Friday, March 30, 2018

Thursday March 29 USDA Reports + Ag News


Nebraska corn growers intend to plant 9.30 million acres this year, down 3 percent from 2017, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Soybean planted acreage is expected to be 5.60 million acres, down 2 percent from last year.

All hay acreage to be harvested is expected to total 2.70 million acres, up 3 percent from 2017.

Winter wheat acres seeded in the fall of 2017 are estimated at a record low 1.07 million, down 4 percent from last year.

Sorghum growers in Nebraska intend to plant 200,000 acres, up 11 percent from a year ago.

Oat intentions are estimated at 135,000 acres, up 23 percent from last year.

Dry edible bean acreage intentions are estimated at 145,000 acres, down 19 percent from 2017.

All dry edible bean acreage estimate includes chickpea acreage estimates.

All chickpea planted acreage intentions are estimated at 5,000 acres.

Sugarbeet growers expect to plant 45,600 acres, down 1 percent from last year.

Sunflower producers expect to plant 43,000 acres, down 5 percent from 2017. Oil type varieties account for 33,000 acres, up 10 percent from a year ago. Non-oil varieties made up the balance of 10,000 acres, down 35 percent from the previous year.

Dry edible pea acreage intentions are estimated at 52,000 acres, down 10 percent from last year.

Estimates in this report are based on a survey conducted during the first two weeks of March.


Iowa farmers intend to plant 13.3 million acres of corn for all purposes in 2018 according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Prospective Plantings report. This is unchanged from 2017.

Producers intend to plant 9.80 million acres of soybeans in Iowa this year. This is a 200,000 acre decrease from 2017.

Iowa farmers intend to plant 140,000 acres of oats for all purposes, up 25,000 acres from last year. If realized, this would be the largest planted acreage since 2014.

Farmers in Iowa expect to harvest 1.10 million acres of all dry hay for the 2018 crop year. This is 20,000 acres more than harvested in 2017.

Planted acres of winter wheat, at 20,000 acres, is up 4,000 acres from last year.

U.S. Prospective Plantings:  Corn Planted Acreage Down 2 Percent from 2017

Soybean Acreage Down 1 Percent
All Wheat Acreage Up 3 Percent
All Cotton Acreage Up 7 Percent

Corn planted area for all purposes in 2018 is estimated at 88.0 million acres, down 2 percent or 2.14 million acres from last year. Compared with last year, planted acreage is expected to be down or unchanged in 33 of the 48 estimating States.

Soybean planted area for 2018 is estimated at 89.0 million acres, down 1 percent from last year. Compared with last year, planted acreage intentions are down or unchanged in 20 of the 31 estimating States.

All wheat planted area for 2018 is estimated at 47.3 million acres, up 3 percent from 2017. This represents the second lowest all wheat planted area on record since records began in 1919. The 2018 winter wheat planted area, at 32.7 million acres, is up slightly from both last year and the previous estimate. Of this total, about 23.2 million acres are Hard Red Winter, 5.85 million acres are Soft Red Winter, and 3.64 million acres are White Winter. Area planted to other spring wheat for 2018 is estimated at 12.6 million acres, up 15 percent from 2017. Of this total, about 12.1 million acres are Hard Red Spring wheat. Durum planted area for 2018 is estimated at 2.00 million acres, down 13 percent from the previous year.

All cotton planted area for 2018 is estimated at 13.5 million acres, 7 percent above last year. Upland area is estimated at 13.2 million acres, up 7 percent from 2017. American Pima area is estimated at 262,000 acres, up 4 percent from 2017.


Nebraska corn stocks in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 956 million bushels, down 5 percent from 2017, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Of the total, 540 million bushels are stored on farms, down 8 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 416 million bushels, are up 1 percent from last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions totaled 166 million bushels, up 18 percent from last year. Onfarm stocks of 51.0 million bushels are up 13 percent from a year ago and off-farm stocks, at 115 million bushels, are up 20 percent from 2017.

Wheat stored in all positions totaled 52.7 million bushels, down 15 percent from a year ago. Onfarm stocks of 2.60 million bushels are down 24 percent from 2017 and off-farm stocks of 50.1 million bushels are down 14 percent from last year.

Sorghum stored in all positions totaled 5.50 million bushels, down 48 percent from 2017. Onfarm stocks of 750 thousand bushels are up 9 percent from a year ago but off-farm holdings of 4.75 million bushels are down 52 percent from last year.

On-farm oat stocks totaled 500 thousand bushels, up 25 percent from 2017.


Corn stored in all positions in Iowa on March 1, 2018, totaled 1.70 billion bushels, down 1 percent from March 1, 2017, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Grain Stocks report. Of the total stocks, 59 percent were stored on-farm. The December 2017 - February 2018 indicated disappearance totaled 685 million bushels, 1 percent below the 690 million bushels from the same period last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions in Iowa on March 1, 2018, totaled 366 million bushels, 18 percent above the 310 million bushels on hand March 1, 2017. Of the total stocks, 41 percent were stored on-farm. Indicated disappearance for December 2017 - February 2018 is 121 million bushels, 18 percent below the 148 million bushels from the same quarter last year.

Oats stored on-farm in Iowa on March 1, 2018, totaled 750 thousand bushels, down 22 percent from March 1, 2017.

U.S. Corn Stocks Up 3 Percent from March 2017

Soybean Stocks Up 21 Percent
All Wheat Stocks Down 10 Percent

Corn stocks in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 8.89 billion bushels, up 3 percent from March 1, 2017. Of the total stocks, 5.00 billion bushels were stored on farms, up 2 percent from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at 3.89 billion bushels, are up 5 percent from a year ago. The December 2017 - February 2018 indicated disappearance is 3.68 billion bushels, compared with 3.76 billion bushels during the same period last year.

Soybeans stored in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 2.11 billion bushels, up 21 percent from March 1, 2017. Soybean stocks stored on farms are estimated at 855 million bushels, up 28 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 1.25 billion bushels, are up 17 percent from last March. Indicated disappearance for the December 2017 - February 2018 quarter totaled 1.05 billion bushels, down 9 percent from the same period a year earlier.

All wheat stored in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 1.49 billion bushels, down 10 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks are estimated at 259 million bushels, down 26 percent from last March. Off-farm stocks, at 1.24 billion bushels, are down 6 percent from a year ago. The December 2017 - February 2018 indicated disappearance is 379 million bushels, 10 percent below the same period a year earlier.

Durum wheat stocks in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 49.2 million bushels, down 7 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks, at 25.8 million bushels, are down 20 percent from March 1, 2017. Off-farm stocks totaled 23.4 million bushels, up 14 percent from a year ago. The December 2017 - February 2018 indicated disappearance of 6.86 million bushels is 66 percent below the same period a year earlier.

Barley stocks in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 129 million bushels, down 11 percent from March 1, 2017. On-farm stocks are estimated at 48.5 million bushels, 14 percent below a year ago. Off-farm stocks, at 80.8 million bushels, are 8 percent below March 2017. The December 2017 - February 2018 indicated disappearance totaled 29.5 million bushels, 38 percent below the same period a year earlier.

Oats stored in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 55.1 million bushels, 13 percent below the stocks on March 1, 2017. Of the total stocks on hand, 17.2 million bushels were stored on farms, down 23 percent from a year ago. Off-farm stocks totaled 37.8 million bushels, down 7 percent from the previous year. Indicated disappearance during December 2017 - February 2018 totaled 11.4 million bushels, 7 percent below the same period a year ago.

Grain sorghum stored in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 138 million bushels, down 23 percent from a year ago. On-farm stocks, at 13.3 million bushels, are down 38 percent from last March. Off-farm stocks, at 125 million bushels, are down 22 percent from a year earlier. The December 2017 - February 2018 indicated disappearance from all positions is 89.2 million bushels, 30 percent below the same period last year.

Sunflower stocks in all positions on March 1, 2018 totaled 1.24 billion pounds, 8 percent below March 1, 2017. All stocks stored on farms totaled 546 million pounds and off-farm stocks totaled 692 million pounds. Stocks of oil type sunflower seed are 1.05 billion pounds; of this total, 482 million pounds are on-farm stocks and 565 million pounds are off-farm stocks. Non-oil sunflower stocks totaled 191 million pounds, with 64.4 million pounds stored on the farm and 127 million pounds stored off the farm.


Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on March 1, 2018, was 3.45 million head, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. This was up 5 percent from March 1, 2017, but down 4 percent from December 1, 2017.

Breeding hog inventory, at 420,000 head, was up 1 percent from March 1, 2017, but down 2 percent from last quarter. Market hog inventory, at 3.03 million head, was up 5 percent from last year, but down 4 percent from last quarter.

The December 2017 - February 2018 Nebraska pig crop, at 2.11 million head, was up 4 percent from 2017. Sows farrowed during the period totaled 180,000 head, up 3 percent from last year. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high of 11.70 for the December - February period, compared to 11.55 last year.

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 180,000 sows during the March - May 2018 quarter, down 3 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago. Intended farrowings for June - August 2018 are 190,000 sows, unchanged from the actual farrowings during the same period the previous year.


On March 1, 2018, there were 22.6 million hogs and pigs on Iowa farms, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service – Hogs and Pigs report. The March 1 inventory is up 5 percent from the previous year.

The December 2017-February 2018 quarterly pig crop was 6.16 million head, up 27,000 head from the previous quarter and 12 percent above last year. A total of 560,000 sows farrowed during this quarter. The average pigs saved per litter was 11.0, down slightly from last quarter.

As of March 1, producers planned to farrow 550,000 sows and gilts in the March-May quarter and 560,000 head during the June-August quarter.

United States Hog Inventory Up 3 Percent

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on March 1, 2018 was 72.9 million head. This was up 3 percent fromMarch 1, 2017, but down 1 percent from December 1, 2017. 

Breeding inventory, at 6.20 million head, was up 2 percent from last year, and up slightly from the previous quarter.

Market hog inventory, at 66.7 million head, was up 3 percent from last year, but down 1 percent from last quarter.

The December-February 2018 pig crop, at 32.3 million head, was up 4 percent from 2017. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 3.06 million head, up 2 percent from 2017. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 49 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high of 10.58 for the December-February period, compared to 10.43 last year.

United States hog producers intend to have 3.08 million sows farrow during the March-May 2018 quarter, up 2 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2017, and up 4 percent from 2016. Intended farrowings for June-August 2018, at 3.16 million sows, are up 1 percent from 2017, and up 4 percent from 2016.

The total number of hogs under contract owned by operations with over 5,000 head, but raised by contractees, accounted for 47 percent of the total United States hog inventory, down from 48 percent the previous year.

Northeast prepares to host hundreds of college and university students for national ag conference

From outward appearances, it’s classes as scheduled for faculty and the 350 agricultural students at Northeast Community College in Norfolk. However, a closer look reveals a flurry of activity behind the scenes as the College and its Agriculture Department ready hundreds of details in preparation for a major agricultural competition.

As of late March, 650 students, representing 38 two and four-year institutions, were registered for the 2018 North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Judging Conference to be conducted from Wednesday, April 18, through Saturday, April 21.

“It’s a huge undertaking, but we’ve (Northeast) been involved in competing at NACTA (since 2000), and it’s our turn to host,” said Mike Roeber, Northeast livestock judging coach and animal science instructor. “We (Northeast) need to put in the time and work to get that accomplished.”

Throughout the conference, he said, “We’ll be showcasing the campus and its facilities and the Norfolk community.”

Roeber said the registered schools hail from 17 states with a soils and crops judging team traveling from Australia.

The list includes Purdue University, Penn State, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, Texas A & M, Casper Community College and Murray State University (the host site for the 2019 NACTA conference).

Northeast President Dr. Michael Chipps said, “It’s an exciting opportunity for Northeast Community College to host … this great exposition, if you will.” The event, he said, will especially showcase the College’s agricultural presence that dates to 1973. 

Roeber said Northeast hosted the 2005 NACTA Judging Conference, with three faculty still on staff who were involved in that event.

He is currently finishing his third year as president of the NACTA Coaches Association. His duties include scheduling the host judging conference schools, verifying eligibility of participating schools with the NACTA organization headquarters, and providing information to the educational branch of the NACTA organization.

NACTA, a professional society, focuses on the scholarship of teaching and learning agriculture and related disciplines at the postsecondary level, according to its website. Members are two-and four-year public and private colleges and universities.

This year’s 13 contests will primarily be conducted on campus and at Northeast’s Chuck M. Pohlman Agriculture Complex, along with some off-campus judging sites as well, Roeber said.        

The schedule includes:

April 19 – dairy judging, horticultural, precision agriculture, agribusiness and agricultural knowledge bowl (preliminaries) contests;

April 20 – livestock judging, soils, agricultural mechanics, computer applications and ag knowledge (finals) contests; and

April 21 – livestock management, crops, agricultural communications/agricultural sales and equine judging contests. The 2018 conference concludes with an awards banquet that night at the DeVent Center.

Roeber said all of the College’s agriculture faculty and staff members, as well as a number of ag students, will be involved in various aspects of the conference. Several of the College’s ag graduates also volunteered to assist, some of whom were involved in past NACTA competitions as students, he added.

Northeast Community College officially decided to host the 2018 NACTA Judging Conference four years ago, Roeber said, with preparations underway since 2015.

The checklist includes:
. Compiling the wording and ordering of 510 plaques, trophies and banners for the top individuals and teams;
. Securing the animals (ewes, beef cattle, and market hogs, lambs and goats) for the 12 livestock judging classes, as well as the dairy cattle and equine judging contests;
. Digging more than one dozen six-foot-deep practice and contest holes for the soils contest; and
. Lining up the official judges for each of the 13 contests.

Bernie Thyen, an agronomy instructor at Northeast, is engaged in a major task: growing more than 120 different species of plants for the crops contest. Thyen, who is coordinating this year’s contest, said he began collecting seeds for the contest two years ago.

He said many seeds were collected from plants growing in the area, some gleaned from ditches, fields and even flower pots. Some rare seeds – such as castor, sesame and tobacco -- were ordered. A corn plant planted last December 3 now towers 10 feet.

Grow lights, operational from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, simulate mid-summer growing conditions and maintain the plants’ normal growing state, he said. Some plants have to be “tricked” so they are headed out or flowering at the time of the contest.

“Can you imagine the challenge to keep plants growing inside this winter?” Thyen asked, noting outside temperatures as low as a minus 28.

Thyen said he has spent “hundreds and hundreds of hours” tending to the more than 300 potted plants under cultivation in a College greenhouse.

The crops judging contest is designed to prepare students for agronomic careers. The two-year college and university contestants vie individually, side by side.

An hour is devoted to each of the sections: math practical, agronomic exam, laboratory practical, and plant and seed identification. The latter requires identification of 75 crop and weed plants and their seeds with more than 150 possible species on the exam.

At the end of this year’s crops contest, Thyen said he wants the contestants to say: “Wow! He had good plants, and it was tough.”

Sarah Sellin, an agronomy and animal science instructor at Northeast, is in charge of the soils competition. The contest, she said, is “very science based” with focuses on such areas as soil slope, type, texture, color, structure and grade.

“We want to find unique soil types that can showcase Nebraska soils,” Sellin said.

Twelve practice pits, as well as four contest pits, will be dug at undisclosed sites shortly before the conference. During the contest, a student will spend an hour each at the four pits, including 10 minutes in the pit gleaning specific information.

Sellin also is coordinating the equine contest and securing the horses for the halter, performance and body conformation classes. Some area 4-H members will be involved as horse owners and riders/handlers, she said.

Over the years, Northeast has annually fielded several first-place NACTA conference teams, Roeber said. 

As the host school this year, Northeast students may compete in some contests but will not be in contention for any awards. The Northeast students will mostly be assisting the faculty and staff in conducting the 13 contests.

Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement honors, elects new members

The Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement honored David and Ann Bruntz, and Don Hutchens at a banquet on March 23 at Nebraska East Union in Lincoln.  Formed in 1916, the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement is dedicated to preserving and improving Nebraska agriculture. Each year, the group recognizes at least one honoree and elects new members.

David Bruntz grew up on a family farm near Friend, and Ann (Ramm) was raised on a family ranch near Stuart. They met while attending while attending the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis. After they married they began their farming operation near Friend, Bruntz Farming & Feeding Inc., which consisted of corn, soybeans, milo alfalfa and cattle.

Both have served in several key volunteer and leadership positions. David’s roles have included chairman of the Nebraska Cattlemen Farmer/Stockman Council and president of the Nebraska Cattlemen Research and Education Foundation, a role that Ann has also held. In addition, Ann has served as chairman of the board for two terms at the Nebraska Beef Council. She has also been president of both the Nebraska Livestock Feeders Auxiliary and the Nebraska Cattlewomen. In 2003, Ann was honored with the Nebraska Cattlewoman of the Year award.

The couple are very involved within the agricultural industry and their community of Friend. They are active in the Nebraska Agribusiness Club, Agriculture Builders of Nebraska, Farmers Union Cooperative, Friend Chamber of Commerce and Friend United Methodist Church.

Hutchens grew up on the family farm southeast of Geneva. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and then returned to the family farming operation for 14 years before beginning his career in agricultural leadership. In 1985, Hutchens was named assistant director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, eventually serving as director in 1986. He was selected as executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board in 1987, a role he held until retiring in 2014.

As a graduate of the inaugural class of the Nebraska LEAD Program, Hutchens recognizes the value of giving back to the industry through service and as a mentor. A few of his volunteer involvements have been with the Nebraska 4-H Foundation, Nebraska FFA Foundation and the Agriculture Builders of Nebraska.

Honors Hutchens has received include an honorary American farmer degree from National FFA, outstanding member award from Nebraska Young Farmers and Ranchers, outstanding professional contact from the mayor’s committee for international friendship, the leadership alumni award from the Nebraska LEAD Program, and an award for outstanding leadership and dedicated service to agriculture from KRVN.

NHAA also welcomed new members at the banquet. New members were nominated by a fellow member of the hall for their significant contributions to the state’s agriculture industry.  This year’s new NHAA members, listed by hometown are:
    BROKEN BOW: Bill Adams, chief engineering officer, Adams Land and Cattle; Jerry Adams, chief executive officer, president, Adams Land and Cattle; and R.T. Thomas, owner/operator, Thomas Livestock Inc.
    EDGAR: Dawn Caldwell, head of government affairs, Aurora Cooperative
    FIRTH: Ed Woeppel, education and program director, Nebraska Cooperative Council
    LINCOLN: George Graef, professor of plant breeding and genetics, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
    SCOTTSBLUFF: Arden Wohlers, rancher and retired veterinarian
    ST.PAUL: Fred Meyer, farmer and rancher
    WESTON: Gregg Fujan, owner/operator of soybean and corn production enterprise


The Animal Science Department at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln will present three awards of distinction at their Animal Science Alumni and Friends Roundup on April 13 in Lincoln. The inaugural awards will recognize the outstanding accomplishments of undergraduate and graduate alumni, and the contributions individuals have made to the department through their commitment to the industry.

The recipients will be honored at 6 p.m. at Nebraska Innovation Campus, 2021 Transformation Drive.

Jerry Connealy, BS 1981, of Whitman, will be honored with the undergraduate of distinction award. Over the past 30-plus years, Connealy has developed the leading Angus seedstock herd in Nebraska. Through his visionary leadership and tremendously focused hard work, Connealy Angus has grown from 250 cows to 2500 registered cows, selling over 750 bulls per year. Connealy bulls frequently populate the pages of bull stud catalogs across the country. Nominator Merlyn Nielsen says, Connealy is the epitome of humbleness, not seeking the limelight.

Michael Lewis, Ph.D. 1988, of Blair, will be honored with the graduate of distinction award. While working as a student under Terry Klopfenstein, Lewis developed the NEBRIS data collection system for the university feedlot that is still in use 30 years later. Today, Lewis is vice president and feed segment leader for value-added feed and meal products for Cargill's wet milling facilities. His support of the department has been in the form of feed donations, facility tours and undergraduate training resources. Nominators Galen Erickson and Terry Klopfenstein said the university’s beef and dairy programs are indebted to Cargill and especially, Lewis for the generous financial support.

Alan (Al) Svajgr, BS 1964, MS 1968, of Cozad, will be recognized with a distinguished service award honoring his outstanding contributions to the department. Svajgr’s record of service to the department and the university is quite impressive and shows his commitment to the institution and its land-grant mission. He has been called upon to give guest lectures, provide tours, sit on advisory committees and more. He has served as president of Agriculture Builders of Nebraska, sat on the chancellor's advisory board, and for the last several years, has provided tremendous financial support for graduate student travel to scientific meetings. Svajgr has been selected as a Block & Bridle Honoree and has been inducted into the Nebraska Cattlemen's Hall of Fame. Nominators say he is always looking for ways to support the university’s mission and has been very effective in those endeavors.

Tickets to the Animal Science Alumni and Friends Roundup are $30 and can be purchased at

For more information, contact Jennifer Dush at 402-472-3571 or

The Animal Science Department at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln is made up of internationally-recognized faculty who lead programs in breeding and genetics, meat science, non-ruminant and ruminant nutrition, physiology, animal well-being, production and management. To learn more about the department, visit

Newton restaurant voted IPPA 'Pulled Pork Madness Champion'

A Facebook contest designed to find Iowa's best pulled pork sandwich has produced a winner.

Moo's BBQ in Newton was crowned the winner of the Iowa Pork Producers Association Pulled Pork Madness contest and it was announced on the IPPA Facebook page this morning. The restaurant offers five different pulled pork items and claims to serve "the finest smoked meats that Jasper County has to offer."

The month-long contest was all built around the March Madness college basketball tournament craze and it was held to capitalize on the popularity and success of IPPA's annual Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin contest.

IPPA Consumer Outreach Director Kelsey Byrnes initially invited Facebook followers to nominate the Iowa restaurant they feel has the best pulled pork sandwich and 1,200 people responded in the week-long nomination process. Pork fans nominated 125 restaurants and Byrnes then selected the top two vote getters in each of IPPA's eight districts to fill out the "Sweet 16" bracket.

Subsequent voting narrowed the field to the "Elite 8" and then the "Final Four." Voting for the two finalists was conducted from March 23-28 and Moo's edged out Guys with Grills BBQ and Catering in Story City to become the 2018 "Pulled Pork Madness Champion" 3,450 total votes to 3,420.

"We held the social media contest to attract new pork fans and remind people that there are restaurants in all parts of Iowa that offer really great barbeque pork," Byrnes said.

Throughout the contest, 4,200 people participated and 6,100 total votes were cast.

IPPA will present Moo's BBQ with $250 and a handsome "Pulled Pork Madness" plaque for its restaurant in Newton tomorrow.

Soy Growers, Ag Groups Talk Farm Bill Status

The American Soybean Association (ASA) staff met with representatives of other farm organizations this week to discuss the status of preparations to write a new farm bill this year. The groups discussed what they can do to improve chances of completing the process before the Agricultural Act of 2014 expires at the end of September.

Disagreement between Republican and Democrat members of the House Agriculture Committee before the current Easter recess over whether to reform the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamp program, have continued and escalated into this week. There is growing concern that both sides are digging in and reducing prospects for progress when Congress returns to Washington on April 9.

The focus of attention is turning to negotiations between Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), of the Senate Agriculture Committee, who both said they are prepared to put forward a bipartisan bill by the end of April that would include few if any changes in the SNAP program.

If the Committee leadership is able to take through both their panel and across the Senate floor on strong bipartisan votes, it will raise pressure on the House to resolve its differences and move forward to mark-up a bill in Committee that can receive a majority vote on the House floor, as opposed to the failed effort in 2013 that resulted in splitting the last farm bill in two.

It is considered likely that Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) will not be able to find 218 votes among fellow Republicans to pass a bill without changing the SNAP provisions, meaning that enough moderate Democrats will need to support a bill with changes that are more acceptable to the anti-hunger community.

In addition to ASA, also attending the meeting this week were representatives of the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, National Corn Growers Association, National Barley Growers Association and National Association of Wheat Growers.

ASA Submits Comments to the EPA on Neonics

The American Soybean Association (ASA) submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the registration reviews of certain neonicotinoids last week. Specifically, the comments discussed the use and benefits of imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam for soybean growers.

The comments discussed the important role of neonics as part of integrated pest management (IPM) programs and how they can help manage resistance while also aiding in sound conservation.

“One of the most common uses is to utilize seed treatments that contain imidacloprid, thiamethoxam or clothianidin to protect vulnerable soybean seedlings from insects in the soil that could destroy the crop before it ever matures,” ASA states in the comments. “Furthermore, these chemicals can aid in sound conservation techniques.”

The public comment period is open until April 21, 2018.

Electronic Logging Device Requirements Delayed

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently announced another 90 day extension on the deadline for livestock haulers to comply with the electronic logging device (ELD) requirements.

Subsequently, in the Omnibus Appropriations bill passed by Congress last week, a provision was included to prevent DOT from enforcing the ELD mandate through the end of the current fiscal year (Sept. 30, 2018).  The initial extension issued by DOT expired on March 18.

Most farmers are exempt from the ELD mandate under the covered farm vehicle exemption, however, that does not apply to all livestock or other agriculture related haulers. Several livestock groups along with American Farm Bureau have petitioned DOT for a waiver due to concerns about livestock haulers ability to comply with the mandate and the impact it would have on animal welfare.

In the latest extension DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) indicated it will issue new guidance on the agricultural 150 air-mile exemption and hours of service rules. The additional action by Congress to delay enforcement of the ELD requirements will provide more time for livestock and agriculture groups to analyze the requirements and seek changes, if necessary.

Field to Market and USRSB Announce Partnership to Advance Sustainability for Beef Value Chain

Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture and the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) today announced an agreement establishing mutual recognition of the value and importance of each organization’s work and a commitment to foster an increased level of collaboration. In the agreement, USRSB agreed to recognize the role Field to Market plays in defining sustainable production for feed commodities utilized in beef production. In the same way, Field to Market agreed to recognize USRSB’s role in defining sustainable beef production.

“By collaborating with the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, we can offer tangible solutions to the livestock value chain by exploring opportunities to combine our measurement approaches,” said Rod Snyder, president of Field to Market. “We are particularly excited to bring greater transparency and continuous improvement in feed production, which in turn will positively impact the overall sustainability of beef.”

Under the agreement, both organizations committed to:
·        Recognize Field to Market’s Indicators, Metrics and Benchmarks within USRSB documents discussing sustainable feed;
·        Recognize USRSB’s Indicators and Metrics within Field to Market documents discussing sustainable beef production;
·        Encourage USRSB and Field to Market members, where applicable, to utilize the resources of both organizations in pilot projects, potential supply chain agreements and appropriate public facing communication;
·        Share scientific learnings where appropriate; and
·        Participate in the other’s meetings and work sessions, providing feedback and expertise where needed.

“We realize the sustainability of the beef industry must include all facets of the what goes in to putting that hamburger or steak on our tables,” said Rickette Collins, Chair of the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. “By sharing learnings and expertise, USRSB and Field to Market can lead the beef industry to better solutions to the sustainability challenges we all face throughout the value-chain.”

As the first step in identifying opportunities for increased collaboration, both organizations have formed a joint task force to identify areas of engagement as well as explore potential pilot projects. The task force is comprised of members in Field to Market and/or USRSB, including: Cargill, Corteva Agriscience - the agriculture division of DowDuPont, McDonald’s, National Corn Growers Association, Texas Cattle Feeders Association, The Nature Conservancy, and World Wildlife Fund.

Agriculture Coalition Launches ‘Fix Prop 65’ Site in Effort to Halt California’s Unsound Glyphosate Regulation

The Ag Defense Alliance, a national coalition of farmers and agriculture networks, today launched a new website providing resources and information about its case against California’s unjustified Prop 65 listing of glyphosate.

“The new site will be used to communicate the importance of one tool to farmers, glyphosate. Glyphosate is a safe for use and effective crop protectant used by growers to provide an abundant, safe, and affordable supply of food,” stated Chandler Goule, Chief Executive of the National Association of Wheat Growers, the lead plaintiff in the case against California. “Our coalition understands the importance of glyphosate to our nation’s agriculture economy and we are committed to communicating with all interested stakeholders as our case moves forward against California’s unjustified Prop 65 listing of glyphosate.”

The Fix Prop 65 website provides research and background on the case, testimonials from farmers, information about glyphosate, how it is used, and what the scientific community has stated about this safe-for-use, environmental sustainable herbicide. 

Last month, Judge William Shubb of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting California from implementing its “false and misleading” Prop 65 labeling requirement for glyphosate. The injunction was sought by the agriculture coalition and supported by eleven attorneys general across the U.S. The preliminary injunction halts California’s labeling requirement until a final ruling on the matter is issued by the court.

The National Association of Wheat Growers is the lead plaintiff in the case against California filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. The plaintiffs include the Agribusiness Association of Iowa, the Agricultural Retailers Association, Associated Industries of Missouri, Iowa Soybean Association, Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, CropLife America, Missouri Farm Bureau, National Corn Growers Association, North Dakota Grain Growers Association, South Dakota Agri-Business Association and United States Durum Growers Association.

For more information, visit  FIXPROP65.COM!

More Accurate Methane Estimates from Dairy Cattle Developed

Leading the worldwide effort to get a better handle on methane emissions from animals, an international consortium of researchers devised more accurate models to estimate the amount of the potent greenhouse gas produced by dairy cattle.

In a large study that involved individual data from more than 5,200 lactating dairy cows, assembled through a collaboration of animal scientists from 15 countries, researchers discovered that methane emissions from dairy cattle can be predicted using simplified models. Because feed dry-matter intake is the key factor for methane production prediction, the new models require readily available feed-related variables.

These more accurate models can be used to develop region-specific enteric --intestinal -- methane inventories, explained lead researcher Alex Hristov, professor of dairy nutrition, Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. He pointed out that the large scope of the project resulted in previously unreachable conclusions.

"Developing such a large database of individual animal data has never been done before," he said. "When we put this project together four years ago, we contacted researchers around the world with a consortium agreement so we could collect confidential data from their studies, and they provided individual animal data for methane emissions and all related measurements. That gave us the opportunity to develop more robust, more accurate prediction models for enteric methane emissions."

Although complex models that use both feed intake and detailed chemical composition had the best performance in predicting methane production, models requiring only feed dry-matter intake and dietary fiber content had the second-best predictive ability. Those offer an alternative to complex models currently being used by regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"The EPA inventory is based on a complicated set of equations with high uncertainty," Hristov said.

A major finding of the research, which was published this month in Global Change Biology, is that revised methane emission conversion factors for specific regions are expected to improve emission estimates in national inventories. The concept of applying a methane emission conversion factor was introduced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to indicate the proportion of an animal's energy intake that is converted to energy in methane.

This factor is widely used for national greenhouse gas emission inventories and global research on mitigation strategies. The research by the consortium, Hristov noted, offers opportunities to include region-specific methane conversion factors in national inventories. This is essential to improve the accuracy of carbon footprint assessments of dairy cattle production systems in regions around the world and to help devise mitigation strategies.

"Dairy cows in different regions of the world, depending on their diets, their genetics and their management systems, belch different amounts and intensities of methane," Hristov said.

The team that conducted the study -- part of the Feeding and Nutrition Network of the Livestock Research Group within the Global Research Alliance for Agricultural Greenhouse Gases -- is currently developing similar databases for predicting enteric methane emissions from beef cattle, sheep and goats. "We started with dairy cattle because more research data is available for dairy animals," Hristov said.

Having more robust and accurate models for predicting enteric methane emissions from livestock is important, Hristov pointed out, because these emissions represent a significant portion of global greenhouse gases blamed for causing climate change. And if current and future mitigation efforts are to be measured and analyzed for their effectiveness, regulatory agencies must have accurate data for existing enteric methane levels and resulting decreases.

Thirty-six researchers from the U.S., Europe, Australia and New Zealand were involved in the study.

Dairy Groups Applaud U.S.-South Korea Trade Agreement

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) today applauded the Trump Administration’s swift and effective negotiation with South Korea regarding the terms and implementation of the U.S.-Korea free trade Agreement (KORUS).

In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the two dairy groups expressed appreciation that trade officials were able to secure a result with South Korea that addressed certain dairy industry concerns while preserving the overall agreement.

South Korea is the fourth-largest U.S. dairy export market. Last year, it accounted for over $230 million in U.S. dairy sales. It is also the second-largest cheese market in the world.

“Preserving free trade agreements (FTAs) like this one is essential to strengthening our economy and expanding opportunities for America’s dairy producers and processors,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of USDEC.

With KORUS, the U.S. dairy industry will remain a competitive dairy exporter to South Korea in a world in which most other major dairy exporters have access to the South Korean market through a trade agreement. This puts U.S. companies, shipping products, manufacturers and American-made milk on the same footing with dairy competitors from other countries.

“KORUS has had a demonstrable impact on the success of U.S. dairy exports,” said NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern. “A renegotiated KORUS will strengthen our trade relationship with Korea, ensuring that the country continues to receive nutritious U.S. dairy foods. This will benefit both Korean citizens and the U.S. farmers producing these products.”

Leading up to the KORUS negotiations in early October 2017, USDEC and NMPF encouraged an approach that would address specific U.S. concerns, including that of customs procedures, while preserving the agreement. U.S. dairy exporters have repeatedly encountered challenges with South Korea’s overly narrow interpretation of which goods qualify as those originating from the United States. This meant that even goods produced in the United States with American-made ingredients and certified as such by the U.S. Department of Agriculture sometimes faced rejection. The letter thanked USTR for recognizing these types of issues and their impact on trade. “Resolving them can ensure that the agreement operates as it was truly intended to,” the groups said.

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