Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wednesday November 30 Ag News

Fortenberry: Corps Must Reform Missouri River Flood Control Practices

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry today testified before the House Transportation Committee, calling on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reassess and reform its Missouri River flood control practices in light of the devastating 2011 Missouri River flooding.

“Nebraska and other Missouri River Basin states were hit hard by this year’s flooding,” Fortenberry said.  “Families’ lives were turned upside down. Nebraskans lost homes, farms, and businesses, communities suffered significant damage to key infrastructure, and our state’s two nuclear power facilities were surrounded by floodwaters.

“Mr. Chairman, it was surreal seeing a boat tied to a nuclear plant,” Fortenberry added.  “It is necessary that we now thoroughly examine how existing river management policies played a role in the flooding and its dramatic impacts while determining new strategies for flood control moving forward.”

Fortenberry, whose First Congressional District includes 11 Nebraska counties along the Missouri River, has cosponsored legislation, H.R. 2942, to direct the Chief of the Army Corps of Engineers to revise Missouri River management policies to ensure greater storage capacity and prevent serious downstream flooding.  In order to assist restoration of flood-damaged infrastructure, Fortenberry has also introduced H.R. 3347, which would exempt any road, highway, or bridge damaged by a natural disaster from duplicative environmental document reviews if the road, highway, or bridge is reconstructed in the same location.

Texas Drought Visible in New National Groundwater Maps

The record-breaking drought in Texas that has fueled wildfires, decimated crops and forced cattle sales also has reduced levels of groundwater in much of the state to the lowest levels seen in more than 60 years, according to new national maps produced by NASA and distributed by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The latest groundwater map, released Nov. 29, shows large patches of maroon over eastern Texas, indicating severely depressed groundwater levels. The maps, produced weekly by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., are publicly available on the website of the Drought Center (, headquartered at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

"Texas groundwater will take months or longer to recharge," said NASA hydrologist Matt Rodell, based in Goddard. "Even if we have a major rainfall event, most of the water runs off. It takes a longer period of sustained greater-than-average precipitation to recharge aquifers significantly."

The maps are based on data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites, which detect small changes in the Earth's gravity field caused by the redistribution of water on and beneath the land surface. The paired satellites travel about 137 miles (220 km) apart and record small changes in the distance separating them as they encounter variations in Earth’s gravitational field.

To make the maps, scientists used a sophisticated computer model that combines measurements of water storage from GRACE with a long-term meteorological dataset, to generate a continuous record of soil moisture and groundwater that stretches back to 1948. The meteorological data includes precipitation, temperature, solar radiation and other ground- and space-based measurements.

The color-coded maps show how much water is stored now as a probability of occurrence in the 63-year record. The maroon shading over eastern Texas, for example, shows that the level of dryness over the last week occurred less than 2 percent of the time between 1948 and the present.

The groundwater maps aren't the only maps based on GRACE data that the Drought Center publishes each week. It also distributes soil moisture maps that show moisture changes in the root zone down to about three feet (1 meter) below the surface, as well as surface soil moisture maps that show changes within the top inch (2 cm) of the land.

"All of these maps offer policymakers new information into subsurface water fluctuations at regional to national scales that has not been available in the past," said the Drought Center's Brian Wardlow. The maps provide finer resolution or are more consistently available than other similar sources of information, and having the maps for the three different levels should help decision makers distinguish between short-term and long-term droughts.

"These maps would be impossible to generate using only ground-based observations," Rodell said. "There are groundwater wells all around the United States, and the U.S. Geological Survey does keep records from some of those wells, but it's not spatially continuous and there are some big gaps.”

The maps also offer farmers, ranchers, water resource managers and even individual homeowners a new tool to monitor the health of critical groundwater resources. "People rely on groundwater for irrigation, for domestic water supply and for industrial uses, but there's little information available on regional to national scales on groundwater storage variability and how that has responded to a drought," Rodell said. "Over a long-term dry period there will be an effect on groundwater storage and groundwater levels. It's going to drop quite a bit, people's wells could dry out, and it takes time to recover."

The maps are the result of a NASA-funded project at the Drought Center and NASA Goddard to make it easier for the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor to incorporate data from the GRACE satellites. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., developed GRACE and manages the mission for NASA. The groundwater and soil moisture maps are updated each Tuesday.

The maps can be viewed at

To learn more about the GRACE mission, go to: Other relevant links: NASA Data Reveal Major Groundwater Loss in California,; NASA Satellites Unlock Secret to Northern India's Vanishing Water,   

Upper Big Blue NRD is Hosting the 8th Annual CROP-TIP Field Day 

Cornerstone Bank and the Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District will be sponsoring the “8th Annual CROP-TIP Field Day” on December 7, 2011, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the York City Auditorium.  The public is invited to attend this free event.  (Registration will be from 9:00-9:30 a.m.).

The “Cornerstone Resources Observation Plot—Test Irrigation Project” (CROP-TIP) was an idea formulated in  January 2004 by Cornerstone Bank and the Upper Big Blue NRD.  Similar to an outdoor classroom, the water  conservation project is used as a research plot for producers and youth throughout the area.  We will share the data and new irrigation systems implemented at CROP-TIP this year.  We are expecting a large crowd for this event and a RSVP is required by calling Patty at the Upper Big Blue NRD at (402) 362-6601.

The following speakers are featured and will cover these topics:  
Sue Martin, Ag Analyst for the television show “Market to Market”: “Positioning Your Ag Business During These Current Economic Conditions”.
Dr. Al Dutcher, State of Nebraska Climatologist: “La Nina Conditions Will Likely Lead to Production Problems During the 2012 Growing Season”.
Dan Leininger, Upper Big Blue NRD:  “CROP-TIP & KROP-TIP Harvest Results”.
Rod DeBuhr, Upper Big Blue NRD:  “Groundwater Quality in the Upper Big Blue NRD”.

The Public is welcome and encouraged to attend.  There will be a Free Meal and plenty of Door Prizes along with several AG Vendor booths …everyone is invited, but you must RSVP your spot by calling Patty Kyhn, Upper Big Blue NRD at (402) 362-6601.  Call now as space is limited!  Sponsors include:  Cornerstone Bank (York, NE), United Farmers COOP (York, NE), Eco-Drip (Hastings, NE), Great Plains Meter (Aurora, NE),  NETAFIM (Salina, KS), Irrometer (Riverdale, CA), John Deere Water (San Marcos, CA),  Tri-City Meters (Alda, NE), D & M Enterprises (Stromsburg, NE), Northern Agri-Services (Henderson, NE), and Van Wall Water (Perry, IA).  

Attendance at this field day will fulfill the requirements for Zones 5 & 6 water quality management training.

NFB to Honor Bargmans with Silver Eagle Award

Nebraska Farm Bureau will present its highest honor, the Silver Eagle Award, to Eugene Bargman of Beatrice and his late wife Caroline on Dec. 6 at the 2011 Nebraska Farm Bureau Convention in Kearney. The Silver Eagle Award honors outstanding leadership and distinguished service to the agricultural industry.

Eugene Bargman, 87, and Caroline, who died in a car accident in 2006, are widely respected for their commitment to God, Country, Community, Agriculture and Farm Bureau, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Keith Olsen said.

"They were an effective team during their 60 years together and their commitment to their beliefs showed in their actions," he said. "Until Caroline's passing, you always saw them together, working to help agriculture, young people and their community."

The Bargmans were married in January 1946. Eugene completed his service in the Air Force later that year and taught "On the Farm" night classes in agriculture to military veterans. While he studied for his applied agriculture associates degree at the University of Nebraska, the Bargmans were the first house parents for the Lutheran Student House and were involved with campus ministry for more than 60 years.

The Bargmans were early adopters of conservation technology on their diversified farm near Pickrell, where they raised their five children. They were co-operators for on-farm studies with state and federal agencies and both were leaders in Gage County Farm Bureau. Eugene and Caroline both testified numerous times before local governing boards and the Nebraska Legislature on agriculture issues, especially land use and conservation issues.

Eugene has been a Farm Bureau member for 63 years. He has held many offices in Gage County Farm Bureau and continues to serve as its secretary-treasurer. He is known for his enthusiasm for Farm Bureau and his success in recruiting new Farm Bureau members. Both he and Caroline served on Nebraska Farm Bureau's State Legislative Policy Committee and on other committees and task forces.

Eugene served as president of the Gage County Fair Board and of the Federal Land Bank board of directors and was a member of agricultural advisory boards for Nebraska governors, U.S. Senators and Members of Congress.

Caroline was a member of the Nebraska Soybean and Grain Sorghum boards and of the first U.S. Soybean Board. The Bargmans devoted many hours to mentoring their teen-aged hired hands and 4-H and FFA members and were strong supporters of the Agriculture in the Classroom program. They delighted in hosting tour groups and international visitors to their farm.

Both were leaders in St. John's Lutheran Church in Beatrice and Eugene served on the executive committee of the central district of the American Lutheran Church and on the national church's committee on rural ministry.

Today Eugene lives in a Beatrice retirement community, where he enjoys educating his fellow residents about agriculture and serving as a leader for social and educational activities.

The Silver Eagle Award has been presented annually since 1986, when former U.S. Rep. Virginia Smith was the first recipient. Farm Bureau members and County Farm Bureaus may nominate individuals and organizations with Nebraska connections for the award.

NCBA Commends Committee Support of Farm Dust Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce today, Nov. 30, 2011, voted in support of H.R. 1633, the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 2011. The legislation passed (33-16) through the full committee with bipartisan support and will head to the full House of Representatives for a vote. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Deputy Environmental Counsel Ashley Lyon said this “commonsense” legislation is gaining momentum and will receive bipartisan support when brought to a vote in the coming days.

“Allowing federal agencies to continue regulating farmers and ranchers to the point of no return is not something we will sit by and allow to happen,” said Lyon. “We have to bring some accountability to regulatory agencies. They must be aware of the economic impact their actions are having on farm and ranch families throughout the country. We commend Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) for introducing this legislation and the original cosponsors Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), Larry Kissell (D-N.C.) and Robert Hurt (R-Va.). We also commend members of Congress from both sides of the aisle for supporting this commonsense bill.”

The Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 2011 would do multiple things to ensure clean air while also providing regulatory certainty for farm and ranch families, according to Lyon. She said the legislation recognizes that dust from agricultural activities has never been shown to have a health impact at ambient levels. The bill would exempt farm dust from the Clean Air Act unless the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency can prove it is a significant problem and that applying the standard is worth the costs. It also gives states and localities the rightful authority in regulating dust, which is a local issue.

 “It is important that state and local governments determine what regulatory action to take regarding dust. As we all know, dust depends on geography,” Lyon continued. “All regions of the country are very different and local and state governments must be allowed to set policies that make sense. The federal government’s one-size-fits-all mentality is neither practical nor scientific.”

If H.R. 1633 passes the House, it will move to the Senate, where it was introduced by Senators Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and has support from 26 bipartisan senators.

Fortenberry Comments on Proposed Federal Rule Affecting Young Detasselers

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry today urged the federal Department of Labor to reconsider a proposed rule that would restrict youth involvement in certain agricultural work, including detasseling.

“It may be a foreign concept in the Beltway, but detasseling is a rite of passage for many Nebraskans,” Fortenberry said.  “Thousands of young teenagers earn money each summer working in the fields.  In the process, they learn the value of hard work and its rewards.  While it is important to ensure worker safety in all circumstances, this uninformed and unnecessary edict from Washington threatens a vital Heartland industry and an important economic opportunity for many Nebraskans.”

Fortenberry, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, also submitted to the Department of Labor his concerns about the proposed rule’s potential impact on family farm operations and agricultural education programs such as 4-H and Future Farmers of America.

Convention Offers Cattlemen's College, Tours, Info Sessions

Iowa cattle producers will have several opportunities for experiencing and learning practical information that can be used immediately on their farms at the Iowa Cattlemen's Association Convention and Annual Meeting Dec. 12-14. The meeting will be at The Meadows Event & Conference Center in Altoona.

"There's no way producers can lose," said ICA convention organizer Trent Wellman. "The theme of our meeting is 'What's in Your Cards?', and ICA is offering many options to draw a winning hand."

"In addition, new ICA members will receive one free hotel night's stay at either of the ICA Convention and Annual Meeting hotels," Wellman said.

On Dec. 12, cattle producers can attend a Cattlemen's College in the morning. The Pfizer-sponsored event features Dr. D. Dee Griffin, Feedlot Production Management Veterinarian at the University of Nebraska's Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center. Dr. Griffin will do an economic review of a cost-effective health program, as well as analyze the cost of mistakes.

In the afternoon, three cattle facilities in Story County will be part of a bus tour. Each farmer's facility shows a different approach that today's feeders can consider. The facilities include a hoop building; a modified hoop, which is an open lot combined with a hoop; and a monoslope building combined with an alternative technology system.

In the evening, building designers will make brief comments before a panel presentation about using crop residues as feed stock. This program has been under development through a collaboration of John Deere, ADM, and Monsanto. Dan Loy, Interim Director of the Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University will pull together the key issues from the afternoon and evening events.

On Dec. 13, there will be six different Info-Expo sessions held throughout the day. Topics include: Stacking the Deck for the Future Cowherd - Technology and genetics will help the commercial cow-calf operator become more efficient and profitable.

Hedge Your Bets to Control Your Feeding Costs with High Grain Prices -- Speaker Dan Loy, Iowa State University, will discuss common technology and alternative options to manage operational risks.

All In: the NCBA View of National Priorities on Farm Bill and Issues Affecting Iowa -- Kristina Butts, Executive Director of Legislative Affairs for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, will discuss federal budget issues that are driving decisions at the federal level, how will that impact Iowa cattle producers.

Playing the Rush When it Comes to Adding Value to Feeder Calves -- Kellie Carolan, ICA Seedstock Manager, will review ideas that focus on adding value to your calves from birth to weaning.

Taking the Odds: Being Proactive About Local Water Quality and Your Operation --Gene Tinker, the Coordinator of Animal Feeding Operations for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and Shawn Shouse, Iowa State University Extension Ag Engineer, will talk about a self-assessment tool for producers to use on their operation to ensure water quality, and other environmental issues impacting cattle producers.

Determining your Ante When It Comes to Rebuilding the Cow Herd -- Iowa State University Extension Beef Specialists Joe Sellers and Byron Leu will discuss how heifer development and sales will be keys for building back the national and state cow herd.

Also on Dec. 13, the Beef Product, Business Issues, and Cattle Production policy committees will meet to discuss new proposed resolutions, as well as review expiring policies in each of the areas.

Other activities on Dec. 13 are a trade show, awards luncheon, trade show reception, and dinner followed by the Iowa Cattlemen's Foundation Annual Fundraising Auction. The trade show will continue on Dec. 14, and the annual business meetings of the Iowa Beef Industry Council (which is responsible for the use of check-off dollars) and the Iowa Cattlemen's Association will be held.

Early registration for the ICA Convention and Annual Meeting will save attendees $35 per person. Registration is $150. The registration price includes four meals, the trade show, and all educational sessions. The pre-convention event on Dec. 12 is free of charge, but registration is required so meal accomodations can be properly planned.

Get more information or register for the meeting at the ICA website,

Corn Caucus Project Presidential Report Card Released

Today, the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA), in partnership with the National Corn Growers Association released the Corn Caucus Project Presidential Report Card, a reference guide to presidential candidates’ positions on agricultural policies. 

“The Corn Caucus Project is an initiative to help Iowa’s corn growers compare the candidates on agricultural issues,” said Kevin Ross a farmer from Minden and ICGA President.  “We do not make any recommendations or endorsements, we just let the candidates speak for themselves.”

The Corn Caucus Project Presidential Report Card provides information on the eight major candidates’ responses to questions on legislative priorities for corn. Topics on the survey included: ethanol, farm programs, Environmental Protection Agency regulations, trade and transportation.

Based on survey responses submitted by presidential candidates, media and official records, each candidate was scored and graded.  If a candidate failed to complete the survey, the committee used published statements, official records or information from the candidate’s website to complete the voter guide. Answers to the survey and issue tracking are available online at

“If there is a question affecting the corn industry, we want every presidential candidate to know an Iowa corn grower who is ready and willing to provide answers and we want Iowans to know how the candidates stand on issues that are important to Iowa’s corn growers,” said Ross.

Update Your Cropland Cash Rental Rate

Cash rent lease agreements are popular because they are intended to be simple, relieving the owner of making decisions throughout the year and giving tenants the freedom to make their own decisions for raising a crop. Fluctuating markets, the risk and returns from changing prices, yields and costs are all borne by the tenant, making it a challenge for a landowner to decide a fair price for the land.

The Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach Ag Decision Maker (AgDM) website provides several resources to address that challenge. The Ag Decision Maker leasing page is a portal to all Iowa State resources on improving farm lease contracts. The decision tool, Cash Rental Rate Estimation, is a user friendly spreadsheet to compare different methods for computing a cropland cash rent. It includes inputs for current prices, typical farm yields and estimated production costs to provide answers based on projected returns to the land.

Users can estimate rents based on a share of gross income, yield potential, CSR, land value, tenant's residual or a crop share equivalent. Detailed information on each method is available in the coordinating information file, Computing a Cropland Cash Rental Rate.

According to Tim Eggers, ISU Extension specialist, many lease rates are being negotiated through the winter months. "There is a common misperception that rents are set before the lease termination deadline of Sept. 1," said Eggers. "Landlords or tenants who want to make a change in their existing lease, whether it is oral or written, need to provide a notice of lease termination to the other party prior to Sept. 1. However, the leasing year doesn't begin until March 1. Many lease rates and conditions are negotiated after harvest and even in the winter."

The leasing page,, is a portal to rental surveys, lease forms and advice on how to improve farm lease contracts. The cropland cash rent decision tool and information file are available online, at county ISU Extension offices, or by contacting Ag Decision Maker at:

AgDM covers a wide range of topics in farm management, agricultural marketing, new business development and renewable energy. It is coordinated by ISU Extension and Outreach economists and farm management specialists.

Ethanol monthly production data for September

According to the Energy Information Administration, ethanol production in September averaged fell to 888,000 barrels per day (b/d) – or 37.3 million gallons.  That is the lowest level since April. Through September, ethanol production is averaging 900,000 b/d.  That's an annualized rate of 13.8 billion gallons.

Demand for September, as calculated by the Renewable Fuels Association, stood at 871,000 b/d. 

Stocks of ethanol rose to 18.4 million barrels.  That translates to 21.2 days of supply.

Week of Nov 25 production data
According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 930,000 b/d  – or 39 million gallons daily.  That is up 13,000 b/d from the previous week and marks the high for the year.  The 4-week average for ethanol production stood at 918,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 14.1 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 17. million barrels.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 368.3 million gallons daily.  Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 10.61%.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 14.101 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 104,670 metric tons of livestock feed, 94,434 metric tons of which were distillers grains.  The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal.  Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.28 million pounds of corn oil daily. 

November Farm Prices Received Index Up 1 Point

The preliminary All Farm Products Index of Prices Received by Farmers in November, at 185 percent, based on 1990-1992=100, is up 1 point (0.5 percent) from October. The Crop Index is up 5 points (2.5 percent) and the Livestock Index increased 2 points (1.3 percent). Producers received higher prices for corn, lettuce, cattle, and broilers and lower prices for soybeans, hogs, apples, and hay. 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 milk, cattle, corn, and cotton offset the decreased marketing of soybeans, peanuts, potatoes, and sunflowers.

The preliminary All Farm Products Index is up 31 points (20 percent) from November 2010. The Food Commodities Index, at 171, decreased 2 points (1.2 percent) from last month but increased 22 points (15 percent) from November 2010.

All crops:
The November index, at 208, increased 2.5 percent from October and is 21 percent above November 2010. Index increases for feed grains & hay, oilseeds, commercial vegetables, and potatoes & dry beans more than offset the index decrease for fruits & nuts.

Food grains: The November index, at 237, is unchanged from the previous month but 19 percent above a year ago. The November price for all wheat, at $7.33 per bushel, is up 4 cents from October and $1.23 above November 2010.

Feed grains & hay: The November index, at 259, is up 4.0 percent from last month and 34 percent above a year ago. The corn price, at $6.00 per bushel, is up 29 cents from last month and $1.45 above November 2010. The all hay price, at $176.00 per ton, is down $5.00 from October but $66.00 higher than last November. Sorghum grain, at $11.00 per cwt, is 30 cents above October and up $2.56 from November last year.

Oilseeds: The November index, at 213, is up 3.9 percent from October and 15 percent higher than November 2010. The soybean price, at $11.50 per bushel, decreased 20 cents from October but is 40 cents above November 2010.

Livestock and products:
The November index, at 156, is 1.3 percent above last month and up 16 percent from November 2010. Compared with a year ago, prices are higher for cattle, hogs, milk, calves, and turkeys. Prices for broilers and eggs are lower than last year.

Meat animals: The November index, at 157, is up 0.6 percent from last month and 29 percent higher than last year. The November hog price, at $65.70 per cwt, is down $3.00 from October but $14.20 higher than a year ago. The November beef cattle price of $119.00 per cwt is up $2.00 from last month and $25.00 higher than November 2010.

Dairy products: The November index, at 152, is unchanged from a month ago but 11 percent higher than November last year. The November all milk price of $19.90 per cwt is unchanged from last month but $2.00 higher than November2010.

Poultry & eggs: The November index, at 155, is up 4.0 percent from October but 4.9 percent below a year ago. The November market egg price, at 86.2 cents per dozen, increased 0.5 cent from October but is 15.8 cents below November 2010. The November broiler price, at 45.0 cents per pound, is up 2.0 cents from October but 3.0 cents below a year ago. The November turkey price, at 78.4 cents per pound, is up 1.1 cents from the previous month and 4.8 cents from a year earlier.

Prices Paid Index Unchanged
The November 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 October but 18 points above (9.6 percent) November 2010. Higher prices in November for feeder cattle, nitrogen, diesel, and mixed fertilizer offset lower prices for complete feeds, concentrates, supplements, and other services.

MF Global Cuts Ties to Grains

MF Global Holdings Ltd. on Tuesday cut some of its last ties to the grain markets that it once dominated, shedding memberships at the Kansas City exchange and possibly at the Minneapolis exchange.

The bankrupt brokerage unloaded the last of its memberships at the Kansas City Board of Trade, selling two for $480,000 each and one for $500,000, according to the KCBT.

The sales came after MF Global sold three KCBT memberships last week for around the same price, which has been roughly the going rate for memberships this fall.

The Minneapolis Grain Exchange, which trades hard red spring wheat futures, confirmed a membership at the exchange was sold for $106,000 on Tuesday, but said it would take a few days for the identity of the seller to be known.

"MF Global no longer has any Class A memberships," confirmed Shelia Summers, vice president of marketing at the KCBT.

MF Global Trustee Seeks Funds Transfer

 The trustee liquidating MF Global Holdings Ltd's broker-dealer unit asked a federal bankruptcy judge to authorize the distribution of as much as $2.1 billion to about 36,000 former commodities customers, roughly doubling the total payout to $4.1 billion.

James Giddens, the trustee for MF Global Inc, said the increased payout should restore at least two-thirds of U.S.-based property to former customers of that unit, where funds were frozen because of the parent's Oct. 31 bankruptcy. That's up from an earlier estimate of a 60 percent payout.

In a court filing, Giddens said the increased payout is "as full and as prompt a distribution" as circumstances and the law allow, and will leave him a sufficient reserve as he assesses customer claims.

The payout could provide further relief for customers whose money has been in limbo for one month. It requires approval by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Martin Glenn in Manhattan, who has authorized two transfers this month. A hearing is set for Dec. 9, court records show.

Once run by former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, MF Global filed for Chapter 11 protection after the New York-based company revealed a $6.3 billion bet on European sovereign debt. That worried investors, credit rating agencies and trading partners, and spurred a liquidity shortfall.

Stabenow Calls Former MF Global CEO to Testify

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, has called on former MF Global CEO Jon Corzine to testify before the Agriculture Committee at a hearing on Dec. 13. The hearing is the latest step in an ongoing investigation into circumstances surrounding the Oct. 31 bankruptcy of MF Global Holdings Ltd., the eighth largest bankruptcy in U.S. history. The Senate Agriculture Committee has oversight jurisdiction on commodity trading and its regulatory agencies.

"The farmers, small business owners and others who trusted this firm are now facing tremendous hardship and may ultimately never recover all of their money," said Chairwoman Stabenow. "A discovery of this magnitude demonstrates yet again the need for strong oversight and protections for consumers to prevent this sort of abuse from occurring. Anyone engaged in wrongdoing in this matter must be swiftly held accountable, to help bring justice to victims and to prevent further erosion of confidence in the financial system."

Since MF Global declared bankruptcy, huge amounts of the firm's customers' money has gone missing--it is now estimated that approximately $1.2 billion is unaccounted for. The FBI and Department of Justice recently opened criminal investigations into the MF Global bankruptcy.

MF Global customers consisted of many farmers, ranchers, small business owners and other middle class Americans. As a result of the bankruptcy, MF Global customer accounts had been frozen and many customers still cannot access their own money. It is possible that customers will never reclaim all of their money, meaning individual families could lose thousands, and in many cases tens of thousands of dollars.

MF Global customers are also being invited to testify at the December 13 hearing.

As part of an ongoing investigation into this matter, Senator Stabenow has also convened a hearing Dece. 1 to question top officials at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission about their oversight of MF Global and examine whether the protections in place to prevent a catastrophe of this sort are adequate.

CWT Assists with 7.4 Million Pounds of Cheese Exports

Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) has accepted 12 requests for export assistance from Dairy Farmers of America, Darigold and United Dairymen of Arizona to sell a total of 3,336 metric tons (7.355 million pounds) of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese to customers in Asia, the Middle East and Central America. The product will be delivered December through April 2012.

In 2011, CWT has assisted members in making export sales of Cheddar, Monterey Jack and Gouda cheese totaling 40,071 metric tons (88.3 million pounds) to 25 countries on four continents. That is the equivalent of 880 million pounds of milk, the annual production of 41,900 cows.

The CWT Export Assistance program will continue into 2012 and 2013, having achieved participation equal to 70.1 percent of milk marketings. In total, 33 cooperatives and 177 independent producers will be investing two cents per hundredweight that will fund the program's export efforts over the next two years.

Assisting CWT members through the Export Assistance program positively impacts producer milk prices in the short-term by reducing inventories that overhang the market and depress cheese prices. In the long-term, CWT's Export Assistance program helps member cooperatives gain and maintain market share, thus expanding the demand for U.S. dairy products and the farm milk that produces them.

CWT will pay export bonuses to the bidders only when delivery of the product is verified by the submission of the required documentation.

CHS Signs Agreement to Acquire Solbar

CHS Inc., the nation's leading farmer-owned cooperative, announced it has signed an agreement with Solbar Industries Ltd., a global leader in specialty soy proteins and soy isoflavones to acquire 100 percent of the shares of Solbar.

The purchase price reflects an equity value of approximately $133 million.

The parties anticipate closing on the CHS acquisition of Solbar in the first quarter of calendar 2012. Among the required conditions are the approval of the shareholders of Solbar and antitrust approvals in certain jurisdictions outside the United States.

Solbar provides soy protein ingredients to manufacturers in the meat, vegetarian, beverage, bars and crisps, confectionary, bakery, and pharmaceutical manufacturing markets.

Solbar corporate offices are in Ashdod, Israel, with manufacturing and logistics facilities in Ashdod and Ashkelon, Israel; South Sioux City, Nebraska; and Ningbo, China; and a sales office in Oakdale, Minn.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday November 25 Ag News

Repairing Flood-Damaged Fields
Shawn Shouse, Iowa State University Extension Ag Engineer

Extreme flooding events like the 2011 Missouri River flood can leave farm fields scarred by erosion, layered with thick sand deposits, and littered with flood debris. Repairing these fields for future crop production can be expensive and time-consuming, and demands thoughtful planning.

Safety First
Erosion from flood waters and excavation or deep tillage during repair may endanger underground utilities. Before any repair work is begun, contact your state underground utility location and marking service to have underground lines located. In Iowa, call (800) 292-8989, in Nebraska (800) 331-5666, and in Missouri (800) 344-7483.

Inspecting and documenting the amount of damage will help you develop a plan of action. Marking severe erosion locations, sand deposits, and debris accumulations on an aerial photo or map makes it easier to plan where to move, stockpile, or borrow materials during repair efforts. Using a tile probe or other rod may help you determine the depth of sand deposits.

Debris Removal
Any potentially hazardous materials such as fuel tanks, pesticide containers, or unmarked containers should be documented and moved with care. Contact your state department of environmental quality or natural resources for specific instructions on handling hazardous wastes.

It may be permissible to burn trees, brush, plant residues, and wood on the field site. Ask your local environmental quality or natural resources department about any restrictions. Keep fire safety in mind if any burning is done. Ash disposal may require special measures in some states.

Thin layers (less than 4 inches) of plant residues free from other trash often can be successfully tilled back into the soil. Pushing debris back into the river is prohibited.

Sand deposits less than 8 inches deep may be incorporated into the soil. Depth of the sand and underlying soil properties will determine how deep and aggressive the tillage should be. Deeper sand deposits may need to be spread to a thinner layer before incorporation. Excessively deep sand may have to be moved to a stockpile or disposal area either within the field or along a field border. Use caution when filling eroded areas with sand. Wetland determinations may be required and finished soil properties may be unsuitable. Pushing sand back into the river is prohibited.

Erosion Repair
Areas subject to moving flood waters may have sustained severe erosion. Erosion no deeper than plow depth may be repairable with tillage. Deeper erosion may require earth-moving equipment for repair.

When filling deeper eroded areas, check first to see if wetland determinations are required. Contact your Natural Resources Conservation Service representative. Remember that fill sand may not provide adequate moisture-holding capacity as a topsoil layer. Flood irrigation or traveling sprinkler irrigation may dictate the degree to which land leveling and erosion repair is required.

In extreme cases, earth moving repair may be cost prohibitive. Selective abandonment or alternate land uses of some areas may be justified.

Even in areas where severe erosion or sand deposition did not occur, prolonged inundation with flood waters can destroy soil structure and leave a layer of dense consolidated silt. While this is not technically soil compaction, the effect of this dense layer is similar. Tillage sufficient to break up this dense layer is recommended after the layer has dried.

In cases where insurance or other financial assistance is potentially available, be sure to document all your repair actions and costs, keeping all receipts.  For more information on flooded field repair, refer to Flood Recovery for Cropland: Repairing Flood-Damaged Farm Fields at or at  

CME to Transfer MF Global Cash Friday

Transfer Covers $520M, or 60% of Cash, in Approximately 15,000 Accounts

CME Group Inc. said it will begin transferring roughly $520 million of cash that has been frozen in accounts of former customers of MF Global Holdings Ltd. to new firms starting Friday.

The transfer covers just a narrow spectrum of former MF Global customers -- those who owned cash-only accounts as of Oct. 31, the date of the firm's bankruptcy filing. But the transfer is expected to provide some measure of relief for those customers, whose funds have been completely frozen since then.

The transfer affects approximately 15,000 customers, and the funds being transferred represent 60% of the cash in their accounts, CME said in a note to traders. The transfer is part of an order approved last week by the New York bankruptcy judge overseeing the unwinding of the firm.

Customers whose accounts are affected should be able to resume trading starting Dec. 1, CME said.

The funds in accounts owned by former MF Global customers have been largely frozen since the firm's bankruptcy filing because a portion of customer funds has been found to be missing. The trustee overseeing the firm's wind-down has sought the transfer of customer funds piece by piece as it combs through the company's books and tries to account for the missing funds.

The first transfer, approved in early November, allowed for the shifting of open positions plus 60% of the collateral backing them, to new firms. But it left frozen accounts that contained only cash. Those customers will get 60% of their cash under a second transfer approved last week.

The trustee plans to seek approval next month for a third transfer of cash for customers who have received only open positions and collateral.

On Monday, the bankruptcy trustee said about $1.2 billion in customer cash remains unaccounted for. The figure is nearly double a previous estimate, and has raised questions about whether enough cash is available to replenish 100% of the assets in customers' accounts.

CME on Tuesday disputed the $1.2 billion figure, saying it is confident that the shortfall is smaller.

NCGA Defends Public Funding for Corn Research

The National Corn Growers Association actively defended the importance of publicly funded research into corn last week to a panel of industry stakeholders tasked with discussing the future of federally funded agricultural research programs. Noting that corn is not only the largest crop in the United States but also a major export product, NCGA staff defended against calls to kill public funding for corn research, stressing the importance of public research that generates ideas, encourages collaboration and confirms the internal findings of private companies.

"Corn is too valuable of an asset to our country for publicly funded research to cease," said NCGA Director of Research and New Uses Dr. Richard Vierling. "Halting this important, unbiased source of data would be disastrous for the future of the industry and deeply injurious to the future of the country. Right now, we still have an advantage in production agriculture. It is an edge we cannot afford to lose in the way we have already lost so many others."

Vierling participated in this panel discussion during the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service National Project 301 on Plant Genetics Resources stakeholder meeting. Held every five years, stakeholders involved with NP 301, the largest national program in ARS, explored effects budgetary constraints might have upon the program.

In 2010, National Project 302 Microbial Genetic Resources was rolled into NP 301, thus making the project even larger. Now, USDA ARS expect funding levels to decrease by $53 million in the coming year. In response, the agency will close ten research locations.

Following the panel discussion, attendees participated in breakout sessions focusing on areas in which the USDA needs to improve. Groups suggested the agency should improve in a number of areas including: fostering greater innovation; improving the nutritional value of crops; improving germplasm; increasing access to high-throughput genotyping and phenotyping; increasing inter-agency collaboration; increasing engagement with the industry; more vigorously pursuing the translational utilization of genomic information; improving data base management, particularly for minor crops; amplifying communications and outreach efforts; providing better training for plant breeders; and, beginning to look for resistant strains of crop for diseases not yet in the United States.

EIA says Ethanol "Blend Wall" Reached at National Level

The United States may have already reached what has long been dubbed the ethanol "blend wall," according to a report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which refers to a 10% concentration of ethanol mixed into gasoline.

The term "blend wall" describes the situation in the ethanol market as it nears the saturation point at the 10% content level due to the limited ability to distribute or use additional ethanol. It doesn't include the use of higher ethanol blends, such as 85% or E85, because that's a small market, with E85 only allowed in flex-fuel vehicles.

The EIA, in its "This Week in Petroleum" review, said the share of ethanol volume in blended gasoline at the pump has been rising in recent years, and reached 10% market share in June. That's the maximum allowable share of ethanol blend in U.S. gasoline, and ethanol has been near that level since late 2010, the report added.

The report said the "blend wall" has been reached because gasoline demand has stayed flat during the past two years while fuel ethanol consumption has been rising. Moreover, U.S. ethanol exports rose in 2010 and this year while imports are falling, all of which signal the domestic market is saturated, or that the "blend wall" has been reached.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency acted in late 2010 and early this year to approve the use of 15% ethanol blend or E15 in light-duty vehicles sold since the 2001 model year. However, E15 still faces several regulatory and market hurdles.

"Until E15 and/or E85 is made more available and widely adopted, additional ethanol volumes beyond the 10% share of gasoline are being sold to foreign markets," said the report.

Average U.S. ethanol exports rose by almost 800,000 bbl per month in 2010, with a strong trend upward in the latter half of the year. The trend continued in early 2011, as exports climbed from just under 1.5 million bbl of total ethanol exports for both January and February to more than 3.0 million bbl of exports in July.

The report says reaching a "blend wall" shows just how far the ethanol market has grown, which has been driven by the federal biofuels mandate under the Renewable Fuel Standard.

There's a caveat however. Although total ethanol use in all gasoline is at roughly a 10% concentration level nationally, data also suggests the "blend wall" has not been reached in every region of the country. Some smaller regions appear to still not be saturated, said the EIA, highlighting the Rocky Mountains region that had an ethanol blend rate below 8% as of July.

FFA Members Make Their Voices Heard in Washington

Group Promotes Native Voices, Rural and Tribal Issues with Government Officials

A group of 15 current and former FFA members and FFA advisors from five states recently attended a week-long event in Washington, meeting with various leaders within the United States Department of Agriculture and other agencies from Nov. 14-18, 2011. The event was designed to raise awareness of rural issues and engage in advocacy for Native American youth in agricultural education.

By special invitation from USDA and through the generous support of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and Farm Credit Serivces as a special project of the National FFA Foundation, the group united as a voice in the national dialogue on identifying barriers and opportunities in agricultural education that lead to both continuing higher education attainment and career success in native communities. They also met to recognize opportunities for support and mentorship for agricultural education students in native communities.

Among the administrators meeting with the group were Kathleen Merrigan, USDA Deputy Secretary; Bruce Nelson, Administrator of USDA’s Farm Service Agency; Keith Moore, Director of the Bureau of Indian Education; and Brian Drapeaux, Chief of Staff of the Bureau of Indian Education.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wednesday November 23 Ag News

2012 Nebraska Pork Producers Mentor Applications Being Accepted

The Nebraska Pork Producers Association wants students to be a part of the Pork Mentoring Class of 2012. If students are connected to agriculture and believe in the future of the pork industry, they are encouraged to apply! $500 scholarships are available for college-age students who have an interest in the pork industry – they don’t have to be a pork producer! Students can even earn college credit to help get one step closer to graduating. Applications are due December 5th. Students may apply for this opportunity online at, or request an application by emailing The NPPA Mentor program is directed under Kyla Wize, NPPA Education Director. Wize stated, “The NPPA Mentor program provides young adults an opportunity to identify future career goals and to evolve into strong agricultural advocates.” The NPPA Mentor program was established in 1999. Over ninety students have completed the program and over $40,000 in scholarships have been awarded. Each year the Mentors participate in activities that encourage personal growth, leadership development, expanded knowledge of the pork industry, and community engagement. A $500 scholarship is awarded upon the completion of the program.

Farmers Tax Guide Now Available

Larry Howard, UNL Extension Educator, Cuming County

Farmers can better understand their 2011 tax returns with help from a guide available through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension. The 2011 Farmers Tax guide has illustrated examples, a sample return and describes available deductions.  Cuming County Extension Educator Larry Howard says the tax guides are in and are free to local producers.  They can be picked up at the UNL Extension office in Cuming County, area tax preparers or any Cuming County bank.

Grazing Stockpiled Grass During Winter
Grass remaining for winter grazing can really help cut feed costs for stock cows.  Grazing winter range or pastures has many benefits.  It can save as much as a dollar a day per cow compared to feeding expensive hay.  It removes old growth so next spring’s pasture is fresher.  And some weeds may be eaten that cattle won’t touch during summer.  All with little damage to your dormant pasture.

But, the way you manage your cattle during winter grazing can have a big effect on its success.  For instance, maybe you have a goal of feeding as little protein supplement as possible while winter grazing.  Then you must make sure your stocking level is light enough so cattle can select just the higher quality plant parts to eat.  Another strategy might be to stretch winter pasture as far as possible.  Then restricting animal access to small areas at a time might be best.  Or, if you use winter range just as a filler when you limit feed corn, corn by-products, or other nutrient dense feeds, then high stocking levels and unrestricted access might be best.

Whatever your strategy, though, consider carefully what kind of nutrition animals are getting from the pasture so you neither underfeed nor overfeed expensive supplements.

Winter grazing is a great opportunity to reduce winter feed costs.  With the right grazing strategy, it can help you meet many of your feeding goals.

Testing and Feeding Tobacco-Brown Hay and Silage

Last summer’s weather caused much hay to be baled too wet or silage chopped too dry.  Hay baled too wet or silage chopped to dry can get excessively hot and cause certain chemical reactions to occur.  These chemical reactions and the heat that produces them will darken your forage and make it smell sweet like caramel.

Livestock often find such hay or silage very palatable.  But, the chemical reaction that caused this heat-damaged forage also makes some of the protein become indigestible.  Unfortunately, tests for crude protein cannot distinguish between regular crude protein and this heat-damaged protein.  As a result, your forage test can mislead you into thinking you have more usable protein in your forage than actually is there.

If your forage test is done using NIR, heat-damaged protein may be one of the analyses reported.  If the heat-damaged protein is high enough, the test also will report an adjusted crude protein that is different from the regular crude protein.  However, the NIR test for heat-damage may not be accurate enough for you if your ration contains a lot of this forage and has little or no extra protein in it for your cattle.

What you need to do when heat-damaged protein is suspected is request from your lab a chemical analysis for heat-damaged protein.  Then use this test to correctly adjust the amount of crude protein your forage actually will provide to your animals.

Forage tests can tell us a lot about the nutrient supplying ability of our forages.  But we need to make sure we conduct the right tests and then use the results wisely.

Nebraska Farm Bureau to Elect New President Dec. 6

Nebraska Farm Bureau delegates will elect a new president for the state's largest agricultural organization at the Farm Bureau annual meeting, set for Dec. 5 and 6 at Kearney's Younes Convention Center.  Keith Olsen of Grant, Farm Bureau president since 2002, is not seeking re-election. Three Farm Bureau leaders are seeking the presidency:
-- Steve Nelson of Axtell, currently first vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau.
-- Mark McHargue of Central City, currently second vice president of Nebraska Farm Bureau.
-- Larry Hudkins of Malcolm, a former member of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Board of Directors.

Delegates also will elect three members of the Farm Bureau Board of Directors. Sherry Vinton of Whitman, Jason Kvols of Laurel and Andy DeVries of Ogallala are seeking re-election. Other candidates for the presidency or board may be nominated just prior to the election, set for the afternoon of Dec. 6.

The Farm Bureau House of Delegates also will establish policy for the organization on state issues and recommend policy on national issues to the American Farm Bureau, which holds its national meeting in January. Delegate discussion is based on resolutions received from Nebraska's County Farm Bureaus.

At the state level, the delegates will consider whether the state's laws pertaining to commodity checkoffs should be updated. Farmers who grow crops and livestock pay a per-bushel or per-head tax that is used for research, education and promotion of the commodity. Delegates will discuss whether the current checkoff amounts provide enough resources to accomplish the goals of the checkoff programs; the relationship between the checkoff boards and state government; and relationships between checkoff boards and the corresponding grower association, Jay Rempe, Farm Bureau vice president/governmental relations, said Tuesday.

"A few years, there was a suggestion that checkoff funds could be diverted to assist the state budget. The overwhelming view of our members is that the checkoffs should only be used for their intended purposes, so there will be discussions about the level of autonomy for the boards and a 'firewall' to protect the funds."

Conservation easements, particularly those that are perpetual, also are on the delegates' agenda. "There is concern about using public monies, such as from the Environment Trust Fund, to buy easements or land that is then restricted. This increases competition for farmland and may drive up prices," Rempe said. Resolutions from the County Farm Bureaus emphasize the need for landowners to fully understand easements before signing them, he said, and there is general opposition to allowing them to be perpetual.

Other delegate discussion topics include looking for ways to restructure county government to make it more efficient; support for assessing working farmsteads as agricultural land rather than as acreage sites; and support for exempting farmers and their agents from calling Diggers Hotline when they sample soil to a depth of four feet.

National issues before the delegates include discussion of the Farm Bill, which will likely be written in the usual manner because of the Super Committee's failure to offer a budget reduction plan, Rempe said.

"There is a lot of support for crop insurance as the key component of a safety net for farmers. Direct payments will likely be eliminated, so there is concern for capturing some of those savings to fund a better crop insurance program or a risk management program of some type," he said.

Resolutions from County Farm Bureaus also express continued support for the Conservation Reserve Program. Cutting CRP acres has been proposed to aid in deficit reduction and because of concern about having enough land available for crop production because of current short supplies, Rempe said.

Other convention events include Olsen's final address to Farm Bureau members (Dec. 5, 10:30 a.m.); remarks from American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman (Dec. 5, 11:30 a.m. luncheon); remarks by McDonald's Corporation Executive Debbie Roberts on her company's policies on food production (Dec. 5, 9:15 a.m.); and remarks by Matt Lohr, Virginia commissioner of agriculture and presentation of Farm Bureau's highest honor, the Silver Eagle Award (Dec. 6, 6:30 p.m. banquet).

2011 Backyard Farmer TV ratings Best in Program's History

As "Backyard Farmer" enters its 60th year of production, it has something else to celebrate. Ratings for the popular garden show reached an all-time high this year.

May sweeps reached 23,500 households, which was about a 46 percent increase in audience across the state, said Backyard Farmer Producer Brad Mills. The show was averaging 14,000 households since 2007.

"I think people are getting a lot more serious about growing their own food and they want to know how to do that," Mills said. "We've been concentrating on getting people back to their own backyards and getting the most out of their home gardens."

Mills also attributes the ratings to younger people who are buying homes for the first time and then want answers on how to make their surroundings look better.

"The show offers quick, economical and unbiased answers. We've always been able to fulfill those two priorities -- growing your own food and making your landscape surroundings more pleasant to the eye as well as conservation and reducing pesticide use," he said.

Mills hopes these priorities will take the show another 60 years.

The show also received a bumper crop of emails, letters, samples and phone calls, Mills said.

It also is the most downloaded UNL program, said EdMedia's Mark Hendricks. In addition, the show has made a splash on iTunes U and YouTube, consistently being in the Top 10 of the science category on iTunes and No. 17 overall on iTunes U -- a distribution system for everything from lectures to language sessions, films to labs, audio books to tours and a way to get educational content into the hands of students and others.

The show also receives thousands of hits on its YouTube channel at

"It's not just Nebraska anymore, it's going across the country," Mills said.

Mills will continue to offer viewers more infomation on its YouTube channel with fall and winter gardening issues -- from snow blower information to preparing your flower beds for winter.

To watch "Backyard Farmer" live from April through early September tune in Thursdays at 7 p.m. Central Time on NET1. Check your local listings for replay times on NET 2 and NET3.

USDA: Red Meat Production Inches Higher in October

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.27 billion pounds in October, up slightly from the 4.26 billion pounds produced in October 2010.

Beef production, at 2.22 billion pounds, was 1 percent below the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.86 million head, down slightly from October 2010. The average live weight was down 9 pounds from the previous year, at 1,289 pounds.

Veal production totaled 10.5 million pounds, 8 percent below October a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 72,600 head, up 2 percent from October 2010. The average live weight was down 23 pounds from last year, at 252 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.03 billion pounds, up 2 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 9.91 million head, up 2 percent from October 2010. The average live weight was down 1 pound from the previous year, at 275 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 11.7 million pounds, was down 11 percent from October 2010. Sheep slaughter totaled 174,600 head, 14 percent below last year. The average live weight was 134 pounds, up 4 pounds from October a year ago.

January to October 2011 commercial red meat production was 40.8 billion pounds, up 1 percent from 2010. Accumulated beef production was up 1 percent from last year, veal was down 3 percent, pork was up 2 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 8 percent.

State Production Numbers, October 2011 (million pounds, % of Oct. 2010)
Nebraska ...........: 641.7,  102%      
Iowa ..................:  587.6,  101%      
South Dakota .....:  98.7,  111%

Gasoline Marketers Join Coalition for E85

The Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (SIGMA) has officially joined the Coalition for E85 in the effort to have 85 percent ethanol designated as an alternative fuel under the tax code.

The recently-launched coalition is made up primarily of fuel retailers who are concerned about the future of E85 once the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC, or blender's credit) expires without renewal at the end of the year. "E85 as an alternative fuel is defined everywhere in the U.S. code, except for the Internal Revenue code," explains tax code specialist Jeff Trinca, who is working with the coalition. It has not been included within the tax code in the past in order to avoid "double dipping" in tax credits because of the existing blender's credit.

With the expiration of the blenders' tax credit at the end of this year, the coalition "would like E85 to be included in the definition of alternative fuels with propane, natural gas and others so there's a level playing field," Trinca said. He noted that the coalition is only looking for a five year bridge to get the infrastructure in to be competitive with gasoline.

Trinca says efforts are underway to get a bill introduced in Congress to address the issue before the end of the year.

Weekly ethanol production data for the week ending 11/18/2011

According to EIA data, ethanol production averaged 917,000 barrels per day (b/d) – or 38.514 million gallons daily.  That is up 1,000 b/d from the previous week.  The 4-week average for ethanol production stood at 915,000 b/d for an annualized rate of 14 billion gallons.

Stocks of ethanol stood at 17.5 million barrels.

Gasoline demand for the week averaged 360.9 million gallons daily.  Expressed as a percentage of daily gasoline demand, daily ethanol production was 10.67%.

On the co-products side, ethanol producers were using 13.904 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol and 103,207 metric tons of livestock feed, 93,114 metric tons of which were distillers grains.  The rest is comprised of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal.  Additionally, ethanol producers were providing 4.22 million pounds of corn oil daily.

Attend Commodity Classic – Where America’s Farmers Meet with Success

Countdown to Classic – 100 days until Commodity Classic

Corn, soybean, wheat and sorghum growers who attend the 17th Annual Commodity Classic, March 1-3 in Nashville, Tenn., will get the inside scoop on what’s new from the people making it happen at America’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused convention and trade show.

“Commodity Classic is unlike any other agricultural event,” said Commodity Classic co-chair Martin Barbre. “This is where something as simple as a casual conversation with another grower can lead to ground-breaking and money-making improvements on the farm.”

Growers come to Commodity Classic to learn what will make them an even better farmer. The trade show offers attendees a venue to see and discuss the latest innovations with top industry leaders. The event’s orientation and focus is all about farmers and helping farmers. An atmosphere of openness and peer exchange, educational sessions and candid policy briefings make Commodity Classic a yearly pilgrimage for those seeking to advance in U.S. agriculture.

 Online housing and registration will open soon for this one-of-a-kind, can’t-miss event open to all friends of soybeans, corn, wheat and sorghum.

 Commodity Classic is presented annually by the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers and National Sorghum Producers. The event offers a wide range of learning and networking opportunities for growers in the areas of production, policy, marketing, management and stewardship—as well as showcasing the latest in equipment, technology and innovation. For more information, visit

Expect Higher Milk Prices... But Not For Long

Dr. Bob Cropp says he has some good news and some bad news for the dairy industry going into the holiday season. In this month's Dairy Situation and Outlook report, the professor emeritus with the University of Wisconsin-Extension says the recent spike in dairy product prices will likely result in a slightly bigger milk check for producers of Class III milk this month. Cropp predicts the November Class III price to be higher than the October's $18.03 per hundredweight price. But he doesn't foresee cheese holding their higher values for much longer.

"Cheddar blocks had hit a low of $1.69 per pounds on October 25, but then started a recovery reaching $2.00 per pounds on November 15," Cropp said. "Cheddar barrels were a low of $1.69 per pounds on October 21, but then also started a recovery reaching $2.05 per pound on November 15. The question is whether cheese prices can hold at this higher level? The likely answer is 'no,' with different opinions how far prices will fall."

Cropp said holiday cheese orders are already filled and milk production and milk composition are now higher. He also notes that butter prices could show further weakness, with little change in nonfat dry milk prices.

"The increase in butter production over a year ago has been double-digit since March, up 21-percent in September and 16.6-percent year-to-date," the report stated. "While September 30 butter stocks were 16-percent higher than a year ago, stocks were still 22.6-percent below the five-year average for this date."

Butter exports, which were running well above a year ago, have experienced declines in July through September; while year-to-date exports were still 23-percent higher than a year ago, he said.

Meanwhile, the dairy marketing expert says 2012 will probably not be as profitable as this past year for Wisconsin dairy farmers. He says USDA's November 'Milk Supply and Demand Estimates' forecasts the U.S. all-milk price for 2012 to average $1.55-$2.35 lower than 2011. But he's quick to point out that circumstances can develop changing final milk prices.

"Looking back at December 2010 forecasts for the year 2011, the forecasts were much lower than actual milk prices turned out," Cropp said. "Currently, Class III futures for 2012 are rather flat, averaging about $16.90 cwt.; and Class IV futures average $16.00 cwt.."

He says domestic milk and dairy product sales will continue to be hindered by the weak economy. The level of U.S. dairy exports, while still favorable, is forecasted lower. And the world milk supply is higher, with strong recovery in milk production in Oceania and expected increase in overall production in EU countries, which are the two major exporters competing against the U.S.

And the outlook report says the cost to produce a hundred pounds of milk will remain relatively high this winter, as high corn, soybean meal and hay prices will effect the bottomline. Nationally, October alfalfa hay prices are up 72-percent compared to a year ago, with largest increases in the west and southwest.

CME Ups MF Global Funds Guarantee

CME Group Inc. moved to shake loose more customer cash and other collateral trapped within MF Global Holdings Ltd., increasing its financial guarantee on those funds to $550 million.  MF Global's Oct. 31 bankruptcy filing stunned Wall Street and left thousands of investors, hedge funds, pit traders and other clients scrambling to recover funds housed within the failed brokerage's accounts.

In a bid to hasten the return of customer money, CME Group, operator of the futures exchange, had pledged $250 million earlier this month to the trustee overseeing MF Global's liquidation.  CME on Tuesday said it would increase that guarantee to $550 million. CME said it will grant MF Global's bankruptcy trustee latitude to "make larger interim distributions of cash to customers now, given the monumental task he faces to sort through the considerable data and claims in order to complete the MF Global liquidation."

In the statement, Craig Donohue, CME Group's chief executive, said: "The protection of our customers and the integrity of all futures markets continue to be our two chief concerns, and today we are taking aggressive action to further assist customers and restore confidence to the marketplace."

Deere Completes Record Year With Fourth-Quarter Earnings of $670 Million

Net income attributable to Deere & Company was $669.6 million, or $1.62 per share, for the fourth quarter ended October 31, compared with $457.2 million, or $1.07 per share, for the same period last year.  For fiscal 2011, net income attributable to Deere & Company was $2.800 billion, or $6.63 per share, compared with $1.865 billion, or $4.35 per share, last year.

Worldwide net sales and revenues increased 20 percent, to $8.612 billion, for the fourth quarter and were up 23 percent to $32.013 billion for the full year. Net sales of the equipment operations were $7.903 billion for the quarter and $29.466 billion for full-year 2011, compared with $6.564 billion and $23.573 billion for the corresponding periods last year.

"John Deere has completed another year of exceptional achievement," said Samuel R. Allen, chairman and chief executive officer. "Our success reflects a continued pattern of strong customer response to our innovative lines of equipment coupled with the skillful execution of business plans aimed at expanding our global competitive position."

During the year, Deere introduced a record number of products and announced plans for six new factories, in China, Brazil and India. "John Deere's record performance is a further tribute to our operating model, which stresses rigorous cost management and asset efficiency," Allen stated. "As a result, we are achieving unprecedented financial results and generating healthy levels of cash flow. These dollars are funding growth throughout the world and also are being shared directly with investors in the form of dividends and share repurchases."

Summary of Operations
Net sales of the worldwide equipment operations increased 20 percent for the quarter and 25 percent for the year. Sales included a favorable currency-translation effect of 2 percent for the quarter and 3 percent for the year and price increases of 3 percent for both periods. Equipment net sales in the United States and Canada rose 14 percent for the quarter and 17 percent for the year. Outside the U.S. and Canada, net sales were up 31 percent and 38 percent for the respective periods, with favorable currency-translation effects of 4 percent and 7 percent.

Deere's equipment operations reported operating profit of $955 million for the quarter and $3.839 billion for the year, compared with $716 million and $2.909 billion last year. Results were better for both periods largely due to higher shipment volumes and improved price realization. These factors were partially offset by increased raw-material costs, higher manufacturing-overhead costs related to new products, and higher research and development expenses. In addition, full-year results were impacted by higher selling, administrative and general expenses.

Net income of the company's equipment operations was $552 million for the quarter and $2.329 billion for the year, compared with $357 million and $1.492 billion last year. The same operating factors mentioned above, along with a lower effective tax rate, affected both the quarterly and annual results.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday November 22 Ag News

Soybean Demand Boosts State and National Economies
Promar International, a farm, environment and agri-food consulting firm that specializes in research in the global agricultural and agri-food sectors, released its 2010 Economic Analysis of Animal Agriculture, reporting that in 2010 alone, U.S. animal agriculture contributed:
-  1.8 million jobs to the economy;
-  $289 billion to gross domestic product;
-  $51 billion to household incomes;
-  $13 billion income taxes paid; and
-  $6 billion in property taxes paid.

Further, the farmers and ranchers involved in animal agriculture contributed more than five percent of gross state product in 13 states—Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Vermont.

The study—which provides a state-by-state breakdown of animal agriculture economics—identifies animal agriculture’s contributions to output, earnings, employment and taxes.  The study tracked the various shifts in animal production from 2000 to 2010, showing that the increased value of animal agriculture production in those 10 years resulted in a boost of more than $22 billion in total national economic output.

“This growth increased household incomes by almost $4 billion and created nearly 129,000 jobs, which is especially important when you consider that the national economy lost about 1,000,000 jobs over the same period,” said Philip Lobo, Director of Feed Utilization with the United Soybean Board.

Animal agriculture is the largest source of demand for soybean meal (domestic animals consumed 30 million tons in 2010), linking the success of the two industries to one another.  And considering this recent analysis of animal agriculture’s economic contribution, the success of those industries plays a major role in the nation’s overall well being—yet another example of how the health and vibrancy of U.S. agriculture is a driving force to recovery in an otherwise sputtering economy.

The study was funded by the United Soybean Board’s Domestic Marketing Committee. 

Summit on the Proposed Revised 2011 P-Index

A Dec. 5 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Animal Manure Management team workshop will help those who work closely with livestock operations and their nutrient management plans.

The "P-Index Summit" will be at the Nielsen Community Center, 200 Anna Stalp Ave. in West Point, Neb. The program will be from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Central Time.

Topics include: the science and history of the P-Index, discussion on proposed revisions, case studies illustrating the differences between the 2007 and 2011 versions and discussion of livestock environmental issues of interest. CCA continuing education units will be available.

For more information, contact Leslie Johnson at 402-584-3818, email Pre-registration is requested and can be done by calling Johnson. Register to ensure an opportunity to attend. Registration is $20 per participant if sent with your registration or $25 at the door. The use of a computer with Microsoft Excel is necessary; please bring your laptop as there will only be a few extra computers. To save time the day of the event, old and new versions can be downloaded at

These workshops are sponsored by the UNL Extension AMM team which is dedicated to helping livestock and crop producers better use the state's manure resources for agronomic and environmental benefits.

For additional information and other resources for managing manure nutrients, visit

Tyson Plans Expansion in Dakota City NE

Tyson Foods packing plant in Dakota City, Nebraska is planning an $8.4 million expansion according to building permit applications filed with the city of Dakota City.

Public records indicate that Tyson sought permission to build an $8 million building and a $400,000 addition to one of the buildings already on the site. Details of the permits reveal that the company is planning a 102,000-square-foot, two-story "harvest floor building." The building would have a 45,030-square-foot main floor and consist of masonry construction with poured concrete walls.

Tyson Spokesman Gary Mickelson says a project is under way, but said the company wasn't releasing many details.  "Because of the size of our Dakota City beef complex, we're frequently involved in various improvement projects," Mickelson said. "There is currently one project under way that is expected to result in some additional jobs in a couple of years, however, for competitive reasons we would rather not provide more details at this point.

Tyson Q4 Earnings Down by Half

Tyson Foods Inc.'s (TSN) fiscal fourth-quarter earnings fell 54% as the meat-processing company saw weakness in its chicken business despite higher prices and volume growth.

Tyson's sales have grown in recent quarters as growing export demand for pork and beef allowed the company to pass through higher prices. But the largest U.S. meatpacker had predicted a fourth-quarter loss for its chicken business due to high grain costs and a glut of chicken. Tyson is cutting its own chicken production amid broader industry reductions and is also streamlining operations as a weak economy dampens consumer demand and as feed costs continue to soar.

For the quarter ended Oct. 1, Tyson reported a profit of $97 million, or 26 cents a share, down from $213 million, or 57 cents, a year earlier. Sales jumped 13% to $8.4 billion.  Gross margin fell to 4.7% from 9%.

Earnings in the beef segment -- the largest top-line contributor -- were down 2.5% as revenue rose 16% on a 19% jump in average prices, but volume fell 2.3%.  The chicken business swung to a loss despite 9.2% revenue growth, and volume rose 3.7% with 5.3% higher prices.  Its smaller pork business's earnings fell 10% as revenue increased 14%. Volume rose 1% and prices jumped 13%.

The company projects full-year sales will exceed $34 billion while analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters also expect $34 billion.

S.Korea Ratifies Landmark US Trade Deal

South Korea's ruling conservatives rammed a bitterly contested free trade deal with the United States through parliament on Tuesday as legislators scuffled and one opposition MP let off a tear gas device, briefly clearing the chamber.

The deal, which economists say could boost the $67 billion in annual trade between the two countries by as much as a quarter, had been stalled in parliament as the government shied away from forcing it through for fear of violent confrontations in the legislature might further dent its waning popularity ahead of general and presidential elections next year.

The bill was passed with 151 members largely from the ruling Grand National Party (GNP) voting for it and seven against, as most members of the opposition Democratic Party abstained. The two countries had set a Jan. 1 target for the pact to take effect.

Analysts said the bitterness of the dispute could put parliament into a legislative limbo with potential problems for the 2012 budget bill that has a Dec. 2 deadline under the constitution. However, that deadline has often been missed in the past.

Gridlock in parliament has all but paralyzed proceedings in the final weeks of budget deliberations and could leave members fighting into December up to the January fiscal year start.

Though it was the opposition which initiated the FTA deal when it was in power, its legislators argue that subsequent changes to allow U.S. carmakers a major inroad into the market and a dispute settlement mechanism will strip Seoul of any ability to defend its interests.

President Lee Myung-bak made a last ditch effort last week to try to persuade the opposition to let the trade pact come to a vote but liberal parties rejected his plea. His office said after the bill's passage that it was time to get down to work on ensuring the deal leads to more jobs.

The GNP worried that the row over the trade deal would damage its image, already battered after losing key by-elections in April and last month in what were seen as tests of support before elections next year.

The by-election results indicated voters would likely back the liberals at the national level, which would mean a step back from the big-business policies of President Lee and a shift toward more welfare initiatives, analysts said.

The deal was approved by the U.S. Congress last month and signed into law by President Barack Obama, and is the biggest U.S. trade pact since the North America Free Trade Agreement went into force in 1994.

USMEF Media Statement: South Korea Ratifies FTA with U.S.

Danita Rodibaugh, Chairman, U.S. Meat Export Federation

Ratification of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement by the Korean National Assembly today is a successful outcome both for the U.S. agricultural sector as well as consumers in South Korea.

This is true globalization – the highest level of exchange that countries can experience is when consumers can trade goods and services around the world in a borderless economy.

Korean consumers have endured rampant food inflation, and this trade pact will provide relief. Tariffs on U.S. beef imported by Korea will drop from 40 percent to zero over 15 years, and duties on U.S. pork, which range from 22.5 percent to 25 percent, will be phased out over two years starting Jan. 1, 2014.

For the American producers and exporters, this pact will create expanded opportunities for red meat exports to a market that has a demonstrated appetite for U.S. beef and pork. Already this year (through September), U.S. beef exports to Korea are up 45 percent in volume and 37 percent in value over 2010 levels, reaching 119,044 metric tons (262.4 million pounds) valued at $527.7 million. Even at that, Korea is just beginning to show the potential it demonstrated in 2003 when it purchased 543.6 million pounds of U.S. beef valued at $815 million.

And U.S. pork exports to Korea through September are up 139 percent in volume and 189 percent in value versus last year, reaching 153,330 metric tons (338 million pounds) valued at $395.1 million.

The value of U.S. red meat exports for American producers has never been higher than it is right now. Both beef and pork exports are projected to hit record highs, exceeding $5 billion in value this year. And the per-head value of those exports also is at a high, topping $202 per head for beef and $54 for pork. The invigoration of our trading relationship with South Korea will only add more value to that trade that will benefit the U.S. agricultural sector.

USDA Cold Storage Highlights

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on October 31, 2011 were down 3 percent from the previous month and down 4 percent from October 31, 2010.  Butter stocks were down 14 percent from last month but up 19 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen poultry supplies on October 31, 2011 were down 7 percent from the previous month and down 4 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were up 4 percent from the previous month but down 5 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were down 20 percent from last month and down 1 percent from October 31, 2010.

Total frozen fruit stocks were up 17 percent from last month but down 7 percent from a year ago.  Total frozen vegetable stocks were up 4 percent from last month but down 6 percent from a year ago.

Total red meat supplies in freezers were down 2 percent from the previous month but up 1 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were down 3 percent from the previous month and down slightly from last year. Frozen pork supplies were down slightly from the previous month but up 2 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were down 7 percent from last month and down 63 percent from last year.

Ag Economist:  Pork to See Profit in 2012

The pork industry is expected to have a profitable year in 2012. In fact, the level of profitability could be the most favorable during the high-priced feed era, says Chris Hurt, a Purdue University agricultural economist.

"Profits in 2012 are currently forecast to be near $17 per head, which would be the highest since 2006. That was the last year of the low feed-price era when corn prices received by farmers averaged about $2.30 per bu. for the calendar year and estimated hog profits were $27 per head," he says.

Although a return to profitability is welcome news, there are deeper and more important implications, he says.

"The first is that the pork industry, like most other animal industries, has made the adjustments necessary to live in a world of high-priced feed. The second is that the pork industry probably has turned the corner on high feed prices as we look to 2012 with abundant and cheap feed wheat, prospects for moderation in the rate of growth in corn use for ethanol, the potential for a larger South American soybean crop, and hope for a return to higher U.S. corn and soybean yields," he says.

The pork industry had a difficult road making the transition to the high feed-price era, as did all animal industries. High feed prices and recession in 2008 and 2009 and H1N1, unfortunately termed swine flu, led to large losses in 2008 and 2009, estimated at $17 and $24 per head, respectively, he says.

"These large financial losses resulted in some downsizing of the industry through discouragement and bankruptcy. As a result of downsizing and robust pork buying from foreign countries, the amount of pork available to U.S. consumers will drop from about 51 lb. per capita in 2007 to around 46 lb. in 2012. This 9% reduction of per capita supply has enabled retail pork prices to rise from $2.87 a lb. in 2007 to $3.43 a lb. in 2011, a 20% increase," he notes.

The large loss years of 2008 and 2009 ($17 and $24 per head) will finally be offset by the profitable years of 2010, 2011 and 2012 ($14, $10 and $17 per head). Hog producers would say this in a different way: It has taken three years just to get back the money lost in the two bad years when feed prices surged, he says.

"Another way to look at this is to say that the pork industry has adjusted to $7-a-bu. corn such that they can break even if cash corn prices stay at that level and make money if prices are below $7. The current prospect for cash corn prices to be in the lower $6.00 area is a primary reason for the profit opportunity in 2012," he says.

Are feed prices now moving into their post-peak period? No one can know the answer with much confidence, but the declining prices of corn and soybean meal since August will have many debating that issue. There clearly are fundamental reasons to believe that could be the case, as we have just itemized, he says.

Brazilian Soy Planting Moves Forward

Brazilian soybean planting continues to run ahead of schedule across the majority of the grain belt.  Farmers had sowed 78% of their crop up to Nov. 18, up from 66% last week and ten percentage points ahead of the average for this time of year, according to local agricultural consultancy Safras e Mercado.  Planting is almost complete in the key soybean states of Mato Grosso -- 95% planted -- and Parana -- 93% planted.  Out of the major states, only the perennial late starters Rio Grande do Sul -- 57% planted- and Bahia -- 40% planted -- have significant portions of the crop still to be sowed.  Rain fell across most of the soybean producing areas last week, creating excellent planting conditions and helping to relieve drought concerns in southern Mato Grosso, Goias , Mato Grosso do Sul and Minas Gerais.

Fertilizer Prices Continue Unmoved

Fertilizer prices tracked by DTN continued to change very little during the third week of November 2011.  Five of the eight major fertilizers were higher compared to one month earlier, but none of the fertilizers rose any significant amount. DAP had an average price of $714/ton, 10-34-0 $823/ton, anhydrous $819/ton, UAN28 $408/ton and UAN32 $462/ton.  Two fertilizers were slightly lower compared to the third week of October. MAP had an average price of $742/ton and urea $619/ton.  One fertilizer, potash, was nearly identical compared to one month earlier with an average price of $661/ton.

Six of the eight major fertilizers continue to show double-digit increases in price compared to one year earlier. Leading the way higher is 10-34-0. Prices for this starter fertilizer skyrocketed early this year, but have fallen back some in recent months. It is now 55% higher compared to the third week of November 2010.  Urea has jumped 31% while potash has increased 25% from a year ago and UAN32 21%. UAN28 is now 19% higher and anhydrous 16% compared to year earlier.  The two phosphorus fertilizers continue to bring up the rear. MAP is 8% more expensive while DAP is 7% higher compared to November of 2010.

Delegates Create, Revise More than 50 Policies During 145th Annual National Grange Convention  

More than 50 delegates debated and weighed in on about 160 resolutions from Granges throughout the nation during the 145th Annual National Grange Convention held in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Of the initial resolutions submitted ranging from internal definitions for membership to large-scale agriculture and rural access issues, more than 50 became National Grange policy through delegate action from Nov. 6 through 10.

Dairy pricing, postal reform and expansion of rural broadband were just three areas in which new policy was adopted.

During the legislating process the delegates worked intensely on updating National Grange policy on several controversial issues such as U.S. Postal Service Reform, the build-out of broadband in rural areas and dairy pricing issues whose regional diversities can prove difficult to reach consensus on.

As the U.S. Postal Service continues to press for Congressional action on needed reforms, National Grange delegates reinforced their support for six-day mail delivery but committed to actively supporting necessary reforms and business model flexibility to preserve the 200-year-old agency that is so vital to rural Americans.

Grange delegates also collaborated to produce a state-of-the-art policy supporting America's Broadband Connectivity Plan and a new funding mechanism that will help provide the universal service of high-speed internet to all Americans regardless of where they chose to live.

National Grange President Ed Luttrell said the convention was successful, both in terms of policy creation and fraternal spirit.

"The members of our Order were able to come together and express their views on issues important to themselves and their neighbors in a very poignant manner, work with each other to create policy for which we'll advocate on the national level, and do so with a mutual respect and in a dignified manner," Luttrell said.

National Grange Legislative Director Nicole Palya Wood said the actions of the delegates reflects a true focus on the betterment of rural America and quality of life for those in the field of agriculture.

"I am incredibly proud of the diligence of our members to address controversial and regional issues in such a cohesive manor. Congress could learn something from National Grange delegates and how we establish policy on such a wide ranges of issues," Wood said. "This year we have seen some great movement in the areas of rural broadband build-out, and the preservation of the U.S. Postal Service remains a top priority for the Grange."

October Egg Production Up 1 Percent

United States egg production totaled 7.78 billion during October 2011, up 1 percent from last year. Production included 6.74 billion table eggs, and 1.04 billion hatching eggs, of which 968 million were broiler-type and 70 million were egg-type. The total number of layers during October 2011 averaged 336 million, down slightly from last year. October egg production per 100 layers was 2,317 eggs, up 1 percent from October 2010.
All layers in the United States on November 1, 2011 totaled 337 million, down slightly from last year. The 337 million layers consisted of 283 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 50.2 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs, and 2.94 million layers producing egg-type hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on November 1, 2011, averaged 74.7 eggs per 100 layers, up 1 percent from November 1, 2010.

Egg-Type Chicks Hatched Down 8 Percent
Egg-type chicks hatched during October 2011 totaled 37.8 million, down 8 percent from October 2010. Eggs in incubators totaled 38.3 million on November 1, 2011, down slightly from a year ago.  Domestic placements of egg-type pullet chicks for future hatchery supply flocks by leading breeders totaled 266 thousand during October 2011, up 56 percent from October 2010.

Broiler-Type Chicks Hatched Down 7 Percent
Broiler-type chicks hatched during October 2011 totaled 717 million, down 7 percent from October 2010. Eggs in incubators totaled 575 million on November 1, 2011, down 7 percent from a year earlier.  Leading breeders placed 6.29 million broiler-type pullet chicks for future domestic hatchery supply flocks during October 2011, down 9 percent from October 2010.

Sugar Growers Accuse Corn Refiners of False Advertising

Sugar cane and sugar beet growers have filed an amended complaint in federal court charging that corporate members of the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) -- makers of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) -- are behind a "conspiracy" deliberately designed to "deceive the public."

Specifically, the amended complaint, filed late Friday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, alleges that senior executives of agribusiness conglomerates, including Archer-Daniels-Midland, Cargill and others "organize[d] collectively in order to dominate and ... control" the ongoing marketing campaign to rename HFCS as "corn sugar." Their national advertising campaign also claims that HFCS is a "natural" product equivalent to real sugar from cane and beet plants. The sugar farmers argue that those claims are untrue.

Last month, a federal judge in Los Angeles ruled that a coalition of American sugar farmers and producers had provided sufficient evidence about the HFCS advertising campaign by the CRA to demonstrate "a reasonable probability of success" in proving that its key claims are false.

The amended complaint charges that the CRA member companies, under the guise of the CRA, provided "the funding that has been required to orchestrate and maintain this significant, broad-based, national media, multi-million dollar advertising campaign."

The lawsuit argues the CRA and several of its members, including Archer-Daniels-Midland, Cargill, Corn Products International, Roquette America and Tate & Lyle Ingredients America, conspired to engage in false advertising as part of their campaign.

The sugar farmers allege that the defendants have spent at least $50 million in a mass media rebranding campaign that misleads the consuming public by asserting falsely that HFCS is natural and is indistinguishable from the sugar extracted from sugar cane and sugar beets.

The HFCS manufacturers, through the CRA, have also asked the Food & Drug Administration to allow HFCS to be called "corn sugar" on food and beverage ingredient labels. That request was made last fall even though "corn sugar" has for many decades been the FDA-approved, commonly used name for dextrose, a distinct corn starch product that contains no fructose.

A recent consumer survey commissioned by the sugar farmers shows that changing the name of HFCS to "corn sugar" would further confuse consumers and interfere with their attempts to avoid HFCS when shopping for themselves and their families. Increasingly, consumers have sought to avoid products containing HFCS because of a wide range of health concerns.

"Let's be clear about what is at stake here. This litigation is about false advertising funded by CRA's biggest members," said Adam Fox of Squire Sanders, lead attorney for the sugar growers. "Sugar cane and beet farmers want the defendants to stop their false and misleading statements that harm consumers, harm the makers of real sugar and harm any dialogue based on the truth. This lawsuit seeks to put an end to the intentional deception."

Sugar Lawyers Refile Claims Already Rejected By Court

In another legal maneuver, the sugar industry is attempting to revive claims against member companies of the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) that a federal judge recently dismissed.

"The simple truth is that the sugar industry is attempting to use the courts to stifle free speech but it lacks the facts to support its claims against our member companies. The court made that fact clear in its last ruling, and we continue to believe these claims against the companies should be dismissed," says Audrae Erickson, president of the Corn Refiners Association, CRA. "The more important issue, as the court has recognized, is that of health effects, and we believe the sugar industry is wrongfully alleging that high fructose corn syrup (a sugar made from corn) causes health issues that do not arise from consuming cane and beet sugar."

"We believe that the sugar industry's views are misleading American consumers," Erickson says. "The CRA will continue its work to educate consumers about high fructose corn syrup and will vigorously oppose the sugar industry's attempt to stifle public discussion of this important health issue."