Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wednesday March 19 Ag News

Gov. Heineman and State Agriculture Leaders Discuss National Agriculture Week in Nebraska

Gov. Dave Heineman today called attention to Nebraska’s celebration of National Ag Week March 23-29. The Governor outlined community visits planned for Tues., March 25, discussed livestock development, unveiled the second edition of an agricultural magazine, and announced the students winning the Department of Agriculture’s poster contest.

“Agriculture is our state’s largest industry,” said Gov. Heineman. “Our farmers and ranchers work hard to raise the food, fuel and fiber we all use in our lives. For those efforts, they deserve our appreciation every day, but especially during National Ag Week.”

This year, Gov. Heineman, Greg Ibach, Director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Steve Nelson, President of Nebraska Farm Bureau, and Ronnie Green, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources Vice Chancellor, will visit Valentine, Lexington and Central City to mark the National Ag Week celebration. The group will make some important livestock-related announcements and discuss issues including rural economic development, communication of agriculture’s story, and agriculture career opportunities.

“Agriculture is a huge part of Nebraska’s identity and plays a major role in the overall well-being of our state. We are extremely excited to join the Governor and others in celebrating National Agriculture Day. At its core, Nebraska agriculture is about the farm and ranch families that work every day to support their families and communities. These Ag Day events give us the opportunity to recognize those efforts and celebrate the great things associated with raising food for others,” said Nelson.

Dir. Ibach discussed several key focus areas for the Department of Agriculture, including ongoing efforts to share information about Nebraska’s agriculture industry with general consumers, and highlights in the second edition of the Nebraska Agriculture and You magazine. Featured in the magazine are Kyle and Gina Cantrell and family, farmers from Merna.

“The Nebraska Agriculture and You magazine is an important communication piece because it shares with consumers’ information about agriculture’s relevance in every aspect of their lives,” Dir. Ibach said.

Dir. Ibach noted the Department of Agriculture will circulate the free, annually-produced magazine in settings where the general public can enjoy it, such as office lobbies of doctors, dentists, and hair salons. Nebraska FFA chapter members again are helping deliver magazines to these types of locations in a number of the state’s largest communities.

“FFA students will be fanning out to these types of businesses over the next month,” said Dir. Ibach. “We hope businesses will support this educational effort by placing the magazines in their lobbies.”

Magazines also will be direct-mailed to select locations in Lincoln, Omaha and Grand Island and circulated through public libraries, Cooperative Extension, and chambers of commerce. Hard copies also can be obtained by calling the Department of Agriculture at (800) 422-6692. The magazine is available digitally at

Additionally, Gov. Heineman announced the Department of Agriculture poster contest award winners. Each year elementary students have the opportunity to discuss agriculture while creating a poster to submit to the department.

This year, the department had over 2,000 entries from students throughout the state. Winners include:

In the 1st and 2nd grade division:

1st place is: Hope McDonald a 1st grader from Centura Elementary in Cairo
2nd place is: Ellie Tramp a 2nd grader from St. Rose of Lima School in Crofton

3rd place is: Dustin Kapke a 2nd grader from St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Plymouth
Governor’s Choice is: Lucas Urbanski a 1st grader from St. James Seton School in Omaha

In the 3rd and 4th grade division:

1st place is: Faith McDonald a 4th grader from Centura Elementary in Cairo
2nd place is: Alexis Mogensen a 3rd grader from Weeping Water School in Weeping Water
3rd place is: Abby Gilreath a 4th grader from Rohwler Elementary in Omaha
Governor’s Choice is: Kennady Schmidt a 4th grader from Howells Community Catholic School in Howells

In the 5th and 6th grade division

1st place is: Dabatha Sanchez a 5th grader from Knickrehm Elementary in Grand Island
2nd place is: Zoey Kreikemeier a 6th grader from Guardian Angels Central Catholic in West Point

3rd place is: Jazzlyn Nava a 5th grader from Knickrehm Elementary in Grand Island
Governor’s Choice is: Chloe Hoffschiender a 6th grader from St. Paul’s in Arlington

“It’s a fun way for students to explore their knowledge of farming and ranching,” said Gov. Heineman. “They are always very creative.”

Groundbreaking for Stumpf Wheat Research Program March 21

Groundbreaking for the new Henry J. Stumpf International Wheat Research Program is planned March 21.

The ceremony will begin at 1:30 p.m. MT at the site, which is a half-mile northeast of Grant on County Road 328.

The program is funded by a gift of more than $3 million from Marvin H. Stumpf III of Grant to the University of Nebraska Foundation. The gift established the Stumpf Family Research and Development Fund to support agricultural research and university extension services. The contribution included a $1 million outright gift and a donation of 640 acres of land in Perkins County with an appraised market value of more than $2 million.

The new wheat facility that will be funded by the donation also will house the local University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension office. The facility is expected to be open by December.

Archie Clutter, dean of the Agricultural Research Division at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said the contribution will provide a significant boost to the university's wheat and cropping systems research.

Marvin Stumpf made the donation to honor the legacy of his family, including his late wife, Pearl Stumpf, his grandparents, Henry J. and Margaret Stumpf, his parents Henry J. and Darlene Stumpf, and his wife's late husband, Sam Peterson.

Iowa Corn Partners with Iowa Food & Family to Connect Consumers

Iowa Corn is partnering with the Iowa Food & Family Project to better acquaint Iowans with farmers and enhance their confidence in how food is grown, prepared and served.

Interest in food among Iowans continues to spike, mirroring national trends. Eighty-five percent of respondents in Iowa Food & Family Project's annual Iowa consumer pulse survey said they think "often" or "sometimes" about how the food they eat is grown.

"I'm excited about Iowa Corn's involvement with the Iowa Food & Family Project because it connects families to Iowa farm families at the beginning of the food cycle," says Roger Zylstra, a farmer and current President of the Iowa Corn Growers Association.

Iowa Corn's sponsorship increases familiarity and confidence in how food is grown by encouraging conversations and providing unique opportunities for farm families and their urban neighbors to become better acquainted," Zylstra says. "The Iowa Food & Family Project is another consumer outreach program that allows Iowa Corn to reach consumers who do not farm."

Iowa Food & Family Project is launching its spring "You on the Farm" contest, where one lucky winner and their family will have the opportunity to spend the day with an Iowa farm family. While on the farm, the family will see how Iowa farms function. The guests may have the opportunity to drive a tractor and help plant corn. You can enter the contest by visiting before March 31. A winner will be randomly selected in April.

Social Media – The Global Language

Ten years ago, you never dreamed of putting a picture of your breakfast on the Internet, or sharing your musings while you sit in traffic. And you couldn’t show the world videos of the funny tricks performed by your children or your dog.

Now you can, courtesy of social media outlets such as Facebook (founded in February 2004), YouTube (February 2005) and Twitter (March 2006), to name a few.

It didn’t take long for the social media phenomenon to sweep around the world, and while it is a global tool, it has local applications, making it ideal for an organization like the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) that supports U.S. beef, pork and lamb exports around the world, but tailors the message to each individual market.

“Social media is insanely popular and is incredibly powerful – and cost-effective – if used properly,” said Dan Halstrom, USMEF senior vice president of global marketing and communications. “USMEF’s marketing team around the world has adopted many of these tools for our use, timing our rollout of these tactics to keep us in step with the local conditions and, ideally, a step ahead of our competitors.”

Consider these facts about just a few of the leading social media channels:
-    Facebook has 1.23 billion monthly active users – up 16 percent over last year
        4.5 billion “likes” are generated daily
-    Twitter reports it has an estimated 1 billion registered users
        184 million active monthly Twitter users
-    YouTube has more than 1 billion unique users each month
        More than 6 billion hours of videos are watched on YouTube monthly – almost an hour for every person on Earth
        80% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the U.S.

USMEF has followed the launch of the key social media channels closely, often using them as an efficient method for attracting the attention of the youthful early adopters who also have an interest in high-quality red meat products. USMEF offices also have relied on social media when traditional channels were either too expensive or unwilling to carry positive messages about American products.

First steps in South Korea

In one of the most tech-savvy countries on earth, USMEF-South Korea led the way for the organization’s social media engagement in late 2007. Faced with 100,000 protesters in the streets of Seoul angry about the government’s decision to readmit U.S. beef after a BSE-related absence, the USMEF marketing team began cultivating independent food bloggers to write about the products when other media outlets wouldn’t even accept paid advertisements for fear of inspiring consumer boycotts.

“We had to communicate with consumers through a different channel than conventional media to turn around negative consumer sentiment,” said Min Park, USMEF-Korea public relations manager.”

To ensure that it did not arouse the potentially volatile Korean consumer base, USMEF waited until spring of 2013 before launching its Facebook presence. The most active social media site in Korea, Facebook is popular among consumers in the 20 to 29 age demographic, where 93.5 percent of consumers use a smart phone.

Twitter, on the other hand, is more of a news communications tool in Korea with postings on politics, religion and social issues, so it has not been a focus for the USMEF-Korea team.

The approach in Japan

The USMEF team in Japan, however, has adopted a broader range of social media tools in an environment that has been very receptive to U.S. red meat. As in Korea, bloggers were the first channel for USMEF to reach out to consumers in Japan, working closely with homemaker-communicators who found a niche with a very receptive audience.

“Bloggers are a very powerful tool,” said Tazuko Hijikata, senior manager of consumer affairs for USMEF-Japan. “We began working with several bloggers as long as six years ago, some of whom have 5,000 visitors reading their blogs every day.”

She noted that a single update to the “Enjoy Family Life” diary-style blog drew nearly 10,000 users to the USMEF website.

Hijikata’s team is planning several Facebook campaigns in the coming year, and also has taken advantage of a growing interest in Twitter, including a creative program to encourage consumers at Japanese restaurants that serve U.S. beef to invite their friends to join them. The Twitter campaign, which offered modest rewards of packages of U.S. beef as incentive, enticed more than 10,000 consumers to tweet their American beef dining plans to family and friends.

“When friends read the tweets, they see that someone they trust is publicly announcing that they are enjoying U.S. beef, which supports both the image of U.S. beef and the restaurant offering it on the menu,” said Hijikata.

Yet another channel, YouTube, is being utilized to post how-to videos for fresh meat preparation. One such video for U.S. pork garnered more than 245,000 views in one month.


The world’s biggest concentration of red meat consumers is rapidly evolving into the world’s social media hub, and USMEF-China is an active participant in the evolution. With the absence of U.S. beef from this market of 1.3 billion consumers, American pork is the focus of a diversified social media program.

“Social media has developed very fast and, as mobile devices become more and more popular, social media has quickly become one of the most important public relations tools in China,” said Joel Haggard, senior vice president for USMEF’s Asia-Pacific region. While Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are banned in China, the country remains very active in social media.

Educating distributors, chefs and gourmets was the original goal in China as USMEF began promoting cooking ideas, recipes and restaurant recommendations through the Weibo channel in late 2011, but that audience quickly grew to include consumers. The site took off in 2012 and with 77 percent growth over the past two years it now serves nearly 130 million active users. But, just as MySpace was eclipsed by Facebook in the U.S., Weibo has yielded its top spot among Chinese social media followers to Wechat, which claims an estimated 600 million users.

USMEF-China has utilized Wechat since mid-2013 much as it did Weibo earlier. USMEF-China also has developed its own U.S. Meat App for smart phones to provide consumer information and education.

Looking ahead, Haggard and his team are targeting restaurant ranking websites, such as, which younger consumers use in larger cities to determine where they want to dine. Promotions with websites of this nature can direct diners to restaurants that serve U.S. pork.

European Union

The European Union is a high-value market but not a large outlet for American exports, due largely to its powerful domestic pork industry and its beef quotas and restrictions on hormone use in cattle. The USMEF team in the EU, however, remains committed to sustaining a consistent profile for U.S. red meat products, with a current focus on beef since most U.S. pork going to the EU is destined for the processing sector.

Late in 2013, USMEF-EU launched its Facebook page, The Marbled Meat Club, to familiarize EU audiences – focusing on chefs and the food trade – with the quality attributes of U.S. red meat as well as cooking tips, pairings with wines and other helpful information. Similarly, USMEF-EU has an active presence on YouTube with instructional videos, such as this piece by celebrity chef Jay McCarthy on how to cut a prime rib.

“It is our long-term strategy to raise awareness of U.S. red meat in the trade and among chefs,” said Felipe Macias, USMEF representative based in Spain. “The EU is a big market of 28 countries, so we believe social media is the right tool to reach our target audience.”

Middle East

The Middle East is an important export market for U.S. beef. The fourth-largest volume destination, including the top market (Egypt) for beef variety meat, the region also includes the United Arab Emirates, an up-and-coming destination for business travelers and tourists. It also is one of the fastest-growing regions in the world for social media use.

“Social networking is the most popular online activity across the Middle East and North Africa, with almost 90 percent of consumers reporting they use it daily,” said Amr Abd El Gliel, USMEF representative based in Cairo. “Facebook only opened its first Middle East office in May 2012, and already it’s the most popular social media site in the region.”

Social media’s popularity surged in the Arab Spring as a primary communications channel, and there are more than 90 million consumers in the region with Internet access – about 56 million of whom follow Facebook, according to, a regional Internet analytics firm. USMEF recently launched its inaugural Middle East Facebook presence, and already boasts more than 115,000 “likes” for its helpful beef cooking and handling information.

“The current number of youth in the Middle East region is unprecedented – nearly 179 million,” said Amr. “Nearly one in three people living in the region is between the ages of 15 and 24, and it is the youth who are shaping the future of the consumer market. They are among our targets, along with chefs, retail meat case staff, homemakers, importers, distributors and retailers.”


Another more recent entry into the social media process is USMEF-Mexico, which launched its Facebook site just last month. As the overall use of the Internet – and more specifically of smart phones – is growing steadily, the Mexico team is making corporate chefs its initial target for new Facebook and Twitter initiatives.

Social media is gradually gaining momentum in this island nation, and while the domestic meat industry has not pursued social media channels, USMEF-Taiwan has had a Facebook presence for nearly four years, using the site to promote nutritional information, recipes and restaurants that carry U.S. red meat and cutting videos for the trade.

Beyond social media

While social media has proven an important and cost-effective tool, USMEF’s marketing teams are already looking at the next generation of Internet-based tools. The USMEF-China team has taken an aggressive approach. Earlier this month, it collaborated with China’s business-to-business market leader,, to introduce eight U.S. pork items with guaranteed nationwide delivery in less than 48 hours. The site drew an enormous number of viewers in the first few hours of operation, and a USMEF promotion, sponsored through the Pork Checkoff, attracted more than 2,000 applications in the first hour for a chance to win samples of U.S. pork.

There are more than 600 million Chinese Internet users, up from 45 million in 2002, and the online population is growing about 4 percent per year, according to a McKinsey Global Institute report. That creates a huge bulls-eye for Internet marketers. In fact, China’s TMall set a record last year when it sold $5.7 billion of goods and services in a single 24-hour period. The site sells brand-name goods from an estimated 70,000 global companies including Apple, Nike, Gap and Adidas.

“What we are seeing in China is the tip of the iceberg,” said Halstrom, who noted that a report by the Pew Research Center shows 37 percent of the population in China owns a smart phone, but there are other markets outside North America, the EU and the top Asian economies that also boast high smart phone usage, including Lebanon (45 percent), Chile (39 percent), Jordan (38 percent), Malaysia (31 percent) and Venezuela (31 percent).

“The future of food sales of all types, and red meat in particular, will be closely intertwined with the Internet and social marketing,” Halstrom said. “Every market reacts at its own pace, but they are all moving in the same direction.”

Virkon® S for enhanced biosecurity measures against Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea Virus

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea (PEDV) is currently causing high levels of mortality and morbidity across North American swine herds. With no approved vaccine in the USA, veterinarians are recommending enhanced biosecurity measures and advising swine producers to urgently review and tighten their biosecurity protocols.

The leading biosecurity company, Neogen is offering swine producers timely advice on the clinical symptoms and treatment of PEDV, and advising on enhanced biosecurity protocols across the whole range of possible infection vectors, including transport vehicles, housing facilities and personnel.

Based around the independently proven disinfectant Virkon S, the biosecurity measures include the full range of continuous, terminal and decontamination cleaning and disinfection protocols for swine production. 1

Speaking about the PEDV crisis in North America, Dr. Pablo Moreno, Swine Technical Services Veterinarian, at Neogen explains, “The control priority is to prevent infection of a farm or system by top quality biosecurity. Vehicles are a potent means of spread and require special attention. It is also essential to maintain external biosecurity and terminal biosecurity between groups to prevent other pathogens from gaining a foothold.

PEDV is susceptible to a number of disinfectants, but as any biosecurity program needs to address all pathogens, we recommend using a broad-spectrum disinfectant such as Virkon® S as it fulfils all these disinfectant requirements.”

Regarded as one of the most potent virucidal disinfectant agents, Virkon® S has proven efficacy against the closely related coronavirus, Transmissible Gastro-Enteritis (TGEV) at a 1:100 dilution. Importantly, extensive investment to assess the safety of Virkonâ S shows that operatives have no need for excessive personal protection during biosecurity procedures.

For more information and details of the PEDV biosecurity protocols please visit

Labor Challenges Lead to Loss in GDP, Farm Income as U.S. Farmers Lose Market Share of Imports

The Partnership for a New American Economy and the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform today released a new report showing how American families are eating more imported fresh produce today than ever before, in substantial part because U.S. fresh produce growers lack enough labor to expand their production and compete with foreign importers.

“American consumers want fresh U.S grown fruits and vegetables, but our farmers don't have the labor force available to meet that demand,” said John Feinblatt, Chairman of the Partnership for a New American Economy. “This means more produce is imported, and our economy loses millions of dollars and thousands of jobs every year. We need to pass immigration reform now, so our food remains homegrown and our economy strong.”

“On the issue of farm labor, we have a growing amount of evidence that all points in the same direction: Farmers and consumers both need responsible immigration reform,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman, a cattle and rice farmer from Texas.

Key Findings

-    In recent years, the share of fresh fruits and vegetables consumed by American families that was imported has grown by 79.3 percent.

-    In America, our production of fresh produce and the demands of consumers are increasingly out-of-sync. While the amount of fresh produce and vegetables consumed by Americans has grown in recent years, production levels have either barely grown or declined.

-    Had U.S. fresh fruit and vegetable growers been able to maintain the domestic market share they held from 1998-2000, their communities would have enjoyed a substantial economic boost, resulting in an estimated $4.9 billion in additional farming income and 89,300 more jobs in 2012 alone. U.S. GDP would have been $12.4 billion higher in 2012.

-    Labor challenges faced by U.S. farmers and the inadequacies of the H-2A visa program are a key reason why American farmers have been unable to maintain their share of the domestic market. Labor alone can explain as much as $3.3 billion in missed GDP growth in 2012. It also accounts for $1.4 billion in farm income that wasn’t realized that year.

The data for this report was compiled by Steven Broners, Ph.D., a Senior Economist at Welch Consulting.

About the Partnership for a New American Economy

The Partnership for a New American Economy brings together more than 500 Republican, Democratic and Independent mayors and business leaders who support immigration reforms that will help create jobs for Americans today. The Partnership’s members include mayors of more than 35 million people nationwide and business leaders of companies that generate more than $1.5 trillion and employ more than 4 million people across all sectors of the economy, from Agriculture to Aerospace, Hospitality to High Tech and Media to Manufacturing. Partnership members understand that immigration is essential to maintaining the productive, diverse and flexible workforce that America needs to ensure prosperity over the coming generations. Learn more at

About the Agriculture Workforce Coalition

The Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC) brings together organizations representing the diverse needs of agricultural employers across the country. AWC serves as the unified voice of agriculture in the effort to ensure that America’s farmers, ranchers and growers have access to a stable and secure workforce.

The founding members of the AWC are: American Farm Bureau Federation, American Nursery & Landscape Association, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, National Council of Agricultural Employers, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Milk Producers Federation, USA Farmers, U.S. Apple Association, United Fresh Produce Association, Western Growers Association, and Western United Dairymen.
To learn more about AWC, visit our website at

About the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform

The Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform (ACIR) is the broad national coalition representing over 300 national, regional, and state organizations whose members produce fruit and vegetables, dairy, nursery and greenhouse crops, poultry, livestock, and Christmas trees.  In the 113th Congress, ACIR is working hand-in-hand as a coalition partner with the Ag Workforce Coalition to achieve meaningful near-term and lasting workforce solutions for American agriculture.

NCGA Hosts Japanese Ministry of Agriculture Team

The National Corn Growers Association hosted guests from the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture Chicago Branch this week for a series of presentations on the U.S. corn crop outlook  for 2014, recent trends in demand and supply, and updates on trade negotiations, the farm bill, and transportation and infrastructure. This annual visit provides an opportunity to build relationships and foster understanding with important representatives from the Japanese market, historically the largest importer of U.S. corn.

"As always, we are glad to welcome these important officials and foster our valued trade partnership with Japan," said NCGA CEO Rick Tolman. "The open discussions and productive dialogue reinforce our trade ties and offer a unique opportunity to reiterate our dedication serving this vital market."

Prior to the meeting, Japan External Trade Organization Chicago Agriculture Department Director Daisuke Ito noted interest in exploring more deeply the recent trends in demand and supply pertaining to ethanol, China and the Ukraine. Tolman, NCGA Vice President of Production and Utilization Paul Bertels and Director of Biofuels Dr. Pam Keck provided an in-depth look at these issues, along with many others, that spurred insightful conversation.

Consulate General of Japan Chicago Economic Affairs Consul Ko Hikasa and Honorary Consul General Japan Bruce Buckland also participated in these discussions.

"U.S. corn farmers benefit when we work with international partners to advance understanding of their industry abroad," said Tolman. "Our farmers have an incredible story to tell. Using cutting edge technology and with an eye toward continuous improvement, America's farmers grow a more abundant crop using fewer resources than ever before, allowing them to meet continually growing demand. By opening our industry for the world to see, we build relationships that open markets and increase opportunities on farms across the country."

Panama Canal Expansion Slows

Stewart Truelsen, for AFBF

The first major expansion of the Panama Canal was expected to be completed this year in time for the canal’s centennial but now it is anybody’s guess. Officially, the new date is December 2015. Unofficially, it may be much later.

Almost all work on the canal was suspended at the beginning of the year with the exception of some excavation. Enormous Caterpillar trucks still scurried back and forth hauling spoil, but giant cranes, costing $40 million each, were not moving. Only four of the new gates, 10-stories tall, are in Panama. A total of 16 are needed. They come from Italy and won’t all arrive until the end of the year.

To make matters worse, this is the dry season in Panama. In a month or so the rainy season will take hold and make work more difficult. What happened? Simply put, contractors ran out of money. Critics contend that the $5.25 billion project to build a third set of locks was seriously underbid. The contractors are a consortium from Spain, Italy, Belgium and Panama. The debt crisis in Europe undoubtedly contributed to their problems. An agreement to resume work, however, was reached in late February.

The 51-mile canal connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean via the Caribbean Sea. The largest vessels that can fit through the lock chambers are known as Panamax ships. Their capacity is measured in “twenty-foot equivalent units” or TEUs. Each TEU is roughly the volume of a standard 20-foot container. Panamax ships carry up to 5,000 TEUs. Post-Panamax ships are much longer and wider and have a capacity of 13,000 TEUs. Tonnage through the expanded canal will not increase all at once but should double by 2025.

U.S. agriculture has a big stake in the eventual outcome. According to the Agriculture Department, 17 percent of world grain shipments pass through the Panama Canal and 90 percent of them are from the United States.  An analysis by Rabobank forecasts a 12 percent drop in the cost of transporting grain from the Corn Belt to Asia when the new locks are in use. This will make U.S. grain more competitive with Brazil, Argentina and grain-exporting countries in Eastern Europe.

The canal expansion could cause other changes in shipping agricultural products. In recent years, more grain, oilseeds and grain products have been loaded on containerships. This trend could accelerate with Post-Panamax ships. At the same time, the expansion could boost Gulf and East Coast ports that have been losing business to the Pacific Northwest.

The Panama Canal route is so important to world trade that China claims to have reached a $40 billion deal with Nicaragua to build a longer canal through that nation to accommodate even larger ships.

In any event, American agriculture should be an important beneficiary of the Panama Canal expansion, if American highways, waterways and ports are properly maintained and upgraded to take advantage of it. And that’s a big “if.”

Weekly Ethanol Production for 3/14/2014

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 891,000 barrels per day (b/d)—or 37.42 million gallons daily. That is up 22,000 b/d from the week before. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 890,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 13.64 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol fell to 15.3 million barrels, as rail logistics issues continued to complicate ethanol movements to both coasts. That is a 4.0% decrease from last week and a 15-week low.

Imports of ethanol were non-existent for the 24th straight week.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 357.5 million gallons daily.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 10.47%.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 13.510 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 99,438 metric tons of livestock feed, 88,650 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal. Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.64 million pounds of corn oil daily.

RFS Is Single Most Effective U.S. Policy on GHG Reduction/Climate Change

Today, the White House, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are hosting an event on the topic of climate change. Various technology companies, scientists, and other climate experts will meet to discuss the possible impacts of climate change and announce data-driven technologies to build products and services to better prepare our Nation for those impacts.

Commenting on this event, which will include John Podesta, Counselor to the President, among others, Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, highlights the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) as a vital piece of any plan to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and curb future climate change:

“Today’s meeting is about finding successful ways to address climate change, including the use of data to help limit future impacts. That makes sense and the effort should be applauded. But it should be noted that the single most effective program this Nation has for reducing GHG emissions is the RFS. Last year alone, the use of biofuels like ethanol and the RFS reduced CO2-equivalent GHG emissions from transportation by 37.9 million metric tons. That’s akin to removing 7.9 million cars from the road for an entire year.”

Dinneen continued, “A recent Life Cycle Associates study found that corn ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 32% compared to petroleum in 2012, including hypothetical land use change emissions. The same study found that corn ethanol reduces GHG emissions by 37-40% compared to tight oil from fracking and tar sands.

“Why then, is the Administration contemplating a reduction in the RFS? Why would the Administration scale back its most successful carbon program? Rolling back the RFS as proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency would INCREASE carbon emissions by some 3.7 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent GHG. That’s like adding 725,000 cars to the road overnight! Talking about climate change is one thing. But the Administration has the opportunity to do something about it by restoring the RFS to its statutorily mandated levels for carbon-reducing biofuels.”

Ukraine Says Grain Exports Unaffected By Loss of Crimea Ports

The annexation of the Crimean peninsula is unlikely to have a negative impact on the export of grain by Ukraine, the agriculture ministry said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the approval of a draft agreement on Russia's annexation of Crimea.

But the ministry said ports on the mainland would easily compensate for the loss in throughput capacity caused by the annexation. Grain exports via the Crimea accounted for only about 7% of Ukraine's total grain export, the ministry said.

The country's mainland ports--Odessa, Ilyichevsk and Nikolaev--are currently handling on average 94,000-95,000 metric tons of export grain a day, nearly twice the pace of last year. Their capacity will easily allow for an increase of 7%, according to the agriculture ministry.

The ministry said Ukraine exported 25.66 million tons of grain between the beginning of the current marketing year and March 14, 37.5% more than in the corresponding period in the previous marketing year.

AFB Foundation for Agriculture Donations Reach $1.8 Million

Donations to the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture totaled $1.8 million for 2013, the highest-ever in a calendar year.

“We rely on our donors to fund our initiatives so we can have an agriculturally literate society,” said Foundation Chairman Bob Stallman. “Thanks in large part to generous donor contributions, 2013 was a remarkable year for the Foundation, in terms of building awareness, understanding and a positive perception of agriculture through education.”

Volunteer engagement in local communities to foster a deeper understanding of food, fiber and energy is a continuing focus of the Foundation. Urban outreach events, building partnerships in the STEM (science, technology, engineering & math) area, Spanish translations of materials and creation of additional assessment guides for educational resources are planned for 2014.

The Foundation continually updates its tool chest of ready-to-use resources for educators covering a variety of agricultural themes. Learn more at

February Milk Production up 1.4 Percent

Milk production in the 23 major States during February totaled 14.9 billion pounds, up 1.4 percent from February 2013. January revised production, at 16.2 billion pounds, was up 1.3 percent from January 2013.  The January revision represented an increase of 104 million pounds or 0.6 percent from last month's preliminary production estimate.  Production per cow in the 23 major States averaged 1,753 pounds for February, 21 pounds above February 2013.    The number of milk cows on farms in the 23 major States was 8.51 million head, 13,000 head more than February 2013, but 1,000 head less than January 2014.

Milk production  in  Iowa during February 2014  totaled 354 million pounds, down 3 percent  from February 2013, according  to  the  USDA,  National  Agricultural  Statistics Service – Milk Production  report. The average number of milk  cows  during  February,  at  205,000  head,  was  3,000 fewer  than  last  year,  but  the  same  as  last  month. Production  per  cow  averaged  1,725 pounds,  25  pounds lower than in February 2013. 


More than 1,400 Dairy Farmers of America members and guests convened in Kansas City for the Cooperative’s 16th Annual Meeting this week. In recognition of the dedication by its farmer-owners, DFA explored the diverse ways the Cooperative and its member-owners are committed to the dairy industry.

This year’s meeting theme — Dedicated to Dairy — recognizes DFA’s members and their commitment to their cows, their operations, their communities and their families. The meeting highlighted how DFA is working with customers and the industry to build a Cooperative that, from the moment milk leaves members’ farms to the moment it is served on family tables around the world, brings members value through every step in the process.

“One thing you learn very quickly in our business is that dairy farmers and their families are passionate about what they do. That they are indeed dedicated to dairy,” said Randy Mooney, chairman of DFA’s Board of Directors. “As owners of our cooperative, (DFA member-owners) control our own destiny.  We have choices.  Together, we can move proactively to invest in our shared future, in new milk processing factories, in expanded dairy product lines, in exciting consumer brands, in growing overseas markets — all driven by our mission to deliver value to members.”

The meeting kicked off with the chairman’s report, delivered by Mooney, who operates a dairy in Rogersville, Mo. He focused on the steps DFA has taken to advance the dairy industry around the nation and world. Mooney also discussed issues, such as the new Farm Bill, that are affecting farmers every day at home.

An overview of the Cooperative’s business was delivered by President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Smith. His report also discussed how the Cooperative has increased its commercial business focus during the past several years, in an effort to better serve and provide value to its members.

“As a national milk marketing cooperative that is owned by dairy farmers across the nation, DFA is committed to bringing value to our members,” Smith said. “That means we are committed to innovation and success by operating first-rate commercial businesses and investing in elite dairy companies. We also want to provide on-farm services that make it easier and more profitable for our members to farm.”


Dairy Farmers of America ended the year with strong operating results from its wholly owned commercial investments and increased earnings from affiliates.

The Cooperative’s adjusted net income was $61.3 million for 2013. DFA’s net sales totaled $12.8 billion for 2013, a six percent increase compared to $12.1 billion in 2012.

“At DFA, we’re about making sure our members can farm successfully and profitably,” said Rick Smith, president and chief executive officer. “In 2013, we had a successful year. Through strong operational performance and joint venture returns, we were able to execute on our strategic plan. We are also pleased with the improved margins for members.”

In 2013, DFA directed the marketing of 60.6 billion pounds of milk for both members and others through its consolidated businesses and related affiliates. This represents approximately 30 percent of the total milk production in the United States. Payments to members for milk marketed were $7.9 billion in 2013, compared to $7.3 billion in 2012. This increase is primarily a result of the higher U.S. annual average all milk price, which averaged $20.01 per hundredweight. Returns to members in 2013 totaled $41.9 million, with $23.3 million distributed from the cooperative’s allocated patronage and $18.6 million through DFA’s various capital retirement programs.

DFA continued to grow its commercial investments in 2013. The Cooperative’s Fluid Milk and Ice Cream Division acquired Dairy Maid Dairy, a processor of milk, juice and fruit drinks located in Frederick, Md. Dairy Maid’s customers include major grocery chains, schools and governmental entities, such as military installations.

The Ingredients Division also continued to expand, with a focus on export opportunities with global customers in strategic markets. DFA exported 222 million pounds of product in 2013, for a fourth consecutive year of record export sales.

In 2013, DFA broke ground on two new plants. On September 20, a ceremonial ground breaking was conducted in Linwood, N.Y., for a new cold process milk separation plant. The plant, which is scheduled to be completed later in 2014, will produce cream and skim milk for a range of regional customers. A second dairy ingredient plant is currently under construction in Cass City, Mich., which will produce high-quality condensed whole and skim milk and cream.

Earnings of affiliates were $72.8 million in 2013 compared to $57.6 million in 2012. Cash distributions from DFA affiliates totaled $38 million in 2013 compared to $36.4 million in 2012.

USCHI to Participate in National Ag Day Events

National Ag Day is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by Agriculture. With this objective, it is appropriate the men and women that harvest the crops that feed the world are partners in the National Ag Day celebration. For the second year, the U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc. is a sponsor for National Ag Day.

“We have the same goals as everyone in agriculture, educating the consumer about where their food comes from,” said Kent Braathen, president, USCHI, “We’ll be in Washington, D.C. for National Ag Day. It’s so good to make these alliances, increasing the awareness and understanding about our safe, secure food supply.”

National Ag Day will begin with the national premiere of ‘The Great American Wheat Harvest’. This new documentary film celebrates and tells the story of the annual American wheat harvest and the custom harvester. This screening will take place Tuesday, March 25, 8:30-11 a.m., at the National Museum of the American Indian.

U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc. has 370 members, who are actively engaged in custom grain and forage harvesting. These custom harvesters create an impressive impact on the economy. As an example, those 370 USCHI members operate 925 combines and 215 forage choppers. Those 925 combines, valued at $300,000 each, have a total price tag of $277,500,000. The 215 forage choppers are worth $400,000 each for a total economic impact of $87 million.

On the average, custom harvesters spend 130 days away from home during the harvest season. The average forage harvester spends 100 days on the road. During the harvest campaign, USCHI members have 92,000 tires on the road and consume nearly 260 million gallons of fuel per season.

During National Agriculture Day, USCHI leadership will participate in the National Celebration of Agriculture Dinner and deliver agriculture’s message on Capitol Hill. During National Ag Day, and every day, U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc. emphasizes ‘we harvest the crops that feed the world.’

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