Saturday, April 7, 2018

Friday April 6 Ag News

Ricketts Celebrates Nebraska Ag Youth at FFA Convention

This week, Governor Pete Ricketts helped honor some of Nebraska’s outstanding youth involved in agriculture at the annual Nebraska FFA Convention. 

“The Nebraska FFA is instrumental in developing our state’s youth to become leaders of tomorrow,” said Governor Ricketts.  “With agriculture as Nebraska’s number one industry, the FFA is raising up the next generation of our state’s farmers and ranchers.  Expanding opportunities in agriculture is vital to growing the Good Life that we enjoy.  With record levels of membership in the Nebraska FFA, it is great to see so many young Nebraskans involved and developing the skills they will need to lead agriculture and their communities into the future.”

“The Nebraska FFA program has a rich history of educating students about agriculture and the many careers available to them in the agriculture industry,” said Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director Steve Wellman.  “The annual State FFA Convention allows students an opportunity to join together to celebrate their successes and learn from each other.  Congratulations to all the FFA members on their accomplishments.”

Nebraska currently has over 8,500 FFA members in 185 chapters.  Nebraska FFA is dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education.

Krausnick Accepted into Nebraska Water Leaders Academy

Marie Krausnick has been accepted into the Nebraska Water Leaders Academy Class of 2018. Krausnick earned an associate of science degree from Northeast Community College and a B. S. in agronomy from the University of Nebraska. She is Water Department Manager at the Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District in York.

The Nebraska Water Leaders Academy is one-year program that provides leadership training and educates participants about the vital role of rivers, streams and aquifers play in the economic sustainability of the state.

A project of the Water Futures Partnership-Nebraska, the Academy sessions feature classroom, as well as field trip experiences presented by acknowledged experts in leadership and natural resource topics held at locations across the state.

The Water Leaders Academy is partially funded through a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust and more than 25 other organizations and individuals.

More information can be found at

2018 Nebraska Beef Ambassador Contest

Consumer Promotion Education Committee with Nebraska Cattlemen would like to announce the 2018 Nebraska Beef Ambassador Competition that will be held June 6th at College Park Grand Island beginning at 1:00pm cst. The competition is targeted towards youth that are passionate about the beef industry.

The Nebraska Beef Ambassador Program provides an opportunity for youth, ages 14 – 24 years old, to become spokespersons and future leaders for the beef industry. The two divisions, senior and collegiate, are judged on three different areas of the industry consisting of a mock consumer promotional event, mock media interview and an issues response.

Along with a scholarship from the Nebraska Cattlemen Research and Education Foundation the collegiate winner will have the opportunity to go on and compete at the National level.

The Nebraska Beef Ambassador Contest provides an opportunity for youth to become spokespersons and future leaders in the beef industry. Registration deadline is Friday, June 1, 2018.

Brochure for the contest can be found here...

For more information contact Bonita at -or- 402-450-0223

40 Receive National Ag in Classroom Conference Scholarships

Teachers from around the United States have been selected to receive scholarships from the CHS Foundation to attend the 2018 National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference 'Agriculture for ME on Land and Sea' scheduled for June 27-29 in Portland, Maine.

Forty K-12 teachers were selected for their desire to learn more innovative ways to use agricultural concepts to teach reading, writing, math, science and social studies and more. Onsite and traveling workshops at the conference will provide these teachers with demonstrations of how effective the use of agricultural concepts in classroom instruction can be. In addition, teachers will network with other educators who have a passion for K-12 agricultural literacy.

"We're happy to assist teachers who are interested in educating their students about agriculture by helping them attend the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference," said Nanci Lilja, president of CHS Foundation. "The CHS Foundation is committed to developing agriculture leaders for life and these teachers introduce students to the industry and spark interest in agriculture careers."

The CHS Foundation has provided these scholarships to teachers since 2013.

"Thanks to the CHS Foundation we are able to involve even more teachers in the National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference," said Willie Grenier, president of the National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization (NAITCO) and executive director of Maine Agriculture in the Classroom. "NAITCO highly values partnerships like the one it has with the CHS Foundation, which helps us expand its K-12 agricultural literacy outreach to many more teachers across the country."

The teachers will receive scholarships to the conference, which covers early registration of $435, including Kathy Bohac, Nebraska, East Butler Public School; and Patricia Romshek, Nebraska, East Butler Public School.  There are also several Iowa teachers that will receive scholarships, including Cathryn Carney, Iowa, Boyden-Hull Community School District; and John Seiser, Iowa, Northeast Hamilton Elementary.

The CHS Foundation is funded by charitable gifts from CHS Inc., the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company. The CHS Foundation is focused on developing a new generation of agriculture leaders. We are achieving our goals through these strategic initiatives: advancing innovation in cooperative education, cultivating opportunity through university partnerships, growing high-impact youth leadership programs and accelerating potential for careers in agriculture. Together with our signature partners, we develop ag leaders for life. For more information on CHS Foundation programs, please visit

NAITCO is a non-profit organization made up of Agriculture in the Classroom programs in most of the 50 states and six territories. Its mission is to educate teachers and students in kindergarten through 12th grade about the importance of agriculture by incorporating agricultural concepts into classroom instruction.

Iowa Farm Bureau appoints Joe Johnson new Executive Director

Iowa’s largest grassroots organization, the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF), today announced that Joe Johnson has been named the new executive director and secretary-treasurer of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.

Johnson assumes his new position on April 20, 2018. He succeeds Denny Presnall who will retire after 36 years with Farm Bureau.

“As a long-time leader in our organization, Joe is passionate about Farm Bureau and brings in-depth knowledge of the organization and agriculture that will be a tremendous asset to us,” says IFBF President Craig Hill. “The IFBF Board of Directors believes his integrity, proven leadership experience and ability to build solid relationships will help lead IFBF into the next century and we look forward to working with him.”

Johnson, a 33-year veteran of Farm Bureau, has served as Director of Field Service since 2010, where he oversees and guides the activities of the Regional Managers and 100 county Farm Bureaus, as well as the Leadership and Farm Business Development areas. In this capacity, Johnson was instrumental in spearheading the creation of a new farm transition program, Take Root, that has assisted over 5,000 members in 99 counties and helped increase participation in the Young Farmer program to a record high.

Prior to that, he served as Senior State Policy Advisor in Government Relations for 13 years, working with the Iowa Legislature to guide policy efforts on behalf of members. From 1985 to 1997, he also served as Regional Manager for six counties in southeast Iowa.

Johnson is a graduate of Wartburg College. He and his wife, Karen, have two grown children and six grandchildren.

U.S. Red Meat Exports Continued to Outpace Year-Ago Levels in February

February exports of U.S. pork, beef and lamb were higher than a year ago in both volume and value, according to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Pork exports totaled 205,466 metric tons (mt) in February, up 4 percent from last year’s large total, while export value increased 12 percent to $547.2 million. Through February, pork exports were 2 percent ahead of last year’s pace at 408,934 mt, while export value climbed 10 percent to $1.09 billion.

February exports accounted for 27.8 percent of total pork production and 24 percent for muscle cuts only – up from 27.6 percent and 22.9 percent, respectively, a year ago. Through February, the percentage of total pork production exported was slightly lower year-over-year at 26.1 percent, while the percentage of muscle cuts exported edged higher to 22.7 percent. February export value averaged $56.78 per head slaughtered, up 9 percent from a year ago. Through February, per-head export value was $53.70, up 5 percent.

February beef export volume improved 11 percent from a year ago to 100,593 mt, while export value increased 18 percent to $599.8 million. Although this was the lowest monthly value total since May 2017, it is the highest on record for the month of February. January-February volume was 206,079 mt, up 10 percent from the first two months of 2017, while export value was 20 percent above last year’s pace at $1.22 billion.

Exports accounted for 13.6 percent of total beef production in February, up one full percentage point from a year ago. For muscle cuts only, the percentage exported was 10.8 percent (up from 10.1 percent last year). Through February, beef exports accounted for 13 percent of total production (up from 12.4 percent) and 10.4 percent for muscle cuts (up from 9.8 percent). February beef export value averaged $322.29 per head of fed slaughter, up 16 percent from a year ago. Through February, per-head export value averaged $306.69, up 15 percent.

“Red meat exports are off to a strong start in 2018 and continue to deliver excellent returns for U.S. producers,” noted USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “The outstanding level of export value per head slaughtered is especially encouraging at a time in which U.S. meat production is high and the trade climate is somewhat volatile. Through all the uncertainty, international customers remain very committed to U.S. pork and beef. This reinforces the importance of having experienced USMEF staff members located in key markets, working every day to maintain customer loyalty and reinforce the United States’ reputation as a reliable supplier.”

Pork exports steady to Mexico; solid growth in Korea, Japan and Latin America

February pork exports to leading volume market Mexico were steady with last year at 64,523 mt, while export value was slightly higher at $117.5 million. Through February, export volume was steady with last year’s record pace at 137,520 mt, while export value increased 3 percent to $251 million.

In Japan, the leading value destination for U.S. pork, February volume was steady year-over-year at 32,418 mt, while value was up 3 percent to $134.7 million. Through February, export volume to Japan increased 6 percent from a year ago to 67,466 mt and value climbed 10 percent to $281.1 million. This included a 7 percent increase in chilled pork exports to 36,929 mt, valued at $176.9 million (up 11 percent).

Pork exports to South Korea climbed 33 percent in volume (40,710 mt) and 43 percent in value ($119 million). Most U.S. pork products now enter the Korean market duty free under the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), and high-quality, affordable U.S. pork is helping to underpin Korea’s record-breaking pork consumption. USMEF continues to help position U.S. pork in new and exciting ways in Korea, including the addition of pulled pork to many restaurant menus, a selection of high-end sausages at convenience stores and a wide array of home meal replacement and snack items sold at retail and through e-commerce.

Through the first two months of 2018, other highlights for U.S. pork include:

-    Led by strong growth in Colombia and Peru, pork exports to South America were 9 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (17,855 mt) and 14 percent higher in value ($43.1 million), with consumption growth in the region continuing to outpace domestic production.
-    Solid growth in Honduras, a doubling of exports to El Salvador and a steady performance in Guatemala pushed pork export volume to Central America 16 percent above last year’s pace at 12,255 mt, while value climbed 20 percent to $28.9 million. Exports also increased year-over-year to Nicaragua, Panama and Belize.
-    Exports to the Philippines, the mainstay destination for U.S. pork in the ASEAN and the region’s largest import market, increased 3 percent in volume (4,746 mt) and remained steady with last year’s pace in value ($10.8 million). Exceptional growth in Vietnam (901 mt valued at $3.7 million, up 272 percent and 469 percent, respectively) pushed exports to the ASEAN region 18 percent higher in volume (6,178 mt) and 29 percent higher in value ($16.9 million). Exports also increased year-over-year to Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.
-    In China/Hong Kong, pork export volume fell 14 percent year-over-year to 69,515 mt, but value increased 3 percent to $164 million. Muscle cut exports increased 7 percent to 28,775 mt, while variety meat exports declined 24 percent in volume (40,740 mt) but with sharply higher prices value only dipped 2 percent to $107.4 million. The Chinese government recently imposed a 25 percent tariff on imports of U.S. pork and pork variety meat, in addition to the 12 percent tariff already in effect in China. The higher tariff rate is not reflected in the January-February results, as it took effect April 2. But the additional tariff will put U.S. pork at a significant disadvantage compared to China’s other major suppliers: the European Union, Canada, Brazil and Chile. China’s total import demand has also slowed with its rebound in domestic production and a significant decrease in domestic hog prices.

Chilled beef shipments to Japan, Korea and Taiwan drive export growth; Mexico and Hong Kong also trend higher

Beef export volume to leading market Japan declined in February (20,314 mt, -15 percent year-over-year), as the frozen beef safeguard tariff (50 percent, up temporarily from 38.5 percent) contributed to a slowdown in frozen shipments. However, February export value to Japan was down only slightly at $133.4 million. Through February, total exports to Japan were 4 percent below last year’s volume pace at 44,282 mt, but still increased 9 percent in value to $282 million. This included an 18 percent increase in chilled beef exports to 22,809 mt, valued at $175 million (up 29 percent). Japan’s safeguard tariff on imports of frozen beef from the United States (and from other suppliers that do not have a free trade agreement with Japan) expired March 31, so the tariff rate for both frozen and chilled imports from the U.S. is now 38.5 percent. Japan’s tariffs on imports of Australian chilled and frozen beef edged slightly lower on April 1 and now stand at 29.3 percent and 26.9 percent, respectively, under the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement.

Beef exports to South Korea maintained a torrid pace in February, increasing 24 percent from a year ago in volume (16,193 mt) and 31 percent in value ($112.4 million). Through February, exports to Korea climbed 18 percent in volume to 33,326 mt and were 32 percent above last year’s record value pace at $234.8 million. This included chilled beef exports of 7,231 mt (up 34 percent year-over-year) valued at $68 million (up 44 percent). U.S. beef is driving new consumption trends in Korea, where retailers and foodservice operators have intensified their focus on steak cuts and are highlighting features such as dry and wet aging. USMEF continues to educate the Korean meat trade and consumers about the quality and convenience of U.S. steaks in this increasingly protein-centric market.

Through the first two months of 2018, other highlights for U.S. beef include:

-    Exports to Mexico, which is a critical destination for beef rounds, shoulder clods and variety meat, were 10 percent above last year’s pace in volume (39,987 mt) and 19 percent higher in value ($175 million). This included an 11 percent increase in variety meat export volume (18,720 mt) and an impressive 36 percent jump in variety meat value ($44.4 million).
-    Partly driven by demand for the Chinese New Year holiday, exports to Hong Kong jumped 41 percent in volume (22,807 mt) from a year ago and 61 percent in value ($168.6 million). Exports to China, which resumed in June 2017, totaled 1,187 mt valued at $11.1 million.
-    In Taiwan, an outstanding destination for chilled U.S. beef, exports increased 25 percent from a year ago in volume (8,106 mt) and 42 percent in value ($78.2 million). Chilled exports to Taiwan were up 53 percent in volume (3,800 mt) and 61 percent in value ($48 million) as the U.S. holds 72 percent of Taiwan’s chilled beef market.
-    Exceptional growth in Chile and Colombia pushed exports to South America up 68 percent year-over-year in volume (5,296 mt) and 62 percent in value ($25.2 million). Exports to Brazil, which resumed in April of last year, totaled 215 mt valued at $2 million.
-    Strong performances in Indonesia and Vietnam pushed beef exports to the ASEAN region 42 percent ahead of last year’s pace in volume (6,794 mt) and 34 percent higher in value ($36.7 million). The region is especially strong for beef variety meat, with exports up 74 percent in volume (2,008 mt) and 93 percent in value ($4.4 million).
-    Strong growth in Angola and steady volumes to South Africa pushed beef exports to Africa up 26 percent year-over-year in volume (1,981 mt) and 77 percent higher in value ($3.1 million).

Lamb exports sharply higher year-over-year

Bolstered by a strong rebound in lamb variety meat demand in Mexico, U.S. lamb exports are trending significantly higher in 2018. In February, lamb export volume climbed 85 percent from a year ago to 899 mt – the highest since May 2017. Export value was $1.85 million, up 42 percent and the highest since March 2017. Through February, lamb exports were 55 percent higher year-over-year in volume (1,639 mt) and up 24 percent in value ($3.33 million), led by growth in Mexico, the Philippines, the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

“Trump Has Not Forgotten Rural America’s Needs, Contributions”

By Secretary Sonny Perdue

While Congress continues its work on the Farm Bill, rural prosperity, and many other agriculture priorities, this administration remains committed to being a voice for America’s farmers, ranchers, producers, and foresters.

In the 11 months since I was sworn in as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, I have traveled to 35 states, helping fulfill President Donald Trump’s promise that the men and women of America, who once felt forgotten, never will again.

First, [President] Trump is committed to ensuring our economy grows and thrives. That is why he led the fight to pass historic tax cuts and reforms back in December, which are already benefiting the agriculture community. When it comes to trading goods and products with our partners and allies, this administration is committed to sending the bounty of American harvest around the globe.

Second, as we all know, our economy cannot succeed without a capable and legal workforce. Trump understands we must have an equipped and competitive workforce. That is one reason why he signed an executive order establishing the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity, which I proudly chaired.

Our task force also stressed the importance of assisting our workforce through infrastructure reforms. Enacting Trump’s infrastructure plan would create jobs for our rural workforce and unleash our economy’s full potential. Infrastructure has been the core of American economic success for more than two centuries. America’s infrastructure needs attention; our nation’s prosperity is at stake.

Finally, if we are going to encourage the next generation to step forward, we must first tackle the burdensome regulations facing today’s industry. Throughout this tour, I have heard from farmers and ranchers who are hamstrung by meddlesome rules. They know that Trump has aggressively and effectively dismantled unnecessary barriers to productivity, eliminating 22 federal regulations for every new rule added. Trump’s regulatory agenda meets the needs of rural Americans who are held back by harmful decisions that came from Washington.


The National Pork Producers Council this week released a study from Iowa State University (ISU) on the agricultural workforce. ISU economists determined that a reduction in the foreign-born workforce – prompted by a change in immigration policy – would not be offset by native-born workers and permanent residents. Instead, they found, the tighter supply of foreign-born workers would reduce overall demand for workers as production costs increase and would decrease agricultural output as farmers abandon labor-intensive operations. The result would be a 3.4 to 5.5 percent decrease in the total number of farm workers.

NPPC is supporting congressional legislation creating a new visa program for non-seasonal foreign agricultural workers to remain in the United States for up to three years while deferring a portion of their pay as incentive for periodic “touchbacks” to their country. The H-2C visa would replace the current H-2A temporary, seasonal agricultural worker program. The legislation initially would let agricultural employers hire up to 410,000 foreign workers for on-farm jobs and 40,000 for meatpacking plants. It also would put the H-2C program under USDA rather than the Department of Labor.

Click here to read the study.....


NPPC next Wednesday and Thursday will host its spring Legislative Action Conference in Washington, D.C. The biannual fly-in draws from around the country about 125 pork producers who will lobby congressional lawmakers on issues of importance to the U.S. pork industry, including the importance of maintaining and expanding export opportunities, funding a Foot-and-Mouth Disease vaccine bank in the next Farm Bill and establishing a regulatory environment that keeps food affordable. The popular Congressional Bacon Fest will be held April 11.

Ag & Ethanol Groups Holding RFS Twitter Townhall Monday

On Monday, April 9, from 7 - 10 AM Central Daylight Time (CDT) several agriculture and ethanol groups will be participating in a Twitter Townhall, prior to the scheduled meeting happening at the White House regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Yesterday, NCGA sent out a Grassroots call to action, asking members to send a letter or call President Trump and their appropriate member of Congress. This social media effort provides another opportunity for your voice to be heard.

You can participate in the Twitter Townhall, by using the #RFSWorks.

To find out more about the Grassroots call to action on the RFS, you can go to the legislative action section on our website at

Mexico Not Ruling Out Quick NAFTA Result

The Mexican Foreign Minister says he’s not ruling out a quick ending to the North American Free Trade Agreement talks. The top Mexican diplomat says progress is being made on several issue-specific tables of the negotiations. The U.S., Canada, and Mexico’s top negotiators were meeting late in the week to continue discussions. The talks have moved slowly for the past eight months and all three countries want to settle the process as quickly as possible. They all want to finish before the Mexican presidential election on July 1.

The upbeat Mexican comments are similar in tone to the positive comments from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier in the week. U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday that he expects the three nations to have something to announce on the NAFTA negotiations very soon. Some challenges still remain, including the U.S. demand that the North American content of vehicles produced in the NAFTA nations be increased from 62.5 percent to as much as 85 percent. A Mexican source close to the talks told Reuters the U.S. has shown some flexibility in the rules-of-origin discussions, and the three countries are now looking at alternatives.

Cargill reports fiscal 2018 third-quarter results

Cargill today reported financial results for the fiscal 2018 third quarter and first nine months ended Feb. 28, 2018. Key results include:
-    Adjusted operating earnings were $559 million, a 22 percent decrease from last year’s $715 million. Nine-month earnings totaled $2.4 billion, down 7 percent from $2.58 billion a year ago.
-    These earnings included a net charge of $161 million related to the recently enacted U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Excluding the charge, Cargill’s results were on pace with last year’s third quarter and first nine months.
-    Net earnings for the quarter on a U.S. GAAP basis were $495 million compared with $650 million a year ago. Nine-month net earnings equaled $2.39 billion compared with last year’s $2.49 billion. Excluding the tax charge, the third quarter was in line with last year; the nine-month figure exceeded the prior period.
-    Third-quarter revenues rose 2 percent to $27.85 billion, increasing the year-to-date figure to $84.32 billion.

“Our steady results from operations demonstrate that our strategic direction is the right one,” said David MacLennan, Cargill’s chairman and chief executive officer. “The performance of our team worldwide keeps Cargill moving ahead, preparing us to continue to grow.”

During this extended period of sluggish agricultural commodity markets, Cargill is taking action to transform and differentiate itself. MacLennan cited the company’s integrated approach to global operations, its ongoing appraisal and enhancement of assets along supply chains, and its investment in new capabilities and technologies. “In a time of continually changing expectations, we are setting ourselves apart in order to help our customers succeed.”

Global Dairy Production Expected to Pick up This Year

Global dairy production is expected to pick up with milk production in Europe rising gradually in response to higher domestic prices, while domestic demand will drive increases in India and China, according to BMI Research in a note. Government reforms in China have reduced local grain prices and are encouraging the consolidation of dairy farms, a factor that will increase yields and profitability over the coming years, it adds. BMI expects Chinese production growth of 5% in 2018.

Missouri Man Charges with Defrauding Investors in Cattle Scheme

A Missouri resident has been indicted in a $4.7 million investment scheme that defrauded 89 investors.

Cameron J. Hager of Clinton was charged in a nine-count federal indictment that alleges he persuaded people to invest in a cattle fund that he said would be used to buy herds of cattle and then sell them later at a substantial profit. Hager, who operated the scheme from July 17, 2015, to March 28, 2018, never purchased the animals and never intended to buy them, according to court documents.

Kansas City Business Journal reports that Hager received about $4.7 million from investors, who gave amounts ranging from $1,000 to $267,000. He also roped in others to recruit investors and paid their commissions from the investments he received.

He also used investor funds on personal living expenses, including home mortgage payments, paying taxes, travel expenses, lodging and religious conferences, and used some funds to provide "returns" to other investors, according to court documents.

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