Friday, June 14, 2019

Friday June 14 Ag News

Ricketts Urges Ag Producers, Business Leaders to Join Upcoming Trade Mission to Vietnam & Japan

Governor Pete Ricketts wants to remind farmers, ranchers, and agribusiness leaders interested in attending the Governor’s September trade mission to Vietnam and Japan that the deadline to register is June 30, 2019.

“Vietnam is one of the fastest growing economies in the world,” said Governor Pete Ricketts.  “With nearly 100 million people and a growing middle class, Vietnam represents a tremendous opportunity to increase our state’s agricultural exports.  We also look forward to returning to Japan to grow trade with one of our longest-standing and most critical international partners.”

The trade mission is scheduled for Sept. 3-10 to Hanoi, Vietnam, and Tokyo, Japan.  Space is limited, so people interested in participating should contact Angel Velitchkov, Counsel for International Trade, at

“Nebraska-led trade missions open doors and deliver results for farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses,” said Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Steve Wellman.  “It’s a great opportunity for people in the ag community to tell the story of Nebraska agriculture and to show consumers around the world the quality ag products that we have to offer.  I encourage Nebraska agriculture representatives to join us on this upcoming trade mission.”

The itinerary for the upcoming trade mission was developed in cooperation with the Governor’s Office, NDA, the Department of Economic Development, Vietnamese officials, and the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi.  U.S. Ambassador Daniel Kritenbrink is a native of Ashland, Nebraska, and a graduate of the University of Nebraska–Kearney.  The trade delegation is expected to meet with Vietnamese government officials responsible for trade decisions, agricultural officials, and industry leaders currently using Nebraska products.

Strategies with Delayed Soybean Planting 

Aaron Nygren - NE Extension Educator

According to the USDA NASS June 10 crop report, soybean planting was 79% complete compared to the five-year average of 94% and last year’s 97%. In addition, lots of acres were planted into marginal conditions and may have poor stands needing to be replanted. With the delay in planting, agronomic practices such as relative maturity, row spacing, and seeding rate may need to be adjusted. The following are considerations when planting in the second half of June or into July.

Relative Maturity

Compared to corn, we don’t need to make as drastic a change in soybean maturity groups (MG) compared to the normal for your area. Late-planted soybeans will typically require fewer days to reach maturity than earlier planting dates.

In 2013, switching from a 2.8 to a 1.8 MG reduced the time to maturity by only five days, when planting in mid-June as compared to late April. Changing maturity groups during this planting period did not make a large difference in maturity, something to consider if you were thinking about changing to a much earlier maturity group.

However, if planting after June 15, you may want to go with the earliest maturity group number recommended for your given area, such as reducing your MG number by 0.5-1.0, but don’t try using a maturity group much shorter than that or you will sacrifice yield potential. Frost before maturity becomes a concern with late June or July plantings.

One way to evaluate different maturity groups is to use SoyWater, By entering your field location, planting date, and MG, SoyWater will give you a predicted maturity. When evaluating maturity, the key growth stage to be worried about is reaching R7, which is when one normal pod on the main stem has reached its mature pod color. Once plants reach this stage, metabolic traffic from the plant to the seed has ceased so a fall freeze is not going to affect the yield of wet but physiologically mature seeds. Keep in mind though that the dry down of the seeds from 60% moisture to a harvestable level will take longer given the cooler temperatures experienced later in the fall.

Row Spacing and Custom Planting

The next consideration is row spacing. With late planting, narrower row spacing is generally recommended. Because the longest day of the year occurs on June 21, and all days get shorter after that, soybeans need as much sunlight as possible to make pods, seed, and yield. To close the canopy sooner, you may want to consider planting narrower than 30 inches. UNL research has shown that up to 5/8 bu/ac can be lost for every day after May 1 that planting is delayed. Thus, there is now a need to mitigate, to the degree still possible, the loss in the crop’s ability to capture all incoming sunlight from now on.

While narrowing rows can help close the canopy quicker at this point, there are a few cautions to consider. In general, non-uniformity of seed depth placement and of seed-to-seed placement within the row is more of a concern with drills versus 15-inch or 30-inch planter units. When using a drill, increasing seeding rates by 10% (potentially up to 20%) may be necessary to fill in gaps that occur. This may not be as much of a concern with newer precision planting drills. Also, narrowing rows can favor diseases such as sclerotinia stem rot (white mold of soybean) that like a humid, moist canopy. While sclerotinia has not been a major issue in Nebraska, it has been observed in some fields; we would not recommend narrow rows if you have experienced a problem with white mold in your fields.

If your operation does not own a narrow row planter or drill, there are now two strong considerations for custom planting. First, if there can be two or more planters operating at a time, your last acres will be planted sooner and take less of a yield hit, especially with additional rain delays in June (e.g., 5/8 bu/acre per day at 7 days = 4.3 bu/ac advantage). Second, you can capture the yield advantage of narrow rows. Regional studies have shown a 3-4 bushel/acre yield advantage to narrow row spacing (20 inches or less).

Seeding Rate

Many sources recommend increasing seeding rates by 10% after early June for both drilled and planted beans. We understand this line of thinking to attempt to improve canopy closure for yield and weed control by having more plants per acre, but there is some debate around this practice. An Iowa State study published by DeBruin and Pederson in 2008 did not find a seeding rate (75K, 125K, 175K, 225K) by planting date (late April, early May, late May, and early June) interaction for yield, indicating no need for increased seeding rates at later planting dates. In addition, given that there is a wide range of seeding rates planted across the state, a blanket statement of a 10% increase may not be appropriate. Growers will need to evaluate this recommendation based on their normal seeding rates and their planting equipment. 

It’s also important to be aware of crop insurance considerations and your options.

Thistle Caterpillars In Soybeans

Robert Wright - NE Extension Entomologist

The painted lady butterfly has been observed in parts of eastern Nebraska for about a month.  Recently, we have received reports of their immature stages, the thistle caterpillar in soybeans. This insect does not overwinter in Nebraska, but migrates from the southern U. S. and Mexico in the spring.   High populations of painted lady butterflies were reported earlier in the year in San Diego and moved north from there into the California Central Valley. 

The thistle caterpillar normally feeds on thistles, sunflowers and related plants but can also feed on soybeans. We have periodically seen them in Nebraska soybeans.

These brown-black caterpillars (also called thistle caterpillars) have a yellow stripe down the length of both sides of the body and spiny hairs on the body. They can reach up to 1.5 inches in length at maturity. When they feed they web together leaflets. There are usually two generations in the midwestern U.S.

Treatment Thresholds for Caterpillars in Soybeans

Estimate defoliation levels in several parts of the field. Assess defoliation over the whole plant canopy, not just the upper leaves. In vegetative (pre-flowering) stages, consider treatment if the insects are present and feeding, and defoliation will exceed 30%. In pod-forming or pod-filling stages, consider treatment if the insects are present and defoliation will exceed 20%. These percentages can vary 5% to 10% according to the stage or type of insect(s) present, environmental conditions, the specific stage of the soybean, and the size and condition of the canopy.

Several foliar insecticides labelled on soybeans have activity against these and other caterpillars. See the Section of Registered Insecticides for Soybean in Nebraska Extension's Guide for Weed, Disease, and Insect Management in Nebraska (EC 130) for specific information on products, rates and restrictions.

Potato Leafhoppers in Alfalfa

Robert Wright - NE Extension Entomologist

Potato leafhoppers are reported in north central Kansas and may be arriving in Nebraska soon. It is not too early to begin scouting for these insects and protecting your alfalfa from injury.
Potato leafhopper

Potato leafhoppers are tiny, yellowish-green, wedge-shaped insects. They blow into our region from the southeast from late spring through mid-summer. Leafhoppers turn alfalfa yellow and stunt growth, and they especially hurt new seedlings.

An early symptom of leafhopper damage is a triangular or V-shaped yellow or purple area at the tip of alfalfa leaves. This discoloration is caused by a toxin the leafhopper injects into the alfalfa plant as it sucks out plant juices. As feeding continues, the entire plant can turn yellow and growth may stop.

Check fields at least weekly for leafhoppers before symptoms appear. Don't wait!  If you detect leafhoppers early and they are present at threshold levels, insecticides can control them easily. Continue to scout for leafhoppers after treatment since adult leafhoppers can fly from other fields and reinfest your sprayed field.

However, if your alfalfa already is yellow and stunted, do not spray. Instead, first mow your alfalfa to remove affected plant tissue and to stimulate new growth. Unmown plants might not grow much more all year, lowering yield and potentially leading to stand loss over winter.

After mowing fields, scout new regrowth at least weekly for leafhoppers. If they reappear, then use insecticides if threshold levels are present.

Treatment Thresholds and Insecticides

Treatment decisions are based on numbers captured by a sweep net. (A sweep net is the only reliable way to scout for potato leafhoppers.) There do not have to be many leafhoppers to cause a problem.

Many insecticides are registered for control, and all will provide good results when applied properly. Commonly used insecticides include Mustang, Warrior, Baythroid, and Lorsban or products with the same active ingredients.

A list of registered alfalfa insecticides is available in the Insecticide Section of the UNL Extension EC130, 2019 Guide for Weed Management with Insecticide and Fungicide Information.


More than 200 high school juniors and seniors, sharing an interest in agriculture, will gather in Lincoln in July to develop leadership skills, explore career opportunities and learn more about the state’s number one industry. The Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute (NAYI) is the longest running program of its kind in the nation. Sponsored in part by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA), NAYI will be held July 8-12, in Lincoln, on the University of Nebraska’s East Campus.

“NAYI is one of the best ways for students to learn more about Nebraska’s diverse agriculture and the hard-working people who help make our ag industry great,” said NDA Director Steve Wellman.
During NAYI’s five-day program, delegates participate in agriculture policy and group discussions, farm management activities, and a variety of networking opportunities with peers and industry leaders. Learning about various career options is another important part of NAYI as a quarter of the jobs in Nebraska are related to agriculture.

“Career development at NAYI helps students realize that there are many ag-related jobs available including those in science, finance, marketing and sales, technology and equipment repair,” said Wellman. “Agriculture is expanding, and Nebraska needs new and talented people to step up and be a part of the ag industry’s next generation of workers.”

Since its start, NAYI has shared the importance of agriculture with nearly 6,400 youth from across the state. Delegates apply for and are selected to attend NAYI free of charge due to numerous donations from agricultural businesses, commodity groups and industry organizations.

“Generous contributions from sponsors help make NAYI a strong foundation for the youth of Nebraska and the future of our farming, ranching and ag-related industries,” said Wellman.

First Name - Last Name - City     
Sam    Wilkins    Ainsworth       
Zacharia    Kerwood    Alexandria      
Hunter    Borg    Allen       
Jacobi    Stumpff    Alliance      
Madison    Adam    Alliance      
Shanna    Weaver    Alliance       
Olivia     Fredrick    Amherst      
Jaiden     Graham    Amherst       
Courtney    Kastens    Anselmo      
Jacy    Hafer    Anselmo      
Grant    Reynolds    Ansley      
Gabriela    Hill    Ashland       
Faith     Santana    Auburn      
Blaine    Bonifas    Aurora      
Camille    Fishell    Axtell      
Bonnie    Jantzen    Beatrice      
Cameron    Lancaster    Beatrice      
Kelsay    Schlichtman    Beatrice      
Teana    Carter    Bellevue      
Cody    Boon    Benkelman      
Abigail    O'Brien    Blair      
Makenna    Dirkschnieider    Blair      
Mckenna     Schlueter    Blair   
Dani    Osmond    Broken Bow      
Emma    Hoffschneider    Burwell      
Trent    Marshall    Burwell      
John    Ford    Cairo      
Atlynn    Witthuhn    Callaway      
Kalen    Dockweiler    Callaway      
Trevor    Ross    Callaway      
Kylie    Kempf    Carroll      
Ryan    Gaughen    Cedar Bluffs      
Shannon    O'Rourke    Chadron      
Taya    Lejia    Chadron      
Abigail    Langdon    Clarkson      
Luke    Petersen    Cordova      
Dillon    Kolbo    Cozad      
Katelyn    Calhoun    Cozad      
Ellie    Jarecke    Culbertson      
Sydney    Veldhuizen    Curtis      
Tristin    Smith    Curtis      
Miles    Eggleston    David City      
Valerie    Bohuslavsky    David City      
Vanessa    Bohuslavsky    David City      
Jacson    Valentine    David City   
Savannah    Gerlach    De Witt      
Taylor    Cammack    De Witt      
Leah    Schmidt    Deshler      
Evan    Larson    DeWitt      
Katie     Bathke    Dixon      
Kenna    Rogers    Dunning      
Elizabeth     Benes    Dwight      
Tennyson    Williams    Eddyville      
Kiaya    Radke    Elba      
MacKenzie    McKoski    Elba      
Taylor    Daum    Emerson      
Frederick     Kujath    Fairbury      
Sonny    Scheets    Fairbury      
Dylan    Frederick    Falls City      
Olivia     Lentfer    Firth      
Cameron    Shaner    Fort Calhoun      
James    Wetovick    Fullerton      
John    Wetovick    Fullerton   
Samantha    Oborny    Garland      
Logan    Helgoth    Garrison      
Jacob    Czarnick    Genoa      
Kate    Mohr    Genoa      
Landon    Cuba    Genoa      
Allison    Wilkens    Gibbon      
Aspen    Rittgarn    Gordon      
Evan    Peterson    Gothenburg      
Heath    Keiser    Gothenburg      
Maggie    Aden    Gothenburg      
Savannah    Peterson    Gothenburg      
Garret    Laub    Grand Island      
Matthew    Wendell    Grant      
Zane    Rikli    Greenwood      
Chance    Mignery    Hastings      
Gage    Wright    Hastings      
Rachael    Dente    Henderson      
Bailey    Blackford    Herman      
Katie    Nepper    Hickman      
Rebecca    Wulf    Hooper      
Taylor    Ruwe    Hooper   
Luke    Krabel    Juniata      
Hunter    Miller    Kearney      
Kealey    Franzen    Kearney      
Reagan    Glatter    Kearney       
Jasmine    Galvin    Laurel      
Anah    Fuller    Lincoln      
Keegan    Jensen    Lincoln      
Olivia     Kerrigan    Lincoln      
Sophia    Fahleson    Lincoln      
Thomas    Cook    Lincoln      
Preston    Sueper    Lindsay      
Shelby    Dunn    Linwood      
Emma    Larson    Loomis      
Regan    Hodsden    Lyman      
Tucker     Hodsden    Lyman      
Jayla    Froman    Lynch      
Keshia    Leeper    Madrid      
Justin     Sousek    Malmo      
Laura    Carlson    Marquette      
Tate    Hartley    Maywood      
Emily    Hanson    Mead      
Sadie    Smutny    Meadow Grove      
Josie    Shadbolt    Merriman      
Ashley    Kroese    Milford      
Faith     Whitesel    Miller      
MarLee    Neu    Minatare      
Brinn    Space    Minden      
Corbin    Batt    Mitchell      
Jacob    Jenkins    Mitchell      
John    Thomas    Mitchell      
Jonathan    Pieper    Mitchell      
Russell    Schaefer    Morrill      
Teagan    Flick    Morrill      
Damien    Knight    Neligh      
Hannah    Schrader    Neligh      
Lesly    Duran    Neligh   
Aubyrne    McClintock    North Platte      
Celie    Childears    North Platte      
Charles    Aufdenkamp    North Platte      
Kizziah    Rutherford    North Platte      
MaKenzie    Dahlgren    North Platte      
Micah    Swedberg    North Platte      
Elizabeth     Karnopp    Oakland      
Hannah    Moseman    Oakland      
Layne    Miller    Oakland 
Tyler    Perrin    Ogallala      
Hector    Nunez    Ohiowa       
Cole    Kalkowski    Omaha      
Jacob    Jones    Omaha       
Rosie    Nelson    O'Neill      
Kyle    Snodgrass    Orchard      
Trevor    Boruch    Osceola      
Billy    Cayou    Oxford      
Dine'    Hutchens    Oxford      
Shayla    Bennet    Palmer      
Shayne    Bennet    Palmer      
Troy     Donner    Plainview      
Nancy    Skutchan    Pleasant Dale      
Cooper    Dixon    Pleasanton      
Emily    Zimmer    Pleasanton      
Kessler     Dixon    Pleasanton      
McKenna     Darby    Pleasanton      
Taylore    Cruise    Pleasanton      
Jonathan    Vacek    Ravenna      
Jenae    Tilford    Roca       
Emily    Carpenter    Scottsbluff      
Nevaeh    Heinold    Scottsbluff      
Alisen    Niewohner    Scribner      
Anna    Ready    Scribner      
Payton    Schiller    Scribner  
Anna    Palmer    Shelton      
Luryn    Hendrickson    Shelton      
Sara     Palmer    Shelton      
Lana    Hebda    Silver Creek      
Wynn    Cannon    Silver Creek      
Cailey     Grabenstein    Smithfield      
Shay    Nelson    Spencer      
Terran    Tomlinson    St. Paul      
Valerie    Christensen    St. Paul      
Megan    Vrbka    Staplehurst      
Abigayle    Warm    Staplehurst       
Dana    Christen    Steinauer      
Brian    Heusman    Sterling      
Morgan    Stratman    Stromsburg      
Sarah    Glatter    Sumner       
Cassidy    Frey    Superior      
Taylor    Steager    Surprise      
Seth    George    Sutton      
Cade    Wilkinson    Tilden      
Kolby    Schafer    Tobias      
Erin    Timoney    Ulysses      
Brody    Benson    Valentine      
Haylee    Lopez    Wallace       
Jerad    Phillips    Wallace       
Audrey    Sorensen    Waverly      
Claire    Rolf    Waverly      
Allison    Claussen    Wayne      
Hana    Nelson    Wayne      
Josie    Thompson    Wayne      
Tyler    Gilliland    Wayne  
Jayden    Widener    Wellfleet      
Karlie    Gerlach    Wellfleet      
Anna    Wooldrik    West Point      
Macey    Wooldrik    West Point      
Sophie    Alfson    West Point
Wyatt    Haverluck    Western      
Alyeea    Lopez    Whitney      
Cassidy    Kowalski    Wilber      
Emily    Hatterman    Wisner      
Megan    Schroeder    Wisner   
Treyvin    Schlueter    Wook Lake      
Ashtyn    Humphreys    Wymore      
Lauren    Kaliff    York      
Marshall    Buss    York   

NAYI events and additional youth learning opportunities throughout the year are organized by the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Council (NAYC). The 21 college students who serve on NAYC
are chosen by NDA to share their passion and knowledge about agriculture with young people across Nebraska. During NAYI, NAYC members provide valuable insight and advice about agriculture, college coursework and career building.
Nebraska Agricultural Youth Council    
First Name  -  Last Name  -  City      
Grant    Dahlgren    Bertrand      
Kelsey    Loseke    Blair      
Cheyenne    Gerlach    DeWitt      
Sage    Williams    Eddyville      
Felicia    Knoerzer    Elwood      
Colton    Thompson    Eustis      
Jacob    Schlick    Fairfield      
Emily    Frenzen    Fullerton      
Wesley    Wach    Hayes Center      
Ralston    Ripp    Kearney      
Brent    Miller    Lyons      
Kevin    Sousek    Malmo      
Courtney    Nelson    Monroe  
Isaac    Stallbaumer    Oconto      
Nick    Birdsley    Omaha      
Hannah    Settje    Raymond      
Cooper    Grabenstein    Smithfield      
Kelli    Mashino    Spencer      
Colin    Ibach    Sumner      
Collin    Swedberg    Wallace      
Eric    Leisy    Wisner     

To learn more about NAYC or NAYI, visit the NAYI website at Follow NAYI activities on Facebook by searching and liking the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute. On Twitter, follow the_nayc or #NAYI19.

CommonGround Nebraska hosts second Banquet on the Farm event near Shelton

On June 4, 2019, Nebraska CommonGround volunteers invited Nebraska Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) teachers to Shelton for their second Banquet on the Farm event. This hands-on learning experience allowed teachers to engage in conversations about the safety of modern agriculture. CommonGround volunteers are made up of volunteer farm women across the state who are passionate about helping consumers understand how food is grown and raised.

The event kicked off with learning opportunities revolving around different educational stations. The topics of these learning stations included animal health, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), production methods and sustainability. FCS teachers were able to hear from CommonGround volunteers who have extensive experience with these topics.  As part of the educational stations, dairy cattle, chickens and pigs were also on display. Following the educational social hour, a buffet dinner was served featuring locally sourced foods.

“By reaching out to these FCS teachers, we’re able to provide them with the tools they might need to help educate the next generation of smart consumers,” said Deb Gangwish, CommonGround volunteer and farmer from Shelton. “We know not as many youth are growing up on farms or even in farming communities. Therefore, we want to bring agriculture to the students. What better way to do this than through their teachers?”

Throughout the event, the 76 teachers in attendance were able to visit with CommonGround volunteers about agriculture. By being on a farm, teachers were able to better understand modern farm practices, and they were able to ask questions to clear up misinformation.

“One misconception that stuck out to me revolved around the bad reputation GMOs receive, something many of my students are curious about as well,” said Louise Dornbusch, Papillion-LaVista FCS educator. “I learned that there are only 10 GMO products out there, and each one is modified for the benefit of the crop and consumer—not to harm them.”

While this was the first time CommonGround and Nebraska FCS teachers came together, the volunteers hope it’s not the last time. While visiting with the teachers, CommonGround volunteers let them know of their availability beyond this event.

“We know it’s difficult for teachers to stay up-to-date on everything, so we want to be a resource for them if they’re ever talking about food or food production in their classes, or just teaching about being a smart consumer,” said Joan Ruskamp, CommonGround volunteer and cattle producer from Dodge. “Our dynamic group of volunteers represent almost all aspects of Nebraska agriculture, and we’d love to be a resource for these classrooms.”

Teachers who attended the event are already excited to bring back what they learned to their classrooms.

“I think it was the best learning experience and social we have ever had in the 15 years of my teaching, said Dornbusch. “It was just fantastic, beautiful, welcoming place and it was so neat to learn about these operations from CommonGround women. I’m truly excited to bring all this back to my students who really are hungry to learn more about how our farms and ranches operate.”

CommonGround is a national effort designed to help consumers base their food purchasing decisions on fact rather than fear. Nebraska was one of five states to pilot this program in 2010. CommonGround Nebraska is funded by the state’s corn and soybean farmers. For more information, visit

ICI Culinary Students Attend Beef 101 Workshop

Culinary students from the Iowa Culinary Institute at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) learned about the beef industry and beef cuts at a Beef 101 educational workshop hosted by the Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC) on April 17, 2019. The event was held in collaboration with the Iowa State University (ISU) Meats Laboratory. Over 50 students and chef instructors attended.

Culinary students from the Iowa Culinary Institute at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) received a quick presentation about beef nutrition from Rochelle Gilman, Director of Health and Nutrition at the Iowa Beef Industry Council.

The workshop sessions included a presentation on Beef Grading, Aging and More, from Dr. Steven Lonergan, Professor of Meat Science and Muscle Biology at ISU. Dr. Lonergan covered information on the different grades of beef, aging beef and meat tenderness. A presentation on Beef Production – What Happens on the Farm, from Iowa Beef Center Field Specialist, Kendi Sayre, discussed how cattle are raised, what cattle eat and health products used in modern cattle production. Additionally, students were given a tour of the ISU Meats Laboratory.

The workshop concluded with a beef carcass fabrication, conducted by ISU Meats Lab staff.   Dr. Joe Cordray, Jeff Mitchell, Carl Frame and Emily Usinger demonstrated the primal and subprimal cuts of the beef carcass, with a breakdown of popular and recently discovered beef cuts. Many of these newer cuts are available on restaurant menus that chefs will be preparing.

"The culinary students will be chefs in restaurants in the near future and interacting with consumers about beef menu choices," commented Rochelle Gilman, RD and Director of Nutrition and Health for IBIC. "The Beef 101 workshop provides a first-hand opportunity to learn the basics about the beef products they will be preparing and serving to consumers."

Students completed a pre and post event survey to determine knowledge about the beef industry. Data showed that students increased their knowledge and understanding of beef production from pasture to plate by 52%. “The verbal positive feedback, paired with eye-opening survey results, shows that educational opportunities, like Beef 101, play a critical role in supplying culinary students with the tools they need to make educated beef cooking decisions and menu choices in their future careers,” stated IBIC Director of Marketing and Communications, Kylie Peterson.

The event was funded in part by the Beef Checkoff Program. Events, such as the Beef 101 educational workshop, provide opportunities for culinary students to gain hands on experience and knowledge from industry experts.

Bipartisan Bill to Help Schools Access Locally Grown Foods

Thursday, U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the Kids Eat Local Act, legislation to help increase schools access to locally grown foods by providing flexibility around the use of geographic preference in the National School Lunch Program. This would make it easier for schools to source "locally grown, locally raised and locally caught" food and farm products for their meal programs. U.S. Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) have introduced the House version of the bill.

Current law does not allow schools to ask for "local" as a product specification in food procurement requests. And while schools are allowed to use a geographic preference option, that system has proven to be confusing and burdensome to school food service providers, and hence is underutilized. The Kids Eat Local Act would improve the existing geographic preference option by providing a common-sense reform that would allow 'local' as a product specification, helping eliminate unnecessary red tape and getting more locally grown foods in school lunchrooms.

"One of the important, exciting trends we are seeing across our country is the growth of the farm-to-table movement, connecting rural to urban, farmers directly to consumers," said Fortenberry, Ranking Member, House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food and Drug Administration. "I support this effort to incentivize schools to buy more of their food from local sources."

The Kids Eat Local Act is supported by a number of school food procurement specialists around the country.

Fischer, Duckworth Strive to Bring More Transparency to RFS Small Refinery Waiver Process

Today, U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) introduced the bipartisan RFS Integrity Act of 2019. This legislation seeks to provide more certainty for rural America by bringing transparency and predictability to EPA’s small refinery exemption process. The bill would require small refineries to petition for Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) hardship exemptions by June 1st of each year. This change would ensure that EPA properly accounts for exempted gallons in the annual Renewable Volume Obligations it sets each November.

“The bipartisan solution we are putting forth today builds off of the recent victory on year-round E-15 sales. In the past, EPA has issued small refinery exemptions after the Renewable Volume Obligations have already been determined. That’s unfair, and it hurts our farmers and ethanol producers. This bill would shine a light on what’s been an obscure exemption process and help promote economic growth in rural America,” said Senator Fischer.

“Farmers across Illinois and throughout the Midwest are hurting and ethanol plants are idling while this administration is abusing the small refinery exemption program to undermine the bipartisan Renewable Fuel Standard. I am proud to work with Senator Fischer to introduce this bipartisan legislation to bring much-needed transparency to the waiver process and prevent it from being misused to benefit billion dollar oil companies at the expense of hardworking Americans,” said Senator Duckworth.

RFA Applauds Senate Bill Focusing on Small Refiner Exemptions from RFS

Today, Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced the RFS Integrity Act of 2019. The bill sets a June 1 deadline for small refiners to submit petitions for exemptions from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), requires transparency in filing, and requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to account for exempted gallons when determining annual renewable volume obligations (RVOs). Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper released the following statement in support of the legislation:

“We are grateful for the leadership of Senators Fischer and Duckworth on this issue. Refiner exemptions have had a devastating impact on the ethanol industry, erasing 2.6 billion gallons of RFS demand over the past two years. This week, President Trump came to Iowa to celebrate the promise of homegrown renewable fuels, only days after EPA’s final rule allowing year-round sales of E15. Any additional small refiner exemptions granted by EPA would totally undermine the demand gains we expect to see from year-round E15, hitting the rural economy hard. The legislation introduced today provides important reforms that would prevent further abuse of the small refiner exemption provision, providing a boost to ethanol producers, farmers and American families each time they fill up at the pump.”

ACE statement on Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act of 2019

Today, Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced the Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act of 2019, legislation that addresses the timing and transparency issues associated with the small refinery exemption (SRE) program under the RFS. The bill would set a deadline for refineries to submit petitions for RFS exemptions to ensure granted waivers are prospectively reallocated to non-exempt obligated parties, as well as require that key information surrounding the SREs is publicly available. American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings issued the following statement in support:

“ACE thanks Senators Fischer and Duckworth for bipartisan legislation to correct EPA’s brazen mismanagement of the RFS small refinery exemption provision. Under President Trump, EPA has retroactively granted more than 50 so-called hardship waivers for small refineries, erasing 2.61 billion gallons worth of the RFS blending obligations for 2016 and 2017 compliance years, and has 39 more requests pending for 2018. As we celebrated year-round access for E15 this week in Iowa with President Trump, industry stakeholders pointed out that without reallocation of the demand destruction through these refinery waivers the net effect of EPA’s actions still puts us in a hole.

“The uptick of waivers without reallocation as required by law also means the Congressional intent of the RFS is undermined. This legislation would help ensure EPA’s abuse of small refinery exemptions is put to a stop by requiring timely reallocation of any granted waiver and ensuring the statutory RFS volumes are enforced. ACE is grateful for the leadership of Senators Fischer and Duckworth to help get the RFS back on track by following the rule of law.”

Bipartisan Senate Bill Provides Transparency, Accountability in Small Refinery Exemption Process

U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced bipartisan legislation that would bring much-needed transparency to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) secretive small refinery exemption (SRE) process and ensure refiners meet their biofuel blending requirements. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor thanked the senators for introducing this legislation at a time when biofuel producers and corn farmers need it most:

“EPA’s track-record on handouts to big oil through small refinery exemptions has eliminated markets at a time when growers and producers face true economic hardship,” said Skor. “U.S. ethanol consumption recently fell for the first time in 20 years. Across the heartland, many biofuel plants have shut their doors or idled production. Farm income plummeted $11.8 billion over just the last three months, the steepest drop since 2016. It’s clear that the ‘economic hardship’ is happening in America’s farm belt – not in oil company boardrooms.

“This bipartisan legislation from Senators Fischer and Duckworth can help restore transparency and integrity to the abusive exemption process. By providing the public with more information, accounting for exemptions and ensuring biofuel targets are met in full, farmers and producers across the nation can count on stable biofuels demand and continue providing cleaner and more affordable fuel choices at the pump.”

Currently, refiners have no deadline when submitting a request for a small refinery exemption, which allows them a secretive, backdoor way to avoid their legal obligations. The bipartisan legislation requires refineries to submit an application for an SRE by June 1st, and requires the EPA to re-allocate exempted gallons so that biofuel targets are met in earnest. Additionally, the legislation prevents refineries from  concealing exemptions as confidential business information, allowing the public greater insight into who is receiving these waivers and why.

NBB Applauds Bipartisan Bill to Limit RFS Small Refinery Exemptions

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) today thanked Sens. Deb Fischer (R-NE), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), John Thune (R-SD), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) for introducing legislation (S. 1840) that would require small refineries to petition for Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) hardship exemptions by June 1 each year. The legislation would further require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to properly account for exempted gallons in the annual Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) it sets each November.

“NBB and its members appreciate Senators Deb Fischer and Tammy Duckworth for their bipartisan effort to end EPA’s rampant use of small refinery exemptions to undermine the RFS program, along with biofuel producers and feedstock providers,” said Kurt Kovarik, NBB’s Vice President of Federal Affairs. “The legislation highlights the fact that EPA’s actions on small refinery exemptions is inconsistent with President Donald Trump’s support for the RFS.”

Kovarik continued, “Over the past two years, EPA retroactively granted RFS hardship exemptions to nearly every refiner that asked. When EPA issues retroactive small refinery exemptions and refuses to account for the lost gallons in annual volumes, it actively undercuts the RFS program. The exemptions handed out last year for 2015, 2016 and 2017 destroyed demand for more than 360 million gallons of biodiesel and renewable diesel.”

EPA’s retroactive exemptions for 2015, 2016, and 2017 reduced compliance with the RFS volumes for those years. NBB conservatively estimates the demand destruction at 364 million gallons of biomass-based diesel. University of Illinois Economist Scott Irwin estimates the economic harm to U.S. biodiesel producers at $7.7 billion dollars.

Peterson, Costa Statements on Dairy Margin Coverage Signup

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota and Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Chairman Jim Costa of California issued the following statements in response to today’s announcement of open signup for the 2018 Farm Bill’s Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.

“The purpose of the Dairy Margin Coverage program is to ensure dairy farmers have an adequate safety net when they need it,” said Peterson. “We put this program together in the farm bill to enable farmers to get their revenue from the market in those years when the milk price is up, but still provide a backstop in the event that milk prices come down or feed costs go up. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: dairies should sign up their first 5 million pounds of production history the $9.50 coverage level. I know times are tough, but this program is going to provide some real help.”

“Dairy farmers were on our minds throughout the entirety of the farm bill process,” said Costa. “Now that the program is being implemented, it is my goal to get information out to producers on Dairy Margin Coverage, as well as the other risk management tools available as soon as possible. DMC improves on the old Margin Protection Program in a number of ways including making it clear that all operations can enroll up to 5 million pounds of production history in tier one, regardless of their overall farm size. DMC also effectively improves catastrophic coverage by setting $5 margin protection at only half a cent per hundredweight, no matter how much production history is enrolled. As Chairman of the Subcommittee overseeing implementation of the dairy provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill, I appreciate USDA’s recognition of the issues confronting dairy farmers in all corners of the country right now, and I look forward to working with USDA as they continue their implementation of this program.”

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