Monday, October 31, 2011

October 31 Crop Harvest Report

NE Soybean Almost Complete, Corn Harvest about Three-quarters finished

Agricultural  Summary: 

For  the  week  ending  October  30,  2011,  mostly  dry  conditions  coupled  with cooler  temperatures  aided  harvest  progress  of  fall  crops, according  to  USDA’s  National  Agricultural  Statistics Service,  Nebraska  Field  Office.    Soybean  harvest  neared completion with  progress  on  pace with  last  year  and well ahead  of  average.    Corn  harvest  jumped  to  near  three-fourths complete with progress  ten days ahead of average.  Sorghum  harvest  at  64  percent,  was  eight  days  ahead  of average.    Sunflower  harvest  has  started  while  sugarbeet harvest was winding down.  Fall  tillage has been ongoing and  anhydrous  ammonia  applications have begun.   Wheat conditions  continue  well  above  last  year.    Soil  moisture levels  continue  to  decline  and  are  now  below  average  for this time of year.  During the last two months, precipitation averaged less than 50 percent of normal across much of the eastern third of Nebraska.

Weather  Summary:   
Temperatures  for  the  week averaged  2  degrees  below  normal.   High  temperatures reached the 80’s and lows dipped into the mid teen’s in the Panhandle.   The  Southwest  and  Panhandle  Districts received  limited  rain  during  the week with  accumulations averaging near a quarter of an inch.  
Topsoil Moisture:  Very Short 6%,  Short 35%,  Adequate 59%,  Surplus 0%  
Subsoil Moisture:  Very Short 4%,  Short 37%,  Adequate 59%, Surplus 0%  

Field  Crops  Report: 
Corn  harvest  was  at  73 percent, one week behind 86 last year but ten days ahead of 51 average.  

Soybean  harvest was  at  98  percent,  equal  to  last  year  but well ahead of 85 average.  

Winter Wheat conditions rated 0 percent very poor, 1 poor, 22  fair,  69  good,  and  8  excellent, well  above  38  percent good to excellent last year and 67 average.  Wheat emerged was 98 percent, ahead of 92 last year and 95 average. 

Sorghum  mature  was  97  percent,  near  99  last  year  but ahead of 94 average.  Sorghum harvested was 64 percent, three  days  behind  74  last  year  but  eight  days  ahead  of  45 average. 

Livestock, Pasture and Range Report: 

Pasture and range conditions rated 1 percent very poor, 6 poor, 25 fair, 62  good,  and  6  excellent,  above  62  percent  good  to excellent last year and 57 average.

Current Weather & Crops County Comments

Survey Date: 10/30/2011

Heavy harvesting taking place, with cattle being moved to stalks after harvest completed.

Another good week for harvesting.

Conditions continue to be drier than normal. Producers continue to make steady progress on corn. Several area producers completed harvest last week. A fair amount of fall tillage on bottom ground is underway.

Harvest is nearly finished. Some fall fertilizer is being applied and cows are in corn stalks.

Corn harvest continues. Cattle are being moved from pastures to stalks. A fair amount of crop residues are being harvested.

Crop harvest is winding down. Most of the harvest should be completed this week. People will be starting to apply anhydrous ammonia if the weather holds. Some fall tillage has also been completed.

Click here to see the national harvest progress numbers...  

Iowa Corn Harvest Nearly Three Weeks Ahead of Average

Another  predominately  dry  week  allowed  many  farmers  to  complete harvest and concentrate on fall  tillage and fertilizer application.   Tiling repairs and  installation have been aided by  the dry weather.   Many are concerned with the hard, dry soils as cooler weather approaches.
There  were  6.8  days  suitable  for  fieldwork  statewide  during  the  past week.  Over three-quarters of the State is rated short to very short when it comes to topsoil moisture.  Subsoil also continues to dry out with just over  one-quarter  of  Iowa  reporting  adequate  subsoil moisture.   Grain movement slowed a bit, with 47 percent of the State seeing moderate to heavy  grain movement  from  farm  to  elevator.   As  the  harvest  season winds  down,  92  percent  of  the  State  reports  adequate  or  surplus  off-farm  storage  capacity  and  84  percent  of  the State  reports  adequate  or surplus on-farm storage capacity.

Eighty-seven percent of  the  corn  crop has been harvested  for grain or seed, 5 days behind 2010 but 19 days  ahead of  the  five-year  average.  

Soybean harvest advanced  to 98 percent complete, slightly behind  last year’s 99 percent but 2 weeks ahead of the average pace.  

Pasture and range condition rated 25 percent very poor, 23 percent poor, 33 percent fair, 17 percent good, and 2 percent excellent.    Hay supplies are  considered  short  across  24  percent  of  Iowa  but  over  half  the  hay supply available is considered in good condition.  Conditions have been favorable  for  livestock  gleaning  fields  and  saving  hay  supplies  for future use but many operators have already been forced to begin feeding hay.


Provided by Harry Hillaker, State Climatologist

The past reporting week began with temperatures averaging well above normal  on  Monday  (24th)  and  Tuesday  (25th).    Shenandoah  reached 79 degrees  on Monday  while  Burlington,  Donnellson  and  Keosauqua climbed  to  81 degrees  on Tuesday.   A  turn  to  sharply  colder weather began on Wednesday with temperatures averaging near to a little below normal  for  the  rest of  the week with daytime highs mostly  in  the 50s.  Temperatures fell as low as 19 degrees at Sibley on Thursday morning and 15 degrees at Sheldon on Saturday morning.   Temperatures for  the week  as  a whole  averaged  1.3 degrees  above  normal.   Showers  and  a few thunderstorms brought light rain to about the eastern one-half of the state on Sunday (23rd) evening.  Light showers also were scattered over far eastern Iowa on Tuesday and Thursday.   Finally, rain was scattered over  the  eastern  half  of  the  state  on  Sunday  (30th) morning.   Weekly rain  totals varied from none over most of  the western one-half of Iowa to  0.77  inch  reported  in  eastern Winneshiek  County.    The  statewide average precipitation was only 0.07  inch  for  the week while normal  is 0.53  inch.   This was  the  tenth week among  the past  twelve  to average drier  than normal.   Finally, soil  temperatures as of Sunday  (30th) were averaging in the upper 40s to near 50 statewide.

Monday October 31 Ag News

 NE Loess Hills RC&D Annual Meeting Nov. 10th, Tekamah

Everyone is invited to attend the Nebraska Loess Hills RC&D Council’s annual meeting on Thursday, November 10, 2011 at the Silver Hills Winery in Tekamah.  The meeting will start at 5:00 p.m. with social time featuring a variety of appetizers and Silver Hills award winning wines.  The cost is $10.00 per person for the food.  Wine tasting is $5.00 and wine may also be purchased by the glass or bottle. 

After the social time, Pam Bergstrom, NRD/NRCS Forester will speak about tree damage from flooding and tree programs/assistance currently available.  This presentation will be followed by a brief business meeting. 

Please RSVP no later than 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, November 8th if you plan to attend. Either call the RC&D Council office at (402)687-9499 (leave a message including number of people attending) or email to:  

If you have questions please contact the RC&D Council office.

Labor Dept. to Allow Ag Producers Extended Input on Proposals

Nebraska's Senator Ben Nelson and Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas have secured extra time to make sure the voices of farmers, ranchers and other agricultural producers are heard on a proposed rule that could change the structure of family farms and have a negative impact on the education of the next generation of farmers.

On Sept. 2, the U.S. Department of Labor announced proposed changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act, which could, among other provisions, prohibit children younger than 15 from working on a farm or ranch that is not directly owned by their parents.

Citizens were initially given until November 1, 2011, to submit comments on the proposal, making it difficult for agricultural producers who are in the midst of the harvest season to register their comments.

Having heard concerns from farmers and ranchers in Nebraska, Kansas and across the country, Nelson and Moran sent the Labor Department a letter last week stating their concerns and seeking an extension of the comment period on the proposed rule.

Last week, the Labor Department notified the senators that the comment period would be extended an additional 30 days.

Nelson and Moran believe the proposed rule fails to reflect the reality that ownership patterns of agricultural operations have changed over time, as farms and ranches have been passed from one generation to another. For instance, it is common for siblings to jointly own and operate farms and for extended families and neighbors to participate in agricultural production. The proposed rule could fundamentally alter these dynamics.

"One out of every three jobs in Nebraska is tied to agriculture. We need to increase opportunities for our family farmers and ranchers to strengthen our rural economies, not threaten them with new, unneeded regulations from Washington," Senator Nelson said. "Nebraskans deserve the time to make sure their voices are heard on this misguided rule. It is another example of Washington being out of touch with Nebraskans' values."

Additionally, cooperative extension programs and vocational education programs, such as 4-H and Future Farmers of America, are critical for training the next generation of leaders in American agriculture. The proposed rule would put the activities of these organizations in danger.

"Nebraska's farmers and ranchers have a great number of issues with Department of Labor's proposal. Our main concern, however, is that the rule will drastically limit the ability for young people to gain valuable knowledge and experience in the many facets of agriculture," Nebraska Farm Bureau President Keith Olsen said. "The proposed rule would make it even harder for the next generation of farmers and ranchers to develop the interest and work ethic necessary to come back to farm or ranch. It simply does not make sense for Nebraska agriculture."

During the month of October, Nelson and Moran built support among their colleagues for extending the public comment period on the rule. The letter they sent to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis on Tuesday was signed by 32 U.S. senators.

"If allowed to move forward in its current form, [the rule] would have vast implications for the agriculture industry. The original 60 days allowed for comment are not enough for the affected parties to express their concerns," Nelson and Moran wrote in the letter to Solis. "Not only would this regulation, as currently drafted, have far reaching effects on youth agricultural education programs, farms, ranches and other agricultural businesses, it could greatly impact the structure of family farms and rural communities in the states we represent. We strongly urge you to consider extending the comment period an additional 60 days."

In support of their effort, American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said, "In towns from coast to coast, consumers enjoy a safe and affordable food supply due to the efficiency and performance of America's family farmers, but the Department of Labor's proposed regulations threaten the future of our industry. In addition to being the economic backbone of so many of America's towns, the traditions and the work ethic associated with growing up on a family farm are worth preserving, and the American Farm Bureau Federation appreciates Senators Moran and Nelson taking the lead on this important issue."

In addition to Nelson and Moran, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Chuck Grassley, (R-Iowa), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), John Thune (R-S.D.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.).

Yesterday, a Department of Labor official sent a memo responding to the senators' concerns. She wrote, "Because of the interest that has been expressed in this matter and the Department's desire to obtain as much information about its proposals as possible, the Department will announce in the Federal Register on Oct. 31 that it has extended the period for submitting public comment on the [rule] through Dec. 1." Individuals may voice their opinions on the rule through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at and clicking on "Child Labor Regulations, Orders and Statements of Interpretation: Violations-Civil Money Penalties."

"I encourage Nebraskans who appreciate the great traditions and contributions of our agricultural community to make their voices heard on this issue," Nelson said.

Larger Grain Bins May Need Added Fan Power

Tom Dorn, Extension Educator, Lancaster County

Many farmers are building larger grain bins than were common 30 years ago. A typical on-farm grain bin traditionally was 27 to 36 feet in diameter and would store grain to a depth of 18 to 22 feet. Many new grain bins are 42 to 48 feet in diameter and store grain to a depth of 28 to 32 feet — almost three times the volume of the earlier bins.

These large bins work well for storing dry grain when equipped with aeration fans capable of pushing 0.3 cubic feet of air per minute per bushel (0.3 cfm/bu) through the bin.

Many fan manufacturers produce a 10 hp axial-flow fan capable of producing 0.3 cfm/bu in a 48-foot diameter bin with corn 30 feet deep. In cases where there is low static pressure — the pressure required to push air through the grain bin — axial flow fans will produce more airflow than a centrifugal fan with the same horsepower.

Using a 48-foot diameter bin for drying corn is a much different situation. The minimum airflow recommended for drying corn in Nebraska is 1.0 cfm/bu. A 48-foot diameter bin with grain 30 feet deep would require three 40 hp centrifugal fans on separate transition ducts to produce 1 cfm/bu airflow.

Static pressure is affected by two parameters: grain depth and airflow (cfm/bu). At a given grain depth and airflow, the diameter of the bin does not affect the static pressure.

There are several management changes you could make to reduce the initial cost of the grain bin and associated equipment. These changes will also reduce operating costs for years to come. Reducing grain depth can reduce horsepower requirements significantly. In a 48-foot diameter bin
    if grain were loaded into the bin to a depth of 30 feet, three 40 hp centrifugal fans could produce the needed 1.0 cfm/bu,
    if grain were loaded into the bin to a depth of 25 feet, two 40 hp centrifugal fans could produce 1.0 cfm/bu, or
    if grain were loaded to a depth of 18 feet, one 40 hp centrifugal fan could produce the required 1.0 cfm/bu.

Since the airflow remains the same in all three scenarios, the time required to dry the grain would be the same.  Note: Two fans can dry 83% as much grain per batch as three fans. One fan can dry 60% as much grain per batch as three fans.

Drying Smaller Batches Cuts Costs
When buying a new bin, if you decide that you’re willing to dry smaller batches of grain at a time, one-third or even or two-thirds of the expense for fans, transition ducts, control boxes, and wiring can be saved. Also, for each fan that’s eliminated, the electrical use for fan operation drops 33%. Reducing grain depth from 30 feet to 25 feet eliminates one fan and associated equipment and reduces electricity use by 33%. Likewise, reducing grain depth from 30 feet to 18 feet reduces electricity use by 67%.

Distillers grains research initiative yields know-how more quickly

A three-year initiative that created a beef cattle advisory committee to oversee a research partnership between the Nebraska Corn Board and University of Nebraska resulted in a number of important breakthroughs when it comes to feeding distillers grains to cattle.

The initiative, which wrapped up this year, allowed an advisory committee to work with university researchers to more quickly identify research projects that would benefit cattle producers. The Nebraska Corn Board then provided funding for the projects. This reduced the lag time between research projects and doubled the amount of research conducted during the initiative.

“We were very pleased with how everything came together, as it allowed the corn checkoff to fund key research and more quickly advance the understanding of feeding distillers grains to cattle,” said Kelly Brunkhorst, director of research for the Nebraska Corn Board. “While this initiative has ended, the Nebraska Corn Board continues to fund research and further expand our knowledge and understanding of feeding distillers grains to cattle. We believe distillers grains, which are produced by ethanol plants, give Nebraska cattle producers a tremendous advantage in the marketplace, so the more we know the better.”

Some of the key results for feedlot cattle include:
-    Drying distillers grains increases production cost, greenhouse gas emissions and does not have as positive an impact on cattle performance compared to using wet distillers grains. Modified distillers grains, meanwhile, is intermediate to wet and dry distillers grains. Understanding this has huge implications for Nebraska as Nebraska cattle producers can utilize wet distillers grains due to the proximity of corn, cattle and ethanol plants. “The research provided excellent results on comparing these types of distillers grains,” said Galen Erickson, a beef feedlot specialist with the University of Nebraska.
-     A rumen degradable sulfur concept was established and better explains hydrogen sulfide production, which can cause the polio observed with high sulfur diets from distillers grains feeding. “Based on metabolism work on sulfur funded through the research initiative, we have degradabilities for different distillers grains, and hydrogen sulfide production in different feedlot diets containing distillers,” said Erickson. “Likewise, we have recommendations on polio incidence as dietary sulfur and rumen degradable sulfur increase in feedlot diets.”

Some of the key results for cattle on forage include:
-    The energy value of distillers grains in forage based-diets was relatively unknown and a major need by the industry. “Thanks to research conducted through the initiative, this is now known and is well established,” said Aaron Stalker, a beef range specialist with the university. The comparison was also made to other major energy supplements in forage diets, such as corn.
-    Research also found that replacing nitrogen fertilizer by supplementing distillers grains to grazing cattle will have major implications and has been effective in intensely grazed pastures. “Plus, supplemented cattle have greater removal of nitrogen, from supplement compared to fertilizer, and perform better,” Terry Klopfenstein, professor of animal science added.

While many important strides were made over the last three years, the Nebraska Corn Board recognizes that additional research needs remain when it comes to distillers grains.

“Ethanol production technology continues to advance,” Brunkhorst said.

For example, some ethanol plants are extracting corn oil for other uses and that changes the distillers grains. “We need to understand that and devote resources to additional research,” Brunkhorst said, “but we have limitations simply because our budget is limited by what is available via the corn checkoff, which is the lowest of all leading corn states.”

Nebraska Wind Power 2011 Conference Agenda Released

The final agenda for the Wind Power 2011 Conference to be held in Kearney at the new Younes Conference Center November 15-16 has been released.  The agenda is available at the Nebraska Energy Website:

The agenda is also posted at the Nebraska Farmers Union website at:

This year’s conference will include three separate tracks, 30 sessions, 60 speakers making 89 presentations, and over 40 commercial exhibitors and sponsors.  The agenda provides details as to sessions and speakers.

The keynote speaker for Tuesday’s luncheon is James J. Hoecker, Past Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission from 1997 to 2001.  During that time he was responsible for instituting regional transmission organizations to administer the wholesale electric power system and streamlining the regulatory system.  He is currently Senior Counsel and Energy Strategist for the Husch Blackwell law firm.  

Wednesday’s keynote speaker is Nicholas (Nick) Brown, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Southwest Power Pool, Inc.  Since Nebraska is now aligned with the Southwest Power Pool, their regional transmission planning and development directly impacts Nebraska’s state planning and development.  State transmission development directly impacts the future development of Nebraska’s wind energy resources.

This year Professional Development Hours Certificates will be offered to those that attend various sessions at the Wind Power 2011 Conference.  These certificates can be submitted to the various licensing boards to document continuing education requirements for license renewal.  There will be sign-up sheets      at the various sessions.  The PDH Certificates will be emailed to attendees that sign up at the various sessions at the conference.

Tuesday, the third track will feature two nationally recognized small and directed wind pioneers and experts, Trudy Forsyth from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado and Larry Flowers, Deputy Director of Community and Distributed Wind for AWEA who will release AWEA’s annual Small Wind Report.  Trudy Forsyth will present sessions on small wind hardware standards, testing, and certification for both equipment and small wind installers as well as discuss the development of small wind around the nation with Larry Flowers.

Wednesday, the third track will have an outstanding set of presenters will outline the expanding University of Nebraska, Community College, and technical trainings opportunities available in our state.  There will be sessions on Nebraska’s nation leading “Wind For Schools” program, career opportunities, and teacher training will be offered.  Student scholarships are still available.  For scholarship information, call Nebraska Farmers Union at 402-476-8815.

The discounted Pre-registration rates of $60 per person and $30 per student end November 7th.  Then, online registrations and at the door the fees will be $75 per person and $45 for students.  Registration fees include meals.

For Registration:  For Conference information:

For Lodging:  Wingate Inn: 308-237-4400 • Hampton Inn: 308-234-3400 • Fairfield Inn: 308-236-4200.  The Hampton Inn and Fairfield Inn are connected by a hallway to the Younes Center. The Wingate Inn is just across the driveway from the main entrance.

Envisioning Tomorrow’s Weed Control and How to Get There

Steve Young, Extension Weeds Specialist

How will you control weeds in 10-20 years?

Look for sensor-driven, integrated weed management systems that identify weed species and immediately target the correct control measure for the plant growth stage and weed species. These systems could limit chemical applications to the micro dose needed, reducing herbicide amounts and practically eliminating drift and groundwater issues.

At UNL’s West Central Research and Extension Center, work is underway on targeted control systems for use with sensors and guidance systems that can identify and control weeds in real-time as a device moves through the field.

Robotic weed control could be an essential element of tomorrow's more targeted, integrated weed management systems. Researchers at UNL's West Central Research and Extension Center are looking at what these systems would need and how they could integrate the latest technologies in weed identification, biology, engineering, and weed control. (Illustration conceived by Steve Young and drawn by Michael Heller)

The combination of plant recognition and various application technologies into a single platform will require integrating research in the fields of biology, engineering, and computer science. This single platform will incorporate sensors and decision support software so multiple application technologies can be accessed to provide directed weed management. Ideally, it would be a self-guided machine that could systematically comb the field to identify weeds and then apply the necessary control tool (e.g., spray, mow, cultivate) at the individual plant or patch scale.

From a biological approach, successfully integrating weed management requires an understanding of three key components:
-    the effect of treatments on weed populations
-    weed growth and development stages, and
-    the critical period for applying control tools.

Control tools (e.g., mowing, spraying, cultivating) have different effects on weeds and without a complete understanding of the life history of the target weed(s) and crop, the development of effective and efficient robotic systems will be challenging, if not impossible. In most crops, there is a period when weed control is critical to avoid yield loss. An autonomous robotic system that doesn’t consider timing of weed removal will perform poorly in current cropping systems. For a robotic system to respond to critical periods of crop growth, it must be either manually sent into the field or programmed to perform weed control operations that are in sync with crop growth stage.

In a true integrated weed management system that uses the latest machine-based guidance systems with sensors and decision control systems, weed identification and control applications could occur simultaneously moving across a field.

Research Needs
An immediate research need in this area is to refine targeted application methods for quantifying micro-dose herbicide rates suitable for effective weed control. The research team at the West Central REC is conducting a series of related greenhouse studies and has proposed additional studies.

In the future, a single platform will need to have more than one tool for use in the field for controlling weeds. Greater collaboration among scientists in the fields of weed science and biological and computer science can help achieve two major goals:
-    combination of weed management tools into one operation to allow for a truly integrated system, and
-    advancement of more sustainable integrated weed management programs that result in reduced environmental contamination and human exposure to chemicals, as well as inputs needed to economically control weeds.

October Farm Prices Received Index Increased 6 Points

The preliminary All Farm Products Index of Prices Received by Farmers in October, at 185 percent, based on 1990-1992=100, increased 6 points (3.4 percent) from September. The Crop Index is up 3 points (1.5 percent) and the Livestock Index increased 1 point (0.7 percent). Producers received higher prices for cattle, eggs, hogs, and sweet corn and lower prices for corn, milk, wheat, and soybeans. In addition to prices, the overall index is also affected by the seasonal change based on a 3-year average mix of commodities producers sell. Increased monthly movement of soybeans, corn, grain sorghum, and sunflowers offset the decreased marketing of wheat, milk, hogs, and hay.

The preliminary All Farm Products Index is up 34 points (23 percent) from October 2010. The Food Commodities Index, at 173, increased 6 points (3.6 percent) from last month and increased 26 points (18 percent) from October 2010.

Prices Paid Index Unchanged
The October Index of Prices Paid for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates (PPITW) is 205 percent of the 1990-1992 average. The index is unchanged from September but 20 points (11 percent) above October 2010. Higher prices in October for feeder cattle, complete feeds, concentrates, and supplements offset lower prices for diesel, feed grains, LP gas, and gasoline.

Prices Received by Farmers
All crops: The October index, at 206, increased 1.5 percent from September and 26 percent above October 2010. Index increases for oilseeds more than offset the index decreases for feed grains & hay, food grains, and commercial vegetables.

Food grains: The October index, at 229, is 6.9 percent below the previous month but 21 percent above a year ago. The October all wheat price, at $6.94 per bushel, is down 61 cents from September but $1.06 above October 2010.

Feed grains & hay: The October index, at 257, is down 4.5 percent from last month but 39 percent above a year ago. The corn price, at $5.92 per bushel, is down 45 cents from last month but $1.60 above October 2010. The all hay price, at $181 per ton, is up $5.00 from September and $70.00 higher than last October. Sorghum grain, at $11.10 per cwt, is 60 cents higher than September and $3.30 above October last year.

Oilseeds: The October index, at 208, is up 3.5 percent from September and 24 percent higher than October 2010. The soybean price, at $11.90 per bushel, decreased 30 cents from September but is $1.70 above October 2010.

Livestock and products: The October index, at 153, is 0.7 percent above last month and 14 percent higher than October 2010.  Compared with a year ago, prices are higher for cattle, hogs, milk, eggs, calves, and turkeys. Prices for broilers are down from last year.

Meat animals: The October index, at 155, is up 4.0 percent from last month and 25 percent higher than last year. The October hog price, at $68.80 per cwt, is up $1.70 from September and up $15.50 from a year ago. The October beef cattle price of $116 per cwt is up $4.00 from last month and is $22.90 higher than October 2010.

Dairy products: The October index, at 152, is down 6.2 percent from a month ago but 7.0 percent higher than October last year. The October all milk price of $19.90 per cwt decreased $1.20 from last month but is up $1.40 from October 2010.

U.S. Supreme Court Takes Up Treatment of Pigs

The National Meat Association is challenging a California law regarding the treatment of pigs at slaughterhouses. The current California law says slaughterhouses must remove and "humanely euthanize" non-ambulatory pigs. The NMA is arguing that sometimes pigs are stressed, fatigued or stubborn and just refuse to get up and that claim that forcing slaughterhouses to cull 200 to 300 pigs a day just because they are lying down would cause severe financial stress on the pork industry. Federal laws state that such animals must be removed and inspected, although most do not need to be kept from the slaughterhouse. The NMA is asking the California court to repeal the law, arguing that it is trumped by the federal law. California Deputy Attorney General Susan K. Smith said California's definition of a non-ambulatory pig is one who is unable to stand and walk without assistance and that the law is intended to protect the human food supply and prevent animal cruelty.

Lenssen New ISU Soybean Production Systems Agronomist

Andrew (Andy) Lenssen joined Iowa State University (ISU) on Oct. 1 as a soybean systems agronomist with teaching, research and extension responsibilities. Lenssen comes to Iowa State from Sidney, Mont., where he was a research ecologist and lead scientist for USDA dryland research.

"Andy has a wealth of experience in agronomy and ecology that will be very beneficial to Iowa," said Kendall Lamkey, chair, ISU Department of Agronomy. "His most recent experience as a research ecologist in Montana broadens our extension, research and teaching portfolio here at Iowa State."

Lenssen has nearly two decades of experience conducting large-scale, long-term cropping system studies that he describes as very collaborative -- often times having worked with agronomists, ecologists, soil scientists, plant pathologists and entomologists. He will be taking a systems approach as he addresses the primary issues of Iowa soybean producers in his research and programming.

"Andy's experiences working with researchers and producers to evaluate and improve complex production systems is a great asset for extension," said John Lawrence, director, ISU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources. "He has a proven record of pulling together effective teams that will help us identify profitable and sustainable soybean production systems."

Developing new collaborations will be necessary to address and solve Iowa soybean production problems and improve or increase soybean production sustainability, both economic and environmental sustainability, Lenssen said. His systems approach will look at the effects of genotype, inputs, tillage, crop rotation and other aspects related to growing soybeans in Iowa. Lenssen said this will provide answers to deeper questions than just crop profitability.

"Collaborative studies gain more useful knowledge on complex interactions," Lenssen said. "It takes a team to understand the interconnectedness of our actions, and field research to look at many of the bigger issues."

Lenssen earned doctorate and master's degree in agronomy at Kansas State University and a bachelor's degree in agronomy at Cornell University. When away from work he enjoys fly fishing, tennis and downhill skiing.

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Funding to Expand the Production and Availability of Advanced Biofuels

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced payments for 156 advanced biofuel producers across the country to support the production and expansion of advanced biofuels.

"This funding will help local producers increase the production and availability of renewable energy and thus help our nation begin to reduce its reliance on foreign oil," Vilsack said. "Just as importantly, USDA's support will help to further develop the nation's growing biofuels industry and generate green jobs and economic growth."

The funding is being provided through USDA's Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels program. Under this program, payments are made to eligible producers to support and ensure an expanding production of advanced biofuels. Payments are based on the amount of biofuels a recipient produces from renewable biomass, other than corn kernel starch. Eligible examples include biofuels derived from cellulose; crop residue; animal, food and yard waste material; biogas (landfill and sewage waste treatment gas); vegetable oil, and animal fat. Through this and other programs, USDA is working to support the research, investment and infrastructure necessary to build a biofuels industry that creates jobs and conserves natural resources across America.

USDA today is announcing $44.6 million in payments to 156 local producers and business-owners.

Below is a partial list of award recipients by state:
    Ag Processing, Inc. : $2,085,753.77 for Biodiesel Trans Esterification.
    Horizon Biofuels, Inc. : $634.82 for Pellets.
    Kaapa Ethanol, LLC: $2,829.49 for Ethanol Production.
    Clinton County Bio Energy, LLC: $131,831.49 for Biofuel From Waste Products.
    Iowa Renewable Energy, LLC: $138,360.72 for Biofuel From Waste Products.
    Renewable Energy Group, Inc.: $3,739,128.61 for Biodiesel Trans Esterification.
    Western Dubuque Biodiesel, LLC: $487,871.16 for Biodiesel Trans Esterification.
    Western Iowa Energy: $658,243.95 for Biofuel From Waste Products.
South Dakota
    Hanson County Oil Producers, LLC: $6,599.50 for Biodiesel Trans Esterification.

Agricultural Banks Improve Profitability

Paul Ellinger, University of Illinois

The health of many commercial banks in the U.S. has improved in 2011. However, many of the large U.S. banks continue to face significant challenges, especially in their residential and commercial mortgage portfolios. Additional regulatory costs including the Dodd--Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act present challenges for small and large banks. As a share of total operating costs, these regulatory costs are greater for smaller banks. Regulators are also placing higher regulatory emphasis on banks with significant concentrations in industry sectors such as agriculture.

In spite of these headwinds, agricultural banks have improved profitability in 2011. The rate of return on assets (ROA) for agricultural banks (banks whose agricultural production loans plus real estate loans secured by farmland exceed 25 percent of total loans and leases) in the second quarter of 2011 was 1.13%, the highest quarter since the second quarter of 2008 (FDIC). This level exceeded the ROA for all FDIC insured banks (0.85) as well as banks with concentrations in commercial loans (banks whose commercial and industrial loans, plus real estate construction and development loans, plus loans secured by commercial real estate properties exceed 25 percent of total assets) and mortgage loans (banks whose residential mortgage loans, plus mortgage-backed securities, exceed 50 percent of total assets). Profitability at agricultural banks has exceeded all banks and banks concentrating on commercial or mortgage loans through the financial crisis and economic downturn. Moreover, 96% of agricultural banks were profitable in 2011Q2. This level of bank profitability has increased from a low of 61% in the second quarter of 2009.

Although elevated from pre-crisis levels, the ratio of problem loans to total loans at agricultural banks, is less than 50% of the level at all banks and banks concentrated in commercial loans or mortgages. Net charge-offs at agricultural banks have only exceeded 1% in 2009 Q4. Noncurrent loans (nonaccruing loans and loans past due more than 90 days) have not exceeded 2% and are clearly at levels below the banking sector as a whole and the banks with concentrations in commercial loans and mortgages.

The profitability of agricultural sector has certainly contributed to the improved profitability and strong loan portfolios at agricultural banks. Improved borrower profitability has also presented a challenge for many lenders in agriculture. Borrower repayment rates on agricultural loans have remained high and deposit levels at banks have increased. Loan-to-deposit levels at agricultural banks have dropped significantly since 2008. Given that growth in loan demand has slowed and returns on federal funds, government and agency securities are at all-time lows, profit margins at banks will likely decline.

In summary, the health of agricultural banks remains relatively strong and shows signs of improving. Increasing regulatory costs combined with modest to low potential loan growth present challenges to agricultural banks. Stress in the agricultural sector would obviously increase the challenges of all lenders to commercial agriculture.

MF Global Files for Bankruptcy

(AP) -- MF Global Holdings Ltd., the securities firm run by former New Jersey Governor and Goldman Sachs head Jon Corzine, is seeking bankruptcy protection one week after reporting its biggest-ever quarterly loss.

MF Global shares plunged 66 percent last week. Besides the loss of $186.6 million for the fiscal second quarter, investors were spooked when MF Global's debt was downgraded to junk status. Credit-rating agencies expressed concern about the firm's $6 billion portfolio of European debt.

MF Global appears to be the first major U.S. casualty of Europe's debt crisis, although last week it sought to reassure investors that the investment in European sovereign debt was prudent. It blamed the big loss on weaker-than-expected trading revenue and one-time costs.

The filing came after the New York Federal Reserve said it suspended MF Global from doing new business as a primary dealer. MF Global was one of 22 companies considered financially secure enough to sell US government debt on behalf of the Fed.

MF Global turned a profit just three times in the past 12 quarters. As the European debt crisis threatened to spread, investors and analysts focused on the company's holdings of debt from Belgium, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland.

At worst, MF Global's bankruptcy could roil credit markets and make financial companies reluctant to lend to each other. It wouldn't equal the fallout from the failure of Lehman Bros. in 2008 because Lehman was bigger and more intertwined with other companies.

However, banks could be spooked temporarily by concerns about who lost money as a result of MF Global's bad bets. Fears about losses on European debt already have roiled markets for months.

NCBA’s Cattlemen to Cattlemen Live Show to Address State of Beef Cattle Industry

Drought, shrinking herd size, passage of the much anticipated free trade agreements, the outstanding proposed change to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s (GIPSA) marketing rules and record cattle prices have taken the U.S. beef cattle industry on a wild ride in 2011. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) has been fighting for U.S. cattlemen and women each step of the way. Expert panelists will address these other important issues during NCBA’s Cattlemen to Cattlemen live call-in show Nov. 1, 2011, on RFD-TV at 8:30 p.m. EDT. Viewers will be able to ask questions of the panelists by calling 1-888-824-6688 or by emailing

Among the panelists will be NCBA President and Montana rancher Bill Donald; NCBA Chief Executive Officer Forrest Roberts, NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Colin Woodall; and CattleFax Market Analyst Kevin Good.

“There is a lot of change in the beef cattle industry this year. We’ve experienced some major challenges but we’ve also had some significant wins in Washington, D.C.,” said Donald. “This live program will give viewers a chance to understand how these developments are having a positive impact on their livelihoods now and into the future.”

Viewers are also going to be encouraged to join NCBA. NCBA membership staff will be on hand to answer membership inquiries and talk to callers live about special membership incentives at 1-866-BEEF-USA. The program will be re-broadcast on RFD-TV Wed., Nov., 2, 2011, at 10:30 a.m. EDT and Sat., Nov. 5, 2011, at 9:00 a.m. EDT. In addition, all episodes of NCBA’s Cattlemen to Cattlemen are available on the program’s website at

Wells Issues Voluntary Recall Due to Undeclared Allergen

Wells Enterprises, Inc., LeMars, Iowa, in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is voluntarily recalling a limited number of packages of its Blue Bunny Personals ice cream 5.5 fl oz. because it was mispackaged and contains undeclared wheat. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to wheat and/or have gluten sensitivities may be at risk from consuming these products.

On a limited number of packages, the lid describes the product as Blue Bunny Super Chunky Cookie Dough ice cream, and the carton portion of the package describes the product as Blue Bunny Peanut Butter Panic ice cream. The product inside the carton is Super Chunky Cookie Dough. The ingredient statement on the carton does not declare wheat, which is an ingredient in the Super Chunky Cookie Dough product.

The affected mispackaged product was distributed in 5.5 fl oz. Personals cartons, with Lot Number 10009 "Best Used By" date 10/1/2012, - UPC 0 70640 00463. The lot number and UPC can be found printed on the side of the carton.

The affected product was shipped to the following states: Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Florida, Wisconsin, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Texas.

Wells Enterprises, Inc. became aware of the packaging error after receiving a report from a store that the lid and cup were for different products.

The allergy alert and recall relates only to the above mentioned mispackaged Blue Bunny ice cream. No other Blue Bunny ice cream products are affected.

No adverse reactions have been reported to date.

CNH Third Quarter 2011 Revenue Increases 30%; Operating Profit up 92%; EPS $1.13

CNH  Global  N.V. announced  financial  results  for  the  quarter  ended  September  30,  2011.  For  the  quarter,  net sales increased 30% (26% on a constant currency basis) to $4.6 billion as agricultural equipment markets  continue  to  perform  well  across  the  Group's  geographical  portfolio  and  the construction  equipment  market  continues  its  recovery.  Equipment  Operations  posted  an Operating Profit of $460 million as a result of this increased equipment demand (with resulting increases in industrial utilization) and improved net pricing.

Net  equipment  sales  for  the  quarter  were  77%  from  agricultural  equipment  and  23%  from construction  equipment.  The  geographical  distribution  of  revenue  for  the  period  was  42% North America, 29% EAME & CIS, 17% Latin America, and 12% APAC markets.

Year  to  date  capital  expenditures  totaled  $218 million,  a  42%  increase  from  the  comparable prior  period  largely  as  a  result  of  new  product  launches  in  both  the  agricultural  and construction equipment segments: 73% of the capital spend in the period was on new products and production capacity. Equipment Operations generated $390 million of operating cash  flow during  the  first  nine months of  the  year  as  net  sales  levels  and operating  performance more than  offset  the  increased  net  working  capital  needed  to  support  business  activity.  CNH's Equipment Operations  ended  the  period  with  a  net  cash  position  of  $2.3  billion.  The  31% effective tax rate for the third quarter 2011 is in line with the Group’s full year expectations of 32% to 38% for 2011.

Net  income before restructuring and exceptional  items  for  the quarter was $272 million as a result  of  improved  top  line  and  industrial  operating  performance,  better  results  from  the Group's  unconsolidated  subsidiaries  and  affiliates,  and  a  lower  comparable  tax  rate.  This resulted  in  the Group  generating  a  significant  increase  in diluted  earnings per  share  to $1.13 (before  restructuring  and exceptional  items)  compared  to $0.43 per  share  in  the comparable period of 2010.

2011 Full Year Market Outlook

Demand in the agricultural and construction equipment markets is expected to remain firm for the balance of 2011 on the back of a positive environment in agricultural commodity prices and the consequent increase in planting and farming income estimates. Further, the environment for construction equipment continues  to  improve overall with  the exception of  the APAC region where the demand environment has begun to slow  from  its significant growth trajectory over the past 36 months.

FY 2011 World Wide Unit Growth Forecast
-  Agricultural equipment demand up approximately 10% 
-  Construction equipment demand up 20-25%

Agricultural Equipment Industry and Market

Worldwide  agricultural  industry  unit  sales  increased  12%  compared  to  the  third  quarter  of 2010. Global  tractor  sales  grew  12% while  global  combine  sales  grew  16%  for  the  quarter. North American  tractor  sales were  flat, with  the  over  40  horsepower  segment  up  3%,  and combine  sales  down  15%.  Latin  America  sales  of  tractors  decreased  9%  and  combine  sales increased 56%. EAME & CIS markets  improved  for the quarter, with tractor sales up 25% and combines  sales up 85%. APAC markets were up 14%  in  tractor  sales and up 36%  in combine sales. 

CNH Agricultural Equipment Third Quarter Results 
CNH’s net sales in the agricultural equipment sector increased 29% for the quarter (24% on a constant currency basis) as a result of solid trading conditions in every region. Net sales in the EAME & CIS markets continued their positive growth trajectory with reported revenue up 51% on  the  back  of  firm  demand  across  all  product  segments.  As  a  result  of  this  increased  unit volume in Europe and the CIS, comparative industrial capacity utilization in the region increased driving  positive  cost  absorption.  This  benefit  coupled  with  improved  price  realization  and favorable product mix (to  larger horsepower tractor and combine segments) resulted  in a 3.0 percentage point increase in comparative operating margin to 11.5% for the period. 

Third quarter tractor market share performance continues to be positive in Europe, and in line with  the market  in  the over 40 horsepower segment  in North America  (on  the back of solid demand  for  the  Tier  4A/Stage  IIIB  compliant  equipment). CNH  also  gained market  share  in Latin America despite an overall unit volume decline. Overall tractor market share was slightly down driven by the under 40 horsepower segment in North America and the highly fragmented low horsepower APAC markets. Combine market share  improved  in every region during  the quarter.  Industrial production and retail sales continue to be closely aligned during the period with resulting company and dealer inventory levels remaining largely unchanged.

In Europe, New Holland Agriculture confirmed its leadership introducing the Tier 4A/Stage IIIB ECOBlue SCR technology to the flagship CR Series Twin Rotor combines, featuring the all-new SmartTrax system for reduced soil compaction, and to the TC5070 and TC5080 combines for farm  operations  harvesting  up  to  300  ha.  The  brand  also  launched  the  new  LM5020  and LM5030  compact  telehandlers  for  livestock  and  light  industrial  applications,  with  industry leading maneuverability  and  operator  comfort.  The  line-up  of  combines  with  ECOBlue  SCR technology has been extended also  in North America with  the addition of  five CR Series and three CX8000  Series  Super Conventional models.  The Dynamic  Stone  Protection  system  is available as an option for CR8090 and CR9090 as well as the new Opti-Spread technology for an evenly chopped straw distribution across  the  full header width. The new 880CF SuperFlex draper head, available on both combine series, provides closer cutting and better flotation. The Agritechnica  jury recognized New Holland’s  innovative  technologies with  five silver medals,  in particular, the Braud 9090X olive harvester and the ECOBraud sustainable viticulture program, both  also  awarded  by  the  SITEVI  (international  exhibition  for  the  vine-wine &  fruit-vegetable sectors) jury.

At  the  Farm  Progress  Show,  in North America, Case  IH  introduced  its  new  Efficient  Power Axial-Flow 30 Series combines, Patriot 4430  sprayer  and Maxxum  tractors  that deliver more power, burn less fuel and meet Tier 4 emissions standards. Case IH Axial Flow combines were found by  independent  researchers at  the Göttingen University  (Germany)  to have  the  lowest overall operating  costs,  and  the  lowest  spare  parts  costs of  all models  tested.  Latin America executed  a  successful  introduction  of  the  new  Case  IH Magnum  tractor  series with  5  new models ranging from 235 hp – 340 hp, produced in Brazil that will address the productivity and performance needs of large customers. Also launched was the new Axial Flow 2566, Case IH’s first ever class 5 combine for the region. 

The  Case  IH  Diesel  Saver  Automatic  Productivity  Management  (APM)  System  has  been awarded  the  ASABE  2011  Rain  Bird  Engineering  Concept  of  the  Year  Award  for  its  fully integrated  drive-train  management  system  available  on  the  Case  IH  Steiger  4WD  and QUADTRAC  tractors. This  system controls  the drive  train  for maximum operating efficiency with minimum fuel consumption while reducing operator fatigue and noise.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday October 28 Ag News

Nebraska Cattlemen Do Not Support Proposed Child Labor Regulations    

Early and extensive training of younger generations is vital to the future of the beef cattle industry. Nebraska Cattlemen understands this concept which is why they submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Labor opposing the proposed child labor regulations.

Nebraska Cattlemen opposes these regulations because rather than trying to find safety solutions; the U.S. Department of Labor has opted, by regulation, to effectively prohibit young workers from being employed in agriculture at all. No longer would a child under the age of 18 be able to work at a grain elevator or sale barn. A child under the age of 16 would not be able to drive any power operated machinery, work in a grain silo or herd livestock. “Without these types of experiences people become further disconnected with food production and its role in their daily lives,” states Chuck Folken, Nebraska Cattlemen President.

Perhaps most concerning to Nebraska Cattlemen is the erosion of the parental exemption which allows children to be employed at any age and perform any task if employed by their own parents. Under the proposed regulations a child will not qualify for this exemption if they are employed by a business entity that is not wholly owned by their parent(s). “Modern agriculture is taking advantage of the tax and liability benefits from organizing as a business entity,” says Folken; “just because it is now Brother & Brother, Inc. should not prevent their own children from being able to work for them.”

Nebraska Cattlemen also believes the proposed regulations do not recognize the dramatic improvements in agriculture machinery safety such as rollover guards and operator presence technology. The proposed regulations do not take into account the vast adoption of low stress handling techniques for livestock which increase safety, practices like those advocated in the Beef Quality Assurance program.

Waterhemp Population Shows Resistant to 2,4-D Herbicide

A waterhemp population from southeast Nebraska has been confirmed to be resistant to 2,4-D herbicide.  The resistant population is believed to be limited to a few fields, but weed scientists are concerned because this is the sixth weed treatment to which waterhemp has become resistant.  "This is the first weed that's had resistance to six modes of action in the United States," said Mark Bernards, until recently a University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension weed specialist who's now at Western Illinois University.

UNL Extension received a report in 2009 of a warm-season grass field with a waterhemp population no longer controlled by 2,4-D. Extension specialists collected seed from the field in 2009 and 2010 and tested it, finding it was 10-fold more resistant to 2,4-D than other waterhemp populations.

Waterhemp is the predominant pigweed (Amaranthus) species in eastern and south central Nebraska fields and is problematic throughout much of the Corn Belt. It is well adapted to reduced tillage cropping systems that rely primarily on herbicides for weed control. Waterhemp has succeeded because it emerges from May through August, allowing late emerging plants to avoid herbicides.

In an article in UNL Extension's Crop Watch newsletter, Greg Kruger, UNL Extension cropping systems specialist, and Bernards noted there is concern about waterhemp populations that become resistant to three or more herbicide types. "When populations with multiple-herbicide resistance are then managed with the one or two remaining herbicide mechanisms-of-action that are still effective, the likelihood of the population evolving resistance to those herbicides is high," they wrote.

The herbicide use pattern in the field where the resistant population was collected  included an annual burndown application of atrazine, metolachlor, and 2,4-D followed by a postemergence application of 2,4-D. Research is underway at UNL to determine whether this waterhemp population has developed resistance to additional herbicide mechanisms-of-action.

The findings have broad implications, Bernards said.  "New technologies that confer resistance to 2,4-D and dicamba are being developed to provide additional herbicide options for postemergence weed control in soybean and cotton, but the development of 2,4-D resistant waterhemp in this field is a reminder and a caution that these new technologies, if used as the primary tool to manage weeds already resistant to other herbicides such as glyphosate, atrazine or ALS-inhibitors, will eventually result in new herbicide resistant populations evolving. This will limit the value of those technologies to farmers," he said.

To minimize the risk of developing herbicide-resistant weeds, they recommended:
-- rotating effective herbicide mechanisms of action,
-- tank-mixing multiple effective herbicides and
-- using effective doses.

Where possible, they added, it's best to use an integrated weed management plan that also includes non-chemical weed control options such as crop rotation and tillage. Farmers should carefully monitor fields for changes in susceptibility to the herbicides being used and contact a UNL Extension office when resistance is suspected. If multiple plants survive in a field, and that species is known to have developed resistance elsewhere to herbicides used in that field, it may be prudent to remove the survivors before they produce seed.

Green Plains Renewable Energy, Inc. Reports Third Quarter 2011 Financial Results

Omaha-based Green Plains Renewable Energy, Inc. (Nasdaq:GPRE) announced today its financial results for the third quarter of 2011. Net income attributable to Green Plains for the quarter ended September 30, 2011 was $12.4 million, or $0.32 per diluted share, compared to $7.4 million, or $0.23 per diluted share, for the same period in 2010. Revenues were $957.0 million for the third quarter of 2011 compared to $496.1 million during the same period in 2010.

"All of our business segments performed well, resulting in higher net income and earnings per share this quarter compared with the third quarter of 2010 and last quarter," said Todd Becker, President and Chief Executive Officer. "Non-ethanol operating income from the corn oil production, agribusiness, and marketing and distribution segments was $13.7 million in the third quarter, or 40% of total segment operating income. We set a goal to diversify our business model to provide our shareholders with more predictable and recurring income streams and this quarter continues the momentum we started earlier this year. We remain confident that we will reach our goal of $50 million of annual operating income from these segments. Corn oil production contributed a record $9.6 million in operating income and our agribusiness segment performed well as our Tennessee operations benefited from an excellent local soft wheat harvest."

"Our ethanol production margins were more robust than expected, due in large part to our strategy to secure physical corn supply to each of our plants while waiting to opportunistically lock margins. This approach, along with our continued focus on efficient plant operations, generated our highest level of quarterly operating income for the ethanol production segment this year," commented Becker. "We continue to expect our overall profitability to improve in the fourth quarter as a result of seasonal activity from the agribusiness segment. Ethanol production should also have a good finish for the year, although securing some of the early-harvested corn has been challenging as demonstrated by basis levels that are unprecedented for this time of the year."

"We are excited about the successful completion of the first round of poultry feed trials for algae strains produced by BioProcess Algae at our Shenandoah plant," stated Becker. "We continue to invest in algae production technology with a focus on reducing production costs and developing new markets for algae, including human nutrition, animal feed and biofuels."

Revenues for the nine-month period ended September 30, 2011 were $2.6 billion compared to $1.4 billion for the same period of 2010. Net income attributable to Green Plains for the nine-month period ended September 30, 2011 was $25.2 million, or $0.66 per diluted share, compared to net income of $31.6 million, or $1.05 per diluted share, for the same period of 2010.

Impact of Canal Expansion on U.S. Grain and Soybean Exports

The Panama Canal set a new record for total cargo volume – 322 million tons – in fiscal 2011, outstripping 2010’s volume by 7.1 percent and breaking the previous record, set in 2007, by 2.9 percent.

A transportation study by the United Soybean Board (USB) projects that the total volume of soybean and grain traffic through the canal will increase by 30 percent when the canal opens a third lane of locks in 2014. This new larger, shipping lane will expand the average area for barge transport from 70 to over 150 miles. And assuming the ports will dredge to ensure passage of larger ships, the expansion is expected to save about $.35 cents per bushel on transportation costs for elevators within range of the central Gulf of Mexico ports.

The canal’s increased capacity will also allow a Panama ship originating in southern Louisiana to load an additional 13,300 metric tons (524,000 bushels) of corn per trip, increasing each shipment’s value by about $3.4 million.  The USB analysis indicates the total volume of grain and soybeans transiting the Panama Canal will increase 30 percent (426 million bushels) by 2020/2021.

Advanced ethanol companies press Ag Committees on Farm Bill

In a letter to Senate and House ag leaders, the Advanced Ethanol Council (AEC) urged the current farm bill discussion to include extensions and smart modifications to a number of important rural energy initiatives currently being administered by the Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Specifically, AEC Executive Director Brooke Coleman pressed lawmakers on three specific provisions:

• Extend the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Loan Guarantee program for biorefinery projects, but improve critical provisions of the program to more effectively facilitate participation by lending institutions.

• Support USDA’s efforts to build out ethanol refueling infrastructure via the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) to allow ethanol to compete in the market based on price. This will facilitate market access that is critical to the ongoing development and deployment of advanced ethanol fuels.

• Reform the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) to increase cost effectiveness and better encourage and “de-risk” energy crop production for the advanced biofuel sector, including efforts to preserve the environmental benefits of land coming out of conservation programs by incenting sustainable energy crop production.

“The next generation of the U.S. ethanol industry is just beginning to break ground on first commercial projects across the country, and while the Energy Title currently accounts for less than 1 percent of total budgetary outlays for the 2008 Farm Bill, many of these programs will be critical to existing and future advanced ethanol development projects,” wrote Coleman.

Additionally, members of the AEC expressed interest in working with lawmakers to modify the Repowering Assistance program to help existing biorefining operations deploy advanced ethanol technologies and feedstock utilization.  Many emerging advanced ethanol technologies will provide value to existing ethanol production facilities by diversifying feedstocks and improving efficiencies as well as creating new opportunities as stand alone facilities.

“We are aware that the funding available for the new Farm Bill will be reduced significantly,” wrote Coleman.  “That said, we look forward to thinking creatively with you about comprehensive solutions that cut cost but continue to provide meaningful value to an emerging advanced ethanol industry.”

DDGS Sales Summary

Thirty-eight countries around the world have purchased U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) as of August this year, and January-to-August totals show sales on the increase in 28 of those countries, reports the U.S. Grains Council.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding China’s DDGS antidumping case, Chinese imports totaled almost 805,000 metric tons, making China the number two DDGS market for the period. Nearly 1.3 million tons in purchases, a 16 percent increase, moved Mexico into the number one position.

Filling out the top 10 purchasers are Canada (520,000 tons), Vietnam (307,000 tons), Japan (215,000 tons), South Korea (193,000 tons), Indonesia (172,000 tons), Thailand (152,000 tons), Israel (146,000 tons), and Ireland (140,000 tons).

Five countries posted triple-digit increases in DDGS sales during the eight months: United Kingdom, Spain, Jamaica, Nicaragua, and Jordan and the increased sales to Spain and the U.K. helped the U.S. more than double its DDGS exports to the European Union (from 190,000 tons to 410,000 tons).

Ritchie Industries Earns IFBF Entrepreneur of Month Award

A Conrad company focused on providing fresh water for livestock has earned the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation's (IFBF) Renew Rural Iowa Entrepreneur of the Month award.

Ritchie Industries started in Oskaloosa in 1921 when Thomas Ritchie patented his first watering device. He connected underground running water to automatic float-controlled watering equipment. The water was heated with a kerosene lamp, saving farmers time and labor.

As the countryside grew, the business worked with the local rural electric cooperative as it installed electricity to area farms. Even though technology and farming practices have changed, the need for waterers remains strong for livestock farmers. The company was purchased and moved to Conrad in 1943. Today, the company focuses on providing equipment to the beef cattle, dairy and equine industries; selling to customers all over the United States and Canada.

While the company's reach is wide, it remains committed to its 65 employees and local community.

"They (Ritchie Industries) made the investment to stay and grow and be a part of our community and county," said Brian Feldpausch, Grundy County Farm Bureau president, who nominated the company for the award. "They also support ag education in our schools and donate to the library. They're a mainstay and add support for future growth (here)."

Producers Invited to ISU Beef Nutrition Research Showcase

People who attend Iowa State University (ISU) football games and who also are interested in beef research have a unique opportunity awaiting them on the date of the final home ISU football game on Nov. 18. ISU's Iowa Beef Center and beef nutrition faculty and staff are planning the "Beef Nutrition Research Pre-game Showcase" beginning that morning.

ISU Extension and Outreach beef program specialist Joe Sellers said organizers hope that having the showcase the same day as the night football game will enable more people to attend and learn about the research being done at ISU.

"The research showcase is just that -- a look at the wide variety of research happening at Iowa State," he said. "The event will run from about 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., giving everyone plenty of time to attend pre-game activities before the 8 p.m. kickoff."

The showcase begins and ends at the Beef Nutrition farm, and will be held rain or shine. The farm is located at 3405 North Dakota Ave., approximately 4 miles north of the Highway 30/South Dakota Avenue interchange on the southwest corner of Ames.

"The showcase starts with registration at the farm from 10:30 to 11 a.m. and then we'll divide into smaller groups for an on-farm tour with several stops," Sellers said. "About noon, bus transportation will be provided to Kildee Hall on campus for lunch and more presentations. Following the final session, buses will return people to the farm."

Before the morning tour begins, attendees can watch a demonstration of a Teagle Tomahawk 8080WB bale shredder and talk with farm manager Jim Dahlquist. Staff and faculty will provide information on a number of topics, including feed efficiency in beef cattle, an overview of grazing research at the farm, and dealing with high sulfur diets.

Assistant professor of animal science Stephanie Hansen said several students also will be part of the event.

"Four graduate students and two undergrads will present current information about the research projects they're working on, ranging from testing for sulfur concentration of ethanol coproducts to using calcium oxide treated stover in feedlot cattle diets," she said. "They're excited to share what they've learned and how results could benefit producers."

Thanks to sponsorship from Elanco Animal Health and Titan Machinery, the entire Beef Nutrition Research Pre-game Showcase is free. However, it's important to preregister to assure adequate transportation, materials and meal counts for attendees. Please preregister by emailing or calling 515-294-2333 with the name and address of each attendee no later than Nov. 11.

Expanding Trade One Handshake at a Time

Sam Brownback, Governor, State of Kansas

Business is often built on relationships rather than contracts. Many deals have been made on a handshake. Realistically, in today’s world, you still need the contract to complete the deal. However, building a strong relationship and a great deal of trust must come before that contract is even a possibility.

I recently returned from a great trip to Russia and Kazakhstan with Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman and ranchers from Kansas, Colorado and Montana. While there, we toured ranches and spoke with producers and government leaders about what we can do to open up their countries to more agricultural trade from Kansas and the rest of the United States.

My goal for this trip was to begin developing these relationships. By laying the foundations for trade, we allow American farmers, ranchers and agribusiness do what they do best –– produce the superior livestock, beef and other agriculture products that other countries demand.

This trip focused on livestock genetics. Russia and Kazakhstan are oil-producing countries looking to build their agriculture sectors. Both countries have what we would consider to be small cow herds. In the last few years, they have been buying live, registered cattle as seed stock to rebuild their herds.

Russia and Kazakhstan are looking around the world for genetics, but they want the best. There’s no doubt in my mind the best livestock genetics in the world reside in the United States. This is a great opportunity for American ranches to take advantage of the multi-generation investment they have made in developing superior genetics in their cattle.

In 2007, live animal exports from the U.S. to Russia were $150,000. Since then, trips like the one I just returned from have focused on increasing U.S. livestock genetic exports to Russia. Live animal exports in the 10 months available for fiscal year 2011 are a record $21 million.

In our visits with people in Russia and Kazakhstan, we encouraged them to consider expanding from live, purebred cattle to also consider U.S. commercial genetics, embryos and semen. Cattle are just the first step. Russia and Kazakhstan also need our animal health and ranch management expertise to succeed in the beef business. On our trip, we also discussed a need for farm equipment and feed ingredients.

The world population is growing at a tremendous rate, and more people than ever are entering the middle class. With this, there will be greater demand for quality beef. Russia’s meat and poultry demand is expected to increase by approximately 14 percent in the next few years. We need to take advantage of this growing demand, both as American ranchers looking to do business and agriculturists looking to feed a growing world population.

I’m pleased that both Russia and Kazakhstan have asked us to develop memorandums of understanding, solidifying their positive trade relationships with Kansas. My hope is the relationships we are building and the groundwork we’re laying today will go beyond creating beneficial trade opportunities in the short term and set Kansas and the United States up at the forefront of these efforts to feed the world.

South Korea to Miss Trade Pact Deadline

South Korea's ruling party on Friday rejected opposition demands for changes to a free trade deal with the United States but said it would not use its parliamentary majority to push through the pact before the self-imposed deadline of end-October.

The conservative Grand National Party had said it would try to pass the trade bill this week, adding pressure on the main opposition Democratic Party to accept what had been its initiative, negotiated and signed when it was in power in 2007.

"We have done all we conscientiously could to try to listen to the Democratic Party's demands," GNP chairman of the parliamentary trade committee, Nam Kyung-pil said. "But a renegotiation is just not possible."

The Democratic Party has demanded a renegotiation with the United States to fix what it said was an imbalance in national interests. The two sides reworked the deal last year to address U.S. automakers' concerns that the original pact would not help open the South Korean market quickly enough.

The ruling GNP has a comfortable parliamentary majority to pass bills but has been unwilling to risk political damage by pushing the trade bill through ahead of a general parliamentary and presidential elections next year.

Pressure has been on the South Korean government of President Lee Myung-bak to get the pact ratified by parliament after the U.S. Congress approved it two weeks ago and President Barack Obama signed it with two other U.S. trade deals.

The deal was the biggest U.S. trade pact since the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect in 1994.

Some studies said the deal could boost $67 billion two-way trade between the allies by as much as a quarter. Despite charges that it gives the U.S. auto industry a major inroad into the South Korean market, Korean car makers stand to gain with a swift and greater access to the United States.

U.S. farmers are expected to be big winners under the agreement, with more than $1.8 billion a year in increased exports to South Korea.

The bill faces tough resistance by South Korean farmers who back a politically powerful lobby. They say government assurances of protecting their livelihood fall far short.

Is Agriculture Giving Enough?

Tim Lust, CEO, National Sorghum Producers

Powerful numbers, powerful industry:
·         $370 billion in products in 2011;
·         $284 billion spent to produce those goods;
·         delivering the building blocks for almost every bite of food you take;
·         creating the fibers of at least one item of clothing you’re wearing right now;
·         supporting some 21 million jobs in the U.S.

Agriculture is a bright spot in an otherwise dreary economy. While the rest of the nation struggles to stay in the black, agriculture’s net grew by more than 17 percent last year. This is a good mark for an industry that is absolutely necessary, whether profitable or not, since it provides a reliable food supply for the world.

Now, the agriculture policies which have historically supported this industry, have been well under budget, and have contributed more than $15 billion in directed budget savings since 2006, are offering $23 billion more in cuts to aid the crucial work of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.

Is it enough?

Critics of farm policy argue that agriculture is a very healthy industry that does not deserve government support while the rest of the country suffers. But one must really understand the risks inherent to the very necessary business of growing food, fiber and fuel before tossing agriculture policy to the wolves. As with everything, there are two sides to the story.

Farmers shoulder extraordinary risk every year to produce a crop under scenarios that would make any small business owner quake in her shoes.

A farmer controls neither input costs nor market prices. Input costs are determined largely upon the oil market because common inputs are inexorably linked to petroleum for their production and slow to respond to changes in that market. Commodity markets are volatile and cyclical, wildly swinging from day to day, and even more dramatically over the six months between planting and harvest. When the farmer does harvest his crop, he may be forced to take that day’s market price regardless of the likelihood it will be higher tomorrow. Furthermore, in a long-term period of depressed prices, the farmer has no recourse but to sell his crop low, even if input costs that year were at historic highs. Every decision is a gamble.

Between planting and harvest, the farmer has no control over that most critical variable, weather. From March to November, every cloud could bring nourishing rain or devastating hail. A string of sunny days could either bake the ground to a crust too hard for seedlings to break through, or at just the right time, facilitate the healthy development of a panicle of sorghum. A cool spell just before harvest could reduce grain quality – and price – by more than half. A farmer watches the weather forecast with the same hope and apprehension of a Rangers fan watching the World Series, but the stakes are much higher.

Because farmers take on such massive input costs – hundreds of dollars for each bag of seed, thousands for fertilizer and a half-million for one piece of harvest equipment – they depend each year on operating loans from local lenders. Just like when you purchase a home, the banker requires income assurance.

Farmers provide that in a variety of ways. One of them is insurance, another has historically been direct production flexibility payments. The matrix of farm programs encompassed in the farm bill provide a farmer with certainty that the loan he takes out for this year’s crop won’t be the reason he loses his business to the bank if a July thunderstorm decimates his cotton.

Without a level of economic security provided by farm policy, one bad year can destroy a farmer’s business, and along with it, the goods he contributes back to the physical and economic wellbeing of this country. With a rapidly aging population of only 210,000 full time farmers providing 80 percent of the nation’s agricultural output, every business counts. When an American farmer goes out of business, the thin green line separating the U.S. from importing its food the same way we import our oil, grows ever thinner.

The risk of relying on other nations for food security is too great. America’s farm policy is being refined right now to do more with less – more than 20 percent less. Despite zealous criticism, this one economic bright spot in the U.S. economy does warrant the continued support of the people of the United States. Through the most efficient, effective means possible, even as it sacrifices more than its fair share for deficit reduction, agriculture policy is worth sustaining.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thursday October 27 Ag News

Wetland Compliance Needed When Repairing Flood Damaged Land

With the Missouri River floodwaters receded, many landowners and agricultural producers have started work to repair the land which was affected by this summer’s flood.  Some of these producers may be participating in the Farm Service Agency’s Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) for assistance while other producers are working independently to get lands rehabilitated for planting next spring.  Either way, producers doing such repair work need to keep in mind conservation compliance requirements, including wetland compliance, as they move forward.

“It’s important for landowners and producers who are planning or completing rehabilitation work to evaluate whether their plan includes only taking land back to pre-flood conditions, or if additional work is going to be done,” said Thurston County Farm Service Agency Executive Director Josie Waterbury.  For example, in some cases, it may be very easy for a contractor to take soil deposits from the flood in one part of a field to fill in a wet area which existed before the flood in a different part of the field, and this may or may not be acceptable under wetland compliance rules.  Waterbury emphasized that anybody doing rehabilitation work should contact their local Farm Service Agency office.

“Producers can discuss their repair plans with their local FSA office and the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to determine if there are any conservation compliance concerns moving forward,” Waterbury said.  Meeting conservation compliance requirements is important for maintaining FSA program benefit eligibility. “By visiting with our office, we can document the producers’ repair plans and hopefully avoid any conservation compliance issues related to flood damage repair projects in the future,” Waterbury noted. 

$41,752 Grant to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

EPA Region 7 has awarded the University of Nebraska at Lincoln an environmental education grant totaling $41,752. This is one of six grants being awarded to schools, universities and organizations in the Agency’s four-state region to fund the development of new projects. The execution of these environmental education projects will further EPA’s commitment to protecting human health and the environment.

“Educating our communities on environmental issues is crucial to creating a safe and healthy environment for our children to learn and grow,” said Karl Brooks, regional administrator. “The diversity of the proposals selected shows the commitment of the people of Region 7 to producing and sustaining a healthy environment.”

This project will implement a 10-week training course for 50 volunteers. Upon completion of the course and 30 hours of community service, volunteers will become certified Climate Masters. These Climate Masters will commit to take actions against climate change. Those involved with this venture will assist the community in becoming more knowledgeable and in making informed decisions to address climate change issues, which is expected to result in a more sustainable environment.

The Environmental Education Grant program provides seed money for new projects and assistance to advance existing projects. The projects increase public awareness of environmental issues and provide the skills to take responsible actions to protect the environment.

USDA Announces Disaster Assistance Sign up for 2010 Crop Losses

Thurston County USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director Josie Waterbury today announced that the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) program enrollment for 2010 crop year losses begins November 14, 2011.

“Producers across the state experienced several natural disasters during the 2010 crop year that caused hardship and financial losses to many agricultural operations,” said Waterbury.  “The SURE program provides assistance to producers when disaster strikes, so I strongly encourage producers with 2010 crop losses to contact the Thurston County FSA office to learn more about the program," she said.

To qualify for a SURE payment, the producer's operation must be located in a county that was declared a disaster for 2010 (or be contiguous to a declared county) and have at least a 10 percent production loss that affects one crop of economic significance.  Thurston County was contiguous to a disaster declared county in 2010.  Producers with agricultural operations located outside a disaster county are eligible for SURE benefits if they had a production loss greater or equal to 50 percent of the normal production on the farm. 

To meet program eligibility requirements, producers must have obtained a policy or plan of insurance for all insurable crops through the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation and obtained Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage on non-insurable crops, if available, from FSA.  Eligible farmers and ranchers who meet the definition of a socially disadvantaged, limited resource, or beginning farmer or rancher do not have to meet this requirement.  Forage crops intended for grazing are not eligible for SURE benefits.

Weekly ethanol production data for the week ending 10/21/2011

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 909,000 barrels per day (b/d) – or 38.178 million gallons daily.  That is up 1,000 b/d from the previous week.  The 4-week average for ethanol production stood at 885,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 13.57 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 17.3 million barrels.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 357 million gallons daily.  Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 10.69%.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 13.783 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 102,587 metric tons of livestock feed, 90,580 metric tons of which were distillers grains.  The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal.  Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 3.94 million pounds of corn oil daily. 

Applications Due for PQA Plus Advisor Certification

The final Pork Quality Assurance (PQA) Plus Advisor Certification session in 2011 offered by the Iowa Pork Industry Center (IPIC) will be held Nov. 15, and IPIC Associate Director James McKean urged people to submit their applications before the Nov. 8 deadline.

"If you're interested in attending, please check the qualification requirements and submit your application soon," McKean said. "There is a limit on the number of attendees and not everyone is guaranteed a spot."

To become certified, attendance at the day-long training session and passing an exam given at the conclusion of the session are required.

To be eligible to submit an application, people must meet the following qualifications:
-- Be a veterinarian, extension specialist or agriculture educator (defined for this program as a person who spends full time in adult education or at least half time in production training), and
-- have a D.V.M. or B.S. in animal science or an equivalent combination of education and swine production experience as determined by the PQA Plus trainer reviewing the application, and
-- have two years of recent documentable swine production experience.

Those who qualify and are interested in the program should download, complete and submit the two-page application form available online at The form also is available by fax by calling Sunny Hsu at IPIC at 515-294-4103. If interested in attending, submit the application as soon as possible. Applications are due on Nov. 8, with $75 due from approved applicants by the certification session on Nov. 15.

American Ethanol Raises Profile at Martinsville

The American Ethanol coalition announced today that the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet race car will feature a special-edition American Ethanol paint scheme at this weekend's Martinsville Speedway NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. This car will be driven by American Ethanol spokesman and recent Talladega race winner, Clint Bowyer. Millions of TV viewers will be seeing the American Ethanol brand, as the sporty black, silver and green paint design will be on-track all weekend and will be accompanied with a broadcast in-car camera on Sunday.

Through its partnership with NASCAR, which is using Sunoco Green E15 racing fuel this season, American Ethanol is promoting the nation's homegrown, clean-burning alternative fuel to millions of brand-loyal NASCAR racing fans. NASCAR has made a seamless transition to the new fuel by developing and implementing flawless distribution at the track, where many racing teams report an increase in horsepower.

In fact, in a detailed 'white paper' issued on September 21, NASCAR announced it has accumulated more than a million miles of driving in 2011 on America's toughest proving grounds: the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™, NASCAR Nationwide Series™ and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series™. With more than 1.3 million miles accumulated in practice, qualifying and racing laps in NASCAR racing vehicles - all without incident since the racing season began in February with the Daytona 500 - the report demonstrates the performance of mid-level ethanol blends. You can access this report here.

"The transition to E15 has been seamless and overwhelmingly positive for myself and my team, and I am honored to have American Ethanol on the No. 33 Chevrolet this weekend," said Bowyer. "I support American farmers as they strive to develop energy independence for our country and I look forward to representing American Ethanol both on and off the track this weekend at Martinsville."

"We are extremely excited that Bowyer's No. 33 car will prominently feature American Ethanol in this week's race," said National Corn Growers Association NASCAR Advisory Committee Chair Martin Barbre. "Of course, we again congratulate our spokesman on his major victory last week. Now, tens of millions of fans across the country will be keyed into Clint as he again shows the incredible performance of E15 as it fuels him back into victory lane again."

"This branded race car design raises American Ethanol's profile in a powerful way, especially coming off Clint Bowyer's win last week in Talladega," said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. "There's no sport more American than NASCAR, and no fuel more American than ethanol. American Ethanol's partnership with NASCAR shows fans across the country that ethanol is a safe and viable choice for their cars, and that it creates jobs in the U.S., decreases our reliance on foreign oil and improves our environment."

The Martinsville Speedway Sprint Cup Series race will be on ESPN beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET.