Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tuesday March 18 Ag News

Checking Stored Grain a Must to Maintain Quality
Keith Jarvi, Extension Educator, Dakota, Dixon, and Thurston Counties

Last fall a lot of grain went into storage at higher than recommended moisture content, and that increases the likelihood of storage problems. Most of the grain has been stored below 40°F thanks to the Midwest experiencing a colder than normal winter. While that has kept mold and insect development at a standstill, warming temperatures could result in storage losses if not monitored. Average temperatures will soon be above 40°F and that means aeration will be necessary to manage moisture in the bin.

It's important that you continue to regularly check grain thoroughly and take steps to maintain grain quality.

Ken Hellevang, extension engineer at North Dakota State University, shares the following information on monitoring your stored grain. He describes how solar radiation can warm stored grain, creating an environment for grain storage problems. The daily total solar energy heating the south side of a grain bin on Feb. 21 is more than twice the amount as on June 21. Therefore, grain next to the bin wall may be warmer than the average outdoor air temperature.

Grain warming normally will be limited to a couple of feet near the bin wall and a few feet at the top of the bin. Monitor grain temperature at least in these locations to determine when to operate the aeration fan. Bin temperature cables help monitor grain temperature but only detect the temperature of the grain next to the cable. Grain has an insulation value of about R=1 per inch, so grain insulates the cable from hot spots just a few feet from the cable.

Do not operate the fan during rain, fog, or snow to minimize blowing moisture into the bin. Bin vents may frost or ice over if fans are operated when the outdoor air temperature is near or below freezing, which may damage the bin roof. Open or unlatch the fill or access cover during fan operation to serve as a pressure relief valve. Cover the aeration fan when the fan is not operating to prevent pests and moisture from entering the bin and warm wind from heating the grain.

It is recommended to collect some grain samples and check the moisture content to assure that it is at the desired level. However, many grain moisture meters are not accurate at grain temperatures below about 40°F. When the grain is cold, it should be placed in a sealed container, such as a plastic bag, and warmed to room temperature before checking the moisture content.

At temperatures above 40°F the meter reading must be adjusted based on the grain temperature unless the meter measures the grain temperature and automatically adjusts the reading. Check the operator's manual for the meter to determine correct procedures to obtain an accurate value.

Natural air drying is not efficient until the average outdoor temperature reaches about 40°F. The moisture-holding capacity and, therefore the drying capacity, of colder air is so limited that drying at colder temperatures is extremely slow and expensive. When natural air drying, adding supplemental heat primarily reduces the final moisture content of the grain and only slightly reduces drying time. Regardless, try to keep the temperature of the grain within 10 degrees of the average outside air temperature to limit condensation in the bin.

Practice Safety with Stored Grain
Keith Jarvi, Extension Educator, Dakota, Dixon, and Thurston Counties

As temperatures warm and you begin moving more grain, remember wet, stored grain increases grain-handling hazards. Within a few seconds grain can engulf a person entering the grain bin during unloading. Before entering a bin, stop the auger and always use the "lock-out/tag-out" procedure to secure it.

A person can be buried instantly if bridging has occurred, grain is attached to the bin wall, or a column collapses. See the North Dakota State University extension publication, "Caught in the Grain!"  for information on the dangers of grain entrapment, preventative steps, and rescue procedures. In this illustrated guide NDSU agricultural engineer Kenneth Hellevang explains how a person can become helpless in flowing grain in as little as 4 seconds and can be buried in 20 seconds.

Respiratory Hazards

When moving or storing grain, also be aware of the hazards of grain dust and mold and wear appropriate respiratory equipment. Low-level exposure to dust and mold can cause symptoms such as wheezing, a sore throat, nasal or eye irrigation, and congestion. Higher concentrations can cause allergic reactions, and trigger asthma episodes and other problems. In rare cases, symptoms such as headaches, aches and pains, and fever may develop. Certain types of molds can produce mycotoxins, which increase the potential for health hazards from exposure to mold spores.

The type of respiratory protection a person needs will depend on the amount of his or her exposure to dust and mold. The minimum protection should be an N-95-rated face mask. This mask has two straps to hold it firmly to the face and a metal strip over the nose to create a tight seal. Some masks have a valve that makes breathing easier for people who wear them for extended periods. A nuisance-dust mask with a single strap will not provide the needed protection because the mold spores will pass through the mask.

For videos related to grain handling safety, visit the US Agricultural Safety and Health Center on Youtube.com, or get more information at the Grain Handling Safety Coalition website at www.grainsafety.org

Ag Water Research and Policy Update March 20

Irrigation Management and Policy will be the focus of the last Farmers and Ranchers College program for 2013-14. UNL Extension Irrigation Specialist Suat Irmak, who is internationally known for his work with agricultural water management, will be the featured speaker on March 20  at the Fillmore County Fairgrounds in Geneva.

Irmak started the Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Network, which many producers in the area participate. From his research, UNL Extension has been able to implement irrigation efficiency practices for producers. Using the watermark sensors and ETgage, producers are able to save money and water by reducing water on their crops while still achieving excellent yields. Irmak will provide updates on new research he's conducted and answer other questions on the future of irrigation technologies.

Gary Zoubek, UNL Extension Educator in York County. also will be available to provide updates on the Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Network and technologies he uses with producers. David Aiken, UNL Water and Agricultual Law Specialist, will provide an update on water policy across the state and issues producers need to be concerned with in the future.

Representatives from the Upper Big Blue and Little Blue Natural Resource Districts will provide updates on irrigation regulations and other policies. Ryne Norton from Farm Service Agency will also share an update.

Registration starts at 9:45 a.m., with the program following from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Several irrigation vendors will have displays.  Please call the the FIllmore County Extension Office at 402-759-3712 as soon as possible for a meal count.

This program is free due to the generous contributions from Farmers & Ranchers College sponsors. The Farmers & Ranchers College was formed in January 2000 with the purpose of providing high quality, dynamic, up to date educational workshops for area agricultural producers in south central Nebraska through a collaborative effort between business, industry and higher education leaders. The Farmers and Ranchers College Committee consists of Fred Bruning of Bruning, Bryan Dohrman of Grafton, Sarah Miller of Carleton, Ryne Norton of York, Jim Donovan of Geneva, Gordy Nuss of Sutton, Bryce Kassik of Geneva, Jennifer Engle of Fairmont and Brandy VanDeWalle of Ohiowa.

IFBF Webinar to Breakdown Planting Intentions Report

With grain margins tight and farmers looking to come out ahead of the markets in 2014, all eyes will be on the USDA's March Planting Intentions report as farmers' planting decisions will impact new crop prices. AgriVisor analysts will conduct a live webinar on March 31 from 11:20 a.m. to 12 p.m. to provide farmers valuable insight in acre changes, crop supplies, and other factors impacting markets in 2014 to aid farmers during these tight margin times.

The timely update from AgriVisor will be given just 20 minutes after the report is released and will break down the first official look at farmers' planting intentions and provide an early indication on crop supplies. "The report will provide a lot of information that could affect markets and have a major impact on farmers in 2014, said Ed Kordick, IFBF commodity services manager. "With uncertainty headed into the 2014 growing season, we know farmers seek insight into markets, and we are happy to sponsor the webinar."

To register for the event, visit: www2.gotomeeting.com/register/764436010. After completion of registration, participants will receive a confirmation email with additional information about joining the webinar.

For more information, contact Kordick at ekordick@ifbf.org.

U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance Announces First Chief Executive

The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance® (USFRA®) announced that its board of directors has appointed Randy Krotz as chief executive officer, effective immediately. A recognized leader in the agribusiness community and active on his family farm in Kansas, Krotz joined USFRA as vice president of development in 2013 and most recently served as executive director.

"U.S. agriculture is at an important crossroads, and with Randy's decades of experience and relationships across the agricultural industry, he is the right person to cement USFRA's role as the unifying voice of farmers and ranchers to consumer audiences," Bob Stallman, chairman of USFRA and president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said. "Randy's deep background in food, farming and agribusiness will play a key role in further establishing USFRA as a thought leader on food issues and a guidepost for the next generation of farmers and ranchers."

In 2013, the USFRA board set to create a long-term vision for the movement including structuring the alliance for new leadership. After a national search, USFRA board of directors decided to hire the organization's first chief executive officer in its three-year history from within its own ranks. Since joining the organization, Krotz has helped build the national prominence of USFRA, with specific focus on consumer-facing initiatives such as its signature series The Food Dialogues® that provides a forum for open conversation around some of the most important food issues today. He has overseen day-to-day management and performance of USFRA focusing on organizational and staff management, as well as outreach to the agricultural industry.

Krotz brings vast experience from the food and agricultural industries, including seed and biotechnology, digital marketing and agriculture innovation to his new role as chief executive. His forward-thinking approach and lifelong commitment to farming and ranching will define the organization as it strives to increase consumer confidence in modern agriculture.

Krotz has nearly 25 years of experience in agribusiness leadership, public relations, product management, branding, online marketing, advocacy management and communications. He has previously worked for and has represented many well-known food and agribusiness companies and associations across the industry. Krotz is a graduate of Kansas State University, and he continues his role in the diversified family farm in North Central Kansas, on which he was raised.

DAP, Urea Prices Continue to Climb

Average retail prices of all eight major fertilizers moved higher the second week of March, according to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN. This marks the fourth straight week all fertilizers have been higher.

Leading the way higher once again were DAP and urea. DAP was 6% higher compared to a month previous while urea was 5% more expensive. DAP has an average price of $558 per ton and urea was at $533 per ton.  The remaining six fertilizers all had minor price moves higher. MAP had an average price of $577 per ton, potash $474/ton, 10-34-0 $515/ton, anhydrous $627/ton, UAN28 $345/ton and UAN32 $392/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.58/lb.N, anhydrous $0.38/lb.N, UAN28 $0.62/lb.N and UAN32 $0.61/lb.N.

With fertilizers moving higher in recent months, only six of the eight major fertilizers are now double-digits lower in price compared to March 2013.  Urea is now down 7%, DAP is 9% less expensive and UAN32 is 12% lower. Both MAP and UAN28 are 13% less expensive while 10-34-0 is down 16%. Potash is 20% less expensive while anhydrous is 27% lower than a year earlier.

U.S. Corn Bouncing Back in Japan

U.S. corn exports to Japan have begun to rebound with projections indicating a strong return for the remainder of the 2013/2014 marketing year that began Sept. 1. Current U.S. Department of Agriculture reports show outstanding sales and accumulated exports to Japan totaled 331 million bushels for this marketing year through March 6.

In the 2012/2013 marketing year, the U.S. Corn Belt experienced a crippling drought that drove U.S. corn export prices to uncompetitive levels. While many longtime Japanese buyers continued to express a preference for U.S. sourcing, the cost disadvantage imposed too high a premium. Thus, Japan turned to South American corn. However in 2013, U.S. corn production rose to 14.0 billion bushels, an all-time high, with an average yield of 160.4 bushels per acre. Prices have responded accordingly, and Japanese buyers are again sourcing U.S. corn.

Even during the drought, the U.S. Grains Council, of which the National Corn Growers Association is a founding member, aggressively defended the market for U.S. grains in Japan. The Council has been able to provide Japanese end-users with timely, reliable information to reinforce their traditional preference for U.S. corn. An example of this is the 2013/2014 Corn Harvest Quality Report.

The Council was able to present the findings of record production and high quality to Japanese end-users at the Japanese Corn Outlook Conference in January. During the conference, participants made it clear that they anticipated a strong recovery of U.S. sourcing, which is happening quickly.

"Japan is back as a top U.S. corn importer and was the top U.S. corn importer for January," said Tommy Hamamoto, USGC director in Japan. "This is excellent news for the continuation of a solid trade relationship between these two countries."

Council programming promotes the United States as a long-term, reliable supplier of high-quality corn and works to reinvigorate robust agricultural trade ties between the United States and Japan.

National Biodiesel Day Celebrates Growth in America's Advanced Biofuel

You wouldn’t be reading this if it weren’t for diesel power. Diesel engines are responsible for moving the majority of goods, including electronics, from manufacturer to consumer. And more than ever before, cleaner burning, renewable biodiesel is playing a role.

“Nearly every product that ends up on a store shelf is dependent on diesel fuel to get it there. That heavy reliance on one fuel means our economy is directly linked to petroleum price swings. It’s in everyone’s best interest to have a choice in transportation fuel, and that’s where biodiesel - America’s first Advanced Biofuel - comes in,” said Joe Jobe, National Biodiesel Board CEO.  "National Biodiesel Day is a reminder that diversity in fuel supply means more stable prices and less dependence on a global oil cartel. That benefits the economy, the environment and leaves more opportunities for our future.”

National Biodiesel Day is celebrated on March 18 -- the anniversary of Rudolf Diesel's birthday. When he first introduced the diesel engine, it ran not on petroleum but rather on peanut oil.

With plants in almost every state, biodiesel production neared 1.8 billion gallons in 2013 and supported more than 62,000 jobs. While a step in the right direction, inconsistent federal policy threatens this progress. Right now two issues challenge the industry. A modest tax incentive designed to help the growing biodiesel industry break into the petroleum monopoly stands expired. The industry also is fighting a weak Renewable Fuel Standard proposal from the EPA.  Last year, the EPA proposed scaling back the RFS, which requires minimum volumes of renewable fuels to be blended into the fuel system. Specifically for biodiesel, the EPA proposed setting the volume requirement at 1.28 billion gallons – a sharp reduction from 2013’s record production in the biomass-based diesel category of 1.8 billion gallons. The biodiesel industry is asking the Administration to revise the biodiesel proposal so that it is at least consistent with last year’s production.

To learn more about biodiesel and how you can support more access to renewable energy choices, join the Biodiesel Alliance & Backers. The Alliance & Backers program is open to all friends of biodiesel, ranging from farmers to fleet managers, to organizations, agencies and businesses.

U.S. Soybean Farmers Committed to Protecting the Environment

March 25 is National Agriculture Day, a day to celebrate American farmers for their commitment to the land they farm and the people who use the food, feed, fuel and fiber they produce. In recent years, U.S. soybean farmers have grown more efficient in growing their crops, increasing yields while decreasing the size of their environmental footprint.

“U.S. soybean farmers aren’t just raising a crop for economic gain,” says Nancy Kavazanjian, a checkoff farmer-leader from Beaver Dam, Wis. “Like all American farmers, we care so much for our land and we’re in it for the long term. So many of us have inherited our land and want to pass it down to our children. Everything we do is centered on making the land better.”

More than 95 percent of U.S. soybean farmers participate in farm programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And through the use of sustainable-farming practices, U.S. soybean farmers have decreased energy use and greenhouse-gas emissions by more than 45 percent since 1980, and increased irrigation efficiency by more than 40 percent since 1980.

Thanks in part to American farmers, the United States enjoys the most abundant, affordable and safe food supply in the world. And many countries beyond U.S. borders enjoy the bounty of U.S. soybean farmers’ annual crop, as well. Both domestically and internationally, the food industry uses the majority of U.S. soybean oil to bake and fry food. And animal agriculture accounts for 97 percent of U.S. soybean meal consumption, using it in feed for the chickens, swine, fish and other animals that contribute to our food supply.

FSA Celebrates American Agriculture Producers on National Ag Day – March 25th

USDA Thurston County Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director Josie Waterbury encourages everyone to take a moment to appreciate the hard working farmers and ranchers in Nebraska on March 25, National Ag Day.  This year's theme is “Agriculture:  365 Sunrises and 7 Billion Mouths to Feed.”

USDA is proud to stand behind the producers who rise before dawn 365 days a year in order to put food on the table for 7 billion people.

“We recognize the importance of agriculture and hope that the recent passage of a new Farm Bill is a sign that 2014 will be a ‘banner year for the industry,’" said Waterbury.  There is no better way to show our support for farmers and ranchers than to begin implementing a new Farm Bill – legislation that will provide farmers, ranchers and consumers alike supportive results.

While the American economy is rebounding and gaining strength, the agricultural economy has remained strong and at its best.  Looking ahead, the U.S. has seen a trend towards aging farmers; however, according to the recent Census of Agriculture, the nation is beginning to reverse that trend.  There is an increase in the number of farmers under the age of 35.

And although the agriculture industry promises a bright future, many farmers and ranchers are still recovering from natural disasters that occurred this year, including the continuing drought.  Fortunately, these producers were still able to grow the commodities that Americans rely on in order to remain a food-secure nation.  Our farmers and ranchers have also continued their legacy of protecting natural resources and environmentally sensitive land through the use of conservation programs.

Please join FSA in celebrating America’s farmers and ranchers – a selfless group of individuals who make up less than two percent of the world's population.  They feed our country and make our nation secure.  And, they supply quality foods to the rest of the world’s seven billion people.

From the clothes we wear, the foods we eat, the fuel we burn, and the agricultural byproducts we use daily, American agriculture adds to the quality of our lives.

None of the contributions of U.S. farmers and ranchers should be taken for granted, because no one can live without agriculture.

Ag Day is a project of the Agriculture Council of America.

CWT Assists with 4 Million Pounds of Cheese, Butter and Whole Milk Powder Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 10 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Foremost Farms USA, Michigan Milk Producers Association, Upstate Niagara Cooperative (O-AT-KA) and Tillamook County Creamery Association to sell 220,462 pounds (100 metric tons) of Cheddar cheese, 2.535 million pounds (1,150 metric tons) of 82% butter and 1.268 million pounds (575 metric tons) of whole milk powder to customers in Africa, Central America, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The product will be delivered March through June 2014.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives in selling 27.205 million pounds of cheese, 14.309 million pounds of butter and 2.573 million pounds of whole milk powder to 20 countries on five continents. These sales are the equivalent of 573.4 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

In the long-term, assisting CWT members through the Export Assistance program helps member cooperatives gain and maintain market share, thus expanding the demand for U.S. dairy products and the U.S. farm milk that produces them in rapidly growing world dairy markets. This, in turn, positively impacts U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

Mosaic Acquires CF Industries' Phosphate Business

The Mosaic Company has completed its acquisition of the phosphate business of CF Industries, Inc. for $1.2 billion in cash plus $200 million to fund the company's asset retirement obligation escrow.

Mosaic has acquired a 25,000-acre phosphate mine and beneficiation plant, a phosphate manufacturing facility and an ammonia terminal and finished product warehouse facilities in the Tampa area. The facilities currently produce approximately 1.8 million tonnes of phosphate fertilizer per year, which will bring Mosaic's annual phosphates capacity to over 11 million tonnes.

Mosaic funded the acquisition with cash, a portion of which Mosaic plans to replace with pre-payable intermediate term debt financing. The company intends to repay this debt financing as it generates excess free cash flows.

"This acquisition provides opportunities for enhanced operating efficiencies, lower production costs and reduced capital investment--creating value for our shareholders, customers and employees," said Mosaic President and Chief Executive Officer James T. Prokopanko. "The addition of these new phosphate assets further solidifies Mosaic's position among the largest, most efficient and lowest cost phosphate producers in the world."

The acquisition is additive to Mosaic's existing Florida operations, and complements the company's plans to mine phosphate rock reserves in Hardee and Desoto counties and extensions of the existing Wingate mine. The former CF mine's proximity to Mosaic's planned Ona mine creates substantial opportunities for operational synergies.

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