Monday, March 26, 2018

Monday March 26 Ag News

When Hail Strikes, Find Answers at Hail Know 
Ashley Mueller - Extension Educator and Disaster Education Coordinator

Hail strikes Nebraska crops each year, creating uncertainty and questions for farmers: “Does the level of damage warrant replanting or will the remaining stand yield better than a replant would? How should I adjust inputs for the remaining season? Would a cover crop be cost effective?”

The Hail Storm: Why Here? Why Now?

The highest chances for hail on any given day in the U.S. are in late spring and early summer in the Great Plains. The higher elevation of the Great Plains allows the freezing level in the atmosphere to be closer to the ground, which helps hailstones grow larger than in other parts of the country. In Nebraska most hail events occur from May to July.

When hail strikes and growers have questions, Nebraska Extension has new resources to answer them at Hail Know. Videos, infographics, and articles by a team of Extension experts in climate science, agronomy, engineering, agricultural technology, economics, and disaster education have been developed to build upon and expand Extension’s hail-related programs.

Annually, hail causes over $1 billion in economic losses. In Nebraska hail-producing storms are all too common, especially during the planting and growing seasons. Though hail can’t be prevented, farmers, crop consultants, and others can use the information at Hail Know to become better prepared for timely decision-making after hail events.

Hail Know focuses on six key topics:
-    hail formation and storms;
-    damage assessment;
-    crop insurance and risk management;
-    replanting considerations;
-    managing a recovering crop; and
-    cover crops.

In the aftermath of a hailstorm visit Hail Know for the answers and certainty you need to make sound, research-based decisions to manage your crop.

Hail Know is also on social media. Follow @HailKnowUNL on Twitter at and like Hail Know on Facebook at for all the latest information and updates.

Hail Know is a section of, Nebraska Extension’s crop production and crop pest management website.

The development of Hail Know was funded by a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Smith-Lever Special Needs Grant with matching funds from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

NeGFA Hosts Grain Engulfment & Confined Space Entry Training in West Point

Venue Name: Prinz Grain and Feed
Location: 575 South Main Street, West Point, NE

Organization Name: Nebraska Grain and Feed Association
Contact: Maggie Kramer
Phone: 402.476.6174

This one-day hands-on workshop will provide attendees an opportunity to actively participate in live engulfment exercises.  The engulfment training places a strong emphasis on entrapment prevention and safe work practices. There are no prerequisites to participate.

Participants will:
-    Become aware of the hazards of flowing grain and confined spaces, allowing them to work safer and prevent grain entrapment.
-    Meet the OSHA training requirements for OSHA 1910.272 (Grain Handling Standard), qualifying them to work around flowing grain.
-    Be qualified to make bin entries, be a bin entry attendant and be part of a rescue team.
-    Be able to retrieve an incapacitated worker from a confined space without making a confined space entry.
-    Actively participate in a live engulfment / rescue scenario in a controlled environment.
-    Actively participate as part of a grain bin entry team and practice the non-entry rescue of an incapacitated worker.

8:00 am - Group 1: Engulfment Training - Group 2: Confined Space Entry
12:00 pm - Lunch
12:30 pm - Group 1: Confined Space Entry - Group 2: Engulfment Training
5:00 pm - Adjourn

The workshop will be instructed by the Safety & Technical Rescue Association (SATRA).  Cost covers materials, meals and breaks. Limited to the first 40 registered participants.

Center Pivot Handbook a Comprehensive Guide for Growers

Is your center pivot irrigation system performing as efficiently as it should be? Are you getting optimal crop yield for the amount of water applied? What steps can you take to assess your system and improve performance?

Irrigation is one of the largest users of water and energy in the state, emphasizing the importance of having your system designed and operating at top efficiencies. Center pivot irrigation now accounts for approximately 85% of the irrigated land in Nebraska and is the most rapidly expanding form of irrigation in the US.

To help growers, consultants, and pivot industry personnel manage and get the most from their system, Nebraska Extension has published the Center Pivot Irrigation Handbook, a 134-page comprehensive guide.

The handbook covers topics related to center pivot system design, including wells, pumps, and pipelines, optimizing water and energy use efficiency, and managing and operating the equipment. It can help operators determine if an irrigation system is using only the amount of energy it should and, if not, how to tune up the current system or design a better one. Readers can learn why selecting the proper sprinkler package is vital to the efficiency of an irrigation system and how to design a system that applies water uniformly while reducing runoff, evaporation, and drift.

Written by Extension specialists and educators, it is in an easy-to-read format for general farm and layman readers. Color photos, graphs, and charts on almost every page illustrate the text and more than 25 tables create a handy reference for irrigation management.

Chapters cover:
    pivot performance,
    soil water management,
    sprinkler packages,
    pumping plants,
    pipeline systems,
    energy use in irrigation,
    crop water use,
    water resource management,
    limited irrigation, and
    center pivot management.

The handbook is available in print for $12.50 and as a free downloadable file. To order the print version go to

To download a PDF of the handbook, go to

Weather Ready Farms: Irrigation Water Management

Chuck Burr - NE Crops and Water Extension Educator
Daran Rudnick - NE Extension Irrigation Management Specialist

Climate variability is something all farmers need to react to in most years. One of the main weather extremes that impacts irrigation management is extended periods of dry conditions, commonly referred to as drought. Drought can increase daily crop water use due to lower relative humidity and is often accompanied by higher temperatures. When managing under these extreme conditions, irrigators need to understand daily and seasonal crop water use patterns, as well as adopt practices and technology that result in more bushels of grain per inch of water applied.

Adaptation Strategies

     Schedule irrigation based on soil water data. The 2013 Census of Ag Irrigation survey indicated that only 23% of Nebraska irrigators use soil sensing as a basis for irrigation scheduling. This number needs to increase if we are to improve irrigation water use efficiency. With the technology we have available today, we need to help irrigators move away from using the feel of the soil (44%) as a scheduling method. Information on selecting and using soil water sensors is described in two Nebraska Extension publications: Soil Water Sensors for Irrigation Management (EC3002) and Principles and Operational Characteristics of Watermark Granular Matrix Sensor to Measure Soil Water Status and Its Practical Applications for Irrigation Management in Various Soil Textures (EC783).

    Conserve water by decreasing evapotranspiration during vegetative growth stages. Approximately 30% of crop water use is due to evaporation, and evaporative losses are highest early in the growing season prior to canopy closure. Reducing evaporation via no or reduced tillage, narrower row spacing, etc. can lead to more water being available for transpiration, which is the driving force for yield production. Furthermore, research has shown that both corn (Rudnick et al. 2017) and soybeans (Payero et al. 2005) can be stressed during vegetative growth stages without significantly affecting yield. This may leave more water available for grain fill.

    Residue cover/cover crops can increase infiltration of precipitation and irrigation. In addition to infiltration, improving soil structure can lead to higher amounts of precipitation being stored in the profile. This increased storage would be available for crop production, potentially helping meet crop water demands in excess of irrigation capacity during droughts. In addition, increasing infiltration and water-holding capacity can allow for increased irrigation application amounts, as water is less likely to runoff. This decrease in the number of applications is beneficial to reduce canopy evaporation and get more of the applied water into the soil.


For the month of March 2018, topsoil moisture supplies rated 4 percent very short, 19 short, 69 adequate, and 8 surplus, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 5 percent very short, 26 short, 67 adequate, and 2 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Winter wheat condition rated 1 percent very poor, 6 poor, 42 fair, 41 good, and 10 excellent.

Weekly reports will begin April 2nd for the 2018 season.

Farm Finance and Ag Law Clinics This April

Openings are available for one-on-one, confidential farm finance and ag law consultations being conducted across the state each month. An experienced ag law attorney and ag financial counselor will be available to address farm and ranch issues related to financial planning, estate and transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, water rights, and other relevant matters. The clinics offer an opportunity to seek an experienced outside opinion on issues affecting your farm or ranch.

Clinic Sites and Dates
    Grand Island — Thursday, April 5
    Fairbury — Thursday, April 5
    Norfolk — Tuesday, April 10
    North Platte — Thursday, April 12
    Lexington — Thursday, April 19
    Valentine — Wednesday, April 25

To sign up for a free clinic or to get more information, call Michelle at the Nebraska Farm Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.  The Nebraska Department of Agriculture and Legal Aid of Nebraska sponsor these clinics.

Dicamba Training Available Online

Nebraska Extension has completed its in-person dicamba training programs for spring 2018. If you still need to take dicamba training, Extension offers free online training.

This training fulfills the label requirements for three new RUP dicamba products: Xtendimax, Engenia, and Fexapan. It is illegal to apply these products without first having taken state-authorized training.

Commercial training opportunities, along with dicamba resources, are listed at the Pesticide Safety Education Program website at Information is also available on the Nebraska Department of Agriculture Dicamba Information website....

Ricketts Unifies Support for Major Tax Relief with Farm, Business Groups

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts was joined by pro-growth groups from across Nebraska in support of LB 947, the Property Tax Cuts and Opportunities Act.  Representatives from major agriculture associations and chambers of commerce joined Governor Ricketts to call on State Senators to pass LB 947 this legislative session.

Governor Pete Ricketts: “Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers, homeowners, and businesses are hurting from the burden of high taxes.  Today, agricultural and urban interests are uniting to urge Senators to come together and pass LB 947, so Nebraskans can get the tax relief they need this year.  We look forward to working with Senators to pass the Nebraska Property Tax Cuts and Opportunities Act in the final days of the legislative session.”

Revenue Committee Chair Jim Smith: “Thank you to agriculture and business interests for their leadership and their willingness to work together for the well-being of all Nebraskans.  I continue to believe that the path to success is narrow, but that our hard work and cooperation on LB 947 is critical to the image and to the future of our state.”

Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson: “LB 947 as advanced from the Revenue Committee moves in a direction that addresses many of our organization’s goals for property tax.  Those goals include a property tax solution that is significant, providing between $600 million and $1 billion in property tax relief, one that puts us on a path for long-term relief for all property tax payers, and one that provides relief as soon as possible.  LB 947 meets these objectives.”

Nebraska State Dairy Association Bill Thiele: “Thank you to Governor Ricketts for helping pave the way to tax relief with LB 947.  If passed by the Legislature, these much-needed cuts are coming at a critical moment for Nebraska agriculture.  On behalf of Nebraska’s dairy farmers, we urge Senators to send LB 947 to the Governor’s desk.”

Nebraska Pork Producers Vice President Kevin Peterson: “The farm and ranch families of Nebraska have been asking for tax relief, and LB 947 will help deliver that relief.  We hope that the Legislature does the right thing and pass the Property Tax Cuts and Opportunities Act to keep agriculture strong.”

Nebraska Soybean Association President Robert Johnston: “Governor Ricketts has listened to the call for property tax relief, which LB 947 seeks to deliver.  This bill promises real relief for Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers, and we look forward to working with the Governor to make the case to Senators to pass LB 947.”

Americans for Prosperity-Nebraska State Director Jessica Shelburn: “Senators have a critical opportunity to set aside their differences and work together to provide Nebraskans with some much needed tax relief and growth for our state.  The benefits Nebraskans will see from this bill are above politics, and we shouldn’t delay in sending this tax reform package to Governor Ricketts’ desk.  AFP-Nebraska applauds the Revenue Committee for putting Nebraskans first and advancing the Property Tax Cuts and Opportunities Act. ”

Greater Omaha Chamber President David Brown: “Making ongoing investments in workforce development and business tax relief will make Nebraska a more attractive state for the kinds of businesses we’re working to recruit and retain.  We appreciate Governor Ricketts and Senator Smith’s work on this package, and urge Senators to get tax relief done before session concludes.”

Lincoln Chamber of Commerce President Wendy Birdsall: “Our future growth is dependent on Nebraska’s ability to compete on a national and global stage.  LB 947 will help Nebraska maintain our competitive edge and deliver new tools to attract and retain opportunities.  The Lincoln Chamber looks forward to working with Senators in the Legislature to deliver LB 947 to the Governor’s desk by the end of session.”

National Federation of Independent Businesses Nebraska State Director Bob Hallstrom: “The small business owner members of NFIB favor significant and meaningful property tax relief.  NFIB supports the provisions of LB 947 which would provide property tax relief to residential and agricultural land owners and the proposed reductions in corporate income tax rates which will spur economic growth.”

Nebraska Bankers Association President Richard Baier: “LB 947 is designed to provide true property tax relief for residential and agricultural property owners.  In addition, the proposed reductions in corporate income tax rates will benefit businesses.  We believe that the combined property tax and corporate income tax relief proposed under LB 947 will serve to grow our state’s economy and make Nebraska more competitive with surrounding states.”

Nebraska State Chamber of Commerce & Industry President Barry Kennedy: “LB 947 gives Nebraska businesses and job creators tax certainty and relief that they need to grow into the future.  We look forward to working with legislators to get this proposal to the Governor’s desk before session ends.”

Platte Institute for Economic Research Director of Government Relations Nicole Fox: “If there’s no significant action in this legislative session, Nebraskans could force a property tax ballot initiative.  If it passes, the state would likely be forced to significantly cut spending on services and increase state tax rates at the same time.  LB947 offers a reasonable path to steer the state away from this kind of uncertainty.  It would have the state taking a greater role in property tax relief for Nebraskans in the years ahead, while safeguarding the state budget from unrealistic promises.”

Tax Foundation Senior Policy Analyst Jared Walczak: “Your neighbors are making their tax codes more competitive.  The federal government has changed the rules of the game. Nebraska’s 1967 tax code is out of date, and its rates are out of line with peer states.  Nebraska has an opportunity to make the tax code more competitive, and LB 947 offers a way forward.  Tax reform isn’t easy, but neither is continuing to operate under a tax system that is falling behind other states.  This committee has an opportunity for a robust debate about tax reform.  It is a challenge worth embracing.

Some Ag and Rural Organizations Oppose LB947

They Prefer LB1084 for Immediate Property Tax Relief

Nebraska Women Involved in Farm Economics, Nebraska Grange, Center for Rural Affairs, Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska, and Nebraska Farmers Union signed a letter sent to Nebraska State Senators asking them to oppose LB947.

The five organizations signing the letter opposing LB947 have been working together with education and public interest organizations the past year to develop legislation that supports adequate funding for K-12 education paid for in a more fair and balanced fashion, and to immediately reduce the use of property taxes from all classes of property to fund K-12 education.

The letter in part states:
“The state’s reliance upon property taxes to fund K-12 education has placed an unsustainable burden upon on our state’s residential and agricultural land property owners and undue blame upon our school systems. We need to address our state’s school funding dilemma and bring property tax relief to residents. And quite simply, LB947 does not offer the solution.”

“Our farmers and ranchers do not have the luxury of waiting until 2030 for property tax relief, and our state stands to suffer substantially from their loss. A vote in opposition of LB 947 leaves way for the Legislature to work through a real solution to problem at hand.”

“We need a real property tax reform solution that:
- Lessens the state’s dependence upon property taxes to fund K-12 education
- Provides immediate and substantial property tax relief to all property tax payers
- Protects the state’s cash reserves and funding for vital services
- Requires a long-term, sustainable solution to how the state funds education.”

“Nebraskans are in need of property tax relief, but they are not asking to sidestep their responsibility to help fund the schools and services that uphold their communities. They are simply asking for balance in the way the state meets it obligations to pay for education and other critical services. We ask that you vote no on LB 947 and instead take up debate on a real solution to the state’s property tax dilemma.”


The 11th Annual Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference will be held Tuesday, October 16 and Wednesday, October 17, 2018 at the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The conference is a two-day event that brings together a diverse range of stakeholders from Nebraska and across the country to share the latest information and innovations in wind and solar development.  Over 350 people are expected to attend this year’s conference to hear from and network with wind and solar industry experts and leaders.

In addition to general sessions and workshops, the conference features a tradeshow with 30 to 40 exhibitors showcasing the latest advancements in technology and development.  The tradeshow includes interactive and educational displays from exhibitors that include governmental agencies, nonprofits, and a wide range of professional service and product providers related to wind and solar development. 

The conference programming is guided by a planning committee of volunteers from state agencies, farmer and rancher organizations, public power utilities, the renewable energy industry, and academia working together to present accurate and objective information pertaining to all aspects of wind and solar development. Among others, attendees include private sector developers, public officials, landowners, environmental and wildlife interests, public utilities, and the public at large.

“This unique ‘Nebraska Nice’ conference is able to keep the registration costs much lower than most comparable conferences because of the generous support of our sponsors.  Every year we have new sets of challenges, information, ideas, and solutions to share,” said John Hansen, Conference Co-Chair. “If you are interested in wind and solar energy, this is the one state conference to attend.”

Early bird registration is $125 until September 15. Tickets are $175 after September 15 and $200 the day of the conference. Students are encouraged to attend at a discounted rate of $65.

Rooms at the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel are $114 per night until September 15 (conference block rate includes free parking). More information and past presentations are available on the conference website ( 

Iowa Cattlemen at the Capitol

Cowboy hats and polished boots have been a common sight around the grounds of the Iowa State House in 2018. In addition to the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association’s lobbyist, who is at the Capitol daily, ICA has also been using a boots-on-the-ground approach through the Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Program, Cattlemen at the Capitol and Youth Beef Team.

The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association (ICA) is Iowa’s only membership organization dedicated to the needs of cattle producers. With more feedlots than any other state in the country, as well as a robust cow/calf and seedstock industry, ICA’s 10,000 members play an important role in Iowa’s economy and communities.

Throughout the year, ICA staff and members work to build relationships with elected and regulatory officials, to protect and improve the opportunities for the cattle production in the state. In addition to events throughout the year with legislators, ICA keeps its members and priorities front and center during the legislative session.

The 2018 Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Program (YCLP) Class visited the capitol on February 21. The 22-member class met with several elected officials, as well as Governor Reynolds and Lt. Governor Gregg. YCLP participants emphasized the importance of Iowa’s cattle industry, which contributes almost $7 million to the state’s economy annually.

The class also met with former Secretary Northey, DNR Director Chuck Gipp, DNR Deputy Director Bruce Trautman and Steve Ferguson with the Iowa Finance Authority. These meetings provided the young leaders with a first-hand look at ways ICA works cooperatively with state agencies to protect and grow Iowa’s beef business.

Then, in March, the annual Cattlemen at the Capitol event brought beef industry leaders from around the state to Des Moines. “Though cattlemen’s priorities are represented at the Capitol on a daily basis by staff and lobbyists, meeting constituents from their district really strikes a chord with lawmakers,” says JanLee Rowlett, ICA’s Regulatory and Government Affairs Manager.

After visiting with the governor and legislators, elected officials and cattlemen enjoyed a brisket lunch served by Madison County Youth Beef Team members. In conversations throughout the day, cattlemen shared their support for a new ISU Veterinary Diagnostic Lab as well as additional funds for the state’s Foreign Animal Disease response program.

“We’ve had great participation by members from around the state,” says President David Trowbridge, Tabor, of ICA’s presence at the Capitol this year. “And we’ve been addressing issues to our legislators that affect not just our membership, but the entire beef industry.”

Finally, a small group of Youth Beef Team students visited the capitol March 21 to continue to foster the relationships ICA members and staff have been building and to learn about their state’s political process. Youth Beef Team is open to students in grades 7-12 who are interested in learning more about the beef industry, and this event gave participants a first-hand look at how issues that impact their opportunity to continue their families’ legacy are addressed through legislation and regulation.

ICA staff and members will continue to lobby for the beef industry throughout the rest of this year’s legislative session before gathering input from producers this summer and fall to determine the 2019 policy priorities. Producers impacted by rules or regulations should contact ICA to share their concerns.

National Pork Board Collaboration Continues to Multiply Checkoff Value for Farm-Level Research

The National Pork Board has announced a new collaboration with the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a nonprofit established in the 2014 Farm Bill, to support a competitive research program to improve pig health, productivity and well-being. The end goal is to improve pig survival during all stages of production. The joint venture has $2 million of grant funds available to potential investigators.

As U.S. pork producers strive to produce more pork in a sustainable way, animal care, pig health, well-being and productivity are all critical pieces of production. This grant program is designed to focus research, education and training in these key areas of pork production to help producers achieve their goals in a responsible way. 

“As animal caretakers, America’s pig farmers strive to give their animals the best opportunity to reach marketable weight,” said Dustin Kendall, a swine nutritionist with Prestage Farms in Clinton, North Carolina and chair of the National Pork Board’s Animal Science Committee. “Unfortunately, data from the Pork Checkoff’s Industry Productivity Analysis suggests the trends are negative in this area. Focusing Checkoff funds in this underserved research area will allow us to find solutions that significantly benefit all of our producer stakeholders.”

The grant funding is anticipated to be awarded to one scientifically diverse group of researchers willing to pool talent and resources to make a significant, immediate impact on pig survival. Potential research areas may include health, genetics, nutrition, facility design, management, monitoring, economics and welfare.

“The most meaningful agricultural research is designed in partnership with stakeholders,” said Sally Rockey, executive director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. “The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research is pleased to join the National Pork Board to support this important initiative to address swine mortality rates on farms across the United States.”  In addition to research, successful applicants are expected to conduct outreach to industry stakeholders and train graduate and veterinary students involved as assistants on the project. Applicants are required to submit a clearly defined outreach plan with specific objectives for disseminating research results to the scientific community as well as to pork producers and their staff.

“Investing Checkoff funds in production research makes a real difference at the farm level,” said Chris Hostetler, director of animal science at the National Pork Board. “In fact, every dollar invested in production research returns of $83 in industry-wide benefit according to a third-party audit by Cornell University. This collaboration with FFAR is just one of the ways producer dollars can be leveraged to magnify the return on investment.”

Potential applicants should contact Chris Hostetler at Applications are due May 15, 2018.

Automated Milking Systems Slowing Farm Consolidation

Various forms of robotic milking are helping sustain small- to medium-sized dairy farms amid broader industry consolidation and improving labor efficiency for some larger operations according to a new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division.

Dairy robots, also referred to as automated milking systems, take a variety of forms. From “box” style units to robotic components on rotary style milking parlors, they all provide an alternative to traditional dairy labor, which has become more expensive and harder to find in many regions of the U.S.

“Labor and finance are two of the most important issues when large farms are considering dairy robotics, but when I spoke to smaller-scale producers, the primary drivers of adopting this technology were around quality of life,” said Ben Laine, senior analyst with CoBank. “However, the future growth of this technology and possible broader adoption will be centered on labor costs, milk production per robot, and proximity to dealers and service technicians.”
A single box style unit can cost around $200,000 without housing, and the target production for one unit is 4,500 pounds of milk per day.

“As the technology improves and labor costs increase, we will see the tradeoffs continue to shift in favor of robotics,” said Laine. “But, there is still plenty of uncertainty around useful life of the units and milk production efficiency that will give many producers pause.”

CWT Assists with 2.6 million Pounds of Cheese and Butter Export Sales

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 15 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Northwest Dairy Association (Darigold) and United Dairymen of Arizona. These cooperatives have contracts to sell 1.911million pounds (867 metric tons) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese and 716,502 pounds (325 metric tons) of butter to customers in Asia, Central America, Europe and the Middle East. The product has been contracted for delivery in the period from March through June 2018.

CWT-assisted member cooperative 2018 export sales total 27.146 million pounds of American-type cheeses, and 5.613 million pounds of butter (82% milkfat) to 19 countries on five continents. These sales are the equivalent of 376.845 million pounds of milk on a milkfat basis. Totals adjusted for cancellations.

Assisting CWT members through the Export Assistance program in the long term helps member cooperatives gain and maintain market share, thus expanding the demand for U.S. dairy products and the U.S. farm milk that produces them. This, in turn, positively affects all U.S. dairy farmers by strengthening and maintaining the value of dairy products that directly impact their milk price.

NGFA members elect new chairman and industry officers

The NGFA's 122nd Annual Convention attracted more than 650 NGFA members to Scottsdale, Ariz., last week, during which they elected NGFA's industry officers and several NGFA industry leaders to serve on the Board of Directors.

During the Association's annual business meeting, the membership elected Eric Wilkey, president of Arizona Grain Co., Casa Grande, Ariz., as NGFA chairman. They also elected David Baudler, managing director, grain, Cargill Agricultural Supply Chain North America, Cargill Inc., Minneapolis, Minn., as first vice chairman and JoAnn Brouillette, president of Demeter LP, Fowler, Ind., as second vice chairman.

In addition, NGFA members elected the following persons to serve three-year terms on the organization's Board of Directors:
Keith Bailey, Chief Operating Officer, Highline Grain Growers, Waterville, Wash.
Gary Beachner, President and CEO, Beachner Grain Inc., Parsons, Kan.
Greg Beck, Vice President, Grain, CGB Enterprises, Covington, LA
Jean Bratton, Chief Executive Officer, Centerra Co-op, Ashland, OH
Sharon Clark, Senior Vice President, Transportation and Regulatory Affairs, Perdue Agribusiness LLC, Salisbury, Md.
Chris Faust, Chief Operating Officer and Commercial Manager, Grains and Oilseeds USA, COFCO International, Chicago, IL
Matt Murphy, Senior Location Manager, Lansing Trade Group LLC, Overland Park, KS
Chad Nagel, Manager of Trading, Nagel Farm Services Inc., Wye Mills, Md.
Carl Schwinke, Vice President, Grain Supply, Siemer Milling Co., Teutopolis, Ill.
Benjamin Smith, Managing Director, Attebury Grain LLC, Amarillo, Texas; and
Will Waters, Principal and Vice President, Harris-Crane, Inc., Clinton, N.C.

Subsequently, the following members of the NGFA Board of Directors were elected by that body to serve on the NGFA Executive Committee for the coming year:
Jim Banachowski, Vice President and General Manager, The Andersons, Maumee, Ohio.
Gary Beachner, President and CEO, Beachner Grain Inc., Parsons, KS
Chris Boerm, President, Global Transportation, Archer Daniels Midland, Decatur, Ill.
Sharon Clark,Senior Vice President, Transportation and Regulatory Affairs, Perdue Agribusiness LLC, Salisbury, Md.
John Fletcher, General Manager, Central Missouri AGRIService LLC, Marshall, Mo.
Roger Fray, Executive Vice President, Landus Cooperative, Ralston, Iowa
Matt Gibson, Vice President and General Manager, Grain Division, Bunge North America, St. Louis, Mo.
David Hoogmoed, Chief Operating Officer, Purina Animal Nutrition; and Executive Vice President, Land O'Lakes Inc., Arden Hills, Minn.
Diana Klemme, Vice President, Grain Service Corp., Atlanta, Ga.
Alan Koenig, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Grain Craft, Chattanooga, Tenn.
Todd Lafferty, Vice President and General Counsel, Wheeler Brothers Grain Co., Watonga, Okla.
Chris Peha, General Manager, Northwest Grain Growers, Walla Walla, Washington
Ryan Pellett, President and Chief Executive Officer, J.D. Heiskell & Co., Elkhorn, Neb.

In addition, the following NGFA officers are members of the Executive Committee by virtue of their office:
    Chairman Eric Wilkey
    First Vice Chairman David Baudler
    Second Vice Chairman JoAnn Brouillette
    Immediate Past Chairman John Heck, Scoular, Omaha, NE

    NGFA President Randy Gordon

Subsequently, the Executive Committee elected John Heck to serve as its chairman.

Easter Eggs for Your Basket Will be a Bit Higher This Year

Higher retail prices for several foods including eggs, orange juice, meat products, bagged salad, shredded cheddar and vegetable oil resulted in a slight increase in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Spring Picnic Marketbasket Survey.

The informal survey showed the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $51.05, up $1.02 or 2 percent compared to a year ago. Of the 16 items surveyed, nine increased and seven decreased in average price.

“Most of the increase in the marketbasket was due to higher retail egg prices. Easter eggs are going to be a bit more expensive—37 percent higher than a year ago,” said John Newton, AFBF’s director of market intelligence. “U.S. egg exports were up nearly 50 percent in 2017 while egg production remained flat.”

A bird flu outbreak in South Korea contributed to the increase in U.S. export volumes.

“A surge in egg exports combined with relatively flat production led to the strong rise in retail egg prices,” Newton said.

“Orange juice was another significant driver for the increase in the basket, up 24 cents or 7.5 percent. A devastating hurricane late last year that came through parts of Florida, where most orange juice comes from, led to growers harvesting the smallest crop in 70 years,” he added.

Several foods showed modest retail price decreases from a year ago: whole milk, white bread, chicken breasts, toasted oat cereal, apples, potatoes and flour.

Milk decreased in price by 6 percent (20 cents per gallon) due to continued record production volumes in the United States and a very competitive beverage case.

Retail price changes from a year ago:
eggs, up 37 percent to $1.80 per dozen
orange juice, up 8 percent to $3.46 per half-gallon
bagged salad, up 4 percent to $2.42 per pound
deli ham, up 3 percent to $5.59 per pound
vegetable oil, up 2 percent to $2.61 for a 32-ounce bottle
shredded cheddar cheese, up 2 percent to $4.20 per pound
ground chuck, up 2 percent to $4.01 per pound
bacon, up 2 percent to $4.75 per pound
sirloin tip roast, up 2 percent to $5.12 per pound
white bread, down 7 percent to $1.60 per 20-ounce loaf
whole milk, down 6 percent to $3.07 per gallon
chicken breast, down 2 percent to $3.10 per pound
toasted oat cereal, down 2 percent to $2.78 for a 9-ounce box
apples, down 1 percent to $1.53 per pound
flour, down less than 1 percent to $2.34 for a 5-pound bag
potatoes, down less than 1 percent to $2.67 for a 5-pound bag

Price checks of alternative milk and egg choices not included in the overall marketbasket survey average revealed the following: half-gallon whole regular milk, $2.04; half-gallon organic milk, $4.24; and one dozen “cage-free” eggs, $3.53.

The year-to-year direction of the marketbasket survey tracks closely with the federal government’s Consumer Price Index ( report for food at home. As retail grocery prices have increased gradually over time, the share of the average food dollar that America’s farm and ranch families receive has dropped.

“Through the mid-1970s, farmers received about one-third of consumer retail food expenditures for food eaten at home and away from home, on average. Since then, that figure has decreased steadily and is now about 14.8 percent, according to the Agriculture Department’s revised Food Dollar Series,” Newton said.

AFBF, the nation’s largest general farm organization, began conducting informal marketbasket surveys of retail food price trends in 1989. The current series includes a spring picnic survey, summer cookout survey, fall harvest survey and Thanksgiving dinner cost survey. A total of 93 shoppers in 23 states participated in the latest AFBF survey, conducted in March 2018.

According to USDA, Americans spend just under 10 percent of their disposable annual income on food, the lowest average of any country in the world.

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