Sunday, June 8, 2014

Friday June 6 Ag News

UNL Crop Disaster Informational Meeting

Uehling Auditorium - Located on the north end of main street at 3rd & Main
Tuesday, June 10, 2014 – 1:00 p.m.

-  Crop damage summary/U2U GDD Tool for corn replant decisions - Nathan Mueller – UNL Extension Educator
-  Assessing crop damage/replant decisions  -  Roger Elmore – UNL Extension Cropping Systems Agronomist
-  Crop Insurance  -  Tim Lemmons – UNL Extension Educator
-  HEL, cover crops, and emergency forages  -  Jeremiah Schutz – NRCS Resource Conservationist
-  Herbicide consideration for replant and weed control options  -  Lowell Sandell – UNL Weeds Extension Educator
-  Crop insurance information  -  Scott Uehling – Crop insurance agent in Uehling

For more information, contact Nathan Mueller at 402-727-2775 or visit

Above Normal Rainfall Predicted for June

Al Dutcher, NE State Climatologist

During the past few weeks there has been a significant increase in precipitation events across the central United States.  The most widespread event occurred across Texas the third week of May as an upper air low slowly drifted from the southwestern desert region into lower Mississippi river valley.  Pockets of heavy precipitation have occurred across Nebraska and Kansas, but generally have fallen outside areas reporting the most intense drought conditions.

Numerical weather models continue to indicate that Nebraska will remain within a region that is expected to see frequent precipitation events over the next couple weeks.  It is entirely possible that most of Nebraska will experience normal precipitation for the month of June before we reach the middle of the month.  This certainly would be welcome news for drought stricken areas from southwest through northeast Nebraska.

The US Climate Prediction Center revised their June precipitation outlook at the end of May and currently assigns the highest probability of above normal moisture for all of Nebraska. This is further validation that they have a high degree of confidence that current weather models are correctly forecasting active weather for the central Plains region.

While we don't expect the current drought to entirely disappear from the central Plains, it would not be unexpected to see a 1-2 category improvement for most locations north of central Kansas before the end of June.  Unfortunately, we will have to endure several rounds of severe weather including widespread wind and hail events.  Current weather models are projecting a few tornadoes, but not a super outbreak.

The reason for such an optimistic forecast is centered on the trend of upper air trough formation over the central and northern Rockies during June that will pull low level Gulf of Mexico moisture northward in advance of the surface lows that will form on the eastern slopes of the central Rockies.  Mid-level moisture from mountain snowmelt will add additional moisture into the atmosphere over the central Plains, which will help increase precipitation output of surface lows that cross the state.

In addition to these factors for above normal moisture, a Pacific hurricane formed off the western coast of Mexico and moved northwest of the southern Baja Peninsula last week.  Usually we don't see this type of hurricane track until the second half of the summer. These systems are very efficient at bringing moisture into the southwestern United States and enhance the monsoon moisture feed into the central Rockies.

We will need further confirmation that this hurricane wasn't an outlier. If additional tropical systems over the next month take a similar path, this would confirm the Climate Prediction Center forecast of an active monsoon season. An active monsoon season, coupled with a strong moisture feed into the central Rockies would be supportive of increased moisture tendencies for the western High Plains region, including Nebraska.

PVC Plan Summer Tour

Brett Andrew Mueller, Platte Valley Cattlemen President

Our summer tour will be on Monday, June 16th starting at 1:00 p.m. with a tour of Duo-Lift Manufacturing, located at 2810 38th Street, Columbus, Nebraska.  We will be touring their manufacturing facilities.  Our second stop will be at CSS Farms located at 31341 160th Street, Columbus, Nebraska.  We will tour their potato production operation.  Traveling on Hwy 30, turn north down Main Avenue in Duncan. Continue through Duncan until you reach 13th Street which turns into 160th Street.   Go west 1 ¾ miles.  CSS Farms will be on the north side of the road.  Our third stop will be at Daniels Produce to visit their vegetable production operation located at 37831 205th Street, Columbus, Nebraska.  From CSS Farms travel east 1 ¼ miles on 160th Street, turn north 2 ½ miles on 295th Ave, go west on  197th Street for 5 miles.  Travel ½ mile north on the Monroe Blacktop, turn west on 205th Street for a ½ mile.  After Daniels Produce, we will return to Columbus for a meal at Wunderlichs.
Mark your calendars for other summer events which include grilling for the Platte and Colfax County Fair Beef Shows and the annual PVC Golf Outing which is set for   August 18, 2014, at Club 91 in Leigh and Steepleview Golf Course in Humphrey.

Fungicide Use in Corn after Hail or Wind Damage

Tamra A. Jackson-Ziems, UNL Extension Plant Pathologist

Following this week's widespread severe weather, many growers have asked about using a foliar fungicide to protect the remaining injured foliage from infection by pathogens. There are many factors to consider before making a fungicide application for this purpose and decisions shouldn't be made in haste. In general, foliar fungicide use following hail is not necessary for several reasons.

Many of the diseases that are favored by wounding are not controlled with foliar fungicides, such as those caused by bacteria (especially Goss's wilt and blight), common smut, and stalk rots.  Furthermore, foliar diseases that can be managed with foliar fungicides, such as gray leaf spot and southern rust, do NOT need wounds for infection. The development of some of these diseases following a hail event might more likely be attributed to the rain and periods of increased relative humidity that accompanied the storm rather than the hail itself.

There is little to no research data from fungicide trials conducted on hailed corn this early in the season at these early growth stages. Most of the trials were done much later in the season (V12-R2) and results are probably not representative of our current scenario.  The most recent examples are summarized below.

A study was conducted by Carl Bradley at the University of Illinois in 2007-2008 to evaluate the effects of fungicide applications in simulated hail-injured corn on gray leaf spot severity and yield.  In that study, fungicide applications did not statistically increase yield when applied on corn that was damaged (Table 1) to simulate hail injury.

A more recent study was conducted in Iowa in 2012. In the single year of this study, they did observe an increase in yield when a fungicide was applied to corn following a hail event, although the research was conducted later in the season (R2 – blister stage). This is during the most common fungicide treatment window for most Nebraska producers and corresponds to when common foliar diseases become more active, like gray leaf spot.

DOT Exempts Livestock from Hours of Service Requirement

Friday, the U.S. Department of Transportation granted a one-year exemption to the Hours-of-Service requirement for the transportation of livestock. The Hours-of-Service rules required all commercial motor vehicle operators, including livestock transporters, to take a 30-minute rest break for every eight hours of service. This is in addition to all scheduled stops not counting time for refueling and other breaks.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President and Victoria, Texas, cattleman, Bob McCan said the move alleviates many of the concerns of cattlemen and women as they face warmer temperatures this summer.

“This is great news for livestock producers and for the health of our herds,” said McCan. “As we come into summer, cattle producers have expressed concerns to the DOT that these rules would jeopardize the health and safety of our cattle. For over a year this has been a major priority for the NCBA and our members, but we will continue to urge DOT to make this exemption permanent. This exemption is a common-sense move that keeps our herds and our nation’s highways safe.”

The hours of service exemption will be effective immediately. More information can be found on the DOT website here...

Pork Checkoff Announces New Common Industry Audit Platform

After more than a year of industry collaboration, the National Pork Board today shared plans for a new common industry audit platform for pork producers, packers and processors. The program will use the existing Pork Quality Assurance® Plus (PQA Plus®) program as its foundation and expand on it to serve as a common audit platform for the pork industry.

The overarching goal of the common audit process is to provide consumers greater assurance of the care taken by farmers and pork processors to improve animal care and food safety. The concept of a common audit was first introduced more than one year ago at the 2013 National Pork Industry Forum. The resolution emerging from that conference directed the National Pork Board to convene a coalition of packers and pork producers to explore a credible and affordable solution for assuring animal well-being.

"As an industry, we know that our consumers are demanding a higher level of integrity from the pork industry's quality assurance processes and procedures," said Chris Novak, chief executive officer of the National Pork Board. "We are encouraged by the broad support we have received from all our industry's partners to develop the framework for this process."

In 2011, the Pork Checkoff's Board of Directors met with European counterparts who complained about audit programs in their countries that were duplicative, costly and inefficient. Utilizing that experience, the common platform announced today seeks to create and standardize a common process that will:
·        Meet individual company and customer needs,
·        Focus on outcome-based criteria that measure animal welfare,
·        Provide clarity to producers with regard to audit standards and expectations,
·        Minimize duplication and prevent over-sampling and
·        Ensure greater integrity of the audit process through consistent application.

The new common audit framework has several key components, including a new audit tool, requirements for auditor training and biosecurity and a platform that will allow audit results to be shared to prevent duplicative audits. The audit tool is currently being beta-tested on farms across the country. The Industry Audit Task Force will review the results of this test in early July before finalizing the audit.

"What's exciting about this common audit framework is that it has truly been the industry coming together to better serve the needs of farmers, customers and consumers," Novak said.  "This is not a new Pork Checkoff program, but rather an initiative that will be led by producers and packers working together to enhance animal care. We're grateful to the packers who have been members of this task force for their leadership with this effort."

The Industry Audit Task Force includes producers and veterinarians representing the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, as well as packer representatives from Cargill, Farmland/Smithfield, Hatfield, Hormel, JBS, Seaboard, Triumph and Tyson.

 "Aspackers, we operate between our suppliers - the pork producers - and ourcustomers - those who are selling pork to consumers," said Chris Hodges,chairman of the Packer Processer Industry Council and senior vice president offresh pork at Smithfield-Farmland. "The eye of the public is on where theirfood comes from and how it is raised. Meeting the demands of our customerswhile still appreciating the challenges of our producers is tough. That's whythis new common audit platform is needed now."

Hodges added that the National Pork Board cannot fully deploy the standards of the program without the direct involvement of packers and processors. Many packers have agreed to support the new common industry audit, which will mean that they will utilize the common audit standard when conducting third-party audits.

"This approach has never been more critical," said Emily Erickson, a member of the Industry Audit Task Force and a pig farmer from Jackson, Minn. "As pork producers, we know that we must do more to reassure consumers about our commitment to improving animal care. At the same time, we need a clear and consistent approach that can ensure that we're doing the right thing every day for our animals, our farmers and our customers. This new framework delivers on that promise."

Incoming National Pork Board President Dale Norton agreed. "As a pork producer, I am excited about this new, innovative direction," he said. "This common audit platform will set a clear vision that challenges the status quo and meets domestic and international consumer needs. It's the right tool at the right time to ensure that we provide high-quality pork from well-cared-for pigs."

National Festival Highlights Wheat

Wheat weavers, farmers, bakers, millers and educators will greet visitors to the United States Botanic Garden (USBG) on Saturday, June 14 as part of the Amber Waves of Grain Family Festival.

The Festival runs from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and highlights the USBG’s summer exhibit on the history and beauty of wheat. The festival includes hands-on activities for children, live wheat weaving, baking demonstrations – including samples, hand-crank flour mills and a tabletop threshing machine as well as a mixing activity illustrating the function of different wheat classes and flours.

In addition to USBG staff and volunteers, participating groups include farmers from Maryland and Kansas as well as representatives from the American Bakers Association, Home Baking Association, Kansas Association of Straw Artists, Kansas Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom, Kansas Wheat Commission, Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board, National Association of Wheat Growers, Nebraska Wheat Board, North American Millers’ Association, Wheat Foods Council and U.S. Wheat Associates.

The USBG will feature the baking demonstrations in the West Gallery from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Friday, June 13 as a preview to the main festival.

The Amber Waves of Grain exhibit will continue to feature wheat on the outdoor terrace until Oct. 13.

The exhibit also honors the addition of Dr. Norman Borlaug to the National Statuary Hall Collection in the United States Capitol on March 25, the 100th anniversary of his birth. In addition to the outdoor exhibit, a panel exhibit highlights Dr. Borlaug’s research in the USBG’s West Gallery.

Dr. Borlaug is credited with sparking the Green Revolution and saving more than 1 billion people from starvation through his development of high-yielding, semi-dwarf wheat. Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his work. Several Borlaug varieties are on display as part of the USBG exhibit.

FSA County Committee Nomination Period Begins June 15

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that the nomination period for local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees begins Sunday, June 15, 2014.

“County committees are a vital link between the farm community and the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” said Vilsack. “I hope that every eligible farmer and rancher will participate in this year's county committee elections. Through the county committees, farmers and ranchers have a voice; their opinions and ideas get to be heard on federal farm programs.”

Vilsack added, “We’ve seen an increase in the number of nominations of women and minority candidates, and I hope that trend continues.”

To be eligible to serve on an FSA county committee, a person must participate or cooperate in a program administered by FSA, be eligible to vote in a county committee election and reside in the local administrative area where the person is nominated.

Farmers and ranchers may nominate themselves or others. Organizations representing minorities and women also may nominate candidates. To become a candidate, an eligible individual must sign the nomination form, FSA-669A. The form and other information about FSA county committee elections are available at Nomination forms for the 2014 election must be postmarked or received in the local USDA Service Center by close of business on Aug. 1, 2014. Elections will take place this fall.

While FSA county committees do not approve or deny farm ownership or operating loans, they make decisions on disaster and conservation programs, emergency programs, commodity price support loan programs and other agricultural issues. Members serve three-year terms. Nationwide, there are about 7,800 farmers and ranchers serving on FSA county committees. Committees consist of three to 11 members that are elected by eligible producers.

FSA will mail ballots to eligible voters beginning Nov. 3, 2014. Ballots are due back to the local county office either via mail or in person by Dec. 1, 2014. Newly elected committee members and alternates take office on Jan. 1, 2015.

Senate Confirms Three CFTC Nominees

The Senate confirmed three nominees to fill the Chairman and Commissioner vacancies at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission this week.

Timothy Massad, a former Treasury official, will replace Gary Gensler as Chairman, while Sharon Bowen and J. Christopher Giancarlo will join current commissioners Mark Wetjen and Scott O'Malia to round out the five-person commission.

All three nominees were approved by voice vote.

The CFTC, which is charged with regulating futures and options markets, has overseen several high profile proceedings in recent years, such as the MF Global Collapse in 2011.

The new Commissioners will be tasked with implementing and enforcing the CFTC increasing scope of oversight responsibilities following the 2010 passage of Dodd-Frank financial rules changes.

Workers say Cows Mistreated at Northwest US Dairies

(AP) -- A prominent Northwest dairy cooperative, Darigold Inc., may have allowed some member farms to milk cows that had injuries and infections in their udders, among other ailments, according to allegations made Friday by workers and the farmworker union.

Darigold’s General Counsel Steve Rowe says the accusations are inaccurate and misleading. Rowe said the co-op rigorously inspects and tests the milk it receives from its farmers and dumps milk that doesn’t meet its high quality standard.

“The milk is not contaminated, the milk is not at risk,” Rowe said.

At a press conference organized by the United Farm Workers in Portland, several dairy workers said they routinely have to milk cows that are sick or injured, noticeably frail or in pain, or that can barely walk.

The workers from various Darigold member farms requested anonymity for fear of losing their jobs.

They said the cows injure themselves due to overcrowded conditions at the farms.

At one of the dairies, a worker said, four people are responsible for milking about 4,500 cows during each shift, using 50 milking machines simultaneously.

“Workers are telling us this type of animal cruelty is rampant across Darigold dairies,” said Jorge Valenzuela, a UFW organizer in Hermiston. “The orders they are getting is they have to milk as much as possible, as quickly as possible, even if the cows are noticeably in pain or the milk is tainted with blood.”

The UFW released photographs taken by workers at four Darigold dairies that show injured cows being milked.

Similar allegations are made in a consumer lawsuit filed earlier this month by attorney Marcos Camacho and Farmworker Justice.

Rowe said the UFW has not forwarded all the photographs to the company, so he could not comment on them. Photos the company received earlier, he said, were several years old or the injuries were natural.

Rowe said Darigold is not in a position to dictate how its more than 500 member farms manage their operations. However, dairies must agree to follow national animal care guidelines and meet milk quality standards, he said.

Officials at the Oregon and Washington departments of agriculture said they have not received complaints regarding the allegations.

Frank Barcellos, food safety program manager at the Oregon Department of Agriculture, said dairies are inspected roughly every three months. Washington officials said farms are inspected every six months, but they look at equipment and sanitation, not animal welfare.

The union’s allegations are the latest in a feud with the Seattle-based co-op over workers’ rights. The UFW has been trying to unionize Darigold workers for years.

Darigold’s annual revenue is over $2 billion. It has member farms in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, California and Montana and operates 13 processing plants in the Northwest, where it pasteurizes the milk, turns some of it into butter and other products, and distributes those products.

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