Friday, November 3, 2017

Thursday November 2 Ag News

Nebraska Cooperative Council Annual Meeting and Hall of Fame

The 72nd Annual Meeting of the Nebraska Cooperative Council is scheduled for Wednesday, November 15th at the Holiday Inn and Convention Center in Kearney.  One of the highlights of this year’s meeting will be the induction ceremony for two new inductees into the Nebraska Cooperative Council Cooperative Hall of Fame.

The Council’s Board of Directors implemented the NCC Cooperative Hall of Fame in 1999 as a way to recognize individuals who have been unwavering in their support of the cooperative system in Nebraska.  It is the Council’s intent that this prestigious award be reserved for only those who are held in the highest esteem by their peers.

The specific goal of the Cooperative Hall of Fame is to recognize those cooperative leaders whose leadership:
✧            Was instrumental in the growth and service of their respective cooperative.
✧            Fostered and promoted unity and a common approach to agricultural cooperatives.
✧            Improved and promoted a better understanding of the principles and practices of agricultural cooperatives.
✧            Was instrumental in the defense, protection, and enhancement of the agricultural cooperative movement.

On November 15th, the Council will induct the following two individuals into the Nebraska Cooperative Council Hall of Fame:

✧            Rodney Schroeder - Rod grew up on a farm near Leigh, Nebraska and began his career as an accountant at Gooch Mills in Lincoln.  Ten months later at the ripe age of 21, he accepted a job at the Aurora Cooperative.  Rod quickly rose through the ranks and was named CEO of the Cooperative in 1984.

                Rod spent 18 years as CEO at Aurora, and during his tenure the sales of the cooperative grew from under $1 million per year to $162 million in his final year.  During that same period, the cooperative grew from 3 locations to 23 locations.

                In 2002, Rod left Aurora to join Agriliance, and during that time he provided leadership to bring the cultures of the regionals together to successfully run the business.  Agriliance then integrated with Winfield Solutions, and through Rod's leadership pre-tax earnings grew from $40 million to $162 million.

                In addition to his leadership and vision at work, Rod also served on many local, state and national boards during his career.  These would include service as chairman of United Benefits Group and on the boards of the Co-op Retirement Committee, Farmers Commodity Corporation, Ag Retailers Association, The Fertilizer Institute, Crop Life America, Cooperative Mutual Insurance Company, Heritage Bank, FLM+, and Nebraska Energy Cooperative.

✧            Frederick Temme - Fred is truly one of the most dedicated cooperative supporters that the dairy industry in Nebraska has ever seen.  His service on cooperative boards throughout his career distinguish him as a true leader of agricultural cooperatives.

                Fred began farming near Wayne in 1955 after serving his country in the U.S. Army.  He began share renting the farm from his father and milking 25 cows.  Today the operation, that his son and grandson operate, includes over 1,000 acres of farmland and 850 milk cows.

                While building a successful business, Fred also provided leadership throughout the industry.  Fred began his service to his cooperative as a district officer for Associated Milk Producers Inc (AMPI) in 1977.  He served on numerous AMPI committees throughout the years and as a corporate director until his retirement in 1998.  He served as Chair, Vice Chair, and Secretary of the Dairy Council of Central States ADA; Vice Chair of the Nebraska Dairy Industry Development Board; and as a board director on the Federal Order 65 Production Board and Nebraska Dairy Review Board; and he also had the honor of testifying before Congress.

                Locally Fred served on the Wayne County Extension Board, Wayne County Farm Bureau Board, Wayne County Soil & Water Conservation Board, and Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District Board.  He also served on his local school board and church council.

 Nebraska Project Aims to Improve Land Use Effiiency

A University of Nebraska-Lincoln research team will investigate how to improve land use efficiency through the integration of livestock and crop production systems.

The project is funded by a $1 million grant from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research.

The team, which includes members of a new Nebraska Beef Systems Research Initiative, expects an integrated system, which overlays cattle grazing with existing crop production systems, to increase output per acre and reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with production. The team will also examine if the benefits of using cover crops are retained when they are used for livestock forage.

James C. MacDonald, associate professor of animal science and ruminant nutrition at Nebraska, will lead the team in its investigation of various outputs including yields, soil health and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the economic feasibility of adopting these new practices.

"It's very difficult for new or young farmers to get started," MacDonald said. "You may not own the land or need to work with a family member's existing system to start your own enterprise. Integrating cattle without disturbing crop production with minimal investment can help young producers get started and stay in agriculture."

The availability of perennial forage for livestock production has decreased as farms move to less diversified systems to grow individual crops. Highly specialized systems, such as monoculture, may be less sustainable than diversified approaches in terms of resource efficiency and long-term profitability.

"Cover crops are a long-term investment to improve soil health and reduce erosion, but they can be difficult for producers to pay for," MacDonald said. "If producers can graze cattle on cover crops, they could increase land efficiency and mitigate costs."

Producers will play a vital role in the research by participating in surveys and focus groups to gather input about how they make decisions. Outcomes of this study will help farmers and ranchers understand which practices will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions while efficiently producing food in a diversified system.

U.S. Rep. Don Bacon, who represents Nebraska's 2nd District, said: "As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, I know how important it is for producers to maximize livestock production and increase overall productivity. Nebraska is the number one state for beef and veal exports and for commercial red meat production. This grant will allow the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to contribute to the state's cattle production and research effective land use practices to help new farmers."

The project is supported by FFAR through its Seeding Solutions grant program, which calls for research proposals in the foundation's seven challenge areas. The grant is part of the Protein Challenge, which aims to enhance and improve the environmental, economic and social sustainability production of diverse proteins for a growing global population.

"As the population continues to expand, we must find more efficient ways to produce enough food to feed the growing population," said Sally Rockey, Executive Director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. "FFAR is pleased to support a project that will help efficiently manage resources and provide economic opportunities for American farmers and ranchers."

The Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Office of Research and Economic Development at Nebraska matched FFAR's support, resulting in $2.4 million dedicated to this research. The Platte River High-Plains Aquifer Long-term Agroecosystems Research Network is also a partner.

Other team members include Tala Awanda from Nebraska's Agricultural Research Division; Simanti Banerjee and Jay Parsons from the Department of Agricultural Economics; Humberto Blanco and Daren Redfearn from the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture; Mary Drewnoski and Galen Erickson from the Department of Animal Science; Jane Okalebo and Andy Suyker from the School of Natural Resources; and George Burba from LI-COR Biosciences.

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization established by bipartisan congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today's food and agriculture challenges. FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population.

Beef Blast Workshop Will Focus on Genetics

Youth in grades 7-12 are invited to attend Beef Blast at the Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center in Ames, Iowa. The workshop, hosted by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and the Iowa State Department of Animal Science, will teach participants about working with beef cattle.

The program begins at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 2 and concludes at 3:30 p.m. Workshop presenters include beef faculty, staff and graduate students from Iowa State.

Youth will have a variety of hands-on workshops to explore genetics, the program focus. Participants will be able to use an ultrasound, practice selection and learn about DNA. 

“The goal of this workshop is to provide youth with opportunities for learning that they cannot get in their county or school program,” said Amy Powell, youth STEM specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. “I hope that they will share the information learned at Beef Blast when they go back home.”

The cost of the workshop is $40 and includes all materials and lunch. Registration is due by midnight, Nov. 21 and space is limited. To register visit Parents are also welcome to attend for a cost of $12 which covers meals.

For further information contact Powell at 515-294-3441 or

U.S. Must Make Commitment To Agricultural Research

The National Pork Producers Council in testimony delivered today urged Congress to renew its commitment to funding agricultural research to help America’s farmers feed a growing world population, improve public health and strengthen U.S. national security by ensuring America’s food security.

NPPC chief veterinarian Dr. Liz Wagstrom told the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology that the United States is the “lowest-cost and most technologically innovative producer of food in the world … and has the safest food on the planet” because of the country’s historical commitment to research.

She pointed out that research helped the U.S. pork industry deal with diseases such as Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome and the H1N1 influenza virus. But, she added, U.S. agriculture remains vulnerable to emerging and foreign animal diseases.

A disease the pork industry and other livestock sectors are particularly concerned about, Wagstrom testified, is Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD). The United States doesn’t have enough vaccine to address an FMD outbreak, which, if unchecked, would cost the pork, beef, corn and soybean sectors, alone, $200 billion over 10 years.

NPPC is urging Congress to establish and fund through the next Farm Bill a manufacturer-managed FMD vaccine bank and is requesting funds for animal disease diagnostics and research that “can help address the alarming gap in the government’s preparedness for an FMD outbreak.”

Wagstrom also told the subcommittee that the federal commitment to agricultural research seems to have waned recently, pointing out that from 1970 to 2008 50 percent of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s budget went to research but by 2013 it was less than 30 percent.

One factor for that decline, she said, is the increased costs of operating federal research facilities. She asked Congress to ensure adequate funds for operating agricultural research facilities “over and above” research dollars.

“The U.S. pork industry strongly supports and urges a significant increase in funding for federal … agricultural research and grants to help America’s farmers and ranchers continue feeding the world with safe, wholesome and nutritious food,” Wagstrom told the subcommittee.

Farmers Applaud Move to Reform Tax Code

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall

“Farm Bureau applauds Congress for its progress in reforming the tax code. This new tax plan moves us closer to a tax system that rewards the hard work and entrepreneurship of America’s farm and ranch families.

“Today’s proposal includes expanded, immediate expensing while continuing the business interest deduction important to so many farmers and ranchers. It also provides immediate relief from the estate tax with a repeal to follow in subsequent years. We will be studying the plan to ensure the new rate structure reduces the tax burden of our nation’s farmers and ranchers and gives them the flexibility they need to reinvest in their businesses.

“We are long overdue for a permanent tax code that recognizes the unique financial challenges farmers and ranchers face in managing their businesses and keeping their farms running from one generation to the next.”

Statement by Steve Nelson, NE Farm Bureau President, Regarding House Releases Sweeping Tax Overhaul Plan

“Today’s release of Congress’ first real attempt to reform our nation’s tax-code in over 30 years, represents a great first step in this long process. For the past several years, Nebraska Farm Bureau members have been working with members of Congress on a package that lowers taxes for Nebraska’s farm and ranch families.”

“The proposal, which includes important reforms to income taxes and farm succession taxes, also maintains the business interest deduction, which is extremely important to farmers and ranchers. We will continue to examine the full package and will remain engaged throughout this process moving forward. We must take advantage of this once in a generation opportunity to provide lower taxes that also recognizes the unique financial challenges facing Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers.”

NBB Responds to House Republican Comprehensive Tax Reform Proposal

Today the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) responded to the release of the comprehensive tax reform proposal issued by U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas):

“NBB members across the country are disappointed that this first draft of congressional tax reform legislation does not include an extension of the critical biodiesel tax incentives. For decades, stable federal tax incentives for oil and gas have contributed to the world-class, conventional energy industry of today, and NBB encourages legislators to create a similarly stable tax framework for biodiesel and renewable diesel. As the process moves along, NBB stands ready to work with Congressional lawmakers to craft a robust, biodiesel tax incentive that will provide public benefits such as rural job creation, a diversified national fuel portfolio, and fewer toxic pollutants in the air,” said Doug Whitehead, chief operating officer at the National Biodiesel Board.

NBB will continue to work with lawmakers to address these concerns and to include biodiesel tax incentives in comprehensive tax reform proposals moving forward.

House Tax Proposal Would Raise Taxes on America’s Farmers

Chuck Conner, president & CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives

By eliminating the Domestic Production Activities Deduction (DPAD), also known as Section 199, the "Tax Cuts and Jobst Act of 2017," the tax reform proposal released today by House Ways & Means Chairman Kevin Brady, would raise taxes on millions of farmers and depress economic activity throughout rural America. The value of the deduction for agriculture in a number of states is substantial: $136 million annually in California; $131 million in Minnesota; $80 million in South Dakota; $67 million in Iowa; and $60 million in Nebraska

“Initial calculations using assumptions based on the Unified Framework on tax reform show that the tax burden for an individual farmer could increase by thousands of dollars each year under Section 199 repeal. In the coming days NCFC will continue to analyze the impact of farmers now that more details of the plan have been provided.

“Farmers have been told that tax reform will give them more money in their pockets to invest back in rural communities. The House tax reform package takes money away from farmers at a time when they are suffering from extremely low commodity prices. Rural America strongly supports a pro-growth tax policy, but the proposal to eliminate Section 199 will have the exact opposite effect.” 

 Shift to More Regressive Taxation Would Increase Burden on Family Farmers and Ranchers

U.S. House of Representatives leadership today released its blueprint for sweeping tax reform, including significant cuts to individual and corporate tax rates and eventual repeal of the estate tax. The plan is estimated to cost $1.51 trillion over the next decade.

In response to the proposal, National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson released the following statement:

“While NFU supports efforts to simplify the tax code, we adamantly oppose the overarching elements of this plan because they shift the nation’s tax burden from the top earners in our country to the backs of American family farmers, ranchers and the middle class.

“This plan offers significant tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. It repeals the estate tax, a significant revenue generator that affects only the wealthiest in our nation. And it does not provide adequate offsets for these cuts, translating to a $1.51 trillion increase to our federal deficit.

“While we await details on specific provisions for farming operations, NFU urges a shift towards simplified, progressive tax policy that recognizes the unique needs of family farming and ranching operations. This includes maintaining the estate tax and provisions like cash accounting, stepped-up basis, interest expensing, and others that are important to sustaining a family farm in the 21st Century.”

USDA Dairy Products September 2017 Highlights

Total cheese output (excluding cottage cheese) was 1.01 billion pounds, 2.7 percent above September 2016 but 1.4 percent below August 2017.  Italian type cheese production totaled 435 million pounds, 1.4 percent above September 2016 but 0.2 percent below August 2017.  American type cheese production totaled 394 million pounds, 4.2 percent above September 2016 but 1.3 percent below August 2017.  Butter production was 135 million pounds, 0.3 percent below September 2016 but 2.8 percent above August 2017.

Dry milk products (comparisons with September 2016)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 133 million pounds, up 6.2 percent.
Skim milk powder - 30.4 million pounds, down 21.0 percent.

Whey products (comparisons with September 2016)
Dry whey, total - 91.3 million pounds, up 20.8 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 95.2 million pounds, up 0.3 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 38.7 million pounds, up 5.3 percent.

Frozen products (comparisons with September 2016)
Ice cream, regular (hard) - 61.3 million gallons, down 3.5 percent.
Ice cream, lowfat (total) - 33.0 million gallons, down 6.5 percent.
Sherbet (hard) - 3.15 million gallons, down 6.4 percent.
Frozen yogurt (total) - 4.91 million gallons, down 3.2 percent.

NMPF Celebrates Industry Collaboration and Innovation at 101st Annual Meeting in California

The importance of increased collaboration across the dairy community, defending the good name of dairy foods, and pursuing innovative new marketing strategies were key themes this week here at the National Milk Producers Federation’s 101st annual meeting, where 800 attendees heard from their policy and promotion organizations on how to create more opportunities for the U.S. dairy industry.

Hosted jointly by NMPF, the National Dairy Board and the United Dairy Industry Association, this year’s event was themed “We Are Undeniably Dairy,” building on a campaign launched earlier this year that celebrates dairy’s undeniable goodness in the areas of nutrition, sustainability and community involvement. NMPF’s leaders, in their remarks to members, stressed the need for America’s dairy companies to do more in collaboration with other marketing cooperatives.

“We have to stop looking at other U.S. cooperatives as if we’re competitors,” said NMPF Chairman Randy Mooney in his remarks. “We have to recognize that in a globalized dairy market, our competitors are outside of America’s borders, and we have to work together to fight for a larger share of those markets.”

NMPF’s annual Town Hall event featured presentations from staff on the latest policy issues affecting the industry, including efforts in Congress to address immigration reform, the fight against misbranded dairy imitators, and NMPF’s extensive work this year to achieve a positive outcome in the ongoing NAFTA negotiations. Later in the day, NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern discussed the organization’s work this year to improve the dairy safety net in the coming farm bill, as well as its new campaign, Peel Back the Label, which challenges the misleading marketing practices used by certain food companies.

“To surmount the hurdles that we face, and carry these efforts across the finish line, we must stand together as a united industry,” Mulhern said. “Our dairy community is unstoppable when we engage on these important issues.” He said major grassroots efforts will be needed in support of proposed congressional reforms to immigration laws.  He also discussed how NMPF will be working more closely in the coming year with dairy processors on farm policy improvements.

Trace Sheehan, co-producer of the documentary “Food Evolution,” was the meeting’s keynote speaker. He shared his experience working on the film, which centers on the contentious debate over genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Later that evening, attendees were invited to a screening of the documentary and a question-and-answer session with Sheehan.

In other meeting news, NMPF’s annual cheese contest was won by a pepperjack cheese made by Michigan Milk Producers Association in its Middlebury, Ind., processing plant. NMPF’s member cooperatives submitted a record 194 entries, totaling 3,070 pounds of cheese products.

Also this week, NMPF welcomed four new members to its Board of Directors: Tom Beringer of Bongards’ Creameries, Leon Berthiaume of St. Albans Cooperative Creamery, Brad Nosbush of First District Association, and Brian Rexing of Dairy Farmers of America. NMPF also recognized retiring board members Ralph McNall of St. Albans Cooperative Creamery and George Mertens of Dairy Farmers of America for their contributions to the industry.

Dairy Farmers of America’s communications team scored several awards in NMPF’s annual communications competition, including the top “Communicator of the Year” award.

NMPF’s Young Cooperator Program hosted its own full day of speakers on topics including food marketing trends, optimizing dairy cattle feeding, and how to manage farm ownership transitions between generations. The 2018 YC Advisory Council also selected its leadership for the upcoming year. Justin and Jennifer Malott of Smithsburg, Md., who are members of Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association, were elected as the new Chaircouple. Josh and Emily Reinhardt of Red Bud, Ill., members of Prairie Farms, were elected Vice Chaircouple, and Nate and Jenny Elzinga of Zeeland, Mich., members of Michigan Milk Producers Association, were elected Secretary Couple.

Chinese Corn, Sorghum And DDGS Team Investigates U.S. Production And Quality

A team of Chinese buyers of corn, sorghum and distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) traveled to the United States last month to investigate crop production and quality as well as gain a better understanding of U.S. feed grains and co-products as a valuable feed ingredient.

The Chinese trade team visited with farmers in Iowa and Kansas. Here, the team talks with Mike Paustian in Iowa to learn about his swine operation and corn production.
The team, organized by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), traveled from Iowa to Kansas, ending travels in New Orleans, Louisiana. The tour encompassed the entirety of the U.S. marketing system from farms to export facilities, including visits to corn and sorghum operations, ethanol plants, country elevators, container trans-loading facilities and export terminals.

“This team marks the first time in a few years we have brought a buying team to major corn producing areas,” said Bryan Lohmar, USGC director in China. “Teams like these allow participants to see for themselves the efficiency of the logistics and marketing system in the United States.”

The Chinese team also met with U.S. trading companies and trained for two days at the IGP Institute on the campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. The China Contracting Workshop focused on the U.S. grain production and marketing system, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grain standards, U.S. export grain inspections as well as contracting methods and vessel- and container-loading systems.

China is an important market for U.S. feed grains, albeit a complex environment. The country was the top importer of U.S. sorghum in the 2016/2017 marketing year at 4.8 million metric tons (189 million bushels). China also purchased 807,000 metric tons (31.8 million bushels) of U.S. corn in 2016/2017, a 151 percent increase year-over-year, which follows Chinese changes to domestic corn policies.

In January 2017, the Chinese government started enforcing anti-dumping and countervailing duties on U.S. DDGS. Despite the subsequent decline in purchases, China remained the fifth largest market for U.S. DDGS for the 2016/2017 marketing year, purchasing 739,000 metric tons total.

“The team was very glad to see the good quality corn and sorghum crops this year,” said Yantian Zeng, USGC program manager in China who also traveled with the team. “Participants were very optimistic about sourcing more corn from the United States this year and in future years.”

Syngenta obtains non-exclusive IP license from Broad Institute for CRISPR-Cas9 genome-editing technology for agriculture applications

Syngenta announced today it has attained a non-exclusive IP license from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard for CRISPR-Cas9 genome-editing technology for agricultural applications.

CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology complements Syngenta’s already robust plant breeding innovation toolbox. Syngenta is applying this technology in multiple crops, including corn, wheat, tomato, rice and sunflower.

“Gaining access to CRISPR-Cas9 technology will allow us to accelerate the rate of innovation in the development of new plant varieties, and bring novel traits into the hands of growers faster, and with greater efficiency,” said Michiel van Lookeren Campagne, global head of seeds research at Syngenta. “Using this advanced technology will help us deliver on the 21st century food production challenges.”

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