Friday, May 26, 2017

Friday May 26 Cattle on Feed + Ag News

NEBRASKA CATTLE ON FEED UP 1 PERCENT

Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.45 million cattle on feed on May 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 1 percent from last year.  Placements during April totaled 395,000 head, up 4 percent from 2016.  Fed cattle marketings for the month of April totaled 390,000 head, up 3 percent from last year. Other disappearance during April totaled 15,000 head, down 5,000 head from last year.



IOWA CATTLE ON FEED


 Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 680,000 head on May 1, 2017, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle on Feed report. This was up 1 percent from April 1, 2017, and up 6 percent from May 1, 2016. Iowa feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head had 590,000 head on feed, down 3 percent from last month and down 2 percent from last year. Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in all Iowa feedlots totaled 1,270,000 head, down 1 percent from last month but up 2 percent from last year.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during April totaled 95,000 head, a decrease of 18 percent from last month but up 22 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head placed 41,000 head, down 41 percent from last month but up 8 percent from last year. Placements for all feedlots in Iowa totaled 136,000 head, down 27 percent from last month but up 17 percent from last year.

Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during April totaled 82,000 head, down 12 percent from last month but up 9 percent from last year. Feedlots with a capacity of less than 1,000 head marketed 57,000 head, up 2 percent from last month but down 12 percent from last year. Marketings for all feedlots in Iowa were 139,000 head, down 7 percent from last month and down 1 percent from last year. Other disappearance from all feedlots in Iowa totaled 7,000 head.



United States Cattle on Feed Up 2 Percent

   
Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 11.0 million head on May 1, 2017. The inventory was 2 percent above May 1, 2016.

On Feed by State

                  (1,000 hd - % of May 1 '16)

Colorado .......:       960           107             
Iowa .............:        680           106             
Kansas ..........:      2,280          106         
Nebraska ......:      2,450          101          
Texas ............:      2,460           99           

Placements in feedlots during April totaled 1.85 million head, 11 percent above 2016. Net placements were 1.78 million head. During April, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 348,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 255,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 490,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 495,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 190,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 70,000 head.

Placements by State

                    (1,000 hd - % of April '16)

Colorado .......:      155           107        
Iowa .............:        95           122         
Kansas ..........:       420           114        
Nebraska ......:       395           104        
Texas ............:      460           106         

Marketings of fed cattle during April totaled 1.70 million head, 3 percent above 2016.  Other disappearance totaled 66,000 head during April, 13 percent below 2016.

Marketings by State

                     (1,000 hd - % of April '16)

Colorado ......:      125            93             
Iowa .............:      82             109           
Kansas ..........:      385           100           
Nebraska ......:      390           103       
Texas ............:      450           103           



NRCS EXTENDS SIGN UP FOR SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION FUNDING IN LOWER ELKHORN.


The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) entered into an agreement with the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District to help farmers improve irrigation water management, reduce soil erosion and install conservation practices through the Lower Elkhorn Water and Soil Conservation Initiative. This Initiative is available through the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

Producers in the northeast Nebraska 15-county Initiative area (see map) originally had until mid-October to apply, but the sign up has been extended to June 16, 2017. Producers should visit one of the NRCS offices located in the Initiative area to apply.

Robin Sutherland, District Conservationist in the Stanton NRCS field office said, “This Initiative is a great opportunity for farmers and ranchers to receive financial and technical assistance to make their operations more productive and sustainable.”

Through the Initiative, NRCS and the Lower Elkhorn NRD work together to provide financial and technical assistance to help farmers apply soil and water conservation practices like flow meters, irrigation water management, nutrient management, as well as adopt soil health practices like no-till and cover crops on eligible cropland.

For more information about the RCPP and other conservation programs available from NRCS, visit your local USDA Service center or www.ne.nrcs.usda.gov.



PLAN THE TIMING OF GRASS HAY HARVEST

Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist


               Native meadows will soon start growing rapidly and bromegrass is about to head out.  Here are some tips to make your grass hay suitable for your animals.

               When do you cut your grass hay?  Do you wait until all crops are planted?  Maybe you plan to cut during first or second irrigation of corn.  Or like some folks, maybe you cut grass hay just when you get around to it.

               Instead, how about cutting your grass hay so the grass nutrient content matches with the nutritional needs of your livestock?  Now that's a different way to look at it, isn't it?  But doesn't it make sense to harvest hay that will meet the specific needs of your livestock and minimize your supplement costs?

               We all know that protein and energy concentration declines in grass hay as plants become stemmy and get more mature.  As this happens, the types of livestock that can be fed that hay with little or no supplements become more limited.

               For example, grass hay cut at early head often can support more than one pound of daily gain for pregnant yearling heifers all by itself.  But if the same grass gets mature it won't even maintain weight of a mature cow without some protein supplements.

               So, what should you do?  First off, plan what type of livestock will receive the grass hay from each field.  Young livestock need high nutrient concentrations so cut that hay before or just when heads begin to emerge.  If the hay will go to mature, dry cows instead, let the grass produce a bit more growth and cut it after it is well headed out, but before seeds develop.

               Matching your hay harvest with your plan of use can pay handsome dividends in lower costs and less supplementing.



IFBF's fifth Economic Summit to highlight opportunities amidst ongoing market challenges


To assist farmers facing several consecutive years of tight margins and low commodity prices, the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) announced the 2017 IFBF Economic Summit: “Overcoming Challenges, Creating Opportunities” on July 20 at the Iowa State Scheman Center in Ames. The summit is designed to provide farmers insights and strategies for managing through this downturned economic period, with pending trade negotiations which have potential for significant impacts to Iowa agriculture.

“We want to make sure our Economic Summit goes beyond simply surviving and include helping farmers find opportunities out there to earn a premium price for their crops and livestock, or opportunities to significantly reduce their cost of production and improve their bottom lines,” said Dave Miller, IFBF director of research and commodity services.

Volatile international trade markets and uncertainty regarding current and proposed trade deals, including NAFTA, have led to an unsettled international trade climate.  Speakers during this year’s Economic Summit will discuss the benefits of trade for Iowa agriculture and the current status and future outlook for ag exports. 

“With the United States pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and planning to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), it’s certainly a dynamic period for ag trade,” says Miller.  “However, that does not diminish the critical importance of expanding exports for Iowa crop and livestock farmers.”

With early field hearings underway for the new farm bill and legislative work on the horizon, the summit will also provide a timely look at the potential outlines of the 2018 farm bill, which will establish the essential farm safety net for farmers in the coming years.

Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) president, is a featured speaker.  Duvall, who will be the first AFBF president to speak at IFBF’s Economic Summit, was elected to lead AFBF in 2016.  Duvall is a third-generation farmer from Georgia who raises hay and broilers and has a 300-head beef cow herd.

The full-day summit will feature a range of Iowa-based and national experts presenting on a range of subjects and issues critical to agriculture today, including economist David Oppendahl of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; John Newton, an AFBF economist; and Jim Knuth, Iowa-based senior vice president of the Farm Credit Services of America.

This year’s summit will also feature breakout sessions that allow attendees to dive deeper into a range of topics from soil health and cover crops and opportunities in livestock production to ways to build landlord-tenant relationships and trends in the farm machinery markets.

“This is a period when we all need to sharpen our management and marketing skills to look for future opportunities,” says Miller.  “This year’s IFBF summit will be a valuable tool to help farmers do that.” 

Summit registration, which includes access to all presentations and lunch, is $30 for Farm Bureau members and $75 for non-members before July 11.  Visit www.iowafarmbureau.com for more information.



USDA Farm Service Agency County Committee Nomination Period Begins June 15


The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today that the nomination period for local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees begins on Thursday, June 15, 2017.

“County committees allow farmers and ranchers to make important decisions about how federal farm programs are administered locally to best serve their needs,” said Acting FSA Administrator Chris Beyerhelm. “We strongly encourage all eligible producers to visit their local FSA office today to find out how to get involved in their county’s election. There’s an increasing need for representation from underserved producers, which includes beginning, women and other minority farmers and ranchers.”

County committees are made up of farmers and ranchers elected by other producers in their communities to guide the delivery of farm programs at the local level. Committee members play a critical role in the day-to-day operations of FSA. Committees consist of three to 11 members and meet once a month or as needed to make important decisions on disaster and conservation programs, emergency programs, commodity price support loan programs, county office employment and other agricultural issues. Members serve three-year terms. Nationwide there are over 7,700 farmers and ranchers serving on FSA county committees.

Farmers and ranchers may nominate themselves or others. Organizations, including those representing beginning, women and minority producers, also may nominate candidates to better serve their communities. To be eligible to serve on an FSA county committee, a person must participate or cooperate in an agency administered program and reside in the local administrative area where the election is being held.

After the nomination period, candidates will encourage the eligible producers in their local administrative area to vote. FSA will mail election ballots to eligible voters beginning Nov. 6, 2017. Ballots will be due back to the local county office either via mail or in person by Dec. 4, 2017. Newly-elected committee members and alternates will take office on Jan. 1, 2018.

To become a candidate, an eligible individual must sign an FSA-669A nomination form. The form and other information about FSA county committee elections are available at www.fsa.usda.gov/elections. All nomination forms for the 2017 election must be postmarked or received in the local FSA office by Aug. 1, 2017. Locate your local office at https://offices.usda.gov.



GREEN LIGHT FOR USDA’S PORK SLAUGHTER MODERNIZATION RULE


At a pork industry meeting this week, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said its modernization of pork slaughter rule will move forward. According to the National Pork Producers Council,  the rule will increase efficiency of the federal inspection process, encourage adoption of new food safety technologies and increase plant capacity. The rule calls for certain food safety responsibilities to be shifted from federal inspectors to packing plant workers.

Dan Kovich, deputy director of science and technology, represented NPPC at the USDA meeting and said the FSIS is expected to send the rule to the Office of Management and Budget soon as the next step in its implementation.

NPPC FILES EXTENSION ON AIR EMISSIONS CASE, SENATORS WEIGH IN

NPPC on Monday sought an extension from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to file a motion seeking a re-hearing of an April 11 decision that would create a new requirement for livestock farms to report their air emissions. The U.S. Poultry and Egg Association joined NPPC in filing for the extension.

Previously, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency filed a motion with the same court seeking an extension to request that the court delay issuing its final order, which would apply an emergency reporting requirement under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) to farms for day-to-day routine emissions from manure. If the court does not grant the requests, its ruling will likely become final on or about June 2, 2017, requiring livestock farmers to comply with emission reporting requirements.

Also this week, 28 senators signed onto a letter, urging EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to challenge the D.C. Circuit’s decision and to “provide America’s farmers and ranchers with regulatory relief through agency directive and rulemaking.” CERCLA is used to recover natural resources damages caused by hazardous substances; EPCRA is for use by state and local emergency responders when dealing with hazardous chemical releases. “Congress never imagined normal odors and emissions … of livestock, poultry, and egg production would somehow be captured” under the laws, the lawmakers wrote.

Senate Passes Agro-Terrorism Legislation

“An attack on our nation’s food supply would cause irreparable damage,” said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., after the Senate unanimously passed legislation to bolster agro-terrorism preparedness and emergency response. The “Securing our Agriculture and Food Act” would require the Secretary of Homeland Security, through the Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs, to lead the government’s efforts to secure our nation’s food, agriculture and veterinary systems against terrorism and high-risk events. The bill now goes to the House, which approved a similar measure in late March.



Senate Ag Committee Chair, Farm Bureau President Address USMEF Spring Conference


The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Spring Conference, held in Arlington, Virginia, was highlighted by appearances from Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).

“I want to thank you being in town and for telling your good story about trade,” Roberts told USMEF members. “I want – and I expect – to hear from the meat export sector as we continue down this path, to get a good farm bill. You’re great partners and you do a wonderful job. You folks have really played a very instrumental and important role in shaping rural states. You’ve been an essential part of the rural economy and advising me on issues that affect our daily lives and pocketbooks out in farm country.”

Roberts expressed concern about the Trump administration’s plans to renegotiate NAFTA, but said the presence of recently confirmed Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue gives him confidence that the market access gains NAFTA provided for U.S. agricultural exports will be maintained.

“I swear to goodness he’s been the most active secretary in his first three or four weeks of anybody that I’ve ever seen,” Roberts said of Perdue. “He was sworn in just in time to play a very critical role in convincing President Trump not to withdraw completely from NAFTA. He had the backing, by the way, of Secretary of State (Rex) Tillerson and Wilbur Ross, our commerce secretary – I know this for a fact because I was involved in that – as well our new U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer.”

Roberts spoke with cautious optimism about negotiations to reopen China to U.S. beef – a market that has been closed since the December 2003 BSE case.

“I was very heartened to see the news on the agreement made with China to allow U.S. beef access to nearly 1.4 billion Chinese customers," he said. “Details of that agreement still need to be finalized and we hope that this time U.S. beef and beef products will be granted true market access.”

Roberts also assured USMEF members that he strongly supports USDA programs designed to expand international demand for U.S. agricultural products.

“The Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program are certainly great examples of programs that work,” he said. “We at least ought to have the same level of funding, and really ought to have more, but we’re going to try to preserve that. Expanding markets around the world is one of the surest ways for producers to feel more secure by creating more demand and increasing global access to U.S. meat, grains and other commodities, so the ag sector can begin to climb out of this rough patch.”

Speaking after Roberts, Duvall also praised Secretary Perdue and said he believes the Trump administration’s “tough talk” about re-negotiating NAFTA is simply a way to get key trading partners to the table. He also encouraged everyone in the agricultural industry to remain engaged in the processes taking place in the nation’s capital.

A third-generation farmer from Georgia, Duvall spent 30 years as a dairy farmer and today raises beef cattle and poultry. Prior to being elected AFBF president, he served as president of the Georgia Farm Bureau, where he came to know Perdue, the former governor of Georgia.

“He understands agriculture and he’s a great administrator,” Duvall said of Perdue. “He is only the fourth secretary of agriculture – out of the 30 that we’ve had – to actually have farmed as an adult. He’s very familiar with what it takes to farm, and what it requires.”

Duvall said he considers the current situation in Washington to be possibly the greatest opportunity in his lifetime to make a long-term difference for U.S. agriculture and rural America, helping to build “a future for children and grandchildren who want to do what we do.”

To keep farmers and ranchers engaged, Duvall wants to speak personally with as many producers as possible to help them understand the importance of their involvement.

“Since November, when the farmers and rural America came out and elected this president, they began to relax,” explained Duvall. “Farmers are sitting at home thinking farm organizations, their county Farm Bureau or their commodity group is just going to take care of their problems. I’m telling you that if that’s what our farmers think, we’re in for a disaster. We’re in for a train wreck. We cannot afford to let them disengage from this process. They made a difference in November, but that’s just the beginning of our chore. It’s not the end.”

The conference concluded Friday with a panel discussion on demand trends for red meat in China and Mexico, featuring insights from Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asia Pacific and two senior staff members who oversee USMEF programs in Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic – Regional Director Oscar Ferrara and Marketing Director Gerardo Rodriguez.

At its closing business session, the USMEF board of directors approved a resolution supporting continued funding for the USDA Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program. The resolution encouraged organizations that advocate for U.S. agriculture to make funding these programs a legislative priority, noting their proven track record for bolstering U.S. exports and delivering positive returns for the U.S. economy.



Ocean Freight Rates Reach Lowest Level in Months


Ocean freight rates for shipping bulk grains fell to their lowest level over the past 12 weeks.  As of May 18, the rate for shipping grains from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $37.25 per metric ton, a 4 percent drop from March 9.  The rate from PNW to Japan was $19.50 per mt, an 8 percent drop since March 9.

The last time the Gulf-to-Japan rate was this low was March 3, and the PNW-to-Japan rate was the lowest since February 23.  Lower ocean rates were fueled by excess vessel supply and lagging demand for bulk shipments.



Visit From Miss America 2017 Savvy Shields Planned for First Peas to the Table Contest Winner


The winner of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture’s First Peas to the Table Contest is Mary Tomlin’s third-grade class at Fayette Academy in Somerville, Tennessee. Tomlin’s classroom wins the grand prize – a visit from Miss America 2017 Savvy Shields.

“I’m confident that students will enjoy hearing from Miss America 2017 Savvy Shields about her platform of ‘Eat Better, Live Better,’ which aims to educate people on how the foods we eat make an impact on our lives as a whole,” said Julia Recko, education outreach director of the Foundation.

First Peas is a national competition for schools that encourages children in kindergarten through fifth grade to plant, raise and harvest peas.

Student teams competed to grow the greatest amount of peas (measured in cups) using no more than 20 pea seeds during the official contest period, Feb. 20 – May 15. Tomlin’s class harvested 8 cups of peas.

Ten schools submitted pea measurements, although even more schools participated. Some schools’ peas were not ready to harvest at the end of the contest.

“Educators agree, getting their hands dirty is the best way for children to learn,” said Recko. “Through this contest, we’re pleased to offer a fun, hands-on learning opportunity for students across the country.”

The contest highlights the Foundation’s 2016 Book of the Year, “First Peas to the Table,” by Susan Grigsby. The Foundation created the contest to help students understand the importance of healthy foods and agriculture in their everyday lives and to increase their understanding of how plants grow.

Students competing in the contest were allowed to grow peas in any manner including in a hot house, hoop house, indoor pot, planter or outside garden. In conjunction with the contest, Recko encouraged educators to invite local farmers and ranchers to speak in their classrooms about food production and the importance of agriculture.



2018 Commodity Classic Trade Show Opens to New Exhibitors June 1


The trade show floor at Commodity Classic—America’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused convention and trade show—will open to new exhibitors on Thursday, June 1, 2017.  The 2018 Commodity Classic will be held Tuesday, February 28 through Thursday, March 2 in Anaheim, California.

Exhibit space is limited.  For exhibitor information, visit CommodityClassic.com, call 888.447.6734 or email: tradeshow@CommodityClassic.com.

Last year’s Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas, attracted 4,012 farmers with an average gross farm income of $1.45 million and average farm size of 2,779 total acres.  The show also attracted 162 key media representatives.

“The thousands of farmers who attend Commodity Classic are progressive, innovative and eager to adopt new technology and practices,” said Paul Taylor, an Illinois corn farmer and co-chair of the 2018 Commodity Classic.  “They are also influential in their communities, as our research indicates that the average Commodity Classic farmer attendee says that 9.6 other farmers in their area ask them for their opinions on new technology and practices.”

“If a company wants to showcase its products and services to top farmers in the United States, the Commodity Classic trade show is the place to do it,” said Gerry Hayden, a Kentucky soybean farmer and co-chair of the 2018 Commodity Classic.  “Some 72 percent of farmers at Commodity Classic consider themselves to be early adopters, so these farmers are looking for what’s next in agriculture—and they invest in coming to Commodity Classic expecting to find it.”



Thursday, May 25, 2017

Thursday May 25 Ag News

NEBRASKA EXTENSION RELEASES GRAIN MARKETING PLAN APP

A new mobile application from Nebraska Extension aims to help farmers manage their operations in a rapidly changing price environment. The free Grain Marketing Plan app is available on iPhone and iPad devices for users marketing corn, soybeans or winter wheat.

The app can help farmers develop customizable grain marketing plans pre- or post-harvest. It has a built-in reminder system so that once a farmer has entered decisions into their plan, he or she will receive alerts once a decision trigger has been hit. The decision triggers can be set up based on a target time or futures price. It is one of the first apps of its kind to allow users to not only view futures price information, but interact with them.

"The idea is that the mobile app will help producers make their grain marketing decisions, even while they're in the field," said Associate Extension Educator Jessica Groskopf.

While grain marketing plans are critical to an operation's success, the majority of Nebraska farmers have not developed a plan. Nebraska Extension hopes that this new user-friendly app can help producers decipher fact versus feeling when making grain marketing decisions.

"The Grain Marketing Plan app allows farmers to dictate their future, on their terms," said Cory Walters, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics. "A simple reminder for farmers of the decision triggers they committed to in the spring can make a huge difference in the overall success of a farming operation."

According to Walters, the app is beneficial in the current environment because it is important for farmers to actively market their grain during times of lower commodity prices. With rapidly changing prices, there are limited opportunities for farmers to price grain above break-even prices. This app can alert farmers when futures prices have hit their estimated break-even point.

For more information on the app, visit http://farm.unl.edu/grain-marketing-plan.

The Nebraska Corn Board, North Central Extension Risk Management Education Center and Nebraska Extension provided funding for the app.



GRAZING MANAGEMENT CRITICAL NOW

Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist


               Most pastures are looking pretty good.  But how they are grazed now will affect how well your pastures do the rest of the summer.

               When pastures look good and cattle are doing well we usually pay little attention to them.  But don't take good pasture for granted; in a couple months it could look a lot different.

               Now is the time to pay special attention to your rotational grazing.  In particular, whenever possible, leave more growth behind than usual when you move to new pasture.

               When moisture is available, like now, your grasses will regrow after grazing.  Regrowth starts more rapidly when extra leaves remain behind after grazing.  These leaves help plants harvest more sunlight energy to hasten regrowth, so your pasture will be ready to graze again much sooner and with more forage than if it had been grazed very short.  After all, grass grows grass.

               Another valuable reason to leave extra growth behind is the increased competition this provides to weeds.  June and early July is the time many weeds like ragweed really start growing rapidly.  The extra grass you leave behind and the faster regrowth of your grass will help reduce this weed invasion.

               A final reason to leave extra growth behind is to improve animal nutrition.  As you leave behind the stemmy, less desirable feed and move animals more frequently into fresh, high quality pasture, rates of gain increase, cows get bred more rapidly, and overall performance improves.

               Sure, your pastures look good now.  To keep them looking good and your cattle performing well: avoid overgrazing, encourage rapid regrowth, maintain competitive residues, and rotate often onto fresh, productive pasture.



NCGA Thanks House of Representatives for Passing NPDES Permits Legislation


The National Corn Growers Association commended the House of Representatives for passing H.R. 953, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2017. This bipartisan legislation states that National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems (NPDES) permits are not required when applying pesticides according to their EPA-approved labels.

"We are pleased the House of Representatives recognizes this permit requirement for what it is: expensive, duplicative, and unnecessary red tape," said Brandon Hunnicutt, Vice Chair of the Freedom to Operate Action Team and a farmer from Giltner, Nebraska. "As it currently stands, the NPDES permitting system only adds to farmers' regulatory burdens, without actually improving water quality."

The Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act would reverse a 2009 court ruling that forced the Environmental Protection Agency to require pesticide applicators to get permits to spray in or near "navigable waters," as defined in the Clean Water Act. Although NPDES permits do not provide any additional environmental benefits, they do significantly increase the regulatory burden on farmers, while also exposing them to potential citizen action suits. NCGA has been a leader in efforts to end this redundant and ineffective permitting requirement.

"We thank the House for their vote, and urge the Senate to act quickly on this important issue," said Hunnicutt.



2017 Auctioneer of the Year, Auctioneer and Ringman Champions, and New Officers and Directors


Miles Marshall, Marshall Land Brokers & Auctioneers, Kearney, has been elected President of the Nebraska Auctioneers Association for 2017-2018. Marshall Land Brokers & Auctioneers is recognized throughout the Midwest as a leader in marketing ag real estate, farm machinery, heavy equipment and business liquidations. His election was announced at the 69th Annual Convention of the Association held at the Holiday Inn Convention Center, Kearney, Nebraska, May 19-21, 2017. Travis Augustin, Ruhter Auction & Realty, Inc., Hastings, was elected Vice President and Mark Beacom, Auction Solutions, Inc., Omaha, was elected President-Elect.

Newly elected Board Members include Mike Nuss, Helberg & Nuss Auctions & Realty, Gering, Nebraska; Duane Wellensiek, Wellensiek Auction Co. LLC, Cook, Nebraska; and Ed Hall, Vandertook Auctions LLC, Adams, Nebraska.

The annual Nebraska Auctioneers Association Championship Auctioneer and Ringman Contest was held on Friday, May 19, 2017 kicking off the first evening of the 69th Annual Convention. Curtis Wetovick, C W Auction, Fullerton, Nebraska, was named Nebraska Auctioneer Champion for 2017 and Kam Hartstack of Clarinda, Iowa, captured the 2017 Nebraska Ringman Champion title. In addition to cash and prizes, Wetovick will receive the entry fee to the 2018 International Auctioneers Championship and will represent Nebraska in the competition. Kam Hartstack received the Jon Moravec Memorial Ringman trophy.

The top ten from the competition consisted of Scott Jarman, The Auction Mill, Cedar Bluffs, Nebraska; Austin Creamer, Creamer Heimes Janssen LLC, Hartington, Nebraska; Kenny Hendren, Hendren Auction Service, Mitchell, Nebraska; Kam Hartstack, Hartstack Auction Group, Clarinda, Iowa; Dan Botsch, Full Throttle Auction Company, Chapman, Nebraska; Russ Puchalla, Heartland Auction Company, Roca, Nebraska; Runner-Up, Courtney Mensik, Jack Nitz & Associates, Cedar Bluffs, Nebraska; Reserve Champion, Josh Larson, JML Auction, Haxtun, Colorado; and Rookie of the Year, Jake Rogers, Lexington, Nebraska. Rookie of the Year, Runner-Up and Reserve Champion all received commemorative plaques.

Also in conjunction with the Convention, Don Helberg, Helberg & Nuss Auctions & Realty, Gering, Nebraska, was named Nebraska Auctioneer of the Year. Don was awarded a commemorative plaque, Stetson hat and trophy belt buckle. Gene Sisco, Sisco Auction Company, Syracuse, Nebraska, who passed away on January 20, 2017, was inducted posthumously into the Auctioneer Hall of Fame. His family accepted on behalf of Gene.

Awarded $1,000 college scholarships at the annual awards banquet from both the Association and the Auxiliary were Braelyn Isernhagen, Deshler, daughter of Brian and Heidi Isernhagen; Austin Creamer, son of Ryan and Janet Creamer, Creamer Heimes Janssen LLC, Hartington; and Kaitlyn Schultis daughter of Aaron and Lisa Schultis and granddaughter to Wayne and Linda Schultis, Schultis & Son Inc, Fairbury, Nebraska.

The Nebraska Association works with more than 3,500 members of the National Auctioneers Association throughout the world. The National Auctioneers Association is the largest organization of its kind dedicated to promoting the auction method of marketing.  The Nebraska Auctioneers Association is headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska.



USDA Livestock Slaughter Report: Record Low Veal and Lamb Production for April


Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 3.97 billion pounds in April, down slightly from the 3.98 billion pounds produced in April 2016.

Beef production, at 1.96 billion pounds, was slightly below the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.46 million head, up 2 percent from April 2016. The average live weight was down 23 pounds from the previous year, at 1,325 pounds.

Veal production totaled 5.8 million pounds, 3 percent below April a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 39,000 head, up 12 percent from April 2016. The average live weight was down 36 pounds from last year, at 257 pounds.

Pork production totaled 1.99 billion pounds, down 1 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 9.34 million head, down slightly from April 2016. The average live weight was unchanged from the previous year, at 285 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 11.5 million pounds, was down 10 percent from April 2016. Sheep slaughter totaled 179,500 head, 5 percent below last year. The average live weight was 128 pounds, down 7 pounds from April a year ago.

By State  (million lbs   -   % of Apr '16

Nebraska ....:     596.7             98  
Iowa ...........:     567.2             99      
Kansas ........:     411.9             95      

January to April 2017 commercial red meat production was 16.7 billion pounds, up 3 percent from 2016. Accumulated beef production was up 5 percent from last year, veal was down 4 percent, pork was up 2 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 4 percent.



Field Days to Help Participants Improve Profit and Water Quality


Farmers and their consultants can learn how to improve both farm profits and water quality at a series of field days hosted by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

The field days are part of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Nitrogen and Water Week, which runs from June 27-29.

“The purpose of these field days is for farmers and their consultants to learn the research related to profitable nitrogen management and water quality,” said Jamie Benning, water quality program manager with ISU Extension and Outreach. “The field days will also allow participants to visit the sites where research is occurring relating to nitrogen management and water quality.”

Five field days will be held throughout the state at Iowa State University Research and Demonstration Farms, providing an opportunity to learn about the university’s research facilities that evaluate nitrate loss. A tour of plots where Iowa State researchers study the effects of fall application, cover crops and nitrification inhibitors is included in the event. The field day will also provide an opportunity to learn about factors that are used to make nitrogen fertilizer recommendations and nitrogen deficiency in corn and how to correct it.

“Participants will leave the field day with a better understanding of research and the breadth of projects and practices we are evaluating,” said Mark Johnson, extension field agronomist. “They will also receive a better understanding of tools that are available to them like the N Rate Calculator and how they can help farmers be more profitable while minimizing impact on water quality.”

Each field day will provide the same format and program, with ISU Extension and Outreach field agronomists and agricultural engineering specialists providing instruction. Registration at the research farm meeting room begins at 9:15 on the day of the event, with the program beginning at 9:45. The program concludes at 12:15 p.m. with lunch following.

“The format provides for four 30-minute sessions during the field day, discussing how a water quality research site works, what practices are being studied, how effective the various management practices are in reducing nitrogen loss, and the impact of those practices on farm profitability,” said Paul Kassel, extension field agronomist.

2017 Nitrogen and Water Week Field Days
    June 27 – Armstrong Memorial Research and Demonstration Farm (53020 Hitchcock Ave., Lewis, Iowa)
    June 27 – Ag Engineering and Agronomy Research Farm (1308 U Ave, Boone, Iowa)
    June 28 – Northeast Research and Demonstration Farm (3321 290th St., Nashua, Iowa)
    June 29 – Northwest Research and Demonstration Farm (6320 500th St., Sutherland, Iowa)
    June 29 – Southeast Research and Demonstration Farm (3115 Louisa-Washington Road, Crawfordsville, Iowa)

There is a $25 registration fee for the program which includes lunch, refreshments, and course materials and publications. Attendees are asked to pre-register to assist with facility and meal planning. For additional information or to register online visit www.aep.iastate.edu/nitrogen.



USDA Invests in Commodity Board Projects


The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Wednesday announced five grants totaling more than $2.5 million for agricultural research that is funded jointly with national or state commodity boards. The funding is made possible through NIFA's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), which was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

"Our collaboration with commodity boards helps the U.S. agriculture industry thrive," said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. "By responding to the needs of the U.S. agricultural sector, we are investing in research that will have a positive economic impact."

In FY 2016, the first year of collaboration with national and state commodity boards, topics from five commodity boards were integrated into four program area priorities within two AFRI Requests for Applications (RFAs): Improving Food Safety, Critical Agricultural Research and Extension, and Plant Breeding for Agricultural Production in the Foundational Program RFA; and Breeding and Phenomics of Food Crops and Animals in the Food Security Challenge Area RFA. The commodity boards provided half of the funding for the award in their topic area. The projects include:

- The USDA Agricultural Research Service, Southern Region, received a NIFA grant of $489,804, funded jointly with the National Peanut Board, to investigate peanut and tree nut allergies.

- Oregon State University, Corvallis, received a NIFA grant of $294,000, funded jointly with the Washington State Potato Commission, to improve data management tracking of potato early-dying disease.

- Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, received a NIFA grant of $294,000, funded jointly with the National Peanut Board, to research drought tolerance in peanuts.

- Iowa State University of Science and Technology, Ames, received a NIFA grant of $490,000, funded jointly with a consortia of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council, Nebraska Corn Board, and Kentucky Corn Promotion Council, to improve yield prediction models for next generation breeders.
- Kansas State University, Manhattan, received a NIFA grant of $980,000, funded jointly with the Kansas Wheat Commission, to improve selection protocols to accelerate wheat quality.

More information on these projects is available on the NIFA website.

Commodity boards are organizations that promote, research, and share industry and consumer information on particular agricultural products, such as almonds, honey, lamb, and wheat. The 2014 Farm Bill enables commodity boards to submit topics for research supported through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, America's flagship competitive grants program for foundational and translational research, education, and extension projects in the food and agricultural sciences. Topics must relate to established AFRI priority areas: plant health and production and plant products; animal health and production and animal products; food safety, nutrition, and health; bioenergy, natural resources, and environment; agriculture systems and technology; and agriculture economics and rural communities. Once topics are approved, the resulting proposals are reviewed using NIFA's established peer-review process.

NIFA welcomes commodity board topics that support AFRI priority areas throughout the year. To submit a topic for consideration for inclusion in an AFRI RFA in FY18, commodity board representatives should visit the NIFA Commodity Board webpage for more information.



Programs Help Farmers Gain Consumer Communication Skills

Maddie Hagerty, IPIC Communications Assistant & Student

Most consumers are becoming disconnected from agriculture, but still have to find a source for information about what they consume. Pig farmers want to be able to properly inform consumers about the well-being of their livestock and the safety of food products but can sometimes struggle to find the space to share their story. This can create the issue of a gap or communication barrier between the two groups. Both farmers and consumers can benefit from maintaining an open line of communication, however seeking out consumers and encouraging the conversation can be difficult.

Joyce Hoppes, director of consumer information for the Iowa Pork Producers Association, said it's important to first find common ground. This allows both parties involved in the conversation to become comfortable and remain engaged.

"Transparency is very important," Hoppes said. "The best way to start the conversation with a consumer is to first find common values. Use the information they share about themselves to help drive the conversation."

It's important to realize, however, that not all discussions are created alike, Hoppes said. Making sure discussion points resonate with the individual or group is vital.

"While it is important to know your audience, your communication strategy may not differ all that much between certain age groups because they will be at a similar level of agricultural literacy," she said. "But, you must make sure the information you are sharing is relevant to them. Identify what needs they have in their lives and explain how the industry works to fulfil them."

Claire Masker is director of public relations for the Pork Checkoff where her job involves working with farmers and the public. She teaches producers how to use open dialogue with consumers.

"When talking to consumers, the goal should not be to strictly educate the consumer, but just to establish an open dialogue and ensure that they can trust you and seek you for answers," she said. Both IPPA and the Pork Checkoff are affiliated with programs designed specifically for producers that build and strengthen communication skills and strategies.

The IPPA partners with the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation to reach consumers.

"One program that we at IPPA participate in is FarmChat, which facilitates virtual farm tours," Hoppes said. "Pork producers can use FarmChat technology to open their barns to students and other audiences, and explain modern pork production and interact on-site by answering their questions."

The IPPA currently is recruiting producers to participate in the FarmChat program and plans to have summer training sessions for the tours. Producers interested in participating in FarmChat or want to learn more can contact Hoppes at 515-225-7675 or jhoppes@iowapork.org.

The Pork Checkoff has a well-established communications skills program for producers called Operation Main Street.

"OMS provides training sessions throughout the year and at World Pork Expo for producers to learn how to represent themselves and tell their story to consumers and other targeted groups," Masker said. "Program coordinator Ernie Barnes has great resources for that program."

More information about OMS is available at the NPB website and Masker said those who want more information can contact Barnes at ebarnes@pork.org.



NPPC White Paper Details Benefits Of NAFTA


Following last week’s notification by the Trump administration that it will renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the National Pork Producers Council today released a white paper on the benefits of the trade deal among the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The paper, which focuses primarily on trade with Mexico, makes the case for not abandoning the 23-year-old pact and for not disrupting trade in sectors for which the agreement has worked well, including U.S. pork. Mexico is the No. 2 export market for U.S. pork, and Canada is No. 4.

For all U.S. goods and services, Canada and Mexico are the top two destinations, accounting for more than one-third of total U.S. exports, adding $80 billion to the U.S. economy and supporting more than 14 million American jobs, according to U.S. government data.

While considerable attention has been given to the $63 billion trade deficit the United States has with Mexico, NPPC’s paper highlights two key facts: When NAFTA took effect Jan. 1, 1994, trade between the United States and Mexico was only $50 billion each way. Last year, U.S. exports to Mexico were nearly quintuple that amount at $231 billion, and those exports supported 5 million U.S. jobs. And while imports to the United States from Mexico were $294 billion, those, too, supported millions of U.S. jobs. (Nearly 40 percent of Mexican imports include U.S. content.)

For U.S. agriculture, Canada and Mexico are the second and third largest foreign markets. They imported more than $38 billion of U.S. products in 2016, or 28 percent of all U.S. agricultural exports. Those exports generated more than $48 billion in additional business activity throughout the economy and supported nearly 287,000 jobs.

Disrupting U.S. agricultural exports to Mexico and Canada, the NPPC paper points out, would have devastating consequences for America’s farmers and for the U.S. processing and transportation industries. U.S. pork producers would be particularly hard hit.

Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes calculated that if Mexico placed a 20 percent duty on U.S. pork – a likely response to a U.S. withdraw from NAFTA – and allowed other countries duty-free access, the U.S. pork industry eventually would lose the entire Mexican market. That equates to a loss of 5 percent of U.S. pork production, which would reduce the U.S. live hog market by 10 percent at a cost of $14 per hog, or a nearly $1.7 billion aggregate loss to the industry.

“A loss in exports to Mexico of that magnitude would be cataclysmic for the U.S. pork industry,” said Nick Giordano, NPPC’s vice president for global government affairs, who will share highlights of the paper at the “NAFTA: From Cars to Carrots” panel discussion hosted by the Global Business Dialogue later today. “Pork producers will support updating and improving NAFTA but only if duties on U.S. pork remain at zero and pork exports are not disrupted.”

The NPPC paper also notes that NAFTA has provided benefits beyond trade, including improved relations with Canada and Mexico, better regional investment and supply chains, increased cooperation with Mexico in fighting drug trafficking and terrorism and greater political stability in that country.



USMEF Kicks Off Spring Conference, Announces Succession Plan


The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) opened its Spring Conference Wednesday in Arlington, Virginia, with an extensive discussion of the current international trade environment and a review of year-to-date export results for U.S. pork, beef and lamb. The federation also announced the successor to longtime USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng, as Dan Halstrom, USMEF senior vice president for marketing, will become president on Sept.1 and assume the title of president and CEO on Dec. 1. Seng will remain with the organization as CEO emeritus through July 2018.

USMEF Chairman Bruce Schmoll, a soybean and corn producer from Claremont, Minnesota, welcomed members to the Spring Conference and recapped the very strong first-quarter results for U.S. red meat exports. Schmoll noted that Mexico is a terrific destination for U.S. pork, and USMEF’s new product development and consumer education efforts continue to bolster per capita pork consumption in Mexico. U.S. beef exports to Mexico are also trending upward in 2017, but the main drivers of beef export growth in the first quarter were the mainstay Asian markets of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Schmoll said home meal replacement is a rapidly growing segment in Asia and especially in Korea, noting that he and his family hosted a team of Korean buyers last year who specialize in home meal replacement items.

Schmoll also discussed the recent decision by Costco-Korea to convert the chilled beef meat cases at all 15 of its locations to 100 percent U.S. beef.

“With Costco being such a respected trend-setter for Korean consumers and other Korean retailers, the long-term, positive impact for U.S. beef will reach well beyond the walls of these Costco warehouses,” he said.

Schmoll said the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program are important tools that contribute to the success U.S. red meat is achieving in the global marketplace. He urged USMEF members to voice their support for these programs, which were targeted for elimination in the Trump administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal released earlier this week.

“This is only the first step in a long budget process, and there is strong bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for MAP and FMD,” Schmoll explained.

Seng offered a historical perspective on red meat trade with Japan, explaining the impressive gains made in this market despite significant trade barriers. He noted that Japan has imported $62 billion in U.S. beef and pork over the past 30 years, despite a temporary closure of the market to U.S. beef due to BSE, and an even longer period in which U.S. exports to Japan were restricted to beef from cattle less than 21 months of age.

Seng cautioned that the United States may be underestimating the importance of constructive relationships with key trading partners, citing Mexico as an example of a country that is actively seeking alternative food suppliers.

“For the past 70 years, the hallmark of our agricultural trade policy with countries that can’t be self-sufficient in food production has been, ‘you don’t have to be self-sufficient, but you can be food secure with the United States as your partner,’” Seng said. “When we start talking about playing by a different set of rules, these countries look to diversify. And as Mexico begins to look south, they’ll find that they can source pork and beef from different suppliers, and that’s a very important development.”

USMEF’s guest speaker was Stuart Rothenberg, a long-time Washington, D.C., political analyst who is senior editor at Inside Elections. He served for more than two decades as editor and publisher of The Rothenberg Political Report, a non-partisan political newsletter covering U.S. House, Senate and gubernatorial campaigns and presidential politics. He also was a columnist for Roll Call and The Washington Post.

Rothenberg spent much of his presentation on the struggles of the Trump administration to establish meaningful policy directions, with the investigation into the Trump administration’s possible ties to Russia and several other distractions coming at a bad time for a brand new presidency.

“President Trump is going to deal with healthcare and tax reform and infrastructure and budget spending priorities - while all this other stuff is going on?” Rothenberg asked. “Well, he’s going to have to. But you can see how much more difficult it will be. In Washington, it’s difficult to get things through during good times.”

Rothenberg expressed frustration with the national media, which he said tend to examine every poll as if it is going to somehow demonstrate a dramatic turn in public opinion.

“But the president has only been in office for a little over four months,” Rothenberg said. “In another four months, six months, eight months – some of his supporters may start to take the criticism more seriously.”

To close the session, USMEF past chairman Roel Andriessen, who chaired the search committee charged with finding and recommending candidates for the position of USMEF president, explained the extensive process that led the committee to identify Halstrom as its leading candidate. Andriessen also paid tribute to Seng for his decades of service to the organization, which Seng joined as Asia director in 1982 – just six years after USMEF was founded.

“Phil, on behalf of the USMEF Executive Committee and USMEF members and staff, we applaud your leadership and vision for this industry, which started a long time ago,” Andriessen said. “You are a legend in our industry – there’s no doubt about that, and your shoes will be extremely difficult to fill. You will leave behind a great legacy and I want to applaud you for all you have done for us.”

Halstrom echoed these sentiments, noting that he’s learned a wealth of information from Seng – not only during his time with USMEF, but throughout his 34-year career in international meat trade.

“I certainly don’t expect to replace Phil Seng, but I hope to complement him with the help of a very talented USMEF team, and that is a tremendous advantage going forward,” he said. “Many people are aware of Phil’s long career with USMEF, and I’ve learned a great deal from him in the time I’ve been involved with the organization. But we also have staff members in key markets such as Hong Kong, Korea and Japan who have been with USMEF for a very long time. They are truly grounded in the meat business, and they are in these markets every day building demand for U.S. meat products and monitoring our competition. I look forward to being even more involved with this group and drawing upon their knowledge and experience.”

Halstrom joined USMEF as senior vice president for marketing in 2010, overseeing promotional activities for U.S. red meat managed through the organization’s 18 international offices. He was previously vice president for international sales with JBS S.A., where he managed global beef and pork sales. From 1990 through 1999, Halstrom directed international pork sales for Swift/ConAgra Foods, Inc. A native of northwest Iowa and a graduate of the University of Iowa, Halstrom currently resides in Fort Collins, Colorado.



ASA and Valent Offer a New Opportunity for Young People Interested in Ag Policy


The American Soybean Association (ASA) is pleased to announce a new educational program, sponsored by Valent, the “Soy Leaders of the Future.” This program provides an exciting opportunity for students interested in improving their understanding of major agricultural policy issues, the importance of advocacy, and careers that can impact agricultural policy.

The Leaders of the Future program will take place July 10 – 13, 2017, in Washington, D.C. This program may be of particular interest to high school seniors and freshmen or sophomores in college majoring in various areas of agriculture, political science, communications and/or business. Students must complete an online application and be at least 18 years old to participate. The class size will be limited to six to eight students, and the deadline to apply is Friday, June 9. Click here for more information... https://soygrowers.com/learn/soy-leaders-future/



America’s First FTA Partner, Israel, Remains Steady U.S. Customer


Free trade agreements help provide market access for some of the largest purchasers of U.S. grains and for some smaller but steady buyers. Israel, as the first market with which the United States signed a free trade agreement, is a good example.

The United States-Israel Free Trade Agreement was implemented in 1985, when the United States exported $2.5 billion in goods to Israel, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By 2016, overall U.S. exports soared to $13.1 billion, a five-fold increase. For U.S. agricultural exports, Israel has remained a small but important market, especially for value-added products including corn gluten feed/meal and distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS).

Israel imported 786,000 metric tons of U.S. corn, DDGS and corn gluten feed, valued at $141.5 million, in 2015/2016 - a 2.5 fold increase from the previous year. U.S. DDGS exports to Israel reached nearly 134,000 tons in the current marketing year (September-March), a 22 percent increase year-over-year.

Additionally, Israel was the third largest market for U.S. corn gluten feed/meal exports in 2015/2016, responsible for 18 percent of U.S. exports. U.S. corn gluten feed/meal exports this marketing year (September-March) have increased 17 percent year-over-year to more than 125,000 tons.

“These increases are driven in part by attractive commodity price and competitive U.S. exports,” said Alvaro Cordero, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) manager of global trade.

“The Mediterranean basin is a very competitive marketplace, with U.S., Black Sea and South American grain exports competing for customers. As a result, the edge provided by the free trade agreement with United States is vital for our exporters.”

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) works to maintain and develop relationships with trading partners like Israel, supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program. Through these trade servicing efforts, USGC is able to help U.S. grain producers and exporters take advantage of favorable conditions for U.S. exporters built into trade agreements as well as capitalize on market opportunities that might otherwise go unnoticed.



National Dairy FARM Program Opens Registration for 2017 Evaluator Conference

The second annual National Dairy FARM Program Evaluator Conference will be held in Indianapolis, Ind., from July 18-19, with an optional farm trip to Fair Oaks Farm on July 20. More than 400 certified FARM Program evaluators will have the chance to network and discuss relevant topics in animal care, environmental stewardship and antibiotic stewardship.

Starting on Tuesday, July 18, FARM evaluators will spend a day with key Elanco staff, focusing on professional development and learning more about Elanco’s global business of feeding a growing population. Wednesday, July 19, features a full day of programming, including presentations on “The Economics of Animal Well-Being,” as well as insight from a panel of farmers and veterinarians on the importance of protocol development and employee training.

“We are excited to host a dedicated group of FARM evaluators for what will be three full days of enlightening conversation and learning,” said Emily Meredith, chief of staff for the National Milk Producers Federation. “Nurturing strong relationships among members of the animal care community will only enhance our ability to share the industry’s great story of top-notch animal care.”

Elanco is also a sponsor for this year’s event, in addition to Zoetis and Merck Animal Health.

Thursday’s optional trip to Fair Oaks Farms includes a tour of the dairy’s facilities and a discussion with co-founder Mike McCloskey, farm veterinarians and management staff about how Fair Oaks implements training and protocols for the high-level care of their animals and land. Located in Fair Oaks, Ind., the agritourism operation offers educational opportunities about dairy, hog and crop farming.

Registration is $199, with the optional Fair Oaks tour costing an additional $50. For more information and to register for the conference, please visit the conference website.

This is the second Evaluator Conference hosted by the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program. The first was held last fall in Nashville, Tenn., after the NMPF Joint Annual Meeting. Created in 2009 by the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), the FARM Program raises the bar for the entire dairy industry – creating a culture of continuous improvement.



Trump Wants $108M for Deeper Ports


(AP) -- President Donald Trump wants $108 million to deepen harbors for two U.S. seaports, while other ports scrambling to make room for larger cargo ships will benefit from a boost of more than $56 million already approved by Congress.

Ports from New England to Texas are seeking more than $4.6 billion in federal and state funding to deepen their harbors. They're playing catch-up after the Panama Canal finished a major expansion last summer that is sending supersized ships to U.S. ports on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.

Most of those ports have waterways that are too shallow for such big ships to navigate unless they carry lighter loads or travel at high tides.

While Congress has authorized 15 total port projects to pursue deeper and wider shipping channels, Trump's proposed budget released Tuesday requests money for only two of them in the 2018 fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. Deepening projects for Boston and Savannah, Georgia, would essentially split $108 million.

But not every port left out of Trump's budget request came away empty-handed. The Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees maintenance and construction on U.S. waterways, on Wednesday evening released its spending plan for discretionary funds recently approved by Congress.

That plan includes more than $56 million for five harbor-deepening projects, including $17.5 million for deepening to begin at the Port of Charleston, South Carolina, and the Port of Jacksonville, Florida. For projects still in the study and permitting phase, $2.8 million will go to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and $557,000 for the Sabine-Neches waterway that serves three Texas ports.

The discretionary funds should give a guaranteed boost to the Army Corps' chosen harbor projects. Trump's proposed $4.1 trillion budget for fiscal 2018, meanwhile, faces a long and uncertain road in Congress.

"Now you've got the congressional money and you're going to see what's coming to you right now," said Jim Walker, navigation policy director for the American Association of Port Authorities. "You may be a year away from seeing the (fiscal) 2018 money."

The Port of Boston, where officials hope to start deepening the harbor later this year, may turn out to be the biggest winner. In additional to Trump's $58 million request for the project, the Army Corps added $18.2 million in discretionary funding.

And while Trump's request of $50 million for Savannah, the fourth-busiest U.S. container port, is 17 percent more than President Barack Obama secured in his last budget, it's still only half of what Georgia officials said was needed to keep the $973 million project on schedule.

Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Georgia Republican, said in a statement he was "disappointed by the failure of the Army Corps of Engineers" to route some of the discretionary funds to Savannah. He made no mention of Trump's budget request.

"Rest assured that I will continue fighting in Congress to secure sufficient funding for this worthy project to be completed without further delays," Isakson said.

Federal funding for deeper harbors proved tough to get under Obama as well. And while Congress gets the final say over the federal budget, the president's recommendation on specific port projects still carries weight. That's because a ban on so-called earmark spending adopted years ago prohibits lawmakers from inserting line items for their own pet projects.

Georgia ensured dredging of the Savannah River got started in 2015 by spending state taxpayers' $266 million share upfront. South Carolina was prepared to do the same, with $300 million in state funding set aside to begin deepening the Charleston harbor this fall. The federal money from the Corps was welcomed.

"The significance of this funding for the timeline of our deepening project cannot be overstated -- it is tremendous news for Charleston," Jim Newsome, CEO of the South Carolina Ports Authority, said in a statement.



NAWG Applauds Senate Agriculture Committee for Holding Hearing to Examine the Farm Economy


Today, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry held a hearing to examine the farm economy in rural America. Members heard testimony from USDA Chief Economist Robert Johansson who spoke on several domestic and global factors generating low commodity prices and the financial implication this has on farmers. Additional witnesses included Nathan Kauffman, assistant vice president and Omaha branch executive with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City; Bruce Weber, professor emeritus of applied economics and director of the rural studies program at Oregon State University; and Alec Sheffer, director of retail sales for Agri-AFC.

NAWG President David Schemm made the following statement:

“With the rural economy struggling and farm income down 46 percent from only three years ago, growers are enduring some of the toughest economic conditions since the 1980s.  Farmers have also had to deal with severe weather issues, making the Farm Bill a key tool to enable them to farm another year.

“Low commodity prices have led to farmers to take on more debt to continue operating, as such producers’ debt-to-asset ratios have grown rapidly. USDA’s Chief Economist Dr. Robert Johansson testified that nearly 8% of wheat producers are considered to be ‘highly leveraged’ and over 16 percent are ‘very highly leveraged’.

“Farmers have had to deal with a rapidly declining market, and months and years of sustained low prices will make each passing year more difficult to get by, particularly for young and beginning farmers who weren’t able to build up reserves during the high price years.

“The economic conditions of the past few years have also contributed to a drop in planted wheat acreage. Plantings for 2016-2017 winter wheat are at the lowest level since 1909, and it is anticipated that overall planted acres of wheat will be at historically low levels this year.  Compounding these factors has been growing impact of wheat streak mosaic virus in my neck of the woods which is causing a big yield hit to the wheat that survived the blizzard.

“NAWG applauds the Senate Committee on Agriculture for holding this hearing to evaluate the economic conditions in rural America.”



Syngenta receives EPA registration for Fortenza® insecticide seed treatment for corn and cotton


Fortenza® seed treatment insecticide from Syngenta has received registration approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use on corn and cotton to guard against early-season insect damage.

“We designed Fortenza to complement our brands containing Cruiser® insecticide, and data shows combining these products enhances the spectrum of insect control activity, raising the bar of protection for U.S. growers,” said Dale Ireland, Ph.D., Seedcare technical product lead, Syngenta. “This combination will provide the most comprehensive early-season insect protection in the corn seed treatment market.”

The active ingredient in Fortenza, cyantraniliprole, is labeled to protect against above- and below-ground insects, including black cutworm, fall armyworm, white grub, seedcorn maggot and wireworm. This is especially important to growers who are located in areas with high cutworm history. In corn particularly, Fortenza® seed treatment insecticide is a great tool for growers that have a corn hybrid with black cutworm susceptibility.

“From the moment our crops are planted, every seed is at risk for pest infestation,” said Palle Pedersen, Ph.D., head of Seedcare product marketing at Syngenta. “Fortenza will help protect emerging corn and cotton plants against insect damage from day one, leading to vigorous crop establishment and increased stand, which will help maximize the return and genetic potential on a grower’s seed investment.”

Fortenza may also help manage insect resistance, when used in combination with other insecticide chemistries or traits, by providing an additional mode of action against targeted insects.



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wednesday May 24 Ag News

The Nebraska Junior Beef Expo is pleased to announce its 20th Anniversary on Friday, June 2nd – Sunday, June 4th, Norfolk, NE.

Seven cattle organizations, along with their youth participants, are planning to make its 20th anniversary a huge success.  The Nebraska Junior Beef Expo will be held on Friday, June 2nd, Saturday, June 3rd, and Sunday, 4th, 2017, at the Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Nebraska.  Northeast Community College is a co-sponsor of this great event. Breeds represented at this event will be Simmental, Red Angus, Charolais, Shorthorn, Maine-Anjou, Chianina and Limousin.  Each are responsible in working together to present educational contests and cattle show competitions.

Approximately 80 youth, ages 8 to 21, from these breed associations, will compete for prizes and trophies in various competitions ranging from Sales Talk Competition and Poster/Photography Contests to Judging and Showmanship Contests to Interview/Resume Contests. Each contest, along with Showmanship, is divided into a junior and a senior division. The NJBE committee will check-in over 100 cattle entries that represent these seven breed organizations.

Each breed provides their individual contest awards and each contest winner is eligible to win the Supreme Awards presented by the NE Jr. Beef Expo Committee.  Supreme Awards presented by the committee include Supreme Individual Contest Awards, Supreme High Percentage Breeding Heifer, Supreme Low Percentage Breeding Heifer, Supreme Jr. and Sr. Showmanship, Supreme Market Animal and Supreme Bred & Owned.

The NE Jr. Beef Expo relies heavily on businesses, associations and individual sponsorships to provide these opportunities for the youth involved with raising and showing animals.  It also requires many volunteers to run this three-day event. This is a unique event where seven major cattle breeds in Nebraska have come together to offer their junior organizations additional educational and recreational opportunities.

Diamond Level Sponsors are: NE Farm Bureau; Farmer’s National Company; NE Cattlemen’s Foundation and NE Cattlemen’s Classic.

Gold Level Sponsors are: KRVN 880 AM, Lexington, KNEB 94.1 FM & 960 AM, Scottsbluff & KTIC 840 AM, West Point and TransOva Genetics, Sioux Center, IA.

Silver Level Sponsors are: Aurora Cooperative Co., Aurora, NE; Randolph Feed & Grain -Marty Nordhues; Washington County Cattlemen’s.

Bronze Level Sponsors are: Sullivan’s Supply, Dunlap, IA; Purina Honor Show Chow & Elkhorn Feed Center, Norfolk, NE; The Show Circuit, Roland Schumaker, Lexington, IL; Dinkel’s, Norfolk, NE; Northeast NE Cattlemen- Wayne, Dixon, Dakota and Thurston Counties-Dave French, Pres;  Red Barn Veterinary- Dr. James Unwin,  Dr. Stewart Hartwell,  Dr. Patrick Maline and Dr. Kellie Wise, Oakland, NE; Bullis Creek Ranch- Rob and Brenda Brawner and family - Wood Lake, NE; T-T Seed Express & Endurplas- Scott Trauernicht, Wymore & Randy Thimm, Cortland, NE; Kersten Cattle Co., Gretna, NE ; ABS, Larry Rowden, Regional Representative; Vogler Cattle Co/Vogler Semen Centre’. - Ashland, NE- Lloyd, Rosalyn, Les & Loren Vogler; Zoetis Animal Health; Livestock Plus, Inc.- Mike Sorensen; Western Sire Services, John Weston, Manager, Gordon, NE; Green Line Equipment - Serving 9 locations in Nebraska.  Albion - Aurora - Central City - Grand Island - Neligh - Norfolk - Plainview - Spalding - St. Paul; Specially 4 You, Linda Duren; Farm Credit Services of America, Norfolk, O’Neill, Columbus, Lincoln and Beatrice Offices; Central Valley Ag;  Breeder’s World Online Auctions; Wagonhammer Ranches, Albion & Bartlett; First State Insurance Agency, Amy Rains, Wilbur, NE

Other Cash and In-Kind Donations: Farmer’s Union Coop Supply Co., Clarkson - Stanton- Howells; Hawkeye Breeders Service, Inc.- Adel, IA ; Ken’s Trailer Sales & Repair- Norfolk, NE; Nichols Ranch, Dave, Lynn, Taylor & Nicole; Wurtz Cattle Co., Valley, NE; Wayne & Barb Ohlrichs, Norfolk, NE;  Preferred Genetics, Phil Buhman; Illingworth Farms, Amber Illingworth, Fairfield, NE; Citizen’s State Bank- Spalding; G & S Livestock- Greg & Susan Gehl; S. Diamond Angus, Kim & Lindy Siebert, Henderson, NE; Reproductive Services- Bennet NE; Off-The-Wall Graphics, Rising City, NE ; Circle 5 Beef, Henderson, NE; One Source Office Solutions, Norfolk, NE ; Ahlberg Cattle, Longmont, CO; Ruth Simmentals, Rising City, NE; Foxxy Ladies Simmental Sale (Felt/Roberts/Beeson)- Wakefield, NE; Stateline Farms-Jim & Ellen Zvolanek, Wymore, NE; West Point Livestock Auction.



HASTENING HAY DRY-DOWN

Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist


               Haying season is here, along with the rainy season.  We need ways to hasten hay dry-down to beat the weather.

               Does it seem to you that clouds and rain are here just about every other day this spring?  Rain obviously is a problem when making hay, but why I’m also talking about clouds.  Well, other than rain itself, the most important weather factor that affects rate of hay dry-down is sunlight.  Temperature, humidity, soil moisture content, and wind speed all are important, but solar radiation has the greatest impact on drying rate.  In fact, research has shown as much as a 10-fold increase in drying rate as solar radiation changes from heavy cloud cover to full sunlight.  No other factor affected drying rate even half as much.

               So how do you use this information?  Obviously, you can’t control how much sunlight you receive.  But, you can watch weather reports and try to cut hay during sunny weather.  Okay – that states the obvious.  Another thing you should do, though, is spread your cut hay out in as wide a swath as possible to expose more hay to direct sunlight.  This does two things.  Sunlight keeps stomates open on the leaves, which is the fastest way for moisture to exit the plant.  Stomates in the dark inside or bottom of windrows will close, preventing rapid moisture loss.  Wide windrows also enables your hay to absorb as much sun energy as possible to heat and evaporate moisture out of your hay.  This may bleach hay more than thick windrows, but fast dry-down usually is more valuable than green color.

               Also, mechanically condition your hay and turn it gently after tops get dry to expose moist hay under the swath to hasten dry-down.

               Make hay while the sun shines is an old, old saying but today’s science has shown how true it really is.



USDA Webinar: Using Fire and Grazing to Manage Grasslands, June 1


Using fire and grazing management effectively is critically important in maintaining the ecological health of grasslands.  In this webinar, Dr. Chris Helzer, Director of Science with The Nature Conservancy, in Aurora, Nebraska, discusses:
-    Fire and grazing management techniques,
-    The value of biological diversity and ecological resilience in maintaining healthy grasslands,
-    How fire and grazing can sustain wildlife habitat, pollinator communities and other important components of grassland ecosystems, and
-    How landowners can evaluate the success of their fire and grazing management practices from a conservation standpoint.

Education credits are available from the American Forage and Grassland Council, the Society for Range Management and The Wildlife Society.

This webinar, sponsored by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, is scheduled for June 1, 2017, at 2 p.m., Eastern. Connect to the webinar at http://www.conservationwebinars.net/adobe-connect-webinar-access-instructions. Audio is computer broadcast only.

For more information, contact Dr. William L. Hohman, NRCS Wildlife Biologist, on william.hohman@ftw.usda.gov. Or visit the webinar’s webpage at http://www.conservationwebinars.net/webinars/using-fire-and-grazing-to-maintain-productive-and-ecologically-resilient-grasslands.



ICA Welcomes Governor Kim Reynolds


The Iowa Cattlemen’s association today released the following statement in response to the swearing in of Governor Kim Reynolds:

On behalf of the Iowa Cattlemen's Association, ICA President Mike Cline said "The Iowa Cattlemen's Association sends sincerest congratulations to Governor Kim Reynolds. Governor Reynolds has been an ally to Iowa agriculture and the beef industry in our state as Lieutenant Governor, and we are excited to see her transition to her new role. Iowa Cattlemen look forward to what she will accomplish as Governor."

Reynolds succeeds former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad who has been confirmed as the United States Ambassador to China. Branstad was officially sworn in as ambassador at a ceremony today at the Iowa State Capitol and Governor Reynolds was sworn in as the Governor of Iowa shortly after.



 Jay Debertin Elected President and CEO of CHS Inc.


CHS Inc., the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, announced today that its board of directors has elected Jay D. Debertin as president and chief executive officer (CEO) of CHS.  Debertin succeeds Carl Casale, who led CHS during record performance levels and expansion.

CHS Inc., the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, announced that its board of directors has elected Jay D. Debertin as president and chief executive officer (CEO) of CHS.

During Casale's seven years with the company, CHS returned $3 billion to its owners, invested $9 billion in new capital expenditures and nearly doubled the size of its balance sheet from $8.7 billion in 2010 to $17.3 billion at the end of fiscal 2016. Casale focused on prudent fiscal management and enhancing management systems at the company.

"As we take our cooperative into its next chapter, we are confident that Jay is the right leader," said Dan Schurr, chairman of the CHS Board of Directors. "Jay's experience in achieving operational excellence and driving results fits squarely with our unwavering goal to deliver returns to our member-owners now and for the long term."

Debertin previously served as executive vice president and chief operating officer for the company's diverse energy operations and processing and food ingredients business. He joined CHS in 1984 and has held a variety of leadership positions within the organization in energy, trading and risk management, transportation, and agricultural processing. Jay also serves as chairman of Ventura Foods.

"CHS is strong today because we drive the business with a central purpose in mind and that is to help our cooperatives and farmers grow," said Debertin. "I look forward to working with our talented group of employees as we concentrate on world-class execution across our system. I see growth and strength ahead for our business."

Debertin, who is originally from East Grand Forks, Minn., holds a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, N.D., and an MBA from University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Additional Information from CHS Board chairman Dan Schurr

After careful consideration, Dave Bielenberg has decided to step down as chairman of the CHS Board of Directors after serving in the position since 2012. Dave will continue to serve as the CHS Board of Directors Region 6 representative.

Therefore, at the CHS Board of Directors meeting in May, directors held an election for the chair position, and I was elected to serve as your new chairman. In addition, C.J. Blew, representing Region 8, was appointed first vice chair and Jon Erickson, representing Region 3, second vice chair. These appointments are effective immediately. No other officer changes were made.

On behalf of the CHS Board of Directors, I want to thank Dave for his leadership as chair over the past five years. Dave brings the owner’s perspective to everything he’s worked on at CHS. His steadfast leadership over the years has helped create the strong foundation upon which we continue to build our future.




USDA to Survey Pork Producers in June


The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is contacting producers for the June Hogs and Pigs Survey. The agency will survey pork producers for detailed information on market hog and breeding stock inventories as well as pig crop and farrowing intentions.

The information is used by all sectors of the industry to help make sound and timely business decisions. NASS will mail the questionnaires to all producers selected for the survey in late May. To ensure all survey participants have an opportunity to respond, NASS interviewers will contact producers who do not respond by mail or online to conduct telephone and personal interviews.

NASS will publish the survey results in the Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report on June 29.



American Drivers Surpass 1 Billion Miles on Earth-Kind, Engine-Smart E15 Saving up to $72 Million by End of 2017


Cleaner-burning, high-octane E15 has fueled more than 1 billion miles for American motorists around the country

American consumers have helped E15 – a fuel containing 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline – reach a significant milestone. According to Growth Energy’s ongoing analysis of fuel sales and consumption data reported by major gasoline retailers, drivers across the United States have logged more than 1 billion miles on E15 – attesting to the fuel’s performance, safety, and value. The availability of E15 could save consumers up to $72 million by the end of 2017, based on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data.

“American drivers are taking advantage of the proven performance, environmental benefits, and savings E15 provides,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “That’s why Congress should pass the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act and give drivers freedom to choose E15 year-round. This common-sense fix to the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) law will end confusing restrictions on retailers and allow consumers to choose a fuel that is kinder to the earth, good for their engines, and saves them up to 10 cents per gallon each trip to the pump in the summer.”

Growth Energy is proud to celebrate this milestone and highlight the value E15 delivers in terms of better performance, reduction of toxic emissions, and savings at the pump. Today, E15 is sold at more than 800 retail outlets across 29 states, and its availability continues to grow each day because 21st century drivers are demanding 21st century fuels.

The EPA approves E15 for use in any vehicle manufactured since 2001, which equates to 9 out of 10 cars on the road today. Automakers also approve E15 for use in nearly three-quarters of new cars.



Little Price Movement in Fertilizer Prices Again


Average retail fertilizer prices continued to stay fairly stable the third week of May 2017, with no prices significantly higher or lower compared to last month, according to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN.

Of the eight major fertilizers, prices for five are slightly higher compared to a month earlier. These are MAP, potash, anhydrous, UAN28 and UAN32.

MAP had an average price of $471 per ton, potash $340/ton, anhydrous $510/ton, UAN28 $248/ton and UAN32 $283/ton.

The remaining three fertilizers were slightly lower in price from last month but, again, none were down substantially. DAP had an average price of $437/ton, urea $350/ton and 10-34-0 $510/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.38/lb.N, anhydrous $0.31/lb.N, UAN28 $0.44/lb.N and UAN32 $0.44/lb.N.

Retail fertilizers are lower compared to a year earlier. Three of the eight major fertilizers are still double digits lower.

10-34-0 is 22% lower from a year ago, anhydrous is 13% less expensive and UAN32 is 12% lower. Both UAN28 and urea are 9% less expensive, DAP is 8% lower, potash is 7% less expensive and MAP are 6% lower compared to year earlier.



Rancher Calls on Congress to Address ‘Sue and Settle’ Abuse


If family ranching operations and rural economies are going to survive another generation, Congress must address the problem of so-called “sue and settle” abuse. That’s the message that Darcy Helmick, Land Manager for Simplot Land & Livestock, stressed to Congress in subcommittee testimony today.

Helmick testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Affairs and Subcommittee on the Interior, Energy, and Environment during its hearing to examine how environmental advocacy groups and federal agencies regulate through consent decrees using citizen lawsuit provisions in environmental laws, which is known as “sue and settle.”

“In my extensive experience dealing with the federal grazing system and western land use in general, offensive litigation tactics by outside activist groups have served to totally derail business operations,” said Helmick. “While it is critical that we maintain the right of citizens to litigate when necessary, reform is needed to prevent that right from being abused or exploited.”

It is critical that permitted public lands users have a role in any settlement agreements, and that federal employees at a local level have input, Helmick said. She added that while unreasonable timelines have become the norm, once imposed during settlements, they are rarely reached.

“The repercussions of the missed timelines heavily impact the permitted public lands users and result in a level of uncertainty that is prohibitive in any business environment. Unfortunately this is often the goal of these litigants,” said Helmick.

Helmick concluded her testimony by explaining how the sue and settle tactics used by radical environmental groups also serve to limit young producers from entering the industry, which will inevitably lead to further erosion of the footprint of ranching in the West.

“As a fourth generation cattle producer it is in my blood to continue with my family business,” said Helmick. “As my parents age and need more help, my brother and I are working with financial advisors on how to transition the business. How does one budget for litigation, how does one calculate the expense of the stress and time used to work through litigation?” she asked.



Ethanol Stocks, Blend Demand Down


The U.S. Energy Information Administration issued a report midmorning Wednesday showing across-the-board declines for domestic ethanol inventories, plant production and blending demand during the week-ended May 19.

The EIA's Weekly Petroleum Status Report showed ethanol inventories tumbled roughly 700,000 barrels (bbl), or 3.0%, to about 22.7 million bbl while 1.9 million bbl, or 9.1%, higher year-on-year last week. Stocks declined in all but one of the regions -- the PADD 5 West Coast, with supply up 300,000 bbl to 2.9 million bbl, the highest supply level for the region since the week-ended Dec. 11, 2015.

Domestic plant production declined 17,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 1.7%, to 1.010 million bpd, while up 64,000 bpd or 6.8% higher year-on-year. For the four weeks ended last week, fuel ethanol production averaged 1.007 million bpd, up 62,000 bpd or 6.6%.

Net refiner and blender inputs, a gauge for ethanol demand, eased 2,000 bpd, or 0.2%, to 949,000 bpd. Blending demand surged 33,000 bpd, or 3.6%, year-on-year. For the four-week period ended May 19, blending demand were up 25,000 bpd, or 2.75%.



Agriculture Can’t Balance the Budget Alone

Zippy Duvall, President, American Farm Bureau Federation


This week, President Trump sent to Congress a proposal to slash the USDA budget by more than $228 billion over 10 years, including $38 billion from farm programs. This proposal would fail agriculture and rural America, and for that reason the American Farm Bureau cannot support it.

Farm Bureau members are concerned about the federal budget deficit. We believe agriculture should do its fair share to get us back to fiscal discipline and a balanced budget. But we’ve already done more than our fair share.

When Congress passed the 2014 farm bill, it was estimated to cut the deficit by $23 billion over 10 years. Agriculture was the only sector that voluntarily offered savings during the 113th Congress, when the 2014 farm bill was passed. Before that, Congress passed budget reconciliation bills that targeted agriculture for savings. In fact, it is difficult to think of another sector that has done as much as agriculture to address the national deficit.

Farmers and ranchers tend to be fiscally conservative. But we are not martyrs. We should not be expected to sacrifice more, when we’ve already done more than virtually any other sector. And we certainly shouldn’t be asked to do so at a time of depressed farm prices and income.

Presidents’ budget proposals typically are declared “dead on arrival” in Congress. The president’s budget submission checks a procedural box, but it’s Congress that writes and passes a budget. The American Farm Bureau Federation will work with the appropriate committees in Congress to ensure that we maintain programs that help farmers manage risks and help rural communities survive. 



Beef Takes Center Stage During NYC #BeefTogether Meat Retreat


NYC Meat RetreatSeven New York City bloggers and retail influencers attended a day-long #BeefTogether meat retreat, all thanks to a partnership between the national beef checkoff and the New York and South Dakota Beef Councils.

The event was a meat fabrication and culinary experience hosted at the Brooklyn FoodWorks kitchen in Brooklyn. Attendees had the opportunity to observe Kari Underly, a master butcher and author of The Art of Cutting Beef, break down two beef subprimals, the rib and the top butt, with the opportunity to fabricate their own.  

Attendees then took their passion for beef into the kitchen where they created five different Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. recipes. Checkoff staff provided insight into the beef lifecycle, beef choices and beef nutrition through interactive presentations and Q&A with attendees. 

Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative programs manager, Kaitlyn Carey, noted, “This event provided us the opportunity to engage directly with key influencers in New York City. These influencers have a large following. Arming them with beef skills and information will help them share the beef story with their followers. Our goal is to foster more beef advocates within our region.”

Events such as this one allow the checkoff to highlight beef’s taste, nutritional benefits and flavor-enhancing cooking techniques to those who have a large following on digital media. Checkoff-funded research in the Northeast shows that consumers are not confident in their abilities to pair the correct cut of beef with the appropriate cooking method. Engaging these beef influencers and providing them with information helps share the beef story with their followers. 



Chicago Event Brings the Farm to the Festival


Last weekend, farmers and consumers came together to enjoy corn-based spirits and conversations about sustainability at the Heartland Craft Spirits Festival. The Illinois Corn Marketing Board organized the event, held in Chicago, as a pilot project to test the learnings gained through the National Corn Growers Association's corn reputation research. A number of state corn associations, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin, sponsored state-specific categories in the juried tasting competition preceding the event.

The event, which took place in Bucktown's Concord Music Hall, truly brought the farm to the city. With dozens of living corn plants, virtual reality farm tours and farmer volunteers, craft spirit enthusiasts looked beyond their local distillery to find out more about the men and women who grow corn. This proved particularly relevant as this specific competition, due to the partnership with ICMB, featured only spirits made using corn for 50 percent or more of their feedstock.

"Illinois corn was excited to lead this pilot project and pleased so many representatives from both state and national staff turned out to support the effort," said ICMB Director of Communications Tricia Braid. "This event offered a unique opportunity to interact directly with future opinion leaders and cultural influencers. By meeting this important group in a familiar setting that they enjoy, we were able to reach beyond our normal sphere of contact and build mutual understanding that will facilitate productive conversations based in mutual interest and trust well into the future."

Attendees mingled with several Illinois farmers who traveled to Chicago, despite an ongoing planting season, to engage in important conversations highlighting the sustainability of corn growing and as a source of feed, fuel and fiber. In the outdoor food truck area, sponsored by Illinois pork and beef associations, curious consumers fed their appetites for knowledge with trips through the Biofuels Mobile Education Center.

The day prior to the event, state staff from Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin, as well as NCGA staff, explored unique agricultural projects in Chicago. In the morning, the group met with a representative of the group NeighborSpace, a non-profit land trust dedicated to providing long-term protection for community gardens across Chicago. The group, which links community organizations to a support network, helps transform underused spaces into urban oases while growing deep roots for communities. With more than 100 gardens across the city, NeighborSpace fosters not only communities but also helps urban residents develop an understanding of and appreciation for agriculture.

Later, participants visited the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences. This magnet school, located on a working farm, allows children from across Chicago the unique opportunity to gain an exceptional level of knowledge in programs such as horticulture, animal sciences, biotechnology, food sciences and agricultural finance while still completing a college preparatory general curriculum. The student-led tour provided firsthand understanding of the excitement for agriculture that permeates the school, which incorporates hands-on programs that allow students to take responsibility for a bee colony, working greenhouse, live farm animals and a joint aquaculture and aquaponics laboratory.

The day concluded with a trip to the communal inspiring office solution WeWork. There, the staffers interacted with educated urban creatives to practice discussing the sustainability subjects indicated as most important to consumers in the corn reputation research. Trying out both the whiskey submitted by craft distillers to the competition and the messages to promote the sustainability of corn led to a greater understanding by both urban and rural alike.



Syngenta announces name of S-metolachlor/dicamba premix currently under development: Tavium® plus VaporGrip® Technology herbicide


Syngenta announced the name of its new herbicide featuring the active ingredients of S-metolachlor and dicamba. Upon registration by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the herbicide will be marketed as Tavium® plus VaporGrip® Technology.

Syngenta is seeking approval of the S-metolachlor/dicamba premix for preplant, at-planting and post-emergence use on Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® Soybeans and Bollgard II® XtendFlex® Cotton, and preplant application on non-dicamba-tolerant soybeans. This premix will offer growers another tool to manage key ALS-, PPO- and glyphosate-resistant broadleaf and grass weeds with its built-in resistance management.

“Tavium will provide growers a new herbicide designed specifically for dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton,” said John Appel, herbicide product lead at Syngenta. “The addition of S-metolachlor to dicamba in a premix will not only help manage resistance, but will provide residual control compared to solo dicamba products.”

The S-metolachlor/dicamba premix will target driver weeds, including Palmer amaranth, waterhemp, common and giant ragweed, kochia, horseweed (marestail), morningglory, barnyardgrass and foxtail. In addition to its two active ingredients, the herbicide contains VaporGrip Technology to decrease dicamba volatility. Once available, growers will be able to apply the herbicide preplant, at planting, pre-emergence and post-emergence on dicamba-tolerant cotton and soybeans, and as a preplant herbicide on non-dicamba-tolerant soybeans.

“Compared to other stand-alone dicamba products, this herbicide’s dual modes of action broaden the activity spectrum and increase its overall efficacy and sustainability,” said Don Porter, technical herbicide product lead at Syngenta. “To stand a fighting chance against aggressive weeds, we need a herbicide with multiple effective modes of action that controls emerged weeds through contact activity and weeds that have yet to emerge through residual activity.”

Tavium premix will be commercially available for future growing seasons upon EPA approval and receipt of individual state registrations.



CLAAS MAKES LASTING IMPRESSION AT GERMAN EMBASSY IN WASHINGTON, D.C.


When the German Embassy in Washington, D.C., planned its activities for the annual EU Open House on May 13, it turned to CLAAS of America for help with its display of U.S. trade goods. The North American sales company for CLAAS KGaA mbH was invited to showcase a JAGUAR forage harvester in the Embassy parking lot as an example of the healthy trade business Germany has with the United States of America. The German Embassy was the host site for both German and French officials celebrating along with other EU members.

Approximately 8,000 people braved the rain and overcast weather in order to explore the grounds and enjoy the food, culture, music and traditions of Germany and France. The festival included a German biergarten and French café, musical performances from both nations and plenty of kid-friendly activities.

German ambassador Peter Wittig and French embassy deputy chief of mission Nathalie Broadhurst took a tour of the open house, and made a point to climb onto the JAGUAR forage harvester displayed by CLAAS for a fun photo op.

“The United States is a country of immigrants,” said Leif Magnusson, President of CLAAS Global Sales Americas. “Many of the farmers we serve here in the U.S. have deep cultural ties to Germany and France – both of which are important manufacturing regions for CLAAS equipment.”

CLAAS is not only the global sales leader of self-propelled forage harvesters, it is also the U.S. sales leader in this category, which is home to many of the largest manufacturers of agricultural equipment in the world. “CLAAS pioneered the self-propelled forage harvester which has revolutionized forage production for beef producers and dairies,” explained Magnusson.

A long-line manufacturer of harvesting equipment, CLAAS is the fourth largest agricultural equipment company in the world. In business for more than a century with global headquarters in Harsewinkel, Germany, the family-owned company has manufacturing operations in 11 different countries including the United States, where the LEXION combine is assembled in Omaha, Nebraska.

CLAAS is more than an importer to the U.S. — it’s also an important economic driver. With approximately 400 employees throughout the U.S. and Canada, the equipment manufacturer sources close to 50 percent of its components for the North American LEXION combine locally.