Monday, November 20, 2017

Monday November 20 Ag News + Crop Progress Report - NE - IA - US


For the week ending November 19, 2017, temperatures averaged near normal across eastern Nebraska, but six to ten degrees above normal in the west, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Precipitation was limited across the State, only a few counties received over half an inch of rain. Corn harvest was near completion. There were 6.5 days suitable for fieldwork.

Topsoil moisture supplies rated 3 percent very short, 23 short, 73 adequate, and 1 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 4 percent very short, 22 short, 73 adequate, and 1 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn harvested was 93 percent, near 96 last year and 95 for the five-year average.

Winter wheat condition rated 2 percent very poor, 9 poor, 33 fair, 49 good, and 7 excellent.

Sorghum harvested was 91 percent, behind 98 last year and 97 average.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 2 percent very poor, 12 poor, 46 fair, 36 good, and 4 excellent. Stock water supplies rated 1 percent very short, 4 short, 95 adequate, and 0 surplus.

Iowa Crop Progress & Condition Report

Minimal precipitation allowed Iowa farmers to make progress towards completing harvest with 5.5 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending November 19, 2017, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Activities for the week included harvesting, baling corn stalks, tiling, hauling and spreading manure, applying fertilizers, and planting cover crops.

Topsoil moisture levels rated 3 percent very short, 9 percent short, 84 percent adequate and 4 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 6 percent very short, 16 percent short, 76 percent adequate and 2 percent surplus.

Ninety-two percent of the corn for grain crop has been harvested, eight days behind last year and the 5-year average. Moisture content of corn being harvested for grain averaged 17 percent. Only northeast, southwest, and south central Iowa have more than 10 percent of their corn for grain crop remaining to be harvested.

There were reports of limited stress on livestock; however, fluctuations in temperatures caused lung issues in some calves. Cattle continue to graze in harvested fields with limited hay being fed.

USDA Weekly Crop Progress

Winter wheat conditions dropped again from the previous week, according to USDA's latest Crop Progress report released on Monday.  With 88% of the crop emerged as of Sunday, USDA estimated that 52% of the winter wheat crop was in good-to-excellent condition, down slightly from 54% the previous week.

Corn harvest continued to lag slightly behind the average pace. USDA estimated that 90% of corn was harvested as of Sunday, down from 96% a year ago and also below the five-year average of 95% harvested.

Soybean harvest was nearing completion with 96% harvested as of Sunday, down from 98% a year ago and down from a five-year average of 97% harvested.

Sorghum was 90% harvested, slightly behind the five-year average of 92%.  Cotton was 74% harvested nationwide, moving to slightly ahead of the average pace of 72%.


Nebraska Beef Council December Meeting

The Nebraska Beef Council Board of Directors will meet at the NBC office located in Kearney at 1319 Central Ave on December 4, 2017 beginning at 10:00 a.m. CST. The NBC Board of Directors will review evaluations for FY- 2016-2017 Authorizations Request.  For a copy of the board agenda, please contact Pam Esslinger at 

Trump Administration Appoints Nancy Johner to Serve as State Executive Director for USDA’s Farm Service Agency in Nebraska

The Trump Administration recently appointed Nancy Johner as the new State Executive Director (SED) for the USDA Nebraska Farm Service Agency (FSA). Johner will join the Nebraska FSA team on Monday, Nov. 27.

Johner comes to FSA from Pathfinder Support Services, where she has served as chief executive officer since 2014. She has previously served on U.S. Senator Mike Johanns’ staff as deputy chief of staff and state director. From 2006 to 2009, Johner served as Under Secretary for USDA’s Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in social work from the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

The Farm Service Agency serves farmers, ranchers and agricultural partners through the delivery of effective, efficient agricultural programs. The agency offers farmers a strong safety net through the administration of farm commodity and disaster programs. FSA continues to conserve natural resources and also provides credit to agricultural producers who are unable to receive private, commercial credit, including special emphasis on beginning, underserved and women farmers and ranchers.

Under the direction of Secretary Sonny Perdue, the USDA will always be facts-based and data-driven, with a decision-making mindset that is customer-focused. Secretary Perdue leads the USDA with four guiding principles: to maximize the ability of American agriculture to create jobs, sell food and fiber, and feed and clothe the world; to prioritize customer service for the taxpayers; to ensure that our food supply is safe and secure; and to maintain good stewardship of the natural resources that provide us with our miraculous bounty. And understanding that we live in a global economy where trade is of top importance, Secretary Perdue has pledged to be an unapologetic advocate for American agriculture.

As SED, Johner will use her leadership experience to oversee FSA programs in a customer-focused manner to ensure a safe, affordable, abundant and nutritious food supply for consumers.

Calving workshops at six locations in December

      Ranchers who want to reduce calf loss at calving and to learn how to properly assist cows at calving should plan to attend “Assisting the Beef Cow at Calving” programs at six locations in December, with Dr. Robert Mortimer, a nationally known veterinarian from Colorado State University.

      Dr. Mortimer will discuss handling calving difficulty, with emphasis on decision making and the hows and whys of techniques for providing assistance.

      Dr. Mortimer developed a program strongly emphasizing hands-on experience in calving management and produced a video with Elanco and Beef Today on “How to Save More Calves at Calving.”

Below are dates, locations and contact information for pre-registration with the local host.

Dec. 11 at Bridgeport:  Prairie Winds Community Center, 1- 3:30 p.m.; contact Aaron Berger at 308-235-3122 or

Dec. 11 at Gudmundsen Sandhills Lab near Whitman: 6:30-9 p.m.; contact Bethany Johnston at 308-645-2267 or

Dec. 12 at Broken Bow: 4-H Building, Custer County Fairgrounds, 1 pm – 3:30 pm; contact Troy Walz at 308-872-6821 or

Dec. 12 at O’Neill:  Holt County Courthouse Annex, 6:30-9 p.m.; contact Amy Timmerman at 308-336-2760 or

Dec. 13 at Kearney: Buffalo County Extension Office, 1-3:30 p.m.; contact Brent Plugge at 308-236-1235 or

Dec. 13 at North Platte: West Central Research and Extension Center, 6:30-9 p.m.; Randy Saner at 308-532-2683 or

      The cost is $20, which can be paid at the door. Pre-registration at least two days prior to the meeting is requested to ensure enough program materials are available.

Cover Crop Workshop Dec. 13 in Oakland IA

 Iowa Learning Farms, along with East Pottawattamie County Soil and Water Conservation District, and Natural Resources Conservation Service, will host a cover crop workshop on Wednesday, Dec. 13 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Community Center in Oakland. The event is free and open to the public and includes a complimentary meal.

The workshop will include Pottawattamie County farmer Russ Brandes. As the fourth generation to farm the land near Hancock, Brandes is raising corn and soybeans on about 400 acres. He also manages a small cow-calf herd and hogs on the family farm. As an East Pottawattamie County Commissioner, Brandes has been leading by example through the use of no-tillage since the mid-1980s. In 2013, he began to add cover crops to his operation by flying ryegrass into his soybeans. Since then he has significantly expanded the acres covered and cover crops species used, including: cereal rye, oats, radish, brown mustard and Sunn hemp. Brandes will share advice for successfully adding cover crops as well as discussing how he has overcome challenges.

The agenda will continue with Stefan Gailans, Practical Farmers of Iowa research and field crops director. He will share results from on-farm cover crop research projects and ideas for maximizing cover crop benefits. Liz Juchems, Iowa Learning Farms events coordinator, will share results from cover crop projects examining species selection, water quality implications and soil health indicators like earthworms.

The field day will be held at the Oakland Community Center, 614 Dr Van See Road, Oakland. The workshop is free and open to the public, but reservations are suggested to ensure adequate space and food. Make RSVPs to Liz Juchems at 515-294-5429 or'

Understand Basis Contracts for Opportunity to Maximize Profit

Marketing grain by using basis contracts provides more flexibility in how farmers market their grain and profit from their crop.combine harvesting field of corn

“Typically, when there is a cash price for something, it is thought of as one price,” said Chad Hart, associate professor and extension economist with Iowa State University. “Basis contracts break that price down into two components – the futures price and the basis. So instead of trying to maximize just one component, farmers can try to maximize both. This gives them more flexibility and an opportunity to get a better cash return than just capturing the highest cash price.”

Knowing how to use basis contracts to lock in a sales price for grain is the focus of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach publication “Understanding Risk in Basis Contracts” (FM 1891). The publication was revised and updated by Chad Hart, associate professor and extension economist with Iowa State.

“Basis can be a great signal to help farmers figure out where to sell their crops and improve profitability,” Hart said. “Basis can also help provide a signal as to who their customers are and if demand is growing or shrinking.”

Basis contracts differ from price-later contracts because the basis (the difference between the local cash price and futures price) is established when the contract is signed and because elevators or processors may pay a portion of the values of the grain at the time it is delivered to the buyer.

“Basis contracts give farmers an opportunity to lock in a basis when it is advantageous to them,” Hart said. “That gives them the chance to improve their bottom line.”

There are also potential pitfalls when using this type of marketing tactic.

“The risk by using a basis contract is that I’ve locked in one piece of the price but the other part could still decline,” Hart said. “Once committed to that buyer, if a better price comes along later on, I can’t move those same bushels to a different buyer for a better price.”

Even with that risk, selling grain through basis contracts should be part of a farmer’s overall marketing plan.

“You want to have a wide variety of tools – sell for cash, sell forward, hedge, basis contract – on your marketing menu and to use those tools when it makes sense,” Hart said. “Given the volatility we see in prices, the more choices farms have to market their grain the better off they are.”

Livestock Haulers Get Waiver From ELDs Regulation

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has granted drivers who haul livestock a 90-day waiver from a regulation that could have negative effects on animal well-being, a move hailed by the National Pork Producers Council.

NPPC requested on behalf of the U.S. pork industry and other livestock sectors a waiver from a requirement that certain drivers install Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) on their trucks. The organization also asked for an exemption from the regulation, citing the incompatibility between transporting livestock and DOT’s Hours of Service rules. Those regulations limit truckers to 11 hours of driving daily, after 10 consecutive hours off duty, and restrict their on-duty time to 14 consecutive hours, which includes nondriving time.

“The ELDs regulation poses some serious challenges for livestock haulers and the animals in their care,” said NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill. “This waiver will give the department time to consider our request that truckers transporting hogs, cattle and other livestock be exempt from the ELDs mandate.

“Drivers transporting livestock have a moral obligation to care for the animals they’re hauling.”

The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Enhancement Act, enacted as part of the 2012 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, mandated that ELDs be installed by Dec. 18, 2017, in commercial motor vehicles involved in interstate commerce, when operated by drivers who are required to keep records of duty status. ELDs, which can cost from $200 to $1,000, record driving time, monitor engine hours, vehicle movement and speed, miles driven and location information.

DOT recently issue an interpretation intended to address shortcomings in its Hours of Service rules, exempting from the regulations and from any distance-logging requirements truckers hauling livestock within a 150 air-mile radius of the location at which animals were loaded. The department soon is expected to publish guidance on the air-mile exemption.

NCBA on 90-Day ELD Waiver: "Very Good News for Cattle and Beef Producers"

Craig Uden, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, today released the following statement in response to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA’s) announcement that it is issuing a 90-day waiver on the use of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) for livestock haulers:

“This is very good news for cattle and beef producers, and it’s a sign that the Administration is listening to the concerns that we have been raising. We’ve maintained for a long time that FMSCA is not prepared for this ELD rollout, that there needs to be more outreach from the Department of Transportation to the agricultural community, and that there’s currently still major confusion on the agricultural exemption on Hours of Service known as the 150 air-mile rule.

"This rule would certainly be helpful to our cattle haulers across the country. We want to thank Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao for listening to our concerns, and we’ll continue to work with her and FMCSA to make sure that our cattle are delivered safely, and that our drivers and others on the road are safe as well.”

Cattle on Feed

Katelyn McCullock, Economist, American Farm Bureau Federation

Strong placements were expected ahead of the cattle on feed report as analyst ranges were from 3.6-13.1 percent above a year ago.  This large range is in line with the strong feeder market seen over the course of October indicating the interest from feedlots to continue to fill pens even though estimated feeding returns have been negative for the last three months. The number of placed animals did slow in July and August as feeding returns declined, but September jumped to 13.5 percent higher as the 5-market fed prices climbed out of their lowest point all year of $104.65 per cwt. The number of animals placed in October came in at 10 percent over last year, some of which can be attributed to one additional slaughter day this year compared to last.

Marketings have continued to be aggressive and so feedlot inventories have not become burdensome even though 9 of the last running 12 months have shown placements over 10 percent ahead of the prior year. Marketings have remained 3 and 10 percent above a year ago all year, and in October they continued the positive trend coming in at 6 percent above 2016.

Feeder cattle 5-600 lb weights are maintaining strong prices this year and could be an indication of smaller feedlots taking advantage of low feed costs.  With USDA noting another record high yield in corn, some row crop farmers with empty pens could take advantage of the diversification opportunity and feed out their grain as oppose to sell it. This is a hard number to follow as it does not show up in the monthly cattle on feed report.

These higher than expected prices across the feeder cattle complex are likely a premonition of 2018 being another year of growth and expansion in the cattle sector.  Southern plains 5-600 lbs weights were $36 per cwt above 2016 last week, while 7 and 800 lb weights $40 per hundredweight higher.  Heifer slaughter has been above a year ago most of 2017, slaughtering about 12 percent more heifers.  However, last week the weekly slaughter number slowed sharply, and is the first non-holiday week to only show a single digit increase since July.

Growth Energy: Holiday Drivers Could Save Nearly $4 Million by Choosing E15

American drivers taking to the road for family gatherings this Thanksgiving could save $4 million if they fill up with E15, a fuel that contains 15 percent ethanol.

Following AAA’s prediction of record-breaking travel for Americans this holiday weekend, Growth Energy is encouraging drivers to take advantage of the value E15 brings and go to to locate an E15 station while on the road this week.

“E15 is a great fuel option any time, but when families are traveling further to see loved ones for Thanksgiving, it gives them an opportunity to keep a little extra money in their pockets since E15 can cost up to 10 cents less,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “If all those drivers filled up with E15 this year, it could mean nearly $4 million in savings. That’s reason to celebrate.”

E15 is available at nearly 1,200 locations across 29 states, and Americans recently surpassed 2 billion miles driven on the fuel. Growth Energy is proud to partner with leading retailers including Casey’s, Cenex, Family Express, Kum & Go, Kwik Trip, MAPCO, Minnoco, Murphy USA, Protec Fuel, QuikTrip, RaceTrac, Sheetz, and Thorntons to offer E15 to their customers.

“E15 burns cleaner, so it’s a good choice for engines and the environment — it is a better value all around, and I encourage those traveling this year to find their nearest E15 station at,” added Skor.

E15 is approved for 2001 and newer vehicles, which make up 90 percent of the vehicles on the road today.

October Milk Production in the United States up 1.4 Percent

Milk production in the United States during October totaled 17.8 billion pounds, up 1.4 percent from October 2016.  Production per cow in the United States averaged 1,894 pounds for October,
12 pounds above October 2016. The number of milk cows on farms in the United States was 9.40 million head, 65,000 head more than October 2016, but 1,000 head less than September 2017.

 Milk production in Iowa during October 2017 totaled 437 million pounds, up 4 percent from the previous October according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Milk Production report. The average number of milk cows during October, at 219,000 head, was the same as last month and 4,000 more than last year. Monthly production per cow averaged 1,995 pounds, up 40 pounds from last October.

NMPF Board Approves Proposal to Improve Risk Management for Fluid Milk

At its 2017 annual meeting in Anaheim, Calif., NMPF’s Board of Directors endorsed a proposal to improve the price risk management of fluid milk in a way that also captures for farmers the monetary value of the current fluid milk pricing system. The proposal will be one element of a larger package of farm bill risk management improvements that NMPF will ask Congress to approve in the coming months, as the House and Senate Agriculture committees begin to formulate the next farm bill.

The proposal approved by the board was developed earlier this year by a task force of NMPF members, who engaged in discussions with members of the International Dairy Foods Association to find a mutually acceptable approach to improving the risk management of Class I milk while preserving the farm-level revenue that the Class I formula generates for producers’ milk checks.

The current classified pricing system, established in 2000, uses the higher of the Class III or IV price in each month, plus a location-specific differential in each milk marketing order region, to set the monthly Class I price. Use of the “higher of” makes it difficult for Class I milk handlers to hedge risk because they don’t know which class will be the mover for a particular month. However, the “higher of” calculation as the Class I mover has benefited dairy producers since its implementation, and NMPF task force members made clear that value needed to be reflected in any alternative pricing formula going forward.

Under the terms of the agreement, which will ultimately require approval by Congress, the current Class I system would be adjusted using the simple average of Classes III and IV as the Class I mover.  This will reduce some of the unpredictability of pricing beverage milk, as it gives processors the ability to hedge Class I milk prices using Class III and IV futures.

To compensate for any loss of the “higher-of” pricing approach, this proposal applies a $0.74/cwt increase to the monthly skim milk value in each federal milk marketing order. This represents the average value of the “higher-of” system dating back to 2000. The adjustment is needed so that moving to an average of the two market-determined manufacturing class prices does not diminish the contribution to the blend price provided by Class I revenue.

“This action will improve price risk management by reducing some of the unpredictability of beverage milk prices, as it gives fluid milk handlers and their customers the ability to hedge milk prices using the futures market,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “This change locks in the value of the ‘higher-of’ pricing approach, protects the integrity of the Federal Order system, and aligns the policy interests of dairy farmers and processors as we begin work with Congress on a new farm bill.”

CWT Member Co-ops Capture 3.9 Million Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

With help from Cooperatives Working Together, member cooperatives secured 25 contracts to sell 3.45 million pounds of American-type cheeses and 416,674 pounds of butter in October. The product will be shipped during the months of October through January 2017 to customers in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Oceania.

These transactions raise the total CWT-assisted, year-to-date product sales to 57.94 million pounds of cheese and 4.75 million pounds of butter. The products are going to customers in 21 countries in five regions, and will move overseas the equivalent of 641.67 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis.

Helping CWT member cooperatives to gain and maintain world market share through the Export Assistance program in the long term expands 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.

Tyson to Build in Tennessee

(AP) -- Tyson Foods Inc. plans to build a new chicken production complex in Tennessee, a $300 million project that is expected to create more than 1,500 jobs when the facility begins operations in late 2019, the company said Monday.

The new plant in Humboldt, about 85 miles northeast of Memphis, will produce pre-packaged trays of fresh chicken for retail grocery stores nationwide, the Springdale, Arkansas-based company said in a statement before a news conference. The plant will help it meet strong consumer demand for its chicken.

The announcement marks the second major economic development project Tyson has begun this year in Tennessee. In August, the company announced an $84 million expansion of operations in Union City. That project is expected to create about 300 jobs.

Tyson currently operates four facilities in the state, employing about 5,000 people. The company says it paid Tennessee farmers more than $61 million in the 2016 fiscal year.

Officials including Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam lauded Tyson for choosing the West Tennessee city.

"This is an historic day for Humboldt, Gibson County and West Tennessee," Humboldt mayor Marvin Sikes said. "The significant job creation and capital investment that will result from this project will have a positive impact on our community that will last for many years."

The company's portfolio of products includes Tyson chicken, Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farm and Ballpark.

Missouri Announces New Diamba Use Restrictions

The Missouri Department of Agriculture issued a Special Local Need label for Engenia in what they call "proactive measure to reduce off-target crop injury." The Department says similar labels will be provided for Xtendimax and FeXapan soon.

"Our intent in issuing the Special Local Need label is to protect this technology for the future," Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn said. "We thoroughly reviewed the new label restrictions agreed upon by EPA and the registrants, and as much research data as possible to come to this decision that I believe will protect the product and the producers."

The restrictions call for application only by certified applicators with required training, applicators must complete an online dicamba notice of application daily before applying the product, cannot apply dicamba before 7:30 a.m. or after 5:30 p.m. and issues an application cutoff date. Farmers in Dunklin, Pemiscot, New Madrid, Stoddard, Scott, Mississippi, Butler, Ripley, Bollinger and Cape Girardeau counties cannot use the product after June 1, 2018. All other counties must stop use after July 15, 2018.

The Department says it took into account feedback from growers and other stakeholders from the 2017 season.

Farmers Cashing in on High Oleic Soybean Profit Opportunities

Farmers across the soybean belt are reaping the advantages that come with high oleic soybeans and their grower-friendly contracts.

George Tebbe, who farms in Tipton, Indiana, was an early adopter of high oleic varieties, having grown them every year for the past five seasons.

“They farm just as well as my commodity beans,” says Tebbe. “As far as yield goes, I haven’t seen any difference between my high oleic varieties and anything else I’ve grown.”

Food companies are lauding high oleic soybean oil’s performance in the kitchen and trans-fat-free nutritional profile, while farmers are enjoying the high yields and grower-friendly contracts high oleic soybeans offer.

To meet the growing food-oil demand for high oleic soybean oil, the industry has set a goal of 18 million planted acres, which would make high oleic soybeans the fourth largest grain and oilseed crop behind corn, commodity soybeans and wheat.

Luckily for farmers, the choice to help the soy industry meet that goal isn’t a hard one.

Contracts geared toward farmers

Contracts for high oleic soybeans are designed with the grower top of mind. As opposed to other specialty crops that are contracted based on bushels, high oleic soybean contracts are acreage-based.

“Basically, you contract a certain number of acres and calculate an estimated production, but the crusher takes whatever you raise, whether you end up over or under the estimate,” Tebbe says.
Knowing that every harvested bushel will be accepted by the crusher gives farmers peace of mind.

“Everybody knows how many acres they’re going to plant, but it’s impossible to know exactly how many bushels you’re going to produce. Mother nature dictates that you’re going to get what you’re going to get,” says Tebbe. “That’s the nice thing about these contracts – you’re not penalized either way.”

Low-maintenance segregation requirements

Also setting high oleic soybeans apart from other specialty crops are the simple segregation requirements associated with handling them.

Bill Beam, a soybean farmer from Elverson, Pennsylvania, notes that managing a high oleic crop is nearly identical to his commodity soybeans.

“You really don’t do anything differently other than keeping it separate from your commodity soybeans,” says Beam. “The only thing that I can see that’s different is that I get a premium when I deliver them.”

Farmers interested in learning about high oleic planting opportunities should contact their seed reps or visit for availability information.

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