Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Tuesday June 4 Ag News

Ricketts Announces Appointments to Boards and Commissions

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts announced recent appointments he has made to fill Nebraska’s boards and commissions.

The following appointees are unpaid and are not subject to Legislative confirmation:

Dairy Industry Development Board

  - Todd D. Tuls – Columbus
Nebraska Dry Bean Commission

  - Nolan L. Berry - Gering
Nebraska Invasive Species Council

  - Justin King – Columbus
  - Jonathan Nikkila - Kearney
  - Arnold E. Stuthman – Platte Center
  - Kim Todd - Lincoln

Thank you to the many Nebraskans that give generously of their time and talent to make a difference in our state.  These appointments will provide crucial insight and expertise to their respective boards, committees, and commissions.  To learn about openings and apply to serve on a board or commission, go to


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

Rain has delayed most folks from cutting alfalfa.  If you haven’t taken first cutting yet, it might help if you slightly changed the way you cut this crop.

Have you harvested your first cutting of alfalfa yet?  Even if it is not blooming heavily, you might be surprised to find that it already has started to grow your next cutting.

Walk into your alfalfa field before cutting and look closely at the base or crown of the plants.  Do you see short, new shoots starting to grow?  If so, these new shoots are the new plants that your alfalfa hopes to turn into your second cutting.

Look closely – how tall are these new shoots?  Are many of them a couple inches taller than your usual cutting height?  If you cut these new shoots off – along with the first growth – your alfalfa plants will have to start a whole new set of shoots for regrowth.  This could cause a delay in second cutting regrowth by as much as one week.

Fortunately, you can avoid this delay.  All you need to do is raise your cutting height just a couple inches so you avoid clipping off most of these new, second growth shoots.  This is especially important for growers using disk mowers because they tend to cut very low.  Your regrowth then will have a head start towards next cutting.  And since the stubble you leave behind has quite low feed value anyway, the yield you temporarily sacrifice is mostly just filler.

Normally I suggest cutting alfalfa as short as possible because that maximizes yield and it doesn’t affect rate of regrowth.  But a late cutting that already has new shoots growing is different.

Don’t blindly start cutting alfalfa when harvest is delayed.  First look for new shoots, then raise cutting height if needed.


Did you make any good quality hay yet?  To keep it valuable and in good shape, proper storage is needed.

I've said it before and I'll say it again – your hay is only as good as it is the day you feed it or sell it.  No matter how good your hay is today, between now and feeding time, every windstorm and rain event is going to steal nutrients from every exposed bale and stack.

So what are you going to do about it?  Hopefully, one of the things you do is store that hay, especially your best hay, in a manner and location that will minimize nutrient losses caused by weathering.

Weathering tends to lower the yield and nutrients available from your hay by about one percent for each month of exposed storage.  High value, high quality hay that will be sold or fed to high value animals like dairy cows and horses should be stored under cover.  A hay shed, a partially used machine shed, or any other shelter with a roof will be better than exposing your hay to what Mother Nature dishes out this summer.  Plastic wraps can be very effective, too, when good quality plastic is wrapped around bales enough times.

Next best may be tarps, especially heavy-duty ones that can be tied down without tearing in the wind.  Plastic also works, but it takes special care and a lot of luck to fasten down plastic well enough so it doesn't get ripped during storms.

If uncovered storage is your only option, place bales and stacks on an elevated site with good drainage so moisture won't soak up from the bottom.  Don't stack round bales or line them up with the twine sides touching – rain will collect where they touch and soak into the bale.  Also, allow space for air to circulate and dry the hay after rain.

Good hay can stay that way. But it’s up to you to make it so.

Serve up a Savory Steak this June

June is Steak Month and grilling season is upon us! In honor of steak month, the Iowa Beef Industry Council is sharing tips on how to enjoy wholesome, nutritious and delicious beef meals on the grill all summer long. Whether you are grilling a quick and light summer meal or hosting a savory cookout with friends and family, we have a few tips that will leave you feeling confident about serving up a perfectly grilled beef dish for family or guests to enjoy.

1. Consider your cut: While classics, such as the Strip Steak and Ribeye, can be an easy go-to, there are endless options when it comes to cuts of beef. Why not kick your grilling game up a notch with a cut out of your comfort zone, like a juicy Flat Iron Steak or a lean and flavorful Flank Steak? More cut ideas for grilling can be found here.

2. Elevate those flavors: While most cuts taste great with just a pinch of salt and pepper, the chance to boost flavor with a host of savory marinades or rubs invites exploration and takes your beef to new flavor heights.

“There are two reasons you might want to use a marinade, to add flavor or to tenderize. While the two different types of marinades may contain similar ingredients, the key is the length of marinating time,” shares Rochelle Gilman, Director of Health and Nutrition at the Iowa Beef Industry Council.

If you are looking to add extra flavor, tender cuts can be marinated for as little as 15 minutes or as long as two hours. For less tender cuts, marinating for at least six hours, but not more than 24 hours, will do the trick.

3. Medium and steady wins the race: When it comes to cooking with beef, there is no need to rush the process by using any higher heat than medium. Cooking at a medium heat allows the beef to achieve caramelization while still developing rich flavors and avoiding charring.

4. Temperature is king: To have the best eating experience, it is important to cook beef to the correct internal temperature. The safest way to ensure accurate results is to use a meat thermometer. Keep in mind that the internal temperature will continue to rise for a few minutes after coming off the grill. For most grill-friendly cuts, about five minutes is enough.

“This is a step that novice cooks often overlook,” comments Kylie Peterson, Director of Marketing and Communications at the Iowa Beef Industry Council. “Even if you’re hungry and your mouth is salivating, it’s worth the wait! It prevents all those tasty juices from draining onto your plate.”

5. Time to savor: If you’re slicing the steak before serving, be sure to go across the grain and top your steak with a compound butter or flavorful sauce.

“There is no better way to celebrate summertime than with beef on the grill,” said Peterson. “Between the different cuts and marinade options, beef is an extremely versatile and nutritious protein.” Click here for savory, satisfying steak recipes that are sure to add sizzle to any plate.

2019 Crop Management Clinic Is a Two Day Crop and Pest Management Training

Registration for the summer 2019 Crop Management Clinic is now open. New to this year’s clinic will be an extra day of training, education and discussion with a total of 19 scheduled learning sessions, covered by 15 Iowa State University Extension and Outreach specialists. The clinic will be held on July 10-11. 

The Crop Management Clinic will examine and illustrate the latest crop, soil, nutrient and pest management techniques and strategies. ISU Extension and Outreach specialists will approach the content from an intermediate perspective, building upon the foundations of the four core topic areas. Crop managers with a basic understanding and skillset in crop scouting and nutrient management, who want a more in-depth working knowledge of these practices will benefit greatly from the two days’ worth of knowledge and experience.

“Iowa’s planting season has been drastically impacted by cooler and wetter than normal conditions,” said Warren Pierson, extension coordinator for the Field Extension Education Laboratory. “While the Crop Management Clinic offers a wealth of information to crop managers every year, this year, understanding how to manage crops in a delayed planting situation, as well as managing pests, soil and nutrients in wet weather will be critical. This clinic will be beneficial to crop advisers across the state.”

New topics and specialists to be featured this year include: Marshall McDaniel, agronomy assistant professor, speaking on soil health testing and recommendations; Adam Janke, extension wildlife specialist, covering how to assess opportunity areas for wildlife habitat and conservation on the farm; Meaghan Anderson, extension field agronomist, speaking on integrated pest management and identifying pests; Rasel Parvej and Ashlyn Kessler, agronomy researchers, presenting research on cropping systems; and Prashant Jha, extension weed management specialist, discussing weed issues.

This event will be hosted by Iowa State at FEEL on 1928 240th St., Boone. Registrants should plan to arrive at 8:30 a.m. for check-in, with opening comments beginning at 8:55 a.m., July 10. The first day of the clinic will conclude at 4:30 p.m. The clinic will continue on July 11, with refreshments at 7:30 a.m., sessions starting at 8 a.m. and adjourn at 3:40 p.m. Lunch will be provided on both days, with some light refreshments available at check-in. Beverages will also be available throughout the day.

Advance registration is required to attend this event. Early registration for the two-day event is $250 and must be completed before midnight July 3. Registration includes refreshments, lunch and course materials. Additional information, including an outline of all topics and online registration, is available at

For additional information visit the event website. This clinic qualifies for 12.5 continuing education credits for Iowa Certified Crop Advisers, subject to board approval, in the following categories: 2.0 nutrient management, 5.0 pest management, 125 soil and water management, 3.0 crop management.

Administrator Wheeler Signs Final Rule to Add Reporting Exemption Under EPCRA for Air Emissions from Animal Waste

Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a final rule amending the emergency release notification regulations under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). The amendments clarify that reporting of air emissions from animal waste at farms is not required under EPCRA.

The final rule comes as first responders across the county have repeatedly reminded the agency that community-specific protocols are determined between local responders and animal producers well in advance of emergencies. These strong partnerships provide a platform for resolving issues when they arise without the need for a national one-size-fits-all approach.

“This final rule provides clarity and certainty to the regulated community that animal waste emissions from farms do not need to be reported under EPCRA,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This action eliminates an onerous reporting requirement and allows emergency responders and farmers to focus on protecting the public and feeding the nation, not routine animal waste emissions.”

“The goal of emergency response officials and local emergency planning committees (LEPCs) is to prepare communities for emergency threats related to hazardous chemical releases. Such emergency threats do not include 'best guess' reporting on day-to-day emissions on farms and animal operations,” said National Association of SARA Title III Program Officials (NASTTPO) President Tim Gablehouse. “The focus of LEPCs should be and is on chemical hazards that present meaningful risk of harm to community members and first responders. We look forward to working on enhanced coordination and cooperation between all community members to improve preparedness for hazardous chemical releases.”

The changes to emergency release reporting regulations reflect the existing relationship between EPCRA and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and provide consistency between the two environmental laws.


On March 23, 2018, President Trump signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (“Omnibus Bill”). Title XI of the Omnibus Bill is entitled the “Fair Agricultural Reporting Method Act” or the “FARM Act.” The FARM Act expressly exempts reporting of air emissions from animal waste (including decomposing animal waste) at a farm from CERCLA section 103. The FARM Act also provides definitions for the terms “animal waste” and “farm.” Because these types of releases are exempted under CERCLA, based on the release reporting criteria under EPCRA section 304, these types of releases are also exempt under EPCRA section 304.

On October 30, 2018, then Acting Administrator Wheeler proposed the reporting exemption under EPCRA alongside National Association of SARA Title III Program Officials (NASTTPO) President Tim Gablehouse and various state animal producer trade associations.

You can read the final rule here:

Today’s final rule maintains consistency between the emergency release notification requirements of EPCRA and CERCLA in accordance with the statutory text and framework of EPCRA.

EPA Implements Fischer’s Bill Exempting Farms from Reporting Animal Waste Emissions

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) released the following statement today after EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced he signed a final rule implementing her common-sense legislation, which ensures farmers and ranchers do not need to report animal waste emissions:

“Due to unnecessary federal regulations, our ag producers in Nebraska were facing worry and frustration about calculating emissions from animal waste. I was proud to lead the bipartisan legislation that delivered a permanent fix on this issue. Now that the EPA administrator has officially implemented this rule, farmers and ranchers will have more regulatory certainty.”

Senator Fischer championed the bipartisan Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act, which President Trump signed into law in March 2018. The bill protects farmers, ranchers, and livestock markets from burdensome EPA reporting requirements for animal waste emissions. These requirements were meant to address dangerous industrial pollution, chemical plant explosions, and the release of hazardous materials into the environment. They were not intended to affect animal agriculture.

NCBA Welcomes Exemption from EPCRA's "Frivolous Reporting Requirements"

Today Jennifer Houston, President of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, released the following statement in response to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s finalization of a rule exempting livestock producers from unnecessary reporting requirements under EPCRA:

“Farmers, ranchers, and emergency response officials all agree: routine emissions from agricultural operations are not a threat to local communities. Congress made a common-sense decision to exempt livestock producers from frivolous reporting requirements at the federal level with its passage of the FARM Act, and we are glad to see EPA fully implement the law by providing relief from burdensome state and local reporting requirements. Rather than submitting needless paperwork, talking to responders about potential on-farm hazards can save lives. The removal of this unnecessary burden will allow first responders to focus on real emergencies, and will allow livestock producers to focus on feeding the world.” 

Final EPA Rule Exempts Farms From Emissions Reporting

The National Pork Producers Council today applauded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for finalizing its rule exempting livestock farmers from reporting to state and local authorities the routine emissions from their farms.

"Today's rule is the final piece in the implementation of the FARM Act, which passed Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support last year and eliminated the need for livestock farmers to estimate and report to the federal government emissions from the natural breakdown of manure," said NPPC President David Herring, and a pork producer from Lillington, North Carolina. "That bipartisan measure was approved because it was unnecessary and impractical for farmers to waste time and resources alerting government agencies that there are livestock on farms."

The Fair Agricultural Reporting Method, or FARM Act, fixed a problem created in April 2017 when a U.S. Court of Appeals rejected a 2008 EPA rule that exempted farmers from reporting routine farm emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). Commonly known as the "Superfund Law," CERCLA is used primarily to clean hazardous waste sites but also includes a mandatory federal reporting component.

The appeals court ruling would have forced tens of thousands of livestock farmers to "guesstimate" and report the emissions from manure on their farms to the U.S. Coast Guard's National Response Center and subjected them to citizen lawsuits from activist groups.

EPA's new rule exempts farmers from having to make reports to state and local first responders under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) – an adjunct to CERCLA – that they have "hazardous" emissions on their farms.  The state and local first responders have been clear that they consider these reports unnecessary and burdensome. Instead, they prefer open lines of communication and information sharing at the local level with farmers, something the U.S. pork industry is already undertaking.  In many communities, U.S. pork producers are also local fire chiefs or members of the fire department.  Additionally, the U.S. pork industry has already changed its industry best practices through the Pork Quality Assurance® Plus (PQA® Plus) program to encourage producers to engage with local first responders and create open lines of communication.

"The pork industry wants regulations that are practical and effective but applying CERCLA and EPCRA to livestock farms is neither," Herring said. "Pork producers are very strong stewards of the environment and have taken many actions over the years to protect it.  We applaud President Trump for relieving America's farmers from filing these unnecessary reports," he added.

April 2019 Dairy Products Production Highlights

Total cheese output (excluding cottage cheese) was 1.08 billion pounds, 0.2 percent above April 2018 but 3.6 percent below March 2019.  Italian type cheese production totaled 474 million pounds, 2.9 percent above April 2018 but 4.2 percent below March 2019.  American type cheese production totaled 432 million pounds, 2.8 percent below April 2018 and 1.9 percent below March 2019.  Butter production was 167 million pounds, 4.8 percent below April 2018 and 3.9 percent below March 2019.

Dry milk products (comparisons in percentage with April 2018)
Nonfat dry milk, human - 165 million pounds, down 2.6 percent.
Skim milk powder - 45.0 million pounds, down 9.0 percent.

Whey products (comparisons in percentage with April 2018)
Dry whey, total - 74.0 million pounds, down 13.7 percent.
Lactose, human and animal - 108 million pounds, up 15.9 percent.
Whey protein concentrate, total - 41.4 million pounds, down 1.1 percent.

Frozen products (comparisons in percentage with April 2018)
Ice cream, regular (hard) - 63.2 million gallons, up 0.6 percent.
Ice cream, lowfat (total) - 43.5 million gallons, up 6.5 percent.
Sherbet (hard) - 3.26 million gallons, down 8.9 percent.
Frozen yogurt (total) - 4.89 million gallons, down 6.2 percent.

Farm Service Agency County Committee Nominations Open June 14

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will begin accepting nominations for county committee members on Friday, June 14, 2019. Agricultural producers who participate or cooperate in an FSA program may be nominated for candidacy for the county committee. Individuals may nominate themselves or others as a candidate.

“I encourage America’s farmers, ranchers and forest stewards to nominate candidates to lead, serve and represent their community on their county committee,” FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce said. “There’s an increasing need for diverse representation including underserved producers, which includes beginning, women and minority farmers and ranchers.”

Committees make important decisions about how federal farm programs are administered locally. Their input is vital on how FSA carries out disaster programs, as well as conservation, commodity and price support programs, county office employment and other agricultural issues.

Nationwide, more than 7,700 dedicated members of the agricultural community are serving on FSA county committees. The committees are made up of three to 11 members and typically meet once a month. Members serve three-year terms.

Producers should visit their local FSA office to find out how to get involved in their county’s election. Check with your local USDA service center to see if your local administrative area is up for election this year. Organizations, including those representing beginning, women and minority producers, also may nominate candidates.

To be considered, a producer must sign an FSA-669A nomination form. The form and other information about FSA county committee elections are available at All nomination forms for the 2019 election must be postmarked or received in the local FSA office by Aug. 1, 2019.

Election ballots will be mailed to eligible voters beginning Nov. 4, 2019.

USDA Announces Commodity Credit Corporation Lending Rates

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Commodity Credit Corporation Monday announced interest rates for June 2019, which are effective June 1-June 30, 2019. The Commodity Credit Corporation borrowing rate-based charge for June is 2.375 percent, same as it was in May.

The interest rate for crop year commodity loans less than one year disbursed during June is 3.375 percent, same as it was in May. Interest rates for Farm Storage Facility Loans approved for June are as follows: 2.250 percent with three-year loan terms, same as it was in May; 2.250 percent with five-year loan terms, down from 2.375 percent in May; 2.375 percent with seven-year loan terms, down from 2.500 percent in May; 2.500 percent with 10-year loan terms, same as in May; and 2.500 percent with 12-year loan terms, same as in May.

Feed Prices in 2019

Brenda Boetel, Extension Economist, Dept of Ag Economics, University of Wisconsin-River Falls

The USDA Crop Progress report released June 3, 2019 showed that as of the week ending June 2, 2019 only 67% of corn has been planted, compared to 96% in 2018. The July, September and December 2019 CME corn futures market contracts have increased an average of $0.59 since May 1. The average May change over the last 5 years has been a decrease of $0.11. Given the significant decrease in plantings and the percentage of corn that has been planted late, corn price may continue to increase. While the trade concerns with Mexico are the bearish indicators the decrease in acres will likely have a greater impact.

Over the last 5 years Mexico has taken an average of 24% of our exports. 24% of the average 5 years of exports is 522 million bushels of corn.  If one assumes corn planting will be down 6 million acres to 86.8 million acres and we see a decrease of 2 bushels/acre to 174.6 bu/acre yield we would see a decrease in corn production of 554 million bushels.  Although the market may focus on the new news concerning Mexico and trade, the long-term impact (and in my opinion the more likely scenario) of lower acres and yield will eventually have the greater impact on prices.

In addition to a lower supply of corn, we will see continued decreases in high quality hay.  2018 saw heavy rains and unpredictable weather.  The decrease in production contributed to the decrease in US hay stocks of close to 6% from 2017 to 2018. Given the late wet spring, first cutting hay is smaller as forages were slow to start growing and were mature at lower height.

Feeding cost of gain is sensitive to corn and hay prices, as well as feed conversions. Using regression results obtained by Michael Langemeier from Purdue University that found each $0.10 per bushel increase in corn prices increases feeding cost of gain by $0.87 per cwt. and each $5 per ton increase in alfalfa prices increases feeding cost of gain by $0.55 per cwt, one can estimate that even if hay price and all other costs remain constant cost of gain will increase by $5/cwt given the May increase in price of corn. This calculation assumes price remains at this level and feeders haven't conducted any hedging activities, but it highlights the increased costs of feeding producers should expect.

 ARA Sent Letter to USDA on How Payments May Negatively Impact Retailers

The Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today describing the risk of unintended consequences that the disaster relief legislation will have on agribusiness and requesting him to implement legislation in a way that will not harm agricultural retailers and distributors.

While ARA wholeheartedly supports the efforts of congress to pass supplemental relief to farmers across the country devastated by natural disasters, we have concerns regarding the negative impact the widespread prevented planting payments will impose on the agribusiness community.

"Our members will always have the farmers' best interest at heart because if farmers don't succeed, retailers don't succeed," said ARA President and CEO Daren Coppock.

Should farmers choose not to plant in 2019 and instead take prevented planting compensation, the retailer will be left holding product which will either drop in value, or worse, be of no value at all, as in the case of treated seed. Therefore, encouraging farmers to alter their planting intentions drastically will have a detrimental impact on agricultural retailers and other businesses serving farmers.

"We believe the American farmer wants nothing more than to be able to put crops in the ground and produce a plentiful harvest, and this action would hopefully assist to that end," said Coppock in the letter.

Instead, ARA recommends delaying the prevented planting date in the affected states for the 2019 growing season as an excellent resolution to accommodate grower needs while also considering the interest of agricultural retailers who serve the growers.

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