Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Wednesday September 27 Ag News

ACE member Siouxland Ethanol speaks at governors’ conference

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) member plant Siouxland Ethanol LLC brought biofuels to the forefront at this week’s 15th annual Tri-State Governors’ Conference in Sioux City, Iowa. The governors of Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota get together for this biannual event to discuss the issues impacting their respective states and the Siouxland region.

“These governors play a critically important role as persuasive spokespeople for biofuels and rural America,” said Brian Jennings, ACE Executive Vice President. “We commend the governors for leveraging their position to work on addressing our priorities with this administration’s White House and EPA.”

Each of the governors shared initiatives their states are implementing to support the use of ethanol-blended fuels during the conference. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds mentioned a test program for E30 in the Iowa Energy Plan. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, who recently keynoted ACE’s 30th annual conference in Omaha, expressed his optimism in working with the administration and the opportunity the biofuels industry possesses to further grow rural economies. South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard mentioned a state bid to bring E30 into the main state fleet fuel locations in Pierre, Brookings and Sioux Falls. He also mentioned that a greenfield ethanol plant, Ringneck Energy, is being constructed in Onida, South Dakota.

“It’s still a growth industry,” Gov. Daugaard said. “The ethanol plants’ balance sheets are strong, ready to grow, if we can just let the nation unleash them.”

The direct economic impact of the ethanol industry is calculated to be a combined total of more than $12 billion annually for Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota, with more than 80 plants in the tristate region producing more than 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol each year—almost half of the total annual production of ethanol nationwide.

Pam Miller, Siouxland Ethanol’s Board Chair and Director of Industry and Investor Relations, thanked the governors for their ethanol industry advocacy through their involvement on the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition and asked for their consideration of a plan to lead a Midwestern-focused E30 demonstration program in which states would receive a waiver from the EPA, which has already been requested, to allow E30 use in legacy (non-flex fuel) vehicles.

“We believe we can show positive results that will give consumers the confidence to benefit from using E30 in their cars today and look forward to cars that are optimized for E30 in the future,” Miller said. “Years ago, it took the leadership of our Midwestern governors to show that E10 was safe for our vehicles through similar demonstration projects.”


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               If you haven’t experienced a freeze yet this fall, you soon will.  And remember, a freeze can cause hazards for using some forages.

               When plants freeze, changes occur in their metabolism and composition that can poison livestock.  But you can prevent problems.

               Sorghum-related plants, like cane, sudangrass, shattercane, and milo can be highly toxic for a few days after frost.  Freezing breaks plant cell membranes.  This breakage allows the chemicals that form prussic acid, which is also called cyanide, to mix together and release this poisonous compound rapidly.  Livestock eating recently frozen sorghums can get a sudden, high dose of prussic acid and potentially die.  Fortunately, prussic acid soon turns into a gas and disappears into the air.  So wait 3 to 5 days after a freeze before grazing sorghums; the chance of poisoning then becomes much lower.

               Freezing also slows down metabolism in all plants.  This stress sometimes permits nitrates to accumulate in plants that are still growing, especially grasses like oats, millet, and sudangrass.  This build-up usually isn't hazardous to grazing animals, but green chop or hay cut right after a freeze can be more dangerous.

               Alfalfa reacts two ways to a hard freeze, down close to twenty degrees, cold enough to cause plants to wilt.  Nitrate levels can increase, but rarely to hazardous levels.  Freezing also makes alfalfa  more likely to cause bloat for a few days after the frost.  Then, several days later, after plants begin to wilt or grow again, alfalfa becomes less likely to cause bloat.  So waiting to graze alfalfa until well after a hard freeze is a good, safer management practice.

               Frost causes important changes in forages so manage them carefully for safe feed.

NRD Annual Conference Educates Attendees to Protect Nebraska’s Future

The Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) Annual Conference was held at the Younes Conference Center in Kearney, September 25th – 26th and focused on protecting lives, property and the future of Nebraska’s natural resources.  This year more than 400 Natural Resources Districts (NRD) managers, staff, board members, conservation partners and the public received new information on many natural resources and agriculture developments and projects going on now.

“This conference continues to exceed expectations,” said Jim Bendfeldt, president of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts.  “The Natural Resources Districts’ (NRD) Annual Conference educates hundreds of people every year on the newest technology, NRD conservation programs and latest data used to help conserve our water, soil and other vital natural resources.”

Participants had a variety of educational break-out sessions to choose from.  Sessions focused on NCORPE (Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement Project), joint water management plans, E. Coli, pasture and grassland burnings, Great Plains Windbreak Initiative and how water affects our national security. Other events included recognition of Hall of Fame inductees, conservation award winners, Master Conservationist awards and a speech by Lieutenant Governor Mike Foley.

The NARD Foundation which provides financial assistance to youth programs in natural resources and agriculture, raised more than $21,000 this year during its live and silent auctions, golf and shootout fundraisers! These funds will assist in supporting more than 11 different educational programs in Nebraska to encourage kids to learn more about our natural resources and consider a career in natural resources.

During the Hall of Fame ceremony, three individuals were inducted into the Natural Resources Hall of Fame. They include Dean Rasmussen from North Loup who’s a longtime board member of the Lower Loup NRD. Ron Fleecs from Beatrice is a retired general manager of the Lower Big Blue NRD in Beatrice. The third is Gayle Starr who’s originally from Clay County. He currently lives in Lincoln. He is a retired division head of the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission after assisting in creating the Natural Resources Districts in 1972. This is the NRDs’ 45th Anniversary.

“The inductees of the Natural Resources Districts Hall of Fame have spent their lifetimes working to make sure future generations will be able to enjoy the beauty and resources of this state just as we are today,” said Bendfeldt.

Nebraska Association of Resources Districts Conservation award winners include:
•          Director of the Year Award – Jim Johnson from Dix, NE – Nominated by South Platte NRD
•          Educator of the Year Award – Dennis Mottl from Palmer, NE, An Ag. Education Teacher – Nominated by Lower Loup NRD
•          Outstanding Grassland Conservation Award – Waits Ranch from Tryon, NE – Nominated by Twin Platte NRD
•          Outstanding Tree Planter Award – Scott Trost from Sidney, NE – Nominated by South Platte NRD
•          Outstanding Community Conservation Award -Western Nebraska Community College – Sidney Campus, Sidney, NE – Nominated by South Platte NRD
•          Outstanding Soil Stewardship Conservation Award – Ben and Paula Sue Steffen from Humboldt, NE – nominated by Nemaha NRD

Omaha World-Herald and IANR Master Conservationist Award Winners include:
-    Agriculture – Dennis and Imogene Wacker – nominated by Lower Elkhorn NRD

-    Education – Grand Island Senior High Success Academy – nominated by Central Platte NRD

New paper explores options for farm risk management

The Center for Rural Affairs today released “New option for farm risk management: Whole Farm Revenue Protection (WFRP) usage in Nebraska,” a report by Anna Johnson and Glen Ready, with support from Cora Fox, all Center for Rural Affairs Policy Program staff.

The authors take a look at WFRP, a crop insurance product designed to expand coverage for farmers and ranchers.

“Crop insurance has stepped into the spotlight as the highest costing federal farm program, at about $8 billion a year,” Johnson said. “Despite the size of the program, crop insurance has not been available for many types of crops. And, often, coverage is available only on a regional basis.”

Crop insurance options insure either the expected yield or expected revenue of a particular crop. WFRP insures the revenue of the entire operation, based on revenue history.

“This insurance option would provide farmers and ranchers with coverage for not only corn and soybeans, but also less common crops such as pumpkins, berries, and even some livestock,” Johnson said. “Because WFRP is a revenue product, farmers can file a claim only if their overall revenue for the year is lower than expected.”

Participation levels are low throughout the United States, so Center for Rural Affairs staff focused on Nebraska to investigate why farmers are not using this product. They conducted workshops and surveys with both farmers and insurance agents.

“Findings from the report show that while some farmers, ranchers, and crop insurance agents are aware of the opportunities offered through WFRP, many more are unfamiliar with the policy and its potential benefits,” Johnson said. “There is a need for outreach and education to answer basic questions about how WFRP works.”

To view a copy of the report,

Clarinda Livestock Auction Covered by IDALS Market Reporters

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey Tuesday announced that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship's livestock market reporters have recently begun coverage of feeder cattle sales at the Clarinda Livestock Auction in Clarinda, Iowa.

"Adding this livestock market allows the Department to capture a more complete picture of feeder cattle inventory and sales figures for both southwestern Iowa and for Iowa as a whole. We recognize that it is extremely important to livestock farmers to have timely and accurate information on livestock prices in their area, so we're pleased that this can add coverage of this market," Northey said.

The Livestock Market Reporting Program in Iowa has been collecting and recording data for over 60 years. In 2016, IDALS six livestock reporters collected sales figures on over 350,000 head of feeder cattle at 14 locations, more than 50,000 head of fed/slaughter cattle at three livestock auctions, and sales data on 30,000 head of goats and sheep.

The livestock markets covered by the Department are located in Bloomfield, Centerville, Creston, Denison, Dunlap, Humeston, Kalona, Knoxville, Lamoni, Russell, Sheldon, Sigourney, Tama, Sioux Center and Clarinda.

The program is done in cooperation with the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). Information collected from each sale report is available on the Department's website at In addition to these reports, the USDA uses collected information to compile numerous summary reports found on its website.

Most Fertilizer Prices Continue to Fall

The majority of average retail fertilizer prices continued to fall the third week of September 2017, according to fertilizer retailers surveyed by DTN. However, for the time in several months, multiple fertilizers were slightly higher in price.

Six of the eight major fertilizers were slightly lower compared to last month. DAP had an average price of $429 per ton, MAP $452/ton, 10-34-0 $416/ton, anhydrous $402/ton, UAN28 $211/ton and UAN32 $248/ton.

Two fertilizers were slightly higher compared to the previous month. Potash had an average price of $345 per ton and urea $312/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.34/lb.N, anhydrous $0.25/lb.N, UAN28 $0.38/lb.N and UAN32 $0.39/lb.N.

Prices for all but one retail fertilizer are lower compared to a year earlier. Two of the eight major fertilizers are double digits lower.

Anhydrous is now 19% lower from a year ago while 10-34-0 is 12% less expensive and UAN32 is 9% lower. UAN28 is 6% less expensive, urea is 3% lower, DAP is 3% less expensive and MAP is 1% lower. The one fertilizer higher compared to last year is potash which is now 8% more expensive.

U.S. Pork’s Commitment to Responsible Antibiotic Use

Nine months after the full implementation of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Guidance 209 and 213, America’s pig farmers continue to demonstrate their awareness and commitment to doing what’s right on the farm. Since the rules went into effect on Jan. 1, the National Pork Board has received only two calls into its farmer call center requesting clarification or information on the rule change.

“America’s 60,000 pig farmers are keenly aware of the change occurring on farms, and they were clearly ready, willing and able to meet the requirements of these new rules,” said Terry O’Neel, board president and a pig farmer from Friend, Nebraska. “To have just two calls into our call center tells me that the requirements are being met and our two-year proactive education plan has paid off.”

FDA guidance 209 and 213 ends the use of medically important antibiotics for growth promotion and increases veterinarian oversight for on-farm antibiotic use through the Veterinary Feed Directive and prescriptions. All human medically important antibiotics administered to pigs in feed and water must have direct veterinarian oversight. This strengthens an already strong veterinary-client-patient relationship between pig farmers and their veterinarians. Both also take proactive pig management and biosecurity steps to increase the health of pigs and reduce the need for antibiotics.

Close to home, O’Neel recently completed the USDA National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) survey on his pig farm. The survey reviewed written antibiotic-use records from July through December 2016. During the survey with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture veterinarian, it was revealed that O’Neel had reduced his antimicrobial use.

“We've improved our herd health practices on our farm and are already seeing a reduced need for antibiotics, all while improving our pigs’ health,” O’Neel said. “Third parties who try to evaluate antibiotic-use policies do not account for or understand the real change underway on today’s farms.”

O’Neel added that, “Veterinarians and farmers work every day to protect the health and welfare of their pigs, reduce antibiotic use and lower the carbon footprint of pork production to raise the safest food possible. It is truly a delicate balance for America's pig farmers and it is perplexing when others try to set arbitrary limits on antibiotic use that are actually detrimental to animal health, the environment and food safety.”

Among the highlights of the Pork Checkoff’s 2017 work includes building new collaborative relationships with third parties focused on understanding antimicrobial resistance and antibiotic stewardship initiatives. In 2017, the National Pork Board took part in workshops with other agriculture industry stakeholders and a multitude of agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGO) representing environmental, consumer, retail, foodservice and allied industries.

“We are working to develop universal standards on antimicrobial stewardship,” said Dr. Heather Fowler, director of producer and public health at the National Pork Board. “It begins with succinctly defining ‘stewardship’ so all of the players can build programs that are consistent across the board and where success is measurable.”

Part of the effort will also focus on antibiotic resistance – a complex issue that affects both veterinary and human medicine. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 47 million human prescriptions are not medically necessary, at least 30 percent of all prescriptions written. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that antibiotic resistance is a pressing health problem and is why pig farmers are committed to doing their part in defining antibiotic stewardship.

The National Pork Board is also continuing its work with Dr. Peter Davies, University of Minnesota, to develop a models and metrics platform to demonstrate overall reduction in on-farm antibiotic use.

“We’re in the process of finalizing the 2016 antibiotic usage benchmark data for the U.S. pork industry right now,” said Peter Davies, professor of veterinary medicine at the University of Minnesota. “This will be an essential tool to improve understanding of antibiotic prescription practices and will better educate pig farmers on using antibiotics correctly to keep animals healthy.”

Other 2017 projects include:
-    Hosting a live webcast which brought together experts in farming, veterinarian medicine and the retail and foodservice industries. More than 60,000 viewers attended the event online and 400 pork producers were in the live studio audience. A replay of the broadcast can be viewed online at:
-    Participating in a panel discussion at the annual Global Ag Investing conference in New York City to address the shared responsibility of antibiotic use in both animal and human health.
-    Hosting an Iowa farm tour with 20 journalist fellows of the National Press Foundation.

“Farmers understand their commitment to antibiotic stewardship and are making changes to their practices based on sound research and a commitment to animal welfare,” O’Neel said. “Consumers can rest assured that medically important antibiotics are no longer used for growth promotion.”

For more information on the National Pork Board’s efforts to assist farmers and others who want to learn more about responsible on-farm antibiotic use, visit

 Smith on Introduction of Tax Reform Framework

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement today on the introduction of the tax reform framework by the Trump administration, the House Committee on Ways and Means, and the Senate Committee on Finance.

“Today, we are joining with President Trump to outline our unified path forward on the first comprehensive, permanent tax reform in more than 30 years,” Smith said.  “Many principles I have advocated for during my years on the Ways and Means Committee, including lowering rates, simplifying compliance, and eliminating the double-taxation death tax, are included in the framework.

“Crucial reforms, such as reducing the number of tax brackets from seven to three and doubling the standard deduction to allow most Americans to file their taxes on a form the size of a postcard, will help taxpayers save time and more of their own money – which they can then invest back into our economy rather than handing it over to the IRS.  We are already working on turning the framework into a bill this fall to deliver a simpler, fairer tax code which will benefit all Americans, and I look forward to continuing to move this process forward.”

Cattlemen “Very Pleased” That Tax-Reform Blueprint Includes Death Tax Repeal, Will Fight to Maintain Existing Positive Provisions in Tax Code

Craig Uden, President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, today released the following statement in response to the “Unified Framework” for comprehensive tax reform legislation:

“Our Nation’s cattle producers are very pleased that President Trump and Republican leaders in Congress have maintained their long-standing commitment to American agriculture by including a full repeal of the onerous death tax in the Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code. We look forward to working with the Administration and lawmakers on Capitol Hill as pen meets paper on tax legislation, and will continue to demonstrate how the death tax and its associated costs adversely affect family-owned operations and the rural communities they support.

“Also, current provisions in the tax code that help livestock producers maintain economically viable businesses and support the success of future generations of farmers and ranchers must be preserved. Stepped-up basis, cash accounting, like-kind exchanges, cost recovery, and the deductibility of interest payments are just a handful of the provisions that allow agricultural producers to survive despite the many challenges we face, from market volatility and fluctuating input prices, to droughts, wildfires, and floods, to the challenge of generational transfers. We’ll closely monitor these provisions as more details on legislative language become available, and intend to fight tooth and nail for a tax code that supports America’s beef producers.”

Throughout September, NCBA has executed an extensive online media campaign to promote comprehensive tax reform. The group yesterday released the campaign's fourth video, which has collected more than 57,000 views in less than 24 hours. As the end of the campaign draws to a close, the videos featuring beef producers have already been viewed a combined 317,000 times and have reached more than 590,000 people on Facebook.

Secretary Perdue Statement on President Trump’s Tax Reform Agenda

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today applauded President Donald J. Trump’s vision of a broad reform of the American tax code, which will result in dramatic tax cuts for millions of American individuals, families, businesses, and family farmers, ranchers, and foresters. Secretary Perdue issued the following statement:

“The people of American agriculture work hard every day to provide food, fiber, and fuel for their fellow citizens, so they shouldn’t be overburdened by the tax collector as well. Most family farms operate as small businesses, with the line between success and failure frequently being razor thin. Add to that the complexity and costs of merely complying with the tax code, and their budgets are stretched even tighter. On top of it all, the unfair ‘Death Tax’ can cause too many family farms to be broken up and sold off to pay the tax bill, undoing lifetimes of toil and preventing further generations from carrying on. President Trump is right to push for reform and reductions in the tax code—an overhaul that is long overdue.”

AFBF Encouraged by Tax Framework, but Refinement Needed

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall

“Comprehensive tax reform is essential to addressing the financial challenges faced by America’s farmers and ranchers. The tax-reform framework announced today is an important step toward a fair and equitable tax system that encourages success, savings, investment and entrepreneurship.

“Farm Bureau is encouraged to see that this framework includes important principles such as lower tax rates for individuals who own businesses, elimination of the death tax and some business interest deductibility. Farm Bureau looks forward to working with tax writers to refine the proposal to ensure that tax reform lowers effective tax rates for farm and ranch businesses.

“Farmers and ranchers need permanent tax provisions like the continuation of cash accounting and like-kind exchanges, unlimited stepped-up basis and lower capital gains taxes. Agriculture is a high-risk, high-input, capital-intensive business and these provisions are essential to success. We look forward to working with Congress to assure that these meaningful reforms are included in any comprehensive tax package.”

NCGA Calls on EPA to Rescind 2015 WOTUS Rule

The National Corn Growers Association today asked the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to rescind the 2015 “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule and write a new rule that provides farmers with clarity and certainty, reduces red tape, and does not discourage farming practices that improve water quality.

“Corn farmers take very seriously the important role we play in helping the country meet its water quality goals, as laid out in state and federal statutes, including the Clean Water Act. We depend on clean water for our livelihood, and we are committed to conservation practices that protect our nation’s streams and rivers,” NCGA President Wesley Spurlock wrote in comments submitted today to the Agencies.

Spurlock called the 2015 rule inconsistent with the aims of the Clean Water Act, and noted that the rule also “has the perverse effect of making it harder for farmers to practice good soil and water conservation, nutrient management, and water quality protection practices.”

Farming practices such as grass waterways and buffer strips reduce sediment and nutrient runoff. Instead of encouraging these types of farming practices, the 2015 rule effectively discouraged them, due to both the bureaucratic red tape, and fear of legal action.

“We support the Administration’s effort to create a new WOTUS rule, and we stand ready to work with them to ensure farmers have the clarity and certainty they need,” said Spurlock.

AFBF to EPA: Time to Rescind WOTUS Rule

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall

“As today’s deadline for comments on rescinding the fatally flawed Waters of the U.S. rule is upon us, Farm Bureau applauds the Environmental Protection Agency’s formal proposal to ditch the rule. We do not stand alone in our assessment that the WOTUS rule was much more about seizing land control than about protecting water, and in official comments today we joined several broad-based coalitions expressing those sentiments. It is clear that this WOTUS rule violated the law while creating legal risk and enormous uncertainty for farmers, ranchers and others who work with the land.

“It is time for EPA to take the final step of repealing the WOTUS rule. The agency should then move forward with a new rule that provides farmers, ranchers, towns, states and small businesses with clarity and certainty they need. The new rule should rely on common-sense directives that don’t require teams of consultants and lawyers to navigate a maze of federal regulations. We will follow this process closely over the coming months to ensure that the new rule is based on law, that waters are protected and that farmland can be farmed.”

Agricultural Export Coalition Calls for Increased Federal Funding for Export Programs

More than 120 members of the Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports are urging leaders of the House Committee on Agriculture to increase funding for USDA export programs in the new farm bill to generate additional demand for U.S. farm products in an increasingly competitive global market.

In a Sept. 19, 2017 letter to Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (R-TX), and Ranking Minority Member Collin Peterson (D-MN), coalition members urged that funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) be increased to $400 million annually and funding for the Foreign Market Development (FMD) program be increased to $69 million annually. The coalition called for phasing in the additional funding over the life of the next farm bill.

"We are requesting increased MAP and FMD funding because the programs have proven their value, with impressive return on investment, and because producers and the rural economy are struggling in part because of international competition," said Mark Powers, president of Northwest Horticultural Council and chairman of the coalition.

MAP and FMD are cost-share programs. Overall, producers and other participants contributed matching funds representing 70 percent of total program funds in 2016. Federal MAP funding has been apportioned at an annual level of $200 million since 2006 and FMD at its annual level of $34.5 million since 2002. Since then, inflation and a depreciated U.S. dollar have reduced the promotional power of that funding almost 30 percent. Sequestration and USDA administrative expenses have also significantly reduced annual program funding.

"There is opportunity for growth in those overseas markets and industry members have increased their export promotion investment. Yet the real, effective value of funding from our federal partner has steadily eroded even as competitors greatly outspend us," Powers said.

The letter offered strong data comparing the funding level of the U.S. to some of its competitors, citing a major study completed in 2013 on behalf of several U.S. agri-food export market development organizations. It found that in 2011, 12 countries and the European Union (EU) central government spent an estimated $1.8 billion, including $700 million in public funds and $1.1 billion in private funds, on export promotion for agri-food products.* Compared to agricultural production value, the U.S. public spending on export market development is among the lowest relative to these twelve nations.

Results from a 2016 econometric study give quantifiable rationale for increased funding, Powers said. Commissioned by USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) as required by Congress and conducted by Informa Economics IEG, working with Texas A&M University and Oregon State University economists, the study showed MAP and FMD boosted U.S. agricultural export volume and revenue, protected and created American jobs, and increased farm income.

Specifically, the study concluded that return on investment of MAP and FMD between 2002 and 2014 was $24 in export gains for every additional $1 spent on foreign market development, consistent with results from several previous studies. Plus, an average annual increase in farm income of $2.1 billion and creation of 239,000 new full and part-time jobs was attributed to MAP and FMD activities during this time frame.**

"Every analysis of these programs shows that increased federal funding for MAP and FMD will generate a profitable return to the agricultural and rural economies," Powers said. "There is no doubt that these programs are highly successful public-private partnerships worth the increased investment. We look forward to working with the House Agriculture Committee and its leaders to increase export opportunities for hard-working American farmers, producers and small businesses."

The coalition letter along with in-depth information about the programs and their outcomes is available at

 ARA Urges Delay in ELD Requirement

The Agricultural Retailers Association today asked the U.S. Department of Transportation to delay implementation of Electronic Logging Device rules.

"ARA is concerned that many agribusinesses are not, and will not be fully prepared to meet the December 18, 2017, compliance deadline," said Richard Gupton, Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Counsel for ARA. "Moreover, ELD manufacturers may not be able to accommodate existing Hours of Service exemptions currently being utilized by agricultural retailers and distributors."

ARA requested the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration delay ELD enforcement for one year. The request was made in conjunction with a coalition of transportation stakeholders, including the National Corn Growers Association, National Grain and Feed Association, U.S. Cattleman's Association and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, during a meeting earlier today at the National Press Club.

Agricultural retailers play an important role in feeding the world. ARA members provide farmers with essential crop input materials such as seed, fertilizer, crop protection products and equipment. Our industry has a strong commitment to vehicle safety and supports FMCSA's mission to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks.

The current process allows for self-certification by ELD manufacturers without a robust third-party screening process. Even though FMCSA is unwilling to certify ELD devices, there are manufacturers in the marketplace claiming their ELD product is "FMCSA Certified."

To become a Certified Medical Examiner, which performs driver medical exams, FMCSA requires medical examiners to enroll, complete necessary training, and pass a certification test. A Medical Examiner must receive notification of certification from FMCSA before authorized to perform driver exams. A similarly stringent process needs to be established by FMCSA for ELD manufacturers so the industry has full confidence that the systems they purchase will be compliant with new regulations.

ARA is also concerned with the unnecessary costs ELD systems impose on our industry without any proven safety benefits. ELDs can cost from $200 to $1,000 each for the device, as well as the costs related to maintenance, service contracts with manufacturers or vendors, and driver training to use this new equipment. This requirement adds unnecessary financial burden to an agricultural industry already struggling with in a soft economy, lagging commodity prices and the massive economic losses following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, as well as other weather-related disasters.

Ag retailers urge Secretary Chao and the Trump Administration to delay the pending December 18, 2017, compliance deadline given the many implementation issues facing our industry and other impacted stakeholders.

ARA supports efforts by livestock producers seeking a delay and additional clarifications regarding ELD exemptions and waivers. Stakeholders within and outside the agricultural industry are also negatively impacted by the ELD mandate, which only highlights shortcomings in the HOS regulations.

A delay to resolve these important issues would fully align with President Trump's regulatory reform initiatives while not impacting transportation safety of our nation's roads and highways.

The Nation’s Wheat Growers Take on Capitol Hill to Talk Farm Bill

 Visiting almost all House and Senate Agriculture Committee Members and their offices, the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) concluded its annual policy Fly-in today. From September 26-27, 2017, NAWG hosted around thirty growers from twelve top wheat producing states who spoke on the importance of the Farm Bill. 

"We are nearing the end of 2017 and with the Ag Committee working on drafting their versions of the Farm Bill, it was critical for NAWG’s grower leaders to meet and discuss our priorities with key agriculture members and their staff," stated NAWG's President and Sharon Springs, KS farmer David Schemm. "During these past two days, NAWG's growers were able to visit with just about every Member of Congress that sits on both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees."

In discussions, NAWG stressed that crop insurance is the most important risk management tool for growers and that it is vital to have a strong safety net program in the Farm Bill. Growers also urged members to maintain producer choice between revenue-based (Agriculture Risk Coverage) and price-based (Price Loss Coverage) programs and to make adjustments to enable them to function more effectively for wheat farmers. Other issues brought up during meetings included the need to double funding for MAP and FMD trade programs and to prioritize working lands conservation programs in the Conservation Title of the Farm Bill. 

"It's important that Members hear from growers firsthand on the how the Farm Bill is working for them," stated Schemm. “This is the best way to get the legislation passed quickly and working for all farmers.” 

Wheat Organizations Applaud Trump Administration’s Aggressive Trade Enforcement at the WTO

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) welcome the decision by the Trump Administration to make sure China is living up to its commitments on wheat trade. In response to action by the Administration, the World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body has established a panel to rule on a complaint filed in December 2016 by the United States Trade Representative (USTR) regarding China’s administration of its tariff rate quotas (TRQs) for wheat and other agricultural products. USW and NAWG are very pleased with the Trump Administration’s aggressive use of the WTO dispute settlement mechanism on behalf of wheat farmers.

This is the second panel established at the WTO under the Trump Administration to defend the interests of wheat farmers. The first will examine whether China’s market price support programs for wheat, corn, and rice violate its trade commitments. According to a 2016 Iowa State University study sponsored by USW, China’s market price support programs cost U.S. wheat farmers between $650 and $700 million annually in lost revenue by pre-empting export opportunities and suppressing global prices.

China also has a WTO commitment for an annual TRQ of 9.64 million metric tons (MMT) of imported wheat. The panel established Sept. 22, 2017, in the TRQ case will review evidence that China has not administered this TRQ in a transparent, predictable and fair manner as required by its WTO obligations. The result is that China’s TRQ administration unfairly impedes wheat export opportunities for U.S. wheat farmers, as well as farmers from Canada, Australia and other wheat exporting countries, to the detriment of Chinese consumers.

“It is very encouraging to see the Trump Administration defend farmers against governments that say to the world they will live up to their commitments, but then scheme to disregard the rules we all need to ensure global trade is conducted freely and fairly,” said NAWG President David Schemm, a wheat grower from Sharon Springs, Kan. “Wheat growers will always stand up and applaud when the Administration expands, improves and enforces trade agreements on behalf of farmers.”

“Trade enforcement is crucial for building confidence in existing and new trade agreements,” said USW Chairman Mike Miller, a wheat farmer from Ritzville, Wash. “The Trump Administration’s actions should send a signal that strong and enforceable trade rules are vital to the United States and to U.S. farmers, specifically.”

New Incubator for Ag Innovation Opens in River Falls

The WinField® United Innovation Center — a new epicenter of research that will help give farmers more and better tools to grow crops more sustainably — opened today in River Falls, Wisconsin. The 55,000-square-foot facility replaces the 6,000 square-foot WinField Product Development Center and Spray Analysis System.

The new facility will enhance WinField United's $50 million annual research commitment to helping farmers grow food more sustainably and productively as they work to feed a growing world population. This research will help farmers precisely and responsibly apply crop protection and nutrient products exactly where they're needed in the field.

"The WinField® United Innovation Center further strengthens our research and development capabilities and our reputation as a leader in 21st-century agribusiness and innovation," said Chris Policinski, president and CEO of Land O'Lakes, Inc., WinField United's parent company. "The research and testing performed here will enable more targeted applications of crop protection products, which benefits both applicators and farmers. It also helps move the industry forward to achieve greater sustainability in land, water and air quality."

The increased space brings greater capacity to conduct product research on a variety of agricultural products including adjuvants, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, plant nutrition and performance solutions, and seed treatments.

A key piece of the Innovation Center is the Infinity Group, a spray application laboratory with some of the most advanced capabilities in the world. The Infinity Group uses state-of-the art technology, including a wind tunnel, to evaluate the entire application process, including crop protection and adjuvant formulations, tank mixes, nozzle performance, spray characterization, drift and droplet deposition, and plant uptake. Testing is performed in the laboratory, and in both controlled and in-field environments. In the wind tunnel, spray application variables are tested using non-invasive diagnostic approaches to precisely measure droplet size and velocity.

"Before we bring products to a farmer's fields, we make sure they work in our fields first," said Mike Vande Logt, executive vice president and chief operating officer, WinField United. "All of our products are developed with farmers top-of-mind. We apply the latest best practices in our research approach and have backed our commitment with a significant monetary investment in our new center. Our product development process is a stamp of approval that represents the comprehensive, rigorous, proven method we use to bring products and technologies to market."

WinField United is thrilled to continue creating innovative, quality products that deliver value to farmers through our commitment to excellence in data, science and technology, and to be doing so in the River Falls community.

The center has a significant history in River Falls, enjoying a 27-year partnership with the University of Wisconsin–River Falls. It has hired interns and full-time employees from the university over the years and conducted a variety of research and field trials on university land. Land O'Lakes, Inc., also has a significant presence in Wisconsin, employing 812 people at 14 locations throughout the state.

Using Antibiotics Responsibly, Part 2

The Relationship Between Treatment Success and Responsible Use

For the health and well-being of cattle and the associated high costs of treatment and additional labor, we can all agree: If we need to use an antibiotic to help treat disease, we want it to work and work as quickly and as efficaciously as possible.

By using antibiotics responsibly, we can help ensure they continue to be as effective in the future as they are now. This means a veterinarian should be involved (read more about working with a veterinarian in Part 1) to help producers keep cattle from getting sick and also in prescribing an appropriate antibiotic for treatment if cattle do get sick.

Shawn Blood, DVM, Beef Strategic Technical Services at Zoetis breaks down a few reasons why first-treatment success of an antibiotic is a critical part of the beef industry’s important efforts to use these valuable resources responsibly.

Improving Cattle Health and Well-being
“If cattle are treated more than once, their chances of getting back to peak performance are drastically decreased,” Dr. Blood said. “The weight loss that occurs from the animal being sick and having a decreased appetite can compromise him for the rest of his life.”

Using Fewer Antibiotics
A study found that using an antibiotic with demonstrated efficacy, specifically Draxxin® (tulathromycin) Injectable Solution, for initial bovine respiratory disease (BRD) treatment could help avoid 0.8 million to 1.8 million treatments each year in the U.S.*,1

“Efficacy is an important part of defining the correct product,” Dr. Blood said. “If you’re using the correct product at the correct time, you’re actually using fewer doses of antibiotics and, in most cases, fewer classes of antibiotics.”

Helping Reduce the Need for Re-treatments
With the right antibiotic, not only are you helping reduce overall antibiotic use, you’re also helping reduce the number of re-treatments.

“When we do get a sick animal, if we are using the broadest-spectrum, longest-acting antibiotic, we can to help get that animal back into its environment, on pasture or into a pen, and never have to pull or treat him again,” Dr. Blood said.

Using an Antibiotic Only When It’s Needed
When disease is treated earlier and you’re targeting the bacterial pathogen you’re trying to treat, you can have more success.

“When we talk about antibiotics, we talk about mode of action, or how the product works directly on the type of bacteria causing the disease to kill the bacteria or at least inhibit its growth,” Dr. Blood said. “We have different classes of antibiotics at Zoetis that represent a lot of different modes of action to help treat the bacterial infection you’re facing, including a macrolide [Draxxin], cephalosporin [Excede® (ceftiofur crystalline free acid) Sterile Suspension] and fluoroquinolone [Advocin® (danofloxacin injection) Sterile Antimicrobial Injectable Solution].”

Intervening Early for Improved Success
“Antibiotics are an important tool when we need them, but aren’t the only tool we have to help maintain cattle health and well-being,” Dr. Blood said. “The earlier you intervene in a disease process, whether that’s a vaccine, a change in management practices, an antibiotic or other innovations, the better chance you have to impact the disease process in the first place.”

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