Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wednesday June 25 Ag News

Property Valuation Protest Deadline June 30

The Nebraska Department of Revenue, Property Assessment Division, reminds property owners that valuation protests must be filed on or before June 30, 2014.

If there was an increase or decrease to the assessed valuation of a real property parcel from 2013 to the 2014 assessed value, the county assessor was required to send a notice of valuation change to the property owner on or before June 1, 2014. If a change of valuation notice was not received, and there was a change in value from 2013 to 2014, contact the local county assessor for more information.

If a property owner disagrees with the assessed value, whether or not a notice of valuation change has been received, a protest may be filed with the county board of equalization. The valuation protest may be filed in person or by mail with the county clerk in the county where the property is located. Requirements for filing a protest are on the Notice of Valuation Change.

For more information regarding filing a protest, please contact the county clerk where the property is located. County contact information is available at, under “Featured Information.”

For further information, see the Real Property Valuation Protest Information Guide and Property Valuation Protest Forms 422 or 422A.

NeFBF Develops Checklist To Help With Valuation Protests

With valuation increases on the minds of farmers, ranchers and homeowners, Nebraska Farm Bureau wants to remind everyone that it has developed an easy-to-follow checklist of 10 things to do and to consider if you decide to protest your valuation at the county assessor’s office. The deadline for filing a protest is June 30, 2014.

Protest Check List

1. If you think the assessed value for your house, farmstead or real estate is too high, you can file a protest with the county clerk’s office. This can be done in person or by mail and must be submitted in triplicate, signed and dated and postmarked by June 30, 2014. There is no fee to file a protest.  You should know that by filing a protest, the assessed value for your property could also be increased if the county board believes it was undervalued.

2. When filling out the protest form, make sure that you state in the box asking for the “reasons for requested valuation change” that “you believe the actual value of your property is in excess of the market value and that it is not equalized with comparable property in your area.” Such language is needed in order to protest both the assessed valuation and the fact your property may not be equalized with other similar properties. If you are protesting multiple parcels of property, a separate protest must be filed for each parcel.

3. Include any pertinent information with your protest that will assist in proving the assessed value of your property was not set at market value, or is not equalized with similar properties in the area. The burden is on the property owner to prove their property has not been correctly assessed.

4. In preparing for your protest, make sure the county assessor’s records of your property are accurate. For example, make sure the assessor has properly documented the square footage of your dwelling, the number of bathrooms, the garage size, the number of out buildings, whether or not the basement is finished and the type of farm ground and whether it is pasture, cropland, irrigated, the correct number of acres, etc.

5. Next, look at how your property valuation compares to other properties in the neighborhood, township or general area. Some counties have property valuations available online while others have this information on file at the courthouse. You can find which counties are online through the website of the Department of Property Assessment and Taxation. If your valuation appears out of line compared to your neighbors, these differences could be used as your first evidence on why your property is overvalued.

6. Find recent sales of similar properties. Determine the sales price and assessed values for these properties. County assessors may be able to provide sales information. Assessed values are public record and are available on the web in some counties. Carefully compare your property with these properties to find characteristics that would distinguish your property from the market. You are looking for characteristics like cost per square foot, price per acre, number of bathrooms, soil types, road conditions, location, noise or other factors that may lessen your value.

7. If you have a recent (within the last few years) appraisal of the property, you can use it as evidence of value. You may also want to determine the replacement costs of your house improvements. Replacement costs usually establish the upper end of the value of a property. If the market value the assessor established for your property is at or above your replacement costs, this difference figure could also be used as evidence in your protest.

8. Contact your county clerk and ask what process will be used to handle protests.  While the ultimate decision on the protest lies with the county board, some counties use independent referees to hear protests.  It is important to know how the protest will be processed and the schedule.

9. After filing your protest, you will be notified by mail when a hearing by a referee will be scheduled, or when the county board will meet to consider your protest.  The hearing or board consideration will occur sometime before July 25, 2014. In Douglas, Lancaster and Sarpy counties the deadline could be extended to Aug. 10, 2014.

10. The county board will make a decision, and the county clerk must mail the board’s decision to you on or before Aug. 2, 2014. For Douglas, Lancaster and Sarpy counties, the decision deadline may be extended to Aug. 18, 2014. Also, for counties that use referees, you can appeal the referee’s recommendations to the county board if you have new information. Again, be sure to contact your county clerk to determine the process in your county.  If you are still are not satisfied, you can appeal to the state Tax Equalization and Review Commission by Aug. 24, 2014 or Sept. 10, 2014 in counties with a population of greater than 100,000.

PUBLIC HEARING Scheduled Regarding Temporary Stay on Well-Drilling in Upper Big Blue NRD

The Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District will hold a public hearing to receive public testimony concerning changes to the District’s Groundwater Management Area Rules and Regulations.  The hearing will be held on July 30, 2014, at 7:30 p.m., at the District office located at 105 N. Lincoln Avenue, York, Nebraska.

On April 17, 2014, the District’s Board of Directors declared a 180-day temporary stay on well drilling in approximately forty percent of the District.  The purpose of the stay is to give the District Board the opportunity to address the concerns over groundwater conflicts among irrigation, domestic, and municipal users.

The major proposed changes in the regulations include the designation of approximately 430 square miles of the District as a “High Risk Groundwater Area”.   The following regulations are proposed in the High Risk Groundwater Area:

1.   New high capacity wells (wells that pump more than 50 gpm) must be at least 1,250 feet from existing high capacity wells, including wells with the same ownership.
2.   New high capacity wells must be at least 1,250 feet from existing domestic wells under different ownership.
3.   New high capacity wells must be at least two miles from existing municipal wells.
4.   No more than one high capacity well may exist on a tract of land consisting of eighty acres or less, with no more than two wells per one-hundred sixty acres.  Existing wells may be replaced.
5.   A Municipal User shall have adopted an administrative procedure that allows the Municipal User to require water conservation practices and restrict the water use of its customers.
6.   New or replacement domestic water wells shall be constructed to such a depth that they are less likely to be affected by seasonal water level declines caused by other water wells in the same area.

The Draft Rule Changes can be viewed at by clicking on the “District Rules and Regulations” button on the right sidebar of the Homepage.  This will take you to the Rules & Regulations Page.  Next, click the “SPECIAL Drafts & Proposed Changes of Rules for PUBLIC HEARING” button.  A map of the affected areas is included.

Growing Number of Nebraska Groups Call for Common-Sense Immigration Laws

Today a diverse group of over 50 Nebraska organizations again called upon Congress to enact common-sense immigration laws.  These groups, representing thousands of Nebraskans, sent a letter to the Nebraska Congressional delegation reminding them of the strong support for immigration reform in our state.  The need and desire for common-sense reform is growing across Nebraska as evidenced by the bipartisan, rural-and-urban-supported resolution passed by the Nebraska State Legislature this past April which called for the same.

A year has passed since the United States Senate passed a bipartisan immigration bill and now it is time for the United States House of Representatives to do the same.  Continued inaction is not an option.  The current immigration system is woefully out of date and hurts Nebraska’s communities, families, economy and future.  Every day, Nebraskans pay the price for Congress’s failure to fix this outdated immigration system and these groups urge Congress to act now and pass meaningful, effective reform: 
    ACLU - Nebraska
    Anti-Defamation League - Plains States Region
    Black Men United
    Brown Immigration Law, LLP
    Campbell's Nurseries and Garden Center
    Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Omaha
    Center for People in Need
    Center for Rural Affairs
    Central Nebraska Human Trafficking & Immigration Outreach
    Centro Hispano Comunitario (Columbus)
    College of Saint Mary
    Creighton Center for Service and Justice
    DREAMers Project Coalition
    El Centro de las Americas (Lincoln)
    Fair Housing Center of Nebraska and Iowa
    Great Plains United Methodist Peace with Justice Ministries
    Great Plains Conference United Methodist Women
    Heartland Workers Center
    Inclusive Communities
    Interchurch Ministries of Nebraska
    Iowa/Nebraska Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association
    Justice For Our Neighbors - Nebraska
    Latino American Commission of Nebraska
    Latino Center of the Midlands
    League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha
    League of Women Voters of Lincoln and Lancaster County
    Malcolm X Memorial Foundation
    Mulhall’s Nursery, Omaha
    NAACP - Lincoln
    National Association of Social Workers - Nebraska Chapter
    National Council of Jewish Women - Omaha Section
    Nebraska State AFL-CIO
    Nebraska Appleseed
    Nebraska Catholic Conference
    Nebraska Cattlemen
    Nebraska Restaurant Association
    Nebraska Retail Federation
    Nebraska State Dairy Association
    Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition
    Nebraskans for Peace
    Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance
    Omaha Together One Community
    One World Community Health Centers
    Peck Law Firm
    Sisters of Mercy, West Midwest Community
    Southern Sudan Community Association (SSCA Omaha)
    St. Mary’s Immigration Program (Grand Island)
    Unity in Action (South Sioux City)
    Voices for Children in Nebraska
    YWCA Adams County
    YWCA Grand Island
    YWCA Lincoln

U.S. Exporters Appreciate Chinese Red Meat Trade Team Visit

Senior-level buyers from some of the top red meat importers in China and Hong Kong toured the heartland of America with the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) last month, getting a top-to-bottom education on U.S. agriculture and the red meat industry.

The 13-person visiting team included the presidents of four of that region’s largest red meat importers in addition to several senior officers (purchasing managers and general managers) and the supply chain director of Pizza Hut Hong Kong Management Ltd., one of Pizza Hut’s largest international franchisees with operations in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Developed with funding support from the Beef Checkoff Program and the Pork Checkoff, the team of buyers toured pork and beef processing plants in Nebraska, cattle ranches in Kansas and Nebraska and numerous retail outlets. The group also participated in a Meat 101 class conducted by Dr. Terry Houser, associate professor at Kansas State University, who reviewed the quality and sensory aspects of U.S. pork and beef.

Before returning to China, the visiting team received briefings from U.S. beef and pork exporters and participated in the product showcase at the May USMEF board of directors meeting that brought 120 international buyers together with 21 U.S. exporters at a session designed specifically to enhance U.S. red meat exports.

“The meeting with the Chinese team was the highlight of the entire week for me,” said Mark Boyd of Porky Products. “I think the quality of the customers who came from China and Hong Kong was exceptionally high. Meeting these buyers and having them sample our products enabled us to generate immediate sales to new customers that we otherwise would not have encountered.”

The positive sentiments were echoed by Eric Brandt, president of One World Beef, which represents Harris Ranch and Brandt Beef.

“These meetings are a springboard to new business with qualified and respected buyers,” said Brandt. “These are the types of meetings we strive to attain and are grateful to be part of. We can only hope that the governments (of China and the U.S.) do the right thing and open up new (beef) trade between our countries so that commerce can begin. It will be a great day for American beef producers to finally have free access to a country where there is a lot of demand for U.S. beef.”

The visit by the team also earned high marks for the convenience it provides to U.S. exporters – bringing qualified buyers together as a group.

“This allowed me to meet with 10 to 12 customers at one time, and to save the $10,000 or more it would cost for a business trip to that region,” said Boyd.

The team of buyers gave its own high marks on the visit, according to Ming Liang, USMEF-Shanghai marketing director. “They indicated that they learned quite a lot from the trip,” he said. “They became familiar with more U.S. plants and companies that could potentially be future partners.”

The China/Hong Kong region is a significant one for U.S. red meat exports. Through the first four months of 2014, it is the No. 3 market in both volume and value for U.S. pork, purchasing 140,927 metric tons (310.7 million pounds) valued at $316.5 million, increases of 4 percent in volume and 10 percent in value.

And while the People’s Republic of China still bans U.S. beef, Hong Kong is the United States’ No. 3 export market in terms of value, $307.5 million (up 94 percent versus 2013), and No. 4 in volume (46,478 metric tons or 102.5 million pounds), a 66 percent increase over last year.

Cargill develops non-GMO soybean oil

Cargill is introducing a soybean oil made from identity-preserved (IdP), conventionally-bred (non-GM) soybeans for customers interested in exploring a non-GMO claim on their product label. The oil is refined in Cargill’s Des Moines, Iowa, plant in a process certified by SGS, a global inspection, verification, testing and certification company.

“Despite the many merits of biotechnology, consumer interest in food and beverage products made from non-GM ingredients is growing, creating opportunities and challenges for food manufacturers and food service operators,” said Ethan Theis, food ingredients commercial manager, Cargill.

Supplies of Cargill’s new oil are limited, and one food manufacturer already has purchased a significant portion of the available supply. According to Theis, producing an IdP soybean oil from non-GM soybeans is an intricate process, from procuring a dedicated supply of non-GM soybeans to developing processes to avoid co-mingling with bioengineered crops during harvesting, transportation, storage, handling, processing and refining.

“Developing industrial scale IdP products is difficult but something Cargill is well-suited for because of our knowledge of consumer trends, formulation experience, supply-chain management expertise, manufacturing infrastructure and strong relationships with farmers,” Theis said.

Cargill has extensive global experience helping food manufacturers’ source non-GM crops and ingredients made from non-GM crops. The combination of Cargill’s portfolio of non-GM sweeteners, starches, texturizers, oils, cocoa and chocolate, fibers, and stabilizer systems, coupled with R&D and global supply chain capabilities, allows Cargill to help customers manage both the product development and supply chain challenges associated with reformulating to non-GMO. 

ASA’s Wilkins Testifies on Importance of Biotech Trade Policy for Soybean Farmers

Greenwood, Del., farmer and American Soybean Association (ASA) Treasurer Richard Wilkins appeared on Capitol Hill today before the Senate Committee on Finance to testify about the importance of biotechnology to soybean farmers as the U.S. pursues trade agreements abroad.

The hearing, “Trade Enforcement: Using Trade Rules to Level the Playing Field for U.S. Companies and Workers,” addresses the impact and implications of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade agreements, U.S. trade with China, and other aspects of America’s trade relationships abroad. Soybeans are the nation’s leading agricultural export, and ASA has long taken a leading role in representing the needs of farmers in discussions of international trade.

In his testimony, Wilkins addressed the need for a more consistent regulatory framework in our various partner nations, citing specifically the inconsistent and unreliable frameworks in China and the European Union.

“Other countries have adopted systems for approving biotech traits, but these decisions are subject to differing regulations or are overtly political, which can result in lengthy delays between approvals in importing and exporting countries,” he testified. “This is a concern because, until an importer approves a new trait, even a trace amount of that trait detected in a cargo can result in its rejection and major losses for the shipper.”

Wilkins pointed to ASA’s advocacy for a global Low Level Presence (LLP) policy to tackle this challenge. “An LLP would allow a shipment containing a small amount of an exporting country’s approved trait without resulting in rejection by an importer,” he said.

Pointing specifically to the EU, Wilkins spoke to the difficulties presented by Europe’s labeling policy for foods containing biotechnology-derived ingredients, and noted that such policies may be in violation of the EU’s commitments under the World Trade Organization.

“The EU could have provided information to consumers without distorting trade by establishing voluntary labeling standards for non-biotech foods,” he said. “As a WTO member, the EU is obliged to choose a less restrictive measure if one that accomplishes its objective is available.”

Weekly Ethanol Production for 6/20/2014

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 938,000 barrels per day (b/d)—or 38.40 million gallons daily. That is down 34,000 b/d from the week before. The four-week average for ethanol production stood at 948,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 14.53 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 18.2 million barrels. That is a 1.9% increase from last week.

Imports of ethanol were zero b/d, unchanged from last week.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 370.1 million gallons daily, down nearly 5% from last week. Ethanol inputs by blenders/refiners remained at 891,000 b/d, an annualized rate of 13.66 billion gallons.

Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 10.64%.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 14.222 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 104,684 metric tons of livestock feed, 93,326 metric tons of which were distillers grains. The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal. Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.89 million pounds of corn distillers oil daily.

Ethanol Boat Races Ride Into Garnett

The popular Garnett Ethanol Hydroplane Shootout is returning to Garnett, Kan., July 12–13. This National Boat Racing Association (NBRA) competition pits drivers of hydroplanes and roundabouts against each other in a fast-paced race to the finish. The upcoming race is sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), East Kansas Agri-Energy, and the Kansas Corn Commission. Admission is free and earplugs or noise reducing devices are suggested.

The NBRA, host of the event, has a long history of using E10. They broke speed records on the high-octane ethanol blend. According to Vernon Barfield, tech chairman and vice president of the NBRA, he has had no issues using E10 in their more than 20 years of racing. He has also won more than 35 national championships. The NBRA represents more than 250 drivers in 30 states.

“The Garnett Ethanol Hydroplane Shootout is a popular, family-friendly event where people of all ages can enjoy high-stakes action while learning about the environmental benefits and high-octane power boost of ethanol-blended fuel,” said Robert White, RFA’s director of market development. “There is a lot of misinformation out there about ethanol’s impact on boats, but E10 is safe and approved for use in all marine engines. The Lake Garnett event gives us an opportunity to educate boat owners and non-boat owners, and set the record straight.”

Jeff Oestmann, president and CEO of East Kansas Agri-Energy, touted the race as a unique opportunity to highlight the benefits of ethanol. He stated, “It is exciting to see a national organization select Garnett for this event. It allows us to further promote the benefits of ethanol, not only in marine engines, but in all engines. We are proud to be a sponsor, and look forward to the races.”

“The Garnett Ethanol Hydroplane Shootout is a great opportunity to spotlight Kansas agriculture and ethanol,” said Greg Krissek, head of the Kansas Corn Commission. “We are excited to sponsor this year’s race and hope everyone will join us to cheer on the competitors.”

E10 (10 percent ethanol, 90 percent gasoline) is approved for use in marine engines, including two-stroke powered engines, motorboats, outboard motors, and inboard motors. However, E15 (15 percent ethanol) is not approved for use in marine engines. Boat owners should always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, check the owner’s manual before filling their engine with fuel, and read labeling at the pump.

Popular names in boating have embraced the use of ethanol. The NBRA uses E10 in all two-stroke motor races. Additionally, respected names in marine motor manufacturing allow ethanol blended fuel in their engines, including Honda, Kawasaki, Mercury Marine, OMC (Johnson/Evinrude), Pleasurecraft, Tigershark (Artco), Tracker and Yamaha.

RFA staff will be on hand to answer questions and provide education on ethanol use in marine engines. Additionally, RFA’s “Fueled with Pride” logo will be displayed on uniforms, course buoys and flags, t-shirts sold at the races by NBRA, trophies, near refueling areas of all boats, and on signs placed throughout the viewing area.

Little Change Seen in Fertilizer Prices

Retail fertilizer prices continue to hold fairly steady with none of the eight major products logging significant price changes the third week of June 2014, according to retailers tracked by DTN.

Seven fertilizers were slightly higher in price compared to last month, but the move to the high side was fairly minor. DAP had an average price of $607 per ton, MAP $631/ton, potash $490/ton, 10-34-0 $581/ton, anhydrous $711, UAN28 $363/ton and UAN32 $415/ton.  DAP did manage to break through the $600-per-ton level after several weeks of getting close. The phosphorus fertilizer last had an average price this high the fourth week of June 2013. The average price that week was $601 per ton.

The remaining fertilizer, urea, was slightly lower from the previous month, but again the move lower was fairly small. The nitrogen fertilizer's average price was $540 per 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 $0.65/lb.N and UAN32 $0.65/lb.N.

With fertilizer prices moving higher in recent months, only two of the eight major fertilizers are now double-digits lower in price compared to June of 2013.  DAP is now down 1% while both MAP and urea are 2% less expensive. 10-34-0 is down 4% while both UAN28 and UAN32 are 7% less expensive. Anhydrous is now 13% less expensive while potash is down 16% compared to a year earlier.

U.S. Hog Farms Are Getting Bigger, But Less of Them

Ron Plain, University of Missouri Livestock Marketing Economist

Every five years the U.S. Department of Agriculture conducts a census of all U.S. farms. The latest map of where hogs are located shows continued clustering of hog production, with the two greatest concentrations of hogs found in northern Iowa and Southern Minnesota, and in eastern North Carolina. The Corn Belt from Ohio to Nebraska also has a substantial hog population.

Iowa’s hog inventory was more than a million head larger in 2012 than in 2007. During those same five years, North Carolina’s hog inventory declined more than a million head.

The top three hog states, Iowa, North Carolina and Minnesota had 30.2 percent, 13.1 percent and 11.2 percent, respectively, of the nation’s hogs in 2012. These three states account for more than half of the U.S. swine herd.

In 2012 only 63,246 farms raised hogs. This was a decline of 16 percent from the number reported by the 2007 Census of Agriculture.

The 1935 Ag Census said 3.9 million U.S farms raised hogs. Each subsequent census has found fewer farms with hogs. The 1964 census was the last to find a million hog farms. In 1950, more than half of U.S. farms raised hogs. Today only 3 percent of America’s 2,046,057 farms raise hogs.

Most hog farms have only a few hogs. In 2012 there were 41,688 farms that had from one to 24 head of hogs. Many of these small hog farms are 4-H and FFA projects. That same year there were only 21,558 farms that had more than 24 head of hogs in inventory.

The 2012 census found fewer hog farms in each size category, except for one: The 5,000 head and larger group included 2,850 hog farms in 2007 and 3,007 hog farms in 2012.

Cargill introduces new neonatal pig nutrition program

Cargill’s animal nutrition business today introduces a global nutrition program to help improve piglet livability. The program is designed to help pork producers increase the life expectancy of their pigs through an advanced feeding program that targets neonatal nutrition. Initial research has indicated that Cargill’s neonatal pig nutrition program can increase piglet livability as much as six percent.

“With average global piglet livability of about 82 percent, the mortality of young pigs is a critical challenge for producers around the world, even in the most advanced operations,” said Brooke Humphrey, Cargill Animal Nutrition’s global swine technology director. “At Cargill, we have discovered ways to leverage piglet nutrition and feed processing to help increase livability through our advanced formulation system.”

The program focuses on improving neonatal nutrition – helping piglets increase weight during the first 28 days of life. Mortality during the neonatal phase— from birth until weaning—often runs as high as 18 percent. With the right smell, taste and mouth feel, the new program helps maximize feed intake, which studies show directly impacts weight gain and overall livability.

Available in liquid or dry feeds, the neonatal program has demonstrated the capability to help increase livability (counting stillbirth and pre-weaning deaths) and overall health. In some cases the average birth weight has gone up from 1.3kg to 1.7kg – and the average weaning weight has gone from 6.5kg to 8 kg. Feed preference and intake is strong – and the stool quality is high. The program includes research from CAN’s MAX® formulation system – a unique software modeling program that can formulate customized feeds to help optimize animal health, growth and customer profitability.

The new neonatal nutrition feeds will roll out regionally over the next 12 months.

Monsanto 3Q Earnings Down 5%

(AP) -- Monsanto said its earnings fell more than 5 percent in the third fiscal quarter on lower biotech seed sales, but its performance topped Wall Street estimates and the company raised the lower end of its 2014 outlook. It also announced plans to repurchase $10 billion in shares.

The combination sent shares up more than 5 percent in morning trading Wednesday.

Monsanto Co. said the $10 billion share buyback will take place over two years. The company has about $1.1 billion remaining under its previous share buyback plan.

The St. Louis company said it earned $858 million, or $1.62 per share in the three months ended May 31. That was down from $909 million, or $1.68 per share, a year ago. Revenue was virtually flat at $4.25 billion

The company's earnings beat the average analyst projection, as measured by FactSet, for earnings of $1.54 per share on revenue of $4.39 billion for the quarter.

The company raised the low end of its 2014 forecast to between $5.10 and $5.20 per share. Previously the company's estimate was for earnings of $5 to $5.20 per share.

Monsanto has dominated the bioengineered-seed business for years and recently began developing products specifically for emerging markets like Argentina, Brazil and parts of Asia. The company is also making investments in computerized tools for the agricultural sector.

Monsanto executives predict this expanded portfolio of products will allow the company to double its earnings per share over the next five years.

"The new target reflects management's confidence in the growth opportunity for the core business and transformational potential in new platforms," the company said in a statement.

Monsanto said its seed business will remain the main driver of growth through 2019, contributing an estimated $4 billion in profit over that period.

Sales of the company's best-selling product, genetically-enhanced corn seeds, declined 16 percent in the most recent three-month period as more farmers switched from planting corn to soybeans. The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects farmers to plant 6 percent more acres of soybeans this year than in 2013, amid predictions of tight supply and higher global demand.


This Fourth of July, Americans will pay more for their backyard barbecues than ever before. The inaugural 2014 Rabobank BBQ Index examines the composition of a ten-person barbecue and how rising commodity prices have impacted the cost over the years, showing an overall price increase from $ 51.90 in 2004 to $55.62during the financial crisis in 2007, to a total of $66.82 in 2014.

Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Rabobank BBQ Index tracks the price of typical barbecue ingredients, from main dishes of grilled chicken or a cheeseburger on a bun topped with lettuce, tomato and pickles, to chips and ice cream on the side and soda and beer to wash it down.

"While commodity price fluctuations are not always passed on to retail prices, American consumers will feel some significant market changes this Fourth of July," said Bill Cordingley, Head of Food and Agribusiness Research at Rabobank. "The beef market has exploded this year and retail ground beef prices, the heart and soul of the American barbecue, are up an astonishing 71% over the last five years. We think there will be more pluck than chuck this year as some consumers lean to chicken sandwiches over burgers."

BBQ Index Breakdown
Meat: Combined, beef and chicken make up one-quarter of the Index and they each tell a different story. While beef has seen the large increase of 71 percent in five years, including 14 percent over last year, chicken prices have remained fairly flat, up just three percent over five years and one percent since last year. According to Rabobank analysts, cattle herds in the United States are the smallest in 63 years and exports have grown substantially, using a larger share of U.S. production, which has driven up the cost. Meanwhile, chicken exports have also expanded, mainly for dark meat. While export prices have increased, domestic white meat demand has remained steady, maintaining stable prices in the U.S.

Dairy: Retail cheese and ice cream prices have both jumped 15 percent in the past five years. Most of the gains in cheese have occurred in the last year, with prices up 11 percent. While U.S. demand for dairy has slowed in recent years, growing demand in China and other developing markets has kept prices rising. U.S. milk typically used for cheese and ice cream is now increasingly shipped overseas as powder. In Q1 2014 U.S. dairy exports rose 26 percent*, and 13 percent of milk produced in the U.S. is now shipped internationally. And with a recent study** saying dairy fats are not bad for you, U.S. prices could go even higher if demand grows both at home and abroad, putting pressure on supplies.

Beverages: Ask your friends to bring the beer, as it comprises 28% of the total barbecue cost. The price of 20 beers has increased by 10 percent over the past five years, as the popularity of more expensive "craft" beers has pushed domestic and premium prices upward. "The two weeks leading up to holidays like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July are some of the biggest in beer sales, regardless of price," said a Rabobank beverages analyst. "However, companies will still heavily promote their products and consumers typically load up on beer at home during these key weekends."Soda prices have increased a small four percent over the last five years and are down one percent year-over-year, as slower consumer demand has increased the amount of discounting.

Bread/Snacks: Price-wise it makes sense to keep burgers in the bun: prices are flat compared to 2013 and down one percent over 5 years. In general, wheat prices are dropping with the whole grain complex due to increased global production, particularly this year. Chip prices are also down because people are moving towards lower-fat snack foods, decreasing three percent year-over-year.

Veggies: The drought in Mexico increased prices for tomatoes by 12 percent compared to last year  but vegetables are, as always, the lowest percentage of the Index and the healthier items.   

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