Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday January 27 Ag News

Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Network (NAWMN) Conference Feb. 7

Collaborators and partners in the NAWMN project are invited to a conference Feb. 7 in York. Registration will begin at 9 a.m. followed by a program from 9:25 a.m. to 3 p.m.  The program will include updates on the NAWMN program and water sensor research, statewide status of NRDs, permanent installation and underground wireless systems, and an opportunity for growers to share their inventions and innovations. The event is free but participants need to RSVP by Feb. 4 to plan for the noon meal. Call 402-362-5508 or email

Nebraska No-Till Conferences Feb. 11 in Syracuse, Feb. 13 in Holdrege

The Southeast Nebraska No-till Conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 11 at the Kimmel Events Center in Syracuse. Charles Ellis, natural resource engineer at the University of Missouri Extension, will speak on cover crop seeding methods and how to build cover crops into a corn/soybean system. Also speaking are Paul Jasa, UNL extension engineer; Tina Barrett, Nebraska Farm Business Association manager; Paul Hay, UNL extension educator in Gage County, Ray Ward of Ward Laboratories, and a panel of area no-till farmers. Preregister by Feb. 7 by contacting Monte Vandeveer, Otoe County Extension at (402) 269-2301 or or Gary Lesoing, Nemaha County Extension at 402-274-4755 or

A second Nebraska No-Till Conference will be held Feb. 13 at the Holdrege Ag Center on the Phelps County Fairgrounds. To preregister for that conference, contact Tyler Williams, Phelps County Extension at 308-995-4222 or email

Heineman Announces Line-up for 26th Annual Governor’s Ag Conference

Gov. Dave Heineman today previewed the schedule for the 2014 Governor’s Ag Conference to be held Wednesday and Thursday, Mar. 5 and 6 at the Holiday Inn and Convention Center in Kearney. This year marks the 26th anniversary of the conference.

“This year’s conference will challenge conference attendees to think about both the current state and future of agriculture in Nebraska,” said Gov. Heineman. “Livestock welfare, biofuels, and telling the story of Nebraska’s ag industry will all be addressed, giving the farmers, ranchers and agribusiness leaders in attendance a variety of issues to discuss.”

The conference begins at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Mar. 5. Randy Krotz, with the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA), will begin the conference with a discussion about strategies to engage and educate consumers in meaningful conversations about agriculture.

Kay Johnson Smith with the Animal Agriculture Alliance based in Washington, D.C., will discuss current issues related to animal welfare and livestock production.

Todd Becker, president and chief executive officer of Green Plains Renewable Energy of Omaha will provide insights on current and future policy considerations for the biofuels sector. Green Plains Renewable Energy owns several ethanol plants across the Midwest, including four in Nebraska.

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.

“There are some key policy issues that are undecided at this time, so the year 2014 could be pivotal for the agricultural industry,” said Director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture Greg Ibach. “We feel the lineup of speakers will help prepare us with necessary information for the challenges that await the future of the industry.”

Other activities will include an update from Dr. Charles Hibberd with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension on the new Nebraska Agriculture Experience that will debut at the 2014 Nebraska State Fair, and the “Celebrate Nebraska Agriculture” reception. The reception begins at 6 p.m. on Mar. 5, featuring a wide variety of Nebraska food products, and entertainment by the Dueling Duo, a pianist pair from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Anyone interested in agriculture issues is invited to attend. A $100 registration fee covers participation at activities on both Wednesday and Thursday. Registration is available online at, or by calling the Nebraska Department of Agriculture toll-free at (800) 831-0550.

NFU Grassroots Policy Discussions Begin in Washington

National Farmers Union (NFU) commenced its grassroots policy revision process this week with the 2014 policy committee in Washington, D.C. This year’s committee is comprised of Tim Velde (chairman) of Minnesota, Tom Coudron of Missouri, William Downs of Montana, Vern Jantzen of Nebraska, Joel Keierleber of South Dakota, Kim Klose of North Dakota, Aaron Heley Lehman of Iowa, Harvey Schroeder of Oklahoma, and Tom Wingfield of Rocky Mountain. The committee members are all outstanding leaders in their state/regional Farmers Union organizations and were nominated by their respective state’s president to serve on the committee.

“NFU is proud of its grassroots process for policy formation, and the policy committee is vital to carrying out that tradition,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “The committee is tasked with reviewing our current policies and offering changes and additions for the delegates to vote on at our upcoming convention. This policy is what we will advocate for during the course of the next year.”

The committee will hear from Brian Baenig, chief of staff, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); Sarah Bittleman, senior agricultural counselor, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); and Doug McKalip, senior policy advisor for rural affairs, White House Domestic Policy Council, to ensure they have a broad working knowledge of current legislative and regulatory issues as they revise NFU’s organizational policy.

“The committee is here working just as the Farm Bill Conference Committee is hopefully wrapping up its negotiations,” said Johnson. “We hope that this week will prove to be productive in concluding a farm bill right alongside our ending the first phase of our policy process.”

This week is the first part of a two-step process. The second part of the process will take place in March during NFU’s convention. During the convention, any Farmers Union member may propose changes to the policy. The committee then considers those proposals and submits a final copy of the suggested policy to the state delegates at the convention for consideration and adoption. NFU’s 112th Anniversary Convention will take place on March 8 -11, in Santa Fe, N.M. Visit for more details.

NFU Says No to Packers and Processors Attempt to Hold Farm Bill Hostage

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued the following statement in response to a letter from the meatpacking industry sent today to Congress. The letter calls for Congress to gut the Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) law. It also proposes to dismantle protections for producers under the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA). Finally, the letter threatens to oppose the farm bill unless its demands are met:

“NFU strongly disagrees with this letter and supports the livestock provisions in the emerging farm bill, which are beneficial to family farmers and ranchers. The groups that signed the letter do not represent farmers and ranchers. They represent the vertically integrated packers, and they clearly do not have the interests of family farmers and ranchers in mind.

“The farm bill conference includes several strong positives for livestock. Permanent baseline funding for livestock programs is part of the bill, including nearly $5 billion in disaster funds. The Livestock Forage Program is also set to be improved in this farm bill, as are the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and various livestock health initiatives.

“It is especially outrageous that on COOL, the outcome these organizations seek was not the subject of a single hearing in either the Senate or the House; it was not even proposed as an amendment on the floor of either chamber, nor was it debated in either committee. And they want to do this despite the fact that more than 90 percent of consumers want to know more about where their food comes from.

“I ask the conferees and all members of Congress to listen to the voices of family farmers, ranchers and consumers, and to support a conference committee report that makes improvements to livestock programs and stays strong on COOL and GIPSA. It is time to get this farm bill done.”

NFU and Nebraska Farmers Union both issued strongly worded defenses of the need for USDA to continue to have the authority to enforce the GIPSA regulations designed to protect individual livestock producers and the Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) law.  The statements come in response to the sign on letter from the meat packers and their organizational allies to the Farm Bill Conferees threatening to oppose the Farm Bill unless they were able to gut COOL and dismantle GIPSA. 

'Conservation: Iowa Grown, Nationally Known' to Launch Tuesday

Iowa's Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) Commissioners along with conservation partner agencies will meet for the annual Conservation Partnership Day held at the Capitol in Des Moines on Jan. 28.

The theme of this year's event is "Conservation: Iowa Grown, Nationally Known," and will include displays highlighting conservation efforts in each of the nine Conservation Districts of Iowa (CDI) regions across the state.

As a result of high quality soil, adequate water resources and highly-skilled farmers, Iowa continues to be a national leader in the production of corn, hogs, and eggs. CDI says it is vitally important that we continue to protect our soil and water to ensure the productivity of our land.

Governor Terry Branstad, Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey will be visiting with the Commissioners and viewing displays around 11:00am on Tuesday. Nine displays from the Conservation Districts of Iowa will highlight watershed projects, wetlands, lake restoration, urban and agricultural conservation practices and more.

Keys to Conserving Propane for Pork Producers

The recent spike in propane prices is additional incentive for pork producers to conserve heating energy. Producers may have propane contracted at a reasonable rate, but managing heating costs should always be a priority, especially when expenses are rising.

“Often the first idea for saving heating fuel in hog buildings is to add insulation,” said Jay Harmon, Iowa State University professor in Ag and Biosystems Engineering and extension livestock production systems specialist. “However, ventilation management should actually come first because more than 80 percent of the heat loss in a swine building is due to improper ventilation.”

Harmon offers pork producers these tips for conserving propane this winter.
Proper ventilation rate

The goal during colder months is to control moisture and ammonia as much as possible. Underventilating a building will result in poor air quality and may cause health and growth problems with pigs. Conversely, over ventilating by just 20 percent can increase propane usage by 50 percent. In some cases, especially in wean to finish buildings, minimum ventilation fans may be too large, too many fans are used or the percent speed setting may be too high.

If over ventilation is occurring and you are using two fans for minimum ventilation, try turning off one fan and running the remaining one at a higher speed. Monitor air quality to be sure you are providing enough air. The percentage shown in the controller is likely not the percentage of fan capacity so it may take time to find the appropriate setting.

Adjust the temperature

The proper temperature is important for energy efficiency. Observe the pigs to determine their comfort level. If pigs are too cold, they will huddle and pile up when resting. If they’re too warm, they will avoid each other. Adjust the temperature so pigs sleep side by side but not in a pile. Just a few degrees difference can save a substantial amount of propane.

Adjust the heater

The controller should be adjusted so that minimum ventilation fan speed never increases while the heater is cycling. If the heater runs, then shuts down and you can hear a fan increase its speed, it means that the heater is shutting off too close to the setpoint. If you hear this happening, simply adjust the heater to shut off at a slightly lower temperature. In the case of one producer, it was documented that setting the heater to shut off one-half degree lower saved 3.75 gallons of LP per furnace per day.

Adjust the ventilation when using brooders

Some producers use brooders for small pigs. This allows them to keep the room cool, but the pigs feel warmer due to localized heating. If the setpoint is low, for instance 70 degrees, extra fans may switch on to maintain this cool temperature in the room. A better approach is to set the room setpoint just above the brooder temperature, 85 degrees for example, but to have your heater turn off at a lower temperature, such as 70 degrees. By preventing fans from cycling too early, this technique retains more heat in the building rather than discarding it through the ventilation system.

Seal leaks

Air leaks such as holes in ventilation curtains, leaky fan louvers or cracks around doors may create cold spots, which cause heaters to run longer than necessary. Eliminate these and other leaks to maintain air quality and to reduce propane consumption.

Ventilation workshops
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach offers ventilation workshops for swine producers to help them master these and other ventilation management concepts. If you are interested in learning more about upcoming workshops or in scheduling a workshop for a group, contact your local ISU Extension swine specialist or email Jay Harmon at

Visit for a free PDF copy of “Managing swine ventilation controller settings to save energy” and for more information about conserving propane all around the farmstead.

2014 Iowa Pork Regional Conferences slated for February 24-28

The Iowa Pork Producers Association has teamed up with the Iowa Pork Industry Center and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach swine specialists to host regional conferences February 24-28.

All sessions are hosted from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Conference dates and locations are as follows:
● Monday, Feb. 24 – Sheldon, Northwest Iowa Community College, Building A, room 119C
● Tuesday, Feb. 25 – Carroll, Carroll County Extension Office
● Wednesday, Feb. 26 – Nashua, Borlaug Learning Center
● Friday, Feb. 28 – Iowa City, Johnson County Extension Office

Conferences are free for those who pre-register or $5 at the door. Individuals can pre-register by calling IPPA at (800) 372-7675 or sending an e-mail to

“We strive to provide educational sessions that can provide a return on producer’s Pork Checkoff investment,” said Tyler Bettin, IPPA producer education director. “This year’s sessions should provide take home value for anyone involved in day-to-day pork production management.”

Everyone has heard of farmers that have suffered substantial losses due to barn system failures or other management challenges. But what can producers and contract growers do to prevent these losses or limit liability issues resulting from these losses should they occur? The Iowa pork regional conferences are pleased to bring back Dr. Mike Brumm, with Brumm Swine Consultancy, to walk producers through steps they can take to be better prepared and protected to prevent these losses or limit liability issues.

Additionally, Dr. Brumm will discuss what is included in his ideal barn walk-through.  He will touch on his experiences working with farms across the Midwest with particular focus on everyday dos and don’ts that can impact the bottom line. Bring your employees along! This session is sure to offer some practical take-away points that may prove valuable on your farm.

Exports, domestic demand, health challenges and a multitude of other factors can impact livestock producer’s bottom line. Dr. Lee Schulz, livestock economist with Iowa State University, will dive into these issues and current projections, review forecasts for input costs and market hog value in 2014 and discuss what profit opportunity may be in store for producers in the year to come. 

ISU Extension and Outreach service offers a number of programs and informational pieces to keep pork producers up to speed on emerging and continuing issues. Local ISU swine specialists will give an update regarding issues surrounding ventilation management, euthanasia techniques and antibiotic use and provide some key takeaway points from currently available resources and programs. Additionally, specialists will highlight opportunities for producers and their employees to become further educated on these and other industry challenges.

ISU swine specialists also will offer free PQA Plus training prior to each conference. Training will be hosted from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at each conference location. Contact Tyler Bettin at (800) 372-7675 or for more information or to pre-register.

PEDv Spreads North to Canada

Canada has its first case of the PED virus. A farrow to finish operation in Ontario was confirmed with the disease last week, according to Ron Plain and Scott Brown of the University of Missouri. They wrote in their weekly column that the U.S. has more than 2,000 farms with PED. The virus is likely to trim 2 percent or so off of 2014 hog slaughter.

Also in their report, U.S. commercial hog slaughter in 2013 totaled 112,126,100 million head, the fourth highest ever. That was down 1,037,200 million head (0.9 percent) from the year before. Because of heavier slaughter weights, commercial pork production was down only 0.2 percent compared to 2012.

Grassley Seeks FTC Review of Reasons for Propane Price Spikes

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa has asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to review the conditions that have led to propane cost spikes in Iowa.

“The recent propane supply shortage and price increases are causing hardship for the many rural Iowa families that use propane to heat their homes,” Grassley said. “I’m asking the agency that oversees business practices to look at the propane situation and see whether the price increases are legitimate or manipulated in any way to consumers’ detriment.”

In the meantime, Grassley encouraged anyone who may be eligible for federal heating assistance to contact the Iowa Bureau of Energy Assistance for more information.

Grassley’s letter is copied below....

January 23, 2014

The Honorable Edith Ramirez
Chairwoman, Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580

Dear Chairwoman Ramirez:

I am writing to inquire about the Federal Trade Commission’s oversight of the propane market in the Midwest.

In recent days, the Midwest spot price of propane at Conway, Kansas, has spiked far above the Gulf Coast spot price at Mont Belvieu, Texas.  I recognize that in the fall, the demand for propane to dry the large, wet corn harvest was significant.  In addition, the Midwest has experienced increased demand for propane due to the current cold weather.  However, the price for propane at Conway has surpassed the spot price in Mont Belvieu by as much as several dollars.  Many of my constituents have questioned this considerable price differential.  Moreover, in just the past few days, the spot price for propane in the Midwest has doubled.

I request that the Federal Trade Commission remain vigilant in overseeing the propane market to prevent possible anti-competitive behavior or illegal manipulation, and to ensure that any supply shortages are not created artificially.  I look forward to hearing the results of your review of the propane market in the Midwest.

CME Considers Overhaul For Daily Grain Price Limits

CME Group Inc is considering a proposal to reset daily price limits for U.S. grain and oilseed futures every six months based on underlying price levels in agricultural markets, documents distributed by the exchange operator show. According to Reuters, the proposal would allow higher price limits when market prices are high and lower price limits when market prices are low, according to a CME fact sheet sent to market participants. Limits would always be approximately six percent of the underlying nearby contract price.

The exchange is collecting feedback on the proposal and hopes to complete any necessary submissions to regulators at the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission by the end of February, a spokeswoman said. The exchange operator, which owns the Chicago Board of Trade, currently has initial daily price limits for grains and oilseeds that remain unchanged throughout the year.

Under the proposal being considered, the first reset date for price limits would be the first trading day in May. The newly calculated limits would remain in effect until the last trading day in October. The limits would be based on daily settlement prices collected for the July expirations for each of the CBOT grain and oilseed futures products over 45 consecutive trading days before and on the business day prior to April 16.

Average prices for each contract would be calculated based on the collected settlement prices and then multiplied by six percent. The resulting numbers would be rounded off for each contract, Reuters reports.

If a market settles up or down by the new limit during the six-month period, the limit would be expanded by 50 percent the next trading day, and remain at the expanded limit until no listed contracts settle at the expanded limit. The second reset date would be the first trading day in November. New limits would be calculated in a similar manner to the May reset.

Corn, soybeans, soft red winter wheat, hard red winter wheat, soybean oil, soybean meal, oats and rough rice futures would all be impacted by the change.

Brazilian Soy Harvest 3% Complete

Brazilian soybean harvest efforts continued to move forward, reaching 3% complete as of Friday, AgRural, a local farm consultancy, said Monday.  The harvest is slightly ahead of last year when 2% of the crop had been collected at this point, it said.  While concerns remain about hot, dry conditions in some areas and growing pest populations in others, the crop remains in generally excellent condition, it added.

Despite some heavy rains over the last week, the soybean harvest continues ahead of schedule in Mato Grosso, Brazil's No. 1 producing state. Farmers had collected 7% of the crop as of Friday compared with 6% one year before. Reports of good yields continue to roll in from across the state. For example, Nova Mutum is registering average productivity of 47 bushels per acre, while Primavera do Leste is posting averages of 52 bpa, said AgRural.

In contrast, farmers in the southern state of Parana, the No. 2 soy state, took advantage of a dry week to forge ahead with the harvesting of short-cycle soybeans. As a result, soybean harvesting was 2% complete as of Friday with work most advanced in the west of the state (6%), it said. Yields vary greatly across the state. In the extreme west, which was hit by drought in December, average yields are around 36 bpa, while in the central western zone, yields of up to 59 bpa have been registered.

Smithsonian Mobile Exhibition Explores the Human–Animal Bond

Checking the herd. Riding fences. Training a loyal dog. Our days include many interactions with animals—on the farm, the ranch and elsewhere. The connections we have with animals are complex and vast, and this relationship is explored in a mobile exhibition from the Smithsonian, “Animal Connections: Our Journey Together.”

”Animal Connections,” a custom-built exhibition housed on an 18-wheel truck that expands into 1,000 square feet of space, will be at the upcoming NCBA Convention in Nashville. Attendees can visit the exhibit, which will be Booth #337, in the Chuck Wagon CafĂ©, from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 5, and Thursday, Feb. 6.

Created in 2013 by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) to mark the 150th anniversary of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA), ”Animal Connections” is made possible through the generous support of founding sponsor Zoetis, Inc. and the American Veterinary Medical Foundation.

“The exhibition is an introduction to the world of veterinary medicine and explores the shared responsibility for animals’ health and well-being that we all have,” said Christine Jenkins, Chief Veterinary Medical Officer-U.S. Zoetis, a company that discovers, develops and manufactures veterinary vaccines and medicines. “As part of our commitment to veterinarians and the animals they care for, we are proud to join with the Smithsonian and the AVMA in supporting ‘Animal Connections’ as a means to inspire young people to pursue careers in veterinary medicine and its allied professions.”

“The affection that people everywhere have for animals sparked our enthusiasm for an exhibit about veterinary medicine that would inspire lively conversations about the human–animal bond,” said Anna R. Cohn, director of SITES.

The exhibit uses a combination of interactive learning stations, films and touch screen videos, and three-dimensional settings to explore topics about animals on the farm, in the home, in the wild, at the zoo and in the veterinary clinic. A display in the farm section highlights the variety of tools stocked in the mobile clinics that large-animal veterinarians use to ensure they are prepared for any procedure. A virtual clinic at the center of the exhibition provides visitors the opportunity to play veterinarian. Through touch screens, they can examine and diagnose what ails their virtual patients—a dog, a piglet and a cheetah.

Visitors to “Animal Connections” can continue the learning experience online at

Zidua herbicide receives federal registration for wheat

BASF announced today that Zidua herbicide has received federal registration from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for spring and winter wheat.

Zidua herbicide provides wheat growers with a powerful tool to fight tough to control weeds like Italian ryegrass, annual bluegrass and canarygrass. In addition, Zidua herbicide suppresses many broadleaf and grasses in wheat including brome species, wild oat, foxtail species, kochia, pigweed, chickweed, henbit and wild mustard. Zidua herbicide was previously registered only for use in corn and soybeans.

Zidua herbicide utilizes a unique class of chemistry – pyroxasulfone. More than 10 years of research and field trials by BASF have demonstrated that Zidua herbicide provides excellent residual control of resistant weeds like Italian ryegrass.

“Wheat growers now have access to a new residual tool for long-lasting weed control with Zidua herbicide,” said Greg Armel, Ph.D., Technical Market Manager, BASF. “The pyroxasulfone in Zidua herbicide helps control Italian ryegrass weed populations, even those populations resistant to ALS-inhibitor and ACCase herbicides.”

Zidua herbicide is an inhibitor of very long-chain fatty acids, which controls susceptible germinating seedlings as they emerge from the soil. It is recommended for use in wheat as a delayed preemergence or post-emergence application. Zidua herbicide is an outstanding tank-mix partner for growers seeking extra residual activity on tough weeds in wheat.

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