Monday, March 10, 2014

Monday March 10 Ag News + USDA WASDE Report

Bruce Anderson, UNL Extenison Forage Specialist

               In a few weeks, warmer spring weather will green up your alfalfa.  Before that happens, though, maybe you should do a little weed control.

               Weeds like pennycress, downy brome, mustards, cheatgrass, and shepherd's purse are common in first cut alfalfa.  They lower yields, reduce quality, lessen palatability, and slow hay drydown.  If you walk over your fields during the next few weeks when snow is gone you should be able to see their small, green, over-wintering growth.

               If your alfalfa variety is Roundup Ready, you can spray almost anytime without hurting your alfalfa.  Once conventional alfalfa starts growing, though, you can't control these weeds very well without also hurting your alfalfa.  However, if you treat your alfalfa as soon as possible during this winter’s next spring-like weather, you can have cleaner, healthier alfalfa at first cutting.

               Before deciding to spray these weeds, be sure they are causing economic damage to your alfalfa.  Spraying will give you more pure alfalfa but may cost some in total tonnage.

               Several herbicides can help control winter annual grasses and weeds in conventional alfalfa.  They include metribuzin, Velpar, Sinbar, Pursuit, Raptor, and Karmex.  They all control mustards and pennycress but Karmex and Pursuit do not control downy brome very well.

               To be most successful, you must apply most of these herbicides before alfalfa shoots green-up this spring to avoid much injury to your alfalfa.  If alfalfa shoots are green when you spray, its growth might be set back a couple weeks.  If it does get late, use either Pursuit or Raptor because they tend to cause less injury to your alfalfa.

               Timing is crucial when controlling winter annual weeds in alfalfa.  Get ready now, in the next few weeks before alfalfa greens up, to take advantage of nice weather when you get it.

UNL Plant Breeding and Genetics Symposium

Learn more about plant breeding efforts at public and private institutions at the UNL Plant Breeding and Genetics Symposium April 1 in Lincoln. The event will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Great Plains Room of the UNL East Campus Union.

Speakers will include:
-    Ramsey Lewis (North Carolina State)
-    Jeff Endelman (University of Wisconsin)
-    Jianming Yu (Iowa State University)
-    Susan Brown (Cornell University)
-    James Specht (University of Nebraska)
-    Sara Helland (DuPont Pioneer)

Information and Registration
The symposium is free but registration is required for in-person attendance or webinar viewing. Connection information for the webinar will be provided after registering. For more information or to register, visit the event website...   Registration is free with support from the UNL Department of Agronomy and Horticulture and DuPont Pioneer.

Fresh Ideas in Ag Innovation

Senator Mike Johanns

Nebraska’s farming and ranching history is as rich as its fertile soil. From our state’s early days, farm and ranch families have devoted their lives to growing the best quality crops and herds that provide the food, feed, fuel and fiber for an ever-growing population. While their mission has not changed over the years, their techniques continue to advance.

Each year, Nebraska’s ag producers convene at the Governor’s Agriculture Conference to share the latest tools of the trade. Last week marked the 26th annual event—complete with speakers, scientists and civic leaders who discussed emerging opportunities, technologies and policy affecting agriculture in Nebraska.

Governor Heineman has been a tremendous advocate for Nebraska’s agriculture community, and thus the state’s overall economy. He has continuously championed common-sense and reform minded agriculture policy that has benefited our state’s biggest industry. I congratulate him on his success and thank him for his service not only to farmers and ranchers, but to all Nebraskans.

I have many fond memories of this event from my time as governor, and was thrilled to join this year via video conference to discuss developments in Washington that impact our producers, like the farm bill, federal regulations and trade policies. I want to share that update with you.

The new farm bill that became law last month strengthens risk management tools like crop insurance, requiring producers to have skin in the game while providing needed support in difficult years. It authorizes funding for land-grant universities that conduct the research needed to ensure farmers and ranchers remain on the cutting edge of ag practices. The farm bill also streamlines conservation programs—an idea that I pushed as Secretary of Agriculture—so we can do our best to protect our natural resources. As a growing world population demands more food, this farm bill creates opportunities for beginning farmers and includes new efforts to assist veterans as they pursue careers in our state’s leading industry.

I also discussed efforts to rein in regulations that impede our ag producers. I consistently hear from farmers and ranchers about how federal agencies are pushing new rules that threaten their livelihoods and create an environment of uncertainty, like the recent effort by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to penalize a small Nebraska farm despite lacking authority to do so. I led an effort to push back against this egregious action, and am pleased to report that OSHA has since dropped the case that could have amounted to more than $130,000 in fines.

Agriculture continues to drive Nebraska’s economy, providing employment for nearly a third of the state. Our ag exports are important for our success, and I will continue to push efforts in Congress to expand trade opportunities and open new markets for Nebraska’s quality ag products. I’ve long supported Trade Promotion Authority, which empowers our trade negotiators as they seek agreements that open new doors for our exports. The Administration is finally warming to this idea, and I will continue working with my colleagues to ensure we take advantage of this important opportunity.

Nebraska’s thriving ag sector is the product of our talented and hardworking ag producers, who are eager to share new and innovative ways to advance the world’s oldest industry. I am proud to represent such dedicated Nebraskans, and I applaud Governor Heineman for hosting another successful conference.

Twelve Nebraska Farmers Union Members Attend National Farmers Union Convention

Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) President John Hansen heads up the twelve member NeFU delegation attending the 112th National Farmers Union (NFU) convention in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

NeFU Vice President Vern Jantzen of Plymouth was selected to serve on the 2014 NFU Policy Committee that reviews the existing policy, hears testimony from members and experts, considers state policy recommendations, and then sends their recommended policy draft to the NFU delegate body who makes the final decision about policy and Special Orders of Business.

Martin Kleinschmit of Hartington and Mike Sarchet of Minitare are the delegates and Dennis Buse of West Point is the alternate to the NFU Convention from the NeFU Board of Directors.

Ben Gotschall of Raymond and Dr. Merlin Friesen of Filley are delegates from the NeFU membership.

Other members attending the Convention from Nebraska include Linda Kleinshmit of Hartington,  John & Mardelle Goeller of Pilger, Jeff Downing of Elkhorn, and Roberta Sarchet of Minatare.

In addition, Stan and Judy Brown of Lincoln attended the convention where Stan received the NFU Meritorious Service Award for service to Farmers Union and American agriculture.

NFU Members Hear from Farm Bill Insiders

Attendees of National Farmers Union‘s (NFU) annual convention heard today from a panel of congressional, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and media experts on the 2014 Farm Bill.

Bart Fischer, chief economist, House Committee on Agriculture; Joe Shultz, chief economist, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; and Alexis Taylor, chief of staff, USDA Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, described the farm bill conference process from their respective viewpoints. Sara Wyant, president, Agri-Pulse Communications, moderated the panel.

The panelists discussed the compromises farm bill conference committee members made when negotiating the differences between the House of Representatives and Senate versions of the bill, particularly on commodity programs, Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL), crop insurance, payment limitations, changes to base acres allocations, and the new dairy program.

Panelists focused on the new commodity programs, the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs, as well as enhanced risk management tools, including the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) and improved options for non-insured crops and beginning farmers. Emphasis was also placed on the importance coalition-building efforts played in farm bill passage.

Taylor discussed the long-term implementation timeline, with emphasis on timely enactment of the livestock disaster programs, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack's top priority. USDA also plans to hold listening sessions in Washington, D.C., and across the country to ensure farmers and ranchers the opportunity to provide input on program implementation.

When posed with a question on COOL, the panelists each said they would be watching the World Trade Organization’s decision closely.

“This panel was a great opportunity for our members to hear firsthand from those responsible for all aspects of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ farm bill process: both writing and implementing the legislation,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “The information the panelists presented will help our members prepare for the difficult and complex commodity program and risk management decisions they will be making in the coming year.”

Red Meat Exports Start 2014 on Positive Note

U.S. beef, pork and lamb exports all opened the new year on a positive note, although market conditions suggest 2014 could be a challenging year for U.S. red meat exports, according to statistics released by the USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Beef exports continued the strong performance set in 2013, rising 13 percent in volume and 16 percent in value for the month, bolstered by double-digit growth to Mexico, Japan and Hong Kong. Pork exports rose 3 percent in volume and 2 percent in value for the month, driven by growth to Mexico, while lamb exports increased 7 percent in volume and 9 percent in value.

While price is just one of many factors that affect red meat trade, higher U.S. pork and beef prices will create challenges for American red meat exports in the months ahead, particularly in markets where customers are more price sensitive.

“In pork, there are a number of recognized challenges on the production side as well as unresolved access issues,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “In addition, we are also seeing increased competition in the form of higher marketing budgets and favorable prices for the EU, Brazil and Canada.”

Seng also noted that with U.S. beef production expected to drop 5 percent this year, and already running below last year’s levels, it will be challenging to maintain export levels.

Beef notes

Strong performances in the key markets of Mexico, Japan and Hong Kong, plus solid growth in Central/South America (Chile is the top destination, but with triple-digit growth to Colombia) offset a drop in exports to Canada (down 26 percent in volume and 21 percent in value), partially driven by the weaker Canadian dollar, as well as declines in the value of exports to the Middle East and volume to South Korea. In addition, the reemerging Indonesian market was the eighth-largest single-country destination by volume as exports continued the strong pace set back in October following improved market access conditions.

January exports of 97,824 metric tons (mt) were up 13 percent. Export value rose 16 percent year-over-year to $514.5 million. Exports accounted for 13 percent of total beef production (muscle cuts plus variety meat), and 10 percent of muscle cuts alone – increases of 2 and 1 percent, respectively. The export value per head of fed slaughter was $219.73, up $14.79 from last year.

Top-performing beef export markets in January were:
-    Mexico: 20,228 mt (up 23 percent) valued at $93.6 million (up 27 percent)
-    Japan: 15,655 mt (up 53 percent) valued at $92.9 million (up 28 percent)
-    Hong Kong: 12,811 mt (up 83 percent) valued at $80.9 million (up 118 percent)
-    Central/South America: 2,843 mt (up 26 percent) valued at $12.4 million (up 32 percent)
-    Chile: 975 mt (up 25 percent) valued at $4.7 million (up 26 percent)
-    Colombia: 369 mt (up 258 percent) valued at $1.3 million (up 243 percent)
-    Indonesia: 1,741 mt (up 3,314 percent) valued at $4.6 million (up 879 percent)

Pork notes

Solid export growth to Mexico and the largest export volume to Japan since October 2012 helped push U.S. pork exports up 3 percent in volume (191,561 mt) and 2 percent in value ($535.6 million). Sales to the Hong Kong/China region were steady in volume versus last January, but rose 15 percent in value. The Central/South America region was up sharply, driven by triple-digit growth to Columbia, while both Oceania and the ASEAN region posted solid increases.

Pork exports accounted for 25.5 percent of total pork production and 21 percent of muscle cuts alone, up slightly from January of 2013. Export value averaged $54.70 per head, up $2.12 from last year.

Top-performing pork export markets in January were:
-    Mexico: 59,825 mt (up 9 percent) valued at $113.2 million (up 10 percent)
-    Japan: 39,069 mt (up 4 percent) valued at $163.4 million (down 6 percent)
-    Hong Kong/China: 34,766 mt (even) valued at $82.7 million (up 15 percent)
-    Central/South America: 11,284 mt (up 74 percent) valued at $29.1 million (up 79 percent)
-    Colombia: 4,732 mt (up 258 percent) valued at $12.4 million (up 270 percent)
-    Oceania: 7,429 mt (up 16 percent) valued at $24.6 million (up 25 percent)
-    New Zealand: 1,085 mt (up 63 percent) valued at $3.3 million (up 62 percent)
-    Caribbean: 3,138 mt (up 22 percent) valued at $7.3 million (up 14 percent)

Lamb notes

Lamb exports for January increased 7 percent in volume to 1,056 mt and 9 percent in value to $2.7 million. Mexico remains the top lamb destination, purchasing 913 mt valued at $1.5 million. The Caribbean, Canada and the Middle East follow in volume, although Central/South America is emerging as a market, largely driven by sales to Panama: 13 mt (up 550 percent) valued at $96,000 (up 243 percent).

NPPC Elects New Officers, Board Members

The National Pork Producers Council today elected new officers and members to its board of directors at its annual business meeting – the National Pork Industry Forum – held here.

Elected as president of the organization was Dr. Howard Hill, a consultant for Iowa Select Farms and a pork producer from Cambridge, Iowa. His pork production business, H&K Enterprises, includes hogs and cattle, and Hill and his son farm 2,600 acres of corn, soybeans and alfalfa.

Dr. Ron Prestage was elected as president-elect. A pork producer from Camden, S.C., Prestage is part of the family-owned Prestage Farms, which includes hogs, turkeys, cattle and cropland for hay. He’s primarily responsible for the sows and turkeys on the farms in South Carolina and a swine operation in Mississippi.

Elected as vice president was John Weber, a pork producer from Dysart, Iowa. In addition to raising hogs for Cargill Inc., he manages with his son Valley Lane Farms Inc., a grain and livestock operation.

New members elected to the board for three-year terms were David Herring, of Lillington, N.C.; Phil Borgic, of Nokomis, Ill.; and Terry Wolters, of Pipestone, Minn. They join current directors Jim Compart, of Nicollet, Minn.; Jim Heimerl, of Johnstown, Ohio; Ray Summerlin, of Rose Hill, N.C.; Bill Kessler, of Mexico, Mo.; AV Roth, of Wauzeka, Wis.; Ken Maschhoff, of Carlyle, Ill.; and Chris Hodges, of Kansas City, Mo.

Elected for a two-year term as the allied industry representative was Kent Bang, with AgStar Financial. Re-elected for two-year terms to the NPPC Nominating Committee were Dave Moody, of Iowa, and Kraig Westerbeek, of North Carolina.

“In Howard, Ron and John, pork producers have some great leadership at the helm of NPPC, and the pork industry has some thoughtful innovators,” said NPPC CEO Neil Dierks. “And the addition of David Herring, Phil Borgic and Terry Walters to the NPPC board gives us some good young leaders who will help take the industry into the future.”


USDA published a preliminary decision today that a soybean genetically engineered for insect resistance by Dow AgroSciences should be nonregulated.  USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) prepared a Plant Pest Risk Assessment, environmental assessment, and preliminary "finding of no significant impact" for public review.

The soybean product is resistant to certain lepidopteran pests and the herbicide glufosinate. The petition states that this soybean is unlikely to pose a plant pest risk and, therefore, should not be a regulated article under APHIS' regulations.

APHIS will consider any comments it receives on or before April 2.

USDA Announces Efforts to Expand Support for Small and Mid-Sized Farmers and Ranchers

Today in remarks at the National Farmers Union National Convention, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced new and expanded efforts to connect small- and mid-sized farmers and ranchers with USDA resources that can help them build stronger businesses, expand to reach new and larger markets, and grow their operations.

"The recent Census of Agriculture shows that there is tremendous growth potential for small and mid-sized producers in the American agricultural landscape," said Vilsack. "USDA is taking a hard look at our existing resources to ensure that they work for producers of all sizes. We've adjusted policies, strengthened programs and intensified outreach to meet the needs of small and mid-sized producers. These producers are critical to our country's agricultural and economic future."

Efforts include improved access to USDA resources, revised risk management tools that better fit the needs of smaller producers, additional support for hoop houses, and expanded collection of valuable market news information. USDA is also introducing a series of education tools focusing on opportunities for farmers engaged in local and regional food systems. In addition, USDA field staff will be boosting their outreach efforts to small and mid-sized farmers and ranchers.

More information about tools and resources available to small and mid-sized farmers will be rolled out in the coming months, including information about access to capital, risk management, food safety, and locating market opportunities on USDA's Small and Mid-Sized Farmer Resources webpage.

The new efforts announced by the Secretary today include:


    Changes to the Farm Storage and Facility Loan (FSFL) Program to help small and midsized fruit and vegetable producers access the program for cold storage and related equipment like wash and pack stations. Diversified and smaller fruit and vegetable producers, including Community Supported Agriculture programs, are now eligible for a waiver from the requirement that they carry crop insurance or NAP coverage when they apply for a FSFL loan. FSFL can also be used to finance hay barns and grain bins.
    Funding for producers under the popular microloan program. USDA launched the microloan program to allow beginning, small and mid-sized farmers to access up to $35,000 in loans using a simplified application process. Since their debut in 2013, USDA has issued more than 4,900 microloans totaling $97 million.
    Funding for hoop houses to extend the growing season. Hoop houses provide revenue opportunities while also promoting conservation for small and mid-sized farmers. The hoop house cost share program began as a pilot in 2010. Since then, more than 10,000 hoop houses have been contracted. USDA will soon announce an additional $15 million for hoop house development in persistent poverty counties in nineteen states as part of USDA's StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity Initiative.


    Developing tools to help small and midsized farmers and ranchers make sound financial decisions as they plan for their future. USDA is developing a whole farm insurance policy that will better meet the needs of highly-diversified producers, particularly small and midsized fruit and vegetable growers. Using new tools provided by the Farm Bill, USDA is working to reduce crop insurance costs for beginning farmers and ranchers. And organic producers will benefit from the elimination of a previously-required five percent surcharge on crop insurance premiums.


    USDA's Farm to School Program has put seven new Farm to School Coordinators on the ground in regional offices to help build direct relationships between small and mid-sized producers and school districts. One priority area for Farm to School is creating more opportunities for small and mid-sized livestock and poultry producers. Since 2013, USDA has invested nearly $10 million in Farm to School grants that support schools as they purchase from local and regional sources. In the 2011-2012 school year alone, schools spent nearly $355 million on local and regional food purchases.
    Expanded price, volume, supply and demand information through Market News. Market News is now collecting price data on grass-fed beef to arm producers will real pricing information from the sector. Market News will also soon begin collecting data about local food prices and volume, valuable to small and mid-sized producers engaged in that marketplace. Market News provides real time price, volume, supply, and demand information for producers to use in making production and marketing decisions. Access to timely, unbiased market information levels the playing field for all producers participating in the marketplace.
    Broadened the National Farmers Market Directory to include CSAs, on-farm stores and food hubs. This information will help small and mid-sized producers find new market opportunities. USDA will begin collecting data to update the directory for the 2014 season this spring. The USDA National Farmers Market Directory receives over 2 million hits annually.


    Launched pilot projects in five states to help small and mid-sized farmers achieve Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) certification. GAP certification indicates farmers have met food safety standards required by many retail buyers. Under these pilot programs, small and mid-sized producers will be able to share the costs and fees associated with the certification process as a group. Group GAP efforts are being developed in partnership with small and mid-sized producer groups in Michigan, Wisconsin, Montana, Pennsylvania and Missouri.


    Created a Learning Guide Series for small and mid-sized producers to help them navigate available USDA resources, available on the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food website. The first in this series will be for small and mid-sized livestock and poultry producers. Additional Learning Guides will be released later this year. USDA field staff and StrikeForce teams will increase outreach to small and mid-sized producers using the Learning Guides.
    Launched Small Scale Solutions for Your Farm, a series of educational resources designed for both small livestock and fruit and vegetable producers. This includes tips on simple management activities such as planting cover crops to complex structural practices such as animal waste management systems or innovative irrigation devices


The recently-signed 2014 Farm Bill provides USDA with more direct resources to support small and mid-sized farmers, including:
    Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), which provides grants to organizations that train, educate and provide outreach and technical assistance to new and beginning farmers on production, marketing, business management, legal strategies and other topics critical to running a successful operation. The 2014 Farm Bill provides $100 million total to BFRDP over the next 5 years.
    Value-Added Producer Grant Program was modified to allow USDA to better target small and mid-sized family farms, beginning and socially-disadvantaged farmers, and veterans. The 2014 Farm Bill provides $63 million over the next 5 years.
    Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program is expanded to support both direct-to-consumer opportunities and other supply chain projects such as food hubs. The 2014 Farm Bill provides $30 million annually.


USDA last week released its FY2015 Budget, which includes additional resources to help small and mid-sized farmers and ranchers, including:
    $2.5 million to provide food safety training to owners and operators of small farms, small food processors, and small fruit and vegetable vendors affected by Food Safety Modernization Act.
    $3 million for Small, Socially Disadvantaged Producers Grants Program to ensure historically underprivileged rural Americans have opportunities for cooperative development.
    $2.5 million for a new Food and Agriculture Resilience Program for Military Veterans (FARM-Vets) that promotes research, education, and extension activity for veterans.
    $11 million for the Value-Added Producer Grants Program. The 2014 Farm Bill provides an additional $63 million in mandatory funding that is available until expended.
    $2.5 million in funding for the National Agricultural Statistics Service to conduct a survey on land ownership and farm financial characteristics. This supports an Administration priority that will provide additional demographic data related to small and beginning farmers and ranchers.
    $1.2 million for the Office of Advocacy and Outreach to carry out these responsibilities and the provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill related to outreach to beginning, small, and socially disadvantaged farmers, and ranchers, including veterans, and rural communities.
    $25.7 million for Departmental Administration to maintain critical support activities and oversight for the Department, including management of small and disadvantaged business utilization programs.

US Ethanol Exports Surge 33% in January

The United States exported 86.2 million gallons of ethanol in January, up 33% from the 64.8 million gallons exported in December, according to an analysis of data from various federal agencies by Geoff Cooper, the Renewable Fuels Association's vice president for research.

Cooper said the data also shows Brazil overtaking Canada as the biggest importer of U.S. ethanol. He said Brazil imported 24 million gallons of U.S. ethanol compared with 18.8 million gallons for Canada.

Other importers of U.S. ethanol were United Arab Emirates, India and the Philippines in that order.

Website Offers Updated Information Important to Planting Decisions

The National Corn Growers Association released a revised version of its "Know Before Your Grow" website this week to offer growers updated information to help inform planting decisions in light of the release of new seed varieties currently unapproved in some export markets. The information provided allows growers to make informed decisions on potential marketing restrictions well before harvest.

"In a globalized agricultural economy, it is important that farmers understand the delicate balance that must be struck in trying to ensure access to the technologies necessary to combat production challenges while also ensuring export markets remain open to U.S. corn," said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jim Zimmerman. "In the case of China, the balance can prove challenging given that country's asynchronous approval system for biotech traits, and its current trend toward falling behind even the normal asynchronous approval timelines. While we must make robust efforts to maintain market access, be it through controlled limited release of new products or even delayed release, farmers should remain aware of the importance of these products to their operations as they face difficulties caused by biological stressors. Both biotechnology and export markets play a key role in maintaining profitability and making decisions based on solid information will be key moving forward."

NCGA stands solidly true to its policy in maintaining all new events must have approval in the United States and Japan prior to release. Additionally, the trait provider must be actively pursuing approval in all other markets for U.S. corn.

Over the winter months, the NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team and the Corn Board worked tirelessly to examine all aspects and implications of the possible introduction of biotech traits not approved in China or the EU to the U.S. corn market. In doing so, TPBAT and the Corn Board sought to find a balance between the importance of timely availability of needed technology to farmers and the importance of maintaining export markets.

In the 2012/2013 marketing year, exports to China represented 0.8 percent of the total U.S. corn supply.

In examining the specific case of Agrisure Duracade, the team looked at the importance of products to combat intense rootworm pressure seen in some areas. While the need to maintain export markets remains of great importance to NCGA, it also saw the potential difficulty farmers would face if a regulatory system that is not functioning overseas could bar farmers' access to necessary technologies indefinitely. In light of these circumstances, NCGA asked that Syngenta develop a controlled limited release of the trait that would keep corn grown using Agrisure Duracade seed out of export channels in a closely monitored fashion.

NCGA urges members to examine the traits approved in export markets prior to planting. With current gaps in trait approvals abroad, farmers should make well-informed planting decisions to avoid potentially difficult situations should elevators again decide not to accept corn with these traits at harvest.

As specific issues have arisen from the release of Agrisure Duracade, which currently is not approved in China or the European Union, NCGA reminds growers that corn used in ethanol production also often enters export streams as distillers dried grains. DDGS are a valuable feed ingredient gaining popularity in China and other export markets. While planting decisions involve a multitude of factors, it is import to factor in potential issues which could be faced marketing grain unapproved for markets supplied through elevators with which one does business.

Growers should read their grower agreements before planting and communicate with their grain buyers. This is why NCGA works with technology providers to publicize regular updates on the approval status of these events.  Regardless of export status, there is an ample market for U.S. biotech corn.

Membership of National Corn Growers Sets Record

The National Corn Growers Association reached a new membership milestone at the end of February, with 40,287 on the rolls. This membership record replaces the former record, of 40,244, set in August 2013.

"We're thrilled to set yet another membership record at a time when the average membership in trade associations like ours is flat or declining," said NCGA President Martin Barbre. "Not only do we offer a terrific set of member benefits, but our growers know the value NCGA offers in Washington and throughout the country and recognize that grassroots efforts have been the strength and driving force behind their organization."

Barbre cited the recent effort by NCGA and its allies to demand the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rescind its proposal to cut corn ethanol in the Renewable Fuel Standard by 10 percent. In that effort, NCGA and its state affiliates drove more than 24,000 comments to the EPA, and additional thousands of calls to the White House.

NCGA has members across the contiguous United States and works in cooperation with grower associations and state corn checkoff boards from 28 states, representing the interests of its members and the more than 300,000 growers who contribute corn checkoff funds in their states.

Brazil's AgRural Lowers Soy Crop View by 1 MMT to 86 MMT

AgRural, a local farm consultancy, lowered its 2013-14 Brazilian soybean crop view by 1 million metric tons (mmt) to 86.0 mmt in the latest in a long line of forecast revisions following disappointing late-season weather.  The reductions come after dry January and February weather in the states of Parana, Santa Catarina, Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais and Goias.  AgRural's figure is at the low end of crop estimates, which range from 86 mmt to 90 mmt.

In Parana, the No. 2 soybean state, dry weather in January and the first half of February led to losses in the south and southeast, which has seen production grow in recent years.

Despite problems with excessive rain, AgRural chose to maintain its forecasts for Mato Grosso, Brazil's No. 1 soy state.  Rainy conditions continue to hamper harvesting in Mato Grosso, but fieldwork still progressed 14 percentage points last week, said AgRural.  As of Friday, Mato Grosso farmers had harvested 73% of their crop, slightly behind the 75% harvested at the same stage last year, the consultancy said.

In Brazil as a whole, the harvest moved forward 10 points to 49%, slightly ahead of the 46% registered at the same time last year.

Registration Opens for 2014 PLC and NCBA Legislative Conferences

The Public Lands Council (PLC) and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) announced today that registration is open for their 2014 legislative conferences. PLC will be hosting its event April 7-9, 2014, in Washington, D.C., while NCBA’s conference, sponsored by Elanco, will kick off the evening of April 8 and will run through April 10, 2014. In addition to meeting with their U.S. representatives and senators about a variety of issues affecting the livestock industry, attendees will hear from administration officials, industry experts and other multiple-use industry representatives.

PLC President Brice Lee and NCBA President Bob McCan agreed that it is important for livestock producers to visit Washington, D.C., and have their voices heard on Capitol Hill.

“Decisions made inside the Beltway have a direct impact on cattle producers’ daily operations,” said McCan. “I encourage all cattlemen and women to get involved in our nation’s legislative process in order to ensure that the beef industry remains successful and our agricultural economy remains vibrant.”

During the conferences, attendees will be hearing from government agency personnel, Congressional staff and industry members. After their Hill visits, NCBA conference attendees are invited to a reception on Capitol Hill hosted by Outback Steakhouse on April 9.

“This is an invaluable experience for ranchers who are able to make the trip to Washington,” said Lee. “They take home great information from their congressional representatives and the federal regulatory agencies, and they make important contacts that can last a lifetime. Every single producer also benefits from this conference, because we carry the message to Washington about the issues that are important to the bottom line of our nation’s livestock producers operating with federal grazing permits.”

World Ag Supply and Demand Estimates - March 10, 2014

Projected U.S. feed grain ending stocks for 2013/14 are reduced with higher corn exports and lower oats imports.  Corn exports are projected 25 million bushels higher on stronger world imports and the rising pace of shipments in recent weeks.  Continued strong export sales also support the higher figure.  Projected corn ending stocks are lowered 25 million bushels.  Oats imports are projected 10 million bushels lower as Canadian logistical problems reduce the availability of importable supplies.  Small reductions in U.S. oats domestic use and ending stocks are projected.  The season-average farm price for corn is narrowed 5 cents on both ends of the projected range to $4.25 to $4.75 per bushel.  Price ranges are similarly narrowed for sorghum and oats.  The barley farm price is raised 10 cents on the low end of the range to $5.95 to $6.25 per bushel based on recently higher reported prices for feed barley.  

Global coarse grain supplies for 2013/14 are projected 1.4 million tons higher with larger corn beginning stocks for Indonesia, higher corn production for China, and higher barley production for Australia.  Partly offsetting is a reduction in expected sorghum output for Australia as a continuation of hot, dry conditions have sharply eroded prospects for this year’s sorghum crop. 

Global coarse grain imports for 2013/14 are raised 1.3 million tons with higher corn imports for Indonesia and the European Union and higher barley imports for China.  Higher expected corn and barley feeding in these countries drive the import increases.  Barley feeding is also raised for Australia as drought reduces sorghum supplies and boosts demand for other feed grains.  Sorghum exports are lowered for Australia.  Sorghum imports are reduced for Mexico as strong demand from China has driven U.S. Gulf sorghum prices above those for corn in recent months limiting import opportunities for sorghum feeders in Mexico.  Barley exports are raised for Australia with the larger crop.  European Union corn exports are lowered, but more than offset by this month’s increase for the United States.  

Global coarse grain ending stocks for 2013/14 are raised slightly with higher corn stocks in China and Indonesia more than offsetting lower barley stocks in the European Union and the reductions in corn and oats stocks in the United States.


U.S. soybean supply and use projections for 2013/14 include higher imports and exports, reduced crush, and reduced ending stocks compared with last month’s report.  Soybean exports are raised 20 million bushels to a record 1.53 billion reflecting continued strong sales and shipments through February.  Soybean crush is reduced 10 million bushels to 1.69 billion reflecting weaker-than-expected domestic soybean meal use through the first quarter of the marketing year.  Soybean stocks are projected at 145 million bushels, down 5 million from last month.  Soybean oil stocks are reduced on lower production and increased exports.  Other soybean oil changes include reduced use for biodiesel and an offsetting increase for food, feed, and other industrial use.

Soybean and soybean product prices are all projected higher this month.  The season-average price range forecast for soybeans is raised 25 cents on both ends of the range to $12.20 to $13.70 per bushel.  Soybean oil prices are forecast at 36 to 39 cents per pound, up 1.5 cents at the midpoint.  Soybean meal prices are projected at $450 to $490 per short ton, up 25 dollars at the midpoint.

Global oilseed production for 2013/14 is projected at 504.3 million tons, down 1.7 million from last month as reduced soybean and copra production are only partly offset by increases for rapeseed, sunflowerseed, and peanuts.  Foreign production, projected at 407.0 million tons, accounts for all of the change.  Brazil soybean production is projected at 88.5 million tons, down 1.5 million mainly reflecting hot, dry weather in the south when much of the crop was in the flowering and filling stages.  Soybean production is also reduced for Paraguay due to the extended period of hot, dry weather.  China rapeseed production is estimated at 14.4 milliontons, up 0.2 million based on increased area and yield indicated in recently released  government statistics.  Other changes include higher rapeseed production for Australia and increased peanut production for China, Uganda, and Tanzania.  Global oilseed supplies, exports, and ending stocks for 2013/14 are projected lower this month while crush is projected higher.  Soybean crush is projected higher for the European Union, Paraguay, and Zambia; rapeseed and peanut crush are each raised for China.  Lower soybean stocks in the United States, Brazil, and Paraguay are only partly offset by higher rapeseed stocks in China.  Global oilseed stocks are projected at 84.0 million tons, down 1.9 million.

There are no changes to the 2013/14 U.S. all wheat supply and use projections this month.  A 15-million-bushel increase in projected Hard Red Spring wheat exports is offset by a decrease for Soft Red Winter wheat, with both changes reflecting the pace of sales and shipments.  Projected ending stocks for both classes are adjusted accordingly.  The projected season-average farm price for all wheat is raised 10 cents on the bottom end of the range to $6.75 to $6.95 per bushel based on recent strength in prices.

Global 2013/14 wheat supplies are raised slightly with a 0.8-million-ton increase in world production.  Production is raised 1.1 million tons for India and 0.5 million tons for Australia based on the latest government reports.  China is lowered 0.3 million tons, also based on the latest official indications.  Production is lowered for Uruguay and Paraguay, down 0.3 million tons and 0.2 million tons, respectively, reflecting dry growing season conditions in both countries and early season freeze damage in Paraguay that also reduced yields.
Strong demand in the Middle East and North Africa boosts 2013/14 world wheat imports 3.0 million tons.  Imports are raised for Iran, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Syria, Algeria, Iraq, and Turkey.  Exports are raised for the European Union, Russia, Serbia, and Turkey.  European Union exports are raised 1.5 million tons reflecting the strong pace of licenses with higher corn imports and feeding freeing up more wheat for export.  For Russia, higher wheat imports and reduced wheat feeding support a 1.0-million-ton increase in wheat exports.  Export business has remained strong for both countries well into the second half of the 2013/14 marketing year as prices remain attractive for buyers in the Middle East and North Africa.

World wheat consumption is raised slightly for 2013/14 with increased use for India, Iran, Australia, Iraq, and Morocco more than offsetting lower feed use for the European Union and Russia, and for South Korea, where wheat imports are lowered.  Wheat feeding is raised for Australia as drought reduces sorghum supplies and boosts the use of grain in livestock rations. Global wheat ending stocks are nearly unchanged.

The 2014 forecast of total red meat and poultry production is lowered from last month as higher beef production is more than offset by lower pork, broiler, and turkey production.  For beef, continued relatively large cattle placements in the first quarter are expected to result in higher slaughter in 2014.  Coupled with heavier carcass weights and higher expected first-quarter cow slaughter, the beef production forecast is raised.  Pork production is reduced from last month as higher carcass weights are insufficient to offset tighter supplies of hogs.  USDA will release the Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report on March 28.  Broiler production is lowered as hatchery data points to slower growth in eggs set and chicks placed.  Turkey production is reduced as January slaughter and hatchery data were below expectations.  Egg production forecasts for 2014 are unchanged, but historical data are adjusted to reflect recently published data. 

The beef import forecast for 2014 is unchanged from last month, but the export forecast is raised on strong sales to Asian markets.  Pork imports are raised as prices are forecast higher, but the export forecast is reduced as high prices are expected to constrain sales.  The broiler export forecast is raised as January exports were higher-than-expected.  Turkey exports are lowered.  The egg export forecast is unchanged. 

Cattle prices for 2014 are raised from last month, reflecting tight supplies and continued price strength for fed cattle.  The hog price forecast is raised on expected tight supplies of market hogs and strong demand.  Broiler and turkey prices are largely unchanged but the egg price is raised on higher first-quarter prices. 

The milk production forecast for 2014 is unchanged from last month, but historical data are adjusted to reflect revised data for 2012 and 2013.  Fat-basis exports for 2014 are raised on higher sales of cheese and butter.  Skim-solid exports are unchanged as lower lactose and weaker-than-expected early year sales of nonfat dry milk (NDM) offset gains in cheese.  Fat-basis imports are unchanged.  Skim-solid imports are raised on strong demand for milk protein concentrates.  

Product price forecasts for cheese, butter, NDM, and whey are higher, supported by strong demand and price strength to date.  Class III and Class IV prices are raised on higher product prices.  The all milk price is forecast at $21.40 to $22.00 per cwt.

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