Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thursday June 26 Ag News

Nebraska Counties Designated as Presidential Disaster Due to May Severe Storms

Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director, Dan Steinkruger, announced six (6) Nebraska counties have been designated as primary natural disaster areas due to severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding. Those counties are Clay, Fillmore, Saline, Saunders, Seward, and York.

These counties were declared a Presidential Major Disaster on June 17, 2014, based on storms occurring on May 11 and 12, 2014. This designation authorizes Emergency (EM) Loans for eligible producers. Steinkruger stated, “Producers in these six counties are encouraged to contact their local FSA Service Center for detailed information about available programs and updated disaster designations.”

In addition to the Emergency (EM) Loan Program, FSA has other loan programs and disaster assistance programs which can be considered in assisting farmers to recover from their losses.

Contact your local FSA Service Center or access additional information about FSA Disaster Assistance and Farm Loan programs at

While this release pertains to the availability of FSA programs, other federal agencies such as FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and SBA (Small Business Administration) may also have assistance to the public. Information is available from these two agencies at the following websites: and

Nebraska Farm Bureau Backs Sasse in General Election

Ben Sasse has again received the “Friend of Agriculture” endorsement of NFBF-PAC, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s political action committee. NFBF-PAC previously endorsed Sasse in the U.S. Senate Republican primary. He will continue to be a “Friend of Agriculture” candidate as he seeks election to the U.S. Senate in the Nov. general election.

“NFBF-PAC evaluates candidates following the primary elections and we are pleased to announce our continued support for Ben Sasse in his bid to become our next U.S. Senator,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.

Sasse won May’s Republican primary in convincing fashion and continues to run a strong grassroots campaign across Nebraska.

“Ben Sasse has only strengthened his connections and grassroots network of support among Nebraska farm and ranch families.  More importantly, he continues to demonstrate a firm grasp of key issues affecting farmers and ranchers,” said Nelson.

Sasse’s belief that management and marketing decisions are best driven by the free market and his support for farm programs that protect farmers and ranchers from the inherent volatility associated with weather and global markets are among his strong points.

“Sasse has the passion and ability to help get America’s fiscal house in order and lead on key issues such as reforms to health insurance markets.  He’ll also bring a strong voice for agriculture in Washington,” said Nelson.

New Flex Fuel Pumps Open in Three Nebraska Towns

New flex fuel pumps are now open in three Nebraska towns: Lewis and Clark Mini Mart in Crofton, Tom’s Service in Pierce, and Country Partners Coop in Spalding.

These locations add to the more than 85 locations in Nebraska with E85/flex fuel pumps that offer ethanol-blended fuels such as E85 for flex fuel vehicles.  Lewis and Clark Mini Mart and Tom’s Service both offer E85 and E30 for flex fuel vehicles, as well as E10 for all vehicles.  Country Partners Coop in Spalding has E85, E30, and E20 for flex fuel vehicles in addition to E10.

When flex fuel drivers fill up on E85 and other ethanol blends, they’re strengthening Nebraska’s economy, creating jobs, making our country more energy independent and helping the environment.

“We have been working hard to get flex fuel pumps located across Nebraska,” said Kim Clark, director of biofuels development for the Nebraska Corn Board.  “It has been a struggle to get more infrastructure installed, because of the commitment a fuel retailer has to make, so it’s exciting to see flex fuel pumps go into these three new locations.”

Todd Sneller, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board said, “Ethanol saves motorist money at the pump.  For a short period of time, ethanol prices were very close to gasoline, but now we are seeing a larger spread, and it is very economical to use ethanol-blended fuels, especially for flex fuel vehicles.”

Clark notes that one in 10 Nebraska motorists currently own a flex fuel vehicle which can run on any blend of ethanol and gasoline, up to E85, and they don’t even know it.

“If you have a yellow gas cap or a yellow ring around your gas port or see a flex fuel badge on your vehicle, you are driving a flex fuel vehicle,” stated Clark.  You can also confirm if a vehicle is flex fuel, by checking the owner’s manual for your vehicle or by visiting the website

Grand opening details for each location will be available at a later date.

These pumps were paid for in part by a grant provided by the Nebraska Corn Board.  These locations are supporting the local economy and creating jobs by offering a homegrown, locally produced fuel, ethanol.

To find a list of retailers that offer E85 and other mid-level ethanol blends visit the Nebraska Ethanol Board website at or check the Nebraska Corn Board website at


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               When should you cut prairie hay?  Let’s look at some things to consider.

               When is the best time to cut prairie hay?  While it’s still leafy?  When it heads out?  After it’s done growing for the year?

               First let’s make sure we all know what I mean by prairie hay.  In today’s message, I’m talking mostly about warm-season grasses like the bluestems and gramas, indiangrass, switchgrass, lovegrass, or prairie sandreed.  There might be some wheatgrass or junegrass or other cool-season species present, but if this field is fully green and growing by mid-April in Nebraska, it’s not what I’m calling prairie hay.

               One factor to consider when timing harvest of prairie hay is stand persistence.  Producer experience and university research both show that prairie hay stands decline rapidly if they are often harvested twice a year.  Another factor is hay quality.  Prairie hay cut in late June or early July might have over 10 percent protein and 65 percent TDN.  But as grass gets older and develops seedheads and stems, its forage quality will decline.  If you wait until August to cut, protein might drop down as low as 5 percent and TDN as low as 45 percent.

               O ther practical considerations might be your difficulty harvesting all your prairie hay at once and your potential need for both high quality hay for young stock and average quality hay for dry cows.

               What I think this means is that most operations should have at least two different prairie hay areas.  Harvest one area in late June or early July for high quality and again in October if sufficient regrowth occurs.  Harvest the other area just once in early August for high yield.  Then switch areas the next year.

               Prairie hay is a valuable resource.  Extra care can assure long term production of highly useable hay.

America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education Announces 2014 Finalists

The Monsanto Fund has announced the finalists for this year’s America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education grants. From January through March, farmers across the country nominated their local public school districts for the grants. Once nominated, these districts were eligible to submit completed grant applications in April.

Over the past month, a panel of educators from ineligible counties reviewed all of the grant applications. The strongest submissions were selected as finalists and will be sent to the America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education Advisory Council for final review. Composed of farmer-leaders from across the U.S. with a vested interest in both agriculture and education, the Advisory Council will select the winning school districts.

This local school district is in the running for a grant of up to $25,000:
·         Bancroft-Rosalie Community School

The winning grant recipients will be announced in early August.

Last year, Grow Rural Education invested $130,000 in public school districts across Nebraska to improve math and science curriculum. Since 2012, Nebraska school districts have received $250,000 through the program.

Grow Rural Education grants have allowed rural schools to invest in the enhancement of student learning in math and science. Past grant recipients used funding for projects such as technology and scientific lab equipment upgrades, greenhouses and outdoor classroom learning environments, teacher and curriculum development and other math and science related initiatives.

For a complete list of the 2014 America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education finalists and past winners, please visit

Get Ready to Market Cattle

Changes in packer requirements will affect the information cattle feeders must provide to market cattle. To help feedlot producers learn about and adapt to these changes, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Iowa Beef Industry Council and Iowa Cattlemen’s Association are co-hosting a series of meetings, “Beef Quality Assurance Certification and Assuring Cattle Care” in northwest Iowa.

“Our consumer has always expected beef produced to be safe and wholesome for their family. The beef industry recognized this many decades ago and developed a voluntary certification program called ‘Beef Quality Assurance’ for producers to help them produce a safe, high quality product,” said Doug Bear, director of industry relations, Iowa Beef Industry Council.

Beth Doran, beef program specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach, adds, “But, now consumers want to know more information and packers have listened closely to consumers’ requests. They want to know how the animals are cared for – how they are fed and managed.”

A series of meetings will help producers understand these new changes in marketing cattle:
-    July 7, 1-3 p.m.,  Iowa Lakes Community College Auditorium, Emmetsburg. Park in the northeast parking lot and use entrances 1, 2 or 3.
-    July 7, 7-9 p.m., Northwest Iowa Community College Auditorium, Sheldon. Park in parking lot #1 and enter Building C.
-    July 14, 1-3 p.m., Community Center, Moville. Located at 815 Main Street next to the library.
-    July 14, 7-9 p.m., Sac County Fairgrounds, Sac City. Located on east Main Street. Just east of the Raccoon River bridge. Meeting will be in the 4-H Building (old skating rink).

Participants may attend any session. There is no fee to attend, but preregistration is encouraged.  To preregister, contact Bear by phone at 515-296-2305 or by email or Doran by phone at 712-737-4230 or email 

Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

A recent trade mission to Brazil and Colombia offered Pork Checkoff leaders new insights to increase trade opportunities for U.S. pork.

“Raising U.S. pork requires a global perspective and outlook,” said Karen Richter, former National Pork Board president and a producer from Montgomery, Minn. “Seeing firsthand how pork is produced in South America helped us gain a better understanding of the challenging logistics involved in raising, processing and marketing pork in Brazil and Colombia.”

Richter added, “We all face challenges, such as creating consumer demand for our product and fighting disease in our herds. But in the end, our operations are similar, and we can learn so much from each other.”

In Bogota, Colombia, Pork Checkoff leaders met with representatives of Colombia’s association of pork producers and toured a processing plant that uses U.S. pork as raw material. Board members also looked at the marketing and retail distribution side of pork production through meetings with importers and retail leaders.

Colombian pork industry leaders shared how their pork industry is working to increase consumer pork demand at a time when local producers are challenged with growing pork imports. “It’s important to increase the comfort level among Colombians about preparing and eating pork,” said Becca Hendricks, assistant vice president of international marketing for the Checkoff. “Since the country is a major U.S. customer, we hope to work with the Colombian industry to increase overall consumption.”

As a result of a 2012 free trade agreement with the United States, Colombia was the Central/South America region’s largest market for U.S. pork in both volume (34,099 metric tons, up 73 percent from 2012) and value ($88.1 million, up 63 percent) in 2013. U.S. pork exports to Colombia were up 164 percent for the first quarter of 2014 compared with the same time period in 2013.

Grill It Like A Steak® Campaign Fires Up

The Pork Checkoff is again promoting how easy it is to grill tender, juicy pork chops through the Grill It Like A Steak® integrated marketing campaign.

“We saw tremendous success with the Grill It Like A Steak message last summer,” said Karen Richter, former president of the National Pork Board and a pork producer from Montgomery, Minn. “Building on the successful campaign is important as we continue to educate consumers about the new pork chop cut names and how to cook them to be juicy and tender.”

The marketing campaign promotes a range of doneness for pork, telling consumers that if they love their pork medium rare, they should cook it to an internal temperature of 145 degrees. If they like their chops a little more done, they can cook them to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

“We want to remind consumers that if you grill pork like a steak, you end up with a tender, juicy product that offers great taste and flavor,” Richter said.

ASA Joins the PrecisionAg Institute

The use of precision agriculture tools and methods continues to play a growing role in the sustainability and productivity of U.S. farm operations. Recognizing this fact, the American Soybean Association (ASA) joins the PrecisionAg Institute, an organization focused on advancing precision agriculture technology and its efficiency, stewardship and profitability for farmers.

ASA represents the first farmer-led organization to join the PrecisionAg Institute and will hold a seat on the Institute’s advisory council, which sets the policy for the organization’s activities and facilitates communication among industry partners and individuals.

As a new partner in the Institute, ASA will also play an integral role in a big data workshop this summer at Iowa State University, as well as future precision agriculture educational efforts, advocacy, research activities and award programs that recognize farmers and other industry leaders for their effective use of this technology.

“Many customers of U.S. soy now want to know that we are using sustainable production practices to grow our soybeans, and precision agriculture technology plays a key part in making this possible,” said ASA President Ray Gaesser. “We’re excited to join the PrecisionAg Institute and work with its partners on a variety of efforts to help improve this technology and farmers’ understanding of how to use these important tools that can benefit our operations and improve our sustainability.”

“We welcome ASA’s support of the PrecisionAg Institute. As the first farmer organization to join the Institute, we look forward to the insights they will provide on our policies and activities in the future,” said PrecisionAg Institute Business Director Daniel Ulrich. “With the support of our partners, the PrecisionAg Institute is delivering a message about smart farming and sustainability that is changing the face of agriculture around the globe.”

Ray Gaesser will also represent ASA in a special workshop organized by the PrecisionAg Institute this summer titled, Big Data: Managing Your Farm’s Most Elusive Asset. This event will be held on Aug. 25, 2014, the day before Farm Progress Show, at the Iowa State University Scheman Center.To register for this event, click on the PrecisionAg Data Workshop banner at

“I encourage farmers to attend the Big Data workshop in August,” said Gaesser. “It’s important that we learn more about the data collected on our farms and the potential this information holds in terms of improving our productivity, and also how we can protect this valuable data.”

Additional benefits related to the workshop are available to ASA members. For more information, please contact Michelle Hummel or Kathie Mullen in the ASA office at (314) 576-1770 or

The PrecisionAg Institute’s corporate partners include AGCO, AgWorks, John Deere, Midwest Laboratories, Raven, Simplot SmartFarm, SST, The Climate Corporation, Topcon and WinField. ASA looks forward to strengthening a collaborative relationship with all of these innovative companies in the precision agriculture industry. For more information, visit

Kansas Wheat Harvest Report - Day 5

June 25:  Because of storms starting on Sunday evening and popping up statewide over the last few days, harvest has progressed slowly. Some areas of Kansas have received around six inches of rain while other areas had small hail. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, as of Monday about 24% of the state’s wheat has been harvested. At this point last year, only seven percent of the crop had been harvested.

Previous to the storms, Rangeland Coop in Philipsburg had yields ranging from 12-30 bushels an acre with a range of 59-62 pounds per bushel. Bruce Williams, a representative from the cooperative, said that he is expecting this year’s crop to be as bad as last year’s, which was about 40% of their normal totals. Farmers in the area are struggling with short wheat and have been affected both by drought and freeze.

In southeast Kansas, Wildcat District Extension agronomy specialist Josh Coltrain said, “It’s really tough comparing this year to the last few years because they have been so good. They were probably some of the best years that southeast Kansas will ever see. But overall the yields are substantially lower this year.” He is reporting a range of 30-60 bushels an acre, with an  average in the mid to upper 40s. Coltrain also said that overall the earlier planted wheat has better yields than the wheat planted later. Test weights are consistently good, averaging at over 60 pounds per bushel.

Karen Hill, a representative of Elkhart Coop Equity Exchange in Morton County, is expecting this year’s crop to be better than the area’s last harvest. Hill said, “Last year was our worst on record, but this year’s crop is shaping up to be a better one.” Hill added that there was more wheat planted this year, but there are a variety of yields in the area. She has received reports anywhere from 8-39 bushels per acre. The test weight is averaging about 61 pounds.

Richard Randall, a farmer from Scott City,has reported that he has received 6.60 inches of rain in June, with most of it coming from the last two days. Randall’s wheat harvest is stalled due to the influx of precipitation, which includes hail in the area. He said that many farmers will be spending time with crop adjusters soon, and that some farmers may have lost their remaining wheat crop. Up until the storms arrived, Randall said that most yields have ranged from 15-25 bushels an acre.

Day 6 - June 26
Jeanne Falk-Jones, Multi-County Agronomy Specialist for K-State in Sherman, Wallace and Cheyenne counties, reports that they are at a standstill at the moment. She says a few farmers started cutting in Wallace County on Sunday, but since then it has rained every day. The area has seen a fair amount of hail, ranging from light hail events to more major damage. At this point, they are waiting, but not getting too antsy.There are some fields that are ready once it dries out.

Falk-Jones says, “It has been an interesting year in that wheat just keeps hanging on.” Even in tough conditions, there’s something to learn, which was evidenced by good attendance at plot tours this year. “Our wheat crop isn’t going to have fantastic yields out here, but the trade off is the moisture for other crops,” she said.

Ken Wood, a farmer from Dickinson County, reports that his yields have been better than he had anticipated, with yields of 40 to 60 bushels per acre. He has cut about half of his wheat, but says, “It has been really frustrating. We haven’t been able to get momentum going.” Every time he’s able to get started, a small shower comes through and keeps him out of the field. He says it hasn’t been enough rain to do any good, but just enough to make the fields wet. They haven’t had much sunshine or wind to dry things out. He cut a little wheat Wednesday afternoon and is hoping to get going again Thursday afternoon.

Randy Mettling, a farmer from Ford County, wrapped up harvest on Sunday before the rains. He has had 2.75 inches of rain since Sunday. Mettling reports his average yield is 47. His test weight range is 60.5-62.5 and moisture is 10.5-12. Mettling says it’s the “most consistent crop I’ve ever cut.” Last year he had an average yield in the low 20s. Snow cover over winter helped it out a lot, but he essentially had no rain before June.

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

Broad Industry Coalition Asks Congress to Prevent WTO Non-Compliance on COOL

In an effort to prevent billions of dollars in retaliatory tariffs against the U.S., a broad coalition of industries is urging Congress to take action on the U.S. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) dispute with Canada and Mexico.  The newly formed coalition has sent a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees asking Congress to take action directing the Secretary of Agriculture to suspend indefinitely the revised COOL rule if it is found to be in violation of U.S. international trade obligations. 

Canada and Mexico challenged the revised COOL rule for muscle cuts of meat in the World Trade Organization (WTO) shortly after the USDA issued the revised rule, arguing that COOL has a trade-distorting impact by reducing the value and number of cattle and hogs shipped to the U.S. market, thus violating the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement.

“Together Canada, Mexico and the United States make up one of the most competitive and successful regional economic platforms in the world,” said Jodi Bond, vice president for the Americas at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  “The disruption of that partnership by WTO noncompliance would have a devastating economic impact on industries including food production, agriculture, and manufacturing.”

A WTO dispute settlement panel is expected to issue in late July its final report to the parties on whether the COOL rule is WTO compliant.  Canada and Mexico have indicated they will seek to retaliate against the U.S. if it is found noncompliant.  

"If Congress fails to ensure that U.S. COOL requirements comply with our international obligations, U.S. jobs and manufacturing will be put at risk," said Linda Dempsey, Vice President of International Economic Affairs at the National Association of Manufacturers. "The United States helped create the WTO to ensure that all countries play by the rules; U.S. leadership in complying with our own obligations is critical to the United States' ability to address effectively unfair and WTO-violative trade barriers by our trading partners around the world."

The WTO in November 2011 ruled against a previous version of the COOL rule, finding that it treated imported livestock less favorably than U.S. livestock (particularly in the labeling of beef and pork muscle cuts), and did not meet its objective to provide complete information to consumers on the origin of meat products.  The international trade body gave the U.S. until May 23, 2013, to bring the rule into WTO compliance. It is that revised rule on which the WTO will rule and that the coalition is seeking to suspend.

Canada released a list of products they would seek retaliatory tariffs against, tariffs that would harm all members of the coalition and create severe economic hardship to the U.S. economy. 

Recent Study Addressing Pesticides and Autism Joins Library of Junk Science

CropLife America (CLA) is dismayed by the alleged connection that researchers with the University of California, Davis have made between pesticide applications and neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism among children. “Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Prenatal Residential Proximity to Agricultural Pesticides: The CHARGE Study” was published in Environmental Health Perspectives on June 23, 2014. The study draws inaccurate and scientifically questionable connections between proximity to pesticides and neurodevelopmental disorders. The authors have created unnecessary fears among parents and contributed nothing to an understanding of the etiology of autism and other developmental disorders in children.

CLA points out that a number of elements needed for scientifically robust research results are lacking in the study. The modeling used in this study to measure proximity must be grounded in real measures of exposure such as biomarkers in blood or urine (Chang et al. 20141). The study did not do this. Also, using addresses as a proxy for the location of pregnant women when the pesticide applications occurred assumes the women were at that address and outdoors precisely when the pesticides were being applied. The study did not investigate the possibility that these women may have been away from their residences, indoors or otherwise guarded from potential exposure.

Importantly, “exposure” does not equate to “harm.” Harm can only occur if the exposure, or dose, is sufficiently high to have an effect. Pesticides are rigorously regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure that real-life exposure across a variety of situations is not sufficient to cause harm. This includes ensuring pesticides cannot drift beyond the target organism in the field and onto other people at levels that cause harm. This study, by equating proximity to exposure, incorrectly assumes the pesticides drifted impossibly far distances and at impossibly high concentrations.

Study authors neglected to consult experts from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to better understand real-life pesticide applications, instead choosing to misconstrue publicly available data on pesticide use and create statistical significance out of thin air. The study also fails to reference the vast amount of publicly available regulatory data the EPA requires before it will register a pesticide for use, including data on toxicity and drift. Mothers who have children with autism spectrum disorders need meaningful and helpful advice for dealing with these difficult and distressing conditions. Failing to include the multiple, more significant factors that may contribute to the occurrence of neurodevelopmental disorders such as nutrition and inherited genetic predisposition does them a disservice and leaves them with skewed and biased advice.

“Assumptions made by the study investigators are incorrect and irresponsible. Proximity to pesticide applications does not equate to exposure. Furthermore, a single exposure is insufficient to cause harm,” said Dr. Clare Thorp, senior director of human health policy for CLA. “All pesticides are regulated by EPA using an extensive battery of acute, chronic and sub-chronic toxicity and exposure testing, including neurological effects. These tests examine the dose and route of exposure and are conducted across a range of species, including their offspring. Recommended rates of use in the field are set far below a level at which there would be any harmful effect.”

“Protecting the well-being of expectant mothers, infants and elderly individuals is a top priority for EPA, as well as farmers and members of the crop protection industry who have families of their own,” added Jay Vroom, CLA’s president and CEO. “The registration process for pesticides is conducted with families fully in mind. Once in the field, crop protection products are applied responsibly, according to label instructions.”

“It cannot be stated loudly or plainly enough: EPA takes every possible measure to ensure that pesticides are thoroughly tested and that they are made available to applicators only when the Agency concludes they can be used without risk to human health,” Thorp said.

CLA condemns the repeated use of junk science that draws questionable associations from cherry-picked data. CLA encourages the public to review all scientific literature with a critical eye and consider criteria such as whether the raw data is publicly available or if the study underwent a sufficiently rigorous and comprehensive peer-review process.

More information on EPA’s pesticide registration process and efforts to protect public health is available at

Five Influential Sources that Question the Gluten-Free Fad

In the United States and a few other countries, “celebrities, athletes, talk show hosts and nearly 30 percent of people say they are turning to gluten-free diets to solve health issues from ‘foggy mind’ to bloating and obesity,” according to a recent article titled “The Truth About Gluten” by the Wheat Foods Council (WFC). Yet, as the article points out, it is “important to consider that nutrition experts do not advocate a gluten-free diet for most people.” In fact more and more influential, popular resources are pushing back at the shockingly extensible gluten-free trend.

WFC’s article respectfully refutes several anti-gluten positions raised by the diet’s proponents. And just this week, the “Wall Street Journal,” “Time” magazine, NBC News’ “Today Show Health” and “U.S. News and World Report” ran articles echoing the same strong point made by Dr. Stephano Guandalini, founder and director of the Center for Celiac Disease at the University of Chicago: “There is a popular belief that gluten is bad for everyone. This is not the case,” he said. “There is no evidence to show that anyone who does not suffer from celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity benefits from following a gluten-free diet.”

Here are some excerpts from the articles...

The Truth About Gluten – Wheat Foods Council, May 20, 2014

"Eliminating wheat products (bread, rolls, cereals, pasta, tortillas, cakes, cookies, crackers) will result in fewer calories, but important nutrients like B-vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folic acid), and iron and fiber will also be lost,” said Pam Cureton with Boston’s Center for Celiac Research and chair of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ sub-practice group, Dietitians in Gluten Intolerance Diseases (DIGID). “Grains provide 43 percent of the fiber in the U.S. diet and wheat is approximately three-quarters of the grains eaten in the U.S. Nutritionally, many gluten-free products are not equal replacements for their wheat-containing counterparts.”

“Wheat, like all other food plants we eat, has undergone farmer selection and traditional breeding over the years,” states Brett Carver, PhD, wheat genetics chair in Agriculture at Oklahoma State University. “The hybridization that led to bread wheat occurred 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. All cultivated wheat varieties, both modern and heirloom varieties, have these hybridization events in common, so the kinds of protein (and gluten) present in today’s varieties reflect the proteins present throughout the domestication process of wheat.”

The Gluten-Free Craze: Is it Healthy? – “Wall Street Journal,” June 23, 2014

Americans have become preoccupied with what they eat on a whole new level, focusing on scouting out healthy foods while packing eating into ever more hectic schedules. The desire to eat better, combined with food companies pursuing new chances for growth, has created a cycle of influence that is increasingly hypercharged by the Internet. The result is a cacophony of competing claims and convictions about how we eat that can bewilder consumers as much as it liberates them.

For now, interest [in the United States] in gluten-free remains strong — though there are signs that may have peaked. The share of survey respondents saying they are trying to avoid gluten was 29.4 percent in May, according to market research firm NPD Group Inc. That is down from a peak of more than 30 percent late last year, but higher than the 25.5 percent measured four years ago.

Eat More Gluten: The Diet Fad Must Die – “Time” Magazine, June 23, 2014

Gluten is to this decade what carbohydrates were to the last one and fat was to the ’80s and ’90s: the bête noir, the bad boy, the cause of all that ails you—and the elimination of which can heal you. As has been clear for a long time … a whole lot of that is flat-out hooey, a result of trendiness, smart marketing, Internet gossip and too many people who know too little about nutrition saying too many silly things.

So, crunch the numbers and what do we get? Perhaps 1 percent of Americans definitely need to be gluten-free and another 5.7 percent ought to be careful. As for the other 93.3 percent of us … break out the Parker House rolls.

5 Things You Didn’t Know about Gluten-free Diets – “Today Health,” NBC News, June 24, 2014

In 2010, Americans spent more than $2.6 billion on gluten-free items. By the end of next year, that number will reach $5 billion, according to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. These sales aren’t due to an inordinate number of people with Celiac disease … but rather because of people hoping that by kicking the gluten habit, they’ll see smaller waistlines … the science is still out about whether the gluten-free fad translates into real health benefits for the rest of us.

Products that boast they are free of something, whether fat-free, sugar-free or gluten-free, often have extras added to make them more palatable. “I don’t know if that is specific to gluten-free companies. There are a lot of foods on the market that are loaded with sugar and salt,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, manager of wellness nutrition services at Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute.

Separating the Wheat (Gluten) From the Chaff – “U.S. News and World Report Health & Wellness,” June 24, 2014
As we observe the rise of celiac disease in our population — both as the result of increased prevalence as well as through better diagnosis — many find it tempting to demonize gluten as “toxic” and to scapegoat wheat as the cause of all that ills our society — from obesity and lethargy to depression and diabetes. But gluten is not an inherent “toxin,” nor does it cause celiac disease — at least, no more so than, say, peanuts cause food allergy or could be considered “toxic” just because a minority of people have a life-threatening food allergy to them.

Rabobank Report:  After recent slide, global dairy price recovery is likely 6 months away

Rabobank has published a new report on the global dairy industry. As anticipated, global dairy prices softened considerably through Q2. According to Rabobank’s Dairy Quarterly Q2: Beyond the tipping point, prices fell as a result of improved milk production in export regions and the easing of forward purchasing by China. These mechanisms freed more product for other buyers and lowered the need to ration demand with international dairy commodity prices falling 10% to 20% in the three months to mid-June.

“The pull back in Chinese purchasing has been particularly significant, with evidence that the Chinese industry has accumulated excess inventories after a period of vigorous buying, improved local milk production and weaker local sales. Current prices in the international market have dropped below what we see as sustainable in the medium term,” explained Rabobank analyst Tim Hunt.

Milk production growth will slow considerably in the second half of 2014 as lower prices are passed to producers, weather normalizes and comparables become tougher to exceed. Consumption in export regions will also slowly improve on the back of higher incomes, employment growth and falling retail prices.

“Together these forces should gradually tighten up the market as we progress through 2014,” continued Hunt. “However, we expect little improvement in prices until late in 2014 or early 2015, as China works through its accumulated stocks and the world continues to consume the stronger than expected wave of milk produced in the first half of year.”

The report notes that one upside risk to keep an eye on is a developing El Nino event. This has the potential to generate unusually dry conditions in South East Australia and excessive rainfall in Argentina – and hence reduced milk production in both of these export regions.

Regional outlooks

·    EU: 2014 has seen an extraordinary increase in EU milk production. Margins were high enough for many to simply choose to produce over quota limits, with production in the EU up 5.6% on Q2 last year. Growth is expected to continue outpacing domestic market consumption during 2H, although exportable surpluses are anticipated to slow considerably.
·    US: US wholesale prices have slipped considerably less than those in the external market. They are in many cases at a significant premium to the world market in mid June and are expected to fall faster than elsewhere through 2H as exports fall back and domestic milk production picks up.
·    New Zealand: New Zealand production was up 17.5% versus the same period in drought-impacted 2013. Export volumes are expected to trend well above the previous year through Q2 and Q3 2014 due to higher milk flows providing additional volume to be shipped during the seasonal trough versus 2013.
·    Australia: The outlook for 2014/15 remains broadly positive for most dairying regions. While early price signals confirm southern export producers will face lower farmgate pricing in 2014/15 due to lower commodity prices, the market should remain supportive of investment.
·    Brazil: Brazilian milk production declined seasonally from its December peak, as usual, but much more slowly than last year. There is likely to be little in the way of imports into the Brazilian market in 2H, while exporters will be trying to find a home for Brazilian production in the region and beyond.
·    Argentina: Argentine milk production is expected to continue to fall below prior year levels in the second half of 2014. While margins over feed remain positive, other costs are subject to rapid inflation. In addition, a looming El Niño event is likely to bring above average rainfall from spring onwards, creating further problems on farm.

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