Monday, January 24, 2022

USDA Cattle on Feed Report - Jan 21 + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.60 million cattle on feed on January 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This inventory was up 2% from last year.  Placements during December totaled 505,000 head, up 5% from 2020.  Fed cattle marketings for the month of December totaled 475,000 head, up 6% from last year.  Other disappearance during December totaled 10,000 head, unchanged from last year.


Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 600,000 head on January 1, 2022, according to the latest USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service - Cattle on Feed report. This was down 2 percent from December and down 2 percent from January 1, 2021.

Placements of cattle and calves in Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during December totaled 87,000 head, down 7 percent from November and down 6 percent from December 2020. Marketings of fed cattle from Iowa feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head during December totaled 94,000 head, up 2 percent from November and up 3 percent from December 2020. Other disappearance from feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head in Iowa totaled 3,000 head.

United States Cattle on Feed Up 1 Percent

Cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 12.0 million head on January 1, 2022. The inventory was 1 percent above January 1, 2021. This is the second highest January 1 inventory since the series began in 1996. The inventory included 7.36 million steers and steer calves, down 1 percent from the previous year. This group accounted for 61 percent of the total inventory. Heifers and heifer calves accounted for 4.68 million head, up 2 percent from 2021.

On Feed, by State (1,000 hd - % Jan 1 '21)

Colorado ......:              1,130          102                   
Iowa .............:                600           98                 
Kansas ..........:              2,490          100                 
Nebraska ......:              2,600          102              
Texas ............:              2,920          102               

Placements in feedlots during December totaled 1.96 million head, 6 percent above 2020. Placements were the highest for December since the series began in 1996. Net placements were 1.91 million head. During December, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 510,000 head, 600-699 pounds were 470,000 head, 700-799 pounds were 450,000 head, 800-899 pounds were 333,000 head, 900-999 pounds were 105,000 head, and 1,000 pounds and greater were 95,000 head.

Placements by State (1,000 hd - % Dec '20)

Colorado ......:                 165           106               
Iowa .............:                  87            94                
Kansas ..........:                 450           102              
Nebraska ......:                 505           105                
Texas ............:                 445           117                

Marketings of fed cattle during December totaled 1.86 million head, slightly above 2020. Marketings were the second highest for December since the series began in 1996. Other disappearance totaled 54,000 head during December, 10 percent below 2020.

Marketings by State (1,000 hd - % Dec '20)

Colorado ......:                  170           100           
Iowa .............:                   94           103          
Kansas ..........:                  430           101            
Nebraska ......:                  475           106           
Texas ............:                  395           100          

Ricketts Announces Appointments to Boards and Commissions

Today, Governor Pete Ricketts announced recent appointments he has made to fill Nebraska’s boards and commissions.  Here are some of the appointments announced on Friday.....

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

Nebraska Aquaculture Board
Richard Lackaff, Bassett

Nebraska Hemp Commission
Tara Smydra, Norfolk

Josh Watchorn, Sidney
Annette M. Wiles , Plattsmouth

Nebraska Invasive Species Council
Dennis Schroeder, Lincoln

Nebraska Potato Development Committee
Adam Naslund, Cody
Henry Nira, Gering
Troy Sorensen, Alliance
Laurie Widdowson, Kearney

Rural Broadband Task Force
Andrew Buker, Omaha
Ronald Cone, Kearney
Zachary Hunnicutt, Giltner
Gwen A, Kautz, Overton
J. Thomas Shoemaker, Cambridge
Daniel Spray, Norfolk

Andrew Whitney, Seward

The following appointees are unpaid and subject to Legislative confirmation:

Nebraska Brand Committee
Terry L. Cone, Burwell

Nebraska Ethanol Board
Scott B. McPheeters, Gothenburg
Taylor D. Nelson, South Sioux City

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

Growers to Share Local On-farm Research Results

The annual Nebraska On-Farm Research Network research results update meetings will be offered in-person in 2022. Farm operators and agronomists from across the state will obtain valuable crop production-related information from on-farm research projects conducted on Nebraska farms by Nebraska farmers in partnership with University of Nebraska faculty. These research projects cover products, practices and new technologies that impact farm productivity and profitability.

The Nebraska On-Farm Research Network is a statewide, on-farm research program that addresses critical farmer production, profitability and natural resources questions. Growers take an active role in the on-farm research project sponsored by Nebraska Extension in partnership with the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, the Nebraska Corn Board, the Nebraska Soybean Checkoff and the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission.

The February programs will provide an opportunity to hear growers who conducted on-farm research share their results from the 2021 growing season. Replicated, field-scale comparisons were completed in growers’ fields, using their equipment. Attendees will receive a complimentary copy of the 2021 Research Results Update book, which contains results from 83 on-farm research studies, including:
    Eight studies on Xyway in-furrow fungicide.
    Two studies on hydraulic downforce.
    Five studies on starter fertilizer.
    Three studies on nitrogen rate and timing.
    Seven studies on nitrification inhibitors.
    Six studies on sensor-based fertigation.
    Six studies on sensor-based N management with a high-clearance applicator.
    Six studies on Pivot Bio PROVEN, five studies on crop models for N management.
    Six studies on interseeding cover crops into corn or soybeans.
    Seven soil health studies conducted in collaboration with NRCS.
    Three studies on soybean practices for increasing yield and profitability.
    Four studies on non-traditional products.

The following locations are planned:

Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022
    Alliance — Knight Museum & Sandhills Center, 908 Yellowstone
    North Platte — West Central Research, Extension, and Education Center (WCREEC), 402 W. State Farm Rd.
    York — Cornerstone Ag & Event Center, Fairgrounds York, 2400 N. Nebraska Ave.
    Norfolk — Madison County Extension Office, 1305 S. 13th St.
    Auburn — 4-H Building Nemaha County Fairgrounds, 816 I St.
    Kearney — Buffalo County Extension Office, 1400 E. 34th (Fairgrounds)

Programs start at 9 a.m. CST (8 a.m. MST). Check-in begins a half-hour before the meeting starts. The program will conclude at 3:30 p.m. CST (2:30 p.m. MST).  

For program details and to register, visit the Nebraska On-Farm Research site. Pre-registration is required. Walk-in registration will not be permitted. Please pre-register at least two days in advance for planning purposes. In-person meetings will only be held if local and UNL directed health measures allow and if weather conditions are suitable for travel. If a meeting is canceled, registered participants will be notified via email, phone or text message.

For more information or to register by phone, please contact Taylor Lexow, Nebraska On-Farm Research program coordinator, at 402-245-2222. For general inquiries about the Nebraska On-Farm Research Network, contact Laura Thompson, extension educator, at 402-245-2224.

2022 Eastern Nebraska Soil Health Conference Set for Feb. 2 in David City

There are many benefits to utilizing cover crops, such as improved soil health and reduced erosion. It is the details of how and what to do that can present challenges. The 2022 Eastern Nebraska Soil Health Conference (formerly Nebraska Cover Crop Conference) will provide information to growers who are just getting started with cover crops and to those who are already making cover crops part of their operation.

The conference will take place 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. CST Wednesday, Feb. 2 with check-in starting at 8:30 a.m.  The conference is scheduled for the event center at the Butler County Fairgrounds, 62 L Street, David City, Nebraska.

Topics and presenters include:
    Recognizing Healthy Soil (Virtual Real-Time Presentation) — Aaron Hird, Nebraska NRCS State soil health specialist
    When is Manure the Right Solution for a Cropping System? (Virtual Real-Time Presentation) — Amy Schmidt, associate professor and livestock manure management engineer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
    Cover Crops and Crop Insurance — Cory Walters, associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
    Using Winter Hardy Small Cereals for Grazing and Silage — Mary Drewnoski, beef systems specialist, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
    Making Soil Health Work for Your Operation — Chris Gaesser, Gaesser Farms, Iowa
    Strategies to Use Cover Crops for Weed Suppression — Anita Dille, professor in the Department of Agronomy, Kansas State University
    Planting Equipment for Cover Crops and Into Cover Crops — Paul Jasa, Nebraska Extension engineer
    Presenters panel — informal discussion with growers, landowners, and consultants

Registration and details available on the conference website

There is no fee to attend, but pre-registration is required. Day-of, walk-in registration will not be permitted.

Local COVID-19 guidance at the time of the conference will be followed. The conference will only be held if local and UNL-directed health measures allow and if road conditions are suitable for travel. In the event of cancellation, registrants will be notified via email, phone or text message.

CCA credits are applied for and pending.

Sponsored by Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Soybean Board.

For more information contact Nebraska Extension Educators: Gary Lesoing, 402-274-4755, Melissa Bartels, 402-367-7410, Michael Sindelar, 402-762-3644, Todd Whitney, 308-995-4222, or Nathan Mueller, 402-821-2151.

Northeast Community College awarded $450,000 agriculture workforce training grant

Today’s food production systems and processes are dependent on many resources, including the work of agriculture producers and processors, many of whom continue to incorporate high tech practices into their operations.

At the individual producer level, few operations exist which do not utilize Global Positioning System (GPS)-driven crop production equipment, Geographical Information System (GIS) mapping for efficient irrigation and chemical application, automated temperature, humidity and feeding controls in livestock barns or computer-based records management.

At the processor level, an increase in robotics and automation in processing lines and use of predictive analytics for scheduling and distribution are additional examples of dependence upon technology-based tools.

The tools provide many efficiencies; however, they are vulnerable to hacking and ransomware attacks, essentially putting the nation’s food safety and security in jeopardy. A new project at Northeast Community College is designed to address the concerns. The Ruraltech+ Training Program to Boost IT and Cybersecurity Skills in the Agricultural Workforce project will create a framework for educating incumbent workers in rural agriculture cooperatives on data analysis and information security as well as developing a pipeline of ag-tech workers for growing industry needs.

“Use of short-term, flexible training options to provide training is cornerstone to the success of this project,” said Cyndi Hanson, dean of Workforce Development at Northeast. “Offering upskilling and reskilling accessible opportunities to geographically dispersed audiences of the rural workforce will elevate the practice of information security measures essential to minimizing disruption of operations.”

The major goal of the project is to bring technical knowledge of information security within agriculture-based employers. Training will be provided to at least 40 individuals annually via synchronous, virtual, short-term training and fifteen industry-recognized certifications earned by program participants will be offered annually. Additionally, a general agriculture competence course will be coupled with a cybersecurity bootcamp to equip five entry-level workers annually for integration into the agriculture-technology workforce pipeline.

The project will be conducted using multiple efforts, each with distinct evaluation strategies. For example, curriculum that is relevant to incumbent workers will be developed through conversations with agriculture

coop managers. Hanson said they are also welcoming conversations with agriculture-based businesses that would like to participate in training.

“Providing opportunities for those currently engaged in our agriculture workforce access to foundational cybersecurity principles to protect our nation’s food supply is the focus of what we are doing,” Hanson said. “The opportunity to provide training virtually increases access for those geographically distant but critical components of agriculture.”

To develop the curriculum, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded Northeast Community College a grant totaling $450,000. Nebraska US Senator Deb Fischer is excited the project will connect the state’s future agriculture and technology workforce with skills to succeed.

“I have had the pleasure of working closely with Northeast Community College over the years on increasing adoption of precision agriculture technologies,” Fischer said. “I look forward to seeing this project come to fruition and create opportunities for our students.”

Leah Barrett, president of Northeast, said the funding is important to help increase the efficiency and productivity of food production, as well as to guard against cyberattacks targeting the nation’s food supply.

“We are proud to partner with agricultural cooperatives across Nebraska to grow their IT workforce and create pathways for entry-level workers as well as incumbent workers to upskill and get the critical skills they need to support our agricultural system,” Barrett said.

Free Farm and Ag Law Clinics Set for Early 2022

Free legal and financial clinics are being offered for farmers and ranchers across the state throughout January, February and March 2022. The clinics are one-on-one in-person meetings with an agricultural law attorney and an agricultural financial counselor. These are not group sessions, and they are confidential.

The attorney and financial advisor specialize in legal and financial issues related to farming and ranching, including financial and business planning, transition planning, farm loan programs, debtor/creditor law, debt structure and cash flow, agricultural disaster programs, and other relevant matters. Here is an opportunity to obtain an independent, outside perspective on issues that may be affecting your farm or ranch.

Clinic Dates
    Monday, Jan. 31 — Norfolk

    Thursday, Feb. 3 — Fairbury
    Thursday, Feb. 3 — Grand Island
    Wednesday, March 2 — Norfolk

    Friday, March 4 — Grand Island
    Friday, March 4 — Fairbury

To sign up for a free clinic or to get more information, call the Nebraska Farm Hotline at 1-800-464-0258.  Funding for this work is provided by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture and Legal Aid of Nebraska.

Applications for Conservation Incentive Contracts Being Accepted Now

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is providing Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers financial and technical assistance to plan and implement conservation practices through Conservation Incentive Contracts. Agricultural producers have until March 11, 2022, to apply for 2022 funding.

Contract Incentive Contracts are an option available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) that offers producers financial assistance to adopt conservation management practices on working landscapes. Conservation Incentive Contracts are available nationwide and help producers address priority resource concerns, like sequestering carbon and improving water quality.

Producers may use incentive contracts as a “steppingstone,” from correcting resource issues on specific land units, to achieving sustainable stewardship on their entire operation. Conservation Incentive Contracts:
    Have an initial length of five years.
    Require producers to address at least one priority resource concern during the contract period.
    Offer two types of payments:
        Practice Implementation Payments, which are paid after completion and certification of a conservation practice.
        Management Practice Payments, which include management practices that will serve as annual payments and are paid as soon as practicable after October 1 of each fiscal year.

For more information on Conservation Incentive Contracts, contact NRCS at your local USDA Service Center.

Fischer Statement on Bipartisan Cattle Market Reform Bill

U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) today released the following statement on the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act:

“Today, the American Farm Bureau reiterated its support for our efforts to ensure every segment of the cattle market can succeed. Though there are differences of opinion within their own organization on the solution, family farmers and ranchers have been clear. Robust negotiated cash sales are integral to facilitating price discovery in the market. I am proud of the growing bipartisan consensus we’ve built for our legislation with seven Republicans and nine Democrats on the bill, including ten members of the Senate Agriculture Committee. We will continue to advance this proposal to ensure a fair and transparent cattle market for our nation’s cattle producers.”

The Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act was introduced with Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

The bill has 14 additional co-sponsors, including Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Mike Braun (R-Ind.) Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

Farm Bureau Seeks Revision to Cattle Transparency Act

The American Farm Bureau Federation announced today its support of the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act of 2021, with the exception of the bill’s establishment of mandatory minimums for negotiated purchases.

AFBF delegates voted last week in Atlanta to revise 2022 Farm Bureau policy. While Farm Bureau supports robust negotiated sales, delegates voted to oppose government mandates that force livestock processing facilities to purchase a set percentage of their live animal supply via cash bids.

“AFBF appreciates the hard work that has been done on both sides of the issue to address the pressing needs facing America’s cattle industry,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “The Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act takes positive steps toward ensuring fairness for America’s farmers and ranchers as they work to feed this country’s families.

“We support the majority of this legislation, but we cannot support mandatory cash sales. We are committed to working with the sponsors of the bill to make revisions to ensure it aligns with the priorities outlined by our membership.”

The Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act is sponsored by Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and cosponsored by 14 other senators from both sides of the aisle. The legislation would also equip farmers with more information by establishing a cattle contract library, updating mandatory price reporting and increasing fines for companies that violate the Packers and Stockyards Act.

Soil Fertility Workshops to Be Held across Iowa

Farmers wishing to maximize the profits from their fertilizer dollars will want to attend one of 15 in-person workshops or a virtual workshop hosted by Iowa State University. The workshop series, called Soil Testing Interpretations and Recommendations: Maximizing Return on Investment, will be held in February and March. This series will address the profitable management of soil fertility in Iowa, as conditions continue to change with increased fertilizer input costs and a rising demand for nutrients from higher-yielding crops.

“These workshops will lead farmers through the basics of soil testing, analytical tests, calculating crop nutrient removal, understanding return on investment from fertilizer applications, how crop response correlates to soil test levels and what is known about crop response to micronutrients,” says Josh Michel, field agronomist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

The workshops are designed to help farmers understand their current soil nutrient situation, the amount their crops are using in a growing season and what needs to be added.

“While many decisions have already been made for the 2022 growing season,” said Virgil Schmitt, field agronomist with ISU Extension and Outreach, “fertility decisions will continue to evolve with changes in fertilizer prices and land tenure.”
Workshop details and locations

Workshops will be offered in person and one virtual option will be offered as well.

Space is limited and pre-registration is required. Registration is $40, and includes publications, copies of presentations, and any refreshments or meal (if provided for in-person meetings). Registrants should contact the extension office listed below to register for the workshop they plan attend. Registration fees for in-person workshops may be paid in advance or the day of the program.   

In-person workshop dates, times and locations are listed below. Register with the appropriate ISU Extension and Outreach county office.

    Feb. 8, 1-4:30 p.m. at Water’s Edge Nature Center in Algona. Complete the online registration form found on the Kossuth County webpage or call 515-295-2469 to register by Feb. 1.
    Feb. 10, 1-4 p.m. at the Borlaug Learning Center near Nashua. Call Floyd County at 641-228-1453 to register by Feb. 3.
    Feb. 14, 1-4:30 p.m. at the ISU Extension and Outreach Harrison County office. Lunch will be served before the meeting. Call 712-644-2105 to register by Feb. 7.
    Feb. 15, 1-4:30 p.m. at the ISU Extension and Outreach Crawford County office. Lunch will be served before the meeting. Call 712-263-4697 to register by Feb. 8.
    Feb. 16, 1-4:30 p.m. at the American Legion Hall in Coon Rapids. Lunch will be served before the meeting. Call 641-747-2276 to register by Feb.9.
    Feb. 22, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Elkhorn Town Hall. Lunch is included. Call 712-755-3104 to register by Feb. 15.
    Feb. 23, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Grundy Center Community Center. Call 319-824-6979 to register by Feb. 16.
    Feb. 23, 1-4 p.m. at the Lytton Fire Station. Lunch will be served before the meeting. Call 712-297-8611 to register by Feb. 16.
    Feb. 24, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Leonard Goode Community Center in Ogden. Snacks will be provided. Call 515-386-2138 to register by Feb. 17.
    Feb. 24, from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the ISU Extension and Outreach Cedar County office. Lunch is included. Call 563-886-6157 to register by Feb. 17.
    Feb. 25, from 9 a.m. to noon at the ISU Extension and Outreach Black Hawk County office. Call 319-234-6811 to register by Feb. 18.
    Feb. 28, 1-4 p.m. at the ISU Extension and Outreach Fayette County office, 218 South Main Street, Fayette. Register by Feb. 21.
    March 1, in Dyersville, hosted by both Dubuque and Delaware counties. The location will be at FarmTek, located at 1440 18th Ave. SW, Highway 20, Dyersville. Register by Feb. 22.
    March 2, 1-4 p.m. at the library in Riceville. Call 563-547-3001 to register by Feb. 23.
    March 3, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the ISU Extension and Outreach Henry County office. Lunch will be provided. Call 319-385-8126 to register by Feb. 24.
    March 4 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at the ISU Extension and Outreach Wapello County office. Lunch will be provided. Call 641-732-5574 to register by Feb. 25.
    March 17, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the LeMars Convention Center. Lunch will be provided. Call 712-546-7835 to register by March 10.
A virtual, statewide option is being offered via Zoom as well. This will be offered in a four-part series from Feb. 22-25 each day from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Registration is $40. To register, contact the ISU Extension and Outreach Kossuth County office at 515-295-2469 or go to to register online.

Participants who register and pay the registration fee by Feb. 15 will receive a mailed copy of supporting materials for the program prior to Feb. 22. Participants who register, but whose payment is received after Feb. 15, will receive electronic copies of the supporting materials.

Commodity Classic Announces Main Stage Line-Up for 2022

Some of the nation’s leading agriculture experts and well-known personalities will be featured on the Main Stage during the 2022 Commodity Classic held March 10-12 in New Orleans.

The Main Stage, presented by Successful Farming® and Commodity Classic, is located right on the trade show floor. Presentations are scheduled during trade show hours. Highlights of the Main Stage line-up for 2022 include:
    Al Kluis, marketing columnist for Successful Farming®: Strategies for Success in 2022
    Cashing in on Carbon, presented by Agoro
    The Future of Agriculture is Data, presented by GrainChain
    Generation Next, presented by Pivot Bio
    Xtreme Ag: Oh, the Mistakes We’ve Made, So You Don’t, presented by FMC
    Kevin Kimberley: The Planter Doctor
    Carbon Markets Tell-All Panel, presented by Nutrien Ag Solutions
    A cooking demonstration presented by USA Poultry & Egg Export Council

Commodity Classic is unlike any other agricultural event and features a robust schedule of educational sessions, a huge trade show showcasing the latest technology, equipment, and innovation, top-notch entertainment, inspiring speakers, unique optional tours, and the opportunity to network with thousands of progressive farmers from across the nation.

Registration and housing for the 2022 Commodity Classic are available at A complete schedule of events and additional details are also available online. Make sure to follow Commodity Classic on Twitter at @ComClassic and on Facebook for continued updates.

Commodity Classic is hard at work ensuring that this year’s show will be a fun and safe event that complies with COVID-19 guidelines in New Orleans. Masks are currently required in all indoor spaces in New Orleans, and proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test will be required for entry. Commodity Classic is finalizing onsite testing and vaccination verification plans to make complying with local and state COVID-19 mandates as quick and easy as possible. Visit for the latest health and safety updates.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Thursday January 20 Ag News

Rural Mainstreet Starts Year Off Strong - Soaring Farm Input Prices Greatest Threat for 2022
The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) declined in January, though it remained above growth neutral the for14th straight month, according to the monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region dependent on agriculture and/or energy.         

Overall: The region’s overall reading for January fell to 61.1 from December’s 66.7. The index ranges between 0 and 100 with a reading of 50.0 representing growth neutral.

“Solid grain prices, the Federal Reserve’s record-low short-term interest rates, and growing agricultural exports have underpinned the Rural Mainstreet Economy,” said Ernie Goss, PhD, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business.  

This month, bankers were asked to identify the greatest 2022 risk for farmers in their area.   Bankers overwhelmingly named rising farm input prices, such as fertilizer, as the top farm threat.  Bankers ranked disruptions of the delivery of farm inputs and rising interest rates as the second and third greatest 2022 threats to farm operations.

Farming and ranching: The region’s farmland price index decreased to a very strong 88.5 from December’s record high of 90.0. January’s reading represented the 16th straight month the index has moved above growth neutral.   

The January farm equipment-sales index slipped to a very healthy 72.4 from 74.1 in December. This is the 14th straight month that the index has advanced above growth neutral. Readings over the past several months are the strongest string of monthly readings recorded since Spring 2011.

Confidence:  After declining for five consecutive months, the confidence index, which reflects bank CEO expectations for the economy six months out, rose for a second straight month to 61.1 from 55.2 in December.

Below are the state reports:

Nebraska: The Nebraska RMI for January dropped to 64.6 from December’s 71.9. The state’s farmland-price index slumped to 89.8 from last month’s 92.3. Nebraska’s new-hiring index improved to 72.3 from 71.8 in December. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicate that Nebraska’s Rural Mainstreet economy has experienced a healthy 3.7% gain in its nonfarm employment (non-seasonally adjusted

Iowa: The January RMI for Iowa improved to 71.8 from 71.4 in December. Iowa’s farmland-price index declined to 89.4 from December’s 91.4. Iowa’s new-hiring index for January fell to 62.8 from 70.7 in December. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicate that over the past 12 months, Iowa’s Rural Mainstreet has experienced a healthy 2.4% gain in nonfarm employment (non-seasonally adjusted). Jim Brown, CEO of Hardin County Savings Bank in Eldora, Iowa, said, “All in all, a great year for agriculture!”

The 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 and launched in January 2006.


Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2022
Registration at 8:30 a.m. - Programs runs 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. CST
Event Center - Butler County Fairgrounds, David City, Nebraska

The conference features innovative speakers who have worked with cover crops extensively and
will share what they have learned. This is your opportunity to get your questions answered.
How can you get started with cover crops in your corn/soybean rotation? Already using cover
crops - could you be doing it better? There are many benefits to utilizing cover crops, such as
improved soil heath and reduced erosion. It’s the details of how and what to do that can present
challenges. The focus of the conference is to provide information to growers who are in a corn/
soybean rotation and to assist them in understanding the value of cover crops.


There is no fee to attend, but pre-registration is required. Day-of, walk-in registration will not be permitted.  Local Covid-19 guidance at the time of the conference will be followed. The conference will only be held if local and UNL directed health measures allow and if road conditions are suitable for travel. If cancelled, registrants will be notified via email, phone, or text message. CCA credits are applied for and pending. For more information contact Nebraska Extension Educators:
Gary Lesoing, 402-274-4755,
Melissa Bartels, 402-367-7410,
Michael Sindelar, 402-762-3644,
Todd Whitney, 308-995-4222,
Nathan Mueller, 402-821-2151,

Platte Valley Cattlemen Banquet is Feb 12

The Platte Valley Cattlemen Annual Banquet will be held Saturday, February 12th, 2022, at 5:30 p.m. at Humphrey Community Center in Humphrey, Nebraska. It will feature a social hour, prime rib dinner, and guest speaker Corbitt Wall, host of “Feeder Flash”.  Following the banquet, folks can listen to VoiceHouse DJ as the entertainment.

The annual Banquet is the major fundraiser for the year.  Thanks to continued sponsor support, the organization has been able to promote the beef industry and inform our members of current issues and policies. In the past, dollars have enabled them to promote “Beef Month” in May, ensure quality speakers for our monthly meetings, offer an educational tour, promote 4-H and FFA programs at the county fairs and assist in awarding scholarships. In 2021, they were able to award three $1,000.00 college scholarships and with continued support, and they hope to do the same again this year.

Businesses are invited to help sponsor the night, and individuals are urged to get their ticket requests in ASAP..... by January 28th if at all possible.  If you have any questions, please contact Tyler Engstrom at 402-276-6347 or Brian Steffensmeier at 402-750-9985.

UNL Agricultural Research Division dean announces retirement

After more than a decade leading the University of Nebraska Lincoln's Agricultural Research Division, Archie Clutter will retire at the end of 2022.

Clutter has served as dean of the Agricultural Research Division (ARD) and director of the Nebraska Agricultural Experiment Station in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR) at the University of Nebraska since 2011. Under Clutter’s leadership, both research awards and expenditures have grown steadily, culminating in fiscal year 2021, when ARD received $64 million in externally sponsored awards – a record for the division. All in all, the ARD awards have grown by an average 4.8% each year since 2012.

At the same time, the division has seen the construction of state-of-the-art research facilities and the development of interdisciplinary research teams created to more holistically address complex issues related to food, water, climate and the environment.

“Dr. Clutter has provided incredible leadership for the Agricultural Research Division, the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the university as a whole,” said Mike Boehm, NU vice president and Harlan Vice Chancellor for IANR. “He’s also a respected scientist whose deep curiosity and infectious excitement is evident with every ARD project and discovery. It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with him.”

Clutter earned a bachelor's in agricultural business from Iowa State University and masters and doctorate in animal science from the University of Nebraska. His research has focused on the elucidation of genomic variation underlying quantitative traits in livestock species and application of molecular breeding to improve food animal efficiency and disease tolerance.

Prior to his present position in IANR, Clutter was vice president for research and development at Newsham Choice Genetics in St. Louis. He also held research and development leadership positions at Monsanto from 2000-2007 and was professor of animal science at Oklahoma State University from 1987-2000. In his current role, Clutter supports a state-wide research and development infrastructure and more than 400 faculty and their transdisciplinary teams providing the science for resilient food systems and the connection of food to human health.

“This leadership role in the Agricultural Research Division continues to be the most rewarding of my career, only possible through the collaborative relationships I’ve been able to achieve with our amazing faculty and their teams of staff and students, and the leadership teams with which I’ve been associated,” Clutter said. “There truly is no place like IANR and the University of Nebraska and the contributions of our people to food security and a healthy global future.”

Clutter’s successor will be selected via a nationwide search. More details will be released when the search is launched. For more information on the Agricultural Research Division, visit

Record High Beef Production in December

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.78 billion pounds in December, down 1 percent from the 4.86 billion pounds produced in December 2020.

Beef production, at 2.36 billion pounds, was 1 percent above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.82 million head, up 1 percent from December 2020. The average live weight was up 3 pounds from the previous year, at 1,392 pounds.

Veal production totaled 5.3 million pounds, 7 percent below December a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 38,700 head, down 5 percent from December 2020. The average live weight was down 5 pounds from last year, at 237 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.40 billion pounds, down 4 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 11.1 million head, down 4 percent from December 2020. The average live weight was down 2 pounds from the previous year, at 292 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 11.6 million pounds, was down 4 percent from December 2020. Sheep slaughter totaled 187,100 head, 5 percent below last year. The average live weight was 123 pounds, up 1 pound from December a year ago.

Commercial Red Meat Production, by State

Dec '21                        million lbs.  -  % Dec '20

Nebraska ........:               680.5            100       
Iowa ...............:               776.4            100       
Kansas ............:               526.9            103       

January to December 2021 commercial red meat production was 55.8 billion pounds, up slightly from 2020. Accumulated beef production was up 3 percent from last year, veal was down 17 percent, pork was down 2 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 1 percent.

Weekly Ethanol Production for 1/14/2022

According to EIA data analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association for the week ending January 14, ethanol production rebounded by 46,000 barrels per day (b/d), or 4.7%, to 1.053 million b/d, equivalent to 44.23 million gallons daily. Production was 11.4% above the same week last year, which was affected by the pandemic, and 0.4% more than the same week two years ago. The four-week average ethanol production volume ticked up 0.1% to 1.042 million b/d, equivalent to an annualized rate of 15.97 billion gallons (bg).

Ethanol stocks climbed 3.0% to a 48-week high of 23.6 million barrels. However, stocks were 0.2% below the year-ago level and 1.8% less than the same week two years ago. Inventories built across all regions except the Gulf Coast (PADD 3), including record-high reserves in the Midwest (PADD 2).
The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, increased 4.0% to 8.22 million b/d (126.07 bg annualized). Gasoline demand registered 1.4% higher than a year ago but 5.1% lower than the same week two years ago.

Refiner/blender net inputs of ethanol expanded 6.8% to a three-week high of 806,000 b/d, equivalent to 12.36 bg annualized. Net inputs were 3.6% more than a year ago but 6.7% less than the same week two years ago.

There were zero imports of ethanol recorded for the twelfth consecutive week. (Weekly export data for ethanol is not reported simultaneously; the latest export data is as of November 2021.)

 MAIZALL President Visits Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) hosted International Maize Alliance (MAIZALL) President Paulo Bertolini in Washington, D.C., this week. Bertolini was joined by MAIZALL coordinator Benno van der Laan and John Linder, NCGA chairman.

MAIZALL is a coalition of maize farmer associations from Argentina, Brazil and the United States that are working together to share expertise and information and to address trade barriers to agricultural innovation. MAIZALL’s farmers grow 50 percent of all maize in the world, and its member organizations represent farming operations of all sizes, with many of those being family farms. The Council, along with NCGA, the Argentine Corn and Sorghum Association (MAIZAR) and the Brazilian Association of Corn Producers (ABRAMILHO) comprise the alliance.

“The Council appreciates MAIZALL’s efforts to address trade barriers and advance sound trade policy,” LeGrand said. “It’s important to have the Council, NCGA and our counterparts in Argentina and Brazil working together so we make every effort to bring about a rational and efficient global trading system that works for all of us and for our respective customers as well.”

The group met with several seed technology companies while in the D.C. area and discussed MAIZALL’s past and ongoing engagements in the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU). In addition, the group examined the possibility of future biotechnology and crop protection engagements around the world, along with information on biotechnology trends and issues.

While in town, the group met with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s New Technologies office, the House Agriculture Committee Minority and Majority staffs and the office of the United States Trade Representative.

Council staff met with the group as well, discussing the Council’s role as a member of the alliance and the importance of working together to address trade barriers. Bertolini, van der Laan and Linder met with Council President and CEO Ryan LeGrand and Vice President and COO Kimberly Atkins before talking with Kurt Shultz, USGC senior director of global strategies, on the importance of continued engagement and outreach.

NMPF January 2022 Dairy Market Report Now Available

Dairy markets are in a very different situation than almost any experienced since 2014.

The dominant features of the basic U.S. dairy situation continue to be tighter milk production, record export volumes, higher prices, sluggish domestic consumption, and dropping inventories. Total dairy cows and total milk production in the United States were both lower than a year earlier during the September–November rolling quarter. December prices for nonfat dry milk and dry whey were the highest monthly prices since 2014; they, as well as December butter and cheese prices, were all among the highest observed during all months since the beginning of the year 2000. The long period of tough market conditions from 2014 until recently constitutes a major reason for the production contraction that’s driving the current situation.

View the report here:  

Wednesday January 19 Ag News

 Nebraska to host 101st National Block and Bridle Convention

The Nebraska Chapter of Block and Bridle at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is set to host the 101st National Block and Bridle Convention March 31- April 2 at Nebraska Innovation Campus.  

“The Good Life: Standing out from the Herd” will be the theme this year, where nearly 400 students in 50 Block and Bridle clubs from across the nation will find the opportunity to connect with fellow students and industry professionals, hear from speakers, focus on the future of animal agriculture and tour agricultural industries.  

“I think most people who come to Nebraska think it’s just a flyover state, they don’t really appreciate the ecological and agricultural diversity,” said Tom Burkey, Nebraska’s Block and Bridle advisor and associate dean in the College of Agriculture Sciences and Natural Resources.   

“The highlight of students coming to Nebraska is the opportunity for them to see outside of the I-80 corridor and instill a true appreciation of what the state has to offer.”

Burkey has been working with the Block and Bridle club since 2009, and while he teaches mostly graduate-level classes at Nebraska, he says the club provides him an opportunity to get more involved with undergraduates.  

Students, staff and faculty of Nebraska’s Block and Bridle Chapter have been working collaboratively since 2019 to create a fun, educational and memorable convention with a goal to provide national members with opportunities for professional development through guest speakers, workshops, and going on industry tours to experience Nebraska agriculture.  

Shaye Koester, Nebraska’s past Block and Bridle president has been working diligently on registration, sponsorship and encouraging club members to get involved with convention planning. As an out of state student from North Dakota, Koester is a tri-chair for the convention along with Malina Lindstrom and Emma Schmidt.

“I’m excited to show the vastness of the livestock industry and how diverse it is in Nebraska, said Koester.  

“Obviously Nebraska is the beef state, but we also have poultry, swine, the farming side, agricultural businesses and lots of entrepreneurship.”

Convention attendees will kick off the opening session with a welcome from Chancellor Ronnie Green the day they arrive in Lincoln, and later spend time exploring campus and the Haymarket district in Lincoln. The first evening will close with a motivational keynote from Ron Gustafson, a Nebraska entrepreneur who was raised on a farm.

On Friday April 1, convention attendees will experience “The Good Life” of Nebraska by participating in an all-day production tour. Tour stops will feature various operations that highlight crop and livestock production, animal products, and industry research. Participants will have the option to choose from eight tour options including: companion animal care, dairy, animal products, specialty ag, beef lifecycle, the beef state, allied industries, and ag in Nebraska. The day will conclude with a night of fun at the University of Nebraska Animal Science Complex, compete with games, music and food from local vendors.    

On Saturday April 2, members will have another educational day learning how to “Stand Out From the Herd” by hearing from a lineup of speakers feature in a variety of sessions. Topics relating to entrepreneurship, industry issues and transitioning back to the farm will be covered, featuring Tom Field, director of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program and several CASNR alumni. That evening, the convention will wrap up with an awards banquet followed by a social event.

Additional details regarding registration, tours, and the program are available online. Find Nebraska Block and Bridle on Facebook and Twitter, and direct any questions to

The Nebraska Chapter of Block and Bridle is dedicated to providing its members with opportunities to further their education of agricultural industries, how to engage in their communities, learn about current issues affecting agriculture and to network with industry leaders.  

The 101st National Block & Bridle Convention sponsors include Cactus Cares, Nebraska Pork Producers, Cactus Cares Foundation, Nebraska Pork Producers, CASNR, UNL Extension, UNL Agricultural Research Division, Kimmel Foundation, Doug Brand, David and Loretta Hamilton, and Bill and Barb Rishel.

FFA Members Explore Agriculture in California during January

Earlier this month, 46 current and former state FFA officers visited California and learned about the various types of agriculture the state offers.

Members flew into California and toured various agribusinesses — from the largest U.S. producer of caviar to a fourth-generation ranch practicing responsible carbon farming and more. They also talked with the California secretary of agriculture, the vice-chair of the California Water Board and the vice president of state government affairs at Western Growers.

During the second week of the tour, members visited berry farms, nurseries, a horse ranch, and a feedlot; experienced whale watching; and explored the Muir National Forest. They spoke with a variety of agriculture experts, learned about practices they could take home to their communities, and visited the Mark Richardson Career Technical Education Center & Agricultural Farm in Santa Maria.

The experience was made possible thanks to FFA sponsors John Deere and Bunge.

FFA members who participated in the experience include:
Alyssa Andrews and William Blankenship of Arkansas;
Jillian Johnson, Carter Howell, Julia Heijkoop, Kelly Alexander, Barrett Young and Tyler Brannan of Florida;
Madison Stevenson and Kesley Holdgrafer of Iowa;

Cassandra Moody, Claire Shelton and Katherine Hebdon of Idaho;
Julia Hamblen of Indiana;
Ashley Chandler and Rachel Sebesta of Kansas;
Kyle Schulze of Maryland;
Olivia Coffey and Adele Battel of Michigan;
Nicol Koziolek of Minnesota;
Joceyln Dvorak of Missouri;
Regan Hand of Mississippi;
Bailey Robinson, Emma Kuss, Madison Stracke and Victoria Ference of Nebraska;

Emily Sadlon, Abigail Goodenough, and Johnathan Finney of New Jersey;
Aubrey Schwartz, Jacob Zajkowski, John Dippold, Katherine Price, Kylie Baldwin, Isabel D’Aquisto-Butler and Justin Sharp of Oregon;
Hunter Eide of South Dakota;
Ryder Mortenson of South Dakota and Samantha Olson of South Dakota;
Charles Moser; Samuel Leach; Ellie Vance; Jackson Lohr, Lauren Rhodes and Emma Jackson of Virginia.

 The National FFA Organization is a school-based national youth leadership development organization of more than 735,000 student members as part of 8,817 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.


All layers in Nebraska during December 2021 totaled 8.22 million, up from 7.93 million the previous year, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.  Nebraska egg production during December totaled 205 million eggs, up from 203 million in 2020. December egg production per 100 layers was 2,487 eggs, compared to 2,562 eggs in 2020.

Iowa egg production during December 2021 was 1.29 billion eggs, up 2 percent from last month and up 1 percent from last year, according to the latest Chickens and Eggs report from the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.  The average number of all layers on hand during December 2021 was 49.3 million, down slightly from last month but up 1 percent from the same month last year. Eggs per 100 layers for December were 2,612, up 3 percent from last month but down slightly from last December.

December Egg Production Up 1 Percent

United States egg production totaled 9.66 billion during December 2021, up 1 percent from last year. Production included 8.38 billion table eggs, and 1.28 billion hatching eggs, of which 1.21 billion were broiler-type and 78.2 million were egg-type. The total number of layers during December 2021 averaged 392 million, up slightly from last year. December egg production per 100 layers was 2,464 eggs, up slightly from December 2020.
All layers in the United States on January 1, 2022 totaled 392 million, down slightly from last year. The 392 million layers consisted of 326 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 62.6 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs, and 3.03 million layers producing egg-type hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on January 1, 2022, averaged 79.2 eggs per 100 layers, up 1 percent from January 1, 2021.

Fertilizer Prices Continue Mostly Higher; MAP Moves Lower

Retail fertilizer prices continue to be mostly higher the second week of January 2022, according to retailers surveyed by DTN. However, for the first time in more than 13 months, a fertilizer was actually lower than a month ago.

None of the eight major fertilizers were up a considerable amount, another new trend. DTN designates a significant move as anything 5% or more.

Seven of the eight major fertilizers were slightly higher. DAP had an average price of $863 per ton, potash $807/ton, urea $913/ton (all-time high), 10-34-0 $796/ton, anhydrous $1,430/ton (all-time high), UAN28 $584/ton (all-time high) and UAN32 $679/ton (all-time high).

One fertilizer was actually lower compared to a month ago; this is the first time this has happened since the first week of December 2020. MAP was down just slightly and had an average price of $932/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.99/lb.N, anhydrous $0.87/lb.N, UAN28 $1.04/lb.N and UAN32 $1.06/lb.N.

Retail fertilizer prices compared to a year ago show all fertilizers have increased significantly, with several fertilizers having well over 100% price increases. MAP is now 69% more expensive, 10-34-0 is 70% higher, DAP is 78% more expensive, potash is 116% higher, urea is 145% more expensive, UAN32 is 175% higher, UAN28 178% is more expensive and anhydrous is 202% higher compared to last year.

Historic Investment to Repair Nation’s River Infrastructure

Appropriations from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which passed in 2021 with bipartisan support, will soon be funding upgrades to infrastructure projects important to corn growers.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced today it would allocate $2.2 billion from the infrastructure legislation to repair and update the following locks along the Upper Mississippi River System:
    Kentucky Lock along the Tennessee River, near Grand Rivers, Kentucky.
    Montgomery Lock on the Ohio River, 30 miles south of Pittsburgh.
    Lock and Dam 25 on the Upper Mississippi River, north of St. Louis.
    Three Rivers Lock along the Ohio River, southwest of Pittsburgh.
    T.J. O’Brien Lock and Dam along the Illinois River.

“Corn growers depend on America’s rivers to import supplies, like fertilizers, which play an important part in planting and harvesting our crops,” said Iowa farmer and NCGA President Chris Edgington. “These rivers are also important in shipping our products to key markets in the U.S. and abroad. When barges are delayed because of problems with aging locks and dams, farmers are economically affected.”

Lock and Dam 25 is crucially important Edgington noted, as 60% of America’s corn and soybean exports are transported on the Mississippi River.

An aging system – many of the locks were constructed between 1907 and 1936 – has led to delays and closures along the river. Farmers often feel the economic impact of these problems, and the funding will help ensure the river system’s long-term viability.

“We are thankful for the efforts of our state corn growers who worked closely with their members of Congress to make this happen,” he said. “NCGA is also appreciative of our congressional allies who made sure this funding was included in the infrastructure plan.”

Mississippi River lock to receive construction funding

Mike Steenhoek, Executive Director, Soy Transportation Coalition

This morning the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released the details of their “work plan” – the detailed list of projects to receive funding this year due to the passage of the “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act”.  We are extremely pleased to report that a significant priority of the soybean farmers – Lock and Dam #25 – was included on the list.  Lock and Dam #25 specifically will receive $732 million to complete the design and construction of the project.

Located in Winfield, Missouri (45 miles north of St. Louis), Lock and Dam #25 was opened in 1939 and is the most southern lock and dam on the Mississippi River with a single, 600 ft. X 110 ft. lock chamber.  Most every bushel of soybeans, corn, and other grain transported along the Mississippi River from the states of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin will pass through Lock and Dam #25 en route to export facilities near the Gulf of Mexico.  The construction at Lock and Dam #25 will result in a new 1,200 ft. X 110 ft. lock chamber being built adjacent to the existing 600 ft. X 110 ft. lock chamber.  This would enable a typical fifteen barge tow – transporting over 800,000 bushels of soybeans or corn – to transit the lock in one single pass (a 30-45 minute process) compared to disassembling the barge tow into two sections, which will result in two passes (over two hours).  In addition, a second lock will provide needed resiliency and redundancy – allowing a key link in the supply chain to remain operational if one of the lock chambers was closed.   

Many who have been engaged in agriculture for a number of years are familiar with the repeated efforts to achieve necessary funding from the federal government to enhance a number of the key lock and dam sites along the Upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers.  Unfortunately, most of these funding intentions did not result in funding outcomes.  As a result, many of these lock and dam facilities – including Lock and Dam #25 – have continued to wait for needed enhancements.

This morning’s announcement is the result of years of determined and persistent advocacy by agriculture, the barge and towing industry, and a variety of other inland waterway stakeholders.  The Waterways Council, in particular, provided effective leadership in helping make this a reality.  Numerous elected officials throughout the Midwest were consequential in this project finally receiving the green light.   

America’s soybean and corn farmers have been essential in promoting the inland waterway system and specifically projects along the Upper Mississippi River, including Lock and Dam #25.  In the effort to encourage tangible investment in the system, a group of farmer-funded and farmer-led organizations – the United Soybean Board, the Soy Transportation Coalition, the Illinois Soybean Association, the Iowa Soybean Association, the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, and the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council – partnered together and announced on November 29th the offer of $1 million to help underwrite the cost of pre-engineering and design expenses of Lock and Dam #25.

In addition to the overall challenges confronting our global supply chain, a number of specific disruptions – Hurricane Ida, the Suez Canal, the I-40 bridge near Memphis, the Colonial Pipeline, etc. – have provided a vivid reminder over the past year that if one of our critical junctures goes awry for any number of reasons, the consequences to the broader economy can be significant.  For agriculture, a catastrophic failure at a key lock and dam would suffocate the ability of farmers to meet the demand of their international customers.  Given this vulnerability, we are extremely pleased Lock and Dam #25 will receive the necessary funding to increase in capacity and resilience.

NGFA commends Army Corps for prioritizing Mississippi River infrastructure upgrades in spending plan

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) commended the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for prioritizing crucial inland waterways infrastructure projects in its spending plan released today that includes nearly $23 billion in supplemental funding.

In the plan released on Jan. 19, the Army Corps announced it would spend $732 million to finish design and construction of Lock and Dam 25, located on the Upper Mississippi River in Winfield, Mo. This is the first time this project has received construction funding since it was authorized in 2007. NGFA supported the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, in which Congress provided $2.5 billion for inland waterways construction projects giving the Army Corps 60 days to produce a detailed spending plan.

“NGFA thanks the Biden administration, Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Reps. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., and Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, for leading a bipartisan contingent of lawmakers in the House and Senate that highlighted the critical need to fund the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP) starting with Lock and Dam 25,” said NGFA President and CEO Mike Seyfert. “We appreciate their leadership on this long-standing priority for NGFA and we are grateful for this result.”

The Corps’ spending plan, which includes about $4 billion for commercial navigation improvements at ports and on inland waterways, details how the Corps will allocate money under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the 2022 Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.

“The existing locks on the Upper Mississippi River-Illinois Waterway were built in the 1930’s with 600-foot chambers to accommodate the standard vessels used for commerce during that time,” Seyfert said. “However, today’s towboats can push a 1,200-foot-long tow of 15 barges which must ‘double-lock’ through, resulting in significant, costly delays. Modernizing these outdated locks will help discipline rail rates, reduce wear and tear on U.S. roads and bridges, and make American agriculture more competitive.”

NGFA led 24 other members of the Agricultural Transportation Working Group in urging the Army Corps to prioritize and fund NESP, including sending its most recent letter on Dec. 16, 2021.

NGFA has worked with its member companies, agricultural partners and lawmakers to highlight the importance of healthy waterways infrastructure to the U.S. economy. U.S. agricultural exports traditionally contribute a nearly $15-20 billion surplus to the U.S. balance of trade, as well as provide more than 20 percent of U.S. farm income. In 2020, the U.S. exported 29 percent of its grains and oilseeds, with more than half of those exports transported on the Mississippi River system.


Today, the House Judiciary Committee, Antitrust Subcommittee held a hearing on “Addressing the Effects of Economic Concentration on America’s Food Supply.”

In testimony submitted by National Farmers Union, President Rob Larew documented the extreme corporate concentration in America’s farm and food system and discussed steps that must be taken to ensure a more resilient food supply for consumers and a competitive marketplace for family farmers and ranchers.

“A small handful of dominant firms control the market for most farm inputs… processing, food manufacturing, wholesale distribution, food service, and retail grocery,” described Larew. “These very large firms in the middle of the supply chain wield immense market power… As companies have gotten larger and competition has declined, anticompetitive conduct by dominant firms has received insufficient scrutiny.”

“Across the economy, there must be more scrutiny of buyer power, and regulators must consider the need for robust competition at all links of the supply chain,” wrote Larew, “Market participants must be provided with reliable information through truthful and accurate labeling. Furthermore, increased investment is needed to support local and regional production, processing, distribution, and retail options, and appropriate workforce training to support these systems. Finally, in the meat and poultry sector, rules must be implemented that reinvigorate the Packers and Stockyards Act (PSA), clearly delineate prohibitions on packers under the PSA, and create needed protections for farmers under contract.”

NFU has long fought for increased competition in the marketplace and last year launched Fairness for Farmers, a national campaign to advocate for solutions and give voice to the farmers, ranchers, and rural communities being harmed by economic concentration.

R-CALF USA Submits Testimony to House Judiciary Subcommittee; Asks for Stopgap Measure

In written testimony submitted for today’s hearing held by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law: “Reviving Competition, Part 5: Addressing the Effects of Economic Concentration on America’s Food Supply,” R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard asked Congress to implement a stopgap measure to preserve what is left of the U.S. cattle industry.

Bullard explained the U.S. cattle industry is fast losing its critical competitive infrastructure – its participants, its feedlots, and its cow herd, which have all been reduced during the past few decades. He stated his group’s concern that Congress has not yet signaled its intent to make needed structural reforms to a market that has persistently returned noncompetitive prices to producers, prices that did not return the cost of production to U.S. cattle producers.

The “U.S. cattle industry suffers from systemic market failure, which though chronic for decades, has worsened considerably during the past seven years. And, yet, Congress has not enacted, and does not appear inclined to immediately enact, any meaningful structural reforms,” Bullard wrote.

The testimony explained that since 2015, beef packers had used their enhanced market power to purchase cattle at an average price of only 55% of the average weekly wholesale beef price and this has caused horrendous losses to both cattle feeders and cow/calf producers.

He wrote that if the marketplace in 2021 had required packers to pay the same percentage of the average wholesale price for cattle that the marketplace provided from 2007 through 2014, then the price of fed cattle in 2021 would have been $173 per cwt rather than the $123 per cwt that producers had actually received, which would have put an additional $650 per head into the pockets of producers for each head of fat cattle they sold.   

By way of example, this was the form of an emergency stopgap measure that R-CALF USA asked Congress to consider pending enactment of meaningful market structure reforms that would reinstate competitive market forces in the U.S. cattle market.

“Tying cattle prices to a wholesale beef value index will not restore the competitive market forces that has been purged from the market due to severe structural deficiencies, but it would temporarily prevent the ongoing loss of equity that America’s cattle farmers and ranchers are experiencing each day the market remains dysfunctional. It would also temporarily remove the beef packers’ incentive to lower the price of cattle in the industry’s price discovery market – its negotiated cash market. Congress’ prolonged inaction in enacting meaningful structural reforms now necessitates an emergency stopgap measure such as this if America’s food security interest is to be preserved,” the testimony states.

North American Meat Institute to House Judiciary: Meat & Poultry Industry not to Blame for Inflation

The North American Meat Institute (Meat Institute) today said consumers saw increased meat prices in 2021 because of labor shortages, greater consumer demand, supply chain problems and other factors experienced by most sectors of the economy.

 “Inflation is hurting consumers by erasing the wage gains workers received due to the tight labor market and the pandemic,” said Julie Anna Potts, President and CEO of the North American Meat Institute. “It is no wonder the Biden Administration and some members of Congress would rather hold press conferences and hearings instead of addressing the labor shortage and supply chain bottlenecks.”

The Meat Institute submitted additional testimony for a hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law called, Reviving Competition, Part 5: Addressing the Effects of Economic Concentration on Americas Food Supply.

The Meat Institute provided important context to antitrust allegations.

“The meat packing industry has been, and continues to be, one of the most highly scrutinized industries when it comes to antitrust review,” said Potts in the testimony submitted. “The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) Packers and Stockyards Division (P&S) is uniquely charged, by statute, to provide on-going oversight for fair business practices and to ensure competitive markets in the livestock, meat, and poultry industries.  Additionally, any potential merger or acquisition regulators believe threatens ‘too much market power’ is subject to review by the Justice Department or the Federal Trade Commission.  The last proposed merger of two of the ‘big four’ fed cattle slaughterers occurred in 2008 – and it was blocked by the Department of Justice.”

USDA Releases 2020 Pesticide Data Program Annual Summary

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today published the 2020 Pesticide Data Program (PDP) Annual Summary. The summary shows that more than 99 percent of the samples tested had pesticide residues below benchmark levels established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

This report for 2020, issued by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), marks the 30th year of PDP results. Over the 30 years, USDA has tested 126 commodities, including fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat, poultry, grains, fish, rice, specialty products and water. PDP monitoring results for more than 310,000 samples through the years are available on the Pesticide Data Program website.

Each year, USDA and EPA work together to identify foods to be tested by the PDP on a rotating basis. In 2020, tests were conducted on 9,600 samples from 18 commodities of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables. AMS partners with cooperating state agencies to collect and analyze pesticide residue levels on the selected food commodities.

USDA tests a wide variety of domestic and imported foods, with a strong focus on foods that are consumed by infants and children. EPA relies on PDP data to conduct dietary risk assessments and to ensure that any pesticide residues in foods remain at or below levels that EPA has set. The data also provide regulators, farmers, processors, manufacturers, consumers and scientists with important insights into the actual levels of pesticide residues found on widely consumed foods.

The annual pesticide residue results are reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and EPA in monthly reports as testing takes place throughout the year. FDA and EPA are immediately notified if a PDP test discovers residue levels that could pose a public safety concern.

2022 Young Farmers & Ranchers Leadership Conference Slated for Feb. 25-28

The American Farm Bureau Federation will host the 2022 Young Farmers & Ranchers Leadership Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, Feb. 25-28, at the Omni Louisville Hotel.

Highlights of the conference include inspiring speakers, hands-on learning sessions, local tours and the Collegiate Discussion Meet.

“This conference is a great opportunity for young farmers and ranchers to meet and help take their leadership and advocacy to the next level,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “New ideas and energy are so important to the future of farming and Farm Bureau.”

On Saturday night of the conference, attendees will head to the Kentucky Derby Museum for an evening of fun, music, networking and all things related to horse racing. Duvall will provide closing remarks on Monday morning.

The Omni Louisville is the host hotel for the conference, with the majority of sessions, meals and events taking place there.

Register for the conference at Early registration for the conference closes on Wednesday, Jan. 19, at noon Eastern. Regular registration will remain open until noon Eastern on Friday, Feb. 4.

Bliley Appointed to EPA Advisory Subcommittee

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan has appointed Growth Energy’s Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Chris Bliley to EPA’s Mobile Sources Technical Review (MSTR) Subcommittee. The subcommittee provides the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee (CAAAC) with independent advice and recommendations on the scientific and technical aspects of EPA programs related to mobile-source air pollution and motor vehicles and engine fuels.  

Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor congratulated Bliley on his appointment:
“With decades of experience at EPA, Congress, and in the biofuels industry under his belt, I can’t think of a more well-suited person to serve on this subcommittee than Chris Bliley,” said Skor. “Bliley leads our team and the association’s 92 biorefineries in working with EPA to recognize the economic and environmental benefits of ethanol in the agency’s proposals and regulations. With the continued role of biofuels and higher biofuel blended fuel options in lowering emissions, it’s important to have a seat at the table on EPA’s MSTR Subcommittee, and I look forward to Chris’ important contributions.”                

SVP of Regulatory Affairs Chris Bliley thanked EPA and Administrator Regan for his appointment:
“I’m honored to join the MSTR Subcommittee and serve in an advisory role to EPA and to their efforts related to emission modeling and engine fuel policy,” said Bliley. “Throughout my career, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to work with EPA staff, leadership, and many others around the development of rules and regulations related to the Clean Air Act. I look forward to continuing this important work along with my other subcommittee members.”

Chris Bliley serves as Growth Energy’s Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs. Prior to joining Growth Energy in 2011, Bliley was a director at the Nussle Group, a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm. He served as the Associate Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency running the agency’s Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations from 2007 until 2009 under President George W. Bush. He was also Chief of Staff and Legislative Director for Congressman Jim Nussle.  

USDA Launches Pilot Program to Deploy Renewable Energy Infrastructure to People in Rural Towns

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the Department is making up to $10 million available to help people living in rural towns develop community renewable energy projects that will help them cut their energy costs and contribute to the nationwide effort to reduce pollution that contributes to climate change. These funds will be targeted to help people who live in communities that have been historically underinvested and disinvested.

USDA is making the funds available through the new Rural Energy Pilot Program to help the people of rural America build back better, stronger and more equitably than ever before. Through this program, USDA is supporting the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to making environmental justice a part of every agency’s mission to address the disproportionate health, environmental, economic and climate impacts on disadvantaged communities.

“Under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, USDA is providing grant assistance for people who live in particularly underserved rural towns to help them cut their household energy costs and address climate change at the local level,” Vilsack said. “As we continue to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, USDA is targeting resources and investments to help meet our nation’s energy needs and combat climate change. The new program we’re announcing today will pilot the viability of community-scale renewable energy investments to mitigate the energy-burdened circumstances of particularly disadvantaged rural communities. This assistance will help to keep people in their hometowns by supporting good-paying jobs, business opportunities, and a more affordable cost of living.”

USDA will make up to $10 million in grants available to particularly underserved rural communities. The funds can be used to deploy community-scale renewable energy technologies and innovations to reduce climate pollution and increase resilience to the impacts of climate change. These technologies include solar, wind, geothermal, micro-hydroelectric and biomass/bioenergy. Up to 20% of awarded funds may also be used for community energy planning, capacity building, technical assistance, energy efficiency and weatherization.

USDA is offering priority points to projects that advance key priorities under the Biden-Harris Administration to help communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, advance equity and combat climate change. These extra points will increase the likelihood of funding for projects seeking to address these critical challenges in rural America.

Details on an upcoming informational webinar is forthcoming and will be posted to the Rural Energy Pilot Program webpage.

Prospective applicants must inform the Agency by submitting a required Letter of Intent prior to submission of a complete application. The letters must be submitted via electronic upload into a secure cloud vault, by 11:59 p.m. EST on April 19, 2022.

Application guides and submission information are available on the program website, under the To Apply tab,

U.S. Department of Agriculture Announces Key Staff Appointments

The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced the names of individuals who will hold senior staff positions in Washington, D.C.

Scott Marlow was named Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs in the Farm Service Agency
Marlow joins USDA after most recently serving as the founder and CEO of Long Rows Consulting where he oversaw the analysis of risk management, credit, and disaster assistance programs and provided training for farm services organizations on working with farmers in financial crisis and the mental health impacts of farm transitions. He spent over 20 years in the non-profit sector with the Rural Advancement Foundation International where he held various roles during his tenure – starting as a Project Director overseeing and managing farmer-focused networks aimed at developing new programs, to Senior Policy Specialist, where he developed and delivered educational programs for farm families on farm financial management and disaster assistance programs. Marlow holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Duke University and a Master of Science in Crop Science from North Carolina State University.

Tim Gannon was named Chief of Staff for Farm Production and Conservation
Recently, Gannon was the Coalitions Advisor for the Biden-Harris campaign in Iowa where he was responsible for outreach and communications with farm, agricultural, and rural groups and activists with particular focus on policy proposals and their impact on rural America. Gannon returns to the Department after previously serving as the Director of Advance in the Office of the Secretary and Associate Administrator in the Risk Management Agency during the Obama-Biden Administration. Gannon is a graduate of the University of Iowa where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Global Studies.

Andrea Delgado was named Chief of Staff for Natural Resources and Environment
Delgado most recently served as the Government Affairs Director at the United Farm Workers Foundation, where she developed and implemented legislative and administrative strategies aimed at improving living and working conditions for agricultural workers across the country. Previously, Delgado held roles of Legislative Director for the Healthy Communities Program and Senior Legislative Representative at Earthjustice. She also spent time as a policy fellow with the National Latino Coalition on Climate Change. Delgado received her Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Geneseo.

Sara Bleich, PhD was named Director of Nutrition Security and Health Equity for the Food and Nutrition Service
Since joining the Biden-Harris Administration in January 2021, Bleich has served as Senior Advisor for COVID-19 in the Office of the Secretary. Previously, she served as a Professor of Public Health Policy at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her research centers on food insecurity, as well as racial injustice within the social safety net. She is the author of more than 150 peer-reviewed publications. From 2015-2016, she served as a White House Fellow in the Obama Administration, where she worked in USDA as a Senior Policy Advisor for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. Bleich holds a PhD in Health Policy from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia University.

“The collective expertise of Tim, Andrea, Scott and Sara will continue our efforts to effectively serve people in communities across the country – and around the world. They are valuable assets to the work being done at the Department,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Tuesday January 18 Ag News

Valuing manure as a seller or a buyer
Leslie Johnson, Animal Manure Management Extension Educator, Nebraska Extension

When talking about manure's value, one needs to think about a variety of factors. Most folks think of fertilizer nutrients as manure’s primary value or MVP, but it takes more than one or two star players to make a great team. As such, manure wouldn't be as great as it is without other characteristics like the added organic matter that you get when applying manure, or the microbial community that is added to your field with that application. The value of manure depends not only on the nutrient concentration in the manure, but also what the next crop requires, the condition of the soil, and whether or not commercial fertilizer will be used to supplement manure and make up for nutrient imbalances that often occur.
If you really don't need something, just how valuable is it? If you've got a really great team already, are you willing to pay a lot of money to transfer in a star player? To turn that around, if your soils are needing nutrients and could use some additional organic matter or microbial life, would you still sell the manure that could help you build that soil back up? It’s for this very reason that manure value changes for every field that it is applied to.
Nutrient value and the ability to offset commercial nutrient costs is relatively easy to put a dollar value on, but some of manure's valuable assets that aren't so easy to put a number on. Many people think of manure as a water quality problem, but because of its ability to improve water infiltration and holding capacity by increasing soil health, it can actually decrease risk of water quality impairment. Fields that have been receiving manure tend to have better infiltration rates and hold more water during a precipitation event, thereby decreasing runoff as compared to those fields that didn't receive manure. Additionally, fields that haven't received manure for several years - think 5-10 years - often notice a yield bump over fields that didn't receive manure. While the reason behind this effect is not well understood, many believe it is due to the microbial community that is introduced with the manure.
Another value that certainly can't be overlooked this year with fertilizer prices and availability so unfavorable is the fact that manure is most often a local nutrient that doesn't need to be hauled in on ships, trains and trucks over long distances from other locations. Over the years, local farmers probably applied nutrients to crops that were used to feed area livestock that then produce manure. The manure can and should be recycled back onto fields that will grow more feed for those animals creating a circular economy.
Of course, not all manure is created equal. Different animals eat different feeds in different proportions and therefore, they produce manures with different compositions of nutrients and consistencies. The only way to really know the nutrient content of the manure and whether the nutrients are balanced for what your crop needs, is to sample that manure and send to a lab for analysis. When talking about manure nutrients, we often focus mainly on nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), but other nutrients that plants need are also found in manures. Secondary nutrients like sulfur (S) and micronutrients like zinc (Zn) are good examples. When these nutrients are needed, they boost manure value because they help offset additional commercial fertilizer costs.
Nebraska Extension offers a Manure Value Calculator that is available to calculate the dollar value of manure nutrients. It’s currently available at The calculator is an Excel tool that helps determine the value of the manure nutrients and a potential yield increase. To use the calculator for your manure, you need to gather the following information:
-    soil and manure information including an analysis for each,
-    next year’s cropping plan including nutrient recommendations and how you plan on applying the manure, and
-    current fertilizer prices for N, P, K, S and Zn.

The tool can be used to determine a hypothetical value for manure you plan to sell by using estimated soil values, or it can be used to compare manure from different sources to determine which is the most economical for your field. For the latter situation where you are purchasing manure or paying someone for the application, you will also need this cost to input into the spreadsheet. Remember though, when determining a value for selling manure, buyers will need to factor in transport and application costs, so don’t set your price too high!
There are other manure value calculators out there. University of Minnesota has an online one and I’m sure there are others. There might even be an app for that. No matter what tool you us, whether you’re buying or selling manure, remember that there’s more benefit to using manure than just the nutrient value. It’s just harder to put a real dollar value on some of those things.


A multi-year analysis of Nebraska corn production by researchers in the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources sheds new light on crop yield improvement and demonstrates the value of the university’s partnership with Nebraska ag producers and natural resources districts.

Plant genetics previously has received the most attention as a factor for improving crop yields. The new IANR analysis, which studied data for 3,000 irrigated fields in three Nebraska regions over a 15-year period, showed that climate and field management, rather than genetics, had far greater influence on increased crop productivity.

The findings indicate the need for a more balanced approach in the study of crop-yield factors by university and private-sector researchers, to provide proper consideration for climate trends and management practices, said Patricio Grassini, associate professor of agronomy and horticulture and one of the study’s six co-authors. That broader research approach can provide greater opportunities to boost crop yields and meet the growing global food demand.

The 15-year climate trend for the Nebraska cornfields included in the study accounted for 48% of the yield gain, IANR researchers found, while 39% stemmed from agronomic practices such as increased seeding rates and nutrient inputs and a shift toward corn-soybean rotations rather than continuous corn. Genetic factors accounted for only 13% of yield gains.

The partnership with Nebraska producers and natural resources districts, or NRDs, was vital in enabling IANR to use innovative analysis that identified the contributions to crop yield gains from individual factors such as climate, crop and soil management, and genetic improvement embodied in new hybrids. Such advanced analysis was made possible, Grassini said, by the combination of farmers’ well-managed, high-yield irrigated production plus the thoroughness and detail of the NRD data between 2004 and 2018.

The participating NRDs were the Lower Niobrara, headquartered in Butte; Tri-Basin, headquartered in Holdrege; and Upper Big Blue, headquartered in York. Together, the three districts provided a range of climate and soil conditions important to the study.

The NRDs’ partnership with IANR has shown farmers the practical value of the comprehensive data they provide regarding crop yields, seeding rates, nutrient application and other factors, said John Thorburn, general manager for Tri-Basin NRD. His NRD, he said, “has been collecting data from farmers for decades as part of our water quality program, but it’s been only in the last decade, in working with people like Patricio Grassini and Ken Cassman, that we’ve been able to show the tangible benefits to farmers.”

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is publishing the study, which is a collaboration between the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture and the Department of Statistics. Gonzalo Rizzo, a doctoral student in agronomy and horticulture supported by the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute, is the study’s lead author. Co-authors are Grassini; Fatima Tenorio, postdoctoral research associate in agronomy and horticulture; Juan Pablo Monzon, research assistant professor in agronomy and horticulture; RĂ©ka Howard, assistant professor in the Department of Statistics; and Kenneth Cassman, professor emeritus of agronomy and horticulture.

The IANR study provides a better understanding not only of Nebraska agriculture, but of challenges to be addressed globally if crop yields on existing farmland are to increase to meet the major growth in worldwide food demand expected in coming decades. Nebraska agriculture, Grassini said, provides a useful model for identifying challenges to boosting crop yields globally, as the study illustrates.

“When you look at the average yield of corn and soybeans in the state, they are among the highest in the world,” he said. “I believe Nebraska gives a snapshot of how agriculture in much of the world will look 50 years or so down the road. Trying to anticipate the problems will be a major task in the future. Our work in Nebraska anticipates global problems that will appear 50 years or so down the road.”


– Brad Schick, NE Extension Educator

Are you looking to increase production from pastures or hay fields? Interseeding legumes might just work in your operation.
Nitrogen is one of the key ingredients for productive pastures. A way to get more nitrogen in a pasture is to plant legumes. Alfalfa, birdsfoot trefoil, clovers, and other legumes all fix atmospheric nitrogen and can reduce nitrogen costs. These legumes are also very high in forage quality.
Not all pastures are good candidates for adding legumes, however. First, legumes need adequate phosphorus and a pH usually above 6 while some prefer a pH closer to 7. Next, good seed placement is needed. When interseeding with a no-till drill is not an option due to frozen ground or topography, frost seeding is an option to consider. Frost seeding uses broadcasting seed in winter to allow the natural freezing and thawing of the ground to plant the seed for you, resulting in good seed to soil contact. Frost seeding success can vary and while more invasive, drilling is almost always a better option if the pasture would allow it. Because frost seeding requires seed to be close to the soil surface after broadcasting, snow-free or very little snow is preferred.
Lastly, heavy flash grazing several times in the spring will reduce the competition from existing grasses and help promote the legume seedlings. Once the grass is 3 to 4 inches taller than the seedlings, graze quickly until the grasses are grazed down to the height of the legume seedlings.
Legumes can help reduce fertilizer cost and create higher quality pastures and hay. Frost seeding is an economical approach that might work to establish legumes in your operation.

Extension to host financial record-keeping course for farmers and ranchers

The next session of “Know Your Numbers, Know Your Options,” Nebraska Extension’s four-part record-keeping course, will be held virtually from 1 to 3 p.m. Central time on Feb. 1, 8, 15, and 22.

Participants should plan on attending each of the four workshop dates. The course requires participants to have an internet connection.

This course is designed to help farmers and ranchers understand their current financial position and how big decisions like large purchases, new leases or changes in production will affect their bottom line. Participants will work through the financial statements of a case study farm, watching pre-recorded videos, completing assignments and participating in video chats. Upon completion of this program, participants will have a better understanding of how financial records can be used to make decisions and confidently discuss their financial position with their family, business partners, and lenders.

The course fee is $20 per participant and class size is limited to 20 people. Register online at  Registration closes Jan. 25.

This material is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2020-70028-32728.

 2022 Local Food & Farm Conference set for Feb. 4-5

The Nebraska Local Food and Farm Conference is coming up Feb. 4-5. The conference will feature a hybrid virtual and in-person format. In-person events will take place in Aurora.

The conference is a dynamic collaboration combining the Regional Food Systems Annual Summit with the Specialty Crops Conference and Trade Show and the Sustainable Agriculture Conference into two full days of educational sessions, farmer forums, roundtable conversations, and keynote addresses.

The conference includes a full day of virtual sessions on Feb. 4, and will be in-person Feb. 5 at The Leadership Center in Aurora. Guests may also join an in-person watch party for the Friday sessions at the Leadership Center, followed by a roundtable conversation with keynote speaker and author, Bob Quinn. Visit the Registration Page at learn more and register.  

Conference organizers are committed to making the Local Food and Farm Conference affordable and accessible for all to participate. Scholarships are available for those who need financial assistance. To inquire about scholarship eligibility, email

More details are available at

NRD Legislative Conference Recognizes 50 Years of Natural Resources Policy

Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts will host their annual Legislative Conference to highlight partnerships and recognize 50 years of natural resources policy at the Lincoln Embassy Suites Jan. 25-26, 2022.

The two-day conference brings together Natural Resources Districts (NRDs), elected officials and public-private partners integrally involved in conservation, technology and policymaking. The conference also provides attendees an opportunity to learn how Nebraska’s NRDs work with ag producers, state and federal agencies, and members of the public to protect Nebraska’s natural resources.

Gov. Pete Ricketts will open the conference at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 25, followed by the general session presented by HDR Vice President and Water Resources Engineer John Engel, who will provide an update on the Statewide Tourism and Recreational Water Access and Resources Sustainability (STARWARS) Committee. The special committee of the legislature has been identifying geographic areas around the state for potential projects including, but not limited to, economic development, tourism and recreation, flood control, and water sustainability. Those recommendations are included in Sen. Mike Hilgers’ legislative bill 1014e: appropriate federal funds allocated to the State of Nebraska pursuant to the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Following the general session, there will be a focused discussion of proposed legislation of interest to the NRDs. During the evening Senators Reception, NRD leaders will meet with state senators to discuss legislation, natural resources challenges and successes in the districts.

The conference continues Wednesday, Jan. 26, with breakout sessions for attendees, including:
    Let’s Talk About Nitrogen: Culture, Impacts and Economics
    Tools Used in the Evaluation of Potential Flood Mitigation Projects for the Lower Platte River Corridor
    PrairieFood, Micro-Carbons and Soil Health
    The Groundwater Evaluation Toolbox – The First Three Years
    Core Values & Connections
    Nitrate in Drinking Water and a Bit About Emerging Contaminants, too
    The Value of Data in Engineering Design

The Nebraska Association of Natural Resources Districts hosts the conference with a range of local and national sponsors including the Eastern Nebraska Water Resources Assessment (ENWRA), FYRA Engineering, HDR, JEO Consulting Group, Olsson, Soil and Water Conservation Society - Nebraska Chapter, Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute and the Nebraska Water Center. Online registration and a detailed agenda are available on the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts’ website (

Throughout 2022, the NRDs will commemorate breakthroughs and achievements in conservation these past 50 years. To join in the anniversary celebration and follow the Natural Resources Districts’ special activities throughout 2022, visit and follow #Since1972 on social media.

The Contribution of Heifer's Placed in Feedlots Towards Estimated National Herd Contraction

Elliott Dennis, Extension Livestock Economist, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Beef cow herds generally consist of four types of cattle: bulls, cows, both bred and development heifers, and feeder cattle. Producers use bulls, cows, and heifers to make feeder cattle. Heifers are either retained from the producers' feeder cattle or are purchased from heifer development programs to replace cows as they move beyond their reproductive life. A beef cow herd grows, both individually and nationally, when the number of cows and heifers is larger this year than the previous year. This signals to the market that more feeder cattle are expected to be delivered to the market in the coming year. Herd contraction is when the number of cows and heifers is smaller this year than the previous year. This signals to the market that fewer feeder cattle are expected to be delivered to the market in the coming year.

A significant amount of attention has been given to the accelerated pace of cow slaughter in the United States, and rightfully so. The pace of beef cow slaughter in 2021 finished with approximately 10% more beef cows harvested in 2021 than in 2020 and 12% more than in 2019. This is the most aggressive year-over-year beef cow slaughter since 2016. This accelerated slaughter has been helped by larger consumer incomes from personal savings, government transfers, and assistance programs. This combined with consumer expectations of supply shortages and higher beef prices has increased beef demand. Higher consumer demand is passed down the beef complex through prices. One impact of this demand shift has been atypically high prices for cull cows during the third and fourth quarters. Seasonally this is when many cows enter the market from pregnancy checking and producers choosing not to rebreed or retain open cows or heifers through the winter. With high feed prices for most feeds, helped of course by 2021 crop production and drought, the decision to take higher feed prices was likely much easier than in previous years. All of this is well known and documented by the industry.

The number of heifers retained in beef cow herds, and thus their impact on herd contraction has been relatively ignored. Each quarter, in addition to their monthly cattle on feed report, USDA-NASS releases the total number of cattle, steers, and heifers on feed for approximately 13 states. This data suggests that heifer placements into feedlots, as a percentage of total cattle on feed, have been increasing. Some of this is the natural cattle cycle occurring. During periods of contraction, heifer replacement is high and during periods of herd rebuilding, it is low.

But has the drought accelerated heifer placements into feedlots or have producers been trying to capture short-term profits from stronger fed and feeder cattle prices? One way to look at this is to examine the heifer placement rates by the severity of the drought that region experienced. There does not appear to be any direct evidence to suggest that there have been large increases in the number of heifers placed in feedlots due to a worsening drought. The exception to this would be Washington state which saw both worsening drought conditions and a significant increase in the number of heifers placed on feed. All other states saw moderate increases in the percent of cattle on feed that were heifers (~ 2%) and varying drought conditions. This suggests that while the drought may have accelerated the timing of the placements into feedlots, it does not appear that it has affected the proportion of heifers entering feedlots.

So what do the combined effect of accelerated beef cow harvest and heifer feedlot placements mean for herd liquation? First, it could mean that current estimates of a 1-2% reduction in the national beef cow herd would be a conservative estimate. Second, the beef cow herd contraction is not the same across the United States. This has implications for local marketing strategies as well as increased awareness of basis patterns and hedging performance. Basis can widen (i.e., become more negative) during both market growths and declines. Third, the effects of current heifer placements on herd contraction will affect both the 2022 and 2023 USDA cattle inventory report through beef heifer replacement numbers. Taken together, the supply of feeder cattle should be less in 2022 compared to 2021. The CME futures seems to support this idea with Fall 2022 deferred contracts trading in the $180’s range. For places like Nebraska that generally has a +6.00 basis in the Fall for 700-900 lb. steers, expected cash prices are projected to be approximately $188.00 – significantly higher than the lows in 2019 and 2020 and prices not seen nominally since Fall 2014 and Fall 2015. The cost of feed and continued drought conditions are likely to be the largest contributing factors in putting a ceiling on fed and feeder cattle prices in 2022.

IFBF $2,500 renewable scholarship applications due Feb. 10

High school students graduating in spring of 2022 are encouraged to apply for Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s (IFBF) $2,500 scholarship, awarded to 27 eligible Iowa high school seniors and renewable for four years, up to $10,000.

“Iowa leads the nation in agricultural production, and that is because of the innovation and strong work ethic of emerging young leaders,” says IFBF President Brent Johnson. “Iowa Farm Bureau is proud to award nearly $500,000 in annual scholarships to these students whose agricultural knowledge will strengthen the industry and Iowa’s rural communities.”

Scholarship eligibility is reserved for current Iowa Farm Bureau members or their children in good standing with the organization. (Click here to become a member.) To be considered, the graduating high school student must have a minimum 2.5 grade point average, be involved in extra-curricular activities and accepted into an accredited higher education institution, including community colleges and technical schools.

To apply, students submit a typed essay demonstrating their leadership, community involvement and how they would use the scholarship award to support Iowa Farm Bureau’s mission of creating a vibrant future for agriculture, farm families and their communities.

Each of IFBF’s 100 county Farm Bureaus will send one application from their county to be considered for the state award of which 27 students (three from each of Farm Bureau’s nine districts) will be selected. To qualify for scholarship renewal, the recipient must continue to meet the scholarship requirements.

Many county Farm Bureaus also offer a locally-sponsored scholarship; availability and amounts vary. Both the state and county awards can be applied for using the same application, found at

Applications must be sent via one email to the student’s local county Farm Bureau office by February 10, 2022. Contact the IFBF Community Resources office at 515-225-5460 with questions.

The Uncertain Future for Biofuels Policy Will be a Hot Topic at the 2022 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit

The 2022 Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit is looking to the future by featuring roundtable discussions exploring what is on the horizon for both biofuel policy and emerging markets for biofuel producers.
“Biofuel producers are always looking for that next opportunity to become more productive and more efficient,” said Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Marketing Director Lisa Coffelt. “At the Summit the policy and emerging markets roundtables will help those in attendance get a sense for which way the political winds are blowing and what business opportunities are up and coming for biofuels.”
The policy roundtable will cover the future of the Renewable Fuel Standard for 2022 and beyond, a path forward for E15, and more. It will include leading experts Donnell Rehagen, CEO of Clean Fuels Alliance America (formerly National Biodiesel Board); Devin Mogler, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at Green Plains, Inc.; Lindsay Fitzgerald, Vice President of Government Relations at Gevo, Inc, and Jessica Bennett, Partner at AJW, Inc.
The roundtable on emerging markets will dig into new opportunities to grow biofuel production and demand, such as high-protein DDGs for animal feed and sustainable aviation fuel. The roundtable will include Steve Csonka, Executive Director of the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative; Scott Fenwick, Technical Director at Clean Fuels Alliance America (formerly National Biodiesel Board); and Zach Smith, Faculty Supervisor at the Ruminant Nutrition Center.
The Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit is taking place on January 25 at the Community Choice Convention Center at the Iowa Events Center. Attendance is free and open to the public, but registration is required. To register to attend and learn more, visit

Ranch Group Applauds Joint FTC and DOJ Plan to Update Federal Merger Guidelines

R-CALF USA applauded today’s joint announcement by Jonathan Kanter, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division, and Lina Khan, Chair of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), that they are updating federal merger review guidelines. The following is a statement by R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard regarding that announcement:

“The cattle industry is the single largest sector of American agriculture, generating about $67 billion in annual cash receipts and R-CALF USA is the largest U.S. trade association that exclusively represents cattle producers within the U.S. cattle industry. We are very pleased by today’s announcement.

“The previous merger guidelines did not adequately address buyer power upstream in the supply chain. And far too much emphasis was placed on market efficiencies, which has resulted in the dismantling of the competitive marketing channels within our supply chain. This, in turn has hollowed-out Rural America. In addition, far too little attention was given to regional and local buyer power, where the competitiveness of regional and local markets can vary widely and harm to the supply chain can be devastating.

“The previous guidelines mistakenly presumed that the marketplace is competitive today and thus any post-merger reviews, based on changes from today to tomorrow were inherently skewed. Under the old guidelines, the trigger for antitrust scrutiny did not take into account that the market’s pre-merger condition already lacked competition. New guidelines should require a comprehensive analysis of the market’s preexisting competitiveness prior to the application of review triggers.

“For the cattle industry, this analysis would require a review of historical indicators of competitivities, such as the cattle industry’s historical cattle cycle driven by supply and demand signals. Today, that cattle cycle has been destroyed, much like what happened to the pork and dairy cycles after the concentrated meatpackers captured their respective supply chains. Unless a determination is first made regarding the extent to which a marketplace is competitive, the assessment of a merger’s potential to lessen competition would be perfunctory at best.

“Another deficiency in the old guidelines was a lack of attention to mergers in which one player has dominant control over product substitutes, in this case pork, chicken and soon, lab-grown protein. Failure to address such substitutes invites internal anticompetitive practices such as varying the output and price of substitute proteins to manipulate the demand for live cattle.

“Yet another serious deficiency in the old guidelines was their omission of factors unique to an industry that can make that industry uniquely susceptible to seemingly innocuous events. Indeed, the previous guidelines suggested that non-horizontal mergers, such as a vertical merger capturing the competitive marketing channels of the cattle supply chain, is less likely than horizontal mergers to create competitive problems. We believe that was a serious mistake.

“For example, treating the cattle supply chain as similar to the poultry or pork supply chain would ignore critical factors including that cattle have the longest biological cycle of any farmed animal, fed cattle are highly perishable, it is uneconomical to transport fed cattle long distances, and the cattle market is highly susceptible to even slight changes in supplies.

“Other factors that must be considered under new guidelines include that the cattle market is highly sensitive to shifts in procurement methods, some of which accord packers the same control as if they owned cattle outright; demand for cattle is bounded on a weekly basis, which basis is determined by the packers; and, that cattle producers are subjected to market access risk, meaning the availability of a timely market outlet, which, again, is controlled by the packers.

“In April of 2018 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigated the 2015 price-collapse in our industry. It found that packer concentration in any given area was associated with lower fed cattle prices in that area. The GAO surmised that some packers may have been able to exercise market power in areas with less competition. They also found that the farmer’s share of the consumer beef dollar dropped from about 65% in the 70’s to about 40% in 2018, suggesting to us that the present marketplace exploits producers on one end of the supply chain and consumers on the other.

“We look forward to working with both the DOJ and FTC as they begin the important process of updating the federal merger guidelines.”   

2022 Commodity Classic Announces Evening of Entertainment

Multiplatinum country musician Sara Evans will close out the 2022 Commodity Classic with a bang during Saturday night’s Evening of Entertainment. Commodity Classic will be held Thursday, March 10 through Saturday, March 12 in New Orleans.

As the fifth most-played female artist on country radio in the last two decades, some of Evans’ top singles include “Born to Fly,” “No Place That Far,” “Suds In The Bucket,” and “A Little Bit Stronger,” which spent two weeks at number one and was certified platinum. Sara’s “stunning country voice” (Rolling Stone) has earned her the prestigious Academy of Country Music Top Female vocalist accolade as well as several American Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, and nominations from the Country Music Association and the Grammy Awards.

The Evening of Entertainment is sponsored by Bayer Crop Science and admission to the concert is included with full registration or with a one-day Saturday registration. Visit for the full schedule of events, to reserve hotel rooms, and to take advantage of early registration discounts.

Established in 1996, Commodity Classic is America’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused agricultural and educational experience. It is presented annually by the American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Sorghum Producers, and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

National Biodiesel Board is Now Clean Fuels Alliance America

The National Biodiesel Board today unveiled its new name and new brand, Clean Fuels Alliance America, during the opening session of the 2022 National Biodiesel Conference & Expo. The transformation to Clean Fuels helps further the organization’s position as a proven, innovative part of America’s clean energy mix and helps the industry represent all its industry members: biodiesel, renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuels.

“Our industry has seen and will continue to see significant growth as the world around us focuses on clean energy,” said Donnell Rehagen, CEO of Clean Fuels. “We are an integral part of the solution for sustainable energy that’s not only affordable but also scalable and available now. Further, our new name and brand represents the connected energies of our members and positions our industry for a clean fuels future.”

The National Biodiesel Conference & Expo’s theme for 2022 is “All In” and represents the momentum being carried by all players in the biodiesel, renewable diesel, and sustainable aviation fuel industry. This year, more than 600 attendees are hearing from experts on supply and decarbonization and the opportunities ahead for the industry as a whole.

The three-day conference is the industry’s premier educational event featuring speakers from across the supply chain. This year’s speaking roster ranges from soybean farmers and engine manufacturers to fuel producers and former members of Congress.

“The industry packs a lot of networking and education into the conference, covering economics and technical and policy trends. The conference offers something new for everyone, regardless of experience in our industry,” Rehagen said. “We’re celebrating 30 years of clean fuels innovation and are excited to continue connecting people to accelerate America’s clean fuel future and drive industry growth.”  

During the conference, Rehagen shared copies of a new book with attendees that delves into the organization’s three-decade tenure: “The Birth of American Biodiesel: Biographical Accounts Celebrate 30 Years of Pioneers, Leaders and the Bold Vision for the National Biodiesel Board,” by Ron Kotrba.

“It seemed appropriate, as we sought to rebrand our organization, to take the time to recognize the efforts of many of those before us that went into building this wonderful industry and organization,” Rehagen said. “We commissioned this book for that purpose, and I am extremely proud of it and grateful to all of those who had an early vision of an industry like this.”

Clean Fuels also welcomed two Biodiesel Ambassadors to the program and hosted the next generation of biodiesel scientists, which gives college students the opportunity to network with those experienced in the industry.