Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tuesday October 24 Ag News


Today, Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Greg Ibach congratulated a select group of college students for their commitment to serve the ag industry as members of the 2017-2018 Nebraska Agricultural Youth Council (NAYC). The Council is made up of Nebraska students who have a passion for agriculture and who are committed to promoting the ag industry around the state. NDA sponsors NAYC and its activities throughout the year.

“As Council members, these young men and women have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of Nebraska youth by telling the story of Nebraska agriculture and the many careers available in the industry.” said NDA Director Greg Ibach. “NAYC members are the future leaders of our agricultural industry. They bring with them outstanding experience, and I know they will work hard to represent Nebraska’s proud agricultural heritage.”

NAYC is entering its 47th year with the installation of this group of Council members. Throughout the year, the Council coordinates several agricultural learning experiences for Nebraska youth including: visiting elementary classrooms to discuss where food comes from; taking urban youth on farm tours to experience what a day in the life of a farmer is like; and visiting with high school students from across the state about career opportunities in the ag industry. The primary focus of NAYC is to coordinate the annual Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute, a five-day summer conference for current high school juniors and seniors.

This year’s Council is comprised of 21 young men and women. The 2017-2018 NAYC leadership includes:
·         Head Counselors: Logan Kalkowski, Omaha, and Amanda Kowalewski, Gothenburg;
·         President: Ryan Schroeder, Wisner;
·         Secretary: Hannah Borg, Wakefield;
·         Vice President of Promotions: Kevin Sousek, Malmo;
·         Vice President of Alumni Relations: Hunter Schroeder, Howells;

·         Vice President of Communications and Social Media: Jacob Schlick, Fairfield;
·         Vice President of Sponsorship: Hannah Settje, Raymond;
·         Vice President of Youth Outreach: Brent Miller, Lyons; and

·         Vice President of NAYI Improvement: Collin Thompson, Eustis.

Additional NAYC members include: Cheyenne Gerlach, De Witt; Collin Swedberg, North Platte; Cooper Grabenstein, Smithfield; Courtney Nelson, Monroe; Emily Frenzen, Fullerton; Eric Leisy, Wisner; Grant Dahlgren, Bertrand; Grant Suddarth, York; Jacce Beck, Ainsworth; Matthew Morton, Nehawka; and Sage Williams, Eddyville.

To learn more, visit NAYI’s website at www.nda.nebraska.gov/nayi/ or search for Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute on Facebook.

Waite to Discuss Drone Age in Nebraska Lecture

The possibilities for drones are almost limitless, from improving crowd security at large events, to tracking impending storms, to delivering precision agriculture.

And, of course, they could deliver Amazon packages to one's front door.

However, disagreement about how to regulate the growing field is limiting the Drone Age's potential in the United States, said University of Nebraska-Lincoln drone journalism expert Matthew Waite. He will present the Nov. 8 Nebraska Lecture, "The Drone Age is Here, and We're Screwing It Up." The public lecture is at 3:30 p.m. in the Nebraska Union auditorium, 1400 R St., with a reception following.

A live webcast is available here. Follow @UNLresearch or #neblecture on Twitter for live updates during the lecture.

"To truly unleash this industry, more federal regulation is needed," said Waite, professor of practice in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, where he established the country's first drone journalism lab.

Developing a cohesive legal framework for drone operators has been a challenge for lawmakers at all levels. In part, Waite said, this is because the idea of unlimited "flying robots" zooming overhead raises questions about property rights, privacy and free speech. Even more complicated is who gets to decide -- local, state and federal lawmakers are jockeying to set the rules.

Using the birth of the aviation industry as a historical parallel, Waite's lecture will explore why federal regulation is key to the full-fledged launch of commercial drones. Local and state drone parameters often muddy the waters by overlapping with existing laws, Waite said, resulting in legal clashes and a revolving door of legislation that may hamstring progress.

The United States faced similar issues with aircraft. Though the Wright Brothers' first flights at Kitty Hawk were in 1903, Congress waited until 1926 to pass the landmark Air Commerce Act, which established federal regulation of air commerce. It took another three decades to create the Federal Aviation Administration.

The plodding pace reflected anxiety about the new technology, Waite said, and the response to drones has been no different. Federal regulation can help address some of citizens' legitimate concerns.

"We've flipped out about privacy with the Kodak Brownie camera, aircraft, camera phones and Google Street View, and yet civil society keeps humming along," he said. "Drones are inevitable. We can't put the genie back in the bottle, but we can have a serious conversation about how they enter our lives, cities and properties."

Waite joined the university in 2011. Previously, he worked for the St. Petersburg Times as a hybrid programmer-journalist, where he developed the fact-checking website Politifact. In 2009, it became the first website to win the Pulitzer Prize. He also has worked as an investigative reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and co-founded Hot Type Consulting, a company that builds applications for media outlets.

His lecture is part of The Nebraska Lectures: Chancellor's Distinguished Lecture Series, sponsored by the Research Council, Office of the Chancellor, Office of Research and Economic Development and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Showing Consumers How You Are Raising Beef With Care

No one needs to tell you how much care, work and dedication goes into producing the world’s best beef! But you know who does need to hear it – just about everyone else! And when we say everyone, we mean those folks who enjoy beef on the dinner table, at a tailgate party or when they go out for a nice meal to celebrate with family and friends. That’s a lot of people and they are really interested in what you do and how you produce the food they enjoy.

So that’s what your beef checkoff is doing with the #RethinkTheRanch media campaign. Based on consumer research, we know that your consumers want to know more about sustainable farming and ranching, and how you care for your cattle.

Cody Easterday, who operates feedlots in eastern Washington, knows the importance of the beef checkoff when it comes to communicating with his consumers.

“The checkoff is a conduit between us and the consumer,” says Cody. “It provides the education we need to produce the product that the consumer wants.”

Hand-in-hand with #RethinkTheRanch is the redesigned “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” website. There, your checkoff is providing a consumer-friendly, easy-to-understand way to communicate the complexities of raising quality beef today.

We’re telling people all that goes into raising cattle on a farm or ranch. It’s about the hard work and the long hours you and your family invest in your livelihood – the advanced technology you are using to raise the best beef in the world.

According to Elaine Utesch from the Triple U Ranch in Washta, Iowa, this a story worth telling.

“As a producer, it’s my responsibility to let people know that farms like ours is where their food is coming from,” says Elaine. “And the beef checkoff lets consumers know that their food is produced using sustainable, environmental practices.”

In other words, we’re telling them a cattle ranching story they’ve probably never heard – or seen – before and we think that’s good news worth sharing with everyone.

Dairy Industry Applauds Introduction of School Milk Nutrition Act of 2017

The nation’s two leading dairy organizations applauded the introduction today of a bipartisan bill to help reverse the decline of milk consumption in schools.

The School Milk Nutrition Act of 2017, introduced by Representatives G.T. Thompson (R-PA) and Joe Courtney (D-CT), would allow schools to offer low-fat and fat-free milk, including flavored milk with no more than 150 calories per 8-ounce serving, to participants in the federal school lunch and breakfast programs. The bill allows individual schools and school districts to determine which milkfat varieties to offer their students.

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) strongly support the bill and encourage Congress to pass it. Once enacted, the bill would make permanent the administrative changes in the school lunch program proposed earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, in one of his first official actions earlier this year, supported giving school districts the option to offer a variety of milk types as part of the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs.

“Congressmen Thompson and Courtney recognize the nutritional role that milk plays in helping school-aged children to grow and develop to their full potential,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA president and CEO. “We appreciate their steadfast commitment to reverse declining milk consumption by allowing schools to give kids access to a variety of milk options, including the flavored milks they love.”

The legislation includes a pilot program to test strategies that schools can use to increase the consumption of fluid milk.  This could include ways to make milk more attractive and available to students, including improved refrigeration, packaging and merchandising.

“Milk is the number-one source of nine essential vitamins and minerals in children’s diets, and when its consumption drops, the overall nutritional intake of America’s kids is jeopardized,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation.  He pointed out that in just the first two years after low-fat flavored milk was removed from the school lunch program, 1.1 million fewer school students drank milk with their lunch.

The Act also includes a provision to allow participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, to have access to reduced-fat milk for themselves and their children.

“Expanding options for WIC participants will encourage mothers to help their young children grow up strong and healthy,” said Dykes.

“When kids don’t drink milk, it’s extremely difficult for them to get sufficient amounts of three of the four major nutrients most lacking in children’s diets:  calcium, potassium, and vitamin D,” said Mulhern. “This legislation addresses that shortcoming both in schools and in the WIC program.”

Farm Bureau Supports Farm Program Fix

The American Farm Bureau Federation and seven other major farm groups today hailed introduction of bipartisan legislation to improve the Agriculture Risk Coverage program, an important component of the federal agricultural safety net for farmers. Senators Heidi Heitkamp and Joni Ernst are sponsors.

Among other things, the bill would prioritize use of data collected from USDA’s Risk Management Agency to calculate crop yields. The measure also would use data from the county in which a farm is located when calculating yields, rather than allowing farmers to use yield data from their “administrative counties” if they farm in more than one county. It also would allow state Farm Service Agency committees to adjust yield estimates when results are inexplicably different compared to neighboring counties within the same state or adjacent counties across state lines.

Text of the letter follows:                                   

Dear Senators Heitkamp and Ernst,

The following farm and commodity groups wish to express our appreciation and support for the legislation you introduced to improve the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program.

The bill accomplishes this goal by (a) directing USDA to use the more widely-available data from the Risk Management Agency (RMA) as the first choice in yield calculations; (b) calculating safety net payments based on a farm’s physical location, rather than using the antiquated administrative county that may not be representative of a farmer’s land; and (c) providing FSA state committees discretion to adjust yield data estimates to help reduce inexplicable variation between neighboring counties or along boundaries with neighboring states.  Appropriate adjustments would be made prior to yields being finalized or published.

The 2014 Farm Bill allowed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to determine how county yields would be established for the ARC program. USDA decided to use data sources via a cascade in the following priority order: National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS), Risk Management Agency (RMA) and yields calculated by the state Farm Service Agency (FSA) office. NASS and RMA yield data comprise about 90 percent of the base acres enrolled in ARC-County (ARC-CO). The remaining 10 percent is compiled by the state FSA office.

It is important to note that a study conducted for the National Corn Growers Association on the impacts on payments to corn producers indicates that there is not likely to be a significant difference in the ARC-CO payments on a national basis simply due to changing the order in the cascade. A study by Dr. Keith Coble of Mississippi State University indicated similar results.  There will be county winners and county losers.

What is important, however, is that the program would be based on more defensible data if RMA yields are used. We believe this is true because:

--only about 60 percent of producers return NASS surveys, so it is difficult to assume accuracy of the data;

--the NASS yield estimate comes from producer surveys and the RMA yield data comes from actual production history;

--there is no penalty for failure to fill out a NASS survey or misreport submitted information.  However, farmers may face criminal penalties for filing an inaccurate crop production report for RMA; and

--RMA reports all its county yields as irrigated or non-irrigated yields, whereas NASS does not.

We are also quite supportive of your provision to calculate ARC-CO payments using the ARC-CO payment rate for the county in which the land is physically located rather than the rate for the administrative county used by the farmer.

Farm operators that have land in multiple counties may handle all their FSA work administratively through one county (the administrative county). Farmers had two options for calculation of ARC-CO payments for 2014 and 2015. They could be paid on where the land was located or based on their administrative county. When ARC-CO payments are determined using the administrative county’s payment rate for multi-county farms, ARC-CO payments may be higher or lower than if the payments were calculated using the payment rate for the county in which the land is physically located.

In early 2016, USDA made an administrative decision to allow ARC-CO participants with land physically located in a county with a higher ARC-CO payment than the administrative county to receive ARC-CO payments calculated according to the higher-paying county payment rate. USDA does not require ARC-CO participants with multi-county farms to be paid at the lower ARC-CO payment rate if any of the land in the farm is physically located in a lower-paying county than the administrative county.

Your final provision allows for providing FSA state committees discretion to adjust yield data estimates to help reduce inexplicable variation between neighboring counties or along boundaries with neighboring states. We heard far more about discrepancies between county payments than any other issue in the ARC program and believe this will make the program function even better in the future.

Again, we appreciate your leadership on these important issues and look forward to working with you to ensure they are included in the next farm bill.

American Farm Bureau Federation
American Soybean Association
National Association of Wheat Growers
National Corn Growers Association
National Farmers Union
National Sunflower Association
USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council
US Canola Association

Farmer Co-ops Release Priorities for 2018 Farm Bill

The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) today released the organization’s priorities for farmer co-ops in the next farm bill. The organization’s Executive Council approved the framework at recent fall meeting.

“One thing that we heard from our co-ops and their members—across commodity and across the country—is that farmers, ranchers and growers need the farm bill to get done on time. This is especially true as many producers continue to experience a challenging price environment,” said Chuck Conner, president and CEO of NCFC. “I believe that NCFC’s member-led process of developing this framework positions the organization well to be flexible as the process of writing the farm bill unfolds in the coming months.”

NCFC’s framework outlines eight general principles that will guide the organization as it works with farm and commodity groups and allied interests in support of the farm bill. They are:
-    Promoting the continued viability of the Capper-Volstead Act and other cooperative statutes;
-    Promoting farmer cooperatives and their abilities to enhance competition in the agricultural marketplace by acting as bargaining agents for their members’ products; providing market intelligence and pricing information; providing competitively priced farming supplies; and vertically integrating their members’ production and processing.
-    Supporting the cooperative Farm Credit System;
-    Ensuring farmer cooperatives are eligible to leverage federal programs for the benefit of their farmer members.
-    Expanding all U.S. agriculture exports and global competitiveness, including through substantially improved access to foreign markets.
-    Supporting of a responsive safety net, together with adequate funding, that incorporates improved, comprehensive risk management tools and programs for producers and their cooperatives.
-    Ensuring our farmers and ranchers have access to labor so they can continue to harvest our crops and care for livestock here in the United States.
-    Supporting responsible and cost-effective regulatory policies that provide a safe and productive work environment while promoting our economic competitiveness.

In addition, the framework outlines farmer co-op recommendations for each title of the farm bill. The full framework can be found online at http://ncfc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/2018_Farm_Bill_Framework.pdf.

Cattlemen Release Fifth Video In Tax Reform Campaign

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association today released the fifth video in its media campaign to promote comprehensive tax reform. The first four videos have been viewed a combined 512,000 times and have reached more than 950,000 people on Facebook.

NCBA's latest video spotlights sixth-generation Florida rancher Cary Lightsey, who was forced to sell one of his family's ranches outside Tampa to pay a death-tax bill after his father's unexpected passing.

"We went to our attorney after we got our bill from the federal government, which was probably ten times more than we thought it would be," Lightsey explains in the video. "We showed him the cost of our estate taxes and we explained to him we had no way to pay it. He said y'all are going to have to sell one of your ranches. That land now has 1,500 apartments on it."

NCBA's new video was released as news reports indicate that comprehensive tax reform legislation may be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives next week, with committee and full House votes possible the first two weeks of November.

NCBA's tax reform campaign is centered around a website, CattlemenForTaxReform.com.The campaign is also connecting grassroots ranchers and producers with their elected officials on Capitol Hill as tax-reform legislation is considered.

Soybean Acreage in 2018

Todd Hubbs, University of Illinois

As harvest continues throughout the Corn Belt, we enter the time of year for speculation about the number of acres to be planted in the U.S. during the next crop year. Planting decisions begin with fall seeded crops, like winter wheat, and continue into the spring months. The market is currently sending a signal of maintaining the record high soybean acreage of 2017, but the necessity for that level of soybean acreage in 2018 could deteriorate quickly under evolving market conditions.

Current projections by industry analysts and academics place 2018 soybean planted acreage in a range from 86 to 90.5 million acres. Anticipating the direction of soybean planted acreage requires an understanding of the pace of consumption during the current marketing year and the level of inventory projected to be available for the next marketing year. In the October 12 WASDE report, the USDA projected soybean stocks at the start of the 2018-19 marketing year at 430 million bushels despite the forecast of a record level of consumption of 4.214 billion bushels. At 49.5 bushels, the October forecast for U.S. average soybean yield came in lower than the September forecast and provided an indication of possibly of lower estimates to come. If the final 2017 soybean production estimate is smaller than the present forecast and consumption is near the current forecast level, year ending stocks for the 2017-18 marketing year may be close to 400 million bushels. The large 2017 soybean production totals and the continued buildup of soybean stocks point toward a 2017-18 marketing year price in the low to mid $9.00 range for soybeans, well below the cost of production for many producers.

Rather than project the planted acreage of soybeans, it could be informative to think about the number of soybean acres necessary in 2018 to produce a 2018-19 marketing year average farm price for soybeans near the cost of production, which is estimated at around $9.50. In 2016-17, the marketing year average farm price was $9.47 with an ending stocks to use ratio currently estimated at 7.1 percent. If we assume a marketing year average price in the mid-$9.00 range requires an ending stocks to use near 7 percent and consumption during the 2018-19 marketing year maintains the pace of consumption currently forecast at 4.256 billion bushels, year ending stocks for 2018-19 would come in at approximately 300 million bushels. A beginning stocks for 2018-19 near 400 million bushels combined with 25 million bushels of imports and 4.256 billion bushels of consumption would require a U.S. soybean crop near 4.131 billion bushels to generate 300 million bushels of ending stocks in 2018-19.

Recent years have seen soybean yields well above the trend yield in the U.S. For this analysis, a linear trend yield of 46.8 bushels in 2018 will be used for soybean national average yield. At this level of yield, 88.4 million harvested acres of soybeans are necessary to produce 4.131 billion bushels. Given this level of harvested acreage, approximately 89.2 million planted acres would be required. This level of planted acreage is one million fewer acres than the current USDA estimate for 2017. As one would expect, a higher trend yield changes the analysis. For example, a trend yield of 48.4 bushels, provided in the USDA's long-term projections, lowers 2018 soybean planted acreage necessary, under the assumed consumption scenario, to 86.2 million acres. A continuation of above-trend soybean yields in 2018 would diminish the need for current acreage projections.

The information used in making the planting decision for soybean acreage in 2018 will likely not reflect market conditions assumed in this analysis and those conditions will fluctuate between now and planting time. Current prices for the 2018 soybean crop suggest that the market is inclined to maintain the soybean acres planted in 2017. Based on this analysis, soybean acreage may need to decline in 2018 to generate a 2018-19 marketing year average farm price in the mid-$9.00 range to cover the projected cost of production. While a decrease may be needed for soybean acreage, current prices and ending stocks projections for corn and wheat do not provide any strong indication for substantial expansion of acreage in those two crops.

At this point, it seems that soybean acreage may not decline sufficiently in 2018 to generate a 2018-19 marketing year average price in the mid-$9.00 range. When considering the planting decision for 2018, careful monitoring of the pace of soybean exports and crush in the 2017-18 marketing year, and the development of the South American crop can provide information on the evolving conditions of the soybean market in 2018. The first indicator of producer acreage decisions arrives with the release of the USDA's Winter Wheat Seedings report in early January 2018.

RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness Adds Pork and Poultry Expert to Animal Protein Team

Rabobank announces the expansion of its RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness team with the addition of Christine McCracken as Executive Director, Animal Protein. McCracken will cover the North American poultry and hog sector. Before joining the RaboResearch team, McCracken spent 18 years as a sell-side Food & Agribusiness analyst.

“Christine’s experience and knowledge will enhance our thought leadership in the protein sector. Through both her extensive knowledge of the swine and poultry sectors, and her equity knowledge, Christine will be a tremendous asset to our clients in both the rural and wholesale spaces,” says Pablo Sherwell, head of RaboResearch.

She was a founding partner at Cleveland Research, a Cleveland-based equity research firm. Earlier in her career, she held similar positions at several institutions including FTN Midwest Research, Vector Securities and BioScience Securities. McCracken had previously been named Best on the Street Food Analyst by the Wall Street Journal and the top Food Analyst by Forbes.

“Rabobank is continuing to grow our business in Animal Protein globally,” notes Bill Cordingley, Global Sector Head for Animal Protein. “We are committed to providing our clients with the capital, knowledge and networks they need to prosper in an increasingly globalized market. Christine will bring valuable experience, skills and knowledge to the bank that will undoubtedly help us serve our clients better, both in North America and globally.

McCracken holds a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics from the University of California at Davis.

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