Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Tuesday June 25 Ag News

NE Cattlemen Sends Three Participants to NCBA’s YCC

Three Nebraska beef leaders participated in 10 days of intensive leadership training and a three-city tour showcasing every facet of the beef industry during NCBA’s 2019 Young Cattlemen’s Conference (YCC).

Reiss Bruning, Sarah Kabes and Chance McLean were the Nebraska representatives that participated in this year’s NCBA YCC program. They began their journey in Denver Colorado with classroom sessions providing background knowledge about NCBA and the work it conducts on behalf of its members and the entire beef community. Before leaving Colorado, the group toured Five Rivers Cattle Feeding’s Kuner Feedyard, JBS processing plant and a Safeway flagship store where they learned how beef is being marketed to consumers on the retail level.

“I am so thankful for this opportunity to meet so many other people in the industry to bounce ideas off of and to learn more about the industry I love” said Sarah Kabes.

The Nebraska natives along with more than 50 other participants then traveled to Chicago where they made stops at Hillshire Farms, McDonald’s global headquarters, and OSI Inc., one of the largest beef patty manufacturers in the nation.

“NCBA Young Cattlemen’s Conference was an amazing experience, that covered all aspects from – Pasture to Plate. I am thankful for what our local, state, and national affiliates do to support the beef industry. This was an experience I will never forget. Thanks Nebraska Cattlemen for allowing me this opportunity” said Chance McLean.

The 2019 YCC class finished its whirlwind tour in Washington, D.C., where participants learned how NCBA’s policy work impacts their operations and the broader industry. After an in-depth policy issue briefing from NCBA’s lobbyists and staff experts, participants took to Capitol Hill, visiting more than 200 congressional offices to advocate for industry policy priorities.

“I felt very fortunate to be selected to attend the National Conference. Being a part of this powerful group of young leaders from across the US was an incredible learning experience and networking opportunity that created invaluable lifelong relationships. The issues we individually face both politically and day-to-day are diverse and being able to discuss and understand how to solve those problems broadened our intellectual horizons and instilled a deep sense of confidence in everyone. I hope to use the vast amount of institutional knowledge we gained on this trip to build on the great foundation NCBA has established to ensure a bright and prosperous future for generations of cattlemen to come,” said Reiss Bruning.

Not All Cows are Equal – Some Eat More!

Jack Arterburn, Nebraska Extension Educator, Beef Systems

On most farms & ranches, average cow size has increased significantly over the last three decades as a result of genetic selection. These changes do not come without consequences to forage intake. If the per-head counting method has been used to plan and track grazing, stocking rates may have unknowingly increase over time caused by increased forage intake of larger cows. Just as a lineman on a football team will eat more than the punter, larger cows will typically consume more forage than smaller cows. If the increase in forage demand is not accounted for, pastures may be getting overgrazed which results in decreased long-term forage production and reduced plant community resilience to disasters such as drought.

Moving from a method of counting the number of head per acre to calculating Animal Units is a simple process and can help the manager accurately assess forage demand. The Animal Unit (AU) is a standardized unit for calculating forage demand and forage supply. For cattle, the standard animal is a theoretical 1000 lb. beef animal. Animal-Unit-Equivalent (AUE) is used to adjust for cattle weighing more or less than 1000 lbs. by adjusting 0.1 AU for every 100 lbs. of animal. For example, a cow weighing 1200 lbs. would equal 1.2 AUE. A steer weighing 700 lbs. would equal 0.7 AUE.

Cattle consume an estimated 2.6% of their body weight in air-dried forage daily. Therefore, if the 1000 lb. standard animal grazes for 1 day, that animal will consume approximately 26 lbs. of air-dried forage daily. This is equivalent to one Animal Unit Day (AUD).  A 1200 lb. dry cow will likely consume over 31 lbs. of air dried forage per day and a 700 lb. steer will consume around 18 lbs. of air dried forage per day.

Forage supply and demand are often displayed in AUMs (Animal-Unit-Months), which is the amount of forage an animal will consume in one month, equal to 30 AUDs. AUMs are calculated by multiplying the 26 lbs. of air-dried forage consumed daily by 30 days to get 780 lbs. of air-dried forage consumed each month by a 1000 lb. beef animal. To adjust for animals not weighing 1000 lbs., multiply the AUE by 780 lbs. to calculate the animal’s monthly intake.

Using air-dried forage (90% dry matter, 10% moisture) can be helpful to visualize what this amount of forage looks like by visualizing the same amount of hay. It also makes comparing between grazing and feeding hay easier. The bottom line: knowing what cattle weigh and understanding their daily requirement is approximately 2.6% of their body weight in air-dried forage helps the grazing manager accurately calculate how much forage they are consuming.

Forage supply can also be calculated using Animal Units. We know 780 lbs. of air-dried forage is the estimated requirement to feed a 1000 lb. beef animal for one month (1 AUM = 1000 lb. animal grazing for one month = 780 lbs. of air-dried forage consumed per month). If a range site produces 2000 lbs. of air-dried forage annually and a 25% grazing harvested is planned, 500 lbs. of air-dried forage is available per acre. In a 200 acre pasture, there is 100,000 lbs. of air-dried forage available (500 lbs. multiplied by 200 acres) for the entire growing season. If we are planning to graze 1200 lb. cows for 1 month we can calculate how many cows the pasture can carry by dividing the forage supply (100,000 lbs.) by the forage demand of each cow. Cows weighing 1200 lbs. equal 1.2 AU. Multiply 1.2 AU by 780 lbs. of air-dried forage consumed by a standard AU results in 936 lbs. of air-dried forage consumed each month by one 1200 lb. cow. The 100,000 lbs. of forage supply divided by 936 lbs. of forage demand yields grazing for approximately 107 cows for one month.

To simplify calculating and tracking forage supply and demand in each pasture, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln developed the Grazing and Hay Record Spreadsheet. This spreadsheet is a Microsoft Excel® based template used for entering basic grazing records of individual pastures to calculate available AUM/acre and AUD/acre based on forage supply and forage demand over a given period of time. The user enters the number of acres, the forage supply (AUM/acre) for each pasture, and the forage demand by livestock class, number of head, and their average AUE for the planned grazing period. Do not forget to account for forage demand of bulls and calves once they reach 3 months of age. Summary reports are included with the spreadsheet and allow the grazing manager to track pasture use over time, noting season of pasture use, total forage utilized, as well as hay usage and the stocking rate for the entire ranch.

Accounting for forage demand by cattle is critically important to knowing forage utilization on range and pasture. A 1400 lb. cow with a January born calf is going to consume significantly more forage in a June through October grazing season than an 1100 lb. cow with a May born calf. Head counts and the number of days grazed are important pieces of information, but they are not enough. Truly calculating forage consumed based on animal unit equivalents will help the grazing manager correctly document pasture use and provide accurate information that can help with effective range and pasture management.

NPPC Launches 'Keep America First in Agriculture' Campaign

Today, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) launched "Keep American First in Agriculture," a new campaign to highlight the importance of establishing a proper regulatory framework for gene editing in American livestock.

Gene editing technology, which introduces useful genetic variation into food animal breeding programs, promises significant animal health benefits, including a natural immunity to disease and a reduction in the need for antibiotic use.

"Gene editing is a huge step forward for America's farmers, as it offers a powerful new way to combat animal disease," said Dr. Dan Kovich, NPPC's deputy director of Science & Technology. "With gene editing, livestock breeders can knock out specific genes that make animals vulnerable to viral infections. Healthier animals benefit both farmers and consumers," he said.

While countries like Canada, Brazil and Argentina are moving quickly on this advancement to gain competitive advantage in the market, the U.S. is running the risk of falling far behind as a result of a regulatory land grab by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Under FDA regulation, gene editing faces an impractical, lengthy and expensive approval process, threatening hundreds of thousands of jobs and nearly six percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product.

Additionally, the FDA's regulation inaccurately classifies livestock as drugs and farms as drug-manufacturing facilities, creating significant challenges for the international trade in animals and animal products.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the only agency prepared to effectively regulate this new technology. It already has a review process in place for genetic editing in plants under its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which can easily be adopted for livestock. The USDA also has the understanding and history of working directly with livestock and agriculture, unlike the FDA, which regulates packaged food, drugs and medical devices.

"Allowing the FDA to regulate gene editing could drive elite animal breeding out of the U.S., long the international leader, and place U.S. producers at a potentially catastrophic competitive disadvantage with foreign competitors," said Dr. Bradley Wolter, a leading pork producer and President of The Maschhoffs, a company that produces over 4 million market hogs per year. "International competitors that commercialize this technology will gain as much as a 15 percent production efficiency advantage over U.S. pork. It's critical that America remains the global leader in agricultural innovation and gives regulatory oversight to the USDA, the agency that is most equipped to do so."

NPPC launched its "Keep America First in Agriculture" campaign with a media teleconference hosted by leading researchers, veterinarians, producers and industry experts, including Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, Animal Biotechnology and Genomics Extension Specialist, University of California, Davis; Dr. Kovich; Andrew Bailey, NPPC Lead Counsel for Science and Technology; and Dr. Wolter. For the audio recording of the teleconference, click here.

To learn more about "Keep America First in Agriculture," visit

ACE applauds bipartisan Senators’ letter urging EPA to update ethanol science

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) applauds the letter a group of bipartisan Senators sent today urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to publicly announce its intent to review and incorporate the latest “Greenhouse gas and Regulated Emissions and Energy Use in Transportation (GREET)” modeling into an updated life cycle assessment for corn ethanol. U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), both members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, led the effort in advising EPA to update its outdated environmental analysis on ethanol. ACE CEO Brian Jennings issued the following statement applauding the Senators for urging EPA to formally adopt these changes without further delay:

“ACE extends our gratitude to Senators Durbin and Grassley for leading this bipartisan effort to hold EPA accountable on this important issue. Unlike the Argonne GREET model, EPA has not reviewed or updated their original 2010 corn ethanol greenhouse gas (GHG) assessments. Current data from the GREET model indicate that corn ethanol’s carbon intensity is almost 50 percent less than petroleum gasoline providing significantly more GHG reduction benefits than when the RFS was enacted a decade ago. Last year, ACE published “The Case for Properly Valuing the Low Carbon Benefits of Corn Ethanol” recommending, as is stated in the Senators’ letter today, that EPA refer to the latest U.S. Department of Energy GREET model for life cycle analysis of corn ethanol.

“Given the all hands-on deck nature of the climate change problem, agricultural and biofuel stakeholders continue to believe that governmental policies need to properly acknowledge the role that agriculture and biofuel can play in providing near-term solutions to offsetting U.S. GHG emissions. One of the most direct ways to capitalize on agriculture’s ability to mitigate GHG emissions is to properly acknowledge the role U.S. farmers and ethanol producers are playing to dramatically reduce life cycle GHG emissions from corn ethanol by improving efficiencies, investing in technologies, and adopting sustainable agricultural practices.

“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. Updating EPA’s decade-old modeling would be a step in the right direction to underpin the scientific and economic opportunity for ethanol use to increase via low carbon fuel markets.”

ACE’s White Paper titled “The Case for Properly Valuing the Low Carbon Benefits of Corn Ethanol” is available online by visiting  

Ways and Means Bill Extends Key Tax Credits, But Prematurely Lowers Estate Tax Exemption

The House Ways and Means Committee on June 20 passed a measure (H.R. 3301) extending expired tax incentives for biodiesel, renewable energy and short line railroads. Though farmers and ranchers support those provisions, they are adamantly opposed to one that would prematurely end the $11 million per person estate tax exemption, sending it back down to $5.5 million per person on Dec. 31, 2022, three years early.

“The premature termination of the temporary $11 million estate tax exemption under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will punish capital-intensive businesses like farms and ranches. Not only will the taxes imposed at death hurt farm and ranch businesses, financial uncertainty will hinder long-term business planning and estate planning costs will drain the resources of ongoing farm and ranch businesses,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said in a letter to committee members regarding the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2019.

Instead, Farm Bureau is calling on Congress to make the estate tax exemption of $11 million per person permanent until, ultimately, the estate tax is fully repealed. To that end, AFBF is supporting the Death Tax Repeal Act (H.R. 218) and the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2019 (S. 215).

Also in the letter, Duvall told the committee that tax credits promoting biodiesel and renewable diesel production help farmers by expanding markets for their products, but it’s not only those involved in agriculture who benefit from these provisions.

“All citizens, including farmers who are large fuel consumers, benefit when our nation reduces its dependence on unpredictable international oil markets,” he wrote.

Tax incentives for short line railroads are important to farmers and ranchers because these railroads are the first- and last-mile carriers connecting small towns, farms and factories to the national rail network, creating jobs and stimulating economic growth in thousands of rural communities.

“Farmers and ranchers need efficient and cost-effective rail transportation for the delivery of equipment, seed, fertilizer and other inputs, and to move to market the food, fiber and fuel products they produce,” Duvall said.

House leaders have not said when, or even if, they will take up the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2019, but it is one of the bills House members are expected to use as they position themselves going into negotiations on tax extenders with their Senate counterparts.

The Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2019 (H.R. 3301) would:
-    Prematurely sunset the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s $11 million per person estate tax exemption by reverting it to the $5.5 million per person exemption on Dec. 31, 2022, three years early.
-    Extend the expired railroad track maintenance credit through the end of 2020, an additional three years.
-    Extend expired biodiesel and renewable diesel incentives through the end of 2020, an additional three years.
-    Extend the expired second-generation biofuel producer credit through the end of 2020, an additional three years. 
-    Extend credits for renewable power facilities through the end of 2020, providing one additional year for wind power facilities and three additional years for biomass facilities.
-    Extend the expired credit for alternative fuel vehicle refueling property through the end of 2020, three additional years.
-    Extend the reduced excise taxes on craft beer, wine and distilled spirits through the end of 2020, one additional year.


The Soil Health Partnership (SHP) Executive Director, Dr. Shefali Mehta testified today at a House Agriculture, Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry hearing in support of investment in soil health practices.

The SHP, a program of the National Corn Growers Association, is a farmer-led effort that has built a network of over 220 farmers in 15 states and over 100 partner organizations at the federal, state and county levels over the past five years.

 “Our partner farmers work with us over five years to measure the impacts of the practice change. We measure basic soil macro- and micronutrients every year on the field, as well as soil health indicators every other year. Through this process, we are creating an in-depth data set from which to support farmers’ decisions and to understand the long-term changes in soil health over time. We look for impacts on yield, input use, and the farmer’s profitability,” explained Dr. Mehta.

“The farmers we work with are exceptional land managers looking for partnership on their journey to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of their farm operations.”

Dr. Mehta concluded by highlighting the need to work collaboratively, stating, “Collaborations are key to successful outcomes in this arena - no one group can go it alone. Through strong outcome-based collaborations, like ours, we have seen greater awareness and adoption of soil health practices. With stronger data and input across our diverse growing regions, we are learning more about the economic impacts to farmers and ways to improve adoption by mitigating risks and improving the bottom line.”


Today, the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) Secretary-Treasurer Ian Cunningham testified before the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry about the importance of soil health practices.

Cunningham owns and operates a fifth-generation family farm with his son in southwest Minnesota, producing corn, soybeans and beef cattle.

“Soil health is a top priority across our 800-acre operation,” Cunningham said in written testimony to the subcommittee. “We have come to realize that healthy soil is the key to addressing many natural resource concerns. It is clear that healthy soil is the bedrock and should be the priority of our conservation efforts.”

In his testimony, Cunningham emphasized the role of conservation districts in leading the nation’s producers to implement soil health conservation practices.

“For a more successful uptake of soil health practices, producers need to be informed of the latest data and research, and this must come from a trusted local source,” he said.

Cunningham described NACD’s soil health economics case studies, soil health and weather extremes report, Soil Health Champions Network and the work both local conservation districts and the national association accomplish to build soil health from the roots up.

“If we are to continue to grow the food, fuel and fiber our nation and the world will need in the future, agriculture must continue to innovate and grow more with less, while making sure our natural resources are protected for future generations,” he said.

LaMalfa, Conaway: Voluntary Conservation Practices Improve Soil Health

Today, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry held a hearing on the importance of soil health. After the hearing, Subcommittee Ranking Member Doug LaMalfa (CA-1) and Ranking Member K. Michael Conaway (TX-11) made the following remarks:

“Today’s hearing has not only highlighted the environmental benefits of sustained soil health, but also highlighted how these practices can help optimize inputs, increase resiliency and improve yields, regardless of weather patterns. It’s also a reminder that locally-led, voluntary conservation practices work. Through the programs included in the 2018 Farm Bill, our farmers and ranchers are voluntarily reducing soil erosion, helping to improve water quality and preserving farmland for future generations,” said Subcommittee Ranking Member LaMalfa.

“Throughout 2018 Farm Bill deliberations, producers consistently called for resources that would allow them to adopt practices like cover cropping. I am proud of the expanded authorities and increased funding to EQIP— championed by this committee — which will significantly help producers implement more targeted and meaningful conservation practices that address soil health,” said Ranking Member Conaway.

New online database puts sharper focus on U.S. agricultural injuries

A newly updated online tool is providing a clearer picture of injuries in agriculture. enables users to search the largest database of publicly available U.S. agricultural injury and fatality reports, getting a near real-time snapshot of the distribution and nature of trauma incidents, both nationally and locally.

“The innovation here is the combination of capturing, coding, and redistributing publicly available data on agricultural injuries and fatalities, primarily mined from media reports, and coupled with relevant prevention materials,” said project leader Bryan Weichelt, Ph.D., an associate research scientist with the National Farm Medicine Center, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute.

Insurers, lenders, agricultural employers, government statisticians, media professionals, educators, policy-makers and researchers are using to guide research priorities, safety initiatives, and public policy.

Anyone can set up a free account and search thousands of unique incidents, including more than 600 in 2018 alone. To create an account, visit and click “Register.”

The original version of was launched in 2015. New features and design changes include an interactive map display, more data granularity for search and filters, and customizable email alerts.

Weichelt announced the redesigned system June 25 in Des Moines, Iowa, during the International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health annual conference.

“Custom email alerts allow users to choose what types of injury reports they want to see and how often they want to receive them,” Weichelt said. “For example, someone might want weekly reports of ATV-related adult injuries, or skid steer-related youth injuries from a particular state or region.”

Farmers and ranchers represent less than 2 percent of the population and are dispersed geographically. Agriculture’s decentralized nature and diversity of work practices contributes to it being one of the most hazardous occupations, and makes injury surveillance difficult. There is no central repository of agricultural injury data, and federal childhood ag injury surveillance has ended.

“ is helping to standardize the collection and analyses of injury occurring on farms and ranches across the United States by adhering to national standards for coding and describing agricultural injury,” said Dennis Murphy, Ph.D., Nationwide Insurance Professor Emeritus, Penn State University.

In the absence of a national surveillance program for agriculture-related injuries among U.S. adults and children, news media and similar reports have become increasingly valuable for ag safety stakeholders.

‘Reports of agricultural injuries appear in the media almost on a daily basis,” said Risto Rautiainen, Ph.D., director of the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health. “Many organizations collect and use these ‘press clippings’ but for the first time, Dr. Weichelt and his team have created a publicly accessible website where anyone can search for injury cases of interest to them in a well-designed web interface. This is of great help for those of us interested in agricultural injury prevention.”

Weichelt acknowledges that there are limitations to gleaning injury data from news reports, including the fact that not all agricultural fatalities are reported in the media. Non-fatal injuries are thought to be particularly underreported.

Funding for this project was provided by generous donors as well as by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, the Dr. Dean Emanuel Endowment and the National Farm Medicine Center.

African Swine Fever Discovered in Laos, China Bans Imports

China said on Friday it has banned direct and indirect imports of pigs, wild boars and related products from Laos due to the first African swine fever outbreaks reported by the Southeast Asian nation on June 20.

"Illegally imported pigs, wild boars and their products from Laos intercepted by the frontier defense departments shall be destroyed under the supervision of the customs," China's General Administration of Customs said in a statement.

Reuters reports that China will also increase quarantine inspection of packages and passenger baggage from Laos.

Wild boars and their products from Laos are found coming into China via ships, aircraft, road vehicles and railway trains, the shipments will be sealed and disposed of.

Laos confirmed its first outbreaks of deadly African swine fever - which is fatal to pigs but does not harm humans - in its southern province of Saravane, the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health said on Thursday.

China has reported more than 120 outbreaks of the disease in all its mainland provinces and regions, as well as Hainan island and Hong Kong, since it was first detected in the country in early August 2018.

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