Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Monday May 9 Crop Progress + Ag News


For the week ending May 8, 2022, there were 2.3 days suitable for fieldwork, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 13% very short, 23% short, 62% adequate, and 2% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 24% very short, 35% short, 40% adequate, and 1% surplus.

Field Crops Report:

Corn planted was 39%, well behind 67% last year, and behind 57% for the five-year average. Emerged was 4%, behind 11% last year and 12% average.

Soybeans planted was 28%, behind 43% last year, and near 29% average. Emerged was 1%, near 3% last year and 2% average.

Winter wheat condition rated 14% very poor, 17% poor, 36% fair, 29% good, and 4% excellent.

Sorghum planted was 2%, near 5% last year, and behind 7% average.

Oats planted was 90%, behind 96% last year, but near 88% average. Emerged was 62%, behind 79% last year, and near 63% average.

Pasture and Range Report:

Pasture and range conditions rated 35% very poor, 28% poor, 24% fair, 12% good, and 1% excellent.


The week began with rain and colder than normal temperatures, but Iowa farmers found the end of the week fair enough to resume planting row crops with 1.8 days suitable for fieldwork during the week ending May 8, 2022, according to the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Fieldwork activities also included spraying, when windy conditions allowed, and spreading manure.

Topsoil moisture condition rated 1 percent very short, 9 percent short, 73 percent adequate and 17 percent surplus. Subsoil moisture condition rated 4 percent very short, 19 percent short, 67 percent adequate and 10 percent surplus.

Farmers made little progress last week, with just 14 percent of Iowa’s expected corn crop planted, at least two weeks behind both last year and the 5-year average.

Seven percent of soybeans have been planted, 12 days behind last year and 11 days behind average.

Seventy-two percent of the expected oat crop has been planted, 17 days behind last year and 11 days behind the 5-year average. Thirty-two percent of the oat crop has emerged, 12 days behind last year and 8 days behind normal.

The first hay condition rating of the season was 1 percent very poor, 5 percent poor, 36 percent fair, 51 percent good and 7 percent excellent.

Pasture condition rated 43 percent good to excellent. Pasture and hay growth improved with slightly warmer temperatures. Livestock conditions were good, with calves growing well despite muddy feedlots and pastures.

USDA - 22% of Corn, 12% of Soybeans Planted as of Sunday

U.S. corn and soybean planting progress inched ahead by just single-digit percentages again last week as wet conditions across central, eastern and northern parts of the country continued to keep many farmers out of their fields, USDA NASS said in its weekly Crop Progress report on Monday.


-- Planting progress: 22% nationwide as of Sunday, May 8, up just 8 percentage points from 14% the previous week. Current progress is now 42 percentage points behind last year's pace of 64% and 28 percentage points behind the five-year average of 50%.
-- Crop development: 5% of corn was emerged as of Sunday, up 2 percentage points from the previous week and 10 percentage points behind the five-year average of 15%.


-- Planting progress: 12% nationwide as of Sunday, up 4 percentage points from the previous week. That is 27 percentage points behind last year's 39% and 12 percentage points behind the five-year average of 24%.
-- Crop development: 3% of soybeans had emerged nationwide as of Sunday, near the five-year average of 4%.


-- Crop development progress: 33% of the winter wheat crop was headed nationwide as of Sunday. That's 3 percentage points behind last year's 36% and 7 percentage points behind the five-year average of 40%.
-- Crop condition: Nationwide, winter wheat was rated 29% good to excellent, up 2 percentage points from 27% the previous week.


Drought conditions persist, making water conservation a priority

It wasn’t that long ago when drought conditions plagued this area and caused water conflicts to arise.  As the current drought intensifies, we could find ourselves back in some of those same situations.  The total precipitation for the Norfolk area shows that the last few months have been the driest on record since 1910.

What can we do in times like this?  Mike Sousek, general manager for the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD), said, “It comes down to conserving the groundwater that we all share.  It’s about being responsible with our resources and being accountable to our neighbors by assuring them that we’re doing all that we can to share the resource with everyone around us.”

Water use in Nebraska breaks down to approximately 81% groundwater irrigation, 13% surface water irrigation, and 4% domestic uses. The remaining 2% comprises other uses such as livestock and industrial.

The average person uses 80-100 gallons of water each day.  Sousek said, “We can all use at least 20 percent less water by being more mindful of our actions, checking for leaks, and installing water-efficient appliances.”  Many of the cities and towns across the district have water-saving measures in place, encouraging residents to limit their water use on their scheduled days.  “It’s important to adopt the mindset that the current dry cycle could be part of a multi-year weather pattern.  There’s value in preparing ourselves and conserving our groundwater to help resolve present and future water quantity issues,” said Sousek.

If you own a private well, one of the most important things you can do is to be proactive in the maintenance of your well.  Sousek continued, “If you’ve had issues with your well in the past, or you’re concerned about the well’s performance, it could become problematic during dry conditions.  It’s also a good idea to know the location of your well (using GPS coordinates), the total depth, the static water level, and the age of your well.”  This information will help well owners answer important questions when a well is not functioning properly.  All wells should be registered with the State of Nebraska at:  https://dnr.nebraska.gov/groundwater

What does a drought mean for farmers and ranchers?  Nebraska Climatologist, Al Dutcher, said, “La Nina conditions are persistent across the Equatorial Pacific and the Climate Prediction Center has placed the odds of this event continuing through this upcoming summer at 59% and a 50-55% chance that these conditions will persist through this fall.”

Dutcher added, “I continue to be optimistic that Nebraska will see some relief from drought conditions over the next 30 days. However, due to very dry topsoil and subsoil, from the lack of precipitation over the past 6 months, timely rainfall events will be required through late August to escape significant drought damage for dryland farmers and ranchers.”

There are a variety of ways landowners can protect their assets during a drought.  Sousek reminds the public that the LENRD has several cost-share options available to allow for additional management of the resource.  He explained, “Cost-share is available for soil moisture sensors to help with irrigation scheduling as well as funding opportunities for variable rate irrigation and sprinkler packages to conserve more water.  When using Best Management Practices (BMPs), producers can receive economic benefit by conserving energy and maximizing yield potential by minimizing risk of nutrient leaching.”  Contact your county Natural Resources Conservation Service for further information on how to apply.

To keep groundwater levels stable and protect supplies long-term, the LENRD has allocations in place for irrigators in the management subareas.  Sousek said, “We would like to remind landowners within the quantity subareas, in Madison and Wayne counties, to plan accordingly with their irrigation scheduling and be aware of the current inch per acre allocations.  In times of drought, we must work together to protect all groundwater users.”

Since 2017, any new irrigation wells constructed under an approved Standard Variance also have an allocation for limited water use.  The LENRD will inform each of these well owners, in writing, of the need to be conscientious of their pumping, if the drought continues.


Nebraska is likely as well-known for its ever-changing weather as it is for its agriculture, and Nebraska Extension is rolling out a new program to help ag producers prepare for weather and climate phenomena.

Weather Ready Farms aims to help producers up their operation’s resiliency against extreme weather events and disasters. The program is currently piloting with nine farms in southeastern Nebraska, placing a project mentor with each to assess their operations, set up a plan and offer educational opportunities on everything from practices and new technologies to farm safety.

The effort is being led by Nathan Mueller, extension educator in cropping systems; Candace Hulbert, disaster education and weather ready agriculture VISTA with AmeriCorps; and Melissa Bartels, extension educator in water and integrated cropping systems.

“The overarching goal is to prepare farmers for extreme weather events like hail, drought, flooding and extreme wind,” Hulbert said. “But it also includes climate mitigation strategies like carbon sequestration. Another goal is to build out a network of farmers and ranchers that can support each other during and following a disaster.”

The program, which culminates in a Weather Ready Farms designation, takes about two years. Each farmer or rancher begins with a self-assessment, followed by an on-farm assessment, which is completed with a project mentor. The two assessments give project leaders enough information to work with the producer to put a plan in place. Individualized learning plans map out how producers can meet their resiliency goals. Once a plan is developed, the program moves into the education phase, where farmers and ranchers can attend a variety of free or low-cost webinars, field days and conferences offered by extension or designated educational partners, related to the new practices they’re adopting to reach their goals.

“We’re focused on research-based practices,” Mueller said. “It might be that a producer has adopted no-till, but maybe they haven’t integrated cover crops yet, and we know that there are advantages to that in terms of resiliency. Or maybe they use irrigation, but have they incorporated moisture sensors or gauges that monitor daily crop water use?

“We’re leveraging our experts, resources and materials to come up with an individualized program that will be beneficial to the farms we work with. Farmers are small business owners, and we’re helping them make key decisions that focus on profitability, but also minimize potential risks.”

Dylan and Dani Spatz, who own a farm near Prague, are part of the pilot program and found the individualized approach helpful in making their operation more resilient and sustainable.

“We had the flooding in 2019, and luckily, we weren’t affected terribly by it, but then this year, we’re looking at drought, so these extreme conditions change from year to year, and I think it’s important to have plans in place to be prepared for when climate events happen,” Dani said. “We wanted to have a contingency plan in place to be good stewards of the ground that we have, but also that it will be usable for our daughters, if they choose to, to have an opportunity to farm.”

As part of its focus on disaster preparedness, the program also incorporates farm safety, such as the installation of first aid kits and fire extinguishers in multiple locations and working with the local emergency manager to plot field locations.

“What we found in our initial pilot was that 80% of the farms we worked with hadn’t thought about mapping their fields for emergency responders in case there was an accident or an emergency,” Bartels said. “EMTs or other first responders will get a call to a specific address, but if a farmer is hurt in a field, they need to be able to locate where that farmer is.”

The Spatzes agreed.

“Going through the initial questionnaire, one of them was on having emergency protocols in place for every farm field and how to get there, and I had never thought of that,” Dani said.

Discussions and planning for the program began in 2015. Efforts were hindered by the 2019 floods and the COVID-19 pandemic, but both events highlighted the importance of another facet of the program, contingency planning.

“We touch on transition planning and making sure those plans are in place,” Mueller said. “We’re also working with them on securing their documentation. They may have hard copies of deeds, financial documents and other paperwork, but is it backed up off site in cloud storage? A tornado or flood could hit your farm place and you lose your hard copies and your computer, but that redundancy protects them from losing important information in a disaster.”

Having transition plans in place is also important as data shows that the majority of ag producers in Nebraska are over 60, Bartels added.

“And the pandemic, which was hitting everybody, made it clear how important it is to have transition plans in place, because if someone is in the hospital, who has the legal authority to make decisions?” she said.

The program will expand to include more farms and ranches in Nebraska, and Nebraska Extension is also working with extension organizations in other states, including in South Dakota, to incorporate the program in other regions.

“We’ve built the framework for the program, so the curriculum is ready to go and be implemented in other places,” Hulbert said.

For more information on the program, contact Hulbert at candace.hulbert@unl.edu.

Scouting Advised for Alfalfa Weevil

Robert Wright - NE Extension Entomologist

Alfalfa weevil larvae have been reported feeding in alfalfa in southeast Nebraska. As temperatures warm up, expect to see alfalfa weevil larvae throughout southern Nebraska and slightly later, in northern Nebraska.

The larvae of alfalfa weevils feed on first cutting alfalfa as larvae, and adults (and sometimes larvae) feed on the regrowth after the first cutting.
Field Crops Entomology Research and Extension Professor Dr. Bob Wright discusses scouting and management options for alfalfa weevil on this episode of the CropWatch Podcast.

Even with the pressure of planting row crops, it is essential that producers growing high quality alfalfa hay make time to monitor fields for weevils now and over the next few weeks. In the Panhandle and in the northern tier of counties, there may be two flushes of weevil larvae this spring, leading to regrowth damage after the first cutting. Observations indicate the cause may be due to significant survival of both adult and larval weevils.

USDA Names Appointees to the Nebraska Farm Service Agency State Committee

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) today announced appointees who will serve on the Nebraska USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) state committee.

Members of the FSA state committee are appointed by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and are responsible for the oversight of farm programs and county committee operations, resolving program delivery appeals from the agriculture community, maintaining cooperative relations with industry stakeholders, keeping producers informed about FSA programs and operating in a manner consistent with USDA equal opportunity and civil rights policies.

Each FSA state committee is comprised of three to five members including a designated chairperson. The individuals appointed to serve on this committee for Nebraska are:
    Committee Chair Roy Stoltenberg - Cairo
    Bill Armbrust - Elkhorn
    Aaron LaPointe - Winnebago
    Becky Potmesil - Alliance
    Paula Sue Steffen - Humboldt

“The FSA state committee members play an integral role in the continuity of operations, equitable and inclusive program administration and ensure the overall integrity of services to the nation’s agricultural producers,” said Marcus Graham, FSA Deputy Administrator for Field Operations.  “These individuals have proven themselves to be leaders, early adopters and key influencers in the agriculture industry in their respective states – qualities that will serve them well in these key Biden-Harris Administration leadership positions.

Nebraska Farmers Union Applauds Appointment to Nebraska USDA FSA State Committee

Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) applauds the appointments of four additional members to the Nebraska FSA State Committee. They join Roy Stoltenberg of Cairo who was appointed to the State Committee November 1, 2021 and John Berge who was appointed to serve as the USDA Nebraska FSA Executive Director December 29, 2021. The State Committee is responsible for the oversight of farm programs and county committee operations.  The State Committee hears appeals from ag producers unsatisfied with county decisions. The Committee also has a responsibility to makes sure FSA programs operate properly and are compliant with USDA equal opportunity and civil rights policies.    

NeFU President John Hansen said, “We know that Becky Potmesil, Alliance; Paula Sue Steffen, Humboldt; Bill Armbrust, Elkhorn; and Aaron LaPointe, Winnebago will roll up their sleeves and tackle the huge backlog of issues and cases facing them. The past Administration’s State Committee was asked to resign last August, so there will be a lot of catching up to do.”

NeFU Vice President Vern Jantzen said, “We are extremely pleased with the appointment of these four State Committee members. They bring a diverse background of agricultural experience that helps them serve our diverse agricultural state. We thank the Biden Administration and USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for finalizing these long overdue appointments.”

Based on USDA data, Nebraska agriculture is the nation’s top commercial cattle processing state, cash receipts per capita, Great Northern bean and popcorn producing state. Nebraska ranks second in many categories including commercial red meat production, all cattle and calves, cattle on feed, alfalfa, ethanol, Pinto beans, Proso millet, and bison production. Nebraska is third in corn grain production and exports, and cash receipts from all commodities.

Hansen said, “Nebraska’s massive and diverse agricultural production goes hand in hand with the utilization of a wide range of federal commodity, credit, disaster, and conservation programs. Our state’s agricultural producers depend on farm programs to get beginning farmers and ranchers the long-term low-cost financing they need to get started, and direct financing for existing producers to help them stay in business. Our ag producers utilize various federal farm programs for risk management tools to help manage and survive adverse weather, fluctuating commodity prices, natural disasters, and even pandemics. Nebraska is a national leader in the use of a wide range of voluntary federal conservation cost share programs used to protect and enhance our soil and water natural resources for future generations.”

“The Nebraska State FSA State Committee is an important part of the USDA team that partners with Nebraska’s family farmers and ranchers to produce our nation’s food, fiber, and renewable fuels. If the current drought returns, the State Committee will play a critical role as they gather input from producers and counties and consider ways to use their discretion if appropriate to help farmers and ranchers salvage feed, hay, and grazing,” Hansen and Jantzen concluded.   

2022 Nebraska 4Rs Nutrient Stewardship Field Day

July 19, 2022 - Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center, Ithaca, NE

This FREE event on 4Rs of Nutrient Stewardship features knowledge and tools to improve nutrient management, soil health, crop yields and water quality. This is a great opportunity to learn about 4Rs strategies to improve crop yield and profits while protecting the environment.

8:30 am Check-in and Coffee (provided)
9 – 9:10 am Welcome
9:10 – 10 am Nitrogen Inhibitor’s Performance in Corn
10 – 10:30 am Shifting Nature of Sulfur Management
10:30 – 10:40 am Break
10:40 – 11:20 am Sensing Systems for Variable Rate Nitrogen
11:20 – 11:50 am Nitrogen Management Tools and Their Performance
11:50 am – 12 pm Survey
12 – 1 pm Lunch
1 – 3 pm Nutrient Management Demonstrations in the field
  - Location A (1hr) Nitrogen Inhibitor’s Performance
  - Location B (1hr) Tools for Sensor-based Fertigation
3 pm Adjourn

Earn 4.5 CEUs on Nutrient Management.

Attendance counts toward Lower Platte North NRD Nitrogen Certification.
Registration closes July 15 and is required for participation.  Click here to do so.... https://agronomy.unl.edu/4rs-nutrient-stewardship-field-day.


Melissa Bartels, NE Extension Educator, Butler County

Are you considering skipping fertilizing your pastures or alfalfa fields this year due to the high fertilizer prices? Now might be a great time to invest in soil sampling your fields to see what you have for soil fertility in your field’s profile.

Soil fertility is key to maintaining yield and alfalfa fields should ideally be sampled each year to check soil pH, potassium, and phosphorous levels across all soil textures. If your field is sandy, eroded, or highly weathered, you may want to test for sulfur as well. It is important to remember that compared to row crop ground or grass hay, nitrate-nitrogen is not a concern since alfalfa can fix atmospheric nitrogen. However, digging a few plants up and checking nodulation will provide some insight to your plant’s ability to fix nitrogen.

To collect soil samples, you will need to collect soil cores to 8 inches deep. If the field was previously sampled to only 6 inches stay with the historic depth for comparison. It is important to be consistent on your sampling depth because values change the deeper or shallower we go in the soil profile. You can use a file or a sharpie marker to measure 8 inches on your soil probe to make constancy easier, when pulling cores.

When soil sampling there are a few ways, you can go about pulling the cores, but for alfalfa fields sampling by soil type or representative samples for every 40 acres would be the most cost-effective choices. You will need to pull 10 to 15 random soil cores across your soil type or 40 acre area to be represented. Then mix those soil cores together in a plastic bucket. From there, take about two cups of soil and place it in a labeled bag to be sent in for analysis. Repeat this process across the field for every 40 acres or by the soil types in your field. When shipping, be sure to follow the laboratories submission instruction for proper packaging. Once you have your results you can see where you might be able to reduce fertilizer inputs this year. You can always reach out to your extension educator, fertilizer dealer, or agronomist for more help.  

Roadway Safety Considerations for Farm Equipment Operators

Warmer temperatures and dryer conditions are in the forecast and farmers will soon be in the fields in full-force. That means more equipment will be on the roadways in the coming days.

Moving farm equipment on public roads can be a dangerous activity. Farm operators need to drive defensively and remain alert every second they are on the road.

Steven Freeman, a professor in agricultural systems and bioengineering at Iowa State University, reminds equipment operators of some important dos and don’ts this spring.

Additional information is also available in the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach publication “Safely Sharing the Road with Farm Vehicles.”

Injuries can happen

Injuries can happen when farm equipment operators:
    Lack the experience to handle the heavy, slow-moving machinery.
    Drive too fast, particularly when pulling a heavy load or turning.
    Drive partially over the centerline.
    Drive partially on the shoulder, and partially on the main road surface.
    Run into a tree or other fixed object.

A major reason for farm machinery incidents on public roads is the difference in speed between automobiles and agricultural equipment. Motorists approach the slow moving farm equipment so quickly that they only have a few seconds to identify the hazard and react appropriately.

“That's why it is so important for farm equipment to be highly visible and properly identified with a slow moving vehicle sign which must be visible from 500 feet away,” said Steven Freeman, professor in agricultural and biosystems engineering at Iowa State University. “SMV signs must be kept clean, and faded or damaged signs should be replaced.”

Tractors must be equipped with lights if operated on public roads at night, or under conditions of reduced visibility. Highway travel requires headlights, red taillights and reflectors. Flashing amber lights provide day and night warning to traffic approaching from either direction. The more highly visible the equipment is, the better.

Check everything before heading out

Freeman reminds farm equipment operators to perform a complete check of both the tractor and trailed equipment before heading onto the road.
    Use safety-type hitch pins, and make sure they are securely fastened.
    A safety chain must extend from the tractor to the frame of the towed equipment.
    Check all tires (on both tractor and towed equipment) for air pressure, cuts and bumps.
    Always lock brake pedals together for road travel. Sudden braking on one wheel only at high speed could put the tractor into a dangerous skid.
    Rearview mirrors, flares and fire extinguishers should be standard equipment for tractors that are frequently driven on public roads.
    Confirm that all lights are operating properly.
    Make sure that the SMV sign is clean, unfaded and properly mounted.
    Check towed equipment. Any load should be balanced and properly secured. Make sure the towed load is light enough for the tractor to handle safely. Heavy wagons should be equipped with independent brakes.

Safe driving tips for farm operators

Farm machinery operators can make road travel safer for themselves and others by taking the following precautions.
    Avoid busy roads whenever possible, even if travel time will be longer.
    Travel at a speed that will allow you to maintain full control at all times.
    Slow down when making turns or rounding curves.
    Observe road travel precautions listed in operator manuals. Some tractors freewheel in higher gears. This can be very dangerous when coming down a hill. Use lower gear ranges when climbing or descending hills.
    If possible, drive on the shoulder of a paved highway. However, don't drive partly on the shoulder and partly on the paved lane.
    Stay alert for hazards such as soft shoulders, narrow bridges, loose gravel, bumps, potholes and deep ruts.
    When cars are lined up behind you, and a suitable shoulder is available, pull over to let the traffic pass.
    If possible, move equipment in daylight during periods of light traffic.
    Travel after dark only if absolutely necessary. Remember that you need proper lighting for night driving.
    Don't take chances by pulling onto a road in front of moving traffic. Enter and exit roadways very cautiously if your view is obstructed.
    Obey traffic laws and signs. Courtesy is a key component of road safety!

SEC Extends Comment Period on Climate-Reporting Rule

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) was pleased with today’s decision by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to extend the comment period to June 17 on its reporting requirements proposal on climate change-related information from publicly-traded companies and their customers, suppliers, and distributors.

“NPPC thanks Chairman Gensler and the SEC for recognizing the concerns of farmers and the challenges they face in understanding and commenting on the commission’s lengthy Climate Disclosures rule,” said NPPC’s Chief Executive Officer Bryan Humphreys.

The SEC responded to an NPPC-led letter signed by 119 other agricultural organizations asking for additional time to review and comment on the proposed regulation, noting that farmers were not normally regulated by the SEC and needed to fully understand the implications of the rule.  

“Pork producers have a powerful story to tell and are proud of their extensive record of environmental stewardship and the industry’s leading-edge efforts to achieve carbon neutrality,” Humphreys added. “The additional time provided by the SEC allows farmers to provide more valuable information to the Commission as it continues to work on developing its disclosure rule.”

In late March, the SEC voted 3-1 to advance the climate-reporting rule, publishing the more than 500-page proposal in the April 11 Federal Register, with a comment period set to end May 20. The proposed regulation would mandate publicly-traded companies to report on their carbon emissions and other climate-related information, providing risk analyses, goals, and other potentially sensitive company data, as well as similar information from any companies with which they do business.

NPPC will continue to work with its partners and the SEC to provide industry sustainability information.

AFBF Welcomes Comment Deadline Extension for Concerning SEC Rule

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented today on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) comment period extension for the proposed rule, “The Enhancement and Standardization of Climate Related Disclosures for Investors.” The proposal would require public companies to report on Scope 3 emissions, which are the result of activities from assets not owned or controlled by a publicly traded company but contribute to its value chain. While farmers and ranchers would not be required to report directly to the SEC, they provide almost every raw product that goes into the food supply chain.

“AFBF appreciates the SEC extending the comment period for its proposed climate-reporting rule. We asked for the extension because America’s farmers and ranchers need time to fully understand the consequences of this 510-page proposal.

“We have deep concerns that the SEC is proposing a rule that will subject farmers to regulations that are intended for Wall Street. Unlike large corporations currently regulated by the SEC, farmers don’t have teams of compliance officers and attorneys dedicated to handling SEC compliance issues. Increased costs, legal liabilities and privacy concerns could create obstacles to ensuring food security at a time when the world is increasingly looking to America’s farmers for help. We urge the SEC to avoid enacting regulations that will keep farmers and ranchers from focusing on growing the food, fuel and fiber this country needs.”

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack to Attend G7 Agriculture Ministerial in Germany, Travel to Poland

From Thursday, May 12, to Tuesday, May 17, United States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will travel to Europe for meetings on the global food security challenges created by Russia’s unprovoked war on Ukraine.  

From May 12 to May 15, Secretary Vilsack will travel to Stuttgart, Germany, where he will participate in a G7 Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting. From May 15 to May 17, Secretary Vilsack will travel to Warsaw, Poland. There, he will meet with Polish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Henryk Kowalczyk, European Union Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski, and Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Mykola Solskyi.

Clean Fuels Releases New Study Demonstrating Lower Consumer Costs at the Pump

Today, Clean Fuels Alliance America released a new study, "The Offsetting Impact of Expanded Biomass Based Diesel Production on Diesel Prices," prepared by World Agricultural Economic and Environmental Services (WAEES). The study shows that U.S. production of biodiesel and renewable diesel consistently reduces distillate fuel prices by increasing the supply. As the production and availability of cleaner, better fuels grew over the last decade, the price impact increased to a 4% benefit in 2020 and 2021.

"Biodiesel and renewable diesel meet more than 6 percent of the nation's need for diesel fuel, and the industry increased production and supply even during the economic emergency of the last few years," said Kurt Kovarik, vice president of federal affairs for Clean Fuels. "With mounting inflation and environmental concerns, as well as the need to increase energy security and reduce reliance on oil from unstable countries, it's more important now than ever before to maintain U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel production."

The WAEES study notes that even small changes in the supply of diesel fuel will result in relatively larger changes in the diesel fuel price.

"Today's study shows that U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel production generates a 4 percent decrease in the price of diesel fuel," Kovarik continued. "At today's national average price for diesel fuel, the savings is equal to about 22 cents per gallon. That price benefit flows through the entire economy. Diesel fuel keeps essential items, like food and commodities, as well as other retail goods moving across the country. With the current shortage and cost of diesel fuel, a price increase associated with the reduction of biodiesel and renewable diesel production would be passed along to consumers in the costs of numerous indispensable items."

The WAEES study is available on cleanfuels.org.

NGFA applauds Surface Transportation Board reporting requirements to address rail service issues

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) today applauded the Surface Transportation Board (STB) for implementing reporting requirements to address rail service issues.

STB announced today that it will require all Class I carriers to submit several specific reports on rail service, performance, and employment. In addition, BNSF, CSX, NS, and UP are required to submit service recovery plans, progress reports, historical data, and participate in bi-weekly conference calls with Board staff.

“NGFA members continue to experience rail service issues in many areas of the country impacting feed availability for livestock, exports and processing facilities for food and fuel,” NGFA President and CEO Mike Seyfert said in response to STB’s announcement. “The additional transparency should help the Board with its oversight and help shippers and receivers more efficiently plan operations and more accurately gauge when contingency plans are needed.”

Seyfert testified on behalf of NGFA members during the “Urgent Issues in Freight Rail Service” hearing called by STB Chairman Martin Oberman on April 26-27. During his testimony Seyfert told STB members the costs to NGFA members due to lost revenue and additional freight expenses were estimated to be over $100 million in the first quarter of 2022.

“Since the STB hearing on April 26-27, we have heard from NGFA members of continuing, and in some cases worsening, rail service issues,” Seyfert continued. “Today’s announcement is an important first step to getting rail service back on track. NGFA thanks Chairman Oberman, Vice Chair Michelle Schultz and Board members Patrick Fuchs, Robert Primus, and Karen Hedlund for their quick response to this issue. NGFA also thanks USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Dr. Jewel Bronaugh for their work emphasizing the importance of reliable rail service to U.S. agriculture.”

In addition to Seyfert’s testimony on April 26, NGFA urged the Board to address inadequate rail service in a March 24 letter to Chairman Oberman and led another letter signed by members of the Agricultural Transportation Working Group on April 21 outlining several proposals to improve rail service.

Busch Light and John Deere Team Up to Support American Farmers  

Busch Light, longtime supporter of farming communities, announced today that it will bring limited-edition “For the Farmers” cans to fans across the country. The initiative is in collaboration with John Deere, the iconic tractor company with a 188-year history in supporting farmers. A portion of the proceeds from the release will benefit Farm Rescue, a non-profit that provides critical material aid to family farms. To bring further awareness to the challenges facing agricultural communities, the collaboration between the two iconic American brands will include a fan experience called Cornfield Cornhole.  

“For the Farmers” Limited Edition Cans

Available May 16 through July 3, consumers can purchase 24- or 30-pack cases of 12-ounce Busch Light cans with farming graphics that feature the John Deere logo and equipment. For each case sold during its limited run, Busch Light will donate $1 to Farm Rescue, up to a maximum of $100K, with John Deere matching Busch Light’s donation.1 With the support of donations like these, Farm Rescue can provide hands-on assistance to farm and ranch families that have experienced a major injury, illness or natural disaster.

“The “For the Farmers” cans mark a legendary union of two iconic brands with a shared passion for supporting farmers and the great Heartlands of America,” said Krystyn Stowe, Head of Marketing, Busch Family Brands at Anheuser-Busch. “We knew that John Deere was the perfect companion to join forces with us as we bolster our shared efforts to support the farming community that is so important to us.”

“This collaboration presents an exciting, valuable opportunity to celebrate farmers, the ag industry as a whole and the important work of Farm Rescue,“ said Jenny Ose, Director of Marketing, Agriculture and Turf, John Deere. “We’re thrilled to be part of this campaign because it supports Farm Rescue’s mission and our farming communities across America.”

Cornfield Cornhole Presented by Busch Light and John Deere

As Busch Light and John Deere seek to support farmers in a big way, the brands have decided to do the biggest thing they can to raise awareness for Farm Rescue and the needs of America’s farmers. On Saturday, May 21, Busch Light and John Deere will host Cornfield Cornhole, a free, one-day fan experience in Big Bend, Wisconsin.  

At Cornfield Cornhole, a John Deere tractor and ground-posted slingshot will catapult hay bales wrapped in ‘For the Farmers’ graphics across the cornfield to reach an oversized cornhole board. There will be four rounds, with a group of lucky attendees competing in the final game to close out the day! In addition to taking in the game, fans can enjoy ice cold Busch Light and refreshments from local WI food trucks.

To attend Cornfield Cornhole and possibly snag a spot in the big game, consumers can reserve tickets via Busch.com/forthefarmers.

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