Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Wednesday March 14 Ag News

Unlike parts of Colorado and Kansas, Nebraska isn't in danger of running out of groundwater from the High Plains Aquifer anytime soon. But the largest source of usable water in the state is still on average below pre-pumping water levels, according to the 2017 Nebraska Statewide Groundwater-Level Monitoring Report.

The recently released annual report examines groundwater level changes, including increases and decreases measured in regional wells in spring 2017. In addition to current levels, it also looks at historical trends, comparing regional water levels over extended periods of time.

The report is available for $7 from the Nebraska Maps and More Store, 3310 Holdrege St., and at Phone orders also are accepted at 402-472-3471, and a PDF of the report can be downloaded at

"The reports coming out of Denver, Colorado, and Garden City, Kansas, are accurate for those regions, but they don't accurately portray conditions in Nebraska," said Aaron Young, survey geologist with the Conservation and Survey Division at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and lead author of the report.

Nebraska has seen a slight decline in groundwater levels over the five-year period starting in the drought year 2012, with 71 percent of the 5,200 wells recorded showing water levels dropped by about 1.9 feet on average in that time period.

"From 2016 to 2017, groundwater levels in Nebraska haven't really changed," Young said. "Most of Nebraska received near-average precipitation, which reduced the need for supplemental irrigation, leading to little change in average water levels."

About half of the wells in the state saw groundwater levels decline; the other half recorded increases from 2016 to 2017. Increases of 1 to 10 feet were recorded in northeast Nebraska, where above-average precipitation fell. Declines of 1 to 5 feet were recorded in areas along and to the south of the Platte River in south-central Nebraska, in correlation with below-average precipitation and increased irrigation pumping.

Problem areas in Chase, Box Butte, Perkins and Dundy counties in the far-west portion of the state continued to persist, due to irrigation use in regions with limited precipitation. Since about 1950, some of these counties have seen declines of up to 122 feet.

In-depth maps in the report give visual representations of these changes, conveying the information in one-year, five-year, 10-year and since-pre-irrigation (about 1950) increments. The maps are based on information collected by the Conservation and Survey Division, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Nebraska Natural Resources Districts and Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District. The reports and maps have been produced by the Conservation and Survey Division since the 1950s. Groundwater monitoring began in Nebraska in the 1930s.

Other authors of this year's report are Mark Burbach, environmental scientist; Leslie Howard, geographic information science and cartography manager; Michele Waszgis, research technician; Matt Joeckel, state geologist and CSD associate director; and Susan Lackey, research hydrogeologist.

NeFU Spring District Meetings Schedule to date

District 7 Spring Meeting: Barnstormers Family Bar & Grill, 4100 S. 13th St., Norfolk
Thursday, March 15, 2018, 6:00 pm buffet supper on own with meeting to follow.
· District 7 Director’s Report:  Martin Kleinschmit
· NFU Convention, Farm Bill, NeFU Activities, NE Legislature:  John Hansen
Bring a friend, neighbor or family member.
For more info, call Art Tanderup (402) 278-0042 or (402) 887-1396.

District 2 Spring Meeting: Wolbach Community Center 268 Center St, Wolbach, NE 68882
Monday, March 19, 2018 6:00 pm Potluck Supper with meeting to follow.
 · District 2 Director’s Report:  Jim Knopik
 · NFU Convention, Farm Bill, NeFU Activities, NE Legislature:  John Hansen
Bring a friend, neighbor, or family member.
For more information, call Jim Knopik (308) 550-0288 cell or Bill Rolf (308) 536-2976 home.

District 5 Spring Meeting:  Lippy’s BBQ, 126 2nd St, Malcolm, NE 68402
Tuesday, March 27, 2018.  6:00 pm supper on your own with meeting to follow.
 · District 5 Director’s Report:  Ben Gotschall
· NFU Convention, state & national issues:  John Hansen
Bring a friend, neighbor, or family member.
For more information, call Ben Gotschall (402) 705-8679.

District 6 Spring Meeting:  Fernando's Restaurant, 1600 Washington Street, Blair, NE
Thursday, April 12, 2018, 6:00 pm supper on your own with meeting to follow.
 ·District 6 Director’s Report:  Graham Christensen
· NFU Convention, Farm Bill, NeFU Activities, NE Legislature:  John Hansen
· Featured speakers:   Candidates Chuck Hassebrook, LD16 & Mena Davis, LD8.
Information about UNMC Free Water Testing Program.
Bring a friend, neighbor or family member.
For more information, call Paul Poppe (402) 380-4508.

Valmont Board Declares Quarterly Dividend

The Board of Directors of Valmont Industries, Inc. (NYSE: VMI) has declared a quarterly dividend of 37.5 cents per share payable on April 16, 2018 to shareholders of record on March 29, 2018. The dividend indicates an annual rate of $1.50 per share.

Valmont is a global leader, designing and manufacturing engineered products that support global infrastructure development and agricultural productivity. Its products for infrastructure serve highway, transportation, wireless communication, electric transmission, and industrial construction and energy markets. Its irrigation equipment for large scale agriculture improves farm productivity while conserving fresh water resources.

In addition, Valmont provides coatings services that protect against corrosion and improve the service lives of steel and other metal products.


Honey production in 2017 from Nebraska producers with five or more colonies totaled 2.65 million pounds, up 20 percent from 2016, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

There were 42,000 honey producing colonies in Nebraska during 2017, down 13 percent from 2016. Average yield was 63 pounds per colony, up 17 pounds from 2016. Producer stocks were 423,000 on December 15, 2017, down from 640,000 pounds a year earlier.

Prices for the 2017 crop averaged 199 cents per pound, up from 191 cents in 2016. Prices were based on retail sales by producers and sales to private processors and cooperatives. Total value of honey produced in 2017 was $5.27 million, up 25 percent from 2016.


Honey production from producers with 5 or more colonies in Iowa totaled 2.03 million pounds in 2017 according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service Honey report. This was a 14 percent increase from the 1.78 million pounds produced in 2016. The number of honey producing colonies in the state decreased from 37,000 colonies in 2016 to 35,000 colonies in 2017. This number does not include producers with fewer than 5 colonies or producers who did not harvest honey. Colonies that produced honey in more than one state were counted in each state where they produced honey. Yield per colony in Iowa averaged 58 pounds, up from 48 pounds per colony in 2016. Iowa remains ranked nineteenth nationally in honey production, unchanged from 2016.

On December 15, 2017, producer honey stocks in Iowa, excluding stocks under government loan programs, were 1.04 million pounds, a 39 percent increase from 2016. The state’s 2017 honey crop was valued at $4.51 million, up 22 percent from the previous year’s $3.69 million. The average price per pound for all marketing channels in Iowa was $2.22, up 14 cents from 2016.

United States Honey Production Down 9 Percent for Operations with Five or More Colonies in 2017

United States honey production in 2017 from producers with five or more colonies totaled 148 million pounds, down 9 percent from 2016. There were 2.67 million colonies producing honey in 2017, down 4 percent from 2016. Yield per colony averaged 55.3 pounds, down 5 percent from the 58.3 pounds in 2016. Colonies which produced honey in more than one State were counted in each State where the honey was produced. Therefore, at the United States level yield per colony may be understated, but total production would not be impacted. Colonies were not included if honey was not harvested. Producer honey stocks were 30.6 million pounds on December 15, 2017, down 26 percent from a year earlier. Stocks held by producers exclude those held under the commodity loan program.

Operations with Less than Five Colonies Produced 599 Thousand Pounds of Honey in 2017

United States honey production in 2017 from producers with less than five colonies totaled 599 thousand pounds, down 22 percent from 2016. There were 20 thousand colonies from which honey was harvested in 2017, down 17 percent from 2016. The average yield was 30.0 pounds per colony in 2017, down 6 percent from the previous year.

Honey Prices Up 2 Percent for Operations with Five or More Colonies in 2017

United States honey prices decreased during 2017 to 215.6 cents per pound, up 2 percent from 211.9 cents per pound in 2016. United States and State level prices reflect the portions of honey sold through cooperatives, private, and retail channels. Prices for each color class are derived by weighting the quantities sold for each marketing channel. Prices for the 2016 crop reflect honey sold in 2016 and 2017. Some 2016 crop honey was sold in 2017, which caused some revisions to the 2016 crop prices.

Price Paid per Queen was 14 Dollars for Operations with Five or More Colonies in 2017

For operations with five or more colonies, the average prices paid in 2017 for honey bee queens, packages, and nucs were $14, $76, and $107 respectively. The average prices paid in 2017 for operations with less than five colonies were $34 per queen, $117 per package, and $138 per nuc. For operations with five or more colonies, pollination income for 2017 was $435 million, up 29 percent from 2016. Other income from honey bees for operations with five or more colonies in 2017 was $163 million, up 10 percent from 2016. 

Ibach on Section 199A Tax Code Fix Agreement

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach today issued the following statement regarding an agreement among Congressional leaders to address concerns with recent changes to Section 199A of the federal tax code. Some agriculture stakeholders had raised questions about potential market effects on cooperatives and independent grain-related businesses.

Ibach’s statement is as follows:
“The sweeping tax cuts and reform package championed by President Trump and passed by Congress is already working as designed, empowering growth across all economic sectors, including agriculture. An unintended consequence of the new law caused disparate treatment among independent operators and cooperatives in the same industry. Federal tax policy should not be picking winners and losers in the marketplace. We applaud Congress and stakeholders for coming together and agreeing to a solution for the good of all agriculture. At USDA, we will provide whatever information is necessary to support Congress in their efforts to have the proposal included in the Omnibus appropriations bill.”

NCGA Statement to 199A Resolution

The following is a statement from North Dakota farmer Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), in response to the Legislation Amending Section 199A:

“We are pleased with the outcome of the recent negotiations to craft a solution for Section 199A of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This agreement is extremely important for addressing the provision’s unintended consequences and restoring certainty to the marketplace for farmers.  NCGA has supported coalition efforts to replicate the tax benefits of the original Section 199 within the tax reform bill.  We greatly appreciate the work of Senators John Hoeven (R-North Dakota) and John Thune (R-South Dakota) along with the leadership of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to develop this critical legislation.  NCGA urges the Congress to adopt the proposed changes with bipartisan support later this month.”

NFU Urges Congress to Reject Elimination of Section 199A

Members of Congress are proposing to undo a newly instated tax break that is meant to level the playing field between agricultural cooperatives and corporations who received a dramatic tax break under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

National Farmers Union (NFU) is urging Congress to instead seek a balance that does not weaken the important tax break for family farmers who sell to cooperatives. NFU members recently passed a special order of business regarding the provision, Section 199A, due to its value in improving the livelihood of farm families and in strengthening rural communities.

NFU President Roger Johnson issued the following statement in response to the proposal:
“Corporations just received one of the largest tax breaks in their history, the addition of 199A was an attempt to level the playing field for cooperative businesses. To repeal parts of this important tax break would be to strike at the single most important benefit family farmers received from tax reform.

“Not only would corporations be better off, but farmers would be disadvantaged by working with their cooperatives.  Wage limits contained in this proposal will discriminate against family farms that don’t hire outside workers, especially if they work with small cooperatives who also have a limited wage base.  Farmers could alternatively see the 20 percent deduction on taxable income reduced to 11 percent, if they do business with a coop. Under this new proposed language, farmers could sell to a private company and lock in the 20 percent deduction, or they can sell to a coop and receive an 11 percent deduction.

“Farmers Union calls on Congress to reject this draft language as it currently stands. We urge lawmakers to advance bipartisan legislation that removes wage limitations and maintains a farmer gross sales deduction that evens the playing field between corporations and cooperatives.”

US to import a small share meats and dairy in 2018

USDA Economic Research Service

Import data for all of 2017 shows that, consistent with past years, the United States is a relatively small importer of meat and dairy products. USDA import forecasts for 2018 show an extension of this tendency. In 2017, U.S. beef imports were 11.3 percent of total domestic disappearance. In 2018, forecasts for U.S. beef imports leave the ratio nearly unchanged (11.0 percent). The United States imports mostly lean beef from Australia, mainly for final use as hamburger and as an input to processed and prepared food products. For pork, imports accounted for 5.3 percent of disappearance last year. Based on forecasts, that ratio is expected to be somewhat smaller this year—4.8 percent—due largely to increased domestic production. Most imported pork comes from Canada and the EU. Imports from Poland, in particular, have accelerated recently. Compared with beef, pork, and dairy products, lamb is exceptional in that imports typically account for more than half of domestic disappearance. Most U.S. lamb imports originate from Oceania. In 2017, imports made up about 64 percent of disappearance; this year, the ratio is expected to be slightly larger at 64.3 percent. For imported dairy products—most of which come from the EU and New Zealand—imports comprised about 2.9 percent of U.S. disappearance last year, on a milk-fat milk-equivalent basis. The ratio of imports to disappearance based on dairy trade forecasts, is mostly unchanged for 2018, at 2.7 percent.

Cattle/Beef: Beef production was reduced on a slower than expected pace of slaughter in the first quarter and lighter cattle weights anticipated in early 2018. However, second-quarter production was raised. Based on higher to-date cow slaughter data, first-half non-fed beef production is expected to be higher, mitigating some of the decline in the first-quarter reduction and contributing to the increase in the second-quarter forecast. With these partly offsetting factors, the beef production forecast was trimmed slightly to 27.69 billion pounds. Based on the current pace of U.S. beef imports and strong domestic demand for lean beef, imports for 2018 were revised upward.

Poultry: Broiler production and weights were up again in January in line with expectations, while broiler prices were generally steady during February. Table egg production in January contracted about 1 percent, contributing to a lower production forecast. Lower-than-expected production and recent price surges moved price forecasts higher. January turkey production was down on a per day slaughter basis. Production in 2018 is expected to be fractionally lower than 2017 as low wholesale prices pressure producer returns.

Dairy: Due to expectations of stronger growth in milk per cow, the 2018 milk production forecast has been increased to 219.0 billion pounds, 0.3 billion higher than last month’s forecast. With competitive U.S. prices and recent strength in cheese and whey product exports, 2018 export forecasts have been raised to 9.6 billion pounds (+0.1 billion) on a milk-fat milk-equivalent basis and 42.8 billion (+0.3 billion) pounds on a skim-solids milk-equivalent basis. While butter and cheese price forecasts have been raised, the nonfat dry milk price forecast has been lowered. With offsetting changes in dairy product price forecasts, the all-milk price forecast for 2018 is $15.75-$16.35 per hundredweight (cwt), unchanged at the midpoint from last month’s forecast.

Pork/Hogs: Commercial pork production for 2018 is revised upward to 26.9 billion pounds, 5.2 percent above a year ago, due to higher pork carcass dressed weights. Hog prices for the first quarter are expected to average $51-$52 per cwt, almost 4 percent above a year ago, largely on the strength of increased demand for hogs from expanded processing capacity. January pork export data showed solid demand—6.2 percent above a year ago—particularly in Asia.

New Concepts for U.S. Beef and Pork Dishes Highlighted at Foodex Japan

Noting that booming meat demand among Japanese consumers continues to gain momentum, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) seized the opportunity by introducing new and unique U.S. beef and pork dishes at Asia’s largest food trade show. USMEF’s efforts at Foodex Japan, which attracted more than 80,000 visitors over four days (March 6-9), were funded by the USDA Market Access Program (MAP), the Beef Checkoff Program, the Pork Checkoff and the Texas Beef Council. USMEF is a contractor to the beef checkoff.

Set up inside the USA Pavilion, USMEF shared information and educated food buyers about the advantage of U.S. beef and pork over the products of competitors – many of whom also participated in Foodex.

“Japan is one of the largest importers of food in the world and they also pay some of the highest premiums,” explained Greg Hanes, USMEF assistant vice president for international marketing and programs. “That’s why Foodex is such an important trade show. Exporters from Canada, Mexico, China, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South America were there to try to capture a greater the share of the market.”

USMEF’s booth included a dedicated area where U.S. red meat exporters could meet one-on-one with buyers, and a special kitchen area allowed USMEF chefs to prepare U.S. beef and pork tasting samples over the course of the event.

“Exporters met with hundreds of buyers and representatives of Japan’s retail and foodservice industries and the samples we served attracted tremendous traffic,” said Hanes. “This year we were really focused on new trends and menu concepts. We brought in several companies that import food and educated them on these concepts, then let them taste the dishes for themselves. That’s an important step for winning new customers in Japan.”

Because the U.S. pork industry sees an opportunity to move more loins in the Japanese market, USMEF highlighted a new dish called “pork cheese teji karubi,” a Korean-style barbecue dish traditionally made with chicken. USMEF developed the dish using thin-sliced U.S. pork.

“It’s really taken off, and we got an excellent response to the dish during the show,” said Hanes. “We are hoping that the momentum carries over and restaurants and retail outlets will continue to pick up on it. This could be really big for U.S. pork loins.”

On the beef side, U.S. pound steak was highlighted, along with new gourmet hamburger concepts and a soup made with U.S beef large intestine.

“The catchphrase ‘pound steak’ is all about U.S. beef thick-cut steak, which is something we are trying to establish as a consumer food trend in Japan,” said Takemichi Yamashoji, USMEF-Japan director. “Typically, steaks in Japan are served in sizes from 6 to 8 ounces. Our idea is to convince foodservice operators and restaurants to serve steaks that are 15 to 16 ounces, which is equal to one pound – thus the ‘pound steak’ campaign, a way to enjoy the taste and quality of U.S. beef as thick-cut steak.”

The gourmet hamburger concept, which has become popular in other Asian countries like South Korea and Taiwan, is also gaining popularity in Japan, said Hanes.

“During Foodex, we showed buyers how to grind different cuts of U.S. beef and how to prepare these gourmet hamburgers – then, of course, we gave them samples to taste,” said Hanes. “This is something that could really move a lot of beef cuts, especially if the idea of grinding their own burgers catches on.”

Promotion of U.S. beef large intestine at Foodex was part of an effort to sell more variety meat in this high-value market.

“This is an opportunity to add value to an item that commands little attention at home,” noted Hanes, who said the large intestine was offered to Foodex visitors in a tasty soup.

Foodex 2018 clearly demonstrated that Japan remains a hot market for red meat.

“There was a steady stream of visitors to the USMEF booth, and it often seemed that it was one of the busiest places at the entire show,” said Hanes. “The mix of attendees was amazing. It ranged from representatives of small importers or restaurants all the way to the presidents of some of the largest food companies in the world.”

Special visitors to the USMEF booth were USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney and U.S. Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty. Both spent time talking with international visitors and meeting with USMEF staff.

NCBA Hails Introduction of Bipartisan ACRE Act in U.S. House of Representatives

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) today applauded the introduction of bipartisan legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that would prevent 200,000 farms and ranches from being regulated as if they were toxic Superfund sites.

The bill, introduced by U.S. Reps. Billy Long (R-Mo.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.), is known as the Agricultural Certainty for Reporting Emissions (ACRE) Act and is supported by 85 original co-sponsors.

"There's not a lot of bipartisan consensus on Washington, DC, these days, but one thing that a lot of folks on both sides of the aisle can agree on is that the CERCLA law that regulates toxic Superfund sites shouldn't apply to animal agricultural operations," said fifth-generation California rancher and NCBA President Kevin Kester. "CERCLA was never intended to regulate cow manure, and Congress should fix this situation as soon as possible."

Similar bipartisan legislation - the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act - was introduced in the U.S. Senate by U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) on Feb. 13. That bill currently has 37 co-sponsors and could be marked up by the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee as soon as next week.

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) was enacted to provide for cleanup of the worst industrial chemical toxic waste dumps and spills, such as oil spills and chemical tank explosions. CERCLA was never intended to govern agricultural operations, for whom emissions from livestock are a part of everyday life.

To make this clear, in 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule to clarify that farms were exempt from CERCLA reporting and small farms, in particular, were exempt from EPCRA reporting, given that low-level livestock emissions are not the kind of "releases" that Congress intended to manage with these laws.

Upon being sued in 2009 by environmental advocacy groups, the Obama Administration's EPA defended the exemption in court on the grounds that CERCLA and EPCRA do not explicitly exempt farms because Congress never believed that agriculture would be covered under these statutes, so a specific statutory exemption was not viewed to be necessary.

Unfortunately, in April 2017, the D.C. Circuit Court vacated the EPA's 2008 exemption, putting nearly 200,000 farms and ranches under the regulatory reporting authorities enshrined in CERCLA and EPCRA. The new reporting requirements could have gone into effect on Jan. 22, but the Court delayed implementation of the requirements until May 1, 2018, which gives Congress time to act.

NMPF Statement on House Bill Protecting Dairy Farms from Air Emissions Reporting Requirement
Jim Mulhern, President and CEO, NMPF

“With the introduction today of H.R. 5275, the Agricultural Certainty for Reporting Emissions (ACRE Act), there is now bipartisan, bicameral support for legislation that will reduce a significant regulatory burden on U.S. dairy farms. We fully support the House companion to the Senate’s Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act, which would prevent dairy farms from having to generate meaningless air emissions data under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

“The CERCLA provisions in question were originally enacted to address accidental hazardous air emission emergencies from toxic waste sites, and were never intended to be applied to dairy and other livestock farms. Through this legislation, Congress is stipulating that this burdensome regulatory overreach serves no legitimate health or safety purpose.

“We appreciate the efforts of the House bill’s lead sponsors, Reps. Billy Long (R-MO) and Jim Costa (D-CA), to generate the widespread support of more than 80 other Republican and Democratic lawmakers for this legislation.”

ACRE Act Stops Unintended Regulation of Farms

The newly introduced and bipartisan H.R. 5275, Agricultural Certainty for Reporting Emissions (ACRE) Act would avoid unnecessary environmental reporting, which has been opposed by Republican and Democratic administrations alike. Reps. Billy Long (R-Mo.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.) introduced the bill together with 85 original, bipartisan cosponsors.

“This legislation is critical,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said. “Without it, farmers and ranchers must comply with a law that was never supposed to affect them – the Superfund program (CERCLA). Congress never meant to include agriculture under these reporting obligations, but because of a misguided court ruling, farmers and ranchers are vulnerable. We support swift passage of the ACRE Act and applaud Reps. Long and Costa for their work on this issue.”

Under current regulations, approximately 200,000 farms and ranches could be legally obliged to report emissions from animal agricultural operations, even though those rules were written to cover industrial emergencies, rather than routine, low level emissions from farms and ranches

The EPA under both the Bush and Obama administrations supported exempting these agricultural producers, but a federal court found the law did not clearly exclude farms and ranches. The ACRE Act would clarify that such producers are not required to report these emissions.

In the Senate, S. 2421, the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act has been introduced by Sens. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.). The legislation also has bipartisan support and could be brought up in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee soon.

Biodiesel Industry Makes Strong Case for Tax Credit Before Congress

Today, the National Biodiesel Board (NBB)’s Member Company, Ag Processing Inc (AGP), testified before a tax-writing committee in the U.S. House of Representatives in support of the biodiesel tax incentive. The hearing was focused on the future of tax extenders in a post-comprehensive tax reform world.

“We urge Congress to renew the biodiesel blender’s tax incentive through 2018 at a minimum, while considering a multi-year approach. Doing so would drive new investment and establish market certainty for U.S. farmers, ranchers, petroleum marketers, blenders and fuel retailers,” said Cal Meyer, chief operating officer of Ag Processing Inc.

The committee heard from more than 20 witnesses over the course of four panels. NBB’s witness accurately pointed out that the biodiesel blender’s tax credit has helped achieved the desired goals of expanding domestic production of American energy resources and jobs here at home. The biodiesel industry supports roughly 64,000 jobs, $11.42 billion in economic impact and $2.54 billion in wages paid.

Biodiesel also adds value to other sectors of the economy, like agriculture. For example, biodiesel allows farmers to be more competitive in the global protein market, as demand for biodiesel supports U.S. soybean processing and export opportunities. Lastly, America benefits from fewer toxic pollutants and improved air quality thanks to increased use of biodiesel, which reduces particulate matter by 47 percent, hydrocarbon emissions by 67 percent and lifecycle greenhouse gases by 86 percent.

“The public policy benefits of the tax incentive are clear,” Meyer said. “These benefits, however, will be jeopardized without reinstatement of the biodiesel tax incentive.”

 NFU Applauds Introduction of STRESS Act

The STRESS Act, introduced by U.S. Reps. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), Tom O’Halleran (R-Ariz.), Rick Nolan (D-Minn.), David Young (R-Iowa), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), John Katko (R-N.Y.), and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), would provide vital assistance to family farmers and ranchers who are struggling amidst a five-year, 52 percent decline in net farm income.

The bill would reauthorize the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN), a program authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill to provide farmers with stress assistance programs. FRSAN has not been funded since being authorized. National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson issued the following statement in response to the bill’s introduction:

“Farming and ranching is a highly stressful occupation. As the downturn in the farm economy worsens, many producers are finding themselves in a state of financial crisis. Unfortunately, many family farmers and ranchers lack access to the support they need in times of extreme duress. FRSAN would fund partnerships to train farm advocates, establish helplines, and provide outreach and support services.

“NFU has long advocated for these resources, and we applaud the efforts of Representatives Emmer and O’Halleran to ensure family farmers get the support they need to stay healthy and afloat through these tough times. We urge Congress to strengthen FRSAN and provide it with robust funding in the next Farm Bill.”

Fertilizer Prices Still on High Side

The trend of higher fertilizer prices appears to be firmly entrenched with average retail prices for all fertilizers rising again the first week of March 2018, according to retailers surveyed by DTN.

As has been the case the past several weeks, all eight of the major fertilizers were up from last month, though only one fertilizer was up a significant amount. UAN32 was 4% more expensive than compared to a month earlier. The nitrogen fertilizer had an average price of $272 per ton.

The remaining seven fertilizers were just slightly higher in price compared to the prior month. DAP had an average price of $463/ton, MAP $503/ton, potash $349/ton, urea $367/ton, 10-34-0 $422/ton, anhydrous $499/ton and UAN28 $234/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.40/lb.N, anhydrous $0.30/lb.N, UAN28 $0.42/lb.N and UAN32 $0.43/lb.N.

Four fertilizers are now higher compared to last year with prices pushing higher in recent months. UAN32 is now 1% more expensive, potash is 3% higher, DAP is 6% more expensive and MAP is 9% higher than last year.

The remaining four fertilizers are still lower in price compared to a year prior. Both anhydrous and urea is now 1% less than, while both UAN28 and UAN32 is 5% lower looking back a year.

Tune in Thursday for a GMO Answers Facebook LIVE Chat

GMO Answers will be holding a Facebook Live event on Thursday, March 15th at 1pm Eastern to help launch our GMO Myth Spotting campaign.

The Facebook Live chat will feature GMO Answers volunteer expert Chef Jonathan Bardzik, who will be streaming live on the GMO Answers Facebook page from a local supermarket with a cart filled with groceries/products labelled non-GMO. 

He'll highlight the facts about and benefits of GMOs and point out misinformation and fearmongering about labeling products non-GMO where there is no GMO equivalent. He'll also explain how the non-GMO label tells you nothing about the ingredients, nutrition, or safety of said products. It's important for people to know what's in their food and how it was grown - but the information should be fact-based and scientifically backed, not driven by myths and fear.

He'll also encourage viewers to comment with their examples of GMO label misinformation, with a call to action for people to download our new GMO Myth Spotter Facebook frame, and to  share photos and videos from their own trips to the grocery store.

Please join the GMO Answers Facebook Live event at the GMO Answers Facebook page Thursday, March 15th, at 1pm Eastern. Please help us promote the event by sharing on social media and in your networks.  

Air quality expert to debunk environmental myths at 2018 Stakeholders Summit

Frank Mitloehner, PhD, will debunk myths about animal agriculture’s environmental impact at the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s 2018 Stakeholders Summit, set for May 3-4, at the Renaissance Capital View Hotel in Arlington, Va.

Mitloehner is a professor and extension air quality specialist in the Department of Animal Science at the University of California, Davis. He is an expert on agricultural air quality, livestock housing and husbandry. Overall, he conducts research that is directly relevant to understanding and mitigating of air emissions from livestock operations, as well as the implications of these emissions for the health and safety of farm workers and neighboring communities.

“There is a lot of misinformation about how much animal agriculture actually contributes to the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and overall environmental impact,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. “With the industry’s commitment to continuous improvement, Summit attendees will find Mitloehner’s research enlightening and refreshing.”

The Alliance also announced that the Summit has been approved for 8 continuing education credits by the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists. ARPAS members in attendance can request credit using or by contacting Cornicha Henderson at

Discounted early registration fees and a special hotel rate are available through April 1 (pending availability). To register, visit  

Syngenta helps to feed the hungry, celebrates being #RootedinAg

As a global leader in agriculture, Syngenta understands that to be #RootedinAg means to be committed to feeding the world. As part of that commitment, Syngenta recently partnered with Rise Against Hunger® – a North Carolina-based, international hunger-relief organization.

“It is going to take the right resources to end hunger worldwide,” said Wendell Calhoun, Syngenta communications manager. “Every day at Syngenta, we work to provide growers with the tools they need to sustain the population. Partnering with Rise Against Hunger gave us a chance to take that one step further, through a monetary donation and volunteer efforts.”

As part of a U.S. holiday campaign centered on the #RootedinAg community, Syngenta pledged to donate $5 per qualifying submission. The final donation from this campaign totaled $10,000 or the equivalent of 34,000 meals for those in need. Syngenta also participated in a meal-packing event, where volunteers assembled nutritious dehydrated meals for distribution to those in need around the world. Through team fundraising for the event, Syngenta volunteers donated more than $10,000 in additional funds.

“We know that through providing nutrition today, we can change lives and build strong communities for tomorrow," said Rod Brooks, CEO and president of Rise Against Hunger. “Ending hunger by the year 2030 is at our fingertips, but it cannot be done single-handedly. By joining together, it is possible to end hunger in our lifetime.”

This statement echoes the sentiment of “This is possible,” an ongoing awareness campaign by Rise Against Hunger. The campaign aims to show how hunger can be broken up into smaller, more achievable goals, creating hunger champions and connecting real people in the movement to end hunger together by the year 2030. Syngenta is proud to be part of the movement.

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