Thursday, March 1, 2018

Thursday March 1 Ag News

Nebraska Beef Council to Host Director Election Information Sessions

The Nebraska Beef Council will be hosting candidate information sessions in 4 of their 9 districts prior to the 2018 board of director elections.

The first session will be on March 12th in North Platte at the UNL Extension Office starting at 1:00 p.m. The second meeting will be March 14th in Ainsworth at the Brown County Extension Office starting at 10 :00 a.m. The third meeting will take place March 18th at the O’Neill Public Library in O’Neill staring at 1:00 p.m. The final meeting will be on March 19th at the UNL Extension Office in Geneva starting at 1:00 p.m.

The following districts will have an open seat in the upcoming elections:
District 2 - Cherry, Keya Paha, Brown, Rock, Grant, Hooker, Thomas, Blaine and Loup counties.
District 4 - Boyd, Knox, Antelope, Holt, Wheeler and Boone counties.
District 6 - Arthur, McPherson, Logan, Keith, Lincoln, Perkins, Chase, Hayes, Dundy and Hitchcock counties.
District 8 - Seward, Lancaster, Otoe, Adams, Clay, Fillmore, Saline, Johnson, Nemaha, Webster, Nuckolls, Thayer, Jefferson, Gage, Pawnee and Richardson counties.

For more information about the Nebraska Beef Council or to inquire about candidate requirements, please visit or call 800-241-5326.

Capturing Value in Cropping Systems Using Cattle

A conference on how to “Capture Value in Cropping Systems using Cattle,” will be held Wednesday, April 4, 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. at ENREC (formerly ARDC) near Mead with registration opening at 9:00 a.m. Pre-register online by March 30 at: For questions, contact Nebraska Extension in Saunders County at (402) 624-8030 or

Nebraska Extension has developed a unique learning and networking opportunity for cattle operators and cropping individuals.  The day will feature UNL graduate students, research and extension personnel working on the projects, as well as, first-hand insight from producers utilizing cover crops as forages in their cropping rotation in eastern Nebraska.

Program topics will include:
* The UNL Beef Systems Initiative: can we sustainably produce more with the same resources?
* Nitrate toxicity: what is the potential when grazing cover crops?
* Oats planted after high moisture corn or silage: how much grazing can we get?
* Using triticale for spring grazing in soybean systems? 
* Grazing rye planted in corn and soybean systems: how do the cattle and crops perform?

There are many challenges and opportunities when trying to decipher how to utilize cover crops as forages and graze cattle in a traditional cropping system. Speakers will touch on the economics, cover crop species selection, grazing management and more.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Beef Systems Specialist Mary Drewnoski says, “Using cover crops and crop residues as forage sources can be cost effective for the cattle producer and increase revenue from cropland. This field day will discuss the opportunities and challenges of integrating cattle into cropping systems in eastern NE.”

Crop producer north of ENREC cooperating on the rye grazing study, Angela Knuth says, “We are really excited to be working with Mary and her team to explore the opportunities bringing cattle back onto the land can offer. Working with Mary, we hope to prove that a diversified  cropping rotation along with grazing is both good for the cattle and the bottom line of the cattle producer and  landowner.”

There is no cost to attend and lunch will be provided for those who pre-register online.

Reynolds to name Mike Naig as Iowa Secretary of Agriculture

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced on Thursday she will name Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Deputy Secretary Mike Naig as the new Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, citing a commitment to continuity and stability. Naig will become Secretary of Agriculture upon Bill Northey's resignation. He will serve the remainder of Northey’s term.

“Mike Naig has been a dependable deputy for Bill Northey, serving since September 2013,” Gov. Reynolds said. “He has gained the experience, knowledge and staff connections necessary to complete Bill’s term through January 2019. I am pleased Mike has stepped up to serve his fellow Iowans in this elevated role.”

Northey was confirmed on Tuesday by the U.S. Senate to be Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Demand for Soybean Drives Iowa Exports to China

The ties between Iowa farmers and China continue to grow. Currently, one in every four rows of soybean grown in the United States is exported to China while Iowa’s former governor, Terry Branstad, is now the U.S. ambassador to the country.

This growing partnership is the focus of ““Navigating the Chinese agricultural economy through the lens of Iowa”” by Wendong Zhang, assistant professor and extension economist with Iowa State University, and Minghao Li, postdoctoral researcher in Iowa State’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Development. The article appears in the February issue of Ag Decision Maker.

“The significance of China for the U.S.’s overall agricultural trade cannot be overestimated,” Zhang said. “The Chinese demand for U.S. agricultural products is even more significant for Iowa as the two imports they need the most – soybean and pork – are areas we excel in.”

Twenty percent of China’s population of 1.39 billion is engaged in agriculture compared with just 2 percent of the U.S. population. Despite this disparity in agricultural employees, Chinese farmers only operate on 1.4 acres of cropland per farmer, compared to an average of 200 acres per farmer in Iowa.

China is the second-largest agricultural trading partner with the U.S., with trade valued at $21.4 billion in 2016. This has created a $17.1 billion trade surplus in the agricultural sector. Its demand for U.S. agricultural products has increased five-fold since joining the World Trade Organization in 2001. Of the agricultural trade between the two countries, $14 billion is found in one product – soybeans.

“China can only produce 10 percent of their annual soybean consumption, the rest of what they need comes from the U.S. and Brazil,” Zhang said. “China is increasingly entering the market not as a poor, developing country but as a significant player who needs these products to meet their needs. As China grows richer and creates more demand, we want to insure we are their leading supplier of agricultural products as opposed to our competitors.”

No country imports more soybeans than China, receiving 87 percent of its consumption totals from markets like the U.S. and Brazil. Only four Chinese provinces plant more than 10 percent of the of the area planted for soybeans in Iowa. Yields are also smaller, with only 46 percent of Iowa’s average yield achieved.

The small number of acres of soybean grown is due to China’s decision to be self-sufficient in corn production, raising the number of acres of corn grown to roughly U.S. levels.

More information on Zhang and Li’s research can be found online through CARD’s Center for China-U.S. Agricultural Economics and Policy.

Dairy Expo Puts Spotlight on Industry Leaders and Experts

The Central Plains Dairy Expo, led by Central Plains Dairy Association, will be held at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Mar. 27-29. The event, held annually in March, brings together dairy farmers from the top producing states in the Midwest to learn more about on-farm best practices, enhance their communications skills and collaborate to build a stronger dairy industry throughout the Central Plains region.

Session speakers
Sarina Sharp, daily market analyst, Daily Dairy Report
Session: “When Will it End? Examining the Dairy Downturn.” Sponsored by Farm Credit

Mike Ballou, Ph.D., associate professor, ruminant nutrition and immunology, Texas Tech University
Session: “Strategies to Enhance Immunity and Health.” Sponsored by Kemin

Paul Fricke, Ph.D., professor, dairy science and extension specialist, dairy cattle reproduction, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Session: “Integration of Reproductive Programs and Technology to Maximize Fertility.” Sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim

Hugo Ramirez, Ph.D., assistant professor, dairy science, Iowa State University
Session: “Feeding Cows for Milk Production Efficiency: A Natural Approach.” Sponsored by MS Biotec

Michael Van Amburgh, Ph.D., professor, animal science, Cornell University
Session: “What’s Golden in Colostrum?” Sponsored by Golden Calf

For more information about the Expo, including a full schedule of events and sessions, visit

2018 Pig Farmers of Tomorrow Named

The National Pork Board announced today that Adam Krause from South Dakota and Emma Lasco and Christine Snowden, both from Iowa, have been named the 2018 Pig Farmers of Tomorrow. They were recognized today at the 2018 National Pork Industry Forum in Kansas City.

“It is important for the Pork Checkoff to recognize the future leaders of the pork industry,” said National Pork Board President Terry O’Neel, a pork producer from Friend, Nebraska. “We are excited for these young farmers to share their unique stories with consumers.”

The award recognizes farm leaders, ages 18-29, who intend to make pig farming their life’s work and who are committed to raising pigs using the pork industry’s We Care ethical principles. The winners will speak at Pork Checkoff events and provide content on #RealPigFarming, which is the pork industry’s social media program.

Krause is the fourth generation on his family farm near Clear Lake, South Dakota. He owns a pig nursery barn and grows corn, soybean and wheat.

“I’m excited to share my story with the public,” Krause said. “As farmers, we must share with consumers what we do on the farm every day to provide the best care for our pigs.”

Lasco is a territory manager for Smithfield Foods Midwest Production in Roland, Iowa. She assists growers with implementing Smithfield’s industry-leading animal care standards on their farms.

“It is important for people in the pork industry to speak up so that our story gets told correctly,” Lasco said. “We are committed to caring for animals daily and are passionate about keeping them safe, comfortable and healthy. At the end of the day, the care that we provide animals translates into safe and wholesome products for consumers.”

Snowden is an assistant farrowing manager for AMVC, located in Audubon, Iowa. She works with other employees to care for piglets from birth until they are weaned.

“Working in the pork industry is a rewarding career,” Snowden said. “Not only do you get to work with animals every day, but you get a sense of pride by helping to provide pork for consumers here in the United States.”

An industry panel of judges selected the 2018 Pig Farmers of Tomorrow, who all have had a Common Industry Audit completed on their farms.

Pork Industry Honors Tom Baas with the Distinguished Service Award

The National Pork Board today honored Tom Baas as the recipient of its Distinguished Service Award during the National Pork Industry Forum in Kansas City. Baas is a former animal science professor at Iowa State University.

At the pork industry’s annual business meeting each year, the award is presented to an outstanding leader to recognize his or her lifelong contribution to the pork industry.

“Tom has provided extraordinary leadership to the pork industry,” said National Pork Board President Terry O’Neel, a pork producer from Friend, Nebraska. “Through the years, he worked tirelessly for the advancement of the pork industry and mentored numerous students at Iowa State University.”

Baas grew up in Kossuth County, Iowa, graduating high school in West Bend. He earned his bachelor’s degree in animal science and later his master’s and Ph.D. all from Iowa State University. Baas worked in various aspects of the pork industry, including with the Duroc Swine Registry and on his own farm raising pigs, before he became a mainstay at Iowa State University as an animal science professor and advisor.

His practical experience prepared Baas for working with students and helped shape his approach to education. The real-world experience proved beneficial to those who learned from Baas, both inside and outside of the classroom.

Baas’ keen foresight for a brighter future for the pork industry played out in many pursuits. He believed a higher quality pork product was possible and was instrumental in implementing the use of ultrasound to study marbling in pork and live animals so data could be used in genetic improvement programs.

The National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) also presented Dick Isler, former state executive of the Ohio Pork Council with the Paulson-Whitmore State Executive Award. The award was developed cooperatively by the Pork Board and NPPC and recognizes the outstanding leadership and commitment of state pork executives. It was named after two top leaders – Don Paulson, past Minnesota state pork executive, and Rex Whitmore, past Wisconsin state pork executive.

Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production

Total corn consumed for alcohol and other uses was 526 million bushels in January 2018. Total corn consumption was down 2 percent from December 2017 and down slightly from January 2017. January 2018 usage included 92.2 percent for alcohol and 7.8 percent for other purposes. Corn consumed for beverage alcohol totaled 2.93 million bushels, up 30 percent from December 2017 and up 21 percent from January 2017. Corn for fuel alcohol, at 476 million bushels, was down 2 percent from December 2017 but up 1 percent from January 2017. Corn consumed in January 2018 for dry milling fuel production and wet milling fuel production was 90.6 percent and 9.4 percent respectively.

Dry mill co-product production of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) was 1.99 million tons during January 2018, up 1 percent from December 2017 but down 4 percent from January 2017. Distillers wet grains (DWG) 65 percent or more moisture was 1.44 million tons in January 2018, up 1 percent from December 2017 and up 4 percent from January 2017.

Wet mill corn gluten feed production was 304 thousand tons during January 2018, down 5 percent from December 2017 and down 12 percent from January 2017. Wet corn gluten feed 40 to 60 percent moisture was 275 thousand tons in January 2018, down 11 percent from December 2017 and down 13 percent from January 2017.

2017 Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production

As part of the Current Agricultural Industrial Reports (CAIR) program, the 2017 Annual Summary of the Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production contains data and annual totals for January through December 2017.

Total corn consumed for alcohol for 2017 was 5.61 billion bushels, up 4 percent from 2016. Corn for beverage alcohol in 2017 totaled 35.8 million bushels, up 5 percent from 2016. Corn for fuel alcohol was 5.49 billion bushels in 2017, up 4 percent from 2016. 

Dry mill co-product production of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) was 23.2 million tons during 2017, up slightly from 2016. Distillers wet grains (DWG) 65 percent or more moisture was 16.1 million tons in 2017, up 5 percent from 2016.  Distillers dried grain (DDG) was 5.25 million tons in 2016, up 8 percent from 2016.

Wet mill corn gluten feed production was 3.98 million tons during 2017, up 1 percent from 2016. Wet corn gluten feed 40 to 60 percent moisture was 3.59 million tons, down 2 percent from 2016.

Dry and wet mill carbon dioxide captured was 2.49 million tons in 2017, down 1 percent from 2016.

Fats and Oils: Oilseed Crushings, Production, Consumption and Stocks

Soybeans crushed for crude oil was 5.24 million tons (175 million bushels) in January 2018, compared to 5.29 million tons (176 million bushels) in December 2017 and 5.14 million tons (160 million bushels) in January 2017. Crude oil produced was 2.00 billion pounds down 1 percent from December 2017 but up 7 percent from January 2017. Soybean once refined oil production at 1.26 billion pounds during January 2018 decreased 8 percent from December 2017 and decreased 5 percent from January 2017.

Canola seeds crushed for crude oil was 160 thousand tons in January 2018, compared to 172 thousand tons in December 2017 and 177 thousand tons in January 2017. Canola crude oil produced was 140 million pounds down 5 percent from December 2017 and down 7 percent from January 2017. Canola once refined oil production at 100 million pounds during January 2018 was down 16 percent from December 2017 and down 17 percent from January 2017. Cottonseed once refined oil production at 42.1 million pounds during January 2018 was down 23 percent from December 2017 and down 6 percent from January 2017.

Edible tallow production was 66.3 million pounds during January 2018, down 15 percent from December 2017 and down 6 percent from January 2017. Inedible tallow production was 294 million pounds during January 2018, down 9 percent from December 2017 and down 3 percent from January 2017. Technical tallow production was 95.1 million pounds during January 2018, down 1 percent from December 2017 and down 1 percent from January 2017. Choice white grease production at 107 million pounds during January 2018 increased 3 percent from December 2017 but decreased 5 percent from January 2017.

2017 Fats and Oils Oilseed Crushings, Production, Consumption and Stocks Data Published

As part of the Current Agricultural Industrial Reports (CAIR) program, the 2017 Annual Summary of the Fats and Oils: Oilseed Crushings, Production, Consumption and Stocks contains data and annual totals for January through December of 2017.

Soybeans crushed for crude oil was 57.5 million tons in 2017.  Crude oil production was 22.2 billion pounds.

Canola seeds crushed for crude oil was 1.99 million tons in 2017.

Tallow was published in three categories (edible, inedible, and technical). The largest percentage of tallow production was inedible tallow at 3.67 billion pounds in 2017.  Choice white grease production was 1.31 billion pounds in 2017.

USDA Dairy Products January 2018 Production Highlights

Total cheese output (excluding cottage cheese) was 1.08 billion pounds, 3.4 percent above January 2017 but 1.0 percent below December 2017.  Italian type cheese production totaled 470 million pounds, 3.4 percent above January 2017 and 0.5 percent above December 2017.  American type cheese production totaled 429 million pounds, 2.7 percent above January 2017 but 1.0 percent below December 2017. Butter production was 185 million pounds, 4.3 percent above January 2017 and
9.0 percent above December 2017.

Dry milk products (comparisons in percentage with January 2017)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 162 million pounds, up 5.4 percent.
Skim milk powder - 45.8 million pounds, down 17.2 percent.

Whey products (comparisons in percentage with January 2017)
Dry whey, total - 89.3 million pounds, up 8.5 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 94.1 million pounds, up 1.5 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 44.3 million pounds, up 10.4 percent.

Frozen products (comparisons in percentage with January 2017)
Ice cream, regular (hard) - 56.6 million gallons, down 0.9 percent.
Ice cream, lowfat (total) - 30.5 million gallons, up 5.6 percent.
Sherbet (hard) - 2.93 million gallons, down 3.2 percent.
Frozen yogurt (total) - 4.76 million gallons, down 1.2 percent.

Soy Growers Concerned Over President Trump’s Steep Tariffs on Steel, Aluminum

The American Soybean Association (ASA) voiced its extreme concern today as President Donald Trump announced the decision to impose steep tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

Trump plans to impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum to protect both industries, which he states poses a threat to national security. These tariffs will be applied across all countries including China. China is not only U.S. soy’s largest customer, but also the top market for U.S. soybeans, purchasing more than all our other customers combined, accounting for $14 billion in sales and more than a third of total U.S. soybean production.

These tariffs could lead to retaliation from China and would significantly endanger the current trade relationship between the U.S. and China for soybeans.

“The tariffs announced today by the administration will put the interests of other domestic industries over farmers,” said John Heisdorffer, ASA president and Iowa soy grower. “Prior to today’s announcement, China has indicated that it may retaliate against U.S. soybean imports, which would be devastating to U.S. soy growers. Our competitors in Brazil and Argentina are all too happy to pick up supplying the Chinese market.”

Retaliation from China would add significant further injury to an already-hobbled farm economy. Prices are down 40 percent and farm income is down 50 percent, and we simply can’t afford for those numbers to get worse.

Soybean farmers urge the White House to move forward with a China strategy that strengthens the competitiveness of our domestic industries, while at the same time growing our export opportunities.

Steel, Aluminum Tariffs Raise the Risk of Retaliation Against U.S. Agriculture

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) are extremely disappointed in the decision announced today to impose sweeping tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. We have repeatedly warned that the risks of retaliation and the precedent set by such a policy have serious potential consequences for agriculture. It is dismaying that the voices of farmers and many other industries were ignored in favor of an industry that is already among the most protected in the country.

If the United States is taken to dispute settlement at the World Trade Organization (WTO) for imposing these tariffs, we call on the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to avoid invoking the essential security exception under GATT Article XXI. The recent Department of Defense memorandum made it clear that imported steel and aluminum did not threaten its ability to acquire enough from domestic suppliers to meet its needs. The USTR should not take the extraordinary step of invoking Article XXI to defend what we believe is protectionism. 

At NAWG’s board of directors meeting this week, a new resolution was passed urging the Administration to avoid imposing national security-based trade barriers on commonly traded products. NAWG’s newly instated President Jimmy Musick, a wheat farmer from Sentinel, Oklahoma, said “at such an economically hard time for wheat growers, we do not want to see trade barriers brought against us from some of our top customers who are impacted by this decision.”

Wheat farmers battling a market in which China holds almost 50 percent of world ending wheat stocks can sympathize with steel and aluminum workers on the economic effects of Chinese policies leading to global oversupply. However, we hope that our legitimate concerns with this action are heard and taken into consideration in this process.

NCGA Statement on Today's White House Meeting

The following is a statement from North Dakota farmer Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), in response to today’s White House meeting on the Renewable Fuel Standard.

“For corn farmers, the question for the ongoing White House discussions is simple – what is the problem you are trying to solve? said Skunes.

"According to EPA, refiners don’t have a problem.  EPA concluded in November that refiners are able to recover the cost of RINs through the prices they receive for refined products and that RIN values are not causing economic harm to refiners.

"For farmers, ethanol blending equals corn demand. Farmers care about RIN values, not because we want them to be high, but because we want the RIN market mechanism to work freely to incentivize blending. Increased blending will, in turn, lower RIN values, exactly the way the RFS is intended to work.  Government manipulation of the RIN market, on the other hand, disrupts the incentive to blend.

"This is why farmers continue to tell the Administration that providing regulatory parity for E15 and higher blends is the best policy answer for refiners’ concerns.

"Allowing the RIN market to operate freely with year-round sales of E15 would increase the production and consumption of renewable fuels, increase the supply of RINs available for compliance and lower RIN values.  Increased use of biofuels is already moving us in this direction, and increased use of E15 and higher blends will get us there faster.

"As discussions continue with the Administration, corn farmers thank President Trump and USDA Secretary Perdue for listening to farmers’ views and supporting agriculture. We ask that they maintain their strong stated support for the RFS by not interfering with the market mechanism that helps grow biofuels blending.”

ACE thanks members, Senators for strong RFS support

Representatives from oil refining and biofuel industries met with President Donald Trump today at the White House to continue conversations regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Board member Rick Schwarck, President and CEO of Absolute Energy, and Iowa retailer Charlie Good, featured in ACE’s Flex Fuel Forward campaign were among those who took part in the White House meeting about the RFS today. ACE CEO Brian Jennings issued the following statement after the meeting:

“We are grateful Rick and Charlie were invited by Senators Grassley and Ernst to help explain the importance of the RFS to rural America and U.S. motorists in today’s White House meeting.  They explained how RVP relief for E15 would immediately reduce RIN prices but also conveyed that capping RINs would destroy demand for renewable fuels and raise pump prices for consumers.  We thank Rick and Charlie for their grassroots leadership and Senators Grassley and Ernst for their strong support.”

Earlier this week, ACE endorsed a letter sent to President Trump from six farm groups, including the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, National Association of Wheat Growers, and National Sorghum Producers, calling on the President to maintain the integrity of the RFS.

USDA Announces Commodity Credit Corporation Lending Rates for March 2018

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Commodity Credit Corporation today announced interest rates for March 2018. The Commodity Credit Corporation borrowing rate-based charge for March is 1.875 percent, up from 1.750 percent in February.

The interest rate for crop year commodity loans less than one year disbursed during March is 2.875 percent, up from 2.750 percent in February.

Interest rates for Farm Storage Facility Loans approved for March are as follows, 2.250 percent with three-year loan terms, up from 2.125 percent in February; 2.500 percent with five-year loan terms, up from 2.250 percent in February; 2.750 percent with seven-year loan terms, up from 2.375 percent in February; 2.750 percent with 10-year loan terms, up from 2.500 percent in February and; 2.750 percent with 12-year loan terms, up from 2.500 percent in February.

USGC Welcomes New Member Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA)

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) is pleased to welcome the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) as a new member.

Formed in 2002 to represent the state’s liquid renewable fuels industry, the IRFA brings together Iowa ethanol and biodiesel producers to foster the development and growth of the state’s renewable fuels industry through education, promotion and infrastructure development. IRFA is committed to making Iowa a leader in producing renewable fuels and value-added co-products.

Iowa is the nation’s leader in renewable fuels production. Iowa has 43 ethanol refineries capable of producing more than four billion gallons annually, including 55 million gallons of annual cellulosic ethanol production capacity. In addition, Iowa has 12 biodiesel facilities with the capacity to produce nearly 380 million gallons annually.

Cattlemen Welcome Confirmation of USTR Chief Agriculture Negotiator

Today Kent Bacus, NCBA’s Director of International Trade, released the following statement in response to the confirmation of Gregg Doud to be the USTR Chief Agriculture Negotiator:

“Gregg Doud has been a strong advocate for American farmers and ranchers for many years, and NCBA is happy that the Senate has confirmed him as the Chief Agricultural Negotiator. The long nomination and confirmation process is over and U.S. agriculture finally has the representation we deserve at the negotiating table. We look forward to working with Gregg Doud and the staff at USTR to address the many trade barriers facing the U.S. beef industry.”

NMPF Statement on Senate Confirmation of Three Trade Nominees

Jim Mulhern, President and CEO, NMPF

“We are very pleased with the Senate’s confirmation of Gregory Doud, Dennis Shea and C.J. Mahoney to key positions at the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office (USTR). These individuals have demonstrable experience in the areas of agriculture and trade policy, and we’re confident they will strongly advocate for U.S. dairy and agriculture overall.

“Ambassador Doud’s confirmation as chief agricultural negotiator comes at a critical time for the American farming community. As modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) continues, he will be instrumental in defending what is working well for agriculture and fixing what is broken, such as Canada’s damaging dairy pricing scheme and other barriers.

“We urge Ambassador Robert Lighthizer and his team to promote the importance of U.S. dairy exports at a time when producers need strong trade agreements to counter our competitors’ aggressive trade policy agenda. New market access opportunities will strengthen our economy by creating more dairy-related jobs in rural America and improving our balance of trade.

“We are committed to working closely with the new appointees, and others at USTR, to ensure a strong voice at the table for U.S. dairy during current and future trade policy discussions.”

USGC Applauds Confirmation Of USTR's Chief Agricultural Negotiator And WTO Representative

A statement from U.S. Grains Council (USGC) President and CEO Tom Sleight on the confirmations of Gregg Doud and Dennis Shea:

"We are excited and energized to see that Gregg Doud has been confirmed as the next chief agricultural negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and that Dennis Shea has been confirmed as ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

"U.S. agriculture needs Ambassador Doud in his new position. He is uniquely skilled to represent our sector immediately in the trade negotiations happening as we speak. Having the position of chief agricultural negotiator filled by a competent, experienced leader is truly critical to our success in the ongoing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) modernization process, the reexamination of the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) and as we look to new trade talks that can help ensure our market access.

"Equally as important is Ambassador Shea's quick arrival to the tasks facing the WTO. The WTO sets the rules of the road for global trade and provides the mechanism for correction when we hit unfair constraints in our efforts to increase U.S. grain sales. We work closely with U.S. representatives at the WTO and are hopeful that Ambassador Shea is able to help make this body stronger and more effective for our members.

"Agriculture is complex and unique. USTR's staff has done an outstanding job of listening to our perspectives and representing our interests while Ambassador Doud and Ambassador Shea awaited confirmation. We look forward to their added expertise in these tasks very soon."

Judge Grants Preliminary Injunction In Proposition 65 Glyphosate Case

On Monday, February 26, the Eastern District of California issued a preliminary injunction barring California from enforcing its Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65) warning requirement for the herbicide glyphosate. As part of a broad coalition of agricultural groups, CropLife America (CLA) argued that the Proposition 65 listing and warning requirement violates the First Amendment by compelling companies to make misleading and highly controversial statements about their products. This injunction is an important outcome, as the judge held that now California cannot enforce the warning requirement as it relates to glyphosate as this case continues in court.

“We are pleased that the court recognized that consumers may be misled by Proposition 65 warnings on glyphosate products,” said Jay Vroom. “California has designated glyphosate as a chemical ’known’ to cause cancer, based solely on a controversial listing by the International Agency of Research on Cancer. There is overwhelmingly sound human health data and science that points to the opposite conclusion. This is a first step in ensuring that misleading labeling does not contribute to unfounded and unproven fears,” concluded Vroom. This week’s decision is also the first of its kind, as a federal court has never enjoined a Proposition 65 warning requirement on First Amendment grounds.

Zoetis Expands Genetics Portfolio With Calf Wellness Traits in Clarifide® Plus

Zoetis announced the addition of three calf wellness traits to Clarifide® Plus for Holsteins. The new calf wellness traits include calf livability, respiratory disease and scours. This dependable genetic information enables dairy producers to genetically improve calf health and survival within their herds, as the calf wellness trait information helps identify and select for calves more likely to survive as well as animals that are less likely to become ill due to respiratory disease and scours. Minimizing disease risk improves calf health, results in fewer treatments and lowers calf mortality — all important animal well-being considerations for producers.

As part of the offering with Clarifide Plus, the Calf Wellness Index™ (CW$™) is a multitrait selection index that exclusively focuses on calf wellness traits to directly estimate the potential profit contribution of the calf wellness traits for an individual animal.

In addition, CW$ has been added to the Dairy Wellness Profit Index® (DWP$®) to supplement the most comprehensive animal ranking selection available commercially in Holsteins. DWP$ includes all Zoetis wellness traits for cows and calves. Plus, DWP$ includes other economically important production, performance and longevity-related traits. The inclusion of calf wellness traits creates an opportunity for producers to realize part of the lifetime economic gains earlier in life — as early as near birth — occurring approximately nine months after implementing breeding selecting strategies. DWP$ helps improve the outcome of the calf wellness traits with their inclusion, thus improving their progress toward enhancing overall herd health.

Importance of Calf Wellness

Heifer replacement costs are often the second-highest expense on dairy farms, averaging from 8.6% up to 20% of total production cost in Holstein herds. This cost is heavily influenced by many factors, including disease incidence and calf mortality.

“Calf health and mortality can mean the difference between profits or shortfalls in tight margin years,” said Kent Weigel,* PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Dairy Science at University of Wisconsin-Madison. “We completed research that published 10 years ago, showing genetic differences between sire families and their chances of developing health challenges like milk fever** or mastitis. It was encouraging to see Zoetis use this research to develop Clarifide Plus, a tool producers can use for making genetic selection decisions to raise animals with reduced risk for health problems. Now Zoetis has taken a step farther to introduce calf wellness traits that help minimize disease risk for respiratory disease and scours, which will be game-changing for producers.”

Reports demonstrate the impact on U.S. dairies from scours and respiratory disease — the leading causes of calf death loss and disease in the first year of life:
·         23.9% of pre-weaned dairy heifers are affected by scours.
·         12.4% of pre-weaned dairy heifers are affected by respiratory disease.
·         56% of all pre-weaned calf deaths are due to scours.
·         47% of all weaned calf deaths are due to respiratory disease.

The cost of calf health presents significant and long-lasting challenges. For example, records show that calves with respiratory disease that required treatment produced about 1,087 pounds less milk in the first lactation than calves with no record of being treated.

The impact from disease can present lifelong setbacks, such as with calves impacted by pneumonia during the first 90 days of life, which are more likely to experience increased age at first calving, higher incidence of dystocia, lower milk production and greater mortality before first calving. Other studies have indicated 2 to 2.5 times greater risk of death before calving for animals that had either pneumonia or scours, respectively.

Clarifide Plus was the first commercially available genetic evaluation for wellness traits for U.S. Holsteins, launched in March 2016. In addition to the new calf wellness traits — calf livability, respiratory disease and scours — Clarifide Plus provides reliable genomic predictions to help producers manage and reduce risk for mastitis, lameness, metritis, retained placenta, displaced abomasum and ketosis. Clarifide Plus provides accurate genetic predictions using cutting-edge genetic evaluation methodology applied to data collected from U.S. commercial production settings. This results in an average reliability of 50% or more for the six cow wellness traits and 39% reliability for the average of the three calf wellness traits on young genomic-tested calves.

“Genomic predictions for wellness traits were developed because of the commitment Zoetis has to the overall health of dairy cattle,” said Cheryl Marti, associate director, U.S. Marketing, Dairy Genetics and Reproduction, Zoetis. “We strive to improve dairy wellness and understand genetic factors impacting resistance to common diseases. The recently announced development of the first Holstein reference genome at Zoetis allowed us to map regions of the genome influencing disease outcomes in calves. These discoveries will lead to improvements in the reliability of future predictions for Dairy Wellness.”

Impact on dairy profitability

The calf wellness trait information helps dairies obtain the full lifetime value of healthier calves by selecting and breeding for animals that have a better chance of becoming healthy, productive cows, thus better positioned to attain their genetic potential — and increase a dairy operation’s profitability.

The new calf wellness traits help enhance two important financial drivers impacting dairy producers' net farm income — improving heifer survival and lowering net herd replacement cost. Now, with the calf and cow wellness traits provided by Clarifide Plus, producers can make more informed decisions with reliable information about the animals in their herd and now positively affect the important financial drivers of net farm income.

The growing portfolio of Clarifide tests

Clarifide® from Zoetis has become the industry standard for genomic testing, with Clarifide Plus leading the way as the most comprehensive test on the market, providing dairies with profit-based information to maximize herd profitability and enhance herd management. Producers may use results to adjust herd protocols while gaining confidence in and understanding of their investment value and effectiveness in driving desired dairy efficiency. Since 2010, Zoetis has contributed more than 1.2 million genotypes of the over 2 million genotypes evaluated by the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB) with genomic testing products from the portfolio of Clarifide tests, and the number continues to grow.

Zoetis recognizes that every dairy has different strategies as well as information, management and support needs. For this reason, Zoetis has a broad portfolio of genomic testing solutions including Clarifide Plus, Clarifide, Clarifide® Ultra and Clarifide® Core.

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