Friday, November 22, 2019

Thursday November 21 Ag News

November Rural Mainstreet Index Rises to Highest Reading for 2019:
Bankers Expect Holiday Sales to Grow by only 1.3% from 2018

The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) for November climbed above growth neutral for the fourth time in the past five months, according to the monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy.     

Overall: The overall index rose to 54.2 from 51.4 in October. Although still tepid, this is the highest reading for 2019. It also marked the fourth time in the past five months that the overall index rose above growth neutral.

“Federal agriculture crop support payments and somewhat higher grain prices have boosted the Rural Mainstreet Index slightly above growth neutral for the month. Given a continued weak rural economy, bank CEOs, on average, expect holiday buying to increase by only 1.3% above last year’s levels,” said Ernie Goss, PhD, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business. 

Farming and ranching: The farmland and ranchland-price index for November increased slightly to a weak 40.4 from October’s 40.3. This is the 72nd straight month the index has remained below growth neutral 50.0. 

The November farm equipment-sales index declined to 37.5 from October’s 39.7. This marks the 74th month the reading has remained below growth neutral 50.0. 

This month bankers were asked to project the change in holiday retail sales from last year’s buying season. On average, bankers expect a 1.3% expansion with 17.1% of bankers anticipating a decline in retail sales from last year.

Below are the state reports:

Nebraska: The Nebraska RMI for November rose to 51.0 from October’s 48.5. The state’s farmland-price index sank to 39.3 from last month’s 44.6. Nebraska’s new-hiring index fell to 48.6 from October’s 49.1. Over the past 12 months rural areas in Nebraska have lost jobs at a rate of minus 1.6% compared to a gain of 2.0% for urban areas of the state.  

Iowa: The November RMI for Iowa increased to 52.5 from October’s 49.6. Iowa’s farmland-price index was unchanged from October’s 39.7. Iowa’s new-hiring index for November advanced to 57.1 from October’s 52.1. Over the past 12 months rural areas in Iowa have experienced job additions with a gain of 0.2% compared to a stronger 0.9% for urban areas of the state.

Each month, community bank presidents and CEOs in nonurban agriculturally and energy-dependent portions of a 10-state area are surveyed regarding current economic conditions in their communities and their projected economic outlooks six months down the road. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming are included.  

This survey represents an early snapshot of the economy of rural agriculturally and energy-dependent portions of the nation. The Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) is a unique index covering 10 regional states, focusing on approximately 200 rural communities with an average population of 1,300. It gives the most current real-time analysis of the rural economy. Goss and Bill McQuillan, former chairman of the Independent Community Banks of America, created the monthly economic survey in 2005.

University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Wayne State offering dual-degree program

Wayne State College and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln have partnered to offer students an innovative pathway to an agriculture and natural resources degree in northeast Nebraska. Students who complete the new dual-degree program will receive two bachelor’s degrees: an applied science degree (concentration in agriculture and natural resources) from Nebraska and a life sciences degree (concentration in biology) from Wayne State.

With the growing population of the world, natural resources must be understood and used wisely. In this program, students will study agriculture and biology to become professionals who can apply concepts, processes and procedures to manage resources in the areas of food, animal and plant systems. Students will study biology of natural systems as well as the impact human society has on the natural world.

Program candidates will begin their education with coursework at Wayne State, then finish the degree with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln while remaining, if they desire, in northeast Nebraska to complete the final year online or in a laboratory setting. With these degrees, graduates will be prepared for careers in everything from animals to plants, soil to climate, business to mechanization, leadership to food. Students will take 90 credit hours (including 30 hours of general education) with Wayne State and finish with 30 credit hours that can be completed online or at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Wayne State and University of Nebraska–Lincoln leaders convened Oct. 29 on the Wayne State campus to discuss the program with news media. Leaders included Marysz Rames, president of Wayne State; Steven Elliott, vice president for academic affairs at Wayne State; Michael Boehm, Harlan Vice Chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Nebraska and vice president for agriculture and natural resources at the University of Nebraska system; and Tiffany Heng-Moss, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Nebraska.

“We have been working on this for a little over a year now,” Rames said. “We started to talk about what we could do to really serve students in this part of the state in agriculture and worked through the details of what that might look like, really looking at our curriculum to see what kinds of programs and courses we provide that will blend nicely with the university.”

There are many students for whom the program would be a great pathway, each of the leaders said. The program places a high priority on being responsive to the needs of students.

“The idea is maximum flexibility for the students,” Boehm said. “This is really all about student choice. Some students would prefer to stay in northeast Nebraska, here at Wayne State. Others may choose to move from Wayne to UNL. I think the key thing here is that the students in this dual-degree program get to experience both campuses, both cultures, and that really is an enriching opportunity where they get to learn about even more perspectives than if they were at one institution.”

Academic partnerships often work by providing students with access to resources that suit their situation, such as location, relevance, and quality. The Nebraska-Wayne State partnership provides students with a wide range of options that serve their career goals and the Nebraska workforce.

“Agriculture is very important to the state of Nebraska,” Heng-Moss said. “One in every four jobs is connected to the agricultural and natural resources industry, and that holds true here in this part of the state. So this program is a wonderful opportunity for us to be able to leverage the strengths of our two institutions. The benefit for students is they can obtain a dual credential. There are a lot of opportunities for us to work together to be able to support agriculture and to help develop the next generation of problem-solvers, innovators and leaders that will go on to advance what we do here in northeast Nebraska as well as the state of Nebraska and beyond on the global platform.”

Boehm said: “This a brain gain for Nebraska. It’s keeping Nebraskans in Nebraska by making a sought-after program accessible. This gives students a chance to stay here geographically tethered to their community, contribute to their community and the economy, and really pursue two great degrees from two amazing institutions.”

Elliott said: “We are really excited to lock arms with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in this program. This is an outstanding partnership, something we’re very proud of and very excited for. And we’re really looking forward to students being able to pursue an agricultural degree right here in northeast Nebraska.”

For more information, visit Wayne State College, a regional, public four-year college in northeast Nebraska, is a member of the Nebraska State College System.

Landlord/Tenant Cash Rent Workshop for 2020 and Beyond

Landlord-tenant-workshop Nebraska Extension’s Landlord/Tenant Cash Rent Workshops for 2020 and Beyond will provide the latest leasing, real estate and management information to operators, tenants and landowners in Nebraska this winter.

The daylong workshop is scheduled in 19 communities throughout the state, between Dec. 6, 2019, and March 18, 2020.

Extension educators Austin Duerfeldt, Jim Jansen and Allan Vyhnalek have collaborated to develop a program that will address agricultural finance and the real estate market, negotiation skills and considerations for leases and strategies for farmland succession and communication.

“Austin, Jim and I have put together an excellent set of topics and have completely rewritten our land management curriculum for this set of workshops,” said Vyhnalek. “We encourage both landowners and farmers to attend to hear about land management in the next decade.

Landlord/Tenant Cash Rent Workshops for 2020 and Beyond

When: Dec. 6, 2019, 1-4 p.m.
Where: Wayne Volunteer Fire Department
Address: 510 Tomar Drive, Wayne, NE 68787
Registration: 402-375-3310

When: Dec. 17, 2019, 6-9 p.m.
Where: Nebraska Extension in Douglas-Sarpy Counties
Address: 8015 W Center Road, Omaha, NE 68124
Registration: 402-444-7804

When: Dec. 18, 2019, 6:30-9:30 p.m.
Where: Cobblestone Inn & Suites
Address: 2218 Colfax St., Schuyler, NE 68661
Registration: 402-352-3821

When: Dec. 19, 2019, 9 a.m.-noon
Where: Antelope County Courthouse
Address: 501 M St., Neligh, NE 68756
Registration: 402-887-5414

When: Feb. 3, 2020, 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. (includes lunch)
Where: Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County office
Address: 444 Cherrycreek Road, Lincoln, NE 68528
Registration: 402-441-7180

Registration for the free workshop is requested to ensure enough materials are available. Updated information is available at

All-Time Record High Red Meat and Pork Production in October

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 5.06 billion pounds in October, up 3 percent from the 4.90 billion pounds produced in October 2018.

Beef production, at 2.44 billion pounds, was slightly above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.98 million head, up 1 percent from October 2018. The average live weight was down 3 pounds from the previous year, at 1,360 pounds.

Veal production totaled 7.0 million pounds, 2 percent below October a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 55,300 head, up 3 percent from October 2018. The average live weight was down 9 pounds from last year, at 222 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.61 billion pounds, up 6 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 12.3 million head, up 6 percent from October 2018. The average live weight was up 2 pounds from the previous year, at 285 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 12.7 million pounds, was down 3 percent from October 2018. Sheep slaughter totaled 205,400 head, 3 percent above last year. The average live weight was 124 pounds, down 7 pounds from October a year ago.

By State   (million lbs  -  % Oct '18)

Nebraska .....:     781.8            106  
Iowa ............:     817.2            113      
Kansas .........:     424.2             81      

January to October 2019 commercial red meat production was 45.5 billion pounds, up 3 percent from 2018. Accumulated beef production was up 1 percent from last year, veal was down 1 percent, pork was up 5 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 2 percent.


In the Northern Plains Region (Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota) there were 37,000 workers hired directly by farm operators on farms and ranches during the week of July 7-13, 2019, down 12 percent from the July 2018 reference week, according to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Workers numbered 43,000 during the week of October 6-12, 2019, up 8 percent from the October 2018 reference week.

Farm operators in the Northern Plains Region paid their hired workers an average wage of $15.61 per hour during the July 2019 reference week, up 3 percent from the July 2018 reference week. Field workers received an average of $15.90 per hour, up 78 cents. Livestock workers earned $13.81 per hour, up 1 cent. The field and livestock worker combined wage rate at $15.00, was up 60 cents from the 2018 reference week. Hired laborers worked an average of 42.2 hours during the July 2019 reference week, compared with 44.0 hours worked during the July 2018 reference week.

Farm operators paid their hired workers an average wage of $15.87 per hour during the October 2019 reference week, up 2 percent from the October 2018 reference week. Field workers received an average of $16.41 per hour, up 48 cents. Livestock workers earned $13.76 per hour compared with $13.55 a year earlier. The field and livestock worker combined wage rate, at $15.40, was up 60 cents from the October 2018 reference week. Hired laborers worked an average of 43.4 hours during the October 2019 reference week, compared with 47.4 hours worked during the October 2018 reference week.

October Hired Workers Up 3 Percent; Gross Wage Rate Increased 4 Percent from Previous Year

There were 809,000 workers hired directly by farm operators on the Nation's farms and ranches during the week of October 6-12, 2019, up 3 percent from the October 2018 reference week. Workers hired directly by farm operators numbered 802,000 during the week of July 7-13, 2019, down 5 percent from the July 2018 reference week.

Farm operators paid their hired workers an average gross wage of $15.02 per hour during the October 2019 reference week, up 4 percent from the October 2018 reference week. Field workers received an average of $14.38 per hour, up 5 percent. Livestock workers earned $13.77 per hour, up 3 percent. The field and livestock worker combined gross wage rate, at $14.21 per hour, was up 4 percent from the 2018 reference week. Hired laborers worked an average of 42.5 hours during the October 2019 reference week, up 2 percent from the hours worked during the October 2018 reference week.

Farm operators paid their hired workers an average gross wage of $14.91 per hour during the July 2019 reference week, up 4 percent from the July 2018 reference week. Field workers received an average of $14.19 per hour, up 4 percent, while livestock workers earned $13.79 per hour, up 4 percent from a year earlier. The field and livestock worker combined gross wage rate, at $14.08 per hour, was up 4 percent from the July 2018 reference week. Hired laborers worked an average of 41.7 hours during the July 2019 reference week, up 1 percent from the hours worked during the July 2018 reference week.

The 2019 all hired worker annual average gross wage rate was $14.91 per hour, up 5 percent from the 2018 annual average gross wage rate. The 2019 field worker annual average gross wage rate was $14.11 per hour, up 6 percent from the 2018 annual average. The 2019 livestock worker annual average gross wage rate was $13.74 per hour. The 2019 annual average combined gross wage for field and livestock workers was $13.99, up 6 percent from the 2018 annual average of $13.25 per hour.

Pelosi May Not Bring USMCA to a Vote During 2019

Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday cast doubt on the possibility of passing an updated North American trade deal by the end of 2019, a departure from her previous characterization of the deal as “imminent.”

“I’m not even sure if we came to an agreement today that it would be enough time to finish,” she said, referencing an end-of-year timeline many had hoped for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

According to the Hill, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer met with Pelosi and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) later on Thursday, but a final deal remained out of reach.

Neal said that of five outstanding issues, they had reached agreement on roughly half of them and would continue negotiations next week.

He remained hopeful, however, that the deal could be finalized and signed into law before the New Year.

For months, Democrats have negotiated with the White House on enforcement provisions in the deal, which they say are critical to earn their support.

“You’re either for enforcement or you're for niceties, and we’d like to have both,” Pelosi said Thursday. “I voted for NAFTA, you’ve heard me say that over and over, but based on sidebars and letters and all that, which were never honored. So we’re just saying, all these good intentions, let’s honor our workers by putting them in the bill, so they have the effect of law."

Republicans have accused Democrats of dithering on the bill, saying the impeachment inquiry into President Trump was preventing meaningful progress on legislative action. If passed, USMCA would be a central achievement for Trump going into the 2020 elections. As a candidate, he repeatedly promised to update the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Democrats say that an agreement on the trade deal could set a precedent for future deals.

Sasse Slams Speaker Pelosi's Latest USMCA Delay

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, an outspoken advocate for trade and agriculture, issued the following statement regarding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's nonsense claim that there isn't "enough time to finish" the USMCA trade agreement in 2019.

"Nancy Pelosi is holding Nebraska farmers and ranchers hostage and House Democrats are wasting time on circuses instead of doing real work for the American people. Last week Speaker Pelosi said a vote on the USMCA trade deal was 'imminent,' but today she's saying that there's not enough time to do it this year. That's some pure, grade-a bunk. The USMCA will pass tomorrow if Speaker Pelosi calls the vote and she knows it. Let's get this done."

Crop Advantage Program Gives Producers Information for Making 2020 Decisions

The 2020 Crop Advantage meetings will give producers a solid foundation of current research-based crop production information to help make smart, informed decisions for their farming operation.

The meetings are an opportunity for farmers and crop advisers to hear current research and crop production information from Iowa State University. Extension specialists will travel to 14 locations around Iowa from Jan. 3-30, providing updated management options and recommendations on current and future crop production issues.

Meetings will also offer continuing education credits for Certified Crop Advisers and pesticide applicator recertification.

“There is no other program in our crop production education year where we are able to bring this many extension specialists together to individual sites across the state,” said Meaghan Anderson, field agronomist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

This past year, over 2,000 individuals attended one of the meetings across the state, representing all 99 Iowa counties and surrounding states. Some 84% of attendees said information from Crop Advantage would likely save them between $5 and $20 per acre.

“Our goal is to prepare producers to manage potential issues when they arise, or even before they arise, by sharing the most up-to-date scientific knowledge from Iowa State University,” said Anderson. “Content at the meetings is driven by county needs and local production issues.”

Program topics vary by location and are selected for regional concerns and issues. Topics on this year’s agenda include: market outlook for 2020, weather and climate trends, grain drying and storage, emerging insect pests such as soybean gall midge, nitrogen management, tar spot and other corn and soybean disease issues, fertilizer application technology, and many more.

Early registration for each location is $50; late registration made fewer than seven days prior to the meeting, or on-site, is $60. Registration includes lunch, printed proceedings booklet, private pesticide applicator recertification and CCA credits.

2020 Meeting Dates and Locations:
Jan. 3 – Burlington
Jan. 6 – Sheldon
Jan. 7 – Storm Lake
Jan. 8 – Ames
Jan. 9 – Moravia
Jan. 10 – Mason City
Jan. 14 – Okoboji
Jan. 15 – Fort Dodge
Jan. 16 – Waterloo
Jan. 17 – Davenport
Jan. 23 – Atlantic
Jan. 28 – Coralville
Jan. 29 – Le Mars
Jan. 30 – Denison
For locations, times and program details visit

Online registration and additional information is available at For questions, contact ANR Program Services at 515-294-6429, or, or contact your regional Iowa State University Extension and Outreach field agronomist. 

Generations of Leadership Is Focus of Women in Ag Leadership Conference

Generations of Leadership is the theme for this year’s Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Women in Ag Leadership Conference, Dec. 3, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Scheman Building in Ames.

The conference will feature inspirational speakers who have knowledge and skills that attendees can use to immediately help them lead and succeed in their farm or agribusiness career. 

Iowa State alumnus and keynote speaker, Amy te Plate-Church, will begin the day by exploring how women can serve the greater good in concert and harmony with their individual purpose.

Plate-Church will also present a concurrent session where participants will create a personal plan to live their leadership purpose for 2020 and beyond.

The conference will honor six amazing Women Impacting Agriculture. This honor showcases and celebrates women’s unique contributions to a safe and plentiful food supply while enhancing Iowa’s agricultural sustainability. Honorees are Hannah Breckbill, Beth Grabau, Jordan Hansen, Rose Kastner, Liz Kolbe and Monica Lursen.

Succession planning continues to be a much-requested topic, as nearly one-third of all Iowa farmland is owned by women over the age of 65. Rena Striegel will present two concurrent sessions on business succession. In Striegel’s first session, she’ll cover the importance of demonstrating leadership in a way that creates clarity and certainty rather than fear and mistrust. In her second session, she’ll cover strategies for working through challenging conversations and critical decisions.

Other concurrent sessions include farm stress, negotiation and team building. Anthony Santiago, college projects specialist for Human Sciences Extension and Outreach, and Tammy Jacobs, hotline coordinator for Human Sciences Extension and Outreach, will help women offer support and referrals to customers, family members or neighbors who may be experiencing stress on the farm.

Wendy Srnic will share best practices and tips to help women stay calm and approach potentially intimidating negotiations with a well-developed plan. Krisdeena Jansen, human resources learning and development consultant at Iowa State, will offer a thought-provoking and interactive session on team building. Learn about four group dynamics all teams go through and how to successfully develop your team for higher performance.

The luncheon networking activity will challenge attendees to reflect on their career in agriculture. They will have the opportunity to write down career questions and the afternoon panel will share career experiences and wisdom gained from what they wished they had known earlier in their careers. 

Iowa State alumnus Elizabeth Burns-Thompson is the capstone speaker. Among the nation’s first cohort of 30 Under 30 leaders in agriculture, she is passionate about Iowa’s renewable energy. She will encourage women of all generations to follow their dreams and trust their own abilities and opportunities.

Online registration is available at General registration is $60 and student registration is $30.

For those traveling longer distances, a block of rooms is reserved at the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center. Reservations may be made by calling 800-367-2637 by Tuesday, Nov. 26. Room rates are $99, when you ask for the Women in Ag Leadership Conference room block (availability may be limited after Nov. 26).

USDA Announces Appointments to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the appointment of 40 members to serve on the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board. Thirty-nine members will serve three-year terms and one appointee will serve the remaining one-year portion of a vacant position.

    William Aubrey Blackmon, Houston, Ark.
    Jody Rogers, Yuma, Colo.
    Dwain Johnson, Archer, Fla.
    Trish Dowton, Ellis, Idaho
    Justin Rahn, Mount Carroll, Ill.
    Norman D. Voyles Jr., Martinsville, Ind.
    Ross Havens, Wiota, Iowa
    Jenni Peters, Bellevue, Iowa

    Byron Lehman, Newton, Kan.
    Amy Langvardt, Alta Vista, Kan.
    Shane Wiseman, Winchester, Ky.
    Jeri L. Hanson, Comfrey, Minn.
    Tammy Bartholomew, Archie, Mo.
    Bill McLaren, Pacific, Mo.
    Lynda Joyce Grande, Columbus, Mont.
    Torri Ortiz Lienemann, Princeton, Neb.
    Herbert B. Rhodes, Omaha, Neb.

    Rich Brown, Maryland, N.Y.
    Mary J. Graner, Huff, N.D.
    Kathryn Sautter, Tiro, Ohio
    Jean Lam, Pauls Valley, Okla.
    Jason Hitch, Guymon, Okla.
    Cheryl DeVuyst, Morrison, Okla. (1-year term)
    Katharine Jackson, Myrtle Creek, Ore.
    Diane M. Hoover, Lebanon, Pa.
    Cory Eich, Canova, S.D.
    Celeste D. Blackburn, Jefferson City, Tenn.
    Claudia Scott Wright, Richmond, Texas
    Seth A. Denbow, Weatherford, Texas
    Anne Ilse Anderson, Austin, Texas
    Debbie Gill, College Station, Texas
    Brian Malaer, Harwood, Texas
    William H. McDonald, Blacksburg, Va.
    Daphne R. Holterman, Watertown, Wis.
    Marty Stingley, Ellensburg, Wash., Northwest Unit
    Bill Lipscomb, Prattville, Ala., Southeast Unit
    Danny C. Bentley, Thomaston, Ga., Southeast Unit
    Mike Echeverria, Bakersfield, Calif., Southwest Unit
    Cathy Jauch, Plymouth, Calif., Southwest Unit
    Dana Ehrlich, Newton, Mass., Importer

More information about the board and a list of board members is available on the Agricultural Marketing Service Cattlemen's Beef Board web page. More information can also be found on the board’s website,

ACE elects 2020 officers and executive committee 

During its fourth quarter meeting, the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Board of Directors elected its Officers and Executive Committee for 2020.

Re-elected to serve as officers on the 2020 Executive Committee are:
    Duane Kristensen, serving as ACE’s Board President. Kristensen is the General Manager and Vice President of Operations of Chief Ethanol Fuels, which owns a 70 million-gallon-per-year (MGY) ethanol plant in Hastings and a 40 MGY plant in Lexington, Nebraska.

    Dave Sovereign, serving as Vice President of the ACE Board. Sovereign is Chairman of Golden Grain Energy’s Board, which owns a 120 MGY ethanol plant in Mason City, Iowa. Sovereign also serves on the board of Absolute Energy, a 125 MGY ethanol producer in St. Ansgar, Iowa.

    Ron Alverson, serving as Treasurer of the ACE Board of Directors, represents Dakota Ethanol, which owns a 50 MGY plant in Wentworth, South Dakota.

    Greg Krissek, CEO of the Kansas Corn Growers Association, serving as Secretary of the ACE Board of Directors.

    Chris Wilson, General Manager of Mid-Missouri Energy, a 50 MGY plant in Malta Bend, Missouri, serving as an Executive Committee member on ACE’s Board.

Also elected to serve on the 2020 Executive Committee is:
    Troy Knecht, South Dakota farmer, representing Redfield Energy, a 50 MGY ethanol producer in Redfield, South Dakota. 

“These industry veterans are dedicated to representing the interests of our grassroots members,” said Brian Jennings, ACE CEO. “ACE members can have great confidence in the leadership and experience the Executive Committee will bring to our efforts to grow demand for ethanol domestically and around the world.”  

NASS to Continue Weekly Crop Reports Beyond Nov. 25

Due to delays in harvest progress this season, USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service will continue the weekly Crop Progress report beyond the last currently scheduled date of November. 25.

NASS will evaluate the harvest progress for all crops each week to determine how long to continue the report.

The agency has 12 regional offices throughout the United States and Puerto Rico and a headquarters unit in Washington, D.C.. NASS conducts hundreds of surveys and issues nearly 500 national reports each year on issues including agricultural production, economics, demographics and the environment. NASS also conducts the United States Census of Agriculture every five years.

Producers, farm organizations, agribusinesses, media, markets and traders, lawmakers and government agencies all rely on the information produced by NASS.

New Motor Oil Made with High Oleic Soybean Oil Now Available on Amazon

America’s drivers have a new choice that unites performance and sustainability at a competitive cost. Biosynthetic Technologies’ high-performing biobased synthetic motor oil, using high oleic soybean oil from soybeans grown by U.S. farmers, is now on commercial shelves.

“Soy-based motor oil is another great opportunity to drive demand for U.S. soybeans and allow companies to give customers what they want at the same time. These partnerships benefit soybean farmers and agriculture as well as a variety of industries and end users,” said United Soybean Board Director Mike Korth, a soybean grower from Randolph, Nebraska.

Department of Defense and Washington, D.C.-area fleet demonstrations found the product meets or exceeds their performance requirements. Biosynthetic Technologies’ motor oil is also recognized as a USDA Certified Biobased Product in the United States Department of Agriculture’s BioPreferred Program. The company will market both 5W-20 and 5W-30 through and direct from their website. The product is available for purchase and use immediately. Biosynthetic is also offering farmers a limited-time 20% discount to purchase the synthetic oil. They can use code BioTrialFarm available only at through January 31.

USB and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have supported the soy-based, drop-in synthetic alternative to petroleum-based motor oil. The biobased alternative is well-suited for high-temperature automotive and industrial applications. USB introduced the product to multiple Washington, D.C., region fleets, including DC Water, that field-tested the motor oil. DC Water concluded the field test to be successful with the biobased motor oil, reporting strong performance, improved fuel efficiency and cleaner engines when compared to the petroleum-based oil they previously used. Three other Washington, D.C.-area fleets also reported success with the biobased motor oil after participating in a trial. They included the Smithsonian Institution; Arlington County, Virginia; and Prince George’s County, Maryland.

“At DC Water, we are always looking for innovative options that can help improve the sustainability of our fleet without sacrificing performance or increasing costs,” said Tim Fitzgerald, director of fleet management for DC Water. “This biobased motor oil exceeded our expectations in terms of performance and engine cleanliness. The oil samples have shown increased longevity and stability over time while the equipment appears to be cleaner, which is a definite plus for us. The oil is biodegradable and less harmful to the environment. I see real potential for greater use of this biobased alternative in the future.”

USB recognizes the importance of valued partnerships and investments into projects like these, as they help drive demand for U.S.-grown soybeans. Finding opportunities for soybean farmers to use products developed with their own crops also results in higher demand for the product. The checkoff continuously seeks out innovation and areas where soybeans can strongly succeed.

The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Aviation, in coordination with the Air Force and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment, conducted an 18-month limited field demonstration project to evaluate synthetic biobased motor oil in non-tactical Department of Defense and federal agency vehicles with gasoline-powered engines. The effort included analysis of oil samples. They concluded: “The demonstrated biobased full-synthetic motor oils were found to meet or exceed the DoD and federal agencies’ performance requirements.”

Participants in the demonstration included:
    Air Force Bases: Fairchild, Luke, Malmstrom and Seymour Johnson
    Army: Fort Irwin
    Navy: Naval Air Station Lemoore
    Department of Homeland Security: Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration: Kennedy Space Center, Langley Research Center, Armstrong Flight Research Center and White Sands Test Facility
    United States Postal Service
    The USAF 441st Vehicle Support Chain Operations Squadron provided access to Air Force vehicles in various climates

“We are extremely proud to launch our new line of high-performance motor oils manufactured with high oleic soybean oil from soybeans grown by U.S. farmers. Our motor oils are certified by the American Petroleum Institute, and not only do they reduce sludge and varnish, they improve fuel economy and provide environmental benefits for renewability and biodegradability as well,” said Mark Miller, CEO at Biosynthetic Technologies. “Our revolutionary new class of biobased synthetic compounds have enabled us to commercialize an automotive engine oil that is biodegradable while delivering the highest levels of performance, giving creed to our vision of delivering innovations for a sustainable future!”

NGFA, ag groups, urge support for U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and more than 30 other food and agricultural associations expressed their strong support of the “phase-one” trade agreement between the U.S. and Japan in a Nov. 19 letter to the House Ways and Means Committee.

“A trade agreement between the United States and Japan is critical since Japan is already the United States’ fourth‐largest agricultural export market and our major competitors have received impactful tariff reductions under the Comprehensive and Progressive for Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (CP-TPP),” the letter noted.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative notes that under phase-one of the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement, more than 90 percent of U.S. food and agricultural products exported to Japan will either be duty free or receive preferential tariff access once the agreement is implemented.

“Of critical importance is the expected implementation (of this agreement) in January 2020, providing…parity treatment with CP-TPP imports” from other countries, the groups wrote. “Upon implementation, U.S. exporters will reestablish their footing with CP-TPP competitors in most tariff reductions and establish deeper and new trade relationships in the Japanese marketplace.”

The phase-one agreement is an important step toward the next phase of negotiations and a comprehensive U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement that addresses more market access and non-tariff measures in the Japanese market, including sanitary and phytosanitary measures, the groups noted.

While the phase-one agreement does not require congressional ratification, a second-phase comprehensive deal will need approval from the U.S. Congress.

“The U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement will benefit farmers, ranchers and workers in the food and agriculture community,” the groups said. “Accordingly, we respectfully urge your support for implementation of the U.S.- Japan Trade Agreement in early 2020, as targeted.”

Farm Bureau Survey: Thanksgiving Dinner Cost Rises Only a Penny

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s 34th annual survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $48.91, or less than $5.00 per person. This is a 1-cent increase from last year’s average of $48.90.

“The average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is essentially unchanged from last year, after three years of decline since 2015,” said AFBF Chief Economist Dr. John Newton. “Americans continue to enjoy the most affordable food supply in the world, but most don’t realize only 8 cents of every dollar consumers spend on food goes to farmers,” he added.

In a new Farm Bureau survey, most Americans were surprised to learn the farmers’ share of the food dollar is so small. Three out of four Americans are interested in learning more about how their food is produced. Farm Bureau farmer and rancher members, state educational foundations, as well as others involved in food production, are responding to public interest with expanded outreach and educational opportunities. Survey results indicate Americans have faith in those who grow their food, with 88% saying they trust farmers.

“The Thanksgiving price survey opens the door to a deeper dialogue about how food is produced and how prices remain so stable despite volatility in the farm economy this year and severe weather hampering planting and harvest,” Newton added.

The centerpiece on most Thanksgiving tables – the turkey – costs slightly less than last year, at $20.80 for a 16-pound bird. That’s roughly $1.30 per pound, down 4% from last year. The survey results show that retail turkey prices are the lowest since 2010.

The shopping list for Farm Bureau’s informal survey includes turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a veggie tray, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with plenty for leftovers.

Although the overall average cost of the meal was about the same this year, there were some price changes for individual items. In addition to turkey, foods that showed slight price declines include cubed bread stuffing and canned pumpkin pie mix. Foods showing modest increases this year included dinner rolls, sweet potatoes and milk. After adjusting for inflation, the cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is $19.13, down slightly from last year.

The opinion poll revealed that 90% of Americans celebrate the holiday with a special meal and turkey remains a staple for 95% of consumers, while half serve both turkey and ham at their Thanksgiving meal. In recognition of changes in Thanksgiving dinner traditions, the Farm Bureau price survey includes ham, potatoes and frozen green beans. Adding these foods to the classic Thanksgiving menu increased the overall cost slightly, to $62.32 or just over $6 per person.

Despite the growing popularity of prepared foods, the vast majority of Americans, 92%, celebrate Thanksgiving at home or at a family member’s home and most cook their entire meal at home, according to the survey.

More than 250 volunteer shoppers checked prices at grocery stores in 38 states for this year’s survey. Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers are asked to look for the best possible prices, without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals.

The AFBF Thanksgiving dinner survey was first conducted in 1986. The informal survey provides a record of comparative holiday meal costs over the years. Farm Bureau’s classic survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.

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