Monday, September 16, 2019

Monday September 16 Ag News

For the week ending September 15, 2019, there were 5.1 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 2 percent very short, 8 short, 82 adequate, and 8 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 1 percent very short, 7 short, 83 adequate, and 9 surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn condition rated 2 percent very poor, 6 poor, 21 fair, 54 good, and 17 excellent. Corn dough was 97 percent, near 100 last year and 99 for the five-year average. Dented was 82 percent, behind 91 last year and 90 average. Mature was 19 percent, well behind 41 last year, and behind 35 average.

Soybean condition rated 1 percent very poor, 4 poor, 21 fair, 61 good, and 13 excellent. Soybeans setting pods was 98 percent, near 100 both last year and average. Dropping leaves was 22 percent, well behind 59 last year and 44 average.

Winter wheat planted was 19 percent, equal to last year, and behind 26 average.

Sorghum condition rated 1 percent very poor, 1 poor, 17 fair, 64 good, and 17 excellent. Sorghum coloring was 84 percent, behind 90 last year and 91 average. Mature was 6 percent, well behind 26 last year, and behind 23 average.

Dry edible bean condition rated 10 percent very poor, 22 poor, 25 fair, 38 good, and 5 excellent. Dry edible beans dropping leaves was 61 percent. Harvested was 11 percent.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 1 percent very poor, 3 poor, 18 fair, 60 good, and 18 excellent.

Iowa Crop Progress & Condition Report

 Heavy rains fell across much of Iowa with just 3.7 days suitable for fieldwork statewide during the week ending September 15, 2019, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Fieldwork activities included harvesting hay and seed corn, chopping silage, and seeding cover crops.

Topsoil moisture condition was rated 1 percent very short, 13 percent short, 81 percent adequate and 5 percent surplus. Precipitation this past week helped increase topsoil moisture levels in all districts. However, the topsoil moisture rating in east central, south central and southeast Iowa districts remains above 25 percent short to very short. Subsoil moisture condition was rated 3 percent very short, 18 percent short, 76 percent adequate and 3 percent surplus.

Ninety-four percent of the corn crop was in or beyond the dough stage, over two weeks behind both last year and the 5-year average. Seventy-four percent of the crop has reached the dented stage, 15 days behind last year and 10 days behind average. Eight percent of corn reached maturity, 19 days behind last year and 13 days behind average. Corn condition improved slightly from the previous week to 65 percent good to excellent.

Nearly all of the soybean crop has started setting pods at 96 percent statewide, over two weeks behind average. Forty percent of the crop has begun coloring, 11 days behind last year and 8 days behind average. Five percent of soybeans began dropping leaves, almost 2 weeks behind last year and 10 days behind average. Soybean condition also improved slightly from the previous week to 63 percent good to excellent.

The third cutting of alfalfa hay reached 84 percent, 4 days behind average. Pasture condition rated 43 percent good to excellent. There were a few reports of high numbers of insects around livestock and concerns for livestock in permanent pastures.

Corn Mature 21 Percentage Points Behind Five-Year Average

U.S. corn and soybean conditions held mostly steady last week, but both crops are still significantly behind the average pace in reaching maturity, according to USDA NASS' latest Crop Progress report released Monday.

NASS estimated that, as of Sunday, Sept. 15, the U.S. corn crop was 55% in good-to-excellent condition, unchanged from the previous week. Only 18% of corn was estimated mature as of Sunday, according to NASS. Last year at this same time, half of the crop (51%) had reached maturity. The current maturity is also 21 percentage points behind the five-year average of 39%. Corn in the dough stage was estimated at 93%, 5 percentage points behind the five-year average of 98%. Corn dented was 68%, 19 percentage points behind the five-year average of 87%.

In its first corn harvest report of the season, NASS estimated that 4% of the crop had been harvested as of Sunday, led by activity in North Carolina and Texas. That compares to last year's 8% harvested and the five-year average of 7%.

While corn condition was unchanged last week, the condition of the nation's soybean crop fell slightly from 55% good to excellent the previous week to 54% as of Sunday. Soybeans setting pods reached 95% as of Sunday, behind both last year's and the average pace of 100%. Soybeans dropping leaves was estimated at 15%, far behind last year when half of the crop had leaves dropping and 23 percentage points behind the five-year average of 38%.

Spring wheat harvest slowed last week, moving ahead only 5 percentage points from the previous week to reach 76% as of Sunday. That is 17 percentage points behind the five-year average of 93%.

Planting of next year's winter wheat crop was estimated at 8% complete as of Sunday, according to NASS, slightly behind the average pace of 12%.

Sorghum coloring was estimated at 79%, behind the average of 84%. Sorghum mature was estimated at 34%, behind the average of 44%. Sorghum harvested was estimated at 24%, behind the five-year average of 27%. Barley harvested reached 87%, behind the average of 96%. Oats were 92% harvested, also behind the average of 97%.

Cotton bolls opening was estimated at 54%, ahead of the average of 47%. Cotton harvested was estimated at 9%, near the five-year average of 8%. Cotton condition -- for the portion of the crop still in fields -- was rated 41% good to excellent, down 2 percentage points from the previous week's 43% good-to-excellent rating. Rice harvested was 46%, slightly behind the average of 48%.

LENRD budget reflects flood reduction projects and lower property valuations

The fiscal year 2020 budget for the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) calls for a slight increase in the property tax levy.

LENRD General Manger, Mike Sousek, said, “Last year the tax levy was the lowest it had been in 45 years.  The slight increase is the result of flood reduction projects stemming from the March floods as well as the lower property valuations across the district.”

After months of discussions, the operating budget was approved by the LENRD board of directors at their September 12th meeting with a tax request of $4,332,004, an increase of $59,276 from last year or a 1.4% increase.  The overall operating expenditures show a 38% increase of $2,923,383 from last year.

Sousek, said, “For the past 7 years there has been a decrease in property tax asking, reaching a historic low in 2018.  It’s becoming more and more difficult to continue decreasing the tax levy year after year.  With the 1.4% increase this year, we are expanding our public awareness of our 12 responsibilities and have more projects and programs on the table to meet the challenges of natural resources management.”

The estimated levy, based on the property tax request, is 2.370 cents per $100 of valuation, which is a slight increase from the fiscal year 2019 levy of 2.314 cents per $100 of valuation.  For example, if a person owns a $300,000 house, the taxes owed to the LENRD would have been $69.42 in 2019 and will be approximately $71.10 in 2020.

Sousek, added, “We continue to maximize the use of our local funds, by bringing in grant money to subsidize our projects.  The funds received by the LENRD are returned to the citizens of the district, through projects, programs, and studies across all or parts of 15-counties in northeast Nebraska.”

Some of the major expenditures for FY 2020 include:  Levee and Flood Protection Projects - $1,858,150; Water Resources Programs - $622,000; Project Construction (including flood related repairs) - $983,000; and Conservation Cost-Share programs, including the Bazile Groundwater Management Area Project and Willow Creek Best Management Practices - $696,500.

Other area conservation benefits include:  water quality and quantity programs such as groundwater management, flood control, and nitrate management; as well as erosion control, cost-share to landowners who apply for conservation practices, recreation areas and trails, urban recreation and community forestry programs, and many other benefits that protect our natural resources.  A copy of the budget documents can be found at:

Annual NRD Conference Focuses on Flood Control, Water Management

Natural resources stakeholders and experts will be in Kearney for the annual Nebraska Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) Conference at the Younes Conference Center Sept. 23-24.

The conference brings together NRD employees and others integrally involved in conservation, technology and policymaking. The event kicks off with the Ron Bishop Memorial Golf Outing and trap shoot on Sunday, Sept. 22, to raise money for the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) Foundation. The conference runs from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Topics include an overview and discussion of successful natural resources programs, new technologies and research for future programs. Panelists at the forum will also provide insight on flood mitigation, Farm Bill changes, and irrigation yields and limits.

Recognizing citizens for their conservation efforts, Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts also will present awards during the noon luncheon Monday, Sept. 23. Winners include:
    Tree Planter of the Year: Doak Nickerson – Chadron, Nebraska
    Grassland Conservation Award: Schulte Family – Pleasanton and Kearney, Nebraska
    Community Conservation Award: Niobrara High School – Niobrara, Nebraska
    Soil Stewardship Conservation Award: Nick & Rose Keller – Spencer, Nebraska
    Director of the Year: Steven Kelley, Lower Big Blue Natural Resources District
    Educator(s) of the Year: Patrick Kratochvil and Suzy Foley, Madison High School

Monday evening includes a live and silent auction for the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) Foundation, which assists youth programs involved in natural resources and agriculture, followed by a dinner banquet at 6:30 p.m.

During the banquet, three NRD Hall of Fame inductees will be recognized including: James Nelson, Cairo, Nebraska (Board Member); Tom Moser, Hartington, Nebraska (NRD Employee); and Tom Pesek, Brainard, Nebraska (NRD Supporter). The Omaha World-Herald will also present Master Conservationist Awards to Dan Gillespie of Battle Creek, Nebraska; Omaha Northwest High School Outdoor Environmental Classroom; and the Spring Lake Park Project Team.

More than 300 natural resources stakeholders are expected to attend the conference. Online registration and a detailed agenda are available on the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts’ website.

The annual NRD Conference is presented by Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts with a range of local and national sponsors.


Bruce Anderson, NE Extension Forage Specialist

               Did weeds take over your alfalfa this summer?  Well, join the crowd.  So, why were the weeds so vigorous and what might happen to your alfalfa?

               Weeds seemed to show up everywhere in alfalfa fields during August and September.  And I'm not exactly sure why.  One thing is for sure, though.  The weeds were worst in older fields, thinner stands, and in areas where rainfall was higher than normal.

               Summer weeds that invade alfalfa when rain is heavy isn't unusual, especially if it is wet right after harvest.  Alfalfa stubble just doesn't compete well with weeds, so weed growth gets a jump start on the alfalfa.

               If the alfalfa plants are healthy and vigorous, though, this weed invasion should be just a temporary problem.  After the next cutting, or maybe as late a next year, most weeds will disappear and the alfalfa will take over again.

               What I'm more concerned about are your older fields, those fields starting to get a little thin.  I've noticed this year that many alfalfa fields seemed to be getting weaker and weaker as the year went on, especially if they were harvested within a month of the previous cut.        What I think is happening is that alfalfa plants in many fields have slowly been weakened naturally by root and crown diseases, but they weren't killed.  Then, as the summer went on, the weakened root systems eventually couldn't handle the stress caused by frequent harvesting.  So plants slowly died.  And weeds invaded the open areas.

               If this scenario describes one or more of your alfalfa fields, check it closely this fall.  It might be time to reseed.

               Preparing to reseed now will help avoid bad surprises next spring.


               As you bring in your round bales for winter storage and feeding, store them to minimize weather losses.

               Hay stored outside will be damaged by rain, snow, wind, and ice this fall and winter.  The average round bale loses about one fourth of its original nutrients during storage, but these losses can be reduced to less than 10 percent or so.  Now, you may be better than average but let’s still look at ways to reduce spoilage by storing that valuable hay more carefully this year.

               For instance, do you sometimes line up bales for easy access so the twine sides touch each other?  Or do you stack your bales?  If so, extra spoilage will occur where these bales touch because rain, snow, and ice will gather in spots where bales touch instead of running off.  Round bales butted end-to-end, cigar-like, usually have less spoilage.

               Does snow drift around your bales?  Bales placed in east-west rows often have drifts on the south side.  Hay close to fencelines or trees can get extra snow.  As snow melts it soaks into bales or makes the ground muddy.  Plus, the north side never gets any sun so it's slow to dry.  This year, line your bales up north-and-south and away from trees for fewer drifts and faster drying as sunlight and prevailing winds hit both sides of the row.

               Most important is the bottom of your bales.  Always put bales on higher, well-drained ground so water drains away from them.  Keep them out of terrace bottoms or other low spots.  If necessary, use crushed rock, railroad ties, or even pallets to elevate bales to keep the bottoms dry.  This also will reduce problems getting to your hay or getting it moved due to snow drifts or mud.

               Just a little pre-planning can save lots of hay and frustrations.

Representative Jeff Fortenberry Receives Golden Triangle Award From Farmers Union

Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) presented Representative Jeff Fortenberry with the Golden Triangle Award, National Farmers Union’s (NFU) highest legislative honor.  The award was presented recently as part of the annual NFU fall Fly-In that brought 380 Farmers Union members from across the country to Washington, DC to share their views and concerns with their elected officials.  Fortenberry was one of 26 House and Senate members honored this year.

The Golden Triangle is an annual award presented to members of Congress who have demonstrated leadership and support policies that benefit America’s family farmers, ranchers, and rural communities.

Representative Fortenberry’s award was presented by NeFU President John Hansen and NeFU Vice-President Vern Jantzen during their meeting with him Tuesday morning.  “We appreciate Representative Fortenberry’s continued leadership on renewable energy, conservation, rural development, and a wide range family farm and ranch issues that support farm and ranch families and their rural communities,” said NeFU President John Hansen.  “We appreciate Representative Fortenberry’s thoughtful approach to understanding the issues that impact family farm and ranch agriculture and our state, and his always open door.”

Thirteen Nebraskans participated in the NFU Fly-In meetings with members of Congress and their staffs.  In addition to Hansen, Nebraska participants included NeFU Vice President Vern Jantzen of Plymouth, NeFU District three Director Mary Alice Corman and husband Richard of Edgar, NeFU District seven President Art Tanderup and wife Helen of Neligh, Leo Hoehn of Gering, Camdyn Kavan and Midwest Regional Agency Insurances Business Specialist Jennifer Larabee of Lincoln, Julie Hindmarsh of Fremont, Jeff Downing, Midwest Regional Agency Insurances General Manager of Elkhorn, and Midwest Regional Agency Insurances Agent Nicole Johnson and Laura Thomas of Omaha.


Two regional convenings in October will offer Nebraskans opportunities to share their best ideas on how the University of Nebraska can help rural communities position themselves for economic success. The listening sessions, which are open to the public, will be held in North Platte on Oct. 15 and in Lincoln on Oct. 24.

“The University of Nebraska is a key resource for the state’s rural communities,” said Mike Boehm, NU Vice President and Harlan Vice Chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “As part of our efforts to ensure the continued competitiveness of our state, we want to help rural communities position themselves for long-term economic prosperity.”

The sessions are organized by a working group charged with creating a comprehensive strategic framework for an innovative, robust and integrated approach to rural community vitality, prosperity and resilience.

The upcoming discussions, to be hosted by Boehm, will invite Nebraskans to share experiences in rural community development and to explore how the University can be most effective in strengthening the economic prosperity and vitality of rural communities.

Session times and locations:
    NORTH PLATTE: Oct. 15, 1:30 – 5 p.m., West Central Research and Extension Center, 402 W. State Farm Rd.
    LINCOLN: Oct. 24, 8:30 a.m. – noon, Nebraska Innovation Campus, 2021 Transformation Dr.

To register to attend in person or online, visit

For more information, visit

Nebraska Pork Officials Travel to Japan and Vietnam for Trade Talks

Pork is the number one meat consumed by the people of Japan and Vietnam. These countries have the potential to be a major export market for pork from Nebraska and the United States. These person-to-person trade missions are extremely helpful in increasing the potential for future sales and the impact to the bottom-line of rural America.

Tim Chancellor, President of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association (NPPA) was among the 30-member Heartland Team, which included beef, pork, corn and soybean producers and other agricultural industry leaders, met with key players in the Japanese trade, toured retail and restaurant sectors, explored Japanese domestic production and overall, gained a better understanding of the potential in the market and how USMEF works to develop the Japanese market for U.S. red meat products. The visit came on the heels of the trade agreement in principle that would bring Japanese tariffs on U.S. beef, pork and other agricultural products in line with tariffs of our competitors.

“Knowing where product comes from and how it is produced is important with Japanese consumers,” says Tim Chancellor, President of the Nebraska Pork Producers.  “It is a fascinating and sophisticated market and consumers want assurances about the safety and quality of imported products.”

NPPA Executive Director Al Juhnke recently returned from a trip led by Governor Pete Ricketts, with the Nebraska ag trade delegation and hosted by Dan Kritenbrink, the U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam.   Ambassador Kritenbrink is a native of Nebraska and graduate of the University of Nebraska–Kearney. 

During their time in Vietnam the group met with high ranking government officials in Hanoi, participated in a business seminar for Vietnam traders, made a stop at the Vietnam National University of Agriculture, and visited the new deep-sea port of Hai Phong.

“Vietnam is a growing market for our Nebraska pork producers,” said Al Juhnke. “Their local supply of pork is lessened with the onset of African Swine Fever and the U.S. has the potential to help by sending product to address this need. We are also exploring ways that the University of Nebraska-Lincoln can cooperate with researchers in Vietnam to work on a vaccine for ASF.”

New Kansas State University study confirms possible danger of imported feed contaminated with African swine fever

A new study conducted by veterinary researchers at Kansas State University sheds new light on a threatening swine disease: African swine fever.

The research team, headed by Megan Niederwerder, assistant professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine, looks at the degradation of African swine fever virus in animal feed ingredients to understand the potential for disease spread through contaminated feed.

Up to now, data has been limited. Niederwerder's latest study, "Half-Life of African Swine Fever Virus in Shipped Feed," is now available online in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. It examines the possible risk of African swine fever virus spreading to the United States through imported feed. The study provides more accurate half-life measurements that confirm the virus can survive a simulated 30-day transoceanic voyage in contaminated plant-based feed and ingredients.

"This study provides additional evidence supporting the potential risk that feed may play in the transboundary movement of African swine fever," Niederwerder said. "Our latest work provides robust half-life estimates, which include standard errors and confidence intervals, and characterizes the stages of viral decay over time for African swine fever virus in animal feed ingredients."

Detailed analysis shows that the half-life of African swine fever virus in feed ranges from 9.6 to 14.2 days after exposure to varying temperature and humidity conditions simulating transoceanic shipment. This means it would take approximately two weeks for the total viable virus concentration to decay by half its original count under the conditions of a transatlantic voyage. Niederwerder said that all feed matrices provided a more supportive environment for viral stability when compared to media, where the shortest half-life was calculated.

The new study expands on Niederwerder's previous work confirming the likelihood of African swine fever transmission through feed and can be used to implement science-based management practices such as storage time to reduce this risk.

"Transmission of swine viruses through feed has been recognized as a risk since around 2013, but the probability of African swine fever virus infection through plant-based feed was unknown until our publication earlier this year," Niederwerder said. "Our research reports novel data and important quantitative information that can be incorporated into risk models for introduction and mitigation of African swine fever virus through imported feed ingredients."

Over the last year, African swine fever virus has emerged on new continents and spread to historically negative countries. If the virus can survive shipments overseas, this provides an opportunity to infect swine in the United States and other countries through imported feed, which would be devastating to U.S. pork production.

"African swine fever virus is a rapidly spreading and emerging transboundary animal disease that threatens pork production and human food security worldwide," Niederwerder said. "The emerging threat of African swine fever virus being introduced into the United States is staggering and significant efforts are focused on preventing entry."

African swine fever is now considered endemic in China, where the world's largest population of pigs live. Chinese production of pork is estimated to be cut by 25% by the end of the year. The disease has also spread to several other Asian countries and recently to Western Europe.

Funding for the study was provided by the Swine Health Information Center and the State of Kansas National Bio and Agro-defense Facility Fund. Co-authors on the publication include Ana Stoian, doctoral student in pathobiology at Kansas State University; Jeff Zimmerman, professor at the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine; Ju Ji, doctoral student in statistics at Iowa State University; Trevor Hefley, assistant professor of statistics at Kansas State University; Scott Dee, veterinarian with Pipestone Veterinary Services; Diego Diel, associate professor at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine; and Bob Rowland, professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology at Kansas State University.


The Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) will invest approximately $40.9 million into programs of beef promotion, research, consumer information, industry information, foreign marketing and producer communications during fiscal 2020, subject to USDA approval.

In action at the end of its September 10-11 meeting in Denver, Colorado, the Beef Promotion Operating Committee (BPOC) approved checkoff funding for a total of 15 “Authorization Requests” – or grant proposals – brought by seven contractors for the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2019. The committee, which includes 10 producers from the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and 10 producers from the Federation of State Beef Councils, also recommended full Cattlemen’s Beef Board approval of a budget amendment to reflect the split of funding between budget categories affected by their decisions.

The seven contractors brought a total of $50,766,964 million worth of funding requests to the BPOC this week, nearly $10 million more than the funds available from the CBB budget.

“The BPOC is completely producer-driven. We have cattlemen and women from all over the U.S. as well as importers deciding where these checkoff dollars need to be spent,” said Cattlemen’s Beef Board and BPOC Chairman Chuck Coffey. 

“It’s always great to hear about the programs and projects proposed by our contractors to utilize our checkoff dollars, yet on the other side, an equally diffcult decision to balance the budget and distribute those dollars according to where we believe will be most useful for driving beef demand.”

    In the end, the BPOC approved proposals from seven national beef organizations for funding through the FY 20 Cattlemen’s Beef Board budget, as follows:
    National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (five proposals for $27,383,347)
    U.S. Meat Export Federation, a subcontractor to NCBA (one proposal for $8,279,846)
    North American Meat Institute (four proposals for $1,953,345)
    Cattlemen’s Beef Board (one proposal for $1,645,993)
    American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture (one proposal for $698,300)
    Meat Import Council of America (one proposal for $498,786)
    United States Cattlemen’s Association (one proposal for $359,126)
    National Livestock Producers Association (one proposal for $99,757)

Broken out by budget components – which are outlined by the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985 – the Fiscal Year 2020 Plan of Work for the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board budget includes:
    $10.4 million for promotion programs, including continuation of the checkoff’s consumer digital advertising program, as well as veal promotion.
    $9.5 million for research programs, focusing on a variety of critical issues, including pre- and post-harvest beef safety research, product quality research, human nutrition research and scientific affairs, market research, and beef and culinary innovations.
    $7.6 million for consumer information programs, including a Northeast public relations initiative; national consumer public relations, including nutrition-influencer relations and work with primary- and secondary-school curriculum directors nationwide to get accurate information about the beef industry into classrooms of today’s youth.
    $3.4 million for industry information programs, comprising dissemination of accurate information about the beef industry to counter misinformation from anti-beef groups and others, as well as funding for checkoff participation in a fifth annual national industrywide symposium focused on discussion and dissemination of information about antibiotic use.
    $8.3 million for foreign marketing and education in 80 countries in the following regions: ASEAN region, Caribbean, Central America/Dominican Republic, China/Hong Kong, Europe, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Middle East, Russia/Greater Russian Region, South America, Taiwan and new markets.
    $1.6 million for producer communications, which includes investor outreach using national communications and direct communications to producers and importers about checkoff results, as well as development and utilization of a publishing strategy and platform and a state beef council content hub. 

The full fiscal 2020 Cattlemen’s Beef Board budget is approximately $44.5 million. Separate from the authorization requests, other expenses funded include $227,000 for program evaluation; $474,500 for program development; $800,000 for USDA oversight, which includes $400,000 for AMS oversight and $400,000 for CBB’s legal and compliance; and $2.1 million for CBB administration. The fiscal 2020 budget represents an increase of $614,600 from the $43.9 million FY19 budget.

For more information about the Beef Checkoff and its programs, including promotion, research, foreign marketing, industry information, consumer information and safety, contact the Cattlemen’s Beef Board at 303-220-9890 or visit

Iowans should prepare for propane needs this fall

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig encouraged ag businesses, farmers, rural residents and other Iowans that use propane to consider taking steps to ensure adequate propane supplies this fall and winter.

“As of the first week of September, propane inventories were significantly higher than what they were at this time last year and just shy of the five-year average high,” Naig said. “Due to the late planting season across the state, Iowans need to be aware of the length of time and amount of propane that will be needed this fall.”

According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Iowa Crop Progress and Conditions report on September 8, 60 percent of the corn crop has reached the dent stage or beyond with four percent mature, 11 days behind the five-year average.  These figures were 87 and 28 percent, respectively, a year ago.  The later crop maturity in large portions of the state will likely mean a steady demand for propane use for grain drying throughout the fall months.

Actions that farmers and other propane users can take now in order to prepare for this fall and winter include:
      • Confirm propane supplies for grain drying, livestock facilities, homes and machine sheds are full going into the fall season.
      • Take advantage of early buy/booking programs
      • Consider expanding on-site capacity at facilities and homes
      • Communicate early and regularly with propane suppliers

Propane production has continued to increase across the country over the summer months and exports were down in August. Those two factors have helped to boost late summer supplies. It is estimated that just over a million more barrels of propane is currently being stored in the Midwest and about 21 million barrels more in the Gulf Coast region compared to this time last year.

The increase in supply means prices have decreased since last year. The latest average for propane in Iowa is $1.11 per gallon, down 15-cents from fall 2018. Nevertheless, it is important for users to be prepared as fall and early winter weather patterns approach. With the chance of export pressures to increase this fall, ensuring adequate supplies on hand now can help avoid any possible unforeseen spikes in demand later this year.

As of September 6, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports propane stocks in the Midwest “PADD 2” region at 26.9 million barrels. That is up from 25.8 million barrels a year ago. EIA reports that U.S. propane stocks as of that same date at 97.8 million barrels compared to 74.6 million barrels a year ago. Higher supply levels are attributed primarily to increased production levels and lower August export pressures.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship continues to work with a number of Iowa agriculture organizations and the Iowa Propane Gas Association (IPGA).  The IPGA and the state propane suppliers work towards communicating the supply and demand for this vital agricultural energy resource.

Secretary Perdue Statement on Farm Safety Week

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today applauded President Trump’s proclamation making September 15-21, 2019 National Farm Safety and Health Week. The theme for this year’s National Farm Safety & Health Week is “Shift Farm Safety into High Gear” as a reminder that it is everyone’s responsibility to prioritize safety on the farm and the rural roadways of America.

“America’s farmers, ranchers and producers work hard to feed our nation and the world,” Secretary Perdue said. “Farming is not always the safest profession and it is our responsibility to continue to improve workplace safety and pursue initiatives that create healthier work environments. They must also have access to innovative technologies and production practices to protect themselves and their employees. President Trump has our farmers backs and this proclamation further demonstrates this issue as one of great importance. Promoting Farm Safety will help our American agriculture workforce to continue producing the healthiest, safest, most affordable, and most abundant food supply on earth.”

This week is an opportunity to spread awareness of the inherent risks associated with work in the agriculture sector and commit to improved practices that advance the health and safety of farm and ranch operators, their family members, and their hired workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 581 workers in agriculture and related industries died from a work-related injury in 2017, making agriculture one of the most dangerous professions in the United States.

The National Education Center for Agricultural Safety is providing informative Webinars each day of the week. Each day of National Farm Safety & Health Week has a theme as follows:
-     Monday, September 16, 2019 - Tractor Safety & Rural Roadway Safety
-    Tuesday, September 17, 2019 - Farmer Health & Opioid/Suicide Prevention
-    Wednesday, September 18, 2019 - Safety & Health for Youth in Agriculture
-    Thursday, September 19, 2019 - Confined Spaces in Agriculture
-    Friday, September 20, 2019 - Safety & Health for Women in Agriculture

With Demand at 56-Year High, “Death of Dairy” is a Myth

National Milk Producers Federation

Dairy is facing challenges. In a crowded beverage marketplace, per-capita fluid milk consumption in the U.S. is down by a quarter in the past 20 years, and the number of U.S. dairy farms dropped 6.8 percent in 2018.

That’s one part of the story. But a more accurate picture of the health of the dairy industry is much brighter than the doom and gloom conjured from selective use of data. No matter what critics may say, attempts to craft a “death of dairy” narrative are mistaken.

Looking more broadly than milk in a glass, per-capita dairy consumption has been on the rise since the 1970s, according to USDA data. Last year’s level – 646 pounds per person – was the most popular year for dairy in the U.S. since 1962.

Individual products tell similar stories. Cheese per-capita consumption has tripled since 1971. Butter is at its highest per-capita use since 1968. Contrast that with nose-diving sales of margarine, the longest-established “plant-based” dairy alternative, which in 2010 was at its lowest per-capita consumption since 1942. After that, the federal government stopped tracking it altogether.
Milk, like every other beverage, exists in a competitive marketplace. Bottled water, orange juice, energy drinks, and yes, plant-based dairy imposters, all compete for shelf space. But spinning a segmenting beverage market into a “declining dairy” narrative is disingenuous at best, dishonest at worst. Just Mark Twain when he said of an erroneous news story, “The report of my death was an exaggeration,” dairy is very much alive -- and on the rise. ­­­

Last Call for DMC: Farmer Safety-Net Signup Ends Friday

With sign-up for the 2019 Dairy Margin Coverage program ending Friday, the National Milk Producers Federation urged all dairy farmers to enroll in the program, which guarantees a payout for producers that’s higher than program premiums in 2019.

The DMC, the main risk-protection tool for dairy farmers enacted in the 2018 farm bill, is guaranteed to pay all producers enrolled at the maximum $9.50/cwt. coverage level for every month of production through July, according to USDA data. More than 71% of dairy operations with an established DMC production history have enrolled so far for this year, representing more than 19,000 producers nationwide.

“DMC signup, especially at the maximum $9.50 coverage level, is a no-brainer for dairy producers,” said Jim Mulhern, NMPF President and CEO. “But to take advantage of this program, delay is no longer possible. Farmers need to sign up now.”

The DMC, created in the 2018 Farm Bill, is a much more robust safety net for dairy producers of all sizes than the Margin Protection Program, which has been discontinued. DMC improvements include:
    Affordable higher coverage levels that permit all dairy producers to insure margins up to $9.50/cwt. on their Tier 1 (first five million pounds) production history, a higher level than previous programs.
    A new option for producers to receive a 25 percent discount on their premiums if they agree to lock in their coverage for the five-year period of this Farm Bill. However, producers will be allowed to pay their premiums annually even if they elect the five-year discount.
    The feed-cost formula has been improved to include dairy quality hay values, which better reflects the true cost of feeding dairy cows.
    Affordable $5.00 coverage that lowers premium costs by roughly 88 percent. This creates more meaningful catastrophic-type coverage at a reasonable cost for larger producers without distorting the market signals needed to balance supply with demand.

NMPF has a resource page on its new website with more information about the program.

In Wake of Saudi Attacks, Ethanol Can Help Provide Real Energy Security

Drone attacks Saturday in Saudi Arabia destroyed oil fields and caused a record spike in oil prices overnight, again calling into question claims that increased U.S. oil production has made America energy independent. The following is a statement from Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper:

“The crude oil and gasoline price spikes following the attacks on Saudi Arabia show once again that the Unites States cannot simply frack its way to energy independence. Even with growth in domestic oil production, $18 billion flowed out of the U.S. economy to Saudi Arabia last year in return for 330 million barrels of petroleum. What the oil industry doesn’t want you to know is that the United States imported 2.8 billion barrels of crude oil last year, equivalent to 45 percent of the oil processed by U.S. refineries. In fact, California imports nearly 60 percent of the oil it uses from outside the U.S., and nearly half of this imported crude comes to California via the Strait of Hormuz.

“Diversification of our liquid fuel supply is the only way to truly insulate American consumers from the volatility and price shocks that plague the global petroleum market. The good news is we have a solution right here in America’s farm fields and rural communities. Our nation’s ethanol industry produced more than 380 million barrels of lower-cost, cleaner-burning renewable fuel last year—more barrels than we imported from Saudi Arabia. And we can do more. With the faithful enforcement of the Renewable Fuel Standard, removal of arcane and unnecessary regulatory barriers, and a rapid transition to 15% ethanol blends nationwide, U.S. ethanol producers could quickly ramp up production and help fill the void in the global liquid fuel supply caused by the Saudi oil attacks.

“The hard truth is that our nation remains highly vulnerable to the geopolitical vagaries that create turmoil in the world oil market. We call on President Trump to unleash the strength and innovation of America’s ethanol industry in this time of crisis.”

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