Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday January 31 Ag News


All cattle and calves in Nebraska as of January 1, 2014 totaled 6.15 million head, down 2 percent from January 1, 2013, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

All cows and heifers that had calved totaled 1.85 million head, down 1 percent from last year. 

Beef cows totaled 1.80 million head, down slightly from last year.

Milk cows totaled 53,000 head, down 4 percent from January 1, 2013.

All heifers 500 pounds and over totaled 1.67 million head, down 5 percent from last year.

Steers weighing 500 pounds and over totaled 2.27 million head, up 1 percent from last year. 

Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over totaled 95,000 head, down 5 percent from last year. 

Calves under 500 pounds totaled 265,000 head, down 22 percent from January 1, 2013. 

All cattle on feed fed for slaughter in Nebraska feedlots totaled 2.45 million head, down 4 percent from the previous year. 

The 2013 calf crop totaled 1.68 million head, down 2 percent from 2012.  

Iowa Cattle & Calves

All cattle  and calves  in  Iowa as of  January 1, 2014  totaled 3.70 million head, according  to  the  latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Cattle report. This is down 150,000 from January 1, 2013. Beef cows, at 885,000 head, were 4 percent below last year. Milk cows, at 205,000 were unchanged from last year.
All heifers 500 pounds and over were down 6 percent at 890,000 head.  Heifers for beef cow replacement remained unchanged from 2013 at 150,000 head; heifers  for milk cow  replacement,  at 120,000 head,  also  stayed  the  same  as  the previous year; and  all other heifers were down 9 percent to 620,000 head. 

Steers weighing 500 pounds and over were down 1 percent from last year at 1.24 million head. Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over were unchanged from a year ago at 60,000 head. Calves under 500 pounds on January 1, 2014 totaled 420,000 head, down 9 percent from last year. 

The 2013 calf crop was estimated at 1.02 million head, down 3 percent from the 2012 calf crop. Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter in all feedlots on January 1, 2014 totaled 1.23 million head, down 3 percent from one year ago.

January 1 Cattle Inventory Down 2 Percent

All cattle and calves in the United States as of January 1, 2014 totaled 87.7 million head, 2 percent below the 89.3 million on January 1, 2013. This is the lowest January 1 inventory of all cattle and calves since the 82.1 million on hand in 1951.   All cows and heifers that have calved, at 38.3 million, were down 1 percent from the 38.5 million on January 1, 2013. This is the lowest January 1 inventory of all cows and heifers that have calved since the 36.8 million head in 1941.
  • Beef cows, at 29.0 million, were down 1 percent from January 1, 2013.
  • Milk cows, at 9.2 million, unchanged from January 1, 2013.

Other class estimates on January 1, 2014 and the change from January 1, 2013, are as follows:
  • All heifers 500 pounds and over, 18.8 million, down 2 percent.
  • Beef replacement heifers, 5.5 million, up 2 percent.
  • Milk replacement heifers, 4.5 million, unchanged.
  • Other heifers, 8.7 million, down 5 percent.   
  • Steers weighing 500 pounds and over, 15.4 million, down 3 percent.
  • Bulls weighing 500 pounds and over, 2.0 million, down 1 percent.
  • Calves under 500 pounds, 13.3 million, down 4 percent.
  • Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter in all feedlots, 12.7 million, down 5 percent.
  • The combined total of calves under 500 pounds, and other heifers and steers over 500 pounds outside of feedlots was 24.7 million, down 3 percent.

Calf Crop Down 1 Percent

The 2013 calf crop was estimated at 33.9 million head, down 1 percent from 2012. This is the smallest calf crop since the 33.7 million born during 1949. Calves born during the first half of 2013 are estimated at 24.7 million, down 1 percent from 2012.

Women in Agriculture Conference to Celebrate 100 Years of Extension

            Nebraska women will learn how to care and plan for their farms and ranches, their communities, their families and themselves at the 29th Women in Agriculture Conference, the longest-running women's conference of its kind in the country, Feb. 20-21 at the Kearney Holiday Inn.

            The theme of this year's conference is "Women: Making the Critical Difference," and it features a variety of workshops, "funshops" and speakers, including Jolene Brown  and Chuck Hibberd, UNL Extension dean.

            Brown will be the keynote speaker Thursday morning with her talk, "It's a Jungle Out There! Blazing New Trails for Agriculture." Hibberd will be the featured lunchtime speaker as he presents "100 Years of Extension!" The nation is celebrating the 100 anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act in 2014.

            On Friday, the morning keynote will be UNL Extension Educators Connie Hancock, Jenny Nixon and Cheryl Burkhart-Kriesel, who will speak about "All for the Love of Food." This will look at why more people seem to be talking about food and where it comes from and how this impacts the agriculture industry on both a domestic and global level.

            The conference will conclude with lunch on Friday and capstone speaker Terri "Jo" Bek, professor of animal science at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture. She will present "Pass it on" which will discuss passing on not only land to the next generation but an attitude as well.

            In between speakers, conference-goers can choose from more than 30 workshops spread over five sessions during the event. Topics include crop and livestock marketing, financial planning, farm bill updates, crop and forage insurance, agronomy, beef nutrition, business readiness and an opportunity for livestock producers to obtain Nebraska Quality Beef Certification.

            Thursday evening includes funshops for apps, slow-cooker meals and yoga.

            Thursday's evening program will be provided by Gayle Becwar, magician.

            Those interested can register online at, call 402-472-1772 or 800-328-2851 or mail a completed registration form to UNL Event and Conference Planning, 7 Ag Communications Building, Lincoln NE 68583-0918. For more detailed information about Women in Ag, visit

            Early-bird registration fee is $100 for those registering by Feb. 7. Beginning Feb. 8, the fee is $120. Fee includes workshop materials, registration and meals.

            The conference is sponsored by the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension and the Department of Agricultural Economics as well as Farm Credit Services, Reinke Irrigation, Nebraska Farm Bureau and USDA Risk Management Agency.

            Lodging is available at the Kearney Holiday Inn, 110 2nd Ave. by calling 308-237-5971.

Governor’s Ag Conference Preview

Governor Dave Heineman

The 26th Annual Governor’s Ag Conference will be held March 5-6 at the Holiday Inn in Kearney. The conference provides an outstanding venue for farmers, ranchers, agribusiness professionals and policy leaders to discuss issues that are critical to a successful agriculture future.

The theme for this year’s conference is “Agriculture: Nebraska’s True Economic Development Driver.” This year some of the key topics include livestock welfare, biofuels policy and strategies for communicating with the consumer about the agriculture industry and how food is produced. Consumers can be three to four generations removed from family farms, making it important for our producers to share the story of what is taking place on their farms and ranches.

We have selected speakers to address big picture topics that will challenge conference attendees to think about the long-term future of Nebraska agriculture. The United States Farmers and Ranchers Alliance is devoted to helping producers understand the best strategies for sharing their stories. Randy Krotz is the executive director of their organization and will lead this discussion to kick off the conference.

We’ve asked Kay Johnson Smith with the Animal Agriculture Alliance based in Washington, D.C., to discuss current issues related to animal welfare and livestock production. Todd Becker, the president and chief executive officer of Green Plains Renewable Energy of Omaha, will provide his insights on current and future policy considerations for the biofuels sector.

Dr. Ronnie Green, vice chancellor of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will discuss the results of University lead analysis that looks at the economic advantages of responsible livestock growth in Nebraska and policy considerations associated with such growth.

Each year the Governor's Ag Conference provides a valuable setting to discuss the key issues that impact our most important industry. Because agriculture in Nebraska is an influential part of so many other sectors, the conference isn't just for farmers and ranchers. For example, those in banking, transportation, processing, manufacturing, and insurance all have a stake in the future of agriculture.

I am excited about 2014 and all the opportunity it holds for our farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses and related sectors. I encourage you to attend the Governors Ag Conference to share in the discussion and debate regarding the future of agriculture. This is one more way we can reach out to agricultural producers and the agribusinesses that are such a key component of our economy. It’s an opportunity to bring together the wide array of interests in this increasingly diverse industry.

Registration is open now through the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. You can complete the process online at, or call the department at 800-831-0550.


Preliminary prices received by farmers for winter wheat for January 2014 averaged $6.15 per bushel, a decrease of 47 cents from the December price according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The preliminary January corn price, at $4.35 per bushel, decreased 5 cents from the previous month.

The preliminary January sorghum price averaged $7.20 per cwt, an increase of 2 cents from December.

The preliminary January soybean price, at $12.40 per bushel, down 40 cents from last month.

The preliminary January dry edible bean price, at $42.20 per cwt, was down $1.70 from December.

The January alfalfa hay price, at $154.00 per ton, was up $1.00 from last month. The other hay price, at $124.00 per ton, was up $4.00 from last month.

The preliminary January price for oats was withheld to avoid disclosing data for individual operations.

USDA - January Farm Prices Received Index Decreased 2 Points

The preliminary Agricultural Index of Prices Received by Farmers in January, at 98 percent, based on 2011=100, decreased 2 points (2.0 percent) from December. The Crop Production Index is down 2 points (2.2 percent) but the Livestock Production Index increased 2 points (1.8 percent). Producers received lower prices for eggs, wheat, corn, and turkeys and higher prices for cattle, milk, broilers, and calves. In addition to prices, the overall index is also affected by the seasonal change based on a 3-year average mix of commodities producers sell. Decreased marketing of milk, hogs, and cattle offset the increased monthly movement of soybeans, corn, and oranges.

The preliminary Agricultural Production Index is down 13 points (12 percent) from January 2013. The Food Commodities Index, at 109, is unchanged from last month but decreased 2 points (1.8 percent) from January 2013.

All crops:

The January index, at 89, decreased 2.2 percent from December and is 21 percent below January 2013. Index increases for fruit & tree nut production, and vegetable & melon production more than offset the index decreases for other crop production and grains & oilseeds.

Food grains: The January index, at 92, is 5.2 percent below the previous month and 16 percent below a year ago. The January price of all wheat, at $6.31 per bushel, is down 42 cents from December and $1.81 below January 2013.

Feed grains: The January index, at 73, is down 1.4 percent from last month and 37 percent below a year ago. The corn price, at $4.37 per bushel, is down 4 cents from last month and $2.59 below January 2013. Sorghum grain, at $7.42 per cwt, is 6 cents below December and $4.58 below January last year.

Oilseeds: The January index, at 103, is up 1.0 percent from December but 9.6 percent lower than January 2013. The soybean price, at $13.00 per bushel, is unchanged from December but is $1.30 below January 2013.

Other Crops: The January index, at 95, is down 1.0 percent from December and 1.0 percent from a year earlier. The all hay price, at $165 per ton, is down $3.00 from December and $23.00 from last January. The price for upland cotton, 76 cents is 0.9 cents lower than last month but 3.1 cents higher than January 2013. 

Livestock and products:

The January index, at 115, is 1.8 percent above last month and up 5.5 percent from January 2013. Compared with a year ago, prices are higher for milk, cattle, calves, eggs, and turkeys. Prices for broilers and hogs are down from last year.

Meat animals: The January index, at 114, is up 3.6 percent from last month and 5.6 percent higher than last year. The January hog price, at $61.10 per cwt, is down 40 cents from December and $2.70 lower than a year ago. The January beef cattle price of $135 per cwt is up $5.00 from last month and $9.00 higher than January 2013.

Dairy products: The January index, at 115, is up 5.5 percent from a month ago and 16 percent higher than January last year. The January all milk price of $23.20 per cwt is up $1.20 from last month and up $3.30 from January 2013.

Poultry & eggs: The January index, at 120, is down 4.0 percent from December and 2.4 percent below a year ago. The January market egg price, at 90.6 cents per dozen, decreased 30.4 cents from December but is up 4.3 cents from January 2013. The January broiler price, at 58.0 cents per pound, is up 1.0 cent from December but 3.0 cents below a year ago. The January turkey price, at 64.7 cents per pound, is down 4.0 cents from the previous month but up 1.8 cents from a year earlier.

Prices Paid Index up 1 Point

The January Index of Prices Paid for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates (PPITW) is at 106 (2011=100). The index is up 1 point (1.0 percent) from December but unchanged from January 2013. Higher prices in January for feeder cattle, other services, and supplements more than offset lower prices for potash & phosphate, hay & forages, feed grains, and wage rates.


All sheep and  lamb  inventory  in Nebraska on January 1, 2014  totaled 76,000 head, down 4,000 head  from  last year, according  to  the USDA’S National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Breeding sheep inventory totaled 65,000 head, down 1,000 head from last year. Ewes one year and older  totaled 54,000 head, up 1,000 head from  the previous year. Rams one year and older remained unchanged  from  last  year’s 3,000 head. Total of  replacement  lambs was 8,000 head, down 2,000 head from last year.

Market sheep and lambs totaled 11,000 head, down 3,000 head from last year. A total of 1,000 head were mature sheep (one year and older) while  the remaining 10,000 were under one year. Market  lamb  weight  groups  were  estimated  as  follows:  3,000  lambs  were  under  65  pounds;  1,000 were 65-84 pounds; 2,000 were 85-105 pounds; 4,000 were over 105 pounds.

The 2013  lamb crop  totaled 71,000 head, down  from 73,000  in 2012. The 2013  lambing  rate was 134 per 100 ewes one year and older, compared with 143 per 100 ewes in 2012.

Shorn wool  production  during  2013,  remained  unchanged  from  last  year’s  420,000  pounds. Sheep and lambs shorn totaled 59,000 head, down 1,000 head from 2012. The average price paid for wool  sold  in 2013 was $1.05 per pound,  compared with $0.68  in 2012. The  total value of wool produced in Nebraska was $441,000 in 2013.

All meat and other goat and kid inventory in Nebraska totaled 17,500 head on January 1, 2014, up 500 head from last year. Milk goat inventory totaled 3,500 head, up 700 head from 2013. 

Iowa Sheep and Goats

All sheep and lambs inventory in Iowa as of January 1, 2014 totaled 155,000 head, the lowest on record according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Sheep and Goats report.  The sheep and lambs inventory was down 11 percent from last year . Total breeding stock, at 110,000 head, was 1 4 percent less than one year ago. Compared to last year, market sheep and lambs decreased 4 percent to 45,000 head. The lamb crop for 2013 decreased 10 percent to 135,000. Wool production for the State was 850,000 pounds, down 6 percent from last year.

Total Sheep and Lamb Inventory Down 2 Percent

All sheep and lamb inventory in the United States on January 1, 2014, totaled 5.21 million head, down 2 percent from 2013. Breeding sheep inventory decreased to 3.88 million head on January 1, 2014, down 2 percent from 3.98 million head on January 1, 2013. Ewes one year old and older, at 3.07 million head, were 2 percent below last year. Market sheep and lambs on January 1, 2014, totaled 1.33 million head, down 2 percent from January 1, 2013. Market lambs comprised 94 percent of the total market inventory. Twenty-five percent were lambs under 65 pounds, 11 percent were 65-84 pounds, 24 percent were 85 - 105 pounds, and 34 percent were over 105 pounds. Market sheep comprised the remaining 6 percent of total market inventory.

The 2013 lamb crop of 3.37 million head, was down 2 percent from 2012. The 2013 lambing rate was 107 lambs per 100 ewes one year old and older on January 1, 2013, down 2 percent from 2012.

Shorn wool production in the United States during 2013 was 27.0 million pounds, down 1 percent from 2012. Sheep and lambs shorn totaled 3.70 million head, also down 1 percent from 2012. The average price paid for wool sold in 2013 was $1.45 per pound for a total value of 39.2 million dollars, down 6 percent from 41.6 million dollars in 2012.

Sheep death loss during 2013 totaled 225 thousand head, a decrease of 2 percent from 2012. Lamb death loss decreased 1 percent from 365 thousand head in 2012 to 360 thousand head in 2013.

Total Goat and Kid Inventory Down 2 Percent

All goat inventory in the United States on January 1, 2014, totaled 2.76 million head, down 2 percent from 2013. Breeding goat inventory totaled 2.26 million head, down 3 percent from 2013. Does one year old and older, at 1.69 million head, were 3 percent below last year's number. Market goats and kids totaled 500 thousand head, up 2 percent from a year ago.

Kid crop for 2013 totaled 1.74 million head for all goats, down 3 percent from 2012.

Meat and all other goats totaled 2.28 million head on January 1, 2014, down 2 percent from 2013. Milk goat inventory was 355 thousand head, down 1 percent from January 1, 2013, while Angora goats were down 4 percent, totaling 131 thousand head.

Mohair production in the United States during 2013 was 790 thousand pounds. Goats and kids clipped totaled 141 thousand head. Average weight per clip was 5.6 pounds. Mohair price was $4.25 per pound with a value of 3.36 million dollars.

Future scientific thought leaders implore EPA not to stifle career opportunities

Four student leaders of the Next Generation Scientists for Biodiesel have added their voices to a cry that biodiesel supporters hope the Environmental Protection Agency hears.

The students submitted original comments this week to EPA staff to express their concern about the proposed cuts to the federal Renewable Fuel Standard. The NGSB is a student organization designed to assist in the professional development of emerging science leaders with a passion for sustainability by offering opportunities to integrate with the biodiesel scientific community.

“We see your support as an investment in our future,” the co-chairs said in their formal comments. “As scientists, we can contribute to the sustainable growth of biodiesel and make it an even more valuable product for the nation’s fuel supply. Cutting the RFS will weaken our career prospects by introducing undue risk into the biodiesel industry.”

The comments went on to say, “Why do we strongly support renewables? Among other reasons, the process of petroleum and natural gas extraction entails drilling far into the ground, using a number of undisclosed chemicals and questionable methods, all the while hoping that the chemicals will not contaminate groundwater and endanger the public. In contrast, biofuels facilities are installed close to their feedstock sources; directly contribute to the growth of the local economies in which they exist; and operate with a much higher degree of environmental safety and responsibility.

“The RFS has been a highly successful piece of legislation thus far and we hope that you will allow it to continue to function as such moving into the future,” the comments concluded. “Our greatest hope is that the United States will remain the top producer of biofuels among any country, consistent with our tradition of excellence, creating opportunities for youth, and leading the world by example.”

The co-chairs of NGSB are:
     Bernardo del Campo, Iowa State University
     Dan Browne, Texas A&M University
     Deval Pandya, University of Texas – Arlington
     Morgan Curtis, Dartmouth College

The National Biodiesel Board program for students has led to increased communication and collaboration between the biodiesel industry and universities involved in biodiesel research.

Sen Grassley Says He Cannot Support Farm Bill Conference Report

Prepared Floor Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa - 1-30-14

Mr. President, I rise to speak about the Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the Farm Bill.

This farm bill process has been long, hard and no doubt frustrating for all who have been involved.  Some of us on the Senate Agriculture Committee have participated in two committee markups and two floor debates for this bill.  I voted for and supported the bill at every one of those junctures.

I believe our country needs good farm policy, which means an adequate, yet limited safety net for farmers.  Our farmers face real, uncontrollable risks every year.  The farm bill provides farmers with a number of programs that help mitigate those risks.

Agriculture remains a changing industry.  Unbelievable technological advancements are taking place right before our eyes.  Farmers can now control irrigation equipment and monitor grain bins on their phones from the other side of the world.

Agriculture technology is progressing so quickly, the next time we debate the farm bill, autonomous tractors may well be doing a considerable amount of the field work in America.

Farm policy has also changed over time.  Unfortunately, the majority of farm program benefits have started going to a concentrated number of farmers.  In fact, 10 percent of farmers get 70 percent of the benefits in the farm bill.  One reason for this, is that current farm policy offer farmers essentially unlimited subsidies if they hire the right lawyer.

As a farmer, a citizen and a legislator, I believe it is wrong to expect, or allow the government to give unlimited support to my farm, or any farm.  Especially since our country has a record $17 trillion debt.

During the first full Senate farm bill debate in the summer of 2012, my payment limit reforms were adopted by a vote of 75-24 here on the floor of this body.  During the first round of floor debate in the House, Mr. Fortenberry from Nebraska offered the same reforms and the House adopted them by a vote of 230-194.

Congress has spoken and overwhelmingly agrees with my common sense approach.

One would think policy, which is widely supported in both bodies of Congress, and which saves taxpayers nearly $400 million, would be untouchable in a conference committee.  The rules of this institution outline that.  It’s Senate Rule 28 if anyone would like to look it up.

However, once again, behind closed doors, Washington decided to intentionally screw up common sense.

This conference bill increases the payments available through the counter-cyclical program, now called Price Loss Coverage or PLC, by 150 percent compared to what Congress had already agreed upon.  And I have yet to hear a single legitimate reason for this change.

Additionally, the powers that be in this town have proven they learned nothing from the World Trade Organization Brazil cotton case.  That dispute has resulted in the U.S. paying a $143 million fine per year to Brazilian cotton farmers.  This farm bill doubles down on the same market distorting policies that brought us that trade dispute.

The original payment limit reforms this Congress approved also eliminated abuses through what is known as the ‘actively engaged loophole.’  To sum up this loophole, it makes it easy for non-farmers to get farm subsidies.  This results in the largest 10 percent of farms getting 70 percent of the farm program benefits as I’ve already mentioned.

Yet the conference committee, in another brazen act of manipulation, eliminates my simple, enforceable reform.  I think one non-farming manager per entity is more than generous.

The language in the bill now says USDA will have the opportunity to review and fix the actively engaged loophole, should they choose to.  USDA could have fixed this problem at any point since it is the result of their rulemaking.  So giving USDA power they already have, and claiming reform, is a true example of a Washington hat trick.  The conferees didn’t stop at just kicking the decision to USDA, they also tied USDA’s hands with unnecessary requirements that must be met before action can even be taken.

I hope Secretary Vilsack and the Obama Administration finally use this authority to produce a strong enforceable rule regarding the number of people who can be eligible for farm subsidies from taxpayers.   I’m certainly going to offer them my thoughts on the issue. 

The Government Accountability Office released a report in October of 2013 that clearly outlined the problems with the actively engaged loophole.  One farming partnership they highlighted was composed of twenty-two LLCs, with twenty different owners and sixteen ‘managers’ who got their eligibility through the actively engaged loophole.

At least four of the managers for that operation live out of the state while several others live in cities around the state, well outside of commuting distance.

Additionally, just yesterday, it was reported that a large farming operation in Illinois is being fined $5.3 million because they were exploiting taxpayers for farm subsidies. In this case, the government determined their business structure was intentionally designed to evade payment limits with the exact fake entity structures my provisions would have nearly eliminated.
U.S. Attorney Jim Lewis said the following regarding the case-

"We are pleased with this favorable resolution of the government's claims of misuse of farm subsidy programs.  These programs are designed to help farmers withstand market price volatility and the intrinsic risks associated with farming from year to year. Any attempt to exploit the system to take more than one's fair share is an improper use of government funds that erodes the public confidence in such programs and threatens their continued viability."

I wish that U.S. Attorney could have been part of the farm bill conference committee; his logic and expertise would have really helped.

If a farm’s business model depends on lawyers setting up complicated Mickey Mouse legal structures, just to get more government subsidies, perhaps the owners of that entity are in the wrong business.

My provisions would have limited subsidies going to a few thousand people who are very well off and quite frankly don’t need unlimited farm payments from the government.  Especially, since by definition, they would be people who don’t actually work on farms!

If we can’t cut subsidies that go to non-farming millionaires, how will we ever find the courage to fix the other entitlement programs this country has?

With all that said, there are a few things this bill does that are good.

The dairy provisions have ended up more market oriented than where we started which I believe is a very good thing.  I’m glad the crop insurance program will remain strong for farmers across the country.  And the nutrition program reforms are welcomed.  

In the end, I have to make a judgment of the bill as a whole.  I believe this bill, sadly, is a missed opportunity.   The Congressional Budget Office says the final savings in this bill is only $16.6 billion.  That is a pretty small amount, compared to the fact it will spend nearly a trillion dollars.

I played by the rules with my reforms, they were adopted on the floor of both bodies of Congress.  Yet in the end, a few people with the single minded intent to keep unlimited farm subsidies flowing out the door proved Congress deserves its 12 percent approval rating.

I want to be clear- I strongly support the business Agriculture.  I’ve been involved in farming my whole life.  I understand the industry.  Growing wholesome food to feed the world has always been one of the noblest occupations in my opinion.

But if I were to vote yes on this bill, it would be an endorsement of the egregious manipulation of my payment limit reforms behind closed doors.  I cannot in good conscience do that.  Therefore, I will oppose to Agricultural Act of 2014.

NCBA Releases Smartphone App for 2014 Cattle Industry Convention

Once again, the Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Tradeshow is releasing a smartphone app for its 2014 show to be held Feb. 4-7 in Nashville, Tenn. Available for the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry, the Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Tradeshow App will give its users access to everything the largest cattle convention has to offer during the show.

The CIC&NCBA mobile app includes a complete list of the show's exhibitors, sessions and speakers, including a map with which to navigate the show. In addition, marketing materials in a pdf format will be available from sponsors, along with text alerts and helpful tips about using the app. The app also allows users to search for activities and things to do in Nashville.

The NCBA app will allow attendees to plan in advance by selecting meetings, events and booth visits to place on their personalized calendars. It will also provide trade show contacts and exhibitor descriptions, in addition to profiles of meeting activities and a place for users to take notes.

The app was developed by BEEF magazine and is sponsored by Zoetis, with additional support provided by AgriLabs.

Social media will also be incorporated into the app to connect attendees using #BEEFMEET. To find out additional information about the show, users can connect with the NCBA by following the organization on Facebook and on Twitter (@BeefUSA).  Users can also stay up-to-date with what’s happening at the convention by following BEEF magazine on Facebook and on Twitter (@beefmagazine).

The free application can be downloaded by searching "CIC&NCBA" in the Apple Store, Android Market and BlackBerry’s App World.

The Cattle Industry Convention is the oldest and largest convention for the cattle business. The 2014 convention will be the 116th annual convention, and more than 7,000 people involved in the cattle industry are expected to attend the event in Nashville, Feb. 4-7. The convention and trade show create a unique and fun environment for cattle industry members to come together to network, create policy for the industry and to have some fun.

Dairy Situation and Outlook, January 23, 2014

Bob Cropp, Professor Emeritus University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension University of Wisconsin-Madison
Milk prices are starting out in 2014 considerably higher than what was forecasted earlier. All dairy product prices strengthened starting early January. Normally prices weaken the end of December going into January as holidays have ended. On the CME butter started January at $1.54 per pound and was $1.90 as of January 23rd.The 40-pound cheddar cheese price started January at $2.015 per pound and was $2.295 on January 23rd., the highest price since 2008. Cheddar barrels started January at $1.85 per pound and were $2.2575 on January 23rd. In the West nonfat dry milk has been trading above $2.00 per pound and dry whey near $0.62 per pound.

Factors explaining the strength in dairy product prices include milk production, and favorable domestic sales and strong exports, both of which tightened stocks. With only a small increase in milk production for the last quarter of last year dairy product production was not as high. The latest dairy product production report is for November of 2013. Compared to a year ago, butter production was down slightly at 0.1%, American cheese production down 2.7% with cheddar production down 3.4%, but Italian cheese production was up 7.8% netting total cheese production up 2.9%. Nonfat dry milk production was down 13.6% as more milk was shifted to skim milk powder production for exports. Skim milk powder production was 26.1% higher than a year ago.

Exports have been a big factor for higher prices. Butter and butterfat exports for November were 215% higher than a year ago. Butter manufactures were making more 82% fat butter for export tightening 80% fat butter for the domestic market. November cheese exports were 54% higher than a year ago and for the first 11 months 56 million pounds higher than 2012’s record cheese exports for the entire year. November nonfat dry milk/skim milk powder exports were 54% higher than last year and dry whey exports were 15% higher. Shifting from nonfat dry milk production to skim milk powder production for exports tightened nonfat dry milk supplies.

December 31st stocks of butter were 27.2% lower than a year ago and have declined 65.4% from their peak in May. December 31st American cheese stocks fell for the first time this year below a year ago at 2.6% below. The same was true for total cheese stocks being 1.4% below a year ago.

The higher dairy product prices means much higher Class III and IV prices and prices well above a year ago. The December Class III price was $18.95, the highest price for the year, and will increase to near $21.00 in January and could approach $22.00 for February. A year ago the January Class III price was $17.05 and February $16.06.The December Class IV price was $21.54 and will be above $22.00 for January and $23.00 for February. A year ago the January Class IV price was $16.65 and February $15.72.The question is how long will dairy product prices stay at the levels to generate these high Class III and IV prices? History shows that buyers of cheese start some resistance when cheese gets over $2.00 a pound. While milk production is forecasted to increase in each of the five major exporters—EU-27 countries, New Zealand, U.S., Argentina and Australia—world demand is anticipated to stay strong with China leading the way with increased imports absorbing the increase in world supply of dairy products. Therefore, U.S. exports are anticipated to remain at a high level for most of the year. However, existing relatively high dairy product prices has lowered the price advantage of U.S. dairy products compared to world market prices. A big question is how will dairy producers respond to higher milk prices and lower feed costs which have improve their margins?

Some feed prices are much lower than a year ago. December corn was $4.31 per bushel compared to $6.87 a year ago and hay was $187 per ton compared to $217 a year ago. However, the price of soybean oil meal remains a little higher than a year ago. Lower feed prices and higher milk prices have greatly improved returns over feed costs. History tells us that dairy producers respond to improved margins with feeding cows for higher milk production and some added milk cows. Forage quality could dampen increases in milk per cow in states like Wisconsin and Minnesota and extreme drought in California could affect their milk production. But, we can expect cow numbers to increase as we move through the year and milk per cow to improve. This likely means milk prices averaging lower for the second half of the year than for the first half.

USDA’s milk production report for last December showed milk production for the 23 reporting states virtually unchanged from a year ago as was the estimate for U.S. milk production. For the 23 states milk cows were 0.1% lower than a year ago and milk per cow just 0.1% higher. This was also true for the U.S. estimate. Of the 23 state 8 had fewer milk cows than a year ago with largest percentage declines in Idaho down 2.6%, Illinois down 4.0% and Missouri down 3.2%. Of the 23 states 11 had less milk per cow. Lower forage quality may explain lower milk per cow in the Upper Midwest. Milk per cow was 1.1% lower in Iowa, 2.5% in Minnesota and 1.9% in Wisconsin. Ten of the 23 states had lower total milk production than a year ago with the biggest declines in Illinois, down 7.7%, Missouri 6.1% and Ohio 3.5%. In the West milk production was down1.1% in Idaho, 1.8% in New Mexico and 0.2% in Texas, but up 1.1% in Arizona and 1.6% in California. In the Upper Midwest milk production was down 0.5% in Iowa, Minnesota down 2.5% and Wisconsin 1.9%. Up until the last couple of months and earlier in the year these three states had strong increases in milk production. In the Northeast milk production was up 1.6% in New York and 0.8% in Michigan, but down 0.7% in Pennsylvania. In the Southeast Florida’s milk production was up 4.1% due to more cows and good milk per cow.

Dairy futures are quite optimistic for most of the year. Class III futures don’t drop below $20 until April, below $19 until June and below $18 until November ending in December at $17.68. These are very favorable milk prices compared to last year when considering the Class III ranged from a low $16.93 in March to a high of $18.95 in December and averaged $17.99 for the year. Dairy producers need to evaluate whether they wish to lock in some of these prices using the futures market or with forward price contracts with their milk buyer. The odds are that as we move through the year with the much improved margins for dairy producers milk cow numbers will increase and milk per cow will improve. So the probability is higher that milk prices could be lower than what Class III futures currently show in the months ahead rather than higher. But, with high slaughter cow prices cow numbers may not increase much and lower forage quality could reduce the increase in milk per cow. The result would be less than expected increase in milk production keeping milk prices strong. And of course weather conditions impacting this year’s crops will also be an important factor.

Group Shares Senators' Concerns Over Brazilian Beef Imports

In the shadow of Congress' near completion of the long-awaited 2014 Farm Bill, a bipartisan group of eight U.S. Senators called attention to the possible threat of disease introduction resulting from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) proposal to allow fresh and chilled beef imports from Brazil.

In a letter sent this past week, the Senators asked Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to extend the public comment period for his agency's proposed rule to allow the importation into the United States of fresh and chilled beef from 14 states in Brazil. The Senators requested the comment period for the proposed rule be extended 60 days beyond the February 21, 2014 comment deadline established by Vilsack.

The Senators stated they "are concerned about the possible risk of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) being brought into the Unites States as a result of imported fresh beef from Brazil."

Senators joining the letter include: John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Daniel Coats (R-Ind.), and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).

"We fully support the Senators' request," said R-CALF USA President Bryan Hanson who added, "But our goal is to stop this rule because we believe the risk of introducing FMD from Brazil is far too high and the likely damage to our U.S. cattle industry far to severe to allow fresh Brazilian beef into the United States at this time."

One of the Senators who joined the extension request also sent his own letter to Vilsack. Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) called the proposal to import fresh cuts of beef from Brazil "short-sighted and unlikely to benefit Americans."

Tester wrote that the risk of transmission of FMD in Brazilian fresh beef "is still very real" and that the proposed rule "would only serve to put U.S. ranchers, and to some extent consumers, at risk."

Tester's letter also explained the importance of country of origin labeling (COOL) that has so far survived attacks by the meatpacking lobby to eliminate it in the 2014 Farm Bill:

"If USDA continues to pursue the misguided loosening of meat importation rules, country of origin labeling will at least provide a backstop to consumers and would likely benefit U.S. ranchers forced to compete with cheaper foreign meat," Tester stated.

Rain Saves Argentine Soybeans, Too Late for Some Corn

Rainfall of between 1 1/2 to 4 inches fell over the past week in key Argentine grain regions, coming just in time for the soybean crop but a little too late for corn, the Rosario Cereals Exchange said.

Soybeans in the nucleus, the top-producing regions in the northern Buenos Aires province and southern Sante Fe and Entre Rios, were in desperate need of the rain after some hot, dry weather in December and mid-January. As such, last week's showers provided vital sustenance just as the majority of the crop entered the flowering and grain-filling, key yield-defining phases. Argentina remains on track for a good crop, the Rosario Exchange said in an weekly report.

Rains fell across the whole of the nucleus between Jan. 23 and Jan. 29. The heaviest rains were reported in northern Buenos Aires, where instances of rainfall of 6 inches of precipitation and more were recorded.

"In the face of this new climatic panorama, the soybean crop will once again develop strongly," said the Rosario exchange.

However, the same cannot be said for early planted corn, which has suffered irreversible losses due to the recent dry weather. With early planted crops already reaching maturity, the rains simply fell too late. As a result, some areas can only expect yields of 64 to 80 bushels per acre, about half the expected level. Later-planted corn remains in good condition, though.

The Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange focused on conditions in the northern grain belt in its weekly report.

These regions also received abundant rains last week, helping the development of a soybean crop that is generally less mature than in the nucleus. However, isolated spots are in need of further showers.

For the coming week, high temperatures are expected to return to northern growing regions, accompanied by light to moderate showers, said the Buenos Aires exchange.

Heavier rains are expected in parts of the nucleus, further aiding the development of soybean crops there.

Between Feb. 6 and Feb. 12, Argentina will see less rain but lower temperatures, offering a break from the scorching conditions that have characterized much of this season, said the exchange.

Tyson Foods Profit Up 47%

Tyson Foods Inc. said its fiscal first-quarter earnings climbed 47%, led by sales growth in its prepared-foods business.

The chicken producer said it expects overall domestic protein production--which includes chicken, beef, pork and turkey--to increase by about 1% in the current fiscal year.

It projected sales for the year of about $36 billion, slightly above analysts' recent estimate of $35.75 billion.

The company has focused on growing operations in China, improving prepared-foods sales through acquisitions and launching new products. In the past 12 months, the company acquired food companies in Utah, California and most recently, Bosco's Pizza Co. of Warren, Mich. The acquisition of Bosco's, which produces breadsticks and frozen pizzas for food service and retail customers, will help Tyson grow its domestic prepared-foods business, the company said.

The company is also spending hundreds of millions of dollars to build its own farms in China, instead of buying chickens from independent farmers, to address food-safety issues in the fast-growing market.

For the period ended Dec. 28, Tyson Foods reported a profit of $254 million, or 72 cents a share, up from $173 million, or 48 cents a share a year ago.

Sales increased 4.7% to $8.76 billion.

Tyson's sales growth was led by its prepared-foods segment, which posted a 7.9% increase in revenue to $907 million.

Meanwhile pork sales were up 4.5%.

Beef-segment revenue, the largest contributor to revenue, was up 7% at $3.73 billion on higher demand and an increase of the average sales price due to lower domestic availability of fed cattle supplies, which drove up livestock costs.

Meanwhile, chicken sales grew 2% on increased international sales.

Pioneer Introduces Three New Brown MidRib Corn Hybrids

DuPont Pioneer is introducing three new Pioneer® brand corn hybrids with the brown midrib (BMR) trait for 2014. These new products offer the traits growers expect from BMR hybrids, along with strong agronomics, in a broader range of maturities.

DuPont Pioneer researchers expanded overall BMR breeding efforts by starting a new program with the goal of developing unique inbred parent lines and hybrids expressing the BMR trait. They looked for lines that demonstrated BMR forage quality along with performance stability, excellent yield, and agronomic strengths such as root-lodging resistance and standability for ease of harvest.    

“Rather than converting existing hybrids to BMR, we chose to develop new silage hybrids incorporating proven Pioneer genetics,” says Tom Kevern, DuPont Pioneer research scientist at the DuPont Pioneer research center in Janesville, Wis.

The new BMR products all include the Herculex® XTRA, LibertyLink® and Roundup Ready® Corn 2 traits for insect resistance and herbicide tolerance. These three hybrids join longer maturity BMR hybrids in the Pioneer lineup:
-    Pioneer® brand P0238XR — 102-day relative maturity, the earliest-maturing Pioneer BMR hybrid, with high starch levels, very good fiber digestibility, strong emergence and good roots.
-    P0783XR — 107-day BMR silage hybrid with excellent fiber digestibility, tall plants, good roots and a good leaf disease resistance rating.
-    P1180XR — 111-day maturity BMR silage hybrid that flowers early for a wide area of adaptation, including northern growing areas.  It features excellent stand emergence and establishment, plus good disease tolerance.

These products offer better potential silage yields, higher starch content and excellent fiber digestibility.

“BMR development at Pioneer focuses on three key factors,” says Kyle Whitaker, DuPont Pioneer marketing manager for global forages. “We want these hybrids to deliver strong yields — both tonnage and starch. In addition, our BMR hybrids have to offer excellent digestibility and a strong agronomic package.”

BMR corn hybrids have 10 percent to 25 percent less lignin in the stalk’s fiber. This results in improved digestibility, which increases the feed intake of dairy and beef cattle. Higher feed intake is responsible for greater milk production in dairy cattle and faster rate of gain in beef cattle.


Data science has the potential to fundamentally improve the productivity and sustainability of global agriculture.  With recommendations customized for their fields, farmers will continue to make more informed decisions that help them maximize their yield potential and use our planet’s finite resources more efficiently. However, some barriers still exist to unlocking the tremendous potential of data science in agriculture due to understandable uncertainty about the privacy of farmers’ data.

Today, The Climate Corporation is announcing a number of groundbreaking principles and commitments related to data use and privacy in an openly published Guiding Principles on Data and Privacy statement, available online at 

“The application of data science in agriculture is relatively new, and with the development of new technologies comes some level of uncertainty about its potential implications. In our experience, farmers are more likely to embrace new technologies that will drive the evolution of agricultural production when they have certainty about the use, privacy and control of the data they personally generate on their own farms,” said David Friedberg, CEO of The Climate Corporation.

“We want to immediately and transparently address some farmers’ concerns about data use and privacy, while advancing the conversation about industry standards that support farmers’ needs. Farmers come first and we need to do what we can to make sure the industry is adopting practices and standards that do what’s best for the farmer,” said Friedberg.

Two years ago, Monsanto established its Integrated Farming Systems platform that aimed to combine data science with precision agriculture technologies to help farmers derive new value. Recently, these research and product development teams, along with the Precision Planting group, transitioned to The Climate Corporation, led by Friedberg.

“Throughout the process of building our platform, we’ve reached out to our farmer customers and industry stakeholders for their input and they’ve told us that farmers need to know how their data will be used and protected in order for them to embrace data science in agriculture. The Climate Corporation believes that farmers must have control over the data they provide to us, and they must be able to move it easily across different technology platforms,” said Friedberg.  “It’s our responsibility to remove the roadblocks to the growth and adoption of these important technologies. We realize that combining farmers’ data with unique modeling capabilities requires trust. Thus, we are sharing our guiding principles and commitments today.”

The company is committing to several guiding principles that will drive its development of data related products and services:

Farmers own the data they create.

The company will make it easy for farmers to control who can access the data they provide and for what purpose, and enable farmers to easily remove that data from our systems. We will only use a farmer’s data to deliver and improve the services for which they are subscribing. We will ensure safeguards are in place to protect farmer information from outside parties, and we will not sell customer-provided data to third parties.

We will provide basic data services for farmers free of charge.

Farmers need to be able to easily create, store and access their data, and The Climate Corporation will provide basic data services free of charge.

Farmers need to easily access and share their information across technology platforms.

The company will enable farmers to share their data across other platforms at no cost.  This approach requires industry standards that enable both consistency in the collection of data and farmers’ easy transfer of that data between platforms.

The Climate Corporation is forming an Open Agriculture Data Alliance (OADA) of providers and farmers to act as an independent body that will ensure that different platforms share common interoperability, common data formats, and security and privacy standards. Enabling different systems to work together will give farmers more control, and can ultimately help farmers optimize yield, improve conservation practices, and improve the profitability of their operations.

Many other industries, including healthcare, banking, retail and online services, are leveraging data to deliver improved customer experiences and new value.

“As data science is applied to agriculture, The Climate Corporation understands and respects our need to earn the trust of our farmer customers,” said Monsanto President and Chief Operating Officer Brett Begemann.  “We’re at the forefront of a revolutionary new opportunity to advance agricultural productivity.  We’re taking a bold step in the direction of transparency to enable the growth of this platform and to make farming more sustainable as we work to meet the demands of a growing planet.”

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