Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tuesday June 17 Ag News

Little Wheat Disease Found in South Central and Southeast Nebraska

A survey by University of Nebraska Extension of wheat fields in the southern tier of counties in south central and southeast Nebraska revealed very little disease in some fields and no disease in most fields. Wheat was in the soft to hard dough growth stage. A few fields looked healthy with potential for a good yield.

Wheat stressed from lack of moisture and damaged by freezing temperatures in a wheat field in central Webster County.

A brown tinge in a field in central Webster County due to the freeze-damaged white heads and brown, desiccated foliage.

However, in many fields in the south central counties, the wheat crop looked stressed from lack of moisture, with half to three quarters of the leaves below the flag leaf brown due to desiccation, and plant height reduced by up to 50% in some areas in some fields.

In some fields there was a significant number of white heads that appeared to have resulted from freeze injury. This freeze injury may be due in part to the subfreezing temperatures that occurred in early May. In the field shown in Figure 3, the brown tinge is due to a combination of freeze-damaged white heads and brown, desiccated foliage in the lower canopy.

The diseases observed at trace levels were tan spot and Septoria tritici blotch on lower leaves. These diseases were observed only in a few low-lying spots in a few fields with thick crop stands.

In all fields surveyed, there were low levels of wheat stem maggot damage characterized by white heads that come off the plant easily when pulled. In some fields there were curled heads due to awn trapping which can result from a variety of causes including freeze injury, hail damage, insect damage, or synthetic auxin herbicide injury.

Hong Kong Market Reopens for U.S. Beef

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the United States and Hong Kong have agreed on new terms and conditions that pave the way for expanded exports of U.S. beef and beef products to Hong Kong.

"This is great news for American ranchers and beef companies," said Vilsack. "Hong Kong is already the fourth largest market for U.S. beef and beef product exports, with sales there reaching a historic high of $823 million in 2013. We look forward to expanded opportunities there for the U.S. beef industry now that all trade restrictions are lifted," Vilsack said.

Under the new terms, Hong Kong will permit the import of the full range of U.S. beef and beef products, consistent with access prior to December 2003. The new terms become effective today, June17, 2014. Previously, only deboned beef from all cattle and certain bone-in beef from cattle less than 30 months of age could be shipped from the United States to Hong Kong. Earlier this year, Mexico, Uruguay, Ecuador and Sri Lanka also lifted their longstanding restrictions to provide full access for U.S. beef and beef products.

"Last year, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) granted the United States negligible risk status for BSE, further affirming the safety of U.S. beef and beef products," said Vilsack. "We welcome this move by Hong Kong and will continue our efforts to break down barriers and expand access for high-quality, safe and wholesome U.S. food and agricultural products in Hong Kong and around the world."

In December 2003, Hong Kong banned U.S. beef and beef products following the detection of a bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)-positive animal in the United States (one of only four cases ever discovered in America). In December 2005, Hong Kong partially reopened its market to allow imports of deboned U.S. beef from cattle aged 30 months or younger produced under a special program for Hong Kong and expanded access to include certain bone-in cuts from cattle less than 30 months of age in February 2013.

Experts in the United States and countries around the world have confirmed that U.S. beef is safe, with extremely low risk of BSE. There has never been a recorded case of BSE transmission to a human through American beef.

While Hong Kong is officially part of China, it serves as its own customs and quarantine administration zone and so maintains its own rules and regulations.

Hong Kong Fully Reopens for US Beef

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association appreciates the efforts of the Administration on the announcement today that Hong Kong has fully reopened its market for U.S. beef. NCBA president, Bob McCan, a cattleman from Victoria, Texas says this is not only great news for cattlemen and women, but also a strong assurance that the interlocking safeguards put in place are working to build international market demand.

“As U.S. beef producers, we produce the best beef in the world,” said McCan. “The strong system of interlocking safeguards and protocols our industry put in place over 10 years ago have assured consumers, both domestically and abroad, of the safety of our product.”

Under the new terms, Hong Kong will permit the import of the full range of U.S. beef and beef products, consistent with access prior to December 2003. The new terms become effective today. Previously, only deboned beef from all cattle and certain bone-in beef from cattle less than 30 months of age could be shipped from the U.S. to Hong Kong.

“Cattle producers had a major victory in Paris last year, when the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) upgraded our risk status to negligible risk, the lowest risk standard, recognizing our strong commitment to beef safety,” said McCan. “And we applauded the USDA/APHIS in the finalization of the comprehensive BSE rule, which showed our trading partners and the world that we stand behind internationally-accepted science. This has brought the U.S. beef industry to the point now where we are exporting more than $6 billion of beef annually.”

In 2013, Hong Kong imported more than $823 million in U.S. beef and in the first four months of 2014 they have imported more than $307 million.

Biodiesel Producers, Advocates Hit Capitol Hill

Nearly 100 biodiesel producers, feedstock suppliers and other advocates are traveling to Washington this week to voice concerns about the Obama Administration’s proposed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for biodiesel.

The biodiesel supporters, who will be visiting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill Tuesday, arrive at a critical time for the industry, which has seen widespread cutbacks this year as a result of policy setbacks in Washington. A recent national survey of producers conducted by the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) found that more than half have idled a plant this year and 78 percent have reduced production from last year. Nearly two-thirds – 66 percent – have already laid off employees or anticipate doing so.

“People are losing their jobs in this industry as we speak, and it’s largely because Washington has delivered sporadic, inconsistent policy,” said Anne Steckel, NBB’s vice president of federal affairs at NBB, the industry trade association. “As President Obama has said, America should be the world leader in biodiesel and in Advanced Biofuels. And we can be. But we need this Administration and this Congress to stand behind strong energy policy that encourages investment and growth.”

Biodiesel – which had a record U.S. market last year of nearly 1.8 billion gallons – is made from an increasingly diverse mix of feedstocks including recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats. It is the only domestic, EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel produced on a commercial scale across the country. The EPA has determined that it reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 57 percent to 86 percent. With plants in nearly every state in the country, the industry supported more than 62,000 jobs in 2013.

The biodiesel advocates traveling to Washington represent companies in at least 27 states. Their visit will focus on concerns about the Obama Administration’s RFS proposal for biodiesel, which would set biodiesel volumes at 1.28 billion gallons, a sharp cut from last year’s actual production. They also will call on lawmakers to reinstate the $1-per-gallon biodiesel tax incentive, which expired on Dec. 31.

“The recent spike in oil prices stemming from the situation in Iraq should remind us all why these policies are so important,” Steckel added. “We constantly talk about the need to reduce our dependence on oil. Doing that requires massive investments and infrastructure improvements that simply won’t happen without strong energy policy. We can’t keep taking one step forward and two steps back.”

BPC Honors Senators Stabenow and Harkin

Biobased Products Coalition (BPC) members honored today Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) for their policy leadership to spur greater manufacturing and use of biobased products in the United States. BPC joined Senator Stabenow, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, at her 'Grow It Here, Make It Here' Spotlight on Innovation in the Russell Senate Office Building.

Growth of the biobased products sector creates U.S. jobs, including in rural America. U.S manufacturers today make hundreds of products with renewable agricultural feedstocks, replacing petroleum and harsh chemicals in products that Americans use every day. BPC members displayed many examples at the Senate Showcase.

Senator Stabenow champions multiple biobased policies, including creation of a new tax credit for companies that invest in new facilities or purchase equipment to manufacture biobased products. Stabenow is also a leader in enhancing the BioPreferred® Program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which certifies and labels products so consumers can choose to purchase goods made of agricultural and biobased materials. The program calls on government agencies to give these products a preference when making government purchases.

Senator Harkin is a pioneer in biobased policy. In 2002, Harkin and Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) co-authored the Farm Bill’s first Energy Title, including provisions that called on the federal government to lead the nation in buying biobased products. Harkin recognized that the nation’s agricultural strengths offered the potential for reducing dependence on foreign oil. He said, “When I look across Iowa’s corn and soybean fields, I see oil fields.”

Biobased product manufacturers and allied organizations launched the Biobased Products Coalition in 2007 to focus and coordinate industry efforts to improve the federal biobased program and promote other favorable federal policies. The BPC provides a forum for biobased manufacturers of all sizes as well as farmer and other trade associations to present a unified industry voice on federal policy.

NCGA Joins USB, Others in Calling Farmers to Take Action on Weeds

The National Corn Growers Association has added a new "Take Action on Weeds" section to its website as a resource of farmers combating herbicide resistance issues. This resource, developed by the United Soybean Board through its Take Action program, offers a wide array of information developed over several years to help farmers combat weed resistance through best management practices.

"The increased exposure of this program comes at a fortuitous time as many herbicide resistant cropping systems are currently under consideration by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency," said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chair Jim Zimmerman. "This program demonstrates the proactive measures our industry is taking to monitor itself and constantly push for the adoption of ever-evolving best management practices. As farmers, we understand the importance of cooperation and proactive adoption of practices that benefit the industry and the environment. We do not see a need for expensive government regulation in light of our efforts."

The "Take Action on Weeds" center includes a variety of resources developed to help farmers increase their understanding of current best management practices. With information on herbicide classifications, integrated pest management-plant protection programs and a weed scouting guide, the interactive resource offers a wide and rich array of information and tools.

NCGA, along with several other commodity organizations, joined with USB to help promote this important program. It enjoys broad support across the agricultural community and serves as an example of an effective collaboration between a cross-commodity partnership and agricultural input companies.

Retail Fertilizers Mostly Neutral

Average retail fertilizer prices continued to be mixed the second week of June 2013, according to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN. Most fertilizer application has been completed -- minus side-dressing operations -- and there's been limited crop replanting across locations in the Corn Belt.

Three fertilizers edged slightly lower in price compared to last month, but the move to the low side was fairly insignificant. MAP averaged $630 per ton, urea $541/ton and UAN32 $405/ton.

Four of the eight major fertilizers gained in price compared a month earlier, but again none of these moves were significant. Potash averaged $482/ton, 10-34-0 $562/ton, anhydrous $703/ton and UAN28 $357/ton.

One fertilizer, DAP, was unchanged from the previous month. The phosphorous fertilizer's average price was $595/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.59/lb.N, anhydrous $0.43/lb.N, UAN28 $0.64/lb.N and UAN32 $0.63/lb.N.

With fertilizers moving higher in recent months, only two of the eight major fertilizers are now double digits lower in price compared to June 2013.  DAP is now down 1% while MAP and urea are 2% less expensive. 10-34-0 is down 8% while both UAN28 and UAN32 are 9% less expensive. Anhydrous is now 14% less expensive while potash is down 17% compared to a year earlier.

CWT Assists with 1.9 Million Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 11 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Association, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold), Upstate-Niagara/O-AT-KA and Tillamook County Creamery Association to sell 669,764 pounds (304 metric tons) of Cheddar and Gouda cheese and 1.199 million pounds (544 metric tons) of butter (82% butterfat) to customers in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The product will be delivered June through November 2014.

Year-to-date, CWT has assisted member cooperatives in selling 57.073 million pounds of cheese, 47.924 million pounds of butter and 12.022 million pounds of whole milk powder to 40 countries on six continents. These sales are the equivalent of 1.693 billion pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

Assisting CWT members through the Export Assistance program, in the long-term, helps member cooperatives gain and maintain market share, thus expanding the demand for U.S. dairy products and the U.S. farm milk that produces them in the rapidly growing world dairy markets. This, in turn, positively impacts U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

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