Thursday, November 7, 2019

Thursday November 7 Ag News

Nebraska Cattle Confinement Symposium Set for Dec. 16-17 in Kearney

Nebraska farmers who may be interested in expanding or diversifying their operations are invited to the two-day Nebraska Cattle Confinement Symposium scheduled for Monday and Tuesday December 16 and 17 at the Younes Conference Center in Kearney.

The event will run from 1:00 to 7:00 p.m. Monday and from 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Tuesday. Tickets are $55 each, but early bird tickets are available for $35 for those who register online prior to December 1 at

The symposium is sponsored by the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN), Nebraska Cattlemen, Central Confinement Service of Columbus, Neb., and Accu-Steel, Inc. of Audobon, Iowa.

Topics to be discussed by producer and supplier experts include facility design and ventilation considerations; financing a new facility; trends in cattle markets; confinements and vet protocols; and managing nutrition in confinement operations. In addition, two sessions will provide virtual barn tours and producer panel discussions. The symposium will conclude December 17 with the Cattlemen’s Lunch featuring guest speaker Matt Rush, “inspirational speak and farm boy.” For agenda details, go to

“Many area farmers are considering diversifying their operations because of the trend in declining row crop income amid surplus foodstuffs, as well as the increasing cost of land ownership,” says Will Keech, AFAN director of livestock development. “Others are looking for ways to strengthen their operations so younger family members will be able to run the farm into the future. The purpose of this symposium is to provide farmers with key information and insight they need to decide whether to add a cattle confinement component to their operation.”

Midwest Senators Submit Comments on EPA’s Supplemental Rule on RFS Deal

Today, U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), John Thune (R-S.D.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.), each submitted comments to the Federal Register regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) supplemental rule on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). In individual letters to EPA Administrator Wheeler, the senators expressed concerns about the way the agency plans to calculate the reallocation of biofuel gallons lost due to exemptions for oil refineries.

“Just this week, the CEO of a major oil refinery bragged that small refinery exemptions were ‘a real cash flow that [they] get every year.’ This is at the expense of farmers and biofuel producers. The EPA’s proposed rule fails to ensure that 15 billion gallons of conventional ethanol are actually blended into our nation’s fuel supply. In my letter, I called on Administrator Wheeler to fulfill the president’s commitment and provide certainty for rural America,” said Senator Fischer, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. 

“As the number one producer of corn, ethanol, biodiesel and cellulosic ethanol, the renewable fuels industry is an important sector of Iowa’s economy. It generates nearly $5 billion of Iowa’s GDP, over $2.4 billion in household incomes and supports 47,000 jobs across Iowa. President Trump made a commitment to Iowa and other biofuels producing states, and I look forward to seeing this promise fulfilled. The EPA shouldn’t undercut President Trump’s support of the Renewable Fuels Standard. I urge EPA to adjust the proposed supplemental rule to account for actual waived gallons using hard data from past practice to provide certainty to the marketplace,” said Senator Grassley. 

“Plain and simple, if the market for biofuels does not trust EPA to implement the proposal President Trump negotiated, the market will not make investments in biofuels – a dangerous spiral for Iowa farmers and producers which will only lead to more plants closed and jobs lost in the heartland. It is time again for EPA to get this policy right, respect the President’s intent, and uphold the law as it was written. This means providing certainty that EPA will ensure that 15 billion gallons of ethanol will be blended each year,” said Senator Joni Ernst, member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. 

“While I appreciate the administration’s commitment to restore integrity to the RFS and provide that at least 15 billion gallons of conventional biofuels are blended into the fuel supply, the proposed supplemental rule unfortunately lacks safeguards that will assure its intent. As you know, resolution of this matter is of critical importance to agriculture stakeholders in South Dakota and across the country, and I urge EPA to reconsider the incorporation of language to make certain that all gallons waived by SREs will be accounted for in final RVOs.” said Senator Thune.

“We’re grateful to President Trump for his commitment to assuring 15 billion gallons of ethanol is blended into our fuel supply annually,” said Senator Rounds. “However, the EPA’s proposed rule fails to honor the agreement which the president directed them to formalize. Taking steps to fully restore the integrity of the RFS will honor the agreement as Congress intended.”  

“Missouri farm families have faced a number of challenges over the past year, from catastrophic flooding to market uncertainty and now the EPA’s failure to uphold its commitments to the biofuels industry,” said Senator Blunt. “Renewable energy policies like the RFS have helped diversify our nation’s fuel supply while creating and sustaining jobs, strengthening local economies, and lowering gas prices. I urge the administration to produce a final rule that addresses the concerns my colleagues and I have raised and supports America’s biofuels producers.”  

“The state of Indiana is the fifth largest ethanol producing state in the country,” said U.S. Senator Mike Braun.  “I urge the EPA to implement the agreement in a way that provides certainty to Hoosier farmers and refiners.” 

On November 4th, over 60 corn, soybean, and biofuel groups wrote a letter stating that the EPA’s supplemental rule would not accurately account for small refinery exemptions and would hurt farm economies and biofuel plants in rural America.

RFA Thanks Senators for Standing Up for Renewable Fuel Standard

The Renewable Fuels Association today thanked a group of Senators representing Midwest states for their comments to the Environmental Protection Agency supporting the Renewable Fuel Standard. The Senators—Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), John Thune (R-S.D.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.)—each submitted comments regarding the EPA’s supplemental rule on the RFS and individual letters to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, in which they expressed concerns about the way the agency would calculate the reallocation of renewable fuel gallons lost due to exemptions for oil refineries.

RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper made the following statement:

“Farmers, ethanol producers and consumers across the country are grateful to these Senators who are standing up for the integrity of the Renewable Fuels Standard. The RFS has been a tremendous success, lowering consumer gasoline costs, providing a critical value-added market for farmers, and reducing carbon emissions from liquid transportation fuels. But then EPA began to systematically undermine the benefits of the program with unprecedented and unnecessary small refinery exemptions (SREs) that have eroded biofuel demand and sacrificed the energy, environmental, and consumer benefits of the program. It’s time for the EPA to simply follow the law. Fifteen billion gallons is supposed to mean at least 15 billion gallons. That’s what the President intended when he directed EPA to fix the SRE problem a month ago. The only path to restore credibility to this process is for the EPA to project SREs based on the actual exemptions granted in the past three years. Anything else is a broken promise that will kill more jobs and keep plants shuttered. We are proud to have these Senators on our side, and we thank them for their leadership.”

ACE commends Senators for calling on EPA to uphold RFS deal, urges others to make their voice heard

Today, the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) thanks  Midwest Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), John Thune (R-S.D.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.), for submitting comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) supplemental rule to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). ACE CEO Brian Jennings issued the following statement:

“ACE members, farmers and renewable fuel producers value the ongoing leadership of these Senators to help get the RFS back on track by following the rule of law. These key U.S. Senators and other elected leaders had a deal with President Trump that ensured at least 15 billion gallons of ethanol blending under the RFS beginning in 2020. The deal was based on the promise that EPA would account for the three-year rolling average of actual gallons waived through Small Refinery Exemptions (SREs) from 2016 to 2018. A deal is a deal. We expect EPA to account for actual gallons waived through SREs from 2016 to 2018 to ensure at least 15 billion gallons of ethanol blending beginning in 2020. We’re grateful for these Senators working to see this deal through, and this serves as a reminder that all ethanol advocates should use this comment period as an opportunity to make their voice heard on how this rulemaking personally impacts you, your business, and your community.”

Non-Traditional Students in Rural Nebraska Receive Scholarships

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation awarded the Nebraska Rural Radio Foundation Scholarship in Honor of Max & Eric Brown to Caitlin Pittman of Gering, Wendy McKain of Trenton, and Samantha Rife of Stratton.

The scholarship awards non-traditional college students living in Nebraska’s rural communities. Recipients show a demonstrated commitment to the future of the agriculture industry and rural communities.

McKain lives near Trenton in Southwest Nebraska. In addition to the small farming and cattle business she runs with her husband, McKain works as a clerk for the village of Trenton. She is enrolled in Mid Plains Community College in McCook and taking courses to become an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) volunteer. McKain’s goal is to provide EMT services to her small rural community which is experiencing a lack of responders.

Pittman is a Certified Nursing Assistant at Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff. She was recently accepted into the University of Nebraska Medical Center Nursing Program and began her program in August. Pittman plans to continue her education, bridging a registered nurse to paramedic program to better serve her rural Nebraska Community. Pittman and her family currently reside in Gering.

Rife is a deputy clerk in the village of Trenton. Rife and her husband own a small cattle operation and grow alfalfa in Stratton. She will take classes at Mid Plains Community College to become an EMT. EMTs in her area are aging and becoming fewer and fewer, so it in imperative that volunteers fill this gap.

“Access to emergency care is a real need in rural Nebraska,” said Megahn Schafer, executive director of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation. “These three recipients will contribute to a higher quality of life in their communities, and their efforts align perfectly with the generous vision of the Nebraska Rural Radio Foundation Scholarship in Honor of Max & Eric Brown.”

A Celebration Of 'People, Progress, Pride' brings Iowa farmers to Des Moines for 2019 Iowa Farm Bureau Annual Meeting

A harsh and lingering winter, springtime floods, market swings and trade roadblocks all hit Iowa farmers in 2019, making this year more challenging than any other in recent memory. Yet Iowans know it is the nature of Iowa farmers to weather the slings and arrows of hard times and persevere. Getting through hard times takes ‘People, Progress and Pride,’ which is the theme for the 2019 Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s (IFBF) Annual Meeting, Dec. 3-4. This will be the 101st gathering of members for the state’s oldest and largest general farm organization.

IFBF’s Annual Meeting officially kicks off Tuesday, Dec. 3, at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center in downtown Des Moines with educational seminars on crucial topics, such as Farm Family Stress Management and Communication, how to ensure crop fertility while improving the environment and what’s impacting the farm community now and in the future. Awards for outstanding leadership at the county Farm Bureau level will be showcased during a special luncheon.

Young Iowa farmers will put their communication skills to task as they compete Tuesday afternoon for the title of 2019 Discussion Meet champion, the winner of which will advance to the national Discussion Meet competition held in Austin, Texas during the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) convention in January 2020.  On Dec. 3, three young farmers will also be recognized for their exemplary leadership both within agriculture and their local communities. An energetic night of entertainment by The Jerseys wraps up the evening.                      

On Wednesday, IFBF members will honor the year’s hard work and accomplishments as President Craig Hill takes the stage around 9 a.m., followed by nationally-recognized author, Chris Norton, with the keynote address. “We are looking forward to this young man’s inspirational message. He’s got quite a story; as former Luther College football star, we all remember when he received a devastating spinal cord injury during a game. He was told by doctors he’d never walk again. Yet, with the support of his fiancé, family and friends, he not only walked across the stage to get his college degree, he walked his new bride down the aisle. Today, Norton and his wife, Emily, are parents to five adopted children and he travels the globe, speaking about the importance of perseverance and the importance of a life dedicated to helping others. His book, speeches and life continue to inspire all who meet him. We are lucky to have him join us this year,” says Hill.

Educational seminars on day two include opportunities in livestock and non-traditional crops, led by Iowa Farm Bureau members who raise fruits and vegetables to sell direct to consumers as well as a hemp grower from Oregon. There will also be an update from Iowa State University researchers, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Iowa Department of Agriculture on the progress being made with Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy and what future steps are needed as farmers continue to take on the challenge of improving water quality.

For more information, a detailed agenda or to register to attend the 2019 IFBF Annual Meeting, check out   

NPPC Launches 'Pork O' Clock' Campaign to Highlight Importance of USMCA Agreement

Today, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) launched a dynamic new campaign, "It's Pork O' Clock Somewhere," to highlight the importance and benefits of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement. The campaign focuses on pork and the many ways it's enjoyed across North America.

"Ratification of USMCA is the top priority for U.S. pork producers and there is no better way to highlight its importance than a campaign that illustrates how pork is enjoyed across United States, Canada and Mexico," said David Herring, NPPC president and a pork producer in Lillington, N.C. "A USMCA agreement provides much-needed market certainty for U.S. pork producers, ensuring zero-duty market access to two of our largest export markets."

Last year, more than 40 percent of U.S. pork exported went to Canada and Mexico. The campaign thanks lawmakers for making USMCA ratification this year a priority and highlights the history behind pork-related dishes in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

For example, tacos al pastor from Mexico have origins in the Lebanese method of cooking meat on a spit, referred to as shawarma. The tacos are a staple in Mexico City, where taco shops and stands line the streets. Last year, the United States sent more than 770,000 tons—worth $1.3 billion—of pork to Mexico.

To learn more about NPPC's campaign, visit


The Ag-Auto-Ethanol Work Group Annual Forum, held in Detroit, Michigan, took a deep dive into environmental issues, future engine technologies and the potential cost-benefit of high-octane low-carbon fuels at the pump. Representatives from state and national corn growers’ associations, government entities, automakers, the ethanol industry, and researchers were all in attendance.

“NCGA and state corn grower associations continue to educate members of Congress and their staffs on the fuel-efficiency benefits of high-octane fuel, along with the benefits of higher blends of ethanol,” NCGA Renewable Fuels Public Policy Director Kathy Bergren told attendees. “Higher blends of ethanol lower carbon emissions, reduce aromatic emissions and improve air quality and support rural economies.”

“This forum is an opportunity to bring together a cross-section of groups which span the entire value chain to talk about the future and provide updates on current research and initiatives,” said NCGA Renewable Fuels Director Mark Palmer. “The collaboration and partnership with these groups continue to be important for the transition to high-octane low-carbon liquid transportation fuels.”

Bergren, Palmer and Julie Busse, NCGA senior communications manager, all attended the meeting and presented updates on current NCGA projects around high-octane low-carbon fuels and infrastructure.

Nebraska farmer and NCGA Chairman Lynn Chrisp also attended the meeting, along with representatives from state corn grower organizations including: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, and Ohio.

EPA Seeks Nominations for the Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Federal Advisory Committee

Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler is announcing a solicitation for 20-30 nominees to serve on the Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Committee (FRRCC). Established in 2008, the FRRCC provides independent policy advice, information, and recommendations to EPA’s Administrator on a range of environmental issues and policies that are of importance to agriculture and rural communities.

“One of our key priorities at EPA is to strengthen and solidify our relationship with agricultural stakeholders and rural communities by ensuring the agency is well informed on how its decisions impact rural America,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Recruiting full membership of the Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Committee is the perfect opportunity to engage with those in our agriculture community, and I look forward to receiving the committee’s valuable input on important matters before the EPA in the very near future.”

To build a broad and balanced representation of perspectives for the FRRCC, members will be selected from a variety of relevant sectors. Members may represent allied industries and stakeholders including farm groups, rural suppliers, marketers, processors, academia/researchers; state, local, and tribal government; and nongovernmental organizations. In selecting committee members, EPA will consider qualifications such as: whether candidates are actively engaged in farming, hold leadership positions in ag-related organizations, possess a demonstrated ability to examine and analyze complicated environmental issues with objectivity and integrity, have experience working on issues where building consensus is necessary, and are able to volunteer several hours per month to the committee’s activities.

The previous Charter for the FRRCC was scheduled to expire and therefore was renewed in 2018; however, the committee currently has no members. EPA is specifically seeking 20-30 members for 2-3 year terms, and the Committee expects to meet approximately twice a year.

Applications must include a résumé or curriculum vitae and a statement of interest, and must be received by EPA by December 31, 2019. Letters of support and recommendation will be accepted but are not mandatory.

Full details about qualifications and how to apply will be published in the Federal Register Notice, which will be posted once available on the committee’s website at:

Animal Agriculture Alliance announces new board representatives and leadership

Today, the Animal Agriculture Alliance announced a new chair-elect and six new board representatives. The Alliance’s full board of directors, which includes representatives from all segments of animal agriculture, is listed on its website at:

The Alliance welcomed Sarah Novak, vice president of membership and public relations at American Feed Industry Association, as its new board chairperson in May. AFIA was a founding member of the Alliance and has held a seat on the board since 1987. Novak has represented AFIA on the board since 2008 and since stepping into her new role has exceeded expectations in helping the Alliance team reach its strategic plan goals. “Sarah is always ready with new contacts or opportunities to ensure we have everything we need to connect, engage and protect animal agriculture,” said Hannah Thompson-Weeman, Alliance vice president of communications.

At its fall meeting earlier this week, the Alliance board accepted the nomination of Christina Lood, senior director of external communications at Zoetis, to be chair-elect. Lood will take the reins from Novak in May 2021. “Christina is one of our most engaged board members, so we believe she is the perfect fit for our next chairperson,” said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO.

The board also welcomed a new member at the fall meeting, with National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) joining the board, represented by Mike Lefever, a Colorado corn grower. NCGA has been an Alliance member since 2015. Also, several companies and associations have new board representatives:
    Alltech, represented by Rachel Weber, beef marketing coordinator
    American National CattleWomen, Inc., represented by Reba Mazak, vice president
    Charleston|Orwig, represented by Lyle Orwig, chairman
    Merck Animal Health, represented by Jessica Meisinger, consumer affairs accounts manager
    United Soybean Board, represented by Larry Marek, director

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