Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday January 24 Cattle on Feed Report + Ag News

United States Cattle on Feed Down 5 Percent
Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 10.6 million head on January 1, 2014. The inventory was 5 percent below January 1, 2013. The inventory included 6.78 million steers and steer calves, down 4 percent from the previous year. This group accounted for 64 percent of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 3.73 million head, down 8 percent from 2013.

Placements in feedlots during December totaled 1.68 million, 1 percent above 2012. Net placements were 1.60 million head. During December, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 485,000, 600-699 pounds were 420,000, 700-799 pounds were 391,000, and 800 pounds and greater were 385,000.

Marketings of fed cattle during December totaled 1.74 million, 1 percent below 2012.  Other disappearance totaled 77,000 during December, 4 percent above 2012.


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.40 million cattle on feed on January 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was down 3 percent from last year.   Placements during December totaled 405,000 head, up 4 percent from 2012.   Fed cattle marketings for the month of December totaled 420,000 head, down 1 percent from last year.  Other disappearance during December totaled 15,000 head, unchanged from last year.

Iowa Cattle on Feed +3%

Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in Iowa for all feedlots totaled 1,370,000 on January 1, 2014 according to  the  USDA,  National  Agricultural  Statistics  Service,  Iowa  Field  Office.    The  inventory  is  up  3  percent  from December  1,  2013  and  up  7  percent  from  January  1,  2013.   Feedlots with  a  capacity  greater  than  1,000 head  had 620,000 head on feed, up 2 percent from last month but unchanged from last year.  Feedlots with a capacity less than 1,000 head had 750,000 head on feed, up 3 percent from last month and up 14 percent from last year.

Placements during December totaled 206,000 head, a decrease of 25 percent from last month but up 27 percent from last year.  Feedlots with a capacity greater than 1,000 head placed 96,000 head, down 21 percent from last month but up  17  percent  from  last  year.    Feedlots with  a  capacity  less  than  1,000  head  placed  110,000  head. This  is  down 29 percent from last month but up 38 percent from last year.

Marketings  for December were 164,000 head, down 16 percent  from  last month but up 14 percent  from  last year. Feedlots with  a  capacity  greater  than  1,000  head marketed  84,000  head,  down 16  percent  from  last month  but  up 24 percent  from  last year.     Feedlots with a capacity  less  than 1,000 head marketed 80,000 head, down 16 percent from last month but up 5 percent from last year. Other disappearance totaled 7,000 head.

Number of Cattle on Feed on 1,000+ Capacity Feedlots by Month - States and US: 2013 and 2014

                        :                 :                  :                  January 1, 2014              
                        :                 :                  :         --------------------------------------------
    State           :Jan 1 2013  : Dec 1 2013 :                       Percent of  :  Percent of 
                        :                 :                  :    Number    :previous year :previous month
                        :     --------------- 1,000 head --------------          ----- percent ----     
Arizona ..........:        272               275              274          101            100     
California ........:        480               505              510          106            101     
Colorado ........:      1,000               970              960           96             99     
Idaho .............:        230               225              220           96             98     
Iowa ...............:        620               610              620          100            102     
Kansas ..........:      2,110             2,050            2,010         95             98     
Nebraska .......:      2,480             2,430            2,400         97             99     
Oklahoma ......:        345               265              260           75             98     
South Dakota .:        230               220              230          100            105     
Texas ............:      2,720             2,510            2,440         90             97     
Washington ...:        247               207              201            81             97     
Other States ..:        459               458              468           102            102     
United States :     11,193          10,725           10,593          95             99     

Number of Cattle Placed on Feed on 1,000+ Capacity Feedlots by Month - States and US: 2012 and 2013

                      :              :               :            During December 2013           
                      :   During  : During    :--------------------------------------------
       State       :Dec 2012:Nov 2013  :               :  Percent of  :  Percent of 
                      :              :               :  Number: previous year :previous month
                      :    ------------ 1,000 head -----------           ----- percent ----     
Arizona ..........:       29             30             28             97             93     
California ........:       50             64             59            118             92     
Colorado ........:      140            170            150          107             88     
Idaho .............:       26              42             32           123             76     
Iowa ..............:       82            122             96            117             79     
Kansas ..........:      365            370            360           99             97     
Nebraska .......:      390            475            405           104             85     
Oklahoma ......:       52              42             43            83            102     
South Dakota .:       34              63             43           126             68     
Texas ............:      415            405            370            89             91     
Washington ....:       25              44             34           136             77     
Other States ...:       56              55             61           109            111     
United States ..:    1,664          1,882        1,681         101             89     

Number of Cattle Marketed on 1,000+ Capacity Feedlots by Month - States and US: 2012 and 2013

                      :              :              :            During December 2013           
                      : During   :    During :         --------------------------------------------
       State       :Dec 2012:Nov 2013 :                    :  Percent of  :  Percent of 
                      :              :             :    Number    : previous year : previous month
                      :    ------------ 1,000 head -----------           ----- percent ----     
Arizona ..........:       23             24             28           122            117     
California ........:       55             52             52            95            100     
Colorado ........:      155           145           150            97            103     
Idaho .............:       40             36             36            90            100     
Iowa ..............:       68            100             84           124             84     
Kansas ..........:      425           350           385            91            110     
Nebraska .......:      425           400           420            99            105     
Oklahoma ......:       49             45             45            92            100     
South Dakota .:       33             41             30            91             73     
Texas ............:      380            405           420           111            104     
Washington ....:       38             39             37            97             95     
Other States ...:       54             44             49            91            111     
United States ..:    1,745         1,681        1,736          99            103     


Nebraska Farm Bureau Urges EPA to Maintain Renewable Fuels Standard for Ethanol

Nebraska Farm Bureau is urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stay the course on the corn ethanol requirements under the 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The EPA released proposed changes to the 2014 RFS last fall which would set the overall RFS at 15.21 billion gallons, including 2.2 billion gallons for biodiesel and advanced biofuels. The proposal would put the corn ethanol number at just 13 billion gallons, well below the 14.4 billion gallons that would have been required under the law’s original targets.

“The U.S. ag sector has seen tremendous growth since the RFS was put in place in 2007. Total U.S. agriculture exports have increased by 57 percent, livestock output is up 31 percent and crop output is up 44 percent. Corn ethanol is clearly a part of the reason for that success and to change the course on ethanol in the RFS would be a mistake,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

That message was reiterated by Richardson County Farm Bureau member Ben Steffen who offered testimony on behalf of Nebraska Farm Bureau before Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad at a listening session held Jan. 23 in Des Moines, Iowa. Steffen is a dairy and corn farmer from Humboldt, Neb.

“As a dairy farmer, we have used ethanol co-products to feed our dairy cattle and ethanol has also opened new market opportunities for the grain we produce. Without the ethanol standard in the RFS we wouldn’t have seen some of the positive economic benefits that have helped our farm and our local economy,” said Steffen.

In 2013, U.S. corn production was up roughly 30 percent from 2012. In the face of this increase in production, the EPA's proposed RFS rule for 2014 would essentially slash 500 million bushels from corn demand leaving corn farmers to look for replacement markets to make up for the loss.

“It’s critical the EPA take a long view and reconsider the proposed changes to the RFS for 2014. Now is not the time to pull the reigns back on an industry which has benefited all segments of the agricultural economy,” said Steffen.

Nebraska’s response of over 5,000 letters to EPA largest in corn checkoff history

The Nebraska Corn Board has received over 5,000 letters expressing opposition on the recent decision of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to cut back on the amount of corn ethanol in our nation's fuel supply. This would cut 1.4 billion gallons of ethanol in 2014 from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) passed by Congress.

In early January, the Nebraska Corn Board sent out letters to Nebraska farmers alerting them of EPA’s actions and included a letter to EPA that farmers could sign. These letters were returned to the Corn Board and the Board will forward the entire stack of letters to EPA before the comment period deadline of January 28. To date, just over 5,000 letters have been returned, many with personal messages expressing the need to keep a strong renewable fuel industry and stating corn farmers can provide enough food, feed and fuel to help America be less dependent on imported oil. 

“This is the greatest grassroots response in the history of the corn checkoff program since its implementation in 1978,” said Don Hutchens, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board.  Hutchens has been executive director since 1987 and a corn producer since the early 1970’s.

All the work and investment that Nebraska corn farmers have put into building the ethanol industry is at risk. EPA’s proposal, if put in place, would cause corn prices to drop, cut several thousand jobs, and could have a negative impact on rural communities that depend on a strong agricultural economy. 

The Board also distributed nearly 10,000 postcards throughout Nebraska where the recipient was asked to write a personal message and drop it in the mail to EPA. Or they had the option of commenting online through a link provided by the Nebraska Corn Board’s website,

“The 5,000 letters from Nebraska, which will be sent to EPA Friday, will have a big impact on EPA,” said Tim Scheer, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and farmer from St. Paul.  “Other states have mounted similar efforts to send letters to EPA.” To date, Scheer said that over 4,000 letters are being sent in from Minnesota Corn and over 1,000 from Missouri Corn. Iowa Corn hosted a ‘Hearing in the Heartland Supporting the Renewable Fuels Standard’ spearheaded by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad where representatives from the Nebraska Corn Board testified. The National Corn Growers Association has organized efforts on a national level and has helped states with their grassroots efforts. The corn industry is working hard to make sure EPA hears from farmers.

The Nebraska Corn Board appreciates the support of our state’s political leaders on this effort. U.S. Senators Johanns and Fischer from Nebraska signed on to a Senate letter that was circulated and sent to the EPA.  Governor Heineman joined five other governors in voicing concerns of the EPA proposal by signing a joint letter. And State Senator Dubas is currently leading an effort to get members of the Legislature to sign onto a letter to EPA as well. 

“Nebraska farmers are well informed on this issue and with nearly 2 billion bushels of corn carryover stocks and prices that are near or below the cost of production, this issue is not only hitting their pocket books but has the potential to slow Nebraska’s economy,” said Hutchens.  “I have never seen this kind of response in my 27 years, so obviously farmers feel strongly about the biofuels industry.  The drought of 2012 seriously set our production back, but with new technologies, and a little help from Mother Nature, U.S. farmers are producing 14 billion bushels of corn that can meet food, feed, biofuels and export demand and still have plenty left over.”

Platte Valley Cattlemen Plan Annual Banquet

Crystal Klug, President

It’s that time of year again and the Platte Valley Cattlemen are anxiously planning our 2014 Banquet, Saturday, February 22rd at Platte County Agricultural Park in Columbus. We are looking forward to an entertaining night featuring comedian, Jeff Jena. Jena has over 33 years of live performance experience, including over 40 national television show appearances. Couple this with the social hour, a prime rib dinner, and dancing the night away with the popular local band, Side Step, and this year’s banquet will be hard to beat.  

Our annual Banquet is our major fund raiser for the year and thanks to your continued support, our organization has been able to promote our product and inform our membership of current issues and policies. In the past, your dollars have enabled us to promote “Beef Month” in May, ensure quality speakers for our monthly meetings, offer an educational tour, promote 4-H and FFA programs at the county fairs, and assist in awarding scholarships. In 2013, we were able to award three $500.00 college scholarships and with continued support, hope to offer three (or more) again this year. 

Thank you in advance for your continued support of the Platte Valley Cattlemen and I look forward to seeing you on Saturday, February 22rd!

Changes Protect Ground Water Users in LPSNRD

At its January 15th meeting, the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District Board approved several changes to its Ground Water Rules & Regulations, affecting well owners in the Dwight-Valparaiso-Brainard area of the District. the changes include:
-    A continued stay on the certification of additional ground water irrigated acres
-    Allocations on ground water used for irrigation; 21 acre-inches over three years, with no more than 9 acre inches applied in any one year for sprinkler irrigation and 30 acre-inches over three years, with no more than 12 acre inches applied in any one year through gravity irrigation systems.
-    Educational certifications for irrigators
-    Establishment of a stakeholder advirosy group of water users
-    Special cost-sharing by the NRD
-    Require new wells to be of adequate depth
-    Formal consideration of any new or replacement well by the NRD Board

The changes will take effect March 1st.

NE Cattlemen Host Young Catlemen Conference This Week

Identifying  and  educating  leaders  to  help  guide  and strengthen our beef industry is important to the future of Nebraska’s  agriculture. Nebraska Catlemen believe  that it is important for active beef producers to see all sides of the beef industry and take an active role in telling the beef story and advocating on behalf of our way of life.

The goal of the Young Catlemen’s Conference, held Tuesday-Thursday this week, was to expose young  and  emerging  leaders  to  a variety of  areas of  the beef industry and provide them with leadership tools.

Participants in this years YCC were: Brady Revels (Sarpy Douglas Feeders), Tyler Pieper (Dawson County Catlemen), Cassie Lapaseotes (Morrill County Catlemen), Sarah Sortum (Burwell Catlemen), Mathew Brester (Cuming County Feeders), Neal Voss (Thayer County Feeders), Dan Hunt (Harlan County Catlemen), Hank Klosterman (Plate Valley Catlemen), Michael Tierney (West Central Catlemen), Brent Hodges (Burwell Catlemen). 

During  the  3  day  conference  participants  were  able  to tour  Cargill  Meat  Solutions  Beef  Facility  in  Schuyler and  the  Cargill  Meat  Solutions  Value  Added  Meat Facility  in Nebraska City. The group was  joined by UNL Animal Science professors  for  the Beef 101 course where participants  learned from hands on presentations.   These young  leaders  had  the  opportunity  to  tour  Sysco  Food Service,  Sam’s  Club,  Super  Saver,  and Whole  Foods  to see how beef  is being presented  and  sold  to  consumers. During  the fnal day,  the  group was  able  to understand more about  current  industry  issues by meeting with  Jon Bruning, Nebraska Atorney General, Lavon Heidemann, Lieutenant Governor, Nebraska Department of Agriculture, and Senator Tom Hansen. Participants were also educated on the importance of social media and challenged to share their beef story with today’s consumers.

This year’s YCC class had a jam packed 3 day conference which helped  to provide  them with  the  tools  to become our future leaders in the beef industry.


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

Last summer’s weather caused much hay to be baled too wet or silage chopped too dry.  Now that hay and silage has heated and turned brown.  How did this affect its feeding value?

Hay baled too wet or silage chopped to dry can get excessively hot and cause certain chemical reactions to occur.  These chemical reactions and the heat that produces them will darken your forage and often make it smell sweet like caramel.

Livestock often find such hay or silage very palatable.  But, the reactions that caused this heat-damage consumes valuable energy and also makes some of the protein become indigestible.  Unfortunately, tests for crude protein cannot distinguish between regular crude protein and this heat-damaged protein.  As a result, your forage test can mislead you into thinking you have more usable protein in your forage than actually is there.

If your forage test is done using NIR, heat-damaged protein may be one of the analyses reported.  And if the heat-damaged protein is high enough, the test also will report an adjusted crude protein that is lower than the regular crude protein.  However, the NIR test for heat-damage may not be accurate enough for you if your ration contains a lot of this forage and has little or no extra protein in it for your cattle.

When you suspect you have heat-damaged protein, request from your lab a chemical analysis for heat-damaged protein.  Then have then use this test to correctly adjust the amount of crude protein your forage actually will provide to your animals.

Forage tests can tell us a lot about the nutrient supplying ability of our forages.  But we need to make sure we conduct the right tests and then use the results wisely.

Engler Scholarship Application Deadline is Feb. 16

            Students passionate about becoming an entrepreneur can now apply for scholarships to the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

         Scholarships are awarded annually to Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship students and renewable up to three years dependent on student performance, said the program's director, Tom Field.

         To apply, students must complete an application and series of essay questions at Applications are due by Feb. 16.

           "We encourage students from across various academic programs in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources to apply," Field said. "Our goal is to find students who are committed to building enterprises and who have the drive, passion and dedication to reshape rural economies through innovation and creativity applied to the broad realm of agribusiness. We are looking for students who are willing to accept risk in the pursuit of their dreams and who are willing to go the extra mile."

              The Engler experience includes the academic minor, travel experiences to learn from outstanding entrepreneurs, networking opportunities, internships and a host of other experiential programming.

              Students also can become part of the Agribusiness Entrepreneurship and Leadership: Solutions for the Future learning community through residence life. More information can be found at

        The Engler program began in 2010 with a $20 million gift over 10 years from the Paul F. and Virginia J. Engler Foundation. The purpose of the program is to identify students with the entrepreneurial drive and then foster development of professional skills conducive to success in applying entrepreneurism in agriculture and agribusiness.

              For more information about the program, visit

Efforts to weaken COOL misguided

This week, the Center for Rural Affairs, R-CALF USA, Western Organization of Resource Councils and 95 other groups representing farmers, ranchers, consumers and other rural and small town interests sent a letter to Farm Bill Conference Committee members with an urgent appeal to resist making changes to weaken the nation’s country of origin labeling (COOL) law when they finalize the 2014 Farm Bill.

To view or download a copy of the letter go to:

"Widespread reports circulating on Capitol Hill indicate that the United States Trade Representative was capitulating to the pressures by COOL opponents, primarily the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and their transnational meatpacker allies, to weaken, if not eliminate COOL," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.

According to Bullard, the letter was initiated following reports last week that the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), the federal agency responsible for defending the U.S. country of origin labeling law for meat and other food products before the World Trade Organization, was lobbying the Farm Bill Conferees to weaken the COOL law.

“Ranchers, farmers and consumers overwhelmingly favor retaining the strong, effective 2013 final COOL rules requiring retailers to inform their customers about where the meat they purchase comes from, and that means where the livestock were born, raised and slaughtered. A standard that the Center for Rural Affairs has advocated for nearly 20 years.” John Crabtree, Center for Rural Affairs.

“When we learned that the USTR was pressuring Farm Bill Conferees to replace current COOL rules with a ‘Product of North America’ label for meat from animals imported in the U.S., we knew it was time for urgent action,” said John Crabtree of the Center for Rural Affairs. “This North American or NAFTA-meat label is entirely unacceptable. Moreover, the Farm Bill Conference Committee is not the place for this effort to undermine COOL. It is an effort to undue democratic decision-making behind the closed doors at the 11th hour of the farm bill debate.”

Crabtee explained further that the final, 2013 rules are in line with decisions issued by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body. But the purported amendment suggested by the USTR would not only erode the quality of information consumers would receive, it also fails to remedy the issues raised by the WTO dispute panel, opening the law up to future challenges.

Harkin, Grassley Join Bipartisan Group for RFS Revision

U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin Thursday were among a bipartisan group of 31 Senators who sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy. The letter is part of an ongoing effort to urge the agency to make changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) 2014 rule. The Senators share concerns that the EPA's proposed rule will discourage investment and hurt job growth and rural communities across the country.

"The EPA is proposing a major step that reverses the momentum on biofuels," said Grassley. "The progress made toward energy diversity and independence will slip away if the EPA succeeds. The sentiment from almost one-third of the U.S. Senate is the proposal needs revision. We want the EPA to reconsider. The President as a supporter of biofuels should weigh in as needed."

"The intent of the RFS is to steadily increase contributions from biofuels in our transportation fuels markets to enhance our nation's energy security, protect the environment, and create jobs," said Harkin. "The proposed rule, requiring less biofuel in 2014 than in 2013, goes against this intent and is a significant step backward."

The EPA's proposed rule would set the biodiesel target at 1.28 billion gallons, which is below current industry production levels of around 1.7 billion gallons. It would also reduce the total biofuels target to 15.2 billion gallons. This is 1.34 billion gallons below the 2013 target of 16.55 billion gallons, and almost 3 billion gallons below the 2014 statutory target of 18.15 billion gallons.

The following Senators also signed on to the letter: Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Max Baucus (D-MT), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Dan Coats (R-IN), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), John Hoeven (R-ND), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mark Udall (D-CO), Ed Markey (D-MA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), John Thune (R-SD), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

ISU Extension Hires Water Quality Program Manager

Jamie Benning has been hired as water quality program manager for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. As an extension agronomist the past 13 years she has led multi-state water quality projects, supported farmer-led watershed initiatives and conducted agronomic research.

“Water quality is an issue that deserves additional attention,” said John Lawrence, Agricultural and Natural Resources Extension director. “We have a lot of activity in water quality and agricultural production. Having Jamie focused on coordinating water quality resources will be a great asset to ISU Extension and Outreach and the Iowans we work with on this issue.”

Iowa State University was a partner in the development of the statewide nutrient reduction strategy, working with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and Iowa Department of Natural Resources over a two-year period to develop the initiative.

The resulting strategy, finalized in May 2013, is the first time such a comprehensive and integrated approach addressing both point and nonpoint sources of nutrients has been completed. Iowa State continues to partner for the implementation of the Water Quality Initiative and helping farmers understand what tools and practices best fit their unique land and water situation.

Benning has worked with state and local partners, as well as members of watershed groups, through her water quality projects across Iowa and the Midwest. She  is looking forward to providing cohesive access to essential research and extension support.

“Every Iowa farmer can be part of protecting our water resources,” Benning said. “Coordinating Extension’s efforts so all our specialists have science-proven and emerging practices to share with their clients will move us toward our statewide goals.”

Benning can be reached at or by calling 515-294-6038.

NBB Awards Iowa Soybean Association CEO Highest Biodiesel Honor

During the National Biodiesel Conference & Expo this week in San Diego, individuals who have made significant impacts on the biodiesel industry were honored with the 2014 “Eye on Biodiesel” award. Included in the list of honorees was Kirk Leeds, chief executive officer of the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA).

“The biodiesel industry would not be what it is without champions and supporters like these Eye on Biodiesel honorees,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the National Biodiesel Board. “We are proud to honor our award winners who have made a substantial impact in getting biodiesel to where it is today, a fully commercialized advanced biofuel that is produced from coast to coast.”

Leeds has been a leader among soybean organizations in supporting biodiesel efforts since the industry’s inception. ISA’s support of the National Biodiesel Board over the years has allowed the industry to prepare and face the challenges of being a billion-plus-gallon Advanced Biofuel. His visionary leadership has helped to maintain a mutually-beneficial, strong connection between the soybean and biodiesel industries. Kirk and ISA have been at the forefront of improving agriculture’s environmental performance. Through partnerships with farmers, environmental groups, agri-business and academia, ISA is helping lead efforts to identify practical solutions for complex environmental issues.

National Pork Industry Forum to be Held March 6-8, 2014

Delegates from across the United States will gather in Kansas City, March 6-8, 2014, for the annual National Pork Industry Forum.

The 15 producers who serve as members of the National Pork Board and Pork Checkoff staff leadership will hear directly from the 156 forum delegates appointed by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Each year the Pork Act Delegates confer, vote on resolutions and advisements, and provide valuable direction on the important issues facing pork producers and the industry. This year the delegates include 152 pork producers and four pork importers.

The theme for the annual pork forum -The Power of One: Many producers united in a common goal -was selected in reference to how the industry is taking proactive steps to join together in meeting the challenges facing the industry. From tackling concerns raised by the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus to responding to consumers seeking to learn how food is produced, thousands of individual farmers are doing their part to produce pork in a caring, responsible and professional manner.

"As an industry, we are stronger when we are united toward a greater common good," said Karen Richter, president of the National Pork Board and a producer from Montgomery, Minn. "Working together, we can make a collective difference in raising a single voice for all hog farmers. We'll demonstrate that clearly in Kansas City."

In advance of the annual meeting, members of the National Pork Board will also convene their March board meeting. The agenda for that meeting will include updates on 2014 plans to enhance pork demand, increase market opportunities, improve pork production practices and invest in research priorities.

Included on the 2014 Pork Forum agenda will be opportunities for pork producers to become trained in the pork industry's Pork Quality Assurance® Plus (PQA Plus®) certification process, as well as provide input into the Pork Checkoff's new strategic plan that is currently being developed.

The full agenda is available at As the event draws near, the website will be updated with current information and links to the Pork Forum manual and videos of candidates nominated for industry positions.

Applications Now Being Accepted for Pork Industry Environmental Stewards Award

Environmental stewardship is hard work and sharing the experience gained may help others become better caretakers. Environmental stewardship requires constant work and a serious commitment. The Environmental Steward Awards program is open to pork producers of all types and sizes of production operations who demonstrate their positive contribution to the environment.

Pork operations are recognized annually by the U.S. pork industry for their commitment to preserving the environment.

Applications (PDF or MS Word) and nominations are solicited from pork producers, operation managers and other industry-related professionals and are to be submitted by March 31, 2014. A national selection committee names four operations following a review of:
• General production information
• Manure management
• Efforts to preserve water, air, and soil quality
• Aesthetics and neighbor relations
• Wildlife management
• Innovation applied to environmental management
• And an essay on the meaning of Environmental Stewardship

Winners are featured in an educational video, receive a special plaque and are recognized at an awards ceremony at the annual Pork Industry Forum.

The Environmental Steward Awards, program is co-sponsored by the Pork Checkoff and National Hog Farmer magazine.

Farm Bill Moving Slow

(from NAWG)
Farm bill negotiators hoped to have a draft conference report wrapped up this week, but with Congress in recess and the government shut down on Tuesday due to weather the farm bill progress has once again stalled. Country-of-origin-labeling (COOL) is at the top of the headlines this week as 97 organizations trying to protect the law sent a letter to the conferees this week asking that there be no changes to the current COOL law stating that “the final rules provide clear information to consumers that balances the small cost of implementation”. Organizations on the other side of this issue are concerned that if the program stays in place the industry will risk losing a World Trade Organization (WTO) challenge brought by Canada and Mexico. If negotiators are able to get agreements on COOL and other outstanding issues soon they could possibly avoid having public votes at the full conference committee level.

House and Senate Committees Talk Climate

Last week, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee heard from the EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and other administration officials regarding the President’s Climate Action Plan released in June. The President’s Climate Action Plan is comprised of three pillars: reducing carbon pollution in the U.S., preparing for the impacts of climate change and leading international efforts on climate change. Federal Agencies are directed to use existing statutes to address the plan. As part of the Action Plan, EPA released a proposed regulation last fall to reduce carbon pollution from future power plants. This hearing and action in the House Commerce committee last week on legislation intended to limit EPA’s proposed regulation mark the start of a year that is expected to be focused on Climate Change. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released several climate mitigation and adaptation plans and is expected to announce regional Climate Hubs very shortly.

Farmers, Industry Gather with Federal Partners at Biotech Working Group Meeting in D.C.

Despite single-digit temperatures and myriad travel delays, the members of the American Soybean Association’s Biotech Working Group met this week in Washington to discuss the current regulatory landscape for biotechnology in the U.S.

ASA’s farmer-leaders joined their counterparts from the United Soybean Board (USB) and the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), as well as representatives from industry technology providers, to meet with administration officials, including Dr. Michael Firko, Acting Deputy Administrator of the Biotechnology Regulatory Services (BRS) office at USDA, Dan Rosenblatt, Associate Director of the Registration Division in EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs and Ed Porter, Director of the New Technology Division at the Foreign Agricultural Service.

Deputy Administrator Firko provided an update on the USDA’s regulatory process, while Rosenblatt did the same for EPA, touching on ways the two agencies work together to streamline the regulatory process. Porter discussed the current state of biotech regulatory affairs in China, Korea and the EU.

Attendees also heard more on the EU biotechnology landscape from industry consultant Benno van der Laan, as well as an update on the progress of the U.S. Biotech Crop Alliance from USBCA Secretariat Dr. Michael Phillips.

This week’s was the first of two 2014 meetings for the Biotech Working Group. The group will meet again this summer, at a venue yet to be chosen.

USSEC to Hold Global Strategy Planning Meeting in Colombia

The U.S. Soybean Export Council will hold its global strategy planning meeting in Bogota, Colombia from January 28-30. This annual meeting will cover USSEC programs in all regions.

Participants will include USSEC staff; USSEC board members; United Soybean Board (USB) Action Team Leads; American Soybean Association (ASA) Trade Policy and International Affairs (TPIA) Chair; World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) representative; North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) representatives, North American Oilseed Processing Association (NOPA) representatives; Qualified State Soybean Board (QSSB) representatives; Foreign Agricultural Services (FAS) representatives; and USSEC members.

The objective of the meetings is to review global market conditions for U.S. soy in order to develop a strategic approach for Unified Export Strategy FY 15 (UES 15). Global markets represented by the USSEC regions of Greater Europe and Middle East / North Africa; the Asian subcontinent; the Americas; North Asia; and Southeast Asia will be discussed with market overviews, constraints to greater U.S. exports, and USSEC’s strategic approach galvanizing the discussion for each region. Participants will discuss driving customer preference, differentiating commodity products, securing market access through sounds science, QSSB successes and opportunities.

Statutory 2014 RFS Levels Can be Met Through Increased E85 and E15 Consumption, Carryover RINs

A new study by Informa Economics entitled “Analysis of the Potential Use of Biofuels toward the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2014” shows the originally intended Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) 2014 blending requirements can be reached through expanded consumption of E85 and E15, as well as judicious use of carryover RIN credits. The study clearly demonstrates why the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to reduce RFS blending requirements is unnecessary and imprudent.

Using empirical data from 2013, the study shows that E85 sales volumes respond strongly to changes in RIN prices. This demonstrates the RFS program is working exactly as intended to drive expanded consumption of biofuels above the so-called E10 “blend wall.” The study finds, “It is possible for all statutory components and allocations within the Renewable Fuel Standard to be met in 2014, after adjustments have been made for a waiver of a large majority of the Cellulosic Biofuel Standard.”

The Informa analysis was commissioned by the Renewable Fuels Association and Iowa Corn Promotion Board. It will be used to support the groups’ comments to EPA on its proposed rule for 2014 RFS blending requirements.

The study takes a closer look at likely consumption, finding that ethanol consumption in 2014 could be at least 13.7 billion gallons, compared to the EPA’s assumption of 13.0 billion gallons. It points toward E85 as a major contributor, stating, “E85 accounts for most of the potential for expanded consumption.” And continues, “The increase could be even larger if E85 is priced at a sustained discount to gasoline (on an energy-equivalent basis), as the consumer response could be stronger than implied by historical data, since discounts have been transitory in the past.”

“This study is further proof that the so-called ‘blend wall’ can be easily scaled if the RFS is allowed to work as intended,” said Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. “As I have said time and time again, the RIN mechanism is the tool to drive innovation and infrastructure to accommodate higher ethanol blends like E85 and E15. There is absolutely no need to reduce or repeal the RFS. It is working.”

“We hope that this study further emphasizes that the EPA decision to lower the RVO just doesn’t make sense,” said Roger Zylstra, a farmer from central Iowa and current president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association. “As a corn grower, I know we have the science and the production to back up the current RFS. It is working and we need to move forward, not backward on our energy security.”

Council Briefs SAG (China) on Corn Quality, Biotechnology

U.S. corn quality and biotechnology issues highlighted the discussion today as a Chinese delegation of provincial State Administration of Grain (SAG) officials visited the U.S. Grains Council's Washington, D.C., headquarters. Council board member Chip Councell of the Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board, was able to join the meeting and provide a farmer's perspective on the practical and environmental benefits of biotechnology.

"This visit was scheduled long before the current biotech developments in China," said USGC President and CEO Tom Sleight, "but it was a great opportunity to bring the team up to date on the key role that biotechnology plays in U.S. agriculture today."

The Council visit was part of an extensive itinerary that had taken the Chinese team to meet with a variety of government and industry leaders in Washington. The Council visit started with USGC Manager of Global Trade Alvaro Cordero presenting the findings of the 2013/2014 Corn Harvest Quality Report. Following the presentation Sleight discussed the group's concerns as well as their thoughts on biotechnology.

IMG 0038SAG's key concerns were corn quality, storage issues, and heavy metal contamination. In response to a question, the SAG team also acknowledged that the issue of biotechnology is extremely difficult right now in China. Councell responded with a U.S. producer's perspective.

"I've planted GM varieties on my farm since 1996," Councell said, "and I was able to report that this has significantly reduced insect damage, improved storage because we're now storing healthier corn, and dramatically reduced chemical usage. It seemed clear from the follow-up questions that the message got through. Biotechnology isn't just about increasing yield; it's about improving quality as well."

The Council continues to be engaged with Chinese officials and industry leaders at all levels regarding the evolving status of biotech approvals. While the SAG group is concerned with more issues than just biotechnology, they will return to China with a much stronger appreciation of the role that biotechnology plays in increasing both quality and yield.

Too Much of a Good Thing

Shawn Campbell, US Wheat Assoc. Assistant Director, West Coast Office

Canadian farmers enjoyed the blessing of near perfect growing conditions this year, leading to a record wheat crop of 37.5 MMT that was 38 percent larger than last year’s crop. Combined with a record canola crop and good production for other crops, the year held great promise for Canadian agriculture. 

Sadly, the bumper crops have overwhelmed the Canadian logistical system and proven to be too much of a good thing. Farmers report that country elevators are only offering low or even no bids on wheat for nearby delivery. Some farmers who signed forward contracts say elevators are pushing back their delivery dates and the CWB is not posting wheat basis prices for delivery before next October. As a result, farmers are stuck with crops losing value every day they stay in their bins. Reuters reported that some farmers have resorted to selling wheat into feed channels or trucking it south into the United States, but at very small volumes that cannot really improve the situation.       

Canadian grain exporters also expected a great year but now face similar challenges, especially those moving grain through the Pacific ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert. USDA currently projects that Canada will export 23.0 MMT of wheat this year, the most since 1991/92. As of late December, Canada had exported 8.2 MMT of wheat in 2013/14, up 8 percent compared to the same time last year. However, its December exports only totaled 1.5 MMT. That is down 18 percent compared to November and down 14 percent compared to December 2012. It is also the first time this marketing year that the month’s wheat exports were less than the same month last year.       

The Port of Vancouver is especially hard hit. Analysts reported an average processing time of 17 days per grain ship compared to a normal processing time of nine to 10 days. There are also reports that rail shipments arrive at export terminals with the wrong grain at the wrong time or just don’t arrive at all. The result is a growing backlog of ships, more than the available anchorage at Vancouver, ringing up more than $10 million (USD) in demurrage fees so far. Canadian Pacific exporters now indicate they will be unable to take on any new business until after May.   

Railroads and rail car shortages may have contributed to the logistical problems. Local analysts indicated that major rail carriers Canadian National and Canadian Pacific accumulated a backlog of 40,000 cars from August to December. That is eight times more than last year with grain capacity of 4.0 MMT. However, Canadian National reported it moved 12 percent more grain than its five-year average for the same period while Canadian Pacific moved 16 percent more than its five-year average. The railroads claim their challenge is not a backlog, but rather the inability to get cars to the right place at the right time. Many analysts cited archaic rail regulations, such as a rail revenue cap, the lack of a secondary rail car market and a lack of rail demurrage fees for creating major inefficiencies in the grain handling system.   

The Canadian grain trade, which is still adapting to an open market, may have tried to push too much grain through the system too quickly. Given the huge crop, some analysts suggest Canadian grain traders put out discounted bids after harvest. Buyers responded quickly. In fact, the Pacific Canadian grain terminals have exported 9 percent more than last year, including 670,000 MT going to countries normally serviced by the eastern terminals that could not compete with west coast prices. Eventually, though, the bottlenecks formed in the west because the system could not keep pace with demand.

The Canadian grain market is facing a difficult lesson in open grain marketing this year. Debate over the reasons behind the logistical issues will continue as the Canadian government initiates a review of the grain transportation system. Questions remain as to whether or not Canada will achieve USDA’s wheat export projection of 23.0 MMT. If not, Canada will likely end this marketing year with its highest wheat ending stocks since the early 1990s, and that will challenge the Canadian and U.S. wheat markets well into 2014/15 and maybe beyond. 

Peru-US FTA to Drive US Corn Exports to Peru in Early 2014

Kurt Shultz, U.S. Grains Council Regional Director of the Americas

After two years of no U.S. corn exports to Peru, the competitively priced 2013 U.S. corn crop is expected to turn this around. The U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which was implemented in 2006, creates conditions where Peruvians will aggressively purchase U.S. corn in January and February of this year.

In recent years, the United States has been uncompetitive in the Peruvian market due to high prices compounded by more favorable duty treatment for South American producers. However, this year with the large supply of U.S. corn and the FTA, U.S. corn has a price advantage in the Peruvian market.

Under the FTA, U.S. corn imports have a zero percent duty on the first 670,000 metric tons (26.4 million bushels) of corn imports. Since the FTA contains first-come first-serve criteria, the Peruvian buyers will be competing aggressively to purchase U.S. corn early this year.

It is uncertain how long the price advantage will last when South American corn enters the market; however, it is likely that the United States will export at least 1 million tons (39.4 million bushels) of corn to Peru in the first two months of 2014.

This is just one more example of how FTAs are the long-term foundations that allow U.S. producers to benefit and create export opportunities.

Timing of Nitrogen Applications Can Enhance Yields

Growers are doing a better job of managing nitrogen fertilizer applications. In recent years, the amount of fertilizer used has remained relatively constant while average yields have steadily increased. DuPont Pioneer experts suggest growers continue to look for ways to make the application of nutrients — particularly nitrogen — as efficient as possible. One strategy is to adopt split applications.

“Modern hybrids take up nitrogen later in the growing season,” says John Shanahan, DuPont Pioneer research scientist. “Data suggest applying nitrogen during the growing season, to coincide better with crop uptake of this nutrient, can result in higher yields.”

Growers know the pros and cons of fall nitrogen (N) application. While it may be necessary to apply fertilizer before winter, there are ways to minimize the potential for leaching and runoff. “Growers can mitigate losses from fall application by applying anhydrous ammonia after the soil temperature has dropped below 50 degrees — assuming it doesn’t warm up again for a lengthy period,” Shanahan says. “Also, N stabilizers can help keep nitrogen in the stable ammonium form.”

Some states even mandate withholding application until after a certain date and/or the use of a stabilizer.

Spring application of nitrogen leaves less time for leaching, but unpredictable weather can make it difficult for some growers to get into the field.

“Early planting trends can work against spring applications,” Shanahan says. “Many growers want to get seed in the ground as early as practical, and they don’t want to deal with fertilizer application if it may delay planting.”

Recent work by Tony Vyn at Purdue University demonstrates a substantial positive impact from applying nitrogen after planting. This is not surprising, as crops require the lion’s share of their nitrogen needs just before the reproductive stages.

“Growers must overcome some obstacles to make a second nitrogen application in season,” Shanahan says. “They need high-clearance equipment, which is expensive. They’re also at the mercy of weather: Can they get into the field in a timely manner to get the second application down?”

The industry is making strides to help growers find better ways of timing nitrogen applications. “It’s incumbent on our industry to help growers find practical solutions,” Shanahan asserts. “Crop sensors are one technology that adjusts side-dress N application rates for weather effects such as excessive rainfall.” The result can be increased yields, improved profits, and more efficient fertilizer use.

Because of the complex nature of soil and weather variability, growers face significant challenges in optimizing the amount of N to apply to each field, year and area within a field.  This results in under-application of N in some years and fields, with resulting yield losses and over application of N in other years and field areas resulting in inefficient use of N resources.

For example, through analysis of data compiled from hundreds of N rate response studies conducted throughout the Corn Belt over several years designed to determine economic optimum N rate, Pioneer has determined growers are potentially losing on average around $55/acre of revenue due to a combination of over- or under-application of N.

Pioneer is working to provide real-time information to help growers make better decisions on N applications, such as when and how to apply, what soils to apply and optimum application rates.  Also, Pioneer is working internally and with collaborators to understand the mechanisms of in-season nitrogen application. The information and the process developed should help growers make better decisions, reduce risk and increase crop yields.

“Generally, it pays to avoid putting all your nitrogen down at once.” Shanahan says. “Today’s genetics show potential to deliver more bang for your buck through split applications.”

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