Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Tuesday June 11 Ag News


Based on June 1 conditions, Nebraska's 2019 winter wheat crop is forecast at 50.0 million bushels, up 1 percent from last year's crop, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Average yield is forecast at 50 bushels per acre, up 1 bushel from last year.

Acreage to be harvested for grain is estimated at 1.00 million acres, down 10,000 acres from last year. This would be 91 percent of the planted acres, compared with last year's 92 percent harvested.

Legislature wants accurate dairy labels, should include meat too

State senators encouraged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to mandate accurate labels for milk and dairy products, in one of the last acts of the first session of the 106th Legislature.

The use of the terms milk, yogurt, butter, ice cream, and cheese should be used for real dairy products, the legislature declared in LR 13.

Sen. Dave Murman sponsored the resolution. He said products derived from rice, nuts and other substances are sometimes labeled as milk, giving consumers the impression they are buying real dairy products when they are not. The legislature approved the resolution, 28-3.

Murman also noted that 10 dairy farms have closed in Nebraska just since Jan. 1. He said negative economic returns are related to misleading labels.

Meat labels should be accurate too

The Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska strongly urge the FDA to label meat accurately. Meat lookalikes derive from plants or from cells cultured in a laboratory, including so-called “clean meat.” But the products do not come from meat producing livestock.

A pending bill in the Legislature, LB 594, amends Nebraska’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act to make it a crime to mislabel the category of meat.

The Legislature’s Agriculture Committee advanced LB 594 to the floor during the session, but time ran out before it could be debated.

The sponsor, Sen. Carol Blood, told ICON that the bill “will be one of the first bills up next year for a vote” in January 2020.

ICON will hold its annual convention on June 21, featuring the leading research analyst for the Legislature’s Agriculture Committee, Rick Leonard. He will discuss ways to make meat labels more accurate.

ICON’s convention will be held Friday, June 21 in Broken Bow at the Cobblestone Hotel & Suites, beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Leonard is a native of Madrid Nebraska, where he grew up on a small farm and ranch.

Northeast Nebraska Swine Summit Set for July 17 in Norfolk.

Area farmers considering expanding or diversifying their operations are invited to the Northeast Nebraska Swine Summit set for July 17 in Norfolk, Neb.
The program will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Northeast Community College’s Lifelong Learning Center. Admission is free and lunch will be provided.
The event is sponsored by the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN), the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Northeast Community College, and the Nebraska Pork Producers Association.
“With diminished returns on row crop operations, increased cost of land ownership, and surplus feedstuffs in the corn belt, now may be the time for Nebraska farmers to consider adding a swine confinement facility,” said Will Keech, AFAN director of livestock development.   “This conference is designed to provide farmers with the information and insight they need to consider adding confined swine production to their operations for future growth.” 
Keynote speaker will be Bill Winkelman, vice president of industry relations for the National Pork Board, who will provide an industry update and discuss the path for swine industry expansion.
Other issues to be discussed include a 2019 agriculture economic outlook with focus on the pork sector; resources for building a barn, featuring a panel of industry experts; manure and nutrient management; and a presentation about Northeast Community College’s agriculture program and capital contributions program.
Reservations should be sent to AFAN at, or call 402.421.4472. Or for more information, go to


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

Native meadows will soon start growing rapidly and bromegrass is heading out.  Here are some tips to make your grass hay suitable for your animals.

When do you cut your grass hay?  Do you wait until all crops are planted?  Maybe you plan to cut during first or second irrigation of corn.  Or like some folks, maybe you cut grass hay just when you get around to it.

Instead, how about cutting your grass hay so the grass nutrient content matches with the nutritional needs of your livestock?  Now that's a different way to look at it, isn't it?  But doesn't it make sense to harvest hay that will meet the specific needs of your livestock and minimize your supplement costs?

We all know that protein and energy concentration declines in grass hay as plants become stemmy and get more mature.  As this happens, the types of livestock that can be fed that hay with little or no supplements become more limited.

For example, grass hay cut at early head often can support more than one pound of daily gain for pregnant yearling heifers all by itself.  But if the same grass gets mature it won't even maintain weight of a mature cow without some protein supplements.

So, what should you do?  First off, plan what type of livestock will receive the grass hay from each field.  Young livestock need high nutrient concentrations so cut that hay before or just when heads begin to emerge.  If the hay will go to mature dry cows instead, let the grass produce a bit more tonnage and cut it after it is well headed out, but before seeds develop.

Matching your hay harvest with your plan of use can pay handsome dividends in lower costs and less supplementing.


Abundant rain produces abundant grass.  If this describes your grasslands, let’s find a way to take best advantage of this blessing.

When you get abundant rain and warm, sunny weather, your pastures may produce more growth than needed for your current summer stocking rates.  Options to use the extra growth are needed.

Sometimes we cut and bale extra growth as hay.  This is a good plan if you need the hay.  Other times we simply let cattle graze what they want and leave the excess in the field, rebuilding surface litter.

How about another option?  Try stockpiling, or saving some extra pasture growth for grazing during the winter.

There are lots of advantages to winter grazing.  For starters, less hay needs to be fed next winter.  Thus, you won’t need to make as much hay this summer.  And stockpiling in summer and fall followed by winter grazing is one of the best methods to improve the health of your grasslands, especially native range.

If you have some run down, poor condition, low producing pastures, these often are the best candidates for winter grazing.  Grasses that need invigorating will be strengthened if you avoid grazing them during the growing season.  Later, your winter grazing will clean off much of the frozen growth during winter.  Cattle may even eat some plants like yucca and ragweed during winter that they won't hardly touch during summer.  Sure, you'll need some protein supplements, but cattle do a pretty good job of picking high quality plant parts to eat while winter grazing.

Extra growth is an opportunity to both reduce winter feed costs and improve pasture condition.  Get it by stockpiling extra summer growth for winter grazing.

Ricketts Signs Trio of Bills to Provide Property Tax Relief to Nebraskans

During the recent legislative session, Governor Pete Ricketts signed three bills to provide Nebraskans with additional property tax relief.
·       LB103 protects Nebraskans from automatic tax hikes when property values go up.
·       LB294, the mainline appropriations bill for 2019-2021, increases the Property Tax Credit Relief Fund by $51 million per year.
·       LB512 ensures that damages from natural disasters are taken into account when assessing property for tax purposes.

LB103: Ends Automatic Property Tax Hikes

The Governor signed LB103 to give Nebraskans greater insight and input into proposed property tax increases.  The bill requires taxing entities—like school districts, cities, and counties—to hold a public hearing and vote before they can raise property taxes.  Previously, as property valuations went up, property taxes would often soar higher and higher—even as tax rates remained the same.  This meant Nebraskans paid more in property taxes without ever debating or approving the increased amount.

With LB103 signed into law, Nebraskans will now receive public notice whenever a political subdivision (such as a school district, city, or county) wants to increase its property tax receipts.

“Nebraskans deserve to be fully informed, and to have a fair say, before they pay more in property taxes,” said Governor Ricketts. “This bill adds much-needed transparency and accountability to the property taxation process.”

The Legislature passed LB103 47-0-2, and it is already in effect as law.

LB294: Adds $51 Million Annually to the Property Tax Credit Relief Fund

LB294 includes the Governor’s recommendation to add $51 million annually to the Property Tax Credit Relief Fund in the 2019-21 budget.  This represents a 23% increase for a total of $275 million in property tax relief per year for Nebraskans. 

“The key to delivering real, sustainable property tax relief is to control spending,” said Governor Ricketts.  “The State budget limits spending increases to less than 3%, while raising the Property Tax Credit Relief Fund by 23%.  Over the last five years, Senators and I have successfully worked together to nearly double the amount of direct relief to Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers, and homeowners.”

Taxpayers will see the additional relief when their property tax statements are sent out in December 2019.

LB512: Accounts for Disaster Damage to Property

LB512 provides property tax relief to Nebraskans who suffer damage to real property as a result of a natural disaster such as a flood, fire, or tornado.  Under normal circumstances, property is assessed for tax purposes on January 1 each year.  However, LB512 allows taxpayers to report property damage occurring after January 1 and before July 1 in order to obtain a revised assessment that takes the damage into account.  So long as the damage exceeds 20% of the assessed value for the current tax year, the property’s value will be lowered to reflect the damage.

“In March, Nebraskans experienced the most widespread natural disaster in state history,” said Governor Ricketts.  “LB 512 will help Nebraskans who are working to get back on their feet as the state rebuilds bigger and better than ever before.”

The Legislature passed LB512 without opposition, and it is now in effect.

Nebraskans who have experienced significant property damage due to a natural disaster in 2019 should fill out a Report of Destroyed Real Property.  This report, Form 425, is available by clicking here and must be completed by July 15, 2019.

ACE: Thank you Mr. President for year-round E15 access

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings, ACE Board President Duane Kristensen, representing Chief Ethanol Fuels plants in Hastings and Lexington, Nebraska, and ACE Communications Director Katie Fletcher, along with other ACE leaders will join hundreds of farmers and other ethanol industry stakeholders in Council Bluffs, Iowa, today, to welcome President Donald Trump to Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy, LLC (SIRE) and celebrate year-round access to E15. Following the event, ACE leaders will be available for interviews about the President’s visit and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) final E15 rule. 

On May 31, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a final rule providing Reid vapor pressure (RVP) relief for E15. EPA released its final rule just before the June 1st kick-off of the summer driving season, so retailers nationwide can offer E15 as an option to their customers year-round. E15 is a clean, safe, and low-cost fuel which can be used in more than 90 percent of the cars on the road today. The sale of E15 year-round enables retailers to sell the fuel if they wish, gives consumers the option to buy the low-cost fuel, reduces refiner Renewable Identification Number (RIN) costs, and opens market access for farmers and ethanol producers. Ahead of President Trump’s visit, Jennings released the following statement:

“As we join President Trump in Iowa today, we thank him for directing EPA to allow year-round sales of E15. EPA’s decision is good news for the ethanol industry, farmers, and American consumers. Finally, retailers don’t have their hands tied when it comes to offering a lower cost, higher quality E15 fuel to their customers during the summer months. This won't be an overnight success, but a large obstacle is removed, so we’re looking forward to working with retailers, who have been standing on the sidelines not offering E15 because of the previous RVP regulatory limit and convincing them to get in the game. The timing of this ruling is incredibly important as U.S. farmers are under tremendous financial stress from collapsing net farm income, rising expenses, ongoing trade tensions, weather-related disasters, and the undermining of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) with demand destroying small refinery waivers. This rule creates markets for ethanol producers and farmers alike with greater access for corn grind and ethanol use.

“Unfortunately, we can’t look at this E15 decision in isolation. EPA needs to quit mismanaging the RFS through small refinery waivers. The net effect of E15 year-round and 2.61 billion gallons worth of demand destruction through refinery waivers means we’re still in the hole from an ethanol demand standpoint. We’re not turning a blind eye to that and will continue to put pressure on the administration to do right by the RFS.”

Fischer Travels with President Trump to Nebraska, Iowa for Year-Round E-15 Sale Announcement

Today, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, joined President Donald Trump, USDA Secretary Perdue, and EPA Administrator Wheeler for the official announcement allowing year-round E-15 sales. Fischer accompanied President Trump on Air Force One, which landed at Offutt Air Force Base, and then travelled to Council Bluffs, Iowa, for the announcement.

“I want to thank President Trump for making the year-round sale of E-15 a reality for farmers and ethanol producers in the Heartland. It was exciting to travel with the president and deliver this great news with him. This change is something I’ve long pushed for because it will create economic opportunities for hardworking men and women in Nebraska and across rural America,” said Senator Fischer.

Senator Fischer has long been an advocate for the year-round sale of E-15 and was a lead sponsor of the bipartisan Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act. It would have allowed retailers across the country to sell E-15 and other higher-ethanol/gasoline fuel blends year-round, increasing regulatory certainty and eliminating confusion at the pump.

Nebraska is ranked second in the nation in biofuel production and has 25 operating ethanol plants across the state. These plants produce more than 2 billion gallons of renewable fuel annually and have created more than 1,300 good-paying jobs.

Ricketts Welcomes President Trump, Hails E15 Victory

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts welcomed President Donald J. Trump to the Midwest as Air Force One landed at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Nebraska.  The Governor then joined President Trump at an event in Council Bluffs, Iowa to celebrate the President’s approval of year-round E15.

“From cutting red tape to new trade deals like USMCA, President Trump has been delivering on his promises for America’s Heartland,” said Governor Ricketts.  “The President’s successful work on E15 is an especially big win for Nebraska’s farmers.  It was an honor to welcome the President, and Nebraskans greatly appreciate the work he has been doing on our behalf in Washington, D.C.”

Previously, E15 could be marketed September 16th through April 30th.  A new rule recently finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency now allows E15 to be sold all year long.  Nebraska is the second-largest ethanol producing state in the nation behind Iowa.


NCGA First Vice President Kevin Ross today represented NCGA in hosting President Trump for a tour of Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy, an ethanol plant in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Ross farms in nearby Minden and sells corn to the ethanol plant.

The visit was an opportunity for NCGA to thank the President for following through on the commitment to allow for year-round sales of E15, a priority for corn farmers. On May 31, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule for E15. In addition to increasing demand for farmers, higher blends of renewable fuels such as E15 reduce fuel prices for drivers by three to ten cents per gallon and result in lower emissions, improving air quality and providing greater greenhouse gas reductions.

Ross also urged President Trump to address EPA's waivers to large refiners that are undermining the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and work with members of Congress to pass an infrastructure bill.

Members of NCGA's board of directors, in nearby Omaha for a board meeting, also attended the event.

Growth Energy: American Drivers Reach 10 Billion Miles Driven on E15

Today, Growth Energy announced that drivers across the United States have reached a new milestone, logging 10 billion miles on the road using E15. The news comes on the heels of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) approval of year-round sales of E15 – a fuel approved for cars 2001 and newer and made with 15 percent renewable biofuel – and major announcements from retailers expanding their E15 footprints.

“American drivers have clearly embraced E15 and its many benefits – from its engine smart and earth kind attributes, to the savings it provides at the fuel pump,” said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “As we celebrate 10 billion miles on E15, we’re ecstatic that drivers around the U.S. will be able to rely on E15 fueling their summer drives this year and each year ahead.”

Growth Energy works with leading retailers including Casey’s, Cumberland Farms, Family Express, Holiday, Kum & Go, Kwik Trip, Minnoco, Murphy USA, Protec Fuel, QuikTrip, RaceTrac, Royal Farms, Rutters, Sheetz, and Thorntons to give more drivers access to cleaner burning, high-octane E15 at more than 1,800 stations across the U.S.

“American drivers know a good value when they see it, which is why once they try E15, they come back again and again, so we know the next billion miles are just around the corner” said Skor.

E15 is currently sold at 1,807 stations in 31 states, and to find the nearest E15 stations, visit

Secretary Perdue Statement on President Trump’s Biotech EO

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement after President Donald J. Trump Signed the Modernizing the Regulatory Framework for Agricultural Biotechnology Products Executive Order.

“Our current regulatory framework has impeded innovation instead of facilitating it. With this Executive Order, President Trump is once again putting America first and setting us on a course to modernize our regulatory framework so that it works for our farmers, ranchers, and consumers. We need all the tools in the toolbox to meet the challenge of feeding everyone now and into the future – if we do not put these safe biotechnology advances to work here at home, our competitors in other nations will,” said Secretary Perdue. “Science-based advances in biotechnology have great promise to enhance rural prosperity and improve the quality of life across America’s heartland and around the globe. I applaud President Trump for signing this important Executive Order that will help America’s farmers do what we aspire to do at USDA: Do Right and Feed Everyone.”


The Modernizing the Regulatory Framework for Agricultural Biotechnology Products Executive Order calls for, among other things, regulatory streamlining in order to facilitate the innovation of agricultural biotechnology to the market efficiently, consistently, and safely under a predictable, consistent, transparent, and science-based regulatory framework.

In addition, the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) Trade Agreement sets unprecedented standards for agricultural biotechnology. For the first time, the agreement specifically addresses agricultural biotechnology to support 21st century innovations in agriculture. The text covers all biotechnologies, including new technologies such as genome editing, whereas the Trans-Pacific Partnership text covered only traditional rDNA technology. Specifically, the United States, Mexico, and Canada have agreed to provisions to enhance information exchange and cooperation on agricultural biotechnology trade-related matters.

USDA is one of three federal agencies which regulate products of food and agricultural technology. Together, USDA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have a Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology and regulates these products for human, animal, plant and environmental health. For products derived from plant biotechnology, USDA’s regulations focus on protecting plant health; FDA oversees food and feed safety; and EPA regulates the sale, distribution, and testing of pesticides in order to protect human health and the environment.

USDA continues to coordinate closely with the EPA and FDA to fulfill oversight responsibilities and provide the appropriate regulatory environment. This ensures the safety of products derived from new technologies, while fostering innovation at the same time.

As per Secretary Perdue’s announcement on plant breeding technology issued on March 28, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not regulate or have any plans to regulate plants that could otherwise have been developed through traditional breeding techniques. This includes a set of new techniques that are increasingly being used by plant breeders to produce new plant varieties that are indistinguishable from those developed through traditional breeding methods.

In April 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order establishing the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity “to ensure the informed exercise of regulatory authority that impacts agriculture and rural communities.” As Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue was selected to serve as the chairman of the Task Force, which includes 22 federal agencies as well as local leaders. Specifically, the Executive Order was established to identify changes that, among other things, “advance the adoption of innovations and technology for agricultural production and long-term, sustainable rural development… improve food safety… [and] encourage the production, export, and use of domestically produced agricultural products.”

The Task Force report to the President was released in January 2018, and it recognized that “on the biotechnology front, better coordination of the Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, and Food and Drug Administration regulations on genetic modification of crops and livestock is needed to reduce barriers to commercialization of safe, beneficial and improved genetically engineered entities. Our regulatory system must protect public health, welfare, safety, and our environment while promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation.” The Task Force recommended that the Federal Government “continue efforts to modernize the federal regulatory system for biotechnology products,” including specific recommendations to:
1. Speed the safe commercialization of novel biotechnology products
2. Improve navigability of the regulatory system for small and mid-sized innovators,
3. Promote understanding of how a risk- and science-based regulatory approach effectively protects consumers, and
4. Remove unjustified trade barriers and expand markets for American products.

NPPC Supports Executive Order to Keep America First in Agriculture

Based on recommendations by the administration's Rural Development Taskforce, President Trump today signed an executive order to streamline regulations for agriculture biotechnology, a development welcomed by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).

"Agriculture is one of the crown jewels of the U.S. economy," said David Herring, NPPC president and a pork producer from Lillington, North Carolina. "Today's executive order paves the way for common sense regulation to keep America first in agriculture so that we remain the global leader in an economic sector that has offset the U.S. trade imbalance for decades and that is so critical for the prosperity of our rural communities."

The executive order (EO) provides a framework to support leadership in emerging technologies such as gene editing for livestock, an innovation that promises to eliminate costly diseases that cause animal suffering, lower the need to use antibiotics and to further reduce agriculture's environmental impact. The EO directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency to collaborate on common sense regulations and to develop awareness and education programs to gain acceptance of new technologies by consumers and global trading partners.

"The United States is falling behind countries such as Canada, Brazil and China that have established regulatory frameworks conducive to investment in the development of gene editing," said Herring. "We are hopeful that this executive order breaks the FDA's current grip on gene editing so a regulatory framework can be established at the USDA to ensure that American farmers – not our competitors in foreign markets – realize its vast potential."

The FDA continues to advance a regulatory framework for gene edited livestock that runs counter to today's executive order. Despite no statutory requirement, the FDA currently holds regulatory authority over gene editing in food-producing animals. FDA oversight will treat any gene edited animal as a living animal drug – and every farm raising them a drug manufacturing facility – undermining U.S. agricultural competitiveness relative to other countries with more progressive gene editing regulatory policies.

NPPC will launch a new campaign, Keep America First in Agriculture, later this month to broaden awareness and understanding of gene editing's promise for livestock agriculture.

Secretary Perdue Statement on Disaster and Trade-Related Assistance

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued the following statement on disaster and trade-related assistance:

“Whether it’s because of natural disasters or unfair retaliatory tariffs, farmers across the country are facing significant challenges and tough decisions on their farms and ranches. Last month, immediately upon China reneging on commitments made during the trade talks, President Trump committed USDA to provide up to $16 billion to support farmers as they absorb some of the negative impact of unjustified retaliation and trade disruption. In addition, President Trump immediately signed into law the long-awaited disaster legislation that provides a lifeline to farmers, ranchers, and producers dealing with extensive damage to their operations caused by natural disasters in 2018 and 2019.

“Given the size and scope of these many disasters, as well as the uncertainty of the final size and scope of this year’s prevented planting acreage, we will use up to $16 billion in support for farmers and the $3 billion in disaster aid to provide as much help as possible to all our affected producers.

“I have been out in the country this spring and visited with many farmers. I know they’re discouraged, and many are facing difficult decisions about what to do this planting season or if they’ve got the capital to stay in business, but they shouldn’t wait for an announcement to make their decisions. I urge farmers to plant for the market and plant what works best on their farm, regardless of what type of assistance programs USDA is able to provide.

“In the coming weeks, USDA will provide information on the Market Facilitation Program payment rates and details of the various components of the disaster relief legislation. USDA is not legally authorized to make Market Facilitation Program payments to producers for acreage that is not planted. However, we are exploring legal flexibilities to provide a minimal per acre market facilitation payment to folks who filed prevent plant and chose to plant an MFP-eligible cover crop, with the potential to be harvested and for subsequent use of those cover crops for forage.”


For frequently asked questions regarding the USDA Risk Management Agency’s prevented planting policy and losses resulting from floods, please visit, here. For several frequently asked questions regarding how USDA will treat prevented planting acres with regard to the recently announced 2019 Market Facilitation Program and 2018/2019 disaster relief legislation, see below.

1. What is the purpose of the Market Facilitation Program? What is the legal authority?
    The Market Facilitation Program (MFP) assists farmers with the additional costs of adjusting to disrupted markets, dealing with surplus commodities, and expanding and developing new markets at home and abroad, consistent with the authorities of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act.

2. Last year, soybeans had the highest MFP payment per bushel, should I plant soybeans this year to get the highest payment if I have the opportunity?
    You should plant what works best for your operation and what you would plant in any other year, absent any assistance from USDA. 2019 MFP assistance is based on a single county payment rate multiplied by a farm’s total plantings to the MFP-eligible crops (outlined below) in aggregate in 2019. Those per acre payments are not dependent on which of those crops are planted in 2019, and therefore will not distort planting decisions. Your total payment-eligible plantings cannot exceed your total 2018 plantings.
    2019 MFP-eligible non-specialty crops: alfalfa hay, barley, canola, corn, crambe, dry peas, extra-long staple cotton, flaxseed, lentils, long grain and medium grain rice, millet, mustard seed, dried beans, oats, peanuts, rapeseed, rye, safflower, sesame seed, small and large chickpeas, sorghum, soybeans, sunflower seed, temperate japonica rice, triticale, upland cotton, and wheat.
    2019 MFP-eligible specialty crops: tree nuts, fresh sweet cherries, cranberries, and fresh grapes.

3. My fields never dried out enough to get any crop in, do I get a 2019 Market Facilitation Program payment?
    No, USDA does not have the legal authority to make MFP payments to producers for acreage that is not planted. To qualify for a 2019 MFP payment, you must have planted a 2019 MFP-eligible crop. Producers unable to plant their crop should work with their crop insurance agent to file a claim.

4. I filed a prevented planting claim and I am going to plant a cover crop to prevent erosion, does that count for 2019 MFP if it’s on the 2019 MFP-eligible list you announced in May?
    If you choose to plant a cover crop with the potential to be harvested, because of this year’s adverse weather conditions, you may qualify for a minimal amount of 2019 MFP assistance. You must still comply with your crop insurance requirements to remain eligible for any indemnities received.

5. I heard that I could get 90% of my crop insurance guarantee as a prevented planting payment through the disaster bill, is that true?
    The Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019 gives the USDA the authority to compensate losses caused by prevented planting in 2019 up to 90%. While the authority exists, USDA must operate within finite appropriations limits. It is highly unlikely that the supplemental appropriation will support that level of coverage in addition to crop insurance. Congress appropriated $3.005 billion in assistance for a wide array of losses resulting from disasters throughout 2018 and 2019, requiring USDA to prioritize how it is allocated. The Department plans to provide assistance on prevented planting losses within the confines of our authority.

6. If I plant a second crop or cover crop, can I still get my full prevented planting payment? What about an MFP payment?
    You must comply with crop insurance requirements to remain eligible for a full prevented planting indemnity. USDA encourages you to visit with your crop insurance agent to ensure you are aware of those various options for your operation. If you choose to plant a cover crop with the potential to be harvested, because of this year’s adverse weather conditions, you may qualify for a minimal amount of 2019 MFP assistance.

7. I have heard that only acreage in a declared disaster area will qualify for prevented planting under the Disaster Relief Act. Is that true?
    USDA is currently evaluating the new authority provided under the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019. However, it is generally true that producers with qualifying losses in a Secretarial or Presidentially-declared disaster area will be eligible for Disaster Relief Act assistance. Producers with qualifying losses outside of those areas will have eligibility determined on a case-by-case basis.

8. I have a revenue protection policy with a ‘harvest price option’, do I get the higher of the projected price or harvest price for my prevented planting payment?
    The Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019 gives the USDA the authority to compensate losses caused by prevented planting in 2019 and also provides additional authority to compensate producers on the higher of the projected price or harvest price. USDA is currently exploring legal flexibility to provide assistance that better utilizes the harvest price in conjunction with revenue and prevent planting policies.

9. If I am prevented from planting but manage to get a cover crop or a forage in the ground, am I able to hay or graze that prior to November 1, given the forage shortage we’re going to experience?
    USDA encourages you to visit with your crop insurance agent to ensure you are aware of those various prevented planting, cover crop, and harvest options for your operation. USDA is currently reviewing the prevented planting restrictions in the Federal Crop Insurance Act to determine what options may be available to address this and other issues. Further clarity regarding this haying and grazing date will be forthcoming.

10. What if I don’t have crop insurance? How do MFP and disaster relief programs work for me if I’m prevented from planting due to natural disasters?
    Crop insurance is not required to qualify for 2019 MFP assistance. However, USDA requires that a producer plant a 2019 MFP-eligible crop to qualify for the 2019 MFP assistance.
    If you choose to plant a cover crop with the potential to be harvested, because of this year’s adverse weather conditions, you may qualify for a minimal amount of 2019 MFP assistance.
    The Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019 gives the USDA the authority to compensate losses caused by prevented planting in 2019. Producers with qualifying losses in a Secretarial or Presidentially-declared disaster area will be eligible for Disaster Relief Act assistance. Producers with qualifying losses outside of those areas will have eligibility determined on a case-by-case basis.

U.S. Pork Producers Seek Main Course, Not Crumbs

Expanding U.S. export markets is vital to the success of American pork producers, but trade disputes with some of our top markets, most notably China, are hampering growth and have caused severe financial harm to U.S. hog farmers, National Pork Producers Council Vice President and Counsel of Global Government Affairs Nick Giordano said today at a Global Business Dialogue event in Washington, D.C.

"Mostly because of free trade agreements, the United States is the leading global exporter of pork. As a result, U.S. pork is an attractive candidate for trade retaliation. America's hog farmers – and many other sectors of U.S. agriculture – have been at the tip of the trade retaliation spear for more than a year," Giordano explained to the briefing at the National Press Club.

While Mexico's 20 percent retaliatory tariff on U.S. pork was recently lifted, America's producers still face a stifling 62 percent tariff into China. There are enormous trade opportunities with China, especially to help offset reduced domestic production due to African swine fever (ASF), a pig-only disease with no vaccine treatment that poses no human health or food safety risks, but that is almost always fatal for hogs, Giordano noted.  ASF has spread to every province in China, other parts of Asia and in Europe.

Giordano said NPPC is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Customs and Border Protection to strengthen biosecurity at our borders and on our farms to prevent its spread to the United States.

"We have always known that China holds more potential than any market in the world for increased U.S. pork sales. But, today, because of African swine fever, that potential is off the charts, offering the single greatest sales opportunity in our industry's history," said Giordano. "China needs reliable suppliers of pork now, and likely, well into the future. The question U.S. hog farmers are asking: 'Will we get the main course, or will we get the crumbs off the table?'"

"For most of the last year, the U.S. pork industry has the dubious distinction of being on three retaliation lists: China and Mexico related to U.S. actions under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 and China in response to U.S. tariffs imposed under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974," Giordano said. Last year, Mexico was the industry's largest volume market and China was the third top market by volume, although punitive tariffs imposed by those two countries have cost U.S. pork producers $2.5 billion over the last year.

"U.S. pork production costs are among the lowest in the world with safety and quality that are second to none. But for the retaliatory duties, the United States would be in a perfect position to take advantage of this massive import surge in the world's largest pork-consuming nation and single handedly put a huge dent in the U.S. trade imbalance with China," Giordano said. Instead, Chinese pork buyers are reaching out to those in Europe, Canada and Brazil for supplies. "What should have been a time of enormous prosperity and growth for U.S. pork producers and their suppliers will instead fuel jobs, profits and rural development for our competitors," he noted.

"U.S. hog farmers understand the challenges faced by this administration in recalibrating U.S. trade policy toward China. The issues are myriad and complex. Moreover, hog farmers appreciate the farmer aid packages that the administration has put forward," Giordano continued. "However, the China pork tariff needs to be lifted."

Producer Comments Needed for USDA Study on Payment Protection

When a livestock dealer’s check bounces, should the farmer or rancher who raised the cattle be able to get them back?

USDA wants to hear from the livestock industry regarding potential changes to priority in livestock dealer default situations. The comment period is open through June 24.

While most people agree producers should be entitled to repossess livestock they sold and have not been paid for, too many sellers have learned the hard way that is not usually allowed under current law. Often times, when a dealer fails to pay, that dealer’s bank takes first priority in the cattle. The Eastern Livestock default in 2010 is the best-known example of this. Eastern owed approximately $112 million to creditors, and many sellers of livestock received less than 5 cents on the dollar from Eastern.

In the 2018 Farm Bill, Congress directed USDA to conduct a feasibility study on Dealer Statutory Trust, which has been proposed by members of congress to improve seller recovery. As a part of the study, USDA is seeking public comments.

A Dealer Trust would give unpaid sellers of livestock first priority to reclaim livestock. If the livestock are resold, to a feedyard for example, the buyer would still take clear title of the livestock as they do today. In this situation, the money the feedyard paid the dealer would be the trust assets held for the unpaid seller.

Modeled after the existing Packer Statutory Trust, a Dealer Trust would provide recovery in addition to the current USDA required bonds, which average a return on claims of only 5-15 cents on the dollar. A Dealer Trust would not create a separate pool of funds or mandate changes in day-to-day business.

LMA supports a Dealer Trust and encourages the whole livestock industry to participate in the USDA comment period. Producers selling through a livestock auction market are paid for their consignments through the market’s federally required custodial account regardless of if the market receives payment from the buyer. When there is a default in these situations, instead of making a small commission for their selling services, the market ends up like the ranchers who sold to the defaulting dealer directly: unpaid for the full price of the cattle.

Other organizations that support Dealer Trust, giving unpaid sellers priority in livestock and related proceeds/receivables, include National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA), American Sheep Industry (ASI), and numerous state producer groups.

To learn more, visit To submit a comment to USDA by June 24, go to

News release: Farmer Co-ops Urge Congress to Support USMCA Passage

The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and nearly 200 farmer co-ops and cooperatively-owned Farm Credit Associations joined with over 950 agribusinesses and farm groups urging Congress to support a swift ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“Over the past two and a half decades, America’s ag co-ops and their farmer-owners have seen tremendous benefits from increasing their exports to our two closest trading partners, Canada and Mexico. These relationships have provided producers with markets for their products, helped grow rural economies and employed hundreds of thousands of Americans far beyond the farm gate,” said Chuck Conner, president and CEO of NCFC. “USMCA builds on and updates this success.”

In particular, USMCA would enhance standards for biotechnology, reduce trade distorting policies, modernize sanitary and phytosanitary standards using a science-based approach, improve grading standards, and strengthen protections for commonly-used food names.

“With many farmers across the U.S. facing a challenging growing season so far this year, USMCA will provide an important source of certainty in a climate where that commodity is in short supply,” continued Conner. “We urge the leadership of the House and Senate to move quickly to bringing up the agreement once it is formally submitted and encourage all members of Congress to support passage of USMCA.”

More than 950 food and ag groups urge prompt congressional ratification of USMCA

Nearly 1,000 broad-based organizations representing U.S. food and agriculture today called on Congress to swiftly ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

In a letter sent to Congress, more than 950 groups representing the U.S. food and agriculture value chain at the national, state and local levels called on Congress to support ratification of USMCA. The letter reiterates that USMCA will benefit the U.S. agriculture and food industry while providing consumers an abundant supply of safe, high-quality human and animal food at competitive prices.

“This trade accord improves market access for several U.S. agricultural products and contains significant improvements that will facilitate more seamless cross-border trade, particularly between the United States and Mexico,” said NGFA President and Chief Executive Officer Randy Gordon. “Specifically, for the grain and oilseed sector, the accord contains provisions that will facilitate more timely resolution of sanitary and phytosanitary issues that may arise in cross-border shipments, and will do so in a science-based manner in accordance with World Trade Organization protocols and existing international conventions. Further, the agricultural biotechnology provisions will encourage regulatory coherence among all three countries. 

“In every respect, USMCA preserves or builds upon current market access for U.S agricultural products and will facilitate more efficient cross-border trade between all three countries,” Gordon said. “And its speedy ratification is absolutely essential if the United States is to be viewed as a reliable partner in negotiating much-needed future trade agreements with Japan and other countries that are so important to U.S. agriculture and our nation’s economic growth and job creation.”

Over the last 25 years, U.S. food and agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico have more than quadrupled under USMCA’s predecessor – the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – growing from $9 billion in 1993 to nearly $40 billion in 2018 and helping to support more than 900,000 American jobs in food and agriculture and related sectors of the U.S. economy. USMCA builds on the success of NAFTA and is projected to deliver an additional $2.2 billion in U.S. economic activity.  One in four U.S. manufacturing jobs already are attributable to agriculture.

The International Trade Commission’s recent independent report on USMCA confirmed that the agreement will improve market access for U.S. farmers, ranchers, food producers and agribusinesses, as well as positively affect both the U.S. agriculture sector and the broader national economy. 

CWT-assisted sales top 600 million pounds milk equivalent

The 38 contracts Cooperatives Working Together member cooperatives secured in May added 1.9 million pounds of American-type cheeses, 654,773 pounds of butter, 632,727 pounds of cream cheese, and 6.8 million pounds of whole milk powder to CWT-assisted sales in 2018 bringing total milk equivalent for the year to 604 million pounds on a milkfat basis.

These products will go customers in Asia, Central and South America, the Middle East, and North Africa. The product will be shipped May through September.

CWT-assisted 2019 dairy product sales contracts total 26.1 million pounds of cheese, 4.6 million pounds of butter, 2.6 million pounds of cream cheese and 30.2 million pounds of whole milk powder. All this product is scheduled to ship in the first nine month of 2019.

A thriving dairy export sector is critical to the growth and viability of dairy farmers and their cooperatives across the country.  Whether or not a cooperative is actively engaged in exporting cheese, butter, anhydrous milkfat, cream cheese, pasteurized process cheese, or whole milk powder, the growth potential in world markets is greater that domestic sales. CWT provides a means to move domestic dairy products to overseas markets by helping to overcome U.S. dairy’s trade disadvantages.

The amounts of dairy products and related milk volumes reflect current contracts for delivery, not completed export volumes. CWT will pay export assistance to the bidders only when export and delivery of the product is verified by the submission of the required documentation.

USDA Data Shows Fourth Month of DMC Payments

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) has reported milk and feed prices that peg the April 2019 margin under the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program at $8.96 per cwt, which would generate a payment that month of $0.54 per cwt for producers who purchase coverage for 2019 at the DMC maximum level of $9.50 per cwt, for up to 5 million pounds of production history. All four months announced so far this year will generate DMC payments at the maximum coverage level, with program signup set to begin June 17.

The DMC margin for April was just $0.11 per cwt higher than the March margin. The April milk price was $0.20 per cwt higher than a month earlier, and the DMC feed cost was up $0.09 per cwt from March. A sharp rise in the price of alfalfa hay from March to April more than offset slightly lower prices for corn and soybean meal.

As of June 5, USDA’s DMC Decision Tool, which can be accessed online, projected margins that would generate payments that average $0.45 per cwt., which is net payment to farmers after estimated 6.5 percent cut to payments because of government sequestration, for all of 2019 to producers who sign up for $9.50 per cwt coverage on up to 5 million pounds of production history. This would return $0.30 per cwt. after payment of the $0.15 per cwt premium for coverage at this level.

USDA has announced that signups for the 2019 DMC will begin on June 17.

NMPF Applauds Passage of H-2A Amendment Aiding Dairy Farmers

National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern

“We greatly appreciate the work of Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA) on behalf of America’s dairy producers to include year-round employees on farms in the H-2A farm worker visa program.

“The Cuellar-Newhouse amendment to the Homeland Security Appropriations bill would allow farm employers to use the H-2A visa program to hire foreign workers, regardless of whether those employees are engaged in temporary or seasonal work. NMPF and members of its Immigration Task Force have worked on this proposal, which is similar to language offered in the past by Rep. Newhouse and supported by Rep. Cuellar, so that dairy farmers can better use the H-2A visa program to fill year-round needs for year-round workers.

“Dairy farmers have largely have not been able to use H-2A visas because the current program restricts them only to the temporary and seasonal labor needs of agricultural employers. The current H-2A program simply isn’t an option for a commodity that ‘harvests’ its product multiple times a day, every day.

“Creating an additional legal pathway for workers to connect with farm employers deserves bipartisan support, and the history of this legislation shows such support is readily available. It is critical that the government creates a system that provides secure, legal employment. We thank lawmakers for their efforts toward achieving this goal.”

River Levels Continue to Reduce Barge Traffic

Continued rain events, and subsequent highwater, have continued to reduce the amount of barged grain on the Mississippi River and its tributaries. So far this year, 13,194 barges of grain have been unloaded at ports on the lower Mississippi River. This is 15 percent fewer than last year, and 13 percent below the 3-year average.

Year-to-date tonnages of down-bound grain, at locking portions of the Mississippi, Ohio, and Arkansas Rivers, were 10 million tons, 29 percent lower than last year, and 35 percent lower than the 3-year average.

Upper Mississippi River Locks 12-27 (from Illinois-Wisconsin boarder to St. Louis) are closed due to flooding conditions.

St. Louis Harbor is closed until the river level recedes below 38 feet, which is not expected to occur until mid-June.

Mississippi River levels at St. Louis are expected to crest at 45.3 feet on June 7, 4.3 feet lower than the record level of 49.6 feet set on August 1, 1993.

The Arkansas River is closed due to high water. Barge traffic on the lower Mississippi River has been disrupted by reduced tow sizes and transit being restricted under certain bridges to daylight hours only.

Brookside Agra Develops Runt-Rescue Nutrient Supplement for Weak, Newborn Piglets

Brookside Agra has developed a fast-acting, nutrient supplement that gives weak, newborn piglets a much-needed energy boost and a chance at survival. 

Given right after birth to weak, cold piglets with a birth weight below two pounds, liquid Runt-Rescue™ helps to reduce mortality in large litters, prevents weak piglets from starving and provides small piglets with the energy boost they need to find and secure a teat for suckling.

"We have witnessed first-hand the rejuvenating effects that our Runt-Rescue has on weak piglets that would otherwise perish as a result of their condition. Our supplement gives them a quick boost of nutrients to put them on the right track to health and vigor," said Tim Nelson, Brookside Agra Vice President – Animal Health & Nutrition Sales. "Developing products that improve animal performance with no harmful side effects is at the forefront of Brookside Agra's research."

Runt-Rescue contains hyper immunized egg powder which contains egg-based antibodies derived from hens strategically vaccinated with specific antigens over time. This ingredient in Runt-Rescue helps to fend off such intestinal pathogens such as rotavirus, coronavirus, E. coli and salmonella.

Runt-Rescue also contains the following ingredients:
    Vitamins A, D & E - plays a vital role in bone growth and immune system health
    Selenium - an important trace mineral promoting a healthy immune system
    MDFA rich fats - highly digestible energy boosters
    Sunflower and coconut oil - contains high amounts of protein and carbohydrates for energy, helps to strengthen bones and muscles and the immune system
    Caffeine - increases energy and stamina

Runt-Rescue is available for purchase online at

Farmer Finalists Announced in Power to Do More Contest

Farmers across the United States work hard to grow healthy crops, families and communities. Corteva Agriscience wants to recognize these farmers and give them the power to do more in their hometowns. Ten farmer finalists are now competing in the Power to Do More contest. The grand prize is a $10,000 donation from the corn herbicides of Corteva to the winner’s chosen local nonprofit organization.

Hundreds of farmers submitted entries. The 10 finalists showed creativity and commitment to growing a stronger community in their photo and story about the power on their farm. The finalist with the most votes on will win. Voting is open to all and closes July 8. In addition to the grand prize, two farmers will win second-place prizes of $5,000 each for their selected nonprofit organizations.

“The hundreds of submissions we received in this year’s contest proved that farmers are some of the most creative, caring and hardworking community leaders,” said Lyndsie Kaehler, U.S. Corn Herbicides Product Manager, Corteva Agriscience. “We are so proud to tell the stories of farmers who have extraordinary passion for their communities.”

The 10 finalists, representing a range of farming operations across eight states, and their selected nonprofits are:
     ─ Kara Boughton of Marshall, Michigan, is supporting East Jackson Elementary School.
     ─ Misty DeDonder of Admire, Kansas, is supporting the North Lyon County FFA – High School Greenhouse Project.
     ─ Lynn Heins of Rockwood, Illinois, is supporting Annie’s Project – Education for Farm Women.
     ─ Dave LaCrosse of Kewaunee, Wisconsin, is supporting Peninsula Pride Farms.
     ─ Rhonda Leonard of Logan, Iowa, is supporting the Kellen Morrison Memorial Scholarship Fund.
     ─ Scott Slepikas of Huron, South Dakota, is supporting the Center for Independence of Huron.
     ─ Darrel Springer of Oak, Nebraska, is supporting the Sandy Creek High School FFA.
     ─ Chris Staudt of Kanawha, Iowa, is supporting the Kanawha Fire Department.
     ─ Marsha Strom of Dahinda, Illinois, is supporting the Williamsfield FFA Alumni & Friends.
     ─ Susan Zody of Kokomo, Indiana, is supporting Narrow Gate Horse Ranch.

The Power to Do More contest is in its third year of helping farming communities across the country. Corteva is proud to support farmers through this contest and with a lineup of corn herbicides dedicated to delivering the power to do more every season. With Resicore® , SureStart® II, DuPont™ Realm® Q, DuPont™ Cinch® ATZ and Keystone® NXT herbicides, farmers can effectively control and spend less time worrying about unwanted, yield-robbing weeds.

To vote for your favorite 2019 finalist, head to now. You can vote daily through July 8. Make sure to get your friends and family to vote too!

Sweet Leaf Tea Partners with Luke Bryan to Honor

Sweet Leaf Tea has announced its partnership with American Idol judge and country music megastar Luke Bryan for his 2019 Farm Tour, an annual event that uses music to salute the farmers who work behind the scenes to bring food to America's store shelves, restaurants, and dinner tables.

Founded in Austin, Texas over 20 years ago, Sweet Leaf Tea features a lineup of iced teas and lemonades made from all-natural, organic ingredients, making the company an ideal partner to honor the efforts of local farmers. Sweet Leaf products are known for their homemade flavor and for Mimi, the smiling, grey-haired grandmother featured on every label.

As the son of a Georgia peanut farmer, Luke has made it his mission to raise awareness about the hard-working farmers who provide the country with safe, affordable, and nutritious food. Out of this mission came his annual Farm Tour, where he brings live concerts to small farming towns that don't have music venues large enough to accommodate large concerts.

"The idea behind this tour is to bring full production concerts to small towns that would not see larger scale shows," shared Luke. "Growing up in rural Georgia we had to drive to larger cities to see concerts. It is so exciting to watch each of these shows being built like a small city in itself in the empty pasture land of these farms. We can feel the pride from the people in these towns as well as the farmers and it takes everyone coming together to pull them off!!"

Luke has been bringing these one-night-only concerts to farms around the U.S. since the tour's inception in 2009. Every year, the hashtag #HeresToTheFarmer has generated gigantic buzz about the campaign, with meals donated to food banks for every hashtag share. In addition to raising awareness about the country's farmers and helping feed hungry people, the Farm Tour also provides college scholarships to students from farming families who are attending the local college or university near each tour stop.

Bayer is also proud to be sponsoring the 2019 tour and continuing its
#HeresToTheFarmer campaign. Every time the #HeresToTheFarmer hashtag is shared, Bayer will donate a meal to a hungry American through Feeding America®.

Visit to learn more about how this campaign has resulted in close to 3 million meals being donated to food banks and local farmers in tour cities over the past few years.

"Sweet Leaf couldn't be more thrilled to partner with Luke Bryan for this year's Farm Tour," said Bill Meissner, CEO of Dunn's River Brands, the parent company of Sweet Leaf Tea. "For years, Sweet Leaf has been dedicated to creating products that are organic, authentic, and delicious - and none of this would be possible without the farmers who supply companies like ours with the high-quality ingredients that help make tea-drinking fans happy. We're excited to support and bring attention to the wonderful work local U.S. farmers do to nourish our families."

Each year, over 100,000 fans have attended shows on the tour, and 2019 is expected to be the most exciting yet.

Tickets for Bayer Presents Luke Bryan Farm Tour 2019 are available at

Bayer Presents Luke Bryan Farm Tour 2019
9/26      Marshall, WI                  Statz Bros. Farm
9/27      Richland, MI                  Stafford Farms
9/28      Pleasantville, OH           Miller Family Farms
10/3      Louisburg, KS               MC Farms
10/4      Douglass, KS                Flying B Ranch
10/5      Norman, OK                 Adkins Farm

The tour is sponsored by Bayer, Sweet Leaf Tea, TRACKER OFF ROAD, Citi, and Monster Energy.

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