Friday, June 20, 2014

Thursday June 19 Ag News

A-FAN Organizing Volunteers Tornado Clean-Up June 20 - 21  
Willow Holoubek, A-FAN Organizational Director

There is NO place like Nebraska! What an amazing group of people we are surrounded by. The response from our email asking for help for the farmers and livestock producers around Pilger was wonderful! Thank you so very much to the volunteers that came on Thursday, you have made a huge difference in the lives of those you have helped! You are a true testament to the way Nebraskan's treat their neighbors. There is still work to be done. Friday and Saturday A-FAN will be back in the Pilger area, helping more farmers and livestock producers. We are looking for more volunteers, especially with trailers and four-wheelers to help pick debris up. Also, coolers with ice are in high demand. As there is no electricity, this is the best way to cool off. Willow will be providing bottles of water.

The Wheat Board has generously decided to bring their baking trailer to Pilger and they are looking for two to three volunteers to help make cookies and cinnamon rolls to deliver to families along the storm's path.

Please call Willow directly at (402) 710-1110 for information on where your help is needed. Also, there is now a sign up sheet in Wisner for those seeking help. If you are unsure of where to go, please stop by the Wisner high school and look for farmers who are looking for assistance clearing debris.

Thank you again to all the volunteers yesterday and to those planning to join us Friday and Saturday! You are what makes this a truly great place to live!

Johanns: Storm Damage Unbelievably Heartbreaking

U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R- Neb.) today made the following statement after spending the afternoon visiting with victims of this week’s tornadoes in northeast Nebraska:  

“Nothing could have prepared me for the devastation I saw in Pilger and Coleridge today,” Johanns said. “The scene was truly unbelievable. My heart goes out to those who lost a love one, those recovering from injuries and those whose homes and livelihoods have been completely torn apart.

“I thank the many volunteers I met today, the community leaders who led me through the rubble and all those who took time out to share their stories of survival. Though it will be a long road to recovery, the work being done by emergency crews to clean up power lines and dangerous debris is already evident throughout the region.

“I also want to thank all Nebraskans who have rallied around these communities hit hard by recent severe weather. Our state’s unbreakable resiliency and dedication to helping neighbors in need will help these communities heal.”

Johanns’ visit included meetings with local officials, residents of Pilger and Coleridge, and producers from the surrounding area who lost livestock during the tornadoes.

June News from the Nebraska FFA Foundation

Stacey Agnew, Executive Director, NE FFA Foundation

"I believe that to live and work on a good farm, or to be engaged in other agricultural pursuits, is pleasant as well as challenging; for I know the joys and discomforts of agricultural life and hold an inborn fondness for those associations which, even in hours of discouragement, I cannot deny."

These words of the FFA creed speak louder than I could ever imagine this spring. Agriculture is a very challenging industry and the "discomforts of agricultural life" have just begun for many people in northeast Nebraska affected by yesterday's tornadoes.

One of the strategies of the Nebraska FFA Foundation is to get students into and keep them in the ag industry. It's my belief that a helping hand when disaster strikes is one way for us to continue our work in this area. With your help, we were able to provide relief for students affected by the tornadoes on May 11th. You can read more about the impact you had on students in the last storm here...

We are asking for your help again for FFA members and their Supervised Agricultural Education (SAE) projects affected by yesterday's storm. You can donate to the Storm Relief Fund online now at   All funds will go to an FFA member or chapter to be used for an agricultural education or FFA project.

Please continue to keep these communities in your thoughts and help out however you can.

Big Red Grain Marketing & Risk Management Breakfast

Tuesday, July 1  -  Saunders County Extension Office at the ARDC near Mead, NE

Breakfast will be served from 7:45 – 8:15 a.m. Featured speakers and topics from 8:15 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Crop Marketing Strategies and the New Farm Program 
Steve Johnson, Farm Management Specialist, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
•  Crop Market Outlook
•  Selling Your Insurance Bushels
•  ARC vs. PLC Enrollment Decisions
•  Base Acreage Reallocation

FSA Office Update
Get the latest updates from the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency 

Weather Outlook
Al Dutcher, Nebraska State Climatologist 
It’s been a rough ride so far with the weather, what can we expect the rest of the growing season and into harvest?

Call or e-mail to reserve your seat!  For meal planning purposes, we ask you call ahead to reserve a seat by calling 800-529-8030 or e-mail

Johanns Acts to block EPA Power Grab

U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R- Neb.) today cosponsored a bill preventing Obama Administration efforts to expand federal regulatory jurisdiction. The bill, authored by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), prevents the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) from finalizing a proposed rule that would ignore limits established by Congress regarding regulation of bodies of water in the United States. If finalized, the rule would expand federal regulatory authority beyond navigable waters, which was the scope of jurisdiction established by Congress.

“This proposal amounts to a massive power grab by EPA, which has demonstrated time and again that it is out of touch and out of control,” Johanns said. “Imposing more regulatory burdens on American families, farmers and job creators is the last thing we need from an Administration that has repeatedly pushed the envelope beyond congressional authority.  EPA needs to scrap this proposed rule and refocus its efforts within the boundaries set by Congress.”

The proposed rule, which has generated much uncertainty in the agriculture community, would expand federal jurisdiction of U.S. water under the Clean Water Act to include water that has even the remotest connection to traditionally navigable waters, such as farm ponds, ditches, streambeds, and even low lying areas that may be dry for much of the year.

Johanns cosponsored similar efforts to revoke the EPA-ACE rule during Senate consideration of an energy efficiency bill in May, but Democratic leadership blocked all amendments, and the bill failed to pass. Johanns also sent several letters to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy expressing opposition to the rule.


The Nebraska Auctioneers Association, a state trade organization representing the auctioneering profession in Nebraska, conducted their Annual Auctioneer State Championship on Saturday, May 31, 2014. The Championship Competition, crowning both the top auctioneer and ringman, was held at the DeVent Center in Norfolk, Nebraska. The contestants showcased their skills during the Association’s Annual Convention in a live auction open to the public.

The Auctioneer competitors were judged on presentation, chant, voice quality, body language, and other elements of effective auctioneering along with a personal interview. David Whitaker, Whitaker Marketing Group, Ames, IA, won the title of Champion. The Reserve Champion was Russ Puchalla, Heartland Auction Co., Roca, NE and placing Runner- up was Wayne Morris, Morris Auctions, Columbus, NE. Receiving the Rookie of the Year Award, given to the top auctioneer with three years of experience or less, was Ethan Schuette, Washington, KS.

Rounding out the top ten auction finalists were: Mark Beacom, Auction Solutions, Omaha, NE; Josh Larson, JML Auction, Haxton, CO; Adam Marshall, Adam Marshall Auctioneers, Elm Creek, NE; John McDowell, McDowell Auctioneering, Rapid City, SD; Courtney Nitz-Mensik, Jack Nitz & Associates Auctioneers, Fremont, NE and Curtis Wetovick, CW Auction, Fullerton, NE.

David Whitaker will now represent Nebraska in the 2015 International Auctioneers Championship at the National Auctioneers Association Annual Convention.

The Annual Jon Moravec Memorial Ringman Award was presented to Dallas Hansen, Hansen Auction Service, Plainview, NE. The Ringman competitors were judged on presentation, enthusiasm, audience observation, and communication with the auctioneer.

The Nebraska Auctioneers Association promotes the auction method of marketing by providing professional training and support for auctioneers in Nebraska. Shayne Fili of Auction Solutions in Omaha, NE is the President of the Association which is headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska.

NSP Carrier Enforcement Town Meetings Planned

(from NeFBF)

The Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) Carrier Enforcement Division will again be conducting meetings to provide updated information on recent legislative action.

Guidance will be presented on the state of Nebraska’s adoption of the 2012 Federal Legislation titled “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” (MAP-21). Information will also be shared on the passage of LB983 in Nebraska, which provided exemptions for the “transportation of agricultural commodities and farm supplies” and for “covered farm vehicles” and their drivers.

“We encourage farmers and ranchers as well as those typically transporting farm supplies and/or agricultural commodities to attend one of the nine meetings scheduled for 2014,” said Captain Gerry Krolikowski, Commander Carrier Enforcement Division. “Even if you’ve attended in the past, there is enough new and updated information to make attending again worth your while.”

In addition to general areas of interest, specific areas influenced by MAP-21 will be discussed, to include;
• Controlled Substance and Alcohol Use and Testing
• Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
• Physical Qualifications and Examinations of Drivers
• Hours of Service and Annual Inspection Requirements?

The schedule of town meetings includes:
Nebraska City
June 23, 2014
7-10 p.m.
American National Bank
920 Central Avenue

June 24, 2014
7-10 p.m.
York Area Senior Center
725 North Nebraska Avenue

June 26, 2014
7-10 p.m.
Lifelong Learning Center
801 East Benjamin Avenue

June 30, 2014
7-10 p.m.
Lancaster Event Center
Business Center
4100 North 84th Street


Bobbie Kriz-Wickham, assistant director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, has scheduled a meeting of the Climate Assessment Response Committee (CARC) for Tuesday, June 24th.  The meeting will begin at 10:00 a.m. in room 901 at Hardin Hall on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln East Campus.

Climate officials will brief CARC members on existing, as well as predicted, weather conditions and provide a water availability outlook.  Mitigation activities will be discussed.

For more details, call the Nebraska Department of Agriculture at (402) 471-2341.

Nigerian Executives to Examine Midwest HRW Crop

Eight senior managers from Nigeria’s milling and noodle/pasta manufacturing industries will visit Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas June 22 to 28, 2014, to examine the current hard red winter (HRW) crop as part of a U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) trade team.

Nigeria was the fifth largest buyer of U.S. wheat for the 2013/14 marketing year (June to May), importing 98.8 million bushels (2.69 million metric tons) and purchasing five of the six classes of U.S. wheat. In comparison, Nigerian millers purchased 12.9 million bushels (350,000 metric tons) 12 years ago, after their government ended a six-year ban on wheat imports in 1992.

“The growth of U.S. wheat exports to Nigeria has been exceptional,” said USW Regional Assistant Director Gerald Theus, based in Cape Town, South Africa, who will accompany the team. “Thanks to the relationships built in Nigeria and between the farmers, USW and Nigerian millers on teams like these, U.S. wheat has found a home in Nigeria. And it is there to stay.”

These millers will meet with wheat breeders, tour grain cooperatives and shuttle loading facilities as well as visit several wheat farms. That includes the farm near Elsie, NE, of Brent Robertson, who visited Nigeria in January as part of a USW Board Team. Trade teams help reassure world wheat customers of a steady and uninterrupted supply of high quality wheat as well as provide a better understanding of the entire U.S. wheat supply chain.

USW collaborated with the Colorado Wheat Administrative Committee, Nebraska Wheat Board and Kansas Wheat Commission to organize this trade team.

Japanese Milling Executives to Visit West Coast Wheat Industry

Senior executives representing six Japanese flour milling companies will visit Washington, Oregon and California June 22 to 28, 2014, to meet with all sectors of the regional grain trade from wheat breeders to farmers to exporters. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is sponsoring the team with assistance from the Washington Grain Commission, Oregon Wheat Commission and California Wheat Commission.

“While these executives manage mid-range to relatively small capacity flour mills, they have important influence with Japan’s government grain buying agency,” said Steve Wirsching, vice president and director of USW’s West Coast Office in Portland, OR. “USW keeps all of our Japanese customers fully informed about U.S. wheat supply and prices, but visits like this give milling executives the chance to discuss other important factors like our logistical and quality assurance systems face-to-face with U.S. wheat farmers, breeders and exporters.”

In addition to walking through wheat fields, the team will discuss new wheat breeding research at Washington State University and the USDA/ARS Western Wheat Quality Laboratory in Pullman, WA. They will tour container and bulk grain export terminal elevators. A visit to Woodland, CA, includes the California Wheat Commission Milling and Baking Laboratory. And in Portland, the milling executives will get a taste of wheat food innovation at the Wheat Marketing Center and see the how the U.S. government independently certifies that grain meets importer specifications.

U.S. wheat farmers have maintained a close connection with Japan since 1949, when the Oregon Wheat Growers League (OWGL) organized a trade delegation to Japan. That visit resulted in a variety of marketing and educational activities, including a school lunch program and a “Kitchen on Wheels” that travelled through rural Japan from 1956 to 1960. Since that time, Japan has purchased significantly more U.S. wheat than any other country, importing more than 133 million bushels per year on average for the last five years.

Kansas Wheat Harvest Report - Day 2

During the day on Wednesday, June 18, harvest has commenced in nearly all of southern Kansas, from Hamilton to Cherokee counties. In the central part of the state it even progressed northward to just shy of the Nebraska border. Farmers are seeing lower than normal yields statewide, along with a higher protein content than usual.

Alex Gerard, representative of Gavilon Grain, reports a variety of yields from the coop’s multiple locations. According to Gerard, the Gavilon locations are reporting anywhere between 15-35 bushels per acre. While their yields may be lacking, the test weights are holding in at about 58-62 pounds per bushel. Without rain in the area, Gerard estimates that harvest would wrap up in about a week, but Mother Nature may have other plans with expected rains later this week.

Gerard said, “Last year, starting day was like a sprint, but this year we are gearing up for a marathon.”

Mark Paul, the general manager of Cloud County Coop Elevator Association, says that the farmers in his area are also suffering from a wide variety of low yields. The test weights in the area are an average of 60 pounds. Paul says that the wheat from his area is suffering both from freeze and drought damage. While last year was a good quality crop for Cloud County Coop, Paul says that this year’s crop is not the quality that he would like to see.

Gary Millershaski, a farmer from Kearny County and president of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, is one of the few farmers statewide who is reporting an equal, or slightly better crop than last year. Millershaski said “Last year was the worst crop of my entire career. This one may be as bad, but it could end up being a bit better.” His yields so far are in the 12-18 bushels per acre range. While so far it is looking like a good quality crop, he couldn’t report on the test weight.

Jim Michael, a farmer from Crawford County and KAWG Director, reports a good quality crop weighing in at around 60-61 pounds per bushel. He has harvested both Everest and WB-Cedar varieties and both are performing well for him. Michael estimates that there will be cutting in the area for around 10 days to two weeks.

Day 3 Kansas Wheat Harvest

During the day on Thursday, June 19, harvest has not progressed much more through the state due to wet conditions. Farmers statewide are still seeing lower than normal yields, higher than average protein content and a consistently decent test weight.

Jerald Kemmerer, manager at Pride Ag Resources in Dodge City, said that the dryland wheat farmers in his area have been harvesting since Monday. Yields have been struggling, like much of the south west part of Kansas, but their test weights have been holding up in the 58-60 pounds per bushel range. The protein content is higher than average. Kemmerer reports that irrigated wheat isn’t quite ready for harvest yet, but he predicts that it should commence next week.

Kemmerer said, “The last three or four harvests have been pretty bleak, so this year is pretty much right in line with that trend.”

Jeremy Salem, a representative of United Prairie Ag in Satanta, reported that his location had taken in about 10,000 bushels so far. Yields in his area have been struggling, ranging from five to 15 bushels an acre. The test weight range is 60-61 pounds per bushel. Salem estimates that this year’s crop will be about 90% of last year’s total, a prediction that he admits is optimistic.

Jesse Blasi, a farmer from Pratt County, said that most farmers in the area have gotten started, but there are a few holding off until the mud dries up. He has seen varying yields around the county, anywhere from 10 bushels an acre up to 45 bushels an acre. Blasi said that most of the eastern part of the county didn’t suffer as much freeze damage as the western part of the county, which could account for the yield variations. The test weights in the area are hitting 58-62 pounds per bushel. Blasi estimates that this year’s harvest will be equal to about 2/3rds  of last year’s totals.

Jared Wendelburg, a farmer from Stafford County, reported that his yields are ranging from about 30-40 bushels an acre. Overall, Wendelburg thinks the quality of his crop is good and the test weights are ranging between 58-60 pounds per bushel. Wendelburg said that this year’s harvest has been better than was expected, but, continuing with the statewide trend, it’s still not as good as last year’s wheat.

The 2014 Harvest Reports are a project of the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and Kansas Grain and Feed Association.

AFBF: Estate Taxes Now Ripe for Repeal

With 218 co-sponsors on board, legislation to repeal estate taxes is ripe for floor action, the American Farm Bureau Federation said. Rep. Kevin Brady's (R-Texas) Death Tax Repeal Act, H.R. 2429, would repeal estate taxes, and maintain stepped-up basis.

"Although permanent law enacted as part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 provided significant estate tax relief, repeal is the best solution to protect all farms and ranches from the estate tax," said AFBF President Bob Stallman.

The estate tax burden falls heavily on farmers because it takes more capital assets, such as land and equipment, to generate the same level of income as other types of businesses.

"Look at land alone," Stallman said. "As it skyrockets in value, the chances of surviving family members having to sell some substantial acreage to pay estate taxes grows right along with it. This not only can cripple a farm or ranch operation, but also hurts the rural communities and businesses that agriculture supports."

The Farm Bureau says if Congress fails to permanently repeal the estate tax, surviving family members may be forced to sell off parts of their farms, ultimately jeopardizing their livelihoods.

USDA Livestock Slaughter: Red Meat Production Down 5 Percent From Last Year

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 3.95 billion pounds in May, down 5 percent from the 4.15 billion pounds produced in May 2013.

Beef production, at 2.07 billion pounds, was 7 percent below the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.63 million head, down 8 percent from May 2013. The average live weight was up 10 pounds from the previous year, at 1,299 pounds.

Veal production totaled 7.8 million pounds, 14 percent below May a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 46,700 head, down 20 percent from May 2013. The average live weight was up 19 pounds from last year, at 284 pounds.

Pork production totaled 1.86 billion pounds, down 2 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 8.62 million head, down 6 percent from May 2013. The average live weight was up 11 pounds from the previous year, at 287 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 13.9 million pounds, was down 4 percent from May 2013. Sheep slaughter totaled 194,600 head, 7 percent below last year. The average live weight was 143 pounds, up 4 pounds from May a year ago.

January to May 2014 commercial red meat production was 19.6 billion pounds, down 3 percent from 2013. Accumulated beef production was down 5 percent from last year, veal was down 10 percent, pork was down 1 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was up 1 percent.

By State  (million pounds, % of May 2013)

Nebraska ....:     609.7             98      
Iowa ...........:     534.9             99      
Kansas .......:     448.6             95      

Innovative Cuts Create Options for Taiwanese Beef Customers

With the price of a high-quality beef dinner topping $100, options for many beef-loving Taiwanese diners have narrowed, and restaurant operators are struggling to find menu options for the full economic spectrum of their customers.

Rising beef prices have inspired many of Taiwan’s top restaurants and hotels to partner with the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) to develop creative new dishes with more affordable cuts, including the petite tender and the clod heart. Early results indicate that both restaurants and consumers are enjoying the fresh approach, and Taiwanese media outlets are taking notice.

With funding support from the Beef Checkoff Program and the USDA Market Access Program (MAP), USMEF recently hosted seminars for Taiwan’s food service operators, retailers and importers to educate them about the quality and value of these two U.S. beef cuts. Cooking demonstrations, product information and recipes showed the participants how the petite tender and clod heart could add menu alternatives at a variety of price points.

Jimmy Chang, chef and owner of the Chez Jimmy restaurant chain, was the first to introduce the petite tender, adding it to the menu in four of his restaurants. He soon found it accounted for 15 percent of his sales.

“Food service operators need to commit to developing new menu items,” said Chang. “With creativity, determination and a perspective of what is important to the customer, we can add new menu items that our customers will appreciate and will be successful for us.”

The Regent Taipei Hotel introduced four petite tender menu items at its mid-price restaurant, Azie, with dishes ranging from $12 to $17, finding them to be a good fit.

“We think the petite tender matches our middle-price restaurant,” said Simon Wu, executive director of the Regent Taipei’s food and beverage department. “As a leader in Taiwan’s food service market, we feel it is necessary for us to try new items and be creative to meet our customers’ desire for variety and quality.”

Wu also appreciated the technical support from USMEF in helping his restaurant adopt the new menu items.

“The petite tender has the features of lean muscles without the grassy smell (of grass-fed beef),” said Maggi Wu, marketing planning manager for the historic Taiwan Grand Hi-Lai Hotel. “People are focused on flavorful, nutritious and low-fat meals, and the petite tender provides customers with more dish choices while giving restaurants an ingredient that can be used in steakhouses, buffets and for tappanyaki (Japanese style griddle cooking).”

The Grand Hi-Lai found a variety of uses for the new cut, serving it at the hotel’s poolside café and lobby lounge in six dishes ranging from $10 to $24. In addition, the hotel’s dietician provided information on the nutritional value of this lean cut. Customers who posted photos to the Hi-Lai’s Facebook page during the promotion showing them sharing the dishes with their mothers were entered in a drawing for special meal prizes at the hotel.

The interest by leading hotels and restaurants in the newly introduced U.S. beef cuts has helped generate a significant amount of media attention:
    CTV News on Youtube
    Market Daily
    Apple Daily
    China Times
    Taiwanese blogger
    Hi-Lai Hotel website

The clod heart is joining the petite tender at Taiwan’s Ambassador Hotel in a special “Great American BBQ Beef” promotion that runs from mid-June through the end of July at nine restaurants. The clod heart will be used for a smaller beef roast while the petite tender is targeted for steaks and lighter mid-priced brunch items.

“The success that hotels are having with these tasty but affordable cuts is inspiring retailers to rethink their approach to these two lean cuts,” said Davis Wu, USMEF-Taiwan director. “While some retailers have focused on the marbling of traditional U.S. beef cuts, others are hearing their customers inquire about low-fat menu items, so they are beginning to inquire about the availability of these cuts. That interest is working its way back to importers as well.”

Through the first four months of 2014, U.S. beef exports to Taiwan stood at 9,542 metric tons (21 million pounds) valued at $77.9 million. While these totals are down 12 percent in volume and 8 percent in value from last year, they saw upward movement in April, rising 12 percent in volume and 8 percent in value versus 2013.

Pennsylvania Cattleman Urges EPA to Withdraw Anti-Conservation Rule

Today, Andy Fabin, cattle producer and farmer from Indiana, Penn., testified before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, Commerce and Forestry, regarding the impacts of the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ “interpretive rule” on the Normal Farming and Ranching exemptions under Sec. 404 of the Clean Water Act.

“As a farmer, my willingness to implement voluntary conservation practices has been greatly diminished, despite my desire to improve and protect the waters on my farm,” said Fabin, who raises cattle and farms 3,500 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and rye. “If the interpretive rule remains in place, farmers and ranchers across the country will slow their adoption of conservation practices.”

Coupled with the proposed rule expanding the jurisdictional reach of the EPA and the Corps under the Clean Water Act, the interpretive rule will increase liability for farmers and ranchers. For property owners like Fabin, the ephemeral streams, ponds and ditches found across their pastures would fall under the EPA and the Corps’ jurisdiction, and would require permits for any activities taking place on the land. While the agencies have exempted 56 farming and ranching practices, as long as they meet the specific Natural Resource Conservation Service standards, any deviation from these standards can result in fines of up to $37,500 per day.

“EPA, the Corps and now even the NRCS would have me believe that, despite the expanded definition, all the activities that take place on my farm are exempted,” said Fabin. “This is, at a minimum, a negligent mischaracterization, and more likely, an intentionally deceptive tactic being used to pacify the agricultural community. Not all agricultural activities are exempted under the Clean Water Act, and this proposal would expand the number of farming activities that need permits, requiring many farmers like myself to seek 402 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits or 404 Dredge and Fill permits.”

According to the EPA, the 56 exempted practices, including prescribed grazing, were chosen because they have the potential to discharge if they are done in a “water of the U.S.” This effectively makes grazing a discharge activity, and cattle producers will now be required to obtain a permit to graze unless they have a NRCS-approved grazing plan.

“NRCS was created to help farmers on a voluntary basis,” said Fabin. “but now, NRCS personnel are going to have to spend their entire time checking compliance of voluntary conservation activities instead of assisting farmers and ranchers in continuing to improve the waters around their properties. The model of voluntary conservation that has been the pinnacle of farmers and ranchers protection of our natural resources is going to be upended.”

Not only should the EPA and the Corps withdraw their overreaching definition of “waters of the U.S.,” but they should also immediately withdraw the interpretive rule because, ultimately, the only affect it will have is to decrease beneficial conservation activities.

Dairy industry poised to make significant strides toward a sustainable food system

The Innovation Center for U.S Dairy®, established under the leadership of dairy farmers, today announced the publication of the 2013 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Report. In the report, the Innovation Center outlines its progress to measure, communicate and improve the social, environmental and economic performance of the dairy industry. This progress has helped strengthen dairy’s role in a sustainable food system.

“Together, we can meet the challenge to provide nourishing dairy foods and beverages to a growing population while facing a changing climate and finite natural resources,” said Tom Gallagher, CEO of the Innovation Center and Dairy Management Inc.™, the nonprofit organization that manages the dairy checkoff. “We are building partnerships, sharing knowledge and taking collective action to develop innovative, sustainable solutions that will help us meet this challenge efficiently and responsibly.”

Since the Innovation Center’s inception in 2007, steps the industry has taken include:
-    Completing a series of comprehensive life cycle assessments to understand the environmental impacts of dairy products from farm to table
-    Piloting a set of science-based Smart Tools to help the industry measure, manage and improve on those impacts
-    Developing the Stewardship and Sustainability Guide for U.S. Dairy to provide a voluntary framework for tracking and communicating the industry’s continuous improvement

Highlights from the 2013 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Report

A focus on food waste

Forty percent of all food produced in the U.S. is never eaten. Meanwhile, 49 million Americans are food-insecure. A 21st century sustainable food system must not only increase production with limited resources, but also address food waste and inefficiencies. The U.S. dairy industry is focused on developing partnerships that enable a cycle of feeding people first, then feeding animals and finally returning the nutrients to the land that grows our food.

Delivering a range of healthy choices

Through individual and collaborative efforts with the Innovation Center, National Dairy Council® and Dairy Management Inc., dairy food companies, retailers and brands invest significant resources in nutrition research and product innovations that meet the needs of consumers. Through new product development and reformulation of existing products, dairy foods and beverages can meet a range of tastes and nutrition and health needs, as well as address other factors such as price and convenience.

Wholesome milk starts with a cow’s healthy diet

To keep cows healthy and productive, dairy farmers work with animal nutritionists to combine ingredients that meet the nutritional requirements of their cows. Thirty-five percent of a cow’s feed is grown on the dairy farm, and the rest is usually sourced from local farmers and businesses. In addition, after producing food and beverages (such as orange juice) and material (such as cotton) for people, many companies pass along to dairy farmers the leftover, unused plant parts for use as nutritious feed for cows.

Healthy people, healthy products, healthy planet

Efficiency will be critical for increasing the world’s food production by an estimated 70 percent to feed a projected global population of 9.6 billion people by 2050. At the same time, responsibility is critical for assuring customers and consumers that the dairy foods and beverages they enjoy are nutritious, safe and environmentally sustainable.

Through the Innovation Center, the dairy industry is committed to action so that together, we can provide consumers with the nutritious dairy products they want, in a way that makes the industry, people and the earth economically, environmentally and socially better — now and for future generations.

BASF announces largest-ever stewardship training series for summer 2014

BASF today announced an educational training and plot tour series for summer 2014, which is expected to be the largest training effort in the company’s history. The training series will reach 24 states and will focus on weed management, application best practices and overall stewardship of BASF herbicides.

“We are committed to ensuring growers’ success with new technologies,” said Luke Bozeman, Technical Market Manager, Herbicides, BASF. “The more knowledgeable growers are about precise stewardship practices, the more successful they will be in their applications.”

Participants will be introduced to the widely anticipated Engenia™ herbicide, which is slated for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration in 2015. The series will provide information about best practices for stewardship of future Engenia herbicide applications in dicamba-tolerant (DT) crops. Additional training is expected post-EPA registration.

Attendees will tour field plots that demonstrate the efficacy and effectiveness of the BASF Advanced Acre portfolio of products when used together in a full-season program. Additional demonstrations will explore proper stewardship of other crop protection products and practices.

On Target Application Academy

At many of the summer training events, attendees will participate in the On Target Application Academy, a BASF spray application training led by industry professionals. Since its inception in 2012, the On Target Application Academy has reached more than 4,000 growers in 21 states. This training is focused on proper application techniques – including the importance of boom height, weed size, nozzles and equipment cleanout – and their impact on the desired application.

“As we move away from glyphosate-only treatments into more complete weed control programs, good stewardship practices will be essential,” Bozeman said. “Growers and applicators need to be aware of precise recommendations for spray applications in the future, including weather, weed height, time of day and the location of neighboring crops.”

Engenia Herbicide Stewardship

Engenia herbicide will be a technologically advanced dicamba formulation that provides an additional site of action for control of broadleaf weeds in DT crops, including DT soybeans and DT cotton. The new technology will provide postemergent and rate-dependent residual broadleaf control of tough-to-control weeds, including Palmer amaranth and waterhemp, making the product crucial to resistance management. Currently, growers have few tools available to control weed post-emergence in soybeans and cotton.

“Field trials have shown that Engenia herbicide will provide effective control of glyphosate-resistant broadleaf weeds,” said Bozeman. “This advanced herbicide will be a powerful new tool for growers facing weeds post-emergence and glyphosate herbicide resistance.”

Training Locations

The summer training series will be held in 24 states across the country, with the largest training events occurring at BASF research farms in Story City, Iowa; Pine Level, North Carolina; Beaver Crossing, Nebraska; and the newly expanded and fully renovated Seymour, Illinois location.

To participate in a training event in your area, contact your local authorized BASF retailer, your BASF Innovation Specialist or visit the On Target Application Academy website for more information...

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