Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Monday March 5 Ag News

Colostrum Helps Newborn Calves
Steve Neimeyer – NE Extension Educator

Colostrum, or first milk produced by the mother after birth, is high in nutrients and antibodies. A newborn calf lacks disease protection because antibodies do not pass across the cow’s placenta to the fetus’ circulatory system. Antibodies in colostrum provide calves with their initial protection.

Calves need about two quarts of colostrum (or at least five percent of the calf’s body weight) within four hours of birth – ideally within 30 minutes – and one gallon within 12 hours.

Time is important because a newborn calf’s digestive tract allows antibodies to pass directly into the blood. After 24 hours, the calf’s intestines cannot absorb antibodies intact. The absorbed antibodies protect against systemic invasion by pathogens while antibodies that are not absorbed play an important role in protection against intestinal disease.

Allowing the calf to suckle the dam is the most efficient method of feeding colostrum. However, sometimes this is not possible due to problems with the dam or calf. In cases such as these the calf will need to be fed colostrum. Acquire colostrum by milking the dam as soon as possible after calving or using colostrum that you have previously acquired. Acquired colostrum should be from healthy cows to minimize disease transmission. Cows in at least their third lactation generally provide higher-quality colostrum than heifers. A yellow color and a thick, creamy consistency are good indications of quality.

Colostrum can be stored by freezing in milk cartons or plastic containers. The containers can be easily thawed and mixed with warm water for feeding. Studies have shown rapid defrosting using boiling temperatures destroys a portion of the antibodies. A warm water bath will ensure that antibodies are intact.

You may also want to consider purchasing a commercially available colostrum supplement or replacer if you don’t have ready access to fresh colostrum. Consult your veterinarian on the use of these supplements or replacers.

Due to the importance of colostrum to the newborn calf it is always a good idea to have some alternative sources of colostrum on hand “just in case” during the calving season.

Here’s a trick for storing colostrum. Use a 1 gallon Ziploc freezer bag. Fill half full (2 qts.) and squeeze the air out before sealing. They lay flat and you have room to store more. When needed, take one out and put in sink of hot water. It thaws and warms up very rapidly and it’s a ready measured feeding. You should date the bag when you store it.

Several people were recognized during the Nebraska Dairy Convention on February 27th.

At the annual Nebraska State Dairy Association convention on February 27th, several dairy producers and supporters of the dairy industry received recognition for their work and support.    This year Chad Moyer received the Distinguished Service Award, Brett Beavers and Bill Demerath were co-presented the Dairyman of the Year Awards, Steve Kyser received the Service Award from the Nebraska Holstein Association, and Milk Quality and Production awards were presented to ten dairy producers

Chad Moyer, KTIC Radio, was presented the Distinguished Service Award, for his efforts to promote the dairy industry.  Chad uses every opportunity to promote the dairy industry, at events and open houses.  About a year and a half ago, Chad started the Nebraska Dairy Update, which provides an opportunity to share Nebraska dairy news, from the checkoff, dairy extension and state association. The Nebraska Dairy Update airs every other Friday on KTIC radio.

Co-Dairyman of the Year Awards were presented to Brett Beavers, Carleton, Neb., and Bill Demerath, Plainview, Neb, for their efforts to bring automatic milking systems (AMS)  to Nebraska.  This pair spent nearly 4 years researching and studying the robotic industry before a dealer was established in Nebraska, and ttey became the first two farms in the state to install the automatic milking systems – milking robots.  Since then, interest has continued to grow for the AMS system and a third AMS dairy began using milking robots in Creston, Neb at Larson Farms and other dairy producers are making plans to install AMS units.

The Nebraska Holstein Association presented their Service Award to Steve Kyser of Beatrice, for his long-term efforts to promote and support the Nebraska’s dairy industry.

Milk Quality and Production were also recognized at the annual convention.  Dairies are given the opportunity to submit entries through DHIA of the Heartland.   The top milk quality awards were presented to Todd Tuls and Butler County Dairy, Jake Stern and the Hodorff’s from Broken Bow Dairy, and Murman Dairy at Fairfield. The Milk Production Awards were presented to Broken Bow Dairy, Steffview Dairy and Hochstein Dairy in the Holstein division, Meyer’s Dairy in the Jersey division and Nuttelman Dairy, Crook Dairy and Steffen Ag, Inc in the crossbred/mixed division.

For more information about these awards, for pictures and other dairy information, visit NebraskaDairy.org. or contact Rod Johnson 402-853-2028  rod@nebraskamilk.org

Nebraska State Dairy Association Mission: The purpose of the Nebraska State Dairy Association is for the promotion of dairy interests in the state of Nebraska.

March 14 Webinar on Wheat Stem Maggot in Cover Crops

Wheat stem maggot was an issue in 2017 in some corn fields where a wheat or rye cover crop was terminated after planting.  Learn more about what happened in 2017 and steps to avoid it in 2018 during a webinar Wednesday, March 14. Justin McMechan, extension crop protection specialist, will discuss this issue and present information on other cover crop insects from noon to 1 p.m.

To join the webinar go to: https://unl.zoom.us/j/976118766.

You can also join via phone conference:
iPhone one-tap : US: +14086380968,,976118766#  or +16468769923,,976118766#

or by telephone:
Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
US: +1 408 638 0968  or +1 646 876 9923  or +1 669 900 6833

Meeting ID: 976 118 766

 Kruger to Present National Spray Drift Webinar 

Join pesticide spray applicators from across the nation on March 15 for a webinar on "Strategies for Managing Pesticide Spray Drift" being presented by Nebraska Extension Weed Scientist and Application Technology Specialist Greg Kruger. The webinar is tailored to growers, pesticide applicators and other interested stakeholders who use pesticides and pesticide application equipment. It will be held from 10:30 to noon CT on that Thursday.

Pesticide spray drift is the movement of pesticide dust or droplets through the air — at the time of application or soon after — to any site other than the area intended. Spray drift can affect people’s health, damage nearby crops, and pose a risk to non-target organisms.

Kruger manages the Pesticide Application Technology Laboratory at the university's West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte, where he uses a wind tunnel to test pesticides and spray adjuvants for drift. Kruger has a BS from the Ohio State University, where he studied agribusiness and applied economics, and an MS in plant pathology and a PhD in weed science from Purdue University.

This EPA program is geared toward reducing spray drift from pesticide applications to crops, fruits and vegetables, and aerial applications. It will cover general pesticide applications with a focus on agricultural applications.

The EPA program is free, but participants are asked to register in advance.... https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/1526938365731023875

Fixing Our Infrastructure

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer

Infrastructure is a core responsibility of government. In the Nebraska Legislature, I served as the Chair of the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee for six years.  During that time, I was proud to pass the Build Nebraska Act, which continues to support infrastructure construction and development across our state.

While we often think of roads and bridges when we hear the word infrastructure, it includes much more. Broadband development and deployment, in both urban and rural areas, is critical to connecting us to the world. Railroads, trucks, barges, and ports ensure our quality products get to markets, both domestically and abroad. Airports enable the quick movement of passengers and freight, and our water and energy sources are vital for our lives.

The White House recently released an infrastructure proposal that will guide Congress as we work together on national infrastructure proposals. The president’s plan includes a number of ideas that will benefit Nebraska. For example, it would expand the permitting approval authority of states, which will give local leaders the ability to advance projects quickly.  Additionally, the president's proposal would simplify the permitting process by codifying the “One Agency, One Decision” policy, which streamlines the regulatory process for states by allowing them to work with one federal agency for the final decision about infrastructure projects.

Now that the proposal is out, Congress is tasked with filling in many of the details of this infrastructure package. As a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, I am committed to bringing common-sense solutions to the process of fixing our infrastructure. Nebraska's voice will be heard.

The president's focus on infrastructure has opened the door to implementing some of the policies I have worked on for years. For example, my Build USA Infrastructure Act is modeled after legislation that has provided sustainable transportation funding and permitting solutions in Nebraska, including the Build Nebraska Act and the Federal Funds Purchase Program. These laws, passed during my tenure in the Unicameral, have allowed Nebraska to initiate and complete projects at a faster pace.

The Build USA Infrastructure Act would bring these same common-sense solutions to the federal level. Instead of raising taxes and fees, which would harm families and businesses, my proposal uses existing funds to build and maintain infrastructure. It would streamline infrastructure projects, giving states greater authority to approve the design, permitting, and construction of highway projects.

Rural broadband proposals should also be included in an infrastructure package. Making broadband more accessible and affordable for Americans in rural communities is critical to keeping them connected to the world. It will help Nebraska continue to grow.

I also will work to include my Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act.  This bill would allow municipalities to prioritize investments in storm and wastewater projects needed for Clean Water Act compliance. It would also establish an Office of Municipal Ombudsman at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assist cities in complying with federal environmental laws. Most importantly, our bill requires the EPA to revise this regulation to make it more affordable. This bipartisan bill has already passed with unanimous support in the Senate.

During the past year, I have worked closely with Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, including hosting her in Nebraska to meet with infrastructure stakeholders. Most recently, I questioned the secretary about the administration’s proposal during a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing. During that hearing, we discussed the need to streamline infrastructure projects, and the importance of consistent, long-term funding for both rural and urban infrastructure. I also addressed the need for freight corridors in rural areas to get our agriculture products to market, such as the Heartland Expressway in the panhandle.

I look forward to continuing to work with the administration and with my Senate colleagues to produce legislation to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure.

Smith Continues NAFTA Advocacy in Mexico City

Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) released the following statement today after returning from the latest round of NAFTA negotiations in Mexico City, where he served on the congressional delegation led by Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) meeting with negotiators, government officials, and business leaders.

“NAFTA negotiations are moving in the right direction,” Smith said.  “Everyone is staying at the table and working through the details, demonstrating the commitment of all three countries to keep this crucial agreement in place.  The conversations we had with leaders in Mexico City reflected the shared desire to do no harm to our countries’ economies.

“We should be looking to expand on tax reform’s economic growth through opening more markets, not imposing additional restrictions on global trade.  I am very concerned about the potential for retaliation against U.S. exporters, especially agriculture, due to proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.  Just as I have done throughout the NAFTA negotiations, I will continue to advocate to do no harm to the ag economy through our country’s trade policies.

“NAFTA has done great things for Nebraska agriculture, and I have appreciated the opportunity to bring the voices of our producers and manufacturers to the table in both Montreal and Mexico City.  I’m optimistic we can strengthen the agreement while sustaining the gains already achieved.”

Paraguay Market Now Open To U.S. Pork

Under an export certificate recently negotiated between the two countries, the United States now can ship pork to Paraguay. The National Pork Producers Council welcomed the news.

“Paraguay won’t be a huge market for U.S. pork, but given the current trade climate, the U.S. pork industry needs all the new markets it can get,” said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio. “This is welcome news for America’s pork producers.”

While the South American country is a modest consumer of pork, there is potential for U.S. pork export growth to its nearly 6.9 million people, who have a per capita income greater than, for example, the Philippines and Vietnam, two large pork-consuming nations.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture last month concluded talks with its Paraguay counterparts on the export certificate, which will allow the shipment of U.S. fresh, frozen, processed and thermally processed/commercially sterile pork and pork products.

“The U.S. pork industry is very dependent on exports,” said Heimerl. “Last year, were exported nearly 27 percent of our total production, and those exports added more than $53 – representing almost 36 percent of the $149 average value of a hog in 2017 – to the price we received for each animal marketed.

“The United States can’t sit on its hands when it comes to trade and watch its export markets erode. Opening new markets, even small ones like Paraguay, and expanding existing markets is imperative.”

Iowa State University Research Finds Wind Farms Positively Impact Crops

Iowa State University researchers have found that wind turbines located in agricultural fields are a plus for the crops growing around them.

The overall effects on crops growing in wind farms appear to be positive said Gene Takle, Iowa State agronomy professor. He has led a team of plant and soil scientists along with extension specialists who have been looking into the effects since 2009.

They started their work after seeing more wind farms and turbines pop up around the state. The new land use was positive for the landowners where they were located, but the researchers wondered if it was the same for the farmers growing crops.

“It’s unusual because we’re continuing the previous land use and we’re adding another,” he said. “We’re sort of double-cropping because these can be thought of two forms of energy production. The Chinese do this when they plant soybeans in between horticultural crops. We’re planting turbines.”

If the turbines change the microclimate for corn and soybeans, the team wanted to learn if it is a big enough change to be measured and the potential impacts.

He said wind blowing across a corn or soybean field without turbines creates a certain turbulence that carries moisture from the transpiring crop, which rises into the atmosphere and pulls down cooler, drier air. At night the wind is calmer and the land cools.

Turbines take some of the wind energy, slowing it down but increasing its turbulence so it interacts with the crop more, possibly increasing evaporation from the crop or moving carbon dioxide down into the crop.

“The biggest changes are at night and that’s because during the day there’s a lot of chaotic turbulence, just because the sun is heating the surface and the wind is gusty,” Takle said. “At night when it gets pretty calm, the crop cools down and if it’s a humid night you start to get dew formation. If you add the turbines, it looks a little more like the daytime. So the dew formation is delayed and it may start to evaporate sooner.”

Since fungus and mold like a wet environment, the shorter the wet period makes it less favorable for the growth of those potential pathogens. In the fall, the shorter wet period could speed up harvesting because farmers typically have to wait for soybeans to dry in the morning.

Another factor is that turbines bring warmer air down to interact with the cool air near the surface. Throughout the wind farm, the surface is a little bit warmer which inhibits dew formation.

“Satellites can measure surface temperatures and you can see little dots across the state of Iowa and locate every wind farm because they’re slightly warmer than the surrounding area. So we know it has an effect that’s large enough to be seen there,” he said.

Another plus is the air pressure fluctuation measured around wind turbines. Takle said there is a lot of carbon dioxide in the top few feet of soil — as much as two or three times what is in the air. The movement of air by the turbines pumps air down, and the movement draws carbon dioxide out of the soil so more would be available to the plant for photosynthesis.

The air moving down also creates more plant movement, which increases sunlight penetrating the dense crop canopy.

On the negative side is the tendency of higher temperatures occurring at night in wind farms.
Considering corn, during the day it’s taking in solar energy and carbon dioxide to make plant material. At night it cools down and gives back some of the carbon dioxide, and it gives up more if it’s warmer.

“So the night time warming of the turbines is not a totally good thing,” he said. “Night time temps have been going up over the last 40 years and are becoming a limiting factor for crop yields.”

But overall crops grown in wind farms seem to benefit.

“So there are three ways the crop is being ‘fertilized’ from either the air or from the soil or from increased photosynthesis. We measured increased carbon dioxide uptake during the day, but an increased respiration at night,” he said. “But over the course of the day there was more uptake. So as far as the impact of the turbines on the carbon dioxide processes and the photosynthesis process in the near vicinity of the turbines it’s a net gain.”

His team would like to look at the result of wind movement through a farm as it slows and tends to move up, which could create clouds if the air is warm and moist, and potentially rain.

“Are wind farms a preferential location for cloud formation or something that’s going to provide more rain in an area beyond the wind farm? We don’t know, we have some preliminary measurements that suggest that this is a real effect. Theoretically, you say yes there should be an effect, but is it large enough to be measured or to be important?” Takle asked.

Thank you for the honor and privilege of serving as your Secretary of Agriculture

Bill Northey

It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve as your Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and as I move on to the next chapter I want to express my deep appreciation for you entrusting this position to me for the past eleven years.  Serving in this role has deepened and expanded my passion for our state’s unmatched agriculture industry.

This certainly includes the farmers that do an amazing job of producing the food and fuel the world needs while protecting our environment, but also includes the vast ag industry in our state.  The ag businesses, manufacturers, farmer organizations, commodity groups, ag lenders, ag educators, community colleges, universities and many others that work with and support our farmers also play a critical role in our work to feed and fuel the world.

The list of groups and individuals who play an important role in our state’s agriculture also includes the men and women of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

It has been a tremendous joy for me to work closely with these dedicated public servants to fulfill the Department’s mission to provide leadership for all aspects of agriculture in Iowa, to ensure consumer protection and to promote the responsible use of our natural resources. I am extremely proud of the work they have done and all that we have accomplished.

Water Quality

One of those important efforts has been to take on the challenge of improving water quality. Farmers have always worked to protect the natural resources for which they are responsible. With the announcement in 2010 that Iowa would develop a statewide Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy (Strategy), our goal has been to engage all Iowans and move forward with a comprehensive solution to achieve specific water quality goals.

Our approach has been to work with farmers, landowners, businesses and other partners to harness the innovation of Iowans and the agriculture community to find new ways to help us do an even better job on our farms and in our communities.

I am extremely appreciative of the partnership with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Iowa State University throughout this process. I also want to thank the Iowa Legislature for their work to provide additional funding to our Department to support farmers’ water quality efforts.

I’m excited about the significant progress we have made in just a few short years.

We are seeing thousands of farmers trying cover crops. We have gone from just a few tens of thousands of acres ten years ago to over 700,000 acres last year.

We also have 56 demonstration projects located across the state to help implement and demonstrate water quality practices through the initiative.  This includes 22 that are agriculture focused and 34 that are urban demonstration projects.  More than 200 partner organizations will provide $30.6 million to go with the $19.0 million in state funding going to these projects.

There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done, but I truly believe we are on the right path. Through collaboration and partnerships we will continue to make water quality improvements.

Avian Influenza

One of the most challenging times for Iowa farmers and our Department was the Avian Influenza outbreak in 2015.  The USDA has described this outbreak as the largest animal health emergency in U.S. history, and unfortunately Iowa was very much in the center of the storm.

It was hard to see the devastating impact this disease had on our farms and the farmers who have spent their life caring for these animals.  However, the resiliency of our farmers is inspiring and it has been encouraging to see their passion as they have worked to recover from the outbreak.

I do want to thank the employees at our Department and from across state government that stepped forward and were willing to serve in any role necessary to help respond to this emergency and help the industry recover. The support from USDA as well as a broad array of other partners was critically important throughout the response and recovery process.

Since the outbreak, Iowa’s livestock farmers have also stepped forward and invested millions of dollars in biosecurity on their farms to better protect their animals.

Ag Economy

During my 11 years in office, I have also seen the dramatic fluctuations in prices that unfortunately often characterize the agriculture economy.  This has included times of record profitability for farmers, a larger national economic crisis that was tempered here in Iowa by the strength of our ag economy, and now, a time of real economic challenge for our state’s farmers.

Due in part to the unmatched productivity of our farmers, we are seeing a time where we have some excess supply and that is lowering prices for farmers.

The work to continue to build and grow markets for the products we produce remains critically important.  First and foremost, the livestock industry is the number one customer for our corn and soybeans and we need to make sure they remain strong and growing.

Renewable fuels are another key market that we need to continue to strengthen.  Expanding access to higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel represent a great opportunity to grow our biofuels industry while reducing our environmental impact.

Finally, continuing to expand our trade opportunities is extremely important. It has been an honor and a privilege to participate in 22 international trade missions during my time as Secretary with both state and industry leaders to help promote our agricultural products.

Telling the story of Iowa Agriculture

As I have had the opportunity to work with so many partners and friends on these issues and many others, I have had the opportunity to see up-close the kindness, goodness, passion, hard work and humility that is the hallmark of Iowans.

Our rich soils and favorable weather (most of the time) are obviously important, but I have learned over and over again that it is the people that make our state and its agriculture truly special.

One of my absolutely favorite things about being Secretary was the opportunity to recognize the Century and Heritage Farm award winners each year at the Iowa State Fair. To date there have been more than 19,000 Century Farms (farms that have been in the same family for 100 years) and over 1,000 Heritage Farms (farms that have been in the same family for 150 years) recognized in Iowa. When you consider the challenges and hardships each of these families would have faced and overcome over the generations, it is amazing to think about.

You soon realize that these farms are not just a piece of ground or an asset to be used, the land is part of the family and they respect it and care for it. They want to hand it down to their children and grandchildren just as their parents and grandparents handed it to them.

Throughout my time in office I have worked hard to represent these and all the other farm families of the state and share their values of land stewardship, hard work, patience, dedication and perseverance.

I am more optimistic than ever for the future of agriculture in Iowa and I want to thank all Iowans for giving me the honor and privilege of serving as your Secretary of Agriculture.

Northey has served as Iowa Secretary of Agriculture since 2007.  He resigned on March 5, 2018 to serve as an Under Secretary of Agriculture at USDA.

NFU Commences 116th Anniversary Convention

National Farmers Union (NFU) officially convened its 116th Anniversary Convention this afternoon in Kansas City, Missouri. More than 450 Farmers Union members from across the country are gathered for the annual event, which runs through March 6.

“As a family farmer-driven organization, NFU’s convention is the organization’s most important event of the year. It’s an opportunity to celebrate what makes Farmers Union truly unique – and that is family farmers of all types, sizes, ethnicities, regions and religions banding together to make sure they all can enjoy the American dream,” said NFU President Roger Johnson.

Over the next several days, attendees will engage with industry experts, policymakers, thought leaders and fellow farmers on topics of vital importance to family farm agriculture. Top of mind for most attendees and speakers are the severely depressed farm economy, negotiations on the upcoming Farm Bill, extreme consolidation in the agricultural sector, and the success of the next generation of family farmers.

The information learned will provide context for the organization’s annual line-by-line policy review by Farmers Union delegates in the final days of the convention.  “NFU’s grassroots policy adoption process allows our members to dictate the direction of the organization, and it is very important to deciding the policy we bring to the table in Washington, D.C.,” Johnson explained.

“This year’s deliberations will be especially important, as family farmers and ranchers face a dismal farm economy, waves of consolidation, and upcoming farm bill negotiations, among the normal volatility that they deal with on a day-to-day basis,” Johnson added. “We look forward to our members setting positions that are representative of policy solutions that work for family agriculture and rural communities.”

Keynote remarks at this year’s convention will be delivered by Jason Kander, president of Let America Vote, and Art Cullen, Pulitzer-prize winning editor of The Storm Lake Times. NFU President Roger Johnson will deliver his annual State of the Farmers Union speech. The convention will also feature a conversation on the opioid crisis gripping farm and ranch families. Sarah Tyree, Vice President of Government Relations at CoBank, will moderate a panel with NFU President Roger Johnson, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall, and USDA Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett. The panel will focus on NFU’s and AFBF’s joint Farm Town Strong campaign and USDA’s efforts to combat opioid misuse in rural America.

Convention attendees will also be treated to a local farm tour of Shatto Milk Company, award ceremonies, NFU education programming events, and a screening of the new documentary on beginning farmer issues, “Farmers For America.”

More information on convention programming can be found at NFU.org/convention.

NGFA supports legislation to restore important exceptions for grain facilities to the U.S. Grain Standards Act

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) said it strongly supports legislation introduced in late February that promotes certainty and customer service by reinforcing congressional intent regarding the official grain inspection exceptions process for domestic facilities within the grain, feed and processing industry.

The bipartisan legislation (H.R. 5070) introduced by Reps. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., and Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., would allow domestic grain-handling facilities to restore official inspection service agreements they previously had with USDA-approved official grain inspection providers prior to enactment of the reauthorization of the U.S. Grain Standards Act (USGSA) in 2015.

The problem arose in 2016, when the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) -  which no longer oversees the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) following Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue's realignment of agencies along more functional lines - revised regulations under the USGSA based on the Agriculture Reauthorization Act of 2015. One of the legislative changes waived the geographic boundaries established for FGIS-approved official grain inspection agencies serving domestic facilities if both agreed to the waiver in writing. Unexpectedly, the revision was used by FGIS to allow incumbent providers designated by the agency to perform official inspections within USDA-established geographic territories to unilaterally end a facility's so-called "nonuse service agreement" with a different official service provider located outside the facility's designated geographic boundary. This resulted in FGIS revoking dozens of existing service agreements, disrupting long-standing, well-functioning agreements to provide official inspections.

To remedy this problem, Reps. Davis' and Bustos' legislation would reinforce congressional intent by allowing facilities to restore prior nonuse service agreements terminated by FGIS that previously were in place with official inspection providers. The two Illinois members of Congress previously led successful efforts to enact an amendment to the fiscal year 2018 appropriations bill that prevented GIPSA from using funds to revoke any further official inspection service agreements between facilities and non-incumbent geographic official grain inspection agencies.

"We appreciate Reps. Davis' and Bustos' leadership in acting to address this problem affecting facilities that utilize official grain inspection services throughout the domestic agricultural supply chain," said NGFA President and CEO Randy Gordon. "U.S. competitiveness in domestic and global markets benefits when FGIS and its designated service providers perform market-responsive official inspection and weighing of bulk grains and oilseeds in a reliable and uninterrupted manner. The legislation proposed by Reps. Davis and Bustos would restore cost-effective and efficient official grain inspection relationships that previously existed within the domestic trade and which had been working well. NGFA strongly urges its enactment."

BASF Kicks Off Annual Plant Science Competition

BASF has kicked off its fourth annual North American science competition, which focuses on identifying plant stressors early and in real-time. Open to teams consisting of two to four Ph.D. students, postdocs and young researchers in the U.S. and Canada (excluding Quebec), the competition encourages innovative and game-changing ideas.

Plant health is influenced by multiple factors such as drought, insects and metabolic changes. Rapid sensing of these factors would allow for targeted and timely response for mitigation and, ultimately, improve growers' ability to produce healthier and more robust crops.

Through the competition, BASF hopes to encourage the development of technologies that address rapid sensing and ideas can focus on any aspect of the challenge. Submissions will be accepted until April 17, 2018, and will be evaluated by BASF experts for their novelty, scientific and business merit and technical feasibility. Relevance to the challenge statement and value created by the proposed solution are also important judging criteria.

All finalists will be provided BASF coaches to further develop their concepts, and they will have the opportunity to present their ideas to BASF executives July 18-20 at the BASF office in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Each member of the winning team will receive a $1,000 cash award.

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