Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Tuesday February 23 Ag News

UNMC study to gauge heart disease risk in Nebraska farmers

Most people think American farmers lead an active lifestyle that keeps them in shape. But just as advanced machinery, computers and fast-food have influenced the general population, so has it influenced farmers.

The University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing Lincoln Division has launched a pilot study to gauge heart disease risk in farmers. The $20,000 study is funded by the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health at the UNMC College of Public Health and will recruit farmers with the help of two public health districts that cover nine counties in northeast and southeast Nebraska.

“We picture farmers as lifting hay bales and working with cattle,” said Paula Schulz, Ph.D., associate professor, UNMC College of Nursing Lincoln Division. “But, so much of farming is automated today that farmers don’t do as much physical work.

“They have air conditioned cabs with GPS. They have three-wheelers to check on livestock or drive to the range or barn, they are in front of their computers and eating more fast food like the general population,” she said.

Dr. Schulz, principal investigator of the study, said those living in rural areas with geographical and cultural barriers experience greater health disparities in receiving standard risk factor reduction strategies.

She said little is known about the physical activity levels and dietary habits of farmers in today’s environment.

“We have a large number of farmers in Nebraska and because of the disparities that exist, different lifestyle strategies are needed to reduce the risk of heart disease and address health promotion. We saw a need and found out no one has done studies to objectively measure physical activity in farmers.”

Researchers will recruit 40 individuals age 19 and older whose main occupation is farming. Recruitment will occur through two public health districts -- Public Health Solutions in southeast Nebraska and Elkhorn Logan Valley in northeast Nebraska. The counties include Fillmore, Gage, Jefferson, Saline, Thayer, Burt, Cuming, Madison and Stanton counties.

In the one-year study, researchers will collect information about physical activity and dietary habits, quality of life and cardiovascular disease. The study requires participants to complete survey questions and wear a device that measures activity during peak farming season and during off season.

Researchers hope the information from the small study can be used in future grant proposals to identify strategies that could be tailored to the farming lifestyle to reduce heart disease risk.

Co-investigators of the study are Lani Zimmerman Ph.D., College of Nursing Lincoln Division and Patrick Johansson, M.D., UNMC College of Public Health. Farmers interested in participating can contact Paula Schulz at (402) 472-7336 or

Nebraska Corn is reminding farms to “Take a Second for Safety” during Grain Bin Safety Week

On-farm grain storage is on the rise—and consequently—so are fatal accidents associated with grain handling and storage. That’s why the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Corn Growers Association are placing special emphasis on grain handling safety during Grain Bin Safety Week, February 21-27, 2016. In observance of the week, Nebraska Corn’s goal is to help prevent grain related accidents by increasing awareness of grain bin safety on farms and commercial grain-handling facilities.

“National statistics show that farming is one of the most dangerous occupations in America,” said David Merrell, farmer from St. Edward, Nebraska and chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “With on-farm safety a continual effort at Nebraska Corn, we believe it is always important to remind farmers, grain elevators and other grain handlers to slow down and take a second for safety when working with stored grain. We want both grain handlers and emergency responders to understand how to avoid grain bin accidents—and how to help someone who does end up in trouble in a grain bin.”

Record high yields, combined with an upward trend in on-farm grain storage capacity has experts projecting an increase in grain engulfment accidents. In 2015 alone, there were more than 22 reported grain bin entrapments, resulting in 11 fatalities. Grain engulfment accidents can happen in a blink of an eye, with just one misstep or a moment of distraction, a grain handler could find himself in a grain entrapment emergency. For instance, using a 10-inch auger, it takes a mere 25 seconds for a 6-foot person to be completely buried in grain.

“Grain Bin Safety Week provides a forum for the agricultural community to help prevent these tragic accidents from occurring,” said Morgan Wrich, program director for the Nebraska Corn Growers Association. “With the hectic spring season around the corner, many Nebraska farmers are busy handling their on-farm grain storage—making this annual observance a timely opportunity to remind them and other grain handlers of the hazards of working around grain.”

With the proper safety procedures, grain bin accidents are preventable. That’s why it is important to take the extra second and follow all the safety rules when it comes to working with grain stored in bins. Here are a few grain bin safety tips to keep in mind when you are working with stored grain:

• Use inspection holes or grain level markers to understand what’s happening inside the bin. Use a pole from outside the bin to break up grain bridges.
• You should enter a grain bin only if absolutely necessary. If you must get into the bin, use a body harness secured to the outside of the bin. Have at least two people watching over you as you enter and work inside the bin.
• Use hand signals to communicate—and make sure everyone you’re working with knows what those signals are.

These safety tips and more will be emphasized throughout Grain Bin Safety Week on Nebraska Corn Board’s website:

USDA Seeks Project Proposals to Support Rural Nebraska Businesses

USDA Rural Development State Director Maxine Moul has announced that Nebraska producers can benefit from the 2016 Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program.  VAPG awards competitive grants that facilitate the creation and development of value-added, famer-owned businesses.  The VAPG program will have additional funding compared to recent years, because of authorizations in the 2014 Farm Bill.

“The VAPG program is USDA’s premier rural development tool for producers,” said Moul.  “We want to continue helping agricultural producers across the state by enabling farmers, ranchers, and cooperatives to grow their businesses through the development and marketing of new and existing products.”

The VAPG program contributes to business creation in rural areas, while also enhancing food choices for consumers.  Independent agricultural producers, farmer or rancher cooperatives, and producer controlled entities are eligible.  VAPG grants may be used for planning activities or working capital expenses related to producing or marketing a value-added product.

Since the inception of the program, Nebraska’s USDA Rural Development has awarded 104 Value-Added Producer Grants totaling $11.8 million.

To discuss applicant and project eligibility or for more information on the VAPG program, please contact the following Business Program Specialists.
-    Brant Richardson, or (402) 437-5568
-    Daniel Janke, or (402) 371-5350 Extension 115

Changes in Energy Use Can Lead to Savings for Swine Producers

Two extremely important questions for swine producers to understand are knowing how much energy is being used and how much should be used in their facilities. By benchmarking their anticipated energy use, producers are able to compare their use with other similar facilities and determine if their energy expenditures are reasonable.

A new publication from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s Farm Energy series titled "Benchmarking energy usage for swine producers" (PM 3063e) helps facility managers determine the approximate level of energy that should be used to both heat swine in the winter and keep them cool in warmer months.

“It is difficult for producers to know if they have been using excess energy in their swine facilities if they don’t have a benchmark with which to compare,” said Jay Harmon, professor and extension livestock housing specialist in agricultural and biosystems engineering at Iowa State University. “While annual usage may vary with pig size or the severity of weather, comparing to some sort of standard helps determine if producers should investigate changes in their energy usage further.”

Data was gathered from thirty production facilities in Iowa and Minnesota, with finishing swine, wean-finish and sow farms examined. The findings for finishing and wean-finish swine were also divided between facilities that used curtain barns and those who employed tunnel barns.

Using their findings, Harmon and Dana Schweitzer, program coordinator with the Iowa State University Farm Energy Conservation and Efficiency Initiative, were able to determine ranges for annual electrical and propane usage.

After comparing the ranges of suggested energy use, producers can determine if their outputs are higher or lower than similar facilities. If energy usage is higher than it should be, there are several ways to create possible savings.

Propane is primarily used for building heat and the biggest source of excess energy consumption tends to be over-ventilation or improper controller settings. Something as simple as adjusting the controller setting can lead to savings. Sub-metering equipment or observing run cycles can also help spot a ventilation problem.

Energy consumption can be minimized with proper management, leading directly to an increase in profit. Being aware of costs and comparing them to the benchmarking numbers in the publication can help producers develop a plan to increase their savings.

Protect Cattle Herd with Vaccination Programs

Choosing the correct type of vaccine to use on beef and dairy cattle is extremely important to the long-term health of a herd.

Guidelines for choosing the correct vaccination program and a timeline for giving those vaccines are laid out in a new Iowa State University Extension and Outreach publication titled ‘Beef and Dairy Cattle Vaccination Programs’ (IBC 111).

The publication is authored by Grant Dewell, associate professor in beef production and extension beef veterinarian, and Patrick Gorden, senior clinician in veterinary diagnostics and production animal medicine at Iowa State. It can be accessed online at the ISU Extension and Outreach Store.

“Good vaccination programs are vital to establishing an animal health program to control infectious diseases in cattle,” Dewell said. “Each cow herd is unique and vaccine programs should be tailored to meet the potential challenges along with a solid biosecurity program.”

Vaccine plans change throughout the life of the cow and greatly depend on their purpose. A vaccination program for a dairy cow can be much different than one for a pastured beef cow. Different types of vaccines are also available, with antiserums and modified live viral vaccines two of the most common.

“Although beef and dairy cattle are susceptible to the same infectious agents, the facilities and management of the cattle can produce remarkably different risk scenarios,” Dewell said. “Work with a veterinarian that is familiar with the health parameters of your operation to design a vaccination program for your beef or dairy herd.”

The new publication highlights several common diseases that require vaccinations and provides guidelines for vaccinating members of the herd. The type of vaccines that should be given before a calf is weaned, prior to breeding and before calving are also addressed.

Farm Bureau: TPP Will Boost Farm Exports, Income

The Trans-Pacific Partnership will tear down trade barriers and help level the playing field for U.S. agricultural exports to 11 nations across the Pacific Rim. Ratifying TPP will boost annual net farm income in the United States by $4.4 billion, compared to not approving the pact, according to an economic analysis conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“TPP will mean a boat-load of expanded exports and increased demand for America’s agricultural products,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said. “Clearly, America’s farmers and ranchers have much to gain from approval of TPP and we support its ratification. American agriculture is a growth industry, and to continue that trend, we must expand our market opportunities.”

Not approving the trade deal would have adverse effects, too.

“While our farmers and ranchers have a lot to gain with passage, the consequences of not approving the deal would be harmful,” Duvall said. “Every day we delay means lost markets as other TPP countries implement the deal’s advantages with each other. We are already arriving at the party late because, right now, expanded trade due to TPP is going on across the Pacific Rim – just without us.”

While procedural steps along the way will take time, Duvall said “the sooner TPP is ratified, the better it will be for American agriculture.”

AFBF’s analysis forecasts farm-price increases for corn (5 cents per bushel), soybeans (12 cents per bushel), wheat (2 cents per bushel) and rice (16 cents per hundredweight). While cotton prices are not projected to change, cash receipts are projected to increase by $21 million.

AFBF also predicts price increases for beef ($2.66 per hundredweight), pork ($2.45 per hundredweight) and poultry ($1.40 per hundredweight). In the dairy sector, prices will increase for butter ($2.81 per hundredweight), cheese ($1.68 per hundredweight), nonfat dry milk ($1.29 per hundredweight) and all milk (21 cents per hundredweight).

Net trade is expected to increase for rice, cotton, beef, pork, poultry, butter, cheese, soybeans and products and non-fat dry milk, according to AFBF’s analysis.

While the analysis projects that the net trade for corn will decline by 45.3 million bushels, overall demand and use for corn is forecast to increase by 54.2 million bushels. Corn revenues are expected to rise by $680 million per year and prices are projected to rise by 5 cents per bushel, due to higher domestic feed use from additional beef and pork exports created by TPP.

The agreement has been approved by negotiators from the 12 TPP nations. The U.S. International Trade Commission is preparing an official analysis for the administration, which will formally ask Congress to ratify the deal.

NCBA Urges Swift Action on TPP

Today, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association sent a letter on behalf of its members and state affiliates urging quick passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. NCBA President Tracy Brunner said cattle producers cannot afford to wait any longer for passage of this critical agreement.

“The value exports add to U.S. beef is undeniable,” said Brunner. “Asia and the Pacific Rim are extremely valuable markets for U.S. beef. We not only export steaks and ground beef, but this region demands high quality variety meats like beef tongue. Those products bring a premium in these markets and add value back to producers here at home. Trade is an investment in our future, profitability for the next generation.”

In 2015, trade added an estimated $325 per head in value. Japan is the largest export market for U.S. beef, amounting to $1.3 billion this past year. Currently, U.S. beef faces a 38.5 percent tariff in Japan. With the implementation of the Australia-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, Australian beef has a 10 percent tariff advantage over U.S. beef.

“Due to the preferential agreement between Australia and Japan, U.S. producers have lost over $100 million in sales to Japan this past year,” said Brunner. “The only way to level the playing field, stop the erosion of our market and rebuild market share is passage of TPP. Once TPP is passed the tariff rate on our beef into Japan will immediately reduce to 27.5 percent and continue to reduce to 9 percent over 16 years.”

There are around 260 preferential trade agreements in force worldwide, only 14 of which include the United States. The NCBA urges Congress to quickly take up and pass the TPP to ensure a viable future for U.S. beef exports.

NFU Contests TPP’s Benefits for U.S. Agriculture

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is having a hard time attracting much support on Capitol Hill, so the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) briefed reporters today about TPP’s benefits in hopes of reviving the fledgling trade deal. But one farm organization, representing 200,000 family farmers and ranchers, was quick to point out that USDA’s projections of job growth and rural prosperity closely mirror the failed promises of past trade pacts.

National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson offered the following statement following today’s USDA media call:

“The year-after-year growth of the U.S. trade deficit is an alarming trend for an already stressed agriculture economy. To broadly categorize agriculture as benefitting from this agreement is not giving due diligence to the serious concerns that are not addressed by TPP.

“While access to global markets is important for American agriculture, a trade agreement that does little to fix currency manipulation, reign in foreign predatory trade practices, or improve the $531 billion trade imbalance is not the solution.

“In its current form, the TPP stands to hurt our rural economies by pitting American jobs against foreign labor that is paid mere pennies per hour. Beyond the farm gate, any consumer that cares about where their food comes from should be concerned with the TPP.

“This is an issue that affects all Americans alike. I continue to urge Congress to give thoughtful consideration to opposing the TPP.”

In January, Johnson testified to the U.S. International Trade Commission about TPP.

USDA Cold Storage Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers on January 31, 2016 were up 9 percent from the previous month and up 7 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were up 1 percent from the previous month and up 5 percent from last year. Total beef is a record high for the month of January, since the data was first recorded in 1915. Frozen pork supplies were up 17 percent from the previous month and up 7 percent from last year. Total pork is a record high for the month of January, since the data was first recorded in 1915. Stocks of pork bellies were up 14 percent from last month and up 13 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on January 31, 2016 were up 5 percent from the previous month and up 11 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were down 4 percent from the previous month but up 13 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were up 44 percent from last month and up 3 percent from January 31, 2015.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on January 31, 2016 were up 3 percent from the previous month and up 12 percent from January 31, 2015. Butter stocks were up 26 percent from last month and up 32 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks were down 8 percent from last month but up 8 percent from a year ago.  Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 6 percent from last month but up 6 percent from a year ago.

Rate of Drop for Net Farm Income to Slow Down

USDA's Economic Research Service recently released its Farm Income forecast for 2016. Net cash income and net farm income (which includes the value and costs of items like depreciation, home consumption of farm goods, and unsold inventory) are both expected to fall slightly compared to 2015, but by much less than last year.

USDA Chief Economist Dr. Robert Johansson says net cash income is expected to fall by 2.5%, or about $2.3 billion, and net farm income by 3%, or about $1.6 billion. Last year net cash income fell by 27% and net farm income by 38%.

A large portion of the forecast decline is from lower livestock receipts, expected to be down by about $7.9 billion. Crop receipts are also forecast to be lower by $1.6 billion. On the other hand, input costs are forecast to be down by $3.8 billion, and government payments are expected to be $3.3 billion higher.

The cost of production relative to projected sales remains tight for most commodities. Returns over variable costs leaves very little additional revenue to cover cash rent or pay the operator.

As a result, it is likely farmers will continue to rely on reserves built up when farm incomes were record high and to lower costs wherever possible, including renegotiating rental contracts, minimizing input costs, and possibly taking out more operating loans.

A slightly higher debt (mostly from operating loans) and lower assets (from some erosion in land values) will result in a slight increase in the debt-to-asset level in 2016. While such an increase indicates rising financial pressures, those ratios still remain near historic lows.

The lowest debt-to-asset ratio we have seen for decades was 11.3% in 2012, and the highest was 22.2% in 1985 during the farm financial crisis. This year the ratio is forecast to be 13.2%, compared to 12.7% in 2015.

The higher the debt is relative to assets (the lower the equity), the greater the indication of financial stress in the sector.

American Farm Bureau to Support Roberts’ Senate GMO Bill to Protect Ag Innovation

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s Board of Directors today voted to support efforts of Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) to move forward with a bill to pre-empt state GMO labeling mandates.

“The Senate Agriculture Committee this week is marking up a bill to provide American consumers a wealth of easily accessible, accurate information about GMOs through a voluntary, national GMO labeling program,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said. “The bill would pre-empt a patchwork of mandatory and misleading state GMO labeling laws founded more on scare-tactics than science, and we must move this process forward.”

Duvall said Chairman Roberts’ bill will provide consumers access to information they need to make informed choices in the marketplace. He emphasized, however, that AFBF would closely monitor the bill’s progress to ensure it is compatible with AFBF’s grassroots policy.

“The key provisions of this effort will ensure greater transparency for consumers, with an emphasis on science rather than state-by-state scare tactics,” Duvall said, adding that 750 Farm Bureau members from across the nation are taking that message to Capitol Hill this week during a grassroots fly-in.

2016 Commodity Classic Learning Center Sessions Include Wide Range of Farmer-Focused Topics & Issues

From microbes to honey bees, from unmanned aerial systems to measuring sustainability, from global weather patterns to a more efficient office space—the line-up of Learning Center Sessions at the 2016 Commodity Classic offers a wide range of topics designed to help farmers become even better in every aspect of their operations.

The 2016 Commodity Classic, held March 3-5 in New Orleans, Louisiana, promises to be the biggest ever, with the largest trade show in event history and record attendance.

Learning Center sessions are in-depth discussions of current issues and topics that have a direct impact on a farmer’s productivity and profitability.  Learning Center Sessions complement the other educational experiences at Commodity Classic including the Early Riser Marketing Sessions, What’s New Sessions. Mini What’s New Sessions and the new AG CONNECT Main Stage on the trade show floor.

This year’s Learning Center sessions include the following presentations:

    “Will Microbes Lead the Next Yield Revolution?” which will highlight advances in technology related to plant-microbe interactions and how microbes can be used to increase plant health and reduce the need for additional inputs.

    “Farm Different to Break Through Yield Barriers” will feature a panel of progressive growers sharing their use of specific cultural and management practices to farm differently for higher yields.

    “Hot Topics from Our Nation’s Capital 2016” features a panel of DC insiders discussing what’s hot in Congress and regulatory agencies.

    “The Bee Understanding Project” will explain the initiative to improve communication and collaboration between beekeepers, crop advisors, seed companies, farmers and others who are important in the health of honey bees.

    “Precision Farming from Above: The Future of Satellite Technology on the Farm” will explore the latest breakthroughs in crop health monitoring and remote sensing technology.

    “New Mode of Action in Soybeans” will provide information for better decision-making in weed management and improving the health of soybean fields.

    “Amplifying Agriculture’s Authentic Voices: Project 155” will outline ways in which farmers can comfortably connect with consumers and have conversations that impact the way people view modern farms.

    “The Future of Fuel” will provide an update on cellulosic ethanol production and a program designed to expand the flex fuel infrastructure and increase demand for American Ethanol.

    “Measuring & Reporting Sustainability on the Farm: Progress and Challenges” will feature a diverse panel discussing the metrics and information required to meet consumers’ interest in the sustainability of the products they use.

    “Agronomic Strategies to Improve Soybean Yields” will provide the latest agronomic strategies to break through the soybean yield ceiling.

    “Workspace Rescue: Organize Your Office” will outline ways to turn your farm office space into a productive oasis instead of a stressful, clutter-strewn mess.

    “Straight Talk about Robotic Aircraft on Your Farm in 2016” will feature the current rules and regulations governing unmanned aerial systems and how these systems can help in a farming operation.

    “Judging the Forest, Watching the Trees” is a complete look at current weather and soil moisture conditions in the U.S. and around the globe—and how these conditions may affect commodity markets.

    “Healthy Soils, Happy Farmers:  Reshaping 21st Century Conservation Management for Sustainability and Prosperity” will highlight the activities of the Soil Health Partnership and how farmers are improving soil health, increasing prosperity and reducing environmental impact.

“Maximizing Farm Profitability and Managing Nutrients with Drip Irrigation Technology” will highlight the value of drip irrigation as a crop management tool and its role in improving nutrient management for a more sustainable operation.

“Commodity Classic is all about helping farmers become even better at what they do. The quality, relevance and diversity of these Learning Center Sessions is a direct result of the farmer-focused, farmer-driven focus at Commodity Classic,” said Commodity Classic Co-Chair Wesley Spurlock, a Texas corn farmer.  “Farmers review the proposals for Learning Center Sessions and select those that will have the greatest value and bottom-line impact for their colleagues who attend the event.  We want farmers to leave Commodity Classic feeling better informed, inspired and energized.”

Attendees are encouraged to download the Commodity Classic mobile app to build their own schedule, receive alerts and keep up on event details.   Information on downloading the mobile app is available at

Three Fertilizers Continue to Plunge

As has been the case over the last couple of months, some retail fertilizer prices are showing noticeable declines the third week of February 2016, according to retail fertilizer prices tracked by DTN. All eight major fertilizers were lower compared to a month earlier.

Anhydrous slid 7% compared to last month and the nitrogen fertilizer averaged $538 per ton. Both MAP and UAN32 were down 5% compared to a month earlier. MAP averaged $496/ton and UAN28 was at $259/ton.

The remaining five fertilizers edged lower but just slightly. DAP averaged $477/ton, potash $375/ton, urea $370/ton, 10-34-0 $565/ton and UAN32 $309/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was $0.40/lb.N, anhydrous $0.33/lb.N, UAN28 $0.46/lb.N and UAN32 $0.48/lb.N.

According to DTN's weekly retail surveys, all fertilizers are lower compared to a year earlier. All but one fertilizer is now double digits lower. The only fertilizer not down much is 10-34-0, which is down 5%.

However, DAP is now 16% lower, both MAP and UAN32 are 17% less expensive and both UAN28 and urea are now 22% less expensive than a year ago. In addition, both potash and anhydrous are 24% lower compared to a year earlier.

Growth Energy Members Discuss Eliminating Market Barriers to Ethanol

Today, Growth Energy, the largest trade association representing the producers and supporters of the ethanol industry, held the first panel at their seventh annual Executive Leadership Conference in Orlando, Fla. The panel was entitled, “Don’t Get Stuck in the Gears – Eliminating Market Barriers to Ethanol.”

There is no shortage of obstacles hindering the sale of ethanol. The uncertainty surrounding the Renewable Fuel Standard, consistently shifting legal challenges on the state and federal levels and the Reid Vapor Pressure debate are all barriers to the widespread adoption of higher blends of ethanol, such as E15.

Discussion focused on the important actions the policy, legal and regulatory teams must take so the industry can overcome these hurdles. Growth Energy’s efforts are clear - to usher in the widespread availability of renewable fuels so that consumers have an unrestricted choice of renewable fuels when they go to fill up at the pump.

The panel was moderated by Mitch Miller, CEO of Carbon Green BioEnergy, and panelists included Chris Bliley, Director of Regulatory Affairs at Growth Energy, John Fuher, Director of Government Affairs at Growth Energy, Kristy Moore, founder and Principle of KM Consulting, Shailesh Sahay, Regulatory Counsel at POET, and Amy Davis of Government Affairs at Novozymes.

During the discussion, Amy Davis noted that, “In many ways the challenges of today are not that much different than the past - the RFS fight is a battle about market share.”

Kristy Moore added that as we are pushing hard to get E15 treated equally, we are having to ward off some significant attacks. Moore said, “We are working to help define our fuels, not restrict them. E15 is the most studied fuel in decades. We’ve got huge markets like Texas and Florida that are moving E15 into the marketplace with zero issues.”

The panel concluded by noting the importance of engaging lawmakers, influencers and stakeholders to build the support necessary to remove the obstacles to ensure widespread adoption of higher blends.

International Policy Experts Discuss Ethanol’s Global Role

Today, Growth Energy, the largest trade association representing the producers and supporters of the ethanol industry, held another panel entitled, “Ethanol on the World Stage,” at their seventh annual Executive Leadership Conference in Orlando, Fla.

As uncertainty has loomed domestically, ethanol producers have increasingly looked abroad for new opportunities in growing international markets that are in need of a cleaner burning, renewable fuel. Additionally, producers have progressively exported higher levels of DDGS, a co-product of ethanol that has become a popular high-protein feedstock. DDGS are becoming widely incorporated into the livestock feed industry overseas due to their versatility and high nutrient concentration, and have thus evolved into a key component of the ethanol industry’s exports. In fact, 2015 was a record year for DDGS exports, while fuel ethanol exports were also very strong.

The discussion focused on the important role that ethanol occupies in the global marketplace and the need to seize every opportunity to expand ethanol utilization worldwide. Panelists also reviewed the importance of additional trade missions to identify new markets and expand existing ones. These efforts are designed to produce win-win opportunities for our international customers, global ethanol producers and the U.S. ethanol industry.

The panel was moderated by Ray Defenbaugh, CEO & Chairman of Big River Resources, LLC. Panelists included Paul Trupo, Director of the USDA FAS Global Policy Analysis Division, Joel Williams, Manager of Ethanol Trading at ADM, Mark Marquis, CEO of Marquis Energy, LLC, Amit Sachdev, South Asia Representative (India Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka) at the U.S. Grains Council, and Junyang Jiang, Deputy Director of the U.S. Grains Council China World Office.

During the discussion, Ray Defenbaugh stressed the importance of the partnership with the U.S Grains Council, as it is helping create new opportunities across the globe for exports. During the panel, it was announced by Mark Marquis, a board member of Growth Energy, that Growth Energy has set a goal to export at least 2 billion gallons of fuel ethanol by 2022, calling the program, “At Least 2 by 22.”

Marquis added that, “foreign market development needs to be an additional prong of our major activities.” He added, “In light of the COP21 agreement, I think there is a general realization that ethanol can be an important tool in improving air quality in heavily populated areas such as India and China.”

Paul Trupo explained that, “Opening new markets in foreign countries is not always strictly market driven. It often requires changes in regulatory systems and influencing policymakers.” Trupo added that, “We need this export market to continue to balance our supply/demand equation through a combination of domestic and foreign sales.

As the panel concluded, the general consensus was that there are tremendous opportunities for exports moving forward and that Growth Energy and its members will continue to participate in trade missions to open new markets to meet the growing global demand for ethanol and DDGS.

CWT Assists with 2.1 Million Pounds of Cheese, Butter  and Whole Milk Powder Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 12 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Michigan Milk Producers Association, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold), and Tillamook County Creamery Association who have contracts to sell 1.483 million pounds (673 metric tons) of Cheddar Colby, Gouda and Monterey Jack cheese, 220,462 pounds (100 metric tons) of butter (82% milkfat) and 352,740 pounds (160 metric tons) of whole milk powder to customers in Asia, Central America, the Middle East and South America. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from February through August 2016.

So far this year, CWT has assisted member cooperatives who have contracts to sell 7.487 million pounds of cheese, 5.401 million pounds of butter and 5.745 million pounds of whole milk powder to eleven countries on five continents. The sales are the equivalent of 232.574 million 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. This, in turn, positively impacts all U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

Food System Biosecurity Featured at NIAA Annual Conference, Species by Species

“I’ve been impressed every year with the NIAA Annual Conference themes and how they are presented,” says Paul Rodgers, Deputy Director of Policy at the American Sheep Industry Association. “The General Sessions give a broad prospective of the year’s theme, and the special Sessions set aside for individual species really let you dig into the topic and its impact on your own area of the industry.” NIAA member Rodgers serves as a co-chair, along with Ron Miller, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, for the NIAA Small Ruminant Committee and its session at this year’s NIAA Annual Conference to be held in April in Kansas City, Mo.

Each year, the National Institute for Animal Agriculture chooses a theme for its Annual Conference from the most important and trending topics impacting species across the animal agriculture industry. The 2016 theme "From Farm to Table – Food System Biosecurity for Animal Agriculture" will focus on identifying risks, challenges and solutions of animal disease epidemics at a time when both the swine and poultry industries are still recovering from much-publicized and economically damaging disease outbreaks.

Rodgers says the Small Ruminant Session speakers will offer a different perspective on how biosecurity will impact Small Ruminants and animal agriculture as a whole.  “We don’t necessarily share all the same diseases as swine and poultry, but we can all benefit from what they have been learning about transportation and biosecurity.”

Dr. Glynn Tonsor, Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Kansas State University, will be addressing the economic risk of animal disease spread and the investment into biosecurity. Tonsor will approach the subject from the regulatory side of food safety and animal health, as well as the practices, choices and incentives which drive decision making on biosecurity.

“Integrity of Risk Assessment Science Underlying USDA Policy” is the title of Dr. Mark Thurmond’s presentation to the Small Ruminant Session.  Thurmond is Professor Emeritus at the Department of Medicine & Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, at University of California, Davis. He will look at the difference between qualitative and quantitative risk assessment in risk modeling, and speak to the process of putting a numerical values on risk.

Dr. Linda Detweiler, Clinical Professor, Department of Pathobiology & Population Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, at Mississippi State University, will present on the subject of “Emergency Response Preparedness: Considerations for the Small Ruminant Industry.” She will focus on diseases more specific to the Small Ruminant industry.

Biosecurity, says Rodgers, is relevant to all of animal agriculture. It goes hand in hand with animal care, food security and the economic components of loss. In addition, Rodgers says biosecurity is very important to the Small Ruminant industry both at home and as it relates to trade. The Small Ruminant industry in the US may not be as large as in some other countries, but it is still a very important one. Sheep and goats are a major source of red meat and natural fibers around the world. “On both sides, import and export,” says Rodgers, “meeting safety regulations and having secure processes in place can impact whether or not animals are considered valuable and influence the marketplace.”

The NIAA Annual Conference will be held April 4-6, 2016 at the Downtown Marriott in Kansas City, Mo. and will provide speakers and presentations for twelve separate agendas for Species Committees and Issues Council meetings within the Conference along with the General Sessions, pre-Conference tour, and an additional special BVD Forum following the Conference on April 7th. For registration information go to NIAA's website, 


They are warm and caring, yet tough as nails. They’re dedicated, nurturing, gritty, loving, hard-working and fun go-getters who go above and beyond to care for and protect their farms, families, communities and the agriculture industry they love. Monsanto Company once again wants to recognize these inspiring women, and today announced it has officially opened up nominations for its 2016 America’s Farmers Mom of the Year contest.

“This is the seventh year we’ve held the America’s Farmers Mom of the Year contest, and each year we are introduced to the most phenomenal women,” says Tracy Mueller, Monsanto Corporate Brand Communications Manager. “We read every nomination and their stories are powerful, encouraging and hopeful. These women inspire us, and we’re proud, humbled and excited to share their stories with the rest of the country.”

Nominations are open from February 23, 2016, through March 29, 2016. Anyone can enter their favorite farm mom, whether it’s their mom, sister, aunt, daughter, friend or community member. Just visit during the nomination period and submit a brief essay online or by mail that explains how the nominated farm mom contributes to each of four areas -- her family, farm, community and the agriculture industry.

A panel of judges from American Agri-Women will once again review nominations and help Monsanto select five regional winners. They will specifically look for nominations that include all four areas addressed above (farm, family, community and agriculture). 

“So many women, particularly in agriculture, just focus on what needs to get done, and they do it – no matter what challenges or adversities they may be facing,” says Donnell Scott, Vice President of Education for American Agri-Women. “They don’t do it to get credit or attention. These women have a ‘get it done’ attitude and love what they do and who they do it for. We love reading about their efforts and are proud to help acknowledge their hard work and contributions.”

The five regional winners will be announced at the end of April, and each winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize. Profiles of the winners will then be posted to, where the public can vote for one national farm mom winner. Announced just prior to Mother’s Day, the national winner will receive an additional $5,000 cash prize above and beyond her regional prize, for a total of $10,000.

For more information on the program or for complete eligibility requirements and official contest rules visit Interested parties may also send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to America's Farmers Mom of the Year, Attn: Sue Dillon, 349 Marshall Ave., Ste. 200, St. Louis, MO 63119.

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