Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wednesday June 18 Ag News


Officials with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced assistance is available for producers who suffered livestock mortality losses from the tornadoes that struck northeast Nebraska earlier this week. Craig Derickson, NRCS State Conservationist said that $100,000 in assistance is now available to help producers properly dispose of animal carcasses. Impacted producers have until July 18, 2014, to apply.

This assistance is available through a special Livestock Mortality Initiative through NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). This Initiative is currently available to producers in Stanton, Wayne, Dixon, Thurston, Cuming and Cedar counties in northeast Nebraska. If additional severe storm events occur prior to the July 18 application deadline, more counties can be included in the sign up eligibility area.

According to Derickson, this initiative provides technical and financial assistance to help producers dispose of livestock carcasses on their farm in a safe manner.

“Livestock producers with animal mortalities need to come to the NRCS office and sign up for the special initiative in order to be eligible to participate in the program. It is important for producers to understand the technical requirements for the animal composting practice. We want to make sure that producers have the assistance and information needed to dispose of animal carcasses in a manner that doesn’t cause health and environmental concerns,” Derickson said.

He went on to explain, “Getting signed up for the program at NRCS allows the producer to proceed with properly disposing of livestock. Once funds are available, a contract will be developed with the livestock owner and payment will be approved once the project has been completed according to NRCS specifications.”  

Impacted producers should visit their local NRCS office located in the USDA Service Center. There, NRCS will work one-on-one with producers to develop a recovery plan that best meets the needs of their operation.

NRCS can also provide assistance to producers impacted by other recent severe weather events. For example, NRCS can help with windbreak damage, replacing fences and repairing terraces and other conservation practices.

“The bottom line is that NRCS is here to help producers recover from these devastating storm events,” Derickson said.

For more information about EQIP and the other available conservation programs, visit your local NRCS field office or

Safe Drinking Water Supply Key Following Storms

Recent tornadoes left some residents without a potable drinking water supply. As cleanup begins, many will rely on commercially bottled water. In some cases, bottling and hauling water as needed might be an option, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension water quality educator says.

"You might draw water from a nearby public water system tap or from a water vending machine at a nearby location," said Sharon Skipton, UNL Extension water quality educator.

Water vending machines are systems plumbed into a public water supply where customers fill their own containers with treated water.

Many types of containers are available for water storage, including those made of glass and plastic. Glass provides an effective container for water storage but is easily broken and heavier than plastic.

Glass containers manufactured and advertised for food storage will be safe. Plastic containers manufactured and used for food or beverage storage or which are advertised as food-quality containers also will be safe, Skipton said.

Plastic jugs with tight fitting, secure lids that have contained juice, punch, or other edible substances are safe for emergency water storage. However, these containers can degrade over time and should not be used repeatedly.

"Avoid using plastic milk containers if possible, as fat traces may remain," Skipton said. "If used, wash thoroughly, giving special attention to hard-to-reach areas such as handles."

New containers can be purchased in most housewares and sporting goods departments, as well as at some water vending locations. New containers should be labeled for storage of food or beverages. Some containers deemed safe for water storage may affect the taste of stored water.

Skipton recommends washing the containers and lids thoroughly with hot tap water and dish detergent.

"Rinse thoroughly with hot tap water, or wash in a dishwasher," she said.

While the water from a public water supply should be free of disease causing organisms, bacteria can be inadvertently introduced into the water during the collection and storage process. Treating the water with a chemical disinfectant will deactivate organisms that might be present in the storage containers, or that might be introduced as the water is collected, Skipton said.

Some, but not all, public water supplies are disinfected with chlorine or chloramines. These water supplies may contain enough residual disinfectant to deactivate pathogens that might be introduced during the water storage process, making additional treatment prior to storage unnecessary.

For water supplies that are not disinfected with chlorine or chloramines, or for an additional safety margin, follow these directions:

Use liquid household chlorine bleach that contains 4 to 6 percent sodium hypochlorite. Bleach that contains fragrances, soaps, surfactants or other additives should not be used for drinking water disinfection. Use the freshest container of liquid chlorine bleach available, preferably not more than three months old. Add six drops of bleach per gallon of water using a clean uncontaminated medicine dropper.

Stir the water, cover, and allow it to stand for 30 minutes. One should be able to smell chlorine after the 30-minute waiting period. If there isn't a chlorine smell, add another dose and let the water stand covered another 15 minutes. Cap containers. Store the containers in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight if at all possible.

This information was adapted from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln Extension NebGuide "Drinking Water: Storing An Emergency Supply," available at local UNL Extension offices or online at

As Heat, Humidity Set In, Livestock Heat Stress is Danger

            The heat and humidity of summer are arriving in many parts of Nebraska this week, and a University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension educator is offering tips on how to handle livestock in these potentially dangerous conditions.

            Heat stress is hard on cattle and other livestock, especially when combined with high humidity and low wind speeds. Heat stress can reduce feed intake, weight gain, reproductive efficiency and milk production, while increasing susceptibility to diseases.

            Signs of heat stress can include animals bunching, seeking shade, and panting, slobbering or excessive salivation, foaming around the mouth, open mouth breathing, lack of coordination and trembling, said Lindsay Chichester of UNL Extension.

            If such symptoms are observed, handlers should assume the animal is suffering from too much heat and immediately try to minimize the stress to the animal, especially by reducing handling or movement of the animal. Previous health of individual animals is an important risk factor, as animals with past health problems will be more affected by heat stress than animals with no prior health problems. These animals will generally be the first to exhibit signs of heat stress and be the most severely affected.

            As county fair season approaches, Chichester said, there are several things people showing animals should keep in mind, beginning with the heat index commonly reported by media outlets.

            If the heat index is above 100 degrees, animals can tolerate it if shade is available and/or wind speed is at least 10 miles per hour, so show animals should be provided shade and/or moving air via fans.

            If the index gets above 110 degrees, animals will be stressed regardless of wind speed.  Show animals should be in the shade with fans, especially market ready animals, and have plenty of access to water. If a heat index above 110 is predicted, livestock shows should be completed by noon. In addition, livestock that need to be moved or transported should be out of the facilities by early morning but certainly by noon, if possible.

            If the heat index is above 115 degrees, avoid moving or handling market ready animals. Livestock show rings should be shaded with fans and misters; the show staff should consider postponing the show due to excessive heat.

            If the heat index is above 120 degrees, no activity should occur for animals or humans.

            During the heat of summer, livestock management musts include providing: shade, ventilation and air flow, plenty of clean and cool water, skin wetting, cool water drench (if the animal becomes very heat distressed), and sprinklers or hoses. Shade can be provided by trees, buildings or other sunshades. In addition, the temperature can be lowered by spraying cool water on the roof and walls of buildings where the animals are being housed. Improved ventilation can be provided by fans or opening windows on a breezy day. Sunshades should be high enough off the ground (10 feet or more) to allow for adequate air movement.

            Chichester stressed that if one is wetting cattle, the droplet size should be large enough to wet the skin, not just the hair. "A small droplet size will usually just wet the hair creating more humidity for the animal, thus not helping at all." 

            During times of heat stress, animals should not be subjected to too much activity, including movement or transportation.

            More information is available at and in this month's newsletter.

Cattlemen gather at NC Midyear Meeting

Cattlemen and women from across Nebraska met in Gothenburg, NE, June 11-12 for the Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) Midyear Meeting at Wild Horse Golf Club and Gothenburg High School.

The Midyear Meeting is one of the two major meetings NC holds each year. NC members gathered to discuss issues facing the cattle industry and set interim policy to guide the association through the rest of the year.

The morning of June 11th began with a meeting of the Board of Directors and then an afternoon filled with golf and area tours. Also, the Nebraska Cattlewomen held the 2014 Beef Ambassador Contest. In the evening a welcome reception was held at Wild Horse Golf Club where attendees enjoyed a mouthwatering steak dinner and a local live band.

Thursday, June 12th, meetings moved to the Gothenburg High School, where attendees heard updates and held discussion on pertinent industry issues. NC committee meetings were held throughout the course of the day. Animal Health & Nutrition, Education, Marketing & Commerce, and Taxation committees met in the morning where updates were given on Foot and Mouth Disease, Nebraska’s education systems, immigration, and property taxes.

The Retail Value Steer Challenge winners and 32 scholarship recipients were honored at the NC Foundation Luncheon.

The afternoon was consumed by the Brand & Property Rights and Natural Resources & Environment committee meetings where issues such as brand legislation, property rights, and water sustainability were discussed.

The day ended with the General Session which included a legislative recap from NC staff and a Centennial Mall presentation by Don Hutchens, Nebraska Corn Board Executive Director. Then Phillip Ellis, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President-Elect provided an update on issues affecting the industry on a national level and following, Dan Halstrom, US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Senior VP Global Marketing & Communications discussed the role of USMEF and the importance of Nebraska Cattlemen’s recent announcement of membership with USMEF.

Around 350 attended the 2014 Midyear Meeting to take part in the activities and discuss issues important to the Nebraska beef industry.

Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation Recognizes Retail Value Steer Challenge Winners and Scholarship Recipients

The annual Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation Retail Value Steer Challenge (RVSC) winners and Scholarship recipients and were honored at the NC Foundation lunch on June 12th during the Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) Midyear Meeting in Gothenburg.

The RVSC is the primary fundraiser for NC Foundation with money raised supporting youth & adult educational programs, scholarships, research & infrastructure projects, history preservation and judging teams at colleges in Nebraska.

Three winners of each of the three categories were awarded for their steer’s performance in the 15th annual Retail Value Steer Challenge. First place in the Average Daily Gain category was awarded to the steer owned by Mike & Deb Matulka, Brownlee, John & Tammy Hansen, Burwell and Powles Ranch, Bingham.  Second place went to Cross Diamond Cattle Co., Bertrand and third place was awarded to Eisenmenger Farms, Humphrey.  Chad & Lana Hoffschneider, Waco and John & Laura Schroeder, Cozad owned the steer that won the Carcass Value category with Myron Danner, Burwell, Farm Credit Services of America – David Haupt, Kearney and Julie Karavas, Lincoln receiving second with their steer.  Peak Performance Nutrition, Derek & Paige McConville and Jim McConville, Lexington received the third place honors.  First place in the Total Value Category was a steer owned by Harsh Mercantile, Purdum and Hoffman Hereford, Thedford. Second place went to the steer owned by Lincoln County Cattlemen and Mike Star, North Platte and third place went to Minert-Simonson Angus Ranch, Dunning.

The NC Foundation would like to recognize the support of Darr Feedlot, Cozad, for administration and feeding of the steers that were entered into this year’s challenge. In addition, the Foundation appreciates the following sponsors for their support of the Retail Value Steer Challenge: ADM Alliance Nutrition, Bill’s Volume Sales, Inc., Darling International, Elanco Animal Health, Gallagher Grace-Mayer Insurance, Zinpro Performance Minerals and Zoetis.

In addition to the RVSC awards, NC Foundation also recognized 32 youth scholarship winners for 2014.  “Thanks to the generosity of donors and the great participation in the Retail Value Steer Challenge, the Foundation awarded $31,000 in scholarships this year.” said Scott Langemeier, NC Foundation President.  

Established in 1968, the NC Foundation mission is to advance the future of Nebraska’s Beef industry by investing in research and education programs. As the NC Foundation grows, expands and moves forward in its mission to raise funds for educational and scientific activities that benefit the state’s beef producers – the board asks you to consider investing in your industry through the Foundation.         

To donate or for more information concerning the NC Foundation, contact Lee Weide, Nebraska Cattlemen Vice President of Operations at 402.475.2333 or Jana Jensen, NC Foundation Fundraising Coordinator at 308.588.6299.

Cattlewomen host Nebraska Beef Ambassador Contest

The Nebraska CattleWomen Consumer Promotion and Education Committee hosted the 2014 Nebraska Beef Ambassador Contest on June 11, 2014 during the Nebraska Cattlemen Midyear Meeting in Gothenburg.

The Nebraska Beef Ambassador Program provides an opportunity for youth to become spokespersons and future leaders for the beef industry. Each division consisted of different events which were evaluated by a panel of judges. The intermediate and senior competition consisted of a mock consumer promotion event, a media interview and an issues response task. Junior contestants delivered a short factual presentation on the importance of the beef industry.

Winners of the contest included:

Junior Division:
    1st Place –Fletcher Larsen, Valentine
    2nd Place - Cailey Grabenstein, Smithfield

Intermediate Division:
    1st Place -Cooper Grabenstein, Smithfield
    2nd Place -Alexis Gerritse, Plymouth

Senior Division:
    1st Place -Laura Gorecki, Farwell
    2nd Place -Emilye Vales, DeWitt
    3rd Place Tie -Savannah Schafer, Nehawka
    3rd Place Tie -Emilee Elwood, Gordon

Winners of the intermediate and senior divisions are eligible to participate in the National Beef Ambassador Contest.


Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist

               Wheat stubble can be an excellent seedbed to plant forages into using no-till.  It may take some advance preparation, though, to be successful.

               No-till planting of alfalfa, turnips, summer annual grasses, or other cover crops into wheat stubble has many advantages.  Soil moisture is conserved, erosion is reduced, weed seeds remain buried, and tillage expenses are eliminated.  But despite these advantages, many growers still experience spotty stands.

               To help ensure success when planting into wheat stubble, take a few extra steps.  One of the biggest challenges is heavy residue, residue that might limit proper drill operation and seed placement or even might partly smother new seedlings.  Residue can be especially troublesome right behind the combine even when using a good straw chopper.  The best way to minimize this problem is to bale the straw and remove excess residue.  And be sure to have a well-functioning drill.

               Another challenge is weeds, either annual weeds that develop after wheat is combined or volunteer wheat that sprouts later in the summer.  Control weeds prior to planting with herbicides like glyphosate.  And be ready with post-emerge herbicides like Select or Poast Plus when appropriate for latter emerging weeds or volunteer wheat.

               Finally, consider cross- or double-drilling.  Plant one-half of the seed while driving one direction, then plant the other half driving in a different direction.  This helps fill in gaps, develops canopy and improves weed control earlier, and may help you plant the right amount of seed if you commonly end up running out or have much seed left over.

               Wheat stubble makes a good seedbed.  Make it even better with a few management adjustments.

Nebraska Ethanol Board  Sponsors SAE Event

In cooperation with the Nebraska Ethanol Industry Coalition, Urban Air Initiative, and Green Plains, the Nebraska Ethanol  Board will be sponsoring the Husker Motor Sports team at the Society of Automotive Engineering series.

On June 18th,  they will be serving sandwiches and water to the SAE competitors under the Main Tent at Lincoln Airpark.  Dan Schwartzkopf, famous race car driver and designer, will be present to interact with team members and coaches.

Admission is free for spectators at Lincoln Airpark to watch SAE students compete in different events on June 19th – 21st.

Nebraska  Drivers Can Save $0.63 Per Gallon by Choosing Renewable Fuels

As the situation in Iraq comes home to motorists paying higher prices at the pump, the Fuels America coalition is urging greater reliance on less expensive, homegrown fuels as opposed to reliance on the volatile market for foreign oil.  In fact, an analysis of state data covering the past year from shows that drivers with “Flex Fuel” vehicles in Nebraska  can pay an average of $0.63 less per gallon by filling up with E85, which contains up to 85 percent American ethanol.

Ethanol is a higher octane fuel that improves engine performance.  That’s why it has been added to gasoline for decades and is now being blended at higher levels into the fuels used throughout professional auto racing. Prices for American-grown renewable fuels like ethanol and advanced biofuels have grown increasingly competitive thanks to America’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which ensures that homegrown renewable fuels are available as an option to American consumers.

The analysis of data from “E85 Prices” also revealed that drivers have saved as much as $0.81 per gallon at the pump over the past year by filling up on E85. And because ethanol increases the available fuel supply, it helps to drive down the price of gasoline for all drivers regardless of whether they choose a higher blend fuel like E15 or E85.

In addition to saving American drivers money, the RFS has helped to support 852,000 jobs and $184.5 billion in economic output in the U.S. The renewable fuels industry supports 36,629 jobs and $2.9 billion in wages in Nebraska  alone, as well as $11.1 billion in economic output.

Meanwhile, violence in Iraq is driving high gas prices even higher than predicted. Mere worries about oil supply issues have already helped drive world and U.S. prices to their highest levels since September. Americans could see prices for regular gasoline jump more than $0.20 per gallon over the next couple weeks as violence in Iraq continues.

Fuels America’s announcement coincides with a paid advertising campaign to highlight the consumer savings the RFS and the renewable fuels industry deliver for Americans. This week, the coalition is running digital ads that ask Americans why we should “let Big Oil pump us dry,” and call on our leaders to “invest in affordable, homegrown renewable fuels” by protecting America’s Renewable Fuel Standard.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 6/13/2014

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged a record 972,000 barrels per day (b/d)—or 40.82 million gallons daily. This eclipses the previous record of 963,000 b/d for the week ending 12/30/2011. Last week’s output was up 28,000 b/d from the week before. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 945,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 14.49 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 17.9 million barrels. That is a 3.1% decrease from last week, and stocks returned to the 20-day supply level.

Imports of ethanol were non-existent for the third time in four weeks.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 388.8 million gallons daily.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 10.50%. Refiner and blender net input of ethanol remained at high levels; ethanol blending has averaged 13.48 billion gallons annualized over the past four weeks.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 14.738 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 108,478 metric tons of livestock feed, 96,709 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal. Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 5.06 million pounds of corn distillers oil daily, which is the highest output so far this year.

Rains Overwhelm Iowa Drinking Water Systems, Livestock Operations

Heavy rainfall across northwest and north central Iowa has overwhelmed some drinking water, sewer treatment plants and animal feeding operations from Lyon to Linn County.

A reported 3 to 5 inches of rain fell Monday night, adding to rainfall over the weekend, with the heaviest rainfall in the far northwest. Heavy runoff is affecting some drinking water systems and making it difficult for many wastewater treatment systems to keep up with the inflow from rainfall.

The DNR has received reports of 34 cities, most in northwest Iowa, that have discharged wastewater because of the rainfall. Cedar Rapids was the eastern-most city to report a discharge. Although, it's likely that more have had discharges as heavy inflow overwhelmed collection and treatment systems.

In addition to cities, the DNR has received reports of 19 animal feeding operations with overflows from their settling basins. All have been in the northwest part of the state, from Lyon to Ida counties.

Some of the animal feeding operations have National Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, which allow them to discharge when rainfall exceeds a 25-year, 24-hour rain event. Generally, that's about 5 inches of rain within 24 hours.

Some operations discharge to protect their manure storage facilities, while others may overflow due to excess storm water runoff. Some livestock producers are pumping to pastures or other basins, making it less likely the effluent will reach a water of the state.

Branstad Issues Disaster Proclamation for 5 Counties, Touring Damage

Iowa Gov. Terry E. Branstad issued a proclamation of disaster emergency for five counties in response to overnight storms: Cedar, Lyon, Plymouth, Pocahontas, and Sioux.

The Governor's proclamation allows state resources to be utilized to prepare for, respond to and recover from the effects of storms and flooding. These resources may be used for flood protection or the removal of debris on publicly-owned or privately-owned land that may threaten public health and safety.

Some of the resources that have been deployed to date through Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management:
-- Lyon County -- Three 3-inch pumps (two to Rock Rapids, one to George), Officer support for traffic control (from the Iowa Department of Public Safety)
-- Plymouth County -- 20,000 sandbags
-- Pocahontas County -- 10,000 sandbags
-- Sioux County -- 250,000 sandbags, Sand from Iowa Department of Transportation to Rock Valley, Urban Search and Rescue Team to assist with potential rescues

The State Emergency Operations Center is now partially staffed, and the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the Governor's Office continue to closely monitor the situation.

Branstad and Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department (HSEMD) Director Mark Schouten will survey damage in Lyon and Sioux counties Wednesday beginning at approximately 11:30 a.m. in Rock Rapids. Following the tour in Rock Rapids, the pair will travel to Rock Valley.

Heavy rains caused flooding in parts of northwest Iowa as a band of strong storms passed through the state on Monday. In Lyon County, the Rock Rapids Water Treatment Plant is shut down due to flooding, and the community is coordinating with Pepsi to provide donated drinking water. Sioux County is taking precautions in preparation for flooding along the Rock River. Local emergency management officials have also reported bridges being washed out from significant rainfall.

Additionally, the Governor's Office and Iowa HSEMD has re-launched Iowa Flood Central to provide Iowans and the press flood-related updates and resources. The governor's office is encouraging media and citizens to use the hashtag #IAFlood when tweeting information regarding flooding occurring across Iowa.

Iowa AgState project to help farmers harness benefits of ‘Big Data’

Leading Iowa farm and commodity organizations are backing an ambitious project that will harness the power of agricultural data to the benefit of farmers.

The “Big Data Strategy and Implementation Plan,” backed by Iowa AgState and developed by The Hale Group of Danvers, Mass., will begin immediately by obtaining all relevant facts about how agricultural data is collected, shared, analyzed and used.

Following this in-depth assessment, a strategy and action plan will be formulated by year’s end enabling farmers to better understand their data, industry strategies and objectives for Big Data and how best to capture the value of the data they produce without compromising proprietary information and intellectual property rights.

Following this in-depth assessment, a strategy and action plan will be formulated by year’s end. The strategy will enable farmers to better understand their data, industry strategies and objectives for Big Data along with how best to capture the value of the data they produce without compromising proprietary information and intellectual property rights.

The Hale Group defines Big Data as both structured and unstructured data whose scale, diversity and complexity require new techniques and analytics to manage,  interpret and extract knowledge and value from it.

Brian Kemp, Iowa Soybean Association president and AgState chair, said Big Data isn’t a new issue for agriculture. However, the ability to collect, interpret and manipulate data has increased exponentially, requiring immediate action.

“This project will be conducted at the strategic level addressing many components, namely data ownership and control,” said Kemp, who farms near Sibley. “By harnessing the knowledge of existing data and how it can be used, farmers can influence policy more effectively, develop appropriate user and privacy agreements and drive mutually beneficial relationships with those whom we do business.”

Kemp said the project will:
·         Support the education of farmers on the opportunities presented by agricultural Big Data.
·         Help farmers understand and evaluate the various Big Data business models offered by industry and how to capture value from the data.
·         Empower farmers as participants in the local, state, and national level discussions on the issues of Big Data.
·         Provide information that can be used to inform and influence Big Data policies, regulations and technology.

Dean Lemke, nutrient management and environmental stewardship director of the Agribusiness Association of Iowa and member of the AgState Big Data task force, said the project will complement other regional and national projects focused on similar concerns and opportunities.

“The Hale Group has unique capabilities to do the work to benefit the greater industry,” Lemke said. “They will do a thorough job of gathering information from many sources on the topic of Big Data, define what’s most meaningful to farmers and how they can capitalize on it and then share these findings with all stakeholders.

“Ultimately and collectively, a better understanding and use of data will help farmers continuously improve,” Lemke added. “It will also give farmers a voice and leverage in matters that affect their business.”

Bob Ludwig of The Hale Group said farmers do not want to “stop Big Data” but influence the way it’s developed and rolled out to growers.

“It will bring great benefits to agriculture and the world at large,” he said. “But it needs to be monitored to make sure it’s fair to farmers.”


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today encouraged Iowa hay and straw producers to register or update their listing on the Iowa Hay and Straw Directory.  The directory lists Iowa producers with hay and straw for sale, as well as organizations and businesses associated with promoting and marketing quality hay and straw.

“The directory has been a great tool for both buyers and sellers and we hope farmers will take the time to review and update their information so that it remains a valuable resource,” Northey said.  “This directory can serve as a critical link for those producing hay and those looking to buy, so we encourage Iowans to take advantage of this free directory.”

The listing is available to interested buyers throughout the nation, however only sellers from within Iowa can be included on the list.

Names are gathered throughout the year with added emphasis now that hay harvest has started. Sections within the Hay and Straw Directory include “Forage for Sale,” “Forage Auctions,” “Hay Associations,” “Forage Dealers,” “Hay Grinders” and “Custom Balers.”

Farmers interested in listing should visit the Department’s website at  An application form can be found by going to the “Bureaus” link and then selecting “Agricultural Diversification and Market Development.”  Then click on “Hay & Straw Directory” on the right side of the page under “Directories.”

For those without internet access, please call the Hay/Straw Hotline at 800-383-5079.  The Department will fax or send a printed copy of the application to be filled out.

The Department is also supporting the Iowa Crop Improvement Association’s “Iowa Noxious Weed Seed Free Forage and Mulch Certification Program.”  Through this program Iowa forage and mulch producers can take advantage of many emerging market opportunities for “Certified Weed Free” products.  For more specific information on this program producers should contact the Iowa Crop Improvement Association at 515-294-6921.  More information can also be found by visiting

Top 23 States' Milk Production Up 1.5% in May

Milk production in the 23 major States during May totaled 16.9 billion pounds, up 1.5 percent from May 2013. April  revised  production,  at  16.3  billion  pounds, was  up  1.4  percent  from  April  2013.    The April  revision represented an increase of 27 million pounds or 0.2 percent from last month's preliminary production estimate.

Production per cow in  the 23 major States averaged 1,976 pounds for May. This  is  the highest production per cow for the month of May since the 23 State series began in 2003.

The number of milk cows on farms in the 23 major States was 8.55 million head, 10,000 head more than April 2014.
May Milk Production in the United States up 1.4 Percent

Milk production in the United States during May totaled 18.1 billion pounds, up 1.4 percent from May 2013.  Production per cow in the United States averaged 1,951 pounds for May.  The number of milk cows on farms in the United States was 9.25 million head, 10,000 head more than April 2014.

IOWA:  Milk production  in  Iowa during May 2014  totaled 410 million pounds, up 1 percent  from May 2013 and  the highest total  since May  1972,  according  to  the USDA, National Agricultural  Statistics  Service  – Milk Production  report. The average number of milk cows during May, at 208,000 head, was 2,000 more than last month. Monthly production per cow averaged 1,970 pounds, the highest average since records started in 1960.

Kansas Wheat Harvest Report - Day 1

During this first harvest report of 2014, wheat farmers across the state are fighting mud and poor wheat yields as harvest commences.

Steve Inslee, manager of OK Coop Grain Co., says that wheat has been trickling into his location for about a week and a half. In all about 100,000 bushels of grain has been taken into all locations of the coop, and Inslee says that he is hoping for about 500,000 bushels for this harvest season. Yields in the Kiowa area fluctuate, but the average range is around 10-12 bushels per acre and test weights are coming in at about 58 pounds per bushel. Inslee says the best yields have come from the Everest variety.

Inslee says, “This is probably not even half of what we took in last year, and last year was half of a normal crop.”

Janice Gates reports that her family’s harvest began on Friday in Anthony, but it came to a halt over the weekend due to the rain the area received. The Gates’ wheat was coming in at around 57-59 pounds per bushel before the rain, but since they resumed harvesting on Tuesday afternoon Janice wasn’t aware if the rain had any effect on those test weights. Gates’ yields are around 10 bushels per acre and she predicts that they will be harvesting for another 10 days.

Scott Van Allen, farmer in Clearwater, says that his yields also are leaving much to be desired. But he also is fighting the height of the wheat. The shorter crop makes it more difficult for his machines to keep the header out of the mud. Van Allen is also reporting test weights at about 58 pounds per bushel. Although harvest has just started in his area, Van Allen thinks that farmers will be wrapping up in about 10 days.

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

Final Yearly Snowpack Forecast Divides West into a Wet North and Dry South 

Every winter Westerners look to the mountains and may not realize they’re peering into the future. More snow cap means more water come spring and summer. Many lives and livelihoods depend on nature’s uneven hand.

Thanks to USDA’s National Water and Climate Center, what used to be speculation is now science. Through a network of high-elevation weather stations across the West, the center accurately forecasts how much water Western states will receive from snowmelt.

The data benefits everyone in the path of the streamflow. The center’s water supply forecasts empower states to take action to prevent flooding or prepare for drought. Some farmers look to the water supply forecast when deciding what crops to grow. It’s like playing chess with nature, and you can almost see nature’s next move.

Earlier this month the center released the year’s final forecast culminating data from the five before it, which shows the West divided into a wet north and dry south.

Washington, most of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and the northern parts of Colorado and Utah are expected to have near normal or above normal water supplies through the rest of summer, according to the forecasts. Far below normal streamflows are expected for the southern parts of Oregon and Utah, southwestern Idaho, California, Arizona, New Mexico and western Nevada.

Many of these areas are in the nearly 500 counties across the country experiencing drought, 57 of them in California alone, according to USDA disaster designations.

This year saw near-record low snowfall in parts of Nevada, California, Arizona, New Mexico and the southern parts of Utah and Oregon. Even with some May precipitation, those areas remain dry.  The biggest change this season was in the Washington Cascades. At the beginning of February the snowpack was about half of normal, but it recovered and most of Washington will have a near normal water supply from snowmelt, according to the Center.

Spring snowmelt is well underway, according to NWCC hydrologist Cara McCarthy. “A lot of our SNOTEL sites have already melted out, especially those in the southern half of the West,” McCarthy said.

Colorado had mixed weather during May. “They had winter and summer all in one month: snowmelt, snowfall, snowmelt,” said McCarthy. Heavy precipitation combined with snowmelt, causing flooding in parts of the state.

Forecasters monitor conditions all year, but June is the final forecast of the season. “These are snow-based water supply forecasts,” McCarthy said. “Typically by July there won’t be enough snow left on the ground (to measure).”

In Western states where snowmelt accounts for the majority of seasonal water supply, information about snowpack serves as an indicator of future water availability. Streamflow in the West consists largely of accumulated mountain snow that melts and flows into streams as temperatures warm into spring and summer. USDA scientists analyze the snowpack, air temperature, soil moisture and other measurements taken from remote sites to develop the water supply forecasts.

The NWCC water supply forecast is part of several USDA efforts to improve public awareness and mitigate the impacts of climate change, including drought and other extreme weather events. Through the creation of the National Drought Resilience Partnership, launched as part of the President’s Climate Action Plan, federal agencies are working closely with states, tribes and local government to develop a coordinated response to drought.

Hillshire Brands Moves To End Pinnacle Deal

Hillshire Brands announced that in light of a more favorable offer by Tyson Foods, its board no longer recommends a merger with Pinnacle Foods. Announced on May 12, the $6.6 billion Hillshire--Pinnacle deal was broadly criticized by analysts and investors alike. It also led to a fierce bidding war between two of the world's largest meat processing companies for Hillshire Brands, reports Forbes.

Tyson Foods recently won the bidding war against JBS-backed Pilgrim's Pride as it offered to buy the maker of Jimmy Dean breakfast sausages for $63 per share in cash, beating Pilgrim's Pride's final offer by $8 per share.

Formerly known as Sara Lee Corporation, the company sells a variety of packaged meat products including hot dogs, corn dogs, breakfast sausages, dinner sausages and deli meats, as well as a variety of frozen baked products.

Through the acquisition of Pinnacle Foods, Hillshire Brands planned to increase its bargaining power with Wal-Mart and other supermarkets by expanding its shelf space through a broader product offering. The company also expected to gain from diversifying away from packaged meat products by reducing its sensitivity to fluctuations in hog and beef prices. Furthermore, it also expected to capture value from lower per unit costs of the consolidated company. However, the biggest drawback of the deal was its potential impact on the company's debt load, which would have increased significantly to around 5x the adjusted EBITDA of the combined company.

Under the terms of Hillshire Brands, Pinnacle Foods merger agreement, Hillshire Brands does not yet have the right to terminate the deal on the basis of Tyson Foods' offer or enter into an agreement with Tyson Foods prior to its termination. However, as a result of the recent change in Hillshire Brands' board's recommendation, Pinnacle Foods may decide to terminate the deal. If it does so before a vote on the transaction by Hillshire Brands' shareholders, the company would be entitled to receive a termination fee of $163 million from Hillshire Brands.

Syngenta and Anheuser-Busch Enter Malting Barley Collaboration

Syngenta and Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) announced a partnership to secure the sourcing of high-quality malting barley, the key raw material for the beer industry.

Under the agreement, growers will have access to the best Syngenta malting barley varieties and a tailored growing approach, which includes training and advice on agronomy and sustainable farming practices. By following the protocol, growers will achieve superior yields when compared with current market standards, enabling them to supply AB InBev with consistently high-quality grain to meet the exacting standards for beer production.

Syngenta Chief Operating Officer, John Atkin, said: "We've announced a winning combination today. Growers will be able to consistently achieve higher yields of top-quality malting barley, which will increase their incomes and help Anheuser-Busch InBev meet growing demand for its products."

Tony Milikin, Chief Procurement Officer of AB InBev, commented: "We wish to keep barley relevant and interesting for growers by helping them develop their business in a qualitative, sustainable and profitable way. We work with them towards achieving a better yield -- investing in the development of improved varieties while providing access to high quality seeds, the latest technology and expert advice from skilled agronomists. This is part of our dream to be the Best Beer Company Bringing People Together For a Better World. As we work with more than 15,000 growers through longstanding barley programs in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, China and Russia, we look forward to turning this new project into a shared success that we can scale."

The first phase of the partnership will take place in Argentina. It will involve 160 growers and cover 14,000 hectares. The joint offer could be scalable to other markets where there would be opportunities to increase value for growers.

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