Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday March 24 Ag News


Ag Day is Every Day Campaign

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture is asking you to donate to a new campaign that will help children understand where their food comes from and remind others that “Ag Day is Every Day.”

“National Agriculture Week is March 24-28 and National Agriculture Day is March 25. Why should we celebrate agriculture only at that time? We need people to help us spread the good word about agriculture year-round,” Deanna Karmazin executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture, said March 12.

Today we have people who are two, three or four generations removed from the farm. The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture is trying to build relationship with consumers and educate teachers, children and their parents that food comes from a farm or ranch.

“We need dollars to provide books and resources to schools and libraries, organize farm tours, develop agriculture related museum and zoo exhibits and nature nights, provide free resources to Nebraska classrooms and a whole lot more,” Karmazin said.

The Foundation wants to embrace the future by working with teachers and students through the Agriculture in the Classroom program, advance young farmers and ranchers to be spokesmen for their industry, promote and educate the public about modern agriculture, develop leaders and offer student scholarships. The Foundation is a non-profit, charitable organization making a difference in the lives of all Nebraskans.

“Giving a positive public perception of agriculture today is vital! We can no longer take for granted that people know where their food comes from – they don’t! By building awareness and understanding of agriculture, the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture uses education and leadership development to tell agriculture’s story. That’s why we need your help to plant seeds of knowledge about agriculture,” Karmazin said.

Day @ the Farm Video Contest Announces Three Winning Classrooms

The Nebraska Farm Bureau and the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture are pleased to announce three Nebraska classrooms who were selected as grand prize winners in their Day @ the Farm video contest. The two organizations teamed up to host the Day @ the Farm video contest to promote agricultural literacy.

Winning classrooms will go on an all-expense-paid field trip to farms or ranches near their school in April and May and also received a surprise party congratulating them. Grand prize winning classrooms are:
     - Mrs. Christy Kleffman’s first grade class from St. Vincent de Paul in Omaha, Neb.
     - Mrs. Jessica Tjaden and Mrs. Kalynne Breunsbach’s kindergarten classes from Southern Public Elementary in Blue Springs, Neb.
     - Mrs. Ashley Mueller’s second grade class at Jefferson Elementary in Grand Island, Neb.

Agriculture is a staple of Nebraska’s economy accounting for one in four jobs across our state. But with a growing disconnect between farmers and ranchers to teachers and students, an understanding of the impact of agriculture is becoming a major issue.

“The Day @ the Farm contest was designed to educate students about the importance of agriculture in their lives no matter where they live,” said Deanna Karmazin, executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. “Through the contest, we have provided these classrooms with hands-on educational opportunities that will have a lasting impact on these students.”

Teachers and their classrooms, grades K-12, were invited to submit a video answering the question – What would your life be like without Nebraska agriculture? Many wonderful entries were received and the competition was tough, said Karmazin.

“We are looking forward to getting these students out to the farms and ranches. We have had several Farm Bureau members offer to host these students and are very excited to showcase agriculture in our state to the future generation. We want to make sure these visits are memorable and positive,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

Celebrating Agriculture

Senator Mike Johanns

In Nebraska, where agriculture is our top industry, we have a great understanding and appreciation for how our food gets to the table.  We know how much work goes into growing our food products, and we know quality when we see it. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in many parts of our country.

Often in our nation’s urban hubs, the closest many Americans ever get to agriculture is the supermarket shelf. When they purchase their steak, they don’t see the rancher caring for a newborn calf in the middle of a bitterly cold winter night. Hours of tedious maintenance on a combine that costs more than some homes is not a prerequisite for someone to buy a can of corn. Our nation’s ag producers and distributors work hard so that stocking the pantry is as simple as checking off a grocery list.

This week is National Agriculture Week, a time to celebrate the hard work by ag producers across Nebraska and the nation to feed and fuel the world. It’s also a great opportunity to consider the important role agriculture plays is in our daily lives.

It may be easy to take agriculture for granted when food is so readily available in our country, but it is important to remember that our ag producers are not only providing a necessity for life, but also a fundamental source of security.

Imagine what would happen if you went to the grocery store and the shelves were empty, or food prices were so high that you couldn’t afford to feed your family. The question no longer is what are you having for dinner, but how are you going to sustain yourself?  The unfortunate reality is, in some parts of the world, this is a real problem. I’ve traveled to places where food is in short supply and families suffer from severe hunger every day. Communities cannot develop and advance when they are focused on survival. With the global population expected to reach nine billion by 2050, feeding the world is only going to become more challenging, making agriculture even more important.

Nebraska has been a leader in providing the needed food, feed and fuel for our global neighbors, exporting $7.2 billion in ag products in 2012 alone. Our farmers and ranchers are exploring new and innovative ways to feed more and more people while taking good care of our limited natural resources. At places like Chadron State College and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, research is being done to develop techniques to increase ag efficiency and yields, even in the face of severe drought and other natural trials. Science and technology continue to change the face of one of the world’s oldest industries. I remain committed to pursuing policies that keep our ag products safe and affordable, while expanding markets to help meet demand in other parts of the world.

We are blessed in our country to have access to an abundant food supply, and fortunate that many hard-working farmers and ranchers call Nebraska home. This week, take a moment to consider how important agriculture is to your health, security and opportunities as an American. And be sure to thank a farmer and rancher.


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

Small grains planted last fall are greening up and will soon grow rapidly in most areas.  Many fields soon will be ready to graze.  This spring, let’s make these pastures productive and safe.

Did you look ahead and plant rye or triticale or even wheat last fall to use as early pasture this spring?  If so, you soon will be rewarded.  Many of these fields are about ready to graze.

These small grain pastures are an extremely important resource this spring.  Not only will they relieve you from feeding hay, get your animals onto clean green grass, and produce excellent gains, they also will help you wait longer before turning onto your other pastures, giving them a chance to recover from recent stresses.

To maximize grazing from small grain pastures, wait until grass is 4 to 8 inches tall before starting to graze.  Then stock heavily enough to maintain plant height between 6 and 12 inches.  To accomplish this, either adjust the number of animals according to grass growth or sub-divide the pasture into paddocks and graze rotationally.  Grass stands, soils, fertility, and moisture all will affect stocking rate, so adjust stock numbers for your conditions.  With careful management, you can have good grazing all the way to mid-June.

One concern when grazing small grain pasture is animal death from grass tetany.  Tetany is more common in lactating cows than in dry cows or young stock.  Reduce tetany by feeding magnesium oxide supplements mixed with salt, molasses, or grain.  Monitor consumption carefully and adjust the mixture so cattle consume about one-quarter pound of magnesium oxide per cow each week.                                               

Small grain pastures can be convenient and profitable.  Just use good management to optimize production and prevent livestock losses.

Third Annual Husker Food Connection Set for April 24th

The 2014 Husker Food Connection is coming up fast and your help is needed! The event is scheduled for Thursday, April 24 at the north entrance of the Student Union on the UNL city campus, lasting from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The theme of Husker Food Connection is, "MEATing in the Middle." 

"We chose this theme to help promote unity between consumer opinion and farmer fact," A-FAN intern, Lukas Fricke said. "The goal is to create an environment that promotes interaction and helps tell our story in a non-threating way."

Husker Food Connection is being brought to the doorstep of urban society in the heart of UNL. It is going to bring agriculture to a personal level by allowing conversations to flow freely in a fun, interactive way.

Last year, 2,000 students faced the chilly, rainy weather to learn about agriculture at Husker Food Connection. Fricke is planning for 2,500 students attending this year. Students will receive free lunches made from Nebraska-grown products. Exhibits will display live animals and tractors for up close and personal learning opportunities. There will be games revolving around livestock production and prizes.

If you or anyone you know would like to be involved in the event, contact Lukas Fricke at Help is encouraged and appreciated through any form of donations or volunteering. 

NeFBF Hires New CFO

Kevin Burch is the new chief financial officer for Nebraska Farm Bureau. His employment with NFBF officially began March 19.

Kevin and his wife, Penny, reside in South Bend, Neb., and are members of the Douglas County Farm Bureau. Kevin brings a long and diverse background of experience in accounting, business operations, finances, human resources and controller duties associated with a CFO position. He is currently providing CFO work on a contractual basis for a few insurance companies that provide services to over-the-road haulers and truck companies based in Omaha. Earlier in his career, he spent eight years as a financial manager in the U.S. Air Force.

Kevin grew up on a farm in southwest Iowa and has been a member of Nebraska Farm Bureau since 2004. He brings an excellent skill set to the position with his experience and education in the financial and accounting world of business as well as communication, systems applications and human resources skills.

Kevin takes the place of Kathy Stephenson who recently became the accounting manager at Lincoln Public Schools.

AMPI reports $1.8 billion in sales

Leaders of Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) announced that the dairy marketing cooperative recorded sales of $1.8 billion and earnings of $7.5 million in 2013. The annual business meeting of the cooperative owned by 2,600 Upper Midwest dairy farmers concludes tomorrow at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington, Minn.

“Our manufacturing capacity and production flexibility made it possible for AMPI to reap the benefits of increased demand for our core product line — cheese, butter and powdered dairy products,” AMPI President and CEO Ed Welch told some 400 members, employees and guests at the meeting. “Coupled with plant improvements, the cooperative’s performance improved and balance sheet strengthened.”

American-style cheese production totaled 400 million pounds in 2013, and remains the cooperative’s top product category. AMPI was also a leader in Midwest powder production. Products such as nonfat dry milk, whey protein concentrate and lactose were sold to domestic and global customers as demand for milk proteins increased worldwide.

Cheese and butter packaged for consumers at the cooperative’s manufacturing plants grew once again. Cheese sales increased 7 percent, while butter sales rose for the eighth consecutive year, posting a 3 percent gain. Nearly 70 percent of AMPI’s consumer-packaged business is sold to foodservice customers.

AMPI Chairman of the Board Steve Schlangen reviewed the steps taken in the past year to position the cooperative for strategic growth. “Being the best milk market for Midwest dairy farmers requires constant improvement,” Schlangen said. “Through carefully considered moves made at every level of our cow-to-consumer business, we made great progress in 2013. This was done by focusing on a core product line and taking an active role in reforming dairy policy that provides meaningful options for reducing price risk.”

The annual meeting culminates with delegates considering resolutions and reviewing the cooperative’s legislative priorities.

Additional AMPI 2013 operational highlights:
5.8 billion pounds of milk marketed through 10 manufacturing plants.
Sales of $1.8 billion yielded earnings of $7.5 million.
2,600 AMPI dairy farmer-owners shared $10 million in equity payments.
Nearly 70 percent of AMPI’s consumer-packaged cheese and butter was sold to foodservice customers.
The export market accounted for 23 percent of AMPI powder sales, primarily to Mexico.
A Parmesan cheese wheel produced at AMPI’s Hoven, S.D., plant was named Best Italian entry at the 2013 National Milk Producers Federation Championship Cheese Contest.

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 cheese, butter and powdered dairy products, serving foodservice, retail and food ingredient customers. In 2013, these dairy farmer-owners marketed 5.8 billion pounds of milk, resulting in $1.8 billion in sales for the cooperative.

NFU Board of Directors Elects Executive Committee

The National Farmers Union (NFU) Board of Directors has elected members of its 2014 Executive Committee, comprised of the following:

·         Secretary: Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union president
·         Treasurer: John Hansen, Nebraska Farmers Union president

Other members of the Executive Committee:
·         Jim Benham, Indiana Farmers Union president
·         Terry Detrick, Oklahoma Farmers Union president
·         Alan Merrill, Montana Farmers Union president
·         Doug Sombke, South Dakota Farmers Union president
·         Darin Von Ruden, Wisconsin Farmers Union president
·         Mark Watne, North Dakota Farmers Union president

NFU President Roger Johnson and NFU Vice President Donn Teske, elected by delegates at the recent NFU convention, join the above as members of the Executive Committee. Teske is also the president of Kansas Farmers Union.

Top Ten named for Iowa’s Best Burger contest

The nominations for Iowa’s Best Burger show that whether you live in a town of 800 people or a metropolitan area of more than half a million people, great hamburgers are being served across the state.

Iowans submitted more than 9,600 nomination votes between Feb. 12 and March 17 that selected the 2014 Top Ten restaurants and their burgers.

In its fifth year, Iowa’s Best Burger contest received nominations for 456 Iowa restaurants. The Iowa Beef Industry Council and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association counted the nominations that came in via online, texting and paper ballots. Those getting the most nominations are (in alphabetical order):
Ankeny Diner, Ankeny
Big City Burgers & Greens, Des Moines
Brick City Grill, Ames
Elm’s Club, Creston
Ferg’s My Tighe’s, Grand Junction
First Street Grille, Keosauqua
Ride’s Bar & Grill, Fort Dodge
Sam’s Sodas and Sandwiches, Carroll
The Ritz, Arnold’s Park
Zombie Burger, Des Moines

Brick City Grill joined 163 other new restaurants at being nominated for the contest; and it’s the first year that the Ames eatery, along with Ride’s Bar and Grill and Big City Burgers & Greens have made it to the Top 10.

“When we look at the Top 10, you’ll see a restaurant from Grand Junction, which is a community of 824 people in Greene County, to three nominations from the Des Moines metropolitan area,” said Roger Brummett, a Bedford cattle producer who is also chairman of the Iowa Beef Industry Council. “The nominations covered restaurants from more than 215 Iowa communities. That response shows that Iowans and Iowa restaurants know that burgers will always be a popular item. Restaurants love to make burgers and their customers love to eat them.”

Iowa’s Best Burger contest now moves to the next stage. All Top Ten restaurants will be visited by judges who will evaluate the hamburgers based on taste, appearance, and proper serving temperature (160 degrees).

“We’re really happy to promote Iowa restaurants who do a great job of serving beef,” said ICA President Ed Greiman of Garner. “We have a lot in common. Cattle producers and local restaurants are both small business owners who have a great passion for food – either producing it or preparing it. And, both local restaurants and farmers are important to the economic well-being of hundreds of communities around the state.”

“Although we won’t announce Iowa’s Best Burger until the first week of May, we encourage everyone to stop at one of the Top Ten restaurants for a burger,” Brummett said. “Iowans have a very special place in their heart for burgers. The burger is the all–American classic served in almost every restaurant from the local cafĂ© to the finest white tablecloth establishment.”

To continue to learn more about the contest, you can visit where you’ll find a map showing the locations of the Top Ten restaurants. 

Iowa Layers Total 54 Million, Up 1 Percent from January

Egg production in Iowa for during February 2014 was 1.13 billion eggs, down 10 percent from last month, but up 1 percent from last year, according to the latest Chickens and Eggs release from USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The total number of layers on hand during February was 54.0 million, up 1 percent from last month, and up 2 percent from the 53.0 million in February 2013. Eggs per 100 layers for the month of February were 2,087 down 10 percent from last month, and down 1 percent from 2,101 last year.

United States egg production totaled 7.36 billion during February 2014, up 2 percent from last year. Production included 6.40 billion table eggs, and 968 million hatching eggs, of which 899 million were broiler-type and 69 million were egg-type. The total number of layers during February 2014 averaged 350 million, up 1 percent from last year. February egg production per 100 layers was 2,104 eggs, up 1 percent from February 2013.

All layers in the United States on March 1, 2014 totaled 350 million, up 1 percent from last year. The 350 million layers consisted of 294 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 52.9 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs, and 3.02 million layers producing egg-type hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on March 1, 2014, averaged 75.3 eggs per 100 layers, up 1 percent from March 1, 2013.

Connecticut Stands Up For Family Hog Farmers’ Rights

The National Pork Producers Council today thanked the Senate Environment Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly for standing with local Connecticut farmers by defeating a measure banning the use of gestation stalls, a safe and humane form of housing pregnant sows.

Proponents Friday attempted to add language outlawing gestation stalls – stripped earlier – to a bill establishing an animal care standards board. The attempt failed on a 15-9 vote after the committee heard from farmers from across the state that the ban would make criminals of farmers using humane farming practices.

The vast majority of the country’s hog farmers use gestation stalls to house pregnant sows because they allow for individualized care and eliminate aggression from other sows. The housing method is approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians as appropriate for providing for the well-being of sows.

Defeat of the stall ban measure in Connecticut was the latest in a series of losses for animal-rights groups, which over the past few years have expended significant resources on the issue in several northeast states with no results. Led by the Humane Society of the United States, the groups have claimed such housing systems are inhumane to sows.

In voting against the measure, Environment Committee Co-Chair Linda Gentile said, “I absolutely resent the state of Connecticut being used as a political fundraising piece or leverage.”

“Farmers are learning how to stick up for themselves and to fight back against extremely well-funded activist groups that think they know better than farmers and veterinarians how to care for animals,” said Dr. Howard Hill, a veterinarian and pork producer from Cambridge, Iowa, who is president of NPPC. “Hog farmers everywhere are appreciative of the level-headedness and compassion for family farmers Environment Committee members have shown on this issue.”

Russia to Allow U.S. Pork Imports from Smithfield

Russia has allowed U.S. pork imports from two firms of Chinese-owned producer Smithfield Foods Inc. after it received additional guarantees, Russia's veterinary watchdog said on its website. Russia banned most meat imports from the United States early last year because of concerns over the use of the feed additive ractopamine.

As Reuters reports, the decision to allow imports only from Smithfield Foods Inc, which was bought by China's Shuanghui International Holdings last year, comes amid the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War over Russia's decision to annex Crimea from Ukraine.

Russia agreed to allow imports of U.S. pork from two Smithfield firms in early March, but asked for more food safety guarantees about the refrigerators used for supplies.

The VPSS website says that out of 179 firms which produce and store pork in the U.S., Russia is now ready to accept it from two Smithfield firms and from four owners of refrigerators.

Other firms are still not allowed to ship the product to Russia, according to the website.

President Obama said Washington was considering sanctions against key economic sectors in Russia, including financial services, oil and gas, metals and mining and the defense industry, if Russia made military moves into eastern and southern Ukraine, Reuters reports.

Ag Producers’ Confidence Remains Slightly Positive

Overall agriculture producer confidence remains unchanged since last March despite a drop in producers’ feelings about their current situation, according to the latest DTN/The Progressive Farmer (DTN/PF) Agriculture Confidence Index.

Producers’ overall confidence remained somewhat positive at 106.9, up slightly from 105.5 last December and unchanged from March 2013. The value of 100 is considered neutral. Values above 100 indicate optimism, whereas values below signify pessimism.

The DTN/PF Agriculture Confidence Index, which surveyed 500 producers between March 1 and 10, measures the sentiments of agriculture producers on their overall impressions of the agriculture sector. Farmers are also asked to rate current and long-term input prices and net farm income to gauge their attitudes toward the present situation and future expectations.

Producers viewed their present conditions as positive with a score of 128.1, a drop from 135.3 last March but up slightly from 123.5 in December. Producers’ future expectations dropped to 92.8, a decrease of just 0.8 since December but up from 88.2 in March 2013.

Despite an overall positive confidence score, there was a significant disparity in confidence levels between crop and livestock producers. Driven by higher meat prices and lower input costs, livestock producers’ confidence rose to a near all-time high of 116.4, up from 107.5 last March and off just 0.2 from the record set in September 2010. In addition, livestock producers view their present situation as very positive (145.1) but were considerably less optimistic for the upcoming year (97.3).

Crop producers’ confidence dropped to the lowest level in four years to 102.7, down from 104.3 in December and from 106.8 last March. Crop producers’ expectations for the coming year fell to 90.7 from 93.4 in December but were up from 87.9 in March 2013. Their feelings on their present situation remained unchanged at 120.8 since December but declined from 135.2 in March 2013.

“Much of the crop producers’ attitudes about their current situation can be attributed to lower corn prices from the previous year, although current prices are at a level higher than what analysts had anticipated at this point for the year,” said DTN/The Progressive Farmer Markets Editor Katie Micik, director of the confidence index, which is conducted before plantings, prior to harvest and after harvest each year.

While producers’ attitudes remained mixed, agribusinesses were more confident about the industry, according to the DTN/PF Agribusiness Confidence Index, which is similar to the producer index and measured the sentiments of 100 agribusinesses between Feb. 28 and March 5. Agribusiness confidence climbed to 107.3 in March from 102.5 at the end of 2013, due in large part to stabilized crop prices. Seventy-two percent of agribusinesses surveyed felt good about their current sales, marking an increase of 14.6 percent since December and a 12 percent increase since last March. However, 76 percent of those agribusinesses surveyed believed sales expectations over the next 12 months will remain the same or get worse.

“Fertilizer retailers are somewhat concerned that reductions in corn acres could impact fertilizer sales and profits,” Micik noted. “With incomes narrowing, producers may turn to higher-priced soybeans over corn.”

Farm Futures Survey Confirms Shift From Corn To Soybeans

Major shifts in acreage first noted last summer by Farm Futures Magazine appear to be holding as farmers make final plans for spring plantings. The magazine's latest survey of farmers shows they intend to boost soybean seedings more than earlier estimates, while cutting back corn ground.

Farm Futures estimates 2014 soybean intentions at a record 82.93 million acres, easily an all-time high. If achieved, seedings would be up 8.4% over last year's total, which was cut by wet conditions last spring. All key states showed increases, with some of the biggest shifts possible in Illinois, where farmers pushed corn-on-corn in recent years to capture profits from the ethanol boom.

Though projected profits for both crops are lower this year, prices favor soybeans, making it easier for farmers to shift ground and improve crop rotations.

Corn planting intentions could fall to 92.06 million, down 3.5% from last year's lower than expected total, when farmers failed to put in more than 3.5 million acres of corn due to wet, cold conditions. Still, that would be the fourth largest area since 1944 if achieved.

The latest survey is Farm Futures third that asked growers about 2014 planting intentions. The initial tally, released in August at the Farm Progress Show, showed that farmers wanted to plant more soybeans and less corn.

That trend increased with the magazine's December survey, released at the Farm Futures Business Summit. March results projected another increase in the shift, counting around 200,000 fewer corn acres and 600,000 more soybean acres than in December.

"While the ratio of new crop soybean to corn prices actually pulled back a little over the winter, the strong rally in old crop soybeans appeared to convince many farmers to take the plunge and plant more soybeans," says Farm Futures Senior Grain Market Analyst Bryce Knorr. "November futures are following a more bullish seasonal trend than December corn, which gives soybeans a better chance for rallies during the spring and summer."

However, Knorr cautions that USDA's March 31 estimate could provide more surprises to a market that's already seen plenty from recent government reports.

"Interpreting data from surveys this year will be more difficult than usual, because so much corn ground wasn't planted," he says. "The range of potential outcomes from USDA is fairly wide, so farmers should be prepared for both bullish and bearish reactions.

Farm Futures also found growers hoping to plant 12.3 million acres of spring wheat, up 12.4% from last when wet conditions affected the total. All wheat acreage is estimated at 56.05 million, down only slightly from 2013.

"Another wet spring on the northern Plains could mean more acres planted to soybeans in an area where growers have demonstrated an eagerness to plant them already," says Knorr.

Knorr and new Farm Futures Senior Editor Bob Burgdorfer will discuss the impact of the March 31 reports, along with the spring weather outlook, in a special agricultural outlook webinar April 7 at 7 p.m. CDT.

Farm Futures questioned 1,775 growers nationwide March 4 to March 20 by email, the largest non-government survey of farmers about their plans.

State Crop Progress Reports - Continued Dry Conditions in Southern Plains

Continued dry conditions in winter wheat-growing areas of the Southern Plains was among the highlights of weekly Crop Progress and Condition reports issued by some states Monday.  USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service will begin issuing its Crop Progress reports, which give a weekly snapshot of crop development and conditions nationwide, on Monday, April 7.  The following are highlights from weekly crop progress reports issued Monday by National Ag Statistics Service offices in individual states. 


Although not yet widespread, planting activities gained momentum last week. Isolated precipitation was concentrated in eastern districts, while moist conditions held some producers from gaining access to fields. High winds were reported in the southeast district where soil erosion occurred as a result in some cases. Overall, mountain snowpack was 116% of average as of March 19. Farmers were allowed 5.0 days in the field for spring operations.

Topsoil moisture was 13% very short, 35% short, 49% adequate and 3% surplus. Subsoil moisture was 24% short, 31% short, 43% adequate and 2% surplus.

Producers seeded an additional 3% of the intended barley crop last week, with 4% of the crop seeded by week's end. Spring wheat was 1% seeded, behind 6% last year and the average of 9%. Four percent of the winter wheat crop was pastured as of last week, compared with 7% last year and 8% on average. Spring wheat is 1% planted.


For the week ending March 23, 2014, dry conditions prevailed for another week with precipitation limited to a quarter of an inch or less across portions of northern Kansas, according to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. As a result, soil moisture supplies continued their downward trend with less than half of the state reporting adequate supplies. Windy conditions were again noted with soils blowing in portions of the western half of the state. Temperatures continued to average below normal, slowing wheat development. Corn planting was noted in some southeastern counties. There were 5.9 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 22% very short, 38% short, 40% adequate, and 0% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 21% very short, 42% short, 37% adequate, and 0% surplus.

Winter wheat condition rated 5% very poor, 16% poor, 46% fair, 31% good, and 2% excellent. Winter wheat jointed was 3%, compared to 5% last year and 11% average.


Only a few showers fell in Oklahoma in the past week, mainly in Southeastern district. The Southeast district received 0.82 inches of rain, which lessened drought conditions in that area. However, five of the nine districts received no measurable rainfall at all. Statewide temperatures averaged in the high 40s to the low 50s, ranging from 18 degrees at Burbank on Monday, March 17, to 83 degrees at Burneyville on Tuesday, March 18. Low moisture and high winds were a major concern last week. There were wind speeds as high as 40 mph in some parts of the state. High winds kept field work to a minimum. Wind erosion and dust storms were experienced in the Panhandle and Southwest Oklahoma this past week. Significant moisture is needed across the whole state, assuredly in the Panhandle and Southwest for winter wheat development. Wildfires were reported in central Oklahoma, in both Logan County and northeast Oklahoma County, but damages were minimal. Topsoil moisture conditions were rated 28% adequate to surplus and 72% short to very short. Subsoil moisture conditions were rated 20% adequate to surplus and 80% short to very short. There were 6.0 days suitable for fieldwork on average across the state.

Small grains continue to be rated mostly fair to poor. Winter wheat jointing reached 29% by Sunday, 11 points behind the previous year and 19 points behind the five year average. Canola conditions were rated 64% fair to poor. Seventy-seven percent of oats had been seeded by Sunday, 8 points behind the previous year and 11 points behind the five-year average. Rye jointing reached 10%, 29 points behind last year and 50 points behind the five-year average.

Seedbed preparation for row crops continued. Corn seedbed preparation reached 47% by week's end, 4 points behind last year. Sorghum seedbed preparation was 24% complete compared to 26% last year and 23% on the five-year average. Soybean seedbed preparation reached 15% complete by Sunday, four points behind both the previous year and the five-year average. Seedbed preparation of cotton was 36% complete by the end of the week, 9 points ahead of last year, but on track with the five-year average.


Warmer temperatures were reported early in the week. Windy weather brought cooler temperatures and dust storms to the Panhandle late in the week. Many areas of the Upper Coast and Coastal Bend received a tenth of an inch to a quarter of an inch of precipitation. Areas of the Edwards Plateau and South Central Texas observed trace amounts up to a quarter inch of precipitation. The remainder of the state received no precipitation to a half of an inch.

Winter wheat in the Southern Low Plains and the Edwards Plateau continued to show signs of stress brought on by dry, windy conditions. In the Coastal Bend winter wheat was entering the boot stage.

Wet field conditions delayed corn planting in the Blacklands. Producers in South Central Texas finished planting corn and turned their attention to planting cotton and sorghum. Rice planting was progressing well. Cotton fields continued to be prepared in the Northern Low Plains.

Wheat condition was reported at 1% excellent, 10% good, 34% fair, 37% poor and 18% very poor. Corn planting is 20% complete, compared to 15% last week and a 43% 5-year average.

FDA Announces New Tool for Livestock Animal Food Problems

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is announcing the availability of a new website for the public to report problems related to livestock animal food.

The Livestock Food Reporting portal will accept reports about foods made for species considered to be livestock, including but not limited to, horses, cattle, swine, poultry and fish. FDA encourages anyone with concerns about animal feed to file a report, including veterinarians and livestock producers.

This new online portal provides an additional means for consumers to register complaints, and FDA's District Office consumer complaint coordinators will continue to accept reports via phone.

The Livestock Food Reporting portal is the latest addition to the Safety Reporting Portal, an online system designed to streamline the process of reporting product safety issues to the FDA and the National Institutes of Health. Manufacturers, distributors, retailers and public health officials at the federal, state and local level should continue to use the Reportable Food section of the Safety Reporting Portal.

The Portal can be found at

Vilsack Announces Increased Opportunity for Producers as part of New Farm Bill

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced increased opportunity for producers as a result of the 2014 Farm Bill. A fact sheet outlining modifications to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) Farm Loan Programs is available here.

"Our nation's farmers and ranchers are the engine of the rural economy. These improvements to our Farm Loan Programs will help a new generation begin farming and grow existing farm operations," said Secretary Vilsack. "Today's announcement represents just one part of a series of investments the new Farm Bill makes in the next generation of agriculture, which is critical to economic growth in communities across the country."

The Farm Bill expands lending opportunities for thousands of farmers and ranchers to begin and continue operations, including greater flexibility in determining eligibility, raising loan limits, and emphasizing beginning and socially disadvantaged producers.

Changes that will take effect immediately include:

Elimination of loan term limits for guaranteed operating loans. Modification of the definition of beginning farmer, using the average farm size for the county as a qualifier instead of the median farm size. Modification of the Joint Financing Direct Farm Ownership Interest Rate to 2 percent less than regular Direct Farm Ownership rate, with a floor of 2.5 percent. Previously, the rate was established at 5 percent. Increase of the maximum loan amount for Direct Farm Ownership down payments from $225,000 to $300,000. Elimination of rural residency requirement for Youth Loans, allowing urban youth to benefit. Debt forgiveness on Youth Loans, which will not prevent borrowers from obtaining additional loans from the federal government. Increase of the guarantee amount on Conservation Loans from 75 to 80 percent and 90 percent for socially disadvantaged borrowers and beginning farmers. Microloans will not count toward loan term limits for veterans and beginning farmers.

Additional modifications must be implemented through the rulemaking processes. Visit the FSA Farm Bill website for detailed information and updates to farm loan programs.

Biofuel Trade Organizations Ask for Extension of Advanced Biofuel Tax Incentives

A group of biofuel trade organizations today sent a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) encouraging extension of critical advanced biofuel tax incentives – the Second Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit, the Special Depreciation Allowance for Second Generation Biofuel Plant Property, the Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Fuels Credit, and the Alternative Fuel and Alternative Fuel Mixture Excise Tax Credit. The trade groups signing the letter included the Advanced Ethanol Council, Advanced Biofuels Association, Algae Biomass Organization, Biotechnology Industry Organization, Growth Energy, National Biodiesel Board, and Renewable Fuels Association.

The letter reads, in part, “The advanced biofuels industry is at a critical stage of development. Despite a difficult financial market, we are now operating commercial plants across the country and continue to make progress on dozens of additional projects in the final stages of development. Advanced biofuel tax credits have allowed the biofuels industry to make great strides in reducing the cost of production and developing first-of-kind technologies to deploy the most innovative fuel in the world.

“As leaders in a critical innovation sector in the United States, we are well aware of the financial constraints facing this country. However, the United States’ global competitors are offering tax incentives for advanced biofuels and in fact are attracting construction of new facilities – and associated high skilled jobs. If Congress wants American companies to continue developing these homegrown technologies in the United States, it must extend these credits. Biofuel producers are also competing with incumbent fossil energy industries who continue to enjoy tax incentives on a permanent basis.

“In the interests of energy security, job creation, global competitiveness, and forward-looking policy, we urge you to move quickly to extend expired advanced biofuel tax provisions for multiple years retroactive to January 1.”

NFU Submits Testimony to House Ag Appropriations Subcommittee

Last week National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson submitted testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Agriculture Appropriations, outlining NFU’s priorities for Fiscal Year 2015 funding for agricultural programs. In his testimony, Johnson listed five main requests.

NFU opposes any legislative riders or targeted funding restrictions to limit or restrict the enforcement, legal defense or study of Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL). New COOL regulations enacted in 2013 are currently being evaluated by the World Trade Organization and the legal system, and efforts to undermine these proceedings through appropriations are unwarranted and premature. Studies have found that more than 90 percent of consumers support COOL.

“Because of appropriations riders in the last three years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has not been allowed to write rules that would provide greater fairness for livestock sellers and poultry growers in the agriculture marketplace, as directed by the 2008 Farm Bill,” said Johnson. “I strongly urge the subcommittee to reject any legislative riders that would undermine the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s authority and ignore congressional intent.”

“Homegrown renewable energy helps our country reduce its carbon footprint while building the future of the rural economy,” said NFU Senior Vice President of Programs Chandler Goule. “NFU requests the subcommittee fully fund Congress’ substantial discretionary investments in existing energy programs through the 2014 Farm Bill to help meet our country’s renewable energy goals.”

Finally, NFU has two agricultural research requests, calling for the implementation of a 2008 Farm Bill directive to make conventional plant and animal breeding a priority for research grants, and fully granting the administration’s request for funding for the development and release of regionally adapted, public cultivars.

“With the passage of a new, comprehensive farm bill, Congress has clearly established its agricultural priorities for the next five years,” said Goule. “It is critical that appropriators not reduce funding through changes in mandatory programs for the entirety of the 2014 Farm Bill in order to achieve Congress’ legislative goals.”

Recent BASF herbicide studies show important finding for resistant weed management

With more than 60 million U.S. acres affected by glyphosate-resistant weeds and nearly every state affected by some form of resistant weeds, the challenge facing growers is increasing every year. In a 2013 survey of Midwest growers, BASF found that 76 percent will be changing their weed management strategies in 2014 to address this ongoing issue.

To help determine the best strategies for combatting weed resistance, BASF scientists continue to research solutions to help growers achieve optimal weed control. In a recent Verdict® herbicide study, BASF reaffirmed the importance of using a preemergence herbicide with multiple sites of action.

Multiple Sites of Action

BASF scientists tested the effectiveness of Verdict herbicide for control of weeds in preemerge and preplant applications. Verdict herbicide, powered by Kixor® herbicide technology, combines the active ingredients in Outlook® herbicide and Sharpen® herbicide to provide two sites of action.

“There are two key reasons for choosing products that use multiple effective sites of action,” said Mark Oostlander, Technical Market Manager, Herbicides, for BASF. “The first is better weed control in general and the second is superior control of resistant weeds.”

Oostlander explained that if there is a weed resistant to one of the sites of action, having two or more provides backup to ensure the weed is controlled and prevents it from going to seed.

To show a living demonstration of these advantages, scientists conducted a greenhouse trial where they took soil and weed seeds – foxtail, common waterhemp and common ragweed – from fields throughout the U.S. and grew weeds in four separate pots. They then applied a different herbicide to each of the pots; one with Outlook herbicide, one with Sharpen herbicide and one with Verdict herbicide. The fourth pot was left untreated. The multiple sites of action in Verdict herbicide proved to have the most complete control on all three of the weeds planted.

“From a scientific perspective, we understand how critical having multiple sites of action is for controlling and preventing resistant weeds, but it’s hard to really show that to people,” said Chad Brommer, Herbicides Biologist for BASF. “So in this case, a picture is worth a thousand words. The study visually shows the strengths and weaknesses of using just one site of action compared to using multiple sites of action.”

Residual Control

To show the importance of using a preemerge herbicide like Verdict herbicide, which includes long-lasting residual control, BASF scientists conducted the same greenhouse trial two weeks apart. Four weeks after the first trial started, the soil still remained weed-free, reaffirming the benefits of using a preemergence herbicide for clean fields.

“Applying a preemerge herbicide with residual control also plays a critical role in controlling weeds,” said Oostlander. “This is because weeds can be controlled for weeks after applying the herbicide.”

The Complete Weed Control Plan

Verdict herbicide is one of many BASF products that are a part of the Advanced Weed Control program. Advanced Weed Control provides growers with an extensive weed control portfolio and best management practices for efficient application and the most complete control.

Comprehensive Approach to Plant Nutrition Management Yields Success

WinField has launched the NutriSolutions® 360° system, a complete solution to plant nutrition management that provides timely, critical agronomic insights and product recommendations. Spanning pre-planting to post-harvest, the system offers actionable insights to help farmers map and execute the individual nutrition plan that will generate the most profitable return.

“In a time where the margins are getting tighter than in previous years, farmers need to closely manage their inputs to capitalize on every return on investment opportunity. This includes making decisions based on agronomic facts,” said Tyler Greznow, WinField plant nutrition marketing manager. “By using the proprietary insight tools in the NutriSolutions® 360 system, farmers can efficiently apply nutrients that boost performance in high-potential areas of the field and minimize waste on areas with low potential.”

Multi-dimensional approach to plant nutrition

The NutriSolutions® 360° system provides farmers with tools like soil, resin and tissue sampling, for more robust agronomic insights that lead to more effective product recommendations. Proven performers such as Ascend® plant growth regulator can jump-start plant growth and minimize yield-limiting stresses, and supplementing MAX-IN®micronutrients in-season, can correct nutrient deficiencies before yield is compromised.

Since 2009, approximately 250,000 plant tissue samples have been collected through the NutriSolutions® Tool — now part of the NutriSolutions® 360° system. Those samples get uploaded into additional applications, including the WinField® R7® Tool database, for even more targeted data. Along with in-season satellite imagery showing a field’s biomass profile, this approach helps farmers capitalize on in-season opportunities to improve their return on investment.

In addition, the NutriSolutions® 360° system can provide a complete analysis of previous seasons to help farmers prepare for next season. The personalized insights from these tools combined with insights from replicated side-by-side trials at Answer Plot® locations across the country allow WinField agronomists to help farmers place nutrient inputs only where there is the greatest potential to increase their return on investment.

New product, established technology

WinField offers a complete portfolio of products formulated specifically to enhance plant growth and health.

“WinField is committed to providing recommendations based on agronomic insights and products that have been proven to deliver results,” said Greznow. “For the 2014 growing season, we’re excited to announce the newest addition to our MAX-IN® micronutrient line, MAX-IN® Zinc, which can be used in a broad spectrum of crops.”

MAX-IN® Zinc features patented CornSorb™ technology, which helps increase movement of nutrients through the leaf cuticle to internal leaf structures, leaving more zinc available for plant metabolism. Zinc is one of the key ingredients for success in a plant nutrition program, because it plays a critical role in leaf and vascular growth as well as root development. According to 2013 NutriSolutions® Tool results, zinc deficiencies were a common yield-limiting concern in multiple crops. Tissue analysis shows that 80 percent of the corn, 70 percent of the wheat and 60 percent of the cotton tested was deficient in zinc.

Another cornerstone product in the NutriSolutions® 360° system is Ascend® plant growth regulator. It has been proven to help crops germinate and emerge earlier, grow a more robust root system, and develop larger leaves and wider stems for a stronger plant. When applied in furrow with a starter fertilizer (10-34-0) and Ultra-Che® Zinc(chelated), Ascend® has a 4.8 bushels-per-acre advantage versus untreated acres over a three year period at 195 sites with replicated trials across the Corn Belt.


Monsanto Company is announcing the last call for nominations in its search for the next America’s Farmers Mom of the Year.  Those who would like to nominate an amazing farm mom – one who works every aspect of the farm, keeps everyone on task, and even advocates for the industry she loves -- will have through Monday, March 31, 2014, to submit their entry.

“Last year we received nominations from 48 different states – all featuring wonderful stories of active and empowered women who make a positive impact on their families, farms and communities,” says Jessica Simmons, Corporate Marketing Director for Monsanto. “We know there are still so many great stories out there to share and more women to recognize, so we want to hear from you.”

Anyone can nominate their favorite farm mom for a chance to win up to $10,000 -- whether it’s their own mom, sister, aunt, daughter, friend or community member.

To nominate a favorite farm mom, visit between now and March 31 and submit a brief essay online or by mail that explains how the nominated farm mom contributes to her family, farm, community and agriculture. Each nomination will be judged based on published criteria by a panel of judges from American Agri-Women, and Monsanto will select five regional winners based on the judges’ decisions. Each regional winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize. Profiles of the regional winners will then be posted to, where the public can vote for one national farm mom winner. Announced just prior to Mother’s Day, the national winner will receive an additional $5,000 cash prize above and beyond her regional prize.

“We carefully review every nomination and enjoy reading the phenomenal stories of farm moms who give selflessly to better the world they live in,” says Kris Zilliox, Vice President of Education for American Agri-Women. “We are glad to be a part of a program that recognizes the important role women play in agriculture and are looking forward to seeing what the 2014 nominations will bring.”

For more information on the program or for complete eligibility requirements and official contest rules visit Interested parties may also send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to America's Farmers Mom of the Year, Attn: Sue Dillon, 349 Marshall Ave., Ste. 200, St. Louis, MO 63119.

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