Monday, December 31, 2012


Agricultural Summary: 
For  the month  of December  2012,  unseasonably warm  and  dry weather  the  first  half  of  the month  was  followed  by  rain  and  snow  that  brought  some much  needed moisture  to  the  state,  according  to  USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Nebraska Field Office.  Temperatures averaged above normal but lows fell below zero  the  last  half  of  the  month.    Snow  provided  cover  for  wheat,  but  made  it  difficult  for  cattle  to  graze  stalks.  Supplemental feeding is underway and feed supplies were adequate with cattle in good condition.  The eastern third and southern  tier of counties received well above normal precipitation while most of  the west was below normal.   Fertilizer was still being applied until mid month when rain and snow fell. Wheat conditions continue well below year ago levels.  
Weather Summary: 

The majority of the state saw temperatures average 1 to 5 degrees above normal during December.  Topsoil temperatures  ranged from 21  to 34 degrees during  the  last week of the month and  in general were cooler in the central  third of  the  state.  The eastern  third and  southern  tier of counties  received  from  .7  to 2  inches of precipitation, while much of the remainder of the state received a half inch or less.   
Field Crops Report: 

Wheat conditions statewide rated 15 percent very poor, 34 poor, 37 fair, 14 good, and 0 excellent, well below last year when 74 percent of the crop rated good or excellent.  Hay and forage supplies rated 10 percent very short, 29 short, 61 adequate, and 0 surplus, well below a year ago when 96 percent was adequate to surplus.
Livestock, Pasture, and Range Report:    

Cattle and Calves  condition  rated 0 percent very poor, 2 poor, 28  fair, 64 good, and 6 excellent, well below last year’s 93 percent good or excellent. 

County Reports:

BOONE: Unseasonably warm and dry weather until the week of December 16 - then extreme cold and snow. 
DIXON: Stubble fields are snow covered as of this last week.  
DODGE: What little wheat there is had a little shower (.25) of moisture with 3-4 inches of snow cover on top of that.  Field work is done for the year.  Now farm shows and getting seed orders are the main activities.  A cold snap has hit the end of December but no livestock losses to speak of. 
KNOX: Cattle have done well grazing crop residues with minimal snow cover.  It is currently snowing so that will change things.  Conditions continue to be very dry. 
POLK: Major snowstorm December 19-20 brought 8 inches of blowing and drifting snow to the area. Ice is still a problem.
SARPY/DOUGLAS: Wet, uniform snow layer will improve moisture situation but will also increase hay usage for cattle.
THURSTON: Received some much needed moisture (snow) throughout the last couple of weeks. 

Monday December 31 Ag News

Social Media & Mobile Technology Webinar Series for Farm and Ag Businesses
Larry Howard, UNL Extension Educator, Cuming County

Social media has become an exciting way to enhance a farm or food business’s marketing activities, allowing the owner or manager, to connect directly with customers in new and meaningful ways.  Often, it’s these connections, or relationships, that make a business successful over the long run.

University of Nebraska Extension is partnering with Ohio State Extension and Penn State Extension to offer the Social Media & Mobile Technology for Ag Businesses webinar series to help small business owners understand how to integrate social media and mobile applications into the company’s marketing plan.  This series is being hosted by UNL Extension in Cuming County and can be viewed at the Cuming County Courthouse Meeting Room in West Point.

Social media tools (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, etc.), offer easy methods to communicating, connecting, and engaging with customers and the public. Mobile tools, operated from a smart phone or tablet (such as an iPad), offer many other options to both businesses and customers in finding and connecting with businesses, increasing ease of transactions, and other benefits.

Webinar participants will gain a better understanding of social media and mobile tools, and more importantly, learn how the tools can improve their marketing effectiveness and customer service.  Topics and dates in the series include:
·    January 17 – Mobile Usage & Payment Techonolgy
·    January 24 – Introduction to Linkedin & Pinterest
·    January 31 – Maps & Apps, Mobile and Location based Marketing
·    February 7 – Social Media Analysis tools for Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest
·    February 14 – top 10 Trends & Cool Tools in Social Media
·    February 21 – Using Content for More Than One Social Media Tool
·    February 28 – Keeping Up with the ‘Technology’
·    March 7 – Getting the Most from Facebook

The Social Media & Mobile Technology for Ag Businesses webinar series begins on January 17, 2013 taking place weekly until March 7, 2013. Webinars are one hour in length and begin at 1:00
p.m. Central.  Pricing for the webinar series is $5 per webinar payable at the door.  Pre-registration is preferred.  Walk-ins are welcome but pre-registration would be appreciated (in case the webinar is cancelled).

Washington County Cattlemen to Meet Jan 7

The monthly meeting of the Washington County Cattlemen will be on Monday January 7th at the Blair Marina in Blair, NE.  Social Hour starts at 6pm and the dinner will be served at 7pm.  Then the featured speaker for the evening is Ron Coufal... he is the current President of the Cuming County Livestock Feeders Association.  All are welcome to attend! 

Farmers & Ranchers Cow/Calf College - 2013 Partners in Progress - Beef Seminar

The annual Farmers and Ranchers Cow/Calf  College “Partners in Progress – Beef  Seminar” will be held at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center and Great Plains Veterinary Education Center near Clay Center on Tuesday, January 22, 2013 with registration, coffee and donuts starting at 9:00 a.m.

This program is sponsored by the University of  Nebraska-Lincoln Extension’s Farmers and Ranchers College. This year’s theme will center on recovering from the 2012 drought and preparing for the potential of  a 2013 drought. There is no cost for the event and the public is invited. The seminar is packed with experts in climate, forages, economics, animal nutrition and reproduction. It is designed to provide information that should help cattlemen in planning for the upcoming year. Speakers include: Dr. John Pollak-Director USMARC, Allan Vyhnalek-UNL Extension, Dr. Bruce Anderson-UNL Extension, Aaron Stalker-UNL Extension, Dr. Rich Funston-UNL Beef  Reproductive Specialist, and Dr. Al Dutcher-UNL State Climatologist.

Any beef  producer or other interested individual should pre-register by noon on Friday, January 18th, 2013, at the UNL Extension Offce at 621 North Cedar, Red Cloud, NE 68930 or call (402) 746-3417. Walk-ins are accepted, but may not get a lunch. You may also email your registration to Dewey Lienemann at:  Further information may be found at the Webster County UNL Extension site at:

30-day Port Labor Contract Extension Great News for U.S. Meat Exports

For the past several months, a potential longshoremen’s strike at major East Coast and Gulf Coast ports has created a cloud of uncertainty for exporters of U.S. beef and pork. The existing contract between the U.S. Maritime Alliance and the International Longshoremen’s Association was originally set to expire Sept. 30. A 90-day contract extension meant the new deadline for a possible strike was Saturday, Dec. 29.  

With this deadline rapidly approaching, Friday’s morning announcement of a 30-day extension of the existing labor contract came as very good news for the U.S. meat industry and many other U.S. agricultural interests. Paul Clayton, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) senior vice president for export services, says that while this extension is not a long-term solution to the labor impasse, exporters are relieved to know that port activity will continue without disruption until at least Jan. 28.

For U.S. beef exports, the greatest potential impact rests with the Port of Houston, which handled nearly 150,000 metric tons of outbound beef in the first three quarters of this year – or about 25 percent of all beef shipped out of the United States through an ocean port. Other East Coast and Gulf Coast ports handle smaller volumes of beef, but the cumulative impact would still be very significant.

For pork, the largest impacted outlet would be the Port of Norfolk, Va., which handled more than 90,000 metric tons from January through September. Other major outbound ports for U.S. pork that would be affected by a strike include New York, Philadelphia, Houston, Charleston, S.C., Jacksonville, Fla., Wilmington, N.C., Gulfport, Miss., and Savannah, Ga.

December Farm Prices Received Index Declined 5 Points

The preliminary All Farm Products Index of Prices Received by Farmers in December, at 201 percent, based on 1990-1992=100, decreased 5 points (2.4 percent) from November. The Crop Index is down 8 points (3.4 percent) and the Livestock Index remained unchanged. Producers received lower prices for milk, lettuce, turkeys, and eggs and higher prices for soybeans, broilers, cattle, and grapes. 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 wheat, milk, broilers, and hay offset the decreased marketing of corn, soybeans, cattle, and grapes.

The preliminary All Farm Products Index is up 22 points (12 percent) from December 2011. The Food Commodities Index, at 187, decreased 3 points (1.6 percent) from last month but increased 18 points (11 percent)from December 2011.

Prices Paid Index Down 1 Point

The December Index of Prices Paid for Commodities and Services, Interest, Taxes, and Farm Wage Rates (PPITW) is 217 percent of the 1990-1992 average. The index is down 1 point (-0.5 percent) from November but 11 points (5.3 percent) above December 2011. Lower prices in December for concentrates, complete feeds, LP gas, and gasoline more than offset higher prices for feeder pigs, feeder cattle, nitrogen, and potash & phosphate.

Prices Received by Farmers

The December All Farm Products Index is 201 percent of its 1990-1992 base, down 2.4 percent from the November index but 12 percent above the December 2011 index.

All crops: 

The December index, at 228, decreased 3.4 percent from November but is 15 percent above December 2011. Index decreases for fruits & nuts, feed grains & hay, and commercial vegetables more than offset the index increases for oilseeds and food grains.

Food grains: The December index, at 268, is 1.1 percent above the previous month and 13 percent above a year ago. The December price for all wheat, at $8.33 per bushel, is down 13 cents from November but $1.13 above December 2011.

Feed grains & hay: The December index, at 299, is down 1 percent from last month but 19 percent above a year ago. The corn price, at $7.01 per bushel, is down 1 cent from last month but $1.15 above December 2011. The all hay price, at $192 per ton, is down $1.00 from November but up $18.00 from last December. Sorghum grain, at $12.30 per cwt, is 10 cents below November but $1.80 above December last year.

Cotton, Upland: The December index, at 114, is up 0.9 percent from November but 22 percent below last year. The December price, at 68.8 cents per pound, is up 0.4 cents from the previous month but 20.1 cents below last December.

Oilseeds: The December index, at 261, is up 3.6 percent from November and 23 percent higher than December 2011. The soybean price, at $14.70 per bushel, increased 40 cents from November and is $3.20 higher than December 2011.

Livestock and products: 

The December index, at 168, is unchanged from last month but up 7.0 percent from December 2011. Compared with a year ago, prices are higher for broilers, milk, cattle, and calves. Prices for eggs, turkeys, and hogs are down from last year.

Meat animals: The December index, at 161, is up 0.6 percent from last month and 3.2 percent higher than last year. The December hog price, at $62.90 per cwt, is up $1.80 from November but 60 cents lower than a year ago. The December beef cattle price of $125 per cwt is up $2.00 from last month and $5.00 higher than December 2011.

Dairy products: The December index, at 162, is down 3.6 percent from a month ago but 7.3 percent higher than December last year. The December all milk price of $21.10 per cwt is 90 cents less than last month but up $1.40 from December 2011.

Poultry & eggs: The December index, at 185, is up 0.5 percent from November and 14 percent above a year ago. The December market egg price, at 95.7 cents per dozen, decreased 6.3 cents from November and is 14.3 cents less than December 2011. The December broiler price, at 60.0 cents per pound, is up 3.0 cents from November and 13.0 cents higher than a year ago. The December turkey price, at 66.9 cents per pound, is down 8.2 cents from the previous month and 4.6 cents below last year.

Brazil Soy Planting Finishes

Soy Harvest Starts With Crop Looking Healthy

The Brazilian soybean season enters a new phase with producers finishing planting in the southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul just as harvesting starts in Mato Grosso, the No. 1 producing state in the center-west.  At both ends of Brazil's massive soybean belt, the outlook remains generally good, strengthening forecasts of a bumper crop of 81 million metric tons or more.  The handful of farmers who took a punt on planting soybeans in early September have started harvesting in the north, center-north and west of Mato Grosso over the last couple of days.  No news of yields has come through, and the early yields won't be that representative as conditions and varieties will be different for the bulk of the harvest, which only gathers pace in February. However, in general, Mato Grosso farmers say the crop promises strong yields, with plants looking tall and heavily laden with pods.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday December 28 Ag News


Nebraska inventory of all hogs and pigs on  December 1, 2012, was 3.0 million head, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Nebraska Field Office.  This was down 5 percent from December 1, 2011, and down 5 percent from September 1, 2012.  Breeding hog inventory, at 380,000 head, was down 1 percent from December 1, 2011, but unchanged from last quarter.  Market hog inventory, at 2.62 million head, was down 5 percent from last year, and down 5 percent from last quarter.  

The September-November 2012 Nebraska pig crop, at 1.84 million head, was down 2 percent from 2011.  Sows farrowing during the period totaled 175,000 head, down 3 percent from last year.  

Nebraska hog producers intend to farrow 170,000 sows during the December 2012-February 2013 quarter, down 3 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period a year ago.  Intended farrowings for March-May 2013 are 175,000 sows, down 3 percent from the actual farrowings during the same period the previous year.  


On December  1,  2012  there were  20.6 million  hogs  and  pigs  on  Iowa  farms  according  to  the  latest USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service Hogs and Pigs  report.   The December 1  inventory was unchanged  from September 2012 but up 3 percent  from a year ago.

The September 2012-November 2012 pig crop was 5.20 million head.  A total of 505,000 sows farrowed with an average litter size of 10.3 pigs per sow.

As  of  December  1,  producers  planned  to  farrow  500,000 head  of  sows  and  gilts  in  the  December  2012-February  2013  quarter. Farrowing intentions for the March-May 2013 period were estimated at 520,000 as of December 1, 2012. 

United States Hog Inventory Down Slightly

United States inventory of all hogs and pigs on December 1, 2012 was 66.3 million head. This was down slightly from December 1, 2011, and down 2 percent from September 1, 2012. 

Breeding inventory, at 5.82 million head, was up slightly from last year, and up slightly from the previous quarter. Market hog inventory, at 60.5 million head, was down slightly from last year, and down 2 percent from last quarter.

The September-November 2012 pig crop, at 29.4 million head, was up slightly from 2011. Sows farrowing during this period totaled 2.90 million head, down 1 percent from 2011. The sows farrowed during this quarter represented 50 percent of the breeding herd. The average pigs saved per litter was a record high 10.15 for the September-November period, compared to 10.02 last year. Pigs saved per litter by size of operation ranged from 7.60 for operations with 1-99 hogs and pigs to 10.20 for operations with more than 5,000 hogs and pigs.

United States hog producers intend to have 2.86 million sows farrow during the December 2012-February 2013 quarter, up slightly from the actual farrowings during the same period in 2012, and up 1 percent from 2011. Intended farrowings for March-May 2013, at 2.93 million sows, are down 2 percent from 2012, but up slightly from 2011.

The total number of hogs under contract owned by operations with over 5,000 head, but raised by contractees, accounted for 47 percent of the total United States hog inventory, up from 45 percent last year.

Upper Big Blue NRD Board Passes Rule Changes Regarding Fertilizer Application and Nitrate Management

At the Upper Big Blue NRD Board of Directors Meeting held at 1:30pm on December 27, 2012, the Board approved changes to the District’s Rule 5 pertaining to groundwater quality regarding fertilizer application and nitrate management.

On March 1, 2012, the District held a public hearing for proposed changes to the District’s rules that would have required District-wide use of nitrification inhibitors.  Several members of the public testified against that proposal and suggested that the District consider alternatives such as mandatory soil sampling and training on the use for fertilizer best management practices.   Again, on November 1, 2012, a second Public Hearing was held based on new management ideas and public input derived for the March hearing.

A summary of the major parts of the new rule changes are as follows:

1). To lower the Phase II Management Area trigger from 9 parts per million (ppm) to 7 ppm.  The District is divided into twelve Management Zones.  Currently, two zones are in Phase II Management Areas.  The proposal limits would allow only one Management Zone into Phase II Management per year.  This would likely result in bringing three more Management Zones into Phase II Management over the next three to four years.  In a Phase II Management Area, producers are required to take deep (24”) soil samples for residual nitrate in a corn field where corn will be planted again.  It also requires producer training and annual reporting of management practices.

2). To lower the Phase III Management Area trigger from 12 ppm to 10 ppm.  There is currently one Management Zone (Zone 5) in York County with a median groundwater nitrate over 10 ppm.  The proposal also requires that fall-winter application of anhydrous ammonia in a Phase III Area must include a nitrification inhibitor.  Spring anhydrous application would not require the use of a nitrification inhibitor.

3). Phase II and Phase III producers would also be required to use electrical resistance blocks or capacitance probes to schedule irrigation in one field.  Scheduling irrigation using soil moisture information can reduce the risk of excess irrigation leaching nutrients from the root zone.

Increasing nitrates in groundwater have been a concern in the Upper Big Blue NRD for several years.  Several communities in the District have found it necessary to construct new wells to comply with state and federal drinking water standards.  Some communities have built, or are considering, treatment plants.  Many rural residents have also replaced wells or installed private water treatment systems.

Nitrate is found naturally in the environment, however excess nitrates that are causing groundwater contamination come primarily from the use of commercial fertilizers.  Nitrogen fertilizer is needed to produce corn, however the amount and timing of the fertilizer application can reduce the risks of groundwater contamination.  Anhydrous ammonia is the most common form of nitrogen fertilizer used throughout the District.

Since 1996, the NRD has required that farmers wait until November 1st to apply anhydrous, and to wait until March 1st to apply other formulations of nitrogen fertilizer.  In some parts of the District where groundwater nitrate is the highest, farmers are required by existing regulations to attend training classes, take soil samples, and calculate crop nitrogen needs.  Despite these efforts, groundwater nitrate levels have continued to rise.  The proposed changes to District Rule 5 are designed to encourage farmers to adopt fertilizer management practices that will reduce the opportunity time for nitrate leaching out of the crop root zone.

Ethanol Stocks Down, Production Up

Domestic ethanol inventories were drawn down last week despite an increase in production, with the latest stock draw coming after three consecutive weeks of supply builds that pushed inventory up to a six-month high, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported.

EIA detailed a 523,000 barrels (bbl) draw, or 2.5%, to 20.315 million bbl for the week-ended Dec. 21 while up 14.9% from a year-ago level. Despite the draw, total inventories remain 1.974 million bbl higher than on Nov. 30.

The stock draw came despite domestic production of ethanol increasing 13,000 barrels per day (bpd), or 1.6%, to 834,000 bpd last week, while down 13.3% compared to the year-ago pace.

Implied demand, as measured by refiner and blender net inputs, was up 27,000 bpd to 850,000 bpd for the week-ended Dec. 21 while 3.3% higher than a year earlier. Refiner and blender net inputs represent a major portion of implied demand for ethanol.

Elsewhere, the EIA reported implied demand for motor gasoline eased 10,000 bpd to 8.608 million bpd for the week-ended Dec. 21, while four-week average gasoline demand at 8.5 million bpd was down 2.8% from the level seen a year ago.

Mississippi River Drops, Threatening Barge Traffic

(AP) -- The Mississippi River level is dropping again and barge industry trade groups warned Thursday that river commerce could essentially come to a halt as early as next week in an area south of St. Louis.

Mike Petersen of the Army Corps of Engineers said ice on the northern Mississippi River is reducing the flow more than expected at the middle part of the river that is already at a low-water point unseen in decades, the result of months of drought.

The river level is now expected to get to 3 feet at the Thebes, Ill., gauge on Jan. 6, a juncture that could force new limitations. Worse still, the long-range forecast from the National Weather Service calls for the river to keep falling, reaching 2 feet on Jan. 23.

The Coast Guard remains confident that the nation's largest waterway will remain open. But officials with two trade groups -- the American Waterways Operators and Waterways Council Inc. -- said in a joint news release that even if the river is open, further limits on barges will bring commercial traffic to a halt.

Thebes, about 150 miles south of St. Louis, is a treacherous spot for barge operators because of hazardous rock formations and a big bend in the river. The corps is in the process of removing the rocks but work isn't expected to be finished until mid- to late-January at the earliest.

The trade groups renewed their call for presidential action requiring the Corps of Engineers to increase the flow of water from an upper Missouri River dam in South Dakota. The corps cut the flow by two-thirds in November because of drought conditions in that region, reducing the amount of Missouri River water flowing into the Mississippi.

Michael Toohey, president and CEO of Waterways Council Inc., said that without the additional flow "we will have run out of time on this national crisis."

The depth of the Mississippi is regulated by dams north of St. Louis, and the depth increases south of Cairo, Ill., where the Ohio River converges. But the roughly 180-mile stretch from St. Louis to Cairo is approaching record lows. Experts say that if barges stop moving, the potential impact on shipments of essentials such as corn, grain, coal and petroleum could reach into the billions of dollars.

Drafts, or the portion of each barge that is submerged, are already limited to 9 feet in the middle Mississippi. If the river gauge gets to 3 feet at Thebes, the Coast Guard may be forced to limit drafts even further. Restricted drafts mean less cargo per barge. Officials with the trade group say that if drafts are restricted to 8 feet or lower, many operators will halt shipping.

Lt. Colin Fogarty of the Coast Guard said the agency remains confident "we can still maintain a safe, navigable waterway despite the low-water conditions."

But he acknowledged, "I'm not trying to paint a pretty picture here. We face very real, physical limitations at certain parts of the river that may inhibit barge operators because their vessels draft too much or push too much water."

Contractors hired by the corps have been using excavators on barges to remove the rock pinnacles near Thebes, and performed the first series of explosions on the pinnacles Friday. Further decisions on when to blast will be made on a day-to-day basis, Petersen said.

The corps released water from Carlyle Lake in southern Illinois earlier this month, a move that helped the river rise about 6 inches. Petersen says another release began Thursday, which will add another 6 inches of depth by around Jan. 6, a move aimed at trying to stave off barge restrictions.

Fogarty said every effort is being made to help barges keep moving, but don't expect any magic turning point.

"There is no silver bullet," Fogarty said. "This isn't a battle against the water. This is a campaign."

Specialists: In 2013, Resolve to Improve Farming Practices

New Year's resolutions aren't just for those who are overweight, sedentary or struggling to break a bad habit. Farmers can resolve to avoid poor management practices or implement better production techniques in 2013.  Purdue University crop, livestock and agricultural economics specialists shared their top three farmer resolutions for the year ahead. Those resolutions, and specialist comments about them, are:

Bob Nielsen, Extension corn specialist

-- Resolve to improve hybrid decision-making. "Look for hybrids that not only have high yield potential but also a demonstrated ability to consistently achieve that potential across a wide range of growing conditions, because you cannot predict what 2013 will bring in terms of weather."
-- Resolve to spend more time in the fields with the crops. "This will help you better identify the yield influencing factors most important to your farming operation. Then work with your advisor(s) to develop strategies to begin managing those factors."
-- Resolve to work toward improving the overall efficiency of your nitrogen management program. "Take steps to reduce the risks of N loss, such as leaching, denitrification and volatilization."

Shaun Casteel, Extension soybean specialist

-- Resolve to read the variety tag. "Seed size varies from year to year. The drought conditions - timing and duration - have impacted seed size - small and large - germination and vigor. Your planter settings and seeding rates need to be adjusted accordingly."
-- Resolve to take stand counts. "Plant populations of 100,000 to 120,000 plants per acre optimize return in investment. Early season stand counts provide the opportunity to verify your seeding rates and emergence potential. You will also be scouting the field for pressures of weeds and pests."
-- Resolve to harvest grain above 13 percent moisture. "We are losing out on a portion of our yield when we harvest below 13 percent. Note that this might mean having to set the combine multiple times based on the toughness of the stem and ease of pod threshing. You will gain yield in water weight and reduce the losses due to dry grain and header loss."

Keith Johnson, Extension forage specialist

-- Resolve to sample soils for nutrient levels. "Follow through with the addition of limestone and fertilizer recommended by the test. The application of a blended fertilizer like 12-12-12 and calling this your fertilizer program is not a wise decision."
-- Resolve to scout fields. "Do this weekly to determine the well being of the growing forages. Evaluate grazing pressure, presence of pests - weeds, insects and disease - and possible nutrient deficiency symptoms."
-- Resolve to evaluate the possibility of grazing corn residues in the early fall. "This can reduce feed cost substantially for beef and sheep producers."

Ron Lemenager, Extension beef specialist

-- Resolve to take feed samples and have them analyzed for nutrient content. "Work with a nutritionist to formulate rations that will minimize cost and optimize performance."
-- Resolve to adjust rations for cold stress, to minimize losses in weight and body condition. "For each 10-degree drop in wind chill factor below 30 degrees, the maintenance energy requirements increase by 13 percent for cows in moderate body conditioned with a dry, winter hair coat and 30 percent for thin cows or cows with a wet or summer hair coat."
-- Resolve to create a business plan of where you want to go and how you plan to get there. "It can help not only when you go to the bank for a loan, but also when the IRS does an audit."

Brian Richert, Extension swine specialist

-- Resolve to closely monitor your feeding program, since feed is 70 percent of your swine costs. "This includes sticking to your feed budgets, being vigilant in your feeder adjustments, monitoring your feed particle size and analyzing your feed ingredients. Analyzing your feed ingredients is critical when you feed more byproducts with their increased variability, and with a bad growing season this year even our corn and soybean meal needs to be analyzed."
-- Resolve to collect and use records. "You should be culling the lowest-producing females, monitoring drug use, conducting timely euthanasia and evaluating all your costs across all phases of production."
-- Resolve to re-evaluate vaccination and medication plans. "Meet with your herd veterinarian to ensure they are meeting your herd's health needs."

Chris Hurt, Extension agricultural economist

-- Resolve to never say, "It can't happen to me." "The 2012 drought was a stark reminder that bad outcomes can come to our farms and businesses. Evaluate and use the tools to help reduce the terrible financial consequences that can come from bad outcomes. Start with a re-evaluation of crop insurance alternatives."
-- Resolve to make 2013 a learning year. "New technology is coming at us quickly. There will be a new farm bill to learn about. Tax laws will likely change. New farm products are emerging. Brand new opportunities will be presenting themselves. Be sure to commit time to increasing your knowledge and to the improvement of your decision-making skills."
-- Resolve to review your family's succession plan and update your estate plan. "Even if you have a great plan, remember the laws are changing. At the very least, learn about those changes and how they affect your plan. If you don't have a plan, the new laws will give you a great reason to get started."

Deadline Looms to Unwind WTO's COOL Clock

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has directed the United States to modify its country of origin labeling (COOL) law no later than May 23, 2013. Supported by multinational meatpackers and meatpacker associations such as the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), Canada and Mexico successfully convinced the WTO that COOL violates international trade rules.

"Unless the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) has already drafted a comprehensive, proposed rule to address the criticisms leveled by the WTO against COOL, there is insufficient time remaining for the public to have any meaningful input in the rulemaking process," said Mike Schultz, Chair of the R-CALF USA COOL Committee and director of Region VI.

In June, a three-judge appellant panel appointed by the WTO issued its final ruling in favor of Mexico and Canada. The WTO ruled that the U.S. COOL law discriminates against cattle from Canada and Mexico by creating an incentive in favor of processing domestic livestock and a disincentive against processing imported livestock.

One of the three deciding judges appointed by the WTO was a Mexican national.

"It is outrageous for the WTO to enlist a Mexican national to support Mexico's and Canada's efforts to undermine our COOL law that was democratically passed under our U.S. Constitution," said Schultz.

In September, Mexico and Canada filed a separate complaint with the WTO, this time complaining that the United States was being unreasonable in asking for 18 months for which to modify COOL to comply with the WTO's June ruling.

The United States explained it would take at least 12 months to bring COOL into compliance with the WTO ruling through modifications to the implementing rules, or regulations, for COOL. If a new law was needed to change the COOL statute, the U.S. said it would take "substantially more time" than 18 months.

On November 22, however, the WTO directed the U.S. to implement the WTO's ruling no later than May 23, 2013, regardless of whether the U.S. chooses to implement the ruling by regulation or by statute. Thus, the WTO has directed the U.S. to complete an agency rulemaking within six months of its decision, in half the time that U.S. law would provide.

"It is equally outrageous for the WTO to demand that our federal agencies short circuit the right of U.S. citizens to actively and meaningfully participate in agency rulemakings, which necessitates ample time for USDA to draft a proposed rule, provide adequate public notice, and provide sufficient time for the public to submit thoughtful comments," Schultz added.

Schultz explained that R-CALF USA is so determined to preserve COOL that it is aggressively fighting in all three branches of the U.S. government to defend it.

To defend the United States' sovereign right to implement and enforce COOL so U.S. consumers can know where their food is produced, Schultz said his group has engaged the judicial branch of government.

"We joined in a lawsuit with the Made in the USA Foundation and other cattle and consumer groups that was filed in federal district court in September to challenge the WTO's authority to undermine our domestic laws," he said.

Schultz said his group also is actively lobbying the legislative branch of government. "We've been encouraging members of Congress to resist any efforts by USDA, USTR (Office of the U.S. Trade Representative), multinational meatpackers or their associations like the NCBA to weaken our U.S. COOL law in any way."

Because the current battleground over COOL is in the executive branch of government, Schultz said his group has been focusing considerable resources towards the USTR and USDA agencies. During the U.S. appeal of the first adverse decision by the WTO, R-CALF USA submitted a comprehensive, 17-page memorandum to USTR and USDA that identified numerous flaws in the WTO's adverse ruling and suggested many arguments USTR could use in defense of COOL.

"Many of the arguments suggested by R-CALF USA in its memorandum were included in the United States' appeal brief," said Schultz.

"The challenge right now is to unwind the WTO COOL clock by taking some meaningful action prior to the WTO's May 23, 2013 deadline," Schultz said. For that purpose, and in response to a request from USTR for suggestions, R-CALF USA submitted comprehensive suggestions to USTR and USDA on how the U.S. can proceed with a rulemaking that would address the WTO's criticisms while actually strengthening COOL.

"The WTO complained that COOL does not always provide accurate information so we suggested that UDSA initiate a rulemaking to eliminate one of the worst inaccuracies in COOL - the loophole that allows exclusively U.S. beef to nevertheless bear an inaccurate label indicating it is a product of two or more countries," explained Schultz.

Another major WTO criticism is that record keeping requirements for distinguishing imported livestock from domestic livestock are too burdensome. "To address this problem we suggested that USDA adopt a 'presumption of domestic origin' methodology that will completely eliminate the need for any records, Schultz commented. Schultz explained that if U.S. Customs and Border Protection required all imported livestock to be permanently marked with a mark of origin, then the origin of every animal can be accurately determined without any records: Those with import markings would be ineligible for the USA COOL label but eligible for a label denoting whichever country the animal's mark identifies. Animals with no import markings would then be presumed exclusively domestic and eligible for the USA label.

"We're leaving no stone unturned in our quest to defend and protect COOL," Schultz said adding, "But, if the U.S. is going to keep its regulatory options open, USDA must act swiftly to propose rulemaking language that we hope will be similar to what we suggested. If it doesn't, U.S. citizens will be deprived of their right to actively and meaningfully participate in the democratic rulemaking process," concluded Schultz.

No Big Swings in Milk Prices Foreseen in 2013

Barring a major disruption in dairy policy from the so-called fiscal cliff, milk prices will likely be weaker during the first few months of 2013 and could see recoveries going into next summer and fall. Dr. Bob Cropp with the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension noted in his monthly Dairy Situation and Outlook report that the January Class III price could be near $18.00 with little change for the Class IV price; and that the potential for higher prices later in the year will depend upon the level of milk production.

"November milk production was somewhat surprising," he said in the December report. "U.S. milk production was unchanged from a year ago in August, 0.6-percent lower in September and just 0.1-percent lower in October. But, November's production was 1.0-percent higher, the net result of 0.2-percent fewer milk cows but milk per cow 1.2-percent higher."

But with milk prices weakening some for December and January and feed prices still high, U.S. milk production is not likely to show relatively strong increases, he said.

"Although a small increase in cow numbers did occur for November, cow numbers are still likely to average lower for 2013 versus this year," Cropp stated. "And with still high feed prices margins for dairy producers may still not be at levels that would suggest any strong increase in milk production. With world milk prices increasing some U.S. dairy exports ought to remain favorable. It now looks like milk prices will average higher for 2013 than this year. But, there exists much uncertainty where milk prices will end up, particularly by summer and fall."

He says the recent dip in milk prices can be blamed on more milk available for cheese production, as well as higher milk components in total cheese production. Also, holiday orders had already been filled as of mid-December, which usually results in lower cheese prices at the end of the year.

"However, positive for cheese prices is stocks of cheese which were still tighter than a year ago with October 31st stocks 6.2-percent lower than a year ago," he said.

NSP Announces Annual Yield and Management Contest Winners

National Sorghum Producers announced last week the winners of the 2012 NSP Yield and Management Contest. Farmers from 22 states entered to win this year’s contest. Producer yields are highlighted in 11 different categories, including the new Double Crop Irrigated and Non-Irrigated categories, with this year’s top yield at 213.33 bushels per acre.

The national winners will be further recognized at Commodity Classic in Kissimmee, Fla., on March 1, 2013, at an awards dinner sponsored by Pioneer.

The 2012 first place winners of the NSP Yield and Management Contest were Tom Taylor of Kansas who won the Reduced-Till Irrigated category with a yield of 213.33 bushels per acre; Bob Shearer of Pennsylvania in the No-Till Non-Irrigated category with a yield of 140.85 bushels per acre; Mike Shearer of Pennsylvania in the Mulch-Till Non-Irrigated category with a yield of 131.94 bushels per acre; Gage Porter of Iowa in the Conventional-Till Non-Irrigated category with a yield of 144.29 bushels per acre; Ki Gamble of Kansas in the Conventional-Till Irrigated category with a yield of 210.85 bushels per acre; Tim King of Tennessee in the Double Crop Non-Irrigated category with a yield of 131 bushels per acre; and Reznik and Sons Inc., of Texas in the Double Crop Irrigated category with a yield of 147.72 bushels per acre.

Ki Gamble of Kansas is the Irrigated National Food-Grade category winner with a yield of 196.48 bushels per acre, and James Vorderstrasse of Nebraska won the Non-Irrigated National Food-Grade category with a yield of 119.23 bushels per acre. Tom Taylor of Kansas won the Irrigated Bin Buster Award category with a yield of 213.33 bushels per acre, and Steve Feight of Kansas yielded 160.37 bushels to win the Non-Irrigated Bin Buster Award.

“I congratulate all of the winners on their sorghum yield success in 2012,” said NSP Chairman Terry Swanson. “This contest is a great way to showcase the achievements of producers using best management practices, while demonstrating the yield potential of grain sorghum even in years when drought has plagued much of the nation’s cropland.”

To see a complete list of the NSP Yield and Management Contest national, state and county results or to learn more about the contest, visit


As Americans begin to make New Year’s resolutions for 2013, the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA®) encourages farmers and ranchers to place engaging consumer audiences about today’s agriculture at the top of their lists.

According to survey findings by USFRA, more than one in four Americans (27 percent) admit they often are confused about the food they are purchasing. Three in five Americans would like to know more about how food is grown and raised, but don’t feel they have the time or money to make it a priority (59 percent).

USFRA was created to lead the dialogue and answer the tough questions consumers have about today’s food production through events, social media, access to farmers and ranchers, and content on its website, 

 “We want consumers to know that America’s farmers and ranchers share their values and are committed to answering Americans’ questions about how we raise and grow food. But to accomplish that goal, we all need to make a commitment to listen and respond positively to consumer concerns,” said Bob Stallman, chairman of USFRA and president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “I encourage America’s farmers and ranchers to become involved by sharing their stories of continuous improvement and setting the record straight about today’s agriculture.”

According to USFRA, there are six steps to becoming involved...
1.    Commit to Learn More – Sign up for alerts and information at

2.    Understand the Language – Since 2011, USFRA has immersed itself in a wide range of research and messages to identify ways to continue to break through to influence consumers. This research found that people are concerned with the way farmers and ranchers produce food. Although they respect farmers and ranchers, they believe most food comes from “big ag”. They distrust the industry, and as a result, aren’t sure the methods and technologies used are safe for their long-term health. For more information about these research findings, contact Lisa Cassady at or 314-749-5408.

3.    Get Trained –The “Conversations with EASE” – Engage, Acknowledge, Share and Earn trust is a presentation that provides tested ways to start or continue dialogues about food production. This training is based on research about what resonates and drives trust with consumers. Farmers, ranchers and industry organizations can contact Abby Rinne at or 636-449-5086 to arrange a training session.

4.    Respond to Misinformation – In addition to registering for USFRA’s alerts, join the more than 4,000 farmers and ranchers who have signed up for the Farmer and Rancher Mobilization (a.k.a. F.A.R.M) Team. There are times when we see news stories, videos or online comments about farming and ranching that are not quite accurate. Americans have questions about their food, and the information available online is not always factually correct. This program provides farmers and ranchers a way to identify and clarify these misperceptions. To sign up, go to

5.    Tell Your Story In Your Own Words – Start a conversation about farming and ranching today. Go online to USFRA’s Facebook page ( USFarmersandRanchers), or add #FoodD to your tweets. Start a conversation wherever you are: at the grocery store, at the airport, at a sporting event or on your personal blog or Facebook page.

6.    Join the Movement - Support USFRA’s efforts by joining our movement along with our 80 affiliates and industry partners. Organizations and companies can become a USFRA affiliate or industry partner today. To find out how, contact Abby Rinne at or 636-449-5086.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thursday December 27 Ag News


Statement from Jackson: 

I want to thank President Obama for the honor he bestowed on me and the confidence he placed in me four years ago this month when he announced my nomination as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. At the time I spoke about the need to address climate change, but also said: “There is much more on the agenda: air pollution, toxic chemicals and children’s health issues, redevelopment and waste-site cleanup issues, and justice for the communities who bear disproportionate risk.” As the President said earlier this year when he addressed EPA’s employees, “You help make sure the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat are safe. You help protect the environment not just for our children but their children. And you keep us moving toward energy independence…We have made historic progress on all these fronts.” So, I will leave the EPA confident the ship is sailing in the right direction, and ready in my own life for new challenges, time with my family and new opportunities to make a difference.

Statement by President Obama: 

Over the last four years, Lisa Jackson has shown an unwavering commitment to the health of our families and our children. Under her leadership, the EPA has taken sensible and important steps to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink, including implementing the first national standard for harmful mercury pollution, taking important action to combat climate change under the Clean Air Act, and playing a key role in establishing historic fuel economy standards that will save the average American family thousands of dollars at the pump, while also slashing carbon pollution. Lisa has been an important part of my team, and I want to thank her for her service in my Administration and her tireless efforts to benefit the American people. I wish her all the best wherever her future takes her.

Vilsack on Resignation of Jackson

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today issued the following statement on the resignation of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson from President Obama's cabinet:
"Lisa Jackson has served our country well as she balanced improving the environment and the health of the American people - while ensuring our country's economic competitiveness - because they are intrinsically linked. Throughout her tenure, she listened to stakeholders, including farmers and ranchers, and took their concerns into account while considering policies that impacted rural America. She was a friend to me and to those who live and work in rural America and her leadership will be missed."

RFA Statement on Jackson's Resignation

Statement by Bob Dinneen, President and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), on the announced resignation of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson:
"Administrator Jackson put into action the Obama Administration's commitment to ethanol and other biofuels. During her tenure, she cleared the way for E15 giving consumers more choice and savings at the gas pump and she protected the progress that has been made in reducing our dependence of foreign oil by recognizing the importance and inherent flexibility of the RFS. The ethanol industry thanks her for her service and looks forward to working with her successor to continue the growth of America's domestic renewable fuels industry."

NCGA Thanks Departing EPA Administrator for Support of Biofuels, Farmers

The National Corn Growers Association thanks Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson for acting on the Obama Administration's commitment to ethanol and other biofuels during her tenure. This statement comes on the heels of today's public announcement of her forthcoming resignation in January.

"Administrator Jackson worked with NCGA to support the ethanol industry and promote science-based regulations during her tenure," said NCGA Chairman Garry Niemeyer, a farmer from Auburn, Ill. "Upon the announcement of her departure, we thank her for the action she took on behalf of the Administration to advance E15, support the RFS and for her willingness to work with America's farmers. We hope to continue working in this cooperative, productive manner with her successor."

During her tenure as EPA Administrator, Jackson approved E15, a 15 percent ethanol blended-fuel, for consumer availability. In doing so, she helped decrease our nation's dependence upon foreign oil while offering consumers a wider range of fuel choices and potential savings at the gas pump.

More recently, Jackson also reinforced the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard, while recognizing its inherent flexibility, in her decision to deny requests for a waiver of its provisions. The decision both demonstrated the Administration's commitment to renewable, domestically-produced biofuels and its confidence in the standard.

NCGA worked closely with Administrator Jackson on several issues in addition to biofuels, including EPA's decision to maintain existing rural dust standards, a science-based commitment to maintaining the continued registration of atrazine, and an expedited special review of AF-36, a product that shows promise with aflatoxin mitigation in corn and other crops.

Drought Tops Nebraska Farm Bureau’s Top 5 Agriculture Stories of 2012

The dry conditions that began in May and then escalated into a drought of historic proportions is the state’s top agriculture story of 2012, Nebraska Farm Bureau said in releasing its annual list of the Top 5 Nebraska Agriculture News Stories of the Year.

“The drought has gripped Nebraska from border-to-border and every farmer and rancher in the state has been impacted in some form or fashion,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president. “It was and is still clearly on the minds of our members as they look at the prospect of continued drought into 2013.”

The drought created challenges across the different segments of agriculture with Nebraska’s livestock farmers feeling the tightest squeeze of the 2012 drought. Drought conditions decimated grazing lands used by farmers and ranchers to sustain cattle herds and left areas in Central and Western Nebraska to battle wildfires that destroyed pastures, fences and homes. The drought also created shortages in other forages and field crops used to feed livestock, such as corn and soybeans where statewide total yields were down significantly from 2011 levels.

“The shortage in feed supplies for livestock put cattle, pork, poultry and dairy farmers in the position of having to make difficult decisions about their farms and ranches as feed costs escalated due to the drought conditions. Many farmers had to choose whether to purchase higher priced feeds to try and maintain livestock numbers or to reduce or liquidate livestock numbers altogether.”

For those raising field crops, the 2012 drought brought its own issues. Farmers without access to irrigation watched crops wither away resulting in total losses or significant yield reductions. Those with access to irrigation were able to raise crops, but not without major increases in energy costs, as the irrigation season was prolonged due to the lack of moisture.

The other Top 5 stories, in no specific order, are:
·        The U.S. Department of Labor withdrawing proposed regulations on children working on farms. In April, the U.S. Department of Labor pulled a proposed regulation that would have significantly limited and prevented some of the most basic of activities associated with children working on American farms and ranches.  “The fact that agriculture interests, particularly here in Nebraska, were able to come together to make their voice heard in Washington was clearly a win for farm and ranch families across the country. It was also a win for anyone who is interested in making sure there is a next generation of farmers and ranchers who have the know-how to raise our food.”

·        Nebraskans elect farmers and ranchers to key leadership positions. In November, Nebraska voters elected Cherry county rancher and state legislator Deb Fischer to the U.S. Senate to replace the departing Ben Nelson (D-NE). Nebraska voters also elected two farmers to the University of Nebraska’s Board of Regents. Voters elected Lavon Heideman, a farmer from Elk Creek, to the District 5 seat and Jim Pillen, a pork producer from Columbus, to the District 3 seat.  “Given that farmers and ranchers represent less than two percent of America’s population, but provide the bulk majority of our food, it is extremely important that we have people in leadership that can relate and understand agriculture issues and bring an agricultural and rural perspective to Washington D.C. and to our state’s land grant institution.”

·        The failure of Congress and the President to pass a new-five year Farm Bill.  “The fact that Congressional leadership in Washington has not come together to pass a farm bill is extremely disappointing. Passage of a farm bill is critical to restoring disaster programs that will help livestock farmers coping with the drought. A farm bill rooted in a strong crop insurance program that helps farmers deal with managing their risk is equally critical,” said Nelson.

 ·        Uncertainty surrounding federal tax policy affecting farm and ranch families. Numerous tax provisions of interest to agriculture are set to expire at the end of 2012 including estate taxes, capital gains taxes, personal income tax rates, renewable energy tax credits and many other tax deductions that affect farmers.  “Everyone has and continues to hear about the fiscal cliff, but failure to come to a resolution on some key tax issues like estate taxes and capital gains taxes has the ability to significantly alter the landscape of agriculture. Particularly for farm and ranch families that are looking to bring family members back to the farm or for older generations looking to transfer their farm to the next generation.”

New Flex Fuel Pumps Open in Hartington

Two new flex fuel pumps are now open at the Stop N Go in Hartington, Neb. A grand opening is planned for a later date.

These flex fuel pumps are located at 605 North Robinson in Hartington, and are two of approximately 80 E85/flex fuel pumps in Nebraska that offer fuel blends that include renewable ethanol. Flex fuel vehicles owners will find E30 and E85 at this location. These pumps will also offer unleaded and E10, the most commonly sold fuel in the state. To find a list of retailers that offer E85 and other mid-level ethanol blends, visit the Nebraska Ethanol Board website at or check the Nebraska Corn Board website at

One in 10 Nebraska motorists currently own a flexible fuel vehicle that can run on any blend of ethanol and gasoline, up to E85, yet many drivers don’t realize it. To confirm if a vehicle is flex fuel, drivers can check their owner’s manual, their gas cap, look for the flex fuel emblem on their vehicle or visit the website

“We are seeing more flex fuel pumps going in across Nebraska because of the flexibility for motorists and also for the retailers,” said Kim Clark, director of biofuels development with the Nebraska Corn Board. “Every vehicle filling up is able to use flex fuel pumps, not just flex fuel vehicle owners, and retailers have started to recognize this.”

Todd Sneller, administrator of the Nebraska Ethanol Board, said, “Nebraska is the nation’s second largest producer of ethanol, and when drivers fill up on E85 and other ethanol blends, they’re strengthening Nebraska’s economy, making our country more energy independent and going easier on the environment. Ethanol is also a less expensive alternative to gasoline.”

These flex fuel pumps were supported in part from a grant funded by the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska’s 23,000 corn farmers. For more information about this grant, visit

Sign up for the Nebraska Ethanol Board’s FFV club for updates of new E85 locations and other announcements. Go to to sign up now.

Nebraska Farmers Union Calls on Speaker Boehner To Do His Job

Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) called upon House Speaker Boehner to be the Speaker of the entire House of Representatives and use all of the votes available to him in both political parties in the House of Representatives to accomplish those major unfinished tasks currently bottled up in the House of Representatives, including the Farm Bill, the Production Tax Credit for wind energy, and the fiscal cliff.

Nebraska Farmers Union President John Hansen said, “Our farmers and ranchers are facing the economic consequences of the worst drought in 50 years, and the alarming prospects that drought may be continuing into 2013.  Farmers are rightly wondering why their Congress is failing to respond to their situation, why they have allowed the 2008 Farm Bill to expire September 30th, and why they are unwilling to give the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) the funding and program authorization it needs to respond to their situation, particularly livestock producers.”

“The Senate and House Ag Committees have done their job by sending a Farm Bill proposal with bi-partisan support to their respective bodies for consideration.  The Senate has done its job by voting for their version of the Farm Bill.  The problem in the House is that Speaker Boehner refuses to put the farm bill proposal from the House Ag Committee on the House agenda for a vote. ”

“Folks should rightly be asking, why not?  Is it because the House of Representatives lacks the votes to support the Farm Bill?  No, that is not the reason.  If the Speaker would count all the Democratic votes and moderate Republican votes, there are enough votes to pass the Farm Bill, and likely most of the other issues also languishing in the House of Representatives dungeon.  Tragically, Speaker Boehner refuses to assume his responsibilities to be the Speaker of the House who is supposed to lead both political parties.  Instead he continues to count and consider his own Republican Party caucus votes.  Speaker Boehner allows the minority Tea Party block within his party to control the agenda because they are opposed to the Farm Bill along with the Production Tax Credit for wind energy development, and most of the budget proposals tied to dealing with the fiscal cliff.  As a result, the will of the majority of House voters is being denied by a relatively small minority group of House Republicans.  That is difficult to accept.”

“Speaker Boehner knows the votes within his own party caucus may be lacking, but he also knows there are enough Democratic and moderate Republican farm state votes to pass the Farm Bill if allowed to do so.  Speaker Boehner must step up to the plate and assume the responsibility to govern that comes with being the Speaker of the House of Representatives as the Founding Fathers intended.  We encourage voters to contact their member of the House of Representatives and ask them to put pressure on the Speaker to put the Farm Bill on the agenda before the end of the year,” Hansen concluded. 

Lonestar to Perform at 2013 Cattlemen’s Ball

Organizers of the 2013 Cattlemen's Ball have announced that country music superstars Lonestar will be the featured performers during this year's event, scheduled for June 7-8, 2013, at the Hanging H Ranch between Paxton and Sutherland, Nebraska.

The Cattlemen’s Ball is the state’s premier fundraiser for the fight against cancer, with 100% of the dollars raised staying in Nebraska. The 2013 Cattlemen’s Ball is being held on the Hanging H Ranch on U.S. Highway 30 between Paxton and Sutherland, Nebraska, and is being co-hosted by the Ralph and Beverly Holzfaster family and the Neal Hansen family.

Celebrating their 20th anniversary and reuniting with original lead singer Richie McDonald, Lonestar is known for merging their country roots with strong melodies and rich vocals. Lonestar has amassed RIAA-certified sales in excess of ten million album units since their national launch in 1995 and achieved ten #1 country hits including "No News," "Come Crying To Me," and their crossover smash "Amazed" (which was also #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, the first record since 1983's "Islands in the Stream" to top both charts). The band's awards include a 1999 ACM Single of The Year for “Amazed” (the song also won the Song of the Year award) and the 2001 CMA Vocal Group of the Year.

The Cattlemen’s Ball is hosted by a different Nebraska ranch or feedlot every year.  Its mission is to raise money for cancer research at the UNMC Eppley Cancer Center, while showcasing rural Nebraska and promoting beef as part of a healthy diet.  Since its inception, the Cattlemen’s Ball has raised more than $6.3 million.  In addition to providing funds to the Eppley Cancer Center, a portion of the funds is also targeted for local healthcare organizations.

For information and to purchase tickets online, visit

Groups Urge Vigorous Review of JBS Merger

Five statewide cattle groups and R-CALF USA joined in a letter with 37 U.S.-based farm and consumer groups to collectively urge the U.S. Department of Justice (Justice Department) to "undertake an expanded, probing, and in-depth investigation into the proposal by JBS USA to acquire two U.S.-based beef packing plants owned by Canadian-based XL Four Star Beef."

JBS reportedly has an option to purchase two meatpacking plants from XL Four Star Beef, one in Nampa, Idaho, and the other in Omaha, Neb.

In their letter, the groups state that they believe the proposed merger would reduce competition and seriously harm both cattle producers and consumers.

The group's letter called the 2008 enforcement action by the Justice Department that blocked the then proposed JBS and National Beef Packing Company merger "a historic event that marked a long-awaited turning point in the heretofore unmitigated trend toward price-distorting, oligopolistic meatpacking concentration nationally."

"The Justice Department must not retreat from the historically significant effort it started in 2008 to curb the pervasive erosion of competition in both the U.S. cattle market and the consumers' beef market," the letter continued.

Specifically, the groups urged the Justice Department to request additional information from the proposed merger participants to determine the cattle procurement practices in all of the regions where the merger participants presently operate and the level of competition that currently exists in those regions.

The groups also want the Justice Department to determine "the number of occurrences where employees or agents of either of the merger participants have cooperated or coordinated their cattle-buying activities among or between each other or with other meatpackers or feedlots, and the historic price differential for the types of cattle procured in the marketing regions of the merger participants compared to the prices paid for comparable cattle in other regions."

"We therefore request that no early termination of the antitrust evaluation regarding the acquisition of the two U.S.-based beef packing plants be granted and that the Justice Department make a second request for information to extend the investigation," the groups wrote.

Iowan to Lead Farm Policy Discussions for NCBA

Dave Petty, Eldora, has been named chairman of the Agriculture and Food Policy Committee of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.  The committee reviews farm program policy relevant to cattle producers across the country.  Petty, who has both a cow-calf and feed yard operation, will serve a two-year term as chairman of the committee beginning January 2013.  NCBA policy committee leadership is selected by NCBA's officer team.  Petty had been serving as vice-chairman of the committee for the past two years.

A Farmer’s Farm Show: The Latest Innovations Right in Your Own Backyard

Want to see the latest and greatest innovation in farm equipment? You don’t have to leave the Midwest. The Iowa Power Farming Show is the first and best opportunity to get the scoop on new products that can boost your operation to greater efficiency and profitability.

More than 750 ag-related companies will be on hand to receive the expected 20,000 visitors in the heart of farm country. Knowledgeable sales staff at 1,840 engaging exhibitor booths can show you the latest in farm equipment and precision ag electronics. Put on your walking shoes and explore three state-of the-art facilities with six floors of displays.

“We hope that farmers will take time out of their busy schedules to allow themselves to be wowed by the new innovations at the Iowa Power Farming Show. Only the best companies are represented, and the show is designed for maximum exposure for the least time investment by our visitors,” said Tom Junge, event organizer. “The central location of this show at the intersection of Interstates 80 and 35 will make it possible for farmers and producers to attend.”

The 2013 Iowa Power Farming Show is January 29-31 at the Iowa Events Centerlocated in Des Moines, Iowa.

The Iowa Power Farming Show is owned and managed by the Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association, which represents over 400 agricultural and outdoor power equipment dealers throughout Iowa and Nebraska.

For complete show information and directions, visit

Americans Say Food Production Headed in Right Direction, Widespread Misperceptions Remain

The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA®) recently released findings of a survey conducted about Americans’ perceptions on food production. The survey, conducted to share with consumer media prior to The Food DialoguesSM: New York, revealed Americans increasingly believe food production is heading in the right direction.

However, the survey also found Americans still have widespread misperceptions about how today’s food is grown and raised. Key survey findings include:
·  53 percent of Americans believe food production is heading in the right direction — an increase from the 48 percent who believed the same in a benchmark 2011 USFRA survey.
·  More than one in four Americans (27 percent) admit they often are confused about the food they are purchasing. Young adults (18-29 years old) are more likely than any other age group to say they are often confused about food purchases (38 percent).
·  Three in five Americans would like to know more about how food is grown and raised, but don’t feel they have the time or money for that to be a priority (59 percent).
·  When it comes to dining out, Americans prioritize quality (48 percent), cost (42 percent) and taste (38 percent). When purchasing groceries, Americans prioritize cost (47 percent), quality (43 percent) and healthiness/nutrition (21 percent).
·  While Americans want to learn about organic farming and ranching (27 percent), nearly all report that it’s most important there are healthy choices available, even if they’re not organic or local options (91 percent).
·  Americans overall (84 percent) believe that farmers and ranchers in America are committed to improving how food is grown and raised. Half of Americans (50 percent) think farmers and ranchers are missing from the media conversation around food these days.

USFRA also surveyed farmers and ranchers on their perceptions of consumers’ attitudes towards food production and what they want in a dialogue with consumers. Findings indicated: 
·  Three-quarters of farmers and ranchers believe that the average consumer has very little to no knowledge about food production in the United States (76 percent).  In fact, nearly three out of five farmers and ranchers believe consumers have an inaccurate perception of today’s agriculture (59 percent). 
·  Farmers and ranchers want to see more of an emphasis on sustainability and the environment (42%) and transparency with consumers and customers (36%).
·  Farmers and ranchers report topics best represented to American consumers include those related to family-owned farms (34%), commitment to food safety (23%) and the education level of farmers and ranchers (20%).

USFRA helps farmers and ranchers answer consumers’ and influencers’ questions, including the tough ones, about food production. Examples of this include: 
·  Food DialoguesSM – USFRA has conducted three national Food Dialogues events in a 14-month timespan. These events compelled key customers, influencers and detractors to join the dialogue with farmers and ranchers about today’s food production. 
·  FoodSource - USFRA FoodSource on gives consumers the opportunity to learn more about how food is grown and raised by providing information from third party experts, including researchers and scientists at leading universities, into one easy-to-navigate website.
·  Faces of Farming and Ranching - In 2012, USFRA launched a search for the face of farming and ranching in America. One hundred eighteen farmers and ranchers applied by speaking boldly of their passion for agriculture and their individual operations.   USFRA will announce the winners on January 22, 2013, and will launch an aggressive national consumer media outreach effort.

To learn more about USFRA’s survey results, visit the News and Information section of

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wednesday December 26 Ag News

Snow Is Good For Alfalfa
Larry Howard, UNL Extension, Cuming County

The recent snow storm left at least some snow just about everywhere.  Sure it created some problems, but snow is good – for alfalfa.   Alfalfa loves snow.  In fact, nothing can increase the chance of alfalfa surviving winter better than a thick blanket of snow. 

Our moderate fall weather allowed alfalfa plants to harden well for winter, leaving them with a high concentration of nutrients and a low concentration of water in their roots.  This winterized condition enables alfalfa crowns and roots to withstand temperatures down as low as 5 degrees above zero.  Air temperatures will get much colder than that.  Fortunately, the soil doesn't get as cold as the air above it.  When soil is covered with a blanket of snow, this snow acts like a layer of insulation protecting the ground from bitter cold temperatures.  Plus, it reduces the rate that soils and alfalfa roots dry out.  This is why winters with little snow cover can cause more injury to alfalfa stands, especially if soils also are dry as they are this winter.

Of course, management practices in the fall influence the effect of snow on your alfalfa.  Tall stubble provides some insulation value itself and it will catch more snow.  Also, avoiding alfalfa harvest during the so-called risk period from mid-September through mid-October helps alfalfa roots winterize well by building up nutrients and reducing water content.  You may not like the way snow disrupts your daily routine, but remember how valuable it can be for your alfalfa. 

Calendar Planning

In between snow storms and frigid temperature is a great time to reflect on last year’s successes and problems as well as plan ahead for next year.   Put your calendar to good use by planning next year’s forage activities now and make notes on that calendar to complete needed work on a timely basis.

Bruce Anderson, UNL Forage Specialist suggests that producers order alfalfa and other seeds in January and February to make sure you get what you want.  Then in March, remind yourself to pull any soil samples you didn’t get last fall as well as get ready to plant oats at your earliest opportunity.  By mid-April, be sure to get alfalfa planted before corn planting begins.  This might also mean that lime and phosphorus or other fertilizers needed to be applied even earlier.  Mark it down.  Cool-season grass pastures also should be fertilized by mid-April.

Wen May arrives, get your thistles sprayed right away and begin checking your alfalfa so once buds just start to form you can be ready for an early first cutting that brings a premium price.  In late May, warm-season grass pastures can use some fertilizer, and shortly thereafter plant your summer annuals.

Be ready by early August to prepare and plant turnips or oats for late fall, early winter grazing.  Finally, finish your year by sampling and testing all your harvested forages so you can plan and feed animals during winter to meet their needs at lowest cost.  Make those notes now, and in twelve months you will smile, knowing you got your forage work done correctly and on time.

Purchases of Wind Power Crucial First Step

CFRA applauds recent NPPD and OPPD announcements

Nebraskans received welcome news last week when the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) and Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) both announced plans to purchase wind generated electricity. The Center for Rural Affairs applauded the announcements and encouraged Nebraska’s two largest electric utilities to view these commitments as an important first step in developing the state’s considerable wind power resources.

“We applaud the decisions by both NPPD and OPPD to increase the amount of wind generated electricity in their generation portfolio,” said Johnathan Hladik, Energy Policy Advocate at the Center for Rural Affairs. “Nebraska enjoys some of the best wind energy potential in the nation but we lag far behind a number of states in developing that resource. These announcements are an important step in closing that gap.”

According to Hladik, every state bordering Nebraska has made strong investments in order to get their wind industry off the ground, leaving Nebraska far behind. As a result, Nebraska sits on the sidelines while watching our neighbors prosper.

“Nebraskans look to NPPD and OPPD for leadership. Rural Nebraskans benefit tremendously when we invest in wind energy and invest in Nebraska. We need leaders that recognize this and are willing to help move our state forward,” explained Hladik.

“Our research and analysis clearly demonstrate that an innovation-led plan to invest in wind generated electricity has the potential to create thousands of jobs as well as other direct economic benefits to consumers, farmers, ranchers and rural communities,” Hladik continued.

Recently, several media outlets reported that OPPD agreed to buy 200 megawatts from the Prairie Breeze Wind Energy Center near Elgin, just west of Norfolk. NPPD's board also approved a plan to buy up to 75 megawatts of wind power, but the utility hasn't decided which wind farm to buy from.

Dr. Dave Rhoda to Address Dairy Producers at NCBA Convention

The annual Dairy Producer Communications Forum and breakfast will be held during the upcoming Cattle Industry Convention in Tampa, Florida. The meeting is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 8, from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. in the Marriott Waterside Hotel, Florida Ballroom Salon IV.

This year, the checkoff will be hosting Dr. Dave Rhoda, DVM from Wisconsin, who will discuss the necessity of a "mindset shift" for dairy and veal producers in terms of vigilance on how they're using antibiotics in order to avoid cull cow and bob veal drug residues.

While preventing drug residues in milk is definitely on producers' radar screens as a result, they're also urged to step up their surveillance of antibiotics in calves they ship. The meeting is a great opportunity to learn more about how to avoid these drug residues.

To RSVP for the breakfast, please email Melissa Slagle at   

Checkoff Meetings Open to All

Reminder to all cattle farmers, ranchers and importers: All beef checkoff meetings are open to every person who pays the checkoff. During the upcoming 2013 Cattle Industry Conference, Feb. 6-9  in Tampa, Fla., these meetings include meetings of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB); Federation of State Beef Councils (Federation) and joint committee meetings that include checkoff representation. We've made it easy for those interested to participate.

Fertilizer Prices Stable for Year-End Buys

Retail fertilizer prices continue to remain stable the third week of December, according to data tracked by DTN. This week marks the seventh in a row prices have remained at fairly constant levels.  Six of the eight major fertilizer prices slipped compared to last month, but these moves to the low side were slight. DAP had average price of $637 per ton, MAP $672/ton, potash $607/ton, urea $573/ton, 10-34-0 $604/ton and UAN28 $372/ton.  The remaining two fertilizers were higher compared to the third week of November, but again the move higher was fairly irrelevant. Anhydrous had an average price of $873/ton and UAN32 $424/ton.

On a price per pound of nitrogen basis, the average urea price was at $0.63/lb.N, anhydrous $0.53/lb.N, UAN28 $0.66/lb.N and UAN32 $0.66/lb.N.

Only one of the eight major fertilizers is still showing a price increase compared to one year earlier. Anhydrous is now 9% higher compared to last year.  Six fertilizers are actually lower in price compared to December 2011. Urea is just slightly lower, UAN32 is 5% less expensive, UAN28 is 6% less compared to last year and DAP, MAP and potash are all 9% lower.  The remaining fertilizer is now down double digits from a year ago. 10-34-0 is now 27% less expensive from a year earlier.

Bill Would Repeal FL Ethanol Blend Law

A bill introduced in the Florida state legislature would repeal a law requiring gasoline sold and used in the state be blended with ethanol.

State Rep. Matt Gaetz (R), says he introduced the bill last month because "Floridians should stop subsidizing the Midwestern corn industry."

The Florida Renewable Fuels Standard, which was signed into law by Gov. Crist, requires all gasoline sold or offered for sale by a terminal suppliers, importer, blender or wholesaler in the state contain 9% to 10% ethanol, or other alternative fuel, by volume.

A lot has changed since then, said Gaetz, adding that ethanol has become "economically unviable."  Gaetz cited BP's decision two months ago to abandon plans to build a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Highlands County, Fla. BP said at the time of the project's cancellation in October that it would refocus its U.S. biofuels strategy on research and development as well as licensing its biofuels technology.

The Florida legislature will resume its session in March, which is when Gaetz expects his bill would be voted on in the state's House of Representatives, with identical legislation to be voted on in the state Senate. If passed, the legislation would take effect July 1, 2013.

Brazil to See Soy Transport Costs Explode In 2013

Brazilian farmers will see the cost of transporting soybeans explode in the post-harvest period due principally to a record crop and a lack of motorists to truck produce down to port.

According to the Mato Grosso Agricultural Economy Institute (IMEA), the cost of transporting a metric ton of soybeans from Sorriso, Mato Grosso to Paranagua port, one of the main export points in the south, will rise 56% this year to R$310 ($150).

Brazilian soy transport prices are already much higher than in the U.S. and Argentina -- nearly four times higher, according to the exporters association -- and the 2013 jump will further affect competitiveness against the other major soybean producers.

There is a confluence of factors pushing up freight prices.

Firstly, and perhaps most significantly, soybean output is expected to rise by 20% to 81 to 83 million metric tons (mmt) this season, according to most local forecasters, inflating demand for trucks and wagons to transport the crop

Secondly, and also very importantly, with Brazil getting near full employment, there is increasingly a lack of motorists to trucks beans the often-enormous distances to port -- Sorriso to Paranagua is 1,300 miles. That shortage will be aggravated this year by the new Truckers Law, which restricts motorists to 10-hour days and demands they rest half an hour for every four at the wheel.

Thirdly, diesel prices have risen.

Fourthly, a smaller-than-expected U.S. harvest means demand for beans will be more concentrated than ever at the start of the Brazilian export season in March.

Fifthly, trading companies still have winter corn in their Mato Grosso silos, which they will have to ship in the first quarter, occupying motorists and taking them away from producing regions.

ConAgra Foods Reports Strong Second-Quarter EPS Growth

ConAgra Foods, Inc., (one of North America's leading packaged food companies, reported results for the fiscal 2013 second quarter ended Nov. 25, 2012. Diluted EPS from continuing operations was $0.51 in the fiscal second quarter, up 19% over $0.43 earned in the year-ago period. Excluding $0.06 of net expense in both the current quarter and the year-ago period from items impacting comparability, current quarter EPS of $0.57 was 16% above the comparable $0.49 earned in the year-ago period. Items impacting comparability in the second quarter of fiscal 2013 and the same period a year ago are summarized toward the end of this release and reconciled for Regulation G purposes starting on page 9.

Gary Rodkin, ConAgra Foods' chief executive officer, said, "We are pleased that both of our segments posted operating profit growth in the midst of current economic conditions. Effective margin management initiatives, moderating input cost inflation, the benefit of acquisitions, and good results from our potato operations are collectively driving high-quality EPS growth. We are very excited about the pending acquisition of Ralcorp, which we announced on Nov. 27, 2012, given the strategically and financially compelling nature of the acquisition. The acquisition is expected to close in the first quarter of calendar 2013, and we look forward to updating our investors on the financial benefits of the acquisition in due course."

The Consumer Foods segment posted sales of $2,423 million and operating profit of $286 million for the second quarter. Sales increased 11%, reflecting 11% contribution from acquisitions, 4% favorable price/mix, and a 4% organic volume decline. Sequentially, organic volume improved by a slight amount (on an unrounded basis).

Brands posting sales growth for the quarter include Act II, Hebrew National, Marie Callender's, Orville Redenbacher's, Reddi-wip, Ro*Tel, Wesson, and others. More brand details can be found in the Q&A document accompanying this release.

Volume performance is expected to improve sequentially as the fiscal year progresses, reflecting the lapping of price increases taken last fiscal year as well as the expected favorable impact of the company's innovation pipeline and marketing investment.

Operating profit of $286 million grew 12% over $256 million in the year-ago period, as reported. After adjusting for $7 million of net expense in the current period, and $15 million of net expense in the year-ago period, from items impacting comparability, current-quarter operating profit of $293 million increased 8% over the comparable $271 million a year ago. Marketing investment for the base business (excluding recently completed acquisitions) increased 18%, reflecting the company's planned commitment to building long-term brand strength. Operating profit growth was driven by a combination of favorable price/mix and other margin management initiatives, moderating inflation, and contribution from completed acquisitions.

The company currently expects full fiscal year productivity savings to exceed $250 million for this segment and for input cost inflation to be approximately 2-3%.

Sales for the Commercial Foods segment were $1,312 million, 5% above year-ago period amounts. The growth primarily reflects favorable price/mix and good volumes for the Lamb Weston potato operations, which posted notable success in international markets. To a lesser extent, the sales growth also reflects the pass-through of higher wheat costs in terms of higher flour prices for the milling operations. The overall segment remains focused on top-line growth through innovation, improving product mix with higher-margin items, and strong alignment with high-potential customers.

Segment operating profit was $169 million, 5% above year-ago period amounts as reported, reflecting the sales growth as well as a continued focus on productivity and cost-saving initiatives. Lamb Weston drove the overall segment's profit growth, while flour milling profits were below year-ago period amounts, as planned, due to the very strong performance in the same period a year ago.

The company recorded $16 million of net hedging loss in the current quarter, and $27 million of net hedging loss in the year-ago period, as unallocated Corporate expense. The company identifies these amounts as items impacting comparability. Hedge gains and losses are aggregated, and net amounts are reclassified from unallocated Corporate expense to the operating segments when the underlying commodity or foreign currency being hedged is expensed in segment cost of goods sold.

On Nov. 27, the company announced an agreement to acquire Ralcorp for $90 per share in cash. The transaction is expected to close on or before March 31, 2013, subject to the approval of Ralcorp shareholders, customary regulatory approvals, and the satisfaction of other closing conditions. Including the assumption of debt, the transaction is valued at approximately $6.8 billion. The company expects to finance this transaction with cash on hand, existing credit facilities, incremental borrowings, and the issuance of equity. The company is committed to an investment-grade credit rating. The company expects $225 million of annualized synergies (pre-tax) by the fourth full fiscal year following the transaction close. This acquisition is expected to favorably impact ConAgra Foods' short-term and long-term EPS performance. The company will offer more financial details in due course after the transaction is closed.

Merial to Buy Animal Health Division of Dosch Pharmaceuticals

Merial, the Animal Health division of Sanofi, announced that it has entered into a binding agreement to acquire the animal health division of the Indian company Dosch Pharmaceuticals Private Limited, creating a market entry for Merial in that country's strategically important and growing animal health sector. The agreement is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to finalize sometime in the first half of 2013. Financial details were not disclosed.

Dosch Pharmaceuticals, headquartered in Mumbai, India, was incorporated in 1992 and is a diversified pharmaceutical company, primarily operating through two divisions, animal health and exports. The animal health division being acquired by Merial has more than 86 products under 50 brands for ruminants, poultry and companion animals. Products include an extensive range of animal health therapeutics and nutritional feed supplements. Within the animal health division, Dosch has a 279 member sales force, covering 18 Indian states.

"The acquisition of Dosch's Animal Health Division will be a significant milestone for Merial and give us a strategic platform for our development in the Indian market," said Jose Barella, Chief Executive Officer of Merial. "We are convinced that the combination of Dosch's animal health brands and distribution strength, along with the robust new product pipelines from both Merial and Dosch, will strongly position Merial to become rapidly a major animal health player in India."

Dosch CEO, Dr. Sharat Tugnait and his management team will manage the future combined operations of Dosch and Merial in India under the supervision of Mayank Parekh, Merial.

The animal health market in India is estimated at more than €350 million in 2012, and is experiencing annual double digit growth. India is home to the world's largest herd of cattle and buffalo, second largest herd of sheep and goats, and has the world's fifth largest population of poultry. India is also the world's largest milk producer.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Friday December 21 Cattle on Feed + Ag News


Nebraska feedlots, with capacities of 1,000 or more head, contained 2.53 million cattle on feed on December 1, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Nebraska Field Office.  The inventory was down  1 percent from last year.    Placements in feedlots during November totaled 465,000 head, down 3 percent from 2011.    Marketings of fed cattle during November totaled 400,000 head, up 7 percent from last year.  This is the highest November marketings since the data series began in 1994.   Other disappearance during November totaled 15,000 head, equal to 2011.      

United States Cattle on Feed Down 6 Percent

Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 11.3 million head on December 1, 2012. The inventory was 6 percent below December 1, 2011.  

Placements in feedlots during November totaled 1.92 million, 6 percent below 2011. Net placements were 1.84 million head. During November, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 645,000, 600-699 pounds were 450,000, 700-799 pounds were 375,000, and 800 pounds and greater were 453,000. 

Marketings of fed cattle during November totaled 1.76 million, 1 percent below 2011.  Other disappearance totaled 88,000 during November, 9 percent below 2011.

Plant Scientists Hope to Use Epigenetics to Improve Crops

            Plant scientists long have known they can alter crops genetically to improve performance; they've been doing it thousands of years. But what if they could dramatically improve crops by leaving the genes themselves unchanged but instead change how they're expressed in a way that would be passed down to future generations?

            That question is at the heart of research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Center for Plant Science Innovation, and the results so far are encouraging. The findings, expected to be commercialized in the next couple of years, could play a role in helping meet the world's dramatically increasing need for food, said Sally Mackenzie, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources plant scientist.

            Specifically, scientists focused on a gene called MSH1, short for MUTS Homolog1, which is present in every plant. They discovered that if they "silenced" that gene in some plants, their growth patterns changed dramatically – dwarfed, highly branched and behaving as if they have seen high levels of stress, including cold, heat, sale, drought and high light. Then, after they reintroduced the gene and crossbred it with a plant that wasn't altered, the crossbred plant showed signs of enhanced growth, vigor, lodge resistance, high biomass production and higher yield.

            Those changes in some cases were huge: up to a 100 percent increase in above-ground biomass, up to a 70 percent increase in yield in sorghum, for example.

            "We changed the way the plant is expressing its genes, even though we didn't change the genes themselves," Mackenzie said. The process is called epigenetics.

            Mackenzie stresses these key points about her lab's work:
            – It's not transgene-mediated modification, which is controversial in some parts of the world and heavily regulated, thus slow to reach the market.
            – It's worked in several crops so far – not so-called model crops, but actual agronomically useful crops, most importantly soybean, sorghum and millet, and also tobacco and tomatoes.
            – These changes can occur in just two generations of plants, rather than the 10 or more it can take for genetic modification to take hold. That's appealing given the sense of urgency in figuring out how to feed a world whose population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050.

            The potential of epigenetics to improve other crops is unknown. It's possible that most of the potential already has been reached in corn, for example, because it's been heavily hybridized. Until now, scientists couldn't know what percentage of improvements in corn was due to genetic changes and what percentage was due, unwittingly, to epigenetics.

            Besides soybean and sorghum, it seems likely there's great potential for epigenetics to improve crops such as cotton and dry beans.

            "And if you could do this in rice and wheat, you could perhaps change the world," Mackenzie said.

            "It's promising, but I don't want to overhype this," Mackenzie said. Yet to be determined is whether these effects will be stable and able to be scaled up as the techniques are commercialized and expanded to more fields and more crops.

            "It's important we explore this for every potential it offers for addressing some of the challenges in agriculture," she added.

            The research is funded by the Department of Energy and National Science Foundation.


The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) today announced the selection of the members of the 2012-2013 Nebraska Agricultural Youth Council (NAYC).

The NAYC is entering its 42nd year with the installation of the new Council members.  This year’s Council is comprised of 19 college-aged men and women that exhibit a passion for agriculture and educating others about the agricultural industry.

The Council is responsible for coordinating several agricultural learning experiences for Nebraska youth including: visiting elementary classrooms to discuss where food comes from, taking urban youth to experience farms and what a day in the life of a farmer is like and visiting with high school students from across the state.  The primary focus of the NAYC is to coordinate the annual Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute (NAYI), a five-day conference for current high school juniors and seniors.

According to NDA Public Information Officer and NAYC Adviser Christin Kamm, “The members of the NAYC each exhibit a passion for the agricultural industry and a desire to educate others about agriculture.  The effort put forth by these young adults is inspiring, and I look forward to seeing this year’s Council members implement new ideas and educate even more people about agriculture.”

2012 – 2013 Council Members include:
·         Jud Hoffschneider is the son of Scott and Jennifer Hoffschneider of Arlington.  He is serving as the Chair of the Promotion Committee.
·         Trent Mastny is the son of Brian and Joan Mastny from Howells.
·         Katie Holoubek is the daughter of Mark and Willow Holoubek of David City.
·         Gavin Kenney is serving as Head Counselor.  He will assist in the day-to-day coordination of all NAYC activities, as well as NAYI 2013.  Gavin is the son of Paul and Angie Kenney of Amherst.
·         Haley Harthoorn is serving as Head Counselor. She will assist in the day-to-day coordination of all NAYC activities, as well as NAYI 2013. Haley is the daughter of Barry and Sue Harthoorn of Ainsworth.
·         Emily Ibach is the daughter of Greg and Teresa Ibach of Sumner.  She is serving as the NAYC President.
·         Evan Ibach is the son of Greg and Teresa Ibach of Sumner.  He is serving as the NAYC Secretary.
·         Alyssa Dye is the daughter of Bart and Kathy Dye of Alliance.  She is serving as the chair of the Social Media and Technology Committee.
·         Michelle Dvoracek is the daughter of John and Robyn Dvoracek of Elba.  She is serving as the chair of the NAYI Improvement Committee.
·         Lauren Ibach is the daughter of Todd and Barbara Ibach of Sumner.  She is serving as the chair of the Youth Outreach Committee.
·         Will Miller is the son of John and Karen Miller of Culbertson.  He is serving as the chair of the Sponsorship and Alumni Relations Committee.
·         Bryce Dibbern is the son of Billy and Karen Dibbern of Amherst.
·         Emma Likens is the daughter of Tim and Sue Likens from Swanton.
·         Devin Heusinkvelt is the son of Myron and Jeanette Heusinkvelt from Cortland.
·         Aksel Wiseman is the son of Robert and Sara Wiseman from Hershey.
·         Steven Fish is the son of Mark and Kathy Christensen from Imperial.
·         Larissa Wach is the daughter of Loran and Nancy Wach from Wauneta.
·         Samantha Schneider is the daughter of Jason and Jennifer Schneider from Cozad.
·         Brennan Costello is the son of Steve and Becky Costello from Gothenburg.   He is serving as an ex-officio member of the NAYC after his recent selection as a National FFA Officer.

To learn more about the NAYC or NAYI, please visit the NAYI web page at or search for Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute on Facebook.

Livestock Handling Expert Temple Grandin is Heuermann Lecturer Jan. 15

Temple Grandin, a world leader in understanding livestock behavior and designing livestock handling facilities, is the Heuermann Lecturer at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15, in the Hardin Hall auditorium on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's East Campus, 33rd and Holdrege.

Her topic is "Improving Animal Welfare and Communication with the Public." A short reception follows the lecture.

Born autistic, at age 2 Grandin had no speech and showed all signs of severe autism.  While doctors advised institutionalization, Grandin's mother disagreed.  Through many hours of speech therapy and intensive teaching, Grandin learned speech.

She also over time learned that she thinks in pictures, while many people do not.  She said it is the ability to think in pictures that helps her help animals and their handlers using low-stress, behavior-based livestock handling techniques and facilities she has developed.

An animal sciences professor at Colorado State University, Grandin has had a major impact on the meat and livestock industries worldwide through design of animal handling facilities, industry consulting, research, media exposure for the livestock industry concerning animal care, and various means of outreach.

It is important the public know about the many improvements made in handling animals, Grandin said, adding, "in my communication with the public, I have found that many people are curious and just want to know.  The industry needs to do a better job of communicating."

She has published several hundred industry publications, book chapters and technical papers on animal handling, plus 63 refereed journal articles and 10 books. Her book "Animals in Translation" was a New York Times bestseller, while "Livestock Handling and Transport" is in its third edition.

Among her other books are "Thinking in Pictures; Animals Make us Human; Improving Animal Welfare: A Practical Approach," and "The Way I See It."

"Temple Grandin is the world's foremost authority on livestock handling systems and is well known for being an avid communicator on the critical importance of attention to animal stewardship and care throughout the entire animal agriculture supply chain," said Ronnie Green, University of Nebraska vice president and Harlan vice chancellor, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at UNL.  "It is a tremendous opportunity to have her with us as a Heuermann Lecturer to discuss and reflect on America's high standards and dedication to animal stewardship by our farmers and ranchers in the production of the highest quality and safest products in the world."

Among Grandin's many awards are the Meritorious Achievement Award from the Livestock Conservation Institute and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.   In 2010 she was named to Time magazine's list of "The 100 Most Influential People in the World." In 2011 she was inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame, and in 2012 into the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame.

A movie about her early life and career with the livestock industry received seven Emmy awards, a Golden Globe, and a Peabody Award.

Grandin is a past member of the board of directors of the Autism Society of America and lectures throughout the U.S. on her experience with autism.

Interviews with Grandin have appeared in the New York Times, People, Time, and on National Public Radio, 20/20, The View and the BBC.

Heuermann Lectures in IANR focus on providing and sustaining enough food, natural resources and renewable energy for the world's people, and on securing the sustainability of rural communities where the vital work of producing food and renewable energy occurs.  They're made possible by a gift from B. Keith and Norma Heuermann of Phillips, long-time university supporters with a strong commitment to Nebraska's production agriculture, natural resources, rural areas and people.

Heuermann Lectures stream live at, and are archived at the site shortly after the lecture.  They are broadcast on NET2 World at a date following the lecture.

Red Meat Production Up 1 Percent From Last Year

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.31 billion pounds in November, up 1 percent from the 4.26 billion pounds produced in November 2011.

Beef production, at 2.21 billion pounds, was 3 percent above the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.78 million head, down slightly from November 2011. The average live weight was up 28 pounds from the previous year, at 1,321 pounds.

Veal production totaled 10.1 million pounds, 7 percent below November a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 70,500 head, down 4 percent from November 2011. The average live weight was down 11 pounds from last year, at 244 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.08 billion pounds, down slightly from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 10.11 million head, up 1 percent from November 2011. The average live weight was down 2 pounds from the previous year, at 276 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 12.4 million pounds, was down 2 percent from November 2011. Sheep slaughter totaled 181,800 head, 3 percent below last year. The average live weight was 137 pounds, up 2 pounds from November a year ago.

January to November 2012 commercial red meat production was 45.4 billion pounds, up 1 percent from 2011. Accumulated beef production was down 1 percent from last year, veal was down 9 percent, pork was up 3 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was up 5 percent.

By State:     
(million pounds, % of last year)
Nebraska ..:         624.1            102      
Iowa ..........:         589.6             98      
Kansas .....:         440.2            104      

USDA Cold Storage Highlights

Total red meat supplies in freezers were down 4 percent from the previous month but up 6 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were up 2 percent from the previous month but down 1 percent from last year. Frozen pork supplies were down 8 percent from the previous month but up 13 percent from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were up 30 percent from last month but down 8 percent from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on November 30, 2012 were down 16 percent from the previous month but up 10 percent from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were up 3 percent from the previous month and up 4 percent from last year. Total pounds of turkey in freezers were down 43 percent from last month but up 33 percent from November 30, 2011.

Total natural cheese stocks in refrigerated warehouses on November 30, 2012 were down 1 percent from the previous month and down 4 percent from November 30, 2011.  Butter stocks were down 12 percent from last month but up 36 percent from a year ago.

Total frozen fruit stocks were down 6 percent from last month but up 6 percent from a year ago.  Total frozen vegetable stocks were down 4 percent from last month but up 3 percent from a year ago.

SW Iowa Renewable Energy Announces Fiscal Results

Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy, LLC (SIRE) announced its financial results for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2012 (Fiscal 2012). SIRE reported a net loss of $661,609 or $50.35 per unit, compared to a net loss of $2,707,306 or $206.05 per unit for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2011 (Fiscal 2011). The cash flow from operations for Fiscal 2012 was $8,463,759 compared to $25,307,440 for Fiscal 2011; with the overall cash flow for Fiscal 2012 of ($4,722,653) as compared to $7,574,046 for Fiscal 2011.

Adjusted EBITDA, which is defined as earnings before interest, income taxes, and depreciation and/or amortization, or EBITDA, as adjusted for unrealized hedging losses (gains) was $12,823,990 for Fiscal 2012 and $26,297,767 for Fiscal 2011. SIRE had $6.29 million in cash and equivalents and $9.125 million available under committed loan agreements (subject to satisfaction of specified lending conditions and covenants) as well as an additional $6.25 million available under uncommitted loan agreements at September 30, 2012. For reconciliations of Adjusted EBITDA to net income attributable to SIRE, see "Adjusted EBITDA" below.

Brian Cahill, SIRE's president and CEO, stated, "As we look back on Fiscal 2012, we made strong strides in improving our operations through increased output and lower costs and greatly reducing our net loss in the midst of quickly rising commodity market prices. At the same time, we made another significant net reduction in our debt. The continuing improvement in the cash flow from operations allowed us to have a net reduction of approximately $7.7 million on our debt during the year ended September 30, 2012."

SIRE is an Iowa limited liability company, located in Council Bluffs, Iowa, formed in March 2005 to construct and operate a 110 million gallon capacity ethanol plant. SIRE began producing ethanol in February, 2009 and sells its ethanol, modified wet distillers grains with solubles, corn syrup, and corn oil in the continental United States. SIRE also sells its dried distillers grains with solubles in the continental United States, Mexico and the Pacific Rim.

County Cattlemen Noted for Membership Success

The Iowa Cattlemen's Association successfully ended its 2012 membership year at 9,592 members, its highest number since 2007. "That was accomplished through the efforts of county members talking to fellow producers and supporting businesses," said John Fluit Jr, of Inwood. Fluit was the chairman of the ICA membership committee during its drive.

Ten counties were noted for their 2012 membership year success during the ICA Convention and Annual Meeting held in Altoona, Dec. 10-12. Recognition was give to:
-- Sioux County was noted for being the largest membership county (345 members).
-- Crawford County had the largest number of new members (33 new members).
-- Jones County had the largest percentage of membership growth. County membership grew at 118%, with a final tally of 84 members in 2012, compared to 71 in 2011.
-- Seven counties were perfect in their membership renewal rate. These counties all retained 100% of their members in 2012: Bremer, Chickasaw, Keokuk, Union, Wayne, Winnebago, and Wright.

There are 97 organized county cattlemen's associations, and 58 of them met or exceeded their 2011 membership total. The 2013 membership year is underway, and already ICA has passed the 50% mark in renewals and new enrollments.

"The Iowa Cattlemen's Association has never been more active in protecting the best interests of Iowans and Iowa cattle farmers, and that attracts members" Fluit said.

Cattle producers who would like to join ICA, can call the ICA office at 515-296-2266 or 800-888-1730.

Soy Checkoff Helps Increase Demand for Soy by Bringing 45 New Products to Marketplace

U.S. soy’s customers vary from tire and furniture manufacturers to food companies and poultry. This year, the soy checkoff helped 45 new products hit the marketplace, keeping demand for U.S. soy strong.

These 45 products represent 45 new ways of enhancing the market for our soybeans," says Russ Carpenter, a soy checkoff farmer-leader from Trumansburg, N.Y. "All of the products the checkoff helped develop this year and in past years, including some that we can use on our farms, come together to create a valuable market for our soy."

The checkoff provides funding to manufacturers of industrial and consumer products to research, develop and commercialize new products that contain soy. Partnerships like these have helped bring hundreds of new soy products to the marketplace, dramatically increasing demand for U.S. soy oil in the process.

This year’s list includes new additions to some popular soy-based product categories, such as foam, candle wax and elevator fluids. But it also includes products in some completely new categories like paintballs, gel mattress filling and nail-polish remover. 

Industrial demand, including biodiesel manufacturing, is on a steep upward trend. In the last 10 years, industrial uses for soy have grown almost fivefold.

Manufacturers use soy oil as a replacement for petrochemicals to make their products more renewable and more environmentally friendly while maintaining or, in some cases, exceeding performance. Soy products are often more biodegradable and contain fewer volatile organic compounds than traditional products.

NCBA Statement on Animal Disease Traceability Rule

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Chief Veterinarian Kathy Simmons issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) final animal disease traceability (ADT) rule, which was announced by Secretary Vilsack this afternoon.

“NCBA has been an industry leader in working diligently with USDA APHIS to ensure cattlemen’s concerns are addressed in this new animal disease traceability program. We are encouraged by today’s comments from Secretary Vilsack, and we are in the process of thoroughly reviewing the rule and sharing this information with our members.

“From the Secretary’s comments, NCBA is encouraged that many of the priorities of cattlemen and women have been considered in this final rule. Cattlemen and women are looking for a rule that does not come with additional costs and does not hinder the speed of commerce. Brands will be recognized when accompanied by an official brand inspection certificate as means of official identification for cattle. The rule will also allow flexibility in tagging procedures and paperwork. Most important to cattle producers is the Secretary’s announcement of separate rulemaking for beef cattle under 18 months of age.

“Raising healthy cattle is a top priority for cattlemen. NCBA remains supportive of an animal disease traceability program for cattle health purposes. We commend APHIS for its efforts to listen to concerns of America’s cattlemen in developing this traceability program. NCBA encourages the agency to continue working with industry leaders on this and all animal health issues.”

NPPC Praises Final Animal Traceability Rule

Calling it vital to the U.S. pork industry’s ability to more quickly control and eradicate foreign animal diseases and keep export markets open, the National Pork Producers Council today praised the U.S. Department of Agriculture for issuing a final rule to implement a national animal identification system.

“An effective traceability system is critical to our nation’s animal health infrastructure and is one of the components the World Organization for Animal Health considers essential for an effective veterinary services program,” said NPPC President R.C. Hunt, a pork producer from Wilson, N.C. “The goal of a traceability system is trace back of an animal to its farm of origin within 48 hours of the discovery of a disease. That would allow a disease to be brought under control and eradicated more quickly, saving animals – and taxpayer dollars – and keeping foreign markets open to our exports.”

Many major livestock-producing countries, including Canada, the European Union and Japan, have implemented, or are implementing, animal traceability systems. And most meat-importing countries require such a systems as a condition for importing meat, NPPC pointed out.

The U.S. pork industry in 1988 established a swine ID system, which helped eradicate pseudorabies from the commercial herd. It since has enhanced its system by registering more than 99 percent of the premises of the nation’s 67,000 pork producers and asking pork packers to require premises registration as a condition of sale. Premises registration data includes the physical location of a farm, a contact telephone number and other publicly available information.

USDA in 2004 established the National Animal Identification System, but a series of missteps, misinformation from groups opposed to it and a lack of federal funding hampered its implementation.

NPPC worked with USDA to come up with a traceability system the livestock industry can support and that works for U.S. pork producers.

More Moves on the Hill 

Washington transitions continue, with more departures, appointments and leadership positions announced recently. Here's a roundup:

Incoming Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) will take seats on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. They are replacing Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), both of whom are leaving the chamber.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) was tapped to head the Senate Appropriations Committee this week following the death of longtime chairman Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii).

Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) was recently named as the replacement for Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who is retiring to take the helm at the Heritage Foundation.

On Thursday, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) announced his panel’s subcommittee chairmen for the coming session. They include:
    Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), chairman of the Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight and Nutrition
    Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management
    Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Penn.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy and Forestry
    Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture
    Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Livestock, Rural Development and Credit

Conaway was also recently selected to be the new chairman of the House Ethics Committee.

House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) also announced Thursday the Committee’s new Democrats in the 113th Congress. They will include Representatives-Elect Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M); Ann Kuster (D-N.H); Gloria McLeod (D-Calif.); and Filemon Vela (D-Texas).

The Andersons Announces Increased Cash Dividend

The Andersons, Inc. announced a first quarter 2013 cash dividend of 16 cents ($0.16) per share payable January 23, 2013, to shareholders of record on January 2, 2013.  "The increase in the dividend for our shareholders reflects our positive financial results and our confidence in our earnings capacity going forward," says Nick Conrad, V.P Finance and Treasurer.  This is The Andersons' 65th consecutive quarterly cash dividend since its listing on the Nasdaq on February 20, 1996. There are approximately 18.6 million common shares outstanding.

Passage of Defense Department authorization bill clears way for biofuel industry growth

Congress on Friday gave its clear endorsement to the military’s advanced biofuels programs, passing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) without including controversial proposals that would have banned the Department of Defense from expanding its use of advanced biofuels.

After passage, Environmental Entrepreneurs co-founder Nicole Lederer made the following statement:

“This is good for the military, but it’s also good for our economy and our environment. 

Just like it did with industries ranging from aviation to the Internet, the military is leading the country on deploying advanced biofuels.  By turning back short-sighted attempts that would have kept the military dependent on a single fuel source – oil – Congress has cleared the way for the Department of Defense to continue to make investments in advanced biofuels that will have positive impacts on the industry and our economy.”

According to a recent E2 report, more than 14,000 jobs and about $10 billion-plus in economic activity could be created if the military meets its previously announced biofuels goals. The Air Force and Navy – two of the biggest users of oil in the world – want to get 50 percent of their fuel from advanced biofuels by 2020.

Program Set For Heart of America Dairy Expo

The program is set for the new multi state regional Heart of America Dairy Expo and trade show scheduled for January 25-26, 2013 at the Ramada Oasis Hotel and Convention Center in Springfield, Missouri.  It is open to all dairy farmers and allied industry.

"The Friday January 25 morning program kicks off with Dr. Max Hawkins of Noblesville, Indiana, who will present "Nutrition Technology Opportunity in a Challenging Crop Year," says Dave Drennan, Expo Sales Manager.  "This is a very timely subject for dairy farmers considering the effects of the summer drought on our available feed supply.  Dr. Hawkins was raised on a grain/livestock farm in Illinois that included cattle feeding, cow/calf production, and purebred swine and sheep.  Prior to joining the Dairy Technical Staff at Alltech he worked in the feed industry in technical sales positions with Hubbard Feeds and Micron Bio-Systems.

"Following Dr. Hawkins will be Dr. Michael K. Moore, DVM, Novartis Animal Health, with a question "Are Your Vaccinations Causing Reproduction Problems", says Drennan.  "Reproduction success is a key ingredient to a successful dairy farm.  Dr. Moore’s involvement with Novartis has given him the opportunity to present programs to veterinarians and producer groups.  He has been active in training new territory managers on subjects ranging from basic immunology to various cattle diseases.

"The Friday morning program concludes with Rick Short of Central Life Sciences from Romance, Arkansas addressing "Heifer Mastitis-Economics, Prevention, Treatment".

"During Friday's luncheon, sponsored by Hiland Dairy Foods, Missouri Agribusiness Association, Missouri Pork Association and Purina Animal Health, Dr. Scott Brown of the University of Missouri will present a "Market Outlook--What's in the Cards for Dairy," says Drennan.

"Brown has worked with the U.S. Congress over the past two decades in determining the quantitative effects of changes in dairy and livestock policies and has testified regarding dairy and livestock policy issues before House and Senate Agriculture committees.  He has also worked on the economic effects of industry led programs such as the Cooperatives Working Together (CWT) that currently operates in the dairy industry.

"A top producer panel will follow lunch and feature four Missouri dairy farmers talking about what they did this summer to combat the effects of the drought on their dairy herd and their plans for 2013.  The panel will represent all options for dairy farming, from rotational grazing to an inside feeding operation, and be moderated by Joe Horner of the University of Missouri.

"Following the producer panel will be Dana Brooks, Senior Vice President of Government Relations for the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) in Washington DC.  Brooks will speak to "Dairy Policy--Where Do We Go From Here?"

"Where we go from here in dairy policy is top of mind for dairy farmers who have been over the widely quoted "fiscal cliff" and back up several times this year," says Drennan.  "After reaching monumental consensus across the country for new dairy policy in the Dairy Security Act proposed in the Farm Bill, dairy farmers expected Congress to act quickly and pass the Farm Bill.

"Brooks will cover the options we face now based on her experience with NMPF since 2009 in the day to day politics of Washington," says Drennan.

"Missouri's five dairy breed organizations will hold their annual meetings and board meetings Saturday morning January 26 followed by a luncheon sponsored by the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives and the Missouri Soybean Program.

"In addition, the Expo's trade show will feature the latest dairy technology and information from over 50 exhibitors.

"Registration is free for dairy farmers and their families but meal reservations are required for the Friday and Saturday luncheons.  For more information and reservations, attendees can register online at   Allied industry registrations are $40.00 for the two day Expo unless they are an exhibitor or sponsor of the Expo," says Drennan.

"Hotel reservations for the Expo may be made online at or by calling 417/866-5253 or 888/532-4338 and ask for the special rate for the Heart of America Dairy Expo room block.

"We hope all dairy farmers and their families in the Midwest will join us at Expo, and maybe also take in the many attractions at Branson which is only 45 miles from Springfield.

"Additional questions may be directed to  or 636/519-9300," says Drennan.