Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday March 14 Ag News


Tuesday, April 1 - Saunders County Extension Office at the ARDC near Mead, NE. 

Breakfast will be served from 7:45 – 8:15 a.m.

Featured speakers and topics from 8:15 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. are:

Weather: Al Dutcher, Nebraska State Climatologist 
Al will provide a look at the growing season weather forecast.

Grain Markets: Jeff Peterson, President, Heartland Farm Partners
With 20 year of experience working with growers in providing grain marketing and risk management information, Jeff will share his insight on factors affecting the corn and soybean markets.

Farm Program:  Tim Divis, County Executive Director, Saunders County FSA
Tim will share the latest information as it relates to the Farm Bill and the programs offered from this office.  

For meal planning purposes, we ask you call ahead to reserve a seat by calling 800-529-8030 or e-mail

Pellet Technology USA Completes Construction of Commercial Demonstration Facility

Pellet Technology USA (PTUSA) announced today the completion of construction and proof of concept of its Commercial Demonstration Facility in Gretna, Nebraska.

"Our commitment to invest in a high-tech Commercial Demonstration Facility in Gretna reflects the significant opportunity and potential we see for our business in Nebraska, the Midwest and the Texas Panhandle. We strive for 100% consistency and quality in our solutions by utilizing the best commercial-grade construction, exacting engineering and modern technology available. This facility with the investment of private equity and a Research and Development Grant from the state of Nebraska will further that endeavor." said Russ Zeeck, COO and Founder of PTUSA.

Being in Gretna, Nebraska is a key to maneuverability. PTUSA is able to reach a wide range of feedstock suppliers, qualified engineering companies and has close access to end users such as livestock feedlots. Being in Gretna also centralizes a location between multiple universities that are willing to assist PTUSA in feed studies and the location geographically meets the needs for building strategic agreements with equipment manufacturers, construction companies and engineering firms.

"Having a full-scale Commercial Demonstration Facility available for research and development activity allows for PTUSA's customers to have confidence in our advances in the biomass sector." said Zeeck.

Construction and engineering of this facility was completed by ICM Inc. on time and within budget the latter part of 2013. To date, PTUSA has processed thousands of acres of biomass through the Commercial Demonstration Facility for research & development purposes with commercial production plant site development on the near horizon.

Pork Industry Environmental Stewards Honored at Pork Forum

The National Pork Board today honored four farms as recipients of the Pork Industry Environmental Stewards Award at the annual National Pork Industry Forum. The award, now in its 20thyear, recognizes producers who demonstrate a firm commitment to safeguarding the environment and to serving their local communities.

The award recipients were:
-    Russell Brothers LLC, Monticello, Iowa – Jason and Sarah Russell are building on a family legacy that can be traced back to the Civil War. They farm with Jason’s brother, Eric, raising pigs, corn, soybeans and hay. A 50-kilowatt wind turbine helps the farm conserve electric energy by generating 60 to 80 percent of the farm’s needs.

-    Bacon Hill Farm, Dodge, Neb. – Fifth-generation family farmers Danny and Josie Kluthe seamlessly mix pork production and cutting-edge technology. An on-site anaerobic manure digester uses natural gas to supplement fuel for their farm’s vehicles and to help provide electricity to area homes. The Kluthes grow corn and soybeans and also raise hogs and chickens on their family farm.

-    Krikke Pork, Greenwich, Ohio – Howard and Jane Krikke raise replacement gilts for Kalmbach Swine Management. They use state-of-the-art technology in their finishing barns, including tunnel ventilation, drop curtains, self-contained pits, flip-to-clean feeders and Integra-link feed tank monitoring.

-    Blue Mountain Farms, Milford, Utah – Blue Mountain site 42304, located in the high desert of southern Utah, takes steps to minimize its environmental footprint and give back to the community. Blue Mountain Farms supplies manure to Alpental Energy Partners, which uses anaerobic digesters and large Cat engines to produce electricity.

"These forward-thinking Stewards focus on innovative solutions and ideas on their farms. They are great representatives of thousands of pork producers who work every day to protect our environment and to be good neighbors in their communities,” said Karen Richter, president of the National Pork Board and a pork producer from Montgomery, Minn. “We are pleased to honor them at our annual meeting as pork producers who are raising high-quality pork for customers while adhering to the industry’s We CareSMethical principles."

The Pork Checkoff honors the Stewards with a cash award, a plaque, a video and coverage in the Pork Checkoff Report magazine. The Stewards also are featured in National Hog Farme rmagazine, co-sponsor of the Environmental Stewards program.

The Environmental Steward award winners were selected by judges representing pork producers and environmental organizations. The judges reviewed applications from pork producers who are committed to upholding the ideal relationship between pork production and the environment. Their operations were evaluated on their manure management systems, water and soil conservation practices, odor-control strategies, farm aesthetics and neighbor relations, wildlife habitat promotion, innovative ideas used to protect the environment and an essay on the meaning of environmental stewardship.

The National Pork Board is receiving applications and nominations now for the 2014 Pork Industry Environmental Steward Award winners. The deadline is March 31. More information, as well as applications, can be found online at, or by calling (800) 456-7675.

Anew Travel Center Grand Opening in Cambridge

Anew Travel Center is now offering several ethanol fuel choices to Flex Fuel Vehicles and E15 is available for 2001 model year and newer vehicles. The Anew Travel Center’s Grand Opening will be held on March 19, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Customers will have the opportunity to save on E15, E30 and E85. The station is located at 41501 Harvest Drive in Cambridge, Nebraska. 

One in ten Nebraska motorists currently owns a flexible fuel vehicle (FFV) which can run on any blend of ethanol and gasoline, including E85. Drivers can confirm if their vehicle is a FFV by checking their owner’s manual or visiting the Nebraska Ethanol Board website. Many flex fuel vehicles have a yellow fuel cap or a flex fuel logo on the vehicle.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s recent approval of the higher ethanol blend E15 gives consumers a lower cost choice at the pump at a time of rising gas prices. Many consumers select E15 as a higher octane “mid-grade” option.  E15 is expected to be priced about twenty cents a gallon less than no-lead gasoline.  Vehicles from model years 2001 and newer along with drivers of the state’s one hundred and fifty thousand Flex Fuel vehicles can use E-15.  For more information on this and other Nebraska ethanol fuels, visit

Final Heuermann Lecture April 22

The last lecture in the 2013-2014 Heuermann Lecture season in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska--Lincoln is scheduled for 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 22. The lecture in the Great Plains Room of the Nebraska East Union on UNL's East Campus will focus on the importance of water quality and good nutrition in children's early development, how that affects both individuals and nations, changing demographics, and more.

Title of the lecture is "The Role of Water and Food Security in Early Childhood Survival and Development: A Global Perspective." A 2:30 p.m. reception in the Union atrium precedes the free lecture.

This lecture is a panel discussion with: Dr. Chris Elias, president of the Global Development Program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Dr. Joan Lombardi, former deputy assistant secretary and inter-departmental liaison for early childhood education at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and Dr. Nurper Ulkuer, former head of the Early Childhood Development Unit and senior adviser for early childhood development at UNICEF.

Panel moderators are Dr. Marjorie Kostelnik, dean of the UNL College of Education and Human Sciences, and Dr. Helen Raikes, Willa Cather professor, UNL Department of Child, Youth and Family Studies. For more on the lecture visit

The focus of Heuermann Lectures is meeting the world's food and renewable energy needs while sustaining natural resources and rural communities. Lectures are made possible by a gift from B. Keith and Norma Heuermann of Phillips, long-time university supporters with a strong commitment to Nebraska's production agriculture, natural resources, rural areas and people.

Free parking for those attending the lecture is available in the Area C Dental College parking lot, which is located between the Animal Science Complex and the Dental College. The lot is east of the Nebraska East Union, and signs will point the way.

Iowa State's Ag College Touts Higher Grad Placement Rates

For 16 consecutive years, the overall placement rate for Iowa State's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences undergraduates has been 97 percent or higher.

The latest figures from CALS Career Services show the placement rate for the 2012-2013 class is 97.3 percent.

Of those graduates, 69 percent stayed in Iowa, according to the college.

Top employers of CALS grads include DuPont Pioneer, Cargill, ISU, John Deere, Monsanto, Ag Leader Technology, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Farmers Cooperative Company and Syngenta.

RFA Celebrates Newest Member: Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is proud to announce their newest member, Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy (SIRE). The company is located in Council Bluffs, Iowa and produces more than 120 million gallons of ethanol and more than 330,000 tons of Dried Distillers’ Grain (DDG) each year.

SIRE produces both wet and dry DDGs as well as corn oil, selling their high protein feedstock to facilities in the United States, Mexico, and the Pacific Rim. They are involved in the local agricultural community consuming more than 40 million bushels of corn per year from local farms in both Iowa and Nebraska.

Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association praised SIRE, commenting, “We know that SIRE will be a strong ally in the fight to protect the Renewable Fuel Standard, a program that is revitalizing rural communities, increasing household income and creating and sustaining more than 386,000 jobs. We are honored to have SIRE’s voice at the RFA Board table as we look to expand markets both domestically and abroad.”

“We are proud to be joining the Renewable Fuels Association, an organization well known for their resounding political message, ‘Don’t Mess with the RFS’. They are first rate at data collection and analysis and are always on top of current and upcoming regulations. It is absolutely vital in this day and age to have the most accurate and up-to-date information at our fingertips,” said Brian Cahill, President and CEO of Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy.

Cahill continued, “We are looking forward to being a part of the RFA Board, which is truly unique as each producer member receives a vote. It is important to have a voice on the national level to stand up to the naysayers who are attacking the very same industry that saves them money at the pump, lowers greenhouse gas emissions, and reduces America’s dependence on foreign oil.”

SIRE was formed in 2005 and began commercial production in early 2009. They are a dual-power facility receiving steam from a local power plant that runs in a closed loop, entering and exiting as steam, with the ability to use natural gas as a backup power supply.

Performance highlights, farm bill panel headline AMPI Annual Meeting

Continued increases in cheese, butter and powdered dairy product sales are among the performance highlights to be shared at the Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) Annual Meeting, set for March 24-25.

Some 400 people, including AMPI dairy farmer-owners from six states, industry leaders and guests, are expected for the milk marketing cooperative’s annual business review at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington, Minn. Headlining the program is a panel discussion of the 2014 Farm Bill’s impact on the dairy industry. The panelists include Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation; Steve Etka, Washington representative for the Midwest Dairy Coalition; and Phil Plourd, president of Wisconsin-based risk management company Blimling and Associates Inc.

AMPI members will also hear from South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Lucas Lentsch, who will share how he is aggressively promoting the Midwest as the ideal region for dairy farming. Jim Spain, dairy nutritionist at the University of Missouri, will discuss strategies for managing transition cows to maximize production and reproduction efficiencies. Terry Fleck, Center for Food Integrity, will explain new consumer trends and implications for the dairy industry.

During the annual business meeting, AMPI President and CEO Ed Welch and Chairman of the Board Steve Schlangen, a dairy farmer from Albany, Minn., will detail the progress that contributed to positive sales and earnings in 2013. Member delegates will also vote to determine AMPI’s position on issues and policies affecting the cooperative. The deliberations are the culmination of the cooperative’s grassroots policy-making process.

About AMPI: Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) is a dairy marketing cooperative owned by 2,600 Midwest dairy farm families who operate farms in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. AMPI members own 10 manufacturing plants and market a full line of consumer-packaged dairy products. In 2013, these dairy farmer-owners marketed 5.8 billion pounds of milk, resulting in $1.8 billion in sales for the cooperative.

Student Ambassador Appreciates Foreign Marketing Efforts

Sierra Jepsen, a student at The Ohio State University and 2014 National Beef Ambassador from Amanda, Ohio, recently spent some time touring the offices of checkoff contractor U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) in Denver. Jepsen says she has a new-found passion for the international marketplace.  She says, “In the past year, I’ve just really become interested in the international markets and done a little bit of traveling myself. But to be here in the headquarters of USMEF and to be able to see what goes into that export market and how that whole process goes together and how our United States personnel are working with 18 offices around the world and just really being able to have an inside look at where our products are going and how that demand is really driven by U.S. product and by international product as well, is really interesting. I’ve never been more confident in getting a degree in agricultural business as I have been today, and I’m just really excited about the future of the ag business and especially the beef industry and where we’re able to feed the world.”

Jepsen says she can now relate international markets to her own family farm, where they raise 70 head of Angus cattle, corn, wheat and soybeans.  She says, “I never related back exports to my home operation. We only raise 65-70 head of cattle at any given time, and I never really thought about how my family farm is feeding the world. We think about ‘we’re feeding our own families, we’re feeding people in my community’ but to think that there are products that my cattle are being shipped across the seas and going all around the world, we don’t think about that on a day-to-day basis. USMEF is really going through that process to fill that need and to fit that niche and it’s a big part of our industry. It’s really exciting that one day I may be working on this side of the industry, coming from a small family farm and then on a national and global level, it’s exciting!”

Beef "Did You Know" Shorts

(from Cattlemens Beef Board - Beef Checkoff)

Did you know ... The beef checkoff’s consumer-focused @Beef Twitter page is going beyond just sharing beef recipes, tips, techniques and meal inspiration. It now features mouthwatering beef pictures and visuals that play to consumers’ passion for beef and reinforce beef’s role in their everyday lives. For example, February 2014 was #HotBreakfastMonth, during which the checkoff educated consumers about how to include beef in any meal – including breakfast. In fact, one of the most popular tweets among the nearly 8,000 Twitter followers and their networks was the Beefy Sweet Potato Hash recipe.

Did you know ... The checkoff's sixth annual New Year’s beef promotion is continuing through March 29 in 132 retail supermarkets in the Northeast – up 18 percent from 2013 – on Jan. 9. The “Livin’ Lean. Lovin’ Beef” promotion reminds shoppers to include lean beef in their purchases, especially as they implement their New Year’s resolutions to engage in healthy active lifestyles. Promotional materials include on-pack recipe labels, website graphics and a library of posts for the retailers’ social-media platforms.

Did you know ... Through a partnership with South Dakota Beef Industry Council, the national Beef Checkoff Program is launching the second Beef in the Culinary Classroom for post-secondary culinary students in the heavily populated Northeast region of the country.  A total of seven culinary schools and community colleges – in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maine – submitted applications for the 11 culinary classes. A total of 411 culinary students will participate in the program to support purchase of fresh beef and veal for use in cooking and cutting demonstrations in class. This program runs through June.

Did you know ... The checkoff’s refreshed website is user-friendly, recipe-focused and mobile-friendly – aimed at reaching always-on-the-go millennials and those consumers who already know and love veal. The site also now includes a blog, as social media offers great opportunities to share veal recipes and information. Each month, the blog will feature new recipes, including links from established food bloggers who cook with veal, and will extend that reach by raising veal’s visibility and increasing keyword search engine optimization for veal. Take a look at the new home page!

Strong Year-end U.S. Pork Exports offer a “Bright Outlook” for 2014 Demand

U.S. pork exports remained strong last year, exceeding $6 billion for the third consecutive year, although down from the record level set in 2012. As 2013 drew to a close, 4.73 billion pounds of pork and pork variety meats valued at $6.05 billion dollars had been exported, down 5 percent and 4 percent, respectively, from 2012.

“Checkoff investments in helping tear down trade barriers and promote U.S. pork with international consumers are crucial to growing the revenue we enjoy from exports,” said Brian Zimmerman, chair of the Pork Checkoff’s Trade Committee and a Beatrice, Neb., producer. “In 2013, 26 percent of U.S. pork and pork variety meat was exported, which added nearly $54 per hog marketed.”

U.S. pork exports ended 2013 on a positive note with strong exports in December, demonstrating upward momentum going into 2014. Mexico, Central and South America and the ASEAN region posted particularly strong results to bring the month’s totals up slightly from levels of a year ago. In addition, through December total exports to South Korea, Australia and New Zealand were the highest of the year.

“Even though we saw a decrease in some markets in 2013, we continue to see incredible export opportunities,” said Zimmerman. “An increase in the global population and a growing middle-class in countries that enjoy pork gives pig farmers a bright outlook. We expect demand to continue to grow in the year ahead.”

Current negotiations for two additional free trade agreements – the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – could positively impact U.S. pork exports. The Trans-Pacific Partnership could open and expand markets in the Asia Pacific region, with high potential to increase exports to Japan, Vietnam and Australia. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a trade agreement with the European Union, could also greatly increase U.S. pork sales.

During 2013, more than 100 countries around the world bought U.S. pork.
-    The top five markets intotal poundsof pork exported were: Mexico (1.4 billion pounds), Japan (937 million pounds), China and Hong Kong (920 million pounds), Canada (501 million pounds), and Central and South America (268 million pounds).
-    The top five markets intotal dollar valueexported were: Japan ($1.885 billion), Mexico ($1.22 billion), China and Hong Kong ($903 million), Canada ($844 million), and Central and South America ($306 million).

Meanwhile, demand at home also grew by 5.6% in 2013. According to calculations from Pork Checkoff economist Dr. Steve Meyer, domestic real per capita expenditures increased nearly every month in 2013.Consumer education about the value and versatility of pork, the adoption of new pork cut names, and reinforcement of pork’s ideal cooking temperature were the Pork Checkoff’s key consumer messages. The new porterhouse pork chop, ribeye pork chop and New York pork chop were specifically featured in a summer marketing campaign.

“New domestic product marketing opportunities combined with growing interest from Mexico, Japan and China – our top three global markets – is helping U.S. pork farmers introduce quality pork to consumers down the street and around the globe,” said Zimmerman.

Despite PEDV and Other Challenges, Pig Farmers Upbeat on Future of Industry

U.S. pig farmers find optimism even though concerns over hog health and disease rank as a top concern, according to the results of a survey released this week at the National Pork Industry Forum in Kansas City, Mo. The survey, fielded late in 2013, found 30 percent of producers said hog health and disease was the single biggest challenge they faced. This result is not surprising given Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) continues to impact farms across the country.

“In a year that brought significant herd losses due to PEDV, the survey underscores that the issue is still top of mind for many producers,” said Karen Richter, National Pork Board president and a producer from Montgomery, Minn. “But with this concern comes opportunity for the Pork Checkoff, with 27 percent of producers also saying that the Checkoff was best positioned to fund additional research into PEDV.”

At 27 percent, providing PEDV research ranked first from a defined list of choices when asked“How can the Checkoff help you in 2014?”However, that direction changes slightly when those surveyed were asked to fill-in their own blank.

When asked the open-ended question of “What is the single most important thing the Pork Checkoff can do to help your operation be more successful?, six of 12 answers related to marketing pork. Advertising and promoting pork ranked No. 1 at 23 percent, followed by educating consumers about the safety of pork at 12 percent. Additional marketing-related concerns included improving export and international trade potential, increasing demand, opening more markets to pork and improving the sale price of hogs.

The challenging events of the past year also may have served to unite the industry in a focused direction. According to the survey results, three of every four producers surveyed (75 percent of the 550 respondents) reported that the pork industry is on the “right track.” Not only is that result the highest in survey history, but is up 16 points from the 2012 result of 59 percent.

“This is a very strong result,” said Richter. “Producers are satisfied, and whether you run a small, family farm or are part of a larger organization, there is a sense of optimism – especially among producers age 18 to 54. That says a lot about the future of our industry.”

Of the 13 percent of producers that said the industry was headed in the wrong direction, the most commonly reported reason was related to competition, too much regulation, the inability to turn a profit and disease problems. Only 6 percent of those surveyed blamed their lack of optimism on “disease.”

Image of pork industry also seen as improving

Another indicator that things are looking up is that, in general, those pig farmers surveyed believe that the consumers’ image of their work has improved, up 6 percentage points from last year. A total of 56 percent of producers surveyed said that consumer image is positive, with only 21 percent saying the image is negative.

At 56 percent, this positive perception among producers is the second highest in each of the last five years of the survey, and up from 50 percent in 2012. Likewise, producers feel that negative impressions have decreased – from 24 percent in 2012 to 21 percent in 2013 – a positive change of three percentage points.

Record-high approval of the Pork Checkoff

A final indicator of producer optimism is support of the Pork Checkoff. According to the 2013 survey, 87 percent of producers, the highest level on record, said that they support the Checkoff, with only 6 percent in opposition. The remaining producers either were neutral in their support or did not know how to respond.

“In my opinion, this is a vote of confidence in the steps we take every day to promote pork and provide valuable research to our producers,” said Chris Novak, chief executive officer of the National Pork Board. “The difference of 81 points separating support from opposition is the highest in the survey’s 12-year history. It is to a point that it will be difficult to improve upon this score,but we’ll continue to work hard to earn the trust and confidence of all producers.”

Hagan, Stabenow Request Disaster Declaration for PEDv

Senators Kay Hagan (NC) and Debbie Stabenow (MI), chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, urged Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to approve disaster assistance for small pork producers affected by a deadly virus that is hitting pig farms across the country. The Porcine Endemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv) has killed more than four million pigs nationwide since April 2013 with significant implications for the agricultural economy. The 2014 Farm Bill, signed into law last month, permanently extends critical livestock disaster assistance programs that could help producers in North Carolina, Michigan and 24 other states cope with the virus and manage the spread of the disease.

"Pork producers that have been impacted by PEDv face economic devastation, these producers are finally experiencing periods of higher margins after prolonged periods of razor thin profits. If this disease persists, pork herds will continue to diminish and producers risk going out of business," the Senators wrote in a letter to Secretary Vilsack.

Additionally, the Senators asked the USDA to increase research for a vaccine and other interventions to address PEDv, for which no vaccine or treatment currently exists.

The unmitigated spread of PEDv poses a serious threat to the agricultural economy as the pork industry supports nearly 550,000 jobs across the country and contributes $34.5 billion to the U.S. economy. PEDv has a reported mortality rate of nearly 100 percent for piglets under two weeks old and ultimately kills 50 to 80 percent of all newborn and suckling pigs. Older feeder or grower pigs are more capable of fighting the virus, suffering only a 1 to 3 percent death rate. The virus has occurred in Europe and Asia, but last spring was the first instance of PEDv in the United States.

Illinois Farmland Prices Reach $14,359/Acre in Schrader Auction

Two farms in Dewitt County, Ill., sold for a total of $7,089,000 in a Schrader auction that attracted more than 30 registered bidders and saw intense competition for the farmland.

The 255.7-acre farm offered in three tracts sold for $3,672,000, or $14,359 per acre. The second farm, which consisted of 285.4 acres offered in four tracts, sold for $3,417,000, or $11,972 per acre. The farms were located between Decatur and Clinton.

"These were great outcomes on both farms, with standing-room only crowds and solid participation from farmers and investors alike," said R.D. Schrader, president of Schrader Real Estate and Auction Company, which marketed the properties and conducted the auction. "We're continuing to see auction results that reflect strong farmland values, because farmland remains a sound long-term investment," said Schrader.

He added that operators continue to be strong bidders in land auctions. "When a farmer can add some land to extend his operations, he tends to be thinking long term. In some areas, a farm family may have to wait decades to have an opportunity to purchase a nearby farm, so it's not surprising when farmers emerge as the high bidders," said Schrader.

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