Friday, February 2, 2018

Friday February 2 Ag News

Weborg to Serve as Congressional District 1 representative for the Beginning Farmer Board

Tyler Weborg was appointed by the Governor as the congressional District 1 Representative for the Beginning Farmer Board. Among other things, Weborg is serving as Nebraska Cattlemen Region 3 Member Services Vice Chairman.  Effective June 30, 2017 serving through July 16, 2019. The Board is responsible for administering the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Act marked as NextGen.

NextGen assists farmers and ranchers beginning a career in production agriculture. It provides a Nebraska income tax credit to an asset owner who rents to an eligible beginning farmer for a minimum of a three year lease. The incentive helps beginners gain access to agricultural assets and develop a relationship with the owner. The program also provides the beginner a personal property tax exemption on farm equipment and machinery. For more information on NextGen go to or call 800-446-4071.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Do you rent pasture?  What happens if drought lowers pasture production below expectations?  Specifically, what does your pasture lease say about drought?

               It’s hard to think about drought in mid-winter but drought can play havoc on pasture leases.  All too often, pasture leases fail to include an appropriate plan to adjust to this problem.

               Without a plan, both the landowner and the tenant are at risk.  Landowners risk having the pasture become overgrazed, resulting in future weed problems, reduced long-term production, and lowered value.  The tenant risks poor performance or health of the livestock due to less forage and lower quality feed.  This can lead to higher supplemental feed costs or being forced to sell the cattle.

               So, who decides when drought has lowered pasture production low enough to remove the cattle?  And, what should be the adjustment in the rent payment?  And who gets insurance or government payments?

               Unfortunately, I can’t give you a specific answer.  Instead, now is the time to discuss these issues as landlord and tenant.  Be sure to list the length of the grazing period in the lease along with beginning and ending dates.  Also make sure that stocking rates are specified in the lease.  Adjust these stocking levels for bigger cow sizes  if necessary.  Usually, it is best to design the lease so both landowner and tenant share in the opportunity and risk associated with drought by adding an appropriate escape clause due to drought.  Indicate how a drought adjustment will be made and how that will affect rent payments.   And get it all in writing to avoid any misunderstandings later.

               Drought can cause a lot of headaches.  But if you’ve planned ahead, making sudden adjustments to your pasture leases won’t be one of them.

Nebraska Cattlemen Held Annual Legislative Meeting Last Week

Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) Board of Directors met in Lincoln for their annual legislative meeting last week. Six NC committees brought numerous new Nebraska Legislative bills and resolutions to the board's attention and revisited bills of interest identified last year that are still alive in the legislative process.

Under close review, in accordance to NC Policy, the Board of Directors considered and took positions on over 50 pieces of legislation and again in 2018, property tax reform and relief are the priorities for the year.

Nebraska Cattlemen recognizes agricultural property owners pay a disproportionate share of Nebraska's total property tax liability. While no single bill introduced this year is a complete solution to lowering property taxes, ideas exist in many bills that could lead to broad, long-term tax relief that begins immediately. Nebraska Cattlemen voted to support and monitor multiple bills this session and will work to align those bills with NC policy.  The Board of Directors encourages the Legislature to consider a comprehensive plan that would reform and reduce that burden.

The board took positions to support and monitor bills that would ease the property tax burden tax and opposed bills that would add more costs to Nebraska agricultural families by adding new taxes or removing exemptions on inputs to business.

NC recommends a broad legislative package that would include lowering and/or capping agricultural land valuations of real property, increasing and protecting the Property Tax Credit Fund, modifications to school funding that reduces the reliance on local property tax dollars and increases overall state dollars for K-12 education, implementing a refundable tax credit for property taxes paid, shifting the current tax burden or modifying/increasing existing revenues to bring dollar for dollar property tax reductions, spending restraints and prudent financial management at all levels of government, and defeating efforts that further burden property tax payers in Nebraska. 

"Our organization diligently reviewed bills in accordance to NC policy and took a stance on proposed legislation this week on behalf of members throughout the state. I am confident the decisions of Nebraska Cattlemen's Board of Directors will encourage our Legislature to pursue this comprehensive approach to provide meaningful, long term property tax relief for all Nebraskans," said Mike Drinnin, chairman of NC Legislative Committee.

Nebraska Farm Bureau Announces the Hiring of Three New Regional Managers

Leann Robitaille of Omaha, Neb., Nick Haack of Upland, Neb., and Heidi Pieper of Farnam, Neb., have accepted regional manager positions within the Nebraska Farm Bureau, Rob Robertson, Nebraska Farm Bureau chief administrator said Feb. 1. Robitaille will serve as the Southeast regional manager, Haack will be the first to serve in the newly formed South Central region as regional manager and Pieper will serve as the Southwest regional manager.

“With the ever-increasing challenges facing our members and Nebraska agriculture, it is imperative the Nebraska Farm Bureau continues to grow and expand its influence in the grassroots advocacy world and with its efforts to attract new members. These three individuals bring excellent skill sets to these positions and they have a lot of new ideas and energy that they will bring to our organization. It is important that we, as staff, empower our members to fulfill our vision to be the trusted voice of Nebraska farm and ranch families,” Robertson said.

Leann Robitaille graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with an Agribusiness degree. Prior to joining Nebraska Farm Bureau, Robitaille served a variety of non-profits in leadership development, event management, and in leadership roles. She grew up on her family farm in Franklin County and has lived the past 12 years in West Omaha. Robitaille and her husband John, have five children together. She is a member of the Douglas County Farm Bureau and is excited to bring her personal attention, leadership skills, and passions to Nebraska Farm Bureau to promote agriculture in Nebraska.

Nick Haack graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Sciences. He lives with his wife, Melissa, and their five children on a farm near Upland. Prior to joining Nebraska Farm Bureau, he was the owner/operator of Arrow H Farm and Ranch Services. Haack brings an excellent skill set to this position. He has been through the rank and file of Nebraska Farm Bureau and understands how our grassroots system works. He has a passion for agriculture, is a member of the Kearney/Franklin County Farm Bureau, and is excited about working with fellow Farm Bureau members in the South Central region.

Heidi Pieper graduated from Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Studies. She and her husband, Tyler, run a small cow/calf farm outside of Farnam and are members of the Frontier County Farm Bureau. They have two foster children and welcomed a son in December. They feel blessed to live, work, and raise a family in the agricultural industry. Pieper is excited to serve the Southwest Region and looks forward to connecting and serving Nebraska Farm Bureau members.

All three will begin their duties with Nebraska Farm Bureau in February.

Military veteran farmers invited to free conference

Registration is now open for Answering the Call, a free conference for military veteran farmers who are currently farming or want to begin farming. The second annual event is sponsored by Center for Rural Affairs and Legal Aid of Nebraska.

Answering the Call is set for Saturday, March 24, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Central Community College-Hastings, 550 Technical Blvd., Hastings, Nebraska.

“The conference is an opportunity for veterans to connect with fellow former service members who are engaged or interested in farming,” said Cora Fox, policy program associate at the Center for Rural Affairs. “Veterans can see firsthand how other veterans have translated the duty and drive of military life into a second career on the farm.”

Farmers looking to transition operations to veteran farmers, or who are willing to mentor are also encouraged to attend.

Session topics include programs available to veterans interested in farming, diversified agriculture, conservation, and agritourism.

Conference attendance is free, but pre-registration is required by Friday, March 16. Register at A continental breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Additional support for Answering the Call is provided by Farm Credit Services of America, the Nebraska Tourism Commission, and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

For more information, contact Cora Fox at or 402.687.2100 ext 1012 or visit

Deadline Approaches to Submit Request Form for United Soybean Board

The Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) is looking for soybean farmers interested in filling one of Nebraska’s four director positions with the United Soybean Board (USB), for a three-year term.

USB is made up of 73 farmer-directors who oversee the investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of all U.S. soybean farmers. Checkoff funds are invested in the areas of sustainability, soybean meal and soybean oil. As stipulated in the Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soybean checkoff.

Any farmer interested in applying needs to meet the following criteria:
1.     Be involved in a farming operation that raises soybeans
2.     Be a resident of Nebraska
3.     Be at least 21 years of age

To be considered for the national leadership position, interested farmers need to submit a USDA Background Information Form before the March 1, 2018 deadline. To obtain this form, contact Victor Bohuslavsky at the Nebraska Soybean Board office at (402) 432-5720.

The NSB Board of Directors will submit to the U.S. Department of Agriculture a “first preferred choice nominee” and “second preferred choice alternate” for the open positions. The Secretary of Agriculture will make the final appointments. The USDA has a policy that membership on origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation and marital or family status. The chosen individual will begin serving a three-year term in December 2018. Each individual appointed is eligible to serve a total of three consecutive terms.

For more information about the United Soybean Board, visit

Nominations Now Open for 66th Annual Iowa Conservation Farmer of the Year

Nominations are now being sought to find and recognize the 2018 Iowa Conservation Farmer of the Year.  The prestigious honor includes a substantial prize; the winner receives use of a new John Deere 6E utility tractor for a year, courtesy of prize sponsors Van Wall and John Deere.  The award, co-sponsored by the Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) honors an Iowa farmer who has a proven track record of excellence in soil conservation and water quality improvements and is committed to continuously working to improve the land and water.

“Farmers are the most effective at influencing other farmers to do even more on their land to prevent erosion and protect water quality, so it is important we recognize those that have made a commitment to conservation,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey.  “This award is an opportunity to highlight and recognize a farmer that has gone above and beyond in their conservation efforts and serves as a model of land stewardship in the community and across the state.”

The award, which got its start in 1952, is designed to help raise awareness about the importance of caring for Iowa’s fertile lands and vital waterways and to acknowledge those who accept the challenge of continuously working to improve conservation.

“Water quality is important to all Iowans, and over the years we’ve proudly honored incredible farmers who lead by example and have made great progress in conservation,” says IFBF President Craig Hill.  “Conservation is not optional on Iowa farms, and we all have a role to play as we work to improve water quality and soil health.  This award is a great opportunity to recognize the farmer conservationists who are leading the way.”  

The nomination process is easy; a farmer can apply or be nominated for the award by sending a brief letter, 100 words or less, summarizing the nominee’s conservation efforts to the local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) by June 1.  The local SWCD will choose one nomination to advance for consideration for a regional award, and the nine regional award winners then compete for the overall award, which will be announced during the Iowa Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioners Annual Conference, September 9-11 in Des Moines.  As part of receiving the award, the 2018 Conservation Farmer of the Year winner will receive free use of a John Deere 6E Series utility tractor, for up to 12 months or 200 hours of use.  The prize, valued at more than $12,000, is sponsored annually by Van Wall Equipment of Perry and John Deere.       


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today encouraged eligible farm owners to apply for the 2018 Century and Heritage Farm Program.  The program is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and recognizes families that have owned their farm for 100 years in the case of Century Farms and 150 years for Heritage Farms.

“Century and Heritage Farm recognitions at the Iowa State Fair are a great celebration of Iowa agriculture and the families that care for the land and produce our food,” Northey said.  “I hope eligible families will take the time to apply and then come to the State Fair to be recognized.”

Applications are available on the Department’s website at by clicking on the Century Farm or Heritage Farm link under “Hot Topics.”

Applications may also be requested from Becky Lorenz, Coordinator of the Century and Heritage Farm Program via phone at 515-281-3645, email at or by writing to Century or Heritage Farms Program, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Henry A. Wallace Building, 502 E. 9th St., Des Moines, IA 50319.

Farm families seeking to qualify for the Century or Heritage Farms Program must submit an application to the Department no later than June 1, 2018.

The Century Farm program was started in 1976 as part of the Nation’s Bicentennial Celebration.  To date more than 19,000 farms from across the state have received this recognition.  The Heritage Farm program was started in 2006, on the 30th anniversary of the Century Farm program, and more than 1,000 farms have been recognized.  Last year 354 Century Farms and 119 Heritage Farms were recognized.

A full list of all past Century Farm recipients is available at

The ceremony to recognize the 2018 Century and Heritage Farms is scheduled to be held at the Iowa State Fair on Thursday, August 16th in the Pioneer Livestock Pavilion.

“These awards are an opportunity to recognize the hard work and commitment by these families that is necessary to keep a farm in the same family for 100 or 150 years,” Northey said.  “If you consider all the challenges and unexpected obstacles each of them would have had to overcome during their life on the farm, it gives you a greater appreciation of the dedication and perseverance of each of the families being recognized.”

Few Moments Wasted as Thousands Make Memories at Cattle Industry Convention

Nearly 7,600 members of the cattle community enjoyed fellowship, fun, education and leadership opportunities during the 2018 Cattle Industry Convention & NCBA Trade Show, which ended in Phoenix, Ariz., Feb. 3.

Most in attendance enjoyed a huge and energetic trade show, with more than 350 exhibitors on more than seven acres of floor and outside space. Holding business meetings at the event were the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, American National CattleWomen, CattleFax and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation. Members of NCBA also elected officers and engaged in a grassroots policy process at the event.

Ascending to the position of NCBA president at the NCBA board meeting Feb. 3 was Kevin Kester, who in 2017 served as president-elect. Kester is a fifth generation California rancher who was born and raised in the Parkfield area of southern Monterey County, where his family has lived for more than 125 years. They have a yearling stocker and an Angus-based commercial cow-calf operation, and also farm wine grapes on their 22,000 acre ranch.

Voted in as president-elect was Jennifer Houston of Sweetwater, Tenn., who has been active in the beef industry for more than 30 years. Houston and her husband, Mark, own and operate East Tennessee Livestock Center in Sweetwater, which has a history of embracing change to better serve their customers. In addition to regular weekly cattle sales, they hold video, graded feeder calf and Holstein steer sales. Houston served in 2017 as NCBA vice president.

Marty Smith, a rancher and attorney from Wacahoota, Fla., was elected vice president. Smith previously served as the organization’s treasurer.

Elected chair of the NCBA Policy Division was Jerry Bohn (Kansas), while Don Schiefelbein (Minnesota) was elected vice chairman. Dawn Caldwell (Nebraska) was elected chair of the NCBA Federation Division, and Laurie Munns (Utah) was elected vice chair.

Caldwell will serve as vice-chair of the Beef Promotion Operating Committee. Other Federation representatives of the National Beef Checkoff decision-making body include Katie Brenny (Minnesota), Clay Burtrum (Oklahoma), Gary Deering (South Dakota), Bradley Hastings (Texas), Kristin Larson (Montana), Scott McGregor (Iowa), Clark Price (North Dakota) and Buck Wehrbein (Nebraska). Ten representatives from the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board also serve on the Committee.

For photos from the Convention and more information, go to

Meet Joan Ruskamp -- New Beef Board Chairman

Beef producer Joan Ruskamp from Dodge, Nebraska, was elected by fellow Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) members to serve as CBB chairman in 2018. The vote came Friday during the 2018 Cattle Industry Annual Convention in Phoenix, Arizona.

Tell us about yourself and your history in the beef industry.

I grew up in Grand Island, Nebraska, with dreams of living on a farm. My dreams were fueled by stories from my dad’s childhood experiences on the farm and my exposure to ranch life from extended family members on my mom’s side. My love for animals grew from dogs and cats to buying a horse with detasseling money. That interest in animals eventually led me to the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis, Nebraska, where I received an associate’s degree in veterinary medicine.

A three-month work experience program in O’Neill, Nebraska, strengthened my desire to work around cattle. While working for a mixed practice veterinary clinic in Fremont, Nebraska, I met my husband. Our first date was riding horses around his family’s farm and feedlot. We married in 1981 and had the opportunity to buy the farm Steve’s dad grew up on.

We grew the feedlot from a few hundred cattle to a few thousand by custom feeding. My role has always been in the cattle doctoring and processing area, along with record keeping.  Working on a farm, raising five children and volunteering in the community gave me little extra time for other organizational work. As our last child graduated from high school, I began sharing the beef story with consumers. My appointment to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion & Research Board (CBB) has allowed me to serve the beef community by bringing my producer experience and passion for beef together.

What do you believe is the biggest strength you bring to the table as chairman?

I believe my biggest strength is my passion for communicating the beef story. I live the beef story and see first-hand the commitment to quality care and improvement from farmers and ranchers like Steve and me.

There was so much I didn’t know about farm life until I lived on a farm, so I understand the disconnect consumers have. As our checkoff continues the work of growing demand for beef, I hope to channel my passion into serving the beef community as a trusted leader.  

Tell us about your family.

My husband, best friend and business partner for 36 plus years is Steve Ruskamp. He is a fourth-generation farmer and cattle feeder. We’ve been blessed with five amazing children and the people they have brought into our family.

Our oldest daughter, Ginger, is married to her childhood sweetheart, teaches high school English and has two daughters. Scott, our second oldest, is a computer engineer in Santa Barbara, California. He is married and they are expecting their first child in May. Scott is also fluent in Japanese. Emily lives in Chicago and is also married with one son. Emily works for the Archdiocese of Chicago jail ministry. Jeff is currently living in Chincha, Peru. He graduated with a degree in architectural engineering and decided to follow another calling as a consecrated lay person. He is in his sixth year of formation with the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae. Emily and Jeff are both fluent in Spanish. Kim is our youngest; she is married and they are expecting their first child in March. Kim is a middle school math teacher in Lincoln, Nebraska.

What do you hope to accomplish during your year as chairman?

During my year as chairman, I hope to see a growth in the understanding of the checkoff program among producers. I have watched the beef community grow in distrust of the checkoff, while on the outside I am working to communicate a message of trust to the consumer about the beef we produce.

I intend to continue the high level of integrity and team approach modeled to me by my predecessors Kim Brackett, Jimmy Maxey, Anne Anderson and Brett Morris. With a new CEO, I hope to build new industry relationships, strengthen current relationships and continue to keep the focus on serving the producers by increasing demand for beef.

What do you see as one of the biggest challenges facing the checkoff and the industry?

The checkoff continues to face challenges from a variety of organizations about the value of beef in the diet, as well as organizations like HSUS and PETA which challenge our care ethics. Those challengers come with seemingly unlimited funds. The checkoff program has a much smaller budget which must provide quality research and information about the nutritional value and sustainable practices of beef to the consumers, and at the same time provide resources like Beef Quality Assurance to producers. The beef checkoff is our producer-funded front line to defend and safeguard beef producers from misinformation about beef.

The Beef Checkoff Program also faces challenges from within the beef community. I believe the Beef Checkoff Program is the place all beef producers can come together as visionaries, goal setters and decision-makers to drive demand for beef.

What would you like every investor to know about their Beef Checkoff Program?

The Beef Checkoff Program is producer-funded, producer-led and producer-driven. In 1988, 79 percent of beef producers voted by referendum to approve the collection of $1/head for promotion, research and information. What has the beef community gained over the past 30 years from that investment? Research shows we have an ROI of $11.20/dollar invested, but what producers can easily see are:
-    adding value to the carcass with new cuts of beef like the flat iron
-    developing solid research on the nutritional benefits of eating beef
-    helping producers develop standards of care to add consistency and value to beef products
-    providing sustainability research about the importance of cattle to the environment at the national and global levels
-    developing and strengthening export markets, which adds more value to the carcass through demand for beef and the offal desired in numerous countries around the world
-    engaging in the digital age of communication through active participation and behind-the-scenes crisis management. You might remember the first mad cow report in December of 2003 Did you even hear about the last one?

And these are just a few of the activities provided by the checkoff!

Before I was appointed to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, I had only a glimmer of an understanding of everything the beef checkoff does and how important the role of producers is in guiding the program. I have learned there are numerous checks and balances in place to make sure checkoff dollars are managed according to the Act & Order. I have learned every producer has the responsibility for making sure checkoff dollars are collected when cattle are sold. I have asked questions about contract requests and joined other board members in appreciation of the professional work done by contractors to the beef checkoff. I have met some incredible people with Godly virtues working on behalf of the checkoff program to make sure our investment is used wisely. 

Just like other farmers and ranchers, my husband and I will keep working hard to care for our cattle, and hopefully make wise marketing decisions. It’s good to know I am part of a team through the Beef Checkoff Program that is working for me to keep beef on the plate so we can possibly pass this opportunity down to a grandchild.

For more information about your beef checkoff investment, visit

Brazil's 2017-2018 Soybean, Corn Crops Looking Ever Better

Consultancy INTL FC Stone increased its forecasts for Brazil's 2017-2018 soybean and corn harvests as good weather has helped crop development. The group raised its forecast for the soybean harvest to 111.1 million metric tons, from 110.1 million tons, and increased its expectation for the first corn crop of the season to 23.9 million tons from 23.4 million tons. INTL FC Stone left its forecast for the second corn crop of the season unchanged at 63.2 million tons, for a total of 87.1 million tons. Even with the increased forecasts, analyst Ana Luiza Lodi said she still has concerns about dry weather in the state of Rio Grande do Sul and rain in Mato Grosso state, which has impeded the harvesting in some areas.

Case IH and The Climate Corporation Partner to Deliver Two-way Data Sharing

Case IH and The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Monsanto Company, announced today a new partnership that will extend and develop a portfolio of data sharing capabilities to help farmers with real-time agronomic visualization and decision-making solutions. Case IH will provide customers two-way data connectivity between the AFS Connect™ precision farming platform and The Climate Corporation’s industry-leading Climate FieldView™ digital agriculture platform.

“This agreement further integrates agronomy and precision farming for Case IH customers,” said Case IH Brand President, Andreas Klauser. “With this partnership, Case IH will deliver the very best in agronomic data visualization and machine data decision-making and support tools. Having access to this information throughout the growing season will drive productivity and profitability for our customers.

“For more than 20 years, AFS has stood for open architecture to facilitate field operations and give flexibility in sharing and applying data. We are pleased to continue this commitment with an evolving solution set to meet our customer’s needs.”
This partnership offers Case IH customers unique functionality with real-time machine and field data, including agronomic prescriptions, which can be both received and transmitted to Climate FieldView using the AFS Connect platform. To date, this integration with Climate FieldView provides one of the most extensive data sets available. This additional level of real-time data connectivity will enable agribusinesses to fine tune field operations to further enhance their in-field productivity and efficiency across their existing machinery fleets.

“Case IH customers using Climate FieldView and the new features enabled by Case IH machine data within this partnership will have new opportunities for field efficiency and productivity from their data,” says Robert Zemenchik, Case IH AFS global product manager. “This partnership advances our longstanding data-based focus on agronomy and machine optimization for the Case IH brand and its customers.”

In addition to the in-field benefits, this partnership foresees further development to provide dealers offering Climate FieldView additional tools to proactively support their customers. Both companies are working to enable farmers the ability to share real-time machine information with their local dealer, in order for them to receive support even more quickly.

Customers who use Climate FieldView, provided through Case IH dealers, can look forward to additional features within their Climate FieldView Cab application throughout the course of 2018.

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