Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tuesday March 25 Ag News

2014 National Agriculture Week & Agriculture Day
Larry Howard, UNL Extension Educator, Cuming County

It's easy to take agriculture for granted in America. Our food is readily accessible and safe. For this, we're fortunate, but that does not mean we don't have an obligation to recognize how it's made possible. National Ag Day falls on March 25th during National Ag Week which is March 23-29, 2014. The theme for this year is appropriately - "Agriculture: 365 Sunrises and 7 Billion Mouths to Feed".”  Farms both large and small have a proud tradition of nourishing generations. That is why people are encouraging consumers from all walks of life to learn more about farmers’ roles in providing nourishment for our families, our animals and our soil.

One out of three Nebraskans derive their income from working directly with agriculture. Cash receipts from farm marketing contributed over $24 billion to Nebraska’s economy in 2012 which translated into a record net farm income of over $7.5 billion and 6.2 percent of the U.S. total. Nebraska has a vibrant export market and we need to remember that every dollar in agricultural exports generates $1.29 in economic activities such as transportation, financing, warehousing, and production. You can find where Nebraska ranks nationally in ag commodities by going to: www.nda.nebraska.gov/facts.pdf. 

This week we honor National Agriculture Day and join in with thousands of these other agriculturalists to tell the true story of American agriculture and remind citizens that agriculture is a part of all of us. Our very existence may depend upon when and how we tell our story. It is important, particularly during a week like National Ag Week, for all of us to show our gratitude to the many men and women who make agriculture possible.  Farmers and ranchers are those responsible for supplying a safe and abundant food supply.

Food and fiber doesn't just arrive at the grocery or clothing store. There's an entire industry dedicated to providing plentiful and safe food for consumption, as well as a wide range of comfortable clothing choices. We rely on agriculture for the very necessities of life.  And with new technology farmers are more environmentally friendly than ever before. American agriculture is not just producing more food it’s producing higher quality goods.  Less than 2 percent of our population is involved in modern agriculture and produces enough food for 6.3 billion people worldwide. With today’s successful commercial agriculture, one U.S. farmer produces enough food to feed 155 people and is the leading producer of more than 50 foods of importance to diets throughout the world. In 1940, the average U.S. farmer fed only 19 people. Today, American agriculture is doing more with less and doing it better. Farm families are overcoming increasing challenges to provide this food. They face increased pressures on farm and ranch land, including excess regulations and paperwork requirements, tax uncertainty, high input costs, limited water, emerging pests and plant and animal diseases.

As the world population soars, there is an even greater demand for the food and fiber produced in the United States. We will need to provide enough food and fiber for 9 billion people by the year 2050; a big task that will be taken on by your Nebraska and American Farmers.  American farmers are working harder than ever, and it shows. The need for food produced in the United States is dramatic. Agriculture is this nation's #1 export and vitally important in sustaining a healthy economy. And it's not just the farmer who makes our food possible. The entire agriculture industry, from farm to all the way to the grocery store, is full of vital links in a chain that brings food to every citizen - and millions of people abroad.  That's really what this day and week is all about . . . recognizing the role of agriculture - and celebrating it!

 Vilsack on National Agriculture Day

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today released the following statement:

“Today and every day, we celebrate the extraordinary diversity and productivity of American agriculture. Farms and ranches of all forms and all sizes contribute to the safe, healthy, affordable food supply we enjoy in the United States.

Fittingly, Dr. Norman Borlaug is honored today with a statue at the U.S. Capitol, joining an array of American heroes commemorated in the National Statuary Hall. Dr. Borlaug’s statue reflects not only the magnitude of his own achievements, but the power of science to change lives in a positive way.

Dr. Borlaug’s legacy influences our work at USDA to equip the next generation of researchers and agricultural leaders with the sophisticated tools they’ll need to address the challenges of a changing climate and a growing global population.

On this National Agriculture Day, we thank the farmers, ranchers, and others at the heart of American agriculture, an industry that provides for our food and fiber needs, supports one in twelve jobs, and drives our nation’s economy.”

Heineman Announces Dawson & Merrick Counties Designated Livestock Friendly

Today, Gov. Dave Heineman announced the official designation of both Dawson and Merrick counties as Nebraska’s newest counties to receive the Livestock Friendly County designation through the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

“The designation of Dawson and Merrick counties as Livestock Friendly is a fitting way to celebrate Ag Week in Nebraska,” said Gov. Heineman. “Agriculture is our state’s most important industry, and livestock production is an essential part of success. Being part of the Livestock Friendly program is significant and it is a great way to recognize the tremendous positive impact the livestock industry has on Main Streets and the local economy.”

With the addition of Dawson and Merrick counties, there are now 26 counties designated as Livestock Friendly through the state program. These counties join Adams, Banner, Box Butte, Cuming, Dawes, Deuel, Dodge, Gage, Garden, Grant, Hitchcock, Holt, Jefferson, Johnson, Kimball, Keith, Lincoln, Morrill, Otoe, Saline, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan, Wayne and Webster counties.

In Dawson county, Gov. Heineman presented the Livestock Friendly certificate to Dawson County Commissioners Dean Kugler, Bill Stewart, Dennis Rickertsen, P.J. Jacobson and Everett Hagan. In Merrick County, Gov. Heineman presented the Livestock Friendly certificate to Merrick County Supervisors Jim Helgoth, DL Hahn, Carolyn Kucera, John Jefferson, Jimmie Graves, Roger Wiegert and Rex Weller.

Each county will receive road signs bearing the program logo to display along highways. The state program is coordinated by the Department of Agriculture.

Department of Agriculture Director Greg Ibach said the official designation makes a positive statement about each county’s commitment to rural economic development through livestock production. “It is clear from the submitted materials that county officials have given some purposeful thought to supporting the livestock industry. We are pleased to welcome both Dawson and Merrick counties into the program.”

To apply for a livestock friendly county designation, the county board must hold a public hearing and pass a resolution to apply. A completed application is then submitted to Department of Agriculture for review. Local producers or community groups can encourage their county board to submit a livestock friendly county application.

Additional information on the Livestock Friendly County program is available by contacting the Nebraska Department of Agriculture toll-free at 800-422-6692, or by visiting the Department of Agriculture website at www.nda.nebraska.gov and clicking the Livestock Friendly County link.

Nebraska Cost-Share Programs for Irrigation Management Tools

Gary Zoubek, Extension Educator

With spring finally here, it's time for irrigators to check out cost-share programs and consider investing in additional tools to improve irrigation management.  ETgages (atmometers), soil water sensors, and other equipment can provide valuable information to make informed decisions. Many of Nebraska's Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) and the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) have programs to assist with equipment purchases.

The Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Network (NAWMN), which has been using these tools since 2005, has expanded from 15 growers in the Upper Big Blue NRD to over 1,100 participants statewide.

At the annual NAWMN Conference in February, Rod DeBuhr, Upper Big Blue NRD water manager, shared a statewide summary of NRD cost-share programs. Sixteen NRDs offer assistance for equipment: Central Platte, Little Blue, Lower Big Blue, Lower Elkhorn, Lower Platte North, Lower Platte South, Lower Republican, Middle Republican, Nemaha, North Platte, South Platte, Tri-Basin, Upper Niobrara White, Upper Republican, Upper Big Blue, and the Twin Platte.

The programs vary widely between NRDs, so it's important to check with them or your area NRCS field office for more information.

Lower Elkhorn

Cost-share: Sell Watermark® sensors and ETgages at reduced price (approximately 50% of NRD cost). Cost-share on capacitance probe systems (50%), purchase only. No leases.
Technical Assistance: NRD and UNL Extension assist with installation for first-time user and data interpretation.  Participation:  Over 75 producers, over 60,000 acres. 

Lower Platte North

Cost-share: Sell Watermark® sensors at reduced price (approximately 50% of NRD cost).  Technical Assistance: UNL Extension assists with installation for first-time user and data interpretation. Participation:  120 producers, 15,000 acres. 

Lower Platte South

Cost-share:  50% on soil moisture sensing equipment; 75% in "priority areas." No maximum.  Technical Assistance: Yes, upon request.  Participation: 1,000 acres. 

Central Platte

Cost-share:  Cost-share program for the high-intensity (web-based) system only; provides $2,000 the first year. Recipient is required to use the system for three years and report to the NRD annually after the growing season for three years. The NRD allows reports sent directly from the computer program used with the probes.  Participation: New program in 2013.  Technical Assistance: Yes

Lower Loup

Cost-share:  Sell Watermark® sensors and ETgages.  Technical Assistance: Yes, upon request.  Participation:  15-20 producers, 2,000 acres. 

Upper Big Blue

Cost-share: Sell Watermark® sensors and ETgages at reduced price (approximately 50% of NRD cost).  Technical Assistance: NRD and UNL Extension assist with installation for first-time users and data interpretation.  Participation:  Over 400 producers, over 100,000 acres. 

Papio Missouri
- No program at this time. Looking into program for the future.

Lewis and Clark
- No program

Upper Elkhorn
- No Program

DeBuhr also shared a map of statewide efforts by Nebraska's 23 NRDs to manage its water resource. The map covers:
-    Allocations
-    Flowmeter Requirements
-    Well Drilling Moratorium
-    Required Water Use Reports
-    Rainfall Yearly Average

The map, which shows restrictions on groundwater irrigation in Nebraska, is intended for general reference only.  Rules and regulalations specific to districts and sub-areas are established and changed by a locally elected board of directors for each NRD. Not all regulations pertaining to water management are represented on this map.  Please contact your local NRD to obtain the most current rules and regulations for your district.  A list of Nebraska NRD water programs can be found at:  http://www.nrdnet.org/.  (Click on the "NRD Programs" tab and select "Water.")

Do You Need to Boost Your Corn Seeding Rate?

Charles Wortmann, UNL Extension Soils Specialist

Most Nebraska producers could increase corn yield by increasing seeding rate, according to research reported in UNL NebGuide G2216, Row Spacing and Seeding Rate for Corn in Nebraska... http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/sendIt/g2216.pdf

"Current Nebraska research suggests that yield increases may be possible by increasing plant population at harvest beyond the USDA-reported averages in Nebraska of 29,000 plants per acre (30,450-31,900 seeds per acre) for irrigated production and 21,850 plants per acre (22,943-24,035 seeds per acre) for rainfed production," it notes.

Planting 34,000 seeds per acre for irrigated corn and 24,000 to 30,000 for rainfed corn, depending on expected yield, with 30-inch row spacing is expected on average to give the best net returns.

This NebGuide provides guidelines to determining row spacing, twin-row planting, and seeding rate for eastern and central Nebraska. It is based on findings of research conducted at UNL research centers and on farmers' fields.

Use of 30- and 15-inch row spacing and twin row versus single row planting are addressed. Guidelines to seeding rates consider seed cost and expected yield for maximizing profit per acre.

The NebGuide was written by Ross Barr, masters degree graduate student; Stephen Mason, professor of agronomy and horticulture; Mitchell Novacek, former masters degree graduate student; Charles Wortmann, Extension soils specialist; and Jennifer Rees, Extension educator.

Additional corn seeding rate research will be shared in the coming weeks.

Scoular Partners with Invest an Acre to Help Eliminate Hunger in Nebraska

The Scoular Company recently partnered with Invest an Acre, a program that encourages farmers across the country to donate one acre or more of crop proceeds to help eliminate hunger in their local communities.

Beginning June 1, 2014, The Scoular Foundation will provide a $100 gift to Invest an Acre for each Nebraska farmer’s donation to the program. Donations in Nebraska are also matched by Monsanto and Farm Credit Services of America, with 100 percent of every donation going to the food bank serving the donating farmer’s local community.

Scoular offices and facilities in the following Nebraska locations will be participating in the Invest an Acre program:  Atlanta, Big Springs, Brandon, Fremont, Grainton, Hershey, Holdrege, Lamar, Madrid, North and South Grant, Omaha, Paxton, Rushville, Sidney, Sutherland, Venango, and Wallace. 

When farmers sell grain to Scoular, they can designate an amount to be donated to Invest an Acre. The local Scoular location will then make the farmer’s designated donation to Invest an Acre and deduct the donation amount from the farmer’s grain settlement. Feeding America will distribute 100% of the donation, plus the matching gifts, to the food bank serving the farmer’s local community. For more information, please visit www.investanacre.org.

EPA and Army Corps of Engineers Clarify Protection for Nation’s Streams and Wetlands

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) today jointly released a proposed rule to clarify protection under the Clean Water Act for streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources. The proposed rule will benefit businesses by increasing efficiency in determining coverage of the Clean Water Act.

Determining when the Clean Water Act protected streams and wetlands became confusing and complex following Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006. For nearly a decade, members of Congress, state and local officials, industry, agriculture, environmental groups, and the public asked for a rulemaking to provide clarity.

The proposed rule does not protect any new types of waters that have not historically been covered under the Clean Water Act and is consistent with the Supreme Court’s more narrow reading of Clean Water Act jurisdiction.

The proposed rule preserves the Clean Water Act exemptions and exclusions for agriculture. Additionally, EPA and the Army Corps have coordinated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop an interpretive rule to ensure that 53 specific conservation practices that protect or improve water quality will not be subject to Section 404 dredged or fill permitting requirements. The agencies will work together to implement these new exemptions and periodically review, and update USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service conservation practice standards and activities that would qualify under the exemption.

The health of rivers, lakes, bays, and coastal waters depend on the streams and wetlands where they begin. Streams and wetlands provide many benefits to communities – they trap floodwaters, recharge groundwater supplies, remove pollution, and provide habitat for fish and wildlife. They are also economic drivers because of their role in fishing, hunting, agriculture, recreation, energy, and manufacturing.

About 60 percent of stream miles in the U.S only flow seasonally or after rain, but have a huge impact on the downstream waters. And approximately 117 million people – one in three Americans – get drinking water from public systems that rely in part on these streams. These are important waterways for which EPA and the Army Corps is clarifying protection.

The agencies are launching a robust outreach effort, holding discussions around the country and gathering input needed to shape a final rule. The proposed rule will be open for public comment for 90 days from publication in the Federal Register.  We look forward hearing your views on this proposal.

For more information, please see the attached press release and visit www.epa.gov/uswaters.

EPA and Army Corps Proposal Expands Clean Water Act Jurisdiction

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corp of Engineers (Corps) proposed an expansion of their federal authority over “waters of the United States.” The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is deeply concerned by this vast overreach by the EPA and the Administration. Under this expansion, essentially all waters in the country would be subject to regulation by the EPA and the Corps, regardless of size or continuity of flow.

“This is a step too far, even by an agency and an administration notorious for over-regulation,” said NCBA President Bob McCan, Victoria, Texas cattleman. “This proposal by EPA and the Corps would require cattlemen like me to obtain costly and burdensome permits to take care of everyday chores like moving cattle across a wet pasture or cleaning out a dugout. These permits will stifle economic growth and inhibit future prosperity without a corresponding environmental benefit. This proposed regulation and the burdensome federal permitting scheme will only hinder producers’ ability to undertake necessary tasks and, in turn, result in an exodus of ranchers from the field.”

Almost all activities on our open land will now touch a “water of the United States” under the expanded definition. For the first time, ditches are included in the definition of a “tributary” and now will come under federal jurisdiction. Activities near a jurisdictional ditch will now require a federal permit. Many cattle operations will be required to get Sec. 402 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, Sec. 404 Dredge and Fill permits or Sec. 311 Spill Prevention Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) spill plans.

“NCBA policy states we oppose expanding federal authority over non-navigable waters,” McCan said. “This proposal flies in the face of the Constitution and the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the EPA and Corps’ jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. It takes the authority Congress granted EPA beyond the scope of Congressional intent. This is an illegal act by the EPA, and we will defend the rights of our members and producers.”

The proposal will be open for public comment for 90 days. NCBA will submit comments on behalf of the over 175,000 producers it represents.

NFU Statement on EPA's Proposed Clean Water Act Rule

Chandler Goule, National Farmers Union (NFU) senior vice president of programs, issued the following statement on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule regarding provisions of the Clean Water Act:

“NFU has long advocated for increased certainty surrounding Clean Water Act requirements for family farmers and ranchers in the wake of complicating Supreme Court decisions. Today’s draft rule clarifies Clean Water Act jurisdiction, maintains existing agricultural exemptions and adds new exemptions, and encourages enrollment in U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs.

“In addition, farmers and ranchers who are voluntarily enacting certain conservation practices on their farms will be exempt from Clean Water Act Section 404 permitting requirements.

“Today’s ag-friendly announcement clearly indicates that NFU and other agricultural stakeholders made their voices heard, and EPA took notice. I encourage EPA to continue to rebuild trust with the agricultural community by withdrawing its proposal to reduce the Renewable Fuel Standard targets.”

EPA proposes Major Upgrade for Clean Water Rules

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers proposed an administrative rule to close loopholes in the Clean Water Act that have left more than half of America’s streams and millions of wetland acres unprotected from pollution. The Center for Rural Affairs predicts that the new rules will provide much needed clarity in Clean Water Act enforcement that will be advantageous across rural and small town America.

“Rural America - and the family farmers, ranchers and small towns therein - are the tip of the spear in protecting the quality of the water of the United States,” said John Crabtree of the Center for Rural Affairs. “The proposed rule is a commonsense effort to clear the regulatory waters, protect the quality of the nation’s surface waters, and provide an environment in which economically vital activities such as hunting, fishing and birding as well as farming and ranching can both thrive and contribute to a better quality of life and safer drinking water for those of us that live here, and also for our neighbors downstream.”

This rulemaking comes after a decade of uncertainty over the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act, following Supreme Court challenges in 2001 and 2006. The new rule, which will be published in the Federal Register and available for public comment as soon as this week, would restore Clean Water Act protections to 20 million acres of wetlands and more than half the nation’s streams, restoring protections to drinking water for 117 million Americans.

“By providing clarity on what constitutes protected Waters of the United States, the EPA has an opportunity to ensure that the rule will provide greater opportunities for farmers and ranchers to partner with USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service conservation programs to better utilize sustainable agriculture practices to enhance water quality,” continued Crabtree. “And the rule can help reduce some of the economic burden currently faced by many small towns in improving drinking water quality.”

“Water is the basis of life, and it is at the heart of everything we do here on our farm,” said Charlie Johnson, who owns and operates a 2,000 acre organic farm near Madison, South Dakota. “The clarity this rule will provide will be important as we work to improve soil health, increase water retention and reduce runoff through buffer strips, cover crops and other sustainable farming practices.”

The EPA will publish the proposed rule in the Federal Register and upon that publication announce a 90 day public comment period. According to Crabtree, that process will provide the opportunity for individuals and organizations to provide input to EPA on ways that the rule can be further improved upon. “Although we are encouraged by this first step in providing clarity and a better regulatory framework for protecting the quality of surface waters across the nation, we also know that no rule is perfect.”

“We are analyzing the full text of the rule now, all 370 pages of it, and we will share our analysis with the Administration and with the public. And we will work to encourage our supporters, friends and allies from across the U.S. to offer their insights as well,” Crabtree concluded.

Informa: Corn Acres Projected at 93 MA; Beans at 81.2 MA

Farmers will plant 6% more soybean acres this spring while corn acreage will drop 2.4%, according to forecasts released Tuesday by Informa Economics.  Informa projects 93 million planted acres of corn, a decline of 2.3 million acres from last year, down slightly from last month's estimate.

Soybean acres would go to 81.2 million acres, a boost of nearly 4.7 million acres from 2013 soybean planting, Informa said. If those projections are accurate, it would be a record planting for soybeans. The previous record soybean planting was 77.5 million acres in 2009-10.

Informa estimated 56.648 planted wheat acres is slightly bearish for wheat as it is up from last month's estimate of 55.798 million acres and above USDA's February estimate of 55.5 million acres. Cotton plantings are projected to be 11 million acres, up 548,000 from last year's total. Grain sorghum planting is expected to be 7.7 million acres, down 318,000 from last year. Informa estimated 535.5 million total planted acres, up 3.2 million from last year.

Informa and other analyst groups are releasing their acreage forecasts ahead of USDA's Prospective Plantings report that will come out Monday at 11 a.m. CDT. USDA will also release its quarterly Grain Stocks report.

U.S., Canadian Pork Industries Collaborate with Feed Industry, Others on PEDV

More than 60 people representing the U.S. and Canadian pork, feed and other allied industries recently participated in a meeting on the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV) hosted by the National Pork Board, and in collaboration with the National Pork Producers Council, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, the American Feed Industry Association, the National Grain and Feed Association, the National Renderers Association and the North American Spray Dried Blood and Plasma Producers, in Des Moines, Iowa. Although the disease does not affect humans or pork safety, it has infected and killed millions of young pigs on farms of all sizes in 27 states since May 2013 and in four Canadian provinces since January.

"Our main goal was to bring a group of people together to help us agree on research needs related to PEDV and feed systems so that we can get answers to ongoing questions as quickly and efficiently as possible," said Dr. Paul Sundberg, vice president of science and technology at the National Pork Board.  "We've been working on PEDV research and collaborating with all pork
industry stakeholders since the disease was discovered here, and we'll continue doing that to get practical results for farmers to use to save their pigs."

The meeting participants, made up of producers, veterinarians, nutritionists, academics and government and association officials, also shared what's currently known about PEDV, including transmission routes, possible vectors and current testing limitations. The group reiterated that PEDV is not a human health or food safety issue and agreed the virus is of Asian origin genetically, but its direct pathway to North America remains unknown.

"The feed and ingredient associations appreciate the National Pork Board and pork industry for organizing this important roundtable discussion," said Richard Sellers, senior vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs with the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA). "The research agenda outcome from the meeting is one we are optimistic will assist in investigating this devastating disease more in depth, helping to develop mitigation steps and communicating to those in our respective industries."

During the day-long session, the U.S. Department of Agriculture offered information about the agency's pathways analysis that seeks to identify and describe pathways that exotic viral pathogens of swine may enter the country. The Canadian participants shared their PEDV experiences and actions taken this year, and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians presented its initial survey of early PEDV cases. In addition, participants learned results of veterinary investigations in several states and heard what the feed, feed ingredient and rendering industries are doing to enhance their biosecurity programs and mitigate risk.

"After taking all of this information into consideration, the group agreed that there are multiple ways for pigs to become infected via a fecal-oral route, including environmental, transportation, feed systems and other vectors," Sundberg said.

The top research priorities agreed upon by the group are: 1) to investigate the effectiveness and cost of treatments that could be used to mitigate the survival of PEDV and other viruses in feeds, 2) to conduct contamination risk assessments at all steps within the feed processing and delivery chain, 3) to develop a substitute for the currently used swine bioassay procedures and 4) to continue to investigate the risk of feed and other pathways for pathogen entry into the U.S.

"If feed is a factor in the transfer of PEDV, based on past research we know that there are specific time and temperature combinations that should inactivate the virus," Sundberg said. "However, there are many variables that can affect feed, including post-processing contamination, which is another area that must be carefully controlled even if inactivation occurs."

David Fairfield, vice president of feed services for the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA), said, "This meeting ilustrates the ongoing commitment that all participants in the pork industry have in eliminating PEDV. The dialogue was constructive and transparent, and facilitated a better understanding on what is known and not known about the disease. NGFA believes the feed-related research priorities identified during the meeting are appropriate and will provide important information that can be used as part of a comprehensive strategy to eradicate PEDV."

To date, the Pork Checkoff has funded 17 PEDV-related research projects totaling nearly $1.7 million.The Institute for Feed Research and Education, AFIA's foundation, has pledged $100,000 toward PEDV research.

AFIA's Sellers added, "To show our dedication, industry groups are committing resources and funding to the research effort and will continue to communicate updates to those affected in order to minimalize further effects."


Rabobank has published a new report on the impact of the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv) on the North American herd, forecasting significant impacts on production and slaughter through 2015, and identifying the opportunity for U.S. poultry to step into the market gap.

In the report, published by the bank’s Food & Agribusiness Research (FAR) and Advisory team, Rabobank says that PEDv thus far has impacted about 60 percent of the U.S. breeding herd, 28 percent of the Mexican herd, and is beginning to develop in Canada.  If PEDv spreads in Canada and Mexico at the pace seen in the U.S., Rabobank says that North American hog slaughter could decline by nearly 18.5 million hogs over 2014 and 2015, or 12.5 percent relative to 2013 levels.  Overall U.S. pork production is anticipated to decline 6  to 7 percent in 2014, the most in more than 30 years.

“In the U.S., we see the outbreak of PEDv causing a significant shortfall in the availability of market hogs in 2014 – to the tune of 12.5 million hogs or 11 percent of annual slaughter,” explained Rabobank Analyst William Sawyer. “Given the ever-rising number of PEDv cases reported, coupled with a six-month average lifecycle, the months of August through October are likely to be the tightest for processors, where slaughter could decline by 15 – 25 percent against 2013 levels. If the virus continues at its current rate, the shortfall to U.S. slaughter in 2014 could be as much as 15 million hogs.”

The specific origin of PEDv in the U.S. has not been definitively identified but comparison of strains of PEDv in the U.S. have indicated a close relationship with strains in China. What is clear is that once the virus enters a region, it can spread quite easily and rapidly throughout an entire population. The most common avenue is on livestock and farm equipment that come into contact with hogs positive with PEDv or their feces.

In regard to productivity, 2014 will be a story of “the haves and have-nots” where hog producers who experienced mild cases of PEDv, or none at all, could realize margins of more than $ 60 per head, the highest calendar year average seen in Rabobank’s 40-year record.  Conversely, hog producers who have had difficulty eradicating the virus could suffer significant losses as the pain of the high fixed costs of modern hog production compounds prolonged periods of weak productivity.

Packers for the year to date have been in a “haves” position as the fear of possible stockouts have pushed pork cutout prices up much faster than hog prices. The gross margin for packers reached $63 per head, up from $37 this time last year.  Profitability is likely to wane in the spring and summer, as prices continue to climb, testing pork demand, and hog shortages force packers to idle plants.

The real winner in the PEDv situation, however, will be the U.S. poultry industry. U.S. beef production is forecast to decline by nearly 6 percent in 2014 and, coupled with Rabobank’s estimate of 6  to 7 percent less pork production, this implies an exceptional opportunity for the U.S. chicken industry as the protein of last resort. U.S. chicken production would have to rise by 8 to 9 percent to offset the shortfall from beef and pork, but a limited breeder flock and continued high demand for fertilized eggs from Mexico will keep supply growth restrained. As a result, Rabobank expect chicken prices and margins to climb this spring and summer, yielding a very favorable year for the U.S. chicken industry.

ACE meets with Administration and Capitol Hill decision makers during grassroots fly-in this week

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) and more than 80 of its members are in Washington, DC to meet with top Administration officials and Members of Congress as part of the advocacy group’s “Biofuels Beltway March” annual fly-in today and tomorrow.

Ethanol advocates and supporters will have nearly 170 meetings with lawmakers or their staff representing 45 states during the two day event.  ACE members will also meet with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, EPA Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe, and Special Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Dan Utech.  Meetings with Administration officials are closed to the press.  The group’s priorities include promoting the success of Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), highlighting the safety and affordability of higher ethanol blends such as E15 and E85, and showing how independent fuel retailers have successfully gotten over Big Oil’s so-called E10 “blend wall.”

“In recognition that the messenger is as important as the message, several independent retailers who installed equipment to sell E15 and E85 in response to the RFS will join us this year to share their first-hand success stories getting over the E10 blend wall,” said Brian Jennings, ACE Executive Vice President.  “These station owners will make a convincing case to Congress, EPA, and the White House that they’ve been able to do what the oil companies suggest cannot be done; offer their customers more affordable and cleaner fuel choices.”

“While we’re going to equip Congress and the Administration with facts which will demystify RINs and show that consumers want E15 and E85, our most effective weapon will be the personal and authentic stories from our members about why the RFS is a success,” said Jennings.  “More than 80 people representing 15 states are in the nation’s Capital this week because they know what’s at stake with respect to the RFS.  If we are to keep the momentum going it’ll be thanks to their grassroots advocacy.”

Oscar winner James Moll's New Documentary Feature "Farmland" Confirmed For Theatrical Run

Academy Award®-winning filmmaker James Moll's new feature length documentary, Farmland, will be released nationally May 1, 2014. The film will be distributed via D&E Entertainment in more than 60 major markets. Numerous national exhibitors will be carrying the film including: Regal Cinemas, Marcus Theatres, Carmike Cinemas, Landmark Theatres and many key independent theaters.

The film will have its New York premiere at a private screening on April 17, during the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. Additionally, Farmland has been selected to be in competition this year at Cleveland International Film Festival on March 28-29, 2014; Atlanta Film Festival on April 6, 2014; Nashville Film Festival on April 19, 2014; and Newport Beach Film Festival in April 2014.

Farmland offers viewers an intimate and firsthand glimpse into the lives of six young farmers and ranchers across the U.S., chronicling their high-risk/high-reward jobs and their passion for a way of life that has been passed down from generation to generation, yet continues to evolve.

"In Farmland, audiences will hear thoughts and opinions about agriculture, but not from me, and not from a narrator," Moll says about his film. "They're from the mouths of the farmers and ranchers themselves."

The documentary features an original score composed by Nathan Wang with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. The film also includes an original recording of "This Land is Your Land" performed in a first-ever collaboration with platinum rock band Everclear and Grammy® Award-nominated artist Liz Phair.

Visit www.FarmlandFilm.com to locate a theatre near you where Farmland will be screening, as well as additional information about the film and to watch the trailer.

Farmland was produced by Moll's Allentown Productions, with generous support from the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance® (USFRA®).

Retail Fertilizer Prices Continue to Edge Upwards

Retail fertilizer prices are higher for the third week of March, but none of the eight major fertilizers saw moves of any significance, according to locations tracked by DTN. This marks the fifth straight week all fertilizer prices have been higher.  Urea, which had been the fertilizer leading the way higher in recent months, pulled back some. While the nitrogen fertilizer was higher compared to month earlier, it was only up just slightly. Urea had an average price of $522/ton.  DAP had an average price of $541/ton, MAP $561/ton, potash $472/ton, 10-34-0 $509/ton, anhydrous $621/ton, UAN28 $341/ton and UAN32 $387/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.57/lb.N, anhydrous $0.38/lb.N, UAN28 $0.61/lb.N and UAN32 $0.60/lb.N.

Although fertilizers have moved higher in recent months, seven of the eight major fertilizers remain double-digits lower in price compared to March of 2013.  Urea is now down 9%, DAP is 12% less expensive and UAN32 is 13% lower. UAN28 is 14% lower, MAP is 15% less expensive while 10-34-0 is down 17%. Potash is 20% less expensive while anhydrous is 28% lower than a year earlier.

CWT Assists with 3.6 Million Pounds of Cheese, Butter and Whole Milk Powder Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 15 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Foremost Farms USA, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association, Michigan Milk Producers Association and Tillamook County Creamery Association to sell 2.094 million pounds (950 metric tons) of Cheddar cheese, 1.185 million pounds (538 metric tons) of 82% butter and 308,647 pounds (140 metric tons) of whole milk powder to customers in Africa, Asia, Central America, the Middle East and North Africa. The product will be delivered March through August 2014.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives in selling 29.299 million pounds of cheese, 15.495 million pounds of butter and 2.881 million pounds of whole milk powder to 21 countries on five continents. These sales are the equivalent of 619.5 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.

Russia Spring Grain Planting Slows Because of Adverse Weather

Spring grain planting in Russia for the 2014 harvest is slightly slower than last year due to adverse weather conditions, the agriculture ministry said late Monday.

The ministry said farmers planted spring grains to March 24 on 396,400 hectares or 0.8% of the total planned planting area, which is 47,000 hectares less than on the same date last year.

Russia plans to plant spring grains this year on 31.8 million hectares, 1.7% more than last year. The agriculture ministry aims at a grain harvest this year of 95 million metric tons.

In 2013 Russia harvested 89.3 million tons of grain in clean weight, 30% more than in 2012, when 68.7 million tons was harvested because crops were damaged by drought. Russia's grain export in the 2012-2013 marketing year fell to 15.69 million tons from 27.2 million tons in the previous marketing year. In the current marketing year, July 2013-June 2014, the agriculture ministry expects Russia's grain exports to rise to 18-20 million tons.

Ukraine Jul 1-Mar 24 Grain Exports Rise 41% on Year

Ukraine's grain harvest this year is bigger than last year's, and the size of its grain exports so far in the current marketing year are 41% larger despite the political unrest in the country, the agriculture ministry said Tuesday.

Between the beginning of the current marketing year--July 1, 2013--and March 24, Ukraine exported 26.8 million metric tons of grain, 41% more than in the corresponding period of the previous marketing year.

The total amount of grain exported to date included 7.66 million metric tons of wheat. Corn exports to date totaled nearly 16.72 million tons, and barley exports 2.15 million tons.

The agriculture ministry said earlier that Ukraine's grain exports in the 2013-2014 marketing year--July 2013-June 2014--were likely to rise to 33 million tons from about 23 million tons in the previous marketing year because of a bigger harvest this year.

The agriculture ministry said earlier that Ukraine's 2013 grain harvest was over 63 million tons in bunker weight, up from 46.2 million tons in 2012, when crops were damaged by drought.

Inoculants Help Preserve Feed Quality all the Way to the Bunk

An upward trend in milk and beef prices may have growers putting more emphasis on feed value and the importance of inoculants to help preserve the amount and quality of stored forages.

“Dry-matter recovery is important because feed is still relatively expensive,” says Bill Ramsey, DuPont Pioneer livestock information manager.  “To maximize the value of their forage investment, many producers I meet with are also working with nutritionists and agronomic consultants on plans to prevent dry-matter loss in stored forages.

Managing pH immediately after harvest is the key to forage preservation.
“Dry-matter loss begins with plant-cell respiration and aerobic bacteria utilizing plant sugars, water and carbs as an energy source, literally consuming nutrients and feed,” Ramsey says. “A quick drop in pH and a fast start to fermentation preserves silage, maintains a high level of silage quality and results in decreased fermentation losses.”
To accurately estimate the overall value of inoculants on feed, producers can use the Pioneer Inoculant Value Calculator to gain a “hands on” look at how inoculants can make an economic difference on their operations through improved feed bunk life and increased feed cost savings. Utilizing 27 years of research data to quantify the value of inoculants to preserve dry matter, the easy-to-use online tool enables growers to evaluate 10 variables, including the crop, storage system, feeding rates and market prices. Growers can access the calculator on the Pioneer.com website or in the app from the Apple® iTunes® store.
Inoculants have two primary functions in preserving forages. The first priority is to spark a fast and efficient pH drop of the silage as soon as it is stored. The second is to help suppress spoilage yeast, mold and bacillus for improved aerobic stability. DuPont Pioneer also has silage inoculants with a third mode of action that improves fiber digestibility and increases fermentation and aerobic stability.

Cheminova Launches STATEMENT™ Herbicide

Cheminova, Inc. today announced the launch of STATEMENT™ Herbicide, a new choice for growers looking for control of glyphosate and ALS-resistant weeds in both soybeans and cotton. A premix with two active ingredients, metolachlor and fomesafen, STATEMENT may be used preplant and for preemergence for control of annual grass and broadleaf weeds on soybeans, while also providing residual control and reducing early weed competition. 

STATEMENT may also be applied postemergence on cotton to control grasses, broadleaf weeds and sedges. It may also be tank mixed with other labeled post-directed herbicides to broaden the weed control spectrum in cotton.

“Soybean growers looking for an affordable preemergent herbicide will love STATEMENT for its dual modes of action and residual control of broadleaf and grassy weeds,” said Ken Phelps, Product Manager, Cheminova, Inc. “Cotton growers will enjoy the flexibility it gives them for post-directed sprays on grasses, broadleaves and sedges.”

STATEMENT will be packaged in 2 x 2.5 gallon containers and is on sale April 1.

RhinoGator Adds 14.9x24 Size to Pivot Tire Portfolio

RhinoGator® has announced the new 14.9x24 version of its popular no-flat pivot tire. This option was developed for use in areas where this size tire is already popular especially in non-grain crop applications. Features of the RhinoGator® 14.9x24 option include a lower tread profile, reinforced center rib and wide tread lugs. Built for a 10x24 rim, this poly tire will increase flotation in light or heavy soils and on any brand of pivot.

Like the original RhinoGator®, the new 14.9x24 RhinoGator® is guaranteed to never go flat. Constructed of super-tough, high-density composite plastic resins (including corn-based plastic), RhinoGator® tires are engineered especially for the rugged conditions of pivot irrigation. Manufactured in the United States, RhinoGator® comes with the highest UV protection package available and is covered by a 5-year limited warranty.

The high-traction, non-directional tread design of RhinoGator® provides optimum performance regardless of pivot direction. The sturdy center rib and large anti-slip plate provide overall integrity, reliability and strength.

RhinoGator® is precision manufactured for consistency and easy assembly. RhinoGator® fits standard pivot wheels and is available pre-mounted if desired. Both the original and shallow tread RhinoGator® tires are available in 11.2-38 and 11.2-24 sizes. The new 14.9x24 is available in a single tread depth combining the shallow tread design with increased traction lugs.

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