Monday, June 9, 2014

Monday June 09 Ag News


For a limited time, increased funding is available to producers in the Wahoo Creek watershed for conservation practices such as cover crops, flter strips, terraces, no-till and other erosion control practices to improve water quality. In addition to EQIP cost-share, producers who sign up for the NRCS National Water Quality Initiative by July 1 may qualify for:
•  an additional 25% in cost-share funding from the Lower Platte North Natural Resources District
•  $220/acre for conservation practices constructed during the growing season  (June 1-September 15; felds must be available for construction by August 1)


June 10th in Wahoo - LPNNRD Offce, 511 Commercial Park Rd - 1:00 to 3:30pm.  Get answers to your questions, and sign up right at the meeting if you’re interested.

For more information, contact the Saunders County NRCS: 402.443.4106 ext 3, the Lower Platte North NRD: 402.443.4675, or visit  SIGNUP ENDS JULY 1. 

Livestock Forage Disaster Program Informational Meeting

The University of  Nebraska-Lincoln Extension and the Farm Service Agency (FSA) are teaming to provide information meetings for cattle producers in Holt and Boyd Counties.  The FSA office will be discussing the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) that was developed with the 2014 “Farm Bill.”  The LFP was designed to provide assistance for livestock producers during the drought of 2012 and 2013.  Livestock producers who own “grazing” animals and pastureland located in areas that were rated in the U.S. Drought Monitor (which was the majority of Nebraska is 2012).  FSA members will discuss the documentation needed to apply for LFP, types of payment available and answer any questions producers have.  This program will be available for the duration of the “farm bill” which is until 2018 thus for 2014-2018 if there another drought is experienced all producers will be eligible again using the same procedures.  The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension will also be providing additional information regarding pasture management, reseeding pastures, dry lotting cattle and purchasing hay.

The program will be held:

  Tuesday June 17th at the Holt County Courthouse Annex in O’Neill at 1:30 PM
  Thursday June 19th at Our Saviours Lutheran Church in Spencer at 10:00 AM
  Thursday June 19th at Senior Center in Atkinson at 1:30 PM
  Friday June 20th at American Legion Hall in Chambers at 9:30 AM

The program is free to attend and pre-registration is not required.  Questions regarding the program, please call the Holt County Extension Office at 402-336-2760.


Nebraska Director of Agriculture Greg Ibach is encouraging farmers who recently lost acres to hail and other storm damage to take advantage of resources being offered this week by University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension (UNL).

"While severe storm damage is never good, last week's widespread hail came at a critical time for Nebraska farmers. They now will have to weigh important decisions regarding whether crops can recover, whether to replant, what to replant, and how insurance coverage factors into all of these," Ibach said.

UNL Extension is hosting meetings this week in areas with significant damage, including on Monday at locations near Bradshaw and Marquette, and Tuesday in Uehling. Speakers will share information regarding replant decision making, cover crop options and insurance coverage.

Details on these meetings, as well as other resources for post-storm crop issues, can be found at UNL's Extension Cropwatch website,

"I appreciate the efforts of Extension and other officials who are making themselves available for these meetings," Ibach said.

UNL Report: 'It is Time to Act' on Expanding Livestock Industry in State

Nebraska's uniquely intertwined agricultural economy, although still the engine of the state's economy, may not be operating to its full potential, says a new University of Nebraska-Lincoln report that outlines the potential impact of several livestock-industry expansion scenarios.

"It is time to act," said the report, titled "Nebraska Animal Agriculture: Economic Impacts of Cattle, Hog, Dairy, and Poultry Industry Changes." Primary investigators of the study were Bruce Johnson, professor emeritus in UNL's Department of Agricultural Economics, and Eric Thompson, UNL economics professor. The research was funded by the Nebraska Soybean Board and the Nebraska Corn Board.    

Ronnie Green, vice president of the University of Nebraska and Harlan vice chancellor of the university's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said the report is a key analysis of where the state's agricultural economy now stands and how it might be strengthened.

"We know Nebraska is among the nation's leaders in many facets of crop and livestock production," Green said. "But we also know that it's no time to rest on our laurels either. We must plan for how best to strengthen and expand our bioeconomy, and this report outlines some reasonable options that would result in significant impacts in communities and households across our state."

The report notes that the total value of Nebraska's agricultural production topped $25 million in 2012, ranking it fourth among states. The net value-added of that production was $8.8 billion, representing nearly 10 percent of Nebraska's total gross state product, the third highest percentage among the 50 states.

Key to Nebraska's agricultural economy is its combination of crop and livestock sectors and associated processing industries.

"In what could be called the Nebraska Advantage," the report says, "there is in place an interrelated system of crop, livestock and biofuel production capacity that is basically unmatched anywhere else in the nation."

Perhaps nothing represents this interrelation more than the development of corn-based ethanol, which not only produces fuel but also distillers grains, the report notes. Once considered a marginal waste product, DGs are now a critical coproduct of the biofuels industry and used as a high quality livestock feed, especially for ruminants. Also, soybean meal, a coproduct of soybean processing, is produced in abundance and is a very cost-efficient ration ingredient for many animals.

"In short, the livestock industry of the state plays a pivotal role in utilizing the major crops produced in the state, as well as the coproducts of further value-added processing of those crops.

Substitution of animal manure for commercial fertilizer is another element of the production cycle.  The report notes that the strength of this agricultural system relies on all of its components' thriving, "and there are concerns that this state's current situation is not operating to its full potential and may even be slipping in rigor in recent years."

Among its observations:

– Nebraska still exports out of state a high percentage of its crops – more than one-third its corn crop, more than 80 percent of its soybean crop and more than one-half its distillers grains. These would have more economic impact if they flowed into in-state, value-added processing.
– While nearby states have seen significant growth in livestock production in the last 10 years, Nebraska has not kept pace, particularly in the cases of hog and dairy production.

In light of these trends, Johnson's team analyzed several livestock-expansion scenarios that industry leaders consider quite possible, taking into account the economic multiplier effects that ripple through the state's economy from agriculture, especially in rural areas.

The report envisions the following expansion scenarios and estimates both direct and indirect economic impacts.

– A 25 percent expansion of hog finishing volume in Nebraska, scattered across three regions of the state and 15 counties. About 270 on-farm units, each with a 2,400-head capacity and a twice-per-year turnover rate added.
            Total economic impact: 2,676 new jobs; $6.1 million in local tax revenue
– More than a doubling of the state's current dairy herd numbers of 60,000, divided across three regions of the state and 18 counties. A total of 24 new dairy operations, each with a 2,500-head capacity and two new milk processing plants added.
            Total economic impact: 3,128 new jobs; nearly $6.2 million in local tax revenue.
– A 10 percent increase in fed cattle production in the state, with expansion distributed geographically in similar proportion to current patterns of production.
            Economic impact: 11,661 new jobs; $16 million in local tax revenue
– A tripling of poultry (egg-laying) production in the state.
            Economic impact: 1,640 new jobs; $9.8 million in local tax revenue.

Other report authors are Anil Giri, graduate research assistant, agricultural economics; and Tshepelayi Kabata, research associate, agricultural economics.

The report acknowledges there are environmental and societal implications to any expansion of livestock production and said community leaders and residents will have to be part of any discussions of these expansions. But, the report adds, change in the industry is inevitable and the changes outlined in the report could help rural Nebraska thrive.

"Any one of the possible expansion scenarios analyzed here represents thousands of potential jobs and associated earnings distributed widely within and across Nebraska communities and households," the report concluded. "And with that additional value added economic activity, developed in an environmentally and socially responsible manner, comes the potential for enhanced quality of life for all Nebraskans into the future.

"In sum, the economic challenges posed, as well as the associated economic opportunities afforded, are simply too weighty in Nebraska's economic future to ignore. It is time to act," the authors wrote.

The full report is available at


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               Are you trying to make your pastures support as many animals as they did for your dad or even grandad?  Is that a wise goal?

               Almost weekly I hear statements like ‘Dad used to graze a hundred cows on this pasture all season and now I run out after four months with only ninety cows.  What’s wrong with my pasture?’

               Often there is nothing seriously wrong with the pasture, although pasture production might be increased by using improved grazing techniques, fertilizer, and weed control.  More often, though, the main problem actually is the cows, or more precisely, how we count the cows.

               Fifty years ago, most cows were straight English breeds, often easy-keeping Herefords that seldom weighted over a thousand pounds.  Folks calved in April and May, so they started on pasture with about a hundred pound calf.  Now it’s not unusual to have fourteen hundred pound cows or even larger with February calves weighing three hundred pounds when they start grazing.

               That’s a big change, grazing a thousand pound cow with a one hundred pound calf to a fourteen hundred pound cow with a three hundred pound calf.  Eleven hundred pounds per pair versus seventeen hundred pounds per pair.

               Cattle tend to eat ten to fifteen pounds of green grass for every hundred pounds of body weight.  So some of today’s cow-calf pairs eat almost fifty percent more when they start grazing in the spring than pairs ate years ago.

               So instead of worrying about stocking rate, maybe you need to consider stocking weight as your pasture guide.  Then when you add better grazing management, fertilizer, and weed control your pastures will do even better than they did for your ancestors.

Formula SAE Coming to Lincoln Airpark

The Formula Society of Automotive Engineering series will be in Lincoln, Nebraska June 18th – 21st. More than 250 universities from across the world will compete at Lincoln Airpark to showcase their fabricated Formula-style vehicles.

Formula teams will compete in acceleration, autocross, skid pad, endurance and fuel economy. The creation of a Formula car also encompasses sales, manufacturability, cost analysis and safety.

The Husker Motor Sports team is comprised of engineering students of the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. The Nebraska Ethanol Board is a proud supporter of the Husker Motor Sports Team.

FMCSA Grants Exemption to Livestock Haulers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Friday announced that drivers of vehicles hauling livestock will be granted a one-year exemption from the 30-minute break requirement during the first eight hours of a shift. This requirement is part of the current Hours-of-Service (HoS) rules for truck drivers to prevent fatigued-related crashes, although drivers transporting agricultural commodities, including livestock, within a 150-air mile radius of the source of those commodities are already exempt from the HoS rules and are not affected by this action. In 2013, FMCSA granted livestock haulers a 90-day waiver during the hot summer months with no adverse effects to safety. As authorized by Congress, FMCSA carefully considers and collects public comments on all applications for exemptions from federal regulations, including HoS for truck drivers. To date, FMCSA has received four petitions for exemptions, which only address the 30 minute break requirement of the HoS rule, and this is the second to be granted.

Pork Producers Appreciate FMCSA Action

The U.S. Department of Transportation Friday granted to truck drivers hauling livestock and poultry a one-year exemption from an hours-of-service rule that took effect last July 1. The National Pork Producers Council, on behalf of a coalition of livestock and poultry organizations, requested the exemption.

The regulation requires truck drivers to take a 30-minute rest break after eight hours of service. For drivers transporting livestock and poultry, the hours of service included loading and unloading animals.

"This is an important development for the food-animal industry, particularly the pork industry" said NPPC President Howard Hill, a veterinarian and pork producer from Cambridge, Iowa. "Pigs don't sweat, so we can't have them sitting on a truck for 30 minutes in the height of summer.

"We recognize the need for our drivers to be safe on the road, and we're pleased that D.O.T recognized that the rule presented an animal welfare issue for us," said Hill, who thanked Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx for recognizing the importance of the issue for livestock farmers and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for his efforts to secure the exemption.

USDA NASS Survey Updates Upcoming - Producer Input Needed

In the first two weeks of June, NASS will gather information about this season's crop production, supplies of grain in storage and livestock inventory. The information will help producers, suppliers, traders, buyers and others make informed business decisions. The results will be available beginning June 27 in the Hogs and Pigs report and June 30 in the Acreage and Grain Stocks reports. Farmers should watch for their surveys and be sure to respond. Your information matters!

USDA Announces Funding Availability for Turning Biomass Material into Energy

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin accepting applications June 16 from energy facilities interested in receiving forest or agricultural residues to generate clean energy. The support comes through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), which was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

BCAP provides financial assistance to farmers and ranchers who establish and maintain new crops of energy biomass, or who harvest and deliver forest or agricultural residues to a qualifying energy facility. Of the total $25 million per year authorized for BCAP, the 2014 Farm Bill provides up to 50 percent ($12.5 million) each year for matching payments for the harvest and transportation of biomass residues. BCAP matching payments will resume this summer, while crop incentives will begin in 2015. Some matching payments will support the removal of dead or diseased trees from National Forests and Bureau of Land Management public lands. This will be turned into renewable energy while reducing the risk of forest fire. Agriculture residues, such as corn cobs and stalks, also may qualify as energy-producing feedstock.

"Removing dead or diseased trees from forests to use for biomass production creates clean energy while reducing the threat of forest fires and the spread of harmful insects and disease," said Vilsack. "Increasing our country's production of biomass energy also helps grow our economy. Food is made in rural America, but fuel is made in rural America, too. This program is yet another USDA investment in expanding markets for agricultural products made in rural places across the country."

With the 2014 Farm Bill requiring several regulatory updates to BCAP, the resumption of payments for starting and maintaining new sources of biomass (Project Areas) has been deferred until a later date when the regulatory updates occur.

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), which administers BCAP, will begin accepting applications from biomass conversion facilities beginning June 16, 2014, through July 14, 2014. Information on funding availability can be found in the Federal Register notice at For more details on applications and deadlines on BCAP, visit a local FSA county office or go online to

BCAP was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit

Tyson Wins Hillshire Battle

Tyson Foods Inc. emerged as the winner in a battle to acquire Hillshire Brands Co., offering almost a billion dollars more than rival Pilgrim's Pride Corp.'s bid last week for the maker of Jimmy Dean sausages.

Tyson offered $63 in cash per share, a bid that valued Hillshire near $7.7 billion. Pilgrim's Pride, a unit of Brazilian meatpacking giant JBS SA, withdrew its offer for Hillshire.

The process came to a head this weekend with final bids for the company being due Sunday afternoon, people familiar with the matter said.

Pilgrim's didn't raise its offer, worth $55 a share, the people said. The way the auction was arranged, the winner would have to beat the other bidder by at least $2.50 a share, the people said, meaning Tyson could have won the auction with a bid of $57.50 a share.

Pilgrim's set off the bidding war late last month by making an unsolicited offer for the company. Tyson's new offer represents a roughly 70% premium to the price of Chicago-based Hillshire before the bidding began.

Winning Hillshire will vault Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson ahead in the company's long-running effort to build a business in branded meat products. Tyson is the biggest U.S. chicken processor and a major processor of beef and pork.

Such packaged meats generally carry higher profit margins than the meat Tyson sells to restaurants and food-service operations, which accounts for a big portion of the company's sales.

Hillshire's Jimmy Dean brand dominates refrigerated breakfast sausage sales with nearly one-third of the market, according to data from market research firm IRI, and its Ball Park brand leads hot dog sales.

Project Assesses Nutrient Needs of Modern Soybean Varieties

Grower interest in management strategies for high-yielding soybeans is spurring DuPont Pioneer to fund research to determine if nutrient recommendations, established almost 50 years ago, should be adjusted to fit current genetics and agronomy practices.

Pioneer is providing support to Shawn Conley, University of Wisconsin-Extension soybean specialist, and Adam Gaspar, UW graduate student, to study nutrient usage in soybeans. The Pioneer Crop Management Research Awards (CMRA) project will take three years to complete.

The CMRA program sponsors projects with universities to conduct collaborative agronomy research. Pioneer seeks out top researchers and provides funding for them to expand studies of key issues that affect growers. The company initiates eight to 10 new CMRA projects with university researchers each year. The goal is to help provide additional agronomic information to its customers to help them get the greatest value from each acre.

“We want to look at soybean nutrient uptake,” Conley says. “We’re looking at various maturities and growing environments to see if there are differences in plant uptake of several key nutrients.”
Many of today’s nutrient recommendations for soybeans were derived from research conducted in the 1960s and 1970s, Conley explains. Soybean genetics and agronomy practices have changed significantly.

“The goal is to see if plants are using more nutrients or using them at different times than the older research indicates,” Conley says. “If nutrient needs are different today, we can develop up-to-date recommendations for growers.”

Conley and Gaspar will measure nutrient uptake multiple times during the growing season and assess where the plant is using each nutrient. Among the nutrients they’re measuring are potassium, phosphorus, sulfur, zinc, boron and manganese. The three-year project will require the collection and review of a large amount of data from fields in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota—a process that Gaspar will spearhead.

“One reason the industry hasn’t updated nutrients recommendations is that the research is difficult and costly,” Conley says. “DuPont Pioneer is funding this project and Gaspar’s time. Pioneer is also providing germplasm to help us determine how today’s varieties are using nutrients. The Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board also is contributing significant support for this work. Collaborations like this help us provide better information to growers.”

Soybean production has changed since the research that led to current nutrient recommendations. Growers are planting earlier. In the best growing environments, they’re pushing yields up to and beyond 100 bushels per acre.

“Growers are expecting more from soybeans today,” Conley says. “While they’re not going to produce 100 bushels per acre in all environments, it’s clear they’re managing for overall higher yields. We need to see if nutrient availability may be limiting yields.”

Conley and Gaspar will be studying nutrient uptake and nutrient movement in the plant. They’ll sample plant tissues (stems, petioles, leaves, pods, seeds and fallen leaves and petioles) to analyze nutrient partitioning throughout the growing season.

“We want to see if existing recommendations are in line or may need updating to help growers optimize soybean production,” Conley says. “Nutrient analysis is costly and time-consuming. This is a massive undertaking.” 

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