Monday, June 2, 2014

Monday June 2 Ag News

Proposed Changes to “Waters of the United States” Definition
Larry Howard, UNL Exension Educator, Cuming County

A proposed change to the definition of “waters of the United States” within the Federal Clean Water Act (CWA) was published in the Federal Register in April. When a new regulation or change to an existing regulation is proposed, the agency in charge of that proposed rule must accept comments from the public related to the rule and consider those when drafting the final version of the regulation. The comment period on this rule is open until July 21, 2014, though an extension to the comment period has been requested. If granted, an additional 90 days may be available to submit comments.

The rule, if passed, will redefine “waters of the United States” to include intermittent and ephemeral streams, along with other non-navigable water bodies. Though the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) insist that the rule is designed to reduce confusion about CWA protection, questions remain about whether the language used in the proposed rule will broaden jurisdiction in a way that may negatively affect agricultural practices. For instance, the CWA as it is currently written authorizes the federal government to regulate only “navigable” waters. By expanding jurisdiction to intermittent streams and similar bodies of water that are not considered navigable, some are concerned that application of manure on lands near these water bodies could be considered a discharge and require a CWA permit.

A movement led by the Farm Bureau is focused on encouraging voluntary withdrawal of the rule by the EPA and Corps or action from Congress if the rule is not withdrawn voluntarily. The social media hashtag #DitchTheRule can be followed for updates.  The proposed rule and supporting documents can be viewed on the EPA website

Five Things to Know to Avoid Herbicide Drift

Clyde Ogg, UNL Extension Educator

Herbicides can cause serious injury to plants when applied improperly or when non-target drift occurs. Here are five things to consider to avoid crop injury when applying herbicides this spring:

1. Types of Drift

Drift occurs in two ways, particle or vapor. Particle drift occurs when small spray droplets travel long distances during periods of high wind and blow droplets from the targeted site. To avoid this, use larger spray droplets with low pressure, and apply herbicides only when wind speed is low. Vapor drift occurs when products volatilize or evaporate and move off the application site. The volatility of some products increases as temperatures rise into the upper 80s and 90s. The product label will provide information on when it's not safe to apply the product based on certain temperatures. The highest potential for drift is when it's hot and dry. For more detailed information on types of drift see Spray Drift of Pesticides (G1773)...

2. Nozzle Selection

The nozzle directly affects the size of the spray droplet. The pesticide label may require use of specific nozzles that will produce a coarse- or medium-sized droplet. Coarse droplets resist drift, resulting in a lower drift potential. In addition, when inspecting and calibrating spray equipment, check each nozzle for blockage or wear.  Make sure the output is within 5% of the manufacturer's rating for the nozzle. Clean or replace the nozzle, if necessary to achieve the desired output. In addition, consider boom height. The higher the boom, the higher the drift potential. Keep the boom only as high as it needs to be. For more tips see the UNL publication, Nozzles—Selection and Sizing (EC 141)....

3. Wind Speed and Direction

Always measure wind speed and direction before, during, and after the application. Always follow label information, but in general, wind speeds of 3 to 7 mph are preferable. Never spray when wind speeds are more than 10 mph. If wind speed or direction changes during an application, immediately adjust the buffer size or location, or stop the application. Be sure to check DriftWatch to see if a sensitive site is nearby...

4. Temperature Inversions

Applying pesticides during a temperature inversion can result in damaging, long distance drift. Inversions occur when warm air, which is light, rises upward into the atmosphere and cool air, which is heavy, settles near the ground.  With these conditions of warm air above cool air, there is no mixing of air. Spray droplets are not dispersed, but stay in a concentrated mass and move with any subtle airflow that may land off-target. Typically, temperature inversions start at dusk and break up with the sunrise because of vertical air mixing.

5. Applications Plans

Planning is key when applying any pesticides. Many factors influence drift, and applicators must be willing to adjust to particular circumstances. This requires a plan of action. Remember, applicators are legally responsible for spray drift problems, even when Mother Nature is the true culprit.
Making pesticide applications is a substantial responsibility with many consequences if not done correctly. Read pesticide labels, check application equipment, and be aware of environmental conditions to reduce drift and make the best use of each product. When applying pesticides, consider the environment and safety for you, others, and other crops. For more herbicide stewardship information and considerations visit

Branstad Vetos $11.2 Million for Water Quality and Conservation

Gov. Terry E. Branstad took action on all remaining legislation following the conclusion of the 2014 legislative session, including a veto of the debt reduction/one-time spending bill. It included $11.2 million for water quality and conservation programs.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey issued the following statement on Branstad's veto of the debt reduction/one-time spending bill that included $11.2 million for water quality and conservation programs.

"Obviously I'm very disappointed by the Governor's decision. This is a lost opportunity to do even more to build on the exciting momentum we are seeing around the Iowa Water Quality Initiative," Northey said.

"However, Iowa remains a national leader in using voluntary, science-based practices to better protect water quality. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship did receive some additional funding and we will continue to work hard to help farmers better protect our soil and water."

Beef Checkoff Commissions FY2014 Studies

The beef checkoff is commissioning two third-party evaluation studies this year, both aimed at leverage every checkoff dollar to the greatest degree possible. The follow-up studies to the 2013 Beef Demand Determinant Study results will include a Return on Investment (ROI) Study and an Efficiency Analysis, both of which are being completed within the FY2014 checkoff evaluation program budget.

The ROI study is something that USDA requires of every research and promotion program at least every five years. Dr. Ron Ward of the University of Florida completed the last checkoff ROI study for the Beef Board in 2009. He used a comprehensive econometric model to conclude that, for every dollar invested in the Beef Checkoff Program, producers received $5.55 in value back, which amounts to an ROI of 555 percent.

This year’s study is being done by Dr. Harry Kaiser, a nationally recognized expert in the economics of generic advertising and promotion programs. His methodology varies from the checkoff's previous ROI studies in that it delves deeper into specific areas of investment rather than simply delivering an average ROI.

Hand-in-hand with the ROI study, and using data generated by Dr. Kaiser, the second study is being conducted by Dr. David Rockland, CEO and managing director of Ketchum Change and Global Research Group.

This efficiency study will identify common key metrics to determine how each individual program affects beef demand. The study comprises two parts: a performance-efficiency analysis and a cost-efficiency analysis, and it will help identify metrics (e.g., percent target audience reached with demand-driving messages) to enhance development and tracking of performance trends for checkoff programs in coming years.

World Pork Expo Announces Biosecurity Plan

In preparation for this week's World Pork Expo, the National Pork Producers Council gathered a group of veterinary experts to determine the best ways to prevent the potential for disease transmission in all areas of the exposition.

According to Neil Dierks, NPPC CEO, the experts have assured stringent health requirements are in place for the World Pork Expo shows and sales.

Expo attendees are asked to observe good biosecurity practices, including wearing clean clothing and shoes that have not been inside a pork-production facility.

Dierks says as an added assurance, the swine barns and pens on the Iowa State Fairgrounds will be disinfected before the pigs arrive and immediately after Expo. And, attendees can take advantage of specially designed stations near the exits, where they can disinfect their shoes before heading home.

USDA Announces Commodity Credit Corporation Lending Rates for June 2014

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) today announced interest rates for June 2014. The CCC borrowing rate-based charge for June is 0.125 percent, unchanged from 0.125 percent in May.

The interest rate for crop year commodity loans less than one year disbursed during June is 1.125 percent, unchanged from 1.125 percent in May.

Interest rates for Farm Storage Facility Loans approved for June are as follows, 2.250 percent with seven-year loan terms, unchanged from 2.125 percent in May; 2.625 percent with 10-year loan terms, down from 2.750 percent in May and; 2.750 percent with 12-year loan terms, down from 2.875 percent in May.

USDA: FY 2014 Export Forecast Raised $6.9 Billion to a Record $149.5 Billion

The fiscal year 2014 forecast for agricultural exports is revised up from the February  estimate by $6.9 billion to a record $149.5 billion. The forecast for grain and feed  exports is boosted $4.5 billion to $35.8 billion due to higher prices for wheat and greater  volumes and prices for corn and feeds and fodders. The corn export forecast is raised  $2.1 billion to $10.7 billion on strong foreign demand and diminished competition,  especially from Argentina. Oilseeds and product exports are forecast at a record $33.8  billion, up $2.4 billion, driven by larger volume and higher prices for soybean and  soybean meal exports. The soybean export forecast is raised $1.8 billion to $23.5 billion  based on record sales to China. The export forecast for livestock, poultry, and dairy is  raised by $600 million to a record $32.2 billion, with increases in dairy and beef more  than offsetting declines in pork and poultry. The horticultural product export forecast is  lowered $400 million to $34.1 billion, but still forecast at a record high. 

U.S. agricultural imports for fiscal year 2014 are forecast at a record $110.5 billion, up  $500 million from February’s estimate. Imports are expected to be 6.4 percent greater  than in fiscal 2013. The forecast for the U.S. agricultural trade surplus in fiscal 2014 is  up $6.3 billion from February to $39.0 billion, its second highest ever.

Export Products

Fiscal 2014 U.S. grain and feed exports are forecast at $35.8 billion, up $4.5 billion from the February forecast. Exports for all grain categories except rice are higher. Wheat is up $700 million to $8.5 billion due to higher prices as a result of lower U.S. new crop production and tight carry-in stocks. The United States is likely to be uncompetitive in wheat for the last few months of the fiscal year.

The forecast for coarse grains is raised $2.3 billion to $11.9 billion largely due to greater corn volume. Since last quarter, corn prices have strengthened due to strong foreign demand and diminished competition, especially from Argentina. Feeds and fodders are up $1.5 billion to $8.7 billion almost entirely due to higher volumes and unit values of distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), arising from record Chinese demand. Rice exports are down $100 million to $2.1 billion mainly on weaker sales to Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The fiscal 2014 export forecast for oilseeds and products is raised $2.4 billion to a record $33.8 billion on expanding global demand. Larger volume and higher unit values for both soybean and soybean meal drive the increase, with soybeans raised $1.8 billion to $23.5 billion and soybean meal raised $300 million to $5.4 billion. Soybean oil unit value is also raised, primarily due to tight supplies.  

The fiscal 2014 export forecast for cotton is unchanged at $4.4 billion. Changes to China’s support policy, designed to limit accumulation of reserve stocks, are likely to constrain U.S. export opportunities to China. Global cotton prices are projected to remain relatively high. 

The fiscal 2014 export forecast for livestock, dairy, and poultry is raised $600 million to a record $32.2 billion. Increases in dairy and beef more than offset declines in pork and poultry. Dairy products are raised $500 million to $6.8 billion as exports are higher than anticipated due to continuing strong global demand. Beef is raised $300 million to $5.6 billion on higher prices and slightly larger volumes. Poultry is reduced $100 million to $6.2 billion on weaker shipments of eggs. 

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