point in time, land prices appear to be moving gradually lower without significant volatility,” said Goss.

The July farm-equipment sales index slumped to 33.4 from June’s very weak 35.0. The index has been below growth neutral for 13 straight months. “Farmers have certainly become more cautious in their purchase of both additional land and equipment. This is having negative impacts on implement dealers across the region,” said Goss.

According to a large share of bankers, crop prices, including corn, are close to or below the breakeven price for farmers.   Approximately, one-third of bankers, or 31.6 percent, reported that current crop prices are below farmers’ breakeven price.   As a result, more than four in 10 bankers, or 40.3 percent, expect loan defaults to climb in the year ahead if crop prices remain at current levels.

However, previous strong farm economic conditions are expected to soften the impact of current low prices. According to Todd Douglas, CEO of the First National Bank in Pierre, S.D., “A majority of agriculture borrowers have strong enough balance sheets to cover lower commodity prices for a short-term period, however, not for a sustained period.”

Banking: The July loan-volume index rose to a very healthy 79.8 from June’s robust 74.6. The checking-deposit index increased to 53.5 from June’s 50.9, while the index for certificates of deposit and other savings instruments dipped to 37.8 from 39.4 last month.

“We have been tracking upturns in agriculture lending among bankers. This month bankers reported, on average, a 7.1 percent increase in agriculture lending over the past year.  Lending is likely to continue to expand as a result of low crop commodity prices,” said Goss. 

Hiring: Rural Mainstreet businesses continue to hire at a solid pace, though the July hiring index declined to a healthy 59.7 from June’s 63.2. “Despite weaker conditions in the crop farming sector, businesses in the Rural Mainstreet economy are adding jobs at a very healthy rate and well above the pace in urban areas of the region,” said Goss.

Confidence: The confidence index, which reflects expectations for the economy six months out, plummeted to 42.9 from last month’s 55.5. “Much weaker agriculture commodity negatively affected the outlook of bank CEOs and more than offset an improving outlook for livestock producers,” reported Goss.

Home and retail sales: The July home-sales index dipped to a still healthy 64.1 from 66.1 in June. The July retail-sales index increased to 55.4 from 51.8 in June.  “Strong growth in home and retail sales contrasts to weaker growth at the national level in both areas,” said Goss. 

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

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

Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation - PAC Endorses Doug Peterson for Attorney General

Doug Peterson has received the official “Friend of Agriculture” endorsement by NFBF-PAC, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s political action committee. Peterson is the Republican Party candidate seeking to win the Nov. 4 General election for Attorney General. 

“Nebraskans are well served when we have an Attorney General who understands the role of agriculture in our state’s economy. Doug Peterson has demonstrated he has a firm grasp on the agriculture issues that can have tremendous impact on the well-being of Nebraska farm and ranch families and because of that we are pleased to support him for Attorney General,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

According to Nelson, Peterson is well qualified, bringing almost 30 years of legal experience to the office. Peterson also comes from a diverse background having worked in both private practice and public service as an Assistant Attorney General and Deputy County Attorney in North Platte.

“Doug’s extensive experience will serve him well in leading on the numerous issues he will face, whether it’s representing Nebraska’s interests against those challenging our state’s management of water resources or defending our state’s rights from federal agency overreach, such as EPA’s most recent efforts to pull ditches and other state waters under the jurisdiction of federal bureaucrats,” said Nelson.

Farm Bureau’s process for making endorsements is a grassroots process determined solely by input from County Farm Bureaus.

“We are pleased to offer our support to Doug Peterson with the backing of our County Farm Bureau’s as he seeks election as our next Attorney General. And we look forward to working with him in that role on behalf of Nebraska farm and ranch families,” Nelson said.

Diversified Cropping System and Cover Crop Tours Aug. 16

            University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Organic Farm Tours from 1:30 p.m. - 5 p.m. Aug. 16 will help organic producers learn more about increasing soil health by incorporating cover crops into their cropping systems.

            Tours will start at 1:30 p.m. at the Larry Stanislav farm two miles north of Abie. Participants will join Stanislav to discuss his diverse cropping system of spring wheat, corn, soybean and cover crops.

            Participants will also learn how Stanislav has reduced tillage and managed weeds using a roller crimper and flamer, said UNL Extension soil scientist Charles Shapiro. Stanislav has participated in a Ceres Trust Grant to incorporate a roller crimper into his cropping system.

            Starting at 3:30 p.m. participants will tour Randy Fendrich's farm.

            Fendrich also participated in the grant. He will discuss his cultural practices and crop rotation using a roller crimper and a 12-row flamer/cultivator that he built himself for weed control.

            At 4:30 p.m., Randy Anderson, USDA-ARS research agronomist at the North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory in Brookings, S.D., will present an update on his research findings.

            Anderson, a weed ecologist, will discuss the goal of his research program to develop a continuous no-till cropping system for organic producers. He will present results on converting red clover fields to cropland without tillage and describe the impact of under seeding clovers in winter and spring wheat on downy brome growth.

            Producers will learn how to minimize the need for tillage to control weeds and how a system based on winterkilled cover crops can control weeds adequately to grow no-till.

            Though this is focused on organic producers, any producer wanting to decrease input costs will find this information useful.

            Producers using no-till rotations can learn more about how continuous no-till rotations can improve land productivity, farm economics, soil health and resource-use-efficiency in the Great Plains.

            After the tours, a free dinner provided by the Fendrich Family will be served at 5 p.m. Reservations are needed. Please call Wendy at 402-584-3837 to RSVP or for more information about the tour or directions.

ISA China trade mission focuses on strengthening relationships, demand

Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) and agribusiness leaders will travel to China next week to bolster already strong bonds with soybean buyers and explore new growth opportunities.

The ISA China Mission is scheduled for July 23-Aug. 1. Participants will get the latest updates on soybean demand and policy, visit farms and soybean processors and learn how soybean products can help the country’s growing dairy industry through a first-ever trip by ISA representatives to the province of Inner Mongolia.

The ISA delegation includes President Brian Kemp, who farms near Sibley; President Elect Tom Oswald, who farms near Cleghorn; CEO Kirk Leeds, Market Development Director Grant Kimberley and Senior Writer Matthew Wilde.

“Missions like this help ISA continue to understand the needs of the most important export customer in the world — China. Over the years, ISA leaders have invested a fair amount of time and checkoff dollars to build and grow strong relationships with key and potential customers,” Leeds said.

More than one out of every four rows of U.S. soybeans are exported to China, the world’s largest soybean buyer. U.S. farmers exported a record 1.58 billion bushels in 2013, valued at nearly $28 billion, data shows. Soybean exports this year are on pace to set a new record.

Mission trip highlights include:

·         Meet Chinese government and agricultural business officials in Beijing to learn about soy demand, food policy, production, transportation and issues concerning genetically modified organisms (GMOs), among other things.
·         Visit farms in Hebei province, Iowa’s sister state.
·         Travel to Inner Mongolia to visit dairy farms and feed operations.
·         Tour several soybean processors, including Hopefull Grain & Oil Group Co. and COFCO (China Oilseed & Feed Corporation), the nation’s largest. Stops at ports, livestock farms and feed mills are also on the agenda.

Though ISA officials will meet with Chinese leaders in Beijing and visit major population centers, Leeds said it’s important to visit areas where “new growth” for soybeans and soybean meal is projected.

“That’s why we are so anxious to visit Inner Mongolia, which we believe is poised for solid growth in the next decade,” Leeds said.

The best way to understand customer needs is by showing up at their doorstep and boardrooms, ISA officials say. Iowa has a special connection with China, fostered in part by a longstanding relationship between Gov. Terry Branstad and President Xi Jinping and groups like ISA and the U.S. Soybean Export Council.

Kimberley said these relationships and visits build customer preference and brand recognition. Chinese agriculture and business officials recently toured Rick and Martha Kimberley’s farm near Maxwell following a soybean purchasing ceremony in Des Moines.

“These relationships are important to proactively address any potential trade issues by building mutual understanding, trust and admiration for Iowa and U.S. soybeans,” Kimberley said.

Northey to Visit 6 Iowa Counties July 18 and 19

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey Wednesday announced that he will be visiting Dickinson, Osceola, Sioux, Cherokee, O'Brien and Pocahontas Counties on Friday, July 18 and Saturday, July 19.

On Friday Northey will speak to the Community Bankers of Iowa in Okoboji, visit the Osceola County Fair in Sibley, speak at the Floyd River Water Quality Initiative Project kickoff near Maurice and visit the Cherokee County Fair in Cherokee. On Saturday he will visit the O'Brien County fair in Primghar and the Pocahontas County Fair in Pocahontas.

The details of the visits follow here:

July 18

-- Dickinson County -- 7:30 a.m., speak at the Community Bankers of Iowa management conference, Arrowwood Resort, Bayhill Room, 1405 Hwy 71, Okoboji
-- Osceola County -- 9 a.m., visit the Osceola County Fair, 209 W. 9th St., Sibley
-- Sioux County -- 12 p.m., speak at the West Branch of the Floyd River Water Quality Initiative project kickoff, Maassen and Sons Dairy, 4733 Hickory Ave., Maurice
-- Cherokee County -- 4 p.m., visit the Cherokee County Fair, 200 Linden St., Cherokee

June 19

-- O'Brien County -- 8:30 a.m., visit the O'Brien County Fair, 4536 Starling Ave., Primghar
-- Pocahontas County -- 11 a.m., visit the Pocahontas County Fair, 310 NE 1st St., Pocahontas

Northey, a corn and soybean farmer from Spirit Lake, is serving his second term as Secretary of Agriculture. His priorities as Secretary of Agriculture are promoting the use of science and new technologies to better care for our air, soil and water, and reaching out to tell the story of Iowa agriculture.

Roberts-Heitkamp Bill to Enhance Farmer Customer Protections

U.S. Senators Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) Wednesday introduced a bill to enhance customer protections for farmers and ranchers by preventing regulations from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) from being overly laborious and making it significantly more difficult for farmers and ranchers to make economical trades on commodities.

Following the collapses of MF Global and Peregrine Financial Group, the CFTC proposed and finalized customer protection rules to help regulators better recognize trouble in firms before they occur. While some changes to the regulations are beneficial, the rules enacted by the CFTC could overly burden those who rely on futures markets to hedge risks, such as local farmers and ranchers, grain merchants, and futures brokers.

The residual interest rule from the CFTC will eventually require futures customers to fully cover the margin of their futures contracts by the morning of the day following a trade. In order to comply with the new rule, brokers would be more likely to demand drastically increased initial payments from farmers, hurting the availability of funds that support the agriculture industry. The end result may drive some farmers out of futures markets due to increased costs or restrict capital that could otherwise be used to hire, make capital improvements, and make other critical investments.

The Senators' bill, S. 2601, the Risk Hedging Protection Act simply provides futures customers with an additional day to get their needed payments to brokers to meet the margin call, while still protecting customers and the financial markets.

"As the Senate Agriculture committee works to reauthorize the Commodity Exchange Act, one of my biggest priorities is protecting end users like farmers, ranchers and grain elevators from over-burdensome or unrealistic regulations," Roberts said. "This legislation ensures that the CFTC rules work in the countryside as well as on paper."

"The reckless behavior by firms like MF Global put the livelihoods of hardworking North Dakotans at risk, and the CFTC is right to make changes that help identify bad practices. However, the rules need to be workable, so farmers can continue to make investments in grain, corn, wheat, and other products in the futures markets, and get their high-quality products to customers. This bipartisan bill is a commonsense fix to strike that right balance," said Heitkamp.

The bill mirrors legislation, H.R. 4413, already approved by the House Agriculture Committee and the full House of Representatives.

Senator Roberts, a former Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, has been a vocal opponent to the residual interest requirements. He questioned former CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler on the proposed rules at a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing in February of 2013, and wrote the President regarding the rule and its impacts on rural America.

Senator Heitkamp is a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and has pushed to address the concerns of end users related to the regulation of futures and swaps markets. Senator Heitkamp recently met with CFTC Chairman Tim Massad to stress the importance of end user access to important risk mitigation tools offered in the markets regulated by the CFTC.

Farm Bureau Decodes Water Rule Proposal, Asks EPA to Rescind

The American Farm Bureau Federation last night released to Congress a comprehensive document that responds, point by point, to numerous inaccurate and misleading comments made about the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest clean water rule. Nancy Stoner, EPA acting assistant administrator for water, made the statements in a recent agency blog post.

AFBF’s document explains – with specific citations to the proposed rule and other authorities – how the rule would give EPA broad Clean Water Act jurisdiction over dry land features and farming practices long declared off-limits by Congress and the nation’s highest court.

“AFBF and several state Farm Bureaus have met with the EPA repeatedly, and each time agency officials have declined to grapple with the serious, real world implications of the rule,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said. “EPA is now engaged in an intensive public relations campaign, and we believe its statements are directly contrary to the reality of the proposed rule.

“We have therefore decided to take our arguments to a wider audience, as well. Farm Bureau is dedicated to communicating to farmers, their elected representatives and the public how the proposed rule will impose costly and time-intensive federal permitting regimes on commonplace and essential practices that our nation’s farmers and ranchers depend on. Agency inspectors and courts will apply the rule, not EPA’s talking points. It’s time for the agency to ditch this rule and start over.”

AFBF hopes this document will contribute to the ongoing discussion in Congress regarding the rule and its implications not only for farming, but for the U.S. economy more broadly.

The document can be found here:

A shorter sampling of some of the most important points can be found here:

EPA Official Discusses WOTUS and RFS

The deputy administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency addressed the concerns of attendees at the National Corn Growers Association's Corn Congress delegate session Thursday afternoon, regarding proposed rules for the Waters of the U.S. and the 2014 volume obligation of the Renewable Fuel Standard.

"We greatly appreciate the deputy administrator's willingness to participate in an open, well-considered conversation," said NCGA President Martin Barbre. "While we certainly have concerns over the proposed WOTUS and interpretive rules, we hope that by working with the EPA we will be able to shape a final rule that addresses them adequately."

Following his address to the delegation, EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe answered questions from the farmer delegates and members of the NCGA Corn Board. Stressing the interests shared by the EPA and farmers, whom he called America's original environmentalists, Perciasepe pointed to a common need for clear air and water. He expressed the EPA's desire to work directly with agriculture to improve both the rules clarifying the Clean Water Act and the proposed volumes under the RFS.

In his comments, Perciasepe said was confident that the EPA will be able to construct a final WOTUS rule  that addresses the concerns brought forward by farmers, saying at one point: "If you didn't need a permit then, you will not need one" after the rule becomes final.

During the question-and-answer period, growers brought forward a series of issues, including a lack of clarity under the proposed interpretive rules, the need for clearly written intent language, and the need for formalized assurances. Notably, one delegates invited the deputy administrator to visit his farm to see his practices and issues first-hand.

Additionally, Perciasepe fielded questions pertaining to critical concerns over both the reduction in volume, and the continued delays of final 2014 renewable volume obligations of the RFS.

EPA's Second-in-Command Resigns

(AP) --- The No. 2 environmental official under President Barack Obama is resigning to head a nonprofit group dedicated to energy and climate change.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on Thursday announced the resignation of Bob Perciasepe (pur-cha-SEP'-ee). He was appointed deputy administrator in 2009 as the Obama administration tapped the EPA to tackle pollution blamed for global warming.

The 63-year-old Perciasepe briefly led the agency after EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson stepped down in 2013.

His resignation ends a 13-year career at EPA spanning both the Obama and Clinton administrations. He worked at the National Audubon Society prior to his latest stint at the agency.

He will become president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions think tank in Washington, D.C.

FSA takes action on CRP changes

On July 15, the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a draft Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (SPEIS) for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) based on the changes made in the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) is taking action on the new provisions included in the bill and the few additional administrative actions in the SPEIS. The actions addressed are: continuous enrollment of grasslands, enrollment in other conservation programs such as the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Agriculture Conservation Easement Program; managed harvesting frequency; routine grazing frequency; targeting enrollment of environmentally sensitive lands through reverse auctions; and expanding the flexibility of emergency haying and grazing in drought designated areas on additional conservation practices. Many of the changes in the farm bill increase the flexibility of CRP acres and the frequency of haying and grazing. FSA will be accepting comments until September 8 and will be holding five public meetings.  All five meetings will be from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
-    July 21 at Hilton Garden Inn, Spokane Airport, Spokane, Wash.
-    July 22 at Holiday Inn, Great Falls, Mont.
-    August 4 at Plains Cotton Cooperative Association, Lubbock, Texas
-    August 5 at Stillwater Library, Stillwater, Okla.
-    August 6 at Courtyard by Marriott and Moorhead Area, Moorhead, Minn.

Scientists complete chromosome-based draft of the wheat genome

Several Kansas State University researchers were essential in helping scientists assemble a draft of a genetic blueprint of bread wheat, also known as common wheat. The food plant is grown on more than 531 million acres around the world and produces nearly 700 million tons of food each year.

The International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium, which also includes faculty at Kansas State University, recently published a chromosome-based draft sequence of wheat's genetic code, which is called a genome. "A chromosome-based draft sequence of the hexaploid bread wheat genome" is one of four papers about the wheat genome that appear in the journal Science.

The genetic blueprint is an invaluable resource to plant science researchers and breeders, said Eduard Akhunov, associate professor of plant pathology and a collaborator with the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium.

"For the first time, they have at their disposal a set of tools enabling them to rapidly locate specific genes on individual wheat chromosomes throughout the genome," Akhunov said. "This resource is invaluable for identifying those genes that control complex traits, such as yield, grain quality, disease, pest resistance and abiotic stress tolerance. They will be able to produce a new generation of wheat varieties with higher yields and improved sustainability to meet the demands of a growing world population in a changing environment."

Although a draft, the sequence provides new insight into the plant's structure, organization, evolution and genetic complexity.

"This is a very significant advancement for wheat genetics and breeding community," Akhunov said. "The wheat genome sequence provides a foundation for studying genetic variation and understanding how changes in the genetic code can impact important agronomic traits. In our lab we use this sequence to create a catalog of single base changes in DNA sequence of a worldwide sample of wheat lines to get insights into the evolution and origin of wheat genetic diversity."

Akhunov, Shichen Wang, a programmer and bioinformatics scientist in plant pathology, and Jesse Poland, assistant professor of plant pathology, collaborated with the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium to order genes along the wheat chromosomes.

Other Kansas State University researchers in the department of plant pathology involved include Bikram Gill, university distinguished professor and director of the Wheat Genetics Resource Center, and Bernd Friebe, research professor, who developed genetic material that was essential for obtaining the chromosome-based sequence of the wheat genome.

A second paper in Science details the first reference sequence of chromosome 3B, the largest chromosome in common wheat.

"The wheat genome only has 21 chromosomes, but each chromosome is very big and therefore quite complicated," Akhunov said. "The largest chromosome, 3B, has nearly 800 million letters in its genetic code. This is nearly three times more information than is in the entire rice genome. So trying to sequence this chromosome — and this genome — end-to-end is an extremely complicated task."

In order to analyze the vast amount of genetic information, researchers used a technique called shotgun sequencing. This divided the wheat genome into chromosomes and then split each chromosome into smaller segments. Chromosomal segments were analyzed by short gene sequences and overlapping sequences were stitched together with computer software.

The chromosome-based daft sequence the critical step before the full wheat genome is sequenced, Akhunov said. The sequencing approach developed for the 3B chromosome can now be applied for sequencing the remaining chromosomes in wheat. The consortium estimates the full genome sequence will be available in three years.

The research is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

"Wheat is a staple source of food for the majority of the world. As the global population continues to rapidly increase, we will need all the tools available to continue producing enough food for all people in light of a changing climate, diminishing land and water resources and changing diets and health expectations," said Sonny Ramaswamy, director of USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture and a former Kansas State University faculty member. "This work will give a boost to researchers looking to identify ways to increase wheat yields."

Respiratory protection videos on Agricultural Centers YouTube channel

The best agricultural safety videos – now just one click away – can be found on the U.S Agricultural Safety and Health Centers YouTube channel, at  The channel is a joint project of the 10 Agricultural Centers funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Over 40 videos are now available for Extension agents/educators, agricultural science teachers, producers/owner/operators, first responders and agricultural families.  Videos can be used during job orientation, safety/health education, 4-H meetings, high school or college classes. One benefit of YouTube is that videos can be accessed from mobile devices to conduct tailgate trainings in the field.

Summer is a good time to remind people involved in agricultural work to use respirators when they are in dusty conditions or working with chemicals.  Choosing, using and fitting the right respirator is the key to protecting your lungs.  Four videos on the U.S Agricultural Safety and Health Centers YouTube site discuss respiratory protection:
-  How to Get the Right Fit
-  How to Properly Care for Your Mask
-  Choosing the Right Mask for Your Agricultural Job
-  Understanding the Risks

These videos provide information about:
·         How long term exposures to agricultural dusts and gases can cause permanent damage to your lungs leading to chronic bronchitis, an asthma-like condition, lung scarring, or emphysema.
·         The fact that farmers have the highest rate of disabilities from respiratory conditions.
·         Symptoms of respiratory hazard exposure include: severe shortness of breath with exertion, chronic coughing, periodic flu-like symptoms, sinus problems and nasal drainage and chest tightness and wheezing after working in agricultural dusts.
·         How respirators prevent dusts, molds, and other hazards from entering your airway and lungs.
·         How serious diseases can result from one-time and repeated exposure to respiratory hazards.
·         How you must always use the proper respirator for the specific hazard. Your dust/mist respirator will not protect you from ammonia fumes, though the two may look very similar.
·         The importance of knowing that respirators must: have two straps, fit your face tightly, without gaps around the nose, cheeks, and chin, be appropriate for the task and be approved by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Check the site regularly for new content and fresh ideas about how to stay safe while working in agriculture, forestry and fishing.  Each video has been produced and reviewed by experts in agricultural, forestry and fishing occupational hazards.  Other topics include: livestock safety, tractor and machinery safety, child development, emergency response, grain safety, pesticide safety, heat illness prevention, ladder safety and hearing protection.  For more information visit:, or email us at:

Historic Farm Bill Funding Available to Organic Producers and Handlers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today that approximately $13 million in Farm Bill funding is now available for organic certification cost-share assistance, making certification more accessible than ever for small certified producers and handlers.

"Consumer demand for organic products is surging across the country," said Secretary Tom Vilsack. "To meet this demand, we need to make sure that small farmers who choose to grow organic products can afford to get certified. Organic food is now a multi-billion dollar industry, and helping this sector continue to grow creates jobs across the country."

The certification assistance is distributed through two programs within the Agricultural Marketing Service. Through the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program, $11.5 million is available to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. Territories. Through the Agricultural Management Assistance Organic Certification Cost-Share Program, an additional $1.5 million is available to organic operations in Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

These programs provide cost-share assistance through participating states to USDA certified organic producers and handlers for certification-related expenses they incur from October 1, 2013 through September 30, 2014. Payments cover up to 75 percent of an individual producer's or handler's certification costs, up to a maximum of $750 per certification. To receive cost-share assistance, organic producers and handlers should contact their state agencies. Each state will have their own guidelines and requirements for reimbursement, and the National Organic Program (NOP) will assist states as much as possible to successfully implement the programs. State contact information can be found on the NOP Cost Share Website,

In 2012 alone, USDA issued close to 10,000 cost-share reimbursements totaling over $6.5 million, to support the organic industry and rural America. Additional information about resources available to small and mid-sized producers, including accessing capital, risk management, locating market opportunities and land management is available on USDA's Small and Mid-Sized Farmer Resources webpage.

USDA has a number of new and expanded efforts to connect organic farmers and businesses with resources that will ensure the continued growth of the organic industry domestically and abroad. During this Administration, USDA has signed four major trade agreements on organic products, and is also helping organic stakeholders access programs that support conservation, provide access to loans and grants, fund organic research and education, and mitigate pest emergencies. Through the NOP, USDA has helped organic farmers and businesses achieve $35 billion annually in U.S. retail sales. The organic community includes over 25,000 organic businesses in more than 120 different countries around the world.

Today's funding announcement for organic certification cost-share assistance was made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit

For additional information contact Dana Stahl, Organic Certification Cost Share Program Manager,, (540) 361-1126. Additional information is available on the NOP's website at

The NOP is responsible for ensuring the integrity of USDA organic agricultural products in the United States and throughout the world. Find out more about organic certification by visiting

DuPont Pioneer Launches Encirca Yield to Enhance Input Management

DuPont Pioneer is launching its new Encirca Yield services platform and enrolling growers today to help them improve timing, placement and management of critical inputs to enhance the overall productivity and profitability of every acre.

“Growers are working harder than ever to manage their margins during a difficult economic environment,” said Steve Reno, DuPont Pioneer vice president, regional business director for U.S. and Canada. “The Encirca Yield services platform provides a new way for our customers to assess their crop’s performance in real-time and make management decisions that will ultimately improve their operation’s bottom line.”

The Encirca Yield platform relies on several innovative enabling technologies that mimic crop production throughout the growing season. Strategic collaborations with eight U.S. land grant universities, the USDA and University of Missouri, and DTN/The Progressive Farmer are providing enhanced crop modeling, advanced soil mapping and hyper-local weather data to fuel the analytics featured in Encirca Yield.

A key part of this new premium offering is the Nitrogen Management Service. Nitrogen (N) is one of the most difficult inputs to use efficiently and misuse can be costly. Pioneer agronomists estimate growers can lose an estimated $50 to $60 per acre by applying too much or too little Nitrogen. The Encirca Yield Nitrogen Management Service gives growers information to help them limit these losses and secure more profit from each acre.

Pioneer helps growers with this analysis through insights provided by a local Encirca certified services agent utilizing the data pulled from the field.

“Local Encirca certified services agents are versed in the industry-leading technology and analytics we provide,” Reno said. “They can help customers with plans tailored to each field based on growing conditions and reassess throughout the season. This helps growers determine the right amounts to apply at the right time to enhance their yield and profit potential.”

Encirca Yield is the newest instrument in the Encirca services arsenal. It joins the Encirca View platform launched earlier this year. Encirca View is a free mobile-enabled information hub offering organized crop observations and notes, and an industry first – Community View – provides real-time aggregated insight into crop conditions and soil moisture ratings. Users can upgrade to fee-based Encirca View Premium for field-by-field weather powered by individual weather stations and commodity market news and insight.

The Encirca services platforms are agronomically driven and will help farmers make whole-farm, real-time choices on important elements to farm successfully, driving the future of decision-based agriculture forward and improving productivity for American agriculture.