Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Tuesday March 6 Ag News

Tell Us About the Impact of VFD Rules on Your Herd
Larry Howard, NE Extension Educator, Cuming County

Managing the health of your herd is a primary responsibility of all farmers. The Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) rules that went into effect January 1, 2017 may have impacted how producer manage herd health. The rules limited the use of medically important antibiotics to disease prevention, control or treatment, and only when a veterinarian writes a VFD for their use.

We would like to learn how those rules have affected your management as well as the health of your animals. Michigan State University Extension, in partnership with Land-Grant Universities nationwide, including Nebraska Extension, is conducting a survey of farmers who raise and manage dairy or beef cattle, swine, sheep or goats. We want to learn about changes that have occurred, in response to the VFD, in terms of your use of antibiotics, health of your herd, and, in your relationship with your veterinarian.

The survey is open from now until April. All responses are confidential and your participation is voluntary. Click to take the survey: VFD Survey (

We anticipate that it will take 10-15 minutes to complete. Your thoughtful answers, with examples, will provide good information used by Land-Grant Extension professionals to design educational programs that help food-animal producers.

This survey is only for farmers over the age of 18 who raise food-animals impacted by the VFD rules. Farmers in every state are invited to respond to the survey. The findings will be analyzed by specie type (that is, for beef producers, swine producers, etc.), and by region of the country, and will be shared with Extension professionals in those cooperating states.

FDA implemented the VFD policy changes with the goals of: 1) promoting the judicious use of antibiotics, 2) protecting public health and 3) helping to limit the development of antimicrobial resistance. This policy change was in response to widespread concerns about the rate of development of resistance to common antimicrobials by disease pathogens for both humans and food animals.

Key questions to be answered are what the impacts of those changes have been on health management of herds and herd performance. The responses of food animal producers will help to answer those key questions. All responses are confidential.  All area livestock producers are encouraged to participate.


What are the local impacts of global changes and what do they mean for Nebraska are two questions that will be addressed during the final Heuermann Lecture of the 2017-18 season March 13. The lecture will be at 3:30 p.m. at Nebraska Innovation Campus Conference Center, 2021 Transformation Drive, Lincoln.

The free event is being held in conjunction with the CME Group Foundation Symposium, “Changing Governments, Changing Trade: Impacts from Global to Local,” hosted by the Clayton Yeutter Institute of International Trade and Finance at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

The symposium will highlight the importance of international trade to Nebraska’s economy. Panelists scheduled to participate in the Heuermann Lecture are Andrea Durkin, editor-in-chief for TradeVistas, and Brian Kuehl, executive director for Farmers for Free Trade.

The theme for the seventh year of Heuermann Lectures is "Think Globally, Act Locally." The lectures are funded by a gift from B. Keith and Norma Heuermann of Phillips. The Heuermanns are longtime university supporters with a strong commitment to Nebraska's production agriculture, natural resources, rural areas and people.

Lectures are streamed live at and air live on campus channel 4. Lectures are archived after the event and are later broadcast on NET2.

Advance registration is required to attend the symposium. To register, click here....

Nebraska Soybean Board to Hold March Meeting

The Nebraska Soybean Board (NSB) will hold its board of directors meeting March 13–14 at Embassy Suites in Lincoln. Much of the first day’s session will be devoted to committee meetings, project updates and University of Nebraska–Lincoln research reports.

Day two includes committee reports, strategic planning and interviews with United Soybean Board nominees. A full agenda can be found at

Secretary Perdue Administers Oath of Office to Bill Northey

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today administered the oath of office to Bill Northey at the Annual Iowa Ag Leaders Dinner. Until yesterday, Northey had served as Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture, a position he had held for more than eleven years.  Northey will serve as the Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Service (FFAS)* at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“After months of waiting, I’m thrilled to finally have Bill on board at USDA,” Secretary Perdue said. “The patience he displayed throughout this process is an indicator of what kind of steady leader he will be on our team, and we are eager for him to get to work.  Bill comes to us at an important time, as farm incomes are down and expected to fall further.  Additionally, with work on the 2018 Farm Bill already underway, Bill will play an integral role in the advice we offer to Congress.”

In addition to his long service as Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture, Northey has also held other positions of leadership in agricultural fields.  He is a former president of the National Corn Growers Association and served in state and local roles for the Iowa Farm Bureau. A fourth-generation corn and soybean farmer, he and his wife Cindy have three daughters and five grandchildren.

As part of a reorganization of USDA, Secretary Perdue has created, the President appointed, and the Senate confirmed a new Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, as directed by the 2014 Farm Bill. The creation of the new mission area prompted the realignment of several agencies under a newly-named Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC), the position for which Northey is intended.  FPAC encompasses the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Risk Management Agency.  USDA is working with Congress to formally change the name of the mission area to FPAC.

RFS Tinkering Would Deal Substantive Blow to Farmers

Statement by National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Skunes regarding a new study by the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University.

“This economic analysis backs up what corn farmers have been telling the Administration – that manipulating the RIN market mechanism would reduce ethanol blending and impact corn prices. A drop of 25 cents per bushel in corn prices, as CARD economists project from a RIN price cap, would devastate farmers and stagger rural communities.

“This spring farmers will begin planting knowing they face their fifth growing season with corn prices hovering at or below the cost of production. According to the Federal Reserve Bank, we lost 12,000 farms in 2016. This decline must be stopped.

“The CARD analysis clearly shows an artificial cap on Renewable Identification Number (RIN) prices in exchange for an RVP waiver allowing year-round sales of E15 would be a bad deal for rural America and the nation’s consumers.

“Providing regulatory parity for E15 and higher blends helps address concerns about RIN values.  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.  Combining RVP parity with a RIN price cap is counterproductive and would lower ethanol blending.

“Last week, corn farmer delegates in the National Association of Corn Growers Corn Congress unanimously passed a resolution urging President Trump to retain the current RIN market mechanism without change.  This analysis supports our resolution.”

United States and Canadian Cattle Inventory Up 1 Percent

All cattle and calves in the United States and Canada combined totaled 106 million head on January 1, 2018, up 1 percent from the 105 million head on January 1, 2017. All cows and heifers that have calved, at 45.8 million head, were up 1 percent from a year ago.

All cattle and calves in the United States as of January 1, 2018, totaled 94.4 million head, 1 percent above the 93.7 million head on January 1, 2017. All cows and heifers that have calved, at 41.1 million head, were up 1 percent from a year ago.

All cattle and calves in Canada as of January 1, 2018, totaled 11.6 million head, up 1 percent from the 11.5 million head on January 1, 2017. All cows and heifers that have calved, at 4.68 million, were up 1 percent from a year ago.

United States and Canadian Hog Inventory Up 2 Percent

United States and Canadian inventory of all hogs and pigs for December 2017 was 87.6 million head. This was up 2 percent from December 2016, and up 6 percent from December 2015. The breeding inventory, at 7.45 million head, was up 1 percent from a year ago and up 3 percent from 2015. Market hog inventory, at 80.1 million head, was up 3 percent from last year and up 6 percent from 2015. The semi-annual pig crop, at 80.8 million head, was up 2 percent from 2016 and up 5 percent from 2015. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 7.47 million head, up 2 percent from last year and up 3 percent from 2015.

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on December 1, 2017 was 73.2 million head. This was up 2 percent from December 1, 2016 but down slightly from September 1, 2017. The breeding inventory, at 6.18 million head, was up 1 percent from last year, and up 1 percent from the previous quarter. Market hog inventory, at 67.1 million head, was up 2 percent from last year, but down slightly from last quarter. The pig crop, at 33.4 million head, was up 3 percent from 2016 and up 8 percent from 2015. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 3.11 million head, up 2 percent from 2016 and up 6 percent from 2015. 

Canadian inventory of all hogs and pigs on January 1, 2018 was 14.3 million head. This was up 3 percent from January 1, 2017 and up 5 percent from January 1, 2016. The breeding inventory, at 1.27 million head, was up 1 percent from last year and up 3 percent from 2016. Market hog inventory, at 13.1 million head, was up 3 percent from last year and up 5 percent from 2016. The semi-annual pig crop, at 14.3 million head, was up 1 percent from 2017 but down 3 percent from 2016. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 1.26 million head, up 3 percent from last year but down 1 percent from 2016.

United States and Canadian Sheep Inventory Up Slightly

All sheep and lambs in the United States and Canada combined totaled 6.07 million head on January 1, 2018, up slightly from the 6.06 millionon January 1, 2017. Breeding sheep and lambs, at 4.45 million head, were down 1 percent from a year ago and market sheep and lambs, at 1.61 million head, were up 2 percent from last year.

All sheep and lambs in the United States as of January 1, 2018, totaled 5.23 million head, down slightly from the 5.25 million head on January 1, 2017. Breeding sheep and lambs, at 3.83 million head, were down 1 percent from a year ago, while market sheep and lambs, at 1.40 million head, were up 2 percent from last year.

All sheep and lambs in Canada as of January 1, 2018, totaled 837 thousand head, up 3 percent from last year's number of 814 thousand. Breeding sheep and lambs, at 623 thousand head, were up 2 percent from last year. Market sheep and lambs, at 214 thousand head, were up 5 percent from a year ago.

The 4's of Crossbreeding: Simple, Structured, Successful, and Sustainable

Thursday, March 22, 2018 at 7 p.m. CT

Structured crossbreeding systems have been shown to have substantial impacts on the production efficiency of commercial cow-calf operations. Join the webinar to discuss keys for successful and profitable crossbreeding systems that enhance profit and sustainability. Managed heterosis, simple breeding systems and breed complementarity are the key value drivers you’ll learn about. Megan Rolf, PhD at the Kansas State University and Bob Weaber, PhD at Kansas State University will lead the discussion.  The webinar is hosted by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

If you missed the last two webinars in this 4-part genetics series which focused on EPDs and Indexes be sure to find the link at WWW.NCBA.ORG.

EIA: Strong Ethanol Margins in 2017

Estimated production margins at U.S. ethanol plants using corn as a feedstock averaged 22 cents per gallon in 2017. It was the fifth consecutive year that margins averaged more than 20 cents per gallon, driving consistent ethanol production growth over that period, the Energy Information Administration reported in its latest Today in Energy brief.

U.S. ethanol production averaged an estimated 1.032 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2017, marking the fifth consecutive record level of annual production.

EIA said increases in ethanol supply have outpaced increases in domestic ethanol demand in 2017. That has contributed to falling spot prices and margins that are about 20 cents per gallon lower than the previous four-year average but still largely in line with levels in the previous two years.

Ethanol producer margins are estimated by EIA for a dry-mill corn-ethanol plant of average capacity located in the Midwest, a region that is home to more than 90% of domestic fuel-ethanol production capacity. EIA estimates these margins by taking the sum of revenue generated from the sale of ethanol and co-products, such as distillers' dried grains with solubles and corn oil, and subtracting variable and fixed costs. Variable costs include expenses such as the cost of corn and natural gas, along with a fixed operating cost of 35 cents per gallon.

The price of corn is the largest variable cost associated with a dry-mill corn-ethanol plant. Profits are generally highest when corn supply is plentiful and demand for ethanol gasoline blending is high. U.S. corn production has been at record-high levels in recent years, which has kept corn prices generally stable, ranging between $3.40 and $4 per bushel since 2015. A period of drought in 2012 and 2013 led to corn prices of greater than $8 per bushel, resulting in one of the least-profitable periods for ethanol operators.

In the United States, ethanol is used primarily as a blending component in motor gasoline production and mainly blended in volumes up to 10% ethanol, known as E10. Ethanol demand is highly dependent on motor gasoline consumption.

Ethanol production has been driven higher in recent years because of the Renewable Fuel Standard. The RFS, administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, mandates the blending of biofuels into the nation's fuel supply. Although demand for higher ethanol blends such as E15 and E85 remains limited, low ethanol price and increasing RFS targets have created favorable blending conditions for these higher ethanol blends.

For most of 2017 and the first two months of 2018, ethanol production, net inputs and inventory levels have been near or above the five-year average. During December 2017, fuel-ethanol production set a four-week record production rate, averaging 1.09 million bpd, while ethanol blending into gasoline, measured by net inputs, was nearly unchanged from the previous year.

Despite record-high domestic gasoline demand and record-high ethanol exports in 2017, ethanol production exceeded consumption, which led to end-of-2017 inventories that were 4 million barrels higher than at the end of 2016.

In its latest Short-term Energy Outlook, EIA forecasts that continued growth in ethanol production and limited export growth through 2019 would lead to increases in domestic consumption of ethanol by way of limited higher-level ethanol blend growth beyond E10. U.S. ethanol consumption, which increased 1% in 2017, is expected to increase by an average of 1% through 2019, resulting in an estimated ethanol blend percentage of gasoline that increases from slightly more than 10.1% in 2017 to about 10.3% by 2019.

NFU Concludes 116th Anniversary Convention

The National Farmers Union (NFU) 116th Anniversary Convention concluded today following the adoption of the organization’s policy book and special orders of business.  Nearly 500 family farmers and ranchers convened in Kansas City, Missouri, to engage in thoughtful policy deliberations and celebrate family agriculture.

Delegates to the convention adopted the NFU Policy Book and # special orders of business that will guide the organization’s government affairs priorities over the course of the next year, especially as they relates to the current farm economic crisis and upcoming deliberations on the 2018 Farm Bill. Delegates also reelected Roger Johnson as NFU President, and elected Patty Edelburg of Scandinavia, Wisconsin, to serve as NFU Vice President.

“Our members put their heart and soul into this organization and into the advocacy we do for family farmers and ranchers across the country. So our grassroots policy adoption process is the main focus of our annual convention,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “This year’s deliberations had a clear emphasis on providing meaningful support to farmers struggling amidst a sharp decline in profitability. Delegates also passed policy and special orders of business focusing on supporting family farmers’ ability to earn an honest living, protect natural resources, build up their communities, and provide for the nation.”

Convention attendees were treated to keynote remarks from Jason Kander, president of Let America Vote, and Art Cullen, Pulitzer-prize winning editor of The Storm Lake Times. NFU President Roger Johnson delivered his annual State of the Farmers Union, focusing on the upcoming Farm Bill, state of the farm economy, and organizational priorities moving forward. Johnson also joined a panel on the opioid crisis with American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall and U.S. Department of Agriculture Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett.

“Our programming provides members with the opportunity to learn more about the issues facing their operations and communities, and it sets the stage for how the national organization should address those issues back in Washington,” said Johnson. “With deliberations beginning on the upcoming farm bill, this year’s speakers and focus provided valuable insight, important context, and diverse viewpoints that will shape the debate.”

In order to provide the national organization a set of priorities for the coming year, 194 delegates from 33 states approved nine special orders of business:
~ Family Farming and Cooperatives
~ Family Farming and Crop Insurance Enhancement
~ Family Farming and Dairy
~ Family Farming and E30
~ Family Farming and Farm Bills
~ Family Farming and Immigration
~ Family Farming and Leading the Way on Climate Change
~ Family Farming and Livestock Production
~ Family Farming and Trade Policy

Full text of the adopted policy manual will be available soon at

Syngenta identifies key strategies to manage the spread of resistant Palmer amaranth

Syngenta warns that glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth, one of the most threatening weeds in Southern corn and soybean fields, continues to spread into the Midwest. Knowing how to defeat this tough weed is imperative to protect crop yields and manage future resistance.

Palmer amaranth, a member of the amaranthus (pigweed) family, has a complex lifecycle. The combination of its ability to develop resistance and its extended emergence period makes it especially difficult to control. Known to grow up to 3 inches per day and reach up to 8 feet tall, it can easily overtake corn and soybeans due to its aggressive nature. According to research done at Purdue University, Palmer amaranth can create yield losses up to 91 percent in corn and 79 percent in soybeans when left uncontrolled throughout the growing season.

Kevin Bradley, associate professor at the University of Missouri, has found that equipment, feed, seed and even aquatic birds such as ducks and geese are responsible for Palmer amaranth seed movement.  "We moved a lot of seed around, and it’s well beyond a farmer moving it from field to field,” he said. “Palmer amaranth is quickly moving across a larger geography than we’ve seen with any other resistant weed."

According to Joe Wuerffel, Ph.D., research and development scientist at Syngenta, Palmer amaranth started out as a Southern weed, but has now been reported as far north as Minnesota. However, by combining an integrated weed management program that includes both pre- and post-emergence residual herbicides with complementary cultural practices, such as crop rotation, and starting with clean fields and equipment, growers are able to manage the future spread of this difficult-to-control resistant weed.

“Since Palmer amaranth has shown resistance to a number of different herbicides, it’s critical to not allow the weed to emerge from the soil,” Wuerffel explained. “If that’s not an option, because it is extremely aggressive, it’s important to apply a post-emergence herbicide when the weed is less than 1 inch tall.” 

Syngenta offers an effective weed control program in soybeans that starts with BroadAxe® XC or Boundary® 6.5 EC herbicides (two effective modes of action each) for pre-emergence weed control of Palmer amaranth with long-lasting residual. A post-emergence application of Flexstar® GT 3.5 herbicide (two different modes of action) can help control glyphosate- and ALS-resistant weeds.

In corn, Syngenta offers Acuron® (three effective modes of action) and Acuron® Flexi (two effective modes of action) herbicides, both of which contain the latest herbicidal active ingredient in corn, bicylopyrone. “Bicyclopyrone complements the other active ingredients in Acuron to enable broader spectrum and more consistent control of tough weeds other products are missing,” Wuerffel said.

Growers are seeing the benefits of a well-planned weed control program firsthand. “When you throw multiple modes of action at weeds, it’s much more difficult for a plant to survive, especially when they’re effective modes of action,” said Brad Hemeyer, a grower in Gilliam, Missouri. “Syngenta has one of the best herbicide portfolios for effective modes of action in corn and soybeans.”

Backed by decades of research and development, Syngenta has been at the forefront of introducing herbicides with multiple, effective modes of action to help fight resistance. The Resistance Fighter® program provides education, local recommendations and a comprehensive herbicide portfolio to help growers and retailers effectively manage resistant weeds in their area.

For more information about how to fight weed resistance, visit

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